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THE VIPER IN THE KING'S GARDEN
A KING in the East had a beautiful garden
close to his palace, of which he took great
care. One day a viper got into it. A
servant of the palace, who saw it entering,
reported the matter to the king.
His majesty expressed great concern at
it, and sending for his chief gardener, said,
"You see the garden is close to the palace.
We occupy this suite of chambers, the
ladies of our household the next, the little
princes and princesses the third; so the
viper should be caught and destroyed at
any cost before nightfall, otherwise not one
of us will have a wink of sleep to-night.
Mind! we would even have all the trees
and the bushes in the garden rooted up, if
 need be, to see if the animal has got into
any of the holes or cavities under them,
although we have fostered them so long
for our pleasure with paternal care, for you
know the proverb which says, 'Life first,
pleasure next.' "
The gardener obeyed. He and his men
sought for the viper all round, but nowhere
could it be found; so they rooted up, one
after another, the trees and plants in the
garden till not a blade of grass was left
standing. A huge pile was formed of all
the vegetation thus destroyed. At last,
within a hole, under the foot of a lovely
hawthorn which had just been cut down,
was the malicious reptile snugly coiled
up. Instantly the gardeners killed it and
brought it to the king.
His majesty viewed the dead snake with
satisfaction, but turning to the green pile
in the garden, with a heavy heart exclaimed, "Alas, the wickedness of one hath
ruined a host?"