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Snowball Lamb stood in the pasture apart from the rest of the flock. Aunt Nancy Ewe had returned to her grazing. And not one of her companions acted as if some dreadful peril hung over him. Nobody would have thought, to look at the flock, that they were about to have salt put on their tails. But Snowball knew that it was so. Far down the valley he could hear old Mr. Crow's warning caw, caw, telling him again to beware of Johnnie Green.
And just then Johnnie squirmed through the pasture bars and pulled a sack after him. Presently he began to call to the sheep. And Snowball watched while they went, one and all, on a dead run towards the bars.
Then Snowball turned and ran the other way, straight for the stone wall. He didn't even look back once, but scrambled over the wall and lost himself in the tangle of berry bushes that grew in a rocky old pasture that hadn't been used for years.
"He's salting them by this time," Snowball muttered to himself. "Johnnie Green is salting the sheep. And I'm glad Mr. Crow warned me, for I shouldn't want salt put on my tail. It must be terrible to be caught that way."
"What's that you're saying?" said a lively voice near-by.
Snowball leaped back; then stood still and stared at a pair of antlers which stuck up from behind a berry bush.
The antlers rose a little higher. And then Snowball saw the face of Nimble Deer beneath them.
"What were you murmuring about salt?" Nimble inquired pleasantly.
"Johnnie Green is salting the sheep over in our pasture," Snowball explained.
"He is, eh?" cried Nimble Deer. "Then why aren't you there with the rest?"
Snowball shook his head.
"It's too dangerous," he said. "I don't want salt put on my tail."
Nimble Deer gave him a queer look.
"It is dangerous, while Johnnie Green is there—or it would be dangerous if he had a gun," Nimble admitted. "But what's this you say about salt on your tail?"
"Johnnie Green is putting salt on the tail of every sheep in the flock," Snowball declared.
"That's odd," said Nimble. "I'll have to look into this matter—after Johnnie Green has left the pasture."
Snowball did not follow Nimble as he moved nearer the stone wall. But he stood still and watched. Presently he saw Nimble leap the wall. After that Snowball could no longer see him.
It was some time later when Nimble jumped back over the wall and landed lightly on the ledge that ran alongside it. And Snowball noticed that his face wore a very cheerful look.
"Well?" said Snowball.
"That was as good salt as I ever tasted," Nimble remarked, running his tongue over his lips. "If you hurry you'll be able to get a taste even now."
"I've never eaten any salt," said Snowball.
"Then hurry, by all means!" cried Nimble Deer. "You don't know what you're missing."
"Has Johnnie gone?" Snowball inquired.
"I suppose he spilled some of the salt on the ground," said Snowball. "You know he's a very careless boy."
"He spilled heaps of it," Nimble Deer replied. "But the sheep are eating it fast."
Well, Snowball was puzzled. How could the sheep be eating salt if Johnnie Green had caught them? It was more than he could understand. But if Nimble Deer had been with them—and come back safely—there couldn't be any great danger.
So Snowball hurried over the stone wall and scampered down to the place near the bars, where the flock still lingered.
As Snowball joined them he saw that they were all busily eating something white that lay in little piles upon the ground.
He tasted of the stuff, carefully. It was delicious. And wasting no more time, he gobbled up all of the salt that he could get.
When it was gone Snowball turned to old Aunt Nancy Ewe.
"May I lick the salt off your tail?" he asked her politely.
She gave him a haughty stare.
"Have you no respect for your elders?" Aunt Nancy asked him severely.
"Pardon me!" said Snowball. "Maybe I'm mistaken, but Mr. Crow told me——"
"Mr. Crow!" Aunt Nancy cried, before Snowball could finish. "So it's Mr. Crow that's been putting queer ideas into your head! I might have known it. After this don't ever listen to him! He's been the means of your almost missing a fine treat—and one that doesn't come every day in the year."
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