Mr. Crabtree is a countryman. All his life he has seen the seasons come and pass, each bringing its expected life — its birds, its insects, its flowers, and year by year, he saw them with the same fresh delight. He saw the healthy earth yield healthy food. So it was when he was a boy, so it was when he, a man, brought up his son John. But what is the world that his grandson Peter is to inherit? The rot of man's folly has destroyed much that he knew and threatens the rest. He sees nature fainting from the poison man has made. But not all has gone. There are still things of the countryside for Peter to see and to love. Part of the heritage may still be saved. But Mr. Crabtree, showing Peter the river that he once knew so well, knows time is shortening. The duck that defends her young today may become extinct.
Mr. Crabtree had known this river well. He remembered how life had teemed in it and about it. He had expected his grandson Peter would love it too — but spoiling change had touched it. Long ago salmon had run it, and trout and grayling had held against the quick current. Now the shrunken stream lacked enough oxygen for them. Only coarse fish — roach, chub, perch, pike — could retain life, and even they were sick and runted fish compared with those he remembered. The taking of river water by towns and industries and creeping pollution threatened them, too. And, he tells Peter, even to climb a gate the right way is important. If the countryside is to survive it must have the respect that breeds care.
Mr. Crabtree Crusades is part of a comic series originally published in England and was serailized in MOTHER EARTH NEWS from 1975 to 1976.
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