THE FLYING SNAKE

   The kid was busy nibbling on the leaves of a low-hanging branch. Its mother browsed nearby, keeping an eye on her little one and the young boy.
   The nanny-goat was content: both were behaving themselves. They were busy with important matters. The kid was learning how to nibble on branches and his young friend was building something.
   Arslan thought he was tending the nanny-goat and her id, but he was actually building a road for the ants.
   The living ant path looped around in the grass from one mysterious spot to another. Arsian just couldn't figure out where they were rushing to and from. But from his vantage point above he could see that the ants were making an unnecessary detour, and all were carrying heavy burdens. Arslan picked up one of the ants and placed it down on the straight path he had made. But the ant paid no heed to Arslan. It scurried about until it found its former path. The second ant also refused to listen. And the third.
   Then Arslan dug a hole in the middle of the ants' path. Now they would have to go around it and in doing so, straighten out their path. But nothing of the sort! The ants descended into the hole and laboriously climbed out with their heavy burdens.
   "Eh, you!" Arslan said to the ants.
   He placed a splinter of wood across the hole. The ants seemed pleased with their bridge and continued to work at a feverish pace.
   Arslan left the ants and got down to work. Grandma Mengli had said that it was time to prepare fodder for the winter. Arslan always took a small bag along when he went to graze the goat, and now he began to gather fallen mulberry leaves and branches. Suddenly a snake rose up from the grass! It gave a flap of its wings and landed back on the ground.

   Arslan dropped his bag but remained standing where he was. Maybe he had imagined it? Fluttering its wings, the snake leaped up off the ground and again fell into the grass.
   Arslan took off like a bolt of lightning.
   "Grandfather!" he cried, running up to the house. "Over there! By the mulberry treel"
   "What's there? A wolf? A jackal?" Grandfather asked, looking for his stick.
   "No! It's a flying snake!"
   "My little camel-colt! Snakes don't have wings!"
   "But I saw it! I saw it with my own eyes! It flapped its wings!"
   Grandfather put his stick down and grew thoughtful.
   "No, grandson, that was not a flying snake. It was a bird fallen prey to a snake. It's something I've seen more than once myself."
   "I feel sorry for that bird," Arslan said.
   "Yes, it's too bad," Rakhim-aga echoed his agreement.
   And they both stood there silently, because it was too late to save the bird.