120 IN THE AMERICAN DESERT
curious way, and out of the wreaths of leaves and blossoms came a big, black body, as large as a man's arm—a boa-constrictor. It glided down the creeper towards the trunk of the magnolia, taking the greatest care to do nothing which could rouse the attention of the rattle-snake, who, indeed, was wholly occupied in making ready the squirrel to swallow. He had just taken the head and shoulders into his mouth, when the boa-constrictor appeared dangling for a moment by a single loop of his tail; then he dropped, and before the lookers-on had time to see what had happened, both snakes were locked together in a death struggle.
As to size they were very well matched, but the boa-constrictor was thinner, and far more active. It wound and unwound itself round the rattle-snake's body, pressing it close in its crushing embrace; and the rattle-snake was powerless to sting, as it could not get rid of the squirrel. Curious to say, they never fought face to face, but the head of the constrictor bad seized the bony rattles of its foe, and with its strong tail was really beating him to death. It was quite plain who was going to win ; the snake had no weapons now his poisoned fangs were useless, and soon his struggles grew feebler in the grasp of his enemy, and he stretched himself out, as dead as the squirrel.
In places that are the homes of wild animals, not a day passes without adventures of this kind. One day Mr. Eolfe and his son Frank went down the valley to collect some moss which hung in strips from the branches of the * live-oak,' and made soft and comfortable stuffing for mattresses. They soon discovered what they wanted, and were very busy about their work, when some black and yellow orioles began making a terrific hubbub in a grove of pawpaws close by. Leaving the moss the two men crept behind a tree, to see what had caused the disturbance.
It was some minutes before they found out, then they