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Jamie reached the split in the tunnel, and carefully backed into the other tunnel. She lay perfectly still. The slithering sounds became louder, and louder, then the snake came around the corner and stopped, right in front of Jamie's face.
"Well," Jamie thought, "this is it. I'll never see Lucy again, or eat another raisin, or go on another adventure." She closed her eyes and waited to be eaten.
Jamie felt the snake's slimy scales on her back, its taut muscles pushing against her tired little body as it squeezed into the small space between Jamie and the roof of the tunnel. Jamie opened her eyes as she heard the slithering sound disappearing down the tunnel behind her. Why, the snake hadn't eaten her at all!
Suddenly Jamie felt a wave of guilt. Here she was exploring the snake's home without an invitation, getting one of its entrances filled with dirt, and the snake wasn't even mad about it. "Where are my manners?" she thought glumly.
Then she had an idea. She hurried out of the opening that the snake had used to enter his home, and began to search. Finally she located a pecan, two acorns, and a small bunch of clover, which she placed just inside the snake's home. Jamie had no idea if snakes ate such things, but Jamie had heard that it was the thought that counts. And she thought that the snake was very nice, despite the reputation that all snakes had.
Later, back safe and warm in her cage, Jamie thought about what she had learned. She had misjudged the snake badly, she realized, and that was wrong. In the future she would try to be more careful, and give others the benefit of the doubt. And she would be more careful about minding her manners. After all, she wouldn't want gerbils to get a bad reputation, too!
== THE END ==