The Brown Fairy Book
The Turtle and His Bride
There was once a turtle who lived among a great many people of different kinds, in a
large camp near a big river which was born right up amongst the snows, and flowed
straight away south till it reached a sea where the water was always hot.
There were many other turtles in the camp, and this turtle was kind and pleasant to them
all, but he did not care for any of them very much, and felt rather lonely.
At last he built himself a hut, and filled it with skins for seats, and made it as comfortable
as any hut for miles round; and when it was quite finished he looked about among the
young women to see which of them he should ask to be his wife.
It took him some time to make up his mind, for no turtle likes being hurried, but at length
he found one girl who seemed prettier and more industrious than the rest, and one day he
entered her home, and said: 'Will you marry me?'
The young woman was so surprised at this question that she dropped the beaded slipper
she was making, and stared at the turtle. She felt inclined to laugh--the idea was so
absurd; but she was kind-hearted and polite, so she looked as grave as she could, and
'But how are you going to provide for a family? Why, when the camp moves, you will
not even be able to keep up with the rest!'
'I can keep up with the best of them,' replied the turtle, tossing his head. But though he
was very much offended he did not let the girl see it, and begged and, prayed her so hard
to marry him that, at last, she consented, very unwillingly.
'You will have to wait till the spring, though,' she said; 'I must make a great many
slippers and dresses for myself, as I shall not have much time afterwards.'
This did not please the turtle; but he knew it was no use talking, so all he answered was:
'I shall go to war and take some captives, and I shall be away several months. And when I
return I shall expect you to be ready to marry me.'
So he went back to his hut, and at once set about his preparations. The first thing he did
was to call all his relations together, and ask them if they would come with him and make
war on the people of a neighbouring village. The turtles, who were tired of doing nothing,
agreed at once, and next day the whole tribe left the camp. The girl was standing at the
door of her hut as they passed, and laughed out loud--they moved so slowly. Her lover,
who was marching at the head, grew very angry at this, and cried out: