Now there was some one else roaming over the snow-covered meadows and through the Green Forest and the Old Pasture these days with a stomach so lean and empty that he couldn’t think of anything else. It was Old Man Coyote. You know he is very clever, is Old Man Coyote, and he managed to find enough food of one kind and another to keep him alive, but never enough to give him that comfortable feeling of a full stomach. While he wasn’t actually starving, he was always hungry. So he spent all the time when he wasn’t sleeping in hunting for something to eat.
Of course he often ran across the tracks of Granny and Reddy Fox, and once in a while he would meet them. It struck Old Man Coyote that they didn’t seem as thin as he was. That set him to thinking. Neither of them was a smarter hunter than he. In fact, he prided himself on being smarter than either of them. Yet when he met them, they seemed to be in the best of spirits and not at all worried because food was so scarce. Why? There must be a reason. They must be getting food of which he knew nothing.
“I’ll just keep an eye on them,” muttered Old Man Coyote.
So very slyly and cleverly Old Man Coyote followed Granny and Reddy Fox, taking the greatest care that they should not suspect that he was doing it. All one night he followed them through the Green Forest and over the Green Meadows, and when at last he saw them go home, appearing not at all worried because they had caught nothing, he trotted off to his own home to do some more thinking.
“They are getting food somewhere, that is sure,” he muttered, as he scratched first one ear and then the other. Somehow he could think better when he was scratching his ears. “If they don’t get it in the night, and they certainly didn’t get anything this night, they must get it in the daytime. I’ve done considerable hunting myself in the daytime, and I haven’t once met them in the Green Forest or seen them on the Green Meadows or up in the Old Pasture. I wonder if they are stealing Farmer Brown’s hens and haven’t been found out yet. I’ve kept away from there myself, but if they can steal hens and not be caught, I certainly can. There never was a Fox yet smart enough to do a thing that a Coyote cannot do if he tries. I think I’ll slip up where I can watch Farmer Brown’s and see what is going on up there. Yes, Sir, that’s what I’ll do.”
With this, Old Man Coyote grinned and then curled himself up for a short nap, for he was tired.
CHAPTER XX: A Twice Stolen Dinner
No one ever is so smart that some
may not prove to be smarter still.
— Old Granny Fox.
Listen and you shall hear all about three rogues. Two were in red and were Granny and Reddy Fox. And one was in gray and was Old Man Coyote. They were the slyest, smartest rogues on all the Green Meadows or in all the Green Forest. All three had started out to steal the same dinner, but the funny part is they didn’t intend to steal it from the same person. And still funnier is it that one of them didn’t even know where that dinner was or what kind of a dinner it would be.