« PreviousContinue »
"Sleep, little one, the day is done,
"Rest, little son, the night 's begun,
Yet while she spoke, the shepherds ran Yet while she spoke, three kings had come, In haste the road along,
Three kings who rode from far, To find the Mother and the Babe,
To lay their gifts at Jesus' feet,
For they had seen the Star.
-Annie Johnson Flint.
Across the sunlit swale came stalking settler, and the cattle, alarmed by her cautiously a whitetail doe with her five- abrupt advent and catching the fever of months' fawn stepping daintily at her side, her fear, had raced to the barn-yard. The the weanling showing a curious, long, doe and her fawn, which had followed at whitish scar on its Aank. Before emerg- her heels, tolled along by the rush, soon ing from the dark recesses of the wood, found themselves in a strange, fenced enthey had stood in the spruce tangle at the closure, and, falling exhausted from their forest's edge for several minutes, the doe terrific effort, had been captured and imsearching the open with eyes and nose and prisoned within' a calf-pen by the backears, her fawn as motionless as herself in woods farmer. The man had acted on imobedience to an unspoken command. pulse, and, once the pair was safely railed
The mother deer was in mighty fear of in, wondered what he should do with them, human kind, but it is doubtful if the fawn his first thought naturally being of the would have evidenced any great terror venison they would provide for his table. had one of the tribe appeared, for the same The next day, however, his young son, recent experience from which sprang the coming early to the pen to feed and make doe's overpowering dread of man had left overtures to the captives, was overjoyed by the fawn with as great a curiosity con the sight of the fawn, and thenceforth he cerning him. Early in the spring the doe, devoted himself to cultivating the frienddriven by wolves, had, in her extremity, ship of the agile and beautiful creature. leaped among the pasturing herd of a One morning, some days later, the boy,
peering into the pen, was cut short in his a glimpse of him; he got hintself. 90 3wiftly salutations by the sight of a red gash in out of sight that no chance offered for a the flank of the baby deer. The fawn had successful shot. torn his side deeply, but not dangerously, That the buck knew the difference beon a protruding splinter, and the crimson tween a man unarmed and a man with a streak in his delicate coat smote the child's gun was an opinion shrewdly held by one heart with horror and sympathy. He young hunter, who kept this view to himlifted the latch of the pen door, which self for reasons of his own. Probably some could be fastened only on the outside, and early experience in being creased by a ran to comfort his wounded protégé. The bullet from one of those fire-spouting, louddoe backed into the far corner, trembling voiced sticks that men sometimes carried with terror, then suddenly sprang for the had brought an idea into the buck's head. opening, bowling the child over in her Dogs did not seem to excite any great rush. At her bleat of command the fawn terror in him, and on numerous occasions dashed after her, maternal authority over he had turned on those that followed his coming whatever of reluctance he may trail and driven them off. But usually he have felt in deserting the kind little two accepted the challenge and gave them an legged animal, and the boy, rising bewil- exhilarating run, and, when the game dered and with the hot tears springing to palled, broke his trail craftily and left the his eyes, emerged from the pen just in time dogs to plod back home foot-sore and chopto glimpse the two gracefully leaping forms fallen. disappearing over the crest of a rise in The history of "Old Scarside," which mid-pasture. With her white flag guiding was the name by which the great buck the youngling, the freed mother deer finally came to be known, was familiar to streaked for the friendly cover that loomed the settlement folk. Laban Knowles, the invitingly before her eyes, and quickly doe farmer who had imprisoned the doe and and fawn were swallowed up in the cool, fawn, and his son Lonny held themselves dim sanctuary of the forest.
his sponsors; indeed, Lonny maintained
that the buck belonged to him, and always SEVERAL years passed, and in the settle was driven to white anger by the often ments a "scar-sided buck” began to achieve expressed designs on the deer's life. a reputation beyond that of any of his fel Lonny desired above all things that his lows. Known and recognized both by the big buck, who only a few years before, livid mark on his right flank and the im as a captive fawn, had plainly shown his mense size to which he grew, he became willingness to be friends with him, should famous throughout the Swiftwater coun live unharmed. Old Scarside, magnificent try. He was credited either with possess and storied buck whitetail of the Swifting uncanny craft or the gift of uncom water country, had responded to his voice monly good luck, for no magnificently and nuzzled his hand when both were antlered head was more coveted, or more hardly more than babies! The intimate assiduously hunted, than the one that association, unfortunately, had been terreared itself proudly on his broad, power minated after all too brief a life, else ful shoulders. And frequently something surely it would have progressed to a thormore than desire to possess the finest head ough understanding; but the friendship so they had known inspired the efforts of the begun still held with one of the parties to hunters of the region. His depredations it, and the boy's assumption of proprietoron the fields and truck patches of the scat ship in the biggest deer of the region was tered farmsteads periodically sent irate known to all the inhabitants of the border backwoods farmers on his trail vowing to country. exterminate this despoiler of their crops. Lonny Knowles was by way of becoming But these usually returned without having a top-notch woodsman, and his skill as a seen the big buck, or else, if they caught marksman with his twenty-two rifle was a