Nin and the Turtle’s Shell

On the bank by the shore Nin came upon a certain turtle with whom he was old friends. He arranged passage to the other side, and soon found himself on the back of the turtle as she swam across the lake.

Day faded into night and the stars came out, and Nin noted that it was an especially calm evening. The stillness of the lake reflected the constellations. Soon they were gliding silently across a dark starscape, and their ripples moved the heavens.

“Rabbits aren’t terrific swimmers,” said Nin as he sat atop the turtle’s shell. “If I were to attempt this myself, I’d be fully concerned with the mere act of keeping my head above water. It is thanks to you that I can now enjoy this sight.” He looked down at his turtle friend. “If there is anything I can do to repay you for this favour—”

“Hmm,” the turtle thought, “I suppose I’d like to see your home. A rabbit hole sounds like a wonderful place, full of life.”

Nin drooped a little. “I’m sorry, I can’t do that. I have no home. I’m a wild rabbit, always on the move. Yesterday my bed was a pile of leaves, the night before I bunked in an old abandoned barn.”

“I meant your warren, where you grew up.”

“I’m afraid the answer remains the same,” said Nin. “I’ve left my burrow far behind, it lies beyond mountains and deserts.” He felt a twinge of sadness. “I’ve left many things behind me on this journey.”

Nin looked up at the stars. “And even if I were to return—I have been gone so long—it would not be the same place.” He thumped his hind leg against the turtle’s shell. “You are very lucky to always have your home with you. In my youth I often mocked turtles, and thought carrying your home around weighted you down, made you slow, maybe even a little selfish. But here I am, safe and comfortable atop your shell!”

“Perhaps the true value of a home is in the comfort you can provide your friends,” reasoned Nin.

“Perhaps it is so,” replied the turtle. “I have heard stories of tortoises so large that their backs are like mountains, and when they swim they are islands unto themselves. I have often thought it would be nice to carry my friends around with me, wherever I may go.”

“Well, then—any other requests?”

The turtle considered her options. “Would you like to have another race?”

“Oh, I’m not falling for that again!” cried Nin.