It’s what you do for others,
Not what they do for you,
That makes you feel so happy
All through and through and through.
—Old Granny Fox.
Reddy Fox ran all the way home from the Big River just as fast as he could go. In his mouth he carried the fish he had found and from which he had taken just two bites. You remember he had had a battle with himself over that fish, and now he was running away from himself. That sounds funny, doesn’t it? But it was true. Yes, Sir, Reddy Fox was running away from himself. He was afraid that if he didn’t get home to Old Granny Fox with that fish very soon, he would eat every last bit of it himself. So he was running his very hardest so as to get there before this could happen. So really he was running away from himself, from his selfish self.
Old Granny Fox was on the doorstep watching for him, and he saw just how her hungry old eyes brightened when she saw him and what he had.
“I’ve brought you something to eat, Granny,” he panted, as he laid the fish at her feet. He was quite out of breath with running. “It isn’t much, but it is something. It is all I could find for you.”
Granny looked at the fish and then she looked sharply at Reddy, and into those keen yellow eyes of hers crept a soft, tender look, such a look as you would never have believed they could have held.
“What have you had to eat?” asked Granny softly.
Reddy turned his head that Granny might not see his face. “Oh, I’ve had something,” said he, trying to speak lightly. It was true; he had had two bites from that fish.
Now you know just how shrewd and smart and wise Granny Fox is. Reddy didn’t fool her just the least little bit. She took two small bites from the fish.
“Now,” said she, “we’ll divide it,” and she bit in two parts what remained. In a twinkling she had gulped down the smallest part, for you know she was very, very hungry. “That is your share,” said she, as she pushed what remained over to Reddy.
Reddy tried to refuse it. “I brought it all for you,” said he. “I know you did, Reddy,” replied Granny, and it seemed to Reddy that he never had known her voice to sound so gentle. “You brought it to me when all you had had was the two little bites you had taken from it. You can’t fool me, Reddy Fox. There wasn’t one good meal for either of us in that fish, but there was enough to give us both a little hope and keep us from starving. Now you mind what I say and eat your share.” Granny said this last very sternly.
Reddy looked at Granny, and then he bolted down that little piece of fish without another word.
“That’s better,” said Granny. “We will feel better, both of us. Now that I’ve something in my stomach, I feel two years younger. Before you came, I didn’t feel as if I should ever be able to go on another hunt. If you hadn’t brought something, I—I’m afraid I couldn’t have lasted much longer. By another day you probably wouldn’t have had old Granny to think of. You may not know it, but I know that you saved my life, Reddy. I had reached a point where I just had to have a little food. You know there are times when a very little food is of more good than a lot of food could be later. This was one of those times.”
Never in all his life had Reddy Fox felt so truly happy. He was still hungry,—very, very hungry. But he gave it no thought. He had saved Granny Fox, good old Granny who had taught him all he knew. And he knew that Granny knew how he had had to fight with himself to do it. Reddy was happy through and through with the great happiness that comes from having done something for some one else.
“It was nothing,” he muttered.
“It was a very great deal,” replied Granny. And then she changed the subject. “How would you like to eat a dinner of Bowser the Hound’s?” she asked.