Partridge smelled smoke, and then she saw the flames. The grass was on fire! She knew she needed to fly away.
Just as she was taking flight, Puff-Adder shouted at her, “Dear Partridge, don’t leave me! I will burn to death here. Pleasssssse take me with you!”
Feeling sorry for the helpless snake, Partridge grabbed him up in her beak and carried him away with her.
But Puff-Adder did not thank his rescuer. Just the opposite. When they alighted on the ground, safe from danger, the snake killed the bird and ate her.
Hence the proverb: Mercy killed the partridge.
[a Kaonde story from Zambia]
Inspired by: Kaonde Proverbs by John C. Ganly.
Notes: Quite a few of Ganly's proverbs are associated with stories, and he provides the story in the commentary that goes with the proverb. This is proverb 61 in his collection, which also includes the Kaonde original (collected near Solwezi Town in Zambia):