A great drought had come upon the land and everywhere there was sorrow and despair. Plants started to wilt and food became scare, animals and human beings were depressed. And waterholes started to dry one by one.
Lion was king of the jungle, so he sent Eagle to gather all the animals big and small. Come next Sunday, those days when animals used to talk like us, all the animals came under a big fig tree, except tortoise the slowest.
Elephant stomped and said to Lion, “Since every one of us knows tortoise will arrive late, let’s start this meeting. You will brief him when he comes.”
“No ways Elephant! We will wait till late afternoon our friend tortoise to come.”
Using his best roar Lion told all the animals the main reason he called them.
“As you all know we are facing a dry season. I need all of you to come and think about the water problem.”
Tortoise had heard Lion’s command from afar and he was thinking as he came along. As he got closer he heard some of what was said since everyone was giving a suggestion.
In a slow but wise voice he said, “Let’s all dig deeper wells. Those who refuse must not drink water.”
Everybody dug except Hare who went home after the meeting.
“Me, as you all know, don’t drink too much water. Elephant drinks a lot so him and his family must dig, not me.” Hare had said.
By the next day they had not reached water and Tortoise pleaded to be given a chance to dig. But Elephant pushed him aside.
“You’re troublesome. You think where we have failed you can succeed?”
Lion told Tortoise to try, and he put him down. Tortoise started digging and singing.
“Oh I’m just a tortoise, please water come.
I’m just a tortoise, I’m dying of thirst,
I’m just a tortoise,”
He sang until he was hoarse and water started to rise.
When the animals saw water they all raise Tortoise and celebrations started.
King Lion told everyone that they must guard the well so that people and others do not to steal their water. Baboon was first to guard.
By midnight he heard a voice.
“Who’s there, please?” Baboon shouted in to the darkness.
“It’s me Baboon,” the voice said. “I have brought some nuts for you but I must first bind you.”
Baboon agreed. And he saw that it was Hare after being bound. He saw Hare drink the water, dump rubbish and go.
Morning come and everyone was shocked to find Baboon bound. When he told them it was Hare, the others told him he was silly.
“We will catch him. He will never trick us,” they said and vowed.
But one by one they were all tricked.
One day Tortoise pleaded, “Please, can I guard the well?”
“You with your body and slowness,” Elephant said rising with fury. “You think you can catch Hare when we have failed?”
“Tortoise must guard today,” Lion roared.
Tortoise put glue all over his body and sat at the bottom of the well.
By midnight he heard a voice.
“Who is there tonight?” Hare called out. Tortoise kept quiet. Hare called three times and nobody answered. And he started to laugh.
“Oh, you animals have now surrendered because I was binding all your watchman and messing your water.”
Inside the well Tortoise was laughing quietly. Hare came and drank water and put some in his guard. Then a thought come to him to swim inside the well since he was alone.
Once he dived in, his feet touched something and got stuck. His arms searched around him and they got stuck. Panic filled him. When he heard it was Tortoise he started to laugh.
Hare tried and tried to get Tortoise to let him go but Tortoise would not hear it. Hare started to cry and beg to be freed and Tortoise just laughed until everybody came at sunrise.
Lion was happy and the animals celebrated. Naughty Hare was punished and Tortoise became Lion’s advisor.