Nimble's fears were soon set at rest. His old playmates soon let him know that they were all going to have new horns too. And then, a little later, Nimble made another great discovery. He was looking into a pool one morning when he saw something that gave him huge delight. His new horns were not like last year's horns.
And at once Nimble could hear Jimmy Rabbit welcoming some early guests. "Come this way and leave your hats and coats!" Jimmy Rabbit was saying. And soon he returned with Billy Woodchuck and Fatty Coon at his heels. Jimmy led them straight to the place where Nimble stood. "Hang your things on my new hat-rack!" Jimmy Rabbit told them as he waved a paw toward Nimble's antlers.
A little deer like him would have looked queer wearing great branching horns such as his father owned. Nimble's horns were merely two spikes which stuck up out of the top of his head in a pert fashion. It was a proud day for him when an old deer spoke to him and called him "young Spike Horn." About that time the forest folk had begun to speak of him as a "yearling."
And when she found Nimble again she was so glad that she hadn't the heart to punish him. However, one day she talked to him quite severely. "Do you want a Fox to catch and eat you?" she asked him. "No, Mother!... Has a Fox ever eaten you?" "Certainly not!" Nimble's mother answered. "Do you expect to be caught by a Fox?" "No, indeed!" said his mother.
There was something about the sound that sent a thrill through Nimble and started his coat to bristling along his backbone with a queer, creepy feeling. One day in the fall Nimble's mother came upon them in the woods when they were having one of their sham fights. "You'd better stop that!" she said to them severely. "Somebody will get hurt sooner or later if you're not careful."
As Nimble followed her Jimmy Rabbit skipped alongside him and whispered in his ear. "Don't fail to let me know when the time comes!" But Nimble said never a word. Somehow he suspected that he had made a great mistake. He knew he had, a little later. Weeks went by; and still Nimble's mother said no more about visiting Farmer Green's carrot patch. Nimble himself did not dare to mention carrots now.
When Nimble's mother first looked at him she couldn't believe she would ever be able to raise him. He was such a tiny, frail, spotted thing that he seemed too delicate for a life of adventure on the wooded ridges and in the tangled swamps under the shadow of Blue Mountain. "Bless me!" cried the good lady.
Then just for fun Jimmy Rabbit set the bonnet on Nimble's head and tied its strings under his chin. And Aunt Polly Woodchuck herself laughed hardest of all. And then all at once something happened. A dog barked. "It's old dog Spot!" somebody cried. Nimble Deer was the first to run. One leap took him out of the evergreen thicket in which he had been standing all the evening.
While he was watching some of the Indian children at play, he saw a girl come out of the hut with a gray squirrel in her arms; it did not seem at all afraid of her, but nestled to her shoulder, and even ate out of her hand; and what was Nimble's surprise to see that this tame gray squirrel was none other than his own pretty sister Silver-nose, whom he had left in the hollow tree when they both ran away from the red squirrel.
"They're handy to have, all the same," he told her. "And as for this youngster of yours, you needn't worry much about him. He'll be safe enough in the woods. He looks just like a patch of sunlight that has fallen through a tree top upon a leaf-strewn bank." Nimble's mother was pleased to hear that. "Yes!" said Mr. Grouse cheerfully. "He'll be safe enough except for the Foxes."