Now all this time Farmer Brown’s boy had not forgotten Shadow the Weasel and how he had driven Happy Jack out of the Green Forest, and he had wondered a great many times if it wouldn’t be a kindness to the other little people if he should trap Shadow and put him out of the way. But you know he had given up trapping, and somehow he didn’t like to think of setting a trap, even for such a mischief-maker as Shadow. Then something happened that made Farmer Brown’s boy very, very angry. One morning, when he went to feed the biddies, he found that Shadow had visited the henhouse in the night and killed three of his best pullets. That decided him. He felt sure that Shadow would come again, and he meant to give Shadow a surprise. He hunted until he found the little hole through which Shadow had got into the henhouse, and there he set a trap.
“I don’t like to do it, but I’ve got to,” said he. “If he had been content with one, it would have been bad enough, but he killed three just from the love of killing, and it is high time that something be done to get rid of him.”
The very next morning Happy Jack saw Farmer Brown’s boy coming from the henhouse with something under his arm. He came straight over to the foot of the big maple tree and put the thing he was carrying down on the ground. He whistled to Happy Jack, and as Happy Jack came down to see what it was all about, Farmer Brown’s boy grinned. “Here’s a friend of yours you probably will be glad to see,” said he.
At first, all Happy Jack could make out was a kind of wire box. Then he saw something white inside, and it moved. Very suspiciously Happy Jack came nearer. Then his heart gave a great leap. That wire box was a cage, and glaring between the wires with red, angry eyes was Shadow the Weasel! He was a prisoner! Right away Happy Jack was so excited that he acted as if he were crazy. He no longer had a single thing to be afraid of. Do you wonder that he was excited?
A PRISONER WITHOUT FEAR
A bad name is easy to get but hard to live down.
Shadow the Weasel was a prisoner. He who always had been free to go and come as he pleased and to do as he pleased was now in a little narrow cage and quite helpless. For once he had been careless, and this was the result. Farmer Brown’s boy had caught him in a trap. Of course, he should have known better than to have visited the henhouse a second time after killing three of the best pullets there. He should have known that Farmer Brown’s boy would be sure to do something about it. The truth is, he had yielded to temptation when common sense had warned him not to. So he had no one to blame for his present difficulty but himself, and he knew it.
At first he had been in a terrible rage and had bitten at the wires until he had made his mouth sore. When he had made sure that the wires were stouter than his teeth, he wisely stopped trying to get out in that way, and made up his mind that the only thing to do was to watch for a chance to slip out, if the door of the cage should happen to be left unfastened.