Sunday, November 28, 2010

You knew what I was when you picked me up

I first read this in Guideposts; it was attributed to American Indians.  Then it appeared in Reader's Digest.  I've found several variations on the Internet.  I've seen the truth in this story so many times that it gives me goosebumps every time I read it.  

It reminds me to watch my back, to wait for the other shoe to drop.  

But You Promised!
As Told By Iron Eyes Cody
Many years ago Indian braves would go away in solitude to prepare for manhood. One hiked into a beautiful valley, green with trees and bright with flowers. There as he looked up at the surrounding mountains, he noticed a rugged peak capped with dazzling snow.
"I will test myself against that mountain," he thought. He put on his buffalo hide shirt, threw his blanket over his shoulders, and set off to climb the pinnacle. When he reached the top, he stood on the rim of the world. He could see forever, and his heart swelled with pride.
Then he heard a rustle at his feet. Looking down, he saw a snake. Before he could move, the snake spoke. "I am about to die," said the snake. "It is too cold up here and there is no food. Put me under your coat and take me down to the valley."
"No," said the youth. "I know your kind. You are a rattle snake. If I pick you up, you will bite me, and your bite will kill me."
"Not so," said the snake. "I will treat you differently. If you do this for me, I will not harm you."
The youth resisted awhile, but this was a very persuasive snake. At last the youth tucked the snake under his coat and carried it down to the valley. There he laid it down gently. Suddenly the snake coiled, rattled, leaped, and bit him on the leg.
"But you promised," cried the youth!
"You knew what I was when you picked me up," said the snake as it slithered away.

By the way, Iron Eyes Cody wasn't a native American; nope, he was a cajun.  He happened to be somebody like me who wished he was an Indian.  Just forget that part and remember that if you were the one who invited a snake into your house, you can't blame somebody else if you are bitten.


Anonymous said...

I love that story too, although I know a different version with a girl. On the show Northern Exposure there's an episode where a character actually sings this story and my friend told me it's similar to a song her grandmother sang - it was more slanted towards picking the wrong man.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

That reminds me of the saying all that glitters isn't gold...Life is like that sometimes and appearances are deceiving.

Ms Martyr said...

Great story but sometimes it isn't readily apparent that you're picking up a rattlesnake. That's where I always trip up.