Pretending to look earnestly at this respectable person's stomach, Roderick assured him that his snake was a copper-head and had been generated by the immense quantities of that base metal with which he daily defiled his fingers.
"You have swallowed a snake in a cup of sacramental wine," quoth he.
To an envious author, who depreciated works which he could never equal, he said that his snake was the slimiest and filthiest of all the reptile tribe, but was fortunately without a sting.
But nothing seemed to please Roderick better than to lay hold of a person infected with jealousy, which he represented as an enormous green reptile, with an ice-cold length of body, and the sharpest sting of any snake save one.
It was said, too, that an answering hiss came from the vitals of the shipmaster, as if a snake were actually lurking there and had been aroused by the call of its brother reptile.
Sometimes, in his moments of rage and bitter hatred against the snake and himself, Roderick determined to be the death of him, even at the expense of his own life.
"My sable friend Scipio has a story," replied Roderick, "of a snake that had lurked in this fountain--pure and innocent as it looks--ever since it was known to the first settlers.
With this exclamation Roderick lost his self-control and threw himself upon the grass, testifying his agony by intricate writhings, in which Herkimer could not but fancy a resemblance to the motions of a snake. Then, likewise, was heard that frightful hiss, which often ran through the sufferer's speech, and crept between the words and syllables without interrupting their succession.
The big snake turned half around, and saw the egg on the veranda.
He was afraid for the minute, but it is impossible for a mongoose to stay frightened for any length of time, and though Rikki-tikki had never met a live cobra before, his mother had fed him on dead ones, and he knew that all a grown mongoose's business in life was to fight and eat snakes. Nag knew that too and, at the bottom of his cold heart, he was afraid.
But Darzee had built it out of reach of snakes, and it only swayed to and fro.
It looks very funny, but it is so perfectly balanced a gait that you can fly off from it at any angle you please, and in dealing with snakes this is an advantage.
"Those who kill snakes get killed by snakes," said Chuchundra, more sorrowfully than ever.