Chapter XXIV: The Hunter Is Disappointed

How he knew he was safe, Lightfoot the Deer Couldn't have told you. He just knew it, that was all. He couldn't understand a word said by the man in whose yard he found himself when he climbed the bank after his long swim across the Big River. But he didn't have to understand words to know that he had found a friend. So he allowed the man to drive him gently over to an open shed where there was a pile of soft hay and there he lay down, so tired that it seemed to him he couldn't move another step.

It was only a few minutes later that the hunter who had followed Lightfoot across the River reached the bank and scrambled out of his boat. Lightfoot's friend was waiting just at the top of the bank. Of course the hunter saw him at once.

"Hello, Friend!" cried the hunter. "Did you see a Deer pass this way a few minutes ago? He swam across the river, and if I know anything about it he's too tired to travel far now. I've been hunting that fellow for several days, and if I have any luck at all I ought to get him this time." "I'm afraid you won't have any luck at all," said Lightfoot's friend. "You see, I don't allow any hunting on my land."

The hunter looked surprised, and then his surprise gave way to anger. "You mean," said he, "that you intend to get that Deer yourself."

Lightfoot's friend shook his head. "No," said he, "I don't mean anything of the kind. I mean that that Deer is not to be killed if I can prevent it, and while it is on my land, I think I can. The best thing for you to do, my friend, is to get into your boat and row back where you came from. Are those your hounds barking over there?"

"No," replied the hunter promptly. "I know the law just as well as you do, and it is against the law to hunt Deer with dogs. I don't even know who owns those two hounds over there,"

"That may be true," replied Lightfoot's friend. "I don't doubt it is true. But you are willing to take advantage of the fact that the dogs of some one else have broken the law. You knew that those dogs had driven that Deer into the Big River and you promptly took advantage of the fact to try to reach that Deer before he could get across. You are not hunting for the pleasure of hunting but just to kill. You don't know the meaning of justice or fairness. Now get off my land. Get back into your boat and off my land as quick as you can. That Deer is not very far from here and so tired that he cannot move. Just as long as he will stay here, he will be safe, and I hope he will stay until this miserable hunting season is ended. Now go."

Muttering angrily, the hunter got back into his boat and pushed off, but he didn't row back across the river.