One winter’s day, the sun shone brightly and a brown-nosed eel wriggled out from under a rock to dance in the sea. So happy was she that she didn’t notice a snake. Open-mouthed, it swam towards her. Just before it clamped its jaws for dinner, the eel looked up.
“Stop!” she cried.
“Why should I?” said the snake.
“Look at my long wriggly tail. It’s like yours, because … we’re relatives.”
“Are we?” The snake covered its poisonous fangs and swam away.
Laughing at her easy escape, the eel played in the cool water. But from the murkiness below, swam an enormous shark. Its spiked teeth looked like daggers. “Aha,a tasty fish,” it said.
Terrified, the eel tried to swim away. She dropped into the seaweed that blanketed the ocean floor, but became tangled. The more she wriggled to escape, the more entangled she became. “Mercy!” she cried.
“Why?” said the shark.
“Sister shark, can you see my fin twisted in the weed? You have a fin, and I do too. That’s because we have the same ancestors. Won’t you please save me?”
Being a polite shark and believing the eel’s lie, the shark tugged at the grass to free the eel.
“Thank you, dear sister,” said the eel, swimming away as fast as she could. Feeling tired, she found a soft mound of golden sand and curled up for a nap.
She was awoken by swirling waters and a rushing sound. She opened her puffy eyes and there, coming straight for her, was a giant swell, with the snake and the shark in it, both ready to tear her to pieces.
Quickly, the eel wormed down underneath the sand. Which is why, unless you are very lucky, it is rare to see brown-nosed eels.
This tale is loosely based on an ancient Naxi tribe legend.
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