The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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This time there was not enough to make it drunk, for when Mathurin came back, an hour or two later, the adder had disappeared.
The following ' day he looked about to see if the adder was anywhere in the neighbourhood, and detected two bright eyes and a small flat head, watching him from under a bush. He called it by the first name that occurred to him, which was ' Mathurine,' the feminine of his own ; the adder seemed to listen. Then he poured out some milk, and called it again. The adder seemed to understand, and came about a yard nearer, then stopped doubtfully.
The young man did not want to frighten her, so he moved to a little distance, but not without seeing his new friend busy over the milk he had poured out. He did not go near her again, but called gently, ' Mathurine! Mathurine! Mathurine !' and each time the adder lifted her head and looked at him.
From that day he never passed the place without calling ' Mathurine !' and at every call the adder hastened more quickly to answer it, till she soon became quite tame, and recognised not only the young man's voice but the sound of his footsteps.
The friendship between this odd pair lasted for a year. Every day during that year Mathurin poured out a glass of milk for Mathurine, and every day Mathurine was on the look out for him, standing on her tail when he appeared, and licking his hand affectionately with her forky tongue.
But at last there came a day when the young man drew the lot of conscription, and had to leave the village where he was born, and join the regiment to which he was appointed.
He bade an affectionate farewell to his little friend, who had grown quite a foot during the last few months, and was now as tall as Mathurin himself when she reared herself to her full height. She quite understood that
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