Chapter VI: A Game Of Hide And Seek
 

There was a game of hide and seek that Danny Meadow Mouse once played with Buster Bear. It was a very dreadful game for Danny. But hard as it was for Danny, it didn't begin to be as hard as the game Lightfoot the Deer was playing with the hunter in the Green Forest.

In the case of Buster Bear and Danny, the latter had simply to keep out of reach of Buster. As long as Buster didn't get his great paws on Danny, the latter was safe. Then, too, Danny is a very small person. He is so small that he can hide under two or three leaves. Wherever he is, he is pretty sure to find a hiding-place of some sort. His small size gives him advantages in a game of hide and seek. It certainly does. But Lightfoot the Deer is big. He is one of the largest of the people who live in the Green Forest. Being so big, it is not easy to hide.

Moreover, a hunter with a terrible gun does not have to get close in order to kill. Lightfoot knew all this as he waited for the coming of the hunter of whom Sammy Jay had warned him. He had learned many lessons in the hunting season of the year before and he remembered every one of them. He knew that to forget even one of them might cost him his life. So, standing motionless behind a tangle of fallen trees, Lightfoot listened and watched.

Presently over in the distance he heard Sammy Jay screaming, "Thief, thief, thief!" A little sigh of relief escaped Lightfoot. He knew that that screaming of Sammy Jay's was a warning to tell him where the hunter was. Knowing just where the hunter was made it easier for Lightfoot to know what to do.

A Merry Little Breeze came stealing through the Green Forest. It came from behind Lightfoot and danced on towards the hunter with the terrible gun. Instantly Lightfoot began to steal softly away through the Green Forest. He took the greatest care to make no sound. He went in a half-circle, stopping every few steps to listen and test the air with his wonderful nose. Can you guess what Lightfoot was trying to do? He was trying to get behind the hunter so that the Merry Little Breezes would bring to him the dreaded man-scent. So long as Lightfoot could get that scent, he would know where the hunter was, though he could neither see nor hear him. If he had remained where Sammy Jay had found him, the hunter might have come within shooting distance before Lightfoot could have located him.

So the hunter with the terrible gun walked noiselessly through the Green Forest, stepping with the greatest care to avoid snapping a stick underfoot, searching with keen eye every thicket and likely hiding-place for a glimpse of Lightfoot, and studying the ground for traces to show that Lightfoot had been there.