THE future Buddha was once born in a minister's family, when Brahma-datta was reigning in Benares; and when he grew up, he became the king's adviser in things temporal and spiritual.
Now this king was very talkative; while he was speaking, others had no opportunity for a word. And the future Buddha, wanting to cure this talkativeness of his, was constantly seeking for some means of doing so.
At that time there was living, in a pond in the Himalaya mountains, a tortoise. Two young hamsas, or wild ducks, who came to feed there, made friends with him. And one day, when they had become very intimate with him, they said to the tortoise:
"Friend tortoise! the place where we live, at the Golden Cave on Mount Beautiful in the Himalaya country, is a delightful spot. Will you come there with us?"
"But how can I get there?"
"We can take you, if you can only hold your tongue, and will say nothing to anybody."
"Oh! that I can do. Take me with you."
"That's right," said they. And making the tortoise bite hold of a stick, they themselves took the two ends in their teeth, and flew up into the air.
Seeing him thus carried by the hamsas, some villagers called out, "Two wild ducks are carrying a tortoise along on a stick!" Whereupon the tortoise wanted to say, "If my friends choose to carry me, what is that to you, you wretched slaves!" So just as the swift flight of the wild ducks had brought him over the king's palace in the city of Benares, he let go of the stick he was biting, and falling in the open courtyard, split in two! And there arose a universal cry, "A tortoise has fallen in the open courtyard, and has split in two!"