The second akana had disappeared in to a hole in the hillside; unfortunately on trying it with my stick, I found I could reach the end of it, but it was so dark I couldn’t see a snake or anything else. Yet I believed that he was there, and determined to drag him from his retreat by force, using for the purpose a stiff blunt hook made of strong wire twisted round the end of a six foot stick. As there were no trees growing near, it was clear there wouldn’t be any roots to catch the hook, and therefore that if it did get hold of anything, it would be the coiled akana himself. Kneeling down therefore, and pushing in the stick, with the hook foremost, to the end, and working it about a little, it was possible to both feel and hear the twisted wire grating on the walls of the hard , pebbly clay. Presently it caught in something softlike which gave easily to a pull. I knew this must be the akana; so, with a sudden jerk towards me, I landed him head foremost within view, jumping to my feet at the same time, so as to be ready to avoid him if he should make a dash at me. Another quick tug just as he was turning to go back again threw him right out on the grass in the sunlight, but to my astonishment there he lay motionless on his back: he was dead, or so at least it appeared, and not only dead, but actually stiffened up and contorted rigidly. I rolled him over with the stick, but he kept the same curves; he was as unbending as a sun dried branch. His mouth was fixed half open, an as the tongue didn’t come out any more, I imagined it was my violent treatment that had killed him. I turned him over again on his back to see if life were really so suddenly extinguished; but alas, there he lay so pitiable a sight that I felt thoroughly ashamed of myself for my hurry in taking him so rudely from his hiding place.
‘Poor fellow I was too rough with you’; said I, as lifting him up by the tail I gave him a shake to straighten him out. This loosened the contorted muscles, and stretched his spinal column; and I noticed that while still holding him up by the tail his mouth closed and the tongue came out tremulously; but as this seemed to be only a last little manifestation of dwindling life, I dropped him on the ground at my feet. But assuredly never did a cat jump of a hot stove quicker than I jumped away from that akana, as at the same instant that he touched the ground he shot up, standing straight, with expanding hood, ready to make a vicious dash at my legs. Like lightning, indeed, I jumped backwards, in time to escape all danger, except the charge of venom, which came in two tiny streams from his perforated poison fangs, which fell harmlessly on my breast.
Heedless of this futile attempt of his, I pushed his head sideways to the ground with the long stick and pressed his neck slightly with it. At first he turned, open mouthed, to bite the offending wood, but finding it too close to his head to allow of this, he dropped off into the same fit of temporary lockjaw as before, giving exactly the same appearance of death. On seeing this I released his neck, and let him lie there stiff and open mouthed, and about half turned over on his back, as before, the lower jaw was drawn slightly to one side. Unbending he was, and contorted, as if he had been really killed some hours previously. Not a sign of breathing was there, not a movement of the still potent life within.
Just for experiments sake I took off my broad-leafed felt hat, and placed the edge of the brim doubled within his gaping mouth. Ah woe to me if I had put my finger there instead, for on an instant it touched, the venom-bearing jaws closed on it like a terrible trap, and held on viciously, the muscles about the sides of the head twitched violently especially over the region of the poison glands, while all the rest of the body remained as stiff and motionless as before. Putting the end of the stick into the hat, I lifted it up on high, and held it out at arm’s length; but he hung from it like a bull-dog all the time. For about two minutes I held him raised thus, but as he showed not the slightest sign of letting go, and my arm began to field tired, I laid him on the ground.
However after a short time more, limpness began to appear, commencing at the tale, and advancing gradually up the body to within a few inches of the head. On pushing him about with the sticks’ end, all except these six inches was as pliable as a rope; but around the head the last resources of muscular power seemed to be concentrated. Finally the slight stiff curve that had up to now remained in the neck straightened out, and with an effort he opened his jaws off the hat, on which he had expended a terrific quantity of venom as well as all his strength, for now he lay limp and exhausted flat on the ground, putting out the doubled pointed tongue frequently, and breathing hard two or three times, but never raising his head or otherwise moving in the least.
As I moved to take him he stood up again for a fight, but I soon caught him by the neck in the same manner as I had done his companion, and putting him into a separate bag, took both captures home to add to my collection.