72. The Turtle in the Lake

The princes shouted, "Father, we saw a terrible lake-monster!"
The king's guards went and caught the monster.
It was only a turtle, but the princes had never seen a turtle before and it frightened them.
"How shall we kill it?" the king asked.
"Crush it!" said the first prince.
"Burn it!" said the second.
"Drown it!" said the third.
Then the turtle shrieked, "Don't drown me! Crush me, burn me, but please don't drown me!"
"Drown the turtle!" the king commanded.
The guards threw the turtle into the lake.
The turtle shouted "Home at last!" as he happily swam away.

Inspired by: The Jataka, translated by E. B. Cowell and W. H. D. Rouse.
Notes: The story of the turtle who tricks the people into throwing him back into the lake (much like Brer Rabbit getting thrown back into his briar patch!) is only part of a much longer story. Here is an illustration by Ellsworth Young:

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