The Stranger: Generation

In the fifth story about the Stranger, our hero is getting old. It is time to hand the herd off to younger and more capable deer. Only who is more capable? After a series of disasters and personal tragedies, the Stranger is left hurt both physically and mentally. He plans are left in ruins, and he finds he has to begin all over again. How he can adapt to these calamities will test the strength and resolve of the Stranger.

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10. THE REASON

 

 

The first heavy snowfall covered what little grass had started to grow back on the meadow. The grass inside the Man path forest was also covered. Stabo spread the herd out in the his forest in order to be able to find food more easily. Fortunately there was enough and none went hungry. Galin, Charlene, Koren, Gerla, Garte, and Young Feline all fed deeper into the woods and were not seen much afterwards except at training. Stabo, Gena, Young Bambi and Garlene went into that part of the forest near the Man path where there were fewer deer. Bambi, Faline, Claris, Stelar, and him stayed nearby which was good because when it got very cold, his side started to hurt worse than when it was just cool. The first snow, while heavy, did not stay on the ground for long. The second snow was lighter, but it was colder and the snow remained. It took them longer to find enough food to fill their stomachs. He struggled, the others his age seem to have an easier time, but it was Stelar that seem to thrive.

In a way he envied his daughter. She was filling out and would soon be a two year old. She was petty enough to have found a male last Season, but did not. That would change and he just hoped she find a good male. Having a good mate was one of the great joys of life, having a bad one was one of the worse things in life. He spent most of his time training her and the others as well as telling thems everything he knew about Man. He could only hope it would help them.

In the middle of winter, Man showed up again on the meadow. He heard Man making all sorts of noises near where the Man cave had been. They stayed there for two days and then left. When they had gone, the remains of the old burnt out Man cave were gone, The burnt Man animal was also gone just leaving bare just earth on the ground. A few days later Man came back and again. They heard noises only these sounded more like pounding.

That night Bambi and him went to look at where the  noise had come from and found that Man had put large sticks into the ground with different colors on them. Just why they did that he had no idea, but they had. The others went out to look at what Man had done.

""Do you think Man will come back and build his Man cave," Stabo asked him.

"He may. He still has some interest in this place." he told him and the others.

"If he does, then he will be able to hunt from here and the other Man cave. That means more Men coming," Bambi added.

"That means more killing sticks," the younger Bambi realized.

"More death," Claris added.

"I am glad there are no such things near my forest," Galin said. "My father told me there was an open place on the edge of our forest. When Man came, he put up caves, but when he was done, took them away again. When the Man cave was here, Man did not take it away."

"That is how Man came to my old forest," Bambi added. "There was no Man caves all the time. I wonder why he builds come caves that remain and some caves that he takes away."

"Maybe he likes this place better," Garten added.

They left it at that and went on. His old forest looked bleak and empty. No deer went back. There was nothing to eat. Even the birds seem to avoid the place. Only at the far edge of the old meadow near where had met Geno and Oswell were there any trees that were not burnt.

It was doing this time they had good news. With the exception of Claris and Faline, all the doe told them they could feel the fawns growing inside them. He could look forward to new family in the spring. The only sad thing was his realization that by the time these fawns were ready to be trained, he would not be here to do it. However, at least his family would go on without him. That gave both him and Claris some comfort.

It was a few days later that he noticed something unusual. Stelar was talking to a young male. He did not recognize him. He looked like a two year old male. He was large, but not as big as Stabo, or Young Bambi had been at that age. They seemed interested with each other. What bothered him was that the next day, Stelar vanished from the forest. She left without telling him or the others and that bothered him. He wondered where she had gone. 

For several days they heard nothing from her. Then early one evening he heard Stabo call out to them all while Bambi was again going over with Galine and his family how to fight with their hoofs. He wondered what it was now. They all went to Stabo’s clearing and there stood Stelar with the same young male he had seen her with before. Both were talking to Stabo.

Stabo looked up. “I wanted you to hear this. I do not whether to be angry or glad for my sister.”

By now Young Bambi had come with Garlene along with Gena, Bambi, Faline and Claris. with  them all in the clearing while Stelar and the male stood.

“Where have you been?” he asked poignantly

“I took a long walk with Helos,” she said. “I went deep into the forest looking for Balo, Stena, and the others.”

“That was foolish,” he said loudly. “In fact it was stupid. You want to end up like your sister?”

