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story goes, represents a year of the reptile's

Lately, I see a question has arisen as to
whether snakes will or will not bite cattle.
All I can say is, that I undoubtedly lost a
valuable mule in California by the bite of a
rattlesnake; and was very glad to compound
in that way for my own life. I was travelling
with a pack-mule train to one of the
northern mines. One day, it was my duty to
head the train along the trail, which we
traversed in the usual manner in Indian file.
Riding slowly along, and keeping a bright
look-out for "Indian sign," for we were traversing
a hostile district, I noticed that the prairie,
which had been hitherto perfectly level, dipped
a little, and the trail led through a marshy spot
on which coarse grass and reeds grew luxuriantly.
So luxuriantly, indeed, that my riding mule, a
fine animal of the Andalusian-Mexican breed,
nearly fifteen hands high, was buried to her
croup, and parted with some little effort the
bushy herbage that completely overhung the
trail on both sides. In a moment I heard a hissing
sound close to me. I recognised a terrible
danger, my mule also instinctively trembled and
tried to shy to the left. It was too late. The
threatening, protruding head of a rattlesnake
sitting erect on his coils, higher than my stirrup,
and in fearful proximity, glared on us for a
second, then struck once, twice, in the direction
of my boot, and commenced to glide away.
Now, as I have remarked before, we were in
hostile Indian country, and as that day I occupied
the post of danger as advanced guard, my
revolver was not in its usual patent leather case,
which buttoned over with a flap, but simply
stuck in a handkerchief tied round my waist, so
that I was luckily enabled, without a moment's
delay, to grasp the weapon and empty the five
barrels in the direction of the small portions of
the reptile I could see retreating through the
"chapparal." With success, too; for, as my
comrades rode up in haste from the rear, my
explanation caused a search to be instituted, and
the dead body of an immense rattlesnake was
dragged to light. I wore a pair of heavy miner's
boots, which reached to my thigh, and were quite
impervious to the bite of a snake, and, believing
the reptile had directed his attack entirely against
myself, I gave the signal to "make tracks," and
we proceeded on our journey. But I soon
discovered that something ailed my riding mule;
restive and uneasy, it was with some difficulty
I could get her along. At length she
came to a dead stand, her back hunched up,
head down, her legs drawn together as if
with pain, her beautiful black velvet hide
ruffled and teeming with perspiration, her eye-
ball starting, and her protruding tongue covered
with foam.

"Lookee h'yar!" said one of our natives, after
a cursory examination of my mule. "You may
jest send a ball through her head. See here,
boys!" and he pointed to a swelling on the right
side of the belly of the mule. "That's whar
you cussed riptile stung her."

It was all too true. A shot from a revolver
put an end to one of the staunchest, handsomest,
and best-tempered mules in all California.


THE recent terrible fire in Tooley-street,
which excited all London for several days and
nights, destroyed upwards of two millions
sterling of property, and took the life of one of
the most useful, watchful, and hard-working
servants of the public, has turned the attention
of most people to memorable fires. Comparisons
have been made between the destruction of
property on the night of June 22nd, 1861, and the
havoc made by the great fire of London on the
2nd of September, 1666. The population of
London, at the latter time, within the walls,
could not have been more than half a million, or
about double the number of the present population
in Southwark, Bermondsey, and Newington.
The houses destroyed in 1666 were small
wooden structures, filled up with plaster; and
though they numbered some thirteen thousand,
their value must have been small compared with
the town mansions of the present day. The
eighty-nine churches destroyed represented a
large item in the general loss, together with the
movable property consumed. The flame at one
time is said to have formed a column a mile in
diameter, and to have mingled with the clouds.
It rendered the night as clear as day for ten
miles round the city.

The great fire of 1666 fortunately still stands
at the head of these calamities upon English
ground, although it has many companions whose
destructive powers are put upon record. We
have scarcely a public building of any importance
now standing that is not a representative
of some other building with the same name
formerly burnt to the ground. Old St. Paul's
perished in the great fire, after being burnt in
964 and 1631; the Mint was all but destroyed
in 1815, losing two wings, with its interior and
machinery; the Custom House, in Thames-
street, with many adjoining houses, was burnt
down in 1814; it was also burnt down in 1718;
St. James's Palace had a narrow escape in 1809,
losing its south-east wing; the Houses of
Parliament were destroyed by fire in 1834; the
Royal Exchange soon after fell a victim to the
same calamity; the Tower of London followed,
losing a great part of its interior, and four hundred
thousand stand of arms; the great tower
over the choir of Westminster Abbey was
destroyed in 1803; and the King's Bench prison
had a narrow escape in 1799, losing about fifty
apartments. London itself has had more
destructive general fires than the great calamity of
1666. There is one which occurred in 982,
destroying a great part of the city; another in
1087; another in 1132, and another in 1136,
said to have been equally damaging to houses
and property. There is a fire recorded as having
occurred on London-bridge, July 10th, 1212, in
which two thousand persons perished. The
water-side appears to have been always afflicted