Previous Chapter:
Along The Road, Part 7


RAINDROP'S JOURNEY


Once upon a time a Raindrop took a journey -- journeyed to the sky -- rode upon a cloud -- then wore his snowflake dress and rested on the mountain side -- rested upon the mountain side with other little Raindrops wearing snowflake dresses, too.
Then the warm sun came and lingered on the mountain side. Raindrop changed his dress and trickled over the ledge, and tinkled over tiny rocks, and laughed in glee as he hurried away down the mountain side. Down a little rill, went rushing on until, a little way beyond the foot of the hill he lessened his speed and whirling and stopped for a while his purling -- rested and dreamed -- and was lulled to sleep by the wind musician on the bosom of the lake.
Herein are recorded those fairies whom he met upon the way -- they who dwell in and near the water. And these fairies whom he met upon his journey he wants you, the Children of Men, to seek for in the places where he met them. For this reason Raindrop's Journey is here recorded -- that you may know more of the fairies who dwell in and near the water.
Unto all ye Children of Men who read of his journey Raindrop speaks: "Write and tell me of the Fairies you meet in and near the water -- when you meet them -- where you meet them -- what you learn about them -- and what you would like to know about them. 'Tis a joy I count it to help you find them and know them." Thus he speaks.
In a pond where the water was deep there dwelt a fairy with submerged rootstock and small purplish flowers. Her name 'twas Water-shield. Underneath her leaves hid tiny Fish. Raindrop knew because he balanced on the edge of the leaf and peeked over. Then he came close up to one of these little fish. He learned that Water-shield had another name Water Target, and that she belonged to the Water-lily family. Also he learned that these Water Target fairies dwell in parts of Australia, Africa, and Asia.
In a swampy patch of ground he saw a fairy with a yellow throat wearing a black mask. "Which way, sir? Which way, sir?" -- thus spake this Yellow-throat. Then Raindrop remembered and told him of the poet Van Dyke and of his writing a poem about him.
An evergreen tree of irregular form Raindrop found the Pacific Yew, dwelling on the bank; and told him how he had heard from a bird of the Yew's beautiful berries, of how the early home builder used Yew for posts, and of the Indians in the far North country making paddles and spear shafts from the wood of the Yew.
Flying low over the pond he saw the Swallows -- saw and loved them and lingered to watch them.
While yet afar off he heard the booming of Bittern in the marsh. "Ump-ip, ump-up, ump-up." And Raindrop hearing this understood why Bittern is sometimes called Thunder Pumper. Cousin of Heron and Egret is this strange interesting fairy who often, at the approach of a person, appears like a stick among the rushes and he points his bill to the sky. Raindrop says Bittern is an example of Mother Nature's plan of protective coloration.
Rising above the low grasses and sedges was the Tall Manna-grass at the edge of the bog. As Raindrop came near unto them saw he also cattle coming to these tall Grass fairies. And on his journey a bird had told him that in fall it was the feasting place of many water birds, on their way to the south, for well they like these seeds.
Two days later he came unto Water Scorpion, he of the family of nepidae, he whose scientific name is Nepa cinerea. And he found them feeding upon eggs of fish.
It was a moist place near unto the bank of the stream that Raindrop met three "Toad Bugs," they of the family Galulidae, they who, because of their projecting eyes, their dull mottled colors, and their broad, short bodies have been called "Toad Bugs."
In the bottom of the stream along rocks were many tiny rocks fastened together into a tube about an inch long. "Well, who in the world lives there, I just wonder," remarked Raindrop to himself, but the owner of the home overheard him. "I live here," came from the rube. "And who are you?" "I am going to be, when I grow up, a Caddis-fly. When I grow up I shall fly away from the water here, for wings then I shall have when I grow up." Farther down the stream Raindrop found other quaint homes of fir needles and of tiny sticks in which lived larvae of other Caddis-flies. And the little hermits within the log cabins were feeding upon water plants.
Farther down the stream Raindrop met a Mother Salmon going up the stream to lay her eggs. From her he learned that after they hatched from the eggs laid in fresh water that Salmon fairies return to the ocean. Then when egg-laying time comes they seek for fresh water -- and so ascend the streams to lay their eggs. Sometimes on this journey they travel several hundred miles. The Salmon fairy whom Raindrop interviewed was then four hundred miles from the sea. Raindrop learned also that after the spawning season Mother and Father Salmon die; but their lives go on in the lives of their many fish children of which at least a few nearly always grow up. So Raindrop said good-bye to Chinook Salmon, and he thought of her fish children making the journey to the sea though she returned not. And pondering over this he thought of the wonderfulness of life.
How Raindrop liked the Pussy Willows I cannot tell; but each of you can measure his love for them by the love you have for them in your own hearts. Wind Fairies whispered to Raindrop of someone saying, "I sometimes think the Pussy Willows gray are angel kittens who have lost their way."
