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Tortoisethe Birdsand the Feasts

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There was a famine one time that went on for months. Even Tortoisewho was slow but cunning and full of trickshad not had a good meal for two months. He could walk a little faster because his body had shrunken sobut that was of no use if he was weak from hunger and there was little food to be found. As he crept aboutTortoise listened carefully for news of food. He only heard of a feast that the sky-gods were preparing for their friendsthe birds. The feast was to be in the sky itselfwhere only the birds and the sky-gods could go.

Tortoise thought for a long time about how to get some of the feast. He then went to some birds and said"I wish that I could see this wonderful place where you are going."

"AhTortoise" laughed the birds. "We would gladly help youbut we know that you are full of tricks and that we shall be sorry if we do."

Tortoise replied"What use is trickery if one is starving and there is no food? I have learned my lesson-- tricks go back on the trickster. I am a changed Tortoise." He kept talking to the birdswho were of good heart and wanted to believe himtill at last they agreed to help.

Each bird gave a few feathers and they stuck them onto Tortoise till he was covered with feathers of many colors. He found that he could flap his arms like wings and that he could fly. The birds went with him into the air and showed him the way to the place of the sky-gods' feast. As they wentTortoise said"I have heard that the sky-gods have a custom now. When they have a feasteveryone who is invited must have a new name. My name shall be 'All of You.'"

The birds were confusedbut they knew that Tortoise was wise and heard many new things as he crept all over the land. They decided to believe him.

When they arrived at the place of the feastthe sky-gods set out much to eat and drink. The sky-gods needed to leave before the feasting startedbut before they leftTortoise asked them"Who is all this for?"

"This is for all of you" answered the sky-gods.

Tortoise turned and said to the birds"You have heard them. My new name is 'All of You'. This is all for me. If there is any left after I am doneyou may have it."

The angry birds watched as Tortoise devoured everything. Not a scrap or drop was left. Soon they all flew down to the Earth. The birds wanted to punish Tortoisebut they decided to wait a while first.

Much laternothing had been said about Tortoise's trick. Tortoise thought that the birds had accepted that he was much more clever than theyand had chosen to do nothing. Later stillhe heard of another feast for the birds. "Is this another feast of the sky-gods?" he inquired of some birds.

"No" they replied. "This one is on the groundnot far from here. You may comeif you promise no more trickery." Of course Tortoise agreed. The birds told him how to get to the place of feasting.

They all gathered before the food and drink. A bird announced that no one could eat until his or her claws were clean. Everyone rushed to a nearby stream to wash. The birds flew back to the feastbut Tortoise had to crawl along the ground. When he got back to the foodhis claws were dirty again. He kept going back to the streambut he could not keep his claws from getting dirty. Tortoise realized he had been tricked by the birds. He had to watch and listen while the birds feasted. When they were donethey had not left a scrap or drop for Tortoise.

The birds flew awaymaking fun of Tortoise as they left with full stomachs




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