On a morning of bitter cold a man was out walking, huddled warm in his jacket, when he noticed a rattlesnake lying stretched out and nearly frozen along the side of the road.
He would have walked by, grateful for one-less rattlesnake in the world, except the snake spoke, and begged for help, saying he was sure to die without it.
“Oh, no, I won’t,” the man said, stopping but steeling his heart. You would bite me, and then all would see the foolishness of a man who listened to a snake.”
“But I would never bite you!” wailed the snake. “Not after you saved my life. You would have my eternal gratitude. Save my life, I beg you!”
So the man picked it up and wrapped it under his shirt, against his own skin.
The snake murmured his gratitude, and the man continued on his journey.
Some time later, feeling warm and revived, the snake turned within the man’s coat and drove his poison teeth into the man’s bare chest.
Collapsing in shock and gasping from the pain, the man called, incredulous, to the rattlesnake as it slithered away,
“How could you do that to me? I saved your life!”
And the snake replied without looking back, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”