TOMMY ENJOYS HIMSELF
: The Tale Of Tommy Fox
Tommy Fox was having a delightful time. If you could have come upon
him in the woods you would have been astonished at his antics. He
leaped high off the ground, and struck out with his paws. He opened
his mouth and thrust his nose out and then clapped his jaws shut
again, with a snap. Tommy burrowed his sharp face into the dead leaves
at his feet and tossed his head into the air. And then he jumped up
and barked just
ike a puppy.
If you could have hid behind a tree and watched Tommy Fox you would
have said that he was playing with something. But you never could have
told what it was, because you couldn't have seen it. And you may have
three guesses now, before I tell you what it was that Tommy Fox was
playing with. ... It was a feather! Yes--Tommy had found a downy,
brownish feather in the woods, which old Mother Grouse had dropped in
one of her flights. And Tommy was having great sport with it, tossing
it up in the air, and slapping and snapping at it, as it drifted
slowly down to the ground again.
He grew quite excited, did Tommy Fox. For he just couldn't help making
believe that it was old Mother Grouse herself--and not merely one of
her smallest feathers that he had found. And he leaped and bounded and
jumped and tumbled about and made a great fuss over nothing but that
little, soft, brownish feather.
There was something about that feather that made Tommy's nose twitch
and wrinkle and tremble. Tommy sniffed and sniffed at the bit of down,
for he liked the smell of it. It made him feel very hungry. And at
last he felt so hungry that he decided he would go home and see if his
mother had brought him something to eat. So he started homewards.
I must explain that Tommy lived with his mother and that their house
was right in the middle of one of Farmer Green's fields, not far from
the foot of Blue Mountain. When Tommy was quite small his mother had
chosen that place for her house, which was really a den that she had
dug in the ground. By having her house in the center of the field she
knew that no one could creep up and catch Tommy when he was playing
outside in the sunshine. Now Tommy was older, and had begun to roam
about in the woods and meadows alone. But Mrs. Fox liked her home in
the field, and so she continued to live there.
Tommy was so hungry, now, and in such a hurry to reach home, that you
might think that he would have gone straight toward his mother's
house. But he didn't. He trotted along a little way, and suddenly gave
a sidewise leap which carried him several feet away from the straight
path he had been following. Again he trotted ahead for a short
distance. And then he wheeled around and ran in a circle. And after he
had made the circle he jumped to one side once more, and ran along on
an old tree which had fallen upon the ground. He was not playing. No!
--Tommy Fox was just trying to obey his mother. Ever since he had been
big enough to wander off by himself she had told him that he must
never go anywhere without making jumps and circles. "It takes longer,"
she said; "but it is better to do that way, because it makes it hard
for a dog to follow you. If you ran straight ahead, Farmer Green's dog
could go smelling along in your footsteps, and if he didn't actually
catch you he could follow you right home and then we would have to
move, to say the least."
Tommy was so afraid of dogs that he almost never forgot to do just as
his mother told him. He was half-way home and passing through a clump
of evergreens, when he suddenly stopped. The wind was blowing in his
face, and brought to his nostrils a smell that made him tremble. It
was not a frightened sort of tremble, but a delicious, joyful shiver
that Tommy felt. For he smelled something that reminded him at once of
that feather with which he had been playing. And Tommy stood as still
as a statue and his sharp eyes looked all around. At first he could
see nothing. But in a minute or two he noticed something on the
ground, beneath one of the evergreen trees. He had looked at it
carefully several times; and each time he had decided that it was only
an old tree-root. But now he saw that he had been mistaken.
Yes! It was old Mother Grouse herself!