The Jumping Contest
: The Tale Of Nimble Deer
Having had Mr. Crow's permission, the Muley Cow went on stretching her
legs as much as she pleased. She jumped the pasture fence; and she
jumped it back again. And when she seemed about to stop Billy Woodchuck
whispered to her, "You may as well keep a-stretching them. Keep
a-jumping! And when the time for the real contest with Nimble Deer comes
your legs will be stretched so long that you'll beat Nimble without the
So the Muley Cow jumped over the fence and back, over the fence and
back. And when at last she said she was ready for the contest Billy
Woodchuck still urged her to stretch her legs a bit more.
By the time he was willing to let her stop the Muley Cow's sides were
Meanwhile Jimmy Rabbit and Billy Woodchuck, with Mr. Crow's help, had
picked out a clump of young hawthorns for the first test. And now that
everybody was ready for the contest Nimble Deer cleared the clump
gracefully, with a foot to spare.
Then came the Muley Cow's turn. She looked worried as she fell into a
lumbering gallop and ran towards the prickly young trees. And with a
mighty effort she tried to fling herself over them.
As she rose into the air she gave a bellow of dismay, to fall
floundering the next instant into the thorny thicket.
Jimmy Rabbit began to hop about in circles. He knew that Nimble had won
the contest and Jimmy was very happy.
Old Mr. Crow haw-hawed. The Muley Cow had lost the contest and he was
Nimble watched the Muley Cow as she struggled amid the hawthorns, trying
to scramble out of the tangle.
"Can I help you, madam?" he asked.
But she never even thanked him. She was so upset that she neither wanted
anybody to speak to her nor did she wish to speak to anybody else.
As for Billy Woodchuck, he looked frightfully disappointed. He had
expected the Muley Cow to win the jumping contest. And there she was,
beaten at the very first jump!
He stole up to her; and standing on his hind legs, to get as near her as
he could, he said, "It's a pity you lost! I don't believe you stretched
your legs enough."
The Muley Cow snorted.
"That's not the reason why," she snapped. "I stretched my legs too
much. I jumped the fence until I was so tired I could scarcely stand.
It's no wonder that Nimble beat me."
Nimble Deer could see that the Muley Cow was feeling quite glum. After
she had struggled free of the thorns he went up to her and bowed in his
most polite manner. "Is there anything I can do for you?" he asked her.
"Yes! Do let down the bars for me!" she gasped. "I want to go home. And
I couldn't jump that fence again. It would be dangerous for me to try. I
might fall and break a leg off. And then I'd have a short leg the rest
of my life."
"You could stretch it," old Mr. Crow suggested.
But the Muley Cow turned her back on him and walked away.