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le nanmu kujo'u le since

The Man and the Snake, by Ambrose Bierce
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Lujvo:

ctecutci: nicte+cutci: x1:c1 is a slipper (shoe primarily for
wearing at night) for wearing on [feet/hooves] x2:c2, made
of material x3:c3

stedycra: stedu+crane: x1:s1=c1 is the forehead of x2:s2

dijyzbaske: dinju+zbasu+sakse: architecture

mumkubli: kubli be li zi'o bei li mu: x1:k1 is a pyramid

mifyjmi: mifra+jimpe: x1:j1 deciphers coded text x2:m1=?j2
(of plain text x3:m2=?j2), in code system x4:j3=m4

cicricfoi: cilce(ke)tricu+foldi: x1 is a jungle

rokyxra: rokci+pixra: x1:p1=r1 is a statue of x2:p2, made by artist
x3:p3, using materials (kind of rock, etc) x4:r2

mivnalsti:jmive+na'e+sisti: x1:j1=ns2 is immortal by standard x2:j2

cnosna: condi+sance: x1:s1=c1 is a deep/rumbling sound produced by x2:s2=?c2
from reference x3:c3 (probably a particular pitch/frequency)

jmemapku: jemna+mapku: x1:m1 is a crown of material x2:m2

jifselvi'a: jitfa+se+viska: x1:v2=j1 is an illusion/mirage/etc seen
by x2:v1

tecyselci'i: steci+se+cinri: x1:c2 is a hobbist/collector/etc of x2:c1=?s1

sezgunta: sevzi+gunta: x1:g1=g2=s1=s2 has a fit/self-attack/
allergic reaction/whatever of type x2:?g3

"viska mumkubli" for "line of sight"
"centre fa'u centre" for things like "inch by inch", etc.

This has probably been used before, but isn't in the list:
tolsmu: to'e+smuni. nonsense, meaningless, etc. structure = smuni.

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le nanmu kujo'u le since

 
ni'oni'o pamo'o

 
lu jetnu tojiqa leni cequ xusra cu banzu le ca zaqi no prije je
cilre cu nafxuqa toi fa leduqu loqe since zoqu ri se kanla lo ckaji
be leka cequ kaqe ve xlura ro se jitro binxo lo poi ri toqe djica
kuqo nu lacpu .e lo jaqe nu betri mrobiqo fiqo catra be fi lo batci
le noqa li'u

ni'o vreta lo sfofa gi'e dasni lo pastu kujo'u lo ctecutci vau fa
la xarker. breiton. goi ko'a gi'e cisma ca lenu tcidu di'u le tolci'o
se finti be la morister. be'o no'u la'elu le se manci po'u loi saske
li'u .i lu le po'o srana se manci sei ko'a sezysku cu me le za'i
ro prije je cilre pe le detri be tu'a la morister. pujetai bebna
krici da poi ji'eku so'a to'e prije je to'e cilre pe le cabna cu
nafxu'a li'u

ni'o rolu'a lonu pensi kei porsi cu jalge to ko'a pensi prenu toi
.ije ko'a to'e sanji dizlygau le cukta gi'e na galfi le farna be
tu'a lei ko'a kanla .i co'a lenu le cukta cu pagre cliva le viska
mumkubli kei da poi zvati lo darno kojna be le kumfa cu jai rinka
lenu za'ure'u sanji le vanbi .i le re cmalu ke gusni mokca noi li
repimu cu se centre le jbini zi'e pe bu'u le ctino be le ckana cu
se viska ko'a .i cumki nu minra tu'a le gapci jetce noi gapru ko'a
ku'o lo jinme dinko .i ko'a no'e pensi gi'e di'a tcidu .ibaziku da
poi ko'a na lanli pensi ke'a cu bapli lenu ko'a rere'u dizlygau le
cukta gi'e sisku leka krefu viska .i le re cmalu ke gusni mokca cu
jai ranji .i ri simlu leka zenba leni gusni gi'e gusycai sekai leka
crino noi ko'a na pu zgana .i ko'a pensi ledu'u le mokca cu milxe
muvdu fa'a ko'a .iku'i le ctino cu ca'o dukse fi lenu jarco le krasi
le vreta .ije ko'a di'a tcidu .i suksa nu da pe le se cukta cu stidi
lo se pensi poi jai se jalge lenu se spaji gi'e falcru le cukta le
mlana be le sfofa noi vi ke'a ra cliva le xance gi'e farlu le loldi
fau lenu trixe galtu .i ko'a pimuva'e sanli gi'e caicta le cizra
noi cnita le ckana noi va'o ke'a le gusni mokca cu dirce zenba leka
vlipa .i ko'a ca rova'e jundi gi'e tsali viska .i jarco ni'a le
korbi be le ckana tu'a le sarlu pe le since noi barda .ibo ri le
gusni mokca cu se kanla .i le mabla stedu be sy. be'o noi pagre le
nenryrai be le'i sarlu gi'e surla le bartyrai cu selfa'a ko'a .i
le tarmi be le rotsu je kusru xedja be'o kujo'u le bebna stedycra
cu jai junri'a fi le se fargau be fi le palci kanla .i ri ba'o gusni
mocka .ibo ri catlu le kanla be ko'a sekai leka xebni

