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Pond and Stream by Arthur Ransome

Produced by Heather Strickland & Marc D'Hooghe at http://www.freeliterature.org

POND AND STREAM

By

ARTHUR RANSOME

Author of "The Stone Lady"

NATURE BOOKS FOR CHILDREN

With illustrations by Frances Craine

LONDON

ANTHONY TREHERNE & COMPANY, LTD.

12, YORK BUILDINGS, ADELPHI, W.C.

1906

FOR MOLLY

CONTENTS.

I. About the Book II. The Duck Pond III, Stream and Ditch IV. Lake and River V. Our Own Aquarium

[Illustration]

I

ABOUT THE BOOK

This is a book about the things that are jolly and wet: streams, and ponds, and ditches, and all the things that swim and wriggle in them. I wonder if you like them as much as they are liked by the Imp and the Elf? You know all about the Imp and the Elf, do you not? Those two small jolly children, who live in a little grey house in a green garden, and know the country and all the things in it, almost as well as they know each other? The Imp and the Elf love everything that is wet. They paddle in the streams, and build dams, and make waterfalls, and harbours, and sail boats, and do all the other things that every sensible person wants to do. And they love all the fishy people who live in the water, and the beasts that crawl in the mud, and the birds that hop from stone to stone in the stream.

At home they keep a big glass tank on one of the bookcases in the study. And that is the aquarium. It is a kind of indoor watery home for the people whom they meet when they mess about in the duck-pond, or the becks that trickle down the valley. You know what a beck is? The Imp and the Elf are north country children, and they would not understand you if you called the beck a stream.

I will tell you about some of the guests who come to stay with us, and live in the watery tank. But they must be talked about at the end of the book. For just now I want to tell you about the ponds and streams from which they come, and the things that have happened to us there, and all the other things that you will want to know, and the things the Imp and the Elf, who are sitting side by side in my big chair, say must be told to you.

II

THE DUCK POND

The Duck Pond is far away at the other side of the village. We walk a mile down over the fields, till we come to the village, and then we go through a little cluster of grey houses, past the tavern with the the picture of the prancing Blue Unicorn hanging out over the door, past the little grey church with the red tiled roof, past the farmyard by the smith's, where there is always a large sized piebald pig grunting in the yard, and out again into the fields. And then, on the left hand side of the road, we come to three stacks, a horse trough, and a piece of commonland.

The common is rough and untidy, with clumps of gorse and thistles and nettles. There is usually a spotty pony chewing the grass, and a goat with naughty looking horns and a grey beard. A tiny donkey with an enormous voice is tethered to a stake in the ground. There is a crowd of geese, who throw out their long necks in vicious curves, and hiss at strangers and sometimes frighten them. They do not hiss at us. Perhaps they know that we would not be very frightened if they did. The Elf likes this last part of the walk, because she loves to imagine she is a goosegirl in a fairy tale, who drives geese, until she meets a noble Prince, who finds out that really she is a Princess all the time. Some days the Imp is quite ready to pretend to be the Prince, and act the whole story. But other days he is in a precious hurry to get to the pond, and the poor Elf has to be a goosegirl without a Prince, and that is a poor business. She soon tires of it, and runs after us across the common.


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