“Perhaps,” she said, ”But I made a choice of my own. Besides what you taught me protected us.”

“You should have discussed this with your father,” Claris blurted out also showing her anger.

“Well I did it," she said also letting her voice rise. “I do not argue with you when you and your bear friend spend time together, or you all go off looking to do something dangerous.”

“I have been doing this a long time,” he told her. “Not all the time successfully as I am sure you noticed. I have already lost one daughter there; I do not want to lose a second.”

“Well you did not lose me and I was able to find out some things. Most are bad, but there are some good things I learned too.”

“I take it this will also explain your friend, here?” he asked looking at the male who looked timid and confused.

“My friend’s name is Helos, and he is from the deep forest. Many days ago I saw him and I knew he was not from this herd. Helos came from near where Balo and Stena had gone. I asked him to show me, but it took a few days to get there and back. He lost his mother at the same time Stena and Balo were killed. I found where they died, Father. It was not pretty, but I do not think they suffered.”

“How do you know that?” Bambi asked.

“Because I found where Man killed them,” she said plainly. “Man drove them into a clearing with the wind at their tails. Man was in front and the deer could not smell them. They killed several deer. There pools of blood in the clearing, and even though they were old, the ground was stained heavily. They were very large. I remember Bambi what you said when Gurri, Jolo and Gerta were killed. It was the same.”

That silenced everyone. She seemed sure of what she was saying, but how could she be he wondered? “You know a lot for someone who was not there.”

“No, but I talked to those who were there and lived. That is the good news. You see Delon, Karlene, and Alana all lived.”

That brought them all to their feet. “Are you sure?” Young Bambi called out.”

“Yes, because I talked to all three of them. When Man went to chase them, Balo and Stena led the herd. He sent Delon and Karlene to the back to make sure no was left behind. When Man used his killing sticks, they were far enough away where they were not hit. Alana and Helos were with them. They all ran in another direction and got away. I met them and Helos along with many other deer. Helos’ mother was also killed along with Alana's son. There is a large herd in the  deep forest, but they had no leader. Balo was trying to get them to listen to him when Man came.  Balo tried to lead them away, but many deer did not listen. When they did try and run away, Man was ready for them.”

“Why did not Delon and Karlene return?” Stabo asked.

Stelar answered quickly and without hesitation. “Because they did not think they were welcomed back here. Besides, the members of that herd started listening to Delon. He led them away from where the others were killed. Those deer lived. Then the deer there started to ask Delon questions about what they should do. Delon told them. A couple of the senior males did not like that and tried to push Delon aside, With what you taught him, he beat them. I saw one fight. Delon took care of a four year old male easily and beat him bad, but did not hurt him. Now many deer are looking to Delon as herd leader.”

"Did Delon treat you well," Claris asked.

"Yes, Delon and Karlene seemed happy I lived through the fire and told me that I never did anything to harm him or his mother and father. Stabo, I must say he hates you and Young Bambi. He even had bad things to say about you, Father. He wants nothing to do with any of you."

"No loss there," Young Bambi snorted.

"I understand how you all feel," he told the others. "I feel it too, but if Delon can keep that herd safe, then I wish him and Karlene well."

"There is one other thing," Stelar went on. "Man has built that Man cave near where Delon is at. It is as big as the Man cave was here. Delon told me he expects many Men next Season to hunt. He may take the herd farther away."

"At least he learned that much," Bambi said.

All he could do was shake his head. He was not happy his daughter went off on her own, but she had found out what they wanted to know. She had come through and brought back a young male.

“Very well Helos, when you are not guiding my daughter in the forest, what do you want?” he asked.

Helos spoke clearly and did not seem afraid, but still a bit unsure of himself. “I saw what Balo did with the herd. I then saw how easily Delon beat the other two males who were trying to make the others in the forest follow them. Delon, Karlene, and Stelar all told me it was because of what you taught them that they could do that. I asked Stelar if you could train me the same way.”

That was interesting. “You want us to train you?” he asked. “Why should we do that?”

“So I can be of help to my herd,” he said calmly.

He looked at Bambi and shrugged asking him silently what he thought. Bambi spoke up. “You know that this training is difficult. It is at times dangerous. What we teach you can allow you to be of help to the herd. It can also cause you to end up dead like Balo and Stena. Have you considered that?”

He could see the young male had not considered it and looked a bit taken back. Finally after a few moments he spoke up. “Since I am going end up dead in any case, I like to learn so I can stay alive as long as I can.”

