The victim of his own mischief
Tomorrow, the teacher said, tomorrow we'll put our timetable aside and use the fine weather to learn something of the gifts of nature. We'll spend the day up in the hills, so make sure you bring a packed lunch and wear a stout pair of shoes. The children shouted with glee. Especially Charlie, who wasn't one to enjoy sitting at his desk, looked forward to the following day.
Next morning, as arranged, the children met in front of the school gates. Instead of satchels they had backpacks across their shoulders containing sandwiches and cookies that their mothers had prepared for the picnic lunch. Once all children had gathered they set off. Talking and laughing they trotted along, with an occasional song lending wings to their steps. From time to time the teacher stopped. Gathering the children around him he pointed out something special. Here he showed them a rare flower and there a lizard on a rock enjoying the morning sun. In this way, the children were unaware that the path they followed led them higher and higher up the slope, but beads of sweat trickled down their faces.
Finally they arrived at their destination, a shady spot where they could rest and enjoy their picnic. The walk had made the children hungry. They tucked into their lunch and quenched their thirst with water from a nearby stream. This encouraged the teacher to explain the natural water economy. Children, he said, when your mother boils a kettle of water at home on her stove, the steam that comes from the boiling water drifts towards the window. There the cold glass causes it to condense and form droplets of water again. I'm sure; you've all seen this in your mother's kitchen. It's the same with nature. The ocean is like a big cauldron of water. The sun heats the sea and steam rises from the surface to form clouds in the sky. The wind pushes the clouds over the mountains. There they cool down causing the moisture to condense and fall as rain or snow. The water then collects in ditches or oozes away into cracks in the ground and emerges again in the form of a spring. It then trickles quickly down the slopes, forms torrents and streams, and becomes a river before flowing back into the ocean again. We humans, the teacher concluded, we interfere with this circulation by building dams or sinking wells and conduct the water through pipes to our homes. If we want to enjoy the gift of nature, all we have to do is open the tap and water flows into our pots. The children listened very attentively to what the teacher said, since many of them had wondered how the water arrived in the taps from behind the kitchen wall.
The class soon set off back home, but on the way, Charlie sneaked secretly away. He was something of a rascal and was always dreaming up tricks to play on others. This time he thought he would add his own contribution to the gifts of nature. That is to say he took a pee into the nearby stream as it ran down the hillside. With his devilish mind he took great delight in the thought that when his teacher reached home will turn on his tap to enjoy the gift of nature to which he, Charlie, had made a contribution.
Laughing merrily the children made their way down towards the valley. Although the walk was not as strenuous and they didn't sweat as much as on the way up, the dry air and constant chatter made them thirsty again. They all longed for a cool drink and stopped at the source of a refreshing stream to satisfy their needs. Charlie’s throat was also parched. Like the other children he bent down to drink from the cool waters. But suddenly he shrank back. A thought flashed through his head: the result of his misdeed might be trickling out of this very source. Bashfully he stood aside. Thirsty or not, he would rather go without than run the risk of drinking his own water. It was many a long day before Charlie was again able to enjoy the gifts of nature.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Karl Wiener.
Published on e-Stories.org on 02.11.2007.