The Strange Light
: The Tale Of Nimble Deer
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 behin
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
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
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.