Freddy was near the doorway of the barn when he saw Pete come out of the house. Pete was always doing something interesting and today was no exception. He carried something in his hands and it was red and white with blue stripes and a tall yellow something stuck up in the middle.
“My goodness, I wonder what that is?” thought Freddy. “I’ll have to follow Pete and see what he’s up to.” (Some time had passed since Freddy’s balloon ride and he had forgotten how afraid he’d been hanging from a big red balloon.)
Pete came out of the yard, across the lane and through the barn lot. Freddy followed along where Pete couldn’t see. He kept him in sight as Pete climbed the fence and took off for the pasture. They went a long way, Pete carrying the interesting thing, and the little mouse scampering to keep up but out of sight.
Freddy was getting tired when Pete finally stopped by a little stream that flowed through the bottom of the pasture. He knelt down beside the stream and put the interesting thing in the water. “Why, it’s a boat,” thought Freddy, “and it floats on the water!”
Pete let his boat float down the stream, guiding it with a stick. Then, he would pick it up and take it back to the starting point, where he would once again let it float away.
“Umm, Umh! That sure looks like fun!” Freddy thought. “I’d like to ride in that boat. I wish Pete and I were real friends and then he’d let me ride while it goes downstream!” But Pete was too big and frightening for Freddy, so the little mouse just watched.
He watched for a long time, and then Pete heard his mother calling him in for lunch. “Ah shucks! Just when I was having fun. Well, I guess I can come back after I eat.” Pete left the little boat safely tucked in among some twigs by the shore and ran to the house.
This was what Freddy was waiting for! “I want a closer look!” He checked to make sure Pete was gone, then scampered over to the edge of the stream and stared at the boat. It was even prettier up close. It was red on the bottom and white on the top and had blue racing stripes. And, right in the middle, was the yellow sail. Freddy looked over the edge of the boat. There was a space just the right size for a little mouse to stand. He could put his front feet on the front of the boat and pretend he was sailing!
“Wouldn’t that be fun! Maybe I could just stand in the boat while it’s here by the shore.” And he jumped in.
His weight made the boat bobble and it moved out of the twigs and into the stream all by itself. “Oh!” said Freddy, “I’m really sailing!”
He stood in the bottom of the boat and put his front feet on the windshield, and there he was, sailing down the stream! “This is an adventure!” squeaked Freddy. And he never gave a thought to what had happened with the big red balloon.
Before long, the little stream flowed into a bigger stream. Now it was a creek and a lot wider than the little one Pete had been playing in. “Uh oh,” thought Freddy, “I may be in some trouble. This is a big creek and I don’t want to get lost. But what can I do? I can’t make the boat stop. I don’t’ know how it works!”
The boat kept going along and going along and Freddy got more and more frightened. The creek was flowing very fast and the boat was going faster than Freddy’s stomach wanted it to go.
Up ahead Freddy could see a patch of lily pads where the stream widened and stilled a bit. There were beautiful flowers here and there on the pads. But best of all, the boat bumped into one of the big leaves, then another, until it was stuck fast among the water lilies. Freddy jumped out as soon as the boat stopped. He wasn’t on shore yet but at least he wasn’t going any farther down the creek!
Suddenly he heard a loud “RIBBET!” He jumped and looked around. A big green frog was sitting right beside him!
“Ribbet, Ribbit!” said the Frog. “What are you doing here? I never saw a mouse on a lily pad before.”
“Well, I’m on an adventure. You see, the boy I watch had this boat and he was playing with it and when he left I decided to try it out and it brought me all the way here! And I don’t know how I’m going to get home! I can’t even get off this lily pad! I’m not sure I like this kind of adventure! I can’t swim. What am I going to do?” As usual, Freddy was talking too fast and thinking too late.
“Looks like you’ve got yourself into a peck of trouble.” The frog hopped from the lily pad to another, making Freddy bounce and slide. Just when he felt safe again, the frog hopped back and Freddy almost got dumped into the creek.
“Sorry,” said the frog. “I was just thinking. I think better when I hop. Shakes up my brain.”
“P,p,please don’t bounce this pad again, sir. Like I said, I can’t swim.” Freddy scratched at the lily pad with his claws but it was too hard and rubbery to get a foothold.
“I can’t take you home, because I swim underwater and you’d probably drown.” The frog looked around. “I’ve got a friend who could take you, though.”
“Who’s that?” asked Freddy. “You mean Randy Raven?”
“Nah, I don’t know any Randy Raven. My friend’s name is Tommy. Hey, Tommy, come over here!” And, sure enough, a handsome turtle stuck his head out of the water and swam over.
“What do you want, Roger?” said the turtle in a very slow voice.
“This guy got lost when his boat brought him down the creek and he needs to get home. Can you take him back upstream?”
“Reckon I can,” said Tommy Turtle, “if’n he don’t mind ridin’ on my back.”
“I don’t mind,” said Freddy. “I’m used to riding on backs! That seems to be the only way I get home nowadays!”
“Well, climb aboard,” said Tommy and bumped against the lily pad and Freddy jumped and fell onto his back. Then they started upstream.
Tommy’s progress was slow but steady and after a bit, Freddy pointed, “That’s where I came in! I need to go up that small stream!”
“OK”, said Tommy. He turned into the little stream and kept going. It was so shallow the turtle did not need to swim all the time, but since Freddy had come down the stream in a boat, he felt safer on Tommy’s back.
Soon Freddy said, “That’s it. That’s where I started! This is where I get off. Thank you so much, Tommy Turtle!”
“Don’t’ mention it,” said Tommy, in his slow voice. “Glad to do it. Next time you get lost just holler for Tommy Turtle and I’ll come. I can go in the water or on the land. Makes no difference to me.”
“Bye, Tommy,” said Freddy. “I’ll be going home now.
Tommy turned and swam back downstream. Freddy ran across the pasture and under the fence and up the lane and didn’t’ stop until he was in the barn and back under his own bale in the hay mow!
“Oh, my!” he sighed, “I am glad to be home. I just hope Pete can find his boat. That adventure was fun, but it’s just as nice to be right here in my own red barn!”