How the tortoise provoked a contest of strength between the tapir and the whale
AMAZONIAN TORTOISE MYTHS
CH. FRED. HARTT, A. M PROFESSOR OF GEOLOGY
One day a jabutí (tortoise) went down to the sea to drink. A whale saw him and called out:—"What are you doing, jabutí?" To which the latter responded:
"I am drinking, because I am thirsty."
Then the whale made sport of the tortoise because of his short legs, but the latter replied:—"If my legs are short, I am stronger than you, and can pull you on shore."
The whale laughed, and said:—"Let me see you do it!"
"Well," said the jabutí, "just wait until I go into the forest and pull a sipó! (A vine, or aerial root)"
Away went the tortoise into the forest, and there he encountered a tapir who demanded, "What are you looking after, jabutí?"
"I am looking after a sipó."
"And what are you going to do with the sipó?" asked the tapir.
"I want it to pull you down to the sea."
"Ya!" exclaimed the tapir, surprised, "I'll pull you into the forest, and, what's more, I'll kill you; but never mind, let's try who may be the stronger! Go get your sipó!" The tortoise wont off, and presently came back with a very long sipó, one end of which he tied around the body of the tapir.
"Now," said the jabutí, "wait here until I go down to the sea. When I shake the sipó, run with all your might into the forest." Having attached one end to the tapir, he dragged the other down to the sea, and fastened it to the tail of the whale. This accomplished, he said, "I will go up into the forest, and when I shake the sipó, pull as hard as you can, for I am going to draw you on shore."
The jabuti then went into the wood, midway between the whale and the tapir, shook the sipó, and awaited the result. First the whale, swimming vigorously, dragged the tapir backward to the sea, but the latter, resisting with all his might, finally gained a firm foothold, and began to get the better of the whale, drawing him in toward the shore. Then the whale made another effort, and, in this manner, they kept tugging against one another, each thinking the tortoise at the other end of the sipó, until at last, both gave up the struggle from sheer exhaustion.
The tortoise went down to the shore to see the whale, who said: "Well! you are strong, jabutí; I am very tired."
The tortoise then untied the sipó from the whale, and having dipped himself in the water, presented himself to the tapir, who thought the tortoise had been pulling against him in the water.
"Well tapir," said the jabuti, "you see that I am the stronger."
The tortoise then released the tapir, who went off saying:—"It is true, jabuti, you are indeed strong."
Waters salty and deep the sea-turtle plys,
The Tortoise in Eternity
by Elinor Wylie
published in Nets to Catch the Wind
Within my house of patterned horn
The Tortoise and the Eagle
Translated by George Fyler Townsend (1887)
A Tortoise, lazily basking in the sun, complained to the sea-birds of her hard fate, that no one would teach her to fly. An Eagle, hovering near, heard her lamentation and demanded what reward she would give him if he would take her aloft and float her in the air. "I will give you," she said, "all the riches of the Red Sea." "I will teach you to fly then," said the Eagle; and taking her up in his talons he carried her almost to the clouds suddenly he let her go, and she fell on a lofty mountain, dashing her shell to pieces. The Tortoise exclaimed in the moment of death: "I have deserved my present fate; for what had I to do with wings and clouds, who can with difficulty move about on the earth?'
If men had all they wished, they would be often ruined.