HEN school was called to order the following morning not one was
missing. You see, with the exception of Jimmy Skunk and Prickly
Porky, there was not one in whose life
Just imagine the feelings of these little people when, just as they
had comfortably seated themselves for the morning lesson, Reddy
himself stepped out from behind a tree. Never before was a school
so quickly broken up. In the
winking of an eye Old Mother Nature
was alone, save for
Reddy Fox looked as if he felt uncomfortable. "I didn't mean to break up your school," said he to Old Mother Nature. "I wouldn't have thought of coming if you hadn't sent for me."
Old Mother Nature smiled. "I didn't tell any one that I was going to send for you, Reddy," said she, "for I was afraid that if I did no one would come this morning. I promised them a surprise, but it is clear that no one guessed what that surprise was to be. Go over by that old stump near the Lone Little Path and sit there, Reddy."
The familiar Red Fox who holds his own against man.
Then Old Mother Nature called each of the little people by name,
commanding each to return at once. She spoke sternly, very sternly
indeed. One by one they appeared from all sorts of hiding places,
glancing fearfully towards
When at last all were crowded about her as closely as they could
get, Old Mother Nature spoke and this time her voice was soft. "I
am ashamed of you," said she. "Truly I am ashamed of you. How
could you think that I would allow any harm to come to you?
"It may seem queer to you that Reddy Fox belongs to the same family as Bowser the Hound, but it is true. Both are members of the Dog family and thus are quite closely related. Howler the Wolf and Old Man Coyote are also members of the family, so all are cousins. Look closely at Reddy and you will see at once that he looks very much like a small Dog with a beautiful red coat, white waistcoat, black feet and bushy tail. Now, Peter, you probably know as much about Reddy as any one here. At least you should. Tell us what you have learned in your efforts to keep out of his clutches."
Peter scratched a long ear thoughtfully and glanced sideways at
Johnny Chuck, Danny Meadow Mouse and
Whitefoot the Wood
Mouse nodded as if they quite agreed. Then Peter continued, "Reddy
lives chiefly by hunting, and in his turn he is hunted, so he needs
to have sharp wits. When he isn't hunting me he is hunting Danny
Meadow Mouse or Whitefoot or Striped Chipmunk or
"Your guess is wrong, Peter," spoke up Reddy Fox, who had been listening with a grin on his crafty face. "I am rather fond of certain kinds of fruits. You didn't know that, did you, Peter?"
"No, I didn't," replied Peter. "I'm glad to know it. I think it is dreadful to live entirely by killing others."
"You might add," remarked Reddy, "that I like a meal of fish occasionally, and eggs are always welcome. I am not particular what I eat so long as I can get my stomach full."
"Reddy Fox hunts with ears, eyes and nose," continued Peter. "Many a time I've watched him listening for the squeak of Danny Meadow Mouse or watching for the grass to move and show where Danny was hiding; and many a time he has found my scent with his wonderful nose and followed me just as Bowser the Hound follows him. I guess there isn't much going on that Reddy's eyes, ears and nose don't tell him. But it is Reddy's quick wits that the rest of us fear most. We never know what new trick he will try. Lots of enemies are easy to fool, but Reddy isn't one of them. Sometimes I think he knows more about me than I know about myself. I guess it is just pure luck that he hasn't caught me with some of those smart tricks of his.
"Reddy hunts both day and night, but I think he prefers night. I guess it all depends on how hungry he is. More than once I've seen him bringing home a Chicken, but I am told that he is smart enough not to steal Chickens near his home, but always to go some distance to get them. Also I've been told that he is too clever to go to the same Chicken yard two nights in succession. So far as I know, he isn't afraid of any one except a hunter with a terrible gun. He doesn't seem to mind being chased by Bowser the Hound at all."
"I don't," spoke up Reddy. "I rather enjoy it. It gives me good exercise. Any time I can't fool Bowser by breaking my trail so he can't find it again, I deserve to be caught. I am not even so terribly afraid of a hunter with a gun. You see, usually I can guess what a hunter will do better than he can what I will do."
Old Mother Nature nodded. "That sounds like boasting," said she,
"but it isn't. Reddy Fox is one of the few animals who has
succeeded in holding his own against man, and he has done it simply
by using his wits. There is no other animal as large as Reddy Fox
who has succeeded as he has in living close to the homes of men.
It is simply because he has made the most of the senses I have given
him. He has learned to use his eyes, ears and nose at all times and
to understand and make the most of the information they bring him.
Reddy has always been hunted by man, and it is this very thing which
has so sharpened his wits. It is seldom that he is guilty of making
the same mistake twice. All of you little people fear Reddy, and I
suspect some of you hate him. But always remember that he never
kills for the love of killing, and only when he must have food.
There would be something sadly missing in the Green Forest and on
the Green Meadows were there no
"This year our home is up in the Old Pasture," replied Reddy. "We
have the nicest kind of a house dug in the ground underneath a big
It has only one entrance, but this is because there is no
need of any other. No one could possibly dig us out there. Last
year our home was on the Green Meadows and there were three doorways
to that. The year before we dug our house in a gravelly bank just
within the edge of the Green Forest. The babies are born in a
comfortable bedroom deep underground. Sometimes we have a storeroom
in addition to the bedroom; there
"Our children are well trained if I do say it. We teach them how to hunt, how to fool their enemies, and all the tricks we have learned. No one has a better training than a young Fox."
"Here is a conundrum for you little folks,"
said Old Mother Nature.
"When is a
"That's the answer," said Old Mother Nature. "Once in a while a
Reddy Fox had been listening intently and now Mother Nature noticed a worried look on his face. "What is it, Reddy?" said she. "You look anxious."
"I am anxious," said he. "What you have just said has worried me.
You see, one of my cubs at home is all black. Now that I have
learned that his fur is so valuable,
"I want you all to know that Reddy Fox and
"There's one thing I do envy Reddy," spoke up Peter Rabbit, "and that is that big tail of his. It is a wonderful tail. I wish I had one like it."
How everybody laughed as they tried to picture Peter Rabbit with a
big tail like that of
"In the South and some parts of the East and West, Reddy has a
cousin of about his own size whose coat is gray with red on the
sides of his neck, ears and across his breast. The under part of
his body is reddish, his throat and the middle of his breast are
white. He is called the
In some places he is called the Tree Fox.
"The Gray Fox of the South is not the only cousin of Reddy's,"
continued Old Mother Nature. "In certain parts of the Great West,
on the plains, lives one of the smallest of Reddy's cousins,
"In the hot, dry regions of the Southwest, where the Kangaroo Rats
and Pocket Mice live, is another cousin, closely related to the
"The Arctic, or White Fox, lives in the Far North, in the land of
snow and ice. He is a little fellow, bigger than the
His coat is all white in the winter months.
"The Blue Fox is really only a colored
This is really a color phase of the Arctic Fox.
"Now I think this will do for Reddy Fox and his relatives. Reddy
is going to stay right here with me, until the rest of you have
had a chance to get home. After that you will have to watch out
for yourselves as usual. Just remember that Reddy has become the
quick-witted person he is because he has been so much hunted. If
you are as smart as Reddy, you will understand that the more he
hunts you, the quicker-witted you also will become.