THE SECRET RIVER a '"
There is a dark green forest far away in Florida. The '\
trees are so tall that the sky like a blue veil -- -amwn
their leafy hair. Viness with red and yellow flowers grow up the
trees.n.a led and blue and white and gray birds have their nests
in the branches. Squirehls scamper up and down the trunks, and
bury their acorns and their hickory nuts an the roots. At niht,
when there is no one but the owls to se, 12tt animals with soft
fur and bright eyes run and play and hunt for their rapper: raccoons,
,There is a path through the forest,. It leads to the hoe.
of Calpurnia and Buggy-horse.
Calpurnia is a little girl and Buggyhorse is her dog.
Her name is-Calpurnia becnse -~.-A -xaflag lja Ia she
was barn to be a poet. Buggy-horse is a peculiar neme, but eve -
when he was a puppy his backdpped i he ih d at e a qd ha badh af
enormously fat stomach, a tplike a buggy-horser' Caljarnia said,
an4rs~L anm setta4 1 aj rs4 could not possibly haie been
called Lex or Rover or any ordinary name for a dg. Calpurnia wrote
her first poem about him.
My dog's name is Buggy-horse.
On the morning in which this story begins Calpurnia *as
ffrketrai mi.. il.->NBcudno osby ebe
awake with the birds. .-&=A*o.. .r .,. my. .kr
io--.e-r-u ,a--rrP-Ff Buggy-horse was still asleep on his
hooked rugn4 iV d -U
She said, "Bake up, my dear dog. I have a feeling that this
is going to be a very special day."
She washed her face and hands and brushed her teeth and
combed her hair, a becausee of her feeling, she put on her best pink
hair-ribbon. She made her bed neatly. Her room was so clean and tidy
that company could have come at any moment. She went out on the
porch with Buggy-horse and saw that it was indeed a beautiful day.
The sun was shining and the oranges on the trees were as bright as
-M -labtelanterns. She said ,
Come what may.
If I did not love my mother and my father and my home
I would run away.
Because it is a ruhning-away
Kind of day. '
As it turned out, she had the best reason in the world for
making a journey. At breakfast, her father said, "Hadd times have
come to the forest."
She said, What are hard times?"
Her father said, "It means that everything is hard. Esepcially
for poor; people. w
She felt *th of the table, she laid her hand on Buggy-horse's
back, she ate another mouthfull of grits, and it was true, everything
seemed harder than usual.
She said, "Are-, poor people? I don't fee poor.n
Her father said, "We are poor people. I make.an honest living
selling fish to other oor people. Now there are no fish. Nobody
can catch any fish. I shall bave to close my fish market and things
will go hard with all of us.W
Calpurnia ate her hard grits and patted Buggy-horse's hard
back, and she said_[ ,-
We had fish.
Then hard times would end.
But I am not the least little bit worried, because
Everybodytux be's my friends.,
Her mother said1 "You can't say 'everybody be's my friend.'
That's old-timey talk. Souhts as if you was talking about kuxzyw_
bees. Honey-bees, or bumble-bees."
Calpurnia was delighted. She changednher poem in her mind
Every-bpdy's bees is my friends.
Every-body's flowers is mt flowers.
Everybody's happy hours is my happy hours.
All this goes on and there is no ends.
"That's better," said her mother. "You are really a smart
child. I sometimes don't know who's the smartest, you or that little
old Buggy-horse dog,0
Her father said, "It won't matter who's the smartest, if
I can't get fish to sell to the other poor people," and he went
gtg to his fish market.
Calpurnia went a little way into the forest and thought
about the fish market. There was a small pond where she and Buggy-
hors often went to fish, but she had never caught thing th
except tiny minnows. Also, she used angle-worms
were squirmy and had to be kept in a glass J
this and she imgained that the angle-worm
She said to herself, "Now if
like to bite? "
She thought ani thought, and
"If I was a fish,," she said to Buggy-horse, "I would only
bite something unusual and something attractive."
She went up a ladder on the outside of the houxe, that
led to the attic, banje remembered some beautiful pink crepe
paper, left over from a birthday party. Buggy-horse tried to follow
hRe up the ladder, but he was ofat in the stomach that he had to
give up, and waited for her on the ground. She came down again with
the pihk papers tundaixrmk u a pair of scissors, and at to her
"Mother dear, may I ake some pink roses?"
"dlsam! eebr "Of.qour!e, my child."
