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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/385

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371
OLD RATTLER AND THE KING SNAKE.

or see them every time I go there. His only note now is a sharp squeak of alarm, but a little later he will perch high up in some tree near the lake and awake the echoes with his loud whistling. High over my head, mere specks of shining white against the blue-gray of the sky, I could see several gulls floating along on their way to the reservoir, where hundreds of them often gather in the open water that is usually found in the center. As I walked toward the entrance of the park, on my way to the car, I heard, on some cedars near the border of the lake, the gurgling music of a party of goldfinches. They had on their winter coats of yellowish brown, but their song and dipping flight made them easily recognizable.

Once you become acquainted with a few birds, every flutter of a wing or cheep or peep becomes an object of interest and a motive for many days in the open. It is very easy also to sentimentalize about Nature and to assume a patronizing air toward her, but the more you know of her and her ways the sooner you get over this. You can not help being impressed with the fact that the life and ways of the animals and birds are, after all, in many ways very like your own. Birds, you will find, are very human indeed, and show a wide diversity in disposition and habit. There is one thing sure to follow an interest of this kind, and that is a greater respect and care for wild life. The cruelty of egg-collecting and the wanton destruction of birds for millinery purposes are becoming less tolerable every year in civilized communities.

 

OLD RATTLER AND THE KING SNAKE.
By DAVID STARR JORDAN,

PRESIDENT OF LELAND STANFORD JUNIOR UNIVERSITY.

"I only know thee humble, bold,
Haughty, with miseries untold,
And the old curse that left thee cold,
And drove thee ever to the sun
On blistering rocks. . .
Thou whose fame
Searchest the grass with tongue of flame,
Making all creatures seem thy game,
When the whole woods before thee run,
Asked but—when all is said and done—
To lie, untrodden, in the sun!"—Bret Harte.

OLD RATTLER was a snake, of course, and he lived in the King's River Cañon, high up and down deep in the mountains of California.

He had a hole behind and below a large, flat granite rock, not far from the river, and he called it his home; for in it he slept all night and all winter, "but when the sun came back in the spring