And in a quiet place where the water sang not, but lay dreaming delightful, velvety dreams, there Raindrop found the Water Lilies, found the Numphaea Odorata, with their root stalks anchored in the silt at the bottom of the stream, with their leaves floating on the surface of the water. And he lingered near the great white blossom with its golden stamens -- and as he lingered there among the Water Lilies the Wind Fairies whispered to him of the Water Lilies' cousins, the fairy Lotus Flowers, whom people of the Far East love and adore -- spoke unto him of how they tell of Brahma's coming forth from the Lotus, of how Buddha first appeared floating on this mystic flower. All this told they unto Raindrop as he watched the bees and flower flies coming unto the Water Lilies.
Somewhere a flute was calling "O-ka-lee, o-ka-lee." And Raindrop, listening, wondered who was he? Where could he now be? "O-ka-lee," he heard again, this moment nearer, and the next moment a fairy in black with red upon his wings was among the reeds, was on the tallest reed of all.
While Raindrop was coming nearer the bird upon the reed began, "O-ka-lee, Redwing Blackbird is my name. To the family Iceridae I belong. My cousins are Bobolink, Oriole, Blackbird and Meadowlark. My home is in the swamp out there. In the swamp among the mosses of the reeds, is our cradle made of grasses and it suits their needs -- the needs of our babies who are soon going to come out of the four eggs cradled there. O-ka-lee, more busy then I shall be. O-gurgle-ee-e, 'tis so happy that I be." And the flute in coat of black with red upon his wings sailed away toward the swamp out there.
In the swamp a sunshine flower was blooming, and Raindrop soon found these fairies, the Marsh Marigolds, and he told them of Shakespeare and of his writing, "And winking Mary-buds begin to open their golden eyes." Also Raindrop had learned from the Wind fairies that in Avon meadows bloom Marsh Marigolds. These fairies belong to the Buttercup family. Who are some of their cousins? Their scientific name is Caltha palustris. While Raindrop tarried among them he saw bright flies, Syrphidae flies, come unto them. He had been gone from the swamp but a little way down the stream when he came unto cousins of Marsh Marigold, the Gold Threads, who were so named because of their beautiful roots.
Along the stream he met, too, Bridal Wreath, cousin of Meadowsweet, Sweetbrier, Strawberry, Rose and Blackberry.
Over and anon he met a Clam. And this Clam was feeding upon tiny particles of Algae, etc., In the water. After observing these clams for some time, Raindrop realized that Clams aid in purifying surface water. He wanted to know how many Boys and Girls who read of his journey have kept Clams in an aquarium and have observed their important work.
On the muddy bottom of the pond Raindrop met a fish fairy whose skin was mud-color and thick and leathery. But this fish had not scales as many fish have. Who was he? His name? -- Cat Fish, Horned Pout, Bullhead. Raindrop told this particular Horned Pout what a great man had written of them and some of their relatives. This great man, who knows so, so much about fishes -- the little ones and the big ones, too -- said this about Horned Pout:
"And what fish will the natural boy naturally take? In America, there is but one fish which enters fully into the spirit of the occasion. It is a fish of many species according to the part of the country, and of as many sizes as there are sizes of boys. This fish is the horned pout, and all the rest of the species of Ameiurus. Horned pout is its Boston name. Bullhead is good enough for New York; and for the rest of the country, big and little, all the fishes of this tribe are called catfish. A catfish is a jolly blundering sort of a fish, a regular Falstaff of the ponds. It has a fat jowl, and a fat belly, which it is always trying to fill. Smooth and sleek, its skin is almost human is its delicacy. It wears a long mustache, with scattering whiskers of the other sort. Meanwhile it always goes armed with a sword, three swords, and these it has always on hand, always ready for a struggle on land as well as in the water.
"The Catfish loves the millpond best of all, and it has no foolish dread of hooks when it goes forth to bite. It swallows the hook. Soon it joins its fellows on the forked stick, and even then, uncomfortable as it may find its new relations, it never loses sight of the humor of the occasion. Its large head and expansive forehead betoken of a large mind. It is the only fish whose brain contains a sylvian fissure, a piling up of tissue consequent on the abundance of gray matter. So it understands and makes no complaint. After it has dried in the sun for an hour, pour a little water over its gills, and it will wag its tail, and squeak in gratitude. And the best of all is, there are horned pouts enough to go around." -- David Starr Jordan.
And Raindrop on his journey learned that Frog eggs were laid in masses of jelly, whereas Toad eggs were laid in strings of jelly. Every time Raindrop came unto the eggs of Toads or Frogs he so much wished that they were hatched, for he liked to play with Tad-poles, who were to be, when grown up, Frogs and Toads.
Swamp Honeysuckle dwelt in the swamp, and there Raindrop found her, with other swamp fairies 'round her. To the Heath family she belongs and her cousins are Laurel, Rhododendron, and Arbutus.
In the shallow pool he met the larvae of the delicate Midge Flies -- they who belong to the family Chironomidae. Raindrop was just going to interview them when some fish ate them up.
While he lingered in a Northern lake Raindrop heard, then saw the Loon, the solitary Loon, the Great Northern Diver, the Gavia imber:

