Page:An argosy of fables.djvu/307

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249
PERSIAN FABLES

THE CAMEL DRIVER AND THE SNAKE

A CAMEL DRIVER, in the course of a journey, reached a certain spot where a passing caravan had carelessly left the embers of a fire. The wind had scattered the sparks on all sides amidst the dry grass and stubble, until a wide stretch of the plain glowed like a bed of red and yellow tulips. In the midst of the fire a huge Snake found itself caught and surrounded, and was on the point of roasting like a fish on a gridiron. Seeing the Camel Driver the Snake called for help. The Camel Driver said to himself, "Although a Snake is an enemy of mankind yet since this one is in danger of his life, it is my duty to help him."

Accordingly, the Camel Driver unfastened one of his saddle bags and having fixed it to the tip of the spear which he carried, he stretched it out across the flames in such manner that the Snake was able to crawl into the bag. Having thus rescued it from the fire, the Camel Driver opened the mouth of the bag and said to the Snake, "Go where you will, be thankful for your escape, and henceforth do no further harm to mankind."

The Snake replied, "Young man, do not waste your breath, for I have no intention of going until I have stung both you and your Camel. For I am the very source of evil, and can accept no benefits from man. In saving an evil beast like me, you have earned misfortune. Besides, in returning evil for good I am only following the custom of mankind."

The Camel Driver indignantly denied that such was the custom of man, and said, "If you can prove that it is the custom of man to