Here to return to
SHARP EYES CATCHES SOMETHING
SLOWLY and carefully, making not the least sound, Mr. Fox began to creep through the woods toward the wild turkey. The big bird was eating some forest berries, and had his back toward the fox.
“Let me catch him!” whispered Sharp Eyes. “I saw him first, let me creep up and jump on him!”
“No,” whispered his mother. “It is true you had very keen sight to see the turkey, Sharp Eyes, and when you grow up you will be a smart fox. But just now, when we are all so hungry, it would not do to let that turkey get away from us. They can fly faster than you can run or jump. Even your father will have hard work getting it. But he can do it better than you.
“You saw the big bird first, Sharp Eyes. Now let your father get it for us. Then we shall all have something to eat. The next wild turkey you see you may catch for yourself.”
“All right,” said Sharp Eyes. So he carefully watched his father to see how the old fox would go about it to catch the wild turkey.
Nearer and nearer crept Mr. Fox to the big bird, which was still eating away, not hearing or seeing the danger that was so close to him. Mrs. Fox and the three little foxes waited very anxiously indeed, for they were very hungry.
“Oh, I hope he gets it!” whispered Twinkle.
“So do I,” said Sharp Eyes.
“It was awfully smart of you to see it,” murmured Winkle.
“Hush, children!” softly called Mrs. Fox. “Watch your father!”
Just then Mr. Fox made a jump for the turkey. Up in the air went Sharp Eyes’ father, and down he came, right on the back of the big, wild bird.
“Gobble-obble-obble!” cried the turkey, and that was all he said. A little later the fox family had a fine dinner, and they didn’t have to wait for the turkey to be roasted, either. They ate it raw.
Of course it was too bad for the turkey, but animals must live, and if one lives on the other that is the law of the woods. There is no need of feeling sorry. The foxes had to eat the turkey, just as the turkey had to eat grasshoppers.
“Oh, that was a fine meal!” cried Twinkle, when the turkey was all gone, and nothing but the bones was left.
“Yes, and if it hadn’t been for Sharp Eyes we might not have had it,” said Mrs. Fox.
“That’s right,” said Mr. Fox. “I looked and looked under the trees and through the bushes, but I never saw that turkey. It took Sharp Eyes to see it for us. His name is the right one if ever a name was.”
Of course Sharp Eyes felt very proud and happy on hearing this, just as you children feel when you do anything that pleases your father and mother.
“But I wish I could catch something myself,” said the little fox boy.
“Oh, you will, some day,” his mother answered. “You are young yet — you have plenty of time to learn.”
After their turkey dinner the fox family went back to their home in the hollow log and had a long sleep. And they did not need to hunt anything more until the next day, for the turkey was a large one. Foxes or other wild animals, hardly ever save anything over from one meal to the next. They have no ice boxes or pantries. When they are hungry they go out and get what they can to eat, and they don’t hunt for anything more until they are hungry again.
Of course, by the next day, Sharp Eyes, his brother and sister, as well as his father and mother, were hungry once more.
“I will go out and see what I can find,” said Mr. Fox. “The rest of you stay here.”
“Can’t I come with you?” asked Sharp Eyes.
Mr. Fox seemed to think for a minute.
“Yes,” he answered, “I guess it will be a good thing for you to come along. My eyes are getting old, and are not as good as they once were. Yours are young and bright. You may see something I can’t. Come with me, Sharp Eyes.”
“Well — Well, no, Twinkle and Winkle. This isn’t a lesson in hunting. I think, if I take only Sharp Eyes along, we’ll be able to get something to eat sooner.”
So Sharp Eyes went hunting with his father, while Mrs. Fox remained at home in the hollow log with Twinkle and Winkle.
“I hope we’ll see another wild turkey,” said Sharp Eyes, as he trotted along beside his father across the meadow.
