The tortoise and the bird were fishing when both gave birth to boys. Several days later the bird had something to do and asked the tortoise to tend her son. The tortoise agreed.
As the days passed, she increasingly believed that her son was uglier than the bird’s son, and at last she decided to switch the two sons.
When the bird returned she saw the tortoise’s son lying in her bed and her son lying in the tortoise’s bed. She asked the tortoise, “Why did you put your son in my bed and put my son in your bed?”
The tortoise said, “How can you ask me this sort of question?”
The bird sadly went looking for the king of the forest – the tiger. When she found him, she told him what had happened.
The tiger said, “I will help you. Now, let us go,” and the two set off.
When they reached the home of the tortoise and the bird, the tiger asked the tortoise, “Which baby is yours?” The tortoise pointed to the baby bird in her bed.
The bird said, “No, that’s my baby,” and then the tortoise and the bird began quarrelling.
The tiger interrupted, “I don’t know who to believe. Give the baby to me. I will cut it in two and give each of you a half.”
The tortoise nodded in agreement. The bird sadly said, “No, don’t cut the baby. If you don’t know who the mother is, please give this baby to the tortoise.”
The tiger smiled, took the baby bird from the tortoise’s bed, and gave it to the bird, telling the tortoise, “No mother would ever agree to cut her baby in half.”