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Aesop Fables

The Tortoise and the Eagle

Aesop Fables

Fidy Says

The Tortoise and the Eagle

posted in Eagle, Tortoise |

A Tortoise, lazily basking in the sun, complained to the sea-birds of her hard fate, that no one would teach her to fly.

An Eagle, hovering near, heard her lamentation and asked what reward she would give him if he would take her aloft and float her in the air.

“I will give you,” the Tortoise said, “all the riches of the Red Sea.”

“I will teach you to fly then,” said the Eagle; and taking her up in his talons he carried the Tortoise almost to the clouds.

Suddenly the Eagle let the Tortoise go, and she fell on a lofty mountain, dashing her shell to pieces.

The Tortoise exclaimed just before she died: “I have deserved my present fate; why did I think I was meant for wings and clouds, when I have such difficulty moving about on the earth?’

Moral: Think about the consequences before you wish for something.

There are currently 168 suggested morals for “The Tortoise and the Eagle”

Why not suggest your own moral!

  1. 1 On November 23rd, 2008, fablelover said:

    Be careful what you wish for.

  2. 2 On March 4th, 2011, sriabithamohankumar said:

    Think before you act.

  3. 3 On August 4th, 2011, ken said:

    Don’t die a boring death. Die achieving something that others only dream of.

  4. 4 On August 4th, 2011, alternatethoughts said:

    Don’t aim high- you will only fall and be shattered!

  5. 5 On August 4th, 2011, blankk said:

    If you ask someone to help fulfill your dreams, choose someone who won’t drop you over a cliff.

  6. 6 On August 4th, 2011, Joshua said:

    Don’t trust eagles.

  7. 7 On August 4th, 2011, Cool said:

    Always have a backup plan.

  8. 8 On August 4th, 2011, Tarhealer said:

    Don’t ask an eagle for a favor.

  9. 9 On August 4th, 2011, klm said:

    Get good at your life as it is before wishing for something bigger.

  10. 10 On August 4th, 2011, Maybe said:

    Don’t make a claim to that which you can not provide

  11. 11 On August 4th, 2011, SaraK said:

    Be content with what you have.

  12. 12 On August 4th, 2011, grumkiss said:

    Know your place.

  13. 13 On August 4th, 2011, RAV said:

    Don’t get dropped on a mountain

  14. 14 On August 4th, 2011, Moira said:

    Appreciate the gifts you are given; some are meant to soar the heights and others to swim the depths.

  15. 15 On August 4th, 2011, james said:

    Killing a tortoise won’t make you rich.

  16. 16 On August 4th, 2011, Keen said:

    To prosper, find a rich turtle and kill him.

  17. 17 On August 4th, 2011, spud said:

    Never eat fish on Tuesdays

  18. 18 On August 4th, 2011, Mark said:

    Always pack a parachute.

  19. 19 On August 4th, 2011, MichigIndian said:

    No Guts, No Glory!”

  20. 20 On August 4th, 2011, MichigIndian said:

    It is better to die trying than to never try at all.”

  21. 21 On August 4th, 2011, MichigIndian said:

    Eagles will say anything to get an easy snack.”

  22. 22 On August 4th, 2011, Ano said:

    Tortoise shells make terrible parachutes.

  23. 23 On August 5th, 2011, boby said:

    No one likes a complainer

  24. 24 On August 5th, 2011, Bobby McObvious said:

    The more oblivious they are, the harder they fall.

  25. 25 On August 5th, 2011, Mark said:

    Know your station in life, and don’t try to rise up and be all uppity. If you are poor, you will always be poor. If you are uneducated, you will always be uneducated. If you are part of the underclass, you will never be part of the ruling class. You will never achieve your dreams, and you will die hopelessly railing against the natural order of things.

    At least, that’s what I walk away with. :razz:

  26. 26 On August 5th, 2011, David Parsons said:

    It’s not the fall that kills you, but the quick stop at the end…

  27. 27 On August 5th, 2011, Oliver said:

    Tortoise shells aren’t that strong

  28. 28 On August 5th, 2011, david said:

    Flying is for the birds.

