“Hard times these,” said Peter pleasantly. “I hope your stomachs are not as empty as mine.” He pulled a strip of bark from a young tree and began to chew it. This was more than Reddy could stand. To see Peter eating while his own stomach was just one great big ache from emptiness was too much.
“I’m going in there and catch him, or drive him out where you can catch him, if I tear my coat all to pieces!” snarled Reddy.
Peter stopped chewing and sat up. “Come right along, Reddy. Come right along if you want to, but I would advise you to save your skin and your coat,” said he.
Reddy’s only reply was a snarl as he pushed his way under the brambles. He yelped as they tore his coat and scratched his face, but he kept on. Now Peter’s paths were very cunningly made. He had cut them through the very thickest of the briars just big enough for himself and Mrs. Peter to hop along comfortably. But Reddy is so much bigger that he had to force his way through and in places crawl flat on his stomach, which was very slow work, to say nothing of the painful scratches from the briars. It was no trouble at all for Peter to keep out of his way, and before long Reddy gave up. Without a word Granny Fox led the way to the Green Forest. They would try to find where Mrs. Grouse was sleeping under the snow. But though they hunted all night, they failed to find her, for she wisely had gone to bed in a spruce-tree.
CHAPTER XIII: Granny Fox Admits Growing Old
Who will not admit he is older each
fools no one but himself.
— Old Granny Fox.
Old Granny Fox is a spry old lady for her age. If you don’t believe it just try to catch her. But spry as she is, she isn’t as spry as she used to be. No, Sir, Granny Fox isn’t as spry as she used to be. The truth is, Granny is getting old. She never would admit it, and Reddy never had realized it until the day after the great storm. All that night they had hunted in vain for something to eat and at daylight had crept into their house to rest awhile before starting on another hunt. They had neither the strength nor the courage to search any longer then. Wading through snow is very hard work at best and very tiresome, but when your stomach has been empty for so long that you almost begin to wonder what food tastes like, it becomes harder work still. You see, it is food that makes strength, and lack of food takes away strength.
This was why Granny and Reddy Fox just had to rest. Hungry as they were, they had to give up for awhile. Reddy flung himself down, and if ever there was a discouraged young Fox he was that one. “I wish I were dead,” he moaned.
“Tut, tut, tut!” said Granny Fox sharply. “That’s no way for a young Fox to talk! I’m ashamed of you. I am indeed.” Then she added more kindly: “I know just how you feel. Just try to forget your empty stomach and rest awhile. We have had a tiresome, disappointing, discouraging night, but when you are rested things will not look quite so bad. You know the old saying: