out David is that he has not inherited it."
"But are you not afraid to keep your collection here?" I asked. "Do you not dread some of them escaping?"
"I take precautions," she said, shortly: "and as to any personal fear, I do not know the meaning of the word. My favourites know me, and after their fashion they love me."
As she spoke she slid back one of the iron doors and, reaching in her hand, took out a huge snake and deliberately whipped the creature round her neck.
"This is my dear old carpet snake," she said; "quite harmless. You can come close to him and touch him, if you like."
"No, thank you," I replied.
She put the snake back again and locked the door.
We returned to the drawing-room. I went and stood by the fire. I was trembling all over, but not altogether from the coldness of the atmosphere.
"You are nervous," said Lady Sarah. "I thought you brave a few minutes ago. The sight of my beauties has shocked you. Will you oblige me by not telling D