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Cuffy And The Cave

from The Tale Of Nimble Deer





Nimble did not spend all his spare moments with the other Spike Horns.
Once in a while he met Cuffy Bear prowling about near the foot of Blue
Mountain. But Nimble never had a mock battle with Cuffy. Cuffy Bear was
a famous boxer. And in each of his paws he carried long sharp claws.
What if Cuffy should forget to pull in those claws sometime, when he
struck you a playful tap? Ah! That wouldn't be very pleasant! This was
what Nimble thought about the matter. So he never butted Cuffy Bear nor
pricked him with his spikes.

On the whole they found each other good company. Cuffy liked to see
Nimble jump. And Nimble liked to see Cuffy climb trees.

One day, late in the fall, that year when Nimble was a Spike Horn, he
strayed half way up the side of Blue Mountain. It was seldom that Nimble
wandered so far up the steep and thickly wooded slopes. But old dog Spot
was ranging about the lower woods. And for once Nimble did not run for
Cedar Swamp when he heard the old dog bay. Instead he climbed steadily
until he was sure that he had shaken Spot off his trail.

Nimble had stopped for a drink at the spring which marked the beginning
of Broad Brook and there he met Cuffy Bear, who was just turning away
from the ice-framed pool. "Aren't you a long way from home?" Cuffy asked
him.

"Yes! But I can get down to my favorite ridge quickly enough, when I
want to," said Nimble. "Do you live in this neighborhood?"

"I'm not quite sure," Cuffy Bear replied. "I've had my eye on a snug den
a little further up the mountain. I'm thinking of living there, if it
suits me.... Wouldn't you like to see it?"

Nimble told Cuffy that he would be delighted. So they started up the
mountain, after Nimble had had his drink.

Cuffy Bear led the way. And in a short time he stopped in front of a
cave. A tangle of bushes hid the mouth of it. You'd have passed right
by it without ever guessing that there was any cave there.

"This is it," Cuffy Bear told Nimble. "Come right in!"

"No, thank you. I'd rather not," said Nimble. "I don't care for caves,
myself, though this seems to be a good one."

"It's worth seeing," Cuffy Bear urged.

"No, thank you!" Nimble repeated.

"You don't mind if I take a look at it?" Cuffy Bear inquired. "Maybe I
can make up my mind--about living here--if I look at the cave once
more."

"Go inside, by all means!" Nimble cried.

"Will you wait here till I come out?" Cuffy asked him.

And Nimble promised that he would wait.

Cuffy Bear yawned as he turned away. And Nimble thought it strange that
he didn't take the trouble to beg pardon, nor to cover the yawn with a
paw. Only a very careless--or a very sleepy--person would forget those
things, Nimble knew.

Well, Cuffy crept inside the cave. And outside Nimble waited. He waited
and waited, until at last the afternoon light began to fade.

"I wish he'd hurry," Nimble muttered. "We're going to have a storm and I
don't want to stay up here in it, all night."

Snowflakes were already falling. And Nimble wished he hadn't promised
that he would wait till Cuffy Bear came out of the cave.

He went to the entrance and called. But he got no answer.

"I hope nothing has happened to him," Nimble said.

But something had.





Next: Cuffy Is Missing

Previous: At The Carrot Patch



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