The Stranger in the Forest

A strange deer has come into Bambi's forest. Who is he? What does he want. Why does he not even have a name and just how does he know all about Man? He is big, he is powerful, and he is unlike any deer in the herd. With what this deer knows, he may save or doom all the deer in the herd.

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10. Reunion

CHAPTER TEN: REUNION

 

Year 2

It was several days later. He looked through the trees as they walked down the hill noting how near they were to the first place he had met Bambi a full season ago. It was also near the first place he had seen this forest for first time. Below him, the new spring foliage hid the Meadow from his view. This was a good thing. If the herd saw him coming back accompanied by a large bear, they all would panic and run. The large open area was likely turning bright spring green from winter brown. His new summer coat was filling in. Other than the two long scars on this left side, he looked the same. His strength was still returning, but there was soreness in his left hind leg. He still could not run like he had. Whether that would ever come back, he did not know.

 “I will leave you here,” said the bear.”Any closer and it will frighten your herd.”

He turned and looked into red eyes of the black bear. “Thank you for all you have done,” he said sincerely. He bent over and nuzzled the bear as a token of friendship. The bear seemed surprised but after a moment did the same to his nose. “Will you tell me now the other reason why you didn’t eat me during the winter?”

The bear hesitated and continued looking him in the eyes. “Besides the fact that you and I are the same in how we look at the forest, and that we both belong here, I did not eat you because something inside me said I should not. There is something about you, Stranger. You seem not only to belong here; you seem to have a purpose for being here. A purpose greater than mine or any of the other creatures I know. I do not know what that purpose is, but I am sure there is one.” Then he stiffened, “But do not take this as weakness. If I can kill and eat any of your herd, I will do so.”

“I understand my friend,” he said bowing his head. “That again is the Way of All Things. You will forgive me if I tell you I am going to make sure we keep a close watch for you so you will not succeed. ”

“I understand,” the bear said and he started back up the hill. “You will not have to worry; I am going back over the hill to the other meadow. The food there is better. I will not be back until near winter.”

The bear’s words struck him. That was two creatures that told him he had a purpose here. Just what that purpose was and who gave him this purpose he could not understand, yet he felt it was true. He was more curious as to why someone would give him such a purpose, when so many other creatures just seemed to wander around living out their lives like they always had. Did the other creatures have no purpose, or could he just not see what their purpose was.

“Stay well, and thank you, my friend for everything you have done,” he said watching the large black figure climb up the hill until he was out of sight. He then slowly walked down the hill until he caught a clear view of the meadow. Already the first glow of day lit it.

He sniffed the air. The wind was blowing from across the meadow toward him. The air carried the familiar scent of the oak, pine, willow and other trees. Also in the air were the scents of the raccoon, the possums and the other creatures of the forest. It smelled familiar and he realized at that moment how much he had missed those smells. Then he smelled them, the scents of deer. His own deer herd. He watched from concealment the deer walk carefully out onto the meadow. A lot of yearlings this time were together, including Veron, but he saw familiar faces.  Ronno entered the meadow and started to eat. The doe Marol was still next to him with a new doe fawn. The remainder of the herd males came onto the meadow all alone. The senior males took up their normal place in the middle of the meadow. Finally, the more mature doe entered the meadow; all of them had white spotted fawns that could not be very old.

The deer all stood up as Bambi came out with Faline. She was again sporting a new fawn, a doe. Then the bushes moved behind her and out walked another doe, this one was not stepping lively, but seemed to just walk along. He knew that figure at once, it was Claris. He almost flew into a run to greet her, but he was stopped dead in his tracks. Behind her, a new fawn walked timidly out of the trees and walked alongside of Claris. His heart almost rose out of his mouth. He looked at the fawn. It was a male, and it was his. He hurried the last few lengths to just outside the meadow and stopped. He sniffed the air again; there was so scent of Man. He looked over toward the place the Man animals had been before. The flatten ground was still there, the Man path was still there and the thin trees without branches were still there, but there was no Man caves.

He looked at the herd and wondered if he should go out. Suppose the others still wanted him gone. What would happen then? He thought about it, then came to the realization that after what he had been through, he did not care if they wanted him or not. This was his home; that was his mate and fawn. He belonged here. He took a deep breath and said out loud. “I hope they still do not hate me.”

With that he stepped out onto the open of the meadow. He walked a few steps. Instantly every deer stopped feeding and stood up straight to stare at him.  He heard a collective gasp from the deer in front of him. He walked into the meadow and held his head up so all could see it was him. They stared at him and were all struck dumb. To them, he had returned from the dead.

He swallowed hard and called out, “Greetings.”

After looks of utter astonishment, he could see movement in the herd. For a second, he thought they were all going to run away from him. He could not blame them, but they were not running away. Many were moving toward him. He looked over to Bambi who gazed at him with his mouth fully open in disbelief.

“Stranger?” he heard Claris call out in her voice. It sounded almost like a warning. Then several deer started to move. They moved quickly and they moved toward him. He looked toward Bambi who was breaking into a run along with Faline and their fawn. It was Claris who jumped ahead of them all and coved the ground running at full. He was afraid if she hit him, both of them might get hurt, but she pulled up and then leaped up on her two hind legs and wrapped her front legs around his neck and rested them on his back.

