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THE BIGGEST SURPRISE OF ALL

from The Tale Of Tommy Fox





It was a pretty big surprise for Tommy Fox, when Mr. Grouse sprang out
of the snow, right beneath his feet. But it was nothing at all,
compared with the surprise Tommy had when he reached home.

Very late at night Tommy stole into his mother's house. In fact, it
was nearly morning. And Tommy crept in very quietly, for he hardly
expected that his mother would be awake and he did not want to disturb
her.

Tommy had just curled up on his bed and was all ready to go to sleep,
when to his great astonishment he heard his mother talking. She was
not talking to _him_, but to someone near her, for she spoke so low
that Tommy could not hear what she was saying.

He thought right away that somebody had come to pay them a visit. And
he called out--

"Who's here, Mother? Is it a visitor?"

"Yes, Tommy," Mrs. Fox answered. "Come here and see who it is."

Tommy jumped out of bed and hopped across the room. At first he
couldn't see anybody but his mother.

"It's just a joke!" Tommy exclaimed. "You're only fooling!"

"Look sharp!" said Mrs. Fox. "It's a surprise. What do you call this?"
She moved aside a bit, and pointed to a little, soft, woolly thing
which lay close beside her. Tommy had to look two or three times to
see what it was. And even then he wasn't sure.

"Is it--is it--a baby?" he asked.

"That's just what it is," his mother said.

Tommy certainly was surprised. And before he could find his voice
again Mrs. Fox showed him another baby fox, and another and another
and another.

Yes--there they were--five of them all together, small and soft and
woolly. They weren't nearly so brightly colored as Tommy and his
mother--just a pale, brownish red. Tommy Fox could hardly believe it.
As he stared at them he suddenly noticed something strange about the
baby foxes. "Why--they're all blind--every one of them!" he cried.
"Hadn't we better send them back and get some good ones?" he asked.

Mrs. Fox laughed.

"Of course they're blind," she said. "You were blind when you were
their age. Their eyes will be open in a few days.... Well--what do you
think of them, Tommy?" she asked; for Tommy Fox seemed to be lost in
thought.

"I was wondering how they would ever be able to hunt--they're so
small."

"Oh! I'll have to hunt for them, for a long time," his mother
explained. "When they get big enough I shall teach them to hunt for
themselves, just as I taught you.

"Now you see why I showed you how to catch mice and rabbits and
woodchucks," Mrs. Fox said. "You'll have to look out for yourself now,
Tommy. For I shall have all I can do to find enough for myself and
five children to eat, without feeding a big fellow like you."

That made Tommy Fox feel very proud. He felt bigger, and stronger, and
wiser than ever before.

"I shall get along all right," Tommy said. "I almost caught Mr. Grouse
tonight. But he got away." Tommy yawned, for he was very sleepy. And
pretty soon he was curled up on his little bed again, dreaming of a
wonderful bird that he had caught, which was so big that he and his
mother and his five little brothers and sisters made a fine meal off
it.

But of course it was only a dream.





Next: A WORD TO GROWN UPS

Previous: THE DRUMMER OF THE WOODS



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