The stream said to the sky;
‘Oh why, oh why, may I not be a river? I am trying so very hard to be bigger.’
But the stream was much smaller than he imagined he was, flowing so slowly through the rocks and the moss.
‘You are too small!’ said the great big sky. He was feeling grey, and most unkind. He sunk the stream, and made him cry.
Dripping his tears, the stream got deeper,
‘There there’ said the bank, consoling the weeper.
‘With all this crying you’re getting fuller already. It’ll happen in time; just be patient and steady.’
But the little stream did strop, and stamp and stomp, because he didn’t get what he wants. The tears flowed away, and the stream got tired. The banks and the reeds thus conspired:
‘Does he know he’ll grow up?’ the reeds did whisper.
‘I’m not sure’, said the bank. ‘He’s not a good listener.’
As the evening got darker, the stream slowed and mellowed - and on top of the bank was a fine little fellow. The rabbit had hopped right up for a drink, and the stream then paused for a chance to think.
‘Rabbit, do you know how I become a river?’
He wanted to know, to get there quicker!
The rabbit was old and wise and slow, and compared to the stream he was much in the know.
‘There is a river to the South, I’ve seen it before. I could ask it’s advice, if I hop to it’s shore?’
‘Oh yes please!’ said the stream. ‘I’m so desperate to know! All I ever wanted to do was grow.’
So the rabbit went away, for a night and a day, and when he returned he shared what he’d learned:
‘You need to be wider,’ he told the stream. ‘That is essential, from what I have seen.’
So the stream swirled and swished, and crashed into the sides.
‘Ouch! You’re hurting!’ the two banks cried. So the stream had to stop, for he didn’t wish to hurt. He told the banks just what he had learnt.
‘I’ve got to get wider’ he said confidently.
‘That rabbit was wrong’ said the banks. ‘Evidently’.
‘It’s better to go about everything gently.’
‘You must go downhill, that’s how it’s done. When you get going fast, it’s really quite fun!’
For the banks had heard a short tale from the fox, who was fast and was quick, and who travelled quite a lot.
‘If you flow downhill, you’ll get bigger and bigger’
‘Your water will gather, and you’ll be like a river.’
And as the stream thought, he flowed and he floated. Flowing down south; but he didn't notice.
‘There he goes’ said the sky.
‘He’ll get there in time. It really doesn’t matter how hard he tries.’
Gushing down the mountain, the stream got restless. He pushed and he pushed, and he got quite breathless.
‘Whoops’ he said. ‘That was further than I thought’. He had just fallen down a steep waterfall. With a crash and a swirl he thought he was dead, but turned out to be only just out of his depth.
‘I’m deeper’ he says, ‘but I think I’ve stopped flowing.’ This was not part of his plan for growing. Hauling himself up he got out of the pool, and thought himself a bit of a fool.
‘What are you doing?’ said a nosy red deer. ‘I think you’re getting a little bit near.’
Deer was taking a drink from this particular place, but the stream splished and splashed, and wetted his face.
‘Have I got bigger?’ the stream wanted to know. It was hard to measure progress in his grand quest to grow.
‘I’m not sure’ said the nosy creature. ‘You’re all the same, you wet water features.’
‘But I must have!’ cried the stream, ‘I’ve come right downhill! I’ll soon be a river, I know that I will.’
The stream did not care for the deer’s tone of voice, so he flowed right on past, which was quite the right choice.
Soon he came to an otter on his back:
‘Oh Otter! Won’t you tell me what it is that I lack?’
‘Hmm hmm’, thought the otter. ‘Well, rivers carry stones. I can help if you like, I can do it with my toes!’
‘That would be cheating’ said the sharp-beaked raven. ‘Beside, the position of ‘river’ is taken.’
‘There’s a river to the South’ said the dipper, cheerfully.
‘Perhaps you could join it, with that other little stream?’
‘What!’ said the stream; ‘There’s another one of me?’ He’d not seen another stream before, you see.
‘Oh yes’ said the skylark, ‘You’ll all come together. Nothing stops streams, not even bad weather.’
The stream swelled with pride, for he wouldn’t be stopped.
‘So, other streams? Are there lots and lots?’
‘Indeed’ said the skylark. ‘And tributaries and brooks. All slightly different, the closer one looks. If you just wait, all will merge to a river; but hurrying along won’t make it come quicker.’
The young stream looked puzzled, ‘So I can relax?’
And with that he stretched right out on his back.
‘Shan’t be long’ said the hare, ‘for you’ve come a long way. I expect that you’ll be there in a day!’
The stream bubbled with joy at the idea of this,
He leaped up and gave the tall hare a wet kiss!
‘Thank-you, all, for helping me so! I’m so pleased to know that I’m going to grow.’
The Flounders did chuckle, bobbing under the surface. There is so much for a little stream to be learning!
So the stream bubbled on, watched the animals go,
And he thought of the places he was going to flow…