The Adventures of Reddy Fox  by Thornton Burgess

Reddy Grows Careless

O L' MISTAH BUZZARD was right. Trouble was right at the heels of Reddy Fox, although Reddy wouldn't have believed it if he had been told. He had stolen that plump pet chicken of Farmer Brown's boy for no reason under the sun but to show off. He wanted every one to know how bold he was. He thought himself so smart that he could do just exactly what he pleased and no one could stop him. He liked to strut around through the Green Forest and over the Green Meadows and brag about what he had done and what he could do.

Now people who brag and boast and who like to show off are almost sure to come to grief. And when they do, very few people are sorry for them. None of the little meadow and forest people liked Reddy Fox, anyway, and they were getting so tired of his boasting that they just ached to see him get into trouble. Yes, Sir, they just ached to see Reddy get into trouble.

Peter Rabbit, happy-go-lucky Peter Rabbit, shook his head gravely when he heard how Reddy had stolen that pet chicken of Farmer Brown's boy, and was boasting about it to every one.

"Reddy Fox is getting so puffed up that pretty soon he won't be able to see his own feet," said Peter Rabbit.

"Well, what if he doesn't?" demanded Jimmy Skunk.

Peter looked at Jimmy in disgust:

"He comes to grief, however fleet,

Who doesn't watch his flying feet.

"Jimmy Skunk, if you didn't have that little bag of scent that everybody is afraid of, you would be a lot more careful where you step," replied Peter. "If Reddy doesn't watch out, someday he'll step right into a trap."

Jimmy Skunk chuckled. "I wish he would!" said he.

Now when Farmer Brown's boy heard about the boldness of Reddy Fox, he shut his mouth tight in a way that was unpleasant to see and reached for his gun. "I can't afford to raise chickens to feed foxes!" said he. Then he whistled for Bowser the Hound, and together they started out. It wasn't long before Bowser found Reddy's tracks.

"Bow, wow, wow, wow!" roared Bowser the Hound.

Reddy Fox, taking a nap on the edge of the Green Forest, heard Bowser's big, deep voice. He pricked up his ears, then he grinned. "I feel just like a good run to-day," said he, and trotted off along the Crooked Little Path down the hill.

Now this was a beautiful summer day and Reddy knew that in summer men and boys seldom hunt foxes. "It's only Bowser the Hound," thought Reddy, "and when I've had a good run, I'll play a trick on him so that he will lose my track." So Reddy didn't use his eyes as he should have done. You see, he thought himself so smart that he had grown careless. Yes, Sir, Reddy Fox had grown careless. He kept looking back to see where Bowser the Hound was, but didn't look around to make sure that no other danger was near.

Ol' Mistah Buzzard, sailing 'round and 'round, way up in the blue, blue sky, could see everything going on down below. He could see Reddy Fox running along the edge of the Green Forest and every few minutes stopping to chuckle and listen to Bowser the Hound trying to pick out the trail Reddy had made so hard to follow by his twists and turns. And he saw something else, did Ol' Mistah Buzzard. It looked to him very much like the barrel of a gun sticking out from behind an old tree just ahead of Reddy.

"Ah reckon it's just like Ah said: Reddy Fox is gwine to meet trouble right smart soon," muttered Ol' Mistah Buzzard.