"I'm so strong," Tortoise told Elephant, "I could pull you into the river."
Tortoise tied a rope around Elephant. "I'll show you!" he said. "Wait here."
Then Tortoise found Hippo. "I'm strong enough to pull you out of the river."
"I'll show you!" Tortoise said, tying the rope around Hippo.
"Dive deep," he said. "Then pull!"
Hippo dove deep, and then he pulled.
When Hippo pulled, Elephant pulled.
They both pulled hard.
"You really are strong!" shouted Elephant.
"Wait!" shouted Hippo, lifting his head up. "Is that you, Elephant?"
Then they both realized: Tortoise tricked them.
[a Calabar story from southern Nigeria]
Inspired by: "The Tortoise, Elephant and Hippopotamus" in Animal Stories from Calabar (published in Journal of the Royal African Society) by Henry Cobham, 1905.
Notes: You can read the original story online.