The Strange Light





Weeks went by; and still Nimble's mother said no more about visiting

Farmer Green's carrot patch. Nimble himself did not dare to mention

carrots now. It was his own fault that the excursion had been postponed.

And much as he still wanted a taste of carrots the whole affair was

something he didn't care to talk about.



Anyhow, it was lucky that he liked water lilies. For his mother took him

to the lake behind Blue Mountain every night, almost. And there they

splashed in the shallows and ate all they wanted.



Most of those nights were much alike. But there was one that Nimble

remembered for many a day afterward.



It was not a dark night; neither was it a light one. It was a

half-and-half sort of night. There was a moon. But it was far from full.

And it was not high in the sky. The light from it came slanting down

upon the lake, throwing the shadows of the trees far out upon the water.



Where those shadows reached out darkly Nimble and his mother stood with

the water lapping their sleek bodies. And they were eating so busily

that neither of them noticed a blurred shape that glided slowly nearer

and nearer to them, without making the slightest sound.



All at once a shaft of dazzling light swept along the shore. Nimble was

so surprised and puzzled that he stopped eating to stand still and gaze

at it.







But only for a moment! Instantly his mother flung her tail upward, so

that the under side of it gleamed white even in the half light. And

that--as Nimble knew right well--that was the danger signal.



Almost before Nimble knew what was happening his mother made for the

shore. As she plunged through the water her tail, still aloft like a

flag, twitched from side to side.



Nimble needed no urging to follow it. Soon they scrambled, dripping, out

of the lake to dive headlong into the cover of the overhanging willows.



In those few seconds the light darted swiftly towards them. But it was

not quite quick enough. Only the ripples told where they had been

standing. Only the gently waving branches of the willows showed where

Nimble and his mother had vanished.



A noise like a thunder-clap crashed upon Nimble's ears and rolled and

tumbled in the distance, tossed from the mountain to the hills across

the lake, and back again. It frightened Nimble much more than did the

odd whistle that whined just above his head a moment before the thunder

peal.



Never had he run so fast before. Never had his mother set such a pace

for him. Usually, when startled, she stopped after going a short

distance and looked back to try to get a glimpse of whoever or whatever

had alarmed her. To be sure, she always stopped in a good place, like

the edge of Cedar Swamp, where she could duck out of sight if need be.



But this time Nimble's mother ran on and on without pausing.



"Haven't you forgotten something?" her son gasped after a while.



"Forgotten something? What do you mean?" she asked.



"Haven't you forgotten to stop?" Nimble inquired.



A queer look came over her face.



"I declare," she said, "I do believe I'd Have run all night if you

hadn't reminded me." She fell into a walk. And neither of them said

another word until they reached the swamp, which was one of his

mother's favorite hiding places. Then Nimble spoke again.



"I waved my flag too," he said proudly.





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