138 THE STORY OF A GAZELLE
seven heads. How then can you be a match for him, my son?'
' Mind your own business, mother,' answered the gazelle, ' and don't mind other people's ! Has this snake a sword ?'
' He lias a sword, and a sharp one too. It cuts like a flash of lightning.'
( Give it to me, mother! ' said the gazelle, and she un hooked the sword from the wall, as she was bidden 'You must be quick,' she said, ' for he may be here at any moment. Hark ! is not that the wind rising? He has come!'
They were silent, but the old woman peeped from behind a curtain, and saw the snake busy at the pots which she had placed ready for him in the courtyard. And after he had done eating and drinking he came to the door.
' You old body ! ' he cried ; ' what smell is that I smell inside that is not the smell of every day ? ' » ' Oh, master! ' answered she, ' I am alone, as I always am! But to-day, after many days, I have sprinkled fresh scent all over me, and it is that which you smell. What else could it be, master ?'
All this time the gazelle had been standing close to the door, holding the sword in one of its front paws. And as the snake put one of his heads through the hole that he had made so as to get in and out comfortably, it cut it off so clean that the snake really did not feel it. The second blow was not quite so straight, for the snake said to himself, ' Who is that who is trying to scratch me ? ' and stretched out his third head to see ; but no sooner was the neck through the hole than the head went rolling to join the rest.
When six of his heads were gone the snake lashed his tail with such fury that the gazelle and the old woman could not see each other for the dust he made. And the gazelle said to him, ' You have climbed all sorts of