 
ni'oni'o remo'o

 
le'enu lo since cu nenri lo sipna kumfa be lo cabna ke tcadu zdani
noi zmadu cu to xamgu toi na dukse leka fadni kei lenu na jai se
sarcu tu'a lo ve ciksi .i la xarker. breiton. goi ko'a noi na speni
gi'e nanca li cimu gi'e tadni gi'e na'o cando gi'e milxe xadyplijvi
gi'e ricfu je se nelci gi'e kanro cu xrukla la san. fransiskos. lei
vrici ke cizra je darno gugde .i lei se nelci be ko'a be'o noi pu
milxe ckaji leka se ricfu cu zenba ki'u lenu ze'u claxu .ije mu'i
lenu ji'eku la kas,l. xotel. na banzu lenu le go'i cu mansa keikei
ko'a sarxe le te xendo be fi le ko'a pendo no'u la ga'i drurin. noi
sinma skepre .i le zdani be ri be'o noi barda je tolci'o gi'e zvati
le ca mipri korbi be le tcadu cu bartu ckaji leka rinju .ili'a zy.
na simsa fi le dikni se ckaji be le vanbi gi'e binxo co ckaji lei
se krasi be le'eza'i tolkansa .i mupli fa le dinjypau noi to'e vajni
fi leka dijyzbaske zi'e noi na mleca co cizra fi leka dinju ce'u
.ibo le go'i cu kumfrlaboratora joi mivdalmuzga joi muzga .i viku
le skepre goi ko'e cu zdilygau lei saske pagbu be lei ri rarna gi'e
tadni loi danlu jmive poi cinri zi'e poi cmima le'i se nelci noi
ja'a srana le'i to'e banli .i le'e banli danlu cu nitcu be fi lonu
cinri stidi be'o co ckaji le so'o ralju selkai noi srana loi pipybanfi
.e loi since vu'ope lu ralju cridrdrakone li'u .i le saske se cinmo
be ko'e cu ckaji leka respa .ije ko'e prami lei rarna malda'u gi'e
ciksi vo'a fi la'elu me la zoleis. pe la danlyske li'u .i lei tixnu
je speni po'e ko'e zi'e noi na simsa ko'e le ga'izo'o ka se cinri
lei se tarti je te zukte pe lei xladimna je pendo danlu cu jai to'e
se curmi sekai lo na'e nitcu ka kusru kei fai lenu nerkla le dinjypau
poi ko'e te cmene fi lu sincycanlu li'u gi'e se maldimna lenu kansa
lo klesi pe vo'a .iku'i mu'i lenu milxe randa kei ko'e curmi to
sepi'o le barda vamji lenu zmadu lei repsa leka melbi vanbi ce'u
kei .e le pe'a ka dirce le zmadu gusni

