Once upon a time, in a great lake, at the foot of a mountain, there lived a turtle. Many animals came to look for food in those tranquil waters and so the turtle became friends with two beautiful wild swans.
Every winter the swans came to visit their friend. The turtle told them everything that had happened to inhabitants of the lake, criticizing and commenting on the lives of everyone. “This autumn Old Pike was caught by fisherman. That poor idiot used to say that he knew all the tricks of men, yet he was caught in the most stupid way: a fly on the hook! Ha, he sure got what he deserved. What a fool, my friends!” Spring came and the swans prepared to fly over the mountains. The morning of their departure, the turtle spoke to his friends sadly: “How I wish I could come with you across the mountains! I get so bored when you’re not here! There’s no one to talk to. What a shame that I don’t have a pair of wings, I guess I’ll have to wait for you to come back if I want to see you again…”
The swans thought about it for a moment and, knowing their friend’s weakness, they asked: “Would you be able to keep your mouth closed and not speak for the whole journey?” “Of course”, the turtle replied. “It will be easy to keep quiet. I’m not like Mrs. Frog who croaks without saying anything and doesn’t even know what she’s talking about, poor thing.” “Good”, said one of the swans, interrupting him. “Bite hard on this stick. We’ll hold the two ends with our beaks so we can lift you into the air. But I warn you: do not open your mouth, otherwise you’ll fall.”
And so the three friends flew towards the mountains. Seen from above, the limpid waters of the lake looked like a silver mirror. The flew over green valleys and blossoming hills before reaching the immaculate white snow of the mountains. On the other side of those snowy peaks the passed fertile plains. Then they flew over a small village. A group of children playing in the street saw them.
“Look!”, they shouted, jumping and pointing. “A turtle in the sky, carried by two swans!” On hearing all the commotion, the turtle became agitated. “Mind your own business!” he thought. “What do you care if I fly with my friends?” But, having to keep his mouth shut, he couldn’t answer back to those kids.
Further on they flew over a town. This strange convoy did not go unobserved. Passersby pointed at the turtle and shouted: “A flying turtle! A flying turtle!” And they burst into laughter because that trio was very funny indeed. The turtle, on seeing the crowd laughing at him, soon forgot the swans’ warning. Filled with rage he opened his mouth to insult the townsfolk that were making fun of him.
But he didn’t manage to say even one word: he fell from a dizzying height and crashed into the town square. “Silence is worth more than a thousand useless words”, thought the swans as they flew sadly away.