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Title: White Tail the Deer's Adventures
Author: Walsh, George E.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Internet Archive)



[Illustration: WITH ALL THE SPEED AND POWER HE COULD SUMMON, HE
DELIVERED A CRUSHING BLOW]

                        _Twilight Animal Series_



                               WHITE TAIL
                         THE DEER’S ADVENTURES


                                    By

                          GEORGE ETHELBERT WALSH

  _Author of “Bumper the White Rabbit,” “Bumper the White Rabbit in the
 Woods,” “Bumper the White Rabbit and His Foes,” “Bumper the White Rabbit
      and His Friends,” “Bobby Gray Squirrel” “Bobby Gray Squirrel’s
                            Adventures,” Etc._

                        _Colored Illustrations by
                            EDWIN J. PRETTIE_

[Illustration]

                      THE JOHN C. WINSTON COMPANY
                      CHICAGO PHILADELPHIA TORONTO

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                         TWILIGHT ANIMAL SERIES
                           FOR BOYS AND GIRLS


                       FROM 4 TO 10 YEARS OF AGE

                                   By
                         GEORGE ETHELBERT WALSH


                             LIST OF TITLES

                1 BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT
                2 BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT IN THE WOODS
                3 BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT AND HIS FOES
                4 BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT AND HIS FRIENDS
                5 BOBBY GRAY SQUIRREL
                6 BOBBY GRAY SQUIRREL’S ADVENTURES
                7 BUSTER THE BIG BROWN BEAR
                8 BUSTER THE BIG BROWN BEAR’S ADVENTURES
                9 WHITE TAIL THE DEER
               10 WHITE TAIL THE DEER’S ADVENTURES
               11 WASHER, THE RACCOON

                     (Other titles in preparation)

                Issued in uniform style with this volume
                     PRICE 65 CENTS EACH, Postpaid

               EACH VOLUME CONTAINS COLORED ILLUSTRATIONS


                           Copyright 1922 by
                      THE JOHN C. WINSTON COMPANY

                  Copyright MCMXVII by George E. Walsh

------------------------------------------------------------------------



              INTRODUCTION TO THE TWILIGHT ANIMAL STORIES

                             BY THE AUTHOR


All little boys and girls who love animals should become acquainted with
Bumper the white rabbit, with Bobby Gray Squirrel, with Buster the bear,
and with White Tail the deer, for they are all a jolly lot, brave and
fearless in danger, and so lovable that you won’t lay down any one of
the books without saying wistfully, “I almost wish I had them really and
truly as friends and not just storybook acquaintances.” That, of course,
is a splendid wish; but none of us could afford to have a big menagerie
of wild animals, and that’s just what you would have to do if you went
outside of the books. Bumper had many friends, such as Mr. Blind Rabbit,
Fuzzy Wuzz and Goggle Eyes, his country cousins; and Bobby Gray Squirrel
had his near cousins, Stripe the chipmunk and Webb the flying squirrel;
while Buster and White Tail were favored with an endless number of
friends and relatives. If we turned them all loose from the books, and
put them in a ten-acre lot—but no, ten acres wouldn’t be big enough to
accommodate them, perhaps not a hundred acres.

So we will leave them just where they are—in the books—and read about
them, and let our imaginations take us to them where we can see them
playing, skipping, singing, and sometimes fighting, and if we read very
carefully, and _think_ as we go along, we may come to know them even
better than if we went out hunting for them.

Another thing we should remember. By leaving them in the books, hundreds
and thousands of other boys and girls can enjoy them, too, sharing with
us the pleasures of the imagination, which after all is one of the
greatest things in the world. In gathering them together in a real
menagerie, we would be selfish both to Bumper, Bobby, Buster, White Tail
and their friends as well as to thousands of other little readers who
could not share them with us. So these books of Twilight Animal Stories
are dedicated to all little boys and girls who love wild animals. All
others are forbidden to read them! They wouldn’t understand them if they
did.

So come out into the woods with me, and let us listen and watch, and I
promise you it will be worth while.



                                CONTENTS


         STORY                                            PAGE

             I White Tail Jumps Stepping Stone Brook         9

            II Father Buck’s Failure                        17

           III Young Black Buck’s Challenge                 25

            IV Father Buck’s Decision                       33

             V Young Black Buck’s Challenge to a Race       41

            VI Downy the Woodpecker Brings Startling News   49

           VII A Race With Puma and Timber                  57

          VIII Mrs. Puma and Timber Fight                   65

            IX Young Black Buck Has An Accident             73

             X White Tail’s Magnanimous Act                 81

            XI White Tail’s Adventure in the Camp           89

           XII White Tail Escapes                           97

          XIII White Tail Hears Unpleasant News            105

           XIV Choosing a New Leader                       113

            XV The Great Combat                            121

           XVI White Tail Made Leader of the Herd          129



                        WHITE TAIL’S ADVENTURES



                                STORY I
                 WHITE TAIL JUMPS STEPPING STONE BROOK


White Tail grew rapidly in size and strength, his long, clean limbs
showing taut muscles and great springing power; and his neck grew thick
and short, which is well for a buck, who must use it in savage thrusts
when the head is a battering ram. His horns were short and bony, but
they protruded in front like knobs against which it would be unpleasant
to fall.

But his antlers were his pride. They spread out fan-shape on his head,
crowning it with a glory that made Mother Deer supremely happy. At times
it seemed as if the antlers were too heavy for the head and neck, but
White Tail carried them easily, and when he shook them in sport or anger
any one could see they were just fitted to him.

In time he stood as high as Father Buck, and a head taller than Mother
Deer. The day the tip of his antlers reached an inch above Father
Buck’s, he felt a little thrill of pride. To be as big and tall as his
father had always been his ambition. But while it pleased Father Buck
that his son was growing so big, it made him a little sad.

“You will soon be ready to take my place, White Tail,” he said. “You’re
growing taller and stronger every day.”

“That may be, Father Buck,” he replied, “but it will be many a season
before I can run as fast and far as you, or show the same strength in a
fight. Oh, no, there’s little chance of my equaling you for many, many
seasons.”

Father Buck merely smiled and nodded his head. “I want you to run out
with me to Stepping Stone brook,” he said simply. “There is something I
want to show you.”

White Tail was always eager for a run with Father Buck. Nearly every day
they went off together to hunt and explore. Father Buck had been
teaching him all the ways and tricks of the woods so that his education
would be complete.

It was a cool, crisp day, and they ran through the woods, side by side,
in long, gentle lopes until they came to Stepping Stone brook. This was
a small stream confined between two ledges of rocks, with stones placed
in it for stepping across when one didn’t want to wet the feet.
Frequently the whole herd crossed it, using the stones so that not a
foot touched the water.

When they reached the brook, White Tail immediately took a long drink of
the cooling water, for their run had made him hot and thirsty. Father
Buck watched him in silence, a very sad expression in his beautiful
eyes. There was admiration also, but a little sadness.

“White Tail,” he said suddenly, “I have brought you here to tell you
something. Stepping Stone brook has always been the test for our
leaders. Here it is that many a youngster has first earned his right to
lead the herd, and, alas! many an older leader has broken his heart
here.”

White Tail looked up in surprise, and glanced from the speaker to the
trickling waters. He was clearly puzzled by the words he had heard.

“No buck can be leader of the herd unless he can jump across Stepping
Stone brook, clearing it from bank to bank without faltering or
stumbling. If he fails he must wait until he can make the leap. Many,
many have tried and failed, and others—”

White Tail’s eyes gleamed with anticipation. He liked to take risks and
attempt difficult tasks.

“I see,” he said, laughing joyfully, “you brought me here to see if I
could make the leap. Well, I can do it! I’ll show you. I won’t
disappoint you, Father Buck.”

“I know you won’t, White Tail,” was the reply. “I shouldn’t have brought
you here so soon if I thought you would fail. But I had another purpose,
too.”

“What is it?” asked White Tail.

“I will tell you later. Now I want to see you take the leap. Years ago,
many, many seasons ago, I came here, and took it. There on the rocks you
can see the marks of my leap. It was one of the longest ever made by any
of our people. I was naturally proud of it. I shall never forget that
day. I think it was the happiest of my life—except one.”

“Which other one?” asked White Tail.

“The day I defeated Black Buck in the final struggle for leadership,”
was the reply. “It was a battle that lasted for hours, and all the herd
watched us. We were down, and up again and again, struggling, fighting
and bucking until it seemed as if both of us would die from exhaustion.
But I finally won. I got him down on his knees, and then rolled him
over, and stood there until he acknowledged my leadership. That of
course was the happiest day of my life.”

White Tail thrilled at this story, and for a moment forgot the thing he
was going to do until his father spoke again.

“Now let me see you take the brook in a jump.”

White Tail trotted back on the embankment, but he discovered there was
little room for a start. It was almost a standing leap. That was why it
was so hard. Across on the other side the embankment shelved down
gradually to the shore, with grass and moss covering the bold face of
the rock.

“Take your time,” Father Buck cautioned. “Measure the distance well, and
do not spring unless you’re sure of yourself. Many a buck that failed
the first time never got his courage up to repeat it. It is the first
leap that counts.”

Reflecting long and earnestly on his father’s words, White Tail measured
the distance with his eyes, and then drew back as far as he could. He
gathered his powerful hind legs together, squatted down on them, pawed
the rock with his front ones, and stood a moment in trembling
anticipation. His nostrils dilated, his eyes flashed. Then with a sudden
forward spring he darted toward the edge of the rock, and when he
reached it his hind hoofs dug on the rock for a secure purchase. There
was a momentary hesitation, as if he had decided not to make the
attempt. Then his body shot upward and outward across the brook in the
prettiest jump that any deer had ever taken.

He cleared the brook, with its stepping stones, passed the opposite
edge, and landed all four hoofs firmly planted on the upper part of the
slope. He had made the jump successfully.

Father Buck crossed the stream on the stones, and glanced down at his
old mark. A spirit of exultation seized him.

“You have passed my old mark, White Tail, beaten it by a foot,” he said.
“You will some day be leader, I know.”

White Tail was as much interested as his father in his triumph. He
examined the marks, and then wanted to repeat the jump to see if he
could better it.

“No,” cautioned Father Buck, “once is sufficient. The second time may
not be so good. You have established your mark. We will scratch it here
with our hoofs as a challenge to all others. Let Young Black Buck beat
it if he can. Until he does that is your mark.”

White Tail accepted this order, and made no further attempt to jump the
brook. If Young Black Buck beats it some day then he would have a chance
to try it again, and, if possible, score a longer jump.

“What was your other purpose in bringing me here today?” he asked
remembering his father’s words.

“Ah! That is the sad part of it,” sighed Father Buck. “But you must
know. I will show you.”

Just what he meant will appear in the next story.



                                STORY II
                         FATHER BUCK’S FAILURE


Father Buck walked across the brook again, and took his place on the
rock from which the jump was made. White Tail immediately concluded he
was going to show him how much farther he could jump when he was a young
buck.

“I know you will beat me,” White Tail said. “But if you do, won’t you
give me another chance?”

“Yes, if such a miracle should happen,” was the reply.

White Tail stood eagerly watching, while his father crouched as he had
for the spring. How noble he looked with his big antlered head, with
streaks of gray and white hair curling around the roots! White Tail was
proud of him.

Suddenly Father Buck rushed forward, hesitated at the brink to get a
good purchase with his hoofs, and then up in the air and straight across
his body shot. White Tail watched him with gleaming eyes.

Then something happened which startled him. The spring had not been as
powerful as he thought, for instead of beating White Tail’s mark, or
reaching his own, Father Buck missed the shore by a foot. His hind legs
actually splashed in the water.

“What happened?” exclaimed White Tail in amazement. “Did you slip,
or—or—”

“No,” replied Father Buck sadly, “it was as I expected. I am getting
old, White Tail, and have lost my spring. I have reached the age where I
am no longer qualified to lead the herd. If any of the other bucks knew
this they would instantly demand a new leader. It’s the law of the
herd.”

“But—but—” stammered White Tail. “You could do it again. You didn’t get
a good start.”

“No, it wasn’t that, White Tail. It was my age. I can no longer spring
across Stepping Stone brook. I am not fit to be leader of the herd.”

Father Buck’s proud head drooped, and something like a tear gleamed in
his eyes. It was hard to acknowledge that he was failing, and that in a
few seasons he would be looked upon as a useless old buck who would have
to take orders from another much younger than he. But it was the law of
the herd—and the law of life.

“I can’t believe it!” exclaimed White Tail. “I won’t believe it! I know
you can leap across the brook. You must try it again. What I can do you
can do!”

Father Buck raised his head and smiled. All the sadness left his eyes,
and pride and gratefulness took its place.

“No, White Tail,” he replied. “I cannot do it. I put in that jump all
the strength I had—and I failed. But don’t think I’m sad. I’m not. I
knew it had to come some day. But I’m glad that my son can take my
place. I can be happy yet—and Mother Deer will share it with me—because
you have qualified so well to be our leader. I am thankful for that.”

But White Tail was not convinced. It was hard for him to accept the
truth. Father Buck was still to him the finest, proudest, wisest and
strongest leader he knew, and he wanted him to continue so.

