Nothing ever simply happens;
Bear that point in mind.
If you look long and hard enough
A cause you’ll always find.
—Old Granny Fox.
Old Granny Fox was dreaming. Yes, Sir, she was dreaming. There she lay, curled up on the sunny little knoll on the edge of the Green Forest, fast asleep and dreaming. It was a very pleasant and very comfortable place indeed. You see, jolly, round, bright Mr. Sun poured his warmest rays right down there from the blue, blue sky. When Old Granny Fox was tired, she often slipped over there for a short nap and sun-bath even in winter. She was quite sure that no one knew anything about it. It was one of her secrets.
This morning Old Granny Fox was very tired, unusually so. In the first place she had been out hunting all night. Then, before she could reach home, Bowser the Hound had found her tracks and started to follow them. Of course, it wouldn’t have done to go home then. It wouldn’t have done at all. Bowser would have followed her straight there and so found out where she lived. So she had led Bowser far away across the Green Meadows and through the Green Forest and finally played one of her smart tricks which had so mixed her tracks that Bowser could no longer follow them. While he had sniffed and snuffed and snuffed and sniffed with that wonderful nose of his, trying to find out where she had gone, Old Granny Fox had trotted straight to the sunny knoll and there curled up to rest. Right away she fell asleep.
Now Old Granny Fox, like most of the other little people of the Green Forest and the Green Meadows, sleeps with her ears wide open. Her eyes may be closed, but not her ears. Those are always on guard, even when she is asleep, and at the least sound open fly her eyes, and she is ready to run. If it were not for the way her sharp ears keep guard, she wouldn’t dare take naps in the open right in broad daylight. If you ever want to catch a Fox asleep, you mustn’t make the teeniest, weeniest noise. Just remember that.
Now Old Granny Fox had no sooner closed her eyes than she began to dream. At first it was a very pleasant dream, the pleasantest dream a Fox can have. It was of a chicken dinner, all the chicken she could eat. Granny certainly enjoyed that dream. It made her smack her lips quite as if it were a real and not a dream dinner she was enjoying.
But presently the dream changed and became a bad dream. Yes, indeed, it became a bad dream. It was as bad as at first it had been good. It seemed to Granny that Bowser the Hound had become very smart, smarter than she had ever known him to be before. Do what she would, she couldn’t fool him. Not one of all the tricks she knew, and she knew a great many, fooled him at all. They didn’t puzzle him long enough for her to get her breath.
Bowser kept getting nearer and nearer and nearer, all in the dream, you know, until it seemed as if his great voice sounded right at her very heels. She was so tired that it seemed to her that she couldn’t run another step. It was a very, very real dream. You know dreams sometimes do seem very real indeed. This was the way it was with the bad dream of Old Granny Fox. It seemed to her that she could feel the breath of Bowser the Hound and that his great jaws were just going to close on her and shake her to death.
“Oh! Oh!” cried Granny and waked herself up. Her eyes flew open. Then she gave a great sigh of relief as she realized that her terrible fright was only a bad dream and that she was curled up right on the dear, familiar, old, sunny knoll and not running for her life at all.
Old Granny Fox smiled to think what a fright she had had and then,—well, she didn’t know whether she was really awake or still dreaming! No, Sir, she didn’t. For a full minute she couldn’t be sure whether what she saw was real or part of that dreadful dream. You see, she was staring into the face of Farmer Brown’s boy and the muzzle of his dreadful gun!
For just a few seconds she didn’t move. She couldn’t. She was too frightened to move. Then she knew what she saw was real and not a dream at all. There wasn’t the least bit of doubt about it. That was Farmer Brown’s boy, and that was his dreadful gun! All in a flash she knew that Farmer Brown’s boy must have been hiding behind those pine boughs.
Poor Old Granny Fox! For once in her life she had been caught napping. She hadn’t the least hope in the world. Farmer Brown’s boy had only to fire that dreadful gun, and that would be the end of her. She knew it.