Burton, the beaver, was lying in the soft black dirt
along the banks of the river. He was enjoying the feeling of warm rain
beating down on his dark, chocolate-brown fur. He yawned, opened his eyes,
and looked up at the sky. The rain was coming down hard and the sky was
filled with dark, gray clouds.
Just then a wall of muddy water sloshed over the top of
him. Burton began to gasp and cough as he was picked up by the force of
the water and carried down river. After a few minutes of struggling, he
was tossed onto a large boulder. He held on tightly with his short legs
and sharp claws as the water cascaded around him. "What was that?" he
asked out loud. He looked all around and noticed that the river had
flooded, covering the reeds and tall grasses along its banks.
Out of the corner of his eye, Burton spotted something
struggling in the water not too far away from him. He slipped back into
the river and, using his tail, swam over to see what it was. "Itís a
tortoise," he noted, and dove down under the water. He came up right under
it. As Burton floated up to the surface, the tortoise found himself safely
on Burtonís back.
"Thanks," the tortoise said, gratefully. "My name is
Torquil. I nearly drowned. What on earth happened?"
"Oh, the river flooded again. There must have been a
lot of rain upriver. Now hold on tight. Donít let go. Weíll swim along
with the flow," Burton told the tortoise.
Torquil looked around. There was nothing to see but
swift-flowing, muddy water. "I think thatís a good idea. Iíll hold on
tight," he agreed.
Burton flipped his long tail back and forth and
continued up the river. Torquil was looking all around. "Whatís that up
there?" he said, pointing. "It looks like a feather pillow."
"I see it. Letís go check it out," Burton said. Soon
they reached the pile of feathers.
"Why, itís a bird. Itís a red-breasted robin," Torquil
noted. "Get closer, Burton, and Iíll grab it by the tail feathers and pull
it onto your back."
Burton moved in as close as he could. Torquil reached
down and hoisted the bird onto Burtonís back. It soon began to cough. "Why
thank you. I was in that elm tree over there when a wall of water hit it
and I fell into the river. I must have been knocked out. Thank you for
rescuing me." She sat up and said, "My name is Rose. What are you two
doing, swimming about in this flood?"
"The river has flooded again. I found Torquil and now
weíve found you. Now hold on tight. Donít let go. Weíll swim along with
the flow," Burton told the dove.
"I can see much better from up here," Rose said as she
climbed onto Torquilís shell.
The three swam up the river. A few minutes passed and
Rose began to whistle excitedly. "Over there! Over there! I see something
red," she said, and pointed to a cattail reeds sticking out of the mud.
Burton flipped his tail as fast as he could and soon
they were staring at the most beautiful thing any of them had ever seen.
"Well, are you going to look at me all day, or are you
going to rescue me?" the insect said with sarcasm.
Burton moved in closer. "Jump on top of my back," he
told her. She let go of the cattail and jumped right onto Burtonís scaly
back. She looked up at the red feathers on Roseís chest. "Those are pretty
red feathers," she said, looking thoughtfully. "But not as pretty as my
shiny red with black polka dot wings. By the way, my name is Lindsey. Iím
a ladybug beetle, the most beautiful insect in Scotland."
They all looked at each other, and then at Lindsey.
"You are a beautiful color, but we are each beautiful in our own way,"
Lindsey brushed all the mud off her wings. She shrugged
her shoulders and asked, "What happened anyway?"
Burton answered, "There was a flood. All the marshes,
cattails and trees are under water. I found Torquil, Rose, and now you.
Why donít you climb on top of Roseís back and Iíll swim up river. Now hold
on tight. Donít let go. Weíll swim along with the flow."
"Iíll do just that," Lindsey said. She climbed onto
Torquilís shell, and made herself comfortable on Lindseyís soft feathers
as Burton swam away.
A few minutes later, all four of them noticed a branch
of purple lilac flowers floating down the river towards them. "Isnít that
pretty," Rose said.
They watched as it passed by. Since Lindsey was the
highest, she was able to look into it as it floated by. She saw a
butterfly inside the flower. It was jumping up and down, trying to get her
attention. "I think the butterfly in that flower needs a helping hand,"
Burton turned quickly and swam towards it. Rose flew
down, with Lindsey still on her back, and grabbed the lilac branch in her
beak. She then flew back, landing on Burtonís furry back. "Whee, what a
ride!" Lindsey laughed.
Rose set the flowers down. Out crawled the butterfly;
its long proboscis was bent in half. "Thank you for rescuing me. I got
caught in the flood when I was inside the lilacs gathering pollen." She
looked at the other four animals. "My name is Bonnie. That was a terrible
flood, wasnít it?" The others all nodded in agreement.
"Why donít you climb onto Lindseyís back. Now hold on
tight. Donít let go. Weíll swim along with the flow," Burton warned. He
looked up at the sky. The sun was beginning to set. "Iíll swim around and
find a place where we can rest for the night." He swished his long tail
back and forth as the five swam down the river.
Bonnie climbed onto Torquilís shell, stepped on Roseís
soft red feathers, then pulled herself onto Lindseyís shiny red and black
polka dotted back. "Iíd better hold on tight," she said.
After searching for a while, Burton found a small patch
of dirt to lie on. Soon all of them were asleep. That night, the
floodwaters began to ebb, and by morning the river was back to its normal
When the group woke up, they were surprised to see the
tall grasses blowing gently in the morning breeze. The tree trunks were a
little muddy, but as strong as ever. The cattail reeds were swaying back
and forth as the river water passed through them. "Itís over!" Bonnie
called out. "I can go back to gathering pollen!" She thanked the others
for helping her and fluttered off towards the lilac bush.
"Well, I guess it is time for me to say goodbye too.
Thanks for everything," Lindsey called out. She wiggled her antenna and
shook off her red and black polka dotted wings. "Iím off," she said and
then flew away.
Rose, the red-breasted robin, spread her wings. She
flapped them up and down a few times to make sure they worked. "Thanks
again, Torquil and Burton. Iím off too," she called out as she flew off
towards the sunrise.
That left only the two of them. "I suppose you are
leaving too!" Burton asked, looking up at the tortoise.
Torquil thought about it for a few moments. "If you
donít mind, Burton, I quite like it up here on your back. The view is
great and I feel very safe. Besides that, Iím a tortoise and move rather
slowly. You are a beaver and move much faster. May I stay? I can help you
build a lodge or two from branches and sticks."
Burton smiled a huge beaver smile. "Why sure you can.
Hold on tight. Donít let go. Weíll swim along with the flow." The beaver,
with the tortoise on his back, swam off as the sun began to shine brightly
on the calm river water.