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Late in the 19th century, on the lonely Northumberland moors, herpetologist Dr. Adderson restores his wife's sanity by injecting her with venom from the snakes he uses in his experiments. A short time later she dies giving birth to a daughter, Atheris. Aggie, the midwife, runs to warn the villagers that the child has the evil eye, forcing Dr. Adderson to hide his infant daughter in a shepherd's hut. That night the villagers burn down the doctor's house, and he is fatally bitten by one of his snakes. Years later, a young Scotland Yard inspector, Charles Prentice, is sent to Northumberland to investigate several deaths from snakebite. While strolling in the woods, he encounters the beautiful Atheris. Though she responds to the music of a snake charmer's flute, Prentice, unaware that she is Adderson's daughter, at first does not connect her with the mysterious deaths; but eventually, following several more killings, he realizes that Atheris is both snake and woman, capable of transforming herself at will. Confronted with the truth, she turns into a cobra and attacks him. As he fires three bullets at her, the writhing serpent turns into the corpse of Atheris. Hoping that all mention of this incident will die with the case report, the police destroy it.