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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 275 pages of information about The Illustrated London Reading Book.

The carob, or St. John’s bread-tree, is plentiful; and the long thick pods which it produces are exported in considerable quantities to Syria and Egypt.  The succulent pulp which the pod contains is sometimes employed in those countries instead of sugar and honey, and is often used in preserving other fruits.  The vine grows here perhaps in greater perfection than in any other part of the world, and the wine of the island is celebrated all over the Levant.

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THE RATTLESNAKE.

[Illustration:  Letter T.]

This terrible reptile is found in great abundance on the continent of America; and if its instinct induced it to make use of the dreadful means of destruction and self-defence which it possesses, it would become so great a scourge as to render the parts in which it is found almost uninhabitable:  but, except when violently irritated, or for the purpose of self-preservation, it seldom employs the fatal power bestowed upon it.  The rattlesnake inserts its poison in the body of its victim by means of two long sharp-pointed teeth or fangs, which grow one on each side of the forepart of the upper jaw.  The construction of these teeth is very singular; they are hollow for a portion of their length, and in each tooth is found a narrow slit communicating with the central hollow; the root of the fang rests on a kind of bag, containing a certain quantity of a liquid poison, and when the animal buries his teeth in his prey, a portion of this fluid is forced through these openings and lodged at the bottom of the wound.  Another peculiarity of these poison teeth is, that when not in use they turn back, as it were, upon a hinge, and lie flat in the roof of the animal’s mouth.

The name of rattlesnake is given to it on account of the singular apparatus with which the extremity of its tail is furnished.  This consists of a series of hollow horn-like substances, placed loosely one behind the other in such a manner as to produce a kind of rattling noise when the tail is shaken; and as the animal, whenever it is enraged, always carries its tail raised up, and produces at the same time a tremulous motion in it, this provision of nature gives timely notice of its dangerous approach.  The number of pieces of which this rattle is formed points out the age of the snake, which acquires a fresh piece every year.  Some specimens have been found with as many as from forty to fifty, thus indicating a great age.

[Illustration:  Rattlesnake and young.]

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