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The Tortoise and the Cranes: Story from Panchatantra

This is a story from Panchatantra which teaches us that it is not wise to open our mouth when it is not necessary. This story is as follows:
In a pond lives a tortoise who has two cranes for friends. Once, the lake begins to dry up because of a famine. The cranes decide to fly away to a different pond. The tortoise asks the cranes to take her with them. What happens next?

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the story is as follows

Once upon a time, two cranes and a tortoise made friends with each other. They lived in a forest by a lake. It was a very pleasant forest to live in. the lake was full of all kinds of small fish. They were easy to catch and tasty to eat, and the water was always fresh and very good to drink.
`It is not lovely to live together like this! How nice it is to have good friends!’
`For a happy life, we should have good friends as well as a comfortable home.’ These were the kinds of things they said when they met every day.
But their happy life in the forest did not go on very long. They lived on the banks of a lake and this lake got its water from the rain. And as there had been no rain in their forest for two whole years, it began to dry up. It was now getting difficult for our friends to find any fish to catch or any water to drink.
Birds such as cranes often have a ready solution to problems like this. They usually go on long journeys in search of good or better weather. Traveling is an easy matter for birds. They have wings, and the sky is free.
So the two cranes decided to leave the forest as soon as they could. They were very sorry to leave their friend, the tortoise, behind, but they said to each other, `All friends must part some time, after all.’ when they met the tortoise that morning, they looked at her sadly. The tortoise asked them why they were so sad.
The first crane said, `we are sad because we will soon have to part.’ And the second crane added, `it won’t be possible for us to live together any longer’
`You will see shy, if you look down from the sky,’ the first crane replied.
`The lake is almost dry,’ said the second crane. `And the fish are beginning to die.’
`And if we don’t leave now, we may die too,’ the first crane said.
The tortoise slowly thought over this question.
`Where are you going?’ she asked the cranes.
The first crane said, `We are going to another forest. It will be easier to find food and water there.’
`When are you going?’ asked the tortoise.
`Well be starting in an hour’s time,’ the first crane replied.
`As soon as is that? The tortoise asked, slowly raising her head. And suddenly, she said in one breath, `I am going with you.’
`But how can you go with us? The cranes asked in surprise.
`Why can’t I go with you?’ the tortoise challenged.
`Don’t you see why?’ the cranes asked. `You can’t fly!’
But that was exactly the reason why the tortoise had to go with the cranes. As she could not fly, it would be impossible for her to leave the forest by herself. If she was left behind, she would be dead before the rains came again.
`Isn’t it your duty to save a friend’s life?’ she asked the cranes.
`Certainly,’ the first crane agreed.
`But how shall we do it?’ the second crane asked.
`Carry me with you,’ said the tortoise.
`Carry you? How?’ the cranes asked again.
The tortoise said that they could carry her on their backs.
But our backs are so small!’ cried the first crane.
`If you fall off during our flight, you will die!’ said the other crane.
The tortoise thought for a while and asked, `can’t you carry me with your beaks?’
But the cranes were very unwilling to do this.
`It will be awful to have our beaks digging into your body although you have got a hard shell,’ the first crane remarked.
This time, the tortoise thought much longer than she had done earlier. Then she suddenly raised her head and said brightly, `I have an idea. Bring me a strong stick. I will hold the middle of it between my jaws and hang on to it. Each of you can take one end of the stick in your beak, and then-fly!’
`Excellent!’ cried the first crane.
`Come on. Let’s go and get the stick!’ exclaimed the second crane.
The cranes flew off and returned with a strong bamboo stick. Before they started, the birds had warned the tortoise about the great risks of her flight. They spoke, each in one ear of the tortoise, like this- `Be careful. Bo not opens your mouth in the sky.’
`You will see all kinds of wonderful things down below, but never open your mouth in wonder.’
`If you do, you will fall’.
`You have to keep your mouth tightly shut.’
`I certainly will,’ said the tortoise.
Then, the cranes took the ends of the stick in their strong beaks and flew up into the sky. Off went the tortoise on her first journey by air.
As soon as the three friends got out of the forest, people began to shout at them. It was a strange and wonderful sight. All the people who were out of doors looked up at the flying stick, shouting out all kinds of things. `Isn’t it clever of the tortoise to hang on to a stick likes that!’ said some of them. The tortoise was highly pleased at these words of praise. `It is, after all, my own idea,’ she said to herself. 1The cranes are only carrying out my plan.’
The cranes were quite used to flying. They did not look down. They paid no attention to what the people said. But the tortoise was different. She looked at everything and listened. When they were crossing a field, some farmers said, `isn’t it nice of the cranes to carry a tortoise on a stick like that?
`It teaches us an important thing. We can do anything if we do it together.’
`It’s a good example.’
`Let’s thank the cranes.’
Now the tortoise thought this was very unfair to her. It was her idea, wasn’t it/ how could they praise the cranes for it? Forgetting what the cranes had told her, she shouted out, `It was-‘
But the unfortunate tortoise did not complete the sentence. The moment she opened her mouth, her jaws let go of the stick and she fell, down and down and down.
Some people say she died, but she did not. Tortoises have hard shells!
Story narrated by Sheerali biju. Music by Bensound. Image Courtesy Project Gutenberg.