ni'o leka dijyzbaske .e le si'a ni nilce kei le sincycanlu cu mutce
se sampu fi'o se banzu le cumla tcini pe le xabju .i je'u so'e ri
na'eka'e snura lacri fi le se zifre noi se nitcu lenu mulno xaufri
tu'a le se ricfu kei ki'u le cizra zo'o za'i vo'a ckaji leka jmive
.iku'i fau lenu tolkansa ne'i lei drata kumfa kei leni le go'i cu
rinju cu milxe co banzu lenu fanta le ta'e xlali nu lei go'i cu
tulcti ri .iji'a to la breiton. pu pensykai ve notci toi na ritli
po'o fa le vrici nu so'o ru se zatfa'i vi lei pagbu be le dinju
be'o voi da'i ru burna lenu ciksi tu'a ke'a .i mu'inai tu'a le
sincycanlu .e le te cizra be ri to je'u ko'a na mutce jundi toi
ko'a mutce co nelci leli'i jmive vi le me la ga'i drurin. zdani

 
ni'oni'o cimo'o

 
so'u na'ebo lenu jenca spaji .e lenu desku ri'a lenu rigni cu ve
xrani la breiton. goi ko'a .i ko'a pamoi pensi lezu'o janbe notci
fo lei selfu .iku'i fau lenu le janbe minji cu jibni ragve kei ko'a
zukte no nu muvdu fa'a ri .imu'ibo ko'a djunybi'o ledu'u le se zukte
cu ka'e faurti'i ledu'u ko'a terpa kei noi ko'a na'eca'a cinmo .i
ko'a zo'u zmadu fa leka menli sanji le cizra rarna pe le tcini kei
leka terpa lei ckape .i rigni gi'eku'i zdile fi leka to'e sarxe

ni'o le respa goi fo'a cu since da poi la breiton. na sanji ke'a
.i leni fo'a clani cu te sruma po'o fi ko'a .ibo le xadni be fo'a
be'o poi ka'e viska ke'a cu rotsu tai le galbirka be ko'a .i xu
fo'a ckape fi ma .i xu vindu .i xu marxygau .i le'i se djuno be
ko'a bei le ckape jarco pe le rarna cu na se cmima le danfu .i ko'a
na mifyjmi

ni'o fo'a segu ckape gi ca'a rigni .i fo'a dukse .i na mapti .i na
cnano .i pe'a lo jemna poi na vrude le jgari be ri .i ji'eku le
cilce se nelci pe le cabna .e le gugde vu'o poi bevrygau nu'ige lei
bitmu pe le kumfa loi pixra nu'ugi le loldi ce'e loi nilce pe'e je
loi nilce loi vrici cu na mulno maptygau le stuzi le cilce jmive
pe lo'e cicricfoi .i ji'a .oisai le se vaxyvi'i pe fo'a cu se mixre
le vacri poi ko'a vasxu ke'a

ni'o la'edi'u milxe leka ce'u se pensi ko'a .ija'ebo muvdu .i ti
du le pruce be loi nu pensi kei bei loi nu jdice .itaibo ma'a prije
gi'a na prije .itaibo lo'e xaksu pezli pe va'o lo critu brife cu
jarco leka menli ke zmadu jikau mleca le drata .i farlu le tumla
.a le lalxu .i le se mipri pe lo'e nu lo remna cu muvda cu to'e
sivni .ibo da marxygau loi sluji .i xu vajni fa ledu'u xukau ma'a
te cmene ra lu zukte li'u

ni'o la breiton. sanli fi le jamfu gi'e bregau lenu smaji muvdu
to'o le since pa'o le vorme faunai lenu fanza .ijanai kakne .i lo'e
prenu cu tai cliva loi banli .iki'ubo ge leka banli cu dunli leka
vlipa gi leka vlipa cu dunli leka ckape .i ko'a djuno ledu'u kakne
lenu to'o cadzu fi'o fanta noda kei .e lenu na'e srera facki fi le
vorme .i romu'ei gi le cizda'u cu jersi gi le bi'unai se nelci noi
gacrygau loi pixra lei bitmu cu mapti sabji le kajna be lei bitmu
bei so'o xazdo ke catrykai xarci poi ko'a ka'e cpacu ke'a mu'i le
fasnu .i pu'oku le kanla be le since cu jelca dirce sekai le zmadu
ka ce'u kusru palci

ni'o la breiton. galtygau le pritu jamfu fi le loldi tezu'e lenu
to'o cadzu .i co'iku ko'a tsali cinmo leka rinju fi le se zukte

lu mi cu'u virnu sei ko'a smaji bacru .i xu noda te frica leka virnu
kei leka jgira .i xu mu'i leza'i noda zgana kei mi rivli'a li'u

