The Adventures of Reddy Fox by Thornton W. Burgess - HTML preview

PLEASE NOTE: This is an HTML preview only and some elements such as links or page numbers may be incorrect.
Download the book in PDF, ePub, Kindle for a complete version.

I

feel

it

in

the

air;

Trouble, trouble, trouble, it's round me everywhere."

Old Granny Fox muttered this over and over, as she kept walking around

uneasily and sniffing the air.

"I don't see any trouble and I don't feel any trouble in the air. It's all in the sore

places where I was shot," said Reddy Fox, who was stretched out on the

doorstep of their home.

"That's because you haven't got any sense. When you do get some and learn to

look where you are going, you won't get shot from behind old tree trunks and you

will be able to feel trouble when it is near, without waiting for it to show itself. Now

I feel trouble. You go down into the house and stay there!" Granny Fox stopped

to test the air with her nose, just as she had been testing it for the last ten

minutes.

"I don't want to go in," whined Reddy Fox. "It's nice and warm out here, and I feel

a lot better than when I am curled up way down there in the dark."

Old Granny Fox turned, and her eyes blazed as she looked at Reddy Fox. She

didn't say a word. She didn't have to. Reddy just crawled into his house,

muttering to himself. Granny stuck her head in at the door.

"Don't you come out until I come back," she ordered. Then she added: "Farmer

Brown's boy is coming with his gun."

Reddy Fox shivered when he heard that. He didn't believe Granny Fox. He

thought she was saying that just to scare him and make him stay inside. But he

shivered just the same. You see, he knew now what it meant to be shot, for he

was still too stiff and sore to run, all because he had gone too near Farmer

Brown's boy and his gun.

But old Granny Fox had not been fooling when she told Reddy Fox that Farmer

Brown's boy was coming with a gun. It was true. He was coming down the Lone

Little Path, and ahead of him was trotting Bowser the Hound. How did old Granny

Fox know it? She just felt it! She didn't hear them, she didn't see them, and she

didn't smell them; she just felt that they were coming. So as soon as she saw that

Reddy Fox had obeyed her, she was off like a little red flash.

"It won't do to let them find our home," said Granny to herself, as she

disappeared in the Green Forest.

First she hurried to a little point on the hill where she could look down the Lone

Little Path. Just as she expected, she saw Farmer Brown's boy, and ahead of

him, sniffing at every bush and all along the Lone Little Path, was Bowser the

Hound. Old Granny Fox waited to see no more. She ran as fast as she could in a

big circle which brought her out on the Lone Little Path below Farmer Brown's

boy and Bowser the Hound, but where they couldn't see her, because of a turn in

the Lone Little Path. She trotted down the Lone Little Path a very little way and

then turned into the woods and hurried back up the hill, where she sat down and

waited. In a few minutes she heard Bowser's great voice. He had smelled her

track in the Lone Little Path and was following it. Old Granny Fox grinned. You

see, she was planning to lead them far, far away from the home where Reddy

Fox was hiding, for it would not do to have them find it.

And Farmer Brown's boy also grinned, as he heard the voice of Bowser the

Hound.

"I'll hunt that fox until I get him," he said. You see, he didn't know anything about

old Granny Fox; he thought Bowser was following Reddy Fox.

XIX Unc' Billy Possum Gives Warning

"What's the matter with you, Unc' Billy? You look as if you had lost your last

friend." It was Jimmy Skunk who spoke.

Unc' Billy Possum stopped short. He had been hurrying so fast that he hadn't

seen Jimmy Skunk at all.

"Matter enuff, Suh! Matter enuff!" said Unc' Billy Possum, when he could get his

breath. "Do you hear that noise?"

"Sure, I hear that noise. That's only Bowser the Hound chasing old Granny Fox.

When she gets tired she'll lose him," replied Jimmy Skunk. "What are you

worrying about Bowser the Hound for?"