The Loon that laughs and flies
Down to these reflected skies.
-- Longfellow

In a marsh were two cousins of the family Gruidae -- they were Whooping Crane and Sandhill Crane. A mile away he heard their bugle-like cry.
Paddling along among the tules at the edge of a pond was Mud hen, otherwise known as American Coot, and Fulica americana. Raindrop saw her dive in the shallow water, then paddle along among the tules until she came to a laughing group -- a group of fairies like unto herself. And she joined in their chatter. Mud Hens are cousins of Gallinules and Rails.
A fairy came stepping daintily over the grass tops. 'Twas Black-necked Stilt, whom Raindrop had met the day before at the father end of the pond.
About Tule Lake were Cormorants, who were expert fishermen. Raindrop learned that they belonged to the family Phalacrocoracidae.
Sometimes along island waters he would come to a Sea Gull.
'Twas in tule marsh that he first caught a glimpse of Forster Tern, he who is the cousin of Caspian Tern, Royal Tern and Common Tern -- he whose scientific name is Sterna forsteri.
And when again he saw a little eel he thought of that verse:

A youthful eel resided in a tiny tidal pool;
He was lithe as gutta-percha, and as pliable;
From his actions and contradictions
he appeared to be a fool,
But his virtue was completely undeniable.
-- Averyl

'Twas in a pond, a shallow one, that Raindrop met Pickerel Weed. And he learned that Aurelius Evangel, the little Wind Fairy, had passed that way only four hours and eleven minutes previously.
At the border of a lake, among the tules, he saw a queer floating nest -- 'twas a raft of grass, tule-stems, and water plants -- 'twas a Grebe cradle. In it were Western Grebe's eggs -- four white ones. Later during his journey he met her cousins Horned Grebe, Eared Grebe, Least grebe and Pied-Billed Grebe.
Near the rivers in the lowlands he met Spotted Sandpiper fairies -- "Peet-weet" he heard them calling -- these little cousins of many other Sand-pipers, these quaker gray birds whom children call "Tip-up" and "Teeter-Tail."

