: The Tale Of Tommy Fox

A few days after Tommy Fox caught old Mr. Woodchuck, something

happened that set him thinking. Perhaps I should say _"a few nights"_

instead of _"days."_ For one night his mother came home with a fat hen

slung across her shoulders. She had been down to Farmer Green's hen-

house, right in the middle of the night, when Farmer Green and his

family were asleep; and she had snatched one of the sleeping hens off

the roost an
stolen away with it without waking anybody.

Only a very wise old fox could do that. "You mustn't go near Farmer

Green's hen-house," Mrs. Fox said to Tommy, as they picked the bones

of the fat hen together. "You are not old enough to get one of Farmer

Green's hens."

You notice that Mrs. Fox didn't speak of _"stealing"_ a hen. She

called it "getting" one. For foxes believe that it is only fair to

take a farmer's hen now and then, in return for killing field-mice and

woodchucks, which eat the farmer's grain. But the farmer never stops

to think of that. He only thinks of the hens that he loses.

Tommy Fox never said a word while his mother was talking to him. He

was very busy, eating. But that was not the only reason why he kept

still. He heard his mother's warning, but he thought she was silly. He

really believed that he was quite old enough and quite big enough and

quite wise enough to go down to Farmer Green's and get a hen himself.

After catching old Mr. Woodchuck Tommy felt that he was able to do

about everything his mother could do. And he made up his mind right

then and there that he would show her. He would pay a visit to the

hen-house that very night.

Tommy Fox could not wait for night to come. In fact, he could wait

only until the close of day--he was in such a hurry to capture a hen.

The sun had scarcely sunk out of sight in the west and the sky was

still red, when he crept slyly up to Farmer Green's hen-house.

Tommy had heard that Farmer Green went to bed very early, after

working hard in the fields each day. And since he saw nobody stirring

about the place he thought that everyone was asleep.

The hens were asleep. There was no doubt of that. Peeping inside their

little house, Tommy could see them roosting in rows. And he lost no

time in squeezing through one of the small doors. He felt a bit timid,

once he was inside. And for a moment he almost wished that he hadn't

come. But he was determined to take a hen home with him; so he reached

up and grabbed the very first hen he came to, on the lowest perch of


It was a big, old, white hen that Tommy Fox seized. She awoke the

moment he touched her, and began to squall. And to Tommy's alarm, all

the rest of the hens heard her and began to cackle loudly. The noise

was deafening. And Tommy made a dash for the little door, with old

Mrs. White Hen in his mouth. She was flapping her wings and kicking as

hard as she could. And Tommy was dismayed to find that he could not

get her through the narrow door. Every time he tried to push through,

one of Mrs. White Hen's legs, or a wing, or her head, struck against

the edge of the doorway.

Then a dog barked. And Tommy heard something running around the

chicken-house. He just knew that it was a man. And he dropped the old

hen in a hurry and slipped through the door.

He was just in time. He heard a man shout, "After him, Spot!" And

giving one frightened glance over his shoulder, Tommy saw that Farmer

Green's dog was close behind him.