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Maude Barrows Dutton

The Blind Man and the Snake

Once upon a time, a Blind Man and a Man who could see were traveling together. When it came night, they rode into a meadow, dismounted, and lay down to sleep until morning. Before it was quite dawn, as they were about to start on their way again, the Blind Man sought for his whip. By chance a Snake was lying near by, frozen stiff with the cold. The Blind Man's hand fell upon it, and thinking to himself, "This is much softer than my old whip," he picked it up and mounted his horse.

As it grew light, the Man who could see glanced over at his companion and saw that he held a Snake in his hand. In great alarm he cried out,—

"Oh, comrade, what you imagine to be a whip is in reality a Snake. Be quick and throw it away before it bites you."

But the Blind Man only laughed. "What, are you envious of my good luck?" he replied. "I lost my whip, but some good fortune has placed this softer and better one in my hand. Pray do not think because I am blind that I am also a fool. I am not such a simpleton that I do not know the difference between a whip and a Snake."

"My good friend," answered the other Man, "for your own welfare, I beg of you to believe me and throw away this Snake."

But the Blind Man only clung the more tightly to the Snake, which, awakened by the warmth of the man's hand, coiled itself about his wrist and bit him so that he died.