Learning Things

: 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 h
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


"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


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.