Natas the Snake

beige python on brown branch of tree

Long, long ago, in the Forest of the Drol, there was a time animals spoke as you and me. From rabbits to deer; foxes to bear; they all laughed and cried, smiled and sighed, just like we do today.

But there was one animal who could not speak: his name was Natas the Snake. Oh yes, he did have a tongue, and a long one at that! But the Drol of the Forest took away his speech. Now Natas can only hiss and flutter his tongue; no one knows what he is saying.

How did it happen?

It all started one day when Natas came slithering into the Forest. The foxes carried the news to all the animals. All round you could

“The snake is here! The snake is here! Come to the rock where he now sits. Listen to the words he speaks. They are smooth as honey and fine as silk. Come, drink of them as your own mother’s milk!”

You see, the foxes have been telling the animals for years that the snake would come. But the animals never believed the foxes.

The rock where the snake now sat was located at the north side of a big clearing in the centre of the Forest. This is the same place where the animals conducted all of their big meetings. The animals made all of their important decisions here. But the rock upon which the snake now sat was always reserved for the Drol of the Forest.

Natas did not say a word at first. He waited for all the animals to come. He watched them closely as they shyly moved into the clearing. He observed how slyly the foxes corralled the animals. You see, the foxes where his friends.

You could hear the animals whisper as they drew closer to the rock.

“Look how ugly this snake is! The foxes told us of his beauty.”

“But the beauty the foxes spoke of was that of his words. They said nothing of his appearance.”

Finally, everyone was present. The birds, the bees, the squirrels in the trees; both small and large, young, and old – all the animals of the Forest were there.

There fell a deathly silence over the crowd for the snake was about to speak.

The snake opened his mouth. Words came out never heard by the animals before. Natas described his dream for them. He painted a picture with words that showed a beautiful kingdom, a kingdom of love and unity. The snake tickled their ears and soon, he could see, the animals would do as he pleased.

“After all,” said the animals, “we have never seen the Drol.” At least we know that Natas is on the rock whenever we need him.

But the rabbits disagreed. They said among themselves, “Let’s go and find the Drol and tell him what has happened. He will save us from this wicked snake’s rule.

“Wicked?” one of the rabbits objected. “Didn’t you hear his words of love, his promises of joy, and his clouds of hope?”

The others replied, “We heard them, yes, but believe them, no! The Drol is to rule and Natas should know! So we go to the Drol in the name of Right. What is Right is right and for that we must fight!”

“But we are just rabbits!” said the same as before. “Will the foxes try to kill us if try to find the Drol?”

All the rabbits agreed and convinced their trembling friend, that if the foxes came after them it would only prove that the snake is wrong and the Drol is right.

So off into the Forest they hopped. They hopped as fast as they could. They began to search for the Drol and tell him all about Natas.

The foxes did come after them; and killed some of them too! But the rabbits hopped harder and harder; faster and faster; until they found their beloved Master, the Drol of the Forest.

When the reached the Drol, they told him all of what took place; of Natas, the foxes, and all the events. Then with lovingkindness these words spoke the Drol:

“I’ve known all along these things of which you speak. I was only waiting to see who would be faithful to me. I shall reward you and set all of you as lions over the Forest. Together, we will rule over the rest of the animals. True peace we will give them. Pure love they will find. They will thank us for coming right on time. For you see, while you have been gone, the snake has betrayed them. He now dictates and rules in such a way where all of your friends are under great stress. So let us go to the Forest and claim what is rightfully ours!”

So off they went. And when they got to the Forest, all the animals greeted them with joy. For Drol kicked Natas off the rock where he sat and punished the foxes for deceiving the flock.

And that, boys and girls, is why Natas the snake no longer speaks: it was his words that caused animals to fall. But make no mistake for Natas’ own pride that caused him to lose the words from his tongue.

So, you see, Natas the snake lost a great deal and became the fool – the laughingstock of animals. No longer does he speak words of great beauty; his tongue only flutters and his voice does nothing but hissssss.

© 1984 Timothy Rose

Published by St Johns Papatoetoe

Presbyterian Church, Hunters Corner, Papatoetoe, Auckland, New Zealand belonging to Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ).

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