“Some other day when you feel better you will come out here and try the
jump again,” he said. “I know you don’t feel well today. Tomorrow you
will feel better.”

Father Buck shook his head slowly. “I see you are hard to convince,
White Tail. But I will show you in another way. How far is it from here
to Puma’s hunting ground?”

“Ten miles or more.”

“Then we will go to it. We will race to it at a good speed. I want you
to set the pace—the swiftest you can. You must run as if Puma or Timber
Wolf was on your trail. I will follow. You must neither look to the
right or to the left, or back of you. Run with all your might.”

“You will follow close behind me?”

“I will follow you.”

Now White Tail looked with glee upon this run, for he was in fine
condition. His limbs seemed aching for a long, hard run, and his father
wanted to see how quickly he could make the race. He would show him. He
wouldn’t disappoint him.

Shortly afterward he started off, taking a broad trail through the
woods. He trotted along merrily, and soon began running in long leaps
and bounds that carried him far and fast. When he came to obstructions
in his path he leaped over them as easily as a boy or girl would jump
over a log.

Faster and faster he flew through the woods, his fine head set well
back, and his antlers almost resting on his neck. His eyes were kept
glued to the trail ahead. He ran so easily and smoothly that it seemed
as if he was making no effort. For the first five miles he showed hardly
any results of his wild run, but in the last half of the distance he
began to perspire a little, and the white foam settled on his flanks.

But he never stopped or turned until he reached the boundary line of
Puma’s hunting ground. Then he halted and whirled around.

“How was that?” he asked.

But Father Buck was not there. He was alone. His father was nowhere in
sight. Startled and surprised by this he trotted back a few paces and
called to him. Then, not finding him, he became frightened. Had
something happened to his father?

Perhaps Puma had sprung out of the bushes and killed him, or Timber Wolf
had driven him off the trail, and was even now chasing him. White Tail
was so alarmed that he retraced his footsteps, calling every little
while for Father Buck. It was a dangerous thing to do, for in calling he
might attract Puma or Timber Wolf. But his anxiety for his father made
him forget all caution.

He found him a long way back on the trail, lying in the bushes, panting
with exhaustion. As soon as he discovered him, White Tail ran up to him
with a little bleat of joy.

“Oh, I thought something terrible had happened to you!” he exclaimed.
“What is it? Did you stumble? You haven’t broken a leg, have you?”

“No, White Tail,” was the panting reply. “Nothing has happened to me. I
couldn’t keep up with you. I tried my best. I hung on until I fell down
with exhaustion. I have run my last race. I did it to show you that I am
growing older and that my powers are weakening. You would not be
convinced when I failed to leap the brook. Now you will have to
believe.”

Then it dawned upon White Tail that the race to Puma’s hunting ground
was simply to show him that his father could no longer keep up with the
young bucks of the herd. It was hard for Father Buck thus to show his
failing powers, but it was better to do it with his son as the only
witness than to fail before all the herd.

“It is my downfall, White Tail,” he added. “But I wanted only you as
witness. Now you know. My leadership will soon end, but when the day
comes you must be able to take my place. That will be my satisfaction,
and your mother’s. She knew that the time was approaching, and she will
not be heavy-hearted.”

White Tail was terribly distressed by this news, but after a while a
fierce joy came to him. “I shall prove myself worthy of you, Father
Buck,” he said. “Yes, I will take your place. I will fight for it now
that you and Mother Deer want it. Yes, I will fight for the leadership
until the last breath.”

“Those are the words I’ve longed to hear, White Tail. Now I am
contented. We will return to the herd. My day’s work is done.”

As they trotted slowly back to the herd, they planned for the future.
Both knew that the future race would be between White Tail and Young
Black Buck. But of this you will read in the next story.



                               STORY III
                      YOUNG BLACK BUCK’S CHALLENGE


Young Black Buck had, of course, been in training all this time, for it
is the law of the deer that none shall aspire for the leadership of a
herd until he has learned all the ways of the woods, and can out-pace
and out-jump his father and mother. All the laws of the deer are very
strict, for the safety of all depends upon the leader.

Black Buck had taken his son through the woods, as Father Buck had taken
White Tail, showing him the dangers and pitfalls, and instructing him
how to avoid them and what to do when danger threatened. He had taken
him secretly to Stepping Stone brook, and made him jump it; and he had
tested his speed and endurance in a race with himself.

Father Buck had no illusions about what Black Buck was doing, and he
tried to prepare White Tail to meet Young Black Buck on equal terms. It
was like bringing up two boys for a contest in speed, strength,
endurance, wisdom and courage. It was a Spartan education, but it was
necessary for the good of the herd.

Then one day the clash came for a preliminary trial of skill. The herd
had wandered down from the timberland to the open woods below where the
new buds of the birches offered succulent food. There was no sign of
danger in the air, and the herd grazed peacefully on soft young twigs
and opening buds.

When they had wandered to the brink of the canyon that cut through the
North Woods below Stepping Stone brook, the leaders paused and started
to turn the young does and fawns back. It was dangerous to permit them
to eat too close to the edge of the precipice. If one should fall over,
the rocks below would crack every bone in its body.

Black Buck suddenly raised his head, and then whispered to his son:
“Think you can jump the canyon safely? If so it is a good time to
challenge White Tail. We may find out then what he can do. If he balks
at it, we will know he is timid or under-trained.”

Young Black Buck walked to the edge, and gazed down it and then across
it. It was a dangerous leap, for if he missed by an inch he would fall
to the bottom thirty feet below where the hard rocks would crush him. He
sniffed the air, and then returned to his father’s side.

“I can do it,” he replied. “I’ve made longer jumps.”

“Yes, but if you should fail you would be killed. Make sure of yourself
before you sound the challenge. Go below, where the canyon is not so
steep, but just as wide. Practice there alone until you have confidence.
If you fail no harm will be done. You can wait another day.”

Young Black Buck separated himself from the herd and made his way to a
point half a mile down the canyon. On either side here the rocks were
covered with moss and turf, and the edges dropped only a few feet. If he
failed the fall would not hurt him.

Unseen by the others, he made the attempt, and cleared the space
successfully in the first leap. Then to make sure he tried it again and
again, lighting easily on the opposite embankment each time.

Gloating with pride and triumph, he trotted back to Black Buck, and
reported. “I never failed once. If the distance here is no greater
across I can do it easily.”

“It is no greater, but if anything a few inches less,” replied Black
Buck. “If you can do it below, you will do it here. Issue the
challenge.”

Young Black Buck trotted away, and, raising his head in the air, a
peculiar bellowing noise issued from his throat. It was the buck’s
challenge to a contest. Every deer knew its meaning, and raised a head
to see who was calling. White Tail, feeding some distance off with
Mother Deer and Father Buck, heard it, and instantly turned his head in
Young Black Buck’s direction.

“It’s Young Black Buck’s challenge,” whispered Father Buck. “You must
accept it. It may be a challenge to a race or fight. Whatever it is you
must accept it.”

“I’m ready,” replied White Tail, starting off.

“Who will leap the canyon with me!” bellowed Young Black Buck. “I shall
lead where none dare follow! None shall then dispute my claim to
leadership. Come those who dare!”

Before White Tail reached the spot, the whole herd was crowding around
the challenger. They saw a prospect of a free entertainment, and they
bucked and butted each other to get in front. None of the other young
bucks had accepted the challenge. One glance at the yawning depth of the
canyon had made them withdraw with sickening fear. It looked much deeper
than it was, and twice as wide.

White Tail pushed his way through the crowds until he stood before Young
Black Buck. The sight of him brought a quick remark from the
challenger’s mouth.

“You, White Tail!” he exclaimed. “You wish to accept the challenge?
Beware how you speak without thinking. Go and look down the chasm! It
means death if you fail! Think twice before you speak!”

Now when Father Buck heard the nature of the challenge he felt a great
fear. He had never shown the canyon to White Tail, and he didn’t know
whether he could leap across it or not. He reproached himself for
omitting this part of his training.

Mother Deer’s heart gave a great throb. If White Tail failed she knew he
would be crushed to death on the rocks below. She could not endure such
a sight. Better that her son should lose the leadership than be killed.

“No, no, White Tail,” she cried, “you must not accept the challenge. You
must not! I can’t lose you!”

Black Buck, who had been standing back of the crowd, heard, and was
greatly pleased, for he knew now that Father Buck hadn’t taught White
Tail to jump the canyon. Few had ever taken the leap without practicing
first at the place below where there was no danger. It was the fear of
not being able to clear the distance that caused the real danger.

“You must not say that,” interrupted Father Buck, frowning at Mother
Deer. “The honor of our family is at stake. White Tail must accept the
challenge.”

Before Mother Deer could answer this, White Tail had settled the
dispute. “Whatever you can do, Young Black Buck,” he said, “I will do.
More than that, I will lead.”

“You will take the leap first?” queried Young Black Buck. “Then, as the
challenger, I have the right of choice. You can go first, White Tail.”

“But where I go you must follow,” retorted White Tail. “If not, you
shall be forever disgraced.”

“If you are afraid I’ll lead,” sneered Young Black Buck.

“No, I’ll go first!”

White Tail didn’t even go to the edge of the precipice to look down or
to measure the distance across. What was the use? He would make the
greatest jump of his life. If he failed he would die knowing he had done
his best. What more could he do?

[Illustration: IT WAS A SPLENDID JUMP]

He ran back a short distance, and then facing the canyon he made a swift
dash for it. At the brink he threw all his strength in a mighty leap,
and his body shot upward and outward, forming a beautiful curve. He kept
his eyes ahead, and never once looked down.

It was a splendid jump. It carried him clear across the canyon, and
landed him safely a yard beyond the opposite edge. He knew by the shouts
that he had succeeded even before his feet touched ground. Then with a
proud toss of his head he turned and looked at Young Black Buck. It was
his turn now. Could he do it?



                                STORY IV
                         FATHER BUCK’S DECISION


Young Black Buck was greatly chagrined at White Tail’s great jump, for
he knew that he had crossed the canyon without any previous training. It
showed that White Tail had courage as well as strength and skill. It was
a triumph for him that none appreciated more than Young Black Buck and
his father.

“Now, Young Black Buck,” White Tail called from the opposite side,
“follow me, or forever cease challenging.”

There was nothing for Young Black Buck to do but take the jump. All eyes
were turned on him. For the first time a feeling of fear possessed him.
He had looked down the chasm, and knew what waited him if he fell short.
Suppose he should make a false step or stumble at the last moment. The
fall would be terrible. If not actually killed, he would break his legs
at the very least.

Black Buck saw the expression of fear in his son’s eyes, and whispered
to him: “Don’t look below! Keep your eyes up and ahead!”

Young Black Buck gathered himself for the short run, and long jump. He
knew that he had to take it, and that he had to succeed. He ran with all
his might, and then sprang forward in a quick spring.

If it hadn’t been for his nervousness, he certainly would have cleared
the chasm without accident, but chagrin, anger and fear had possession
of him, and they were responsible for a misstep at the last moment. When
his body was launched through the air, he knew that he hadn’t put in the
jump all the power he had.

Then too the fear of a failure alarmed him. He glanced down, and saw the
terrible chasm yawning below to receive him. This gave his body a side
lurch, and instead of clearing the chasm in a beautiful jump his
forefeet touched the opposite side only a foot from the edge, and his
hind hoofs missed it by an inch.

No one could see the accident so quickly or plainly as White Tail, who
stood within a few feet of him. He saw that Young Black Buck was going
to miss before his front hoofs touched the embankment.

Now the thought of his missing the rock, and falling to the bottom of
the chasm in a broken heap, horrified White Tail so that he forgot all
his triumph and desire to win. His greatest desire was to save Young
Black Buck from an awful death.

Before he reached the embankment, White Tail jumped to the edge, and
quick as a wink stretched forth his head, caught Young Black Buck by a
prong of his antlers. He got a good hold with his teeth, and then as the
leaping buck’s hind feet slipped down and his body began to sway
backward, White Tail braced his feet, and jerked backward with all his
strength.

It was enough to overcome the balance of the frightened jumper. Instead
of falling backward into the chasm, he stumbled forward, and then
catching his hind hoofs on the edge he managed to climb up the
embankment.

It was all done so quickly and skilfully that the watchers on the
opposite bank hardly knew what had happened. They knew in some way that
Young Black Buck had stumbled and nearly fallen in the chasm. They had
also seen White Tail reach forward and grab or push him. They couldn’t
very well say just what he did.

But Black Buck, seeing that his son had failed, and angry at the thought
of White Tail’s triumph, was quick to see a way to change defeat into
triumph. Before his son could recover his breath and stop his trembling,
Black Buck roared out with all his might:

“Foul! That was a foul! White Tail got in the way, and tried to throw my
son off the precipice!”

“No, No!” several shouted. “Not that! White Tail wouldn’t do that!”

“Ask my son if what I say isn’t true? He should know!” rumbled Black
Buck.

Young Black Buck was almost as quick as his father to see the chance of
redeeming himself in the eyes of the whole herd, and he shook his head
with delight. His fear and trembling all left him.

“Speak, Young Black Buck!” shouted his father. “Did White Tail interfere
with you? Speak before it is too late!”

