In the morning, the deer snorted impatiently at the end of the field while they ate their breakfast quickly. Marc took care of the fire and the few cooking objects that they had, and the others hurriedly packed their belongings for their march.
“You’d think that he had an appointment to keep?” Meribah sneered as she jogged toward the deer.
“Perhaps he does,” said Joel walking after Meribah.
From her tote, which Marc carried, Petal called after them, “He does. He told me that we’ll be making a stop for an hour or so, then we’ll continue on.”
“This’ll be interesting,” Marc said to Lily, “what kind of appointment does a royal deer make?”
The deer pushed them onward without any breaks, and without slowing their pace. He was in a hurry, and it seemed to Joel that their host was not taking into account that his wards were human and not deer. Just then the deer trotted toward Joel and nodded his noble head.
“He says we can rest a bit, uncle Joel.” Petal smiled at Joel’s perplexed features.
When they did continue, Joel decided that he would not think so loud. The road climbed a hill, and on the other side of the hill sat a town. As they walked through it, they could hear their own footsteps. The town was well kept, but deserted. There were no children playing outside, no one hanging their clothes to dry, and no one sweeping their steps.
“This is pretty weird,” Meribah whispered so that no one could hear, and no one heard.
“Maybe its tea time?” said Joel.
“Children don’t stop for tea,” Petal reminded.
The deer led them through the town. At the end of the town, they came to a park or picnic area. A creek bubbled to the left, green grass grew underfoot, and shading trees stretched overhead. The townspeople were gathered in a circle. In the middle of the circle stood three people, a girl about twelve years old who faced a boy and girl, who were about eight years old. The younger girl wore a long dress with a trail, while the boy wore his Sunday best.
“The deer wants us to stay here until he gets back,” Petal told the others.
In the circle, the older girl said, “As mayor of White Dove, I pronounce you, Scot, and you, Nancy, husband and wife.”
The deer made his way to the middle of circle, and bowed his head. Scot jumped onto his back, and helped Nancy up. She sat with her legs to one side, and her train bundled up on her lap. The deer started off to the right, and the people move back to allow him to pass. Even with two people on his back, the deer still walked with a king’s pride.
The mayor walked over to the travellers. She wore pants and a shirt, very close to the style that Meribah wore. “Are you friends of the deer?” she asked.
“More like travelling companions,” Marc answered.
“Well, he could be gone a while. Would you like to come to my house. I’ve cold water, and soft seats for you all.”
“Will he know where we are?” asked Meribah.
“Yes, he will know,” the mayor said.
“In that case, we’d love to.” Lily shook her hand and introduced everyone.
“My name is Ella.” She began to walk in the direction of the city with her new acquaintances following closely. “I’m the mayor of White Dove. It really is a nice place to live, nothing exciting ever happens. Things are predictable, and that’s the way we like it.”
“Who is the deer? What’s he like?” asked Meribah taking a drink of water.
“We aren’t quite sure,” Ella said. “We have two or three weddings a year, and he always comes to take the couple on a sort of honeymoon ride. I’ve never been on one, and those who go don’t talk about it much. They only say that it was fun, or exhilarating, or profound, or some such thing. Maybe someday I’ll go on that ride, and then I’ll hold the information from somebody too.”
“Have you ever noticed that he isn’t male or female? I mean that he doesn’t have a gender?” asked Marc.
“Yes I have. He’s not a normal deer. He might not even be a deer. Whoever he is, you can tell by looking at him that he’s important.”
“Have you ever talked to him?” Petal asked.
“No, no one has.” Petal winked at her mother, and smiled at her accomplishment. “But I have asked another deer if he knew him. And the deer said he knew of him, and he knew that this deer was no kin to regular deer. He’s treated like a king among them.”
“We’ll I hope he isn’t leading us astray,” Marc said.
“I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that.” Ella looked over Joel’s shoulder to the window. “There’s you’re friend now.”
Outside the window, the deer stamped his front left hoof. Beside him stood a man, who stood six feet in height with hair in a pony tail, wearing a long blue gown. His arm was across the deer’s back, and he stared through the window as did the deer.
“I know, you want to know who I am,” said the man to Meribah. They had been walking for three hours, and the sun was sinking behind low hills. “If you do not know who I am today, tomorrow you will. For now I’m a friend; a quiet friend who does not say much.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Have you always been so impatient?” he asked.
“My father would say yes, and my mother… well that’s where I got it from.”
“Probably an exciting family.”
They walked through the night, and stopped only after Joel stumbled with weariness. The man told everyone to go to sleep, and that he would see them in the morning. A few moments later they were all comfortably asleep.