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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8. The Price of Forgiveness

CHAPTER EIGHT: THE PRICE OF FORGIVENESS

 

They were alone. They avoided the herd, they avoided the meadow, they avoided everyone they ever knew, and stayed by themselves up in the hills. They left their place they had bred in and walked away to a new place in the hills on the far side of the meadow away from Man. It was not an easy place to get to from the meadow. The hill was not a gentle slope, but covered in rocks and hard to climb. There was a path there, Claris knew about it from her wanderings before he came to the forest. If you walked almost to where the stream left this forest for Bambi’s old forest, then the rocks vanished and the climb was much easier. There were no deer there. For now there was still plenty of food, but that would change when the snow came.  If this place became bare, they have to move to another until spring came. They went there not only for the isolation, but they both felt that if he avoided the other deer, there would be less call for the two of them to be run out of the forest. The idea was to remain hidden as much as possible from the other deer until spring when their new fawn came and then leave this herd like so many others. So far it worked; no one came up demanding they leave.

The Season had passed. Soon he knew he lose his rack and the call to remove them might be even less. It didn’t matter, he had made up his mind he was not going and he was prepared to fight, and if necessary kill, anyone who tried to force them out. The only deer that had a chance of doing that was Bambi, unless the herd males ganged up on him and that was hardly ever done. Most deer only wanted to be left alone. Besides, most of the herd males did not have the courage to attack him and he knew it.

The idea of being an outcast again did not concern him greatly; he had been one all his life. He could tell it bothered Claris much more. Even though she had been ignored by the herd as an adult, she still felt part of it. A part that was now forever broken His major pain was not that he had been shunned, but they had taken it out on Claris because of him.

His great overwhelming desire to be with Claris had vanished with The Season. He could sense it had done likewise with her. He still felt warmth when they were together. He still wanted to be with her. In truth she still had strong feelings for him. But it was also true she had no place else to go. Like it or not, they had been forced together.

Over the next two days Man came into the forest. He could hear Men walking through the forest trying to find deer and kill them. From time to him he heard the killing sticks so he knew they partly succeeded. At least Man did not come up here. The air turned colder again and one night they heard even louder noises came from the meadow. If anything, there were more Men were there than before. That night, the yelling was especially louder right after the setting of the greater light.  As before, they kept yelling the same thing at the same time. There was also the yelping of many dogs. This meant Man was here in even greater numbers now and the danger was all the greater. As the night went on, the scent of smoke with the odor of burnt deer came to them from the meadow. This scent was sickening. It made him want to empty his stomachs on the ground. It horrified Claris, even though she had smelled it before. The wind changed directions soon after the rising of the lesser light and blew the scents away from them.

The next morning things became much more serious. He heard the noises of Men going into the forest below the hill. With them they took many dogs. They moved toward the deep thicket and Bambi’s cave. It sounded as if Man was trying to move through the forest and try to chase all of them into the meadow. Man was noisy; he crashed through the forest like the large lumbering bear. Man’s scent carried effortlessly through the woods. The others could easily keep away from that, if that was all they did.  The Men went up the hill near where Bambi’s cave was and then stopped near the top. Then there was a loud shout from the meadow and then it started.

The light was still rising when he heard many Men yell, “HIIYAAAHEEHHOWNOWWWW” from many places along the top of the hill on Bambi’s side of the meadow. It was repeated over and over. It sounded like they started high on the hill and were moving down toward the meadow. Although this was frightening, the noise did not seem to be coming near them, it sounded is if it was moving more toward Bambi’s cave. There was also the sound of dogs yelping in the deep woods. He did not know what was worse the putrid odor of man, or the sound of the dogs looking for something to attack. He and Claris lay down hidden near some pine trees and bushes to wait. There would be no sleep for them this day.

Sometime later he heard a crash and caught a familiar scent. He stood up and saw a doe and a fawn running below them near the bottom of the hill they were on. They raced past them past them fleeing in a panic. They were running away from the noise. Then they turned sharply and ran down hill, straight for the meadow.

“Stop!” he called out. “Do not go into the meadow, Man is there.”

