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Sharp Eyes, the Silver Fox
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DON, the kind dog, as soon as he had seen the hunter coming toward the place in the woods where the trap that had caught the fox was set, ran back toward Sharp Eyes.

“What are you going to do?” asked Sharp Eyes.

“I am going to try to help you get loose,” was the answer. “I don’t want to see you taken away by the hunter, and maybe kept until you grow to be a big fox, so they can take off your silver fur. I’m going to try to help you get loose.”

“How?” asked the fox.

“Well, I’ll sort of push you, and you can sort of pull, and maybe you can pull your leg loose from the trap.”

“But it hurts when I pull on it,” said Sharp Eyes.

“No matter,” replied Don. “It is better to be hurt a little on the foot than to be kept a prisoner and maybe be hurt a lot, or even killed, when they take your silver fur. And we must be quick! The hunter will soon be here!”

“Oh, I would like to get away!” cried Sharp Eyes.

“Then pull as hard as you can on your leg that is caught in the trap,” said Don. “There is a way to open spring traps by stepping on them, but I don’t know about it. If my master were here he could do it. But he isn’t. You must help yourself and I’ll help you. Come now, pull!”

“Oh, but it hurts!” whimpered Sharp Eyes, as he pulled a little.

“No matter! It must be done!” said Don. “You pull and I’ll push you, Sharp Eyes.”

Don, the kind dog, put his shoulder against that of Sharp Eyes. The fox pulled on his leg as hard as he could. It hurt him very much, but the hunter could be heard coming nearer and nearer and Sharp Eyes did not want to be caught.

“Pull! Pull!” softly barked Don. “Are you pulling?”

“I am! I am!” answered Sharp Eyes. He felt as if his leg would come off, and the pain in his toes was very bad. But he did not give up, and, at last, with his pulling and Don’s pushing, out came the fox boy’s foot from the trap. Sharp Eyes’ toes were cut, and the skin and fur were scraped off so that he could not put that paw to the ground.

“But don’t mind about that!” barked Don. “You can run on three legs nearly as well as on four. I’ve done it myself when I’ve cut my foot on a sharp stone or a bit of glass. Come on, the hunter is very close! Run!”

So Sharp Eyes ran, and Don ran with him, the fox limping on three legs. The fox and the dog dodged in and out among the bushes and trees of the woods, for they did not want the hunter to see them.

“There, I guess we are far enough away now,” said Don, after a bit. “Do you know your way home, Sharp Eyes?”

“Oh, yes, thank you! Now that I am out of the trap I can easily find it: Won’t you come home with me?”

“No, I guess not. I’m looking for adventures. Besides, if I went home with you, I might scare your folks. They don’t like dogs. But I’m not the hunting kind.”

“Then I’m sure they’d like you,” said Sharp Eyes.

“Well, maybe some other time I’ll come to see you. Trot along home now and look out for traps,” barked Don.

“I will,” promised Sharp Eyes, as he limped along on three legs. The one he had pulled from the trap hurt him very much, and was bleeding a little.

“But I’m glad I’m loose, anyhow,” thought Sharp Eyes. “No more traps for me!”

But you just wait and see what happened to him next.

The hunter, with his dogs and gun, came to the place where he had set the trap and baited it with a chicken.

“Something has been here!” said the man. “The trap is sprung, but there is nothing here now. I wonder what it was and how it got away.”

His dog smelled around the trap, and then ran off through the woods, barking. The dog had smelled the path taken by Don and Sharp Eyes, and was after them — on the “trail” as the hunters say.

The hunter looked at the trap more closely. He saw some bits of hair on the jaws.

“It must have been a fox,” said the hunter. “But the hairs are of silver color, and not red like most foxes! A silver fox! If I could capture him it would be great! Silver fox skins are rare! I must set another kind of trap for this fox. I wonder how he got away.”

The hunter could not guess that Don, the kind dog, had helped the fox to get free, and was now running with him through the woods. The hunter’s own particular hunting dog was also on the trail of the fox, but pretty soon he came to a brook. There the fox smell stopped.

The dog barked and howled, and ran up and down the stream, but he could not smell the fox any more, and that is the only way he had of following — by the smell, or “scent.”

“Come on back,” said the hunter, as he followed on and saw where his dog had stopped. “The fox has crossed running water, and the trail is lost. I’ll set a better trap for him next time — one that will capture him alive. It would be a pity to spoil that fine silver pelt in a spring trap, or by shooting. Come on!”

