(Feb 22nd to 28th)

Format: Triple

A yellow and brown streak glided from the purple rustling stems to the bank, stretched its neck to the water, drank, and lay still – a big cobra with fixed lidless eyes…
…’Let him live out his life.’ The coiled thing hissed and half opened its hood. ‘May thy release come soon, brother.’…He passed within a foot of the cobra’s poised head. It flattened itself among the dusty coils…


This is from Kim.

Kim and the Lama are making their way through the fields outside Umballa, on the way to the Grand Trunk Road. On the edge of a little stream they encounter a cobra. Kim’s instinct is to break its back, but to the Lama the snake is just another being, bound like them upon the Wheel of Things.

I hate and fear snakes, because if you look into the eyes of any snake you will see that it knows all and more of the mystery of man’s fall, and that it feels all the contempt that the Devil felt when Adam was evicted from Eden. Besides which its bite is generally fatal, and it twists up trouser legs.


This is from “The Return of Imray” in Life’s Handicap. Imray, a young administrator, has disappeared, assumed dead, and two of his friends have been staying in his old bungalow. It is a disturbing experience, since Imray’s dog is uneasy and restive, and it seems that all night a restless spirit is trying to attract their attention. Then one of them sees the tails of two brown snakes hanging from the ceiling cloth. When they investigate they find Imray’s body, with his throat cut.

The young man felt inside … with his stick, and slung out a snake, which he named, balanced on the wire. The body dropped raspingly on the dry grass at the edge of the moat, and recovered itself like coiled lightning, its head already set, and in cocked watch towards the man. He half kicked towards it with his shoed foot. It half struck back, showing its death-coloured mouth, and sank back into its coils, cursing a little.


This is from Brazilian Sketches, a series of articles by Rudyard Kipling published in the Morning Post after a visit to Brazil in November/December 1927. Here he was visiting a snake-farm in San Paulo.