.i ko'a sarjygau fu leza'i le pritu xance cu cpana lo stizu kei
.ije le jamfu cu na cpana da

lu .oi tolsmu sei ko'a cusku .i le'o mi na toldarsi ji'e lenu terpa
loi nu simlu fi mi fe leka terpa li'u

ni'o ko'a le jamfu cu zmadu galtygau ta'i lenu korcygau le tupcidni
kei gi'e catke muvdygau le loldi .i centre fa'u centre .i ko'a na
sanji le krasi be le fasnu .i lenu troci tu'a le zunle jamfu cu
jalge le dunli .ibo ri za'ure'u crane le priju .i le xance poi cpana
le stizu cu tsali jgari ri .i le birka cu sirji gi'e milxe leka
to'o kuspe .i lakne nu da'i lo zgana cu jinvi ledu'u ko'a rinju fi
lenu cirko lenu jgari .i ranji nu le mabla stedu le since cu pagre
le nenryrai be le'i sarlu .iku'ipe'a caku le kanla cu dikca gi'e
dirce lei ci'i gusni jesni

ni'o le nanmu cu kandi skari .i krefu nu fa'a stapa .i milxe mosycpu
le stizu noi ca lenu jgari sisti cu farlu le loldi gi'e savru cupra
.i le nanmu cu cmoni .i le since cu na muvdu gi'e na se sance .iku'i
le ri kanla cu solri pe'a te gusni gi'e mulno mipri le respa .i ra
cupra le banro ke skari djine noi ca lenu bardyrai cu canci tai
lo'e zbabu fomsle .i ra simlu leka jibni binxo le ko'a flira kei
gi'e bazi ragve sela'u lo na'e ka'e se djuno .i ko'a tirna le ranji
je darno damri .i to'e jimpe ka pluka kei tai le'e tonga be fi le
bifyjgita pe la .ai,olos. .i ko'a slabu djuno ledu'u ti du le selsa'a
pe le solri nu tolcanci keipe le rokyxra pe la memnon. .i simlu fi
ko'a leka sanli vi le srasu pevi la nil. gi'e tirna sepi'o lei galtu
te ganse le mivnalsti se sanga fi'o na'e se rinju le smaji na'acto

ni'o le zgike cu jai zilsti .i sa'e ri binxo lo na'eka'e se ganse
pe tai le'e darno cnosna pe le'e vilti'a poi cliva .i le tumla poi
gusycai loi solri kujoi loi carvi cu tcena to'o ko'a gi'e se bargu
le klani tanbargu noi greku do'e le barda kruvi lei so'oki'o tcadu
poi ka'e viska ke'a .i vi le midju darno le bi'u bardytce since noi
dasni lo jmemapku cu galtygau le stedu le vo'a pluja xadni gi'e
zgana ko'a le kanla po'e le ko'a morsi mamta .i suksa nu le makfa
tumla cu simlu leka sutra ke galtu zenba tai le'e jvinu murta pe
le'e dracydi'u gi'e canci sekai leka kunti .i da tsali darxi ko'a
fo le flira .e le cutne .i ko'a ba'o farlu le loldi .i ciblu flecu
fo le spofu nazbi .e le marxa ctebi .i ze'iku ko'a jenca je cfipu
gi'e vreta fau leza'i ge le kanla cu ganlo gi le flira cu lamji le
vorme .i baziku ko'a toljenbi'o gi'e binxo co djuno ledu'u lenu
farlu cu daspo leza'i jgari kei ri'a lenu catlu sisti .i ca jinvi
ledu'u ka'e cliva ta'i lenu na fargau le kanla .iku'i lenu pensi
le since noi jibni le ko'a stedu sela'u so'u mitre gi'e pu'o se
zgana to cumki nu ca zukte lenu gunta cfari gi'e srurygau le ko'a
galxe fa lei sarlu toi cu dukse leka rigni .ije ko'a galtygau le
stedu gi'e caicta le capti'i kanla gi'e za'ure'u se jgari