She looked right at him and through a fountain of tears all he heard between the sobs was, “Is it you?” she cried out. He leaned forward and kissed her on her soft muzzle. He smelled her familiar scent. “It is you,” she said and buried her head in his shoulder.  He licked the side of her head. He felt the wetness of her tears on his fur.  He found his own eyes tearing uncontrollably. He finally stepped away and let her stand on her legs again facing him. He licked her face and on the side of her muzzle.

“I am back,” he told her, his voice choked. “I am not leaving this time.”

Next Bambi almost collided with his side rubbed his face along his neck and said in a cracked voice, “You are alive, my friend. I never thought I would see you again. You are alive,” he repeated.

Faline came up and licked the side of his face. Several other deer crowded around him pushing him about looking at him in amazement. He was grateful for the chorus of thanks at his return. Although he was glad they wanted him back, he was far more interested in something else He shook his body and broke free of them. A fawn stood next to Claris. A little male fawn stood under his mother for protection from the crush of deer bodies. He leaned over and put his face next to the quivering infant. The fawn looked at him for a second as if studying him. Then the fawn raised his little head up and started to lick his face. He felt his heart was ready to burst and he wept as much as Claris.

“His name is Stabo,” Claris choked through her tears. “At least your son will have a name.”

“Stabo,” he repeated and nuzzled the side of his face again. The fawn did likewise seeming to know who he was.

He raised his head and acknowledged the welcome of his herd. He was as filled with happiness as ever he had been in his life. Then he noticed there were several in the heard who did not run to greet him but went back to eating the spring grass. Duro, Sinno, and several others looked uneasily at him. They made no secret they still did not want him there. There was still a chill in the air and it was not from the wind. He did not care about them. He stood up straight.

“My friends,” he called to the others around him. “I have been away for a long while. I thank you for having me back. I will answer your questions later. I have much to catch up on.  I would like to speak to Bambi, Faline and Claris today. The rest of you I will talk with later on the meadow. I have much to learn about what happened while I was gone.”

The others looked to understand and left them alone with a series of welcome back and glad you are still alive comments. He was surprised at the number of deer who greeted him. There was no yelling he should leave.

“Can we speak alone,” he asked the three of them.

Bambi nodded and slowly lead them off the meadow and into the forest. The short climb made his left rear leg sore, but it was getting better. They made their way back to Bambi’s cave. He could smell Claris and Stabo had spent their time there while he was gone. Bambi had watched over them.

“So tell us what happened, why are you alive?” Bambi asked.

“I will tell you, but you will not believe it,” he said and then told them his story.

If not for the lingering scent of the bear on his fur, he didn’t think any of them would have believed him except Claris who spent the time standing against his uninjured side. Stabo drank his mother’s milk as did Faline’s doe fawn who was named Gina.

“I would never think that could happen, yet here you are,” Bambi said as if still not believing it. “A bear,” he said. “You are friends with a bear. None of us thought we would ever see you again. I still do not believe it, yet you are here. I am glad you are back.”

“The bear is not our friend,” he corrected. “If he can, he will kill any deer he can catch in our herd. However, there was something between us. In some ways that bear and I see the forest the same. It is an understanding about the forest and our place in it. In that way only are we alike. That is why he did not kill me, for which I am very happy about.”

Claris leaned over rubbing his face. “I too am very glad,” she said softly, her eyes were still watery.

He leaned over, and put his mouth on hers and kissed her for what felt like the entire day. He could feel her warmth flowing into to him as his warmth flowed into her. Yes, he was meant to be here with this doe and fawn. Little Stabo finished feeding and they lay down as one family again outside of Bambi’s cave.  Stabo wiggled between him and Claris and his tiny head sticking out between him. Gena did the same thing. Although he knew other does had his fawns, this was the one he truly cared about.

“It is true,” he heard a squeaking voice from above. Stranger you have come backed.”

He looked up at Friend Owl sitting on a branch. He did not seem to be in a hurry to fly away from them. It was like before Kragus. That then reminded him.

“Do the others still want me gone?” he asked Bambi.

“Some still do not like you. They didn’t even like that Claris stayed here during the winter,” he said painfully. “I think most will be happy to have you back. We will have to wait and see. You called the herd away from Man. Then we all thought you died because of it. Many felt badly afterward and decided that you and Claris were treated unfairly. Many still dislike you both, but I think enough of the herd wants you here that I do not have to try and chase you off.”

That was a relief for him, especially in the condition he was in now. “That is good, Bambi, because I am not as strong or as fast as I was. You could easily beat me now. I do not know if my strength or speed will ever come back like they were.”

“I can see,” Bambi said looking at the scars on his left side. “I have never seen a deer hurt so badly and yet still live. You are indeed a strange deer.”

“I can see you also took care of Claris and Stabo,” he said. “For that I thank you.”

“Bambi let me stay here,” Claris added. “When Stabo came, Bambi protected us both like we were his own family.”

“You are both are like my own family. You both are also welcome to stay here,” Bambi told them. “This is your home now.”

He took a deep breath. Bambi was right. This was his home. He was home, he was with his family, and for the second time in his life, he was content.

 

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