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The Adventures of Reddy Fox

By

Thornton W. Burgess

Web-Books.Com

The Adventures of Reddy Fox

I. Granny Fox Gives Reddy a Scare

Reddy Fox lived with Granny Fox. You see, Reddy was one of a large family, so

large that Mother Fox had hard work to feed so many hungry little mouths and so

she had let Reddy go to live with old Granny Fox. Granny Fox was the wisest,

slyest, smartest fox in all the country round, and now that Reddy had grown so

big, she thought it about time that he began to learn the things that every fox

should know. So every day she took him hunting with her and taught him all the

things that she had learned about hunting: about how to steal Farmer Brown's

chickens without awakening Bowser the Hound, and all about the thousand and

one ways of fooling a dog which she had learned.

This morning Granny Fox had taken Reddy across the Green Meadows, up

through the Green Forest, and over to the railroad track. Reddy had never been

there before and he didn't know just what to make of it. Granny trotted ahead

until they came to a long bridge. Then she stopped.

"Come here, Reddy, and look down," she commanded.

Reddy did as he was told, but a glance down made him giddy, so giddy that he

nearly fell. Granny Fox grinned.

"Come across," said she, and ran lightly across to the other side.

But Reddy Fox was afraid. Yes, Sir, he was afraid to take one step on the long

bridge. He was afraid that he would fall through into the water or onto the cruel

rocks below. Granny Fox ran back to where Reddy sat.

"For shame, Reddy Fox!" said she. "What are you afraid of? Just don't look down

and you will be safe enough. Now come along over with me."

But Reddy Fox hung back and begged to go home and whimpered. Suddenly

Granny Fox sprang to her feet, as if in great fright. "Bowser the Hound! Come,

Reddy, come!" she cried, and started across the bridge as fast as she could go.

Reddy didn't stop to look or to think. His one idea was to get away from Bowser

the Hound. "Wait, Granny! Wait!" he cried, and started after her as fast as he

could run. He was in the middle of the bridge before he remembered it at all.

When he was at last safely across, it was to find old Granny Fox sitting down

laughing at him. Then for the first time Reddy looked behind him to see where

Bowser the Hound might be. He was nowhere to be seen. Could he have fallen

off the bridge?

"Where is Bowser the Hound?" cried Reddy.

"Home in Farmer Brown's dooryard," replied Granny Fox dryly. Reddy stared at

her for a minute. Then he began to understand that Granny Fox had simply

scared him into running across the bridge. Reddy felt very cheap, very cheap

indeed. "Now we'll run back again," said Granny Fox. And this time Reddy did.

II. Granny Shows Reddy a Trick

Every day Granny Fox led Reddy Fox over to the long railroad bridge and made

him run back and forth across it until he had no fear of it whatever. At first it had

made him dizzy, but now he could run across at the top of his speed and not

mind it in the least. "I don't see what good it does to be able to run across a

bridge; anyone can do that!" exclaimed Reddy one day.

Granny Fox smiled. "Do you remember the first time you tried to do it?" she

asked.

Reddy hung his head. Of course he remembered--remembered that Granny had

had to scare him into crossing that first time.

Suddenly Granny Fox lifted her head. "Hark!" she exclaimed.

Reddy pricked up his sharp, pointed ears. Way off back, in the direction from

which they had come, they heard the baying of a dog. It wasn't the voice of

Bowser the Hound but of a younger dog. Granny listened for a few minutes. The

voice of the dog grew louder as it drew nearer.

"He certainly is following our track," said Granny Fox. "Now, Reddy, you run

across the bridge and watch from the top of the little hill over there. Perhaps I can

show you a trick that will teach you why I have made you learn to run across the

bridge."

Reddy trotted across the long bridge and up to the top of the hill, as Granny had

told him to. Then he sat down to watch. Granny trotted out in the middle of a field

and sat down. Pretty soon a young hound broke out of the bushes, his nose in

Granny's track. Then he looked up and saw her, and his voice grew still more

savage and eager. Granny Fox started to run as soon as she was sure that the

hound had seen her, but she did not run very fast. Reddy did not know what to

make of it, for Granny seemed simply to be playing with the hound and not really

trying to get away from him at all. Pretty soon Reddy heard another sound. It was

a long, low rumble. Then there was a distant whistle. It was a train.

Granny heard it, too. As she ran, she began to work back toward the long bridge.

The train was in sight now. Suddenly Granny Fox started across the bridge so

fast that she looked like a little red streak. The dog was close at her heels when

she started and he was so eager to catch her that he didn't see either the bridge

or the train. But he couldn't begin to run as fast as Granny Fox. Oh, my, no!

When she had reached the other side, he wasn't halfway across, and right

behind him, whistling for him to get out of the way, was the train.

The hound gave one frightened yelp, and then he did the only thing he could do;

he leaped down, down into the swift water below, and the last Reddy saw of him

he was frantically trying to swim ashore.

"Now you know why I wanted you to learn to cross a bridge; it's a very nice way

of getting rid of dogs," said Granny Fox, as she climbed up beside Reddy.

III. Bowser the Hound Isn't Fooled

Reddy Fox had been taught so much by Granny Fox that he began to feel very

wise and very important. Reddy is naturally smart and he had been very quick to

learn the tricks that old Granny Fox had taught him. But Reddy Fox is a boaster.

Every day he swaggered about on the Green Meadows and bragged how smart

he was. Blacky the Crow grew tired of Reddy's boasting.

"If you're so smart, what is the reason you always keep out of sight of Bowser the

Hound?" asked Blacky. "For my part, I don't believe that you are smart enough to

fool him."

A lot of little meadow people heard Blacky say this, and Reddy knew it. He also

knew that if he didn't prove Blacky in the wrong he would be laughed at forever

after. Suddenly he remembered the trick that Granny Fox had played on the

young hound at the railroad bridge. Why not play the same trick on Bowser and

invite Blacky the Crow to see him do it? He would.

