THE TALKING TURTLE

by Delores Oneale
(Johannesburg, South Africa)

‎Little Rupert woke up early and jumped out of bed. He wanted to get going and ‎enjoy the day ahead. It was Saturday he had plans to go down to the creek and ‎catch some fish. Rupert stuffed his pockets full of berries and headed for the ‎creek.‎

While walking towards the creek, he ate a few of them. As soon as he ‎reached the creek, he saw something that made him forget what was in his pockets. ‎Near the top of the bank, not too far from the water, he saw a turtle, sunbathing ‎on the warm sand.‎
‎ Rupert let out a loud yell, and the turtle upon hearing the noises ‎scrambled up and made for the water as fast as he could go. Rupert ran towards ‎him and caught him before he disappeared into the waters. ‎
‎"Hey you stupid fellow, I am much faster than you did you think you ‎would get away?" ‎
The turtle never said a word, he wished that he had managed to escape ‎and wondered what this little boy would do with him. Rupert unsure of what to ‎do walked over to a rock and sat down. Still holding onto the turtle, he looked ‎at his mouth and imagined what a bite from this turtle would be like. It would ‎probably be sore; he seems to have a strong jaw, thought Rupert. He decided to ‎take the turtle home, and thought about the dogs and how they would react to ‎the turtle.‎
‎"I am going to give you a name, from now on you will be Ronald, and I ‎am going to take you home with me." He said.‎
Startled by the sounds from the turtle, Rupert dropped him on the sand.‎
‎"Wow, that was scary I am not sure what happened, but will you repeat ‎what you just said?" ‎
Waiting for the turtle to respond, Rupert watched the movement of his ‎eyes. Rupert assumed the turtle just grunted out of frustration.‎
‎"Well, I was going to do some fishing, but you are a much better catch. I ‎know my dad will be pleased. I hope you like dogs; they will want to play as ‎well." He said and stood up.‎
‎"Don't do this to me, I will not survive." The turtle in a rumbled voice ‎said.‎
‎"What a talking turtle!" ‎
‎"Yes, I have not spoken in so many years and listening to you and your ‎plans to make me go home scared me, I cannot go, please leave me here, this is ‎my home." ‎
‎"Wow, this is great, Ronald you and I are going to be such great friends."‎
‎"I will be your friend, but please let me stay at the creek; I will not ‎survive with the dogs."‎
‎"Let's chat and get to know each other," Rupert said and sat down again. ‎
Making sure he was close to the turtle he kept asking many questions and ‎how he had been able to speak. Ronald the turtle told him, many years ago, ‎after the other animals in the creek tried to get him to leave, wondered into the ‎nearby woods and being extremely hungry found some strange looking acorns ‎which he ate. He managed to get back to the creek and to his surprise saw the ‎animals having their weekly meeting chuckling on how they succeeded in ‎getting me out.‎
‎"So the other animals don't like you, do they know that you are back."‎
‎"Yes, they know I am back but I stay away from them and live a lonely ‎life on the beach."‎
‎"But with me as your friend we will have such a lot of fun."‎
‎"I cannot go home with you, I must stay here, I have been here for over a ‎hundred years and will never survive inland."‎
‎"We have a nice pond and I will ensure you always have food."‎
‎"I know you will take good care of me, but to leave the only place I know ‎is heartbreaking. Let me stay here and you can come down often and we can ‎have fun here."‎
‎"I don't think so, Ronald we are going home."‎
Rupert picked up Ronald and headed back home. All the while Ronald ‎both frightened and angry kept kicking his tiny feet hoping Rupert would let go. ‎But no, determined, he held onto Ronald, and continued walking home. ‎Ronald kept telling him he was making a mistake but Rupert repeated how ‎happy he would be. Ronald gave up he knew he was too old and slow to fight ‎this vigorous child. He hoped he would survive the ordeal.‎
When they arrived home, the dogs all four of them knew Rupert had ‎something interesting and ran up to greet him. Sniffing at the large turtle ‎under his arm they barked and jumped with excitement. Something to eat they ‎assumed. Ronald closed his eyes and hoped they would stop the jumping, he ‎wriggled his legs and twisted his neck but all this was no help to him. And ‎Rupert almost dropped him. ‎
‎"Ronald stop moving around so much, the dogs only want to greet you."‎
‎"Rupert put me down and let me get this over with; I know I am going to ‎be mauled by the dogs."‎
Rupert put the turtle down and immediately the dogs started pawing him, ‎Ronald pulled his head into his shell and remained hidden while the dogs ‎continued to maul him. Rupert laughed when he saw how afraid the turtle was ‎and urged the dogs to continue. ‎
‎"What is all this commotion?"‎
‎"Hi Dad, I found a turtle by the creek and the dogs are excited at having a ‎new playmate."‎
‎"Rupert, the poor turtle cannot stay here, he will die and we do not want ‎that do we?"‎
‎"No of course not, but he will be fine here, by tomorrow they will all be ‎friends and he can stay near the pond."‎
‎"I think you should take him back to the creek."‎
‎"Please dad, let me keep him for a week and if he is still unhappy I ‎promise I will take him back."‎
‎"Rupert, you have one week only and ensure he is looked after." ‎
‎"I promise dad."‎
His dad left and Rupert called the dogs and told them to be kind to ‎Ronald and stop being so naughty. The dogs obeyed and sat around to watch ‎the turtle. ‎ Rupert bent down and rubbing Ronald's back told him all would be ‎fine, he need not hide anymore but come out and play with him. Ronald ‎ignored him and remained hidden. Rupert felt the pangs of hunger and ran ‎towards the house leaving Ronald with the dogs.‎
The dogs still intrigued with the new visitor began to bite the hard shell, ‎finding it difficult to grip; they barked and jumped around Ronald. The turtle ‎realising what the dogs were trying to do thought how stupid they were trying ‎to bite his shell, it would be the same as biting a rock. He knew he should ‎retaliate and fight back.‎
Without any warning he shot out his long neck from under his shell and ‎as fast as he could he gripped the one dog's leg with his powerful jaw and held ‎on with no sign of letting go. The dog winced and the others realising the ‎turtle would fight back moved away. Ronald held on and the dog cried, it was ‎not so much the pain but the awkwardness of being trapped. ‎
Rupert after eating a good meal came scampering out of the house and ‎ran towards Ronald whom he saw had the dog captive. ‎
‎"Ronald, let go, you should not hurt the dogs, they only want to play and ‎they will never hurt you."‎
Ronald hung on and ignored Rupert. He realised if he tried to force ‎Ronald to open his jaw he might nip him as well. Rupert realised how powerful ‎the turtle could be. Again he commanded him to let go but Ronald would not. ‎Rupert tried to calm the dog by rubbing his back and speaking to him. Ronald ‎saw a few tears trickle down his cheek and realised how much he loved his dogs ‎He was really concerned and let go of the dog's paw. The dog limped away as ‎fast as he could.‎
‎"Ronald you old rascal, you scared my favourite dog and could have hurt ‎him."‎
‎"Rupert, I told you I should not come here, take me back to the creek!"‎
‎"Oh come on now, you know the dogs won't bother you again not after ‎your little trick, I reckon we could all have lots of fun."‎
‎"You are a persistent little fellow aren't you, if in one week's time, I am ‎still unhappy, you must take me back to the creek."‎
‎"I promise, but I bet you there will be so much fun here you will want to ‎stay forever."‎
‎"I am hungry now, take me to the pond and let me find some food." ‎
‎"Yes let's catch a frog, my friend."‎

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