Young Black Buck was ready with his answer. “Yes, he stood in my way,”
he replied, “and when I reached the edge he bit at me, and tried to push
me off the edge.”

White Tail started in surprise and horror at this accusation, for he was
too stunned to speak. Then, when he realized what the charge meant, he
said:

“You know I didn’t do that, Young Black Buck! If I hadn’t grabbed your
antlers you would have fallen over and been crushed to death. Oh, how
could you say such a thing!”

“That’s a fine story to tell!” jeered Young Black Buck. “Who do you
think will believe it! You wanted to kill me so you could have no
challenger for the leadership. Well, I’m alive, and I’ll beat you to it
yet.”

Now the uproar on the other side was intense. Some believed that White
Tail had actually tried to push his rival down the chasm, and others
were equally certain that the son of Father Buck could never be guilty
of such a crime. The commotion was approaching the proportions of a riot
when Father Buck brought silence with a roar of authority.

“Be quiet!” he bellowed. “We must settle this dispute right. If my son
was guilty of such a crime, I would be the first to disown him and drive
him from the herd in disgrace. But if he is innocent, I will back him up
with all my might.”

He turned fiercely on Black Buck, as he said this, his eyes flashing and
his antlers bobbing threateningly. Black Buck was not anxious to get in
a fight with the leader, and he backed away grumbling.

“I will protect my son, too,” he breathed angrily, “if he is right.”

“That is your duty,” roared Father Buck, “and it is your duty to
denounce him if he’s in the wrong. Will you do that also?”

Black Buck made some inaudible reply, and backed still further away from
the flashing eyes.

“Who saw White Tail push Young Black Buck off the edge?” asked Father
Buck, addressing the crowd.

A dozen or more voices answered in the affirmative. Without changing the
expression of his face, Father Buck then added: “Who saw White Tail grab
Young Black Buck, and try to save him from a fall?”

An equal number of voices responded promptly. To make sure Father Buck
counted them, and then counted those who had answered in favor of Young
Black Buck. They were the same! Twenty yeas and twenty noes!

“That makes it hard for me to decide,” murmured Father Buck. “A tie is
never a pleasant vote for a leader, for he must decide then one way or
the other himself. In this case it’s doubly hard for me.”

He stopped and looked at the herd, and then added: “You know me, and you
know I would be the last to decide in favor of my son if I thought he
was wrong. Therefore, in giving my decision, I know you will think I’m
doing justice. Then I say to you that I saw White Tail help Young Black
Buck up the slope. Had it not been for his help one of our number would
be down below there dead.”

There was a silence, and a shudder passed through the whole herd. Father
Buck’s decision did not affect them so much as the thought of what might
have happened. They were glad that it had ended this way, with no bones
broken. White Tail was exonerated in their eyes.



                                STORY V
                 YOUNG BLACK BUCK’S CHALLENGE TO A RACE


White Tail was so angry at Young Black Buck for accusing him falsely
that for a moment after Father Buck’s decision, he couldn’t find his
tongue to speak. He simply glared at Young Black Buck, and for the first
time there came into his mind a desire to punish his accuser. He knew
then that he would have to fight his antagonist some day, and the battle
would be a long and hard one, with neither side giving any terms.

When the excitement had quieted a little, he turned to Young Black Buck,
and said: “You know that you spoke falsely, and knowing it your
conscience should trouble you.”

Young Black Buck grinned. “But nobody else knows it,” he replied.
“Therefore my conscience don’t trouble me much.”

“Some day,” added White Tail, “you will pay for this. We want no
deceiver as the leader of the herd. I’ll battle you for the position.”

“Oh!” sneered the other. “That’s a pretty speech, White Tail. But we
can’t battle for the leadership until Father Buck has failed in the
chase or hunt. He’s leader until then.”

“But the day will come when it will be between you and me.”

“And then,” replied Young Black Buck, airily, “I’ll see that you get the
worst licking you ever had.”

“No, I think it will be the other way.”

White Tail crossed the chasm again and joined the herd. There were
plenty to sympathize with him, and they expressed themselves frankly.
But there were not lacking others who admired Young Black Buck, and felt
that he had been unjustly accused.

Mother Deer whispered in her son’s ears: “Never mind, White Tail. We
have to learn to take such things in life unselfishly. Right always
triumphs in the end. Don’t let it worry you.”

“It doesn’t worry me, Mother Deer. But it makes me feel angry.”

Further conversation was stopped by Father Buck announcing that the herd
would go to the lower timberland to graze on the succulent grass that
bordered Puma’s hunting ground. The grass was in the rich, tender stage,
and the deer enjoyed it as a sort of luxury. The fact that Puma had
selected this spot as his special hunting ground could not keep the deer
away, and Father Buck’s announcement was hailed with delight.

“We must keep together,” he cautioned, “with the does and fawns inside,
and the bucks outside, for Puma may be abroad, although he’s not to be
feared so much in the day time. If he’s asleep in his lair we won’t
disturb him.”

The spice of danger added to the zest of the adventure. The grass always
had a much sweeter taste and a richer flavor when it was gathered right
under the nose of Puma. The young bucks kicked up their heels and ran
ahead. While they were not anxious to draw Puma from his lair, they
wanted to show to the fawns and does they were unafraid.

“If Puma comes for me I’ll show him a clean pair of heels!” boasted one.

“And I,” said another, “will give him a race that he’ll never forget.”

Little did they know of what they were boasting. Puma the Mountain Lion
never laid any great claim to swift, long distance running. He knew he
was no match for the fleet deer in this respect.

But he had ways and tricks of his own. His favorite method was to hide
among the thick foliage of the trees, and when a buck or doe passed
underneath to spring upon its back. Once caught in this way no deer had
a chance to escape. All the speed in the world would not avail the poor
creature then.

Puma was a terrible hunter. At night time he roamed about the dark woods
and scented out his sleeping prey, and with one blow from his great paw
he could break the back of a buck or crush the skull of a smaller
animal. He could climb a tree like a cat, and crouch flat in the bushes
out of sight to spring up as swiftly as a deer leaping a chasm.

All the older deer knew the ways of Puma, some from terrifying
experiences, and others only from hearsay. Ever since Father Buck had
been leader of the herd, they had avoided Puma, and not one had fallen a
prey to his voracious appetite. Perhaps they didn’t fully appreciate
this, for continued safety from danger often makes us think there is no
real danger after all.

So when he proposed leading the herd down to the succulent grass,
bordering the woods where Puma hunted, he took great precaution to avoid
any risk. Several of the older bucks were sent ahead scouting, and they
returned at intervals to report.

Father Buck led them down to the broad, shallow stream that he and White
Tail had crossed that day on their return from Puma’s hunting ground.
But instead of wading down the river a short distance, the leader kept
them wading until they had skirted the hunting ground of Timber Wolf. He
had almost as much fear of Timber as of Puma.

They kept to the left bank of the stream, and then crossed a shallow
ford where the grass and reeds grew in such dense masses. They began
feeding at once, but not until bucks had been sent inland to scout for
Puma. They returned to report that Puma was not abroad. They had crossed
and re-crossed his old trails, but there was no fresh scent in the air.

“He’s probably sleeping after a good night of hunting,” Black Buck
remarked. “I don’t think there’s any danger.”

But the leader was taking no chances. He posted scouts in the woods and
on high rocks where they could watch, listen and smell. Then the rest of
the herd enjoyed their feast of rich grass and reeds. They munched
greedily at them, their eyes filled with happiness, and making as little
noise as possible.

Now Young Black Buck should have been satisfied to eat and enjoy himself
with the rest but after he had filled his stomach he began to feel so
much better that he trotted around from one group to another in the most
restless manner. Seeing White Tail feeding alone, a sudden desire to get
even with him for the morning’s work seized him.

“Ho, White Tail!” he called. “I challenge you to a race. We’ll scare up
Puma maybe, but that will give us a good chance to show him how little
we are afraid of him.”

“Is it wise to arouse him?” asked White Tail.

“Wise!” sniffed Young Black Buck. “Must you ask that question whenever
you want to do something? But if you’re afraid to race me through his
hunting ground well and good. I’ll go alone.”

“I’m not afraid,” replied White Tail, “and I will accept your challenge
if the older ones say it is all right.”

Young Black Buck reported the matter to the leaders, and after a
consultation Father Buck announced: “We’re ready to go home, and if Puma
is aroused we’ll flee. Perhaps it’s a good plan to give Young Black Buck
and White Tail a chance to see Puma. They will be on the lookout for
him, and when he appears they can run home. Yes, they must learn some
day to meet him, and it is well that it should be today.”

With the consent of the leader of the herd the two young bucks started
off into the lower woods to make a complete circuit of Puma’s hunting
ground. It was a long, wild run, and they would need all their strength
and powers. Father Buck started them off, and they disappeared in the
woods like two arrows shot from a bow. What happened to them in the race
will be told in the next story.



                                STORY VI
               DOWNY THE WOODPECKER BRINGS STARTLING NEWS


Swift as the wind, and almost as silently, White Tail and Young Black
Buck swept through the low timberland, skirting the edge of Puma’s
hunting ground so they could circuit it and return to the starting
point. Like two good long-distance runners, neither made an effort to
take the lead at first.

It was to be a test of endurance rather than of short sprinting.
Silently, side by side, they ran at first, leaping over fallen logs and
trees in long graceful jumps, and spurting in sharp bursts of speed
where the trail was broad and open.

It was not until they had covered the first mile, that first one and
then the other attempted to take the lead. Young Black Buck shot ahead
first, taking advantage of an open trail, but a moment later White Tail
leaped over a clump of bushes and rushed ahead. Young Black Buck pushed
in the lead again at the first opportunity.

Neither took these short spurts seriously, for they indicated nothing.
Not until they had covered the second mile did they begin to let out in
real earnestness. Black Buck then, to see whether White Tail was
beginning to show any strain, rushed ahead, and spread himself out in a
long, steady lope.

White Tail kept close behind him until his speed began to slacken, and
then to show that he was still fresh and strong he dashed ahead and took
the lead. Then followed another mile of hard running. Both bucks were
beginning to perspire freely now, and the white lather showed on their
flanks.

But neither one was winded or anywhere near the end of their strength.
White Tail felt that he could keep up the gait nearly all day. He felt
singularly fresh and strong. They had made half the circuit before
either could try to outdistance the other.

The rest of the race would decide which was the champion. Either they
had to run abreast of each other until the end, or one had to take the
lead. Suddenly, to White Tail’s surprise, Young Black Buck slowed down,
and said:

“We’re on even terms up to this point, White Tail. Suppose we rest
awhile, and then go on. The woods are so beautiful here, and I want to
see what kind of a place Puma lives in. He’s around here somewhere, I
suppose.”

“Yes, I came here one day with Father Buck, and he showed me where Puma
was. I smelt him and heard him.”

“How exciting!” exclaimed Young Black Buck. “I wonder if we’ll hear and
smell him today. I want to know what he looks like.”

“I’m not so interested in that,” laughed White Tail. “I don’t want to
get so close to him that he can see me.”

“No, but we might see him, and then steal silently away without being
caught.”

White Tail wasn’t so sure of that. He had a wholesome dread of Puma’s
hunting powers.

“We might stumble upon him and he see us first,” he added. “He’s very
sly, and can hide so no one can see him.”

“But we could smell him first.”

“Not if we were on the wrong side of the wind. Have you noticed which
way the wind is blowing?”

“Why, yes, from the right.”

“Then we don’t have to fear anything on that side. We must keep our eyes
and ears open on the left.”

“It’s my opinion,” said Young Black Buck slowly, “that Puma’s greatly
over-rated. Why, he hasn’t killed one of the herd as long as any one can
remember.”

“No, but that’s because Father Buck has been such a wise leader.”

Young Black Buck sniffed in scorn. “I don’t know that he’s been any
better or wiser than other leaders,” was the retort. “If my father had
been leader Puma or Timber Wolf wouldn’t have caught a deer. They
wouldn’t have dared. They’re all afraid of him.”

White Tail felt that this boasting wouldn’t get them anywhere, and would
in the end lead to unpleasant words; but he knew that if Puma or Timber
Wolf heard it they would laugh in glee.

“If you’re rested suppose we go back,” White Tail said. “We’re going to
make quicker time back. I’m going to run my best.”

“And I too. I’m going to beat you. I’m sorry you got tired out, and had
to rest. Well, I’m ready.”

White Tail could afford a smile at this remark, for Young Black Buck had
made the request to stop for a short time. Tired out! Why, he felt as
fresh and strong as when they started. He would punish Young Black Buck
by making his defeat as unpleasant as he could.

But before either one could start for the return trip there was a noise
among the leaves of the spruce tree under which they were standing, and
with visions of Puma crouching among the branches ready to drop down
upon them their hearts gave a great bound and almost stood still. In
another moment they would have been off like a shot, but there was a
flutter of wings, and Downy the Woodpecker, who had made the noise with
his beak, spoke.

“Hist! Listen!” he called. “Listen, White Tail—and you too, Young Black
Buck!”

Both of the runners stopped and looked up among the branches of the
trees where Downy was sitting.

