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Title: Old Granny Fox
Author: Thornton W. Burgess
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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, OLD GRANNY FOX ***
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OLD GRANNY FOX
BY THORNTON W. BURGESS
CHAPTER I: Reddy Fox Brings Granny News
Pray who is there who would refuse
To bearer be of happy news?
- Old Granny Fox.
Snow covered the Green Meadows and the Green Forest, and ice bound
the Smiling Pool and the Laughing Brook. Reddy and Granny Fox were
hungry most of the time. It was not easy to find enough to eat these
days, and so they spent nearly every minute they were awake in hunting.
Sometimes they hunted together, but usually one went one way, and
the other went another way so as to have a greater chance of finding
something. If either found enough for two, the one finding it took
the food back to their home if it could be carried. If not, the
other was told where to find it.
For several days they had had very little indeed to eat, and they were
so hungry that they were willing to take almost any chance to get a
good meal. For two nights they had visited Farmer Brown's henhouse,
hoping that they would be able to find a way inside. But the biddies
had been securely locked up, and try as they would, they couldn't
find a way in.
"It's of no use," said Granny, as they started back home after the
second try, "to hope to get one of those hens at night. If we are
going to get any at all, we will have to do it in broad daylight.
It can be done, for I have done it before, but I don't like the idea.
We are likely to be seen, and that means that Bowser the Hound will
be set to hunting us."
"Pooh!" exclaimed Reddy. "What of it? It's easy enough to fool him."
"You think so, do you?" snapped Granny. "I never yet saw a young Fox
who didn't think he knew all there is to know, and you're just like
the rest. When you've lived as long as I have you will have learned
not to be quite so sure of your own opinions. I grant you that when
there is no snow on the ground, any Fox with a reasonable amount of
Fox sense in his head can fool Bowser, but with snow everywhere it is
a very different matter. If Bowser once takes it into his head to
follow your trail these days, you will have to be smarter than I think
you are to fool him. The only way you will be able to get away from
him will be by going into a hole in the ground, and when you do that
you will have given away a secret that will mean we will never have any
peace at all. We will never know when Farmer Brown's boy will take it
into his head to smoke us out. I've seen it done. No, Sir, we are not
going to try for one of those hens in the daytime unless we are starving."
"I'm starving now," whined Reddy.
"No such thing!" Granny snapped. "I've been without food longer than
this many a time. Have you been over to the Big River lately?"
"No," replied Reddy. "What's the use? It's frozen over. There isn't
"Perhaps not," replied Granny, "but I learned a long time ago that
it is a poor plan to overlook any chance. There is a place in the
Big River which never freezes because the water runs too swiftly
to freeze, and I've found more than one meal washed ashore there.
You go over there now while I see what I can find in the Green
Forest. If neither of us finds anything, it will be time enough to
think about Farmer Brown's hens to-morrow."
Much against his will Reddy obeyed. "It isn't the least bit of use,"
he grumbled, as he trotted towards the Big River. "There won't be
anything there. It is just a waste of time."
Late that afternoon he came hurrying back, and Granny knew by the way
that he cocked his ears and carried his tail that he had news of some
kind. "Well, what is it?" she demanded.
"I found a dead fish that had been washed ashore," replied Reddy.
"It wasn't big enough for two, so I ate it."
"Anything else?" asked Granny.
"No-o," replied Reddy slowly; "that is, nothing that will do us any good.
Quacker the Wild Duck was swimming about out in the open water, but
though I watched and watched he never once came ashore."
"Ha!" exclaimed Granny. "That is good news. I think we'll go
CHAPTER VI: Old Granny Fox Is Caught Napping
The wisest folks will make mistakes, but
if they are truly wise they will profit from them.
- Old Granny Fox.
There is a saying among the little people of the Green Forest and the
Green Meadows which runs something like this:
"You must your eyes wide open keep
To catch Old Granny Fox asleep."
Of course this means that Old Granny Fox is so smart, so clever, so
keenly on the watch at all times, that he must be very smart indeed
who fools her or gets ahead of her. Reddy Fox is smart, very smart.
But Reddy isn't nearly as smart as Old Granny Fox. You see, he
hasn't lived nearly as long, so of course there is much knowledge of
many things stored away in Granny's head of which Reddy knows little.
But once in a while even the smartest people are caught napping.
Yes, Sir, that does happen. They will be careless sometimes.
It was just so with Old Granny Fox. With all her smartness and
cleverness and wisdom she grew careless, and all the smartness and
cleverness and wisdom in the world is useless if the possessor
You see, Old Granny Fox had become so used to thinking that she was
smarter than any one else, unless it was Old Man Coyote, that she
actually believed that no one was smart enough ever to surprise her.
Yes, Sir, she actually believed that. Now, you know when a person
reaches the point of thinking that no one else in all the Great
World is quite so smart, that person is like Peter Rabbit when he
made ready one winter day to jump out on the smooth ice of the
Smiling Pool, -- getting ready for a fall. It was this way with Old
Because she had lived near Farmer Brown's so long and had been
hunted so often by Farmer Brown's boy and by Bowser the Hound, she
had got the idea in her head that no matter what she did they would
not be able to catch her. So at last she grew careless. Yes, Sir,
she grew careless. And that is something no Fox or anybody else can
afford to do.
Now on the edge of the Green Forest was a warm, sunny knoll, which,
as you know, is a sort of little hill. It overlooked the Green
Meadows and was quite the most pleasant and comfortable place for a
sun-nap that ever was. At least, that is what Old Granny Fox
thought. She took sun-naps there very often. It was her favorite
resting place. When Bowser the Hound had found her trail and had
chased her until she was tired of running and had had quite all the
exercise she needed or wanted, she would play one of her clever
tricks by which to make Bowser lose her trail. Then she would hurry
straight to that knoll to rest and grin at her own smartness.
It happened that she did this one day when there was fresh snow on
the ground. Of course, every time she put a foot down she left a
print in the snow. And where she curled up in the sun she left the
print of her body. They were very plain to see, were these prints,
and Farmer Brown's boy saw them.
He had been tramping through the Green Forest late in the afternoon
and just by chance happened across Granny's footprints. Just for
fun he followed them and so came to the sunny knoll. Granny had
left some time before, but of course she couldn't take the print of
her body with her. That remained in the snow, and Farmer Brown's
boy saw it and knew instantly what it meant. He grinned, and could
Granny Fox have seen that grin, she would have been uncomfortable.
You see, he knew that he had found the place where Granny was in the
habit of taking a sun-nap.
"So," said he, "this is the place where you rest, Old Mrs. Fox,
after running Bowser almost off his feet. I think we will give you
a surprise one of these days. Yes, indeed, I think we will give you
a surprise. You have fooled us many times, and now it is our turn."
The next day Farmer Brown's boy shouldered his terrible gun and sent
Bowser the Hound to hunt for the trail of Old Granny Fox. It wasn't
long before Bowser's great voice told all the Great World that he
had found Granny's tracks. Farmer Brown's boy grinned just as he
had the day before. Then with his terrible gun he went over to the
Green Forest and hid under some pine boughs right on the edge of
that sunny knoll.
He waited patiently a long, long time. He heard Bowser's great
voice growing more and more excited as he followed Old Granny Fox.
By and by Bowser stopped baying and began to yelp impatiently.
Farmer Brown's boy knew exactly what that meant. It meant that
Granny had played one of her smart tricks and Bowser had lost her trail.
A few minutes later out of the Green Forest came Old Granny Fox, and
she was grinning, for once more she had fooled Bowser the Hound and
now could take a nap in peace. Still grinning, she turned around two
or three times to make herself comfortable and then, with a sigh of
contentment, curled up for a sun-nap, and in a few minutes was asleep.
And just a little way off behind the pine boughs sat Farmer Brown's
boy holding his terrible gun and grinning. At last he had caught
Old Granny Fox napping.
CHAPTER VII: Granny Fox Has A Bad Dream
Nothing ever simply happens;
Bear that point in mind.
If you look long and hard enough
A cause you'll always find.
- Old Granny Fox.
Old Granny Fox was dreaming. Yes, Sir, she was dreaming. There she
lay, curled up on the sunny little knoll on the edge of the Green
Forest, fast asleep and dreaming. It was a very pleasant and very
comfortable place indeed. You see, jolly, round, bright Mr. Sun
poured his warmest rays right down there from the blue, blue sky.
When Old Granny Fox was tired, she often slipped over there for a
short nap and sun-bath even in winter. She was quite sure that no
one knew anything about it. It was one of her secrets.
This morning Old Granny Fox was very tired, unusually so. In the
first place she had been out hunting all night. Then, before she
could reach home, Bowser the Hound had found her tracks and started
to follow them. Of course, it wouldn't have done to go home then.
It wouldn't have done at all. Bowser would have followed her
straight there and so found out where she lived. So she had led
Bowser far away across the Green Meadows and through the Green
Forest and finally played one of her smart tricks which had so mixed
her tracks that Bowser could no longer follow them. While he had
sniffed and snuffed and snuffed and sniffed with that wonderful nose
of his, trying to find out where she had gone, Old Granny Fox had
trotted straight to the sunny knoll and there curled up to rest.
Right away she fell asleep.
Now Old Granny Fox, like most of the other little people of the
Green Forest and the Green Meadows, sleeps with her ears wide open.
Her eyes may be closed, but not her ears. Those are always on
guard, even when she is asleep, and at the least sound open fly her
eyes, and she is ready to run. If it were not for the way her sharp
ears keep guard, she wouldn't dare take naps in the open right in
broad daylight. If you ever want to catch a Fox asleep, you mustn't
make the teeniest, weeniest noise. Just remember that.
Now Old Granny Fox had no sooner closed her eyes than she began to
dream. At first it was a very pleasant dream, the pleasantest dream a
Fox can have. It was of a chicken dinner, all the chicken she could
eat. Granny certainly enjoyed that dream. It made her smack her lips
quite as if it were a real and not a dream dinner she was enjoying.
But presently the dream changed and became a bad dream. Yes, indeed,
it became a bad dream. It was as bad as at first it had been good.
It seemed to Granny that Bowser the Hound had become very smart,
smarter than she had ever known him to be before. Do what she
would, she couldn't fool him. Not one of all the tricks she knew,
and she knew a great many, fooled him at all. They didn't puzzle
him long enough for her to get her breath.
