Danger comes when least expected;
’Tis often near when not expected.
—Old Granny Fox.
The long hard winter had passed, and Spring had come. Prickly Porky the Porcupine came down from a tall poplar-tree and slowly stretched himself. He was tired of eating. He was tired of swinging in the tree-top.
“I believe I’ll have a sun-bath,” said Prickly Porky, and lazily walked toward the edge of the Green Forest in search of a place where the sun lay warm and bright.
Now Prickly Porky’s stomach was very, very full. He was fat and naturally lazy, so when he came to the doorstep of an old house just on the edge of the Green Forest he sat down to rest. It was sunny and warm there, and the longer he sat the less like moving he felt. He looked about him with his dull eyes and grunted to himself.
“It’s a deserted house. Nobody lives here, and I guess nobody’ll care if I take a nap right here on the doorstep,” said Prickly Porky to himself. “And I don’t care if they do,” he added, for Prickly Porky the Porcupine was afraid of nobody and nothing.
So Prickly Porky made himself as comfortable as possible, yawned once or twice, tried to wink at jolly, round, red Mr. Sun, who was winking and smiling down at him and then fell fast asleep right on the doorstep of the old house.
Now the old house had been deserted. No one had lived in it for a long, long time, a very long time indeed. But it happened that, the night before, old Granny Fox and Reddy Fox had had to move out of their nice home on the edge of the Green Meadows because Farmer Brown’s boy had found it. Reddy was very stiff and sore, for he had been shot by a hunter. He was so sore he could hardly walk, and could not go very far. So old Granny Fox had led him to the old deserted house and put him to bed in that.
“No one will think of looking for us here, for every one knows that no one lives here,” said old Granny Fox, as she made Reddy as comfortable as possible.
As soon as it was daylight, Granny Fox slipped out to watch for Farmer Brown’s boy, for she felt sure that he would come back to the house they had left, and sure enough he did. He brought a spade and dug the house open, and all the time old Granny Fox was watching him from behind a fence corner and laughing to think that she had been smart enough to move in the night.
But Reddy Fox didn’t know anything about this. He was so tired that he slept and slept and slept. It was the middle of the morning when finally he awoke. He yawned and stretched, and when he stretched he groaned because he was so stiff and sore. Then he hobbled up toward the doorway to see if old Granny Fox had left any breakfast outside for him.
It was dark, very dark. Reddy was puzzled. Could it be that he had gotten up before daylight—that he hadn’t slept as long as he thought? Perhaps he had slept the whole day through, and it was night again. My, how hungry he was!
“I hope Granny has caught a fine, fat chicken for me,” thought Reddy, and his mouth watered.
Just then he ran bump into something. “Wow!” screamed Reddy Fox, and clapped both hands to his nose. Something was sticking into it. It was one of the sharp little spears that Prickly Porky hides in his coat. Reddy Fox knew then why the old house was so dark. Prickly Porky was blocking up the doorway.