Rama lived in a sleepy coastal village. Some villagers farmed, others fished. Rama read.

Rama’s hut was filled with books from floor to ceiling. Rama-Nose-In-Book the villagers called him.

One night a cobra came slithering, with a blood-curdling hiss that shattered the stillness of the night. Next morning four hens were missing.

The day after a clutch of eggs and two rabbits could not be accounted for. “A snake,” whispered the villagers. They armed themselves for battle, but could find no trace of the snake’s coming and going.

“Ssssssilly people,” laughed the cobra. “I am too smart for them.”

The villagers made their way to the Queen.

“Summon Rama,” she said after much thought. “He’ll know what to do.”

“Rama-Nose-In-Book?” asked the headman. “He doesn’t know anything. He has no land for farming, no boat for fishing —”

“He has a mind for thinking,” snapped the Queen.

A messenger ran all the way to Rama’s hut. “Come quick. A snake has laid siege to our village, stealing eggs and roosters and rabbits.”

Rama put aside his book, picked up a coil of rope and headed out to the forest. He whistled as he walked. The birds chirped along in merry symphony. Step, whistle, tweet, step—

The leaves rustled. Hissss. The cobra crept closer.

Rama waited.

The cobra flared its hood. Rama and the snake eyed each other.

“Brother snake,” said Rama, “I have heard people say you are slow and lazy.”

“Sssssssilly people,” hissed the cobra.

Rama held up the rope. “Well, show me then. Show me how fast you can jump through this hoop.”

“That piece of junk? I’ll ssssssshow you how fast I can go. Watch my sidewinding step,” said the cobra. He stretched himself tall and put his head into the noose.

“Seeee,” he said.

“I do see,” said Rama. Quick as a melting snowflake he pulled the noose tight.

Rama made his way back to the palace.

Step, whistle, tweet, step….

“No more a threat, Your Majesty,” he said as he lay the snake at her feet.

The Queen looked down at the cobra. “You sorry specimen of snakehood,” she said. “Begone from my village. We will not be so kind to you next time.”

The snake slunk slowly away.

The Queen heaped Rama with jewels. “No, Highness. Thank you. Give it to the villagers. I have no need for gold and silver.”

The villagers cheered as Rama-Nose-In-Book made his way back home. Step, whistle, tweet, step….

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