I got to see a lot of Ruby’s old photos last night; most actually had The Lady Herself in them. Mushy’s instincts are quite correct: she surely was a “looker” in her day.
It’s unfortunate that she won’t let me post any… Ah well… on with the story.
That man – whose name I’m not allowed to publish, and I won’t make one up because his real name was just so spectacular that I couldn’t possibly come up with a better one (I swear there’s a hobbit somewhere with the same last name, and no, it’s not “Baggins”, but wouldn’t that have been groovy-cool?!) – owned a cabin right beside Northland Lake. The photo was taken somewhere ’round about 1942-43, if Ruby’s guess is correct.
The deer was a “gift” from a couple of men who “found” it in the bush, wandering around without a mother.
“Hmmmphf!” says Ruby. “No doubt they shot her and then found the baby.”
Ruby says Mr. Hobbit – there, I’ve named him anyway, haven’t I? – was a real nice fella. She and her brothers and sisters and all their crazy teenaged friends used to go visit him. They would swim in the lake in summer, and skate on it in the winter.
He never let them on the lake after the sun went down, though, afraid something might happen to one of them, and no one would find them in the dark. So, after sunset, they would all crowd into his little cabin, and he would wind up the old victrola so they could dance.
Or he’d pull out his fiddle and they would dance to that.
Nice guy, Ruby says. It was Mr. Hobbit that gave them the deer to take home. “Followed us home right smart,” as Ruby tells it. “It was a tame little thing.”
Ruby’s Mom, now (She of the No. Forearms.), wasn’t so fond of having a deer around. I would have thought she’d worry about the gardens, but no, it was the railroad tracks that scared her. Ruby’s dad was the Line Foreman in Northland, remember, and their house was right beside the tracks. Ruby’s Mom was sure he’d be killed (the deer, not Ruby’s dad – although she probably worried about that, too).
That deer entertained them for most of the summer. It lived outside, but was not in the least bit adverse to coming in for dinner. Ruby always knew when her dad was up in the morning, because once it saw movement in the house, that little deer would be at the door hammering on it with his head. Her dad always gave him breakfast, too.
The bigger the deer got, though, the more Ruby’s Mom worried about him playing on the tracks… she finally convinced the kids to take him back to Mr. Hobbit’s cabin. They didn’t want to, but they did. None of them wanted to find that deer lying bloody on the railroad tracks some morning.
Ironically, after he had been back with Mr. Hobbit for a week or two, a couple of “rough” boys started trying to catch him. Trying to get away, Ruby’s little deer broke a leg on the rocks by the shore.
Mr. Hobbit had to shoot him.
I swear Ruby had tears in her eyes when she told me this story. She very nearly wouldn’t let me take the picture with me, for fear I’d forget to bring it back to her.
Which I had better go and do, right now.
Random Song-for-the-Day: “Lucky” – Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat