This Weeks Featured Children's Story
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The Adventures Of Ted And Josh No 6 - The Last Carrot Standing
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H W Shelton
Summertime is a time for family vacations and swimming at the water hole with your buddies.
A time to lay back under a big shadey tree and dream of things that you and a close friend might do tomorrow or the next day, just as soon as you two finish the choirs that have been assigned to you.
Summertime is not supposed to be dressed in old worn out jeans and getting your hands all dirty working in a vegetable garden with the day wasting away.
But that garden is where we find our heroes today.
Both of them.
Ted and Josh have a debt to work off for Jack Brown and since Mr. Brown is a farmer, well, gardens do need tending.
Mr. Brown figured that four days in his garden should be enough time to teach a lesson to the boys about leaving things alone that don't belong to them.
The boys Mother's agreed, and so here they are digging in the ground with hoes, cutting out the weeds that want to grow there.
Now our boys didn't steal anything from Mr. Brown.
You see, he painted his porch and had removed his porch swing, laying it down by the side of the yard out of the way.
The two boys had come by and thinking it would make a great addition to the big limb under their tree-house, removed it and took it home, never thinking about it might still belong to someone.
When Mr. Brown started looking for it and walked by Josh's house one day he noticed the swing and went to ask his Mom about it.
She, of course, not knowing where it had come from, couldn't help Josh out in any with his story of finding it just lying around.
At any rate, the truth came out and working in Mr. Brown's garden seemed like a good punishment and would be a good lesson for our boys to learn.
As the sun beat down warmer on their necks, the boys decided that this was indeed a good lesson and they would leave things alone next time, unless invited to take it.
Garden work was hard work, the boys had agreed on that!
They did take notice of the vegetables that were growing in the garden and had paid special attention to the fact that there seemed to be only one carrot growing in the dirt.
It seemed to the boys that it had been part of a carrot mound which had maybe twenty to thirty carrots there at one time and now they were all gone except the one lone carrot left standing almost covered with dirt.
Strange it was.
Pointing this out to Mr. Brown had received his nod of approval and had started the three wondering what had happened to the other carrots that had be growing there and why was this one left.
The only answer that they could come up with was there must be a rabbit digging up the garden and removing the carrots to eat.
Mr. Brown decided they should put out a trap for this carrot thief and end his ring of terror to the gardens of the neighborhood.
Ted and Josh wanted to take part in this adventure and be the lookouts to watch for the rabbit to show up.
Mr. Brown said it was okay as long as they cleared it with their Mother's and it would mean staking out the garden after dark.
They understood this and agreed to show up Saturday evening at dusk to help Mr. Brown get the trap ready and they could keep an eye out that night.
Well, Saturday night was going to be a wet one as the rain had started about mid-morning and it was still sprinkling off and on at trap time.
But the boys were there on time and ready no matter the rain.
Mr. Brown liked this spunk and told the boys so.
Ted and Josh grinned real big and Josh stuck out his chest a little more as this made him feel good.
After the trap had been set Mr. Brown bid them goodnight and good luck, he then went back inside the house.
Josh, looking around, said; "This won't be so bad after all, it's just a rabbit."
"Right," Ted nodded his head, "just a little old rabbit."
It was a dark night with no moon as it was covered by the clouds.
The rain had stopped, you could hear some crickets chirping off in the distance and the frogs were making music down by the pond at the back of the garden.
A fog had started to roll in from the water and spread its misty blanket on the ground and everything else.
Ted and Josh had settled in under the small tent that they had placed by the woodpile and their vantage point gave them a clear view of the garden.
Josh looked at his watch and whispered; "12:30, are you asleep?"
"No," came Ted's reply, "can't seem to shut my eyes. Do you hear anything?"
"I can't even see very much," Josh answered, "You?"
"No," Ted said, "it sure is a spooky night out there; I bet even rabbits don't come out on nights like this."
"Shhhhhh, be quiet," Josh whispered, "I hear something out there by the edge of the garden."
"Oh great," Ted whispered back, "it's probably just a cat or something, and it's the 'something' I worry about."
The outline in the mist said it was too big for a cat.
"It's the "something" I was worried about." Ted said as he tried to focus on the shape moving through the fog toward the garden.
"Should we do anything?" whispered Josh.
