“Ah! What was that?” Reddy’s sharp ears had caught a sound up near the top of the hill. He stopped short and looked up. For just a little wee minute Reddy couldn’t believe that his eyes saw right. Coming down the hill straight towards him was the strangest thing he ever had seen. He couldn’t see any legs. He couldn’t see any head. He couldn’t see any tail. It was round like a ball, but it was the strangest looking ball that ever was. It was covered with old leaves. Reddy wouldn’t have believed that it was alive but for the noises it was making. For just a wee minute he stared, and then, what do you think he did? Why, he gave a frightened yelp, put his tail between his legs, and ran just as fast as he could make his legs go. Yes, Sir, that’s just what Reddy Fox did.
[Illustration: Reddy wouldn’t have believed that it was alive. Page 69.]
REDDY FOX IS VERY MISERABLE
When Reddy Fox put his tail between his legs and started away from that terrible creature coming down the hill where Prickly Porky lives, he thought of nothing but of getting as far away as he could in the shortest time that he could, and so, with a little frightened yelp with every jump, he ran as he seldom had run before. He forgot all about Unc’ Billy Possum watching from the safety of a big pine-tree. He didn’t see Jimmy Skunk poking his head out from behind an old stump and laughing fit to kill himself. When he reached the edge of the Green Forest, he didn’t even see Peter Rabbit jump out of his path and dodge into a hollow log.
When Reddy was safely past, Peter came out. He sat up very straight, with his ears pointing right up to the sky and his eyes wide open with surprise as he stared after Reddy. “Why! Why, my gracious, I do believe Reddy has had a fright!” exclaimed Peter. Then, being Peter, he right away began to wonder what could have frightened Reddy so, and in a minute he thought of the strange creature which had frightened him a few days before. “I do believe that was it!” he cried. “I do believe it was. Reddy is coming from the direction of Prickly Porky’s, and that was where I got my fright. I—I—”
Peter hesitated. The truth is he was wondering if he dared go up there and see if that strange creature without head, tail, or legs really was around again. He knew it would be a foolish thing to do, for he might walk right into danger. He knew that little Mrs. Peter was waiting for him over in the dear Old Briar-patch and that she would worry, for he ought to be there this very blessed minute. But he was very curious to know what had frightened Reddy so, and his curiosity, which has led him into so many scrapes, grew greater with every passing minute.
“It won’t do any harm to go part way up there,” thought Peter. “Perhaps I will find out something without going way up there.”