Sorry for making such a tardy report. The snake used was certainly not hooded; it was dark in colour, sort of charcoal colour, and I estimate about two feet long. Very whippety indeed and exactly what I had always imagined an asp to look like.
It seems that asp doesn't refer to any specific snake... what a let-down.
I'm going to see Tony & Cleo tomorrow so I'll report back on what sort of snake they use (it'll probably be a 1930's Chicago setting and she'll blow her brains out with a Tommy gun, or something like that).
One day a customer came to the small office where I was a secretary. He was chatting with my boss when he noticed the bracelet I was wearing.
"That young woman has an asp on her arm," he said.
I said, "Uh, I think it's supposed to be a cobra...."
"Isn't a cobra an asp?"
My boss was sure they were different--and I had no idea--but I said it would be easy to look up the definition. I read to them from The American College Dictionary: "Okay, it says asp is 'any of several poisonous snakes, especially the Egyptian cobra...' um... 'Naje haje, said to have caused Cleopatra's death, and much used by snake charmers.'"
He and my boss decided that perhaps all cobras are asps, but not all asps are cobras. Then he asked me whether I ever did crossword puzzles.
"Quick! What's a three-letter word for the Vietnamese new year?"