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Elphinstone Kist   Stories for Bairns

Tortoise and the Wisdom of the World     by: Wheeler, Les

Eence a lang, lang time ago, in the days afore there wis dominees, the Tortoise, fa wis a gey uppity lad, thocht he wid like tae ain aa the wisdom in the hale warld an syne he'd be the only wise chiel in the hale warld. Noo, if he managed tae gaither aa the wisdom till himsel, aabody - kings, sodjers, cooncillors an aa - wid hae tae spier at him aboot aathing, fooiver sma, an he thocht he could charge them a lot o siller for daein this, sae he'd seen be the richest chiel in aa the warld. It wis a gran idea!

Sae Tortoise set oot tae gaither aa the wisdom he could an pit ilka bit he gaithert intae a muckle gourd. Tae stop ony o the wisdom scalin oot he stappit the neck wi a puckle leaves. Noo, as ye'd expect, it took a gey filie tae gaither up aa the wisdom, but fan he thocht he'd got it aa Tortoise hid tae think o some wye tae keep his hoard o wisdom. He thocht for a filie an thocht he wid keep it in the tapmaist branches o the hichest tree in the forest.

Fan he got tae the tree he tied a tow tae the neck o the gourd, tied the enns thegither, pit the loop ower his heid an let the gourd rest on his wime. Syne he set aff tae clim the tree, but wi his wee, short leggies an the gourd afore him he couldna get climmin at aa. He keepit on tryin - there wis a bit o the Bruce in this Tortoise - but it made nae difference. He stuck the gourd at ae side o his stomack, syne the ither, but it wis nae gweed - streetch as he micht he couldna win at the tree.

He wis stannin at the bottom o the tree, wunnerin fit tae dee neist, fan he heard some chiel lauchin. He turnt roon an saa a hunter fa'd bin watchin him.

"Freen," said the hunter, "fu div ye nae hing that gourd ahin ye if ye wint tae get tae the tap o that tree."

Fan his lugs took in this bittie o common sense Tortoise realised that he didna hae aa the wisdom in the warld - there wis at least that much left in the warld he thocht he'd deprived o wisdom. Tortoise wis fair pit oot ower the hale thing for he saa it wis jist hopeless tae cairry on tchaavin an he wis in sic a bin that he drappit the gourd o wisdom then an there at the bottom o the tree.

The win took a hud o aa the bitties o wisdom an blew them aa owen the wand - little bitties o wisdom, some that sma ye could hardly see them, got intae ivery neuk an cranny. Noo, they say, that if ye tchaave at it for lang eneuch, onybody kin gaither in some bitties o wisdom, but nae maitter fu hard ye tchaave it'll be a sair fecht an ye should aye mine that naebody kin iver ken aathing.

A Nigerian Folk Tale

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