TALE OF A TORTOISE AND A MONKEY 329
really are stronger than I thought. Suppose we give it up for to-day ?' Then he dried himself on some moss and went to the whale and said: ' I see that you really are stronger than I thought. Suppose we give it up for today?'
The two adversaries were only too glad to be allowed to rest, and believed to the end of their days that, after all, the tortoise was stronger than either of them.
A day or two later the young tortoise was taking a stroll, when he met a fox, and stopped to speak to him. ' Let us try,' said he in a careless manner, ' which of us can lie buried in the ground during seven years.'
' I shall be delighted,' answered the fox, ' only I would rather that you began.'
' It is all the same to me,' replied the tortoise; ' if you come round this way to-morrow you will see that I have fulfilled my part of the bargain.'
So he looked about for a suitable place, and found a convenient hole at the foot of an orange tree. He crept into it, and the next morning the fox heaped up the earth round him, and promised to feed him every day with fresh fruit. The fox so far kept his word that each morning when the sun rose he appeared to ask how the tortoise was getting on. ' Oh, very wrell; but I wish you would give me some fruit,' replied he.
' Alas ! the fruit is not ripe enough yet for you to eat,' answered the fox, who hoped that the tortoise would die of hunger long before the seven years were over.
' Oh dear, oh dear ! I am so hungry ! ' cried the tortoise. I am sure you must be ; but it will be all right tomorrow,' said the fox, trotting off, not knowing that the oranges dropped down the hollow trunk, straight into the tortoise's hole, and that he had as many as he could possibly eat.
So the seven years went by; and when the tortoise came out of his hole he was as fat as ever.
Now it was the fox's turn, and he chose his hole, and