Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bosom Serpent (Late 19th Century)

Francis Buckland, Curiosities of Natural History, First Series, 4th ed. (London: Richard Bentley And Son, 1883), p. 35.

I was lately told a wonderful story by a raw Lancashire man. It appears that once upon a time there lived a man whose appetite was enormous: he was always eating and yet could never get fat, he was the thinnest and most miserable of creatures to look at. He always declared that he had something alive in his stomach; and a kind friend learned in doctoring confirmed his opinion, and prescribed a most ingenious plan to dislodge the enemy, a big Triton, who had taken up his quarters in the man's stomach. He was ordered to eat nothing but salt food and to drink no water; and when he had continued this treatment as long as he could bear it, he was to go and lie down near a weir of the river, where the water was running over, "with his mouth open." The man did as he was told, and open-mouthed and expectant placed himself by the side of the weir. The lizard inside, tormented by the salt food, and parched for want of water, heard the sound of the running stream, and came scampering up the man's throat, and jumping out of his mouth ran down to the water to drink. The sudden appearance of the brute so terrified the weakened patient that he fainted away, still with his mouth open. In the meantime the lizard had drunk his full and was coming back to return down the man's throat into his stomach: he had nearly succeeded in so doing when the patient awoke, and seizing his enemy by the tail killed him on the spot. I consider this story to be one of the finest strings of impossibilities ever recorded.