Tears of rage and disappointment welled up in Reddy’s eyes. “I wish I could fly,” he muttered, as he watched the brown birds disappear in the big hemlock-tree.
This was quite as foolish a wish as the other, so Reddy trotted on and decided to go down past the Smiling Pool. When he got there he found it, as he expected, frozen over. But just where the Laughing Brook joins it there was a little place where there was open water. Billy Mink was on the ice at its edge, and just as Reddy got there Billy dived in. A minute later he climbed out with a fish in his mouth.
“Give me a bite,” begged Reddy.
“Catch your own fish,” retorted Billy Mink. “I have to work hard enough for what I get as it is.”
Reddy was afraid to go out on the ice where Billy was, and so he sat and watched him eat that fine fish. Then Billy dived into the water again and disappeared. Reddy waited a long time, but Billy did not return. “I wish I could dive,” gulped Reddy, thinking of the fine fish somewhere under the ice.
And this wish was quite as foolish as the other wishes.
’T is not the foes that are without
But those that are within
That give us battles that we find
The hardest are to win.
Old Granny Fox
After the last of his three foolish wishes, Reddy Fox left the Smiling Pool and headed straight for the Old Pasture for which he had started in the first place. He wished now that he had gone straight there. Then he wouldn’t have seen the suet tied out of reach to the branch of a tree in the Old Orchard; he wouldn’t have seen the Bob Whites fly away to safety just as he felt almost sure of catching one; he wouldn’t have seen Billy Mink bring a fine fish out of the water and eat it right before him. It is bad enough to be starving with no food in sight, but to be as hungry as Reddy Fox was and to see food just out of reach, to smell it, and not be able to get it is, — well, it is more than most folks can stand patiently.
So Reddy Fox was grumbling to himself as he hurried to the Old Pasture and his heart was very bitter. It seemed to him that everything was against him. His neighbors had food, but he had none, not so much as a crumb. It was unfair. Old Mother Nature was unjust. If he could climb he could get food. If he could fly he could get food. If he could dive he could get food. But he could neither climb, fly, nor dive. He didn’t stop to think that Old Mother Nature had given him some of the sharpest wits in all the Green Forest or on all the Green Meadows; that she had given him a wonderful nose; that she had given him the keenest of ears; that she had given him speed excelled by few. He forgot these things and was so busy thinking bitterly of the things he didn’t have that he forgot to use his wits and nose and ears when he reached the Old Pasture. The result was that he trotted right past Old Jed Thumper, the big gray Rabbit, who was sitting behind a little bush holding his breath. The minute Old Jed saw that Reddy was safely past, he started for his bull-briar castle as fast as he could.