The Countryman and the Snake

2.15. THE COUNTRYMAN AND THE SNAKE. A Villager, in a frosty, snowy winter, found a Snake under a hedge, almost dead with cold. He could not help having compassion for the poor creature, so brought it home, and laid it upon the hearth near the fire; but it had not lain there long before (being revived with the heat) it began to erect itself, and fly at his wife and children, filling the whole cottage with dreadful hissings. The countryman hearing an outcry, and perceiving what the matter was, catched up a mattock, and soon dispatched him, upbraiding him at the same time in these words: Is this, vile wretch, the reward you make to him that saved your life? Die, as you deserve; but a single death is too good for you.
Evil for good, relentless to bestow,
Is all the gratitude th' unworthy know;
Mercy to such should be with caution shown;
Saving a villain's life, you risk your own.
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