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They gave him of the corn-land,
That was of public right,
Could plough from morn till night;
And set it up on high,
To witness if I lie.
And still his name sounds stirring
Unto the men of Rome,
To charge the Volscian home;
For boys with hearts as bold
107.—THE PUFF ADDER.
na-tives temp-ting-ly clum-sy
The puff adder is only found in Africa, but it is very common there. It is even more ugly than the cobra. It is a thick, clumsy, dull-looking snake, very wide in proportion to its length; for it only grows about four or four and a half feet long, and yet its body measures a foot round it. It has a very thick, stumpy tail, a broad, venomous-looking head, scaly skin, and ugly, cold, glassy eyes. It is a most dangerous snake; for it often nearly buries itself in the sand, so that it is very easy to tread on it, and whoever is bitten by it must die. It is also found in woods, lying half hid by branches, dead leaves, or long grass, or in holes or corners of rocks.
In such places as these it is very hard indeed to see it or become aware of it. It is, however, very lazy and fond of sleep, and never attacks you unless you hurt it, or go temptingly near it, but contents itself with raising its head a little, and looking cross and hissing at you. But when it is really angry, it puffs and swells itself up to a very great size, and that is why its name has been given to it. The bushmen-that is, the natives who live in the country, far away from towns—use its poison to put on the tips of their arrows when they go hunting. Colonel Drayson thus describes an escape he had from one of these snakes :- -“ All snakes seem to suffer sometimes from the poison-bladders being overloaded with poison, and in that state are anxious to bite anything, so as to get rid of some of their poison. I had once a narrow escape from a puff adder which seemed to be in this vicious state. I was riding along a well-beaten waggon-track, when I saw at the side of the road a fine puff adder. Having seen some Caffirs on the road some hundred yards before me, I concluded that these men had killed the snake, as it lay so still that it showed no sign of life. As I wanted to get a good skin of a puff adder, I dismounted and approached the creature,
which had its head partly concealed by the long grass.
When within about a yard of it, I saw a slight movement of the tail, which I knew meant watchfulness, and showed the creature was alive. I had scarcely noticed this fact before the adder suddenly sprang backwards, almost turning a summersault. Fortunately, I was too quick for it, and avoided its spring ; whilst, before it could recover itself, it received three or four severe blows on the back and neck with my riding-whip which entirely disabled it."
108.-THE DEATH OF THE FLOWERS.
hap-pi-ly en-di-a-dem-ed un-con-scious
ap-par-ell-ed How happily, how happily the flowers die away! Oh, could we but return to earth as easily as they! Just live a life of sunshine, of innocence and bloom, Then drop without decrepitude or pain into the
The gay and glorious creatures ! they neither “ toil
nor spin; Yet, lo! what goodly raiment they ’re all apparelled
No tears are on their beauty, but dewy gems more
bright Than ever brow of Eastern queen endiademed with
The young rejoicing creatures ! their pleasures
never pall; Nor lose in sweet contentment, because so free to
all!The dew, the showers, the sunshine, the balmy,
blessed air, Spend nothing of their freshness, though all may
The happy, careless creatures ! of Time they take
no heed; Nor weary of his creeping, nor tremble at his
speed; Nor sigh with sick impatience, and wish the light
away ; Nor when ’tis gone, cry dolefully, “Would God
that it were day!"
And when their lives are over, they drop away to
rest, Unconscious of the penal doom on holy Nature's
breast; No pain have they in dying—no shrinking from
decay, Oh! could we but return to earth as easily as they!
There was a rich man at the court of King Herod who was his High Chamberlain, and was clothed in purple and fine linen, and lived day by day royally and happily. There came to him out of a far country a friend of his youth, whom he had not seen for many long years. And the Chamberlain ordered in his honour a great feast, and invited all his friends. On the table were placed many noble dishes served on gold and silver, and many costly vessels with unguents and wines of all kinds. And the rich man sat on high at the table, and was well pleased, and at his right hand sat his friend who had come from the distant country. And they ate and drank, and were satisfied.
Then said the man out of the far country to the Chamberlain of King Herod, “ Such a splendour and magnificence as are found in this thy house cannot be found in the whole length and breadth of the country from which I come. And he extolled his pomp, and called him the happiest of all living men.
But the rich man, the Chamberlain of the king, took an apple from a golden dish.
The apple was large and beautiful, and red without, like crimson. And he took the apple and said,