the scorpion and the frog

One of my favorite fables is that of the scorpion and the frog.  Here it is, as I would retell it:

One hot, sunny day, a scorpion stood at the edge of a river.  He watched the water moving swiftly past him, stopping him from crossing.  And though the sun grew hotter, the water never slowed.  Seeing no way across, the scorpion turned to leave when, suddenly, he spotted a small, green frog swimming in the water.

“Ho! Good frog!” the scorpion called, “Would you be so kind as to carry me across?”

The frog paused, considering the scorpion.  “No,” he finally said. 

“But why?  Surely it would cost you nothing, for you can easily cross both land and water,” the scorpion reasoned.

“Because you will sting me,” the frog explained.  “And then I will die.”

“Ah,” said the scorpion, understanding the frog’s hesitation. “Normally, such may be the case.  However, I would not bite you here.  For if I bit you, we would both drown and die.”

Again the frog paused, considering the scorpion.  “True,” he conceded.  He glanced up at the sun.  “It is very hot?  Have you been waiting long at the river’s edge?”

“Very long.  And I only wish to cross and be on my way,” the scorpion honestly explained.

Feeling pity for the scorpion, the frog slowly approached the bank.  “Very well.  I shall carry you across.”

Delighted, the scorpion crawled onto the frog’s back.  “Thank you, my friend!” he cheerfully exclaimed.

And so the frog swam into the river, carrying the scorpion on his back.  But mid-stream, the frog felt a sting.  And as his arms and legs grew numb, paralysis slowly seeping down his limbs, he knew he’d been betrayed. 

Fast water rushed past his shoulders and neck. And as he struggled to draw breath, he turned one final time to find the scorpion crouched nervously on his back.  “But, why?” he gasped.

As the scorpion woefully watched the rising water around him, he turned to face the dying frog.  “Because it is my nature,” he whispered.