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The cobra di capello is one of the ugliest and fiercest of snakes. It bites on the very slightest provocation, and its poison is so deadly that there is no cure for it. When it is angry its neck swells out to a great thickness, so that it looks as if it had a hood on, and that is the reason why its name has been given to it. It is found in Africa and India, where there are persons who pretend to be able to charm it by their music, so as to play tricks with it, and handle it with safety; but it is believed that they never do so without first drawing its poisonous fangs, or teeth.
These fangs grow again very rapidly, therefore they are obliged to perform the operation very often ; but they earn a great deal of money by their exhibitions.
In the Zoological Gardens they have been obliged to cover half of the glass which is in front of the cobra's cage with thick white paint, for the sight of the
passers-by made it so angry, that it constantly bruised its head severely against the glass, in its attempts to dart upon those who stopped to look at it. If you are tall enough to peep over this whitened glass, you will most likely see the cobra lying in its bath, at the far side of the cage. As soon as it sees you it raises its head angrily. Then you see its neck swelling bigger and bigger, and its eyes, which look like mere black slits in its dull, dark skin, steadily fixed on you with an expression of the utmost hatred. It puts its head slightly down, and then suddenly darts forward at you, and very glad you may be that there is a thick piece of glass between you and it, for it is so wonderfully quick, that otherwise you would have but little chance of escape. At the back of its neck, it has a large black mark, just like a pair of spectacles.
I remember once reading a story of a gentleman, who had a very narrow escape from a cobra. He was at a picnic, near the Cape of Good Hope, with a number of ladies and gentlemen. They were all sitting on the grass, when he suddenly felt something moving under his hand. He turned, and saw that he had thrown it carelessly back, so as to pin down a cobra to the ground. His hand was just across its neck, and the creature was furious! He, very luckily, had the presence of mind, not to move his hand, but to press it still more tightly down on the snake, which puffed up its neck, and looked fierce, but could not either get away, or bite him, and one of his friends came and cut its head off. I dare say they buried the head, for that is what the negroes always do when
they kill creatures of this kind, for fear of some one treading on the fangs and being poisoned.
In India, where there are a great many cobras, they are very fond of coming about houses, and many accidents happen. If people can only command themselves enough to be perfectly quiet when exposed to danger from them, they often escape. Mr Goss tells a story of an officer who, as he was having some repairs done to his bungalow, was lying nearly undressed on a mattress in the verandah, reading. Perhaps his book made him sleepy, for he dropped asleep and awoke with a chilly feeling about the breast. Opening his eyes, he saw to his horror a large cobra coiled up upon his breast, within his open shirt. He saw in a moment that to disturb the creature would be highly perilous, and almost certainly fatal, and that it was at present doing him no harm, and apparently intended none. With great coolness, therefore, he lay perfectly still, gazing on the bronzed and glittering scales of the intruder. After a period which seemed to him an age, one of the workmen came near to the verandah, and the snake at his footsteps left his warm bed and was gliding off, when the servants, at the cry of the workman, rushed out and destroyed it.
Grandpapa's hair is very white,
And grandpapa walks but slow; He likes to sit still in his easy-chair
While the children come and go. “Hush !-play quietly ”-says mamma,
“Let nobody trouble dear grandpapa.” Grandpapa's hand is thin and weak,
It has worked hard all his days;
That has won all good men's praise. “ Kiss it tenderly," says mamma,
“Let every one honour grandpapa.” Grandpapa's eyes are growing dim,
They have looked on sorrow and death, But the love-light never went out of them,
Nor the courage and the faith. “You children, all of you,” says mamma,
“Have need to look up to dear grandpapa." Grandpapa’s years are wearing few,
But he leaves a blessing behind ;
True heart, and equal mind. “Remember, my children," says mamma, “ You bear the name of your grandpapa.”
A partridge was going out of the wood, when she met a sportsman. “Ah, dear sportsman," said the partridge, “do not do anything to hurt my children, if you please—they are so very, very beautiful-quite the prettiest in the whole wood.” And the sportsman said, “Well, if I should see your children, I will most certainly spare their lives.” The partridge flew joyfully forth over field and meadow : when she came back in the evening, she saw the sportsman again, and he carried the little partridges all dead at his belt.
“Ah, you false and horrible sportsman," lamented the partridge, “why have you shot all my little ones ? Ah, my children, my poor children !” But the sportsman said, “ Did you not tell me, that your young ones were the most beautiful in the whole wood, and I have only shot the very ugliest—those grey creatures there.” Then the partridge said, “Did you not
” know that every mother admires her own children the most? ”
From the German.