THE FATE OF THE TURTLE 245
' Well, then,' answered the duck, ' whilst we are carrying you through the air, in the manner that we have fixed upon, you must remain as quiet as if you were dead. However high above the earth you may find yourself, you must not feel afraid, nor move your feet nor open your mouth. No matter what you see or hear, it is absolutely needful for you to be perfectly still, or I cannot answer for the consequences.'
' I will be absolutely obedient,' answered the turtle, ' not only on this occasion but during all my life; and once more I promise faithfully not to move head or foot, to fear nothing, and never to speak a word during the whole journey.'
This being settled, the ducks swam about till they found, floating in the lake, a good stout stick. This they tied to their necks with some of the tough water-lily roots, and returned as quickly as they could to the turtle.
' Now,' said the elder duck, pushing the stick gently towards his friend, ' take this stick firmly in your mouth, and do not let it go till we have set you down on earth again.'
The turtle did as he was told, and the ducks in their turn seized the stick by the two ends, spread their wings and mounted swiftly into the air, the turtle hanging between them.
For a while all went well. They swept across valleys, over great mountains, above ruined cities, but no lake was to be seen anywhere. Still, the turtle had faith in his friends, and bravely hung on to the stick.
At length they saw in the distance a small village, and very soon they were passing over the roofs of the houses. The people were so astonished at the strange sight, that they all—men, women and children—ran out to see it, and cried to each other:
' Look! look ! behold a miracle ! Two ducks supporting a turtle ! Was ever such a thing known before ! ' Indeed, so great was the surprise that men left their