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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
A Stream Becomes a River

Ho-Shing sat on a boulder gazing down on the valley below. It looked like a sea of green.

"What are you looking at?" Yong-Hu asked, interrupting his silent thoughts.

"I am looking at the valley. It is beautiful. I can see all the way to the sea today, Yong-Hu. Look for yourself. Come, sit down with me," Ho-Shing said.

Yong-Hu climbed on the rock. He plopped his plump body down next to Ho-Shing. "I see the river. Is that the same river that starts up here on the mountain as a small stream?" he asked.

"All rivers start as small streams. Many small streams join together to form the river. Yes, our stream is part of that river," Ho-Shing explained.

"I see the fields and rice paddies down there and yes, I can see the ocean. I wonder what the people down there see when they look up here. Do you think they can see us sitting on the rock?" Yong-Hu asked. He stood up and started to wave.

"Yong-Hu. They cannot see us. We are too far away. Itís easier to see from the top of a mountain than it is from the valley below. We are up higher and can see for miles. From down there, they can only see the mountain," Ho-Shing said.

"They probably donít know we are up here then. We are closer to the sun than they are, arenít we?" Yong-Hu asked, looking up into the sky.

"Of course we are, but it is much cooler in the mountains than in the valley."

"Why is that? How can that be?" Yong-Hu asked. He was confused.

"Donít worry about it, Yong-Hu. Just enjoy the view," Ho-Shing invited.

Yong-Hu was content to sit for a few minutes but then found himself hungry. "I want some bamboo. You can sit here and enjoy the view. Iím going to eat!" He jumped down from the rock and ran into the bamboo forest. He sat down in the grass and pulled some branches over. His sharp teeth ripped the tender leaves off and he munched away hungrily. When he was full, he went for a walk. He saw that Ho-Shing was still sitting on the rock looking at the valley. "Iím thirsty," he called to the other panda. "Iím going to the stream."

Yong-Hu ran through the grasses and bushes and soon came to the stream. It was flowing rapidly down the mountainside. He walked into the middle of it. The cool water felt good as it sloshed over his paws. He looked down into the rushing water. He could see fish swimming about. Some were gray and orange, others golden, and some silvery and glittery. "Did you fish know that if you stay in the stream, youíll end up down in the valley," he told them. Ignoring him, the fish swam away. Yong-Hu bent his head down to take a drink. "Ah, that tastes good. Itís very refreshing." He climbed out and sat on the banks of the stream, watching it flow by him. He thought about what Ho-Shing had told him about this stream meeting with another stream, and another, and another, until there were so many that it was a river. He was curious about it. He walked back over to Ho-Shing. "Ho-Shing? I want to see where the streams meet up. I want to see for myself how a river is formed."

Ho-Shing, amazed to see that Yong-Hu had such curiosity, answered, "Very well. We can follow the stream and see where it leads us." He climbed down from the rock. "Follow me," he said. Yong-Hu pulled a few branches of bamboo off the cane and followed his friend.

They walked downhill, along the side of the stream. Sometimes they had to climb over trees that had fallen, other times they had to climb up small hills and go back down the other side. After walking all day long they heard a loud rumbling sound. "What is that noise?" Yong-Hu asked.

Ho-Shing listened. "Itís a waterfall. Our stream turns into a waterfall. It must meet with another stream at the bottom."

"Is it a big waterfall? We donít have to jump to the bottom, do we?" Yong-Hu asked.

"Letís climb this hill and see," Ho-Shing said. When they reached the top, they saw the waterfall. "It is a big waterfall; very tall. Weíll have to climb down the side of it."

"What if we slip and fall?" Yong-Hu asked, terrified.

"Weíll have to be very careful. Weíll climb down the boulders one at a time until we reach the bottom. Do you want to see how a river is formed or not?" Ho-Shing asked, seeing the fear in Yong-Huís eyes.

"Yes. Letís do it. Letís go slowly," Yong-Hu said. The two pandas went to the side of the stream. They climbed on one of the boulders and slid down to the next one. The waterfall danced to the ground. Sunlight reflected of the drops and made rainbows. "Look how pretty that is. There are rainbows here."

"Rainbows are pretty, but pay attention, Yong-Hu. It is slippery. The boulders are very wet with mist," Ho-Shing warned.

The two pandas climbed carefully and finally reached the bottom safely. "Whew. We made it!" Yong-Hu looked up to the top of the fall. "Wow. That was a long climb down."

He looked at the stream, which continued on its way down the mountainside. "Come, Yong-Hu. It will be dark soon. We must hurry."

They walked along the banks, sometimes slipping in the mud. They stopped often to get drinks and nibble on bamboo growing nearby. Soon they heard more rumbling. "Is that another waterfall?" Yong-Hu dreaded.

"No, itís another stream," Ho-Shing smiled. After a few more steps they came to the joining of the streams. The two mixed together to make a larger one. "Weíre nearly to the bottom of the mountain. Soon weíll come to another stream."

Ho-Shing was right. Within a short time they came to another stream, just as big as the one they were now following. A little while later, they came to another, and another, and the stream was getting deeper and wider. At last they came to a point, at the bottom of the mountain, where several large streams met. "The river!" cried Yong-Hu, in delight. "I see now how a river is made. Itís beautiful." They stood and watched it flow along. It was very wide and very deep.

"Look back to where we were," Ho-Shing said.

They turned and looked to the top of the mountain. "I canít see anything at all, just the big mountain. I canít see the bamboo forest, I canít see the rocks we sat on and I canít see the stream at the top with the fish," Yong-Hu said. "You were right, Ho-Shing. You can see more from the top than the bottom."

The found a place to sit near the river. Yong-Hu found some large bamboo canes. "I think its time we stayed at the bottom of the mountain for a while. I donít want to climb back up. Do you?" he asked.

"Not for a while. Letís enjoy the valley. We have bamboo. We have water. What more can we ask for," Ho-Shing said.

That night as the sun set, the two pandas lay in the soft grass, listening to the mighty river flow on its way across the wide valley. The sound of its gentle lapping waters was like a lullaby to the pandaís ears. Soon they were both asleep in their new home.

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