Once Round the Sun

I Have to be Somewhere Else Soon

It was very quiet under the big spruce trees where Peter wandered along and listened to the drip, drip of melting snow from the branches.

"Hullo, Peter, " said a small voice at his feet.

Peter looked down and there stood a tiny snowdrop, peeping up through the carpet of pine needles.

"Hi!" He bent down and looked at the pretty white flower. "Who are you?"

"I'm Snowdrop. Have you seen my cousin Violet yet?"

"No, I haven't noticed any."

"Oh, dear! That's too bad of her. Now I shall have to go away without seeing her again. She was late last year too."

"I'm sorry," said Peter. "Maybe I could give her a message for you. She'll show up some time. Why do you have to go away? Can't you wait till she comes?"

"I can't very well," Snowdrop hesitated a little. "You see, I have to be somewhere else soon."

"But you can't move. How can you go away?" Peter looked carefully and saw that the snowdrop was firmly rooted to the Spot.

"Oh, that's easy. I just die here and bloom higher up the mountain, and farther up north."

"Oh, I see," said Peter doubtfully, but he wasn't at all sure that he did. "I'll have to ask Uncle Peppercorn about this," he thought to himself.

"Did you want me?" Peter knew Uncle Peppercorn's voice and looked all around, but he was nowhere in sight. Then he heard a familiar chuckle.

"Here, on your sleeve," said Uncle Peppercorn. "Don't look so startled."

"I'm not," mumbled Peter. "Not at all. But I wish you'd give me warning."

"Well, what did you want to ask me?"

Peter racked his brains. "I'm afraid I've forgotten."

"About me," said Snowdrop.

"Oh, yes! How did you know?"

"You were using my language," said Snowdrop. "You know . . . thought-language."

"Yes, Uncle Peppercorn, how can she move?"

"Remember about the earth going round the track?" asked Uncle Peppercorn.

"0h, " said Peter. "You mean we're getting this end nearer the sun and that makes spring come here. Now I understand. But why must she go somewhere else?"

"Well, spring is moving northward, of course."

"Oh, dear!" said Peter. "It looked so easy from away out there, but it's very complicated from here, isn't it?"

"Well, look!" Uncle Peppercorn jumped to the ground and stood leaning against the snowdrop. He turned to apologize. "You don't mind, do you?"

"Not a bit," said Snowdrop. "Just don't push my petals. They're about ready to fall off." She paused. "Unless, of course, you'd rather I left you."

"No, no," said Uncle Peppercorn. "Do stay for a while."

"Now," he said, turning to Peter, "Snowdrop here He gave her stem a gentle pat.

"Ouch!" said Snowdrop. "There goes my first petal." And a creamy petal fluttered to the ground.

"I'm so sorry," said Uncle Peppercorn. "It must have been very loose."

"Go on, don't mind me, said Snowdrop bravely, but her head began to droop a little lower.

"Well, as I was saying

Uncle Peppercorn continued. "Oh, dear, there she goes again." And another petal fell softly at his feet.

"Never mind, I'll say goodby now," said Snowdrop faintly. "I'll see you later. I'm just starting to bud up north."

"I think I understand, said Peter. "I think you do too," said Uncle Peppercorn, and vanished.

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