R EDDY 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.
looked at Reddy sharply. "What have you been doing now—tearing your
clothes on a
"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 good 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 some day 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, nor 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 summer time.
"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.