THE TORTOISE AND THE GEESE





the Geese, and Other Fables of Bidpai,_ retold by Maude Barrows

Button.]



A Tortoise and two Geese lived together in a pond for many years.

At last there came a drought and dried up the pond. Then the

Geese said to one another,--



"We must seek a new home quickly, for we cannot live without

water. Let us say farewell to the Tortoise and start at once."



When the Tortoise heard that they were going, he trembled with

fear, and besought them by their friendship not to desert him.



"Alas," the Geese replied, "there is no help for it. If we stay

here, we shall all three die, and we cannot take you with us, for you

cannot fly."



Still the Tortoise begged so hard not to be left behind that the

Geese finally said,--



"Dear Friend, if you will promise not to speak a word on

the journey, we will take you with us. But know beforehand, that

if you open your mouth to say one single word, you will be in instant

danger of losing your life."



"Have no fear," replied the Tortoise, "but that I shall be silent

until you give me leave to speak again. I would rather never open

my mouth again than be left to die alone here in the dried-up pond."



So the Geese brought a stout stick and bade the Tortoise grasp it

firmly in the middle by his mouth. Then they took hold of either

end and flew off with him. They had gone several miles in safety,

when their course lay over a village. As the country people saw this

curious sight of a Tortoise being carried by two Geese, they began

to laugh and cry out,--



"Oh, did you ever see such a funny sight in all your life!" And

they laughed loud and long.



The Tortoise grew more and more indignant. At last he could

stand their jeering no longer. "You stupid..." he snapped, but

before he could say more he had fallen to the ground and was

dashed to pieces.





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