A boy had fallen into a deep river and was desperately clinging to a willow branch to keep from being pulled down by the current.
As he was hanging there, his teacher walked by.
"Help!" shouted the boy.
The teacher shook his head. "Look at you! That's what you get for being reckless! You deserve a good whipping as punishment so that you won't make that mistake again."
The boy, terrified at the thought of a whipping, let go of the branch and was swept to his death in the river's waters.
Some teachers prefer to scold instead of helping.
Inspired by: Mille Fabulae et Una, a collection of Latin fables that I've edited, free to read online. I am not translating the Latin here; instead, I am just telling a 100-word version of the fable.
Notes: This is fable 962 in the book, which is Perry 211. The traditional Greek version just has a passerby, but the version by La Fontaine has a schoolteacher, as does Desbillons, which is the version of the story where the boy actually drowns in the end.