"Bowser the Hound will have to be smarter than he is now befo' he can worry me,

Ah reckon," said Unc' Billy Possum scornfully. "It isn't Bowser the Hound; it's

Farmer Brown's boy and his gun!" Then Unc' Billy told Jimmy Skunk how he had

been hiding in the woodpile at Farmer Brown's and had heard Farmer Brown's

boy say that he was going to hunt over the Green Meadows and through the

Green Forest until he got Reddy Fox.

"What of it?" asked Jimmy Skunk. "If he gets Reddy Fox, so much the better.

Reddy always did make trouble for other people. I don't see what you're worrying

about Reddy Fox for. He's big enough to take care of himself."

"Yo' cert'nly are plumb slow in your wits this morning, Jimmy Skunk, yo' cert'nly

are plumb slow! Supposing yo' should meet up with Farmer Brown's boy with that

gun in his hands and supposing he had grown tired of watching fo' Reddy Fox.

That gun might go off, Jimmy Skunk; it might go off when it was pointing right

straight at yo'!" said Unc' Billy Possum.

Jimmy Skunk looked serious. "That's so, Unc' Billy, that's so!" he said. "Boys with

guns do get dreadfully careless, dreadfully careless. They don't seem to think

anything about the feelings of those likely to get hurt when the gun goes off.

What was you thinking of doing, Unc' Billy?"

"Just passing the word along so everybody in the Green Meadows and in the

Green Forest will keep out of the way of Farmer Brown's boy," replied Unc' Billy

Possum.

"Good idea, Unc' Billy! I'll help you," said Jimmy Skunk.

So Unc' Billy Possum went one way, and Jimmy Skunk went another way. And

everyone they told hurried to tell someone else. Happy Jack Squirrel told

Chatterer the Red Squirrel; Chatterer told Striped Chipmunk, and Striped

Chipmunk told Danny Meadow Mouse. Danny Meadow Mouse told Johnny

Chuck; Johnny Chuck told Peter Rabbit; Peter Rabbit told Jumper the Hare;

Jumper the Hare told Prickly Porky; Prickly Porky told Bobby Coon; Bobby Coon

told Billy Mink; Billy Mink told Little Joe Otter; Little Joe Otter told Jerry Muskrat,

and Jerry Muskrat told Grandfather Frog. And everybody hastened to hide from

Farmer Brown's boy and his terrible gun.

By and by Farmer Brown's boy noticed how still it was in the Green Forest.

Nowhere did he see or hear a bird. Nowhere could he catch a glimpse of

anybody who wore fur.

"That fox must have scared away all the other animals and driven away all the

birds. I'll get him! See if I don't!" muttered Farmer Brown's boy, and never once

guessed that they were hiding from him.

XX. Old Granny Fox Makes a Mistake

Old Granny Fox was running through the overgrown old pasture, way up back of

Farmer Brown's. She was cross and tired and hot, for it was a very warm day.

Behind her came Bowser the Hound, his nose in Granny s tracks, and making a

great noise with his big voice. Granny Fox was cross because she was tired. She

hadn't done much running lately. She didn't mind running when the weather was

cold, but now--"Oh dear, it is hot!" sighed old Granny Fox, as she stopped a

minute to rest.

Now old Granny Fox is very, very smart and very, very wise. She knows all the

tricks with which foxes fool those who try to catch them. She knew that she could

fool Bowser the Hound and puzzle him so that he wouldn't be able to follow her

track at all. But she wasn't ready to do that yet. No, indeed! Old Granny Fox was

taking great care to see that her tracks were easy to follow. She wanted Bowser

the Hound to follow them, although it made her tired and hot and cross. Why did

she? Well, you see, she was trying to lead him, and with him Farmer Brown's

boy, far, far away from the home where Reddy Fox was nursing the wounds that

he had received when Farmer Brown's boy had shot at him a few days before.

"Bow, wow, wow!" roared Bowser the Hound, following every twist and turn which

Granny Fox made, just as she wanted him to. Back and forth across the old

pasture and way up among the rocks on the edge of the mountain Granny Fox

led Bowser the Hound. It was a long, long, long way from the Green Meadows

and the Green Forest. Granny Fox had made it a long way purposely. She was

willing to be tired herself if she could also tire Bowser the Hound and Farmer

Brown's boy. She wanted to tire them so that when she finally puzzled and fooled

them and left them there, they would be too tired to go back to the Green

Meadows.

