He sprang upon the turkey. The trap gave a loud snap, and Reynard was a prisoner.
“What a fool I am!” he said. “I saw the bait. My father saw the trap.”
“Mother, may I go into the country to-day? You said I might go some day. I am big enough now to go out alone. Do let me go,” said Frisky, a young mouse, to his mother.
“Well, child, I can not be with you always. I suppose there must be a first time for you to go out alone. I dread to have you go, but if you will promise to run home if a cat comes near you, I will let you go,” said Mrs. Gray, the mother.
“I will run, mother, if I see a cat. You know how fast I can go. I should like to see any cat catch me. I shall not be gone long. Good-by, mother,” and off went Frisky.
Mrs. Gray watched him until he was out of sight. “I wish I had gone with him,” she said. “He does not know the world as I do. I fear some harm will come to him,” and she looked very much worried as she turned to go into her house. She tried to sleep, for she was very tired; but when she dozed she dreamed, and her dreams were all bad ones.
At last she went back to the door and looked for Frisky. He was coming, leaping along in a great hurry. He began talking to his mother before he reached her.
“Oh, mother,” he said, “I met two big creatures on the other side of the pasture.
“One of them was very fine looking. She had very gentle ways. She stepped about so quietly that one could scarcely hear her. Her dress was of soft gray fur, much like yours, mother, and she wore whiskers like yours. I knew you would like to see her, so I was just going to invite her home with me when a terrible-looking creature came right toward me.
“He walked as if he were too good to step on the ground. His legs were naked, his toes were long, and his toe nails were strong and sharp. His dress was not so soft as yours. It was black and white. His mouth looked like a trap. I tell you, mother, I should hate to get caught in that trap. On top of his head was something that wobbled as he walked. He straightened himself up, raised his arms and screamed. Such a scream! It nearly frightened me to death. He isn’t coming, is he, mother? Do let me run into the house.”
“My son,” said his mother, stopping Frisky as he tried to pass her,” I shall not let you go out alone again until you know more.
“That animal which you liked so well and wished to invite to our house is a cat. It is the very one no doubt that killed all of your brothers and sisters when they were quite small. She would have killed you too at the same time if a dog had not come along and frightened her away. If you had gone close to her this afternoon, I should never have seen you again. I thought you would know a cat.
“The creature of which you were afraid cares nothing for us. He would not have harmed you. He has bare legs so he can wade about in the grass and not get his clothing wet. He uses those long toes and sharp claws to scratch in the earth for food. He does not catch mice with them. He uses that strong bill for picking up grain. People call him a rooster.”