Bowser kept getting nearer and nearer and nearer, all in the dream,
you know, until it seemed as if his great voice sounded right at her
very heels. She was so tired that it seemed to her that she couldn't
run another step. It was a very, very real dream. You know dreams
sometimes do seem very real indeed. This was the way it was with
the bad dream of Old Granny Fox. It seemed to her that she could
feel the breath of Bowser the Hound and that his great jaws were
just going to close on her and shake her to death.
"Oh! Oh!" cried Granny and waked herself up. Her eyes flew open.
Then she gave a great sigh of relief as she realized that her
terrible fright was only a bad dream and that she was curled up
right on the dear, familiar, old, sunny knoll and not running for
her life at all.
Old Granny Fox smiled to think what a fright she had had and then,
-- well, she didn't know whether she was really awake or still
dreaming! No, Sir, she didn't. For a full minute she couldn't be
sure whether what she saw was real or part of that dreadful dream.
You see, she was staring into the face of Farmer Brown's boy and the
muzzle of his dreadful gun!
For just a few seconds she didn't move. She couldn't. She was
too frightened to move. Then she knew what she saw was real and
not a dream at all. There wasn't the least bit of doubt about it.
That was Farmer Brown's boy, and that was his dreadful gun! All in a
flash she knew that Farmer Brown's boy must have been hiding behind
those pine boughs.
Poor Old Granny Fox! For once in her life she had been caught napping.
She hadn't the least hope in the world. Farmer Brown's boy had only
to fire that dreadful gun, and that would be the end of her. She
CHAPTER VIII: What Farmer Brown's Boy Did
In time of danger heed this rule:
Think hard and fast, but pray keep cool.
- Old Granny Fox.
Poor Old Granny Fox! She had thought that she had been in tight
places before, but never, never had she been in such a tight place
as this. There stood Farmer Brown's boy looking along the barrel of
his dreadful gun straight at her, and only such a short distance,
such a very short distance away! It wasn't the least bit of use to run.
Granny knew that. That dreadful gun would go "bang!" and that would
be the end of her.
For a few seconds she stared at Farmer Brown's boy, too frightened
to move or even think. Then she began to wonder why that dreadful
gun didn't go off. What was Farmer Brown's boy waiting for? She got
to her feet. She was sure that the first step would be her last,
yet she couldn't stay there.
How could Fanner Brown's boy do such a dreadful thing? Somehow, his
freckled face didn't look cruel. He was even beginning to grin.
That must be because he had caught her napping and knew that this
time she couldn't possibly get away from him as she had so many
times before. "Oh!" sobbed Old Granny Fox under her breath.
And right at that very instant Farmer Brown's boy did something.
What do you think it was? No, he didn't shoot her. He didn't fire
his dreadful gun. What do you think he did do? Why, he threw a
snowball at Old Granny Fox and shouted "Boo!" That is what he did
and all he did, except to laugh as Granny gave a great leap and then
made those black legs of hers fly as never before.
Every instant Granny expected to hear that dreadful gun, and it
seemed as if her heart would burst with fright as she ran, thinking
each jump would be the last one. But the dreadful gun didn't bang,
and after a little, when she felt she was safe, she turned to look
back over her shoulder. Farmer Brown's boy was standing right where
she had last seen him, and he was laughing harder than ever.
Yes, Sir, he was laughing, and though Old Granny Fox didn't think so
at the time, his laugh was good to hear, for it was good-natured and
merry and all that an honest laugh should be.
"Go it, Granny! Go it!" shouted Farmer Brown's boy. "And the next time
you are tempted to steal my chickens, just remember that I caught you
napping and let you off when I might have shot you. Just remember that
and leave my chickens alone."
Now it happened that Tommy Tit the Chickadee had seen all that had
happened, and he fairly bubbled over with joy. "Dee, dee, dee,
Chickadee! It is just as I have always said -- Farmer Brown's boy
isn't bad. He'd be friends with every one if every one would let him,"
"Maybe, maybe," grumbled Sammy Jay, who also had seen all that had
happened. "But he's altogether too smart for me to trust. Oh, my!
oh, my! What news this will be to tell! Old Granny Fox will never
hear the end of it. If ever again she boasts of how smart she is,
all we will have to do will be to remind her of the time Farmer
Brown's boy caught her napping. Ho! ho! ho! I must hurry along and
find my cousin, Blacky the Crow. This will tickle him half to death."
As for Old Granny Fox, she feared Farmer Brown's boy more than ever,
not because of what he had done to her but because of what he had
not done. You see, nothing could make her believe that he wanted to
be her friend. She thought he had let her get away just to show her
that he was smarter than she. Instead of thankfulness, hate and
fear filled Granny's heart. You know --
People who themselves do ill
For others seldom have good will.
CHAPTER IX: Reddy Fox Hears About Granny Fox
Though you may think another wrong
And be quite positive you're right,
Don't let your temper get away;
And try at least to be polite.
- Old Granny Fox.
Sammy Jay hurried through the Green Forest, chuckling as he flew.
Sammy was brimming over with the news he had to tell, -- how
Old Granny Fox had been caught napping by Farmer Brown's boy.
Sammy wouldn't have believed it if any one had told him. No, Sir,
he wouldn't. But he had seen it with his own eyes, and it tickled
him almost to pieces to think that Old Granny Fox, whom everybody
thought so sly and clever and smart, had been caught actually asleep
by the very one of whom she was most afraid, but at whom she always
had turned up her nose.
Presently Sammy spied Reddy Fox trotting along the Lone Little Path.
Reddy was forever boasting of how smart Granny Fox was. He had
boasted of it so much that everybody was sick of hearing him.
When he saw Reddy trotting along the Lone Little Path, Sammy
chuckled harder than ever. He hid in a thick hemlock-tree and as
Reddy passed he shouted:
"Had I such a stupid old Granny
As some folks who think they are smart,
I never would boast of my Granny,
But live by myself quite apart!"
Reddy looked up angrily. He couldn't see Sammy Jay, but he knew
Sammy's voice. There is no mistaking that. Everybody knows the
voice of Sammy Jay. Of course it was foolish, very foolish of
Reddy to be angry, and still more foolish to show that he was angry.
Had he stopped a minute to think, he would have known that Sammy
was saying such a mean, provoking thing just to make him angry, and
that the angrier he became the better pleased Sammy Jay would be.
But like a great many people, Reddy allowed his temper to get the
better of his common sense.
"Who says Granny Fox is stupid?" he snarled.
"I do," replied Sammy Jay promptly. "I say she is stupid."
"She is smarter than anybody else in all the Green Forest and on all
the Green Meadows. She is smarter than anybody else in all the Great
World," boasted Reddy, and he really believed it.
"She isn't smart enough to fool Farmer Brown's boy," taunted Sammy.
"What's that? Who says so? Has anything happened to Granny Fox?" Reddy
forgot his anger in a sudden great fear. Could Granny have been shot
by Farmer Brown's boy?
"Nothing much, only Farmer Brown's boy caught her napping in broad
daylight," replied Sammy, and chuckled so that Reddy heard him.
"I don't believe it!" snapped Reddy. "I don't believe a word of it!
Nobody ever yet caught Old Granny Fox napping, and nobody ever will."
"I don't care whether you believe it or not; it's so, for I saw him,"
retorted Sammy Jay.
"You -- you -- you --" began Reddy Fox.
"Go ask Tommy Tit the Chickadee if it isn't true. He saw him too,"
interrupted Sammy Jay.
"Dee, dee, dee, Chickadee! It's so, and Farmer Brown's boy only
threw a snowball at her and let her run away without shooting at her,"
declared a new voice. There sat Tommy Tit himself.
Reddy didn't know what to think or say. He just couldn't believe it,
yet he had never known Tommy Tit to tell an untruth. Sammy Jay alone
he wouldn't have believed. Then Tommy Tit and Sammy Jay told Reddy all
about what they had seen, how Farmer Brown's boy had surprised Old Granny
Fox and then allowed her to go unharmed. Reddy had to believe it.
If Tommy Tit said it was so, it must be so. Reddy Fox started off
to hunt up Old Granny Fox and ask her about it. But a sudden thought
popped into his red head, and he changed his mind.
"I won't say a thing about it until some time when Granny scolds me
for being careless," muttered Reddy, with a sly grin. "Then I'll see
what she has to say. I guess she won't scold me so much after this."
Reddy grinned more than ever, which wasn't a bit nice of him.
Instead of being sorry that Old Granny Fox had had such a fright, he
was planning how he would get even with her when she should scold
him for his own carelessness.
CHAPTER X: Reddy Fox Is Impudent
A saucy tongue is dangerous to possess;
Be sure some day 't will get you in a mess.
- Old Granny Fox.
Reddy Fox is headstrong and, like most headstrong people, is given
to thinking that his way is the best way just because it is his way.
He is smart, is Reddy Fox. Yes, indeed, Reddy Fox is very, very
smart. He has to be in order to live. But a great deal of what he
knows he learned from Old Granny Fox. The very best tricks he knows
she taught him. She began teaching him when he was so little that
he tumbled over his own feet. It was she who taught him how to hunt,
that it is better never to steal chickens near home but to go a long
way off for them, and how to fool Bowser the Hound.
It was Granny who taught Reddy how to use his little black nose to
follow the tracks of careless young Rabbits, and how to catch Meadow
Mice under the snow. In fact, there is little Reddy knows which he
didn't learn from wise, shrewd Old Granny Fox.
But as he grew bigger and bigger, until he was quite as big as
Granny herself, he forgot what he owed to her. He grew to have a
very good opinion of himself and to feel that he knew just about all
there was to know. So sometimes when he had done foolish or
careless things and Granny had scolded him, telling him he was big
enough and old enough to know better, he would sulk and go off
muttering to himself. But he never quite dared to be openly
disrespectful to Granny, and this, of course, was quite as it should
"If only I could catch Granny doing something foolish or careless,"
he would say to himself. But he never could, and he had begun to
think that he never would. But now at last Granny, clever Old
Granny Fox, had been careless! She had allowed Farmer Brown's boy to
catch her napping! Reddy did wish he had been there to see it himself.
But anyway, he had been told about it, and he made up his mind that
the next time Granny said anything sharp to him about his carelessness
he would have something to say back. Yes, Sir, Reddy Fox was
deliberately planning to answer back, which, as you know, is always
disrespectful to one's elders.
