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

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

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Straightway his heart rising thereat, he called two or three of his servants, and told them what he had seen, bidding them go and take their rapiers, and kill the said snake. The serving men came first and removed the lame man (as I remember) and then the one of them turned up the bed, and the other two the straw, their master standing without at the hole, whereinto the said snake had entered into the chamber. The bed was no sooner turned up, and the rapier thrust into the straw, but there issued forth five or six great snakes that were lodged within. Then the serving men, bestirring them­selves, soon despatched them, and cast them out of doors dead. Afterward the lame man's legs recovered, and became as strong as ever they were; whereby did evidently appear the coldness of these snakes or serpents which coming close to his legs every night, did so benumb them as he could not go.'
It is often supposed that snakes are unable to make any sound but the terrible hiss they utter when they are angry ; but there is one African kind that imitates the cry of a kid so exactly that it is impossible to tell one from the other, and many is the animal which, thinking to find a goat, has fallen into the trap set for it by the serpent!
Another species, that has a sort of voice in its tail, (as well as one in its throat), is the rattle-snake. The famous ' rattle' that it sets up whenever it sees an enemy ap­proaching, comes from the shaking together of a loose, horny, jointed substance at the end of its tail, and when a man or animal hears this he knows what awaits him, and can get out of the way if he chooses. If he does not choose, but prefers to attack the rattle-snake, which twists itself straight up in a wreath of many coils, its eyes gleaming from the centre, he runs the risk of a speedy and painful death. The teeth that the snake uses as his weapon of defence are two very small and sharp ones in his upper jaw, which have each a little bag at its root, containing the poisonous, greenish fluid. This fluid spreads
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