The Love of Life

57. The Snake's Pearls

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“What is that?” asked one sentry.

“It’s just a snake. Let’s kill it,” said his buddy. They took up their spears to kill that colorful little snake.

“Halt!” came the voice of command. Both men froze when they saw it was the Duke of Sui himself telling them to stop! “Can’t you see it’s already wounded? Poor thing.” Sure enough, they could see that the snake was already wounded in the head.

The Duke kindly picked up the snake with his staff, and took it to the river bank. He told the soldiers to leave it alone.

A while later, one sentry called the other, “Hey, look, that snake’s come back again.”

“Yeah, and it’s got something in its mouth.”

“Say, will you look at that? It’s carrying a pearl!” The other soldiers came running when they heard that. The little snake just kept going straight ahead. “See where it’s going,” someone called. They got out of the way, and the little snake went right to the Duke’s tent and dropped the pearl at his feet.

“That certainly is nice of you,” said the Duke, “But I’m an imperial officer. I’m not supposed to accept gifts, you know.” The snake wouldn’t budge an inch until the Duke picked up the pearl and put it in his pocket.

That night, the Duke dreamed that he stepped on a snake by accident. He was so startled that he woke up and looked at his feet to see if he had been bitten… it was just a dream. But what’s that? He found another pearl sitting by his feet, and that was no dream.

Two beautiful pearls! The Duke was a kind man, and really didn’t want any reward for saving the snake, but he had two priceless pearls and nobody to return them to, so he put them away as a reminder to be kind to all living things.

This story spread far and wide, and many people were realized that even an animal that crawls on the ground values its life. This story got even some nasty people to think, and to change their ways. Gradually, more and more people learned to love life and to stop killing things and tormenting animals.

For the Duke of Sui, that was a much better reward than the pearls!


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