By and by Granny Fox came to a hole in the ground, an old house that had once

belonged to her grandfather. Now this old house had a back door hidden close

beside the hollow trunk of a fallen tree. Old Granny Fox just ran through the

house, out the back door, through the hollow tree, and then jumped into a little

brook where there was hardly more than enough water to wet her feet. Walking

in the water, she left no scent in her tracks.

Bowser the Hound came roaring up to the front door of the old house. Granny's

tracks led right inside, and Bowser grew so excited that he made a tremendous

noise. At last he had found where Granny Fox lived; at least he thought he had.

He was sure that she was inside, for there were her fresh tracks going inside and

none coming out. Bowser the Hound never once thought of looking for a back

door. If he had, he wouldn't have been any the wiser, because, you know, old

Granny Fox had slipped away through the hollow tree trunk.

Granny Fox grinned as she listened to the terrible fuss Bowser was making.

Then, when she had rested a little, she stole up on the hill where she could look

down and see the entrance to the old deserted house. She watched Bowser

digging and barking.After a while a worried look crept into the face of old Granny

Fox.

"Where's Farmer Brown's boy? I thought surely he would follow Bowser the

Hound," she muttered.

XXI. Reddy Fox Disobeys

When old Granny Fox had sent Reddy Fox into the house and told him to stay

there until she returned home, he had not wanted to mind, but he knew that

Granny Fox meant just what she said, and so he had crawled slowly down the

long hall to the bedroom, way underground.

Pretty soon Reddy Fox heard a voice. It was very faint, for you know Reddy was

in his bedroom way underground, but he knew it. He pricked up his ears and

listened. It was the voice of Bowser the Hound, and Reddy knew by the sound

that Bowser was chasing Granny Fox.

Reddy grinned. He wasn't at all worried about Granny Fox, not the least little bit.

He knew how smart she was and that whenever she wanted to, she could get rid

of Bowser the Hound. Then a sudden thought popped into Reddy's head, and he

grew sober.

"Granny did feel trouble coming, just as she said," he thought.

Then Reddy Fox curled himself up and tried to sleep. He intended to mind and

not put his little black nose outside until old Granny Fox returned. But somehow

Reddy couldn't get to sleep. His bedroom was small, and he was so stiff and sore

that he could not get comfortable. He twisted and turned and fidgeted. The more

he fidgeted, the more uncomfortable he grew. He thought of the warm sunshine

outside and how comfortable he would be, stretched out full length on the

doorstep. It would take the soreness out of his legs. Something must have

happened to Granny to keep her so long. If she had known that she was going to

be gone such a long time, she wouldn't have told him to stay until she came

back, thought Reddy.

By and by Reddy Fox crept a little way up the long, dark hall. He could just see

the sunlight on the doorstep. Pretty soon he went a little bit nearer. He wasn't

going to disobey old Granny Fox. Oh, no! No, indeed! She had told him to stay in

the house until she returned. She hadn't said that he couldn't look out! Reddy

crawled a little nearer to the open door and the sunlight.

"Granny Fox is getting old and timid. Just as if my eyes aren't as sharp as hers!

I'd like to see Farmer Brown's boy get near me when I am really on the watch,"

said Reddy Fox to himself. And then he crept a little nearer to the open door.

How bright and warm and pleasant it did look outside! Reddy just knew that he

would feel ever and ever so much better if he could stretch out on the doorstep.

He could hear Jenny Wren fussing and scolding at someone or something, and

he wondered what it could be. He crept just a wee bit nearer. He could hear

Bowser's voice, but it was so faint that he had to prick up his sharp little ears and

listen with all his might to hear it at all.

"Granny's led them way off on the mountain. Good old Granny!" thought Reddy

Fox. Then he crawled right up to the very doorway. He could still hear Jenny

Wren scolding and fussing.

"What does ail her?