That made perfect sense to him. This male was not stupid, but was he strong enough? That he could only know after the training started.

“Very well Helos, we must talk about this among ourselves. I like you to leave us for a while,” he said.

“Of course,” Helos said and left, Stelar started to follow him.

“Not you, young doe,” he said loudly.

Stelar froze in place while Helos left the clearing. When he was convinced he was far enough away he spoke up letting his anger show. He walked over to his daughter and looking her into her black eyes. “What you did, Stelar, was stupid. You could have been killed easily. You have not been fully trained.”

Stelar did not back down looked right back at him. “Yes I could have, just like Balo and Stena who you did fully train. Father the training helps, I can see that, but it does not work all the time as I am sure you know. I did what I thought was right. I have not changed my mind. I have learned enough to travel to Bambi’s old forest and return. I have learned enough to travel past the Man cave and watch it. Do I know everything, no, but I know enough or I would not be here.” She then stopped talking and glared back at him.

"She has courage," Galin said.

Claris spoke up. “She is stubborn, at times reckless, and perhaps too fearless for her own good.  Stelar, you are your Father’s daughter.”

He could hear the other trying not to laugh out loud. He had to suppress a laugh himself. She was like him. “Very well,” he said, “We cannot undo what was done. Stelar despite my feelings at what you did, you did do it well. The next question is do we train Helos?”

“He seems to want to learn for the right reason,” Bambi said. “He did come all the way here with Stelar. I say we try and teach him and see what happens.”

“I agree,” Stabo said. “He could be of use to either us or Delon.”

"I like him," Garten said out loud. "Even without the training he still went with Stelar and came back again. That also shows courage."

"I agree with my brother," Garlin said.

“Yes, but with my injuries, I cannot longer teach him to fight,” he told the others. “I shall have to depend on the rest of you to do that.”

“I can help there, Father,” Stabo spoke up.

“I think I can help there also,” Young Bambi said.

“And I am not yet dead,” Bambi said. “Stranger we can teach him that.”

“Then I will teach him what I know about Man,” he said. “I just hope I have enough time to do it.”

He then looked back at his young daughter. “Very well, daughter, and we will continue your training also. Now go get that young male of yours.”

“Father, he is not my male,” she said looking somewhat angry.

“Oh, you have been sleeping with him,” he said. Stelar looked at him shocked that he knew. “My body may not be working well, but my nose does,” he told her.

“Stelar looked slightly embarrassed. “Do not be ashamed,” he told her “You are old enough to decide who you stay with. You could have done a lot worse.”

With that Stelar took off to find Helos leaving him standing there. She was nice to look at. He watched her go and noticed again just how lovely his daughter looked from behind. He could see why Helos would be interested in her. He then turned and faced the others. “Then it is agreed we start the training tomorrow night. I will start him out with Man and walking carefully. Bambi will tell him about how to be a good herd leader. I think the fight training we will start in the spring after Galin and the others leave for their forest."

The rest of them nodded. It looked like it was going to be an interesting winter after all. He looked at Bambi, Faline and Claris lying close together. “So it begins again,” he told them and then added silently “For the last time I think.”

It was late evening the next night. He, Helos and Stelar stood alone in the remains of the meadow now almost a bare piece of ground. In front of them was the brown earth and sticks where the  remains of the Man cave had been. That cave was now as dead as the deer the Men inside had used their killing sticks on. The air was chilly and his side hurt, but he could still move and still talk.

“Very well, Helos, this will be your first lesson. Come with me. Stelar you stay here,’ he ordered.

He took the young male into the center of the meadow and had him look around. He wanted Helos to see what had happened.

“This is all a result of Man,” he told him. “Man comes, Man kills, and then Man goes away leaving only death and destruction behind. This place used to be a beautiful forest with lots of deer and other animals; now it has almost nothing. The only good thing is that it will grow back. Man can destroy a forest, but he cannot stop it from growing back. New life always comes from the old and even if the old life has passed, the new life will remain. That is the true lesson of the forest.”

Helos look around for a moment. “So any children I have will remain, after I am gone.”

“That is correct. That is why we teach them and when the time comes, you will teach your children what you learn now. In this way, what we know carries on after we are gone.”

“I think I understand,” Helos said looking a bit confused.

“You will,” he said. "Now for your first lesson. I want you to face where the Man cave had been."

