THE TORTOISE 
                AND THE SNAKE

 
   




 

Many years ago, a tortoise and a snake lived beside a river. 
They were not friends. Each wanted to be king of the river.

The snake often tried to bite the tortoise, but the tortoise 
pulled back his head and his feet inside his shell. 
(The shell of the tortoise is his very hard skin.) 

The snake could only bite the  shell, and this was  hard  and 
strong that the tortoise was not hurt.

One day after the snake had tried to bite him, the  tortoise 
said: “Ha! Ha! I am the king here! I am so strong that nobody 
can bite me.”

The snake was very angry, but he said: “How did you become 
so strong?”

The tortoise said: I am strong, and all my friends are strong 
because we cut off our heads at night.”

The snake said: “That is a very fine thing.  If I call  friends 
will you show us how to do it?”

“Yes,” said the tortoise; “I’ll show you.

So the snake and the tortoise  called  all   their  friends  and 
families. On one side there were  hundreds  of  tortoises, and 
on the other side hundreds of snakes.

‘Then the first tortoise held a piece of  hard  wood  with  his 
foot, and seemed to cut off his  head.  All  the  tortoises  did 
the same.

But they did not cut off their heads; they pulled their heads 
inside their shells.
The snakes thought this was fine.  Late  the  next  day,  they 
came to the tortoise again and said:
“We should like to cut off our heads every night, but we have 
no feet, so we cannot hold the hard wood.
”The tortoise said:“That’s very sad. If you could cut off your heads,  you would become as strong as we are. 
What can we do?”
“Well,” said the snakes;  “you  have feet; so will you do it for 
us?” 
“Yes, gladly,” said the tortoise.
So  each  of  the tortoises took a piece of hard wood, and cut 
off the head of one of the snakes.
Of course all  the  snakes  died,  and  then  the first tortoise 
became  king of the river.

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