The Night the White Deer Died

BOOK: The Night the White Deer Died
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The Night the White Deer Died


“Janet’s dream shows her a white deer at the mercy of an Indian brave, aiming an arrow from a taut bow. In Paulsen’s eerily poetic writing, the reader finds the message that finally becomes clear to Janet.”

Publishers Weekly

“Well worth reading.”

Kirkus Reviews


The figure who stood in the moonlight in the courtyard was not the Billy Honcho Janet knew; the man who stood tall and graceful sending out music meant for her soul was not some old drunk.

He was a warrior, dressed in buckskins bleached white and made whiter by the moon and covered with such intricate beadwork that it looked painted on the leather, with a chest shield of quills and beads in the shape of an eagle with wings outstretched, and all down the length of each sleeve was a ribbon of quills and more beads.… He was more than beautiful, more than stunning.

He was something from the past, something real and alive from the past of all men. And as they watched, the flute music ended and the flute came down, and he disappeaerd like a part of the moonlight. Janet’s mother swore softly, like a prayer, and Janet choked up and felt like crying and soon did, with great tears moving down her cheeks, and she didn’t even feel them.

GARY PAULSEN is the distinguished author of many critically acclaimed books for young people, including three Newbery Honor books,
The Winter Room, Hatchet
, and
. He has also written
Canyons, The Island
, and
The Crossing
, all of which are available in Laurel-Leaf editions.

Gary Paulsen and his wife divide their time between northern Minnesota and La Luz, New Mexico.


Susan Butler

Caroline B. Cooney

Takayuki Ishii

Adeline Yen Mah

Paul Fleischman

Ann Rinaldi

Kazumi Yumoto

Ingrid Tomey

Lensey Namioka

Ruth Pennebaker

Published by
Dell Laurel-Leaf
an imprint of
Random House Children’s Books
a division of Random House, Inc.
1540 Broadway
New York, New York 10036

Copyright © 1978 by Gary Paulsen

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. For information address Delacorte Press, 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036.

The trademark Laurel-Leaf Library® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The trademark Dell® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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eISBN: 978-0-307-80420-4


The Dream

Janet’s dream was always the same, always ended the same way. Hung in the middle …

In the dream it was night, with a full moon, and she was standing under a rock overhang in the mountains looking down at a small pool of water.

The water was still. Dead still. And the moon made the surface of the pond a moving piece of white, like a liquid mirror.

It was so beautiful it hurt, the pool in the moonlight, and she wanted to go down to the waters edge and move her hand in it to see if the light would move and bend.

But always it was the same. Before she could move, or just as she started to go down to the pool, a white deer emerged from the brush on the other side.

It was flat white, a young doe, and it stood in the moonlight and seemed to take light from both the moon and the pool, seemed to take beauty from both, so that Janet’s breath stopped half in her lungs and half out.

Oh, she thought. Just that. Oh.

For a full second the deer stood and watched the pool and took of the light and the water and the beauty, and then, like a ballerina without music, it put forth a foot and advanced to the pool.

All in silence it happened, silence so thick and quiet there wasn’t even the whistle of nothing in her ears. And she stood and watched the deer move to the pool and lower its muzzle to the water to drink, and the light on the water
move and bend, and the deer pulled deep of the moonlight on the pool—drew deep and long.

It was then that the Indian appeared. Not just any Indian, but
Indian. A brave. A warrior out of time, from before, with a shield and a small fighting headdress and no clothes except a breechclout.

The Indian came from the trees on the side of the pool and stood with one foot by the water and the other slightly back. His shield was white and strapped to his arm and covered with designs that didn’t make any sense to her.

And he had a bow.

And the bow was drawn with a white arrow, everything all in white, and moonlight flashed up and down the arrow, went from the Indian’s eyes down the shaft of the arrow, and out past the glistening point and moved to the deer. And as she watched, frozen, in slow motion the Indian released the shaft and the bow straightened, and the arrow moved out of the bow and
across the pond; white and streaking it moved, and it was clear that the deer would never move in time, never be able to avoid the shaft.

And that’s when she awakened.

With the arrow in the middle, hung in time, and moonlight over the pond, Janet always awakened, always came out of it and sat up in bed. And she was always cold and covered with perspiration when she awakened.

And without knowing why, she was always deeply, terribly afraid.…


Janet Carson was the kind of fifteen-year-old girl who would never be called Jan. She was Janet, with long brown hair and wide clear eyes, and she was tall and willowy and moved with an easy grace that would never allow abbreviation.

Other girls in her class at the all-purpose small school of Tres Pinos, New Mexico, eyed her with open envy—for her beauty, for her rich mother, who did the figures in stone and who was also beautiful and had the added mystery of being divorced, and for the boys who flocked to Janet.

But she noticed neither the boys nor the envy and moved instead alone in a world none of the other girls really understood.

In the small mountain town, which was largely Mexican, with an Indian pueblo just outside of town, Janet was the only Anglo girl in her age group. She had friends, but they were all older.

Her mother’s friends. That’s how she thought of
them. Her mother had gone back to sculpting after the divorce in California; gone back to sculpting and moved to the isolated town of Tres Pinos, because it was the newest and latest art colony. She’d met “tons of talented people,” who now knew Janet, and some of whom were her friends.

BOOK: The Night the White Deer Died
8.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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