"If

it's

hot

or

if

it's

cold,

Jenny

Wren

will

always

scold.

From

morn

till

night

the

whole

day

long

Her limber tongue is going strong.

"I'm going to find out what it means," said Reddy, talking to himself.

Reddy Fox poked his head out and--looked straight into the freckled face of

Farmer Brown's boy and the muzzle of that dreadful gun!

XXII. Ol' Mistah Buzzard's Keen Sight

Old Granny Fox had thought that when she fooled Bowser the Hound up in the

old pasture on the edge of the mountain she could take her time going home.

She was tired and hot, and she had planned to pick out the shadiest paths going

back. She had thought that Farmer Brown's boy would soon join Bowser the

Hound, when Bowser made such a fuss about having found the old house into

which Granny Fox had run.

But Farmer Brown's boy had not yet appeared, and Granny Fox was getting

worried. Could it be that he had not followed Bowser the Hound, after all? Granny

Fox went out on a high point and looked, but she could see nothing of Farmer

Brown's boy and his gun. Just then Ol' Mistah Buzzard came sailing down out of

the blue, blue sky and settled himself on a tall, dead tree. Now Granny Fox hadn't

forgotten how Ol' Mistah Buzzard had warned Peter Rabbit just as she was about

to pounce on him, but she suddenly thought that Ol' Mistah Buzzard might be of

use to her.

So old Granny Fox smoothed out her skirts and walked over to the foot of the

tree where Ol' Mistah Buzzard sat.

"How do you do today, neighbor Buzzard?" inquired Granny Fox, smiling up at

Ol' Mistah Buzzard.

"Ah'm so as to be up and about, thank yo'," replied Ol' Mistah Buzzard, spreading

his wings out so that air could blow under them.

"My!" exclaimed old Granny Fox, "what splendid great wings you have, Mistah

Buzzard! It must be grand to be able to fly. I suppose you can see a great deal

from way up there in the blue, blue sky, Mistah Buzzard."

Ol' Mistah Buzzard felt flattered. "Yes," said he, "Ah can see all that's going on on

the Green Meadows and in the Green Forest."

"Oh, Mistah Buzzard, you don't really mean that!" exclaimed old Granny Fox, just

as if she wanted to believe it, but couldn't.

"Yes, Ah can!" replied Ol' Mistah Buzzard.

"Really, Mistah Buzzard? Really? Oh, I can't believe that your eyes are so sharp

as all that! Now I know where Bowser the Hound is and where Farmer Brown's

boy is, but I don't believe you can see them," said Granny Fox.

Ol' Mistah Buzzard never said a word but spread his broad wings and in a few

minutes he had sailed up, up, up until he looked like just a tiny speck to old

Granny Fox. Now old Granny Fox had not told the truth when she said she knew

where Farmer Brown's boy was. She thought she would trick Ol' Mistah Buzzard

into telling her.

In a few minutes down came Ol' Mistah Buzzard. "Bowser the Hound is up in the

old back pasture," said he.

"Right!" cried old Granny Fox, clapping her hands. "And where is Farmer Brown's

boy?"

"Farmer Brown's boy is. . ." Ol' Mistah Buzzard paused.

"Where? Where?" asked Granny Fox, so eagerly that Ol' Mistah Buzzard looked

at her sharply.

"Yo' said you knew, so what's the use of telling yo'?" said Ol' Mistah Buzzard.

Then he added: "But if Ah was yo', Ah cert'nly would get home right smart soon."

"Why? Do, do tell me what you saw, Mistah Buzzard!" begged Granny Fox.

But Ol' Mistah Buzzard wouldn't say another word, so old Granny Fox started for

home as fast as she could run.

"Oh dear, I do hope Reddy Fox minded me and stayed in the house," she

muttered.

XXIII Granny Fox Has a Terrible Scare

Old Granny Fox felt her heart sink way down to her toes, for she felt sure Ol'

Mistah Buzzard had seen Farmer Brown's boy and his gun over near the house

where Reddy Fox was nursing his wounds, or he wouldn't have advised her to

hurry home. She was already very tired and hot from the long run to lead Bowser

the Hound away from the Green Meadows. She had thought to walk home along

shady paths and cool off, but now she must run faster than ever, for she must

know if Farmer Brown's boy had found her house.

