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FERDINAND FROG did not like Timothy Turtle. But he always said he thought Mr. Turtle could be trusted.
"You can depend on him," Mr. Frog often remarked. "Yes, you can depend on him to grab you if he ever gets a chance."
And all the rest of the musical Frog family agreed with him.
It is not surprising, therefore, that they never invited Timothy Turtle to attend their singing parties in Cedar Swamp. It made no difference how much Timothy Turtle hinted. Though he frequently took pains to tell Ferdinand Frog how fond he was of music, Mr. Frog never once asked him to come to a concert.
In private Mr. Frog and his friends often spoke of Mr. Turtle – and giggled. And one of the Frog family even made up a song about Timothy Turtle, – which the whole company loved to chant in Cedar Swamp, safe – as they thought – from Timothy's snapping jaws.
But one fine summer's evening they had a great surprise. They had scarcely begun their nightly concert when Timothy Turtle appeared out of the water and crawled upon an old stump, right in their midst.
"Good evening!" he cried. "I was just passing on my way home; and hearing the singing, I thought I'd stop and enjoy it."
For a few moments none of the Frog family said a word. And then Ferdinand Frog spoke up and asked Mr. Turtle a question:
"Have you had your dinner?"
"No, I haven't," Timothy answered. "But you needn't trouble yourselves on my account. Go on with your singing. And if I feel faint no doubt I can find a bite to eat hereabouts."
Now, Mr. Turtle hoped that his speech would put the singers quite at their ease. But they looked at one another and rolled their eyes as if to say, "This Timothy Turtle is a dangerous person. Look out for him!"
At the same time they did not wish to appear frightened. And Ferdinand Frog's mother's uncle even made a short speech, saying that he hoped Mr. Turtle would enjoy the singing half as much as everybody else enjoyed his company.
He was about to make some further remark. But no one knew what. For Timothy Turtle wheeled about to look at the old gentleman. And the moment Timothy moved, Ferdinand Frog's mother's uncle jumped hastily into the water from the hummock where he had been sitting, and swam away.
The rest of the company then sang a song. And their listener said that he had never heard anything like it.
"I wish you'd sing it again," he said, "with your mouths open and your eyes shut."
But the musical Frog family objected that they were not used to singing in that fashion.
"Why don't you keep your own eyes shut?" Ferdinand Frog asked Mr. Turtle. "Then you wouldn't know whether ours were open or closed."
"Let us all shut our eyes!" Timothy Turtle then suggested, And when the Frog family began another song, a few of the younger and more foolish singers followed Mr. Turtle's advice.
So, too, did Mr. Turtle himself – for a few moments.
But he soon opened his eyes slyly. And he became very angry when he saw that most of the singers were watching him.
"You aren't doing as I asked you!" he shouted.Click the book image to turn to the next Chapter.