The Villager And The Snake
A Villager one frosty day found under a hedge a Snake almost dead with
cold. Moved with compassion, and having heard that snake oil was good
for the rheumatiz, he took it home and placed it on the hearth, where
it shortly began to wake and crawl. Meanwhile, the Villager having gone
out to keep an engagement with a man 'round the corner, the Villager's
son (who had not drawn a sober breath for a week) entered, and,
beholding the Serpent unfolding its plain, unvarnished tail, with the
cry, "I've got 'em again!" fled to the office of the nearest Justice of
the Peace, swore off and became an apostle of Temperance at $700 a
week. The beneficent Snake next bit the Villager's mother-in-law so
severely that death soon ended her sufferings--and his; then silently
stole away, leaving the Villager deeply and doubly in its debt.
Moral: A virtuous action is not always its only reward. A snake in
the grass is worth two in the boot.