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THE elephant and the
hippopotamus always used to feed together, and were good friends.
One day when they were
both dining together, the tortoise appeared and said that although they were
both big and strong,

neither of them could pull him out of the water with a
strong piece of tie-tie, and he offered the elephant ten thousand rods if he
could draw him out of the river the next day. The elephant, seeing that the
tortoise was very small, said, “If I cannot draw you out of the water, I
will give you twenty thousand rods.” So on the following morning the
tortoise got some very strong tie-tie and made it fast to his leg, and went
down to the river. When he got there, as he knew the place well, he made the
tie-tie fast round a big rock, and left the other end on the shore for the
elephant to pull by, then went down to the bottom of the river and hid himself.
The elephant then came down and started pulling, and after a time he smashed
the rope.

Directly this happened,
the tortoise undid the rope from the rock and came to the land, showing all
people that the rope was still fast to his leg, but that the elephant had
failed to pull him out. The elephant was thus forced to admit that the tortoise
was the winner, and paid to him the twenty thousand rods, as agreed. The
tortoise then took the rods home to his wife, and they lived together very
After three months had
passed, the tortoise, seeing that the money was greatly reduced, thought he
would make some more by the same trick, so he went to the hippopotamus and made
the same bet with him. The hippopotamus said, “I will make the bet, but I
shall take the water and you shall take the land; I will then pull you into the
To this the tortoise
agreed, so they went down to the river as before, and having got some strong
tie-tie, the tortoise made it fast to the hippopotamus’ hind leg, and told him
to go into the water. Directly the hippo had turned his back and disappeared,
the tortoise took the rope twice round a strong palm-tree which was growing
near, and then hid himself at the foot of the tree.
When the hippo was tired
of pulling, he came up puffing and blowing water into the air from his
nostrils. Directly the tortoise saw him coming up, he unwound the rope, and
walked down towards the hippopotamus, showing him the tie-tie round his leg.
The hippo had to acknowledge that the tortoise was too strong for him, and
reluctantly handed over the twenty thousand rods.
The elephant and the
hippo then agreed that they would take the tortoise as their friend, as he was
so very strong; but he was not really so strong as they thought, and had won
because he was so cunning.
He then told them that
he would like to live with both of them, but that, as he could not be in two
places at the same time, he said that he would leave his son to live with the
elephant on the land, and that he himself would live with the hippopotamus in
the water.
This explains why there
are both tortoises on the land and tortoises who live in the water. The water
tortoise is always much the bigger of the two, as there is plenty of fish for
him to eat in the river, whereas the land tortoise is often very short of food.

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