"Terence." No response. Clarence inched closer and spoke louder, "Terence!"
Terence surfaced from the wallow and slowly extended his neck from his comfortable shell. Clarence noticed a sprig of mud-caked cactus hanging from the corner of his friend's mouth. "What, Clarence?" Terence asked, chewing the barbed plant's remnants.
"What's that human doing over there?"
Terence craned his neck around. "Him? Research...Observations...Scientific stuff…"
"Wait, wait..." Clarence interrupted, "and you know this how?"
“I heard him talking to the sailors when they came ashore. That human, to which you are referring, Charles is his name, writes down everything. Funny thing is, he dictates to himself. Yesterday, he marveled at our size. He documented, 'I was well repaid by the strange Cyclopean scene...’ "
"Cyclopean scene? An insult for sure! We aren't one-eyed monsters," huffed Clarence.
"No, but you will concede we aren't the common box type either." Terence lunged for another bit of cactus deposited earlier on the mud flat's edge. Chewing, he proceeded, "I startled him yesterday. While looking for a quiet spot to make observations, he plopped right down on top of me. He assumed I was a nice boulder. When I shifted,” he giggled, “a word proceeded from his mouth that mother warned us to never say. In fact, I said it once and mama washed my mouth out with sea foam. It rhymed with..."
"I don't need to know what the word rhymed with, Terence."
"Anyway, maybe he recorded the Cyclops characterization, because when he stooped to examine my appearance, he peered right into my shell. When we were staring at each other…eye to eye… I winked at him…sssslllloooowwwwllllyyyy," Terence smirked, glancing at the studious human again.
"I don't care why he wrote it, we are Galapagos Tortoises and he should be more respectful of our species. We are not Cyclopean in nature!" Clarence lumbered in the direction of an enticing Manchineel Tree.
"Clarence, there's more..."
Clarence paused, still eyeing the delicious fruit of the Manchineel, but listening with interest. Terrence resumed. "I heard Charles conversing with the others of his party, and he declared that the differing types of finches came about by accident."
"I know the finches have accidents," Clarence griped. "Just look at my shell! They fly overhead and suddenly I need to bathe in a dew pond."
"No. Not have accidents. He's teaching that they are accidents," Terence corrected.
"Well, maybe mama and papa finch weren't planning on a new little one, but I don't think that gives him any right..."
"You still don’t understand," Terence interrupted. "He believes finches mysteriously developed one day. His philosophy teaches, eons ago single celled creatures exploded into existence. Then those cells developed into something else that developed into something else…well, you get the idea. Today, because of all of those so-called accidents that defy comprehension, a finch developed. He calls the process... evolution. This man questions the origin of the finch species…” His eyes narrowed. “And ours also," he hissed.
"Preposterous! You mean he doubts the Creator said, 'Let there be' and we appeared?" Clarence asked astonished.
"He doesn't even believe there is a Creator." Terence propelled himself on to the bank to bask in the sunlight.
“Maybe, he writes only a fairy tale,” Clarence suggested wistfully.
“Maybe,” a heartened voice echoed from Terence’s refuge. "Yes, that must be it!"
“And if only a fairy tale, no one will believe it to be true. His writings will be labeled as nothing more than mythological,” Clarence added, gaining enthusiasm.
Terence re-emerged and both turtles plodded towards the lone Manchineel. The fragrant apples beckoned both to a refreshing snack. "Even if he thinks our origins are accidental, no one will believe him, right?" Clarence asked, eyeing an apple recently released by a limb's grip.
"Right," Terence confirmed. "Now, before we eat, let's ask God to bless our food."
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