At last the chance came. Reddy did a thing no truly wise Fox ever
will do. He went two nights in succession to the same henhouse, and
the second time he barely escaped being shot. Old Granny Fox found
out about it. How she found out Reddy doesn't know to this day, but
find out she did, and she gave him such a scolding as even her sharp
tongue had seldom given him.
"You are the stupidest Fox I ever heard of," scolded Granny.
"I'm no more stupid than you are!" retorted Reddy in the most
"What's that?" demanded Granny. "What's that you said?"
"I said I'm no more stupid than you are, and what is more, I hope I'm
not so stupid. I know better than to take a nap in broad daylight
right under the very nose of Farmer Brown's boy." Reddy grinned in
the most impudent way as he said this.
Granny's eyes snapped. Then things happened. Reddy was cuffed this
way and cuffed that way and cuffed the other way until it seemed to
him that the air was full of black paws, every one of which landed
on his head or face with a sting that made him whimper and put his
tail between his legs, and finally howl.
"There!" cried Granny, when at last she had to stop because she was
quite out of breath. "Perhaps that will teach you to be respectful
to your elders. I was careless and stupid, and I am perfectly ready
to admit it, because it has taught me a lesson. Wisdom often is
gained through mistakes, but never when one is not willing to admit
the mistakes. No Fox lives long who makes the same mistake twice.
And those who are impudent to their elders come to no good end.
I've got a fat goose hidden away for dinner, but you will get none
"I -- I wish I'd never heard of Granny's mistake," whined Reddy to
himself as he crept dinnerless to bed.
"You ought to wish that you hadn't been impudent," whispered a small
voice down inside him.
CHAPTER XI: After The Storm
The joys and the sunshine that make us glad;
The worries and troubles that makes us sad
Must come to an end; so why complain
Of too little sun or too much rain?
- Old Granny Fox.
The thing to do is to make the most of the sunshine while it lasts,
and when it rains to look forward to the corning of the sun again,
knowing that conic it surely will. A dreadful storm was keeping the
little people of the Green Forest, the Green Meadows, and the Old
Orchard prisoners in their own homes or in such places of shelter as
they had been able to find.
But it couldn't last forever, and they knew it. Knowing this was all
that kept some of them alive.
You see, they were starving. Yes, Sir, they were starving. You and I
would be very hungry, very hungry indeed, if we had to go without food
for two whole days, but if we were snug and warm it wouldn't do us
any real harm. With the little wild friends, especially the little
feathered folks, it is a very different matter. You see, they are
naturally so active that they have to fill their stomachs very often
in order to supply their little bodies with heat and energy. So when
their food supply is wholly cut off, they starve or else freeze to
death in a very short time. A great many little lives are ended this
way in every long, hard winter storm.
It was late in the afternoon of the second day when rough Brother
North Wind decided that he had shown his strength and fierceness long
enough, and rumbling and grumbling retired from the Green Meadows and
the Green Forest, blowing the snow clouds away with him. For just a
little while before it was time for him to go to bed behind the Purple
Hills, jolly, round, red Mr. Sun smiled down on the white land, and
never was his smile more welcome. Out from their shelters hurried all
the little prisoners, for they must make the most of the short time
before the coming of the cold night.
Little Tommy Tit the Chickadee was so weak that he could hardly fly,
and he shook with chills. He made straight for the apple-tree where
Farmer Brown's boy always keeps a piece of suet tied to a branch for
Tommy and his friends. Drummer the Woodpecker was there before
him. Now it is one of the laws of politeness among the feathered folk
that when one is eating from a piece of suet a newcomer shall await
"Dee, dee, dee!" said Tommy Tit faintly but cheerfully, for he couldn't
be other than cheery if he tried. "Dee, dee, dee! That looks good to me."
"It is good," mumbled Drummer, pecking away at the suet greedily."
Come on, Tommy Tit. Don't wait for me, for I won't be through for a
long time. I'm nearly starved, and I guess you must be."
"I am," confessed Tommy, as he flew over beside Drummer. "Thank you
ever so much for not making me wait."
"Don't mention it," replied Drummer, with his mouth full. "This is no
time for politeness. Here comes Yank Yank the Nuthatch. I guess there
is room for him too."
Yank Yank was promptly invited to join them and did so after
apologizing for seeming so greedy.
"If I couldn't get my stomach full before night, I certainly should
freeze to death before morning," said he. "What a blessing it is to
have all this good food waiting for us. If I had to hunt for my usual
food on the trees, I certainly should have to give up and die. It took
all my strength to get over here. My, I feel like a new bird already!
Here comes Sammy Jay. I wonder if he will try to drive us away as he
Sammy did nothing of the kind. He was very meek and most polite.
"Can you make room for a starving fellow to get a bite?" he asked.
"I wouldn't ask it but that I couldn't last another night without food."
"Dee, dee, dee! Always room for one more," replied Tommy Tit,
crowding over to give Sammy room. "Wasn't that a dreadful storm?"
"Worst I ever knew," mumbled Sammy. "I wonder if I ever will be warm
Until their stomachs were full, not another word was said. Meanwhile
Chatterer the Red Squirrel had discovered that the storm was over. As
he floundered through the snow to another apple-tree he saw Tommy Tit
and his friends, and in his heart he rejoiced that they had found food
waiting for them. His own troubles were at an end, for in the tree he
was headed for was a store of corn.
CHAPTER XII: Granny And Reddy Fox Hunt In Vain
Old Mother Nature's plans for good
Quite often are not understood.
- Old Granny Fox.
Tommy Tit and Drummer the Woodpecker and Yank Yank the Nuthatch and
Sammy Jay and Chatterer the Red Squirrel were not the only ones who
were out and about as soon as the great storm ended. Oh, my, no! No,
indeed! Everybody who was not sleeping the winter away, or who had not
a store of food right at hand, was out. But not all were so fortunate
as Tommy Tit and his friends in finding a good meal.
Peter Rabbit and Mrs. Peter came out of the hole in the heart of the
dear Old Briar-patch, where they had managed to keep comfortably warm,
and at once began to fill their stomachs with bark from young
trees and tender tips of twigs. It was very coarse food, but it
would take away that empty feeling. Mrs. Grouse burst out of the
snow and hurried to get a meal before dark. She had no time to be
particular, and so she ate spruce buds. They were very bitter and
not much to her liking, but she was too hungry, and night was too
near for her to be fussy. She was thankful to have that much.
Granny Fox and Reddy were out too. They didn't need to hurry because,
as you know, they could hunt all night, but they were so hungry that
they just had to be looking for something to eat. They knew, of
course, that everybody else would be out, and they hoped that some
of these little people would be so weak that they could easily be caught.
That seems like a dreadful hope, doesn't it? But one of the first
laws of Old Mother Nature is self-preservation. That means to save
your own life first. So perhaps Granny and Reddy are not to be
blamed for hoping that some of their neighbors might be caught
easily because of the great storm. They were very hungry indeed,
and they could not eat bark like Peter Rabbit, or buds like Mrs.
Grouse, or seeds like Whitefoot the Woodmouse. Their teeth and
stomachs are not made for such food.
It was hard going for Granny and Reddy Fox. The snow was soft and
deep in many places, and they had to keep pretty close to those
places where rough Brother North Wind had blown away enough of the
snow to make walking fairly easy. They soon found that their hope
that they would find some of their neighbors too weak to escape was
quite in vain. When jolly, round, red Mr. Sun dropped clown behind
the Purple Hills to go to bed, their stomachs were quite as empty as
when they had started out.
"We'll go down to the Old Briar-patch. I don't believe it will be of
much use, but you never can tell until you try. Peter Rabbit may take
it into his silly head to come outside," said Granny, leading the way.
When they reached the dear Old Briar-patch they found that Peter was
not outside. In fact, peering between the brambles and bushes, they
could see his little brown form bobbing about as he hunted for tender
bark. He had already made little paths along which he could hop
easily. Peter saw them almost as soon as they saw him.
"Hard times these," said Peter pleasantly. "I hope your stomachs
are not as empty as mine." He pulled a strip of bark from a young
tree and began to chew it. This was more than Reddy could stand.
To see Peter eating while his own stomach was just one great big
ache from emptiness was too much.
"I'm going in there and catch him, or drive him out where you can
catch him, if I tear my coat all to pieces!" snarled Reddy.
Peter stopped chewing and sat up. "Come right along, Reddy. Come right
along if you want to, but I would advise you to save your skin and
your coat," said he.
Reddy's only reply was a snarl as he pushed his way under the
brambles. He yelped as they tore his coat and scratched his face,
but he kept on. Now Peter's paths were very cunningly made. He had
cut them through the very thickest of the briars just big enough for
himself and Mrs. Peter to hop along comfortably. But Reddy is so
much bigger that he had to force his way through and in places crawl
flat on his stomach, which was very slow work, to say nothing of the
painful scratches from the briars. It was no trouble at all for
Peter to keep out of his way, and before long Reddy gave up.
Without a word Granny Fox led the way to the Green Forest. They
would try to find where Mrs. Grouse was sleeping under the snow.
But though they hunted all night, they failed to find her, for she
wisely had gone to bed in a spruce-tree.
CHAPTER XIII: Granny Fox Admits Growing Old
Who will not admit he is older each day
fools no one but himself.
- Old Granny Fox.
Old Granny Fox is a spry old lady for her age. If you don't believe
it just try to catch her. But spry as she is, she isn't as spry as
she used to be. No, Sir, Granny Fox isn't as spry as she used to be.
The truth is, Granny is getting old. She never would admit it,
and Reddy never had realized it until the day after the great storm.
All that night they had hunted in vain for something to eat and at
daylight had crept into their house to rest awhile before starting
on another hunt. They had neither the strength nor the courage to
search any longer then. Wading through snow is very hard work at
best and very tiresome, but when your stomach has been empty for so
long that you almost begin to wonder what food tastes like, it
becomes harder work still. You see, it is food that makes strength,
and lack of food takes away strength.
This was why Granny and Reddy Fox just HAD to rest. Hungry as they
were, they HAD to give up for awhile. Reddy flung himself down, and if
ever there was a discouraged young Fox he was that one. "I wish I were
dead," he moaned.