The hunter whistled to his dog, and they went back through the woods, giving up the chase for that day. When running away, Sharp Eyes and Don had been cute enough to go into the running water and wade part way up the brook.

The brook left no smell of the paws of Don or of Sharp Eyes, and the hunter’s hound could not follow. When they can, wild animals will always cross a stream, or wade up or down it, to lose their scent so hunting dogs can not follow.

“Well, I’ll leave you here,” said Don to Sharp Eyes, when they had run on through the woods for some distance, after crossing and wading in the brook. “I’ll go and see if I can have any more adventures.”

“Wasn’t helping me one?” asked Sharp Eyes.

“Yes, it was,” answered Don. “And if ever a book is written about you, I hope that part is put in.”

“Oh, there’ll never be a book written about me!” said Sharp Eyes.

But that shows how little he knew about it, doesn’t it?

“Do you think you’ll be all right?” asked Don.

“Oh, yes, thank you. I can get home all right now,” said Sharp Eyes. “I’ll have to limp on three legs for a while, but that’s nothing.”

“It’s better than being held fast in the trap,” said the dog.

“Indeed it is!” agreed the fox.

Then Sharp Eyes hurried on until he reached his home in the hollow log. By this time his father and mother, with Twinkle and Winkle, had come back from the hunt. They had some partridges and wood mice, and there was plenty for all to eat.

“Oh, my poor little Sharp Eyes!” said Mrs. Fox, when she saw him. “What hurt you?”

“I got caught in a trap,” he answered, and he told all that had happened, and how Don had helped him get loose.

“That dog was very kind to you,” remarked Twinkle.

“Yes, indeed he was. But you must be more careful,” said Mr. Fox gravely. “The next time you get caught, Sharp Eyes, you may not get out so easily. A scraped paw is nothing. You were very lucky.”

Sharp Eyes thought so himself, and the next few days, as he limped around through the woods, he kept a careful watch for traps or other signs of danger. But he saw none.

In about a week his foot was well enough for him to use again in walking or running, but he still limped a little. It was not quite all healed.

One morning, very early, Sharp Eyes got up before any of the others, and started out of the hollow log house.

“I’m going through the woods and down by that farmhouse,” said the fox to himself. “Maybe I can find a fat duck for breakfast.”

Sharp Eyes did not go near the place where he had been caught in the trap. He did not like to remember it, and he thought perhaps there might be another set there to catch him. So he went about a mile out of his way, and then circled around toward the farm.

Before he reached it, and while still in the woods, the fox heard a noise which sounded like: “Cock-a-doodle-do!”

“Ha! I know what that is!” said Sharp Eyes. “That’s a rooster! The same sort of bird I once thought was a wild turkey. Well, I am pretty good at catching things now, and maybe I can catch that rooster. I’m going to try!”

Carefully, Sharp Eyes crept through the woods. The sound of the rooster’s crowing sounded louder now, and it seemed to stay in the same place.

“He doesn’t hear me coming, or see me or smell me,” thought Sharp Eyes. “Maybe I can get close enough up to him to grab him. But I must be careful of traps!”

On and on through the woods crept Sharp Eyes softly. He came to a little place where the trees had been cut down, and in the center of this clearing was what seemed to be a box. The crowing of the rooster came from inside this box.

“Oh, ho!” thought Sharp Eyes. “This is a henhouse — the same kind I went into down at that farm, and brought out a fat duck. There is a rooster in this little henhouse, and I’ll go in and get him. Then I’ll have a fine dinner!”

“Cock-a-doodle-do!” crowed the rooster.

“I’m coming to get you!” laughed Sharp Eyes to himself.

Nearer and nearer he went. He could look right in the box, now, and see the rooster. The crowing fowl did not come out.

“But I’ll soon fetch you out!” said Sharp Eyes. He looked all about on the ground. He could see no traps in sight. The fox thought it was all right.

Softly he went up to the box. He went inside. At the far end he could see the rooster, which was tied fast by one leg. That was the reason it could not get out.

“Ah, ha! Now I have you!” thought Sharp Eyes.

He made a spring, inside the box, after the fowl. And just then something happened. There was a clicking noise behind the fox, and, all of a sudden, it got dark.

“This is queer!” thought Sharp Eyes. “That click sounded just like a trap, but I am not caught fast, as I was by my paw the other time. I feel no pain. Still maybe this is a trick. I guess I’d better go out again, and look around some more.”

He turned to go out, but found he could not. Behind him a door had sprung shut. Sharp Eyes was caught in the dark box with the rooster. The little fox was captured! He was in another kind of trap!

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