The drive home seemed to take forever, so Fenton wasted no time finding the waiting room of father's den, the words of his school chum still burning in his ears.
"Will you tell father that I need a word with him?" he informed the butler breathlessly.
"Gracias," bowed the little man in butler talk and entered the den.
Some moments later, there was Fenton, staring at his father all the way across his desk.
"The problem," explained Fenton, remembering to come straight to the point, "is that a school pal said that being rich had nothing to do with taking risks. But you always told me that the greater the risk the greater the fortune. I didn't know what to say to him."
Touching his watch, his father leaned back in his chair and told Fenton the story of Bambi's first risk.
"One day, in the middle of the coldest winter ever," he began, "Bambi and his mother were out in the woods with Thumper and Flower, their non‑deer friends. Ignoring his mother's many warnings, Bambi strayed into a clearing where two hunters were waiting. He scampered back as quickly as his little feet could take him, but it was too late. The hunters followed his trail back to their little corner of the deep woods and shot his poor mother dead."
Moisture covered Fenton's eyes as he asked, "What happened next?"
"Everyone fled at the sound of the gunshot. Bambi hid behind some bracken and watched as the hunters leaned over his fallen mother and spoke of how lucky they were to spot the little fawn who led them to her.
"Bambi was sick with guilt. Why was he always so careless? Why hadn't he listened to her warnings? As darkness began to shroud his forest world, Bambi felt helpless and all alone. But his mother's words came back to him. 'Bambi,' she would say, 'the hunters may have guns, but if you are not afraid to take risks you can deal with them as equals. You know the woods. Don't be afraid, little one...'
"With these words ringing in his ears, Bambi slowly walked out to face the hunters. The sound of his little hooves as they crunched into the snow seemed as loud as the big noise from the hunters' guns. His heart began to beat in rhythm to his mother's words...'be brave...take risks... be brave...take risks...'
"Finally, he made his way near to where his mother lay. The snow was bright red by her head. Eyes which had seen Bambi take his first, faltering steps stared straight ahead, vacantly. He realized that they would not now see his first real grown‑up steps.
"Taking the biggest, deepest breath he had ever taken, and thinking back for an instant of his happy times with Thumper and Flower, he let the hunters see him, just as he had accidently done moments before."
"Oh," Fenton broke in sadly, "I don't want anything bad to happen to Bambi, please!"
"Relax!" snapped his father. He paused, leaned back and continued.
"Bambi's knees nearly buckled from fear as he heard the same clicking noise he heard just before his mother had been shot, but this time there was only silence and then the sound of the men's footsteps following him.
"Bambi silently thanked his mother for patiently teaching him the ins and out of the deep woods. His eyes brightened as he led the hunters to a part of the woods which they would not be able to find their way out of.
"Bambi stopped suddenly and sniffed the air. He looked at the hunters and then back to a dark corner where Mary was hiding. Mary was the other deer that his mother would speak to while they watched their offspring grow into adulthood. Bambi never felt more grown‑up than he did at this moment. Mary looked at Bambi and cocked her head. The snow fell hypnotically. Suddenly a burst of shots rang out, and Mary lay dead. Bambi jumped from the force of the sound.
"As the gunshots rebounded in the air, one of the hunters turned to Bambi and asked, 'What's your name, little one?' When told, he said softly, 'Bambi, this is the start of a beautiful relationship.'"
"You mean they became friends?" interrupted Fenton, not believing his ears.
"Oh, not friends," smiled father, carefully crossing his legs. "It was a working relationship. Bambi got food and protection from the hunters in exchange for an inside track to the best deer hide in that little neck of the woods."
"But didn't he feel awful about losing his mother and all of their friends?"
"Certainly," replied father, gesturing in that special way he had. "But he felt worse about the prospect of a meatless winter."
Fenton was awed by his father in such moments and wondered if he would grow to be as wise.
"Now," said father smartly as the watch began to buzz, "it may be bed time. And you can tell your school chum that people like Bambi who seize opportunities and take risks, amount to something in our society ‑‑ or at least," he added bitterly, "should."
As his father rang for Fenton to be put to bed, Fenton asked, "What happened to Bambi?"
"Oh," his father replied absently, "merger, I suppose. But that's not the point. Good night."
While Fenton lay in bed, unsettling questions kept racing through his mind...
"Suppose," he thought to himself, "other little deer got the same notion and went into competition with Bambi? What if Bambi ran out of deer to provide to the hunters? What if people stopped wanting deerskin jackets? What if the hunters got special machines that let them find deer without Bambi's help?" Father spoke admiringly of machines that would replace the people at his offices.
Fenton's head spun with these questions and more. The only thing he felt certain of was that his school mate was wrong: There was no end to the terrible risks that people like Bambi had to take. He only hoped he would be able to prove himself as brave.