"Why? there's only two of us." Ted whispered back shaking his head.
"Let's wait and see if it gets in the trap." Josh said in a low voice.
"I'm waiting." Ted answered.
The shape stopped.
It appeared that it was looking around even though the boys couldn't really tell much about what it was doing.
It started to move again.
"It's going toward the carrot," Josh said in a hushed tone.
"I think it's too big for a rabbit." Ted answered, looking over at Josh.
"You're right." Josh said.
"The trap's not big enough for whatever that is." Ted said.
"Right again," Josh whispered, "let's move in for a closer look."
"I knew you were going to say that." Ted whispered back.
"We need to know so we can tell Mr. Brown, come on." Josh said as he got to his knees and began crawling out of the pup tent.
"I'm coming," Ted said, "but I don't like it."
"WHOOSE!" came the noise from the garden, it was the trap shutting closed.
At this second, the large shape in the fog raised high on its hind legs and let out a loud noise, jumped up in the air and started moving fast toward the edge of the garden, and right toward our two boys who had made their way there.
"Jump!" shouted Josh as he headed toward the right side of the garden.
Ted moved to his left and landed in the mud just as the big dark shape of an elk made its way out of the garden and disappeared into the surrounding trees.
The two boys lay there for a minute catching their breath, with eyes as big as saucers and their mouths open.
Lights started coming on in the house and the front door opened as Mr. Brown stepped onto the porch with his shotgun at the ready.
"Ted, Josh," he called out, "are you boys okay?"
Ted answered. "We're okay Sir, but it wasn't a rabbit."
"A little bigger than that," Josh said as he got to his feet.
"What then?" Mr. Brown asked as he made his way down to the boys.
"It looked like an elk," Ted said as he began to shake the mud off his hands.
"A big one too!" Josh joined in, "and it was moving fast."
"Elk?" Mr. Brown said, "well I'll be. Okay boys, good job, now let's get some sleep and we'll talk about it more in the morning, he won't be back tonight."
He turned and moved back to the house, going inside he shut the door.
The boys stood there and looked at each other, smiled and started off toward the tent that was still waiting for them.
"An elk," Josh said as he lay down inside his sleeping bag and covered up.
"Yea, an elk, who knew," Ted answered under his breath, getting into his sleeping bag said again, looking at Josh, "an elk!"
"Goodnight buddy," Josh said, "hope we can get some shut-eye."
"Night," Ted answered, "see you in a few hours."
He sat up and shaking his head, said in a hushed tone, "an elk!"
The sun shining through the tent flap woke up Josh.
He could hear the birds singing out in the trees, and looking over for Ted noticed his friend was already up.
Coming out of the tent he saw Ted down at the garden.
"Find anything?" Josh asked as he walked to where Ted was.
"A lot of tracks," Ted said standing up, "it must have been a big boy."
"The carrot okay?" Josh joked as he stepped around Ted to see.
"He didn't get it," Ted said with a smile, "it was covered with dirt the last time he was here and that's what saved it then. We saved it this time."
"That's one lucky little carrot," Josh said with a chuckle, "maybe Mr. Brown should just save this guy and not eat it."
"Thinking about just that sort of thing," Mr. Brown said as he came walking up.
"It has been through an awful lot."
The three of them smiled and looked over at the still standing carrot.
"Yasser, we might just be able to do that," Mr. Brown said, kneeling down he put a wire cage over the carrot.
"That ought to keep it safe for a while and then I'll let Mrs. Brown figure out what to do," he smiled, and getting up, said; "breakfast is ready boys if you are."
"We're always ready to eat," Josh said standing up and dusting his jeans off.
"He never turns down a meal," Ted said laughing, "and I just go along with him so he won't feel funny."
"Let's go get it then," Mr. Brown said as he started walking toward the house.
The two boys, looking over at each other, fell in behind Mr. Brown and followed him to the house.
"Who would have thought we could find a mystery right here in our own neighborhood," Josh said as he walked beside his friend.
Ted, looking over at him, smiled and said; "If there is a mystery, I knew you'd find it."
Glancing back at the small garden, Ted thought he saw, just for a fleeting minute, that shape again in the edge of the woods.
Josh looking over at him, said; "What?"
Ted, turning his head back around, said; "Oh' nothing, just nothing."
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