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    The Man and the Snake

    Автор книги Ambrose Bierce

    Время прослушивания 03:23, Дата публикации

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    Lying upon a sofa Harker Brayton was reading "Marvels of Science." Reflecting on what he had read he unconsciously lowered his book without changing the direction of his gaze. Suddenly something in a dark corner of the room drew his attention. What he saw, in the shadow under his bed, was two small points of light about an inch apart. They may have been reflections of the gas lamp above him, in metal nailheads. He gave them little thought and resumed his reading. A moment later some impulse made him lower his 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 lustre that he had not at first observed. He thought that they had moved a little - were somewhat nearer. However, he couldn't reveal their nature and origin and again he resumed his reading. Suddenly something in the text suggested a thought that made him start and drop the book for the third time to the side of the sofa. Brayton, half rising, was staring intently under the bed where the points of light shone, as it seemed to him, much brighter. His attention was now fully waked, his gaze eager and intensive. It revealed almost directly under the foot of the bed the coils of a large serpent - the points of light were its eyes! Its horrible head was directed straight toward him. The eyes were no longer luminous points; they looked into his own with an evil expression. *** A snake in a bedroom of a modern city flat is, happily, not so common a phenomenon as makes explanation needless. Harker Brayton, a bachelor of 35, a scientist, rich, popular and healthy, had returned to San Francisco from remote and unknown countries. He accepted the invitation of his friend, Dr Druring, the famous scientist, and was staying at his large old-fashioned house. Dr Druring's interest was reptilian, he kept them in a distant wing of the house that he used as a combination of laboratory and museum and that he called the Snakery. Despite the Snakery Brayton found life at the Druring's house to be very pleasant. Except for a slight shock of surprise and a shudder of mere disgust Mr Brayton was not greatly affected. His first thought was to ring the bell and call a servant, but then it occurred to him that the servant would suspect him of fear, which he certainly did not feel. The reptile was of a species with which Brayton was unfamiliar. Its length he could only guess; the body at the largest visible part seemed about as thick as his arm. In what way was it dangerous if any? Was it venomous? Was it a constrictor? His knowledge of serpents did not enable him to say.