  29. 29 On August 5th, 2011, Yoda said:

    Do or Do not. There is no try.

  30. 30 On August 5th, 2011, Stu said:

    Don’t trust eagles.

  31. 31 On August 5th, 2011, Kev said:

    Dare to dream, but know that with every dare comes some risk

  32. 32 On August 5th, 2011, Paul said:

    All the riches of the Red Sea are, apparently, worth less than one dead turtle.

  33. 33 On August 5th, 2011, karine said:

    “Be content with you fate. If it’s not good, accept it anyway.”
    I don’t like this story. It’s so fatalist and determinist.

  34. 34 On August 5th, 2011, Aesop's Sista said:

    Don’t trust tortises. They’ll lie to get a free eagle ride.

  35. 35 On August 5th, 2011, Wayland Smithers said:

    Don’t teach your turtle to talk.

  36. 36 On August 5th, 2011, The Editor said:

    Quitcher bitchin’.

    Or: “Life sucks, then you get dropped on you head and die.”

  37. 37 On August 5th, 2011, fred said:

    As stated by that great sage Clint Eastwood in one of his movies, “Man’s got know his limitations.”

  38. 38 On August 5th, 2011, Chuck said:

    Make sure there aren’t any eagles eavesdropping when you’re talking to the sea-birds.

  39. 39 On August 5th, 2011, crisco said:

    If you take your time, you get there early and in good condition. If you hurry, you get there late, if at all.

  40. 40 On August 5th, 2011, Yevgeni said:

    “Before you play the game, be certain you have the right equipment.”

  41. 41 On August 5th, 2011, me said:

    if you’re gonna learn how to fly; at least learn how to land as well

  42. 42 On August 5th, 2011, Jean-Victor Cote said:

    As soon as you see that you are taken for a ride, you should try to avert disaster.

  43. 43 On August 5th, 2011, Liz said:

    Stop whining about what you don’t have – things could be worse!

  44. 44 On August 5th, 2011, spike said:

    The meat of one tortoise equals all the riches of the Red Sea.

  45. 45 On August 5th, 2011, 1414 said:

    Reach for the sky but keep your feet on the ground.

  46. 46 On August 5th, 2011, tom said:

    Always bring a parachute when you go flying.

  47. 47 On August 5th, 2011, Jill said:

    Be careful what you wish for…you might get it!

  48. 48 On August 5th, 2011, John said:

    “Hungry men walketh the earth, some of them starving. To those men, a wanderlust turtle dropped from the sky by an American symbol of freedom must mean…AMERICA ROCKS!”

  49. 49 On August 5th, 2011, kpks said:

    Learn to land before you learn to fly .
    Analyze your rejections and learn from it.

  50. 50 On August 5th, 2011, awshucks said:

    Turtles are dumb.

  51. 51 On August 5th, 2011, J.T. said:

    If you want to fly, build an airplane!

    “Really, she slipped…
    …mmm turtle’s my favorite” – the Eagle

  52. 52 On August 5th, 2011, Mari said:

    Eagles are clumsy as hell.

  53. 53 On August 5th, 2011, bugerkng said:

    Eagles do not have clear sense of value. A turtle’s meat vs all the riches in the sea.

  54. 54 On August 5th, 2011, Woodsley said:

    Stay in you lane.

  55. 55 On August 5th, 2011, Hart Thorn said:

    Learnin to fly…
    But I ain’t got wings…
    Comin’ down…
    Is the hardest thing…
    (Surprised no one did this already)

  56. 56 On August 5th, 2011, Guy said:

    Get your shell reinforced before you take flying lessons.

  57. 57 On August 5th, 2011, Gregor said:

    Do not count on others to fulfill your dreams.

  58. 58 On August 5th, 2011, Talytr said:

    Being carried by skilled “others” is not the same as flying on your own.

  59. 59 On August 5th, 2011, Erich Knox said:

    Shoot Eagles on sight for being duplicitous rogues.

  60. 60 On August 5th, 2011, Rudolph Villaverde from Guam said:

    Rely on your intrinsic abilities to achieve your aspirations. Delegating another to attain it for you might shatter your dreams.

