Chapter XXI: How Lightfoot Got Rid Of The Hounds
 

Poor Lightfoot! It seemed to him that there were no such things as justice and fair play. Had it been just one hunter at a time against whom he had to match his wits it would not have been so bad. But there were many hunters with terrible guns looking for him, and in dodging one he was likely at any time to meet another. This in itself seemed terribly unfair and unjust. But now, added to this was the greater unfairness of being trailed by hounds.

Do you wonder that Lightfoot thought of men as utterly heartless? You see, he could not know that those hounds had not been put on his trail, but had left home to hunt for their own pleasure. He could not know that it was against the law to hunt him with dogs. But though none of those hunters looking for him were guilty of having put the hounds on his trail, each one of them was willing and eager to take advantage of the fact that the hounds were on his trail. Already he had been shot at once and he knew that he would be shot at again if he should be driven where a hunter was hidden.

The ground was damp and scent always lies best on damp ground. This made it easy for the hounds to follow him with their wonderful noses. Lightfoot tried every trick he could think of to make those hounds lose the scent.

"If only I could make them lose it long enough for me to get a little rest, it would help," panted Lightfoot, as he paused for just an instant to listen to the baying of the hounds.

But he couldn't. They allowed him no rest. He was becoming very, very tired. He could no longer bound lightly over fallen logs or brush, as he had done at first. His lungs ached as he panted for breath. He realized that even though he should escape the hunters he would meet an even more terrible death unless he could get rid of those hounds. There would come a time when he would have to stop. Then those hounds would catch up with him and tear him to pieces.

It was then that he remembered the Big River. He turned towards it. It was his only chance and he knew it. Straight through the Green Forest, out across the Green Meadows to the bank of the Big River, Lightfoot ran. For just a second he paused to look behind. The hounds were almost at his heels. Lightfoot hesitated no longer but plunged into the Big River and began to swim. On the banks the hounds stopped and bayed their disappointment, for they did not dare follow Lightfoot out into the Big River.