Here to return to
TIMOTHY TURTLE found himself in a very uncomfortable position, staked out as he was on the bank of Black Creek, with one rope about his body and another about his neck.
And even then Johnnie Green was not satisfied. Though his friend Red insisted that their captive could do them no harm (saying, "How can he bite when he can't move his head?") Johnnie Green replied that he would "fix him" so there couldn't possibly be any accident. And taking the old grain-sack he had brought back with him, he wrapped it carefully around Timothy's head, till he looked for all the world as if he had the earache. "There!" Johnnie Green said, when he had finished. "He'll have to bite through that bag before he bites us; and I guess he'll find he has a pretty big mouthful." Then he pulled out his jackknife and felt its sharp edge with his thumb.
"Lemme do it for you!" Red begged him, holding out his hand for the knife. But Johnnie Green had no such idea.
"No!" he said firmly. "I've got to cut my initials myself."
"He might get loose and grab you," the red-haired boy remarked hopefully.
But Johnnie Green told him that he would risk that.
"Which way are you going to cut them?" Red asked him.
"What do you mean?" Johnnie inquired.
"Are you going to make 'em read when he's going or coming?" Red explained.
"I hadn't thought of that," Johnnie Green replied. "But I guess going would be better. Then if he stands up you can read 'em just the same, without any trouble."
So Johnnie kneeled down beside Timothy Turtle. It took him some time to decide just where he would carve his initials on Timothy's shell. And he had about decided that the best place to put his mark on Mr. Turtle's back would be exactly in the middle of it, when he cried all at once, "Look, Red! Look!"
"Whassamatter?" the red-haired boy wanted to know.
"This is the queerest thing I ever heard of!" Johnnie exclaimed. "Here are my initials already cut!"
Red could not believe him, until he had peered at Timothy's shell himself. And then he saw that what Johnnie had said was true.
"There's a date, too," Johnnie pointed out. And he read it aloud. "That's more'n thirty years ago," he declared.
But the red-haired boy laughed boisterously.
"Shucks!" he jeered. "Somebody's been playin' a joke on you. Somebody knew you were lookin' for this old turtle and put your initials and that old date on him just to puzzle you."
Johnnie Green didn't know exactly what to think. But probably he was no more upset than was Timothy Turtle, who was not having a good time at all.
"I don't care if some one did catch this turtle first," Johnnie said at last. "I'm going to carve my mark on him just the same."
So he began to cut "J. G." in the exact center of the back of Timothy Turtle, much to that old fellow's rage.
And when Johnnie Green had finished the letters he cut the date below them. "What you goin' to do with him now?" Red asked Johnnie then.
"Turn him loose!" Johnnie replied.
"Aw – don't do that! Lemme have him!" Red coaxed.
Johnnie Green said that he was sorry – but he intended to set his captive free, just as he had planned.
He soon found that turning Mr. Turtle loose was no easy matter. Strange to say, Timothy Turtle did nothing to help. On the contrary, he made the task as hard as he could for Johnnie Green, trying his best to bite that young man.
In the end Johnnie had to
cut the rope that held Timothy's head. And when that furious old fellow
found himself in Black Creek once more he still wore a noose of rope,
collar, around his neck.
When Johnnie Green told his father about his adventure with Timothy Turtle, he had a great surprise. Farmer Green said that when he was just about Johnnie's age he had cut his initials on a turtle, down by the creek.
Now, since Johnnie was named for his father, their initials had to be alike. So the J. G. – and the old date – that Johnnie had found must have been carved by Farmer Green when he was a youngster.
Somehow, Johnnie found it very hard to imagine that his father had ever been a boy like himself and had spent his time playing near the creek, and carving his initials on the back of a turtle.
"How old do you suppose that turtle is?" he asked his father.
"Oh, he must be a regular old settler," Farmer Green declared. "He may have been around here when your grandfather was a boy, for all I know."
"Do you really believe that?" Johnnie exclaimed.
"Well," his father answered, "there's only one way to find out."
"What's that?" Johnnie inquired eagerly.
"Ask Mr. Turtle himself," Farmer Green replied with a smile.Click the book image to turn to the next Chapter.