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The Snake and Frog-king

Once upon a time, there lived a snake beside a lake.  It lived by hunting and eating small birds, frogs and other small animals which came to the lake to drink.  The snake was happy.  All the animals had to come to the lake in search of water.  It had no shortage of prey.

The years passed, the snake grew old.  It lost its speed and strength. It could no longer hunt as before.   As it lay in its burrow thinking, it suddenly hit upon a plan.

The next day, it slithered to the shore of the lake and lay in the sand at the water’s edge.  It lay absolutely still.

A few  days later, the king of the frogs gathered enough courage to come near the motionless snake.  He asked the snake the reason for his strange behaviour.  The snake put on a saintly look and replied, ”O king! Thank you for your concern.  I have been a sinner all my life.  I have killed and eaten many frogs, birds and mice.  I have even eaten my fellow snakes.”  The frog-king was taken aback by this strange confession.  The snake went on, ”I became proud and haughty and one day, last month, I bit the son of a holy man who lives in the nearby forest.  The holy man grew angry at my wickedness and cursed me with a strange sickness which has made me weak. He said that my sickness will be cured only if I make penance for my sins by serving you”, he said.

The Frog-king was happy to see a former predator brought to its knees.  With a pompous smile, he said, “How can you be of service to us?”.  The wily snake replied, “If Your Majesty permits, I can carry you and your subjects on my back around the lake for 90 days.  That should be penance enough”, it said.

The frog-king was delighted at the thought of him riding a snake around the lake.  No other frog in the world would have this privilege.  He would make his mark in history.

The next day, the inhabitants of the lake witnessed the strangest sight they had seen in their lifetimes.  The snake carrying the frog-king and his subjects on his back.  The frog-king was delighted.  His adoring subjects hailed him as the “Emperor of the lake”.  His pride and joy knew no bounds.

This went on for a few weeks.  One day the snake lay on the shore of the lake.  It appeared to be weak and emaciated.  The Frog-king asked him the reason.  The snake replied, “I have not had food for a week.  I am very weak.  I may not be able to carry you any more.  I have only one request.  If it pleases your majesty, may I be permitted to eat one frog every two days”.

The frog-king was angered at the snake’s audacity.  He was asking his permission to eat his own subjects.

However, his vanity got the better of him.  He loved his imperious rides on the snake’s back around the lake.  He secretly acceded to the snake’s request.  His subjects were unaware of this.

The next day, the frogs and the snake went on their ride across the lake.  When no one was looking, the snake gobbled a frog.  The frog-king noticed this but said nothing.  This went one over the next few weeks.  The frogs began to notice the disappearance of their friends and relatives.  They even brought this to the notice of the king.  But, the king dismissed their concerns.  “They must have gone away on some business”, he told the frogs, “They will return soon”.

As weeks passed, there were fewer and fewer frogs. Soon there was only the king left.  The foolish king did not see through the plan of the snake even then.  He was too carried away by the rides through the lake.

The next day, the snake took up his position on the lake.  He frog-king came alone.  He tried to mount the snake and climb on to his back.  The snake gave a wicked grin and gobbled the frog-king.  That was the sad end of the vain and foolish king and his innocent subjects.

Children, this story tells us how obsession with power and position can destroy us and those around us.  Some people get carried away with power and position that they are ready to sacrifice anything and to compromise on their principles. 

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