  61. 61 On August 5th, 2011, Patrick said:

    Never trust an Eagle

  62. 62 On August 5th, 2011, Joe Z said:

    If you offer someone someting which you cannot possibly give them and for which they have no use whatsoever, and they take you up on it, you’d better realize that what you’re offering ain’t what they plan on getting.

  63. 63 On August 5th, 2011, Joe said:

    The high-flying elites will promise everything to the poor consumerist masses who think they can buy everything on credit (such as all the riches of the Red Sea), take them for a ride, and then drop them on their heads

  64. 64 On August 5th, 2011, Dan said:

    Trust no one. If you try to help somebody, they won’t survive to pay you back, and if somebody helps you they’ll just let you down.

  65. 65 On August 5th, 2011, NE said:

    Don’t promise a great reward to someone if you can’t deliver it. They may take their payment from you in a most horrible way.

  66. 66 On August 5th, 2011, Tm Z said:

    This story sounds made up. I don’t believe this really happened at all.

  67. 67 On August 5th, 2011, Aesop said:

    You numpty. It’s a fable. Of course it’s made up. That’s the point

  68. 68 On August 6th, 2011, Raptor said:

    Sucks to be a tortoise. By the way, tortoises are land dwelling, turtles are better with water. What was a tortoise doing promising the riches of the sea? With her stubby little elephant like legs she’d have a hard time swimming in it.

  69. 69 On August 6th, 2011, HomerJ said:

    You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is ‘never try’.

  70. 70 On August 6th, 2011, DoctorAtlantis said:

    If you’re going to shell out for a legal eagle make sure you’re careful about how the “escape claws” is written.

  71. 71 On August 6th, 2011, Shay J. said:

    Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

  72. 72 On August 6th, 2011, JD said:

    Always look up. A tortoise might be about to fall on your head.

  73. 73 On August 6th, 2011, soulwoman said:

    to mark

    do nothing and nothing is what you’ll get.

  74. 74 On August 6th, 2011, zen said:

    If someone drops you from the clouds, you’ll probably have enough to time to ponder how you ended up in this mess and to firmly shout your conclusions, before you splat on the ground.

  75. 75 On August 6th, 2011, Green Flag said:

    A tortoise must know its limitations.

  76. 76 On August 6th, 2011, Chris said:

    Base jumping is dangerous.

  77. 77 On August 6th, 2011, Batman said:

    Never bring a knife to a gunfight.

  78. 78 On August 6th, 2011, Winter said:

    You get what you pay for. Or not.

  79. 79 On August 6th, 2011, Chet said:

    The Eagle just finished watching a Julia Child cooking show, on the Food Channel; “Turtle Soup”.

  80. 80 On August 6th, 2011, Sa said:

    Wait, what happened to the sea birds?

  81. 81 On August 6th, 2011, trojan said:

    Be very careful of whom you put your trust in.

    Explained:
    There is a motive behind any offer, so do your homework before accepting

  82. 82 On August 6th, 2011, DJ said:

    Should of bought a Jetpack. More reliable.

  83. 83 On August 6th, 2011, Lisa said:

    Teach a tortoise to fly, and you feed yourself.

  84. 84 On August 7th, 2011, gopher said:

    Be content with what you have and where you are–or
    you might find yourself with unrepairable regret.

  85. 85 On August 7th, 2011, DorrieB said:

    The tortoise should have been content to race the hare . . . he won that one. If God wanted him to fly, he would have given him wings.

  86. 86 On August 7th, 2011, ninja turtle said:

    To the eagle I say, “you have kill my cousin. Now you must die”!

    Moral: If you are to kill a tortoise, make sure she’s not related to one of the TMNT

  87. 87 On August 7th, 2011, You get what you paid for said:

    You have some choices here, so take your pick. Serious or silly!
    A)Dream big, and work hard to get it, but if you can’t do it safely, don’t do it!
    B)Eagles have really slippery talons!

  88. 88 On August 7th, 2011, joe said:

    eagles are jerks

  89. 89 On August 7th, 2011, alex said:

    all good things must come to an end

  90. 90 On August 8th, 2011, Paula Shene said:

    Keep your feet planted on solid grown while your spirit soars to heavenly places

  91. 91 On August 8th, 2011, Dan said:

    No one likes someone who lies by offering to pay more than they obviously can afford.