“Don’t expect such good luck,” answered the older fox. “If we get a couple of wood mice, or perhaps a little duck that has paddled off down stream away from the others, I shall be glad.”
So to the woods they went, looking for mice which live in hollow stumps or in the ground under the roots of trees. But all the mice seemed to be away that day. Not one could Sharp Eyes or his father see.
“Now we’ll go to the brook,” said the old fox. “Sometimes there are little ducks there, who know no better than to swim too far from the big ones, that, if I jump in among them, can make a loud quacking noise and bring the farmer with his gun. Maybe we can steal up on a little duck.”
So down to the brook went Sharp Eyes and his father. But though there were ducks and geese in the water (for the brook was near a farm) not one of the fowls was off by itself. They all kept together and not far from them was a farmer plowing in a field.
“He may have a gun near him, or a club,” said Mr. Fox, “and with either of those he could hurt us very much. We’ll not try to get a duck now. We’ll have to go somewhere else for our dinner.”
“But where?” asked Sharp Eyes. “I am hungry, and I know my mother is, and so are the others.”
“I know,” answered his father. “I am also hungry. We’ll go to the woods once more. Maybe there’ll be some mice now.”
So back to the woods they went.
On all sides, among the trees and through the bushes, looked Mr. Fox and Sharp Eyes. But no mice could they see. Nor did there seem to be any partridges, quail or other wild birds. As for wild turkeys, not even the gobble-obble of one could be heard.
“What shall we do?” asked Sharp Eyes.
“I’ll tell you,” his father answered. “There are two of us. If we keep together we can be in only one place in the woods, but if you go one way and I the other we can be in two places, and we’ll have a much better chance to find something.”
“All right,” said Sharp Eyes. “I’ll go this way,” and with his paw he sort of pointed down among some trees where the shadows were deep and dark.
“It looks as though you could catch something there,” observed Mr. Fox. “I’ll go the other way, and whichever of us first catches anything must bark and howl. Then the other will know.”
“I’ll do it,” said Sharp Eyes.
So off he trotted by himself. It was the first time he had hunted alone, and he felt a bit queer about it. Still he was a sly, cunning chap, as are all fox creatures, and he wanted to show what he could do.
“I’ll get another turkey,” said Sharp Eyes to himself.
Through the woods he went, very softly and quietly, looking on all sides, and sniffing the air to get a smell of something he might catch as a dinner for himself and the rest of the fox family.
All at once Sharp Eyes saw something moving behind a bush. It made a rustling sound.
“I wonder what that is,” thought the fox boy.
Once more he sniffed the air. The wind was blowing toward him from whatever was in the bush, and the wind brought to the nose of the fox boy a wonderful perfume.
“It smells like something good to eat!” thought Sharp Eyes.
There was another rustling in the bushes. Then the fox boy saw some feathers shining in the sun.
“It must be another wild turkey,” said Sharp Eyes to himself. “Oh, I wonder if I can jump on it as my father did! I’m going to try!”
As softly as he could, the fox boy crept up behind the bush. He heard a scratching sound among the dried leaves. He saw more feathers, and something red.
“That’s the funny red thing that hangs down under a turkey’s chin,” said the fox boy to himself. “I am having good luck! Oh, if I can only jump on that bird before he hears or sees me and flies away!”
Nearer and nearer he crept. He could see the big bird now. It did not look exactly like the wild turkey.
“Maybe it’s a new and better kind,” thought Sharp Eyes. “If I get it I’ll bark for my father to come and see what good hunting I can do!”
Nearer and nearer he crept. The big bird which was picking up something from the ground under the bush, and scratching in the leaves, did not seem to hear.
“Ah ha!” whispered Sharp Eyes to himself. “Now for a good dinner for all of us!”
Through the air he jumped, and he landed with his front feet right on the big bird’s back.
“Burr-r-r-r-r!” barked Sharp Eyes, almost like a dog.
“Cock-a-doodle-do!” crowed the big bird, and then it was very still.