THE TURTLE AND HIS BRIDE 109
every direction. If once we got entangled in them, we should never get out again !'
' Well then, let us go round by the bottom,' said a third.
' How are we to do that, when the roots have made a deep hole, and above that is a high bank ?' replied a fourth. ' No ; the only way I can think of, is to burn a large hole in the trunk.' And this they did, but the trunk was very thick, and would not burn through.
' It is no use, we must give it up,' they agreed at last. ' After all, nobody need ever know ! We have been away such a long while that we might easily have had all sorts of adventures.' And so the whole company turned homewards again.
They took even longer to go back than they had to come, for they were tired and footsore with their journey. When they drew near the camp they plucked up their courage, and began to sing a war-song. At this the villagers came flocking to see what spoils the turtles had won, but, as they approached, each turtle seized some one by the wrist, exclaiming : ' You are our spoils; you are our prisoners ! '
' Now that I have got you I will keep you,' said the leader, who had happened to seize his betrothed.
Everybody was naturally very angry at this behaviour, and the girl most of all, and in her secret heart she determined to have her revenge. But, just at present, the turtles were too strong, so the prisoners had to put on their smartest slippers and their brightest clothes, and dance a war dance while the turtles sang. They danced so long that it seemed as if they would never stop, till the turtle who was leading the singing suddenly broke into a loud chant:
Whoever comes here, will die, will die! At this all the dancers grew so frightened that they