The King and the Tortoise
Long ago there lived in
"I am the greatest king in
Such talk was only silly chatter. But sometimes the king told things that he should have kept secret, and this made trouble for his people.
Several of the wise men in
"Off with their heads!" he would cry. When his cruel order had been obeyed, he would glare on the other wise men, as though to say, "Would any of you like to offer unwelcome advice?"
Now the oldest and wisest of the king's advisers was Adulla. He often shook his wise old head and muttered: "I but bide my time. Someday I shall teach the king a lesson."
One morning the king and Adulla were walking in the courtyard of the palace Suddenly the king stopped, and pointing to a black object on the stones, said, "What is that, Adulla?"
"That, Sire," said Adulla, "is a dead tortoise."
"How came it here?" asked the king."
O sire," replied Adulla, "know that in the pond, White Lotus, live many tortoises. One was larger and stronger than his fellows, so he ruled over them. He was a great chatterer. 'I am the biggest tortoise in the pond. My shell is the broadest. My eyes are the brightest. I can dive deepest.' Thus he talked continually.
"Now it chanced that two wild geese spent some weeks at White Lotus. They and the tortoise became great friends. When they were ready to return to their home, one goose said, 'O Great Tortoise, how we wish we might take you with us!'
"'Alas!' answered the other, 'he cannot fly.'
"'I know how it can be managed,' said the tortoise. 'I will take hold of the middle of this stick. If each of you will take hold of an end, you can easily fly with me to your home.'
"'But remember, friend Tortoise,' said the geese, 'you must not speak a word while we are flying. If you do, you will fall to the earth and be dashed to pieces.'
"All went well until the geese were flying over this courtyard. Then the sentry near yonder door chanced to look up. When he saw the two geese flying along and carrying a tortoise between them, he was filled with amazement.
"'I wish I knew which of the three was bright enough to think of that scheme,' he said aloud.
"The temptation to tell of his brightness was too strong to be resisted. The tortoise opened his mouth to say, 'I thought of this clever scheme,' but he had spoken once too often, as you may see," said Adulla, pointing to the crushed tortoise.
For a moment the king looked keenly at Adulla. Then he nodded his head and muttered, "Yes, I see."
Turning quickly, he walked into the palace. But that day it was noticed that the king talked less and listened more to his advisers, especially to Adulla. And Adulla was often heard muttering: "I bided my time, and my time came. My time came. The king has learned his lesson."
Last Updated ( Thursday, 22 May 2008 )