  92. 92 On August 8th, 2011, Dan said:

    Never trust a tortoise who offers you riches.

  93. 93 On August 8th, 2011, pinbalwyz said:

    Count your blessings…then count them again!

  94. 94 On August 8th, 2011, Bwahaha said:

    Trying is the first step to failure (and being dropped on a hard, hard mountain).

  95. 95 On August 9th, 2011, Roz said:

    Stupid is, as Stupid does!

  96. 96 On August 9th, 2011, Josh said:

    Let the eagle soar, like she’s never soared before.
    From rocky coast to golden shore, let the mighty eagle soar.

  97. 97 On August 9th, 2011, Steve said:

    Don’t name your pet tortoise Icarus.

  98. 98 On August 9th, 2011, Splinter said:

    That eagle was probably the Shredder in disguise:
    “Tonight I dine on turtle soup.”

  99. 99 On August 9th, 2011, exosus said:

    Never think above your station – if you were meant to be better than you are, God would have made you that way.

  100. 100 On August 9th, 2011, Chunga said:

    Dont trust anyone ever

  101. 101 On August 9th, 2011, Victoria Benedict said:

    Don’t lie to eagles. They do not like being lied to.

  102. 102 On August 10th, 2011, Anonymous said:

    If men had all they wished, they would be often ruined

  103. 103 On August 13th, 2011, Zach said:

    Don’t kill tortoises for not good reason. Extrajudicial killing is wrong.

  104. 104 On August 15th, 2011, DorrieB said:

    I guess the tortoise didn’t hear about the bird who wanted to defy the norm. It was winter and he wasn’t going to fly south. After a few days in a bitterly cold blizzard, he couldn’t take it anymore and started off to the south. Halfway there, his wings froze and he plummeted to the ground below. He knew he was a goner and that he had made the dumbest mistake ever. Soon a horse passed by and crapped on the small bird. The heat of the s**t warmed him and defrosted his wings. Finally able to breathe and move freely, the bird was ecstatic and chirping in joy. A cat in a nearby bush heard the bird and pounced on him, swallowing him in one gulp.

    Moral of the Story: Everyone who s**ts on you doesn’t mean that they’re your enemy.

    Everyone who gets you out of s**t isn’t necessarily your friend. And, if you’re warm and happy in a pile of s**t….keep your mouth shut!

    So the moral here is, birds and tortoises are stupid.

  105. 105 On August 16th, 2011, Ipan said:

    tell the eagle to go over the ocean only.

  106. 106 On August 17th, 2011, jp said:

    You should always get things like this in writing to avoid misunderstandings.

  107. 107 On August 18th, 2011, James said:

    In the words of Dirty Harry:
    A man’s got to know his limitations.

  108. 108 On August 19th, 2011, tortoise said:

    If you cook an eagle properly it tastes just like a spotted owl.

  109. 109 On August 19th, 2011, Mo said:

    Parachutes are your friend.

  110. 110 On August 26th, 2011, The Eagle said:

    You can’t eat riches but tortoise is deeeelicious.

  111. 111 On August 26th, 2011, Ken said:

    If you are a six-fingered tortoise and you meet an Eagle named Inego Montoya, for God’s sake don’t make a business proposition to him.

  112. 112 On August 27th, 2011, pann thida said:

    accept our own ability. Accept what we can do and what we can’t do. Be happy with what we have better than tried to copied the others.

  113. 113 On August 30th, 2011, EaseUp said:

    If you lie to fly, you will die
    Of severe shell-shock on a rock.

  114. 114 On October 3rd, 2011, Eagle said said:

    What dyou mean you don’t have any riches of the Red Sea?? See you later hope you enjoyed flying Eagle Air!!

  115. 115 On October 4th, 2011, irRegular Eric said:

    Sea birds are always ‘busy’ on moving day too -trust me.

  116. 116 On October 4th, 2011, Kenseian said:

    The cost benefit analysis for the eagle (metaphor for US corporate interests) was really poor. Yes, a short term gain (yummy tortoise) was acheived…however by only looking at one or two quarters in the future for gains is what got American Business in the pickle we are in!