"If you will be over at the railroad bridge when the train comes this afternoon, I'll

show you how easy it is to fool Bowser the Hound," said Reddy.

Blacky agreed to be there, and Reddy started off to find out where Bowser was.

Blacky told everyone he met how Reddy Fox had promised to fool Bowser

Blacky the Crow was on hand promptly that afternoon and with him came his

cousin, Sammy Jay. Presently they saw Reddy Fox hurrying across the fields,

and behind him in full cry came Bowser the Hound. Just as old Granny Fox had

done with the young hound, Reddy allowed Bowser to get very near him and

then, as the train came roaring along, he raced across the long bridge just ahead

of it. He had thought that Bowser would be so intent on catching him that he

would not notice the train until he was on the bridge and it was too late, as had

been the case with the young hound. Then Bowser would have to jump down into

the swift river or be run over. As soon as Reddy was across the bridge, he

jumped off the track and turned to see what would happen to Bowser the Hound.

The train was halfway across the bridge, but Bowser was nowhere to be seen.

He must have jumped already. Reddy sat down and grinned in the most self-satisfied way.

The long train roared past, and Reddy closed his eyes to shut out the dust and

smoke. When he opened them again, he looked right into the wide-open mouth

of Bowser the Hound, who was not ten feet away.

"Did you think you could fool me with that old trick?" roared Bowser.

Reddy didn't stop to make reply; he just started off at the top of his speed, a

badly frightened little fox.

You see, Bowser the Hound knew all about that trick and he had just waited until

the train had passed and then had run across the bridge right behind it.

And as Reddy Fox, out of breath and tired, ran to seek the aid of Granny Fox in

getting rid of Bowser the Hound, he heard a sound that made him grind his teeth.

"Haw, haw, haw! How smart we are!"

It was Blacky the Crow.

IV. Reddy Fox Grows Bold

Reddy Fox was growing bold. Everybody said so, and what everybody says must

be so. Reddy Fox had always been very sly and not bold at all. The truth is

Reddy Fox had so many times fooled Bowser the Hound and Farmer Brown's

boy that he had begun to think himself very smart indeed. He had really fooled

himself. Yes, Sir, Reddy Fox had fooled himself. He thought himself so smart that

nobody could fool him.

Now it is one of the worst habits in the world to think too much of one's self. And

Reddy Fox had the habit. Oh, my, yes! Reddy Fox certainly did have the habit!

When anyone mentioned Bowser the Hound, Reddy would turn up his nose and

say: "Pooh! It's the easiest thing in the world to fool him."

You see, he had forgotten all about the time Bowser had fooled him at the

railroad bridge.

Whenever Reddy saw Farmer Brown's boy he would say with the greatest scorn:

"Who's afraid of him? Not I!"

So as Reddy Fox thought more and more of his own smartness, he grew bolder

and bolder. Almost every night he visited Farmer Brown's henyard. Farmer

Brown set traps all around the yard, but Reddy always found them and kept out

of them. It got so that Unc' Billy Possum and Jimmy Skunk didn't dare go to the

henhouse for eggs any more, for fear that they would get into one of the traps set

for Reddy Fox. Of course they missed those fresh eggs and of course they

blamed Reddy Fox.

"Never mind," said Jimmy Skunk, scowling down on the Green Meadows where

Reddy Fox was taking a sun bath, "Farmer Brown's boy will get him yet! I hope

he does!" Jimmy said this a little spitefully and just as if he really meant it.

Now when people think that they are very, very smart, they like to show off. You

know it isn't any fun at all to feel smart unless others can see how smart you are.

So Reddy Fox, just to show off, grew very bold, very bold indeed. He actually

went up to Farmer Brown's henyard in broad daylight, and almost under the nose

of Bowser the Hound he caught the pet chicken of Farmer Brown's boy. 'Ol

Mistah Buzzard, sailing overhead high up in the blue, blue sky, saw Reddy Fox

and shook his bald head:

"Ah

see

Trouble

on

the

way;

Yes,

Ah

do!

Yes,

Ah

do!

Hope

it

ain't

a-gwine

to

stay;

Yes,

Ah

do!

Yes,

Ah

do!

Trouble

am

a

spry

ol'

man,

Bound

to

find

yo'

if

he

can;

If

he

finds

yo'

bound

to

stick.

When

Ah

sees

him,

Ah

runs

quick!

Yes, Ah do! Yes, Ah do!"

But Reddy Fox thought himself so smart that it seemed as if he really were

hunting for Ol' Mr. Trouble. And when he caught the pet chicken of Farmer

Brown's boy, Ol' Mr. Trouble was right at his heels.

V. Reddy Grows Careless

Ol' Mistah Buzzard was right. Trouble was right at the heels of Reddy Fox,

although Reddy wouldn't have believed it if he had been told. He had stolen that

plump pet chicken of Farmer Brown's boy for no reason under the sun but to

show off. He wanted everyone to know how bold he was. He thought himself so

smart that he could do just exactly what he pleased and no one could stop him.

He liked to strut around through the Green Forest and over the Green Meadows

and brag about what he had done and what he could do.

Now people who brag and boast and who like to show off are almost sure to

come to grief. And when they do, very few people are sorry for them. None of the

little meadow and forest people liked Reddy Fox, anyway, and they were getting

so tired of his boasting that they just ached to see him get into trouble. Yes, Sir,

they just ached to see Reddy get into trouble.

Peter Rabbit, happy-go-lucky Peter Rabbit, shook his head gravely when he

heard how Reddy had stolen that pet chicken of Farmer Brown's boy, and was

boasting about it to everyone.

"Reddy Fox is getting so puffed up that pretty soon he won't be able to see his

own feet," said Peter Rabbit.

"Well, what if he doesn't?" demanded Jimmy Skunk.

Peter looked at Jimmy in disgust:

"He

comes

to

grief,

however

fleet,

Who doesn't watch his flying feet.

"Jimmy Skunk, if you didn't have that little bag of scent that everybody is afraid

of, you would be a lot more careful where you step," replied Peter. "If Reddy

doesn't watch out, someday he'll step right into a trap.

