Girl and the Snake
A young girl walking along a mountain path to her grandmother's house heard a rustle at her feet. Looking down, she saw a snake, but before she could react, the snake spoke to her.
"I am about to die," he said. "It's too cold for me up here, and I am freezing. There is no food in these mountains, and I am starving. Please put me under your coat and take me with you."
"No," the girl replied. "I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake. And if I pick you up, you will bite me and your bite is poisonous."
"No, no," the snake said. "If you help me, you will be my best friend. I will treat you differently."
The young girl sat down on a rock for a moment to rest and think things over. She looked at the beautiful markings on the snake and she had to admit he was the most beautiful snake she had ever seen.
Suddenly, she said, "I believe you. I will save you. All living things deserve to be treated with kindness."
She then reached over, put the snake gently under her coat and continued toward her grandmother's house.
Within a moment, she felt a sharp pain in her side. The snake had bitten her!
"How could you do this to me?" she cried. "You promised that you would not bite me, and I trusted you!"
"You knew what I was when you picked me up," he hissed as he slithered away.
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- Ann Landers' column (with minor edits by G Ballard)