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A Spike Horn

from The Tale Of Nimble Deer





Nimble didn't mind losing his spots, when he grew older. He had
something else that gave him much more pleasure than they ever had. He
had a new toy. Or to be exact, he had two new toys. And everywhere he
went he carried them with him.

He carried them on his head. And he couldn't have left them behind in
the woods even if he had wanted to--at least not until he had enjoyed
them for a whole season.

Of course you have already guessed that he had a pair of horns. They
were not very big. But neither was Nimble, for that matter. So they
suited him well. A little deer like him would have looked queer wearing
great branching horns such as his father owned.

Nimble's horns were merely two spikes which stuck up out of the top of
his head in a pert fashion.

It was a proud day for him when an old deer spoke to him and called him
"young Spike Horn." About that time the forest folk had begun to speak
of him as a "yearling." But there was something about "Spike Horn" that
sounded much more important.

Somehow there was a new crop of Spike Horns that summer--Nimble's second
summer. And every one of them had been--like him--a little spotted fawn
the year before.

At first Nimble had thought it fun to use his new horns to jab anybody
that happened to be with him. One day he even stole up behind his own
mother and gave her a sharp prod with them.

He never did that again. His mother quickly taught him better. She
wheeled and struck him smartly with her fore feet.

"There!" she cried. "That's the first time a child of mine has played
that trick on me.... Let it be the last!"

And it was. Nimble was very careful, after that, to prod only those that
didn't mind such pranks.

Luckily he soon found that the other Spike Horns liked the same sort of
fun that he did. They were just as proud of their new horns as he was of
his. And (sad to say!) there was a good deal of boasting among them.
Each one declared that his own horns were the longest and strongest.

All the Spike Horns, including Nimble, were forever butting one another
in play. And they had just discovered a new sport when Nimble met with
what he feared, for a time, was a terrible accident.

Late in the fall, before the deep snows came, both his horns loosened
and dropped off his head.

"Oh! oh!" he cried when he saw what had happened. "I'll never be able to
take part in another mock battle again!" For the Spike Horns had had gay
times pretending to fight one another in a most savage fashion.

After Nimble lost his horns he carefully avoided all his playmates. He
didn't want the other Spike Horns to see him. At last, to his great
dismay, one day he came face to face with one of them. They both tried
to dodge out of sight. But the other, whose name was Dodger, was not
quite quick enough. Before he hid behind a thicket Nimble saw that he
had lost his horns too!

Then Nimble guessed the truth. He knew why it was that he had managed to
keep out of sight of his friends. Every Spike Horn in the neighborhood
had lost his horns! And every one of them had been trying to keep out of
sight.





Next: At The Carrot Patch

Previous: Mrs Deer Explains



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