A GENTLEMAN in India went into his library one day, and took a book from the shelves. As he did so, he felt a slight pain in his finger like the prick of a pin. He thought that a pin had been stuck by some careless person in the cover of the book. 

But soon his finger began to swell, and then his arm, then his whole body, and in a few days he died. It was not a pin among the books, but a small and deadly serpent. There are many serpents among the books nowadays. They nestle in the foliage of some of our most fascinating literature; they coil around the flowers whose perfume intoxicates the senses. We read, we are charmed by the plot of the story, by the skill with which the characters are sculptured or grouped, by the gorgeousness of the word-painting—we hardly feel the pin-prick of the evil that is insinuated. But it stings and poisons us. When the record of ruined souls is made up, on what multitudes will be inscribed: 

"Poisoned by the serpents among the books."