Up back of the barn and around it they stole like two shadows and quite as noiselessly as shadows. They heard Bowser the Hound sighing in his sleep in his snug little house, and grinned at each other. Silently they stole over to the henyard. The gate was open, just as Granny had told Reddy it would be. Across the henyard they trotted swiftly, straight to where more than once in the daytime they had seen the hens come out of the house through a little hole. It was closed. Reddy had expected it would be. Still, he was dreadfully disappointed. He gave it merely a glance.
“I knew it wouldn’t be any use,” said he with a half whine.
But Granny paid no attention to him. She went close to the hole and pushed gently against the little door that closed it. It didn’t move. Then she noticed that at one edge there was a tiny crack. She tried to push her nose through, but the crack was too narrow. Then she tried a paw. A claw caught on the edge of the door, and it moved ever so little. Then Granny knew that the little door wasn’t fastened. Granny stretched herself flat on the ground and went to work, first with one paw, then with the other. By and by she caught her claws in it just right again, and it moved a wee bit more. No, most certainly that door wasn’t fastened, and that crack was a little wider.
“What are you wasting your time there for?” demanded Reddy crossly. “We’d better be off hunting if we would have anything to eat this night.”
Granny said nothing but kept on working. She had discovered that this was a sliding door. Presently the crack was wide enough for her to get her nose in. Then she pushed and twisted her head this way and that. The little door slowly slid back, and when Reddy turned to speak to her again, for he had had his back to her, she was nowhere to be seen. Reddy just gaped and gaped foolishly. There was no Granny Fox, but there was a black hole where she had been working, and from it came the most delicious smell, — the smell of fat hens! It seemed to Reddy that his stomach fairly flopped over with longing. He rubbed his eyes to be sure that he was awake. Then in a twinkling he was inside that hole himself.
“Sh-h-h, be still!” whispered Old Granny Fox.
Dark deeds are done in the stilly
And who shall say if they’re wrong or right?
— Old Granny Fox.
It all depends on how you look at things. Of course, Granny and Reddy Fox had no business to be in Farmer Brown’s henhouse in the middle of the night, or at any other time, for that matter. That is, they had no business to be there, as Farmer Brown would look at the matter. He would have called them two red thieves. Perhaps that is just what they were. But looking at the matter as they did, I am not so sure about it. To Granny and Reddy Fox those hens were simply big, rather stupid birds, splendid eating if they could be caught, and bound to be eaten by somebody. The fact that they were in Farmer Brown’s henhouse didn’t make them his any more than the fact that Mrs. Grouse was in a part of the Green Forest owned by Farmer Brown made her his.