The next morning, right after breakfast, Rachel was pulling weeds at the back of the garden. She noticed a small pile of yellow flowers at the edge of the woods. When she approached, she saw that the pile consisted of dandelion heads. Someone had pulled them and put them there deliberately. Why? Hmmm.
Leading from the pile and into the woods were more dandelion heads. One had been placed every foot or so. Obviously, Rachel was curious.
She followed the winding trail of flowers back into the woods about a hundred feet. Then, it turned to the right and continued. After another fifty feet the flowers led to a small glade surrounded by pine trees and bushes. The flower path ended in the center of the glade. There, it formed a small circle. Rachel hopped into the circle, stood there and listened. She heard the wind through the pines but nothing more. It was a nice glade, so she decided to sit for a while.
After about a minute a soft voice said, “Hello.”
Rachel looked around in the direction of the sound and answered back, “Hello.”
The voice seemed to be coming from behind some thick bushes about twenty feet to her left.
Another minute went by.
Rachel said, “Hello. Are you there?”
The voice answered, “Yes.”
“Why don’t you show yourself, and we can talk?” asked Rachel.
After a while, “I can’t,” was the reply.
“Oh my! Why not? Are you a ghost?”
“No. If I come out, you will run away.”
“Why, in the world, do you think I will run away?” asked Rachel.
“Because everyone does.”
“If I promise not to run away, will you come out?”
“If you won’t come out, how can we ever be friends?” offered Rachel.
That was an amazing question and required thought. No one had ever said anything like that before to the voice.
“Can we just talk for a while, please?” pleaded the voice.
“Yes, but it’s always nice to know to whom you are speaking,” answered Rachel. “My name is Rachel Rabbit, and I live with my family very near here. We have a very large flower garden. Yesterday we delivered many flower baskets to everybody in Ballymore.”
“Yes, I know.”
“You know! You know much about me, but I know nothing of you. Are you a spy?”
For the first time she sensed the voice was smiling.
“My name is Samuel. I used to be called Sam.”
“I am pleased to meet you Sam. Why do you say you used to be called Sam? You are still Sam, aren’t you?”
“Yes, but now I am called something else. You are the first animal who has talked to me in a long time.”
“Everybody is very friendly and helpful here in Ballymore. I think everybody would talk to you. Have you tried?”
“Yes. I’ve tried many times. When they see me, they get scared and run away. They call me the Pond Creature.”
Rachel’s mouth dropped open, and she began to shake a little.
“Are you afraid, too?” asked Sam.
“No!” she lied.
“If you are, I understand, but I won’t hurt you. I have never hurt anyone. All I eat are reeds from the pond.”
Rachel gathered herself. She thought about how many times she had been misunderstood and how many times she had misunderstood.
“Yes, everyone is afraid of the Pond Creature. They are often afraid of what they don’t know. I’m afraid of the Pond Creature also, but I’m not afraid of you. Are you sure you’re the Pond Creature?”
“Yes, that is what they call me.”
“Well, that needs to be fixed right away,” said Rachel strongly.
“But how?” asked Sam.
“I will call a meeting and tell everybody,” answered Rachel.
“No! No!” said Sam quickly.
“I’m not ready. I’m scared.”
“Will you come out now?”
“I will come out if you close your eyes,” said Sam.
“Okay, I will close my eyes.”
“Are they closed?”, asked Sam.
Sam crawled slowly from behind the bushes. He moved to the center of the glade and stood in front of Rachel. She heard him moving along the ground and getting closer to her. She was scared but kept her promise.
“I am standing in front of you now,” said Sam.
“Yes, I know,” answered Rachel.
“Raise your left paw,” instructed Sam.
“Now, move it a little to the right. Now, down slowly.”
She lowered her paw and felt a hard, rough, cold skin.
“Where is your fur?” she asked.
“I have no fur. I’m a turtle,” he told a half-truth. “You can open your eyes now.”
She opened one eye and looked straight at the mouth of a large snapping turtle with reddish eyes.
Rachel Meets Sam
“Oh, my! You’re a snapping turtle,” she said with a little fear in her voice.
“Yes, I’m sorry,” and he lowered his head and began to sob.
“No!” Rachel said. “I mean you’re a large and beautiful snapping turtle, and you are my friend.”
Sam raised his head to her, smiled, and sobbed even more.
She put her paws on his head and they stood there for a while. Now, she was sobbing, also.
Finally, she said, “Okay, you are part of this community. Everybody should meet you and see how nice you are.”
“I’m sorry, but I’m not ready to meet anyone else yet,” responded Sam.
“Ballymore is a nice place, and I want to help you meet everyone.”
“Thank you, Rachel, but before I meet the others, could we meet again?” asked Sam.
“Yes, we can, and I would like that,” she responded. “But I have to leave now.”
“I understand. It was very nice to meet you. I’ll leave a flower trail again as a signal. Please don’t tell anyone that you met me.”
“I promise,” said Rachel as she placed her paws on his head again. “But promise me that you’ll think about meeting the others.”
“I promise, also. Thank you, Rachel, my friend,” said Sam with some emotion in his voice.
“Goodbye, it was nice to meet you too,” said Rachel.
As Sam watched her leave, Rachel hopped back towards her cottage. She couldn’t believe that she had met and talked to the Pond Creature. Now, they were even friends!
Sam was both happy and scared about what had happened. He hid in the woods the rest of the day. Towards dark he slipped back into the pond unnoticed.