The Love of Life

41. Killing a Snake

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A farmer who lived south of Chiangshan, Chekiang thought it was fun to kill things. He was married, but even though he was already over forty years old, he had only one child, a little boy, nine years old when our story takes place.

One day in May, 1868, this mean farmer took his hoe out to his field as usual, but on the way, he spotted a huge snake. When the snake saw the farmer, it looked at him with a pleading expression and stuck out its tongue. It seemed to be afraid, and begging for mercy.

“I’m going to kill you, no doubt about it,” the farmer said. The snake started to escape, but as quick as a wink, the farmer chopped it in two with his hoe.

When the snake stopped moving, the farmer put his hoe on his shoulder and went his way with a cheerful song.

That evening, his son dreamed that a huge snake bit him. He was so frightened that he woke up. He had a fever and chills. He kept muttering, “It hurts! It hurts so much!”

His father didn’t know what to do when he saw that. He was just about to go run for a doctor when his son stuck out his tongue — but it was so long! It didn’t look like a little boy’s tongue at all. It looked just like a snake’s tongue!

“My son! My son!” his father called, but it was too late. In a few moments, his son was dead.


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