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
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
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; Ill 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
seemed to cut off his head. All the tortoises did
But they did not cut off their heads; they pulled their heads
The snakes thought this was fine. Late the next day,
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:Thats 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
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