56 AN EGYPTIAN SNAKE CHARMER
windows, and shaking his head in a manner which was far from encouraging.
The French Consul just then was a Monsieur Dela-porte, and after a time the report reached him that the Consulate was infested by snakes.
Now, in the course of business, M. Delaporte had come across a good many centipedes, and a certain number of scorpions, but not even the tiniest little asp ; so that he had considerable doubts as to the truth of the snake charmer's story. However, at the wish of some anxious friends who trembled at the dangers he might be running, M. Delaporte at last consented to send for Abd-el-Kerim.
The snake charmer was a man between fifty and sixty years of age, clad in a green turban and black robe— grave and dignified—as became his age and profession.
He saluted Delaporte by crossing his hands over his breast, and bowing low befox*e him. Then he waited to be questioned.
' I have sent for you,' said the Consul, who spoke Arabic like a native, ' because 1 hear a report that there are several serpents in the house.'
The Arab turned his face to the wind, sniffed it up several times, and answered gravely : ' It is true : there are.'
' Oh, indeed ! There are serpents? '
' Yes.' And the snake charmer sniffed again, and added, after a moment:
' I may even say that there are several—six of them at least.'
' You surprise me !' said Delaporte ; ' and you will undertake to destroy them ? '
' I will call them, and they will come.'
' Do so; I should like to see that.'
' You shall see it.'
So Abd-el-Kerim went out from the Consul's room, where this conversation had been held, and fetched in his