| Among the Pond People|
|by Clara Dillingham Pierson|
|Presents the adventures of Mother Eel, the Playful Muskrat, the Snappy Snapping Turtle, and the other Pond People. These stories are full of humor, yet cleverly convey information about the frogs, minnows, and other pond residents and often suggest a moral in a delicate manner which no child could resist. Ages 5-7 |
THE SNAPPY SNAPPING TURTLE
HERE was but one Snapping Turtle in the pond, and he was
the only person there who had ever been heard to wish
for another. He had not always lived there, and could
just remember leaving his brothers and sisters when he
was young. "I was carried away from my people," he
said, "and kept on land for a few days. Then I was
brought here and have made it my home ever since."
One could tell by looking at him that he was related to
the Mud Turtles. He had upper and lower shells like
them, and could draw in his head and legs and tail when
he wanted to. His shells were gray, quite the color of
a clay-bank, and
 his head was larger than those of the Mud Turtles. His
tail was long and scaly and pointed, and his forelegs
were large and warty. There were fine, strong webs
between his toes, as there were between the toes of his
relatives, the Mud Turtles.
When he first came to live in the pond, people were
sorry for him, and tried to make him feel at home. He
had a chance to win many friends and have all his
neighbors fond of him, but he was too snappy. When the
water was just warm enough, and his stomach was full,
and he had slept well the night before, and everything
was exactly as he wished it to be,—ah, then he was a
very agreeable Turtle, and was ready to talk in the
most gracious way to his neighbors. That was all very
well. Anybody can be good-natured when everything is
exactly right and he can have his own way. But the
really delightful people, you know, are the ones who
are pleasant when things go wrong.
 It was a Mud Turtle Father who first spoke to him. "I
hope you'll like the pond," said he. "We think it
very home-like and comfortable."
"Humph! Shallow little hole!" snapped the one who had
just come. "I bump my head on the bottom every time I
"That is too bad," exclaimed the Mud Turtle Father. "I
hope you dive where there is a soft bottom."
"Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't," answered the
Snapping Turtle. "I can't bother to swim down slowly
and try it, and then go back to dive. When I want to
dive, I want to dive, and that's all there is
"Yes," said the Mud Turtle Father. "I know how it is
when one has the diving feeling. I hope your head will
not trouble you much, and that you will soon be used to
our waters." He spread his toes and swam strongly
away, pushing against the water with his webbed feet.
 "Humph!" said the Snapping Turtle to himself. "It is
all very well to talk about getting used to these
waters, but I never shall. I can hardly see now for
the pain in the right side of my head, where I bumped
it. Or was it the left side I hit? Queer I can't
remember!" Then he swam to shallow water, and drew
himself into his shell, and lay there and thought how
badly he felt, and how horrid the pond was, and what
poor company his neighbors were, and what a
disagreeable world this is for Snapping Turtles.
The Mud Turtle Father went home and told his wife all
about it. "What a disagreeable fellow!" she said.
"But then, he is a bachelor, and bachelors are often
"I never was," said her husband.
"Oh!" said she. And, being a wise wife, she did not
say anything else. She knew, however, that Mr. Mud
Turtle was a much more agreeable fellow since he
 had married and learned to think more of somebody else
than of himself. It is the people who think too much of
themselves you know, who are most unhappy in this
The Eels also tried to be friendly, and, when he dove
to the bottom, called to him to stay and visit with
them. "You must excuse us from making the first call,"
they said. "We go out so little in the daytime."
"Humph!" said the Snapping Turtle. "Do you good to get
away from home more. No wonder your eyes are weak,
when you lie around in the mud of the dark pond-bottom
all day. Indeed, I'll not stay. You can come to see
me like other people."
Then he swam away and told the Clams what he had said,
and he acted quite proud of what was really dreadful
rudeness. "It'll do them good to hear the truth,"
said he. "I always speak right out.
 They are as bad as the Water-Adder. They have no
The Clams listened politely and said nothing. They
never did talk much. The Snapping Turtle was mistaken
though, when he said that the Eels and the Water-Adder
had no backbone. They really had much more than he,
but they wore theirs inside, while his was spread out
in the shape of a shell for everybody to see.
He did not even try to keep his temper. He became
angry one day because Belostoma, the Giant Water-Bug,
ate something which he wanted for himself. His eyes
glared and his horny jaws snapped, and he waved his
long, pointed, scaly tail in a way which was terrible
to see. "You are a good-for-nothing bug," he said.
"You do no work, and you eat more than any other person
of your size here. Nobody likes you, and
there isn't a
little fish in the pond who would be
 seen with you if he could help it. They all hide if
they see you coming. I'll be heartily glad when you
get your wings and fly away. Don't let any of your
friends lay their eggs in this pond.
I've seen enough
of your family."
Of course this made Belostoma feel very badly. He was
not a popular bug, and it is possible that if he could
have had his own way, he would have chosen to be a
Crayfish or a Stickleback, rather than what he was.
