THE BOA-CONSTRICTOR'S VISIT 195
stopped, about thirty yards in front of our position. Ernest, partly through nervousness, discharged his gun, and Jack and Francis followed his example.
The monster raised his head ; but appeared to have received no wound. Fritz and I then fired, but without any effect, and the serpent glided away with inconceivable rapidity toward the marsh where our ducks and geese were, and disappeared in the rushes.
Exclamations accompanied his disappearance. Everyone was sure that they had hit him; but all agreed he was as yet unwounded. The boys chattered in a frenzy of excitement about his size and the colour of his scales.
I was in a state of great anxiety, for I could think of no way to rid ourselves of him. Meantime, I told everyone to remain in the grotto, and forbade them to open the door without my permission.
The fear of our terrible neighbour kept us shut up three days in our retreat—three long days of anguish and alarm.
The monster had given us no signs of his presence, and we would have supposed that he had gone, if the agitation among the ducks had not assured us of his presence. Every evening the whole colony made for the bay, and swam away to