Jimmy Skunk chuckled. "I wish he would!" said he.

Now when Farmer Brown's boy heard about the boldness of Reddy Fox, he shut

his mouth tight in a way that was unpleasant to see and reached for his gun. "I

can't afford to raise chickens to feed foxes!" said he. Then he whistled for Bowser

the Hound, and together they started out. It wasn't long before Bowser found

Reddy's tracks.

"Bow, wow, wow, wow!" roared Bowser the Hound.

Reddy Fox, taking a nap on the edge of the Green Forest, heard Bowser's big,

deep voice. He pricked up his ears, then he grinned. "I feel just like a good run

today," said he, and trotted off along the Crooked Little Path down the hill.

Now this was a beautiful summer day and Reddy knew that in summer men and

boys seldom hunt foxes. "It's only Bowser the Hound," thought Reddy, "and when

I've had a good run, I'll play a trick on him so that he will lose my track." So

Reddy didn't use his eyes as he should have done. You see, he thought himself

so smart that he had grown careless. Yes, Sir, Reddy Fox had grown careless.

He kept looking back to see where Bowser the Hound was, but didn't look around

to make sure that no other danger was near.

Ol' Mistah Buzzard, sailing round and round, way up in the blue, blue sky, could

see everything going on down below. He could see Reddy Fox running along the

edge of the Green Forest and every few minutes stopping to chuckle and listen to

Bowser the Hound trying to pick out the trail Reddy had made so hard to follow

by his twists and turns. And he saw something else, did Ol' Mistah Buzzard. It

looked to him very much like the barrel of a gun sticking out from behind an old

tree just ahead of Reddy.

"Ah reckon it's just like Ah said: Reddy Fox is gwine to meet trouble right smart

soon," muttered Ol' Mistah Buzzard.

VI. Drummer the Woodpecker Drums in Vain

Once upon a time, before he had grown to think himself so very, very smart,

Reddy Fox would never, never have thought of running without watching out in

every direction. He would have seen that thing that looked like the barrel of a gun

sticking out from behind the old tree toward which he was running, and he would

have been very suspicious, very suspicious indeed. But now all Reddy could

think of was what a splendid chance he had to show all the little meadow and

forest people what a bold, smart fellow he was.

So once more Reddy sat down and waited until Bowser the Hound was almost

up to him. Just then Drummer the Woodpecker began to make a tremendous

noise--rat-a-tat-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat-tat! Now everybody who heard

that rat-a-tat-tat-tat knew that it was a danger signal. Drummer the Woodpecker

never drums just that way for pleasure. But Reddy Fox paid no attention to it. He

didn't notice it at all. You see, he was so full of the idea of his own smartness that

he didn't have room for anything else.

"Stupid thing!" said Drummer the Woodpecker to himself. "I don't know what I am

trying to warn him for, anyway. The Green Meadows and the Green Forest would

be better off without him, a lot better off! Nobody likes him. He's a dreadful bully

and is all the time trying to catch or scare to death those who are smaller than

he. Still, he is so handsome!" Drummer cocked his head on one side and looked

over at Reddy Fox.

Reddy was laughing to see how hard Bowser the Hound was working to untangle

Reddy's mixed-up trail.

"Yes, Sir, he certainly is handsome," said Drummer once more.

Then he looked down at the foot of the old tree on which he was sitting, and what

he saw caused Drummer to make up his mind. "I surely would miss seeing that

beautiful red coat of his! I surely would!" he muttered. "If he doesn't hear and

heed now, it won't be my fault!" Then Drummer the Woodpecker began such a

furious rat-a-tat-tat-tat on the trunk of the old tree that it rang through the Green

Forest and out across the Green Meadows almost to the Purple Hills.

Down at the foot of the tree a freckled face on which there was a black scowl

looked up. It was the face of Farmer Brown's boy.

"What ails that pesky woodpecker?" he muttered. "If he doesn't keep still, he'll

scare that fox!"

He shook a fist at Drummer, but Drummer didn't appear to notice. He kept right

on, rat-a-tat-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat-tat!

VII. Too Late Reddy Fox Hears

Drummer the Woodpecker was pounding out his danger signal so fast and so

hard that his red head flew back and forth almost too fast to see. Rat-a-tat-tat-a-tat-tat, beat Drummer on the old tree trunk on the edge of the Green Forest.

When he stopped for breath, he looked down into the scowling face of Farmer

Brown's boy, who was hiding behind the old tree trunk.

Drummer didn't like the looks of that scowl, not a bit. And he didn't like the looks

of the gun which Farmer Brown's boy had. He knew that Farmer Brown's boy

was hiding there to shoot Reddy Fox, but Drummer was beginning to be afraid

that Farmer Brown's boy might guess what all that drumming meant--that it was a

warning to Reddy Fox. And if Farmer Brown's boy did guess that, why--why--

anyway, on the other side of the tree there was a better place to drum. So

Drummer the Woodpecker crept around to the other side of the tree and in a

minute was drumming harder than ever. Whenever he stopped for breath, he

looked out over the Green Meadows to see if Reddy Fox had heard his warning.

But if Reddy had heard, he hadn't heeded. Just to show off before all the little

meadow and forest people, Reddy had waited until Bowser the Hound had

almost reached him. Then, with a saucy flirt of his tail, Reddy Fox started to show

how fast he could run, and that is very fast indeed. It made Bowser the Hound

seem very slow, as, with his nose to the ground, he came racing after Reddy,

making a tremendous noise with his great voice.

Now Reddy Fox had grown as careless as he had grown bold. Instead of looking

sharply ahead, he looked this way and that way to see who was watching and

admiring him. So he took no note of where he was going and started straight for

the old tree trunk on which Drummer the Woodpecker was pounding out his

warning of danger.

Now Reddy Fox has sharp eyes and very quick ears. My, my, indeed he has! But

just now Reddy was as deaf as if he had cotton stuffed in his ears. He was

chuckling to himself to think how he was going to fool Bowser the Hound and

how smart everyone would think him, when all of a sudden, he heard the rat-a-tat-tata-tat-tat of Drummer the Woodpecker and knew that that meant "Danger!"

