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Mrs Deer Explains

from The Tale Of Nimble Deer





For the first time in his life Nimble felt quite grown up. He forgot
that he had not yet lived a whole summer. He had made a suggestion to
his mother which she had promptly acted upon. It had never happened
before. And that was enough to cause him great pleasure.

Then there was something else that made Nimble believe himself to be a
person of some account: A strange affair had happened at the lake. He
had seen it all. He had taken part in it himself. Really it was no
wonder that he began to talk quite importantly.

"It was lucky I was with you," he remarked to his mother as they rested
amid the tangle of Cedar Swamp.

"It was lucky we weren't any further out in the lake," she exclaimed.
"If you hadn't been with me no doubt I'd have gone where the water was
much deeper. And that light would have caught me before I could have
reached the shore."

What his mother said made Nimble feel bigger than ever. He wasn't quite
sure what had happened back there, where they had been surprised while
eating water lilies. But he meant to find out, for he thought it would
make a good story to tell his friends.

"Would the moon have burnt us if it had hit us?" he inquired.

"What in the world are you talking about?" his mother asked him.

He looked puzzled at her question.

"Wasn't that the moon that lit up the lake along the shore?" he
demanded.

"Certainly not!" she replied.

"Didn't the moon fall into the water?" he asked.

"No, indeed!" his mother cried. She was astonished at his question.

Nimble was disappointed. He had thought he had a wonderful tale to tell.
And he couldn't understand yet why everything wasn't as he had supposed.

"I was sure the moon fell into the lake and blew up," he explained.
"What was that terrible noise we heard if it wasn't the moon bursting
into pieces?"

His mother didn't laugh. Instead she was quite solemn as she answered
Nimble's last question.

"That--" she said--"that was a gun that you heard. And the light that
you saw came from a lantern in a boat."

It was very hard for Nimble to believe what she told him.

"I thought I heard a piece of the moon whistle past my head," he went
on.

"A bullet!" his mother declared. As she spoke she moved a little
distance, to a spot where the trees were not so thick. And she raised
her nose towards the sky. "There!" she said. "There's the moon! It's
still up there where you've always seen it."

Nimble looked; and at last he knew that his mother had made no mistake.
But somehow he was more frightened than ever.

"Then--" he faltered--"then there must have been men in the boat--men
that turned the light upon the shore--and fired the gun!"

"They were men--yes!" said his mother. "And they were lawbreakers, too.
I hope the game warden will catch them at their tricks."

"What is a game warden?" Nimble asked her.

"He's a man," she answered. "He's a man that looks after all of us
forest folk and he's the best friend we've got.... Goodness, child!
Are you never going to stop asking questions?"





Next: A Spike Horn

Previous: The Strange Light



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