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Learning Things

from The Tale Of Nimble Deer





Nimble's mother hadn't liked Mr. Grouse's remark about Foxes. Somehow
she couldn't put Foxes out of her mind. And not once did she mean to let
Nimble wander out of her sight.

At first, when he was only a tiny chap, it was easy for her to keep her
young son near her. But Nimble grew a little livelier with each day that
passed. And it wasn't long before he began to annoy his mother and worry
her, too. For he soon fell into the habit of dodging behind something or
other, such as a baby pine tree or a clump of blackberry bushes, when
his mother wasn't looking. Every time she missed her spotted fawn the
poor lady was sure a Fox had snatched him up and dragged him away. And
when she found Nimble again she was so glad that she hadn't the heart
to punish him.

However, one day she talked to him quite severely.

"Do you want a Fox to catch--and eat--you?" she asked him.

"No, Mother!... Has a Fox ever eaten you?"

"Certainly not!" Nimble's mother answered.

"Do you expect to be caught by a Fox?"

"No, indeed!" said his mother.

"Then there can't be any great danger," Nimble remarked lightly.

"Ah! There's always danger of Foxes so long as you're a little fawn,"
she explained. "When you're grown up--or even half grown--no Fox would
dare touch you. But if you wandered away alone at your tender age and
you met a Fox----" Well, the poor lady was so upset by the mere thought
of what might happen that she couldn't say anything more just then.

But her son Nimble was not upset.

"If I met a Fox," he declared bravely, "I'd be safe enough. I'd stand
perfectly still. And he wouldn't be able to see me, on account of my
spots."

"Ah! But if the wind happened to be blowing his way he'd be sure to
smell you," cried Nimble's mother. "And he would find you. And he
would jump at you."

"I'd run away from him then," said Nimble stoutly.

His mother shook her head.

"You're spry for your age. But you're too slow to escape a Fox. You're
not quick enough for that yet. You don't know how quick Foxes are. So
look out! Look out for a sly fellow with a pointed nose and a bushy
tail!"

In spite of all these warnings Nimble didn't feel the least bit alarmed.
And the older he grew the less he heeded his mother's words. He thought
she was too careful. She seemed always to be on the watch for some
danger. She was forever stopping to look back, lest somebody or
something might be following her. Whenever she picked out a good resting
place behind a clump of evergreens, out of the wind, she never lay down
without first retracing her steps for a little way and peering all
around. Then, of course, she had to walk back again before she sank down
on the bed of her choosing. It all seemed very silly to young Nimble.

"What's the use," he finally asked her one day, "what's the use of
fussing so much over your back tracks?"

"You should always know what's behind you," said his mother. "Besides,
I can't rest well if I'm uneasy."

"Do you feel easy now?" he inquired, for she had just then lain down
after giving her back tracks her usual attention.

"Quite!" said Nimble's mother, as she closed her eyes and heaved a deep
sigh of contentment.

Her answer pleased Nimble. He smiled faintly as he watched her closely.
And he chuckled when his mother's head nodded three times and then sank
lower and lower.

Presently Nimble rose to his feet, without making the slightest rustle.
And very carefully he stole away.





Next: An Interrupted Nap

Previous: The Spotted Fawn



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