“Puma is on your trail,” Downy added. “He caught your wind way back
there, and he’s been trailing you ever since. I saw him, and hurried to
tell you.”

“Thank you, Downy,” replied White Tail. “It’s time we were off. He can
never catch us if he’s behind.”

“I didn’t say he was behind you,” replied Downy. “He was on your trail,
but Puma’s too wise to follow you that way. You don’t know him. When he
picked up your trail, he followed you by the wind. While you were
running around in a circle, he’s been cutting across it. He’s between
you and the herd.”

“In that case,” said Young Black Buck in a frightened voice, “we’ll take
a wide circuit, and he’ll miss us.”

Again Downy shook his head. “You are young,” he said, “and don’t know
how Puma hunts. He hunts with his mate, and she’ll be off to the right
to head you off.”

“Then what can we do?” asked Young Black Buck, his legs shaking and his
voice trembling.

“I really don’t know what to say. I came here to tell you of your
danger. I can’t tell you what to do.”

“Couldn’t we go back a little on our track, and then get around Puma and
his mate?” asked White Tail, struggling hard to keep cool.

“I’m afraid if you do that you’ll run into Timber Wolf and his family.
Puma gave him the alarm, and he’s out with his whole pack to cut you off
in that direction.”

By this time Young Black Buck was so excited and frightened that he
hardly knew what to do. To be cornered by Puma and Timber Wolf, with all
the yelping pack, was a terrible thing, and there seemed no way of
escape. A sudden rustling in the bushes made him jump nearly five feet
away. Even White Tail leaped to one side.

But it wasn’t Puma or Timber Wolf. It was Washer the Raccoon, and what
Washer had to propose will appear in the next story. Washer was
considered a very wise, shrewd animal, and perhaps he had a way for them
to escape.



                               STORY VII
                      A RACE WITH PUMA AND TIMBER


Washer the Raccoon poked his nose out of the bushes, and looked
blinkingly at White Tail and Young Black Buck, while Downy the
Woodpecker gazed down at all three with an expression in his eyes that
plainly said: “Well, I’m glad I’ve got wings, and can fly away if I want
to.”

“Goodness!” grunted White Tail. “You frightened the life out of us,
Washer! We thought you were Puma or Timber creeping upon us.”

“Well, I’ve been mistaken for Groundy and Billy Mink, but never for Puma
or Timber before,” replied Washer. “It must be that you’re excited or
have a bad conscience. I wonder which it is.”

“Not the latter, I hope,” answered White Tail. “But as for being
excited, I think we have good reason for that. Downy just brought us
word that Puma and Timber, with their families are on our trail, and
have us surrounded.”

Washer sat up on his hind legs, and leaned against a tree. His shrewd,
golden eyes flashed brightly in the sunshine, and his double row of
white teeth glistened every time he opened his mouth.

“If that’s the case,” he said, “I think it’s about time I took to my
hole. I have no love or respect for Puma and Timber.”

“Neither have we,” said Young Black Buck, “but we have no hole to run
in. What are we going to do?”

“If you only had wings I could answer that question,” interrupted Downy.
“I know what I’d do.”

“And if you had a hole you could crawl in, I could advise you,” added
Washer.

Of course, this brought no relief to either White Tail’s or Young Black
Buck’s harassed minds. They weren’t interested in what Downy or Washer
would do. They wanted to know what they could do to escape the terrible
trap.

Suddenly to make their situation more desperate, a distant howl rent the
air. It was Timber Wolf calling to the pack. Almost instantly there was
an answering cry on the left, then another in front, and a third on the
right.

“It’s the pack’s hunting cry,” exclaimed Washer. “They’re calling to
each other as they close in. Yes, they’ve picked up your scent, White
Tail.”

Young Black Buck got so frightened and excited that he leaped around in
a circle, uttering plaintive little whimpers. “I’m going to run,” he
said, “even if I do nothing but go around and around in circles. I can’t
stand still.”

“You’d better save your strength, Young Black Buck,” advised White Tail.
“You may need all of it for the race, for it is clear to me that we must
trust to our heels to beat them.”

“What’s that?” exclaimed Young Black Buck, as a snarl in the distance
alarmed them.

“It’s Puma and his mate creeping up from this direction,” said White
Tail more alarmed than ever. “With Puma and his mate in the rear, and
Timber’s pack in front and on either side, what chance have we?”

“Wait a minute!” exclaimed Washer quietly. “I think I can suggest a way.
My hole is right on the edge of Black Ravine. I built it there so I
could watch the sun rise every morning. It’s a beautiful place, even if
I do say so.”

White Tail and Young Black Buck turned to him, and waited impatiently
for him to proceed. Washer was aggravatingly slow. They were not a bit
interested in the beautiful view he had from his hole.

“Black Ravine drops down fifty feet, and if I should ever forget myself
and fall over the edge it would be the last of me,” Washer continued,
deliberately picking his teeth with a twig. “Yes, I told Mrs. Washer
several times it was a beautiful but dangerous spot to bring up our
children. They might tumble into the ravine.”

“Never mind the ravine, Washer,” interrupted White Tail. “You said you
had a way for us to escape. Please tell us what it is.”

“I was coming to that. You’re very impatient, White Tail. And the ravine
has a good deal to do with my plan. It’s twenty feet across from side to
side. Can you jump twenty feet?”

“Why, I don’t know, but maybe if—”

“All right then,” Washer interrupted. “I’ll show you the way to Black
Ravine in front of my house. If Puma or Timber pursue you all you got to
do is to leap across the ravine. Timber couldn’t follow you, and I don’t
think Puma can jump that far. If he couldn’t you’d have a big head
start. Puma and Timber would have to go a mile down the ravine before
they could cross. It’s wider in front of my house than at the ends.”

Washer’s plan dawned upon their minds in an instant, and both bucks
sprang up as if to start for Black Ravine at once.

“We’ll do it!” exclaimed White Tail. “I’ll make the jump if I fall in
the ravine. It’s better that way than to be pulled down by Puma or
Timber.”

“It’s much better not to fall at all,” was Washer’s quiet remark. “But
now don’t get excited, or you’ll jump from the frying-pan into the fire.
How do you know if one of Timber’s family isn’t watching the ravine? He
may be.”

This suggestion dashed their hopes, and sent the cold chills down their
backs. No one could tell where the wolves and pumas were scattered. They
were closing in upon them on all sides. They might surprise the cornered
bucks before ever they could reach Black Ravine.

“The only way I can suggest,” added Washer, “is for Downy to fly ahead,
and report to us where they’re hiding. You could do that, Downy,
couldn’t you?”

“Why, certainly. I’d be glad to.”

“Then I wouldn’t waste any time.”

Downy immediately flew away in the direction of Black Ravine, while
White Tail and Young Black Buck waited impatiently for his return. It
seemed a long, long time to them, and every few moments they could hear
the call of Timber and his pack. They were drawing nearer and nearer
until finally it seemed as if one was in the bushes not a dozen rods
away.

Downy came back finally, and said:

“It’s all right, but you must hurry. They’re closing in so that if you
don’t reach Black Ravine soon they’ll head you off. This way! Follow
me!”

He flew off to the right, but swift as he was White Tail and Young Buck
were hardly a yard behind him. They fairly flew across the ground,
leaping low bushes and trees in their flight. Washer, being much slower,
decided not to follow. He knew another hole where he could hide until
the danger was over.

“Here they come!” screamed Downy suddenly. “Now run for your lives!
There’s Black Ravine ahead!”

At the same instant Timber and his pack broke cover, and started for the
fleeing bucks in the open. Close on their right was Puma and his mate.
They set up a yelping and howling that made the blood of the deer
curdle. It had to be a short race, for other wolves ahead threatened to
cut them off.

But there was Black Ravine. Neither White Tail nor Young Black Buck knew
how wide it was, or whether they could cross it, but when they reached
the edge they shot out in one mighty leap and landed on the opposite
side. Could Puma follow? In the next story you will find out what he
did.



                               STORY VIII
                       MRS. PUMA AND TIMBER FIGHT


The leap across Black Ravine carried White Tail and Young Black Buck
away from the yapping jaws of Timber Wolf and his pack. Not one of them
dared to follow. They could no more do it than fly. They stopped at the
edge and howled woefully as they saw their prey escape.

But not Puma the Mountain Lion. He was a wonderful jumper himself and
the sight of the escaping bucks made him wild with rage. Besides, he was
terribly hungry, and he was disappointed in not catching at least one of
the bucks.

When he came to the edge of the ravine he hesitated a minute, snarling,
spitting and whisking his long tail. He was so angry that he knocked one
of the wolves over when he got in his way. For a moment there was a
savage outcry, and Timber threatened to pounce upon Puma’s back; but the
fear of his powerful claws dissuaded him.

“Get away from the edge, you snarling, sniveling sons of cowards!” Puma
growled. “When did a wolf ever bring down a buck in fair play? You howl
and snap, and make a great fuss, but you’re cowards at heart! Let me
show you what a Mountain Lion can do. Back! Back from the edge, I say!”

The wolves obeyed, but not without much snapping of teeth and angry
growls. Puma walked back a few paces, and turned to face the cliff. Then
with a sudden run and spring he took the long leap.

Ordinarily Puma would have hesitated a long time before attempting to
jump across Black Ravine, but he was wild with anger and disappointment.
Besides, he knew Timber and his pack were watching him, as well as his
own mate. He was puffed up with pride to show what he could do.

But, alas! pride had its downfall. Puma had miscalculated the distance.
He realized this before he was half across, and to make up for it he
began squirming and jerking in mid-air as if that would help him. It did
in a way, for cat-like he had the wonderful facility of actually jumping
and leaping forward with his feet off the ground.

[Illustration: TWENTY FEET DOWN, PUMA SAW A SMALL STUNTED TREE]

But it was of no avail. He still lacked sufficient force to carry him to
the other side. He stretched one fore-paw far out, hoping to grasp the
edge, and it did touch the rock, but it only scratched and scraped it.

When he found himself falling downward, he thrust out the other fore-leg
and clawed at the steep side of the cliff. But there was nothing for him
to hold to. The rocks were so hard that his claws could get no purchase.

Down he went another yard. The edge of the cliff was over his head, and
fifty feet below was the hard bottom of the ravine. A fall there would
surely dash out his brains and break every bone in his body.

Twenty feet down, doubling, whirling and screaming, Puma saw a small
stunted tree growing from a cleft in the side. He made one mighty lunge
for this, and caught it. He landed with a thud against it, and clung to
its branches for dear life. He was so shaken by the fall that for a
moment he could do nothing but blink and gasp. The tree had scratched
him in a dozen places, and the hard rocks bruised and hurt his body. One
paw was bleeding, and the other was so sore that he held it up in the
air.

Over his head, some twenty feet, was the top of the cliff, with its
sides so steep that no Puma could hope to crawl up them. Below was the
bottom which seemed equally difficult to reach. Opposite, looking down
at him, were Timber and his family.

“What a lucky fall for you, Puma,” jeered Timber. “And what a poor jump!
White Tail and Young Black Buck cleared it easily, and you couldn’t
cross it! Now, braggart, what are you going to do to get out? You can
hang there and rot before I’ll help you! Ho! Ho! You call my tribe
cowards! Then I call you and yours dirty braggarts! You couldn’t—”

A rumbling growl at Timber’s left caused him to turn suddenly. Puma’s
mate was facing him, with her eyes spitting fire, and her great right
claw raised to strike.

“Son of a coward,” she thundered, “how dare you speak that way to one of
my family! Puma may be caught down there, but you have me to reckon
with!”

Timber immediately saw his mistake. He had forgotten Mrs. Puma, who was
almost as ferocious as Puma. She was smaller, but fully as quick and
lithe. Timber’s manners immediately changed, and he became as meek and
fawning as he was before threatening and defiant.

“I didn’t refer to you, Mrs. Puma,” he whined. “Of course, I know you
are much stronger and quicker than Puma, and—”

“You lie, you sniveling cur!” interrupted Mrs. Puma. “For the tail of a
deer I’d knock you in the ravine for my mate to eat for his supper.”

Timber slinked back from the edge. He knew that one blow from that
upraised paw would send him hurtling through space. But once back from
the edge his manner changed again. Mrs. Puma stood near the edge now,
and surrounding her was the half circle of wolves. All of Timber’s pack
had arrived, and they were as thirsty as he for blood. They were ten to
one.

It flashed through Timber’s mind that this was a good time to settle an
old score with Puma. He had never taken kindly to Puma’s lordly ways in
dividing the hunting ground between them. Puma had always claimed more
than his share of the prey. Sometimes he had eaten three quarters of a
carcass, and only turned over a small portion to Timber’s family.

And they were a hungry family, half starved at times when the hunting
was poor. All his old grievances came back to him, and he felt that here
was a chance to settle the dispute for good. Puma was caught in the
ravine, where he might starve and die. Why not then push Mrs. Puma after
him?

“Oh, Mrs. Puma,” he said, “you flatter me. My family aren’t such cowards
as you think. Just to show you turn around and see them. They’re all
here—the whole pack!”

