Part 4 (1/2)

CHAPTER XVII: Sammy Jay Arrives

When Reddy Fox arrived at the pond of Paddy the Beaver, the hunter who was hiding there saw him instantly. So did Lightfoot.

But no one else did. He approached in that cautious, careful way that he always uses when he is hunting. The instant he reached a place where he could see all over Paddy's pond, he stopped as suddenly as if he had been turned to stone. He stopped with one foot lifted in the act of taking a step. He had seen Mr. and Mrs. Quack.

Now you know there is nothing Reddy Fox likes better for a dinner than a Duck. The instant he saw Mr. and Mrs. Quack, a gleam of longing crept into his eyes and his mouth began to water.

He stood motionless until both Mr. and Mrs. Quack had their heads under water as they searched for food in the mud in the bottom of the pond. Then like a red flash he bounded out of sight behind the dam of Paddy the Beaver.

Presently the hunter saw Reddy's black nose at the end of the dam as Reddy peeped around it to watch Mr. and Mrs. Quack. The latter were slowly moving along in that direction as they fed. Reddy was quick to see this. If he remained right where he was, and Mr. And Mrs. Quack kept on feeding in that direction, the chances were that he would have a dinner of fat Duck. All he need do was to be patient and wait. So, with his eyes fixed fast on Mr. and Mrs. Quack, Reddy Fox crouched behind Paddy's dam and waited.

Watching Reddy and the Ducks, the hunter almost forgot Lightfoot the Deer. Mr. and Mrs. Quack were getting very near to where Reddy was waiting for them. The hunter was tempted to get up and frighten those Ducks. He didn't want Reddy Fox to have them, because he hoped some day to get them himself.

”I suppose,” thought he, ”I was foolish not to shoot them when I had the chance. They are too far away now, and it looks very much as if that red rascal will get one of them. I believe I'll spoil that red scamp's plans by frightening them away. I don't believe that Deer will be back here to-day anyway, so I may as well save those Ducks.”

But the hunter did nothing of the kind. You see, just as he was getting ready to step out from his hiding-place, Sammy Jay arrived. He perched in a tree close to the end of Paddy's dam and at once he spied Reddy Fox. It didn't take him a second to discover what Reddy was hiding there for. ”Thief, thief, thief!”

screamed Sammy, and then looked down at Reddy with a mischievous look in his sharp eyes. There is nothing Sammy Jay delights in more than in upsetting the plans of Reddy Fox. At the sound of Sammy's voice, Mr. and Mrs. Quack swam hurriedly towards the middle of the pond. They knew exactly what that warning meant. Reddy Fox looked up at Sammy Jay and snarled angrily.

Then, knowing it was useless to hide longer, he bounded away through the Green Forest to hunt elsewhere.

CHAPTER XVIII: The Hunter Loses His Temper

The hunter, hidden near the pond of Paddy the Beaver, chuckled silently. That is to say, he laughed without making any sound. The hunter thought the warning of Mr. and Mrs. Quack by Sammy Jay was a great joke on Reddy. To tell the truth, he was very much pleased. As you know, he wanted those Ducks himself.

He suspected that they would stay in that little pond for some days, and he planned to return there and shoot them after he had got Lightfoot the Deer. He wanted to get Lightfoot first, and he knew that to shoot at anything else might spoil his chance of getting a shot at Lightfoot.

”Sammy Jay did me a good turn,” thought the hunter, ”although he doesn't know it. Reddy Fox certainly would have caught one of those Ducks had Sammy not come along just when he did. It would have been a shame to have had one of them caught by that Fox.

I mean to get one, and I hope both of them, myself.”

Now when you come to think of it, it would have been a far greater shame for the hunter to have killed Mr. and Mrs. Quack than for Reddy Fox to have done so. Reddy was hunting them because he was hungry. The hunter would have shot them for sport. He didn't need them. He had plenty of other food.

Reddy Fox doesn't kill just for the pleasure of killing.

So the hunter continued to sit in his hiding-place with very friendly feelings for Sammy Jay. Sammy watched Reddy Fox disappear and then flew over to that side of the pond where the hunter was. Mr. and Mrs. Quack called their thanks to Sammy, to which he replied, that he had done no more for them than he would do for anybody, or than they would have done for him.

For some time Sammy sat quietly in the top of the tree, but all the time his sharp eyes were very busy. By and by he spied the hunter sitting on the log. At first he couldn't make out just what it was he was looking at. It didn't move, but nevertheless Sammy was suspicious. Presently he flew over to a tree where he could see better. Right away he spied the terrible gun, and he knew just what that was. Once more he began to yell, ”Thief!

thief! thief!” at the top of his lungs. It was then that the hunter lost his temper. He knew that now he had been discovered by Sammy Jay, and it was useless to remain there longer. He was angry clear through.

CHAPTER XIX: Sammy Jay Is Modest

As soon as the angry hunter with the terrible gun had disappeared among the trees of the Green Forest, and Lightfoot was sure that he had gone for good, Lightfoot came out from his hiding-place on top of the ridge and walked down to the pond of Paddy the Beaver for a drink. He knew that it was quite safe to do so, for Sammy Jay had followed the hunter, all the time screaming, ”Thief!

thief! thief!” Every one within hearing could tell just where that hunter was by Sammy's voice. It kept growing fainter and fainter, and by that Lightfoot knew that the hunter was getting farther and farther away.

Paddy the Beaver swam out from his hiding-place and climbed out on the bank near Lightfoot. There was a twinkle in his eyes. ”That blue-coated mischief-maker isn't such a bad fellow at heart, after all, is he?” said he.