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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
A Day at the Pond

Duncan was a soft, furry, brown mouse. He had big, round ears and a long, skinny tail. He lived in a house in southern Scotland, near the border with England. It was surrounded by green rolling hills. In the fields, hundreds of sheep nibbled on the tall, waving grasses. Birds of all colors and types built nests in the oak trees and critters, such as hedgehogs and rabbits, lived in the hedgerows. Duncan was lucky. During the winter he stayed warm and cozy. During the summer, the windows of the house were opened up and a cool breeze floated through. He was able to go outside and run around in the fields. Life was perfect for Duncan, except for one thing, Kennedy, a large, white cat with black patches of fur. Kennedy lived in the house with Duncan and he wanted nothing more than to eat Duncan for supper.

One peaceful morning Duncan walked down to the pond in the meadow. The sunís rays danced through the tree branches, which were swaying gently in the dawn breeze. Leaves of all colors and sizes had fallen from the trees growing around the pond. There were maroon, gold, amber, copper, maize, russet and orange leaves lying on the ground. Duncan noticed that several of them were floating on the surface. "I want to go to the middle of the pond," he said. He spotted a copper-colored leaf lying at the edge. He picked up a twig and climbed into the leaf. Pushing away from the side, the leaf, with Duncan standing right in the middle of it, began to bob up and down on the water. "This is fun!" Duncan giggled.

Kennedy was outside chasing birds. Two crows had been nibbling on the ready-to-harvest corn, growing tall in the cornfields. Kennedy had chased them away. He ran over to the scarecrow that stood tied to a wooden pole. "You certainly arenít doing your job," he muttered. "Are you going to just stand there and let the crows eat all the crop?" The scarecrow looked down at Kennedy with its black, button eyes. When it didnít answer, Kennedy said, "I suppose its up to me to keep them out then." Just then he spotted Duncan down by the pond. He crept silently through the stalks of corn, being sure to stay hidden. "I wonder what that mouse is up to," he smirked. He watched as Duncan climbed onto the leaf and floated into the center of the pond.

Duncan lay down on the leaf and peered over the edge. The water was so clear that he could see huge orange fish swimming through the reeds. He stuck his tiny hand into the water and scooped some up, splashing it on his face. Water dripped from his whiskers and nose and made little ripples across the pond. When he reached the center, he stood up. "What a view! I can see all the fields. Over there is the corn. Itís getting tall. Thereís the pumpkin patch," he said. Just then he spotted something moving in the cornstalks. "Whatís that?" he wondered. Kennedy crept closer and closer, trying to stay well hidden, but Duncan spotted him. "Itís Kennedy! He thinks heís so smart!" Duncan cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, "Kennedy, I can see you!" and started to laugh. "You canít get me. You hate the water."

Kennedy pounced out of the corn and ran down to the edge of the pond. He was angry that he had been caught. Duncan was right though. There was nothing Kennedy could do. He did hate the water and wouldnít go in it for any reason.

"Whatís the matter, Kennedy? Are you a fraidy cat? Are you a big baby and afraid of the water?" Duncan teased.

"Iíll get you, Duncan. Just you wait and see. You canít stay out on that leaf forever," Kennedy threatened.

But Duncan seemed very content just floating about on the water. Hours passed and he was still happy as could be. Heíd taken some cheese with him in a little bag and drank water from the pond. Kennedy, however, wasnít as patient. He was getting angrier and angrier as each hour passed. "Iíve got to think of a way to get that mouse," he mumbled softly to himself. He sat down on a patch of grass and started to think. "Aha. Iíve got an idea," he smiled.

Duncan was watching the cat. "Whatís he up to?" he wondered. Kennedy was picking up stones.

Suddenly one came flying through the air and landed just a few inches away from Duncan. Water came splashing all over him and the leave began to bob up and down. Duncan nearly fell off. "Whatís the matter, Duncan? Feeling a little wet?" Kennedy snickered. "Hereís another one for you," he shouted and threw another stone. It landed even closer and soaked Duncan from head to tail. Kennedy threw one after another. After a few minutes, the leaf was filled with water. Duncan had to use his hands and scoop it out so the leaf wouldnít sink. "This time, Iím aiming for the leaf, Duncan. Here it goes," he called.

Duncan watched the stone fly through the air. In a panic, he lay down on the leaf and used his hands as oars and rowed as fast as he could. The stone hit the water right where the leaf had been only moments earlier. Duncan rowed and rowed. "Stop that! Youíll kill me!" he shouted to the cat.

"Thatís the plan. Then I can eat you!" Kennedy shouted.

"If you sink me, then Iíll be in the middle of the water. How will you get me then?" Duncan answered.

Kennedy stopped. The mouse was right. He would have no way of getting him from the middle of the pond. He threw the stones down angrily. Duncan wiped the water off himself and finished tossing the pond water out of the leaf.

Several more hours passed. The sun was lowering in the sky and Duncan was quite fed up floating about in the water. His cheese was all gone and he wasnít in the mood to drink anything else. He watched the cat carefully. Kennedy was also getting tired and hungry. "Iím going to get a bite to eat and then Iíll be back to get you," he shouted to the mouse and then ran off toward the house.

Duncan quickly rowed the leaf to the side of the pond and jumped out onto the grass. He took some brown leaves and broke them into little bits and put them inside the bigger leaf. He pushed it off into the water and watched to see that it didnít float away too far. When he saw that the leaf stayed near the shore, he ran off and hid in the bushes.

After a while Kennedy came back. He spotted the leaf bobbing up and down near the shore. "Aha, Iíve got you now," he shouted and ran towards the leaf. He grabbed it with his paw and shoved it into his mouth. Duncan giggled. "Whatís this?" Kennedy meowed. He began to spit. "Bits of leaves? What happened to Duncan?" He was very angry.

Duncan ran as fast as he could back to the house and his mouse hole. He munched down some bits of cheese and lay in front of the hole to watch for the cat to come back. Kennedy came through the door a few minutes later. He was scowling. He walked right up to the hole. Duncan jumped backwards to safety. Kennedy stuck his face down so Duncan could see. "Iíll get you next time," he warned and then went and lay down in front of the fire.

Duncan giggled and giggled. "Weíll see about that." He then curled up in a ball and went to sleep, dreaming of his fun day at the pond.

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