The Story of the Boy, the Snake, the Rat,
and the Pig
A Fable by Aesop
Once there was a young boy who lived at the edge of a forest. One day while he was out walking, he came upon a snake. The snake was sad because she wanted someone to love her and the boy felt compassion. So he picked up the snake and brought her home. After a short time, the boy fell in love with the snake and told her so. She smiled at him and said that she loved him as well. So he and the snake lived together and he took care of all her needs. He fed her and kept her warm and safe.
But after just a little while, the snake began hissing at the boy, and rattling her tail whenever he came near her. She also showed her fangs and lunged at him once or twice before actually biting him. The boy was shocked and saddened by this behavior on her part and one day he said to her, "Snake, I have given you a home and taken care of you, and treated you kindly, and loved you. Why do you incessantly hiss at me and rattle your tail at me, and why have you bitten me these several times?" The snake looked at him and showed her fangs, and said, "Am I not a snake? And are those not the things that snakes do? Did you not know on the day you found me and took me into your home that you were housing a serpent?"
The boy was taken aback. He had no good answer except to say, "Yes, I knew that you are a serpent but did we not say that we loved one another? Is that how one treats a beloved?"
But when the boy chided the snake, it only increased her venomous moods. "How dare you insult me?", she hissed at the boy. "How dare you insult my serpentine nature? You are just a boy. Count yourself lucky that you are still alive. My venom may have sickened you at times but I have not completely killed you!" The boy was heartsick at these words and at the venom she had injected in him on prior occasions when the serpentine spirit moved her.
The boy asked, "Am I then to expect you to continue acting the part of the snake with me? Will you not change even because of my affections for you?" "I am what I am", she angrily hissed. "And I never apologize for what I am. Never!"
The boy was devastated. All the misspent love .... for what? So that he should be hurt by the creature which he loved? The boy knew that if he allowed the snake to remain with him she would wind up killing him. So he determined that she would have to go. He told her over and over that her treatment of him was completely cruel and that she would have to leave.
But each time he told her to leave she hissed at him, rattled her tail, and lunged barely missing him with her bite. Finally the boy had to threaten her with eviction. "Be gone from me or I will cast you out the door into the lonely forest night", he warned. It was not easy for him to tell her this for he still loved her despite her evil manner. Nevertheless he was adamant knowing it was either separation or his ultimate death.
Fearing that the boy had reached the limit of his tolerance and that he would indeed cast her out, one day she told him that she was leaving of her own accord. And she did. She had found her own place in the woods and now accepted that she would have to dwell alone, at least temporarily till such time as she could find someone else to care for her, for she could not bear to be alone for any great length of time.
Now the boy would often visit the pig sty which was in the heart of the forest. The sty was presided over by the pig whom every creature in the forest considered wise. The boy asked himself, "Are not pigs intelligent and wise?" And the boy revered and respected the pig for he loved going to the sty each week and enjoyed meeting his animal friends there and playing with them.
Now there was a certain rat who visited the sty and was a favorite of the pig. The rat had newly arrived in the forest with his wife and two small children, one of whom was autistic, and had hardly any friends at all although he was the favorite of the pig. The boy felt compassion for the rat and so he offered him the hand of friendship. The rat accepted the outstretched hand of the boy in his paws but his thoughts were black and devious as are those of a rat.
Nevertheless, the boy was unaware of the rat's ways and treated him kindly, not guessing that the nature of a rat is to act the part of a rat just as the nature of a snake is to hiss and bite. Both creatures know of no acts of appreciation for kindness and good will such as the boy felt and demonstrated. And so the boy was not aware that his life was about to change at the hands of two evil creatures whom he had befriended and for whom he felt affection.
Now after the snake had separated from the boy, he still cared for her and helped her to adjust to her new life alone. Now the snake cast her eyes upon the rat because she saw that he was a creature after her liking, similar to her in his soul. She rightly perceived that they were soul-mates and she longed for the rat, not even caring that the rat was married and had two children, one of whom was emotionally challenged. So it was on a surprising day that she requested the boy that he should introduce her to the rat. Knowing her inability to be alone and her need to be with a creature of like ferocity, the boy arranged a meeting between the two. The boy was surprised [although he shouldn't have been] at how instantaneously the two creatures seemed to love one another [or what passes for love between a rat and a snake]. Shortly thereafter, the snake and the rat moved in together and began to spread gossip about the boy who had loved them both and who had joined them together in the unholy alliance.
Then the two of them began to spread lies about the boy to the pig, saying that the boy was mean and dangerous and unwholesome. The snake said that the boy had mistreated her and had even choked her and had injured her. The pig, for all his so-called wisdom was not wise enough to ask her for proof of these allegations. The rat insinuated that the boy was a danger to the sty and its followers. The rat then showed the pig stories that the boy had once written about how delicious ham and bacon were. The pig, who was ignorant about the world outside his sty, gave the gossip credence. He became outraged and told the boy not to return to the sty. The other animals who visited the sty could not understand why the boy was no longer welcome and when they asked the pig, he stubbornly refused to hear them and simply repeated the lies that the rat and the snake had spread about him.
The boy was saddened because he missed being with all the animals in the sty and although be begged the pig to hear his own side of the story and to let him return, the pig refused. The more the boy begged, the less the pig listened. And then one day, the pig finally told the forest police to arrest the boy if he persisted in trying to return to sty. Finally, in resignation, the boy gave up all hope of ever returning, and he went his own way, exploring a new life for himself.
The rat and the snake were now living together although the pig had strictly admonished the
rat regarding his relationship with the snake because he, the rat, had a wife and children.
The pig had expressly said to the rat that a romantic alliance with another creature not his spouse would be unacceptable to the denizens of the forest. And moreso, what would become of the two rat pups? How would Mrs Rat care for them without his help? All this fell on deaf ears of the selfish and uncaring pair, and Mrs rat and her pups were left to fend for themselvesin a hostile world.
The rat now needed to provide for the needs of the snake and Mrs Rat and the pups had no way to remain in their place, and they became homeless. The rat ignored them and the snake laughed at their plight.
When the other animals in the sty heard of all this, they turned against the rat and the snake. Many of them became angry at the pig and decided that they too would not return to his sty. Eventually the pig had to tell the rat and the snake to stay away too for fear that no one would come back to his sty. And so the two evil creatures who had conspired against the boy had their downfall. They became social outcasts among the animals of the forest, and they dwelt in poverty all their days, barely able to stay alive.
One night there was a gathering of animals at the boy's home. The animals of course commiserated with the boy because they were good and kind. And one said to the boy, "You should write a story about this whole sad affair. Only don't use animals in the story. Use real human beings as the characters." And the boy thought this was right and just.
I know thy tribulation, and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan.
- Revelation 2:9
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