'. *.- '. f
So Galpurnia made some large toses from theq pink paper
jtk= o hr is .-.g1
and tied them to the ends of er g-aps- h set outto rin.
Madam Albirtha, who had an elegant beauty parlor, and was the
wisest person in the forest. Mada Albirtha was sitting in front of
her beauty parlor. She was as sad as Calpprnia'a father, for if
there are no fish, and one person is poor, then everybody else is
poor, too, and Madam Albirtha had no beauty customers at all.
Calpurnia said, "Madam Albirtha, I am running, away tq keep
my father ftom being poor. I have fished ih the pqads-'s uM 'I- .
S 4;"atma-lflw'T eura t--. you tenl .e
where I can catch fish, so that hard timed will be soft times?"
Madam Albirtha rocked back and forth in her chair.
She said, "Child,-.e yaare one wha.t4l-r t_ hm-nirsu.
I have not breathed this to a living soul, but I will tell you.
In the secret river, there are fixt&
-- --.-~.. _.- -- -~_ -._.. --- -- -- -...._. ..__ .-- -- -_ -__~~_.
Oh my, the fish. 'Perchlhkmzx, breamz, catfish nudfish and gar-
the secret river
S-Ar.a.tflr.3. pz. ---.rimg Is it far away?"
"Nobody knows% an-T ~a_ _ri -". I will tell you this--you
will be home.again by night-fall."
"How do I find it? "
"You Just follow your nose. You will know it when yqc see it."
"Thank you, Madam Albirtha. If I catch any fish, I will
bring you some."
"Child, you are talking like an angel."
Calpurnia thought it was foolish to find anything by
following her nose.
She said to Bugg-horse, "My nose goes straight ahead. How
will I know where to turn?"
The first thing she knew, a rabbit hopped by/ She turned
to look at him, which meant that her nose pointed to the right.
So she followed her nose. After a while, a blue-Jay flew into a
live oak tree and scolded her for running away. That made her turn
her nose to the left, to look at him. So she followed her nose. All
of a sudden, she heard a sound like music. The forest ended. The
cypress trees were hitting in water to cool themselves. Their bony
gray knees stood atk up. Calpurnia hadrm-sed the secret riber. "
gfni ra sr--- r vrlu the secret riber.
The river was so beautiful th4 she sat down on a cypress
knee.t* Wtm ... '.
She said to the cypress tree, "I hope ;t4M L-&* if I sit
on one of your knees to admire the secret river."
The cypress zuststl its green needles, which she took for
permission. ar da. e li -aL'ba I em rmthe e rIvers s ins it
ran by. Then she saw the fish.. They wereiSw jidj .
there were so many of them that they got in each other's way.
Calpurnia called politely, "Do you mind if Ix catch some of
you, ko save the forest from hard times?"
The fish did not answer, so she took that for permission, too.
Now she saw a little red boat tied to the bank. It had a sign on it.
The sign said:
"Please tie me up again when you are through with me. I am
so afraid of getting lost."
Calpurnia stepped into the red boat with her fishing-pole,
and Buggy-horse followed her. She pushed away from the shore. The
beat rocked gently on the river. She took off one of the pink paper
roses from her braids and tied it to the hook on the end of her
fishing-line. The pink rose floated for a few minutes, and then
sank slowly down through the water. An old frog sitting on the
bottom saw it. IN
ge croaked, "Now what in the water is that thing? yet's
meant to catch fish, that's what it is. Well, I won't bite it,
He settled himself to watch, and before he had blinked
h-s eyes, a large- .~ h tried to swallow the pink rose, and was
hauled out of the water on the end of Calpurnia's fishing-line.
The old frog grunted, "I knew it. There is nothing more
foolish than a fish."
Sitting in the red boat, with Buggy-horse mgl4 over
the side in excitement Calpurnia pulled in one fish after another.
Just as Madam Albirtha had promised, tha-- -I -aO kI- j a here
were more catfish than anything else, and this pleased Calpurnia for
two reasons. In the first place, the poor people in the forest
dearly loved,catfish, and her father could get a higher price for
them. In the second place, tke catfish are extremely disagreeable
and try to stick everybody mmve-Try* bMag with the sharp barbs on
their hea s. Calpurnia felt that fish who go out'of their way to.
deserve to be caughtna.Lm ap Irrguu ---an
After a while, Calpurnia had as man sh in the red boat
as she could possibly carry home. She pushed the boat in to the
shore and tied it carefully to thdaxhok the trunk of a cypress tree.
