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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.

Page 24

itself on the table, threatening the bystanders. I put the big black serpent down on the table four or five feet from the enemy and headed in its direction. As soon as I let go with my hands it glided toward where the threatening, formidable-looking lance-head lay stretched in a half coil. The mussurama displayed not the slightest sign of excitement. Apparently it trusted little to its eyes, for it began to run its head along the body of the jararaca, darting out its flickering tongue to feel just where it was, as it nosed its way up toward the head of its antagonist. So placid were its actions that I did not at first suppose that it meant to attack, for there was not the slightest exhibition of anger or excitement.
  It was the jararaca that began the fight. It showed no fear whatever of its foe, but its irritable temper was aroused by the proximity and actions of the other, and like a flash it drew back its head and struck, burying its fangs in the forward part of the mussurama’s body. Immediately the latter struck in return, and the counter-attack was so instantaneous that it was difficult to see just what had happened. There was tremendous writhing and struggling on the part of the jararaca; and then, leaning over the knot into which the two serpents were twisted, I saw that the mussurama had seized the jararaca by the lower jaw, putting its own head completely into the wide-gaping mouth of the poisonous snake. The long fangs were just above the top of the mussurama’s head; and it appeared, as well as I could see, that they were once again driven into the mussurama; but without the slightest effect. Then the fangs were curved back in