Whether or not they heard him, he did not know. They continued to flee toward the meadow ignoring them like they were not even there. A while later he heard the loud noise of the killing sticks. He looked down toward the meadow. Suddenly he saw what Man was doing.

“Claris, they are trying to get behind all the deer in the herd then chase them all onto the meadow. On the meadow there are Men with killing sticks. Once the deer get to the meadow they will be in the open and Man will kill them.”

“No,” she called out. “They will all die.”

Then he looked around him. There was no scent of man here. There were no Man noises. Here it was safe. The others did not know that. The others had to be told, and he knew how to do that.

“Claris, I am going to call the herd here,” he explained. He was interrupted by more killing stick noise from the meadow. “If I call the herd here, they may be safe.”

“Man will hear you,” she said, “And come here.”

“No, I will call a few times from here and then we will go that way,” he pointed with his nose down the hill near the stream. “There I will call to them again. Then when they come I will send them up here. Get ready to run.”

He stood up and after being certain no Man was near them he stated to call out.

“HERE….HERE…Come HERE,” he called at the top of his voice. He repeated it many times until he felt dizzy and had to stop. “

“Lets us go,” he said to Claris and they started to go down the hill. They moved quickly and quietly, not hearing anything around him except the Man noises in the distance. When they got to the bottom, he could still hear and smell no trace of Man. Then he turned and called again many times. Then they waited. For what seemed the longest while there was nothing, then he heard a crash. A young male ran toward them.

“Run up the hill” he shouted to him. “Man is not there.”

The young male flew past him not stopping to say a word. The deer turned and started up the hill. Others soon followed behind the young male. He told them all to run up the hill for safety. The killing stick noise from the meadow became quiet.

He next saw Duro running at them. The deer looked at him and slowed.

“Up the hill,” he told him.

“They killed Duris,” Duro yelled out as he passed. “They chased him onto the meadow and I saw him die along with many others. I heard your call and came. Stranger it is awful.” With that he disappeared up the hill looking panic driven to get away from Man.

More deer fled toward them. He directed them up the hill. He figured maybe half the herd had run by them. He saw no more. He hoped the others had fled another way to safety, but he did not know.  He was about ready to leave with Claris when he caught sight of a familiar figure of a large male and his doe followed by an older fawn.

“Bambi, Faline, Veron” he called out.

Bambi heard him and pulled up. He looked around and then came over. “That was your call,” Bambi said,

“Yes,” he said and explained what Man was doing. Bambi listened, no sign of anger at him and Claris now.

“Thank you,” Bambi said sounding sincere. “You managed to save many of us, but many were chased into the Meadow and died there.”

By now the wind shifted to blowing down the hills again. They could not smell or hear anything coming from the meadow any longer. They waited together and saw few more deer run past them. Bambi and he directed them up the hill. A few looked at them as they ran past, but most were fleeing without much notice. The last he saw Ronno and Marol. They came from the other side of the forest.  Ronno stopped and looked at them.

“Thank you for calling us here,” he said to Bambi. Then he looked at him and Claris for a second. “I am sorry I acted as I did,” he added. “I blamed you for Kragus’ death. Perhaps that was not fair. You did help save us today.”

“Thank you,” he said. He noted the smile on Bambi’s and Faline’s face, but it was nothing as compared to the expression on Claris’s face. Was he forgiven, he hoped so.

Ronno and Marol continued running up the hill and away from them.

“I only hope the others feel like Ronno,” Faline said out loud.

“So do I,” Bambi added. “You helped us with Man today, Stranger. That will not be forgotten by this herd.”

“Hopefully there is no Man…….” He started to say.

He felt a great weight push into his left frank.” BAAMMMMM,” he heard at the same instant. It sounded almost on top of them. He thought a deer had charged him. He fell sideways against Bambi and almost knocked him down.

“Run!” Claris yelled and three of them ran away. He stayed behind. For some reason his left rear leg wouldn’t move right. He mouth was full of a strange taste like he was licking on a rock. He tried to move, but he seemed so slow. Everything had slowed down around him. He struggled to follow the others, but he could not keep up. His lungs felt like they were going to burst. His heart pounded loud in his ears. He took several steps and then remembering the advice from Hilgass, made as sharp a turn as he could to get away from whoever was there.

