Some of these pictures and descriptions may give away plot details that you might not want to know before watching the film.
This is one of the most famous of the silent movie serials - short films that audiences went to see every week or two in order to see the next chapter.
Pauline Marvin is a rich young heiress who decides she wants to spend a year having adventures before getting married to her fiance, Harry. Her guardian, Koerner, wants to kill her so he can get her money. He enlists the help of his henchman Hicks and the two of them hatch some of the stupidest murder plots ever seen on screen - as silly as many of the attempted killings of James Bond. Pauline escapes a burning building, an Indian sacrifice, a flooded basement, and a naval artillery bombing, and most of her adventures involve in some way her getting permission to ride various vehicles - a hot air balloon, a race car, a biplane, a submarine, an ocean-going boat, a small motor boat, even a horse in a steeplechase race. Then they try to sabotage her but she is always saved by someone, usually her fiance Harry. It never seemed to occur to her enemies to us a gun, a knife, poison, a club, to throw her in front of a bus, or use an other well-established method of murder.
In episode 8 "The Serpent in the Flowers" Koerner and Hicks pay some Gypsies to kidnap Pauline. Harry saves her with the help of a Gypsy woman who asks him not to injure her man, but the man is injured anyway. That angers the Gypsy woman who plots to get revenge on Pauline and Harry. She goes into the woods and catches a snake with a stick, then puts it into a wicker basket covered with flowers and gives it to Pauline's servant to give to Pauline. Pauline opens it and leans in to smell the flowers when Harry suddenly sees the snake inside. He throws the basket across the room, which releases the snake. He throws a rug over the snake then picks it up by its tail and viciously whips it onto the floor a couple of times to kill it. It happens so fast that it is not possible to tell if the snake he picks up is dead or alive, but I'm sure it's a real snake and not a fake one. It's possible he killed a real snake, and there certainly wasn't any American Humane Association monitoring of animals used in films in 1914, but they probably used a dead snake in the whipping scene.
Even as far back as 1914 any snake seen in a movie was thought to be poisonous, but the snake they used is a harmless one. The quality of the video is very poor but I am fairly certain that the snake used here is a gopher snake or bull snake or maybe a pine snake, which is native to the area where the serial was filmed - New York and New Jersey.