Magali is four and a half years old. Her parents brush her black hair into two beautiful pigtails. She often wears red overalls and red or white sneakers.
She has a big brother who is eight and who is named Arnaud. Her little brother, Julien, is a baby and isn't one yet.
On this day, Magali was getting ready to go for a walk with her daddy. She asked him:
"Can I bring my ball?"
"Yes," said her daddy.
"And my wicker basket? It's for putting mushrooms in."
"You can bring your little basket."
"And my doll?"
"Okay, my dear. But you have to carry all that."
And then they were both ready to leave. Kisses for Mommy. Daddy took his daughter's hand. They walked away from the house.
What luck! Magali had her daddy all to herself all afternoon.
They headed towards the forest. They sang as they walked.
"We can walk in the forest as long as the wolf isn't there ..."
As soon as they arrived at the edge of the big trees, Daddy tried to teach his little girl how to play soccer. Then he said he was a bit tired and he sat down against the trunk of a tree. Soon he was asleep.
Magali quietly wandered away and started to explore the forest that was all around her.
There, just at the entrance, she saw an animal that ran very fast. Whatever could it have been?
It surely couldn't have been a giraffe. We never see giraffes in the forest. Nor a bird. A bird flies in the sky. It wouldn't have been a turtle. A turtle goes a lot slower. But there was no way that it was a rabbit. Rabbits hopped through the forest. A squirrel? No. Squirrels climbed trees. A doe? No, a doe is much bigger. Magali knew that. This animal was the size of a little dog.
The animal ran by again.
Our friend looked at it carefully. A ferret! Magali tried to follow it. But it ran too fast. She called it.
Sing with her. Do you know the song?
"He runs, the ferret runs, the ferret of the woods ... he runs, he runs ..."
Alas, the little animal was long gone.
In looking for it, Magali came to the edge of a pond. She looked and listened.
She heard the birds sing, the frogs croak, and the ducks quack. The little girl was surrounded by the tall grasses, grasses much taller than her. Here she noticed the reeds in bloom. She spotted a little spider. It was weaving its web between the fine shoots of the reeds.
On the surface of the pond, the performance was delightful. Magali saw some wood ducks. They made a plouf-ing sound when they dived under the water. The other ducks followed them loudly crying, "quack, quack, quack."
She also saw the water lilies. Their round leaves, called lily pads, floated in the sun on the pond. Their flowers were very pretty, yellow and white. Magali gazed at them a long time. She thought they were very beautiful. She wanted to bring some to her mommy.
A few ducks came by. She sang their song.
"A little duck at the edge of the water ... it is so beautiful ... it is so beautiful ..."
Magali spied a little frog. It was jumping happily from one lily pad to another. The little girl crept up to the water's edge. There, holding out her hand, she caught hold of one of the lily pads and she pulled it closer to her.
She put her little doll on the lily pad. It was a lovely sight. She could believe that it was a little girl on a cute green boat. That reminded her of the nice story about "Thumbelina" by Hans Christian Andersen. Her father often read her these stories before bed. The story was of a very tiny girl who went boating in a nutshell and then on a wide green leaf ...
Magali let go of the lily pad and it floated away, a little further than where it had been before, carrying the doll with it. Our friend wanted to get a hold of it again but she only managed to get her feet all muddy at the edge of the pond.
She wanted to cry. Her doll was right there, on the water, sleeping, not far from her at all. But it was impossible to get it.
All of a sudden, she felt a drop of rain fall on her nose. She looked up. The sky that had been blue before was now covered in grey clouds and the sun had disappeared.
A storm was coming with a strong wind. She heard the rumble of thunder. And the rain was starting to fall more heavily.
Magali ran as quickly as she could towards her father. He had already been on his way to find her. He'd been searching for his daughter and calling in the woods. They took each other by the hand and started to head back to the house, under the rainstorm.
"Daddy," Magali said softly, "my little doll is sleeping on a lily pad in the middle of the pond."
Daddy listened to his daughter tell the story of her adventure. They quickly turned around and made their way back to the shore of the pond.
The drops of rain were creating a pattern of hundreds of circles on the surface of the pond. It was an enchanting scene, like a fairy show.
Our friend's daddy saw the doll resting on the lily pad three feet from the edge of the pond. He broke off a long and thin stick and used it as a fishing rod to catch the doll and draw the lily pad to the shore.
Magali picked her doll off the lily pad. Then she gave her daddy a kiss and a hug, squeezing him tight. He couldn't have imagined a better reward.
They ran home, laughing so hard and jumping in puddles of water. They arrived back at the house, as wet as ducks' feet. Magali's clothes stuck to her skin. Her hair was dripping.
Mommy was waiting for them with a big soft towel and dry clothes. Then she made them hot chocolate.
Drinking her hot chocolate, Magali looked out the half-open window. She could hear the sounds that came from the woods in the distance. The song of the birds, the croaks of the frogs and the quacks of the ducks. Now they were all her friends.
She remembered the ferret who ran between the tall trees. Once again, she sang,
"He runs, the ferret runs, the ferret of the woods ... he runs, he runs ... He runs, the ferret runs, the ferret of the lovely woods ..."
What a day! What an adventure!
Translation : Andrew Gordon Middleton