Because Martha was a tortoise, and not a talking one, Ronan was at a loss about what was causing this distress. He tried every imaginable means to soothe his dear pet. He walked the High Line and furtively plucked flowers from the landscaping--taking a purple flower that looked like a small firework, frozen at the full bloom of firing. He found some sweet and juicy yellow dandelions, which he knew most people considered weeds, but which he felt badly for taking before they turned to seed, when a boy, or even a young man, as he was becoming, could blow wishes on. He put all these flowers in his jacket pocket and took them home, offering them to poor Martha. However, Martha only seemed to hang her head nearer to the ground, and if a tortoise could sigh, she surely was sighing. And if Martha had a brow, surely she'd be furrowing it.
That night, at the dinner table, Ronan brought up the topic of Martha's mood again to his family. His parents and his brothers were not unsympathetic, but they didn't have any answers that gave Ronan the hope he was looking for. His mother smiled at him in that way mother's are prone to do when they are humoring their children while trying to be sincere at the same time. She said, "Remember, dear, Martha is still relatively new to this family and she's still getting acclimated to her life here. Remember when we moved to the City from the Country, how long it took us to get used to it? And how your father is still getting used to it?" She said that last part grinning playfully at Ronan's father, a joyful man who wasn't unaccustomed to the City but who preferred the quiet of their Country home. Ronan's younger brother, Cashel, decided that perhaps Martha needed a proper welcome, and he started planning a recital that the whole family would participate in later in the evening. Cashel would sing a song, Ronan would tell a story, mother and father would do a dance, and their eldest brother, Gabriel, would add a martial arts demonstration. Ronan grew excited about the recital and began sketching out plans for it during dinner, continuing late into the evening, until his mother had to nag him about his homework--and his mother was not particularly fond of nagging.
The recital was held the next evening, right after dinner. Cashel had sewn a big red bow for Martha to wear on her back as the guest of honor, and the whole family poured their heart out. Cashel sang "Singing in the Rain" while Mother and Father did their best Gene Kelly imitation. Ronan read his best story, the one that had won him a blue ribbon at the creative writing contest held by the entire school district. The recital ended with Gabriel's Taekwondo demonstration, because there was a spiritual element to the martial art, and the whole family was starting to thing that Martha's ailment was primarily a spiritual one.
Though Martha seemed to perk up during the recital, after the performances and demonstrations were over, the cake was eaten by Ronan and his family, and delicious shredded varietal greens were offered and nibbled at by Martha, Martha again began fretting. Ronan was at his wit's end.
While Ronan was in bed, tossing and turning in his worry over Martha, Mother and Father watched a bit of the news. Fact was, they were a bit concerned about the goings on in South America. Great habitats were being destroyed at an alarming rate and the United States President was about to issue a boycott on all goods coming from this area. This would be a great battle in the government, as many United States companies raked in huge sums of cash, in part, by tearing apart many native habitats around the Amazon. Though neither Mother nor Father found it a particularly happy practice to watch the news, they were deeply compassionate people and unwilling to stay ignorant for their own pleasure. Because they were concerned about Martha (who at this point, seemed to have stop sleeping as well as looking altogether glum), they put Martha on the coffee table.
When the segment on the Amazon came on, and the threatened habitats, Martha lifted her head for the first time in weeks. Though this time, instead of looking glum, she seem to have taken on a gesture of alarm. Mother and Father were glued to the news program, but their eldest, Gabriel, who was still working on a research essay at the dining table was just looking away from his paper for a little reprieve from the intensity of the writing, when he noticed Martha.
"Hey!" he shouted. "Look at Martha. She's listening." He stood up from his chair while Mother and Father crouched down to get a better look at the tortoise.
Father suddenly had a thought. "Where is Martha from?"
Mother said, "Pet Central."
"No." Father shook his head. "Before that?"
It dawned on all three of them, Mother, Father, and Gabriel, that Martha was probably from the Amazon Forest and was worried for her family who were still there. Gabriel did a quick Google search to confirm this fact.
The next day, Mother called the President and expressed her concern on a personal level. The President asked if the family could bring Martha to Washington D.C. to put a personal face on the tragedies occurring on a daily basis in the Amazon. Though Martha didn't know what was happening, she seemed to register a sense of hope. Ronan, Cashel, and Gabriel all took the day off school and the whole family drove to the Capital to see the President and to introduce him to Martha.
"Martha," said the President to the tortoise when they met, "Nice to meet you. I promise I am going to do everything in my power to help save the tortoise habitat." Martha didn't have any fur, but she looked like she fluffed up a little bit after she heard that.
Ronan told the President, because he'd been pondering over solutions to this gigantic problem as they were driving down for the meeting, "Martha should be the spokesperson for the 'Save the Amazon' campaign--because look, she is very beautiful and obviously very sad. You should put her photos on billboards all over the country and put her on television on every single channel during every single show so everyone can see her and the effect the evil corporations are having in the Amazon on the little creatures--like Martha!"
The President thought that was a great idea. So it was that Martha the Tortoise had a new Mission in life, to help save the Amazon habitats. Though her signature pout was her greatest strength when she was being photographed, at home, the whole family thought that if tortoises smiled, that surely was a satisfied and relieved smile on Martha's face.