Full half success for Fox or Man
Is won by working out a plan.
—Old Granny Fox.
Granny Fox knows this. No one knows it better. Whatever she does is first carefully planned in her wise old head. So now after she had decided that she and Reddy would try for one of Farmer Brown’s fat hens, she lay down to think out a plan to get that fat hen. No one knew better than she how foolish it would be to go over to that henyard and just trust to luck for a chance to catch one of those biddies. Of course, they might be lucky and get a hen that way, but then again they might be unlucky and get in a peck of trouble.
“You see,” said she to Reddy, “we must not only plan how to get that fat hen, but we must also plan how to get away with it safely. If only there was some way of getting in that henhouse at night, there would be no trouble at all. I don’t suppose there is the least chance of that.”
“Not the least chance in the world,” replied Reddy. “There isn’t a hole anywhere big enough for even Shadow the Weasel to get through, and Farmer Brown’s boy is very careful to lock the door every night.”
“There’s a little hole that the hens go in and out of during the day, which is big enough for one of us to slip through, I believe,” said Granny thoughtfully.
“Sure! But it’s always closed at night,” snapped Reddy. “Besides, to get to that or the door either, you have got to get inside the henyard, and there’s a gate to that which we can’t open.”
“People are sometimes careless,—even you, Reddy,” said Granny.
Reddy squirmed uneasily, for he had been in trouble many times through carelessness. “Well, what of it?” he demanded a wee bit crossly.
“Nothing much, only if that hen-yard gate should happen to be left open, and if Farmer Brown’s boy should happen to forget to close that little hole that the hens go through, and if we happened to be around at just that time—”
“Too many ifs to get a dinner with,” interrupted Reddy.
“Perhaps,” replied Granny mildly, “but I’ve noticed that it is the one who has an eye open for all the little ifs in life that fares the best. Now I’ve kept an eye on that henyard, and I’ve noticed that very often Farmer Brown’s boy doesn’t close the henyard gate at night. I suppose he thinks that if the henhouse door is locked, the gate doesn’t matter. Any one who is careless about one thing, is likely to be careless about another. Sometime he may forget to close that hole. I told you that we would try for one of those hens to-morrow morning, but the more I think about it, the more I think it will be wiser to visit that henhouse a few nights before we run the risk of trying to catch a hen in broad daylight. In fact, I am pretty sure I can make Farmer Brown’s boy forget to close that gate.”
“How?” demanded Reddy eagerly.
Granny grinned. “I’ll try it first and tell you afterwards,” said she. “I believe Farmer Brown’s boy closes the henhouse up just before jolly, round, red Mr. Sun goes to bed behind the Purple Hills, doesn’t he?”
Reddy nodded. Many times from a safe hiding-place he had hungrily watched Farmer Brown’s boy shut the biddies up. It was always just before the Black Shadows began to creep out from their hiding-places.
“I thought so,” said Granny. The truth is, she knew so. There was nothing about that henhouse and what went on there that Granny didn’t know quite as well as Reddy. “You stay right here this afternoon until I return. I’ll see what I can do.”
“Let me go along,” begged Reddy.
“No,” replied Granny in such a decided tone that Reddy knew it would be of no use to tease. “Sometimes two can do what one cannot do alone, and sometimes one can do what two might spoil. Now we may as well take a nap until it is time for Mr. Sun to go to bed. Just you leave it to your old Granny to take care of the first of those ifs. For the other one we’ll have to trust to luck, but you know we are lucky sometimes.”
With this Granny curled up for a nap, and having nothing better to do, Reddy followed her example.