“There is such a thing as a snake-stone, which is applied to the wound, and is said to absorb the blood, and with it the poison; but medical men of character regard it as not entitled to the credit claimed for it. A chemical expert pronounced it to be nothing but a charred bone, which had probably been filled with blood, and again subjected to the action of fire. It is possible that the bone absorbs the blood; but that is not a settled fact, and I leave it to Dr. Ferrolan.”
“I believe it is a fraud,” replied the doctor.
“The color of the cobra varies from pale yellow to dark olive. One kind has something like a pair of spectacles on the back of his hood, or it looks something like the eyes with which ladies fasten their dress. This hood or bonnet is spread out by the action of the ribs of the creature, and he opens it when he is angry.
“I had a tame mongoose, a sort of ichneumon. This animal, not much bigger than a weasel, is a great cobra-killer, and he understands his business. This snake is given to hiding himself in the gardens around the bungalow for the purpose of preying on the domestic fowls. I found one once, and brought out the mongoose. He tackled him at once, and killed him about as quick as a rifle would have done it. I think you will learn all you want to know about snakes as you travel through India.”
Sir Modava retired with the usual applause. As the company returned from the platform, a gun from the Blanche attracted their attention.
A PLEASANT DINNER-PARTY AT SEA
The Blanche was on the starboard beam of the Guardian-Mother, or, in shore parlance, she was on the right-hand side of her as both ships sailed to the eastward. She chose her own position, and it varied considerably at different times, though it was generally about half a mile from her consort. At the present time she had come within less than a quarter of a mile, as the sea was quite smooth.
“Why, the Blanche is all dressed up as though she were going to a ball!” exclaimed Mrs. Belgrave, as the booming gun attracted the attention of the entire party.
“So she is,” added the commander, as he observed her altered appearance for the first time; for he had been giving his whole attention to the lecture. “Captain Sharp is evidently getting up some sort of a frolic.”
The first gun was followed by a second, and then by a third; and they continued till thirty-one of them had been discharged. Four pieces were evidently used, and they were fired with considerable rapidity, proving that the British tars who formed her ship’s company had seen service in the navy.
“What does all that mean?” queried Captain Ringgold, as the party gathered about him for an explanation, though he was as much puzzled as any of them. “It is not a national salute, so far as I know, and I am utterly unable to say what it means.”