Chapter XVI: Visitors To Paddy's Pond
 

That hunter was a man of patience. Also he was a man who understood the little people of the Green Forest and the Green Meadows. He knew that if he would not be seen he must not move. So he didn't move. He kept as motionless as if he were a part of the very log on which he was sitting.

For some time there was no sign of any living thing. Then, from over the tree tops in the direction of the Big River, came the whistle of swift wings, and Mr. and Mrs. Quack alighted with a splash in the pond. For a few moments they sat on the water, a picture of watchful suspicion. They were looking and listening to make sure that no danger was near. Satisfied at last, they began to clean their feathers. It was plain that they felt safe. Paddy the Beaver was tempted to warn them that they were not as safe as they thought, but as long as the hunter did not move Paddy decided to wait.

Now the hunter was sorely tempted to shoot these Ducks, but he knew that if he did he would have no chance that day to get Lightfoot the Deer, and it was Lightfoot he wanted. So Mr. and Mrs. Quack swam about within easy range of that terrible gun without once suspecting that danger was anywhere near.

By and by the hunter's keen eyes caught a movement at one end of Paddy's dam. An instant later Bobby Coon appeared. It was clear that Bobby was quite unsuspicious. He carried something, but just what the hunter could not make out. He took it down to the edge of the water and there carefully washed it. Then he climbed up on Paddy's dam and began to eat. You know Bobby Coon is very particular about his food. Whenever there is water near, Bobby washes his food before eating. Once more the hunter was tempted, but did not yield to the temptation, which was a very good thing for Bobby Coon.

All this Lightfoot saw as he stood among the little hemlock-trees at the top of the ridge behind the hunter. He saw and he understood. "It is because he wants to kill me that he doesn't shoot at Mr. and Mrs. Quack or Bobby Coon," thought Lightfoot a little bitterly. "What have I ever done that he should be so anxious to kill me?"

Still the hunter sat without moving. Mr. and Mrs. Quack contentedly hunted for food in the mud at the bottom of Paddy's pond. Bobby Coon finished his meal, crossed the dam and disappeared in the Green Forest. He had gone off to take a nap somewhere. Time slipped away. The hunter continued to watch patiently for Lightfoot, and Lightfoot and Paddy the Beaver watched the hunter. Finally, another visitor appeared at the upper end of the pond -- a visitor in a wonderful coat of red. It was Reddy Fox.