|The Crossing of the Enborne |
|Mon 27th Jul 2009 at 23:39:20 || |
|Stretched canvas 12x24” (30x60cm)|
The rabbits reached the top of a sandy bank above the river Enborne. Soon they were in grey twilight: it was morning.
Part 1 The Journey
From Chapter 8: The Crossing.
By kind permission of Richard Adams
“Immediately below them lay a wide pool and here the water was almost still. Away to their left, the bank sloped down again into clumps of alder, among which the stream could be heard chattering over gravel. There was a glimpse of barbed wire stretched across the water…
Hazel looked at path upstream. ‘There’s grass down there,’ he said. “Let’s go and feed.”
They scrambled down the bank and set to nibbling beside the water. Between them and the stream itself stood half-grown clumps of purple loosestrife and fleabane, which would not flower for nearly two months yet. The only blooms were a few early meadow-sweet and a patch of pink butterbur…
What was to be done? Fiver said that they ought to cross, though both he and Pipkin were worn out and would not be able to tackle it quite yet. The others were reluctant.
Blackberry suggested that Bigwig swam across the pool to check the surroundings. Bigwig crossed the river and pulled himself out of the water, gripping with his teeth one of the stems of a figwort. A few moments later he was back with the news that, looking down from the fields on the other side of the river, he had seen a dog loose in the wood.
“Those who can swim, swim – he said – The others will have to stay here and hope for the best”
Hazel wouldn’t go until Fiver and Pipkin were fit to swim. It was Blackberry who found the solution: a floating piece of wood along the water line! It could carry Fiver and Pipkin on the other side. With the two rabbits aboard, he pushed the wood with his nose and the board drifted a few feet into the pool…
“Now we swim over ourselves. Can we start Hazel?” (he said)
Hazel, who was close to losing his head, realized that Blackberry wanted him to show authority.
“Swim,” he said. “Everybody swim.”
He watched them as they went in. Dandelion swam as well as he ran, swiftly and easily. Silver, too, was strong. The others paddled and scrambled over somehow and as they began to reach the other side, Hazel plunged.
| - Aldo Galli - |