If the snake had been a copperhead or a rattler, or even a bushmaster or a krait, the story would not have seemed so impressive. But it was a cobra, and a cobra has a special quality—like a shark or a tiger.
"In World War II," said C. K. Yang (see cover), "the American planes came to bomb Formosa, and we had to go up to the mountains to live. My father made me an archery—you know? A bow? One day I was in the woods and there was a snake in the path. It was a cobra. He was up like this, you know? With his neck? My father told me, always stand still when you see a snake. I stand still. Then after a while I move a little this way. The snake move his head the same way. I lean back. The snake lean forward. I was so scared."
"What did you do?"
"I shot him. I got mad. I said to myself, I will kill this snake.' Very slow, I got my archery." Yang's dark eyes stared, and his face grew tense as he reached over his shoulder to the quiver that had been there so many years before. He strung an imaginary arrow on his imaginary bow, drew it back, let it go and smiled. "I got him in the neck."
"Then what happened?"
"I went home."
"Did you get the arrow back?"
"No!" He laughed at the idea. "I ran home! I was so scared." He shook his head in amusement. "The next day I went back, and the snake was still there. He was dead. I got my arrow back then."
"How old were you?"
"Ohhh." The effort of remembering took a long moment. "I was about—11."