The Boy and the Rattlesnake

As told by the Apache

Once there was a boy who was very soft hearted.  One morning, as he was walking along, he saw a rattlesnake by the side of the road.  There had been an early morning frost the night before and the snake had been caught out in it.  The snake was stiff from the cold.  The boy stopped to look at it.  He felt sorry for the snake.  Then a startling thing happened.  The snake opened up his mouth and spoke to him.

"Help me," the rattlesnake said in a pitiful voice.  "Pick me up, warm me or I will die."

"But if I pick you up, you will bite me," the boy said.

"No," said the snake, "I will not bite you.  Pick me up, hold me close to you and warm me or I will die."

So, the boy took pity on the snake.  He picked it up.  He held it close to him, so that it would be warmed by his body.  The snake grew warmer and less stiff and then, suddenly, it twisted in the boy's hands and WHAP!  The snake bit the boy on his arm.  The boy dropped the snake and gripped his arm. 

"Why did you do this to me?" the boy shouted.  "You promised me that you would not bite me if I help you."

"That is so," said the snake, "but when you picked me up, you knew I was a rattlesnake."



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