"It's lucky I told Reddy Fox to go inside and not come out till I returned; it's very

lucky I did that," thought Granny Fox as she ran. Presently she heard voices

singing. They seemed to be in the treetops over her head.

"Happily

we

dance

and

play

All

the

livelong

sunny

day!

Happily

we

run

and

race

And win or lose with smiling face!"

Granny Fox knew the voices, and she looked up. Just as she expected, she saw

the Merry Little Breezes of Old Mother West Wind playing among the leaves.

Just then one of them looked down and saw her.

"There's old Granny Fox! Just see how hot and tired she looks. Let's go down

and cool her off!" shouted the Merry Little Breeze.

In a flash they were all down out of the treetops and dancing around old Granny

Fox, cooling her off. Of course, Granny Fox kept right on running. She was too

worried not to. But the Merry Little Breezes kept right beside her, and it was not

nearly as hard running now as it had been.

"Have you seen Farmer Brown's boy?" panted Granny Fox.

"Oh, yes! We saw him just a little while ago over near your house, Granny Fox.

We pulled his hat off, just to hear him scold," shouted the Merry Little Breezes,

and then they tickled and laughed as if they had had a good time with Farmer

Brown's boy.

But old Granny Fox didn't laugh--oh, my, no, indeed! Her heart went lower still,

and she did her best to run faster. Pretty soon she came out on the top of the hill

where she could look, and then it seemed as if her heart came right up in her

mouth and stopped beating. Her eyes popped almost out of her head. There was

Farmer Brown's boy standing right in front of the door of her home. And while she

was watching, what should Reddy Fox do but stick his head out the door.

Old Granny Fox saw the gun of Farmer Brown's boy pointed right at Reddy and

she clapped both hands over her eyes to shut out the dreadful sight. Then she

waited for the bang of the gun. It didn't come. Then Granny peeped through her

fingers. Farmer Brown's boy was still there, but Reddy Fox had disappeared

inside the house.

Granny Fox sighed in relief. It had been a terrible scare, the worst she could

remember.

XXIV. Granny and Reddy Have To Move

"I don't want to move," whined Reddy Fox. "I'm too sore to walk."

Old Granny Fox gave him a shove. "You go along and do as I say!" she snapped.

"If you had minded me, we wouldn't have to move. It's all your own fault. The

wonder is that you weren't killed when you poked your head out right in front of

Farmer Brown's boy. Now that he knows where we live, he will give us no peace.

Move along lively now! This is the best home I have ever had, and now I've got to

leave it. Oh dear! Oh dear!"

Reddy Fox hobbled along up the long hall and out the front door. He was walking

on three legs, and at every step he made a face because, you know, it hurt so to

walk.

The little stars, looking down from the sky, saw Reddy Fox limp out the door of

the house he had lived in so long, and right behind him came old Granny Fox.

Granny sighed and wiped away a tear, as she said good-by to her old home.

Reddy Fox was thinking too much of his own troubles to notice how badly

Granny Fox was feeling. Every few steps he had to sit down and rest because it

hurt him so to walk.

"I don't see the use of moving tonight, anyway. It would be a lot easier and

pleasanter when the sun is shining. This night air makes me so stiff that I know I

never will get over it," grumbled Reddy Fox.

Old Granny Fox listened to him for a while, and then she lost patience. Yes, Sir,

Granny Fox lost patience. She boxed Reddy Fox first on one ear and then on the

other. Reddy began to snivel.

"Stop that!" said Granny Fox sharply. "Do you want all the neighbors to know that

we have got to move? They'll find it out soon enough. Now come along without

any more fuss. If you don't, I'll just go off and leave you to shift for yourself. Then

how will you get anything to eat?"

