There once was a fly. It loved itself excessively. It flew in quick-changing jerks. Its flight was full of stops and starts, and it had eyes in the back of its head, and it thought, “I can do anything. I am the most smartest creature in the world and that makes me the most formidable.”
“Even more formidable than a lion?” asked a humble turtle one day, tired of hearing the fly brag about itself.
The fly liked to torment the turtle by landing on its face, making it pull its meek head in.
“Watch me,” said the fly.
It took the turtle a long time to accompany the fly to where the lion was lying sleeping in the grass, especially since the fly twice landed on the turtle’s face and he had to put his head in twice.
The lion, heaving eaten a heavy meal, was lying blinking in a daze when the fly landed on its nose.
With a great shake of his head, the lion dislodged the fly, but the fly landed right back again.
“So if he is stronger? Do you think he can hurt me?”
The turtle thought it better to leave the lion alone — the great beast was starting to sit up and switch its tail.
So the fly buzzed and landed right on one of its eyes. With a great roar, the lion pawed at his face, and the fly nimbly flew away. It circled the lion's head, and the lion, in a rage, roared and tried to paw it but its claws were too clumsy and the fly escaped.
So all the poor turtle heard for the next few days was how great the fly thought it was finally. Trying timidly to assert itself, the turtle said, “Well, at least I can swim. You can't do that, you must admit.”
“Idiots. Why do I need to swim when I can fly?” asked the fly, zooming about and trying to land on the turtle's nose.
“Please don't,” said the turtle.
“Okay, this one time I won't,” said the fly. ““But you can't make me not do it. I like to do what I want, when I want, and no one can stop me.”
And the fly went buzzing about, annoying all the larger, slower beasts of the forests. The elephant tried to swat the fly with its trunk, but was too slow; the leopard tried to bat it with its paws, and did no better than the lion.
The fly was practically off its head with praise of itself.
He and the turtle were sitting on the grass, the fly on a blade, the turtle just sitting, quiet.
The fly was talking about itself, when the turtle spotted something that looked almost like a green twig. He thought he saw it move.
He tried to ask the fly what it was, but the fly interrupted, talking of all the new triumphs it planned to have over other animals in the forest.
“The horse is faster,” said the turtle.
“But I can fly and why should I race a horse?” the fly said.
“The mole can go underground,” the turtle said.
“And he's blind when he's not digging in a hole,” said fly.
“But the birds fly like you,” said the turtle.
“But they're not as nimble,” said the fly and landed on the turtle's nose.
As the turtle's head came out, he thought he saw that a green twig had moved. He tried to tell the fly, but the fly was too busy making mock.
“Do you know how stupid you look with your eyes all scrunched up, and your silly head being dragged backwards and your fat little …”
The fly never finished. A tongue flicked out and back and snatched the fly which disappeared into the lizard that looked like a twig.
“Very talkative,” the lizard said calmly. “Very good too,” it said, licking its lips.
And the moral is this: To be slow is not to be stupid. To be fast is not to be smart. To be nimble is not to be strong.
But to be conceited is to be blind.