The Greedy Tortoise

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
The tortoise tries to get all the wisdom on earth for himself alone.

Submitted: May 03, 2016

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Submitted: May 03, 2016



Once upon a time, a long, long time ago Tortoise awoke one morning and decided very strongly that he was going to own all the wisdom in the world alone. So he packed a few clothes, took some food and travelled for seven days and seven nights through the desert and the evil forest to the home of the most powerful herbalist in the land. He told the herbalist what he wanted, and after presenting some kola nuts and a cock to him, the herbalist made some incantations and handed a gourd to Tortoise.

‘This gourd,’ the herbalist informed him solemnly, ‘contains all the wisdom in the world. Take it and go home.’

The greedy Tortoise was overjoyed and trembled with excitement, but then a suspicious thought entered his mind and he addressed the herbalist reverently:

‘My father', ‘Tortoise said, his right hand on the ground in respect. ‘Do you advise me to return through the desert and evil forest or to go to the nearby village and join a caravan going my way?’

The herbalist struggled to answer but at length looking confused said, ‘I don’t know my son.’

‘Don’t worry my father,’ Tortoise said his forehead now on the ground in farewell greeting. ‘I will find my way home.’ Tortoise smiled into the ground and thought to himself, ‘he has no more wisdom.’ So Tortoise said goodbye to the herbalist and travelled back to his village.

Early the next morning after he returned Tortoise arose, and quietly, without awaking his wife and five children, took the gourd containing all the wisdom in the world where he had hid it in a hole in the ground under his bed and went to his farm. He planned to hide the gourd at the top of a very tall palm tree. As he walked whistling along the path he imagined being an all wise all powerful king with all the foolish animals as his servants and subjects, even the mighty lion and the terrible leopard.

When Tortoise got to the tree he placed the gourd in front of him and began climbing up the tree. But he slid downwards again and again because he found it difficult to grip the tree firmly.

A hunter stood quietly watching Tortoise climb up the tree and slide down several times. Then the hunter called out to Tortoise, ‘Mr Tortoise, if you are trying to climb the tree, why don’t you put the gourd behind you so you will have enough freedom to grip the tree.'

When Tortoise thought about what the hunter said he saw that it made perfect sense, and then he became furious because he realized that the wisdom the hunter offered him was not in his gourd. In great anger he smashed the gourd at the foot of the palm tree.

© Copyright 2019 Michael Vincent. All rights reserved.

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