ni'o le since cu na muvdu gi'e simla leka cirko le vlipa be lenu
ko'a pensi .i le melbi jifselvi'a poi zi purci cu na jai krefu .i
ni'a le xutla je besna bo claxu stedycra fa le xekri kanla cu dirce
po'o tai le pamoi sekai le mutce ka palci .i le danlu cu simlu leka
ce'u birti ledu'u lenu jgina cu to'e se senpi kei gi'e jdice ledu'u
na zmadu gasnu lei te trina

ni'o co'a fasnu fa lo se terpa .i le nanmu noi salpo fi le loldi
zi'e noi ke'a ragve me'ipa mitre le bradi cu galtygau le cutne
sepi'o lei bircidni .ibo le stedu cu se farna le galtu .ibo le tuple
cu mulno kuspe .ibo le flira cu blabi vi le na'e ciblu .ibo le kanla
cu dukse fi le mulno kalri .i lei fomsle cu cpana le ctebi gi'e
farlu sekai leka panlo .i le ko'a xadni cu tsali desku fi'o te jibni
simsa leka since muvdu .i ko'a korcygau le xadmidju be ko'a gi'e
slilygau le tuple .i ro lenu mudvu cu jalge lenu ko'a zenba leka
jibni le since .i ko'a fa'a catke le xance mu'i lenu fanta kei gi'e
ku'i ranjygau lenu muvdu sepi'o lei bircidni

 
ni'oni'o vomo'o

 
la ga'i drurin. .e le ri speni cu zutse vi le cukte kumfa .i le
skepre goi ko'e cu ca zdile to rirci toi

lu mi puzi cpacu ta'i lenu canja fo lo drata tecyselci'i sei ko'e
cusku le melbi ke mupli since be la'o xy. Ophiophagus .xy. li'u

.i lu ta mo li'u preti fi le ninmu goi ko'i sekai leka tatpi no'e
cinri

.i lu .uasai mutce ka na'e djuno .i doi dirba ro nanmu poi cilre
ba'o lenu speni binxo kei ledu'u le speni be vo'a cu na se bangu
la xelban. cu jai krinu lenu speni sisti .i la'o xy. Ophiophagus
.xy. cu klesi lo'i since leka ce'u citka loi since li'u

.i lu .a'o ba citka ro le do since li'u se cusku ko'i ca'o lenu
mudvu lo gustci .i lu ta'i ma zu'i gunta lei drata since .i ru'a
xlura fo loi makfa li'u

.i lu satci mapti do doi dirba li'u se cusku le skepre sekai leka
jitfa fengu .i lu do djuno ledu'u fanza mi fa ro nu stidi le mabla
jitkrici pe le since vlipa be lenu xlura li'u

ni'o lenu casnu cu se dicra tu'a lo cladu se krixa poi dirce vi'u
le zdani tai le'e voksa be lo pacruxpre poi lausku ne'i lo mroke'a
.i le sance cu krefu je krefu gi'e mutce leka klina .i le remei cu
sutra sanli .i le nanmu cu se cfipu .ije le ninmu cu blabi gi'e
smaji vau mu'i lenu terpa .i puzi le fanmo be tu'a le sance le
skepre cu cliva le kumfa gi'e bajra le serti fo leka ro lenu ce'u
stapa cu se jalge tu'a re te serti .i vi le dijlu'a poi bartu le
kumfa pe la breiton. ko'e penmi le so'o selfu poi klama fi le galtu
dijysenta .i ri joi ko'e bikykla le vorme secau ronu cpedu fo lonu
tunta le vorme .i ri na lasna gi'e frili ke kalri binxo .i la
breiton. cu vreta le loldi fi'o zbepi le ri betfu .i le stedu .e
le birka cu milxe se mipri le korbi be le ckana .i lacpu le xadni
gi'e ga'u carnygau ri .i le flira cu se preja le ciblu .e lei fomsle
.i le kanla cu mulno kalri .ibo xlali jvinu

ni'o lu morsi ri'a lonu sezgunta li'u se cusku le skepre .i ko'e
korcygau le tupcidni gi'e cpanygau le vo'a xance le cutne be la
breiton. .i ca'oku ko'e cu funca zgana le cnita be le ckana .i lu
.ue.oi sei ko'e jmina cusku .i pau ti zvati ri'a ma li'u

ni'o ko'e tcena le cnita be le ckana gi'e ze'o lacpu le since gi'e
renro sy. noi ca'o sarlu ku'o le midju be le kumfa .i fau lenu rufsu
sance kei sy. sakli le spali loldi gi'e jai se sisti le bitmu .i
sy. cu se kelci since .i le kanla cu cutci batke remei

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The Man and the Snake

 
I

 
It is of veritabyll report, and attested of so many that there be
nowe of wyse and learned none to gaynsaye it, that ye serpente hys
eye hath a magnetick propertie that whosoe falleth into its svasion
is drawn forwards in despyte of his wille, and perisheth miserabyll
by ye creature hys byte.

