A Spike Horn





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.





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