A young girl was trudging along a mountain path, trying to reach her grandmother's house.
It was bitter cold, and the wind cut like a knife.
When she was within sight of her destination, she heard a rustle at her feet.
Looking down, she saw a snake.
Before she could move, the snake spoke to her.
He said, "I am about to die.
It is too cold for me up here, and I am freezing.
There is no food in these mountains, and I am starving.
Please put me under your coat and take me with you."
"No," replied the girl. "I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake.
If I pick you up, you will bite me, and your bite is poisonous."
"No, no," said the snake. "If you help me, you will be my best friend.
I will treat you differently."
The little girl sat down on a rock for a moment to rest and think things over.
She looked at the beautiful markings on the snake and had to admit that it was the most beautiful snake she had ever seen.
Suddenly, she said, "I believe you. I will save you.
All living things deserve to be treated with kindness."
The little girl reached over, put the snake gently under her coat and proceeded toward her grandmother's house.
Within a moment, she felt a sharp pain in her side.
The snake had bitten her.
"How could you do this to me?" she cried.
"You promised that you would not bite me, and I trusted you!"
"You knew what I was when you picked me up," hissed the snake as he slithered away.