328 TALE OF A TORTOISE AND A MONKEY
amused at the impertinence of the little creature ; ' when would you like the trial to be ?'
' In an hour's time; I have some business to do first,' answered the tortoise. And he hastened away as fast as his short legs would carry him.
In a pool of the river a whale was resting, blowing water into the air and making a lovely fountain. The tortoise, however, was too young and too busy to admire such things, and he called to the whale to stop, as he wanted to speak to him. ' Would you like to try which of us is the stronger ?' said he. The whale looked at him, sent up another fountain, and answered : ' Oh, yes ; certainly. When do you wish to begin ? I am quite ready.'
' Then give me one of your longest bones, and I will fasten it to my leg. When I give the signal, you must pull, and we will see which can pull the hardest.'
' Very good,' replied the whale ; and he took out one of his bones and passed it to the tortoise.
The tortoise picked up the end of the bone in his mouth and went back to the elephant. ' I will fasten this to your leg,' said he, ' in the same way as it is fastened to mine, and we must both pull as hard as we can. We shall soon see which is the stronger.' So he wound it carefully round the elephant's leg, and tied it in a firm knot. ' Now!' cried he, plunging into a thick bush behind him.
The whale tugged at one end, and the elephant tugged at the other, and neither had any idea that he had not the tortoise for his foe. When the whale pulled hardest the elephant was dragged into the water; and when the elephant pulled the hardest the whale was hauled on to the land. They were very evenly matched, and the battle was a hard one.
At last they were quite tired, and the tortoise, who was watching, saw that they could play no more. So he crept from his hiding-place, and dipping himself in the river, he went to the elephant and said : ' I see that you