Reddy Fox wiped his eyes on his coat sleeve and hobbled along as best he

could. Granny Fox would run a little way ahead to see that the way was safe and

then come back for Reddy. Poor Reddy. He did his best not to complain, but it

was such hard work. And somehow Reddy Fox didn't believe that it was at all

necessary. He had been terribly frightened when he had disobeyed Granny Fox

that afternoon and put his head out the door, only to look right into the freckled

face of Farmer Brown's boy. He had ducked back out of sight again too quickly

for Farmer Brown's boy to shoot, and now he couldn't see why old Granny Fox

wanted to move that very night.

"She's getting old. She's getting old and timid and fussy," muttered Reddy Fox,

as he hobbled along behind her.

It seemed to Reddy as if they had walked miles and miles. He really thought that

they had been walking nearly all night when old Granny Fox stopped in front of

the worst-looking old fox house Reddy had ever seen.

"Here we are!" said she.

"What! Are we going to live in that thing?" cried Reddy. "It isn't fit for any

respectable fox to put his nose into."

"It is where I was born!" snapped old Granny Fox. "If you want to keep out of

harm's way, don't go to putting on airs now.

"Who

scorns

the

simple

things

of

life

And

tilts

his

nose

at

all

he

sees,

Is

almost

sure

to

feel

the

knife

Of want cut through his pleasant ease.

"Now don't let me hear another word from you, but get inside at once!"

Reddy Fox didn't quite understand all Granny Fox said, but he knew when she

was to be obeyed, and so he crawled gingerly through the broken-down

doorway.

XXV. Peter Rabbit Makes a Discovery

Hardly had jolly, round, red Mr. Sun thrown off his nightcap and come out from

his home behind the Purple Hills for his daily climb up in the blue, blue sky, when

Farmer Brown's boy started down the Lone Little Path through the Green Forest.

Peter Rabbit, who had been out all night and was just then on his way home, saw

him. Peter stopped and sat up to rub his eyes and look again. He wasn't quite

sure that he had seen aright the first time. But he had. There was Farmer

Brown's boy, sure enough, and at his heels trotted Bowser the Hound.

Peter Rabbit rubbed his eyes once more and wrinkled up his eyebrows. Farmer

Brown's boy certainly had a gun over one shoulder and a spade over the other.

Where could he be going down the Lone Little Path with a spade? Farmer

Brown's garden certainly was not in that direction. Peter watched him out of sight

and then he hurried down to the Green Meadows to tell Johnny Chuck what he

had seen. My, how Peter's long legs did fly! He was so excited that he had

forgotten how sleepy he had felt a few minutes before.

Halfway down to Johnny Chuck's house, Peter Rabbit almost ran plump into

Bobby Coon and Jimmy Skunk, who had been quarreling and were calling each

other names. They stopped when they saw Peter Rabbit.

"Peter

Rabbit

runs

away

From

his

shadder,

so

they

say.

Peter,

Peter,

what

a

sight!

Tell us why this sudden fright,"

shouted Bobby Coon.

Peter Rabbit stopped short. Indeed, he stopped so short that he almost turned a

somersault. "Say," he panted, "I've just seen Farmer Brown's boy."

"You don't say so!" said Jimmy Skunk, pretending to be very much surprised.

"You don't say so! Why, now I think of it, I believe I've seen Farmer Brown's boy

a few times myself."

Peter Rabbit made a good-natured face at Jimmy Skunk, and then he told all

about how he had seen Farmer Brown's boy with gun and spade and Bowser the

Hound going down the Lone Little Path. "You know there isn't any garden down

that way," he concluded.

Bobby Coon's face wore a sober look. Yes, Sir, all the fun was gone from Bobby

Coon's face.

"What's the matter?" asked Jimmy Skunk.

"I was just thinking that Reddy Fox lives over in that direction and he is so stiff

that he cannot run," replied Bobby Coon.

Jimmy Skunk hitched up his trousers and started toward the Lone Little Path.

"Come on!" said he. "Let's follow him and see what he is about."

Bobby Coon followed at once, but Peter Rabbit said he would hurry over and get

Johnny Chuck and then join the others.