Mrs. Puma whirled about and saw the semi-circle of snarling, snapping
wolves. Then for the first time in her life she felt afraid. She might
kill two or three of Timber’s family before they conquered her, but
eventually they would drive her over the cliff. But it was no time to
show fear. That would be the signal for the wolves to close in on her.

“I see them—the whole pack,” she snarled. “And every one of them a
coward! Not one dare touch me unless the others push him within reach of
my claws. See, the whole pack jumps and screams when I strike.”

With a vicious drive of her paw she made those nearest leap back in
fear. She followed this up with another drive. Timber saw that, unless
he acted at once, his family would become panic-stricken. Raising
himself on his hind feet ready for a spring, he opened his mouth, and
uttered the hunting cry of the pack. Then at a given signal they
attacked all at once.

They darted forward with yelps of defiance, Timber leading. But what a
surprise awaited them! Mrs. Puma had guessed their actions, and with a
mighty spring in the air she leaped clear over the backs of the
encircling crowd. It was a wonderful spring, and nothing but fear could
have made her do it. It landed her safely back of the wolves.

Then before they could turn and charge again, she took another spring,
and was safe in the branches of a tree. “Some other day, thou dog of a
coward!” Mrs. Puma said. “I’ll sleep here until you get tired of
waiting.”

Having got Mrs. Puma out of trouble we will follow White Tail in the
next story.



                                STORY IX
                    YOUNG BLACK BUCK HAS AN ACCIDENT


It is hard work to starve out Puma the Mountain Lion when treed, and
perhaps harder yet to imprison him on the side of a steep cliff. Timber
Wolf knew this, and after the escape of Mrs. Puma up the tree, he grew
uneasy, and decided that it was safer for him to lead the pack back to
their own hunting ground.

When they had gone Mrs. Puma leaped down to the ground, and ran to the
edge of the ravine to see what had become of her mate. She was not
greatly surprised when she saw that he had slowly made his way to the
bottom of the chasm, and was looking up to see where she was. With a
little cry of joy she trotted down to the end of the ravine to rejoin
him.

Meanwhile, of course, White Tail and Young Black Buck were running like
the wind, anxious to get as far away from their pursuers as they could.
They didn’t know what had happened at Black Ravine, and they couldn’t
stop to investigate. The fear that the wolves and Mountain Lions might
still be on their trail kept them going until they were nearly
exhausted.

One mile, two miles, three miles they ran without stopping or looking
around, fear lending speed to their legs. Then something happened which
brought them to a sudden halt. Young Black Buck stumbled, and plunged
headfirst to the ground. When he tried to get up again, he groaned with
pain, and held a fore-leg in the air as if it hurt him.

“Oh, I’ve broken my leg!” he cried. “I can’t run another step. They’ll
catch me now, I know! I can’t escape them!”

White Tail, whose momentum had carried him some distance ahead, stopped
and turned around.

“Let me see it,” he said, sniffing at the leg. After quickly examining
it, he added; “No, it isn’t broken—only sprained. Can’t you stand on
it?”

“No, not for an instant. Oh, what will become of me! Hark! Isn’t that
Puma growling?”

“No,” replied White Tail, listening with his head flung back and his
nose in the air.

“Then it’s Timber calling, I’m sure it is.”

White Tail listened again. He was trembling himself, for the fright and
exhausting run had made him very nervous.

“It’s something, but I don’t think it’s Timber Wolf. He hasn’t had time
to run around the end of Black Ravine.”

“But he’ll be here soon,” whined Young Black Buck.

“Then we must be going. We can’t stay here. You must run on three legs.
You can do it.”

“Not so fast as Timber Wolf or Puma can run on four legs. Oh, you won’t
leave me, White Tail, will you? I shall die of fear if you do. I’ve
always been your friend.”

“I won’t leave you yet,” replied White Tail. “Lie down in the bushes,
and I will run back and see if I can find Timber or Puma. If they’re
coming—”

“Don’t leave me,” interrupted Young Black Buck.

Just then, when White Tail was uncertain what to do, and so nervous that
he couldn’t stand still, Downy the Woodpecker appeared. He fluttered in
a tree just as if he had been there waiting for them all the time.

“Oh, Downy,” cried White Tail, “where are they? Are they on our trail
yet? Did they get across Black Ravine?”

Downy finished hauling a grub out of its hole in the tree bark before he
answered. “No,” he then said, “they didn’t get across Black Ravine, but
Puma got in it. And he’s there now, screaming with rage.”

“He jumped and fell in it?” asked Young Black Buck.

“Yes,” nodded Downy. “He tried to show Timber’s family what he could do,
and he made a pretty sight of himself. He missed the opposite side by a
few inches, and if it hadn’t been for a small tree growing on the rocks
he would have fallen to the bottom, and been killed.”

“I wish he had,” said Young Black Buck.

“Well, he wasn’t,” added Downy, “so it’s no good wishing for what didn’t
happen. He’ll roll down, and get on his feet again. It’s pretty hard to
kill Puma.”

“What did Timber and his pack do?” asked White Tail.

“They did just what you might expect of them. They jeered and laughed at
Puma, and then Mrs. Puma interfered.”

“I thought that Timber and Puma were friends,” said White Tail.

“Such selfish friendship as they had for each other doesn’t amount to
much. It only takes a little for them to fall out and begin fighting
each other. And that’s just what happened. Timber thought it was a good
time to attack Mrs. Puma, and his whole pack jumped at her.”

“And what happened then?” breathlessly asked White Tail.

“Mrs. Puma jumped too, and as she could jump faster and farther than
Timber she got away and ran up a tree. There I left her, with the wolves
howling underneath.”

“I think then they’ll give up the chase,” remarked White Tail. “It’s
very fortunate for us, for Young Black Buck has sprained his leg, and
will have to limp the rest of the way.”

“I can’t limp far on three legs,” whined Young Black Buck. “And we are
far away from the herd, aren’t we, Downy?”

“Yes, so many miles I can’t count them. You’ve been running away from
where you started, and it will take you a long, long time to get home.”

White Tail and Young Black Buck were greatly distressed by this
information, for night was coming on, and to be caught after dark away
from the herd in the heart of a strange woods was a most unpleasant
outlook. White Tail might have made it by hard running, but Young Black
Buck could never do it, and White Tail wasn’t going to leave him alone
in the woods. He was too loyal for that.

“There doesn’t seem to be any choice in the matter,” White Tail said.
“We’ve got to stay here, and make the best of it.”

“But you could get home alone, White Tail, if you started right away,”
suggested Downy. “It will be moonlight early in the evening, and you can
find your way once you reach the shallow stream.”

“Yes, I know the way, but I couldn’t leave Young Black Buck behind. No,
I couldn’t think of it. We’ll find a resting place among the bushes, and
stay here until morning. Then maybe his leg will be better.”

Downy nodded his head, and began pecking away at the bark of the tree
for another grub. Young Black Buck looked thankfully at the speaker, but
said nothing.

“I’m afraid I’ll have to leave you soon,” Downy remarked after a while.
“I’m a long distance from my home, and I don’t see that I can help you
any by staying.”

“No,” smiled White Tail, “except to give us warning of danger when it
comes.”

“There’s no danger now unless—”

He stopped and listened attentively.

“Unless what, Downy?”

“I don’t know that I should say it, for I don’t want to frighten you,
but there are man hunters in this woods. They’ve pitched a camp a few
miles back of here. But if they haven’t dogs with them they won’t find
you. Just keep quiet here in the bushes until morning.”

“We certainly will,” replied White Tail. “I dread the man hunters as
much as Puma and Timber, especially if they have dogs.”

And all through the night, he thought and dreamt of the man hunters, but
nothing happened until morning, and then the distant baying of a dog
startled him.



                                STORY X
                      WHITE TAIL’S MAGNANIMOUS ACT


White Tail could not mistake the sound of the dogs in the distance.
Neither could Young Black Buck, who was instantly on his feet. The dread
sound had more to do in curing the sprained foot than the night’s rest,
and he followed White Tail, trotting around and sniffing the air in
every direction.

“Are they coming this way?” Young Black Buck asked.

“It’s hard to tell,” replied White Tail. “I haven’t picked up their
scent yet, but I don’t need to. I hear them.”

“We must be going before they find us.”

“Is your lame leg strong enough?”

“Yes, it’s all right again—a little lame, but not much. Which way shall
we go?”

Unconsciously Young Black Buck had been depending upon White Tail ever
since danger first threatened them, and this was a sure sign that he
recognized qualities of leadership in his rival that he did not possess.
And White Tail had accepted it without giving it much thought.

“I think,” he said finally, “they’re off to the right where Downy said
the white hunters had their camp. Then we should go to the left.”

“But that will take us to the hunting grounds of Puma and Timber Wolf,”
protested Young Black Buck.

“Yes, I know, but we can swing around north of them before we reach
their woods. At any rate we can’t run right into danger.”

White Tail took up the lead, and Young Black Buck followed. They stole
away in the woods almost as silently as shadows. A well worn trail led
into the darkest and thickest part of the forest, and as this kept going
straight away from the man hunter’s camp they stuck close to it.

“Maybe this is Puma’s trail,” Young Black Buck remarked after they had
gone a considerable distance. “No deer have been this way.”

“No, of course not. This isn’t our woods, but Puma hasn’t been here. I
could smell him.”

“Then Timber Wolf and his pack made it.”

“No, it hasn’t Timber’s smell either.”

White Tail had his nose close to the ground, and while he couldn’t quite
make out whose trail it was he felt confident that it wasn’t that of
either Puma or Timber.

Still it is always dangerous to follow an unknown trail. It’s against
the law of the herd for the leader to do so, and had White Tail known it
he would have taken to the thick woods. But he thought he was doing
right, for it was much easier to travel faster in this way.

He was jogging along cautiously when the trail became suddenly very
strong and fresh. He stopped and flung up his head. That animal odor
that had caught his nose, startled him.

But the sight which met his eyes startled him more than the strange
odor. There standing directly in the broad trail, grinning at them, was
Buster the Bear. What a shock it gave him! Buster seemed to tower up so
big that he looked like a giant of a bear.

With a snort of fear, White Tail turned and sprang out of the trail,
clearing a clump of bushes in a beautiful jump, and calling to Young
Black Buck to follow. The latter didn’t need this advice, for he was
already out of the trail, running for dear life.

Now back in the broad trail, Buster, who had been nearly as much
surprised as they, suddenly roared with glee, his fat sides shaking and
wobbling. “Ho! Ho!” he laughed. “What a scare I gave them! And I didn’t
open my mouth. I wonder what they’d done if I’d roared like this.”

He let out a roar that shook the leaves off the bushes, and made White
Tail and Young Black Buck run harder than ever. To them it seemed as if
that roar was trying to catch them, and they couldn’t dodge its echo.

But, of course, Buster wasn’t pursuing them. In the first place, he knew
he couldn’t overtake them, and in the second he wasn’t particularly
hungry and rarely killed deer or bucks. He was too kind-hearted for
that. But he did enjoy a joke, and he thought it was a huge one to scare
them half out of their wits.

White Tail and Young Black Buck ran without knowing which way they were
going. In fact they might have run straight into the camp of the man
hunters if they hadn’t been stopped by the sudden baying of the dogs.

This time the dogs were so close that they couldn’t expect to throw them
off their scent. In fact, one of them saw White Tail’s head, and
immediately gave the signal. He rushed for them with wild yelps of
delight, and two others followed him.

The two bucks swung around in another direction, and ran pell-mell
through the woods. The fear of the dogs made them forget Buster. Indeed
White Tail realized his mistake now. He knew that Buster could not
overtake him in a race, but the dogs of the man hunters might. They
would follow them night and day until exhaustion killed one or the
other.

“We’re in for it now,” White Tail said to his companion, breathing hard.
“The dogs are fresh, and we’re not. We must find a river to throw them
off our scent.”

But finding a river in a strange woods was not an easy thing to do. So
far as they knew there was no river there. They were completely turned
around, and hardly knew which direction to take to reach home.

Young Black Buck soon began to show signs of weariness, and his lame leg
hurt him again. In vain White Tail urged him on, but he couldn’t run any
faster. The dogs would certainly soon overtake him.

Then White Tail did a magnanimous thing. He couldn’t bear to leave his
companion behind to be pulled down by the dogs, while he escaped. No,
no, that would never do for one who some day expected to be leader of
the herd!

“Young Black Buck,” he said, running along by the side of the panting
creature, “you run straight on as hard as you can. I’m going to stop
here until the dogs see me. Then I’ll lead them off to the left. So long
as they can see me they’ll follow me and forget the scent. When I get
them far enough away I’ll run faster, and get away from them. You
understand?”

Young Black Buck nodded his head. He was too tired to reply in words.
“Then go on! I’ll wait here until the dogs come up.”

It was a risky thing to do, but White Tail felt that alone he could
outrun the dogs. At any rate he was going to do that much for his
companion.

He didn’t have long to wait. The baying hounds soon appeared, and
catching sight of White Tail they started for him with yelps of delight.
White Tail sprang away in the bushes, but not so fast that the dogs lost
sight of him. He noticed that all three were chasing him. Then, when
some distance away from the fork in the trail, he increased his speed.

In a very short time he was out of sight again, but the hounds were on
his scent. They had lost Young Black Buck’s, and there was no chance of
their picking it up again.

