You’ll find as on through life you go
The thing you want may prove to be
The very thing you shouldn’t have.
Then seeming loss is gain, you see.
—Old Granny Fox.
If ever two folks were mad away through, those two were Granny and Reddy Fox as they watched Old Man Coyote gobble up the dinner they had so cleverly stolen from Bowser the Hound. It was bad enough to lose the dinner, but it was worse to see some one else eat it after they had worked so hard to get it. “Robber!” snarled Granny. Old Man Coyote stopped eating long enough to grin.
“Thief! Sneak! Coward!” snarled Reddy. Once more Old Man Coyote grinned. When that dinner had disappeared down his throat to the last and smallest crumb, he licked his chops and turned to Granny and Reddy.
“I’m very much obliged for that dinner,” said he pleasantly, his eyes twinkling with mischief. “It was the best dinner I have had for a long time. Allow me to say that that trick of yours was as smart a trick as ever I have seen. It was quite worthy of a Coyote. You are a very clever old lady, Granny Fox. Now I hear some one coming, and I would suggest that it will be better for all concerned if we are not seen about here.”
He darted off behind the barn like a gray streak, and Granny and Reddy followed, for it was true that some one was coming. You see Bowser the Hound had discovered that something was going on around the corner of the shed, and he made such a racket that Mrs. Brown had come out of the house to see what it was all about. By the time she got around there, all she saw was the empty pan which had held Bowser’s dinner. She was puzzled. How that pan could be where it was she couldn’t understand, and Bowser couldn’t tell her, although he tried his very best. She had been puzzled about that pan two or three times before.
Old Man Coyote lost no time in getting back home, for he never felt easy near the home of man in broad daylight. Granny and Reddy Fox went home too, and there was hate in their hearts,—hate for Old Man Coyote. But once they reached home, Old Granny Fox stopped growling, and presently she began to chuckle.
“What are you laughing at?” demanded Reddy.
“At the way Old Man Coyote stole that dinner from us,” replied Granny.
“I hate him! He’s a sneaking robber!” snapped Reddy.
“Tut, tut, Reddy! Tut, tut!” retorted Granny. “Be fair-minded. We stole that dinner from Bowser the Hound, and Old Man Coyote stole it from us. I guess he is no worse than we are, when you come to think it over. Now is he?”
“I—I—well, I don’t suppose he is, when you put it that way,” Reddy admitted grudgingly.
“And he was smart, very smart, to outwit two such clever people as we are,” continued Granny. “You will have to agree to that.”
“Y-e-s,” said Reddy slowly. “He was smart enough, but—”
“There isn’t any but, Reddy,” interrupted Granny. “You know the law of the Green Meadows and the Green Forest. It is everybody for himself, and anything belongs to one who has the wit or the strength to take it. We had the wit to take that dinner from Bowser the Hound, and Old Man Coyote had the wit to take it from us and the strength to keep it. It was all fair enough, and you know there isn’t the least use in crying over spilled milk, as the saying is. We simply have got to be smart enough not to let him fool us again. I guess we won’t get any more of Bowser’s dinners for a while. We’ve got to think of some other way of filling our stomachs when the hunting is poor. I think if I could have just one of those fat hens of Farmer Brown’s, it would put new strength into my old bones. All summer I warned you to keep away from that henyard, but the time has come now when I think we might try for a couple of those hens.”
Reddy pricked up his ears at the mention of fat hens. “I think so too,” said he. “When shall we try for one?”
“To-morrow morning,” replied Granny. “Now don’t bother me while I think out a plan.”