R EDDY FOX was a sight! There was no doubt about that. When he started down on to the Green Meadows that morning he limped like an old, old man. Yes indeed, Reddy was a sorry looking sight. His head was swelled so that one eye was closed, and he could hardly see out of the other. Reddy never would have ventured out but that he just had to have some fresh mud from the Smiling Pool.
Reddy had waited until most of the little meadow people were out of the way. Then he had tried to hurry so as to get back again as quickly as possible.
But Johnny Chuck's sharp eyes had spied Reddy, and Johnny had guessed right away what the trouble was. He hurried over to tell Peter Rabbit. Then the two little scalawags hunted up Jimmy Skunk and Bobby Coon to tell them, and the four hid near the Lone Little Path to wait for Reddy's return.
Pretty soon Reddy came limping along. Even Johnny Chuck was surprised at the way Reddy's face had swelled. It was plastered all over with mud, and he was a sorry sight indeed.
Bobby Coon appeared very much astonished to see Reddy in such a condition, though of course Johnny Chuck had told him all about how Reddy had run head first into the home of old Mrs. Hornet and her family the day before.
Bobby stepped out in the Lone Little Path.
"Why, Reddy Fox, what has happened to you?" he exclaimed.
Reddy didn't see the others hiding in the long grass. He didn't want Bobby Coon to know that he had been so careless as to run his head into a hornets' nest, so he told a wrong story. He put on a long face. That is, it was as long as he could make it, considering that it was so swelled.
"I've had a most terrible accident, Bobby Coon," said Reddy, sighing pitifully. "It happened yesterday as I was returning from an errand over beyond the hill. Just as I was coming through the deepest part of the wood I heard some one crying. Of course I stopped to find out what the matter was."
"Of course!" interrupted Bobby Coon. "Certainly! To be sure! Of course!"
Reddy looked at him suspiciously, but went on with his tale. "Right down in the thickest, blackest place I found one of Unc' Billy Possum's children being worried to death by Digger the Badger. I couldn't see that little Possum hurt."
"Of course not!" broke in Bobby Coon.
"So I jumped in and tackled old man Badger, and I had him almost whipped, when I slipped over the edge of a big rock on the side of the hill. It took the skin off my face and bruised me something terrible. But I don't care, so long as I saved that little Possum child," concluded Reddy, as he started on.
Johnny Chuck stole up behind him and thrust a sharp brier into the seat of Reddy's pants. At the same time Johnny made a noise like a whole family of hornets. Reddy Fox forgot his limp. He never even turned his head to look behind. Instead, he started off at his best speed, and it wasn't until he heard a roar of laughter behind him that he realized that he had been fooled again.