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Aesop's Fables: Sir Roger L'Estrange (1692)

131. A BOY AND A SNAKE (Perry 199)

A Boy was groping for Eels, and laid his hand upon a Snake, but the Snake, finding that it was pure Simplicity, and not Malice, admonish’d him of his Mistake: Keep your self well while you are well, says the Snake; for if you meddle with me, you’ll repent your Bargain.
THE MORAL. ‘Tis the Intention, morally speaking, that makes the Action good or bad; and even Brutes themselves, will put a Difference betwixt Harms of Ill-Will and Mischance.

L'Estrange originally published his version of the fables in 1692. There is a very nice illustrated edition in the Children's Classics series by Knopf: Sir Roger L'Estrange. Aesop - Fables which is available at amazon.com.