an attendant, a compact roll six feet long and several inches in diameter.

The constrictors take considerable time to swallow their prey, and, though they are capable of disposing in this way of animals of considerable size, there is naturally a limit to the capacity of even the largest. Stories of serpents swallowing horses, cattle, and large deer are simple nonsense. No authentic instance is recorded of an adult man having been swallowed by a serpent, although this may have occurred in case of children. One reason for this, however, may be that the larger constrictors confine themselves to a limited diet, and refuse to eat animals to which they are not accustomed.

Occasional instances are related, however, where such snakes have attacked men. Schweinfurth, the wellknown African explorer, was once following up a boschbok, a small species of gazelle, at which he had shot, through a rank growth of grass, when he heard the animal give a short plaintive cry and saw it disappear as if it had fallen into a hole. After hunting for it in the tangle, Schweinfurth almost stumbled over it. The frantic animal was thrashing furiously with its forefeet, but was held back by something which the explorer could not at first identify. This proved to be the thick body of a species of rock python, which the Africans call assala, which was coiled three times around the bok. Schweinfurth recoiled a few steps and then fired at the serpent. The animal rose straight in the air for a moment, then sank back again and lunged forward directly at him with incredible celerity. But only the front part of the snake was free; the rest dragged helplessly on the ground, for the shot had crippled it. The explorer continued to fire until the animal was dead. He adds that it was like shooting at a shadow in the night, so rapid were the snake's motions.

In Guiana, in South America, an Indian was hunting, accompanied by his wife. He was seized by a large anaconda while on the bank of a river. As he had left his gun in his canoe, he called to his wife to bring him a knife. The woman had scarcely reached him when the serpent coiled around her also. But in doing so it freed the man's arm, so that he was able to wound the snake with the knife, whereupon it released them and made off.

One of the attendants in the London Zoological Gardens had a rather unpleasant experience with a similar serpent. He was holding out a chicken to a python in his charge. The latter struck for it, but missed it and seized the man's fingers instead. In a moment it had wound around the man's arm and neck. There immediately began a lifeand-death struggle, which was luckily terminated by two other attendants rushing up and with great difficulty liberating their comrade.

One of the attractions of many traveling menageries and variety shows has always been snake dancers who dance with constrictors wound around their neck, arms, and body. Naturally only smaller and younger serpents are used for such exhibitions, and they are usually weak and powerless from long captivity and underfeeding. Some of the smaller snakes of this sort, like the king python and many of the boas, have an ostrichlike habit when frightened of rolling up into a ball with their head in the centre and remaining perfectly passive, no matter what is done to them. Ordinarily they are harmless, but you cannot trust them, for they are more capricious and irritable than other snakes. I knew a young girl who used to appear on the stage as an Indian goddess with a brilliant boa coiled around her waist. One night, however, the supposedly harmless serpent crushed her before help could come.



ON Monday of Holy Week the new parish priest in a village perched high on a shoulder of the Andes, midway between the plains and the eternal snow, observed an unusual agitation among his flock. He had just finished describing Christ's Passion, with a resounding thwack upon the fine old colonial pulpit, which was carved to represent a demon writhing at the feet of the Virgin. Speaking first in Spanish, then in Quechua, he had related the sacred story with that gift for vivid description that missionary priests so often possess. You might have thought he had been personally present at the foot of the Cross, that he had counted with his own lips its bloody nails, as with solemn voice, and with teardimmed eyes directed to the high altar, he pictured every step of the tortured Saviour; how He fell under the great weight of the Cross; how the blood sprang forth from the purple lashmarks on His bare shoulders. The Indians understood him only too well. For centuries they had borne crushing burdens, over dizzy mountain trails, under the lash of mounted soldiers who laughed jeeringly at their toil.

