Tillie carried her house on her back as all turtles do. Whenever she felt danger near, Tillie pulled her feet, her head, and her little tail inside her house and shut it up tight. Tillie went into her little house other times too. If she heard even the slightest strange noise or if she saw her shadow, into her house she went! Tillie was so shy, she spent most of her time inside her shell. Because she hadn’t made any friends, Tillie was feeling very lonely.
One day as Tillie moved slowly through some tall grass, she saw something move and quickly pulled in her feet, head, and tiny tail. Then Tillie felt a little thumping on her shell.
“What’s that sound?” Tillie asked herself.
“Someone is knocking on my shell!” she exclaimed. And in spite of her shyness and fright, Tillie was curious. When the knock came again, Tillie opened her shell just a crack and peeked out. But she couldn’t see anything so she poked her head out a little farther.
“Hi,” squeaked a teeny voice that belonged to the smallest mouse Tillie had ever seen.
Tillie was so surprised that she forgot to duck back inside her house. “Who—who are you?” she stammered.
“I’m Morty. Who are you?” the little gray creature inquired.
“Tillie’s my name. Did you knock on my shell?” she asked.
“Yes,” Morty answered. “I went to get some grain for Mother so she could make mouse cakes and now I can’t get home.”
“Why not?” asked Tillie.
“Because you’re sitting on the doorway to my house,” the mouse squeaked.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to,” apologized Tillie.
“That’s all right. If you move over just a little, I can get by,” said Morty.
Tillie slowly moved forward as Morty watched, amazed.
“You take your house with you when you move!” exclaimed Morty. “Will you please wait a minute until I call my brothers and sisters? They’ve never seen anything like this before either.”
Morty hurried into his underground home, and it wasn’t long until he returned with four other mice.
“These are my brothers and sisters—Millie, Mindy, Mickey, and Monty.”
They all stared at Tillie for a moment, then, rather shyly, they asked if she would like to play with them.
Tillie had never had friends to play with and she beamed with happiness. “Would you like to slide down my shell?” she asked her new friends.
They climbed up on her back, then slid down to the ground, landing on the soft grass.
“This is fun,” they squealed as they took turns climbing up and sliding down.
When their mother called them to come in, the little mice asked Tillie if she would play with them again the next day.
“Oh yes,” Tillie told them. “I’ll just move over there in the tall grass so I’ll be close to you. That will be a good place to live.”
It was wonderful having friends like Morty, Mindy, Millie, Mickey, and Monty. Tillie was sure she would never be lonely again.