Once upon a time, a peasant on his way home heard a feeble voice calling “Help! Help!” He
looked round and realised that the sound was coming from beneath a large boulder. He asked
in amazement, “Who’s calling for help?”
A voice replied, “It’s me. The rock rolled down over my hole and I’m shut in. I can’t get out. I’m going
to die. Please help me out. Move the boulder.” Thereupon the peasant asked, “But who are you?”
“I’m a poor snake,” came the reply.
“A snake? What if you bite me the moment I let you out?” “No, no, I promise; I won’t. Get me out, please!”
The peasant took pity on the poor snake and shifted the boulder to the other side.
Out of the hole in the ground slid the snake which darted towards the peasant and tried
to bite him. The peasant jumped back and cried,”Why are you trying to harm me?”
The snake replied, “Because every good deed is rewarded by an evil one.” “I don’t think so,” said the peasant.
“Very well,” said the snake, “Let’s go and ask someone. If we come across someone who thinks as
you say, I will not bite you. But if people say that I’m right, I will bite you.” “Agreed,” said the
peasant, and off they went.
A little later, they saw an old lame horse, thin and covered in scratches, with an uncombed mane and
dirty tail. The peasant stopped him.
“Listen, friend. If someone does a good deed, what does he get in return as his reward?” the peasant
asked. Without a moment’s hesitation, the horse replied, “A bad deed. Look at me. I served my
master faithfully for years. As I’m old now, he has left me to die of starvation.”
The snake said to the peasant, “Have you heard? Let’s look for someone else.” So,
leaving the horse behind, the pair went on their way. They met a sheep. The peasant
asked the sheep the same question.
The sheep replied, “A good deed is always repaid with a bad deed. Look at me. I always obey my
master without any complaint. But he shears my fleece in winter, so I feel the cold.
Moreover, he makes me keep it in summer, so I melt with the heat.”
Suddenly, the peasant had an idea. On a lame excuse, he left the snake on the road and ran into the wood to speak to the fox. “Listen, fox; do you too think that a good deed is always rewarded by a bad one?”
“Of course!” replied the fox.
Then the peasant said to the fox, “I’m going to ask you the same question in
front of a snake. If you say that one good deed is rewarded by another good deed,
I’ll give you the present of a piglet, a lamb or a goose.” “Good,” said the
fox. The peasant went back to the snake.
The peasant together with the snake went to the fox and asked the same question. The fox replied,
“A good deed is always rewarded by another good deed, but,” he went on, “why did you ask me that
question?” The peasant told the fox about the incident. The fox looked at the snake and said, “I
see; I think a snake can manage to slither under a boulder.”
“But it was a big boulder,” the snake protested, “and it was blocking the entrance to my hole.”
“I don’t believe you,” said the fox.
“Then come and see for yourself,” said the snake. Saying these words he set off for his hole
with the fox and the peasant. Pointing to the boulder, he said, “That boulder fell just there.”
But the fox shook his head. “A big snake like you couldn’t get into such a little hole,” he said.
Annoyed, the snake retorted, “Don’t you think so?” Saying so he slid swiftly into the hole.
Then the fox shouted, “Quick, O peasant! Shut him in!” The peasant rolled the boulder back across the
mouth of the hole, imprisoning the snake for good.
Now, the peasant learnt a lesson. He took his gun and wanted to shoot the
fox who helped him. But having seen the peasant with the gun, the fox ran away.