I heard a whisper, sweet and keen,
Flow through the fringe of rushes green.
The water saying some light thing,
The rushes gaily answering.
-- Thompson

Raindrop, observing on that May Day at the edge of the pond, saw here and there a tiny, spindle-shaped egg, glued to a grass stem. And while yet he wondered as to who had placed them there, he saw Mother Marsh Treader and learned of her that these same eggs were the present cradles of little Marsh Treaders to be.
Slowly wandering through a meadow on a day in June Raindrop came upon the Yerba Mansa fairies -- they who are famous among the Spanish-Californians. And further on he met Swamp Buttercups, wading in the shallow water -- Swamp Buttercups, cousins of Columbine, Gold thread and Larkspur.
Hovering near Willows and Alders along the way he saw Rutulus Swallowtail. And the little girl told Raindrop of how she collected the tiny eggs from the Willow and Alder leaves and raised the caterpillars -- of how these caterpillars grew and changed into Rutulus Swallowtail Butterflies.
As he lingered in the swale saw he not far away two cousins -- Wild Crab Apple and Service Berry, who other name is Amelanchier. Leaving the swale by the way of a little stream, he came upon a third cousin -- Hawthorne -- whose other name is Crotagus; and yet another name had he -- Western Haw. All these belong to the Apple family.
Here and there he met the fairy Newt, a Salamander, who came from a brown egg about the size of Toad fairy's egg. He watched these Newt fairies eating wrigglers that were to have been Mosquitoes when they grew up -- also he saw them eating other insects in the water.
One day Raindrop bumped into the queerest looking fairy. It was no other than the larva of the Dobson fly -- he who is known as Ho Jack, Goggle Goy and Flipflap. From this fairy he learned that Dobson Flies lay their eggs upon the leaves of trees over hanging then water -- and as soon as they can get out of the eggs the baby larvae drop in the water -- and that they live in the water for almost three years. Then they become grown-up Dobson flies after spending a short time as pupae. And the larva who told this to Raindrop was then two years and ten months old and was soon to leave the water.
Before he came to the bend in the river he saw Kingfisher overhead -- a flash of blue and white -- and then a sudden plunge and splash; and Kingfisher, returning to his perch, swallowed his silvery dinner. When afterwards Raindrop heard his cheering rattle he thought:

No wonder he laughs so loud
No wonder he looks so proud;
There are great kings that would give their royalty
To have one day of his felicity.
-- Thompson

Raindrop, ever delighting in the color red, was overjoyed when he beheld, while yet afar off, the Cardinal Flower, beside the stream. "With its red flowers Cardinal Flower woos the Hummingbird," the Wind fairies had told Raindrop, and even as he came unto them, saw he a Hummingbird at the bright blossoms. The message Cardinal Flower asked Raindrop to carry unto the Children of Men was that they love them and leave them blooming where they find them, lest in a few years there would be a famine of Cardinal flower fairies. "So many of us are picked and carried away before we can send our seed children into the world -- and how can there be many Cardinal flower fairies unless many seed babies are sent into the world?" so spoke the bright fairy unto Raindrop. And Raindrop is eager that all you children who read of his journey love the Cardinal Flowers and leave them blooming where you find them, that there many be many more Cardinal Flowers in coming years; and thus they may know that Raindrop gave their message unto you, the Children of Men.
"On a mossy bank the Mist-Maidens dwell," the Wind Fairies told Raindrop, and in such a place he found them with their scalloped leaves and pearly petals. Cousins of Waterleaf and Yerba Santa are the Mist-Maidens. Their scientific name is Romanzoffia, in honor of Nicholas Romanzoff, a Russian nobleman.
"Yes, I am Water Ouzel," answered the quaint bird bobbing among the rocks, "And Liloriole has been to my home so the Children of Men will know about it," in answer to Raindrop's questions.
It was along the stream that Raindrop found Twisted Stalk fairy of the Lily of the Valley family -- Twisted Stalk with tiny, greenish-white bells hiding under his beautiful, glossy, green leaves. By the stream farther down found he, too, Spikenard, cousin of Twisted Stalk -- Spikenard, who looks much like a wild Lily of the Valley with her several little starry blossoms.
In a meadow met he Meadow Foam -- in a meadow where a little brook, having forgotten its course, was wandering here and there. So Raindrop wandered hither and yonder with the brook -- and in his wandering found the Meadow Foam fairies at home. And the meadow was all a-cream with these fairies -- the cousins of Geraniums, Filaree and Red Robin.
Upon the surface of the pond floated Wokas, the Indian Pond Lily. "Water Nymph" is the meaning of her scientific name, Nymphaea. Yellow are her sepals and Raindrop told her of Hiawatha's canoe floating.

