Snack for a Crocodile.

 

The crocodile yawned; he opened his big wide mouth and yawned.  His shiny white teeth gleamed like rows of white stars in the moonlight.  He slowly opened one eye and looked down the lonely beach.  Nothing moved; all was quiet.  No sound at all.

 

He moved from the water's edge to a stony ledge against the tall cliffs on the beach.  The day’s sunshine had warmed, the rocks, and the crocodile let the warmth spread through his body from head to tail.  He stretched lazily.  “I'm not very hungry, yet” he thought to himself, “but perhaps later on, I could do with a little snack.”  Then he licked his lips.  “Maybe I'll just have a quiet snooze for a few minutes.” And he closed his eyes.

 

Not far away, in the sea, a mother turtle was swimming to the beach.  She was feeling very uncomfortable because she needed to lay her eighty-two eggs.  They were heavy insider.  She left the water and headed for the soft dry sand near the sand hills, pushing forward with her strong front flippers.  She hadn’t gone far when she is smelt a smell of danger: maybe the smell of a crocodile.  She turned and looked back at the sea but nothing was there, so she started on her way again.  Such a tiring journey it was, but bravely she pulled herself forward.

 

At last, she found a good patch of soft white sand, just right for a nesting place.  Using her front flippers, she began digging very fast to make a hollow, big enough for her, in the sand.  As she worked, great showers sand were thrown into the air.  Silvered by the moon they made a shimmering, sparkling curtain behind the busy turtle.

 

The crocodile opened his eyes and saw the clouds of sand.  He knew exactly what was happening; he’d seen turtles nesting before.

“Aha -There's my little snack” he thought, and he slid quietly from the rocky ledge to the beach.  He crawled quickly up the beach, until the flying sand sprayed his head and misted his eyes.  He was nearly there.  The turtle was facing away from him and didn't see him until – snap! the crocodile opened his mouth to grab her.  But his mouth couldn't quite grip the turtle’s wide, hard, slippery shell, and she slipped out of his grasp.

 

Such a shock from other turtle!  She stopped her digging and moved faster than she ever had before, down to the sea.  Half running, half sliding, the crocodile chased her.  He caught up with her again, but again his mouth didn't quite hold her, and she kept moving.  She reached the sea, with the crocodile, close behind her; she knew that she could swim faster than he could, so she rushed into the water and paddled quickly away.  Perhaps tomorrow, she would lay her eggs.  Yes, it would have to wait until tomorrow. 

 

The crocodile sulked.  “Oh well, I'll try for crabs instead.  Anyway, she’ll become back tomorrow (turtles always do) and I'll be waiting for her.”

 

A long time passed.  About two months afterwards a boy and his dad pulled into the lonely beach in their fishing boat.  The man reached for his sandwiches and spoke to the boy. “Good spot for lunch Tom, but keep an eye out for crocodiles.  There could be some in the sea around here.”

They finished eating and were just about to leave when the boy pointed to hundreds of tiny marks on the sand.  “Look, Dad. Tracks - Fresh ones!”  And they saw that the trail of a crowd of baby turtles – hatchlings - which had made their way in the dead of night, safely to the sea.  The boy and his dad followed the trail back to the nest near the sand hills; they dug down and down again further, and further still; right down into the deep round egg chamber that the mother turtle had made with her back flippers, until they found an enormous pile of white, soft, leathery eggshells.  The boy counted them: ten, twenty, fifty, seventy, eighty-two.  All of those hatchlings had broken out of their shells, pushed their way up through the sand and scuttled to the sea. 

 

As for the crocodile, he soon forgot about the night he failed to have a midnight snack of juicy turtle.  Whenever he was hungry he always managed to find crabs and other tasty mouthfuls.

 

Gwenda Jeffrey 4 October 2000