She tuBkxmrt moved the fish to the ground, and Buggy-horse helped her.
He could only warry one fish in his mouth at a time, but he worked
hard and did his best.
Calpurnia said to him, "Now how will we carry all these fish
Buggy-horse looked it the fishing-pole and barked. He looked
at a clump of bear-grass and barked. C4lpurnia understood at once.
Bear-grass tzxz has long, thin, tough- and can be used like
.strong pieces bf string. Calpprnia broke off the -a' s and passed
them through the gills of the fish, and tied the bear-grass spikes
on the fishing-polex. She put the pole over her shoulder. It was very
heavy with all the catfish on it, but she started out for home. It
was late afternoon, and shadows were already falling through the
She said to Buggy-horse, ..a.pA.. I. -Q
Mlam Albirtha told us huw to find the secret river, by following
my nose. She did not tell us how to get home again. Do you think we
can get home the same way?"
Buggy-horse barked, and she decided to try to get home
the same way, by following her nose. This time, a gray fox led her
nose to the left, and a/raccoon with two baby raccoons turned herA>'--
to the right. It was getting dark. The sun had set, am& the day
animals were going to bed, and the night animals were coming out to
play and hunt for their supper. Calgurnia heard a dreadful sound.
A deep voice hooted, *Who-o-o-o. Vhy-y-y-y. Vho?"
Calpurnia did not know where the questions were coming
from, but she called out bravely, 2I'm Calpurnia. I came fishing
to the secret river to help the hard times in the forest." She
became bald, and asked, "Whom are yogu?
The voise answered, W"hoo-eo-oo."
'Why, it's a whoot owl," she said. *I'm not scared at all.'
But then she say the hoot-owl sitting in the top of a
dead tree. He looked enormous, and he did not seem friendly. She
.1 i .
He rolled his big round eyes
if he had cbme out to hunt for his supper. :ktnna rtBnkXxtiMrx
at her fish. No doubt about it, he was very hungry.
ixitmkadxazBgtxx ~gx rxxtaxxxxxlryx gryxwyxx
Sti said quickly, "Please, Mister Whhot-owl, can I give you
a nice fresh catfish for your supper?"
The hoot-owl flapped his wings and cocked his head on one
side. He flew down into a small wild plum tree beside her.xSkf
kA a great deal of trouble to untie the catfish from the fishing
pole, but she picked out the biggest fish of all and laid it
pmktry on the clean grass. The hoot-owl swooped down and began
eating it at once, without saying "Thank you."
"You are welcome, anyway," she saidwat y, and she
and Buggy-Horse went on. The forest was so dark she could not see
her nose in front of her face, so of course she could no longer
follow her nose.
"I'm not a bit worried," she said out loud. She was really
r fk worried, but she said it to cheer up Buggy-horse.
And then the full moon rose, and the forest was as bright as
day. The night birds began to fly. ~--Aite-cjranail.l<.I_ Ji ^ .
th -oon. But all of a sudden, Calpurnia saw a huge black shadow
in front of her. The shadow moved and Buggy-horse growled. Calpurnia
thought up a poem quickly. She called out:
"Shadow, shadow, go away.
You wouldn't scare me in the day.
I won't be scared because it's night.
Shadow, shadow, be polite."
The shadow ixxpfrfBpyJxpjHittxxfitxt was a big black bear*
Calpurnia's heart thump o-thumpSe-thumped. Buggy-horse tried to
hide behind the catfish.
Calpurnia thought, "Maybe the bear is hungry, too."
She said in a very small frightened voice, "Mister Bear,
could I interest you in a nice fresh catfish for your'supper?"
The bear snuffled as if he need-d a handkerchief, and he
came closer. Calpurnia did not wait to pick out the biggest catfish.
She task pulledxmff two from the fishing-pole as fast as possible and
laid them on the clean grass. She did not really run away, but she
did hurry, ad she did not much care _yvheJthar.heboarj Sad ThTng you."
oqgBE She called over her shoulder, "You're welcome", in caserhe a(ctd'
dd thanked her. Buggy-horse did not say aRsm f word. He was cared.
An then Calpurnia saw that they were out of the forest, and on the
to home. She said a poem:
_r "If zmuntixg scares you, the thing to do
SIs give somebody som-thing to.
