Chapter XII: Lightfoot Visits Paddy The Beaver
 

Deep in the Green Forest is the pond where lives Paddy the Beaver. It is Paddy's own pond, for he made it himself. He made it by building a dam across the Laughing Brook. When Lightfoot bounded away through the Green Forest, after watching the hunter pass through the hollow below him, he remembered Paddy's pond. "That's where I'll go," thought Lightfoot. "It is such a lonesome part of the Green Forest that I do not believe that hunter will come there. I'll just run over and make Paddy a friendly call."

So Lightfoot bounded along deeper and deeper into the Green Forest. Presently through the trees he caught the gleam of water. It was Paddy's pond. Lightfoot approached it cautiously. He felt sure he was rid of the hunter who had followed him so far that day, but he knew that there might be other hunters in the Green Forest. He knew that he couldn't afford to be careless for even one little minute. Lightfoot had lived long enough to know that most of the sad things and dreadful things that happen in the Green Forest and on the Green Meadows are due to carelessness. No one who is hunted, be he big or little, can afford ever to be careless.

Now Lightfoot had known of hunters hiding near water, hoping to shoot him when he came to drink. That always seemed to Lightfoot a dreadful thing, an unfair thing. But hunters had done it before and they might do it again. So Lightfoot was careful to approach Paddy's pond upwind. That is, he approached the side of the pond from which the Merry Little Breezes were blowing toward him, and all the time he kept his nose working. He knew that if any hunters were hidden there, the Merry Little Breezes would bring him their scent and thus warn him.

He had almost reached the edge of Paddy's pond when from the farther shore there came a sudden crash. It startled Lightfoot terribly for just an instant. Then he guessed what it meant. That crash was the falling of a tree. There wasn't enough wind to blow over even the most shaky dead tree. There had been no sound of axes, so he knew it could not have been chopped down by men. It must be that Paddy the Beaver had cut it, and if Paddy had been working in daylight, it was certain that no one had been around that pond for a long time.

So Lightfoot hurried forward eagerly, cautiously. When he reached the bank he looked across towards where the sound of that falling tree had come from; a branch of a tree was moving along in the water and half hidden by it was a brown head. It was Paddy the Beaver taking the branch to his food pile.