Once upon a time a king had a son named Prince Wicked. He was fierce and cruel, and he spoke to nobody without abuse, or blows. Like dust in the eye, was Prince Wicked to everyone, both in the palace and out of it.
His people said to one another, “If he acts this way while he is a prince, how will he act when he is king?” One day when the prince was swimming in the river, suddenly a great storm came on, and it grew very dark.
In the darkness the servants who were with the prince swam from him, saying to themselves, “Let us leave him alone in the river, and he may drown.”
When they reached the shore, some of the servants who had not gone into the river said, “Where is Prince Wicked?” “Isn’t he here?” they asked. “Perhaps he came out of the river in the darkness and went home.” Then the servants all went back to the palace.
The king asked where his son was, and again the servants said: “Isn’t he here, O King? A great storm came on soon after we went into the water. It grew very dark. When we came out of the water, the prince was not with us.”
At once the king had the gates thrown open. He and all his men searched up and down the banks of the river for the missing prince. But no trace of him could be found.
In the darkness the prince had been swept down the river. He was crying for fear that he would drown. But then he came across a log. He climbed upon the log, and floated farther down the river.
When the great storm arose, the water rushed into the homes of a Rat and a Snake who lived on the river bank. The Rat and the Snake swam out into the river and found the same log the prince had found. The Snake climbed upon one end of the log, and the Rat climbed upon the other.
On the river’s bank a cottonwood-tree grew, and a young Parrot lived in its branches. The storm pulled up this tree, and it fell into the river. The heavy rain beat down the Parrot when it tried to fly, and it could not go far. Looking down it saw the log and flew down to rest.
Now there were four on the log floating down stream together. . .
This story was first published in 1922 and is in the public domain.