Little Turtle woke up and moved. Sand poured in from all sides. She slowly moved her legs, stretched her neck and looked around. It was a warm sunny morning. Water gurgled in the fountain nearby, around which were usually gathered many creatures big and small. Little Turtle climbed out of her hole and crawled along the path. The sun had already managed to heat the stones. Stepping on them was a pleasure.
When she reached the fountain, Little Turtle drank the cool fresh water and ate a delicious dandelion from a nearby flower bed. Breakfast was finished.
Little Turtle went back. She climbed back into her hole where it was still cool enough; she turned on the radio, laid down on the rug and began to listen to the latest news. Today they talked about space. Something somewhere safely flew away. They also talked about the animals that have ever been in space. So Little Turtle learned that many years ago a brave turtle flew around the moon. Nothing was said about landing. Also, it was not known whether she had written a memoir. This whole story impressed her very much. She, too, was eager to do something amazing.
By noon Old Turtle (as big as a manhole cover) crawled to the fountain. At the same time from all sides susliks, jerboas and lizards ran over to hear another story about one of her many travels. Old Turtle has traveled around the world together with her Master but she was always glad to return back home. She basked and napped in the sun and reminisced, but only when it was possible to shake her out of her slumber.
Little Turtle hurried to the fountain, too. Today Old Turtle talked about the sea.
“What is it - the sea?” asked a jerboa.
“The sea. . . It is big,” Old Turtle explained. “You can see the water in the puddles. The puddle is small, and the sea is like a big puddle, reaching far, all the way to the horizon. Sea water is blue and in some places even turquoise. And when the clouds fly in the sky, then the water becomes grey. It sparkles in the sun, and beckons from its depths.”
“What wondrous mysteries must lay hidden there,” mused Little Turtle. . .
“By the way, I got acquainted with Marine Turtle,” Old Turtle continued. “She lives all the time in the water, and swims very well.”
“How did you talk to her?” asked Little Turtle.
“I was lying on the beach in a deck chair under an umbrella and she swam to the shore. We had a nice leisurely conversation until she had to go back home to look after her grandchildren.”
“And how are sea turtles different from us – tortoises?” asked Little Turtle again.
Old Turtle thought for a moment, and answered, “They have webbing between their toes like ducks and geese, and beavers and river otters. I have not noticed any other differences although, since I’ve grown old, my eyesight has become weak and indeed it is quite true that there may be some things that I’ve missed.” And Old Turtle sighed, laid down comfortably on the stones and fell asleep.
All listeners ran back to their own business. Only Little Turtle stayed in her place. She thought about the sea trying to imagine what it actually is.
It was Sunday. She impatiently waited until Monday and crawled into the library. She wanted to read all the books that were published about the sea.
The librarian was Very Old Turtle. She was slow and near deaf. Hearing that Little Turtle needs books about the sea, she did not bother herself. Since the reception desk was located between the shelves of the letters A and B, and was closer to the B-shelf, she slowly ambled in this direction. Pulling a book about the Baltic Sea from the shelf, she came back.
“Here, please. You have enough to begin,” Very Old Turtle advised.
Little Turtle was glad that she got at least one book and that she did not have to wait very long - only half a day.
She hurried home and in the evening, sitting on her rug, she plunged into her reading.
After reading the whole book, cover to cover, Little Turtle wanted at last to see the sea. And she really wanted to be a sea turtle. How many interesting things her webbed relatives see!
A week later she again hurried to the library with her book, with the goal to take out a new one, and on the way she met Old Turtle. Little Turtle politely greeted her and froze. Old Turtle answered the greeting, sighed and lamented that again she was forced to go on a journey.
“It is so interesting!” exclaimed Little Turtle. “You will see something new.”
Old Turtle kept squinting at the sun, sighed and said slowly, “I'm too old for such travel now. But Master can’t leave me alone and travel without me. He believes that I bring him luck. That's why he’s dragging me everywhere with him.”
“And where will you go this time?” asked Little Turtle.
“To the Baltic Sea.”
Little Turtle couldn't believe her ears. She had just read a book about this sea, learned so many new and amazing. . .
“Take me with you!” burst from Little Turtle before she had time to think. “I really want to see the sea!”
Old Turtle looked at her with interest.
“Please,” asked Little Turtle. “I am small and I will not take up much space in your bag. I will not disturb you. I will just sit quietly there.”
The turtles looked at each other.
"Hmm, she is not stupid, though she is a bit impulsive,” thought Old Turtle. “Maybe I could take her with me? I am so big that Master will not see her. And I will not be bored."
“Well, then,” she said. “Be ready. In a week we are leaving.”
Seeing the book in Little Turtle’s hand she added, “Don’t forget to return your book to the library before our departure.”