Helos did exactly what he was told and faced the empty remains of a past long gone.

“Now what do you feel?" he asked.

The first lesson went on all night. He also saw Bambi talking with Galin, Charlene, Garten, Young Faline, Koren, and Gerla. Stelar was listening to Bambi also. Very soon Stabo, Gena, Young Bambi and Galene came out also. Almost the entire family was there like the old times when the meadow was green and full of grass. After the lessons and before the rising of the greater light they all stood together in the open field.

"Crack," he heard behind him.

He turned suddenly looking to see the source of the noise. A large back object was coming down the hill. He smiled and walked over. Sure enough the bear walked out from the trees. He was surprised. It was late enough in the winter where he thought the bear be sleeping. Helos took one look at the bear and left in a hurry as did Galin and his family.

"I thought you be asleep," he said out loud.

"If you remember, I usually get up in midwinter," the bear said. "I had gone over the hill into the other forest to find something to eat. With the heavy snow and cold, I found an old deer that did not survive, a doe I think. I satisfied myself with her. I was going back into my den when I saw you through the bare trees. Who is the new male."

"Someone I found when exploring," Stelar said from behind him. "He is a nice male. Please do not eat him." His daughter then broke out into a laugh that soon him and the bear took it up."

The bear looked at her approach. "Yes, you are your father's daughter," the bear said. "And you are your father's son," he said to Stabo who was right behind her.

He looked back, not only Stelar, but Stabo, Claris, Bambi and Faline were coming closer. He was surprised so many now trusted the bear.

"And you are my friend," he said and went up and nuzzled the bear. "I wanted to say thank you again for  saving me the second time."

"Yes thank you again," Claris said and also nuzzled the bear. "It would not be the same forest without Stranger."

"Are you much better," the bear asked him.

"I am still broken on the inside, but I can still move and I can still talk and teach. As long as I can and there are deer who want to learn, I will continue."

"Of course," the bear said. "As I have said before, that is the reason you are here. It would appear that my reason to be here is helping you when needed."

Again, they all smiled."And you have, my friend," he told the bear.

"You are herd leader now of both herds, I hear," the bear said to Stabo.

"Yes," Stabo said simply.

The bear looked at him seriously with his red eyes fixed on him "After your father and Bambi are gone, will you continue what they started?"

There was some gasps from the others about the bear talking about his death and Bambi's as a fact. He was not offended, the bear was just saying what was obvious to all. Stabo was taken back for a second before answering.

"Yes I will," Stabo said sternly. "As will the others we have taught, such as Gorro, Bambi's youngest son, as will Galin and his family who will live in the forest over the far hill, and you already know about Felon and Young Claris in the forest over your hill. It will all go on. It will just go on with different deer as it will go on one day without me. "

"Good!" the bear said and let out a growl. There was movement in the trees above them Another bear, smaller than this bear came down and stopped just inside the trees. The others in his group ran off. He stayed still, he could not run from a bear even if he wanted too.

"That is Uttral, who is my daughter," the bear said. "I watched her in the other forest. I noticed how she hunted. Like my son and the others of my kind she did not stalk and run down her food. She let the food come to her while she hid herself. She told me she liked to study how animals moved, it made her hunting easier."

"I have heard this before," he said with a grin. "I am happy one of your children has learned as you have."

"Do not approach her yet, she still may just eat you, but she is learning. Because she is a younger sister to my son, he will not run her off or try to breed with her. She will make a den on the other side of the hill. I wanted to show her how we get along. I was thinking I will teach her like you teach your children."

"Perhaps that is also part of the reason you are here," he said. "If she wishes to meet with me, call me."

"We will see," the bear said. "For now, I and Uttral must go back to finish our winter's sleep. I will see you in the spring."

"Stay well, my friend and your daughter too," he said and walked away.

He walked back to all the others standing near where Men had put the sticks in the ground. Helos as well as Galin and Young Bambi gasped at him.

"Were you not afraid of that other bear?" Young Bambi called out.

"No," he answered. "It was just another part of the reason I am here."

Being the slowest he followed the others back into the forest. Watching them disappear into the tress he found that he felt happy. He had not felt this way since his fawn died in the spring. He now understood better why he was here, and why he would stay for as long as he could. There had been lots of pain this season, but he was still here and still alive. There were others who seem to need him. It gave him something to live for. Which is all any creature really needs.

 

 

 

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