Gateway to the Classics: The Adventures of Peter Cottontail by Thornton W. Burgess
The Adventures of Peter Cottontail by  Thornton W. Burgess

Reddy Fox Comes to Life

R EDDY FOX lay on the side hill. Bobby Coon found him there, and when Bobby spoke to him, Reddy made no reply. Bobby went over and looked at him. Reddy's eyes were closed. Bobby grinned to himself, then he tip-toed a little nearer and shouted "boo" right in one of Reddy's little black ears. Still Reddy did not move. Bobby Coon's face grew sober. He poked Reddy with his foot, but still Reddy did not move. Then he pulled Reddy's tail, and still Reddy did not move. "It must be that Reddy Fox is dead," thought Bobby Coon, and he hurried away to tell the news.

There was great excitement on the Green Meadows and in the Green Forest when the little people there heard that Reddy Fox was dead. Of course, every one wanted to see Reddy, and soon there was a procession of little meadow and forest people hurrying across the Green Meadows to the hillside where Reddy Fox lay. Jimmy Skunk, Johnny Chuck, Billy Mink, Little Joe Otter, Unc' Billy Possum, Danny Meadow Mouse, Spotty the Turtle, Old Mr. Toad, Grandfather Frog, Jerry Muskrat, Sammy Jay, Blacky the Crow, Happy Jack Squirrel, Striped Chipmunk, Jumper the Hare, Prickly Porky, all were there. They formed a big circle around Reddy Fox.


Soon there was a procession of little meadow and forest people hurrying across the Green Meadows.

Then they began to talk about Reddy. Some told of the good things that Reddy had done and what a fine gentleman he was. Others told of the mean things that Reddy Fox had done and how glad they were that they would no longer have to watch out for him. It was surprising the number of bad things that were said. But then, they felt safe in saying them, for was not Reddy lying right there before them, stone dead?

Now, Peter Rabbit had not heard the news until late in the day, and when he did hear it, he started as fast as his long legs could take him to have a last look at Reddy. Half way there he suddenly stopped and scratched one of his long ears. Peter was thinking. It was mighty funny that Reddy Fox should have died without any one having heard that he was sick. Peter started on again, but this time he did not hurry. Presently he cut a long twig, which he carried along with him. When he reached the circle around Reddy Fox, he stole up behind Prickly Porky the Porcupine and whispered in his ear.

Prickly Porky took the long twig which Peter handed to him, while Peter went off at a little distance and climbed up on an old stump where he could see. Prickly Porky reached over and tickled one of Reddy's black ears. For a minute nothing happened. Then the black ear twitched. Prickly Porky tickled the end of Reddy's little black nose; then he tickled it again. What do you think happened? Why, Reddy Fox sneezed!

My, my, my! How that circle around Reddy Fox did disappear! All the little people who were afraid of Reddy Fox scampered away as fast as they could run, while all the other little people who were not afraid of Reddy Fox began to laugh, and the one who laughed loudest of all was Peter Rabbit, as he started back to the Old Briar-patch.

Of course, Reddy Fox knew then that it was of no use at all to pretend that he was dead, so he sprang to his feet and started after Peter Rabbit at the top of his speed, but when he reached the Old Briar-patch, Peter was safely inside, and Reddy could hear him laughing as if he would split his sides.

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!" shouted Peter Rabbit.

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