Why the Tortoise’s Shell is not Smooth
Once upon a time, the King of the Sky invited all the birds
to a big party. The birds were talking with excitement about preparing for the party when Tortoise overheard them.
‘Did you say you are going to a party?’ asked Tortoise.
‘Yes’, they replied. The King of the Sky is inviting all the birds to come.’
‘May I go too?’ asked Tortoise.
‘The last time you came to our party, you ruined it all for us. No, you can’t come with us.’
‘Oh please – I am a changed person. I won’t spoil it this time around,’ pleaded Tortoise. With his sweet tongue, he soon convinced the birds to give him a feather each to make a pair of wings so he could go to the party.
Soon the big day came. There was excitement everywhere. Tortoise put on his wings and joined the birds. But Tortoise’s greed had not disappeared completely.
‘Oh, my friends, did you know that you must have a new name for parties such as this?’
The birds said they had no idea that there was such a tradition. But they thought tortoise was older and wiser about these things and so they all took new names.
‘What is your new name?’ the birds asked Tortoise.
‘All of you,’ Tortoise replied.
The birds thought that was a strange name but they did not say anything.
Finally, they all arrived at the party.
The King was pleased to see them. He was particularly struck by Tortoise, because he had never seen such a bird before. The King decided to give the seat of honour at the head of the table to Tortoise. The King’s servants then filled the tables with the most delicious dishes anyone had ever seen.
Tortoise got more and more excited. He swallowed saliva hard and asked the King of the Sky, ‘Your Majesty, Sir, who did you prepare this wonderful feast for?’
‘I made it for all of you,’ the King replied.
Tortoise turned to the birds and said, ‘Did you hear that. It was made for “All of you” and that is my name. You will have to wait for me to finish eating before you get your share.’
Tortoise ate and ate while the birds sat and watched. They got more and more angry. When Tortoise could not eat any more, he invited the birds to eat the leftovers. The birds looked at the messy leftovers and decided not to eat at all. As they left, they each walked past Tortoise and plucked the feathers they had given to him. There was Tortoise, now filled with food and no wings, just a hard shell with which to find his way home from the Sky.
Tortoise was now very worried. He wanted to send a message to his wife but none of the birds would take the message. Parrot, who was the most angry and the last to take his feather from Tortoise, agreed to send the message.
‘Tell my wife to bring out all the soft things in my house so that I can jump from the Sky and land on a soft surface at my house.’
Parrot went and told Tortoise’s wife that her husband wanted her to bring all the hard things in the house into the compound. Tortoise could see his wife going in and out, bringing things from the house. He thought they were the soft things he had asked for. When she seemed to have finished, Tortoise jumped and fell on to the hard surface and his shell was smashed to pieces. Mrs Tortoise picked up the pieces of shell and stuck them together to cover Tortoise’s back. That is why Tortoise’s shell is not smooth.