The congregation broke into a chorus of sobs, so loud and violent that the priest felt almost bathed in a vapor of tears. But why did everyone keep turning toward a little group of 'rich' Indians kneeling humbly on their vicuña ponchos just outside the church door? They looked like people who 1 From Caras y Caretas (Buenos Aires illustrated topical weekly), November 27

might have stepped right out of the Bible. The man was an Indian with a scanty beard, jet-black eyes, and the features of a Roman soldier such as we see on ancient monuments. Beside him was kneeling an old Indian woman clad in native garb, her black tresses standing out in bright relief against the brilliant coloring of her saffron shawl. Close behind her knelt a perfect example of an Italian Madonna a young Indian girl gilded by the rays of the declining sun, so modest, so humble, so immersed in devotion, that you might have imagined her a saint listening to angels' voices, and yet with eyes so sad that even the Annunciation could hardly have made them brighter. Nevertheless she too was regarded with obvious reprobation by the other worshipers.

Merely noting this fact, the good priest concluded his sermon by toning down the more vivid passages of his story in order not to make the Indians weep. But he told them to come back to church on the morrow, and on every succeeding day of Holy Week.

On Tuesday and Wednesday the same scene was repeated. The worshipers listened with passionate attention to the account of the Crucifixion, to an enumeration of every stroke of the lash upon the divine flesh, of every incident of the journey of the Cross. It was intensely vivid and real to them, and no more brutal than their everyday experiences. They heard the story of the charity of the poor, which has not changed, and of the scorning of

righteousness and the defeat of idealism, all of which seemed very modern. And as they listened they wept with a sort of lyrical weeping, for those Indians are wonderful flute players,

lifting their wailing voices as they were wont to do when singing on the mountain trails at night. At last they had a true taita, a priest more eloquent than any of his predecessors. The church was crowded. Never before had there been so many mothers with nursing babies or fat fowls in their arms, or bringing barbarous

jewels to hang on the velvet robe of the Virgin Mary. The latter was a faded triangular Virgin dating from Spanish times, who had become a millionaire during three centuries of Indian despair.

On Maundy Thursday many of the worshipers could not get into the church. They had come on foot and with their llamas over distant mountain trails, past Pascana Cemetery, where an iron Christ hung crucified above the Andean snows, wearing around his loins a skirtlike garment blown by the wind, so that he looked like a storm-bewildered wanderer in the icy waste.

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Those who could not find room in the church gathered outside the door. Among these were many poor women, prematurely aged, an Indian woman is a grandmother at thirty, with little ones gathered around them. Even a recalcitrant witch had come into the mountains, bringing on the back of the llama a little blackened idol famed throughout the district, which she immediately burned over a fire of llama dung. Attracted by the noise, the priest came out of the church, and was called upon to bless this victory over the infernal powers.

The sermon that followed was the greatest emotional success in the priest's experience. He related a

miracle described at length in a book written by my compatriot, Fray Juan de Allosa. It is the story of a llama that began to talk one day, as the ass did in the Bible, and chided his owner for his sins. Moved by the eloquence of the animal, the latter abjured his errors and became a holy man. The Indians were prodigiously interested by this story, and learned with astonishment that their llamas, if sufficiently gifted, might speak Spanish as well as the priest, the local magistrate, or the Governor.

It was just then, when interest and emotion were at a climax, that a brave old Indian turned around, and, pointing accusingly with his finger at the rich Indian family, seemed to identify them with the great and tragic history just related.

While the priest stared in bewildered noncomprehension, the three persons indicated burst into loud sobs of contrition, still kneeling on their ponchos. What was passing through their minds? Convinced that something important must lie behind the incident, the priest descended from the pulpit and approached the group. The witch who had piously burned her black idol — a pot-bellied god with big ears - humbly kissed the pavement when he passed.

This made it necessary to explain the whole matter. Some of the bolder members of the congregation hastened up to the contrite family and breathlessly pleaded with them to make a public confession. They must surely appease Heaven before the end of Holy Week.

So the old man with the head of a Roman soldier, and the slender Indian girl with the Madonna face, were led forward. It was a long and agonizing story, but they confessed all in the Quechua tongue. Their own ancestors had committed the infamous deed for which they wept and did penance

to the present day. Yes, their forefathers had killed Christ, right up there where the cemetery now is. They had flogged Him in the cabin there. As He was dragged along the white winter trail His bleeding feet stained the snow with red.