 
Stretched at ease upon a sofa, in gown and slippers, Harker Brayton
smiled as he read the foregoing sentence in old Morryster's
"Marvells of Science." "The only marvel in the matter," he said to
himself, "is that the wise and learned in Morryster's day should
have believed such nonsense as is rejected by most of even the
ignorant in ours."

A train of reflections followedfor Brayton was a man of thought
and he unconsciously lowered his book without altering the
direction of his eyes. As soon as the volume had gone below the
line of sight, something in an obscure corner of the room recalled
his attention to his surroundings. What he saw, in the shadow
under his bed, were two small points of light, apparently about an
inch apart. They might have been reflections of the gas jet above
him, in metal nail heads; he gave them but little thought and
resumed his reading. A moment later something--some impulse which
it did not occur to him to analyze--impelled him to lower the book
again and seek for what he saw before. The points of light were
still there. They seemed to have become brighter than before,
shining with a greenish luster which he had not at first observed.
He thought, too, that they might have moved a trifle--were somewhat
nearer. They were still too much in the shadow, however, to reveal
their nature and origin to an indolent attention, and he resumed
his reading. Suddenly something in the text suggested a thought
which made him start and drop the book for the third time to the
side of the sofa, whence, escaping from his hand, it fell sprawling
to the floor, back upward. Brayton, half-risen, was staring
intently into the obscurity beneath the bed, where the points of
light shone with, it seemed to him, an added fire. His attention
was now fully aroused, his gaze eager and imperative. It
disclosed, almost directly beneath the foot rail of the bed, the
coils of a large serpent--the points of light were its eyes! Its
horrible head, thrust flatly forth from the innermost coil and
resting upon the outermost, was directed straight toward him, the
definition of the wide, brutal jaw and the idiotlike forehead
serving to show the direction of its malevolent gaze. The eyes
were no longer merely luminous points; they looked into his own
with a meaning, a malign significance.

 
II

 
A snake in a bedroom of a modern city dwelling of the better sort
is, happily, not so common a phenomenon as to make explanation
altogether needless. Harker Brayton, a bachelor of thirty-five, a
scholar, idler, and something of an athlete, rich, popular, and of
sound health, had returned to San Francisco from all manner of
remote and unfamiliar countries. His tastes, always a trifle
luxurious, had taken on an added exuberance from long privation;
and the resources of even the Castle Hotel being inadequate for
their perfect gratification, he had gladly accepted the hospitality
of his friend, Dr. Druring, the distinguished scientist. Dr.
Druring's house, a large, old-fashioned one in what was now an
obscure quarter of the city, had an outer and visible aspect of
reserve. It plainly would not associate with the contiguous
elements of its altered environment, and appeared to have developed
some of the eccentricities which come of isolation. One of these
was a "wing," conspicuously irrelevant in point of architecture,
and no less rebellious in the matter of purpose; for it was a
combination of laboratory, menagerie, and museum. It was here that
the doctor indulged the scientific side of his nature in the study
of such forms of animal life as engaged his interest and comforted
his taste--which, it must be confessed, ran rather to the lower
oforms. For one of the higher types nimbly and sweetly to recommend
itself unto his gentle senses, it had at least to retain certain
rudimentary characteristics allying it to such "dragons of the
prime" as toads and snakes. His scientific sympathies were
distinctly reptilian; he loved nature's vulgarians and described
himself as the Zola of zoology. His wife and daughters, not having
the advantage to share his enlightened curiosity regarding the
works and ways of our ill-starred fellow-creatures, were, with
needless austerity, excluded from what he called the Snakery, and
doomed to companionship with their own kind; though, to soften the
rigors of their lot, he had permitted them, out of his great
wealth, to outdo the reptiles in the gorgeousness of their
surroundings and to shine with a superior splendor.