YmuxrmrY Then they never bother you.t
6 ,- ^ -_.. I .-,. ". r -. ,'*
n mxxlxgnixtffixc *g*trxajCxlykrIut rT /
Buggy-horse began barking joyfullyr and ran ahead of her.
Calpurnia said, "It would be lovely to go straight home, but I
promised Madam Albirtha some fish. So come, my dear dog."
Madam Albirtha was just turning out the light in her beauty
parlors when she heard the xqp on her door.
"Who is that, Rnrlg so late?" she called.
"It is Calpurnia, with tkh fish."
MRadam Albirtha's eyes were as big as saucersx when she saw the
.. Child, where did you catch all those catfish?"
"In the secret river, whpre you told me to go."
"Oh, my goodness to the may-haw bush. I forgot all about what
I told you. Oh, mn goodness to the swamp maple."
Calpurnia was busily untying the fish from the fis
I ' / ., " .
,. I '-- ,
10 A i---
SCalpurnia and Bgggy-horse went on. hey smelled sweet night-
'flowers blooming. Thagsary-a-lttlaTgr-tible.eai-out of the graoud,
'A- 9zk- rA .hiW They heard a mocking-bird sng. in the moonlight.
Calpurnia said a poem:
/ "The pight txxxx
Is bribhtx a
The little things ,
i Have songs and\wings. "
Then she noticed something crouching kat ahead of them. It was
a panther. She could not decide whether he -as friendly or unfriendly,
but she said to herself, "Everybody is hung-y. Maybe hard times have
come to the panthers in the forest." So shesaad, "Mister Pantheq, you
are a sort of cat, and cats love fish, and I should like to give youna
nice catfish for your upperr"
She was not so frightened now, and she picked out a very fine
catfish for the panther, and laid it on the clean grass. The panther
began eating it at once, and he purred so loudly that Calpurnia knew
he was saying "Thank you." She said, "You are most welcome," and she
and Buggy-konhe went on.tkxx
"How many catfish do you want, Madam Albirtha?" she asked.
"Oh, my goodness to the Alr-tree. Just give me one catfish,
child. xtxxxtnx wtxt f lessed lamb, "AMm me"-" ..... -^-
just one nice fat catfish."
Calpurnia chose the nicest and fattest and Madam Albirtha
wrapped it in her apron. They said "Good night" and Calpurnia/hurried
on home. Tklxtfkxmxrnr kxnxknyhB x lwlxrxtxkxxx gxaxtrxlgx tCxx.
mxxurnJtJ aimi ukEnnxfK kn All the lamps were burning in the
house. Clp rnia's mother and father xwx put their arms around herx
and e C--- *
"Child, l We thought you were lost in the
"Oh, no. I just followed my nose. And look, I brought 'fish
to turn hard times to soft times."
Her mother and father could not believe their eyes when they saw
lo the catfish. /
"Child, mf e did you catch all these fish? How did you carry them
home by yourself? Where have you been?"
But Calpurnia was so tired and so sleepy that she could not answer
SS question She drank a cup of cocoa, and her mother undressed
her and tucked her into bed, and Buggy-horse lay down to sleep on
the hooked rug beside her.* jn5he did not ow another thing until
it was morning,, (+'r father had gone to market to sell the
. A man who had not had anything to eat fo a long time bought
the first catfish, nxt said he would pay for it as soon as he had eaten
it, and had earned money for a day's work, for he had been too weak
from hunger to worg. A woman who had not had anything to eat for o
Song time bought the second catfish, and said she would pay for it as
soon as she had eaten it and had earned money for Is rk, for she
Shad been too weak from hunger to work. All the p e forest
----- -- ----- --- --
bought the catfish, and ate them, and felt strong again, and went out
into the world and found work to do. They earned money, and that night
thepyall paid Calpurnia's father for the catfish, and had money to
spare. Madam Albirtha had six customers in her beauty parlor.
Calpurnia's father had a big pile of money, and hem went to the city
and bought other things for the poor people to eat. They all had work
to do to earn money, and they were all strong, and hard times in the
forest turned to soft times.
U One day Calpurnia and Buggy-horse started out to find the
secret river again -. --'elt- | nAdt" They searched for the river
all that day, and all the next day, and the next. Calpurnia followed
her nose this way and that way, kat and she found strange flowers and
strange birds and strange little pools of water, but she could not find
the river. So she went to Madam Albirtha.argWr xxxx
"Madam Albirtha," she said, "I cannot find the secret river again.
