The Mouse and The Tortoise.
Once, a long time ago, even in tortoise years, there was a terrible flood and an old but wise tortoise began climbing up a hill to escape the flood waters and, as he was climbing up, a lazy little mouse who wanted to escape the flood waters but didn’t want to have to walk all the way up the steep hill, hopped onto the tortoises back.
However, the tortoise, because he was very wise, didn’t grumble about the mouse being on his back; in fact he thought that the mouse might give him some pleasant company.
But as they were slowly progressing up the hill, the mouse started to get impatient.
“Aren’t we at the top of the hill yet, old tortoise?”, asked the mouse, twitching with irritation, “This is taking so long”.
“Not yet”, said the tortoise, chuckling, “But we’ll get there, don’t worry. All things take time, little mouse”.
And so the mouse decided to have a little sleep upon the tortoise’s back,
“Wake me up when we get there”, said the mouse.
But, after he had been snoozing for some time, the mouse woke up again and, looking around, he saw that they still had not reached the top of the hill and, behind them, the flood waters were continuing to grow higher.
“Oh, we’ll never reach the top at this speed”, said the mouse, despairingly, “The flood waters will surely overtake us and we’ll both be drowned. We must go faster”.
“Be patient and not afraid”, said the tortoise, “It’s far too early to say whether we will succeed or fail. I am going just as fast as I can and surely that is better than giving up”.
But the mouse was not convinced and he would have sunk into a depression as deep as the flood waters if his little furry stomach had not started rumbling.
“I’m hungry”, he complained to the tortoise then, “I didn’t bring any food with me. Do you have any food, tortoise? Any cheese hidden away under that shell?”.
“Tell your stomach to be patient”, the tortoise replied, “There will probably be food of some kind at the top of the hill”.
“And what if there is not?”, asked the mouse, starting to worry, “What shall we do then? Will we just starve to death?”.
“Well, I cannot say for certain that there is food on the hilltop”, said the tortoise, “But I can say for certain that the flood is below us and so we have to keep going. Better to worry about what we know for certain than what we don’t know”.
But then, suddenly, the top of the hill came in sight.
“Look my friend”, said the tortoise seeing the summit, “We’re almost there”.
“I knew it”, said the mouse, smiling too as he saw the top of the hill and a pretty white and yellow daisy waving on it, “Didn’t I say it all along, that things take time but if you’re patient and fearless like I am and think of long term gains instead of short term pleasures then it will all come to you in the end”.
Hearing this the tortoise chuckled again.
“Yes”, said the tortoise, nodding, “Yes you did. You are a very clever mouse indeed”.
“Oh I am, I am”, said the mouse, proudly to himself.
But then the tortoise clambered over the edge of the hilltop and they saw beautiful trees filled with fruit and nuts and bright flowers blooming all around them and heard birds chirping welcomingly to them and the mouse forgot all about the danger of the flood and ran off to find food and games to play and the tortoise sighed, munching contentedly upon a leaf.
“Very pleasant company”, he said.