Spotty the Turtle Plays Doctor by Thornton W. Burgess

Greed isn’t a good thing, and Spotty the Turtle has a lesson to learn in this short story for kids.

Spotty the Turtle Plays Doctor
Greed’s a dreadful thing to see, As everybody will agree.
At first Little Joe Otter, sitting on the bank of the Smiling Pool, laughed himself almost sick as he watched Grandfather Frog trying to swallow a fish almost as big as himself, when his white and yellow waistcoat was already stuffed so full of foolish green flies that there wasn’t room for anything more.

Such greed would have been disgusting, if it hadn’t been so very, very funny. At least, it was funny at first, for the fish had stuck, with the tail hanging out of Grandfather Frog’s big mouth. Grandfather Frog hitched this way and hitched that way on his big green lily-pad, trying his best to swallow. Twice hetumbled off with a splash into the Smiling Pool. Each time he scrambled back again and rolled his great goggly eyes in silent appeal to Little Joe Otter to come to his aid. But Little Joe was laughing so that he had to hold his sides, and he didn’t understand that Grandfather Frog really was in trouble. Billy Mink and Jerry Muskrat came along, and as soon as they saw Grandfather Frog, they began to laugh, too. They just laughed and laughed and laughed until the tears came. They rolled over and over on the bank and kicked their heels from sheer enjoyment. It was the funniest thing they had seen for a long, long time.

“Did you ever see such greed?” gasped Billy Mink.

“Why don’t you pull it out and start over again?” shouted Little Joe Otter.

Now this is just what Grandfather Frog was trying to do. At least, he was trying to pull the fish out. He hadn’t the least desire in the world to try swallowing it again. In fact, he felt just then as if he never, never wanted to see another fish so long as he lived. But Grandfather Frog’s hands are not made for grasping slippery things, and the tail of a fish is very slippery indeed. He tried first with one hand, then with the other, and at last with both.

It was of no use at all. He just couldn’t budge that fish. He couldn’t cough it up, because it had gone too far down for that. The more he clawed at that waving tail with his hands, the funnier he looked, and the harder Little Joe Otter and Billy Mink and Jerry Muskrat laughed. They made such a noise that Spotty the Turtle, who had been taking a sun-bath on the end of an old log, slipped into the water and started to see what it was all about.

Now Spotty the Turtle is very, very slow on land, but he is a good swimmer. He hurried now because he didn’t want to miss the fun. At first he didn’t see Grandfather Frog.

“What’s the joke?” he asked.

Little Joe Otter simply pointed to Grandfather Frog. Little Joe had laughed so much that he couldn’t even speak. Spotty looked over to the big green lily-pad and started to laugh too. Then he saw great tears rolling down from Grandfather Frog’s eyes and heard little choky sounds. He stopped laughing and started for Grandfather Frog as fast as he could swim. He climbed right up on the big green lily-pad, and reaching out, grabbed the end of the fish tail in his beak-like mouth. Then Spotty the Turtle settled back and pulled, and Grandfather Frog settled back and pulled. Splash! Grandfather Frog had fallen backward into the Smiling Pool on one side of the big green lily-pad. Splash! Spotty the Turtle had fallen backward into the Smiling Pool on the opposite side of the big green lily-pad. And the fish which had caused all the trouble lay floating on the water.

“Thank you! Thank you!” gasped Grandfather Frog, as he feebly crawled back on the lily-pad. “A minute more, and I would have choked to death.”

“Don’t mention it,” replied Spotty the Turtle.

“I never, never will,” promised Grandfather Frog.