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The instant Lightfoot saw Paddy the Beaver he knew that for the time being, at least, there was no danger. He knew that Paddy is one of the shyest of all the little people of the Green Forest and that when he is found working in the daytime it means that he has been undisturbed for a long time; otherwise he would work only at night.
Paddy saw Lightfoot almost as soon as he stepped out on the bank. He kept right on swimming with the branch of a poplar-tree until he reached his food pile, which, you know, is in the water. There he forced the branch down until it was held by other branches already sunken in the pond. This done, he swam over to where Lightfoot was watching. "Hello, Lightfoot!" he exclaimed. "You are looking handsomer than ever. How are you feeling these fine autumn days?"
"Anxious," replied Lightfoot. "I am feeling terribly anxious. Do you know what day this is?"
"No," replied Paddy, "I don't know what day it is, and I don't particularly care. It is enough for me that it is one of the finest days we've had for a long time."
"I wish I could feel that way," said Lightfoot wistfully. "I wish I could feel that way, Paddy, but I can't. No, Sir, I can't. You see, this is the first of the most dreadful days in all the year for me. The hunters started looking for me before Mr. Sun was really out of bed. At least one hunter did, and I don't doubt there are others. I fooled that one, but from now to the end of the hunting season there will not be a single moment of daylight when I will feel absolutely safe."
Paddy crept out on the bank and chewed a little twig of poplar thoughtfully. Paddy says he can always think better if he is chewing something. "That's bad news, Lightfoot. I'm sorry to hear it. I certainly am sorry to hear it," said Paddy. "Why anybody wants to hunt such a handsome fellow as you are, I cannot understand. My, but that's a beautiful set of antlers you have!"
"They are the best I've ever had; but do you know, Paddy, I suspect that they may be one of the reasons I am hunted so," replied Lightfoot a little sadly." Good looks are not always to be desired. Have you seen any hunters around here lately?"
Paddy shook his Lead. "Not a single hunter," he replied. "I tell you what it is, Lightfoot, let's be partners for a while. You stay right around my pond. If I see or hear or smell anything suspicious, I'll warn you. You do the same for me. Two sets of eyes, ears and noses are better than one. What do you say, Lightfoot?"
"I'll do it," replied Lightfoot.
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