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The turtle
Image: Turtle Clip Art
The children were bullying the turtle, but the young man made them stop.

A Broken Promise

A Japanese Folktale

Told by Mami Takenaka from Japan

In this folktale, a good person receives a reward for his kindness, but then decides he wants more and has to face the consequences.

Long, long ago, some children were playing at a seaside when they found a turtle. They began to bully the turtle. After a while, a young man came and said to them, "Stop it!" The children went away then.

"I really appreciate your kindness. I really would like to invite you to a wonderful palace now," the turtle said. As soon as the young man got on the back of the turtle, he was taken to a secret palace in the sea. When he arrived at the palace, he was very surprised and said to the turtle, "What a nice place!"

The palace was very beautiful, and the king of the turtles gave a feast for him and he met many people. He had never seen such a good feast. He received a warm welcome there, and he was very satisfied with everything. He thought there was no other place nicer than that one. He said to the turtle, "Thank you, I am glad to have met you."

When he left, the turtle said, "I am going to give you two boxes, but you can only open one of the boxes. You must not open both. Don't forget!"

"All right. I will open only one." he promised. A large crowd of people said goodbye to him, and he went back to his land. After he got home, he opened the bigger of the two boxes. To his amazement, there was a great deal of gold in the box.

"Heavens!" he said loudly. He was rich now. He thought, "The other one must also be full of money." He could not stand not opening the box, so he broke his promise and opened it.

As soon as he opened the box, he became an old man. His hair turned white and his face was full of wrinkles. His looked like an old man over eighty years old. It all happened in a moment. After that he regretted what he did. "Just because I broke the promise..." he said, but it was too late.

 
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