Upon the river
Like a yellow leaf in Autumn
Like a yellow water-lily.

Just around the bend in a place where the stream was dreaming, Raindrop came upon Water Boatman, he of the family of Corixidae, swimming on the surface of the water. And when Raindrop from the bottom of the stream called unto him, Water Boatman, being an air breather, as he descended below the surface of the water, carried down with him a film of air among the fine hairs over his body.
"I've been watching you -- how quickly you move about. This is your home?"
"Yes," answered Water Boatman, "this is now my home. Last year I lived in a pond; but when the warm days came it dried up, and I, with several others, flew away in search of water. Somewhere else on our way we saw something shining -- so bright -- we flew about it. I afterwards learned that it was an electric light. And while we were hovering near it a little girl came and watched us, and I heard her say: 'They do not belong here.' I'm sure we must have looked clumsy, for we are not nearly so quick on land as in the water. Then she caught us and next day brought us to dwell here, where the water is dreaming. I think that she must have understood the longings of a Water Boatman's heart for water."
Raindrop was pondering about something. "Are your eggs laid in the water, or on land?"
"In the water," gravely answered Water Boatman, "In the water on the stems of water plants. And the little girl who put me back in water told me that the eggs of our cousins in a land farther south are gathered by the Indians and made into cakes with meal. She gave me a nibble of one her uncle had brought to her; but I didn't care for it. I was very glad when she placed me in the water here -- and I like to live here."
The Otters were sliding, a-sliding down the slippery bank, when first Raindrop came in sight of them, and he thought from the way they acted that they were having as much fun as the boys and girls would doing the same thing. And later he thought as he watched them gliding along through the water how the boys and girls would joy to swim as well as they. He saw one Otter go after an eel, and another catch a trout. "Mother and Father Otter are devoted parents," Raindrop told Wind Fairy the next day as he described to him their den beneath the bank -- and their ways.
O'er the rippling water at the edge of the stream was bending a fairy with many dainty leaves, like unto Maidenhair Ferns. It was Meadow Rue, and her blossoms were like tassels -- greenish tassels, tinged with purple. Raindrop learned that her cousins were Wind Flower, Buttercup and Gold Thread.
There were ripples and there were Sunbeams, and there were Sunfish too. Raindrop lingered and watched the sudden movings about of his little lordship. When the morrow came and the sun was up he still was waiting, for he wanted to find out about the nest this Father Sunfish makes in preparation for baby fish that are to be. But the Wind Fairies whispered to him that Liloriole would tell the children about this nest. There were other fairies Raindrop must hurry on to see.
Lingering about the edge of the pond Raindrop found the yellow Cinquefoil fairies -- they whose other names are Five Finger, Potentilla and Silverweed; they who are cousins of Rose, Cherry and Blackberry.
Over the surface of the water came skimming Hygrotrechus Remsigis, the Water Strider -- he who in color is dark brown, he who in food habits is carnivorous, he who in his skimming over the water delighteth in the hearts of many children -- Water Strider of the family Hydrobatidae.
On a warm day in the swamp Raindrop met Mink and asked him if he was one of the water folk. "No," said Mink; "I fish and swim and dive, but I'm a hunter, too. I've been feasting on frogs today -- found a lizard a while ago, and three earthworms. I'm a mouser, too, and I like young birds -- to eat."
On a wet bank by a slowly moving stream on a July day he found in blossom Sagittaria, who other name is Arrow-head, and whose delicate, golden-centered white flowers ever are bringing to the Children of Men a message of faith and purity.
Every little while Raindrop met a Water Snake -- Tropidonotus. Some were banded ones, some were striped, and some were splotched, and so were named accordingly. From observation Raindrop learned that Water Snakes feed upon frogs, and toads, and little fishes. He also learned that baby Water Snakes do not hatch from eggs, but are born alive. He saw a number of baby Water Snakes in August and September.
On a warm, warm day that was a quiet day he met along the way Dragonflies -- some with clear wings, some with blue wings, some with red -- all flitting overhead. 'Twas in the water 'round about him that he saw larvae, who were to be Dragon-flies, feeding upon other larvae, who were to be Mosquitoes. And overhead again he saw grown-up dragon-flies.