All this time Farmer Brown's boy had been hurrying down the Lone Little Path to

the home old Granny Fox and Reddy Fox had moved out of the night before. Of

course, he didn't know that they had moved. He put down his gun, and by the

time Jimmy Skunk and Bobby Coon and Peter Rabbit and Johnny Chuck

reached a place where they could peep out and see what was going on, he had

dug a great hole.

"Oh!" cried Peter Rabbit, "he's digging into the house of Reddy Fox, and he'll

catch poor Reddy!"

XXVI. Farmer Brown's Boy Works for Nothing

The grass around the doorstep of the house where Reddy Fox had always lived

was all wet with dew when Farmer Brown's boy laid his gun down, took off his

coat, rolled up his shirt sleeves, and picked up his spade. It was cool and

beautiful there on the edge of the Green Meadows. Jolly, round, red Mr. Sun had

just begun his long climb up in the blue, blue sky. Mr. Redwing was singing for

joy over in the bulrushes on the edge of the Smiling Pool. Yes, it was very

beautiful, very beautiful indeed. It didn't seem as if harm could come to anyone

on such a beautiful morning.

But there was Farmer Brown's boy. He had crawled on his hands and knees

without making a sound to get near enough to the home of Reddy Fox to shoot if

Reddy was outside. But there was no sign of Reddy, so Farmer Brown's boy had

hopped up, and now he was whistling as he began to dig. His freckled face

looked good-natured. It didn't seem as if he could mean harm to anyone.

But there lay the gun, and he was working as if he meant to get to the very

bottom of Reddy Fox's home!

Deeper and deeper grew the hole, and bigger and bigger grew the pile of sand

which he threw out. He didn't know that anyone was watching him, except

Bowser the Hound. He didn't see Johnny Chuck peeping from behind a tall bunch

of meadow grass, or Peter Rabbit peeping from behind a tree on the edge of the

Green Forest, or Bobby Coon looking from a safe hiding place in the top of that

same tree. He didn't see Jimmy Skunk or Unc' Billy Possum or Happy Jack

Squirrel or Digger the Badger. He didn't see one of them, but they saw him. They

saw every shovelful of sand that he threw, and their hearts went pit-a-pat as they

watched, for each one felt sure that something dreadful was going to happen to

Reddy Fox.

Only Ol' Mistah Buzzard knew better. From way up high in the blue, blue sky he

could look down and see many things. He could see all the little meadow and

forest people who were watching Farmer Brown's boy. The harder Farmer

Brown's boy worked, the more Ol' Mistah Buzzard chuckled to himself. What was

he laughing at? Why, he could see the sharp face of old Granny Fox, peeping out

from behind an old fence corner, and she was grinning. So Ol' Mistah Buzzard

knew Reddy Fox was safe.

But the other little people of the Green Forest and the Green Meadows didn't

know that old Granny Fox and Reddy Fox had moved, and their faces grew

longer and longer as they watched Farmer Brown's boy go deeper and deeper

into the ground.

"Reddy Fox has worried me almost to death and would eat me if he could catch

me, but somehow things wouldn't be quite the same without him around. Oh

dear, I don't want him killed," moaned Peter Rabbit.

"Perhaps he isn't home," said Jimmy Skunk.

"Of course he's home; he's so stiff and sore he can hardly walk at all and has to

stay home," replied Johnny Chuck. "Hello, what's the matter now?"

Everybody looked. Farmer Brown's boy had climbed out of the hole. He looked

tired and cross. He rested for a few minutes, and as he rested, he scowled. Then

he began to shovel the sand back into the hole. He had reached the bottom and

found no one there.

"Hurrah!" shouted Peter Rabbit and struck his heels together as he jumped up in

the air.

And the others were just as glad as Peter Rabbit. Johnny Chuck was especially

glad, for, you see, Farmer Brown's boy had once found Johnny's snug home, and

Johnny had had to move as suddenly as did Granny and Reddy Fox. Johnny

knew just how Reddy must feel, for he had had many narrow escapes in his short

life. You can read all about them in the next book, The Adventures of Johnny

Chuck.

You may also like...