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A New Pair of Antlers

When the young Deer was just a fawn, he had dreamed of having large antlers when he grew up. He stopped and stared each time a big stag passed by.

Finally two little bumps appeared on his head and grew and grew. Soon the Deer had his own antlers. He carried them proudly all through the autumn. Each time he passed a pond, he would stop and stare at himself in the quiet water.

But then one winter day something terrible happened. The beautiful antlers fell off.

The Deer was sad. When he saw his reflection in a pool, he wanted to hide himself in shame. If only he could find a pair of antlers somewhere. Then he could hold his head up proudly again.

One day the Deer was gazing sadly into a pond when his little friend Squirrel scampered by.

"Why do you look so sad?" Squirrel asked.

"Wouldn't you be sad if you lost your antlers?"

The Squirrel cocked his head to one side. "Oh, I thought you looked different."

"What can I do?" moaned the Deer.

"Why don't you grow a new pair?" The Squirrel thought a minute. "I have just the thing for you." He scampered up to his nest in a hollow tree and came back with an acorn.

"Just plant this," he said, "and you'll grow a fine big set of antlers." Then he scampered away up to the tree tops.

The Deer stared at the acorn. He looked around for a place to plant it. But there was still snow on the ground. "Anyway," he thought, "if my new antlers grow out of the ground, what good would that do?"

He knew that if he put the acorn on the top of his head it would just fall off. So he ate it.

He waited and waited and waited. For three days he waited. But nothing happened. The Deer grew sadder and sadder. "I'm never going to have a new pair of antlers," he sighed.

Just then the Beaver passed by. "Why are you so sad?" he asked.

"I lost my beautiful antlers," sighed the Deer. He told the Beaver how he had swallowed an acorn, hoping it would grow him a new pair of antlers.

The Beaver laughed. "Growing antlers from an acorn never will work. I have just the thing for you. Come over to my dam."

At the dam at the top of the pond, the Beaver showed the Deer some fine big trees that he had just cut down. "I don't need all these branches," the Beaver said. "I'll trim off some just the right size to make a fine new pair of antlers for you."

With his big strong teeth the Beaver chewed off two branches that were just the right size.

"They look fine," exclaimed the Deer. "They're even bigger than my old ones. Now how can I put them on?"

"I'm afraid you'll have to figure that out for yourself," said the Beaver. "I've got work to do. I have to go get some more logs for my dam."

The Deer picked up the branches in his mouth and went off into the forest. Soon he met a Porcupine.

"Those are fine-looking branches you have there," said the Porcupine. "Could I have some of the bark? It looks tasty."

"I need these branches," said the Deer. "They're my new antlers."

"They'll look even better when I have them cleaned off for you," said the Porcupine. And sure enough they did.

While the Porcupine was eating, the Deer told him about his problem. Could the Porcupine suggest any way to stick the new antlers onto his head?

"How about trying some of my quills," said the Porcupine. "You can pin them on."

"Wouldn't that hurt?" asked the Deer.

"I guess so," said the Porcupine. So the Deer picked up his branches and went on through the forest. Soon he heard a rat-a-tat-a- tat sound coming through the trees. He went over to see what was going on.

There was a Woodpecker, drumming on a tree. "Perhaps you can help me," said the Deer, and he told the Woodpecker about his problem.

"I have just the thing for you," said the Woodpecker. "It's nearly spring now, and the sap is starting to run in the sugar maples. We can stick your antlers on with maple syrup."

The Woodpecker led the Deer over to a sugar maple tree. He pecked into the bark, and a thin stream of syrup ran out. He scooped up some and helped the Deer to glue on his new antlers.

"You'd better stay still for awhile until this dries," he warned.

The Deer lay down under the maple tree. Soon he fell asleep. When he woke up, the maple syrup had dried. His new antlers were standing up straight and proud.

He raced through the forest. It felt wonderful to have antlers again. Soon he reached a pool. He bent over the water to look at himself. How fine the new antlers looked.

Suddenly the Deer felt a drop of water splash onto his nose. Then there was another, and another. It was raining. The rainwater washed away the maple syrup, and with two big plops the branches fell off the Deer's head into the water.

How unhappy the Deer was. He had lost his antlers again. What would he do now?

When the water of the pool grew clear, he looked at himself sadly. Suddenly his eyes grew wide. What was that on top of his head? There were two bumps there. He was growing a new pair of antlers.



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