: Daria is owned by Glenn Eichler and other people who are not me. No infringement intended, making no money.
"A little girl went down to the edge of the lake, one summer," said Daria, throwing a stone into the water. "It had been very hot, so there was a wide place where the water barely covered the mud. Lots of little girls and boys were playing in the mud, so the girl, as was her custom, sat down and watched what the other children did. It seemed that they had invented a game of throwing rocks in the mud."
"Very artistic," said Jane from beside her.
"Indeed. Since, while she was cynical, she did care about other people, she almost ran down to start throwing her own rocks. But she held back and kept watching. The way that the game worked was that someone would throw a rock into the mud, and then everyone would tell everyone else how good or bad it was. Then the child would throw again. Some children threw stones close together, and the others would comment on the whole group. This sounded like it might be fun, or at least a way to pass the time, so the little girl spent some time and gathered some really nice rocks, and she went down and started throwing them in the mud."
"Did it look nice?" said a child's voice from her other side.
"In my, admittedly biased, opinion, it looked very nice." Daria smiled. "A lot of the children agreed, although there were always those who didn't. So the little girl had fun, for a while, throwing stones, and commenting on how others did it, sometimes well, and sometimes badly. That is, until she noticed something."
"And what was that?" Jane said, a wry grin on her face.
"That the amount of people saying things about her splashes had dwindled drastically, and many of them were reduced to saying, 'nice throw.'" Daria tossed another rock out, watching it skip over the surface before it dropped in. "Understand me, nobody was being mean to the girl. They weren't telling her to leave or anything. They were just barely commenting, and watching enough to stay out her way. So the little girl first thought that it was what happened to everyone when they started, or that it was because she wasn't good enough, or that the point of the game wasn't to get comments from the others, it was to throw stones the best that she could.
"So she looked. There were certainly people who had been throwing stones for far longer than she, who had many people saying things about their throws, so the 'beginners luck,' theory didn't hold water. The little girl tried for a little time to concentrate on throwing stones well, with some success, but she discovered that the game wasn't that fun, played all by herself. Having others tell her how they liked or didn't like a throw, in addition to making her throws better, was part of the fun.
"That left the last possibility. She scavenged around to find the best, biggest rock, went to the place in the mud where the best splashes could be made, and she made a perfect throw. There has never been a mud splash to equal that one."
"And then what happened?"
"Everyone was on the shore, watching a squirrel with its privates caught on a knothole. Nobody watched, let alone commented on, that perfect splash."
"But that's so sad!" the little girl, tall for her age and with auburn hair, said. "What did the little girl do?"
Daria leaned over and hugged the little girl. "Well, at first, she wanted to cry. But then, she remembered the important thing."
"They were throwing rocks into mud." Daria grinned. "The little girl went home, washed up, and did some reading and writing. Much, much later, she met and married a beautiful artist, and they had a wonderful little girl named Anne."
"Yes, it is. And the books I've written, and the pictures mama has painted, and even you, those things will be around for many years to come. The lake rose just about a month later, and unless you had one of those GPS machines, you wouldn't be able to find it now." Daria stood up and stretched. "I think it's time for us to go to the cabin."
"Can we have pizza?" Anne asked, with her puppy-dog eyes showing.
Daria looked, then snorted. "Yes, we can have pizza, you scamp. Now put those away." And hand in hand in hand, mother, daughter, and mama, they made their way down the path home.