Away on the wind White Tail flew. His tremendous strides carried him far
in the lead. Mile after mile he covered, his proud head flung back, his
nostrils distended. It was a killing pace, but the dogs held on behind.
How long could he stand it? Another mile, and the pace began to tell on
him. He was growing weary and exhausted. But the dogs were still coming!

When he began to fear he could not escape, it began to rain, falling
gently at first, and then more heavily.

In the next story you will read of how the rain helped him.



                                STORY XI
                   WHITE TAIL’S ADVENTURE IN THE CAMP


The rain made White Tail’s difficulties worse, for the logs and stones
were so slippery that he stumbled time and again, and to avoid a fall he
had to slacken his pace. The dogs on the other hand, kept up their pace,
as the slippery things did not seem to bother them, and they began to
gain on the fleeing buck very rapidly. Their deep baying drew so near
that White Tail became startled.

But all this time the rain was planning to help the buck, although he
did not know it at the time. He was feeling very uncomfortable, as well
as frightened. The steady downpour soaked him to the skin, and the
driving wind splashed the rain-drops in his eyes, half blinding him.

When the dogs drew so near that White Tail felt they would soon see him,
he turned abruptly around, and ran at right angles to his former course.
He had not tried dodging before, but had kept on a straight course.

To his surprise he heard the barking of the dogs grow suddenly fainter,
and then very confused. The fact was the heavy downpour of rain had
nearly blotted out his trail, and the dogs could not readily pick it up
again. So long as he kept on in straight course, the dogs had followed
him.

But now, by dodging, White Tail found he could easily elude them, so
faint was the scent he left behind. The rain washed that away, and
completely baffled the dogs.

It was a great blessing, for White Tail was badly winded. He was so
tired that as soon as he left the dogs far in the rear he sought shelter
from the rain. He was almost exhausted with his efforts, and a bed of
leaves or grass would be the greatest blessing in the world.

Directly ahead of him, he saw an old deserted open camp standing in a
partial clearing. It was built of pine logs, with the bark left on, and
a roof and three sides. The front was left open, with an old camp-fire
place of stones and rocks a few feet away.

At first White Tail stopped and looked at the camp suspiciously. If the
man hunters lived in it, he should avoid it as he would Puma or Timber,
but if it were deserted there would be no harm in seeking shelter under
its roof. He watched, listened and sniffed for a long time before he
dared approach it.

Then by degrees he walked closer until he had a chance to look inside.
There was no one there, and it had not been inhabited for a long, long
time. White Tail could tell this by the absence of any odor.

“I think it’s safe,” he muttered after another close examination. “I’ll
spend the night here. I’m dreadfully tired, and so wet I’m cold and
shivery.”

He walked under the sheltering roof, and found a bed of sweet-smelling
spruce boughs in one corner. They were perfectly dry, and White Tail
gave a grunt of satisfaction. It was a dry shelter, with a soft, dry bed
already prepared for him. He dropped down on it with a sigh of intense
relief.

It rained hard all night. White Tail could hear the floods of water
pouring on the roof of his shelter, but under it the place was dry and
warm. Darkness came early in the woods, and it was soon pitchy black.

He felt perfectly safe if none of the night prowlers appeared. The rain,
however, was a protection to him, for even Puma and Timber rarely
ventured forth in such a storm. They preferred to do their hunting on
clear, dry nights when the scent of their prey was clear and distinct.

“I don’t think anybody will disturb me until morning,” White Tail said,
“and I can rest here in peace.”

But of course you can never tell what may happen in the wildwoods.
Suppose Puma or Timber Wolf should be caught away from home in the rain!
If they were, and saw the open camp, they would very naturally seek it
for shelter just as White Tail had done.

It was quite early in the evening when White Tail was awakened from
slumber by a thump, thump outside. It came nearer and nearer. White Tail
was so frightened that he could scarcely breathe. He trembled in every
limb. Some animal was coming around the side of the open camp.

Before White Tail could leap to his feet to run, a head was thrust
around the corner, and a pair of wonderful eyes looked at him. At the
same instant the owner of them caught sight of White Tail’s.

“Hello, Bumper!” White Tail exclaimed, when he recognized Bumper the
White Rabbit. “Don’t be afraid. I’m White Tail the Deer.”

“Well, I’m mighty glad of that,” replied Bumper, approaching. “You gave
me an awful start at first. I thought you were Mr. Fox or Sneaky the
Wolf or Puma.”

“And I thought you were Timber Wolf or the man hunters or their dogs.”

“Seeing that we were both wrong then,” said Bumper, “we might share this
camp between us. You have no objection, I hope.”

“No, I’m glad to have company. I’m dreadfully excited and alarmed.”

Then he told the White Rabbit about his adventures, ending up with the
pursuit by the dogs, and his escape to the deserted camp.

“You certainly did have a hard time of it,” said Bumper when he had
finished. “And you’re a long way from home. I do hope you can get back
without accident. What’s that?”

Bumper stopped, and White Tail raised his head in alarm. There was a
scream outside, and then a wild commotion in the bushes. The next moment
something came rushing in the camp, and flopped down right at White
Tail’s feet.

It was Rusty the Blackbird. “Help! Help! Oh, help me!” Rusty cried.
“Great Horn the Owl is after me! Here he comes now!”

And out of the darkness swept a shadowy figure that hardly made any
noise; but the moment it saw White Tail it stopped and circled around
his head. White Tail raised his head, and swung his big antlers
threateningly at Great Horn.

“Look out,” he said, “or I’ll hit you! Don’t come any nearer, Great
Horn!”

“Is that you, White Tail?” asked Great Horn. “I didn’t know you were
here. Well, I won’t disturb you. I’m after Rusty there at your feet. Let
me have him, and I will leave at once.”

“You will leave at once without Rusty,” replied White Tail. “He’s a
friend of mine, and I’m going to protect him.”

“Hoot! Hoot!” shouted the Owl in laughter. “I’ll take him whether you
want me to or not.”

He made a swift dive for poor Rusty, but White Tail’s big antlers swung
around and knocked him over. One prong hurt Great Horn so that he flew
back to a safe place.

“If you come nearer, I’ll hurt you worse the next time,” warned White
Tail.

Great Horn sat there and considered for some time, his great eyes
blinking and winking. “What are you doing here, White Tail?” he asked
finally. “Don’t you know you’re on Puma’s hunting grounds? Well, if you
don’t know it you ought to. I think Puma might be interested in knowing
it. Now give me Rusty at once or I’ll fly away, and tell Puma.”

This threat made Rusty tremble, and Bumper shiver in his corner where he
was hiding under the boughs; but White Tail did neither. “Go, and tell
him, Great Horn,” he replied. “I won’t give up Rusty. I’ll protect my
friends.”

And Great Horn flew away. What he did will appear in the next story.



                               STORY XII
                           WHITE TAIL ESCAPES


The moment Great Horn the Owl flew out of the open camp to tell Puma of
White Tail’s hiding place, Bumper hopped from his place in the corner,
and Rusty jumped to a perch on one of the buck’s antlers.

“Oh, dear,” began Rusty, “I’ve brought trouble upon you, White Tail!
Great Horn will guide Puma here. I wish now I’d never flown in here.”

“No, you don’t wish that, Rusty,” replied White Tail. “If you hadn’t
come here Great Horn would have killed you.”

“And now Puma will kill you.”

“Not if I can help it,” smiled White Tail. “He’s been on my trail
before, and I shook him off.”

Then he told Rusty of his adventures.

“You’re wonderful, White Tail,” the Blackbird said when he had finished.
“You saved Young Black Buck’s life, and nearly lost your own. Now you’ve
saved my life, and got yourself in more danger. I wish I could do
something to help you in return.”

“Probably you can, Rusty. Who knows? I’m terribly mixed up in these
strange woods. I hardly know which way to go to find home. Perhaps you
can direct me.”

“Yes, I can do that easily.”

“Thanks! That’s one good turn you can do me. Now for another. Is there
any river or stream near here that I can reach? If so I can go to it
before Puma comes, and then wade down it to throw him off my scent.”

“Why, yes, there’s a shallow brook only a mile from here. I can take you
to that.”

“Which way shall I go—up or down the brook?”

“Go down it a couple of miles until it runs in the stream where Father
Buck let the herd feed on the rushes this morning—the place you started
from when you ran the race with Young Black Buck.”

“In that case,” replied White Tail, “I think I’ll be going right away.
I’m anxious to be off.”

“But it’s a dreadful night outside. Hear it rain.”

“Yes, but it would be more dreadful to stay here until Great Horn and
Puma appeared. Puma would kill me, and Great Horn would pounce upon
you.”

“Yes, of course, we must go—right away, rain or no rain.”

Bumper, who had been listening to the conversation, hopped to the
entrance, and then came back. “If I’m any judge,” he said, “I don’t
think you’ll have such a wet trip. That shower was the last. The clouds
are breaking away, and the moon will soon be out.”

White Tail was instantly on his feet, and beat Rusty to the front where
the two of them gazed up at the rain clouds now growing thin and ragged
in places. They saw a star twinkle in the east, and then another and
another. The storm was, indeed, over, and the night trip through the
woods would not be so disagreeable.

“I must be off at once, Rusty,” White Tail said. “Puma may be back any
minute.”

“You can’t start any too soon to suit me, White Tail, for if Puma comes
Great Horn will be with him. Come on! I’m ready.”

“It seems to me,” remarked Bumper, “you don’t consider me at all. I’m
not even invited to go with you.”

“We thought you’d prefer to stay in this dry camp,” replied White Tail.
“It’s very comfortable here, and you can hide under the spruce boughs.”

The White Rabbit sniffed. “How long do you suppose it would take Puma to
find me?” he asked. “When he found you’d gone, he’d eat me up instead. A
rabbit makes only a mouthful for Puma, but it’s better than nothing. No,
I’m going with you.”

So the three started forth, leaving the shelter of the camp for the wet
trail of the woods. And how wet everything was! The trail was soaked
with water, and every leaf and bough was dripping with moisture. Every
bush they touched threw a shower of rain-drops all over them.

Rusty led the way, hopping and flying from bush to bush, with Bumper
following next, and White Tail bringing up the rear. Bumper was as
familiar with the woods as Rusty, and White Tail really followed him,
although at times the White Rabbit took short cuts through narrow paths
which the buck could not tread.

It was very quiet and solemn in the woods. After the rain the stillness
seemed intensified by the occasional splatter of water, as some
overladened tree branch dipped its load and let it fall to the ground.
No birds or animals were abroad, and they made half the distance without
accident or alarm.

Then back of them came a fearful roar that startled the echoes of the
wildwoods. It was Puma the Mountain Lion.

“He’s found we’ve escaped!” cried Rusty. “Oh, do hurry! He’ll pick up
your trail, and Great Horn will find me. Hurry! Hurry!”

“Wait a minute!” exclaimed White Tail. “Can’t you find a hiding place,
Rusty?”

“Yes, many of them, but I must show you the way to the shallow brook.”

“No, you tell me how to find it,” interrupted White Tail. “I can run
much faster alone.”

“It’s straight ahead, White Tail.”

“Then find a hiding place in the bushes. Good-bye, and thank you!”

“Are you going to leave me, White Tail?” asked Bumper.

“Yes, Bumper, for you travel too slow for me. You must find a burrow,
and run for it. There must be one around here.”

“Yes, there’s a good one not far from here. But don’t you need me?”

“No, Bumper, I can outrun you, and if you come along Puma may overtake
me. Good-bye, and thank you! I’m off now.”

Bumper waited until White Tail was out of sight and hearing. Then he
sought a safe burrow, and stood at the entrance to watch and listen.
Pretty soon he heard a crash in the bushes, as Puma came dashing along.
Close behind him was Great Horn the Owl, flitting from tree to tree.

“I wonder where Rusty is,” Great Horn was saying. “I don’t see him
anywhere.”

“Neither do I see White Tail,” roared back Puma, “but I smell him. I’m
on the right trail.”

“I wish I could smell Rusty. My eyes are good, but my nose isn’t as
sharp as yours, Puma.”

“I don’t care where Rusty is,” was the reply. “I want White Tail, and
I’m going to catch him this time. He can’t escape as he did before.”

They swept past Bumper, and made their way down the trail. The White
Rabbit sighed, and said: “I do hope White Tail will escape.”

And White Tail hoped so too. Meanwhile, he was running with all his
might. As soon as he had left his two friends, he leaped through the
bushes or over them, with his head aimed straight for the brook. He
heard the roar of Puma behind him, and this spurred him on to greater
speed.

When he finally reached the shallow brook, he waded in and rapidly
followed it down toward its mouth where it joined the wider stream. When
Puma reached the brook he was baffled. The scent he had been following
suddenly stopped.

“Which way has he gone?” he growled. “Up or down? I’ll go up, Great
Horn, and you go down. If you see him hoot to me, and I’ll come.”

Puma crossed the stream and ran up it on the opposite side, and Great
Horn flitted down it. Of course, Great Horn found White Tail, but what
happened then will appear next.



