There was a very good reason why Mrs. Fox did not come home that day

when the dog Spot chased Tommy Fox into his house. She had heard old

Spot barking in the field and she had hurried toward home as fast as

she could, to see what was the matter.

To her great dismay, when she leaped up on the stone-wall not far from

her house Mrs. Fox could see Spot scratching at her door. And she

guessed at once that he had driven Tommy inside.

The poor old lady hardly knew what to do. But she hid in the grass,

hoping that Spot would grow tired of his task and go home. But old dog

Spot kept up a great barking. He howled so loudly that they heard him

way off at the farm-house; and Mrs. Fox nearly wept when she saw

Farmer Green and his boy Johnnie come hurrying across the fields.

Pretty soon Johnnie Green returned to the farm-house; and when he came

back Mrs. Fox could see that he carried a steel trap. For a short time

Johnnie and his father busied themselves at her doorway. And then they

went away, calling old dog Spot after them.

After they had gone, Mrs. Fox stole sadly across the field to the home

she had liked so well. She knew that she could live there no longer in

peace and quiet. Yes--she would have to move. And now the first thing

to be done was to get Tommy safely out of the house.

Mrs. Fox reached her door-yard. And there she paused. There was no

trap to be seen, anywhere. But the path leading to her door was

sprinkled thick with fresh earth; and wise old Mrs. Fox knew that

hidden underneath it, somewhere, lay that cruel trap, with its jaws

wide open, waiting to catch her if she stepped between them.

She crept as close to her door as she dared, and called softly to

Tommy. I don't need to say that her son was delighted to hear his

mother's voice. He poked his nose out of the hole at once. And he

would have jumped out and fallen right into the trap if his mother had

not warned him.

"Don't come out!" she cried sharply, "There's a trap here, beneath

this dirt. Now, do just as I tell you, or you'll be caught!"

Tommy Fox was frightened. For once, at least, he believed, that his

mother knew more than he did. And he didn't dare move, except when she

ordered. He didn't dare put a foot down except where she told him to.

Tommy had taken several careful steps, and his mother had begun to

think that he was almost safely past the trap, when a very unfortunate

thing happened. Tommy was just about to set one of his front feet down

upon a spot that his mother had pointed out to him, when somebody

suddenly called, "Stop, thief!"

Tommy Fox was so startled that he gave a quick jump. _Snap!_ went the

trap. And though Tommy sprang up into the air, he was just too late.

The trap closed tightly across the tips of his toes. It was only one

foot that was caught; but that was enough. He could not get away--

no matter how hard he pulled.

It was old Mr. Crow who had called "Stop, thief!" He was laughing now.

His "Haw-haw! haw-haw!" could be heard plainly enough, as he flapped

away in great glee, to tell all the forest-people that Tommy Fox would

trouble them no more.

OLD IRONSIDES OLIVER HERFOLD. facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail