The Turtle 乌龟
| Old Joe and his son Tony were on their way to White River to catch
some fish. They started on
the trip long before the sun came up. Old Joe drove the car. Tony slept
in the back seat. Joe
enjoyed looking at hte empty city streets in the early morning. The wind
was cool and blew
pieces of paper across the dark road. These days he often felt as empty
as the streets. As he
grew older, loneliness become a close friend who was always with him.
Outside the city, Joe drove slowly soen the river road. The dark sky began
to grow lighter. He
looked down at his hands and took a deep breath. Not long ago he had worked
hard with those
hands, but now, they did not do much--just drive the car and hold a fishing
Farther on he saw something in the middle of the road. He stopped the car.
Tony sat up in the
"What's wrong?" he asked in a sleepy voice. "What are we stopping for?"
Old joe pushed his head forward to see what blocked the road. He turned
on the brightest car
lights. "It's one of those fish--killing turtles," he said, "It's a big
Tony opened his eyes wide and looked at the strange thing. It was the biggest
turtle he had
ever seen. "Is it dead?" he asked.
The two men got out of the car and stood looking down at the turtle. It
looked like a large,
green rock. Suddenly it moved a little and left sharp marks in the dirt.
Then it stopped.
"Probably going to the river," Tony said. "These turtles kill fish--especially
They watched it. "I could crush him under the wheels of the car," Tony
said, "but he is too
big." He looked around and walked to hte side of the road. He came back
with a long stick. He
pushed it in the turtle's face. With one quick movement the turtle bit
the stick and broke it
into little piece.
"Look at that" Tony said softly, "As strong as a machine,"
"He sure is," Old Joe said and moved back." He must weigh a hundred pounds-maybe
The turtle pushed his ugly head toward the men. "He thinks there is going
to be a fight," Tony
said. "I wish I had brought my gun."
"You are not going to be a fight." Tony said. "I wish I had brought my
"Why not?" Tony asked. "Turtles kill our fish, don't they? The more trout
they eat, the less
we can catch,"
They both lit cigarettes and stood there smoking and looking at the turtle.
It had pulled its
head inside, under the hard cover on his back. "There is a heavy tool in
the car I can hit him
with," Tony said, "but it is too short. I do not want to put my hand near
him-he might try to
bite it off."
Old Joe said nothing. "You watch him," Tony said, "and I'll go find something
heavy and strong
in the back of the car."
Slowly Joe got closer to the turtle. He smoked and looked at it. "Poor
old thing," he said.
"It is sad to be caught. Now you will be killed."
The turtle pushed a foot out of its hard cover. Old Jow looked at its foot
with its sharp
cutting claws. "It would be different in the water, wouldn't it, turtle?"
he said. "In the
water you could cut down your enemies with those sharp claws."
He thought about the turtle in the water. It would probably move as fast
as a bullet fro a
gun. Nothing would try to fight it in the water. And here it was--in the
middle of a dirt
road--as helpless as a baby.
Old Joe dropped his cigarette. Why was he getting excited about a turtle?
He was an old man
and he was acting like a child. They were going to White River to catch
fish and he was
worrying about a turtle.
His son, Tony, came back from the car holidays a heavy tool. He lifted
it high about his head
and quickly brought it down through the air.
"I think this is long enough," he said. "What do you think?"
"Do you care what I think?" Old Joe said.
Tony answered: "You are worrying about something. What is wrong, Dad?"
"This is not right..." he said slowly and carefully.
The young man was surprised. "What do you mean?"
"The turtle does not have a chance," Old Joe said. "I do not feel good
about killing it."
"Ah, you talk like an old woman," Tony said, "a tired old woman!"
Old Joe did not look at his son but said: " I can understand how the turtle
feels. It must be
terrible to have no hope."
"You think he does not have a chance?" Tony asked.
"How could he," answered the old man quietly, "when you have such a heavy
Tony shook his father's arm. "And that worries you?" he asked.
Old Joe looked deep into Tony's eyes. "That is right," he said. "It worries
Tony looked at his father and then back at the turtle. "Any fool can kill
a turtle here." Old Joe said. "It is easy."
"Dad," Tony said, "it is only a turtle. You are making it a big thing."
Joe dropped his hands to his sides. "All right," he said. "Do what you
like. I'll say nothing more."
Tony threw the tool into the car. It made a loud crashing sound. "All right"
he shouted angrily."All right! You win."
"No," his father said, "I do not win. You, you win."
"But Dad," Tony argued, "they do kill fish."
"Yes!" agreed Old Joe. "they kill fish. Nature lets them do it. The turtle
kills fish to eat and live. We kill fish too-we men. Do we kill them so
we can live? No. we do it for fun. This old turtle takes what he needs.
I do not kill him. I do not act like God."
Tony go into the driver's seat and laughed. "Dad, you have strange ideas."
Old Joe walked around behind the turtle and gently pushed it with his shoe.
The turtle went forward across the road and into the tall grass. He was
going toward the river.
Joe watched until he could not see the turtle any longer. Then he got into
the car beside his son. The two men sat and looked at each other. The sun
was coming up strontg now and the sky was bright. Tony started the engine.
Old Joe brought out his cigarettes. He took one and put one in his son's
mouth. He lit them both.
They sat and smoked and looked at each other. And then they started to
smile. The car moved slowly along the dirt road toward the morning sun.
They did not stop until they reached the quiet waters of White River.
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