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Turtle and his bride.
From The Brown Fairy book by Andrew Lang.
Start of Story
Age Rating 6 to 8.
At this all the dancers grew so frightened that they burst through
the ring of their captors, and ran back to the village, the turtles
following--very slowly. On the way the chief turtle met a man, who said
'That woman who was to have been your wife has married another man!'
'Is that true?' said the turtle. 'Then I must see him.'
But as soon as the villager was out of sight the turtle stopped, and
taking a bundle containing fringes and ornaments from his back, he hung
them about him, so that they rattled as he walked. When he was quite
close to the hut where the woman lived, he cried out:
'Here I am to claim the woman who promised to be my wife.'
'Oh, here is the turtle,' whispered the husband hurriedly; 'what is to
be done now?'
'Leave that to me; I will manage him,' replied the wife, and at that
moment the turtle came in, and seized her by the wrist. 'Come with me,'
he said sternly.
'You broke your promise,' answered she. 'You said you would be back
soon, and it is more than a year since you went! How was I to know that
you were alive?'
At her words the husband took courage, and spoke hastily:
'Yes, you promised you would go to war and bring back some prisoners,
and you have not done it.'
'I DID go, and made many prisoners,' retorted the turtle angrily,
drawing out his knife. 'Look here, if she won't be MY wife, she sha'n't
be YOURS. I will cut her in two; and you shall have one half, and I the
'But half a woman is no use to me,' answered the man. 'If you want
her so much you had better take her.' And the turtle, followed by his
relations, carried her off to his own hut.
Now the woman saw she would gain nothing by being sulky, so she
pretended to be very glad to have got rid of her husband; but all
the while she was trying to invent a plan to deliver herself from the
turtle. At length she remembered that one of her friends had a large
iron pot, and when the turtle had gone to his room to put away his
fringes, she ran over to her neighbour's and brought it back. Then she
filled it with water and hung it over the fire to boil. It was just
beginning to bubble and hiss when the turtle entered.
'What are you doing there?' asked he, for he was always afraid of things
that he did not understand.
'Just warming some water,' she answered. 'Do you know how to swim?'
'Yes, of course I do. What a question! But what does it matter to you?'
said the turtle, more suspicious than ever.
'Oh, I only thought that after your long journey you might like to wash.
The roads are so muddy, after the winter's rains. I could rub your shell
for you till it was bright and shining again.
'Well, I AM rather muddy. If one is fighting, you know, one cannot stop
to pick one's way. I should certainly be more comfortable if my back was
The woman did not wait for him to change his mind. She caught him up
by his shell and popped him straight into the pot, where he sank to the
bottom, and died instantly.
The other turtles, who were standing at the door, saw their leader
disappear, and felt it was their duty as soldiers to follow him;
and, springing into the pot, died too. All but one young turtle, who,
frightened at not seeing any of his friends come out again, went as fast
as he could to a clump of bushes, and from there made his way to the
river. His only thought was to get away as far as possible from that
dreadful hut; so he let the river carry him where it was going itself,
and at last, one day, he found himself in the warm sea, where, if he is
not dead, you may meet him still.