Architecturally, and in point of "furnishing," the Snakery had a
severe simplicity befitting the humble circumstances of its
occupants, many of whom, indeed, could not safely have been
intrusted with the liberty which is necessary to the full enjoyment
of luxury, for they had the troublesome peculiarity of being alive.
In their own apartments, however, they were under as little
personal restraint as was compatible with their protection from the
baneful habit of swallowing one another; and, as Brayton had
thoughtfully been apprised, it was more than a tradition that some
of them had at divers times been found in parts of the premises
where it would have embarrassed them to explain their presence.
Despite the Snakery and its uncanny associations--to which, indeed,
he gave little attention--Brayton found life at the Druring mansion
very much to his mind.

 
III

 
Beyond a smart shock of surprise and a shudder of mere loathing,
Mr. Brayton was not greatly affected. His first thought was to
ring the call bell and bring a servant; but, although the bell cord
dangled within easy reach, he made no movement toward it; it had
occurred to his mind that the act might subject him to the
suspicion of fear, which he certainly did not feel. He was more
keenly conscious of the incongruous nature of the situation than
affected by its perils; it was revolting, but absurd.

The reptile was of a species with which Brayton was unfamiliar.
Its length he could only conjecture; the body at the largest
visible part seemed about as thick as his forearm. In what way was
it dangerous, if in any way? Was it venomous? Was it a
constrictor? His knowledge of nature's danger signals did not
enable him to say; he had never deciphered the code.

If not dangerous, the creature was at least offensive. It was de
trop"matter out of place"an impertinence. The gem was unworthy
of the setting. Even the barbarous taste of our time and country,
which had loaded the walls of the room with pictures, the floor
with furniture, and the furniture with bric-a-brac, had not quite
fitted the place for this bit of the savage life of the jungle.
Besidesinsupportable thought!the exhalations of its breath
mingled with the atmosphere which he himself was breathing!

These thoughts shaped themselves with greater or less definition in
Brayton's mind, and begot action. The process is what we call
consideration and decision. It is thus that we are wise and
unwise. It is thus that the withered leaf in an autumn breeze
shows greater or less intelligence than its fellows, falling upon
the land or upon the lake. The secret of human action is an open
one--something contracts our muscles. Does it matter if we give to
the preparatory molecular changes the name of will?

Brayton rose to his feet and prepared to back softly away from the
snake, without disturbing it, if possible, and through the door.
People retire so from the presence of the great, for greatness is
power, and power is a menace. He knew that he could walk backward
without obstruction, and find the door without error. Should the
monster follow, the taste which had plastered the walls with
paintings had consistently supplied a rack of murderous Oriental
weapons from which he could snatch one to suit the occasion. In
the meantime the snake's eyes burned with a more pitiless
malevolence than ever.

Brayton lifted his right foot free of the floor to step backward.
That moment he felt a strong aversion to doing so.

"I am accounted brave," he murmured; "is bravery, then, no more
than pride? Because there are none to witness the shame shall I
retreat?"

He was steadying himself with his right hand upon the back of a
chair, his foot suspended.

"Nonsense!" he said aloud; "I am not so great a coward as to fear
to seem to myself afraid."

He lifted the foot a little higher by slightly bending the knee,
and thrust it sharply to the floor--an inch in front of the other!
He could not think how that occurred. A trial with the left foot
had the same result; it was again in advance of the right. The
hand upon the chair back was grasping it; the arm was straight,
reaching somewhat backward. One might have seen that he was
reluctant to lose his hold. The snake's malignant head was still
thrust forth from the inner coil as before, the neck level. It had
not moved, but its eyes were now electric sparks, radiating an
infinity of luminous needles.

The man had an ashy pallor. Again he took a step forward, and
another, partly dragging the chair, which, when finally released,
fell upon the floor with a crash. The man groaned; the snake made
neither sound nor motion, but its eyes were two dazzling suns. The
reptile itself was wholly concealed by them. They gave off
enlarging rings of rich and vivid colors, which at their greatest
expansion successively vanished like soap bubbles; they seemed to
approach his very face, and anon were an immeasurable distance
away. He heard, somewhere, the continual throbbing of a great
drum, with desultory bursts of far music, inconceivably sweet, like
the tones of an aeolian harp. He knew it for the sunrise melody of
Memnon's statue, and thought he stood in the Nileside reeds,
hearing, with exalted sense, that immortal anthem through the
silence of the centuries.