L shoU1 likot ,_ i ke4 -.etfrr- e- etJ^ fl'B? --
Madam Albirtha rocked back and forth in her chair.
"Child," she said, "this is a sad thing to tell you. There is not
any secret river."
"But Madam Albirtha," Calpurnia said, "you told me how to find it,
and I found it. I want to find it again."
Madam Albirtha rocked back and forth in her chair.
....-...- .j C j
Shh said, "Child, of. T _u.
Calpurnia said, C- fnatb says ev.YrynbL I r.irg net timn- But
I want to catch more catfish in the river."
Madam AlbirtUa said, "Child, you caught catfish when catfish were
3S... needed. ] 6 n-tR atahrnh now. Sd you will not find th river
S again. MXazkxxm~ xr*aryxfxtarxxnxhakrrx I told you once, and V tell
S you twice, there is not any secret river."
itx 13 .
"But Madam Albirtha, tkirgxuxif xtxtkhxxtxfayuwttzkitr-.
'fefe^.- tl-rLi U l,. ,.n,.I e..- ..
Madam Albirtha rocked back and forth.
"The secret river is in your mind," she said.
Ca. '4' .- a-' .d' 'r. .. *
an go there any time want to," -
.- '.7 ., .
Calpura, skipped all the way home Buggy-horse chased his
'. "" ;.- r t l-r'r r- C ,' "
curly tall. alpurnia sat down under a magnolia trep and made-a-p-oeL .
She se4-rial. 'fo o df
"Where is the secret river? In my mind. .
I can go there adLStgf r .any time, ... .
Everything Madam Albirtha says is true.,
The riv s-is s. and the y is blue.
I love you."
xkxExtk]xghkxthtxwrxxthkxbwxtWxpXwwrnShxkaixwu3ExmidwxX : Shk x
MM.alhe fe3t sad. She did want to see the sfepet river e-
with her enr-eyes e '.. Some day,
kxhza mi she wpuld find it once more. Itprobably ran straight out
into the world. The world, she iww, was a beautiful place. She said
"The world is full of love.
It sings like thkw turtle dove.
The world will love me
And under the 'vbgi a tree
OF "ett-^qb ^
*u c~ -
Calpurnia pulled an orange from the tree beside the gate. She
threw it like a ball for Buggy-horse to play with. He broufgh it back
to her at last, and then she ate it.
milk, pn-,- of tc.st -nd f bi: plate r, hot -rits i th an -eg on them.
S'--- .livid-?. h-r br--.kfast w:ith Bu-rTy-horsr, hc at-P politely in a corner.
Sh- had/finish-d h=r x)rx -h-mn she noticed that h-r father and mother
had only a small helpin-, with no -c.: -t all.
H9r mother said, twaxSyzxsx "Firish your breakfast, child.,
That ix the last se you will s'-.' for a long time-."
HUr father said, "Hard times have come to the forest."
She said, "What are hard times?"
"It means that everything is hard. Especially for poor people."
She felt of the table, she laid her hadd on Bugry-horsess back,
shpate th- last mouthful of grits, and it was true. Everything seemed
harder than usual.
Shb askpd, "Are :c poor people? I don't fF.l poor."
Her fgathr sqi., ",T- Tr- poor pcopl-. I mnk-: nn hen-st living
s-llir.- fish tr oth r poor people. Nov th-r- are no fish. Nnbtodvy can
catch ;n:' fish. I shill by-- to clos? my fish mrk--t ,n', things will go
-;r -rith t 11 of us. "
Ci!lpurnia patted Bu':.y-hors-e's h-rd hl-.ck .nd sh: said a poem.
ninno''s. Also., sht us- r.,- l-rcr-s for hqitt, ard th_: -.r-r snuirmy
ian-' -ai to h- k-ept in a rlss pa-r. SF- *1id not li-.- this and shb
imRa! in-nr that th on~ ~ e'rorrms i". rct li!r !+, -ith-.'. "'t s!-' *li1
lov-- to 'r fi shin". Sll A-,4 net c nr -' '7ri.', s .- ili-4 -c I-st, -fiin
fjis2 '.'- r:- n .kiri pI '-r's.
4- N ~~:
Calpurnia and Buggy-horse went/home. Calpurnia said a poem.
"There is tge secret river? In my mind.
But I caught fish there, and my heart
Tells me the forest, and the lonely wind,
Have set the river al'.ys1 far apart
From what Madam Albirtta says is twtkhx true.
She says there is no river,'e, -,