For just a wee little second it seemed to Reddy Fox that his heart stopped

beating. He couldn't stop running, for he had let Bowser the Hound get too close

for that. Reddy's sharp eyes saw Drummer the Woodpecker near the top of the

old tree trunk and noticed that Drummer seemed to be looking at something

down below. Reddy Fox gave one quick look at the foot of the old tree trunk and

saw a gun pointed at him and behind the gun the freckled face of Farmer Brown's

boy. Reddy Fox gave a little gasp of fright and turned so suddenly that he almost

fell flat. Then he began to run as never in his life had he run before. It seemed as

though his flying feet hardly touched the grass. His eyes were popping out with

fright as with every jump he tried to run just a wee bit faster.

Bang! Bang! Two flashes of fire and two puffs of smoke darted from behind the

old tree trunk. Drummer the Woodpecker gave a frightened scream and flew

deep into the Green Forest. Peter Rabbit flattened himself under a friendly

bramble bush. Johnny Chuck dived headfirst down his doorway.

Reddy Fox gave a yelp, a shrill little yelp of pain, and suddenly began to go lame.

But Farmer Brown's boy didn't know that. He thought he had missed and he

growled to himself:

"I'll get that fox yet for stealing my pet chicken!"

VIII. Granny Fox Takes Care of Reddy

Reddy Fox was so sore and lame that he could hardly hobble. He had had the

hardest kind of work to get far enough ahead of Bowser the Hound to mix his trail

up so that Bowser couldn't follow it. Then he had limped home, big tears running

down his nose, although he tried hard not to cry. "Oh! Oh! Oh!" moaned Reddy

Fox, as he crept in at the doorway of his home.

"What's the matter now?" snapped old Granny Fox, who had just waked up from

a sun nap.

"I--I've got hurt," said Reddy Fox, and began to cry harder. Granny Fox looked at

Reddy sharply. "What have you been doing now--tearing your clothes on a

barbed-wire fence or trying to crawl through a bull-briar thicket? I should think

you were big enough by this time to look out for yourself!" said Granny Fox

crossly, as she came over to look at Reddy's hurts.

"Please don't scold, please don't, Granny Fox," begged Reddy, who was

beginning to feel sick to his stomach as well as lame, and to smart dreadfully.

Granny Fox took one look at Reddy's wounds, and knew right away what had

happened. She made Reddy stretch himself out at full length and then she went

to work on him, washing his wounds with the greatest care and binding them up.

She was very gentle, was old Granny Fox, as she touched the sore places, but

all the time she was at work her tongue flew, and that wasn't gentle at all. Oh,

my, no! There was nothing gentle about that!

You see, old Granny Fox is wise and very, very sharp and shrewd. Just as soon

as she saw Reddy's hurts, she knew that they were made by shot from a gun,

and that meant that Reddy Fox had been careless or he never, never would have

been where he was in danger of being shot.

"I hope this will teach you a lesson!" said Granny Fox. "What are your eyes and

your ears and your nose for? To keep you out of just such trouble as this.

"A

little

Fox

must

use

his

eyes

Or get someday a sad surprise.

"A

little

Fox

must

use

his

ears

And know what makes each sound he hears.

"A

little

Fox

must

use

his

nose

And try the wind where'er he goes.

"A

little

Fox

must

use

all

three

To live to grow as old as me.

"Now tell me all about it, Reddy Fox. This is summer and men don't hunt foxes

now. I don't see how it happens that Farmer Brown's boy was waiting for you with

a gun.

So Reddy Fox told Granny Fox all about how he had run too near the old tree

trunk behind which Farmer Brown's boy had been hiding, but Reddy didn't tell

how he had been trying to show off, or how in broad daylight he had stolen the

pet chicken of Farmer Brown's boy. You may be sure he was very careful not to

mention that.

And so old Granny Fox puckered up her brows and thought and thought, trying to

find some good reason why Farmer Brown's boy should have been hunting in the

summertime.

"Caw, caw, caw!" shouted Blacky the Crow.

The face of Granny Fox cleared. "Blacky the Crow has been stealing, and

Farmer Brown's boy was out after him when Reddy came along," said Granny

Fox, talking out loud to herself.

Reddy Fox grew very red in the face, but he never said a word.

IX. Peter Rabbit Hears the News

Johnny Chuck came running up to the edge of the Old Briarpatch quite out of

breath. You see, he is so round and fat and roly-poly that to run makes him puff

and blow. Johnny Chuck's eyes danced with excitement as he peered into the

Old Briar-patch, trying to see Peter Rabbit.

"Peter! Peter Rabbit! Oh, Peter!" he called. No one answered. Johnny Chuck

looked disappointed. It was the middle of the morning, and he had thought that

Peter would surely be at home then. He would try once more. "Oh, you Peter

Rabbit!" he shouted in such a high-pitched voice that it was almost a squeal.

"What you want?" asked a sleepy voice from the middle of the Old Briar-patch.

Johnny Chuck's face lighted up. "Come out here, Peter, where I can look at you,"

cried Johnny.

"Go away, Johnny Chuck! I'm sleepy," said Peter Rabbit, and his voice sounded

just a wee bit cross, for Peter had been out all night, a habit which Peter has.

"I've got some news for you, Peter," called Johnny Chuck eagerly.

"How do you know it's news to me?" asked Peter, and Johnny noticed that his

voice wasn't quite so cross.

"I'm almost sure it is, for I've just heard it myself, and I've hurried right down here

to tell you because I think you'll want to know it," replied Johnny Chuck.

"Pooh!" said Peter Rabbit, "it's probably as old as the hills to me. You folks who

go to bed with the sun don't hear the news until it's old. What is it?"

"It's about Reddy Fox," began Johnny Chuck, but Peter Rabbit interrupted him.

