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MR. GRAY SQUIRREL'S MISTAKE

from The Tale Of Tommy Fox





Mr. Gray Squirrel certainly was mistaken, when he thought that Tommy
Fox was dead and came down out of the chestnut tree to look at him.
Tommy wasn't even ill. You remember that he was very hungry? And that
he had not been able to find anything to eat? Tommy could not climb
the tree, where Mr. Gray Squirrel sat. So the only thing left for him
to do was to make Mr. Gray Squirrel come down where _he_ was.

That was what Tommy Fox was thinking about, when he sat there on his
haunches and looked up so innocently at Mr. Gray Squirrel. As Tommy
sat there a bright idea came to him. So he held his paw to his stomach
and pretended to be ill. And as soon as he saw that Mr. Gray Squirrel
thought he was ill, Tommy fell over on his side and made believe he
was dead.

Though his eyes were shut tight, Tommy's ears were so sharp that he
could tell when Mr. Gray Squirrel came down the tree. And he could
hear him slowly picking his way nearer and nearer. Tommy's nose was
sharp, too, and he could smell Mr. Gray Squirrel. He smelled so good
that Tommy couldn't help opening one eye the least bit, just to see
him. That was when Mr. Gray Squirrel noticed that his eyelid quivered.
And Tommy saw at once that Mr. Gray Squirrel had caught that flicker
of his eyelid, and that he was frightened. Tommy knew then that he
must act quickly.

He jumped up like a flash. But quick as he was, Mr. Gray Squirrel was
even quicker. He reached the tree just ahead of Tommy Fox; and though
Tommy leaped high up the trunk, he was too late. Mr. Gray Squirrel
scrambled up the tree so fast that his big, bushy tail just whisked
across Tommy's face. And in another second he was safe in the tree-
top, chattering and scolding, and calling Tommy names.

Tommy Fox felt very foolish. He realized that if he had jumped up
without first opening his eye he would not have given Mr. Gray
Squirrel any warning; and then he would have caught the plump old
fellow. But it was too late now. Another time he would know better.
And he sneaked off, to try the same trick on one of Mr. Gray
Squirrel's friends.

It was no use. Mr. Squirrel followed him, jumping from one tree-top to
another, and made a great noise, calling after him, and jeering at
him, and telling all his friends about the mean trick Tommy had tried
to play on him.

And to Tommy's great disgust, an old crow high up in a tall tree heard
the story, and haw-hawed loudly, he was so amused. He made such a
racket that all the forest-people heard him; and Tommy knew that there
was no sense in trying to catch a squirrel around there _that_ day. He
went down into the meadow and began hunting crickets. And though he
didn't have as good a lunch as he wanted, probably he ate all that was
good for him.





Next: TOMMY CHASES MR. WOODCHUCK

Previous: TOMMY FOX IS HUNGRY



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