“One step, two steps, three steps, so!”
By and by, after a long, long time, he came to a hollow log, and just happening to peep in, he saw some one curled up fast asleep. Who was it? Why, Billy Mink, to be sure! You see, Billy thought that he was so far ahead that he might just as well take it easy, and that was what he was doing. Spotty the Turtle didn’t waken him. He just kept right on going the same slow way he had come all day, and so, just as jolly, round, red Mr. Sun was going to bed behind the Purple Hills, Spotty the Turtle found the cause of the trouble in the Laughing Brook and the Smiling Pool.
Spotty the Turtle stared and stared and stared, until it seemed as if his eyes surely would pop out of his funny little head. Of course he could believe his own eyes, and yet — and yet — well, if anybody else had seen what he was looking at and had told him about it, he wouldn’t have believed it. No, Sir, he wouldn’t have believed it. You see, he couldn’t have believed it because — why, because it didn’t seem as if it could be really and truly so.
He wondered if the sun shining in his eyes made him think he saw more than he really did see, so he carefully changed his position. It made no difference. Then Spotty was sure that what he saw was real, and that he had found the cause of the trouble in the Laughing Brook, which had made it stop laughing and the Smiling Pool stop smiling.
Spotty the Turtle was feeling pretty good. In fact, Spotty was feeling very good indeed, because he had been the first to find out what was the matter with the Laughing Brook. At least, he thought that he was the first, and he was of all the little people who live in the Smiling Pool. Only Ol’ Mistah Buzzard had been before him, and he didn’t count because his wings are broad, and all he had to do was to sail over the Green Forest and look down. The ones who really counted were Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter and Jerry Muskrat and Grandfather Frog. Billy Mink had stopped for a nap. Little Joe Otter had stopped to play. Jerry Muskrat had stopped to eat. Grandfather Frog had stopped for a sun-nap. But Spotty the Turtle had kept right on going, and now here he was, the first one to find the cause of the trouble in the Laughing Brook. Do you wonder that he felt proud and very happy?
Keeping at it, that’s the way
Spotty won the race that day.
But now Spotty was beginning to wish that some of the others would hurry up. He wanted to know what they thought. He wanted to talk it all over. It was such a surprising thing that he could make neither head nor tail of it himself, and he wondered what the others would say. And now the long black shadows were creeping through the Green Forest, and if they didn’t get there pretty soon, they would have to wait until the next day.