"Shucks, Johnny Chuck! You are slow! Why, it was all over Green Meadows last

night how Reddy Fox had been shot by Farmer Brown's boy!" jeered Peter

Rabbit. "That's no news. And here you've waked me up to tell me something I

knew before you went to bed last night! Serves Reddy Fox right. Hope he'll be

lame for a week," added Peter Rabbit.

"He can't walk at all!" cried Johnny Chuck in triumph, sure now that Peter Rabbit

hadn't heard the news.

"What's that?" demanded Peter, and Johnny Chuck could hear him begin to hop

along one of his little private paths in the heart of the Old Briar-patch. He knew

now that Peter Rabbit's curiosity was aroused, and he smiled to himself.

In a few minutes Peter thrust a sleepy-looking face out from the Old Briar-patch

and grinned rather sheepishly. "What was that you were saying about Reddy

Fox?" he asked again.

"I've a good mind not to tell you, Mr. Know-it-all," exclaimed Johnny Chuck.

"Oh, please, Johnny Chuck," pleaded Peter Rabbit.

Finally Johnny gave in. "I said that Reddy Fox can't walk. Aren't you glad, Peter?"

"How do you know?" asked Peter, for Peter is very suspicious of Reddy Fox, and

has to watch out for his tricks all the time.

"Jimmy Skunk told me. He was up by Reddy's house early this morning and saw

Reddy try to walk. He tried and tried and couldn't. You won't have to watch out

for Reddy Fox for some time, Peter. Serves him right, doesn't it?''

"Let's go up and see if it really is true!" said Peter suddenly.

"All right," said Johnny Chuck, and off they started.

X. Poor Reddy Fox

Peter Rabbit and Johnny Chuck stole up the hill toward the home of Reddy Fox.

As they drew near, they crept from one bunch of grass to another and from bush

to bush, stopping behind each to look and listen. They were not taking any

chances. Johnny Chuck was not much afraid of Reddy Fox, for he had whipped

him once, but he was afraid of old Granny Fox. Peter Rabbit was afraid of both.

The nearer he got to the home of Reddy Fox, the more anxious and nervous he

grew. You see, Reddy Fox had played so many tricks to try and catch Peter that

Peter was not quite sure that this was not another trick. So he kept a sharp watch

in every direction, ready to run at the least sign of danger.

When they had tiptoed and crawled to a point where they could see the doorstep

of the Fox home, Peter Rabbit and Johnny Chuck lay down in a clump of bushes

and watched. Pretty soon they saw old Granny Fox come out. She sniffed the

wind and then she started off at a quick run down the Lone Little Path. Johnny

Chuck gave a sigh of relief, for he wasn't afraid of Reddy and now he felt safe.

But Peter Rabbit was just as watchful as ever.

"I've got to see Reddy for myself before I'll go a step nearer, he whispered. Just

then Johnny Chuck put a hand on his lips and pointed with the other hand. There

was Reddy Fox crawling out of his doorway into the sun. Peter Rabbit leaned

forward to see better. Was Reddy Fox really so badly hurt, or was he only

pretending?

Reddy Fox crawled painfully out onto his doorstep. He tried to stand and walk,

but he couldn't because he was too stiff and sore. So he just crawled. He didn't

know that anyone was watching him, and with every movement he made a face.

That was because it hurt so.

Peter Rabbit, watching from the clump of bushes, knew then that Reddy was not

pretending. He knew that he had nothing, not the least little thing, to fear from

Reddy Fox. So Peter gave a whoop of joy and sprang out into view.

Reddy looked up and tried to grin, but made a face of pain instead. You see, it

hurt so to move.

"I suppose you're tickled to death to see me like this," he growled to Peter Rabbit.

Now Peter had every reason to be glad, for Reddy Fox had tried his best to catch

Peter Rabbit to give to old Granny Fox for her dinner, and time and again Peter

had just barely escaped. So at first Peter Rabbit had whooped with joy. But as he

saw how very helpless Reddy really was and how much pain he felt, suddenly

Peter Rabbit's big, soft eyes filled with tears of pity.

He forgot all about the threats of Reddy Fox and how Reddy had tried to trick

him. He forgot all about how mean Reddy had been.

"Poor Reddy Fox," said Peter Rabbit. "Poor Reddy Fox."

XI. Granny Fox Returns

Up over the hill trotted old Granny Fox. She was on her way home with a tender

young chicken for Reddy Fox. Poor Reddy! Of course, it was his own fault, for he

had been showing off and he had been careless or he never would have gone so

near to the old tree trunk behind which Farmer Brown's boy was hiding.

But old Granny Fox didn't know this. She never makes such mistakes herself.

Oh, my, no! So now, as she came up over the hill to a place where she could see

her home, she laid the chicken down and then she crept behind a little bush and

looked all over the Green Meadows to see if the way was clear. She knew that

Bowser the Hound was chained up. She had seen Farmer Brown and Farmer

Brown's boy hoeing in the cornfield, so she had nothing to fear from them.

Looking over to her doorstep, she saw Reddy Fox lying in the sun, and then she

saw something else, something that made her eyes flash and her teeth come

together with a snap. It was Peter Rabbit sitting up very straight, not ten feet from

Reddy Fox.

"So that's that young scamp of a Peter Rabbit whom Reddy was going to catch

for me when I was sick and couldn't! I'll just show Reddy Fox how easily it can be

done, and he shall have tender young rabbit with his chicken!" said Granny Fox

to herself.

So first she studied and studied every clump of grass and every bush behind

which she could creep. She saw that she could get almost to where Peter Rabbit

was sitting and never once show herself to him. Then she looked this way and

looked that way to make sure that no one was watching her.

No one did she see on the Green Meadows who was looking her way. Then

Granny Fox began to crawl from one clump of grass to another and from bush to

bush. Sometimes she wriggled along flat on her stomach. Little by little she was

drawing nearer and nearer to Peter Rabbit.

Now with all her smartness old Granny Fox had forgotten one thing. Yes, Sir, she

had forgotten one thing. Never once had she thought to look up in the sky.

