[Very freely adapted from one of the Fables of Bidpai.]
Once upon a time, a Tortoise lived in a
pond with two Ducks, who were her very
good friends. She enjoyed the company
of the Ducks, because she could talk with
them to her heart's content; the Tortoise
liked to talk. She always had something
to say, and she liked to hear herself say it.
After many years of this pleasant living,
the pond became very low, in a dry season;
and finally it dried up. The two Ducks
saw that they could no longer live there,
so they decided to fly to another region,
where there was more water. They went
to the Tortoise to bid her good-by.
"Oh, don't leave me behind!" begged
the Tortoise. "Take me with you; I must
die if I am left here."
"But you cannot fly!" said the Ducks.
"How can we take you with us?"
"Take me with you! take me with you!"
said the Tortoise.
The Ducks felt so sorry for her that at
last they thought of a way to take her.
"We have thought of a way which will
be possible," they said, "if only you can
manage to keep still long enough. We will
each take hold of one end of a stout stick,
and do you take the middle in your mouth;
then we will fly up in the air with you and
carry you with us. But remember not to
talk! If you open your mouth, you are
The Tortoise said she would not say a
word; she would not so much as move her
mouth; and she was very grateful. So the
Ducks brought a strong little stick and
took hold of the ends, while the Tortoise
bit firmly on the middle. Then the two
Ducks rose slowly in the air and flew away
with their burden.
When they were above the treetops,
the Tortoise wanted to say, "How high
we are!" But she remembered, and kept
still. When they passed the church steeple
she wanted to say, "What is that which
shines?" But she remembered, and held
her peace. Then they came over the village
square, and the people looked up and
saw them. "Look at the Ducks carrying
a Tortoise!" they shouted; and every one
ran to look. The Tortoise wanted to say,
"What business is it of yours?" But she
didn't. Then she heard the people shout,
"Isn't it strange! Look at it! Look!"
The Tortoise forgot everything except
that she wanted to say, "Hush, you foolish
people!" She opened her mouth,--
and fell to the ground. And that was the
end of the Tortoise.
It is a very good thing to be able to hold