The music ceased; rather, it became by insensible degrees the
distant roll of a retreating thunderstorm. A landscape, glittering
with sun and rain, stretched before him, arched with a vivid
rainbow, framing in its giant curve a hundred visible cities. In
the middle distance a vast serpent, wearing a crown, reared its
head out of its voluminous convolutions and looked at him with his
dead mother's eyes. Suddenly this enchanting landscape seemed to
rise swiftly upward, like the drop scene at a theater, and vanished
in a blank. Something struck him a hard blow upon the face and
breast. He had fallen to the floor; the blood ran from his broken
nose and his bruised lips. For a moment he was dazed and stunned,
and lay with closed eyes, his face against the door. In a few
moments he had recovered, and then realized that his fall, by
withdrawing his eyes, had broken the spell which held him. He felt
that now, by keeping his gaze averted, he would be able to retreat.
But the thought of the serpent within a few feet of his head, yet
unseen--perhaps in the very act of springing upon him and throwing
its coils about his throat--was too horrible. He lifted his head,
stared again into those baleful eyes, and was again in bondage.

The snake had not moved, and appeared somewhat to have lost its
power upon the imagination; the gorgeous illusions of a few moments
before were not repeated. Beneath that flat and brainless brow its
black, beady eyes simply glittered, as at first, with an expression
unspeakably malignant. It was as if the creature, knowing its
triumph assured, had determined to practice no more alluring wiles.

Now ensued a fearful scene. The man, prone upon the floor, within
a yard of his enemy, raised the upper part of his body upon his
elbows, his head thrown back, his legs extended to their full
length. His face was white between its gouts of blood; his eyes
were strained open to their uttermost expansion. There was froth
upon his lips; it dropped off in flakes. Strong convulsions ran
through his body, making almost serpentine undulations. He bent
himself at the waist, shifting his legs from side to side. And
every movement left him a little nearer to the snake. He thrust
his hands forward to brace himself back, yet constantly advanced
upon his elbows.

 
IV

 
Dr. Druring and his wife sat in the library. The scientist was in
rare good humor.

"I have just obtained, by exchange with another collector," he
said, "a splendid specimen of the Ophiophagus."

"And what may that be?" the lady inquired with a somewhat languid
interest.

"Why, bless my soul, what profound ignorance! My dear, a man who
ascertains after marriage that his wife does not know Greek, is
entitled to a divorce. The Ophiophagus is a snake which eats other
snakes."

"I hope it will eat all yours," she said, absently shifting the
lamp. "But how does it get the other snakes? By charming them, I
suppose."

"That is just like you, dear," said the doctor, with an affectation
of petulance. "You know how irritating to me is any allusion to
that vulgar superstition about the snake's power of fascination."

The conversation was interrupted by a mighty cry which rang through
the silent house like the voice of a demon shouting in a tomb.
Again and yet again it sounded, with terrible distinctness. They
sprang to their feet, the man confused, the lady pale and
speechless with fright. Almost before the echoes of the last cry
had died away the doctor was out of the room, springing up the
staircase two steps at a time. In the corridor, in front of
Brayton's chamber, he met some servants who had come from the upper
floor. Together they rushed at the door without knocking. It was
unfastened, and gave way. Brayton lay upon his stomach on the
floor, dead. His head and arms were partly concealed under the
foot rail of the bed. They pulled the body away, turning it upon
the back. The face was daubed with blood and froth, the eyes were
wide open, staring--a dreadful sight!

"Died in a fit," said the scientist, bending his knee and placing
his hand upon the heart. While in that position he happened to
glance under the bed. "Good God!" he added; "how did this thing
get in here?"

He reached under the bed, pulled out the snake, and flung it, still
coiled, to the center of the room, whence, with a harsh, shuffling
sound, it slid across the polished floor till stopped by the wall,
where it lay without motion. It was a stuffed snake; its eyes were
two shoe buttons.

 
From "Tales of Soldiers and Civilians," by Ambrose Bierce.
Copyright, 1891, by E. L. G. Steele.


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