"Tut, tut, tut!" said Granny Fox sharply. "That's no way for a young
Fox to talk! I'm ashamed of you. I am indeed." Then she added more
kindly: "I know just how you feel. Just try to forget your empty
stomach and rest awhile. We have had a tiresome, disappointing,
discouraging night, but when you are rested things will not look quite
so bad. You know the old saying:
'Never a road so long is there
But it reaches a turn at last;
Never a cloud that gathers swift But
disappears as fast.'
You think you couldn't possibly feel any worse than you do right now,
but you could. Many a time I have had to go hungry longer than this.
After we have rested awhile we will go over to the Old Pasture.
Perhaps we will have better luck there."
So Reddy tried to forget the emptiness of his stomach and actually had
a nap, for he was very, very tired. When he awoke he felt better.
"Well, Granny," said he, "let's start for the Old Pasture. The snow
has crusted over, and we won't find it such hard going as it was last
Granny arose and followed Reddy out to the doorstep. She walked stiffly.
The truth is, she ached in every one of her old bones. At least,
that is the way it seemed to her. She looked towards the Old Pasture.
It seemed very far away. She sighed wearily. "I don't believe I'll go,
Reddy," said she. "You run along and luck go with vou."
Reddy turned and stared at Granny suspiciously. You know his is a very
suspicious nature. Could it be that Granny had some secret plan of her
own to get a meal and wanted to get rid of him?
"What's the matter with you?" he demanded roughly. "It was you who
proposed going over to the Old Pasture."
Granny smiled. It was a sad sort of smile. She is wonderfully sharp
and smart, is Granny Fox, and she knew what was in Reddy's mind as
well as if he had told her.
"Old bones don't rest and recover as quickly as young bones, and I
just don't feel equal to going over there now," said she. "The truth
is, Reddy, I am growing old. I am going to stay right here and rest.
Perhaps then I'll feel able to go hunting to-night. You trot along now,
and if you get more than a stomachful, just remember old Granny
and bring her a bite."
There was something in the way Granny spoke that told Reddy she was
speaking the truth. It was the very first time she ever had admitted
that she was growing old and was no longer the equal of any Fox.
Never before had he noticed how gray she had grown. Reddy felt a
feeling of shame creep over him, -- shame that he had suspected
Granny of playing a sharp trick. And this little feeling of shame
was followed instantly by a splendid thought. He would go out and
find food of some kind, and he would bring it straight back to Granny.
He had been taken care of by Granny when he was little, and now he
would repay Granny for all she had done for him by taking care of her
in her old age.
"Go back in the house and lie down, Granny," said he kindly. "I am
going to get something, and whatever it may be you shall have your share."
With this he trotted off towards the Old Pasture and somehow he
didn't mind the ache in his stomach as he had before.
CHAPTER XIV: Three Vain And Foolish Wishes
There's nothing so foolishly silly and vain
As to wish for a thing youcan never attain.
- Old Granny Fox.
We all know that, yet most of us are just foolish enough to make
such a wish now and then. I guess you have done it. I know I have.
Peter Rabbit has done it often and then laughed at himself afterwards.
I suspect that even shrewd, clever old Granny Fox has been guilty of
it more than once. So it is not surprising that Reddy Fox, terribly
hungry as he was, should do a little foolish wishing.
When he left home to go to the Old Pasture, in the hope that he would
be able to find something to eat there, he started off bravely. It was
cold, very cold indeed, but his fur coat kept him warm as long as he
was moving. The Green Meadows were glistening white with snow. All the
world, at least all that part of it with which Reddy was acquainted,
was white. It was beautiful, very beautiful, as millions of sparkles
flashed in the sun. But Reddy had no thought for beauty; the only
thought he had room for was to get something to put in the empty
stomachs of himself and Granny Fox.
Jack Frost had hardened the snow so that Reddy no longer had to wade
through it. He could run on the crust now without breaking through.
This made it much easier, so he trotted along swiftly. He had
intended to go straight to the Old Pasture, but there suddenly popped
into his head a memory of the shelter down in a far corner of
the Old Orchard which Farmer Brown's boy had built for Bob White.
Probably the Bob White family were there now, and he might surprise
them. He would go there first.
Reddy stopped and looked carefully to make sure that Farmer Brown's
boy and Bowser the Hound were nowhere in sight. Then he ran swiftly
towards the Old Orchard. Just as he entered it he heard a merry
voice just over his head: "Dee, dee, dee, dee!" Reddy stopped and
looked up. There was Tommy Tit the Chickadee clinging tightly to a
big piece of fresh suet tied fast to a branch of a tree, and Tommy
was stuffing himself. Reddy sat down right underneath that suet and
looked up longingly. The sight of it made his mouth water so that
it was almost more than he could stand. He jumped once. He jumped
twice. He jumped three times. But all his jumping was in vain.
That suet was beyond his reach. There was no possible way of
reaching it save by flying or climbing. Reddy's tongue hung out of
his mouth with longing.
"I wish I could climb," said Reddy.
But he couldn't climb, and all the wishing in the world wouldn't
enable him to, as he very well knew. So after a little he started on.
As he drew near the far corner of the Old Orchard, he saw Bob White
and Mrs. Bob and all the young Bobs picking up grain which Farmer
Brown's boy had scattered for them just in front of the shelter he
had built for them. Reddy crouched down and very slowly, an inch at
a time, he crept forward, his eyes shining with eagerness. Just as
he was almost within springing distance, Bob White gave a signal,
and away flew the Bob Whites to the safety of a hemlock-tree on the
edge of the Green Forest.
Tears of rage and disappointment welled up in Reddy's eyes. "I wish I
could fly," he muttered, as he watched the brown birds disappear in
the big hemlock-tree.
This was quite as foolish a wish as the other, so Reddy trotted on and
decided to go down past the Smiling Pool. When he got there he found
it, as he expected, frozen over. But just where the Laughing Brook
joins it there was a little place where there was open water. Billy
Mink was on the ice at its edge, and just as Reddy got there Billy
dived in. A minute later he climbed out with a fish in his mouth.
"Give me a bite," begged Reddy.
"Catch your own fish," retorted Billy Mink. "I have to work hard
enough for what I get as it is."
Reddy was afraid to go out on the ice where Billy was, and so he sat
and watched him eat that fine fish. Then Billy dived into the water
again and disappeared. Reddy waited a long time, but Billy did not
return. "I wish I could dive," gulped Reddy, thinking of the fine
fish somewhere under the ice.
And this wish was quite as foolish as the other wishes.
CHAPTER XVI: Reddy Is Made Truly Happy
It's what you do for others,
Not what they do for you,
That makes you feel so happy
All through and through and through.
- Old Granny Fox.
Reddy Fox ran all the way home from the Big River just as fast as he
could go. In his mouth he carried the fish he had found and from
which he had taken just two bites. You remember he had had a battle
with himself over that fish, and now he was running away from himself.
That sounds funny, doesn't it? But it was true. Yes, Sir, Reddy Fox
was running away from himself. He was afraid that if he didn't get
home to Old Granny Fox with that fish very soon, he would eat every
last bit of it himself. So he was running his very hardest so as to
get there before this could happen. So really he was running away
from himself, from his selfish self.
Old Granny Fox was on the doorstep watching for him, and he saw just
how her hungry old eyes brightened when she saw him and what he had.
"I've brought you something to eat, Granny," he panted, as he laid
the fish at her feet. He was quite out of breath with running. "It
isn't much, but it is something. It is all I could find for you."
Granny looked at the fish and then she looked sharply at Reddy, and
into those keen yellow eyes of hers crept a soft, tender look, such a
look as you would never have believed they could have held.
"What have YOU had to eat?" asked Granny softly.
Reddy turned his head that Granny might not see his face. "Oh, I've
had something," said he, trying to speak lightly. It was true; he had
had two bites from that fish.
Now you know just how shrewd and smart and wise Granny Fox is. Reddy
didn't fool her just the least little bit. She took two small bites
from the fish.
"Now," said she, "we'll divide it," and she bit in two parts what
remained. In a twinkling she had gulped down the smallest part, for
you know she was very, very hungry. "That is your share," said she,
as she pushed what remained over to Reddy.
Reddy tried to refuse it. "I brought it all for you," said he.
"I know you did, Reddy," replied Granny, and it seemed to Reddy that
he never had known her voice to sound so gentle. "You brought it to me
when all you had had was the two little bites you had taken from it.
You can't fool me, Reddy Fox. There wasn't one good meal for either
of us in that fish, but there was enough to give us both a little hope
and keep us from starving. Now you mind what I say and eat your share."
Granny said this last very sternly.
Reddy looked at Granny, and then he bolted down that little piece of
fish without another word.
"That's better," said Granny. "We will feel better, both of us.
Now that I've something in my stomach, I feel two years younger.
Before you came, I didn't feel as if I should ever be able to go on
another hunt. If you hadn't brought something, I -- I'm afraid I
couldn't have lasted much longer. By another day you probably
wouldn't have had old Granny to think of. You may not know it, but
I know that you saved my life, Reddy. I had reached a point where I
just had to have a little food. You know there are times when a
very little food is of more good than a lot of food could be later.
This was one of those times."
Never in all his life had Reddy Fox felt so truly happy. He was
still hungry, -- very, very hungry. But he gave it no thought.
He had saved Granny Fox, good old Granny who had taught him all he knew.
And he knew that Granny knew how he had had to fight with himself to
do it. Reddy was happy through and through with the great happiness
that comes from having done something for some one else.
"It was nothing," he muttered.
"It was a very great deal," replied Granny. And then she changed the
subject. "How would you like to eat a dinner of Bowser the Hound's?"
CHAPTER XVII: Granny Fox Promises Reddy Bowser's Dinner
To give her children what each needs
To get the most from life he can,
To work and play and live his best,
Is wise Old Mother Nature's plan.
- Old Granny Fox.
Old Granny Fox asked Reddy how he would like to eat a dinner of Bowser
the Hound's, Reddy looked at her sharply to see if she were joking or
really meant what she said. Granny looked so sober and so much in
earnest that Reddy decided she couldn't be joking, even though it did
sound that way.
"I certainly would like it, Granny. Yes, indeed, I certainly would
like it," said he. "You -- you don't suppose he will give us one, do
Granny chuckled. "No, Reddy," said she. "Bowser isn't so generous
as all that, especially to Foxes. He isn't going to give us that
dinner; we are going to take it away from him. Yes, Sir, we just
naturally are going to take it away from, him."