Little Turtle excitedly thanked Old Turtle and hurried to the library.
Before leaving there were many things to be done. She picked up her radio and shawl. She found an old straw hat, gathered all the things in her backpack and climbed out of her hole. To avoid any invasion of her house in her absence she filled it with sand and put a dry twig as a landmark. Front feet only, 57 steps from the fountain to the southwest.
The evening before departure she met Old Turtle on the porch of Master’s house and accompanied her to the luggage in which both of them had to travel. Little Turtle weighed very little so the Master noticed nothing.
At the airport the veterinarian carried out the inspection of Old Turtle, not noticing who was attached under her big belly. He had neither desire nor pleasure to turn up this huge turtle.
After many hours of flight through the air and further travel along the highway, the turtles at last reached the Baltic Sea. The Master had rented a house on the shore in a pine-dressed valley. Old Turtle was drowsing when Little Turtle climbed out of the bag, negotiated her way over the threshold and rustled through the pine needles in the direction of the sounds which were constantly rising and falling. Soon she saw the sand and, overcome with happy anticipation, hurried on. Suddenly Little Turtle stumbled on a twig hidden in the sand, flipped up and flew across the dune.
Recovering herself, she looked around. It was cool. The sun was just starting to rise over the horizon and painted wondrous objects in reds and yellows. And everywhere she looked, everywhere was water. “The sea! I see the sea!” Little Turtle shouted in her excitement.
“You not only see it, you can even touch it,” exclaimed an unexpected voice from behind which frightened Little Turtle. She looked back and saw Old Turtle looking on with her kind old eyes.
“Do not be afraid. I heard how you rustled and realized that you wished to leave to see the sea. Go closer to the water. The sea is not terrible. It will touch your feet, make them wet. You can play in the water. Remember, though, that before the tide goes out you will have to go home. Otherwise you will be washed away with the water, and you can't swim.”
Old Turtle opened an umbrella, put up the chairs and lay down. “Come, do not be afraid. I will look after you.”
Little Turtle stood frozen a little, then turned her head to the sea and hurried to the water. The sand was wet. The water attacked and then retreated, attacked and retreated again. On the seashore she saw green sea algae thrown about and among them pebbles and seashells were flashing. That was interesting!
The days passed. Every day Little Turtle crawled to the sea and played in the water. Old Turtle did not always accompany her. She was happy to relax in the shade of the house and breathe in the aroma from the pine trees.
A month passed. Little Turtle felt herself quite comfortable and appeared in the house very seldom. She made friends - little lizards. In one of the dunes she dug a hole, strengthened it with twigs and made a little house where she could rest.
One day Old Turtle crawled down to the seashore and proclaimed that they should leave. The Master finished his business. He returns home. Little Turtle thought for a moment and said that she would like to stay there for a while longer. She loves this place, has made many new friends. And she understood that here her dreams may come true.
Old Turtle shook her head but did not dissuade. The turtles said their warm goodbyes and crawled in different directions.
Little Turtle was a little sad but then again her interest in this new place had overwhelmed her spirit. And soon she was again crawling along the beach and playing in the water, sometimes finding small pieces of amber. She put these new treasures in her house on the shelf above the fireplace. In the evenings she listened to the radio which passed on the news of the world and proffered much other fascinating information.
The dream to become a marine turtle never left her. She bought a vest and sea cadet hat. She also bought a boat with two oars and a life jacket. In trying to row the boat, she realized how difficult it was to manage it. Therefore she bought a motor for the boat and kept the oars - just in case.
Now she bravely motored about in her boat along the seacoast, and soon as well began boating with her friends. Everyone had fun. The wind blew in their faces. Now for them not only land was available but also the water – and it was the Sea – the Baltic Sea!
After lunch they pulled the boat up onto the shore and tied it to a tree. They played ball. Little Turtle could not move quickly and therefore she was usually the umpire.
Autumn was coming. The mornings were becoming quite cool. More and more often it rained.
Little Turtle was putting dry branches in the fireplace to keep warm. Thin smoke rose above the dunes. Once she had found a blanket forgotten by someone on the beach and dragged it into her house. Preparations for winter had started.
One sunny late autumn day Little Turtle for the last time went boating with her friends. Then together they dragged the boat up out of the sea and into the shed which Little Turtle had built near her house, and said goodbye until spring.
Little Turtle closed the shutters on the windows, crawled into her cozy little house, and lit the fireplace. The firelight danced happily, casting dreamy patterns and shadows upon the walls. Little Turtle put on her sweater, climbed into a wicker basket, wrapped a blanket around and covered herself up with her shawl, and yawned. "Next spring,” she thought, “I’ll buy scuba gear. I dream to see the underwater world".
And Little Turtle fell asleep.