    Moral: Pass up the yummy tortoise in the short term and focus on gaining all the riches of the seas in the next cycle.

  117. 117 On October 6th, 2011, toast59 said:

    Always do a background check on an eagle before allowing him/her responsible for your fate.

  118. 118 On October 8th, 2011, ~ Uncle Bill said:

    Summary of USA foreign policy since Vietnam…

  119. 119 On October 11th, 2011, kb said:

    Never accept a ride from someone who thinks you’re food.

  120. 120 On October 11th, 2011, Depressed dude said:

    Make certain that this is the last item on your bucket list

  121. 121 On October 12th, 2011, Wiley Coyote said:

    Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of earth on laughter-silvered wings and soared, where never lark nor eagle flew…but flying is inherently dangerous, and we who do it so well make it look easy, but truly it is not! So the next time someone tells you an aviator is over paid, ask yourself how much a safe landing is worth to you, and remember those whose lives were dashed to pieces because some bean counter caused all of the really talented eagles to choose another profession, leaving only the lazy turtles behind to play this shell game.

  122. 122 On October 14th, 2011, Owl said:

    If you walk slowly, you deserve to die.

  123. 123 On October 23rd, 2011, turtle soup said:

    Vultures love eagles that drop tortoises.

  124. 124 On October 28th, 2011, Eagle said:

    Die, lazy turtle, die!

  125. 125 On November 2nd, 2011, Teresa said:

    Tortoises should drink more redbull

  126. 126 On November 15th, 2011, Lilman said:

    If your wing breaks still try and fly

  127. 127 On November 17th, 2011, Zorgle said:

    Know your strengths, play to your strengths.

  128. 128 On November 19th, 2011, TO said:

    Tortoises will say anything for a free ride.

  129. 129 On November 21st, 2011, Fly like an eagle said:

    And he will raise you up on eagle’s wings
    drop you down, upon a mount
    leave you to bake in the sun
    and feast on the gift that you gave.

    Eagles are selfish.

  130. 130 On November 21st, 2011, Lauren said:

    Does the TSA know about this? I think it will require a full review by the NTSB. I feel pilot error is to blame.

  131. 131 On November 22nd, 2011, The Hare said:

    No matter how fast you flap your short turtle legs and arms, you’re never gonna soar with the eagles…

    You lose again!

  132. 132 On November 23rd, 2011, Luis said:

    If a turtle and an eagle are talking, something weird is going on.

  133. 133 On November 26th, 2011, David J said:

    Turtle and eagles are not really friends.

  134. 134 On December 4th, 2011, UncleToad said:

    Aesop didn’t know about Red Bull.

  135. 135 On December 8th, 2011, Kara said:

    Eagles really are a the perfect national bird for America.

  136. 136 On December 10th, 2011, seb said:

    dropping from a great height gives insight into your inner self

  137. 137 On December 14th, 2011, TJ said:

    Eagles are jerks.

    …Or members of a mafia.

  138. 138 On December 14th, 2011, Shuvo said:

    Tortoises are like CEOs: Promising more than they can deliver, soaring to the clouds using someone else’s ability, and eventually falling and crashing due to their shortsightedness.

  139. 139 On December 18th, 2011, Silver Linings said:

    Seabird1: Mine! Seabird2: Mine! Seabird3: Mine! etc…

  140. 140 On December 22nd, 2011, Aaron said:

    Never listen to talking animals. Always ends in disaster.

  141. 141 On December 30th, 2011, Gina said:

    Don’t promise all the riches of the Red Sea, to someone who knows you cannot deliver.

  142. 142 On December 30th, 2011, Lydia said:

    If you die in the Matrix then you die in real life too.

  143. 143 On January 5th, 2012, tulo said:

    Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. No, wait….

  144. 144 On January 6th, 2012, Poindexter said:

    If you have read this far down and have not found a satisfactory moral, you likely have too much time on your hands and should move out of your parents basement and get a job. That being said, if while job searching someone offers to take you under their wing, it’s not the being lifted up that’s the problem, it’s the inevitable letdown that’s a bitch. Scratch the original moral, your parent’s basement isn’t so bad afterall.

