: The Tale Of Tommy Fox

Poor Tommy Fox! How he wished that he had obeyed his mother, and kept

away from Farmer Green's hen-house! Now Farmer Green's dog Spot was

chasing him. Tommy could hear him baying joyfully as he followed. But

you may be sure that Tommy was not joyful. He was terribly frightened.

He could think of nothing to do except to run, run, run! as fast as he

could go. He was headed straight for home, and he only hoped that he

d get there before the dog Spot caught him.

Now, Tommy was doing just about the worst thing he could do. He never

once jumped sideways, or ran around in a circle. And though he might

have waded a little way in the shallow brook in the meadow, where Spot

would have lost his trail, Tommy used the bridge to get across the

stream; so the dog Spot had no trouble at all in following him. And

Spot kept drawing nearer and nearer.

It happened that Mrs. Fox heard the baying of the dog. And she knew

what Spot was saying. He was crying--"I've almost got him! I've almost

got him!"

A shiver passed over Mrs. Fox; for she thought at once of Tommy. He

was not at home, and she wondered if by any chance he was in trouble.

She hurried through the field to see who it was that Spot was chasing.

And sure enough! pretty soon Mrs. Fox saw Tommy come tearing through

the field, panting hard, with his tongue hanging out, and a most

frightened look upon his face.

Mrs. Fox hastened to meet him. The dog Spot was then on the other side

of a low hill, and running along with his nose to the ground.

"Jump!" Mrs. Fox said to Tommy, as soon as he joined her.

Tommy remembered, then, what his mother had always told him. So he

gave a long leap to one side.

"Now make a big circle, and jump again. Then go home!" That was all

Mrs. Fox had time to say. She stopped just long enough to see Tommy

dash off; and then she started right in the opposite direction.

The dog Spot saw her and gave a yelp of delight. He did not know what

had been happening. He only thought that now he was going to catch the

fox, which was the stupidest fox he had ever chased, running as it

did, straight away, with never a leap or a circle, or any other sort

of trick to fool him. Little did Spot guess that old Mrs. Fox had not

the slightest idea of being caught. She had been followed by Spot

himself many times; and she knew exactly how to escape him. She just

lingered for a few moments, to make sure that Tommy was safe, and that

Spot was chasing _her_. And then how she did run! In no time at all

she left Spot far behind.

Now, Mrs. Fox knew that there was a ploughed field nearby, and that

was just what she wanted. She scampered towards it at great speed and

went straight across it. And when she had reached the other side of

the ploughed ground she sat down for a short breathing spell.

You see, Mrs. Fox was very wise indeed. She knew that in dry weather,

such as there was then, a ploughed field takes no scent at all. She

knew that when Spot reached that loose dirt Spot could not smell her

footsteps. And so she just sat there on her haunches, and caught her

breath again.

A grim smile crossed Mrs. Fox's face as she heard Spot barking away in

the distance. It was a very different bark from what she had heard

when he was chasing Tommy. This time Spot was saying, "Oh, dear! oh,

dear! I've lost him!" over and over again.

When Mrs. Fox reached home she found Tommy safe inside their house. He

was crying, because he was afraid he would never see his mother again.

And after his mother found out how Spot had happened to chase him,

Tommy cried some more--but for an entirely different reason.

Who can guess what the reason was?