61. The Tortoise and the Crane

"Help me, Crane!" shouted Tortoise. "Jackal wants to catch me and kill me."
"Grab onto my tail with your mouth," said Crane, "and we'll fly away."
So Tortoise grabbed Crane's tail, and together they soared into the sky.
Jackal shouted from down on the ground, "Look at the ugly Tortoise! He's so old and wrinkled!"
"Liar!" shouted Tortoise, but when he shouted, he let go of Crane's tail and fell, shattering his shell.
"Who are you calling a liar?" snarled Jackal. 
"Not you!" pleaded Tortoise, but to no avail; Jackal killed Tortoise and ate him.
Tortoise should have stayed quiet.
[a Tswana story from southern Africa]

Inspired by: "The Jackal and the Tortoise" in Among the Bantu Nomads by J. Tom Brown, 1925.
Notes: You can read the original story online. There is a similar motif of a turtle letting go of a stick while flying in the Buddhist jataka tradition and in other old Indian folktales.

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