ONCE upon a time there was a Tortoise that lived in a pond. He was a most worthy Tortoise, but he had one fault, he would talk in season and out of season; all day long it was chatter, chatter, chatter in that pond, until the fish said that they would rather live on dry land than put up with it any longer.
But the Tortoise had two friends, a pair of young Geese, who used to fly about near the pond in search of food. And when they heard that things were getting hot for the Tortoise in that pond, because he talked so much, they flew up to him and cried eagerly:
"Oh, Tortoise! do come along with us! We have such a beautiful home away in the mountains, where you may talk all day long, and nobody shall worry you there!"
"All very well," grumbled the Tortoise, "but how am I to get there? I can't fly!"
"Oh, we'll carry you, if you can only keep your mouth shut for a little while."
"Yes, I can do that," says he, "when I like. Let us be off."
So the Geese picked up a stout stick, and one Goose took one end in her bill and the other Goose took the other end, and then they told the Tortoise to get hold in the middle; "only be careful," said they, "not to talk."
The Tortoise set his teeth fast on the stick, and held on like grim death, while the Geese, flapping their strong wings, rose in the air and flew towards their home.
All went well for a time. But it so happened that some boys were looking up in the air, and were highly amused by what they saw.
"Look there!" cried one to the rest, "two Geese carrying a Tortoise on a stick!"
The Tortoise on hearing this was so angry that he forgot all about his danger, and opened his mouth to cry out: "What's that to you? Mind your own business!" But he got no farther than the first word; for when his mouth opened he loosed the stick, down he dropped, and fell with a crash on the stones.
The talkative Tortoise lay dead, with his shell cracked in two.