And there was Ol' Mistah Buzzard sailing round and round and looking down and

seeing all that was going on below.

Ol' Mistah Buzzard is sharp. He knew just what old Granny Fox was planning to

do--knew it as well as if he had read her thoughts. His eyes twinkled.

"Ah cert'nly can't allow li'l' Brer Rabbit to be hurt, Ah cert'nly can't!" muttered Ol'

Mistah Buzzard, and chuckled.

Then he slanted his broad wings downward and without a sound slid down out of

the sky till he was right behind Granny Fox.

"Do yo' always crawl home, Granny Fox?" asked Ol' Mistah Buzzard.

Granny Fox was so startled, for she hadn't heard a sound, that she jumped

almost out of her skin. Of course Peter Rabbit saw her then, and was off like a

shot.

Granny Fox showed all her teeth. "I wish you would mind your own business,

Mistah Buzzard!" she snarled.

"Cert'nly, cert'nly, Ah sho'ly will!" replied Ol' Mistah Buzzard, and sailed up into

the blue, blue sky.

XII. The Lost Chicken

When old Granny Fox had laid down the chicken she was bringing home to

Reddy Fox to try to catch Peter Rabbit, she had meant to go right back and get it

as soon as she had caught Peter. Now she saw Peter going across the Green

Meadows, lipperty-lipperty-lip, as fast as he could go. She was so angry that she

hopped up and down. She tore up the grass and ground her long, white teeth.

She glared up at Ol' Mistah Buzzard, who had warned Peter Rabbit, but all she

could do was to scold, and that didn't do her much good, for in a few minutes Ol'

Mistah Buzzard was so far up in the blue, blue sky that he couldn't hear a word

she was saying. My, my, but old Granny Fox certainly was angry! If she hadn't

been so angry she might have seen Johnny Chuck lying as flat as he could make

himself behind a big clump of grass.

Johnny Chuck was scared. Yes, indeed, Johnny Chuck was dreadfully scared.

He had fought Reddy Fox and whipped him, but he knew that old Granny Fox

would be too much for him. So it was with great relief that Johnny Chuck saw her

stop tearing up the grass and trot over to see how Reddy Fox was getting along.

Then Johnny Chuck crept along until he was far enough away to run. How he did

run! He was so fat and roly-poly that he was all out of breath when he reached

home, and so tired that he just dropped down on his doorstep and panted.

"Serves me right for having so much curiosity," said Johnny Chuck to himself.

Reddy Fox looked up as old Granny Fox came hurrying home. He was weak and

very, very hungry. But he felt sure that old Granny Fox would bring him

something nice for his breakfast, and as soon as he heard her footsteps his

mouth began to water.

"Did you bring me something nice, Granny?" asked Reddy Fox.

Now old Granny Fox had been so put out by the scare she had had and by her

failure to catch Peter Rabbit that she had forgotten all about the chicken she had

left up on the hill. When Reddy spoke, she remembered it, and the thought of

having to go way back after it didn't improve her temper a bit.

"No!" she snapped. "I haven't!--You don't deserve any breakfast anyway. If you

had any gumption"--that's the word Granny Fox used, gumption--"if you had any

gumption at all, you wouldn't have gotten in trouble, and could get your own

breakfast."

Reddy Fox didn't know what gumption meant, but he did know that he was very,

very hungry, and do what he would, he couldn't keep back a couple of big tears

of disappointment. Granny Fox saw them.

"There, there, Reddy! Don't cry. I've got a fine fat chicken for you up on the hill,

and I'll run back and get it," said Granny Fox.

So off she started up the hill to the place where she had left the chicken when

she started to try to catch Peter Rabbit. When she got there, there wasn't any

chicken. No, Sir, there was no chicken at all--just a few feathers. Granny Fox

could hardly believe her own eyes. She looked this way and she looked that way,

but there was no chicken, just a few feathers. Old Granny Fox flew into a greater

rage than before.

XIII. Granny Fox Calls Jimmy Skunk Names

Granny Fox couldn't believe her own eyes. No, Sir, she couldn't believe her own

eyes, and she rubbed them two or three times to make sure that she was seeing

right. That chicken certainly had disappeared, and left no trace of where it had

gone.

It was very queer. Old Granny Fox sat down to think who would dare steal

anything from her. Then she walked in a big circle with her nose to the ground,

sniffing and sniffing. What was she doing that for? Why, to see if she could find

the tracks of anyone who might have stolen her chicken.

"Aha!" exclaimed old Granny Fox, starting to run along the top of the hill, her

nose to the ground. "Aha! I'll catch him this time!"

In a few minutes she began to run more slowly, and every two or three steps she

would look ahead. Suddenly her eyes snapped, and she began to creep almost

flat on her stomach, just as she had crept for Peter Rabbit. But it wasn't Peter

Rabbit this time. It was--who do you think? Jimmy Skunk! Yes, Sir, it was Jimmy

Skunk. He was slowly ambling along, for Jimmy Skunk never hurries. Every big

stick or stone that he could move, he would pull over or look under, for Jimmy

Skunk was hunting for beetles.

Old Granny Fox watched him. "He must have a tremendous appetite to be

hunting for beetles after eating my chicken!" muttered she. Then she jumped out

in front of Jimmy Skunk, her eyes snapping, her teeth showing, and the hair on

her back standing on end so as to make her look very fierce. But all the time old

Granny Fox took the greatest care not to get too near to Jimmy Skunk.

"Where's my chicken?" snarled old Granny Fox, and she looked very, very fierce.

Jimmy Skunk looked up as if very much surprised. "Hello, Granny Fox!" he

exclaimed. "Have you lost a chicken?"

"You've stolen it! You're a thief, Jimmy Skunk!" snapped Granny Fox.

"Words

can

never

make

black

white;

Before you speak be sure you're right,"

said Jimmy Skunk. "I'm not a thief."

"You are!" cried Granny working herself into a great rage.

"I'm not!"

"You are!"

