“I wonder what is the matter with Snap,” cried George one evening about a week after, as the family were at tea; “he sits there looking at that corner as if he was quite frightened; I’ve watched him such a time, father!”
“Oh yes, father, do look!” cried Annie; “he sees something between that box and the wall, I’m sure!”
“Hi! hi! good dog! at him!” shouted Tom, trying to incite the dog to seize the object, whatever it might be. Snap’s eyes sparkled and he ran forwards, but as quickly drew back again, with every sign of intense fear. At the same moment a mingled sound, as of the rattling of dried peas and hissing, was heard from the spot. “A snake!” cried Uncle John, jumping up from the table, and seizing a stout stick which was at hand, while Mrs. Lee, at the word, catching Willie in her arms, and dragging George, retreated to the farthest part of the room, followed by Annie. As the box was carefully drawn away, the hissing and rattling became louder, and presently a large rattlesnake glided out with raised head and threatening jaws, and made for the door. Snap stood near the entrance, as if transfixed by fear, his tail between his legs, and trembling in every limb. Uncle John aimed a blow, but the irritated reptile darting forwards bit the poor dog in the throat. Before, however, Snap’s yelp of agony had died away, the stick fell on the creature’s head, and it lay there lifeless.
“He’s done for!” cried Tom, triumphantly.
“Yes, and so I fear is Snap, too,” said his father; “poor fellow!”
“Can’t we do anything for him, Uncle?” asked Tom, anxiously.
“Nothing that I know of—there is but one antidote, it is said, and that is the rattlesnake weed,—the Indians believe it to be a certain cure for the bite, but I don’t know it by sight.”
Mrs. Lee now ventured forward to look for a moment at the still writhing snake, and Tom then dragged it out of the house; but before throwing it away, he cut off the rattle, which was very curious. It consisted of thin, hard, hollow bones, linked together, somewhat resembling the curb-chain of a bridle, and rattling at the slightest motion. Uncle John showed him how to ascertain the age of the reptile. The extreme end, called the button, is all it has until three years old; after that age a link is added every year. As the snake they had just killed had thirteen links, besides the button, it must have been sixteen years old; it measured four feet in length, and was about as thick as a man’s arm.
The unfortunate dog died after three or four hours’ great suffering, and was buried the next day at the foot of a tree in the forest. His loss was especially felt by George, who busied himself for some hours in raising a little mound over the grave, and then fencing it round, as a mark of esteem, he said, for a friend.