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Down from the top of the ridge back of the pond of Paddy the Beaver plunged Lightfoot the Deer, his eyes blazing with rage. He had understood the screaming of Sammy Jay. He knew that somewhere down there was the big stranger he had been looking for.
The big stranger had understood Sammy's screaming quite as well as Lightfoot. He knew that to run away now would be to prove himself a coward and forever disgrace himself in the eyes of Miss Daintyfoot, for that was the name of the beautiful stranger he had been seeking. He must fight. There was no way out of it, he must fight. The hair on the back of his neck stood up with anger just as did the hair on the neck of Lightfoot. His eyes also blazed. He bounded out into a little open place by the pond of Paddy the Beaver and there he waited.
Meanwhile Sammy Jay was flying about in the greatest excitement, screaming at the top of his lungs, "A fight! A fight! A fight!" Blacky the Crow, over in another part of the Green Forest, heard him and took up the cry and at once hurried over to Paddy's pond. Everybody who was near enough hurried there. Bobby Coon and Unc' Billy Possum climbed trees from which they could see and at the same time be safe. Billy Mink hurried to a safe place on the dam of Paddy the Beaver. Paddy himself climbed up on the roof of his house out in the pond. Peter Rabbit and Jumper the Hare, who happened to be not far away, hurried over where they could peep out from under some young hemlock-trees. Buster Bear shuffled down the hill and watched from the other side of the pond. Reddy and Granny Fox were both there.
For what seemed like the longest time, but which was for only a minute, Lightfoot and the big stranger stood still, glaring at each other. Then, snorting with rage, they lowered their heads and plunged together. Their antlers clashed with a noise that rang through the Green Forest, and both fell to their knees. There they pushed and struggled. Then they separated and backed away, to repeat the movement over again. It was a terrible fight. Everybody said so. If they had not known before, everybody knew now what those great antlers were for. Once the big stranger managed to reach Lightfoot's right shoulder with one of the sharp points of his antlers and made a long tear in Lightfoot's gray coat. It only made Lightfoot fight harder.
Sometimes they would rear up and strike with their sharp hoofs. Back and forth they plunged, and the ground was torn up by their feet. Both were getting out of breath, and from time to time they had to stop for a moment's rest. Then they would come together again more fiercely than ever. Never had such a fight been seen in the Green Forest.
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