An eagle and a tortoise had been friends for many years. One day the eagle said to his tortoise friend, “You know, it’s too bad that you are so small and slow. If, for example, my mother were to die suddenly, you would never make it in time for the wake.” To which the tortoise answered, “In this life intelligence is worth more than both strength and size. You just tell me when your mother wants to join her ancestors, and I’ll be there immediately.” The eagle just smiled but said nothing. When shortly thereafter his mother died, he sent a vulture to the tortoise to tell him the news. The tortoise thanked the vulture for bringing the news and told him, “Fly back to the eagle and tell him that I’ll be coming soon. Then come back because in the meantime I want to get some presents ready. In case we don’t meet, take along this handbag; it contains everything.” The vulture flew back to the eagle with the tortoise’s answer. The eagle just hung his head and said. “1 just knew that that poor fellow wouldn’t come in time. And even when he insists that in this life intelligence is more important than size and strength, I know those are just empty words. Now I’d like to see that handbag of which you spoke, so go back and get it.” So the vulture flew back to the tortoise, found the handbag in his cave, and he brought it to the eagle. “You see,” said the eagle with a sad smile, “the tortoise is not here yet. I knew he would not be able to come on time.” He had hardly finished the sentence when the tortoise stuck its head out of the handbag.
Often enough we hear people, who are otherwise in very bad shape, remark, “Thank God, the head is still okay.” “Intelligence is more important than anything else in life.”