  145. 145 On January 15th, 2012, Dude said:

    Tortoise lazily basking in the sun should have tried surfing instead of skydiving.

  146. 146 On January 17th, 2012, fun facts said:

    There has been a lot of negative sentiments left here about the eagle’s teaching methods. But eagles learn to fly in a similar manner at the end of their weaning period by jumping off their nests. She is only passing on the only pedagogical method she knows. The moral is to be aware of genetic limitations before attempting feats antithetical to one’s morphology.

  147. 147 On January 17th, 2012, fun facts said:

    At the end of their weaning period, eagles learn to fly in the same manner by falling off the nest. She was passing on the only pedagogical method known to her. The fault lies with limitations in tortoise morphology. The moral is–never lend money to Armenians.

  148. 148 On January 17th, 2012, Justin M said:

    If you’re a hare that just lost a race, you can get revenge on the tortoise that beat you by secretly hiring an eagle to do your dirty work for you.

  149. 149 On January 21st, 2012, Maddie said:

    Some people can fly, and some people will just fall, but the flight up is more fun than the plummet down. Take the risk, even if it costs you.

  150. 150 On January 26th, 2012, Tortoise said:

    Pilot shouldn’t forget his parachute.

  151. 151 On January 26th, 2012, Mitch said:

    All the riches in the Red Sea are still there! Book your flights soon.

  152. 152 On February 5th, 2012, songdancer said:

    Don’t over promise, lest all will be shattered.

  153. 153 On February 15th, 2012, Stokely said:

    Always wear a pith helmet when mountaineering, lest a tortoise land on you, and crush your skull.

  154. 154 On March 11th, 2012, Poor Mr. Tortoise said:

    Dream your own dream, walk your own path.
    OR
    Never try to let others do the work for you.

  155. 155 On March 21st, 2012, Mr Vizzini said:

    Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line! Ha, ha, ha… plop.

  156. 156 On April 20th, 2012, Homer said:

    You tried your best, and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.

  157. 157 On April 22nd, 2012, christopher said:

    DO NOT ASK FOR IMPOSSIBLE. KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS.

  158. 158 On April 26th, 2012, valor said:

    there are several morals behind this depending on a persons personal experiences and interpretations.

    most obviously it is telling us to do what we are born and meant to do, what we are naturally good at, and to relish it, rather than trying to be something or someone we are not.

    secondly it is speaking of trust, it tells us that we must choose who we trust carefully or suffer the consequences their betrayal can bring about(if the tortoise knew the eagle well, and was friends with him for a time, without a doubt she would have been able to enjoy her end of the deal instead of being stabbed in the back). I feel this is the more important lesson as this applies greatly in all aspects of life, entrust only those who have earned it.

  159. 159 On May 11th, 2012, Tr said:

    For the eagle: Sometimes when trying to help others we might accidentally hurt them. What was supposed to be a good deed can turn into a bad one.

  160. 160 On May 21st, 2012, Shadowryien said:

    Vanity carries its own punishment

  161. 161 On July 27th, 2012, Jillibean said:

    Eagles are impatient teachers and tortoises are slow learners.

  162. 162 On July 27th, 2012, Bill said:

    Never nap in a race.

  163. 163 On August 17th, 2012, UncleJohn said:

    Eagle handbook, page 47. “The easiest way to get turtle meat is to teach him to fly.”

  164. 164 On August 20th, 2012, Most Interesting Tortoise said:

    (In Dos Equis Voice) I don’t always fly but when I do…I crack my shell.

  165. 165 On August 31st, 2012, Ladylove said:

    When you get what you wish for consider the reality that there may be consequences that you did not anticipate.

    Or

    Turtles should never Trust Eagles..

    Either way, it’s a trap.

  166. 166 On October 2nd, 2012, Eagle said:

    There’s a sucker born every minute – and they make a good lunch.

  167. 167 On October 22nd, 2013, rck said:

    Be happy with what you have.

  168. 168 On January 29th, 2014, garv kumar said:

    idont trust the eagle

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