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Cuffy Bear Wakens

from The Tale Of Nimble Deer





The winter after Nimble lost his spike horns was a mild one. The
snowfall was light. And Nimble was able to roam up and down Pleasant
Valley and about Blue Mountain as he pleased.

It happened that a certain bright day in early spring found him far up
the side of the mountain, near the cave where he had waited for Cuffy
Bear weeks before. And as that whole queer affair came back to his mind
Nimble remembered how he had fed upon the green things under the snow.

That thought made him hungry. So he began to paw away the soft heavy
snow, which wasn't more than a foot deep; and he was enjoying a good
meal when he heard a sudden woof behind him.

Nimble wheeled instantly. And there, at the mouth of the cave, peering
over the tangle which screened it, Cuffy Bear stood upon his hind legs,
rubbing his eyes. Catching sight of Nimble, Cuffy blinked at him.

"Where's Nimble Deer, madam?" Cuffy Bear growled presently.

"I'm right here!" Nimble replied. "But please don't call me 'madam!'"

"You're not Nimble Deer. You're a Doe," Cuffy Bear insisted. "You have
no horns."

"I'm a Deer," Nimble retorted. "I had horns; but I've shed them."

Cuffy Bear woofed a bit more. He seemed to be somewhat ill-tempered.

"You can't fool me," he grunted. "Nimble Deer's horns were firm upon his
head when I left him here and stepped inside this cave. He agreed to
wait for me; and I'm surprised that he broke his promise."

"I am Nimble Deer," Nimble declared again. "You led me to this spot from
the spring. You told me you wanted to take another look at this cave
because you were thinking of making it your winter home."

Cuffy Bear eyed Nimble with astonishment. And he shambled up to Nimble
and sniffed at him.

"It is you!" Cuffy cried at last. "So you did wait for me!"

"No, I didn't," Nimble confessed.

"But here you are!" Cuffy Bear retorted. "You must have been waiting
for me. And if I've kept you a bit longer than I intended to, I'm sorry.
I think I fell asleep in that den and had a short nap."


"A short nap!" Nimble repeated. "You've been asleep in there all winter!
It's weeks and weeks since I last saw you. And I'm here now only because
I happened to wander this way, when I heard old dog Spot baying."

Cuffy Bear was so surprised that he couldn't say another word. His mouth
fell open. And he gazed blankly at Nimble.

But at last he spoke. "I must apologize to you," he said, "though it was
really no wonder I called you 'madam.' You have changed a great deal
since I left you here."

"And you--" Nimble told him--"you have changed too."

"I have?" Cuffy Bear cried. "How's that? How have I changed?"

"You look much hungrier," Nimble explained.

Cuffy Bear laid a paw across his waistcoat.

"I am hungry," he admitted. "And if you're going down the mountain I
think I'll stroll along with you and see what I can find to eat."

"Very well!" Nimble agreed.

"One moment!" Cuffy Bear said hastily. "Just one moment, please! Wait
till I go inside my cave! I believe I left my cap in there."

"I'm not going to wait for you," Nimble replied firmly. "For all I know
you might not come out again till haying time."

And then Nimble trotted off down the mountainside, heading for Cedar
Swamp. For he didn't think old dog Spot would wander in that direction.





Next: Antlers

Previous: Cuffy Is Missing



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