The Legend of the White Stag

As originally conceived and told by John Chiorini

The man stood tall on the crest of the hill, bathed in the rays of the setting sun. He was searching, gazing intently west at the formidable snow-capped mountains that lay where the sun had gone to rest.

Illustration from Magyar Czerkész, the official 1933 Jamboree Newspaper. Courtesy of the Pinetreeweb [New browser window].

The man was powerful--he seemed to tower over this surroundings...he epitomized strength, yet there was in his stance the suggestion of despair.

This scene took place many centuries ago. The man was Nimrod, Mighty Hunter Before the Lord, great leader of his people. Of late, he felt he had failed them, for a great scourge was upon the land. The land had gone dry--the game had fled--there were no fish in the tepid streams--and Nimrod's two stalwart sons had been away for seven moons. He knew they must return soon, or all hope in finding the promised land of Nimrod's visions was lost.

Nimrod remembered well his two sons: strong, fearless, great hunters, tireless horsemen. These were the men to whom he planned to pass on this leadership, they who could surpass all others physically, who could read the signs of the sun, moon, fire, and water.

As old Nimrod scanned the horizon before him, he remembered well his son's departure, the start of their quest. It had been a day like this, at sunset, when there had appeared, outlined against the setting sun, a glorious White Stag. The red sun shone through it s majestic antlers as if the White Stag were supporting the solar giant.

Hunor and Magyar had jumped on their horses to capture the majestic animal. For seven moons they had been gone on the chase--and each day Nimrod went forth to look for them. Now, as the sun set, his own eyes began to dim.

Suddenly there was a shout from one of the tribe. Nimrod looked again to see two riders appear on the crest of the western hill--Hunor and Magyar--their saddles laden with game, their faces proud and happy.

The famine was broken. At the end of the feast, Nimrod stepped forward and his sons stood by his side. As a majestic oak towers over young saplings, Nimrod towered over his stalwart sons.

Nimrod spoke: "My people, you have seen the sun set on a day so great that it will be remembered long after we are dust and ashes. It is a day you will swear obedience to you new leaders, Hunor and Magyar. They will now tell you of their quest."

Hunor was the spokesman: "Seven moons ago a miraculous White Stag appears on the crest of the hill...he was white as the driven snow, and bigger than any stag ever seen by man. He waited until we were so close to him that we thought we could touch him. Then he spun around and leaped away as lightly as sunlight leaps over the running water. He ran swifter than the wind.

"All night he ran--through the forest and plains, across rivers, over mountains. We rode after him as we had never ridden before... When morning came, the White Stag stopped on the edge of a misty blue lake. As he stopped, our horses fell back exhausted. The White Stag pawed the ground three times, shook his antlers, and disappeared in the floating mist over the water.

"All that day we searched for him. We did not see him again, but we saw that the lake was full of fish, that the meadows were green and alive with game, the forest around it teeming with deer and other big game. There were trees heavy with fruit, the air sweet with the breath of flowers. We had found a land that would provide our people room and food for all.

"We rested, hunted until we could carry no more, and started back... The White Stag had led us there in one night--it took us seven moons to come back."

When Hunor finished, old Nimrod stepped forward and spoke to his sons. "My work is done. Tomorrow you will go forth to lead your people to the promised land. Go and fulfill the will of Hadur."

In that moment Nimrod's eyes closed and he crashed to the earth. A huge mound was build over his body during the night, and when the sun lighted the way, the tribe followed the trail west created by the White Stag to the beautiful valley.

Hunor and Magyar became worthy successors to Nimrod. For years they stayed by the misty blue lake. And then Hunor and Magyar saw the White Stag again.

All day they had been on a hunt that had taken them far from their home. Night had fallen rapidly--they were awed and hemmed in by the darkness. They had finally stopped--peering about, trying to penetrate the black forest. The great hunters were lost.

