Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Boastful Turtle

There was once a turtle who talked all the time. He talked mostly about himself. The other creatures of the earth avoided him as much as possible. Who wants to listen to a braggart?

One day the turtle saw a goose flying above him.

“How I would love to fly,” he said, “like the geese. It must be wonderful to be up so high and see the world from that height.”

He could think of nothing else but flying. At last he met a goose on the ground and he hurried (as fast as he could-he was a turtle, after all) over to her and said, "Teach me how to fly."

"You're a turtle! Anyway, I can’t right now," the goose answered. "My flock is migrating for the summer and I must join them."

"I want to fly!" the turtle cried. "I want to fly HIGH!"

"We’ll have to ask my flock," the gentle goose said.

You know what the flock said.

“Turtles can’t fly,” one goose said. "Whoever heard of a flying turtle!" another goose laughed.

"I want to fly!" the turtle cried. "I want to fly HIGH!"

“We can’t carry you. You have no wings, so how can you fly? asked the largest goose.

"I want to fly!" the turtle cried. "I want to fly HIGH!"

The geese got so tired of his pestering that they came up with a plan. The geese decided that if two of them would hold a stick in their bills, the turtle could bit onto the stick and they could carry him with them, up into the air.

"Remember, you must not open your mouth while we are flying!" they reminded the turtle. The geese flew up into the air their strong wings.

"I am flying!" the turtle thought to himself. "Down on the ground I can see everyone looking at me. How wonderful this is! How wonderful I am!"

He opened his mouth to tell the geese to fly higher still.

"I want to fly!" the turtle cried. " I want to fly HIGH!"

And so of course his mouth came off the stick, and he fell down, down, down to the earth. His beautiful shell cracked all over. He crawled away into the mud at the edge of a pond in embarrassment, and there he stayed until his poor shell healed. But to this day, turtle has a cracked shell, and he has never tried to fly again. And he has never tried to speak again either!

Attributed to several cultures, including East Indian and Tagalog. Versions in the Jataka Tales and the Panchatantra, along with many other story collections. Adapted by Granny Sue

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