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TOMMY FOX IS HUNGRY

from The Tale Of Tommy Fox





Tommy Fox kept a sharp look-out to see what he could capture to eat.
But he could discover nothing at all. To be sure, there were birds in
the trees, and birds' nests too, and Tommy was very fond of birds'
eggs. But he couldn't climb trees. The birds were out of his reach;
and so were the squirrels. He saw plenty of red squirrels, and gray
squirrels, and little striped chipmunks. They looked down from the
branches and chattered and scolded at him. They were perfectly safe,
and they knew it.

Tommy Fox sat down to think. As I have said, he was hungry. And there
is nothing that sharpens a fox's wits like hunger. He looked very
innocent, as he rested under a big chestnut tree, and gazed up at a
gray squirrel which was perched on a limb over his head.

"Run along, Tommy Fox," the squirrel said to him.--"There's no use of
your staying here. I shan't come down until you're gone."

Tommy didn't say anything. He just whined a few times, and held his
paw against his stomach. And he gave one or two groans.

The gray squirrel came a little further down the tree and looked at
Tommy again. He wondered if Tommy was ill. And then, when Tommy
stretched himself out on the ground and lay quite still the gray
squirrel was sure that Tommy Fox had eaten something that hurt him.

"What is it?" the squirrel inquired.

Tommy looked up and murmured something. The squirrel couldn't hear
what he said, but he thought he caught the word _poison_. And he
decided that Tommy had probably devoured a poisoned chicken-head which
Farmer Green had thrown out for him.

I am afraid that the squirrel didn't feel very sorry. He didn't like
Tommy Fox, for Tommy was always trying to catch him. But if he wasn't
sorry, he was curious. And he sat up on a low branch and looked at
Tommy for a long time.

Tommy Fox never moved again. His eyes were shut; his beautiful red
tail, with its white tip, lay limp on the ground; and his legs stuck
out as stiff as pokers.

Mr. Gray Squirrel felt sure that Tommy was very ill. He called and
called to Tommy. But he got no reply. And at last he decided that
Tommy must be dead. So he slipped down the tree to the ground, to get
a better look.

At first Mr. Gray Squirrel stayed close to the tree, so that he could
scamper up again in case he was mistaken. But Tommy Fox never moved an
eyelash. And at last Mr. Gray Squirrel grew quite bold. He edged
closer to Tommy. He had never been so near a fox before, and he was
curious to see what he looked like. He stole up beside Tommy and was
just about to call to his friends in the next tree-top to come down,
when he received the surprise of his life.

As Mr. Gray Squirrel watched, he thought he saw one of Tommy Fox's
eyelids quiver. And a great fear seized him. Had he been mistaken? Was
Tommy Fox playing dead?





Next: MR. GRAY SQUIRREL'S MISTAKE

Previous: MOTHER GROUSE'S CHILDREN



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