In summer-noon flushes,
When all the wood hushes,
Blue dragon-flies knitting
To and fro in the sun,
With sidelong jerk flitting,
Sink down in the rushes.
And, motionless sitting,
Hear it bubble and run,
Hear its low inward singing,
With level wings swinging
On green-tasseled rushes,
To dream in the sun.



I envy the stream, as it glides along
Through its beautiful banks in a trance of song.
-- Bryant

Near unto the stream he met the Beaver -- met the builder of the dam, met he whose scientific name is Castor canadensis. And from him Raindrop learned the lore of dam-building -- and learning of the building of the dam he planned to come again in wintertime that he might tell the Children of Men of Wintertime in Beaverland, of Wintertime in Beaver Dam. Raindrop continued his journey, and Beaver went on with his supper of lily roots and green twigs.

Vines are the curtains, blossoms the floor;
Voices of waters, sing evermore.
-- Taylor

On a mossy log in a pond was a Duck fairy -- in color not like other Ducks. 'Twas as though Mother Nature had baptized him in the rainbow, or while making the rainbow had paused for a moment to pet him -- and in her stroking gave unto him and his descendants the hues of the Raindrop. So children whom Raindrop knew told him of this fairy Wood Duck, whose scientific name is Aix sponsa. From these children he learned of their finding Wood Duck Palace in an old hollow tree at the edge of the swamp. The cradle was lined with down from Mother Wood Duck's breast, and in the cradle were ten creamy-white eggs -- and the day upon which Raindrop met the children they were picking out names for the ten Baby Wood Ducks-to-be.
In swamps and swampy land he met Swamp Ash and Black Ash, with whose splinters some people make baskets. Then along streams and near unto them he beheld Red Ash and Green Ash. All these belong to the Olive family.
As Raindrop proceeded down the stream he met Belostoma proceeding up the stream -- Belostoma, the great Water Bug. "Please tell the Children of Men to call me by my proper name -- Belostoma," he called unto Raindrop. "How shall they know you as Belostoma?" inquired Raindrop. "Why, bless yer heart, Raindrop -- me picture is in that book in me natural size and me natural color -- and me very own name, Belostoma, under it." And Raindrop then felt certain that all you Girls and Boys would want to call Water Bug by his proper name, Belostoma americanum.
O those little Rainbow Trout, how Raindrop liked them!

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river;
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.
-- Tennyson, "The Brook"



The river sends forth glad sounds,
and tripping o'er its bed
Of pebbly sands, or leaping down the rocks,
Seems with continuous laughter to rejoice
In its own being.
-- Bryant

O'er the singing waters, bending over the mossy bank, were the Maiden-Hair Fern fairies. "Lovely fairies these," Raindrop told Aurelius Evangel, the little Wind Fairy.
Many frogs did Raindrop see upon his journey, and Tadpoles, who were to be Frogs when they grew up, and also eggs in which were baby Tadpoles to be. Among the Frogs he met upon his journey were: Leopard Frog, Green Frog and Bullfrog.
Growing close beside a ditch was Shell-flower, otherwise known as Turtle-head. Raindrop watched the Bees enter the flowers and also saw Checker-spot Butterflies, the Baltimore, hovering about the plant. Afterwards he learned that these butterflies laid their crimson eggs upon the under side of Shell-flower's leaves, and upon the plant the caterpillars lived. Also he found out that Mullein, Monkey Flower and Foxglove were cousins of this fair Shell-flower.
On his journey, too, met he that near cousin of Lobster, Crayfish. One day he saw a Mother Crayfish with her eggs upon her swimmerets, and thought that the baby Crayfish cling to the swimmerets until they are able to scuttle about for themselves. Crayfish is a distant relative of the insect fairies, belonging to the same great group Arthropoda -- to which belong the Spiders, Insects, Centipedes and Millipedes. Raindrop wanted you children who read of his journey to write and tell him of the things you have learned in watching the Crayfish.
He found Sucker feeding at the bottom of the pond -- feeding upon soft-bodied insects.
Several times on his journey Raindrop met Turtles. He found them feeding upon insects and small fish. Once in a while he saw a Turtle eat another Turtle's leg or tail with relish; so Raindrop felt from these observations that it would be advisable to tell the Boys and Girls to only keep one Turtle at a time in a small aquarium lest they feed upon one another's legs and tails.
Many different Willows Raindrop saw along the stream -- Black Willow, Sily Willow, and all the other Willows, too. Seeing them, he thought of this verse:

