There once was a little cobra who lived in the forest. He was a stressed out little cobra because he had seen other cobras hurt or killed by bigger creatures in the forest. Always being on alert made him so weary but he knew that if he didn't take care of himself, no one else would. One day, as he was warily watching and slithering along, he heard off in the distance a sound so enticing he was compelled to move closer. Still scanning the horizon for danger, he lifted his head toward the sound and started to slithered. He soon came to a clearing where he saw a tall majestic man dancing and playing a tune on the flute. The magical sound coming from that flute, and the way the man swayed, was so enticing to the little cobra he moved closer and closer.
Once he was close enough, the tall majestic man said, "I see you enjoy the way I play the tune. It true, I am a welled trained master who went to the university. Get into my basket where it is comfortable and cozy. I have many other cobra's here who also enjoy the tune and as you can hear, I play the tune better than most. I promise your little cobra life will be safe!"
"Oh what a wonderful offer!" , thought the little cobra, "A cozy place I can coil into. Here I can hear the tune played and never have to worry and fret. Here I will be safe. "
So he slithered into the basket where he found other cobras also enjoying the enticing way the man played the tune. Minutes passed and the music started to soften. All the cobras became sleepy so they lowered their heads, closed their eyes, and began to snore.
Suddenly, the tall majestic man stopped playing the tune and slammed a lid on the basket, trapping the cobras inside. Picking it up, he walked away from the clearing.
"Oh my, this is very unexpected", thought the little cobra. "What is going to happen to us? He was being slammed this way and that knocking into other cobras and often hitting his head on the lid. A short time passed, and with much bumping and jostling inside the basket, the little cobra coiled himself up into a springy ball, found the courage to speak, and shouted out to the man through the slits in the basket, "Where are you taking us and why have you put this heavy lid over us?"
"Why are you asking questions? There is nothing to worry about," answered the tall majestic man, "just stay in the basket. Soon we will be in the marketplace and there I will make money as I play the tune for you. After all, I do need money to live. The lid is there so that you will not get away and to protect you from danger as well." The little cobra reasoned with himself. He thought about it with all the thinking power he could muster. "I guess that makes sense." replied the little cobra, "The lid does seem to keep me safe from all the other scary animals and you do play the tune beautifully. I do like the idea of being safe. I suppose it is best to stay in the basket with you." But he also thought to himself, "I wonder why I still feel stressed inside the basket?" With that thought drifting around in his head, he coiled up and tried to get comfortable with the other bumping and jostling cobras in their new basket home.
As time went on, life for the little cobra became dreary and sad. Once a week the man would take them to the market, remove the lid and play the tune. The little cobra couldn't help himself for he did love the tune. He would rise, swaying back and forth as the tune spilled from the flute. It always gave him a nice feeling. In the market, people threw money at the tall majestic man and sometimes he would use a small portion of it to buy the cobras moldy bread. He also took time to train the cobras to dance and sway in unison, although sometimes when a cobra missed his cue, the tall majestic man would get angry. Having all the cobras move in unity was his specialty and the crowds in the marketplace paid more to see it.
But, the majority of the little cobras time was spent in the dark basket where every so often brief rays of light shown through the slits.
Some days he truly missed the forest. Yes, their were bigger scarier creatures there, but it was also so full of life, and sunshine and open sky. "However," he would think to himself, "there is the safety of the basket and the feeling I get from the weekly tune."
Then one day in the market, as he and his cobra family were swaying to the music, off in the distance he heard the tune being played, but oh what a different sound! To his little cobra ears it was like 10,000 flutes all playing in joyful harmony. How could he resist? It started to drown out the sound of the tall majestic man's playing and swaying. The little cobra had never heard the tune played like this. He had no idea it had such beauty! He began to slither over the side of the basket toward the sound, not even realizing what he was doing. But, the tall majestic man noticed and began to play his tune louder and more insistently directing the little cobra back into the basket with the tip of his flute. For a moment the little cobra was distracted from this new amazing sound, and began to feel nervous about the idea of leaving his safe little basket home. "Wait a minute!" thought the little cobra. "I'm not even happy in this basket. All I get is moldy bread to eat and I rarely see the sun. I don't care how well the tall majestic man plays his flute, or how safe I am in the basket, I want to hear this amazing tune in it's fullness and glory! I want to know the person playing it." So the little cobra began to slither even faster toward the beautifully played tune. As the tip of his tail left the basket the tall majestic man suddenly stopped playing, grabbed a rod he had purchased in the marketplace, and slammed it down on the little cobra's head. Oh how it hurt! Pain traveled throughout his little cobra body and he thought he would soon die. With his last ounce of strength he coiled and sprang into the air flying over the edge of the road into a dusty ditch.
The tall majestic man did not pursue for he quickly found himself very busy keeping the other cobras in his basket. "Anyway," the man thought to himself, "the ditch is so dirty and unclean. That cobra will soon want to come back to my safe cozy basket."
As the little cobra lay in the ditch wondering if he would die, the sound of the beautifully played tune broke through the buzzing in his ears. So he gathered up what little strength he had left and crawled through the dust to find the source of that glorious sound.
Soon he came to the edge of the forest and peering in he saw a small happy man playing a golden flute. All around him were creatures of the forest, including many cobras, and some of them were creatures he had been so afraid of in the past. When he saw them he became fearful and considered turning back. They had often threatened to eat him! He hid behind a large palm leaf and warily peered around the edge. As he looked closer he realized that here, with the happy man, all the animals were not trying to eat each other. There was a sight he never expected to see!
And the music! Oh the wonderful warmth, peace, and joy that began to fill his heart! The sound made him want to be closer to the source and he rushed around the palm leaf, dashed past the other creatures, and coiled up at the feet of the happy man playing the golden flute. He blurted out, "Where is your basket! I want to live in your basket! I will dance for you and sway with you and we can go to the market and people will pay you to watch me dance."
"Welcome little cobra. We've been waiting for you...but why would I need money to live and play my flute," said the happy man. "The whole forest is my home where I can help all the creatures. It provides all that I need to eat and drink. This leaves me free to do what I love most, play my tune for all creatures. And I don't need a basket, all the creatures love to be with me, and they are free to leave whenever they want."
"No money? Then how did you buy the golden flute," questioned the little cobra, "if you had no money?"
"Oh, it was paid for" he said with a knowing smile, "all that I had to give was required." The happy man knelt down to come face-to-face with the little cobra. Tenderly looking into his eyes he said, "But don't you think it was worth it? Look! Do you see what I see?" The happy man directed his gaze toward the vast throng of other creatures. "Do you see how that lamb over there is lying snuggled up against the lion? And that rattlesnake is shaking his rattle to calm the baby chick." He paused and then said, "Is this not the greatest safety of all?"
The little cobra looked around. It was true what the happy man said, and it felt more true that anything he had ever heard. "Oh yes!" exclaimed the little cobra, "I've never felt so safe and peaceful."
The happy little man stood up, extended his golden flute toward the little cobra, and blew with a twinkle in his eye. His fingers raced across the flute and out came a completely new tune. This tune was differently spectacular and even more lovely than the first. Now the little cobra could only think, "I must tell other cobras and other creature too about this happy man, this peaceful place, this stupendous freely given tune that thrills my soul. I will go back, even to the dark marketplace, and tell them all to come and hear!"