Reddy didn't for the life of him see how it could be possible to
take a dinner away from Bowser the Hound. That seemed to him almost
as impossible as it was for him to climb or fly or dive. But he had
great faith in Granny's cleverness. He remembered how she had so
nearly caught Quacker the Duck. He knew that all the time he had
been away trying to find something for them to eat, old Granny Fox
had been doing more than just rest her tired old bones. He knew
that not for one single minute had her sharp wits been idle. He
knew that all that time she had been studying and studying to find
some way by which they could get something to eat. So great was his
faith in Granny just then that if she had told him she would get him
a slice of the moon he would have believed her.
"If you say we can take a dinner away from Bowser the Hound, I
suppose we can," said Reddy, "though I don't see how. But if we
can, let's do it right away. I'm hungry enough to dare almost
anything for the sake of something to put in my stomach. It is so
empty that little bit of fish we divided is shaking around as if it
were lost. Gracious, I could eat a million fish the size of that
one! Have you thought of Fanner Brown's hens, Granny?"
"Of course, Reddy! Of course! What a silly question!" replied Granny.
"We may have to come to them yet."
"I wish I was at them right now," interrupted Reddy with a sigh.
"But you know what I have told you," went on Granny. "The surest
way of getting into trouble is to steal hens. I'm not feeling quite
up to being chased by Bowser the Hound just now, and if we came
right home we would give away the secret of where we live and might
be smoked out, and that would be the end of us. Besides, those hens
will be hard to get this weather, because they will stay in their
house, and there is no way for us to get in there unless we walk
right in, in broad daylight, and that would never do. It will be a
great deal better to take Bowser's dinner away from him. In the
first place, if we are careful, no one but Bowser will know about it,
and as long as he is chained up, we will have nothing to worry about
from him. Besides, we will enjoy getting even with him for the
times he has spoiled our chances of catching a fat chicken and for
the way he has hunted us. Most decidedly it will be better and
safer to try for Bowser's dinner than to try for one of those hens."
"Just as you say, Granny; just as you say," returned Reddy. "You
know best. But how under the sun we can do it beats me."
"It is very simple," replied Granny, "very simple indeed. Most things
are simple enough when you find out how to do them. Neither of us
could do it alone, but together we can do it without the least bit
of risk. Listen."
Granny went close to Reddy and whispered to him, although there
wasn't a soul within hearing. A slow grin spread over Reddy's face
as he listened. When she had finished, he laughed right out.
"Granny, you are a wonder!" he exclaimed admiringly. "I never should
have thought of that. Of course we can do it. My, won't Bowser be
surprised! And how mad he'll be! Come on, let's he starting!"
All right," said Granny, and the two started towards Farmer Brown's.
CHAPTER XVIII: Why Bowser The Hound Didn't Eat His Dinner
The thing you've puzzled most about
Is simple once you've found it out.
- Old Granny Fox.
Bowser The Hound dearly loves to hunt just for the pleasure of the
chase. It isn't so much the desire to kill as it is the pleasure of
using that wonderful nose of his and the excitement of trying to
catch some one, especially Granny or Reddy Fox. Farmer Brown's boy
had put away his dreadful gun because he no longer wanted to kill
the little people of the Green Forest and the Green Meadows, but
rather to make them his friends. Bowser had missed the exciting
hunts he used to enjoy so much with Farmer Brown's boy. So Bowser
had formed the habit of slipping away alone for a hunt every once in
a while. When Farmer Brown's boy discovered this, he got a chain
and chained Bowser to his little house to keep him from running away
and hunting on the sly.
Of course Bowser wasn't kept chained all the time. Oh, my, no! When
his master was about, where he could keep an eye on Bowser, he would
let him go free. But whenever he was going away and didn't want to
take Bowser with him, he would chain Bowser up. Now Bowser always
had one good big meal a day. To be sure, he had scraps or a bone
now and then besides, but once a day he had one good big meal served
to him in a large tin pan. If he happened to be chained, it was
brought out to him. If not, it was given to him just outside the
Granny Fox knew all about this. Sly old Granny makes it her
business to know the affairs of other people around her because
there is no telling when such knowledge may be of use to her.
So Granny had watched Bowser the Hound when he and his master had no
idea at all that she was anywhere about, and she had found out his
ways, the usual hour for his dinner and just how far that chain
would allow him to go. It was such things which she had stored away
in that shrewd old head of hers that made her so sure she and Reddy
could take Bowser's dinner away from him. It was just about
Bowser's dinner-time when Granny and Reddy trotted across the
snow-covered fields and crept behind the barn until they could peep
around the corner. No one was in sight, not even Bowser, who was
inside his warm little house at the end of the long shed back of
Farmer Brown's house. Granny saw that he was chained and a sly grin
crept over her face.
"You stay right here and watch until his dinner is brought out to him,"
said she to Reddy. "As soon as whoever brings it has gone back to
the house you walk right out where Bowser will see you. At the
sight of you, he'll forget all about his dinner. Sit right down
where he can see you and stay there until you see that I have got
that dinner, or until you hear somebody coming, for you know Bowser
will make a great racket. Then slip around back of the barn and
join me back of that shed."
So Reddy sat down to watch, and Granny left him. By and by
Mrs. Brown came out of the house with a pan full of good things.
She put it down in front of Bowser's little house and called to him.
Then she turned and hurried back, for it was very cold. Bowser came
out of his little house, yawned and stretched lazily.
It was time for Reddy to do his part. Out he walked and sat down right
in front of Bowser and grinned at him. Bowser stared for a minute as
if he doubted his own eyes. Such impudence! Bowser growled. Then with
a yelp he sprang towards Reddy.
Now the chain that held him was long, but Reddy had taken care not
to get too near, and of course Bowser couldn't reach him. He tugged
with all his might and yelped and barked frantically, but Reddy just
sat there and grinned in the most provoking manner. It was great fun
to tease Bowser this way.
Meanwhile old Granny Fox had stolen out from around the corner of the
shed behind Bowser. Getting hold of the edge of the pan with her teeth
she pulled it back with her around the corner and out of sight. If she
made any noise, Bowser didn't hear it. He was making too much noise
himself and was too excited. Presently Reddy heard the sound of an
opening door. Mrs. Brown was coming to see what all the fuss was about.
Like a flash Reddy darted behind the barn, and all Mrs. Brown saw
was Bowser tugging at his chain as he whined and yelped excitedly.
"I guess he must have seen a stray cat or something," said Mrs. Brown
and went back in the house. Bowser continued to whine and tug at his
chain for a few minutes. Then he gave it up and, growling deep in his
throat, turned to eat his dinner. But there wasn't any dinner! It had
disappeared, pan and all! Bowser couldn't understand it at all.
Back of the shed Granny and Reddy Fox licked that pan clean; licked it
until it was polished. Then, with little sighs of satisfaction, and
every once in a while a chuckle, they trotted happily home.
CHAPTER XIX: Old Man Coyote Does A Little Thinking
Investigate and for yourself find out
Those things which most you want to know about.
- Old Granny Fox.
Never in all his life had Reddy Fox enjoyed a dinner more than that
one he and Granny had stolen from Bowser the Hound. Of course it
would have tasted delicious anyway, because they were so dreadfully
hungry, but to Reddy it tasted better still because it had been
intended for Bowser. Bowser has hunted Reddy so often that Reddy
has no love for him at all, and it tickled him almost to death to
think that they had taken his dinner from almost under his nose.
With that good dinner in their stomachs, Reddy and Granny Fox felt
so much better that the Great World no longer seemed such a cold and
cruel place. Funny how differently things look when your stomach is
full from the way those same things look when it is empty. Best of
all they knew they could play the same sharp trick again and steal
another dinner from Bowser if need be. It is a comforting feeling,
a very comforting feeling, to know for a certainty where you can get
another meal. It is a feeling that Granny and Reddy Fox and many
other little people of the Green Meadows and the Green Forest seldom
have in winter. As a rule, when they have eaten one meal, they
haven't the least idea where the next one is coming from. How would
you like to live that way?
The very next day Granny and Reddy went up to Farmer Brown's at
Bowser's dinner hour. But this time Farmer Brown's boy was at work
near the barn, and Bowser was not chained. Granny and Reddy stole
away as silently as they had come. On the day following they found
Bowser chained and stole another dinner from him; then they went
away laughing until their sides ached as they heard Bowser's whines
of surprise and disappointment when he discovered that his dinner
had vanished. They knew by the sound of his voice that he hadn't
the least idea what had become of that dinner.
Now there was some one else roaming over the snow-covered meadows
and through the Green Forest and the Old Pasture these days with a
stomach so lean and empty that he couldn't think of anything else.
It was Old Man Coyote. You know he is very clever, is Old Man
Coyote, and he managed to find enough food of one kind and another
to keep him alive, but never enough to give him that comfortable
feeling of a full stomach. While he wasn't actually starving, he
was always hungry. So he spent all the time when he wasn't sleeping
in hunting for something to eat.
Of course he often ran across the tracks of Granny and Reddy Fox,
and once in a while he would meet them. It struck Old Man Coyote
that they didn't seem as thin as he was. That set him to thinking.
Neither of them was a smarter hunter than he. In fact, he prided
himself on being smarter than either of them. Yet when he met them,
they seemed to be in the best of spirits and not at all worried
because food was so scarce. Why? There must be a reason. They must
be getting food of which he knew nothing.
"I'll just keep an eye on them," muttered Old Man Coyote.
So very slyly and cleverly Old Man Coyote followed Granny and Reddy
Fox, taking the greatest care that they should not suspect that he
was doing it. All one night he followed them through the Green
Forest and over the Green Meadows, and when at last he saw them go
home, appearing not at all worried because they had caught nothing,
he trotted off to his own home to do some more thinking.
"They are getting food somewhere, that is sure," he muttered, as he
scratched first one ear and then the other. Somehow he could think
better when he was scratching his ears. "If they don't get it in
the night, and they certainly didn't get anything this night, they
must get it in the daytime. I've done considerable hunting myself
in the daytime, and I haven't once met them in the Green Forest or
seen them on the Green Meadows or up in the Old Pasture. I wonder
if they are stealing Farmer Brown's hens and haven't been found out
yet. I've kept away from there myself, but if they can steal hens
and not be caught, I certainly can. There never was a Fox yet smart
enough to do a thing that a Coyote cannot do if he tries. I think
I'll slip up where I can watch Farmer Brown's and see what is going
on up there. Yes, Sir, that's what I'll do."
