Chapter 1

SNAG, the beaver, was very tired. All day, every day, he was busy, busy--looking for enough water to fill all the buckets in POSEY's Chariot--to give water to the White Cloud Birds! They were little buckets, and were not big enough to supply all the Birds—so some of them went home to their nests and they were still thirsty. It was just not enough! He knew it, and he thought about it every day. They needed ‘BIG WATER’, but there was none. SNAG walked as far as he could every day, using every trick he knew, to find ‘BIG WATER’! He would not let himself believe that it was hopeless--he would not give up!

SNAG pulled some leaves together to form a nest, where he could finally roll over, and go to sleep. He closed his eyes, put his head down on the leaves, and he bumped something hard! Oh, “ouch” he thought! It was getting pretty dark, but he had enough light to see that he had banged his head on three,  juicy, fresh, red apples. But, he was just too tired to think about anything. He pushed the apples out of the way, collapsed on the leaves, and immediately fell asleep.

Early the next morning, SNAG woke up and saw the shining apples right by his head. He had a sudden thought. ‘How did these three, fat, juicy apples get to such a dry place at the bottom of this dry hill?’

He looked up, in the early morning light, and there was the answer to his question. At the top of the hill, he saw a very healthy-looking, big, apple tree. Its great branches were covered over with long, green leaves, and fat apples hung everywhere. There were some large, grey rocks pressed against the base of the tree, and several green, clumps of grass--but everything else was brown, and looked very, very dry.

SNAG climbed up to make sure that what he was seeing was real. Yes, it was! He went over and sat on one of the strong,  tree roots and looked up into the branches. He picked a fresh apple and began eating it. It tasted so good, and the juice was running down his chin. The Juice? The Juice? The Juice was mostly water!! This was impossible! Here was one tree, on top of a dry hill, in the middle of a dry field--but it must be living on water somehow. There was no pond, no stream,  no river-- no water of any kind to be seen!

SNAG became very excited! He ran down the hill, across the field, and back into the forest, to find his friend, POSEY, the Circus pony. He had seen JAZZ riding on POSEY's back. It looked dangerous. He was afraid to try it, but it would be the fastest way to get back to Our Pond where he could tell all the Our Pond Friends, of this great, impossible discovery!

He found POSEY, who was quietly chewing on some grass. He did not stop. He did not know exactly what he was doing. He did not say anything. He just made a big jump to getup on her back, as he had seen JAZZ do many times. POSEY stepped a bit sideways. SNAG ended up, face down, on the ground on the other  side.

POSEY stopped chewing on the grass,  smiled,  and  said,

“Greetings, how can I be of  help?”

SNAG got to his feet, dusted himself off, and said, with a big smile, “I am sorry, that was not very polite.”

“I just discovered something impossible that must have an answer-- that may be important to all of us, including the White Bird Cloud. I need to tell all the Our Pond Friends about it as soon as possible. Maybe one of them can tell us what is going on. We still have thirsty Birds, and we need to find an answer to that problem as soon as we can.”

POSEY stopped her chewing, lowered her head a bit, and said, “Jump up, clamp your legs around my neck, and grab the hair just behind my ears. You will be holding on to what they call my “ mane”, and if you do not let go, you will be safe--no matter how fast I am galloping. For you, old friend, I will make it very, very fast!”

For the Friends of Our Pond, it was always very exciting when they heard the extremely fast galloping of POSEY, as she came down the path to Our Pond. This one time they did not even have to know there was going to be a call for aGeneralMeeting. The galloping sound was so fast, and so hard, and SNAG was swinging along, holding on to POSEY's mane-- which he had never done before! Everyone knew this was important! NOZZLE, the leader, was already calling for quiet and order, as POSEY braced herself, slammed her flying feet down, and came to a dusty, quick halt.

SNAG flew off,  still holding onto a little bit of POSEY’s mane, in his right paw, and started to tell the very important story of The Three Apples Mystery.