Suddenly Hunor exclaimed, "Look! Brother! To your right! The White Stag!" Shimmering white against the dark trees stood the stag. He seemed to float on the rising mist. And then to move slowly, silently away.

"Follow him," whispered Magyar.

"Follow him," whispered the leaves.

"Follow him," gurgled the spring.

"Follow him," sighed the wind.

Always in sight, but never letting them near, the White Stag led them through the forest, until suddenly he disappeared. Hunor and Magyar stopped. Gradually, softly at first, they heard the sounds of singing and laughter. To their delight and amazement, they found two beautiful women alone in a meadow. They spoke gently to the women; the women climbed behind the saddles of the brothers, and with the first rays of the sun, all four found their way to the people's encampment.

The maidens were beautiful and happy. The tribe came to love them, and there came a day when Hunor and Magyar chose them for wives. Twelve moons later, Hunor's son was born: Bendeguz, the White Eagle.

When Bendeguz was ten years old, a great scourge settled over the land... Hunor and Magyar commanded the tribe to set forth once again into the west. Always on the move, Bendeguz grew into a loving and fearless young man, and in time he was united with the proud and beautiful Aleeta... And then, on a night where lightening flashed and thunder roared and the wind howled--Attila was born, son of Bendeguz.

Attila was fearless, Attila was invulnerable, Attila became the leader of a restless tribe, ever searching for the promised land. Ever pushing west, the tribe came at last to the sheer walls of the Carpathian Mountains. Day after day Attila sent scouts out to find a path across the mountains...those who returned said, "There is no way."

For days the weather had been growing steadily colder. The sun was hidden behind clouds heavy with snow. There was no wood for fires. Their food was at an end. The people huddled close together, silent, miserable, puzzled that their God had forsaken them.

Bendeguz and Attila sat alone in an icy tent, their helplessness and impending doom tore at them with claws more viscous than the claws of the icy wind.

Suddenly Attila sat up. "Listen, father! Listen to the wind--no! It's not the wind! The people are calling my name--listen!" He tore the tent flap open and the wind smote him with violence. "Attila! Attila!" came the cry of many voices. "Attila! Look!"

He saw, luminously white against the white of the snow, standing like a majestic statue, glowing with an unearthly light--the White Stag!

Attila whipped around and snatched a horn from the tent. "To saddle! To saddle!" blared the horn.

"Follow the stag!" cried Attila.

"Follow the stag!" echoed the mountains.

"Follow the stag!" howled the wind.

The White Stag moved ahead of them, now slowly, now swiftly. Like a shimmering will-o-the-wisp, always just within sight, but never letting them nearer...leading them safely over the icy expanses, across deep drifts of snow and vast crevasses of ice. No one knew where the White Stag, the miraculous White Stag, was leading them.

Perhaps it was their own faith that was leading them--faith in their God--faith that smoothed the path under the stumbling feet of the horses, through the buffeting, stinging, whirlpools of snow, into the unknown.

Gradually the storm abated. They saw the White Stag had led them through a winding defile, between towering peaks, a deep gorge between overhanging cliffs, opening onto a broad, green valley.

"What enchanted land is this?", cried Attila... "Like an immense green bowl, surrounded by mountains, warmed by the sun, sheltered from the cold, a land rich in game and green pastures, between two great rivers rich in fish..." Attila recognized the words of Nimrod... This was truly the promised land.

The White Stag had led them to the promised land, and he had faded away into the golden sunlight.

Thrice the White Stag appeared before the people of old Nimrod. When they were in need of his challenge--when adversity seemed to rule--he brought faith and the will to move onward. The White Stag led the people of Nimrod and his sons upward and onward, to bigger and better accomplishments.

There on yonder hill is my image! I am the White Stag!

"Follow me!"

"Follow me!"

"Follow me!"

John Chiorini was the first Senior Patrol Leader on youth staff in 1959. He served for many years as both an adult and youth staff leader. He was last active in 1999.