Mudpelt watched Lakefoal and Marshfoal playing outside the nursery. Splashstream and Mosstail were basking in the Newleaf sun with one eye on their foals. Marshfoal and Lakefoal were taking tentative steps into the River, and then running squealing back out.
"I dare you to go to that rock," Marshfoal challenged.
Lakefoal shook her head, but Marshfoal nagged her until she agreed. Lakefoal took a few steps into the River, too preoccupied with the rushing water around her feet to notice Marshfoal sneaking up behind her. Marshfoal suddenly shouldered Lakefoal, who let out a terrified squeak and fell into the River. The water was deeper there, and she couldn't stand up.
Mosstail and Mudpelt both jumped forward at the same time, but Mudpelt was closer. He grabbed Lakefoal's neck with his teeth and pulled her sputtering out of the water. Mosstail helped Mudpelt guide Lakefoal back to shore.
Lakefoal started shivering as Mosstail licked her. Mudpelt saw Splashstream lecturing Marshfoal.
"She's half TreeHerd," Splashstream neighed angrily. "You should have known she couldn't swim."
Marshfoal sulkily looked down at the ground.
"Go to the nursery and stay there," Splashstream ordered.
Marshfoal snorted angrily, but turned and walked back into the nursery.
"You should take her to Swanwings," Mudpelt suggested, turning his gaze back to Mosstail.
Mosstail nodded worriedly and headed toward Swanwings' den. Mudpelt watched Mosstail take Lakefoal into Swanwings' den, and then turned to find Beaversplash. Mudpelt thought he should know about this, as Lakefoal's father.
Beaversplash was talking to Goosefeather in the sun in the middle of the clearing.
"Beaversplash," Mudpelt neighed. "Lakefoal fell in the River. Mosstail took her to Swanwings."
"The River!" Beaversplash shuddered. "She was lucky she didn't drown!"
He trotted off toward Swanwings' den. Mudpelt followed him at a slower pace. He watched Beaversplash trot into Swanwings' cave, then, to his surprise, saw him back right out again. Swanwings' head appeared.
"I'm sorry, but it's crowded enough in here as it is," Swanwings gently but firmly neighed as she pushed Beaversplash out of the den.
She turned around to go back inside and Beaversplash turned to Mudpelt. Mudpelt nickered to see the look of surprise on Beaversplash's face. The two stallions waited until Mosstail appeared. She and Beaversplash rubbed noses, and then she turned to Mudpelt.
"Thank you so much for saving her. Swanwings says she's got a light chill, but if she had been in the water any longer it could have turned serious," Mosstail whinnied.
"Thank StarHerd she's all right," Beaversplash neighed.
Mudpelt nodded in agreement. The Newleaf water was still very cold. Mosstail and Beaversplash walked away to find some patch of sun to stand in. Mudpelt watched them go. He then turned to find Mistyfur approaching him from behind.
"What's happening?" she neighed.
Mudpelt quickly explained, and Mistyfur shook her head.
"That's awful. I'm just glad it didn't turn out any worse," Mistyfur neighed.
Mudpelt nodded his head, thinking exactly the same thing.
Ripplestar walked over to them. "What happened?"
Mudpelt sighed, but explained again. A small crowd of horses had come over to listen to the story. When he was done, Ripplestar looked relieved.
"I'm glad we didn't lose a potential warrior," she neighed.
"It's no wonder she couldn't swim, she's half TreeHerd," Frogleg sneered.
Mudpelt felt Mistyfur stiffen beside him. Beaversplash could swim now, but not very well. He would always choose not to swim if he had the option. But this was no reason to assume that he, and his daughter, weren't WaterHerd. Ripplestar had made Beaversplash a WaterHerd warrior.
"She's all WaterHerd," Mudpelt snapped.
He saw Nightriver and Splashstream exchange dubious looks, but Fishleap and Goosefeather nodded. Mudpelt looked around to see that Beaversplash wasn't there, and heaved a sigh of relief. Mudpelt would hate for him to hear that some of his Herdmates still didn't trust him.
"He is WaterHerd in the eyes of StarHerd," Ripplestar put in.
Frogleg still looked as if he would like to disagree, but he didn't dare argue with his leader. He snorted and walked away. Mudpelt gazed triumphantly after him. He knew they had won this argument, but some horses wouldn't trust Beaversplash for a long time, if ever. He sighed and turned to Mistyfur.
"Thanks for defending him," she neighed.
"I would trust him with my life," he replied. "I had to defend him."
"And he's our daughter's world," she added.
"Yes," Mudpelt sighed. "And he always will be."