With this, Old Man Coyote grinned and then curled himself up for a
short nap, for he was tired.
CHAPTER XXI: Granny And Reddy Talk Things Over.
You'll find as on through life you go
The thing you want may prove to be
The very thing you shouldn't have.
Then seeming loss is gain, you see.
- Old Granny Fox.
If ever two folks were mad away through, those two were Granny and
Reddy Fox as they watched Old Man Coyote gobble up the dinner they
had so cleverly stolen from Bowser the Hound. It was bad enough
to lose the dinner, but it was worse to see some one else eat it
after they had worked so hard to get it. "Robber!" snarled Granny.
Old Man Coyote stopped eating long enough to grin.
"Thief! Sneak! Coward!" snarled Reddy. Once more Old Man Coyote
grinned. When that dinner had disappeared down his throat to the last
and smallest crumb, he licked his chops and turned to Granny and
"I'm very much obliged for that dinner," said he pleasantly, his
eyes twinkling with mischief. "It was the best dinner I have had
for a long time. Allow me to say that that trick of yours was as
smart a trick as ever I have seen. It was quite worthy of a Coyote.
You are a very clever old lady, Granny Fox. Now I hear some one
coming, and I would suggest that it will be better for all concerned
if we are not seen about here."
He darted off behind the barn like a gray streak, and Granny and Reddy
followed, for it was true that some one was coming. You see Bowser the
Hound had discovered that something was going on around the corner of
the shed, and he made such a racket that Mrs. Brown had come out of
the house to see what it was all about. By the time she got around
there, all she saw was the empty pan which had held Bowser's dinner.
She was puzzled. How that pan could be where it was she couldn't
understand, and Bowser couldn't tell her, although he tried his very
best. She had been puzzled about that pan two or three times before.
Old Man Coyote lost no time in getting back home, for he never felt
easy near the home of man in broad daylight. Granny and Reddy Fox went
home too, and there was hate in their hearts, -- hate for Old Man
Coyote. But once they reached home, Old Granny Fox stopped growling,
and presently she began to chuckle.
"What are you laughing at?" demanded Reddy.
"At the way Old Man Coyote stole that dinner from us," replied Granny.
"I hate him! He's a sneaking robber!" snapped Reddy.
"Tut, tut, Reddy! Tut, tut!" retorted Granny. "Be fair-minded.
We stole that dinner from Bowser the Hound, and Old Man Coyote stole
it from us. I guess he is no worse than we are, when you come to
think it over. Now is he?"
"I -- I -- well, I don't suppose he is, when you put it that way, "
Reddy admitted grudgingly.
"And he was smart, very smart, to outwit two such clever people as we
are," continued Granny. "You will have to agree to that."
"Y-e-s," said Reddy slowly. "He was smart enough, but--"
"There isn't any but, Reddy," interrupted Granny. "You know the law
of the Green Meadows and the Green Forest. It is everybody for
himself, and anything belongs to one who has the wit or the strength
to take it. We had the wit to take that dinner from Bowser the
Hound, and Old Man Coyote had the wit to take it from us and the
strength to keep it. It was all fair enough, and you know there
isn't the least use in crying over spilled milk, as the saying is.
We simply have got to be smart enough not to let him fool us again.
I guess we won't get any more of Bowser's dinners for a while.
We've got to think of some other way of filling our stomachs when
the hunting is poor. I think if I could have just one of those fat
hens of Farmer Brown's, it would put new strength into my old bones.
All summer I warned you to keep away from that henyard, but the time
has come now when I think we might try for a couple of those hens."
Reddy pricked up his ears at the mention of fat hens. "I think so too,"
said he. "When shall we try for one?"
"To-morrow morning," replied Granny. "Now don't bother me while I
think out a plan."
CHAPTER XXII: Granny Fox Plans To Get A Fat Hen
Full half success for Fox or Man
Is won by working out a plan.
- Old Granny Fox.
Granny Fox knows this. No one knows it better. Whatever she does
is first carefully planned in her wise old head. So now after she
had decided that she and Reddy would try for one of Farmer Brown's
fat hens, she lay down to think out a plan to get that fat hen.
No one knew better than she how foolish it would be to go over to
that henyard and just trust to luck for a chance to catch one of
those biddies. Of course, they might be lucky and get a hen that
way, but then again they might be unlucky and get in a peck of trouble.
"You see," said she to Reddy, "we must not only plan how to get
that fat hen, but we must also plan how to get away with it safely.
If only there was some way of getting in that henhouse at night,
there would be no trouble at all. I don't suppose there is the
least chance of that."
"Not the least chance in the world," replied Reddy. "There isn't a
hole anywhere big enough for even Shadow the Weasel to get through,
and Farmer Brown's boy is very careful to lock the door every night."
"There's a little hole that the hens go in and out of during the day,
which is big enough for one of us to slip through, I believe," said
"Sure! But it's always closed at night," snapped Reddy. "Besides, to
get to that or the door either, you have got to get inside the henyard,
and there's a gate to that which we can't open."
"People are sometimes careless, -- even you, Reddy," said Granny.
Reddy squirmed uneasily, for he had been in trouble many times through
carelessness. "Well, what of it?" he demanded a wee bit crossly.
"Nothing much, only if that hen-yard gate should happen to be left
open, and if Farmer Brown's boy should happen to forget to close that
little hole that the hens go through, and if we happened to be around
at just that time --"
"Too many ifs to get a dinner with," interrupted Reddy.
"Perhaps," replied Granny mildly, "but I've noticed that it is the one
who has an eye open for all the little ifs in life that fares the best.
Now I've kept an eye on that henyard, and I've noticed that very
often Farmer Brown's boy doesn't close the henyard gate at night.
I suppose he thinks that if the henhouse door is locked, the gate
doesn't matter. Any one who is careless about one thing, is likely
to be careless about another. Sometime he may forget to close that
hole. I told you that we would try for one of those hens to-morrow
morning, but the more I think about it, the more I think it will be
wiser to visit that henhouse a few nights before we run the risk of
trying to catch a hen in broad daylight. In fact, I am pretty sure
I can make Farmer Brown's boy forget to close that gate."
"How?" demanded Reddy eagerly.
Granny grinned. "I'll try it first and tell you afterwards," said
she. "I believe Farmer Brown's boy closes the henhouse up just
before jolly, round, red Mr. Sun goes to bed behind the Purple
Hills, doesn't he?"
Reddy nodded. Many times from a safe hiding-place he had hungrily
watched Farmer Brown's boy shut the biddies up. It was always just
before the Black Shadows began to creep out from their hiding-places.
"I thought so," said Granny. The truth is, she KNEW so. There was
nothing about that henhouse and what went on there that Granny didn't
know quite as well as Reddy. "You stay right here this afternoon until
I return. I'll see what I can do."
"Let me go along," begged Reddy.
"No," replied Granny in such a decided tone that Reddy knew it would
be of no use to tease. "Sometimes two can do what one cannot do alone,
and sometimes one can do what two might spoil. Now we may as well
take a nap until it is time for Mr. Sun to go to bed. Just you
leave it to your old Granny to take care of the first of those ifs.
For the other one we'll have to trust to luck, but you know we are
With this Granny curled up for a nap, and having nothing better to do,
Reddy followed her example.
CHAPTER XXIII: Farmer Brown's Boy Forgets To Close The Gate
How easy 't is to just forget
Until, alas, it is too late.
The most methodical of folks
Sometimes forget to shut the gate.
- Old Granny Fox.
Farmer Brown's Boy is not usually the forgetful kind. He is pretty
good about not forgetting. But Farmer Brown's boy isn't perfect by
any means. He does forget sometimes, and he is careless sometimes.
He would be a funny kind of boy otherwise. But take it day in and
day out, he is pretty thoughtful and careful.
The care of the hens is one of Farmer Brown's boy's duties. It is one
of those duties which most of the time is a pleasure. He likes the
biddies, and he likes to take care of them. Every morning one of the
first things he does is to feed them and open the henhouse so that
they can run in the henyard if they want to. Every night he goes out
just before dark, collects the eggs and locks the henhouse so that no
harm can come to the biddies while they are asleep on their roosts.
After the big snowstorm he had shovelled a place in the henyard
where the hens could come out and exercise and get a sun-bath when
they wanted to, and in the very warmest part of the clay they would
do this. Always in the daytime he took the greatest care to see
that the henyard gate was fastened, for no one knew better than he
how bold Granny and Reddy Fox can be when they are very hungry, and
in winter they are very apt to be very hungry most of the time. So
he didn't intend to give them a chance to slip into that henyard
while the biddies were out, or to give the biddies a chance to stray
outside where they might be still more easily caught.
But at night he sometimes left that gate open, as Granny Fox had
found out. You see, he thought it didn't matter because the hens
were locked in their warm house and so were safe, anyway.
It was just at dusk of the afternoon of the day when Granny and Reddy
Fox had talked over a plan to get one of those fat hens that Farmer
Brown's boy collected the eggs and saw to it that the biddies had gone
to roost for the night. He had just started to close the little
sliding door across the hole through which the hens went in and out in
the daytime when Bowser the Hound began to make a great racket, as if
terribly excited about something.
Farmer Brown's boy gave the little sliding door a hasty push, picked
up his basket of eggs, locked the henhouse door and hurried out through
the gate without stopping to close it. You see, he was in a hurry
to find out what Bowser was making such a fuss about. Bowser was
yelping and whining and tugging at his chain, and it was plain to
see that he was terribly eager to be set free.
"What is it, Bowser, old boy? Did you see something?" asked Farmer
Brown's boy as he patted Bowser on the head. "I can't let you go,
you know, because you probably would go off hunting all night and
come home in the morning all tired out and with sore feet. Whatever
it was, I guess you've scared it out of a year's growth, old fellow,
so we'll let it go at that."
Bowser still tugged at his chain and whined, but after a little he
quieted down. His master looked around behind the barn to see if he
could see what had so stirred up Bowser, but nothing was to be seen,
and he returned, patted Bowser once more, and went into the house,
never once giving that open henyard gate another thought.
Half an hour later old Granny Fox joined Reddy Fox, who was waiting on
the doorstep of their home. "It is all right, Reddy; that gate is
open," said she.
"How did you do it, Granny?" asked Reddy eagerly.
