6 THE SLY OLD FOX
Once upon a time
there was a sly old fox by the name of Renard.
As he got older, he got even slier.
Each day he would learn a new trick.
One day he learned how to calculate the course of a rabbit's hop,
skip, and jump. He could
then circle around and head the rabbit off at the pass.
Another day he learned that by aiming at the first in a line of
quail he could be assured of catching the fourth in line.
For getting at groundhogs and miscellaneous burrowing animals he
found that by diverting a small stream or puddle into their holes, he
could catch them when they came up for air, coughing, by the rear exit. Still another day he learned how to get in and out of Farmer
Smith's chicken house without raising the roost. He put tranquilizers in the chicken feed the morning before
his nocturnal entrance and exit. He
was frightfully clever, and he knew it.
There is certainly
nothing wrong with being frightfully clever, especially for a fox.
Still, the fox was making himself obnoxious to a wider and wider
circle of animals. So it
was not long before some of the concerned animals in the area decided to
get together with Farmer Smith. Which
they did. Several means for
taking care of the fox were suggested.
However, the rabbits rejected the idea of feeding him a poisoned
rabbit. The quail did not
particularly like the idea of giving up all their tail feathers to make
a mechanical quail that would blow up when the fox bit into it.
"No way!" said the groundhog, when it was suggested
that traps be set at both the front and back entrances to his lair.
And Farmer Smith was thoroughly opposed to a special door closer
that would trap the fox inside the chicken house with the chickens.
all agreed that Renard had to go. And
before the meeting broke up, the group unanimously passed a resolution
to that effect. A special
subcommittee was formed to study the problem and present its
recommendations at the next meeting.
The subcommittee duly
met in heated session, and hammered out a proposal that was, more or
less, agreeable to everyone. This
was then presented to the larger group.
The ground hog and other burrowing animals complained about the
size of the hole they were expected to dig.
The rabbit did not particularly cotton the idea of acting as a
relishing decoy. The quail
insisted that they were not very good at reconnaissance; but neither
they, nor Farmer Smith, wanted to enlist the services of the
sharper-eyed chicken hawk. And
although the farmer said that he could, perhaps, get up into the tree,
he did not like the idea of sitting up there in an uncomfortable
position for several hours, shotgun at the ready.
(Actually, the plan depended very little upon Farmer Smith's
ability to hit the fox. The
quail, the rabbits, and just about everybody else in the forest knew
that he could hit a sitting duck only if it didn't move.)
But they applauded
the plan vigorously, and it was immediately set in motion. The burrowing animals began excavating the large hole.
The rabbits covered it with limbs and branches.
The quail checked on the fox's whereabouts, while one of the
geese sent him scurrying about on a wild goose chase.
The farmer positioned himself uncomfortably in the tree; and the
decoy rabbit got the fox's attention.
All systems were "go."
The rabbit hopped,
skipped, and jumped in the direction of the trap.
But just as Renard got to the edge of the pit, he began to smell
a rat. Actually, what he
smelled was the work of a wide variety of burrowing animals, rodents and
otherwise, all of which taken together, would smell, to a fox, like a
rat. He skidded to a halt.
And just at that moment, according to plan, the farmer let loose
with both barrels of his shotgun. He
missed, of course, and almost fell out of the tree from the force of the
recoil. But the sound of
the discharge so frightened the fox that he tripped and fell through the
limbs and branches into the pit. Everyone
cheered wildly. The plan
MORAL: A camel may be a
horse produced by a committee; but even camels have their uses.
So all the
animals and Farmer Smith held paws and hands and wings, and danced in a
wide circle around the pit, to the great chagrin of the fox.
An entertainment committee was hastily formed, and the
necessities for a celebration were procured.
Farmer Smith headed the committee, and contributed generously
from his root cellar and grain bin.
The party went on well into the night.
The fox complained that he could not sleep for all the noise, and
asked one of the animals to fetch the sleeping pills from his medicine
chest. Feeling a little
sorry for the fox—only a little—they agreed to let him have a good
night's sleep before the farmer delivered the coup de grâce the next
morning. Shooting a fox in
a mole hole is even easier than shooting fish in a rain barrel.
But they were not
sleeping pills at all, they were pep pills.
And although pep pills are not good for people, they enable foxes
to jump twice as high as normal. So
while all the animals slept after the orgy, the fox made a mighty leap,
ate the dozing rabbit guarding the pit, as also a sleeping quail, and
chuckled off into the woods, as sly as ever.
When it comes to celebrations,
better never than early.