Chapter XV: The Three Watchers
 

When Paddy the Beaver slapped the water with his broad tail, making a noise like a pistol shot, Lightfoot understood that this was meant as a warning of danger. He was on his feet instantly, with eyes, ears and nose seeking the cause of Paddy's warning. After a moment or two he stole softly up to the top of a little ridge some distance back from Paddy's pond, but from the top of which he could see the whole of the pond. There he hid among some close-growing young hemlock-trees. It wasn't long before he saw a hunter with a terrible gun come down to the shore of the pond.

Now the hunter had heard Paddy slap the water with his broad tail. Of course. There would have been something very wrong with his ears had he failed to hear it.

"Confound that Beaver!" muttered the hunter crossly. "If there was a Deer anywhere around this pond, he probably is on his way now. I'll have a look around and see if there are any signs."

So the hunter went on to the edge of Paddy's pond and then began to walk around it, studying the ground as he walked. Presently he found the footprints of Lightfoot in the mud where Lightfoot had gone down to the pond to drink.

"I thought as much," muttered the hunter. "Those tracks were made last night. That Deer probably was lying down somewhere near here, and I might have had a shot but for that pesky Beaver. I'll just look the land over, and then I think I'll wait here awhile. If that Deer isn't too badly scared, he may come back."

So the hunter went quite around the pond, looking into all likely hiding-places. He found where Lightfoot had been lying, and he knew that in all probability Lightfoot had been there when Paddy gave the danger signal.

"It's of no use for me to try to follow him," thought the hunter. "It is too dry for me to track him. He may not be so badly scared, after all. I'll just find a good place and wait."

So the hunter found an old log behind some small trees and there sat down. He could see all around Paddy's pond. He sat perfectly still. He was a clever hunter and he knew that so long as he did not move he was not likely to be noticed by any sharp eyes that might come that way. What he didn't know was that Lightfoot had been watching him all the time and was even then standing where he could see him. And another thing he didn't know was that Paddy the Beaver had come out of his house and, swimming under water, had reached a hiding-place on the opposite shore from which he too had seen the hunter sit down on the log. So the hunter watched for Lightfoot, and Lightfoot and Paddy watched the hunter.