Chapter 4

SNAG was not going to give up! Maybe the water coming to the big Apple Tree was not going to turn out to be ‘BIG WATER’ from the white-capped mountain, but there was some water getting to the roots of the Apple Tree that produced those juicy apples, and that would help a lot of thirsty birds. Maybe some  of that could be used to fill the little buckets in the Chariot. In any case, SNAG asked his friend SALLY, the little, green snake, if she could help investigate around the roots of  the Apple Tree. He was sure SALLY was the perfect Friend to do this investigation. She could slide herself around  the  Apple Tree roots and even swim in deep water if she found it. In the water . . . in the air . . . it was mostly the same to   her!

It took awhile to get to the Apple Tree. Part of the time SNAG carried SALLY, and part of the time she just wriggled along in the dust. When they finally got to the tree, they took time out   to rest, and share one of the juicy apples that was hanging  on the  branch.

SNAG had remembered to bring a long, reed rope. He tied one end of it around SALLY, and left the other end to uncoil on a branch as she went down deeper through the tree roots. If she ran into trouble at any time, he could, of course, pull her back up to safety. In some places the roots  were  pretty  fat,  and there were a lot of them, but there was always space  enough  for slim SALLY to squeeze through. She had good, sensitive eyes, too, and could see a great deal even in the   dark.

SNAG was surprised to see how quickly SALLY slithered down between the big roots, with the thin reed safety rope following her all the way. In about fifteen minutes, he felt the three, little tugs on the rope that was her signal that  she  was  ready to come up.

He could feel she was cold and wet when he helped her out  onto the rocks, between the roots. She did not look tired or frightened, though, and was immediately able to tell him what she had  found.

SALLY thought for a minute, and said, “The fat roots were all wet. As I wriggled down, the roots quickly became thinner and thinner. S-s-suddenly, there were no more roots at all, and  I  was on the side of a rough, stone tube that went straight down. The frightening thing was that the tube was shaking all  the  time, and there was a humming sound from much deeper down. It was not the type of shaking and humming that was big and violent. It just let me know that there was some sort  of movement way, way down there, somewhere.  There  were lumps of rock sticking out on the side of the tube. I was able to break one off. It fell for a while, and then it s-s-splashed into the dark water--maybe twice as far down as I had gone.”

SNAG smiled happily, and wiped SALLY off with some of the dry leaves from the tree. She coiled herself around his strong neck and fell asleep as he carried her back to Our Pond, still  tied onto the reed rope.

Way up in the sky above, SHARD had been circling around and around watching  the entire investigation.

He was proud of them both and knew he could be of great help to them as they tried to solve the problem of ‘BIG WATER’. Even though he was a powerful bird, he knew in his heart that he could not have been much help to them if things had gone wrong below the roots of the Apple Tree.

SNAG, and SALLY, found NOZZLE drifting in Our Pond thinking about things. They told him they had something important to say. JAZZ was asked to set  up  a  general  Our Pond Meeting for the next morning. Of course, everybody came. SHARD asked NOZZLE if he could make some comments before SNAG and SALLY made their report. Permission was given, and SHARD glided down from the top of the pine tree and stood on his favorite, fat, log to talk to everybody.

“I just want you all to know that we should be very  proud of  SNAG and SALLY for the dangerous work they did yesterday. It was a good idea carried out to perfection! Our two Our Pond Friends did a very good job. They are heroes. I am eager to hear what  they found.”

NOZZLE stood up and asked CLUMP, the toad, to memorize everything that was said in the meeting. CLUMP's large chest swelled with pride as he said, “Yes, sir!”

SNAG, and SALLY, spoke, one after the other, as they described the details of their adventure. They were calm and were trying to be very accurate. When they had finished, The Friends of Our Pond all clapped eagerly to show their appreciation.

KATE, the enormous catfish, splashed her big tail, and asked SHARD, the giant bird, who had spoken the day before, to explain what he understood  from the new information.

SHARD raised his beak, and spoke, “ We know a lot more today than we did yesterday. I never thought it could happen, but these brave Friends have found one of the underground rivers that come from that distant snow-capped mountain!”

No one could say anything. Was this a possible answer to the ‘BIG WATER’ problem, and water for all the Birds? They just looked at each other,  and waited for more information.

SHARD continued, “The Apple Tree is just above that river. When there is a lot of snow, the water from the river comes up high enough to reach the tree roots, and the tree is healthy and happy and makes apples. When there is not much snow, the water does not come all the way up to reach  the roots. This does not happen for long or we would see that the tree would have no leaves, and could not make good apples. We know it happens because it is happening right now, or the stone tube would be full of water.”

“The most important thing our Friends have found is a strong  river that produces ‘BIG WATER’. Now, we know where we  would have to go to get the water we want for the White Cloud Birds. But a huge amount of very heavy work is  still  required,  and we are not nearly big enough to do  it!"