"They shall spring up as among the grass,
as willows by the water courses."
-- Isaiah 44:4.

Then Raindrop met Black Swimmer -- he of the family Notonectidae, he who swims upon his back with his stomach upward. And Raindrop knew him immediately as Back Swimmer -- for in this manner had he been described unto him: "You will see one who looks somewhat like Water Boatman; but by this shall you know him -- he seemingly swims upside down."
When Raindrop wanted to know where he came from and what his food was, he answered: "I came from an egg, an egg that was placed in the stem of a plant that lives in the water, by my mother. And I eat insects, other insects that live in the water, and" -- but he finished his sentence by catching a little Minnow. And just when Raindrop thought the interview at an end Back Swimmer began again: "But I've not always lived here in this water, once a little girl took me out of the mud at the bottom of this stream (it was in the winter time -- most springtime, I suppose) and took me home with her -- took me home and placed me in a tiny pool with glass on all sides -- aquarium was what she called it. All things went well for a while, and then -- well, there were quite a number of folks who live in the water in that aquarium, and you probably observed on your journey that even where we have much room we do not dwell together in peace. And as the days went by we folks dwelling in that aquarium became less in number. I, myself, helped in the disappearance of a number of other insects. But one morning, right before her eyes, I took a minnow which she liked very much. A tear came rolling down her face and then another, and they splashed in the water right over me. Then something so big came down into the water. (It's that something I think Boys and Girls call a hand.) The next thing I knew it had hold of me, and I was going somewhere. Well, I soon found myself back here again. * * * My! but that aquarium was interesting -- wished I could have stayed there longer."
"Dear, my, O dear," said Raindrop. "I think that aquarium idea is great and I'm hoping that all the little girls and boys who read of my journey will have an aquarium -- one with congenial fairies in it."

The silver weed with the yellow flowers,
Blooms on the bank of that clear brook,
Whose music cheers my lonely ways.

Not far from the stream on a day in September saw he again a flower of many names, a flower whom he had first seen in blossom in July -- Jewelweed, Balsam, Touch-Me-Not and Silver Leaf; and by scientists known as Impatiens pallida. And while yet he watched he saw a Hummingbird come unto his horn of plenty; and the Children named it among the Hummingbird's flowers. Why its many names? And the Children merrily answered, "For its flowers, for the dew upon its leaves at morn, for the way it scatters its seeds, for the silver upon its leaves when we place them under water."




Snipe
(Don Baccus)


