AN EGYPTIAN SNAKE CHARMER 59
' There's no but in the matter,' said Delaporte. ' The serpent was in my house, consequently it is my property, not to mention that I pay you thirty piastres for it. Take care! If you raise any difficulties in the matter I shall begin to think that you put the creature there beforehand, and that it only came to your call because you had tamed it.'
Abd-el-Kerim saw that resistance was useless, and let the serpent glide from his hands into the jar.
Delaporte had a cork and string ready at hand; the cork was firmly tied down on the jar, and the serpent secured inside it.
' Any more ? ' asked Delaporte.
' Yes,' said Abd-el-Kerim, who did not choose to own himself beaten, and sure enough, after renewed cries and more clouds of smoke, a second serpent, a little smaller than the first, issued from beneath the chest of drawers, and came to Abd-el-Kerim.
Delaporte seized a second glass jar : ' Good,' said he, ' that will make a pair.'
Abd-el-Kerim drew a long face ; but he was caught, and there was nothing for it but to give up the second serpent as he had done the first.
' Any more still ? ' inquired Delaporte.
' No, not here.'
' Where then ? '
The snake charmer turned towards the next room.
' I smell one there,' said he.
The next room was the drawing-room.
' Let us go there, then,' said Delaporte. And taking a glass jar under each arm, he gave two others to his servant to carry, and led the way to the drawing-room.
There was one there. This one seemed to be a musical serpent, for he had taken refuge under the piano, and in spite of Abd-el-Kerim's manifest reluctance, this snake also promptly found its way into the jar.