                               STORY XIII
                    WHITE TAIL HEARS UNPLEASANT NEWS


Great Horn found White Tail a long way down the stream, but by that time
morning was dawning, and the light began to hurt the Owl’s eyes. He
caught a glimpse of something moving through the bushes, and flew toward
it, for he could not in the early light see very far.

“Ah! I’ve found you, White Tail!” he cried. “I knew it was you.”

“How did you know it, Great Horn?” asked White Tail. “I know you can’t
see very well in this light. I don’t believe you can see me yet. You
only hear me.”

“The idea!” snapped Great Horn. “I can see you as well as you can see
me.”

“I don’t believe it,” replied White Tail. “Can you see Rusty sitting on
the end of my antlers?”

“Rusty! Rusty! Is he there?” exclaimed Great Horn excitedly. Now the
thought of being so near to his prey made him very hungry, and he flew
straight at White Tail’s head. This was what the buck wanted, and when
the Owl was close enough he swung his antlers around swiftly and caught
Great Horn on the end. The blow was enough to knock the breath out of
the bird, and he fell with a plump in the bushes.

“That’s for betraying me to Puma,” White Tail said. “Now call to him
when you can get back your breath. I’m off.”

And through the bushes he ran, leaving Great Horn so surprised and
stunned that he couldn’t call to Puma for a long time. White Tail had
made good his escape.

A few yards through the woods he came upon the other stream, the broad
river which he knew so well. He crossed this, and made his way up the
other embankment. Then, with the woods before him familiar to his eyes
and nose, he ran rapidly toward home. He had made his way out of Puma’s
hunting and through the higher timberland to his home.

His appearance was hailed with delight by all his friends. “Oh, White
Tail, we thought you were dead!” exclaimed one.

“Dead! Huh! Why should you think that?” he sniffed.

[Illustration: “THAT’S FOR BETRAYING ME TO PUMA,” WHITE TAIL SAID.]

“Young Black Buck said you were. He left you, and he was sure the dogs
would catch you. He was sorry for you, but you couldn’t keep up with
him, and he didn’t want to die because you couldn’t run as fast as he.”

“What!” exclaimed White Tail. “Has Young Black Buck returned? And did he
tell such a tale?”

“Why, yes, that’s what he said.”

With a roar of rage at this falsehood, White Tail pushed his way into
the middle of the herd, and stood face to face before Young Black Buck.

“You have been spreading more false stories about me, Young Black Buck!”
he said. “After the way I saved you from the dogs, you lie about me!”

Young Black Buck stood all atremble at the sight of White Tail. He had
truly believed that the dogs would catch him, and he thought there would
be no harm in telling a story of his escape that would hurt White Tail
and help himself.

“Listen!” White Tail added, swinging around and facing the herd. “Listen
to a story of treachery. Young Black Buck has lied to you, and you must
hear me. When he stumbled and sprained his leg, I stayed with him until
it healed. Then when the man hunters started the dogs on our trail, we
ran together until Young Black Buck’s weak leg crippled him again. The
dogs would have caught him, but I waited for them, and when they saw me
I led them off on my trail. Young Black Buck escaped while I led the
dogs a merry chase. I saved his life, and he rewards me for it by
lies—nothing but lies!”

The commotion that followed these words was great, and the herd gazed
from one speaker to the other.

“I challenge you to deny it!” continued White Tail, facing Young Black
Buck. “See he cannot deny it! He knows it to be the truth!”

Young Black Buck, indeed, looked guilty. His limbs were trembling, and
his head drooping. For once he had no ready story to explain his lies.

“To punish you for it, Young Black Buck, I challenge you to a fight!”
went on White Tail, now so enraged that he wanted to punish his rival.

It was then that Black Buck interfered.

“Cease your quarreling over such petty things,” he said. “There are
greater things for the herd to consider than this.”

“What can be greater than a question of honor?” interrupted White Tail
boldly. “Your son has spread falsehoods about me, and I challenge him to
prove it by fighting.”

“And I tell you to cease your quarreling,” added Black Buck. “You may
need your strength for a different kind of challenge. Know you not what
has happened?”

White Tail looked mystified. Suddenly it occurred to him that he hadn’t
seen Father Buck or Mother Deer. They hadn’t come forth to greet him.
Had anything serious happened to them?

“No, I don’t know what has happened,” White Tail admitted. “I have been
away, and know nothing.”

“Then listen!” replied Black Buck. “Our leader has failed. He stumbled
in the chase, and missed his footing. When we crossed the brook he
failed to clear it. He is no longer our leader. He’s old and broken.
Tomorrow we meet at the Council Tree to choose a new leader.”

White Tail stood dumbfounded. Father Buck had been disgraced! He had
fallen and missed his footing! He had failed to cross the brook in a
single jump! He was to be deposed as leader!

It seemed incredible, and White Tail was on the point of saying so when
he remembered the words of Father Buck, and his prediction that some day
he would fail through old age and weakness. The thing had happened then
in his absence. White Tail was glad of that, for it would have been hard
for him to witness the leader’s downfall.

Without another word to Black Buck, he whirled around to hunt up Father
Buck and Mother Deer. He wanted the truth from their lips, and not from
one who found pleasure in it. The sneer in Black Buck’s words angered
him.

He found the two quietly resting under a tree back of the herd, a little
to one side as if they had already been cast out and ignored by those
who had so recently looked up to them. Mother Deer rose and ran to greet
her son.

“It is well, White Tail, that you’ve come back at this time,” she said
quietly. “You have heard the news?”

“Yes, I’ve heard it. It is true then—that—that—”

“Yes, my son,” interrupted Father Buck, “I have led my last chase. Never
again will the herd follow me. What must come to all of us at some time
has befallen me. There is nothing to regret. One and all must face it
sooner or later. Why should we not accept it complacently?”

White Tail was surprised, and yet pleased, by the quiet acceptance
Father Buck took of his downfall. It softened the load that he was
carrying in his own heart.

“I prepared you for it, you remember White Tail,” the old leader
continued. “Well, tomorrow they will choose a new leader. They will
demand that I step aside. But until then I’m leader, and no one shall
dispute that right.”

He rose and shook his huge antlered head, looking for all the world like
a leader, and when he bellowed an order every one started. He was not
yet deposed. In the next story what happened at the Council Tree will be
told.



                               STORY XIV
                         CHOOSING A NEW LEADER


The call for a meeting at the Council Tree was issued to the herd by
Father Buck himself. It was his duty to do this, for the law of the herd
is that a leader is still in command, and his word must be obeyed, until
he has been deposed and another chosen.

White Tail had been twice at the Council Tree before, but never on such
a momentous occasion as this. His own initiation into the secrets of the
council was nothing compared to the choosing of a new leader. He felt
the weight of responsibility that was laid upon him, for the time had
come for him to succeed his father or fail forever.

The choosing of a leader did not happen often. Once in a life time was
the average. Unless something happened to a leader to cut him down
accidentally in the prime of his life, or Puma or Timber pulled him down
in the chase, no successor was chosen until he grew too weak and
decrepit to lead. The event was, therefore, an important one, and long
to be remembered by those who took part in it.

Father Buck had led the herd for so many seasons that none but the older
ones could remember when he was not their leader. In all those days and
seasons he had been shrewd, wise and courageous so that few accidents
had happened to any of the deer. His had been the most successful
leadership that any could recall.

When they assembled at the Council Tree, Father Buck was there ahead of
them, standing lonely and aloof in the place of honor under the big
tree. His lordly head, with its great spread of antlers, was held high,
so that some of those who had come to scoff and laugh at him felt a
sudden awe. There was none of the meekness and humility of a fallen
leader in his attitude.

Black Buck and the other older bucks, who had long years before
contended with Father Buck for leadership, were impressed by his looks,
and they took their places in the semi-circle in uneasy silence. Suppose
Father Buck should challenge again for leadership despite his failure of
the previous day! Could any of them win in a mighty battle with him?
They, too, were growing old, and their limbs and eyes were not as strong
and sure as when they were young.

“You know the law of the herd, and of my people,” Father Buck announced
when all the deer were there. “Yesterday I failed you. It was the first
time since I became your leader. Now the call is for a new leader unless
I challenge for it again, and win it by my might.”

He swung his antlered head around at the half circle of older bucks.
There was a menace and challenge in the beautiful eyes.

“We want a new leader!” bellowed Black Buck angrily. “You can’t lead us
again, Father Buck! You have failed in the chase. Twice you failed
within a day. A new leader is what we demand!”

There was a chorus of approvals, and Black Buck gained courage by the
backing his words received, but Father Buck cut him off short.

“Be silent!” he said. “I am still leader, and my word is law! If I
choose to challenge again, the right is mine. It is the law of the herd.
Who speaks otherwise?”

There was no disputing this. The law of the herd was very simple, and it
had to be obeyed. Even Black Buck knew this, and if he chose Father Buck
could challenge and prove his right to remain leader if he proved
himself better than all others.

“If you challenge again,” began Black Buck, “you must do battle with the
young bucks as well as the others. That’s the law isn’t it?”

“It is!” replied Father Buck. “Young and old may meet the challenger.
But I first issue my challenge to the older ones. That is my right. I
may be old and weak, my eyes may be growing dim, and my legs less active
and sure; but I am still leader, and I issue the first challenge. All
you bucks more than three seasons old step forth! It is to you I issue
this challenge. Come and accept it. I will fight for the leadership!”

An uneasy thrill swept the multitude. Each turned to look the other in
the eye. Who would accept Father Buck’s challenge? Black Buck hesitated,
measuring the sturdy limbs of the leader with his own, and comparing the
thick-set neck and head of antlers with those of his immediate
neighbors. There was not one qualified to enter the lists and hope to
carry off the honors.

“I hear no one!” shouted Father Buck. “The challenge is not accepted. So
be it! Then we come to the second challenge. Here, too, the law gives me
the right to fight with the younger bucks for leadership. We have many
of them—young, sturdy, bright-eyed offsprings of ours who will some day
win honors in the chase. They have eyes as keen as ours were at one
time; limbs as straight and strong; minds as active and intelligent. We
have taught them the ways of the woods, and they come to the Council
Tree today to prove their rights.”

He stopped and gazed around at the big assembly. His words and
commanding figure had made even Father Buck’s worst enemies respectful.
The outcome of the meeting was still uncertain and wrapped in mystery.

“Therefore,” the leader continued after a pause, “it is for them to
decide the leadership. I have no wish to challenge them. I could not
conquer them if I chose. It shall be as they decide. Who of the younger
ones challenges for the high honor of leader to take my place?”

A thrill of excitement passed around, for the crucial moment had now
arrived. Father Buck did not intend to fight to retain the leadership.
There was an instant pause in which you could have heard a twig snap,
and then Young Black Buck, with head held high, stepped to the center of
the semi-circle. He trotted gracefully around several times, and then
halted before Father Buck.

“I, Young Black Buck, son of Black Buck of Dismal Swamp, challenge for
the leadership! I shall prove my right to it by the one test that is
required by the law of the herd—a battle with all comers!”

“It is well, Young Black Buck!” replied Father Buck, looking at the
haughty eyes of the challenger. “You have been the first to challenge.
Is there any other?”

The aged leader turned his head just a little so that his eyes could
rest upon White Tail, but it did not need this look to inspire his son.
White Tail had already started forward, and with no less pride and
dignity than Young Black Buck he trotted into the center of the
clearing.

“I, White Tail, son of your great leader and of Mother Deer, accept the
challenge. As I have proved greater than Young Black Buck in the chase,
in the long jump, and in other ways, I shall prove to you in combat that
I am better fitted to lead the herd than he.”

The excitement reached a climax when White Tail had finished his
challenge, but Father Buck raised his head again to speak.

“Who next challenges! The law of the herd permits any one under three
seasons. Who speaks?”

There was no answer, and no one stepped forward. The aged leader cast
his eyes slowly around the crowd to make sure he had missed none, and
then returned to the two challengers.

“So be it!” he said. “The leadership shall be settled between these
two—White Tail and Young Black Buck. The herd must accept the victor as
their leader.”

In the next story will come the combat.



                                STORY XV
                            THE GREAT COMBAT


Now the law of the herd says that the challengers for leadership shall
fight until one or the other is victor. If it takes hours or days or
weeks it must continue until one is beaten and can no longer fight. The
rules are simple. He must prove himself the victor by strength, cunning,
intelligence, trickery or any other way. The leader must be supreme so
that none again dare challenge his authority.

It is always a battle royal in the woods. It never ends in a draw,
except in those few sad but rare cases when horns and antlers get
interlocked, and neither can pull away until both starve. Then a new
challenge must be issued, and another leader chosen. Of this, both White
Tail and Young Black Buck knew, and above all they sought to keep their
horns and antlers from becoming interlocked. It availed the victor
little to conquer if he starved with the vanquished.

When they sprang toward each other with lowered heads, they kept a wary
eye out for the other’s twisted antlers. It was a light charge at first,
a mere test of skill and strength; but their heads came together with a
shock that sounded throughout the woods.

Then they withdrew, and trotted around each other, waiting for a
favorable opening. Both knew that one blow against the side or limbs of
the other would cripple his antagonist so the fight would be short.
After circling White Tail three times, Young Black Buck launched his
head straight for the flanks of his enemy, and for a moment it looked as
if he would gain a great advantage; but at the critical instant White
Tail turned and met the charge head-on. The clash of antlers was
terrific but neither went down.