"Easily enough," replied Granny. "I let Bowser get a glimpse of me
just as his master was locking up the henhouse. Bowser made a great
fuss, and of course, Farmer Brown's boy hurried out to see what it
was all about. He was in too much of a hurry to close that gate,
and afterwards he forgot all about it or else he thought it didn't
matter. Of course, I didn't let him get so much as a glimpse of
"Of course," said Reddy.
CHAPTER XXIV: A Midnight Visit
By those who win 't is well agreed
He'll try and try who would succeed.
- Old Granny Fox.
It seemed to Reddy Fox as if time never had dragged so slowly as it
did this particular night while he and Granny Fox waited until Granny
thought it safe to visit Farmer Brown's henhouse and see if by any
chance there was a way of getting into it. Reddy tried not to hope
too much. Granny had found a way to get the gate to the henyard
left open, but this would do them no good unless there was some way
of getting into the house, and this he very much doubted. But if
there was a way he wanted to know it, and he was impatient to start.
But Granny was in no hurry. Not that she wasn't just as hungry for a
fat hen as was Reddy, but she was too wise and clever and altogether
too sly to run any risks.
"There is nothing gained by being in too much of a hurry, Reddy,"
said she, "and often a great deal is lost in that way. A fat hen
will taste just as good a little later as it would now, and it will
be foolish to go up to Farmer Brown's until we are sure that everybody
up there is asleep. But to ease your mind, I'll tell you what we
will do; we'll go where we can see Farmer Brown's house and watch
until the last light winks out."
So they trotted to a point where they could see Farmer Brown's house,
and there they sat down to watch. It seemed to Reddy that those lights
never would wink out. But at last they did.
"Come on, Granny!" he cried, jumping to his feet.
"Not yet, Reddy. Not yet," replied Granny. "We've got to give folks
time to get sound asleep. If we should get into that henhouse,
those hens might make a racket, and if anything like that is going
to happen, we want to be sure that Farmer Brown and Farmer Brown's
boy are asleep."
This was sound advice, and Reddy knew it. So with a groan he once more
threw himself down on the snow to wait. At last Granny arose,
stretched, and looked up at the twinkling stars. "Come on," said she
and led the way.
Up back of the barn and around it they stole like two shadows and
quite as noiselessly as shadows. They heard Bowser the Hound
sighing in his sleep in his snug little house, and grinned at each
other. Silently they stole over to the henyard. The gate was open,
just as Granny had told Reddy it would be. Across the henyard they
trotted swiftly, straight to where more than once in the daytime
they had seen the hens come out of the house through a little hole.
It was closed. Reddy had expected it would be. Still, he was
dreadfully disappointed. He gave it merely a glance.
"I knew it wouldn't be any use," said he with a half whine.
But Granny paid no attention to him. She went close to the hole and
pushed gently against the little door that closed it. It didn't move.
Then she noticed that at one edge there was a tiny crack. She tried
to push her nose through, but the crack was too narrow. Then she
tried a paw. A claw caught on the edge of the door, and it moved
ever so little. Then Granny knew that the little door wasn't fastened.
Granny stretched herself flat on the ground and went to work, first
with one paw, then with the other. By and by she caught her claws
in it just right again, and it moved a wee bit more. No, most
certainly that door wasn't fastened, and that crack was a little wider.
"What are you wasting your time there for?" demanded Reddy crossly.
"We'd better be off hunting if we would have anything to eat this night."
Granny said nothing but kept on working. She had discovered that
this was a sliding door. Presently the crack was wide enough for
her to get her nose in. Then she pushed and twisted her head this
way and that. The little door slowly slid back, and when Reddy
turned to speak to her again, for he had had his back to her, she
was nowhere to be seen. Reddy just gaped and gaped foolishly.
There was no Granny Fox, but there was a black hole where she had
been working, and from it came the most delicious smell, -- the
smell of fat hens! It seemed to Reddy that his stomach fairly
flopped over with longing. He rubbed his eyes to be sure that he
was awake. Then in a twinkling he was inside that hole himself.
"Sh-h-h, be still!" whispered Old Granny Fox.
CHAPTER XXV: A Dinner For Two
Dark deeds are done in the stilly night,
And who shall say if they're wrong or right?
- Old Granny Fox.
It all depends on how you look at things. Of course, Granny and
Reddy Fox had no business to be in Farmer Brown's henhouse in the
middle of the night, or at any other time, for that matter. That is,
they had no business to be there, as Farmer Brown would look at the
matter. He would have called them two red thieves. Perhaps that is
just what they were. But looking at the matter as they did, I am
not so sure about it. To Granny and Reddy Fox those hens were
simply big, rather stupid birds, splendid eating if they could be
caught, and bound to be eaten by somebody. The fact that they were
in Farmer Brown's henhouse didn't make them his any more than the
fact that Mrs. Grouse was in a part of the Green Forest owned by
Farmer Brown made her his.
You see, among the little meadow and forest people there is no such
thing as property rights, excepting in the matter of storehouses,
and because these hens were alive, it didn't occur to Granny and
Reddy that the henhouse was a sort of storehouse. It would have
made no difference if it had. Among the little people it is
considered quite right to help yourself from another's storehouse if
you are smart enough to find it and really need the food.
Besides, Reddy and Granny knew that Fanner Brown and his boy would eat
some of those hens themselves, and they didn't begin to need them as
Reddy and Granny did. So as they looked at the matter, there was
nothing wrong in being in that henhouse in the middle of the night.
They were there simply because they needed food very, very much, and
food was there.
They stared up at the roosts where the biddies were huddled together,
fast asleep. They were too high up to be reached from the floor
even when Reddy and Granny stood on their hind legs and stretched as
far as they could.
"We've got to wake them up and scare them so that some of the silly
things will fly down where we can catch them," said Reddy, licking
his lips hungrily.
"That won't do at all!" snapped Granny. "They would make a great
racket and waken Bowser the Hound, and he would waken his master, and
that is just what we mustn't do if we hope to ever get in here again.
I thought you had more sense, Reddy."
Reddy looked a little shamefaced. "Well, if we don't do that, how are
we going to get them? We can't fly," he grumbled.
"You stay right here where you are," snapped Granny, "and take care
that you don't make a sound."
Then Granny jumped lightly to a little shelf that ran along in front
of the nesting boxes. From this she could reach the lower roost on
which four fat hens were asleep. Very gently she pushed her head in
between two of these and crowded them apart. Sleepily they protested
and moved along a little. Granny continued to crowd them. At last one
of them stretched out her head to see who was crowding so. Like a flash
Granny seized that head, and biddy never knew what had wakened her,
nor did she have a chance to waken the others.
Dropping this hen at Reddy's feet, Granny crowded another until she
did the same thing, and just the same thing happened once more. Then
Granny jumped lightly down, picked up one of the hens by the neck,
slung the body over her shoulder, and told Reddy to do the same with
the other and start for home.
"Aren't you going to get any more while we have the chance?" grumbled
"Enough is enough," retorted Granny. "We've got a dinner for two, and
so far no one is any the wiser. Perhaps these two won't be missed, and
we'll have a chance to get some more another night. Now come on."
This was plain common sense, and Reddy knew it, so without another
word he followed old Granny Fox out by the way they had entered, and
then home to the best dinner he had had for a long long time.
CHAPTER XXVI: Farmer Brown's Boy Sets A Trap
The trouble is that troubles are,
More frequently than not,
Brought on by naught but carelessness;
By some one who forgot.
- Old Granny Fox.
Granny Fox had hoped that those two hens she and Reddy had stolen
from Farmer Brown's henhouse would not be missed, but they were.
They were missed the very first thing the next morning when Farmer
Brown's boy went to feed the biddies. He discovered right away that
the little sliding door which should have closed the opening through
which the hens went in and out of the house was open, and then he
remembered that he had left the henyard gate open the night before.
Carefully Farmer Brown's boy examined the hole with the sliding door.
"Ha!" said he presently, and held up two red hairs which he had found
on the edge of the door. "Ha! I thought as much. I was careless last
night and didn't fasten this door, and I left the gate open. Reddy Fox
has been here, and now I know what has become of those two hens. I
suppose it serves me right for my carelessness, and I suppose if the
truth were known, those hens were of more real good to him than
they ever could have been to me, because the poor fellow must be
having pretty hard work to get a living these hard winter days. Still,
I can't have him stealing any more. That would never do at all. If I
shut them up every night and am not careless, he can't get them. But
accidents will happen, and I might do just as I did last night --
think I had locked up when I hadn't. I don't like to set a trap for
Reddy, but I must teach the rascal a lesson. If I don't, he will get
so bold that those chickens won't be safe even in broad daylight."
Now at just that very time over in their home, Granny and Reddy Fox
were talking over plans for the future, and shrewd old Granny was
pointing out to Reddy how necessary it was that they should keep
away from that henyard for some time. We've had a good dinner, a
splendid dinner, and if we are smart enough we may be able to get
more good dinners where this one came from," said she. "But we
certainly won't if we are too greedy."
"But I don't believe Farmer Brown's boy has missed those two chickens,
and I don't see any reason at all why we shouldn't go back there
to-night and get two more if he is stupid enough to leave that gate
and little door open," whined Reddy.
"Maybe he hasn't missed those two, but if we should take two more he
certainly would miss them, and he would guess what had become of
them, and that might get us into no end of trouble," snapped Granny.
"We are not starving now, and the best thing for us to do is to keep
away from that henhouse until we can't get anything to eat anywhere
else, Now you mind what I tell you, Reddy, and don't you dare go
Reddy promised, and so it came about that Farmer Brown's boy hunted
up a trap all for nothing so far as Reddy and Granny were concerned.
Very carefully he bound strips of cloth around the jaws of the trap,
for he couldn't bear to think of those cruel jaws cutting into the
leg of Reddy, should he happen to get caught. You see, Farmer
Brown's boy didn't intend to kill Reddy if he should catch him, but
to make him a prisoner for a while and so keep him out of mischief.
That night he hid the trap very cunningly just inside the henhouse
where any one creeping through that little hole made for the hens to
go in and out would be sure to step in it. Then he purposely left
the little sliding door open part way as if it had been forgotten,
and he also left the henyard gate open just as he had done the night
"There now, Master Reddy, " said he, talking to himself, "I rather
think that you are going to get into trouble before morning."
And doubtless Reddy would have done just that thing but for the wisdom
of sly old Granny.
