A Tale from Mexico
Once Senor Rattlesnake was taking his afternoon nap out on the hot sand, next to the hole that led down to his cool nest. Suddenly a large stone came rolling down the mountainside and landed on top of him!
He wiggled and squirmed and pushed and rolled, but it was no use. He was hopelessly pinned to the ground. Soon Senor Rabbit hopped by.
“Good afternoon, Senor Rattlesnake. I see that you are carrying a heavy rock on your back. Are you planning to build a stone house?”
“Please don’t tease me, amigo,” said Senor Rattlesnake. “This cruel stone is hurting me and I need your help. Lift it off of me and I will reward you handsomely.”
The rabbit had a kind heart and hated to see anyone suffer. So he braced himself and pushed against the rock as hard as he could.
He pushed hard, and then harder, and even harder! At last the stone shifted and Senor Rattlesnake was free.
“You did well, Senor Rabbit…and now I will reward you,” said Senor Rattlesnake.
“Oh, it was nothing; I don’t deserve anything in return.”
“Yes-s-s you do,” the snake hissed as it got ready to strike.
“What are you doing? I just saved your life!” Rabbit declared.
“Yes-s-s, I’m going to eat you and that will be your reward.”
Senor Rattlesnake prepared to strike! Rabbit was too frightened to run and merely stood there, shaking all over. Just then, Senor Coyote walked by.
Coyote saw the commotion and asked, “What is the meaning of this?”
Both Rabbit and Rattlesnake started explaining their side, interrupting and shouting over one another.
“He promised me a reward if I helped him,” said Rabbit.
“Oh, but I didn’t promise…you know who I am…you know my nature,” said Senior Rattlesnake.
Senor Coyote could not tolerate the racket. “Wait!” he declared. “Tell your stories one at a time, and I will be the judge. Senor Rabbit, you be first.”
“I found Senor Rattlesnake trapped under the stone. He asked me for help, and I pushed it off of him. Then he said he was going to reward me by making me his dinner.”
Senior Rattlesnake, looking sorely aggrieved said, “No, no! Senor Rabbit has it all wrong. I crawled under the stone to get out of the hot sun. I could have crawled back out whenever I wanted. I just played a little trick on the rabbit so that I could have him for my dinner.”
Senor Coyote looked very serious as he thought about his decision and then asked. “Do you both agree that Senor Rattlesnake was under the stone?” They both shook their heads yes.
“In that case,” said Coyote, “I want Senor Rattlesnake to crawl back under the stone so that I can see just how everything was. Then I can judge this difficult case fairly.”
“But now that Senor Rabbit has moved the stone, I can no longer crawl under it, said Rattlesnake. “You two will have to roll it on me.” Senor Coyote and Senor Rabbit agreed and they rolled the heavy stone back on top of Senor Rattlesnake.
“Is that just the way you were?” Coyote asked Rattlesnake.
“Yes-s-s…and now hurry and get this stone off of me!”
“I have a better idea,” said Senor Coyote. “You will stay right where you are and that will be your reward for breaking your promise to the one who tried to help. Good day, Senor Rattlesnake!”
“Buenos dias!” said Senor Rabbit as he scampered off.