The Adventures of Reddy Fox  by Thornton Burgess

Granny Fox Calls Jimmy Skunk Names

G RANNY FOX couldn't believe her own eyes. No, Sir, she couldn't believe her own eyes, and she rubbed them two or three times to make sure that she was seeing right. That chicken certainly had disappeared, and left no trace of where it had gone.

It was very queer. Old Granny Fox sat down to think who would dare steal anything from her. Then she walked in a big circle with her nose to the ground, sniffing and sniffing. What was she doing that for? Why, to see if she could find the tracks of any one who might have stolen her chicken.

"Aha!" exclaimed old Granny Fox, starting to run along the top of the hill, her nose to the ground. "Aha! I'll catch him this time!"

In a few minutes she began to run more slowly, and every two or three steps she would look ahead. Suddenly her eyes snapped, and she began to creep almost flat on her stomach, just as she had crept for Peter Rabbit. But it wasn't Peter Rabbit this time. It was—whom do you think? Jimmy Skunk! Yes, Sir, it was Jimmy Skunk. He was slowly ambling along, for Jimmy Skunk never hurries. Every big stick or stone that he could move, he would pull over or look under, for Jimmy Skunk was hunting for beetles.

Old Granny Fox watched him. "He must have a tremendous appetite to be hunting for beetles after eating my chicken!" muttered she. Then she jumped out in front of Jimmy Skunk, her eyes snapping, her teeth showing, and the hair on her back standing on end so as to make her look very fierce. But all the time old Granny Fox took the greatest care not to get too near to Jimmy Skunk.

"Where's my chicken?" snarled old Granny Fox, and she looked very, very fierce.

Jimmy Skunk looked up as if very much surprised. "Hello, Granny Fox!" he exclaimed. "Have you lost a chicken?"

"You've stolen it! You're a thief, Jimmy Skunk!" snapped Granny Fox.

"Words can never make black white;

Before you speak be sure you're right,"

said Jimmy Skunk. "I'm not a thief."

"You are!" cried Granny working herself into a great rage.

"I'm not!"

"You are!"

All the time Jimmy Skunk was chuckling to himself, and the more he chuckled the angrier grew old Granny Fox. And all the time Jimmy Skunk kept moving toward old Granny Fox and Granny Fox kept backing away, for, like all the other little meadow and forest people, she has very great respect for Jimmy Skunk's little bag of scent.

Now, backing off that way, she couldn't see where she was going, and the first thing she knew she had backed into a bramble bush. It tore her skirts and scratched her legs. "Ooch!" cried old Granny Fox.

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Jimmy Skunk. "That's what you get for calling me names."