In time of danger heed this rule:
Think hard and fast, but pray keep cool.
—Old Granny Fox.
Poor Old Granny Fox! She had thought that she had been in tight places before, but never, never had she been in such a tight place as this. There stood Farmer Brown’s boy looking along the barrel of his dreadful gun straight at her, and only such a short distance, such a very short distance away! It wasn’t the least bit of use to run. Granny knew that. That dreadful gun would go “bang!” and that would be the end of her.
For a few seconds she stared at Farmer Brown’s boy, too frightened to move or even think. Then she began to wonder why that dreadful gun didn’t go off. What was Farmer Brown’s boy waiting for? She got to her feet. She was sure that the first step would be her last, yet she couldn’t stay there.
How could Farmer Brown’s boy do such a dreadful thing? Somehow, his freckled face didn’t look cruel. He was even beginning to grin. That must be because he had caught her napping and knew that this time she couldn’t possibly get away from him as she had so many times before. “Oh!” sobbed Old Granny Fox under her breath.
And right at that very instant Farmer Brown’s boy did something. What do you think it was? No, he didn’t shoot her. He didn’t fire his dreadful gun. What do you think he did do? Why, he threw a snowball at Old Granny Fox and shouted “Boo!” That is what he did and all he did, except to laugh as Granny gave a great leap and then made those black legs of hers fly as never before.
Every instant Granny expected to hear that dreadful gun, and it seemed as if her heart would burst with fright as she ran, thinking each jump would be the last one. But the dreadful gun didn’t bang, and after a little, when she felt she was safe, she turned to look back over her shoulder. Farmer Brown’s boy was standing right where she had last seen him, and he was laughing harder than ever. Yes, Sir, he was laughing, and though Old Granny Fox didn’t think so at the time, his laugh was good to hear, for it was good-natured and merry and all that an honest laugh should be.
“Go it, Granny! Go it!” shouted Farmer Brown’s boy. “And the next time you are tempted to steal my chickens, just remember that I caught you napping and let you off when I might have shot you. Just remember that and leave my chickens alone.”
Now it happened that Tommy Tit the Chickadee had seen all that had happened, and he fairly bubbled over with joy. “Dee, dee, dee, Chickadee! It is just as I have always said—Farmer Brown’s boy isn’t bad. He’d be friends with every one if every one would let him,” he cried.
“Maybe, maybe,” grumbled Sammy Jay, who also had seen all that had happened. “But he’s altogether too smart for me to trust. Oh, my! oh, my! What news this will be to tell! Old Granny Fox will never hear the end of it. If ever again she boasts of how smart she is, all we will have to do will be to remind her of the time Farmer Brown’s boy caught her napping. Ho! ho! ho! I must hurry along and find my cousin, Blacky the Crow. This will tickle him half to death.”
As for Old Granny Fox, she feared Farmer Brown’s boy more than ever, not because of what he had done to her but because of what he had not done. You see, nothing could make her believe that he wanted to be her friend. She thought he had let her get away just to show her that he was smarter than she. Instead of thankfulness, hate and fear filled Granny’s heart. You know—
People who themselves do ill
For others seldom have good will.