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Thornton Burgess

Old Granny Fox Makes a Mistake

O LD Granny Fox was running through the overgrown old pasture, way up back of Farmer Brown's. She was cross and tired and hot, for it was a very warm day. Behind her came Bowser the Hound, his nose in Granny's tracks, and making a great noise with his big voice. Granny Fox was cross because she was tired. She hadn't done much running lately. She didn't mind running when the weather was cold, but now—"Oh dear, it is hot!" sighed old Granny Fox, as she stopped a minute to rest.

Now old Granny Fox is very, very smart and very, very wise. She knows all the tricks with which foxes fool those who try to catch them. She knew that she could fool Bowser the Hound and puzzle him so that he wouldn't be able to follow her track at all. But she wasn't ready to do that yet. No, indeed! Old Granny Fox was taking great care to see that her tracks were easy to follow. She wanted Bowser the Hound to follow them, although it made her tired and hot and cross. Why did she? Well, you see, she was trying to lead him, and with him Farmer Brown's boy, far, far away from the home where Reddy Fox was nursing the wounds that he had received, when Farmer Brown's boy had shot at him a few days before.

"Bow, wow, wow!" roared Bowser the Hound, following every twist and turn which Granny Fox made, just as she wanted him to.

Back and forth across the old pasture and way up among the rocks on the edge of the mountain Granny Fox led Bowser the Hound. It was a long, long, long way from the Green Meadows and the Green Forest. Granny Fox had made it a long way purposely. She was willing to be tired herself if she could also tire Bowser the Hound and Farmer Brown's boy. She wanted to tire them so that when she finally puzzled and fooled them and left them there, they would be too tired to go back to the Green Meadows.

By and by Granny Fox came to a hole in the ground, an old house that had once belonged to her grandfather. Now this old house had a back door hidden close beside the hollow trunk of a fallen tree. Old Granny Fox just ran through the house, out the back door, through the hollow tree, and then jumped into a little brook where there was hardly more than enough water to wet her feet. Walking in the water, she left no scent in her tracks.

Bowser the Hound came roaring up to the front door of the old house. Granny's tracks led right inside, and Bowser grew so excited that he made a tremendous noise. At last he had found where Granny Fox lived; at least he thought he had. He was sure that she was inside, for there were her fresh tracks going inside and none coming out. Bowser the Hound never once thought of looking for a back door. If he had, he wouldn't have been any the wiser, because, you know, old Granny Fox had slipped away through the hollow tree trunk.

Granny Fox grinned as she listened to the terrible fuss Bowser was making. Then, when she had rested a little, she stole up on the hill where she could look down and see the entrance to the old deserted house. She watched Bowser digging and barking.

After a while a worried look crept into the face of old Granny Fox.

"Where's Farmer Brown's boy? I thought surely he would follow Bowser the Hound," she muttered.