“BAMMMM” the ground shook again. He felt his left side again almost cave in. It felt as if fire was burning along his left flank. This was far worse than getting hit by any deer. He struggled again and saw a large bush in front of him. He made it behind the bush and his legs collapsed from under him. He went down like a felled tree.

He lay there panting; then he heard footsteps come close. They were huge like the bear. Then he smelled the odor of Man. Off in the distance he thought he heard Claris yell something, but everything in his head was cloudy and spinning. Then he smelled it: strong and putrefying almost making him vomit. Something was coming close to him. It was Man He felt someone grab his rack and pull his head up.

“Da Tu no vee,” it sounded like to his ears; then he heard Claris’ voice scream, “Run.”

He put all of his strength and pushed up with his front legs. His head came up. Instantly he felt his rack hit something. It was soft and he drove his points into it.

“DAAHHHHHH,” he heard from on top of him. He got upon his feet. There below him was a Man falling onto the ground. His was spilling blood on the ground like he did.  He still felt confused, not knowing what to do.

“Come here,” he heard Bambi shout clearly. “He moved awkwardly toward the sound. His vision was getting cloudy.

It was like he was moving through deep water. He could not make his left side of his body do what he wanted it too.

“Stranger,” Claris called out, and he slowly struggled to where he heard Claris’ voice call to him. He was breathing heavily and he moved as clumsily as a new fawn. He walked some distance and then felt something against his side.

“You have been hit,” Bambi said. “You are bleeding from two wounds on your side.

“Please come with us,” Claris pleaded.

It was then he heard shouting behind him. It was more Men and he then heard dogs. They were after him. He looked at the others.

“Go,” he said weakly. “Man is after me. I cannot run and I am bleeding. It will be easy to Man to follow me. If you stay here you will be dead with me. “Go,” he said and pushed Claris aside.

“No” she whimpered. “I will stay with you.”

“GO!” he shouted with all the strength. “I am finished. I am bleeding. The dogs and men will follow me. I will lead them away from the rest of you. You can get away.”

He looked up at Bambi’s dark black eyes; he could see they were misty. “Take Claris and leave. Remember what I asked you before. You take care of her. She had no part in anything I have done. She does not have to leave the forest.”

“Yes,” Bambi said simply. The eyes were cloudy as he looked over his bleeding side. “My friend,” he stammered and nuzzled him before turning away.

He then looked at Claris and struggled to speak. “Thank you, best time of my life here was because of you. Now go, now take our fawn and live.”

Her eyes were streaming with tears and the barking was getting closer. There was so much more he wanted to say, but he turned away and moved up the hill the best he could.

Claris started to follow him, but Bambi almost knocked her down. Both he and Faline were yelling at her, but through the gathering clouds in his head he could not hear it. He thought he saw them go up the hill, but he couldn’t be sure. His eyesight was getting really cloudy now. He continued to stagger up the hill. He could feel his hot blood flow out of him as he climbed. A young fawn could follow him now.

As he went, the pain was all he could feel. Get far away from the others he knew. Up he climbed; his left rear leg was now useless and dragged on the ground. The dogs were getting closer. He saw pine trees in the distance. There was an odd smell he remembered, but could not recall it. The callings of the dogs were getting louder. They were almost on top of him. He could not run anymore. He turned and faced the dogs.

He saw the five dogs below him. There were no Men with them. They were alone, but calling to their masters. He stood there and put his head down and waited. As soon as the lead dog was not more than two lengths away, he used the last of his strength to lung at it. He caught the beast in his rack and flung him aside. He heard the dog cry out in pain. The others came up. His world was spinning. He could not see straight.

Then suddenly there was that familiar scent again, this time very close. He heard a huge growl and something big and black ran by him. It hit the dogs and three of them yelled out in pain. Then the barking sound started to lessen. He sunk to his knees. That was all for him.

The huge dark figure came back to him; then he remembered the smell. It was the large bear. It had come for him like he came for Talis. In a way he felt better. At least Man would not kill him.

He felt the huge mouth lift him by the neck and start to drag him. He expected a quick bite and then nothing, but it did not come. Instead the large bear was dragging him up the hill. That was the last thing he remembered.

 

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