CHAPTER XXVII: Prickly Porky Takes A Sun Bath
Danger comes when least expected;
'T is often near when not expected.
- Old Granny Fox.
The long hard winter had passed, and Spring had come. Prickly Porky
the Porcupine came down from a tall poplar-tree and slowly stretched
himself. He was tired of eating. He was tired of swinging in the
"I believe I'll have a sun-bath," said Prickly Porky, and lazily
walked toward the edge of the Green Forest in search of a place
where the sun lay warm and bright.
Now Prickly Porky's stomach was very, very full. He was fat and
naturally lazy, so when he came to the doorstep of an old house just
on the edge of the Green Forest he sat down to rest. It was sunny
and warm there, and the longer he sat the less like moving he felt.
He looked about him with his dull eyes and grunted to himself.
"It's a deserted house. Nobody lives here, and I guess nobody'll care
if I take a nap right here on the doorstep," said Prickly Porky to
himself. "And I don't care if they do," he added, for Prickly Porky
the Porcupine was afraid of nobody and nothing.
So Prickly Porky made himself as comfortable as possible, yawned
once or twice, tried to wink at jolly, round, red Mr. Sun, who was
winking and similing down at him and then fell fast asleep right on
the doorstep of the old house.
Now the old house had been deserted. No one had lived in it for a
long, long time, a very long time indeed. But it happened that,
the night before, old Granny Fox and Reddy Fox had had to move out
of their nice home on the edge of the Green Meadows because Farmer
Brown's boy had found it. Reddy was very stiff and sore, for he had
been shot by a hunter. He was so sore he could hardly walk, and
could not go very far. So old Granny Fox had led him to the old
deserted house and put him to bed in that.
"No one will think of looking for us here, for every one knows that
no one lives here," said old Granny Fox, as she made Reddy as
comfortable as possible.
As soon as it was daylight, Granny Fox slipped out to watch for Farmer
Brown's boy, for she felt sure that he would come back to the house
they had left, and sure enough he did. He brought a spade and dug the
house open, and all the time old Granny Fox was watching him from
behind a fence corner and laughing to think that she had been smart
enough to move in the night.
But Reddy Fox didn't know anything about this. He was so tired that he
slept and slept and slept. It was the middle of the morning when
finally he awoke. He yawned and stretched, and when he stretched he
groaned because he was so stiff and sore. Then he hobbled up toward
the doorway to see if old Granny Fox had left any breakfast outside
It was dark, very dark. Reddy was puzzled. Could it be that he had
gotten up before daylight -- that he hadn't slept as long as he thought?
Perhaps he had slept the whole day through, and it was night again.
My, how hungry he was!
"I hope Granny has caught a fine, fat chicken for me," thought Reddy,
and his mouth watered.
Just then he ran bump into something. "Wow!" screamed Reddy Fox, and
clapped both hands to his nose. Something was sticking into it. It was
one of the sharp little spears that Prickly Porky hides in his coat.
Reddy Fox knew then why the old house was so dark. Prickly Porky
was blocking up the doorway.
CHAPTER XXVIII: Prickly Porky Enjoys Himself
A boasting tongue, as sure as fate,
Will trip its owner soon or late.
- Old Granny Fox.
Prickly Porky the Porcupine was enjoying himself. There was no
doubt about that. He was stretched across the doorway of that old
house, the very house in which old Granny Fox had been born. When he
had lain down on the doorstep for a nap and sun-bath, he had thought
that the old house was still deserted. Then he had fallen asleep,
only to be wakened by Reddy Fox, who bad been asleep in the old
house and who couldn't get out because Prickly Porky was in the way.
Now Prickly Porky does not love Reddy Fox, and the more Reddy begged
and scolded and called him names, the more Prickly Porky chuckled.
It was such a good joke to think that he had trapped Reddy Fox, and
he made up his mind that he would keep Reddy in there a long time
just to tease him and make him uncomfortable. You see Prickly Porky
remembered how often Reddy Fox played mean tricks on little meadow
and forest folks who are smaller and weaker than himself.
"It will do him good. It certainly will do him good," said Prickly
Porky, and rattled the thousand little spears hidden in his long
coat, for he knew that the very sound of them would make Reddy Fox
shiver with fright.
Suddenly Prickly Porky pricked up his funny little short ears. He heard
the deep voice of Bowser the Hound, and it was coming nearer and nearer.
Prickly Porky chuckled again.
"I guess Mr. Bowser is going to have a surprise; I certainly think he
is," said Prickly Porky as he made all the thousand little spears
stand out from his long coat till he looked like a funny great
Bowser the Hound did have a surprise. He was hunting Reddy Fox, and
he almost ran into Prickly Porky before he saw him. The very sight
of those thousand little spears sent little cold chills chasing each
other down Bowser's backbone clear to the tip of his tail, for he
remembered how he had gotten some of them in his lips and mouth
once upon a time, and how it had hurt to have them pulled out.
Ever since then he had had the greatest respect for Prickly Porky.
"Wow!" yelped Bowser the Hound, stopping short. "I beg your pardon,
Prickly Porky, I beg your pardon, I didn't know you were taking a nap
All the time Bowser the Hound was backing away as fast as he could.
Then he turned around, put his tail between his legs and actually
Slowly Prickly Porky unrolled, and his little eyes twinkled as he
watched Bowser the Hound run away.
"Bowser's very big and strong;
His voice is deep; his legs are long;
His bark scares some almost to death.
But as for me he wastes his breath;
I just roll up and shake my spears
And Bowser is the one who fears."
So said Prickly Porky, and laughed aloud. Just then he heard a light
footstep and turned to see who was coming. It was old Granny Fox.
She had seen Bowser run away, and now she was anxious to find out if
Reddy Fox were safe.
"Good morning," said Granny Fox, taking care not to come too near.
"Good morning," replied Prickly Porky, hiding a smile.
"I'm very tired and would like to go inside my house; had you just as
soon move?" asked Granny Fox.
"Oh!" exclaimed Prickly Porky, "is this your house? I thought you
lived over on the Green Meadows."
"I did, but I've moved. Please let me in," replied Granny Fox.
"Certainly, certainly. Don't mind me, Granny Fox. Step right over
me," said Prickly Porky, and smiled once more, and at the same time
rattled his little spears.
Instead of stepping over him, Granny Fox backed away.
CHAPTER XXIX: The New Home In The Old Pasture
Who keeps a watch upon his toes
Need never fear he'll bump his nose.
- Old Granny Fox.
Now there is nothing like being shut in alone in the dark to make
one think. A voice inside of Reddy began to whisper to him. "If
you hadn't tried to be smart and show off you wouldn't have brought
all this trouble on yourself and Old Granny Fox," said the voice.
"I know it," replied Reddy right out loud, forgetting that it was
only a small voice inside of him.
"What do you know?" asked Prickly Porky. He was still keeping Reddy in
and Granny out and he had overheard what Reddy said.
"It is none of your business!" snapped Reddy.
Reddy could hear Prickly Porky chuckle. Then Prickly Porky repeated as
if to himself in a queer cracked voice the following:
"Rudeness never, never pays,
Nor is there gain in saucy ways.
It's always best to be polite
And ne'er give way to ugly spite.
If that's the way you feel inside
You'd better all such feelings hide;
For he must smile who hopes to win,
And he who loses best will grin."
Reddy pretended that he hadn't heard. Prickly Porky continued to
chuckle for a while and finally Reddy fell asleep. When he awoke it
was to find that Prickly Porky had left and old Granny Fox had
brought him something to eat.
Just as soon as Reddy Fox was able to travel he and Granny had moved
to the Old Pasture. The Old Pasture is very different from the
Green Meadows or the Green Forest. Yes, indeed, it is very, very
different. Reddy Fox thought so. And Reddy didn't like the change,
-- not a bit. All about were great rocks, and around and over them
grew bushes and young trees and bull-briars with long ugly thorns,
and blackberry and raspberry canes that seemed to have a million
little hooked hands, reaching to catch in and tear his red coat and
to scratch his face and hands. There were little open places where
wild-eyed young cattle fed on the short grass. They had made many
little paths all crisscross among the bushes, and when you tried to
follow one of these paths you never could tell where you were coming
No, Reddy Fox did not like the Old Pasture at all. There was no long,
soft green grass to lie down in. And it was lonesome up there.
He missed the little people of the Green Meadows and the Green Forest.
There was no one to bully and tease. And it was such a long, long
way from Farmer Brown's henyard that old Granny Fox wouldn't even
try to bring him a fat hen. At least, that's what she told Reddy.
The truth is, wise old Granny Fox knew that the very best thing she
could do was to stay away from Farmer Brown's for a long time. She
knew that Reddy couldn't go down there, because he was still too lame
and sore to travel such a long way, and she hoped that by the time
Reddy was well enough to go, he would have learned better than to do
such a foolish thing as to try to show off by stealing a chicken in
broad daylight, as he had when he brought all this trouble on them.
Down on the Green Meadows, the home of Granny and Reddy Fox had been
on a little knoll, which you know is a little low hill, right where
they could sit on their doorstep and look all over the Green Meadows.
It had been very, very beautiful down there. They had made lovely
little paths through the tall green meadow grass, and the buttercups
and daisies had grown close up to their very doorstep. But up here
in the Old Pasture Granny Fox had chosen the thickest clump of
bushes and young trees she could find, and in the middle was a great
pile of rocks. Way in among these rocks Granny Fox had dug their
new house. It was right down under the rocks. Even in the middle
of the day jolly, round, red Mr. Sun could hardly find it with a few
of his long, bright beams. All the rest of the time it was dark and
No, Reddy Fox didn't like his new home at all, but when he said so old
Granny Fox boxed his ears.
"It's your own fault that we've got to live here now," said
she. "It's the only place where we are safe. Farmer Brown's boy never
will find this home, and even if he did he couldn't dig into it as he
did into our old home on the Green Meadows. Here we are, and here
we've got to stay, all because a foolish little Fox thought himself
smarter than anybody else and tried to show off."
Reddy hung his head. "I don't care!" he said, which was very, very
foolish, because, you know, he did care a very great deal.
And here we will leave wise Old Granny Fox and Reddy, safe, even if
they do not like their new home. You see, Lightfoot the Deer is
getting jealous. He thinks there should be some books about the people
of the Green Forest, and that the first one should be about him. And
because we all love Lightfoot the Deer, the very next book is to bear
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