Last of all, they had crucified Him on the altar of the very idol which had been burned to-day, the idol blackened with Christian blood. Yea, their own great-grandsire had thrust a hardwood lance into the suffering victim's side. Indian boys in ponchos had used Him as a mark for their slings, just as boys to-day use a young condor, or a bat upon the wall. From that time God's anger had rested upon them, and had multiplied their troubles. Their dried potatoes had decayed, their porridge had lost its savor,

and even the coca leaves were no longer as invigorating as of yore.

The priest stood speechless, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. These poor people, then, had not understood one word of the whole story. They believed their own ancestors were guilty of crucifying Christ - doubtless some legend of an early martyred friar. So at length, followed by his jubilant congregation, the Father walked out into the square in front of the church, and there, before the kneeling llamas, he made the sign of the cross over the valley. He blessed the mountains, he blessed the animals, he blessed the descendants of Christ's crucifiers, he blessed the whole simple, credulous village which had accused itself for generations of a crime it had never committed.



[Saturday Review]

OR only a harp breaking, only a broken harp,
But the world is shaking with a sudden, sharp
Sound of dreams rending, as though life were
In the moment of ending lovelier

Than youth, than bridal, than the kiss of the lover;
And death, like a tidal wave, sweeps over,
With release for the sailor in her long, green kisses,
And the world grows paler than the girl, Ulysses,
Than the girl on the coast of youth's memory,
The pitiful ghost of Penelope.

Death's voice is the same as her voice was (O Captain!)
That night when it came as a star you were rapt in,

When it rose, and you heard then, in a world stricken dumb,
Love whisper the word then we are whispering: 'Come ...


Homesick England

In a recent article in the London Mercury the following stanza was quoted:

For, in unwanted purlieus, far and nigh,
At whiles or short or long,
May be discerned a wrong
Dying as of self-slaughter; whereat I
Would raise my voice in song.

The reader might be forgiven for supposing that these lines were selected for their singular infelicity; but such was not the case. The reader might also, were he not familiar with the work and reputation of Thomas Hardy, be forgiven for hoping that the author of these lines might turn his talents to something, to anything, rather than to literature; but such is not the moral of the Mercury article. No. These lines were picked out, among many others in a similar vein, as proof positive of Hardy's genius.

The veneration in which Thomas Hardy is held in England to-day is not so much a commentary on the present state of literary criticism as it is a reflection of the British spirit. The nation is suffering from a severe attack of nostalgia for its long-lost countryside, and Hardy is the literary yokel whose homely wisdom, rustic rimes, and hayseed characters awaken in many Englishmen dim remembrances of the times when their ancestors lived off the soil. Readers of Dean Inge's warped but highly significant study of modern England will recall the disproportionate amount of space occupied by the opening chapter, "The Land and Its Inhabitants,' where the author dwelt on the rustic British background and the changes wrought by the In

dustrial Revolution so insistently that an inhabitant of Mars or Texas might well have imagined that France and Germany had been enjoying the doubtful pleasures of our mechanical age since the time of Charlemagne, and that only England had had to make a hasty adjustment to new and bewildering conditions.

This feeling for the countryside is to be found in many other places than the Complete Works of Thomas Hardy. The Georgian 'Nature Poets,' Eden Phillpotts, even the weekly and daily press, constantly reflect it. In a recent issue of the Saturday Review Mr. P. S. Richards contributes a middle article on 'This Other Eden,' where the 'Back to Nature' cry is sounded at its loudest. Two recent events,' says Mr. Richards,

'the Imperial Conference on the one hand, and the lame and impotent conclusions of the coal strike on the other, - have in very different ways called attention to the existence of England as a national, that is a spiritual, whole.' He then goes on to explain what England means to different people. To Mr. Cook it is 'a recalcitrant but promising suburb of Leningrad'; others, luckily, take a more wholesome view.

Perhaps the most wholesome view of all is Mr. Richards's own, which is fairly well summed up in this eloquent sentence: 'In the actual soil that has bred her Shakespeare and her millions of mere uncounted folk we should find the roots of her greatness: not in the foul blotches of towns that industrialism has spread over her lovely face, but in the unspoiled countryside that is the garment woven by God and man to be the transparent veil of her spirit.' A

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