The weather had been so fine that Algy decided to take a wee trip inland to see the sights. It was always somewhat gloomier there, as the bare, rocky mountains towered high over the deep glen, but the landscape had a certain grandeur, and – like most birds – Algy enjoyed a change of scene from time to time. So he flew all through the morning, and eventually arrived at a spot which he particularly liked, beside a calm, shallow river. Perching on the slender branches of a small tree that had already lost most of its leaves, he watched the dark-and-silver water flowing slowly beneath him on its way towards the great sea loch. It was very different from the bright blue moorland burn he had just left, but it made a fascinating mirror for the woodland that grew all around it. He was reminded of a children’s poem by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Smooth it slides upon its travel,
 Here a wimple, there a gleam—
     O the clean gravel!
     O the smooth stream!

Sailing blossoms, silver fishes,
 Paven pools as clear as air—
     How a child wishes
     To live down there!

We can see our coloured faces
 Floating on the shaken pool
     Down in cool places,
     Dim and very cool;

Till a wind or water wrinkle,
 Dipping marten, plumping trout,
     Spreads in a twinkle
     And blots all out.

See the rings pursue each other;
 All below grows black as night,
     Just as if mother
     Had blown out the light!

Patience, children, just a minute—
 See the spreading circles die;
     The stream and all in it
     Will clear by-and-by.

[Algy is quoting the children’s poem Looking-glass River from the collection A Child’s Garden of Verses by the 19th century Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson.]

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