There was a large pond in the middle of a jungle. All kinds of animals came to drink water from it. A small turtle had been living by the pond for many years. And he had become good friends with two cranes who lived there too.

They used to play together, and tell each other stories. The cranes would fly to far away lands and when they returned to the pond, they would tell the turtle stories about all that they saw. The turtle, of course, could not go with them because he could not fly. But he loved to hear the cranes’ stories.

Then one year it did not rain at all. Slowly, the pond started to dry up. The turtle and the cranes were worried. One day the turtle said to the cranes ‘There is very little water left in the pond. We must find some water soon. You can fly to far away lands, why don’t you search for a bigger pond with more water. And then we can go there’.

The cranes thought that was a very good idea. So they flew off in search of a pond. Soon they found a large lake near the blue mountain. They flew back and told the turtle about it. They were all very happy, but there was one problem. The blue mountains were very far away, and there was no way the turtle could walk to it.

So they all sat down to think. ‘I wish you could fly like us’ said one crane. They all sat thinking. Then the turtle shouted, ‘I have a great idea. I will fly with you’. The cranes said ‘o-ho, come on, you can’t fly. This is no time to joke, we are trying to think’.

Flying Turtle [Illustrations by Amarjeet Malik]
Flying Turtle [Illustrations by Amarjeet Malik]

The turtle replied, ‘I am not joking my friend, I am serious. This is what we’ll do. Both of you tightly hold onto the ends of a stick between your strong claws. I will hold onto the stick with my mouth. So when you fly off, I will fly off with you.”

The cranes thought that was a very clever idea indeed. But they warned the turtle, “You must remember not to speak at all as you fly.’

So off they went flying together. As they were flying over a village, a little girl saw them. She had never seen anything like this before. She shouted out to her friends ‘Come, look at a flying turtle’. At first everyone thought she was joking, but soon the whole village was out on the street and shouting ‘Flying Turtle’ ‘F-L-Y-I-N-G T-U-R-T-L-E’.

Flying Turtle [Illustrations by Amarjeet Malik]
Flying Turtle [Illustrations by Amarjeet Malik]

The cranes and the turtle could see the large crowd below. They wondered what they had gathered for. It was just then that they heard the shouts of ‘Flying Turtle’ ‘F-L-Y-I-N-G T-U-R-T-L-E’. The turtle was very pleased, to hear such a big crowd cheering him. After all, this was all his idea. He started to say, ‘They are shouting about m…,’ . But just as he opened his mouth to speak, the stick slipped out of his mouth. “Me eeeee – eee – eeeeeeee…” The screaming turtle fell to ground and died.

The cranes were very sad about losing their friend. As they sat by the blue mountain lake one of them said ‘I wish our friend turtle had not opened his mouth.’ The other crane nodded, ‘I wish he had paid more attention to what he was doing, and not worried about what people were saying.’

592 words | 7 minutes
Readability: Grade 2 (7-8 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: folktales
Tags: #mountains, #cranes, #turtles

You may also be interested in these:
Two Fish and a Frog