As for his not working—there was nothing for him to do,
so how could he work? He had to eat, or he would not
grow, and since the Snapping Turtle was a hearty eater
himself, he should have had the sense to keep still
about that. Belostoma told the Mud Turtles what the
Snapping Turtle had said, and the Mud Turtle Father
spoke of it to the Snapping Turtle.
By that time the Snapping Turtle was feeling better
natured and was very
gra-  cious. "Belostoma shouldn't remember those things," said he,
moving one warty foreleg. "When I am angry, I often
say things that I do not mean; but then, I get right
over it. I had almost forgotten my little talk with
him. I don't see any reason for telling him I am
sorry. He is very silly to think so much of it." He
lifted his big head quite high, and acted as though it
was really a noble thing to be ugly and then forget
about it. He might just as sensibly ask people to
admire him for not eating when his stomach was full, or
for lying still when he was too tired to swim.
When the Mud Turtle Mother heard of this, she was quite
out of patience. "All he cares for," said she, "is
just Snapping Turtle, Snapping Turtle, Snapping Turtle.
When he is good-natured, he thinks everybody else ought
to be; and when he is bad-tempered he doesn't care how
other people feel. He will
 never be any more agreeable until he does something
kind for somebody, and I don't see any chance of that
There came a day, though, when the pond people were
glad that the Snapping Turtle lived there. Two boys
were wading in the edge of the pond, splashing the
water and scaring all the people who were near them.
The Sticklebacks turned pale all over, as they do when
they are badly frightened. The Yellow Brown Frog was
so scared that he emptied out the water he had saved
for wetting his skin in dry weather. He had a great
pocket in his body filled with water, for if his skin
should get dry he couldn't breathe through it, and
unless he carried water with him he could not stay
ashore at all.
The boys had even turned the Mud Turtle Father onto his
back in the sunshine, where he lay, waving his feet in
the air, but not strong enough to get
 right side up again. The Snapping Turtle was taking a
nap in deep water, when the frightened fishes came
swimming toward him as fast as their tails would take
them. "What is the matter?" said he.
"Boys!" cried they. "Boys!
The dreadful, splashing, Turtle-turning kind."
"Humph!" said the Snapping Turtle. "I'll have to see
about that. How many are there?"
"Two!" cried the Sticklebacks and Minnows together.
"And there is only one of me," said the Snapping Turtle
to himself. "I must have somebody to help me. Oh,
Belostoma," he cried, as the Giant Water-Bug swam past.
"Help me drive those boys away."
"With pleasure," said Belostoma, who liked nothing
better than this kind of work. Off they started for
the place where the boys were wading. The
Snap-  ping Turtle took long, strong strokes with his webbed feet,
and Belostoma could not keep up with him. The Snapping
Turtle saw this. "Jump onto my back," cried he. "You
are a light fellow. Hang tight."
Belostoma jumped onto the Snapping Turtle's
clay-colored shell, and when he found himself slipping
off the back end of it, he stuck his claws into the
Snapping Turtle's tail and held on in that way. He
knew that he was not easily hurt, even if he did make a
fuss when he bumped his head. As soon as they got near
the boys, the Snapping Turtle spoke over his backshell
to Belostoma. "Slide off now," said he, "and drive
away the smaller boy. Don't stop to talk with these
So Belostoma slid off and swam toward the smaller boy,
and he ran out his stout little sucking tube and stung
him on the leg. Just then the Snapping Turtle
 brought his horny jaws together on one of the larger
boy's feet. There was a great splashing and dashing as
the boys ran to the shore, and three Bloodsuckers, who
had fastened themselves to the boy's legs, did not have
time to drop off, and were carried ashore and never
THERE WAS A GREAT SPLASHING AND DASHING.
"There!" said the Snapping Turtle.
"That's done. I
don't know what the pond people would do, if you and I
were not here to look after them, Belostoma."
"I'm glad I happened along," said the Giant Water-Bug
quietly, "But you will have to do it all after this.
I'm about ready to leave the pond. I think I'll go
"Going to-morrow!" exclaimed the Snapping Turtle.
"I'm sorry. Of course I know you can never come back,
but send your friends here to lay their eggs. We
mustn't be left without some of your family."
"Thank you," said Belostoma, and he
 did not show that he remembered some quite different
things which the Snapping Turtle had said before, about
his leaving the pond. And that showed that he was a
very wise bug as well as a brave one.
"Humph!" said the Snapping Turtle. "There is the Mud
Turtle Father on his back." And he ran to him and
pushed him over onto his feet. "Oh, thank you," cried
the Mud Turtle Mother. "I was not strong enough to do
"Always glad to help my neighbors," said the Snapping
Turtle. "Pleasant day, isn't it? I must tell the
fishes that the boys are gone. The poor little fellows
were almost too scared to swim." And he went away with
a really happy look on his face.
"There!" said the Mud Turtle Mother to her husband.
"He has begun to help people, and now he likes them,
and is contented. I always told you so!"
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