Next they butted in short, sharp swings of the head, slashing, cutting
and pounding with all their might. It was like a close-in sparring match
between two skilled boxers, each waiting for an opening to deliver a
fatal blow. But both were as swift in defense as in offense.

They withdrew from the conflict, and trotted around each other once
more. This time White Tail led the attack. Rearing on his hind legs, he
brought all the weight of his body in a downward blow that made Young
Black Buck shake and tremble. For a moment neither could recover from
the terrible shock, so swift and powerful had the blow been. A thrill of
excitement went through the assembled herd.

“Well done!” exclaimed Father Buck.

“But not better than my son can do!” echoed Black Buck.

To prove the truth of his father’s words, Young Black Buck turned a
complete circle, suddenly reared, and brought his head down in another
terrific blow. White Tail received it, and for a time their horns and
antlers became locked. They pulled and jerked, pushed and twisted all
over the open space to free their heads. With a sudden snap, the antlers
loosened, and they were free once more.

The battle grew more vigorous now that the two combatants were warmed to
the fray. They began to put more speed in their motions, and more force
in their blows. Confident that neither one could take advantage of the
other, they fell back to hard hitting. In this strength counted, and it
was soon seen that they were pretty evenly matched. Again and again they
received and administered punishment.

It may have seemed cruel to one not acquainted with the laws of the wild
deer, but not so to the spectators nor to the fighters. The leadership
had to be decided in this manner, and either combatant had the right to
stop it by yielding to the other. But neither White Tail nor Young Black
Buck had any intention of doing this.

The blood of the older ones was warmed by the sight. Father Buck
recalled the day when he fought Black Buck for leadership, and he was
proud of his son now fighting over again his own battles. Even Mother
Deer, tenderhearted as she was, admired and applauded White Tail. She
knew the battle once decided in his favor would never have to be
repeated.

White Tail suddenly delivered a crushing blow upon his enemy’s head that
brought him to his knees. For an instant every one held his breath, but
before White Tail could take advantage of it with another blow he
slipped and nearly fell to his own knees. Young Black Buck was up in an
instant, and made a wild rush for his adversary. White Tail was
prepared, and received it steadily.

The combat continued for an hour, two hours, three hours, until the
flanks of both were covered with foam. And still they butted and bucked,
and fought with all their might! Their breath was coming in short gasps,
and their eyes flashing defiance.

All that morning the fight continued, with slight intervals for rest.
Then they returned to it, each more determined than ever to defeat his
rival. Young Black Buck soon showed signs of weakening, and his father
noticing it, called out:

“Let them rest until another day! They have done enough today!”

“No! no!” shouted a dozen voices.

“The combat must go on!” replied Father Buck. “Not until they both ask
for a rest can it stop.”

It was renewed with greater vigor. Growing weak by the strain, they fell
more often to their knees. The crashing of horns in mighty blows could
no longer be resisted so easily. They were longer in recovering from the
blows, and slower in getting to their feet.

“Shall we put it off until another day?” asked Young Black Buck suddenly
to his rival.

“No, it shall be settled today,” replied White Tail, breathing hard. “I
can fight for weeks yet. I remember your lies about me, Young Black
Buck. I recall your treachery in the woods! I think of how you lost me
in Dismal Swamp so I might be disgraced! And now you shall be punished
for them! I shall fight you until you can’t get up again!”

“That will never happen, White Tail! You can never do that!”

But this boast was hard to make good. Young Black Buck was showing
weariness. Again and again he stumbled and fell to his knees. And each
time White Tail sprang at him and delivered a series of mighty blows
with his head.

Once Young Black Buck failed to get quickly back to his feet, and White
Tail rushed him. With all the speed and power he could summon he
delivered a crushing blow, and knocked his rival down until all four
legs were doubled up under him.

White Tail stood over him. “Call me leader!” he snorted.

“Never!” grunted Young Black Buck, and tried to rise. White Tail knocked
him flat again before he could rise.

“Call me leader!” he challenged again.

“Never!” came a fainter cry.

Again White Tail flattened him out, and issued the challenge the third
time, and once more Young Black Buck refused.

Four times White Tail flattened him on the ground, and the fifth time
Young Black Buck could not rise.

“Call me leader!”

There was no response. Young Black Buck was too weak to answer. White
Tail stood over him. Three times Young Black Buck tried to rise, but
fell back. He was too weak to respond to the challenge or to get to his
feet. The battle was over! White Tail was victor!

“Who challenges my leadership now!” White Tail bellowed, glaring around.
And none replied! Their very silence made him their choice. In the next
story White Tail succeeds his father and becomes leader of the herd.



                               STORY XVI
                   WHITE TAIL MADE LEADER OF THE HERD


By defeating Young Black Buck in combat, White Tail was, according to
the law of the herd, chosen leader until another should grow up and
displace him. The decision on the battlefield could not be changed or
altered. Even Black Buck and his son recognized this, and without
protest they permitted Father Buck to complete the ceremony.

“The law of the herd has been vindicated,” he said, after White Tail had
trotted around the vast circle, and challenged in vain any other
antagonist. “White Tail shall henceforth be your leader. To him
obedience shall be given, and any who refuses shall be driven into
exile. If there is any opposition it must be stated now.”

Black Buck’s wicked eyes flashed angrily. He was doubly disappointed
that his son had failed, for his own defeat years before came back to
torment him. Young Black Buck was too exhausted to speak, and if there
was any protest it had to come from his father.

“Young Black Buck have you anything to say?” continued Father Buck,
turning to the defeated.

Young Black Buck shook his head wearily. There was no fight left in him.

“You promise to obey the new leader?”

Again the weary shaking of the head, followed by a sign as the
vanquished dropped down and closed his eyes.

“And you, Black Buck of Dismal Swamp?”

“I will follow and obey the leader, as I followed and obeyed you, Father
Buck,” was the answer. “There is nothing else for me to do. I submit to
the law.”

Father Buck turned to White Tail, whose distended nostrils and flashing
eyes indicated that he was still ready to fight for his honor. The eyes
of father and son met an instant in an exchange of pride and happiness.

“It is well then,” continued the ex-leader. “White Tail shall henceforth
be the head of the herd. I go back to my place among the older bucks to
follow.”

A certain wistfulness crept into his voice and eyes. It was hard to
yield the proud position, to hand over the burdens and glory of leader
to another. None could do it without a certain amount of regret—not even
though the successor was his own son.

“I have led you many, many seasons,” continued Father Buck, “and always
with success. Puma and Timber have never raided the herd in my time. We
have foiled and deceived them, finding new pasture fields where they
could not come. We have been safe from Loup the Lynx and Sneaky the Gray
Wolf. I have fought them both, holding them at bay with my mighty horns,
and once I remember it was a hard fought, desperate battle with Sneaky.
But before he could call his pack the herd had escaped, and I fled from
him on the wind.”

He paused a moment, swinging his head proudly from side to side. “And
our pasture fields have always been rich and sufficient,” he continued.
“I have led you where the food was plentiful even in the depths of the
winter. In snow and rain we have fared well. Our fawns and does have
been safe. Not one has been lost through bad leadership. We have
multiplied and grown strong. Today we stand first among the great herds
of the timberland. May we continue to grow and thrive under our new
leader.”

With his farewell address finished, Father Buck stepped from under the
Council Tree, and White Tail, knowing that he was expected to assume
control, trotted up to take his place. Some noticed that, as he passed
Father Buck, he was taller and stronger in limb than the ex-leader. The
tips of his antlers towered a full foot higher than those of Father
Buck. Even his enemies noticed this, and were satisfied that he would
prove a good leader.

“Father Buck has spoken well,” White Tail began, as he glanced proudly
around at the herd. “His leadership has been successful, and I shall
make it more so. If I fail you, may I fall in the chase and break my
neck! If I show weakness or cowardice, may Puma or Timber Wolf pull me
down and eat out my heart! If I show lack of wisdom and justice, may
Loup the Lynx or Sneaky trip me, and devour me. I shall be your leader,
and next to me—”

He stopped and glanced from one to another. He had the right to choose
the one next to him in power, one who would lead the herd if he were
sick or away.

“—and the next to me in authority,” he added, “comes Young Black Buck. I
have no ill will for him. The past must be forgotten. All I ask from him
is loyalty and support. The safety of the herd must always be his first
thought. He must give his life, if necessary, to protect the does and
fawns in my absence. Do you promise this, Young Black Buck?”

Surprised by this honor thrust so unexpectedly upon him, Young Black
Buck opened his weary eyes, and jumped to his feet. He trotted into the
circle, and once more held his head high.

“White Tail,” he began in a trembling voice, “I don’t deserve this, but
if you ask it I shall accept. I pledge loyalty and friendship. I shall
make it the law of my life to support your leadership and to do all I
can for the herd. Is that enough?”

“It is all we can ask, Young Black Buck,” answered White Tail. “Now,
under the Council Tree, we pledge ourselves to the service of the herd
and to each other’s support. Let it be understood that when I am away,
Young Black Buck shall be in command, and it is the duty of every one to
follow and obey him. It is so agreed! The Council is now finished.”

The meeting immediately broke up, and the deer and bucks mingled
together to congratulate the new leaders, for the council had ended
happily, and there was no bitter feeling carried away. The older ones
related to the young ones stories of other similar meetings under the
Council Tree, and the latter listened eagerly to these tales.

Father Buck and Mother Deer withdrew silently, leaving White Tail in
command, with the whole herd crowding around him to flatter and
congratulate. There was a new spring in the ex-leader’s steps as he
trotted away, and Mother Deer, walking along by his side, noticed it.

“You do not act like a fallen leader,” she said, smiling. “I haven’t
seen you walk so lightly and happily for a long time.”

“A fallen leader is not always to be pitied, my dear,” Father Buck
replied. “The greatest thing he can do is to lead his people
successfully, and the next greatest thing is to rear a son to take his
place. Have I not done both?”

Mother Deer nodded and smiled. Father Buck turned to her and
affectionately licked her neck. “And the greatest thing you could do,”
he added, “is to train your son so that he is worthy to lead. I’m proud
of White Tail, and still prouder of you, Mother Deer. He is your son!”

A little later White Tail found them together in the woods, talking and
smiling, and so happy in the possession of each other’s love that
neither seemed to regret the loss of authority. And White Tail, watching
them, said to himself:

“The honor of being leader of the herd is not all mine. I owe much of it
to them. They have trained me and taught me, and suffered for me, that I
might succeed. I shall never forget that.”

And to the end of his days, which were many, White Tail never forgot
that to have good parents was greater even than to be leader of the
herd.

The next story in the Twilight Series is entitled: Washer the Raccoon.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                        Bumper the White Rabbit


                                STORY I

                         WHERE BUMPER CAME FROM

There was once an old woman who had so many rabbits that she hardly knew
what to do. They ate her out of house and home, and kept the cupboard so
bare she often had to go to bed hungry. But none of the rabbits suffered
this way. They all had their supper, and their breakfast, too, even if
there wasn’t a crust left in the old woman’s cupboard.

There were big rabbits and little rabbits; lean ones and fat ones;
comical little youngsters who played pranks upon their elders, and
staid, serious old ones who never laughed or smiled the livelong day;
boy rabbits and girl rabbits, mother rabbits and father rabbits, and
goodness knows how many aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins, second
cousins and distant relatives-in-law! They all lived under one big roof
in the

      The continuation of this interesting story will be found in

                        BUMPER THE WHITE RABBIT
                        Price 65 Cents Postpaid

                THE JOHN C. WINSTON COMPANY, Publishers
         517 S. Wabash Ave. Winston Building  129 Spadina Ave.
           CHICAGO, ILL.    PHILADELPHIA, PA.  TORONTO, ONT.



                          BUSTER THE BIG BROWN
                                  BEAR


                                STORY I

                         WHEN BUSTER WAS A CUB

In the North Woods where Buster was born, a wide river tinkles merrily
over stones that are so white you’d mistake them for snowballs, if you
were not careful, and begin pelting each other with them. The birches
hanging over the water look like white sticks of peppermint candy,
except in the spring of the year when they blossom out in green leaves,
and then they make you think of fairyland where everything is painted
the colors of the rainbow.

The rocks that slope up from the bank of the river are dented and broken
as if some giant in the past had smashed them with his hammer, cracking
some and punching deep holes in others. It was in one of these holes, or
caves, that Buster was born.

He didn’t mind the hard rocky floor of his bed a bit, nor did he mind
the darkness, nor the cold winds that swept through the open doorway. He
was so well protected by his

      The continuation of this interesting story will be found in

                       BUSTER THE BIG BROWN BEAR
                        Price 65 Cents Postpaid

                THE JOHN C. WINSTON COMPANY, Publishers
         517 S. Wabash Ave. Winston Building  129 Spadina Ave.
           CHICAGO, ILL.    PHILADELPHIA, PA.  TORONTO, ONT.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES


 1. Changed “more Black Buck” to “more Young Black Buck” on p. 126.
 2. Silently corrected typographical errors.
 3. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.
 4. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.





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