Gateway to the Classics: The Oak-Tree Fairy Book by Clifton Johnson
The Oak-Tree Fairy Book by  Clifton Johnson

The Fox and the Little Red Hen

O NCE upon a time there was a little red hen which lived in the edge of a piece of woodland.

On the other side of the woods dwelt a cunning robber fox with his mother, and one day the robber fox said, "Mother, you make a fire and get the pot boiling, for I'm going to catch the little red hen and we'll cook her as soon as I come back and have her for dinner."

So he slung a bag over his shoulder, and started for the little red hen's house.

The little red hen never suspected any danger, and she did her morning work as usual, and then looked at her clock to see what time it was. "Well," said she, "now I must begin to get dinner, and the first thing I'll do is to step out into the yard for a few chips to make my fire burn more briskly."

So out she went, and while she was filling her apron with the chips the fox came along and slipped into the house without her seeing him, and hid behind the door. "I'll catch her easily enough, now," said he.

Pretty soon the little red hen went in and was just going to shut and lock the door when she saw the fox. Then she was so frightened that she dropped all her chips and flew up to a peg in the wall.

"Ha, ha!" laughed the robber fox, "it won't take me long to bring you down from there;" and he began running round and round after his tail.

The little red hen kept turning about on the peg to watch him, and in a few minutes she got so dizzy that she fell off.

Then the fox picked her up, and put her in his bag, and started for home feeling very smart. But he grew tired by and by and sat down to rest; and the little red hen began to wonder if she could contrive to escape. She did not want to be eaten, and she thought and thought until she happened to think that she had her scissors in her pocket. She did not waste any more time, but took the scissors and snipped a hole in the bag and jumped out.

The ground just there was strewn with stones, and the little red hen picked up several as large as she could lift and put them in the bag in her place. Then she ran home as fast as she could go.

After a while the fox got up and went on. "How heavy this little hen is!" he said to himself. "She must be very plump and fat. Ah! won't she make a good dinner!" and he smacked his lips to think of how nice she would taste.

When he came in sight of his house he saw his mother standing in the doorway watching for him, and he called out, "Hi, mother, have you got the pot boiling?"


"Yes, yes," his mother replied; "and have you got the little red hen?"

"She's here in this bag I have on my shoulder," was his answer, "and she'll make a fine dinner."

He was soon at the house and he and his mother went inside. "Now," said he, "when I count three you take the cover off the pot and I'll pop the little red hen right into the hot water."

"Very well," said his mother.

"All ready!" said the fox, "one, two, three!"

His mother took the cover off, and splash went the stones into the boiling water, and the pot tipped over and scalded the robber fox and his mother to death.

But the little red hen lives in the woods by herself yet.

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