All the time Jimmy Skunk was chuckling to himself, and the more he chuckled the

angrier grew old Granny Fox. And all the time Jimmy Skunk kept moving toward

old Granny Fox and Granny Fox kept backing away, for, like all the other little

meadow and forest people, she has very great respect for Jimmy Skunk's little

bag of scent.

Now, backing off that way, she couldn't see where she was going, and the first

thing she knew she had backed into a bramble bush. It tore her skirts and

scratched her legs. "Ooch!" cried old Granny Fox.

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Jimmy Skunk. "That's what you get for calling me names.

XIV. Granny Fox Finds What Became of the Chicken

Old Granny Fox was in a terrible temper. Dear, dear, it certainly was a dreadful

temper! Jimmy Skunk laughed at her, and that made it worse. When he saw this,

Jimmy Skunk just rolled over and over on the ground and shouted, he was so

tickled. Of course, it wasn't the least bit nice of Jimmy Skunk, but you know that

Granny Fox had been calling Jimmy a thief. Then Jimmy doesn't like Granny Fox

anyway, nor do any of the other little meadow and forest people, for most of them

are very much afraid of her.

When old Granny Fox finally got out of the bramble bush, she didn't stop to say

anything more to Jimmy Skunk, but hurried away, muttering and grumbling and

grinding her teeth. Old Granny Fox wasn't pleasant to meet just then, and when

Bobby Coon saw her coming, he just thought it best to get out of her way, so he

climbed a tree.

It wasn't that Bobby Coon was afraid of old Granny Fox. Bless you, no! Bobby

Coon isn't a bit afraid of her. It was because he had a full stomach and was

feeling too good-natured and lazy to quarrel.

"Good morning, Granny Fox. I hope you are feeling well this morning," said

Bobby Coon, as old Granny Fox came trotting under the tree he was sitting in.

Granny Fox looked up and glared at him with yellow eyes.

"It isn't a good morning and I'm not feeling fine!" she snapped.

"My goodness, how you have torn your skirts!" exclaimed Bobby Coon.

Old Granny Fox started to say something unpleasant. Then she changed her

mind and instead she sat down and told Bobby Coon all her troubles. As she

talked, Bobby Coon kept ducking his head behind a branch of the tree to hide a

smile. Finally Granny Fox noticed it.

"What do you keep ducking your head for, Bobby Coon?" she asked

suspiciously.

"I'm just looking to see if I can see any feathers from that chicken," replied Bobby

Coon gravely, though his eyes were twinkling with mischief.

"Well, do you?" demanded old Granny Fox.

And just then Bobby Coon did. They were not on the ground, however, but

floating in the air. Bobby Coon leaned out to see where they came from, and

Granny Fox turned to look, too. What do you think they saw? Why, sitting on a

tall, dead tree was Mr. Goshawk, just then swallowing the last of Granny's

chicken.

"Thief! thief! robber! robber!" shrieked old Granny Fox.

But Mr. Goshawk said nothing, just winked at Bobby Coon, puffed out his

feathers, and settled himself for a comfortable nap.

XV. Reddy Fox Has a Visitor

Hardly was old Granny Fox out of sight on her way to hunt for the chicken she

had left on the hill, when Unc' Billy Possum came strolling along the Lone Little

Path. He was humming to himself, for he had just had a good breakfast. One of

the Merry Little Breezes spied him and hurried to meet him and tell him about

how Reddy Fox had been shot.

Unc' Billy listened, and the grin with which he had greeted the Merry Little Breeze

grew into a broad smile.

"Are yo' all sure about that?" he asked.

The Merry Little Breeze was sure.

Unc' Billy Possum stopped for a few minutes and considered.

"Serves that no 'count Reddy Fox right," chuckled Unc' Billy. "He done spoil mah

hunting at Farmer Brown's, he raised such a fuss among the hens up there.

'Tisn't safe to go there any mo'! No, Suh, 'tisn't safe, and it won't be safe for a

right smart while. Did yo' say that Granny Fox is home?"

The Merry Little Breeze hadn't said anything about Granny Fox, but now

remembered that she had gone up the hill.

"Ah believe Ah will just tote my sympathy over to Reddy Fox," said Unc' Billy

Possum, as he started in the direction of Reddy Fox's house. But he made sure

that old Granny Fox was not at home before he showed himself. Reddy Fox lay

on his doorstep. He was sick and sore and stiff. Indeed, he was so stiff he

couldn't walk at all. And he was weak--weak and hungry, dreadfully hungry.

When he heard footsteps, he thought old Granny Fox was bringing him the

chicken after which she had gone. He felt too ill even to turn his head.

"Did you get the chicken, Granny?" he asked weakly. No one answered. "I say,

did you get the chicken, Granny?" Reddy's voice sounded a little sharp and cross

as he asked this time.

Still there was no reply, and Reddy began to be a little bit suspicious. He turned

over and raised his head to look. Instead of old Granny Fox, there was Unc' Billy

Possum grinning at him.

"Smarty,

Smarty

is

a

thief!

Smarty,

Smarty

came

to

grief!

Tried

to

show

off

just

for

fun

And ran too near a loaded gun.

"Yo' all certainly has got just what yo' deserve, and Ah'm glad of it! Ah'm glad of

it, Suh!" said Unc' Billy Possum severely.

An angry light came into the eyes of Reddy Fox and made them an ugly yellow

for just a minute. But he felt too sick to quarrel. Unc' Billy Possum saw this. He

saw how Reddy was really suffering, and down deep in his heart Unc' Billy was

truly sorry for him. But he didn't let Reddy know it. No, indeed! He just pretended

to be tickled to death to see Reddy Fox so helpless. He didn't dare stay long, for

fear Granny Fox would return. So, after saying a few more things to make Reddy

feel uncomfortable, Unc' Billy started off up the Lone Little Path toward the Green

Forest.

"Too bad! Too bad!" he muttered to himself. "If ol' Granny Fox isn't smart enough

to get Reddy enough to eat, Ah'll have to see what we-alls can do. Ah cert'nly

will."

