The Adventures of Reddy Fox by Thornton W. Burgess
XII. The Lost Chicken
When old Granny Fox had laid down the chicken she was bringing home to Reddy Fox to try to catch Peter Rabbit, she had meant to go right back and get it as soon as she had caught Peter. Now she saw Peter going across the Green Meadows, lipperty-lipperty-lip, as fast as he could go. She was so angry that she hopped up and down. She tore up the grass and ground her long, white teeth. She glared up at Ol' Mistah Buzzard, who had warned Peter Rabbit, but all she could do was to scold, and that didn't do her much good, for in a few minutes Ol' Mistah Buzzard was so far up in the blue, blue sky that he couldn't hear a word she was saying. My, my, but old Granny Fox certainly was angry! If she hadn't been so angry she might have seen Johnny Chuck lying as flat as he could make himself behind a big clump of grass.
Johnny Chuck was scared. Yes, indeed, Johnny Chuck was dreadfully scared. He had fought Reddy Fox and whipped him, but he knew that old Granny Fox would be too much for him. So it was with great relief that Johnny Chuck saw her stop tearing up the grass and trot over to see how Reddy Fox was getting along. Then Johnny Chuck crept along until he was far enough away to run. How he did run! He was so fat and roly-poly that he was all out of breath when he reached home, and so tired that he just dropped down on his doorstep and panted.
"Serves me right for having so much curiosity," said Johnny Chuck to himself.
Reddy Fox looked up as old Granny Fox came hurrying home. He was weak and very, very hungry. But he felt sure that old Granny Fox would bring him something nice for his breakfast, and as soon as he heard her footsteps his mouth began to water.
"Did you bring me something nice, Granny?" asked Reddy Fox.
Now old Granny Fox had been so put out by the scare she had had and by her failure to catch Peter Rabbit that she had forgotten all about the chicken she had left up on the hill. When Reddy spoke, she remembered it, and the thought of having to go way back after it didn't improve her temper a bit.
"No!" she snapped. "I haven't!--You don't deserve any breakfast anyway. If you had any gumption"--that's the word Granny Fox used, gumption--"if you had any gumption at all, you wouldn't have gotten in trouble, and could get your own breakfast."
Reddy Fox didn't know what gumption meant, but he did know that he was very, very hungry, and do what he would, he couldn't keep back a couple of big tears of disappointment. Granny Fox saw them.
"There, there, Reddy! Don't cry. I've got a fine fat chicken for you up on the hill, and I'll run back and get it," said Granny Fox.
So off she started up the hill to the place where she had left the chicken when she started to try to catch Peter Rabbit. When she got there, there wasn't any chicken. No, Sir, there was no chicken at all--just a few feathers. Granny Fox could hardly believe her own eyes. She looked this way and she looked that way, but there was no chicken, just a few feathers. Old Granny Fox flew into a greater rage than before.