Once upon a time there was a couple whose surname was Zhang. They liked eating soft-shell turtle very much. One day they bought a huge soft-shell turtle and gave it to the young maid called Ape,
"Ape! Kill this soft-shell turtle. This time we want to eat a barbecued one, pay attention todo your best!"
Ape had never been fond of killing. However, it was hard for her not to obey the command of the master. Therefore having no way out, she started to sharpen the knife in the kitchen. The knife became sharper and sharper. Ape gazed at the soft-shell turtle. She saw it looking at her with its eyes begging her not to kill.
Suddenly Ape felt that she did not have the heart to kill it. Therefore she secretly took the soft-shell turtle and set it free in the river. Then she told the master a lie of good-will,
"I’‘m sorry, it was me who didn’‘t look well after the soft-shell turtle and now it is missing. Please forgive me."
Hearing that the master was outraged,
"How could you be so careless! Where were your eyes? How could you lose such a big soft-shell turtle? Iam really disappointed! Without any cause you let us lose a beautifulmeal! Alas!"
Not long after suddenly Ape suddenly fell severely ill and it seemed that she was dying. Mr. and Mrs Zhang saw no sign of her recovery, so they called people to take her home. However, those people threw her on the river bank near her home and went off.
At midnight, a big soft-shell turtle suddenly emerged from the water, carrying wet mud, the sort-shell covered Apes body with the mud. Originally Ape had a temperature all over her body. But then she felt her body become so much cooler and she recovered in no time. When Ape went back to her master’‘s place, everyone was so surprised that no one could say a word.
"What was the matter?"
Apê told the story of how the soft-shell turtle helped her to cure thedisease. The master only half-believed her so they went to look for the sort-shell turtle. Consequently they discovered that it was the one they had lost. The whole family was deeply moved by this incident. The couple hugged Ape and said, "Fortunately you set free the soft-shell turtle so that we will not continue to make mistakes. Ape, from now on we swear we will not eat soft-shell turtles any more."
Extract of The Buddhist Children’‘s Stories, page 21-22, published by TheWhite Cloud Cultural Centre, Taipei Taiwan, Mang Gua (R.O.C. Year) 76 Oct.Translated and proof-read by Forest, Buddhist Calender 2527 1st Lunar Monththe 27th (1992/02/18), 16:00, Sydney.