XVI. Unc' Billy Possum Visits the Smiling Pool

Joe Otter and Billy Mink were sitting on the Big Rock in the Smiling Pool.

Because they had nothing else to do, they were planning mischief. Jerry Muskrat

was busy filling his new house with food for the winter. He was too busy to get

into mischief.

Suddenly Billy Mink put a finger on his lips as a warning to Little Joe Otter to

keep perfectly still. Billy's sharp eyes had seen something moving over in the

bulrushes. Together he and Little Joe Otter watched, ready to dive into the

Smiling Pool at the first sign of danger. In a few minutes the rushes parted and a

sharp little old face peered out. Little Joe Otter and Billy Mink each sighed with

relief, and their eyes began to dance. "Hi, Unc' Billy Possum!" shouted Billy Mink.

A grin crept over the sharp little old face peering out from the bulrushes.

"Hi, yo'self!" he shouted, for it really was Unc' Billy Possum.

"What are you doing over here?" called Little Joe Otter.

"Just a-looking round," replied Unc' Billy Possum, his eyes twinkling.

"Have you heard about Reddy Fox?" shouted Billy Mink.

"Ah done jes' come from his home," replied Unc' Billy Possum.

"How is he?" asked Little Joe Otter.

"Po'ly, he sho'ly is po'ly," replied Unc' Billy Possum, shaking his head soberly.

Then Unc' Billy told Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter how Reddy Fox was so stiff

and sore and sick that he couldn't get anything to eat for himself, and how old

Granny Fox had lost a chicken which she had caught for him.

"Serves him right!" exclaimed Billy Mink, who has never forgotten how Reddy

Fox fooled him and caught the most fish once upon a time.

Unc' Billy nodded his head. "Yo' are right. Yo' cert'nly are right. Yes, Suh, Ah

reckons yo' are right. Was yo' ever hungry, Billy Mink--real hungry?" asked Unc'

Billy Possum.

Billy Mink thought of the time when he went without his dinner because Mr. Night

Heron had gobbled it up, when Billy had left it in a temper. He nodded his head.

"Ah was just a-wondering," continued Une' Billy Possum, "how it would seem to

be right smart powerful hungry and not be able to hunt fo' anything to eat."

For a few minutes no one said a word. Then Billy Mink stood up and stretched.

"Good-by," said Billy Mink.

"Where are you going so suddenly?" demanded Little Joe Otter.

"I'm going to catch a fish and take it up to Reddy Fox, if you must know!"

snapped Billy Mink.

"Good!" cried Little Joe Otter. "You needn't think that you can have all the fun to

yourself either, Billy Mink. I'm going with you."

There was a splash in the Smiling Pool, and Unc' Billy Possum was left looking

out on nothing but the Smiling Pool and the Big Rock. He smiled to himself as he

turned away. "Ah reckon Ah'll sho' have to do my share, too," said he.

And so it happened that when old Granny Fox finally reached home with nothing

but a little wood mouse for Reddy, she found him taking a nap, his stomach as

full as it could be. And just a little way off were two fish tails and the feathers of a

little duck.

XVII. Farmer Brown's Boy Is Determined

Farmer Brown's boy had made up his mind. When he shut his teeth with a click

and drew his lips together into a thin, straight line, those who knew him were sure

that Farmer Brown's boy had made up his mind. That is just what he had done

now. He was cleaning his gun, and as he worked he was thinking of his pet

chicken and of all the other chickens that Reddy Fox had taken.

"I'm going to get that fox if it takes all summer!" exclaimed Farmer Brown's boy. "I

ought to have gotten him the other day when I had a shot at him. Next time well,

we'll see, Mr. Fox, what will happen next time."

Now someone heard Farmer Brown's boy, heard everything he said, though

Farmer Brown's boy didn't know it. It was Unc' Billy Possum, who was hiding in

the very pile of wood on which Farmer Brown's boy was sitting. Unc' Billy pricked

up his ears.

He didn't like the tone of voice in which Farmer Brown's boy spoke. He thought of

Reddy Fox still so stiff and sore and lame that he could hardly walk, al from the

shot which Farmer Brown's boy thought had missed.

"There isn't gwine to be any next time. No, Suh, there isn't gwine to be any next

time. Ah sho'ly doan love Reddy Fox, but Ah can't nohow let him be shot again.

Ah cert'nly can't!" muttered Unc' Billy Possum to himself.

Of course, Farmer Brown's boy didn't hear him. He didn't hear him and he didn't

see him when Unc' Billy Possum crept out of the back side of the woodpile and

scurried under the henhouse. He was too intent on his plan to catch Reddy Fox.

"I'm just going to hunt over the Green Meadows and through the Green Forest

until I get that fox!" said Farmer Brown's boy, and as he said it he looked very

fierce, as if he really meant it. "I'm not going to have my chickens stolen any

more! No, Sir-e-e! That fox has got a home somewhere on the Green Meadows

or in the Green Forest, and I'm going to find it. Then watch out, Mr. Fox!"

Farmer Brown's boy whistled for Bowser the Hound and started for the Green

Forest.

Unc' Billy Possum poked his sharp little old face out from under the henhouse

and watched them go. Usually Unc' Billy is grinning, but now there wasn't any

grin, not the least sign of one. Instead Unc' Billy Possum looked worried.

"There goes that boy with a gun, and nobody knows what'll happen when it goes

off. If he can't find Reddy Fox, just as likely as not he'll point it at somebody else

just fo' fun. Ah hope he doan meet up with mah ol' woman or any of mah li'l'

pickaninnies. Ah'm plumb afraid of a boy with a gun, Ah am. 'Pears like he doan

have any sense. Ah reckon Ah better be moving along right smart and tell mah

family to stay right close in the ol' hollow tree," muttered Unc' Billy Possum,

slipping out from his hiding place. Then Unc' Billy began to run as fast as he

could toward the Green Forest.

XVIII. The Hunt for Reddy Fox

"Trouble,

trouble,

trouble,