« AnteriorContinuar »
The smallest of the two young elephants was sent down to my house, where he became a great pet of the servants. He liked the coachman the best, and he built him a little shed near the stables. But he liked the kitchen best of all, for there he got milk and plantains, and picked up many other nice little things to eat besides. He was very innocent and playful, and when I was walking in the grounds, he would trot up to me, and twine his little trunk round my arm, and coax me to take him to the fruit trees. In the evening, the grass-cutters now and then indulged him by letting him carry home a load of fodder for the horses. When they did that it was very amusing, for he looked so grave, and walked as if he thought he was such a useful little elephant. As we sometimes let him come into the dining-room and gave him some fruit at our dessert, he at last learned his way to the sideboard, and stole in several times, whilst all the servants where out of the way, and then he broke every wine-glass and all the china in trying to reach the fruit himself. He did so much harm by this and other tricks of the same kind, that at last the poor little fellow bad to be sent away. He got a very good home, however, and was very kindly treated by Siribeddi, a very wise elephant, who adopted him as her son, and took care of him.
Adapted from Sir E. Tennent's Ceylon.
Three cheers, three cheers,
For the little volunteers !
Three cheers, three cheers,
The flaxen curly colonel gives the word of command,
upon And what with the laughter and the cackling of the
And we've smiles, and tears,
And smiling over all is the toil-worn face
And he gives three cheers
L. W. T.
Serpents have neither legs, nor wings, nor fins, yet they can move about almost as quickly and easily, as if this were the case. They glide rapidly over the ground, they climb trees, and what seems still more wonderful, they can swim. When they ascend trees, they do not do so in the way you see them in the picture books; that is by twisting themselves round and round the trunk or branches in numbers of coils, but
they glide directly up, with their bodies looking as nearly straight as possible. They do it by means of the tips of their expanded ribs, and can thus go up any tree, even one which has a smooth bark, as easily as they can glide along the ground.
Many snakes always live in trees, and either catch the birds or monkeys which they find in them, or drop down on any animal passing below. Some snakes kill their prey by the bite of their poisonous fangs, others by catching them with their teeth and folding their enormous bodies round and round them, and crushing them to death. As a rule, however, no snake, great or small, tries to kill any man or beast unless trod on by accident and startled, or deliberately attacked by him. No harmless snake attempts to defend itself, even if attacked; it seems to know it can do nothing to help itself, and does its best to get quickly away; but a venomous snake is quite aware of its deadly power, and if you go near enough to irritate it, it puts itself in a fighting attitude at once. This is one way of knowing dangerous snakes from those which are harmless; but as knowledge gained in this way would in most cases come too late, it is better to learn how to distinguish them in some other manner.
In the first place, they have the head and body much flattened-their heads are very broad, and their necks narrow-their tails usually stumpy, and they can open their mouths much wider than the others. They have a very fierce, cruel expression, and as I said before, whenever they are alarmed they at once make themselves ready for battle. It is a very short battle, if they get near enough to bite their enemy. The bite
of either a cobra, or rattlesnake, is generally fatal in less than two hours, and those two hours are hours of great agony. The poison lies at the root of the hollow teeth, or fangs which are on each side of the snake's mouth; and when it bites anything in anger, this poison forces its way upwards through the fangs which are hollow, into the flesh of the victim.
All snakes lay eggs; sometimes as many as forty or fifty in number, and then go away and leave them to hatch in the sun. I am happy to say many different kinds of birds are very fond of these eggs, and eat up great quantities of them. If the snake stayed beside them until they were hatched, the bird would not dare to come near, but it does not take the trouble to do this. It also gets its new clothes very easily, for (as Mr Buckland says) it requires no tailor, and when after remaining torpid under some stump all the winter, it comes out to enjoy the bright sun of a spring morning, and thinks that its old dirty last year's coat is too shabby to wear any longer, it literally casts it off, and, lucky fellow! finds a new one underneath it !