Among the grasses on the bank Raindrop caught a glimpse of Ribbon Snake -- one of the slenderest of Snake fairies; he who feeds upon tadpoles, frogs and salamanders; he whose scientific name is Eutaenia saurita.
One September evening Raindrop paused at the edge of the swamp, and perceiving many little holes in the mud, called: "Snipe, Snipe, where are you?" for by these signs he thought him near. And indeed he was near by, probing in the mud for worms; but so much like his surroundings he looked that at first Raindrop had not perceived him.
"I've come to --" began Raindrop, but Wilson Snipe, otherwise known as Jack Snipe, and by scientists as Gallinago delicata, interrupted with: "I know why you have come and what you are here for ... Some of my cousins are Woodcocks, Sandpipers, Dowitchers, and Curlews -- we all belong to the Scolopacidae family ... No, of course I don't wade far out -- I probe for nearly all I eat. What do I eat? Just you watch and see."
And Raindrop, watching and seeing, concluded that his menu consisted mainly of worms. When he remarked of this to Wilson Snipe, he rejoined: "Yes, mainly of nice, juicy worms, but not entirely so, for, too, I like a dainty bite of grasshopper and other insects hereabout."
So far in their talk, home building had not been mentioned, and Raindrop pondered a bit as to how he should bring it in -- then he happened to remember that courting time comes before home building time, and said to Snipe: "Early in the spring I heard the Aeolian whistling of your wings when you a-wooing did go."
"Yes -- and Liloriole came to our home on the ground in the Marsh where my mate had eggs three, and she told us of thee and thy journey." So that was how Jack Snipe had learned of Raindrop's journey.
A blackbird with a yellow head Raindrop saw in the swamp. 'Twas Yellow-headed Blackbird himself -- the cousin of Meadowlark and Oriole.
Along the way Raindrop met an Eel -- a slippery Eel on her way to the sea. And when he asked her why she was going to the sea he learned that she was going there to spawn. When young, she had come up the river and up this stream, but was now going back to salt water. There on a bank of mud, off the mouth of the river, she would lay her eggs and they would be fertilized, and hatch. Then months afterwards the young Eels would find their way inland up streams. Would the Mother Eel return? -- No, she journeys not the second time up the streams for she dies soon after her eggs are laid. Raindrop pondered -- in the spring he had met Mother Chinook Salmon going up stream to lay her eggs, after which she would die. But the Mother Eel's life would go on in the lives of her baby Eels, even as the life of Mother Salmon went on in the lives of her baby Salmon.
Every now and then upon his journey Raindrop was taken by the Sunbeam fairies up, up into the clouds -- and then again he came down, down to continue his journey in another place. So sometimes he was along the mountain stream -- again a lake -- and then some river. But ever as he journeyed he sought and found the fairies who dwell in and near the water that he might tell the Children of Men of these fairies.
Often it was that he saw the Fairy Trout, and, seeing them, lingered to watch them, and as he stayed among them he thought of the verse he had learned from a little girl as she leaned over the waters watching the Trout.

The trout within yon wimpling
burn glides swift -- a silver dart;
And safe beneath the shady thorn
defies the angler's art.
-- Burns

In the swamp he found the Cat-Tails at home -- at the edge of the swamp where their fibrous roots had threaded the mud. And he called up unto them and they listened and talked with him -- for a while. And from them he learned that the winds and the waters help their seed babies to find new homes. And from the Wind Fairies he learned a little child's rhyme about them.
Many Ducks met he upon his journey. Among them were Mallard, Pin-tail, Redhead, Blue-bill, Buffle-head, Canvas-back, Gadwall, Shoveller, Scooter, Ruddy and Ring-necked, Old Squaw and Long-tailed.
At the edge of the stream he saw the Muskrat -- saw the fairy Muskrat feeding upon the roots of the sweet flag. And he learned from Muskrat how the winter lodge is made, and from where they brought the flag and lily roots they liked so well, where their summer burrow was. Also he learned from Muskrat of a little girl in search of the homes of Fairyland visiting their summer burrow when he was a younger Muskrat. (He was not yet very old -- very young, Raindrop thought him.)
Bumble-bees were coming to and from the purple flowers of Water Avens, whom Raindrop found dwelling in the swamp. To the Rose family this fairy belongs. Who are her cousins? Her scientific name is Geum rivale.
These geese he met upon the way were these (and a few others) -- White-Fronted Goose, Snow Goose, Canada Goose and Cackling Goose.
'Twas in a salt meadow near unto the sea that Raindrop saw Marsh Rosemary. "Like mist blown in over the meadow from the sea" these many fairies appeared. Marsh Rosemary belongs to the Plumbago family and fair are her lavender blossoms.
And Raindrop going on and on came to the sea, the deep, deep sea, the far reaching sea -- soft was the light that lay upon the sea -- and many were the fairies that dwelt therein. And because of their multitudes everywhere he thought to write another book about the fairies who dwell there.


Snowy Plover
(Don Baccus)


Next Chapter:
In the Fields