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The tortoise and the geese | Panchatantra stories retold

Updated on May 30, 2013

Panchatantra stories - stories with morals for kids

The tortoise and the geese is a popular fable that shows how being not able to keep from talking (in spite of being advised so) led a tortoise to its doom. This story or variants of it is found in many collections of fables and stories. The Panchatantra stories has one version of this story, which is retold below with some amplification. The Panchatantra stories are a very popular part of ancient folklore that have been authored almost eighteen centuries ago by Vishnu Sharma. Many of them present valuable morals that kids (and grown-ups too) would do well to imbibe. Panchatantra stories have been widely retold and translated and are widely read.

Here is the story of the tortoise and the geese retold.

The tortoise and the geese

Talky Tortoise was quite a nice and good tortoise. If he had one fault, it was that he couldn't keep quiet for long. TTalky loved to talk! He lived by a pond. Two geese were his neighbours. Talky was friendly with the geese and they also liked him.

One year, the rains failed. The pond started drying up. Slowly, the tortoise and the geese saw the water in the pond disappearing; each day there was less water than before. They started getting quite alarmed.

The two geese of course could fly and had seen quite a bit of the world; but Talky had never ever gone away from the neighbourhood where he had spent his entire life. The geese started planning to move to another area with a bigger pond but some distance away.

A plan is formed

"But what about me," cried Talky when he came to know of this plan. "You guys can fly, I can't. Surely you can't just leave me here alone. Why, even if the pond becomes full, how can I stay alone. Who would I talk to?"

The geese were quite sympathetic, but did not quite see what to do, since Talky couldn't fly. The tortoise and the geese discussed the issue for a while.

"If you guys can somehow carry me, I could also relocate with you," felt Talky. "But how would you carry me and also fly?"

After some more discussion they arrived at a plan. A strong little stick was found. Talky was to hold on to the middle of the stick with his mouth, the two geese were to each hold on to either end of the stick with their mouths. That way when they flew Talky could accompany them!

The tortoise flies!

Talky was very excited. He chattered non-stop about the journey ahead, wondered how the new pond would be, whether there would be others around the pond that he could talk to and so on. The geese listened patiently, but warned him, "Talky, please remember not to say a single word during our flight. For if you open your mouth to say even one word, you will fall down and die."

"Alright, said Talky. I will keep quiet for the duration of the journey, though it will be quite difficult for me!"

And so the tortoise and the geese flew off, the tortoise clutching the stick with his mouth, the geese carrying the stick between them. Talky felt amazed as he soared into the sky and saw all the countryside going past below.

The tortoise struggles to be quiet

"Wow," he wanted to exclaim, but remembered just in time that he should not open his mouth. As the trees and rivers and many animals 'passed by' below, Talky desperately wanted to talk about all the things he was seeing, but with great difficulty he kept his mouth shut.

As the geese soared higher into the air, Talky began to feel quite dizzy! He wanted to tell the geese to slow down a bit, but of course he couldn't open his mouth.

The tortoise speaks and meets his end

Soon they flew over a small town. A bunch of children were playing in a playground there. As they looked up and saw the strange sight the children clapped their hands and loudly discussed the 'phenomenon'. "Look," cried one, "It is so funny. A tortoise is flying!"

"Ha ha ha," laughed the children. "A flying tortoise! We have never seen one before. This tortoise will cover more distance today, then it has in its entire life."

"How silly, it looks catching the stick with its mouth," cried another child.

"is it a real tortoise," wondered another.

Talky's blood began to boil. If there was one thing Talky couldn't bear, it was to be laughed at.

"Keep quiet!" he opened his mouth to yell at the children, forgetting that he shouldn't speak, and down he fell. That was of course the end of the tortoise.

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