The Adventures of Reddy Fox by Thornton W. Burgess
VI. Drummer the Woodpecker Drums in Vain
Once upon a time, before he had grown to think himself so very, very smart, Reddy Fox would never, never have thought of running without watching out in every direction. He would have seen that thing that looked like the barrel of a gun sticking out from behind the old tree toward which he was running, and he would have been very suspicious, very suspicious indeed. But now all Reddy could think of was what a splendid chance he had to show all the little meadow and forest people what a bold, smart fellow he was.
So once more Reddy sat down and waited until Bowser the Hound was almost up to him. Just then Drummer the Woodpecker began to make a tremendous noise--rat-a-tat-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat-tat! Now everybody who heard that rat-a-tat-tat-tat knew that it was a danger signal. Drummer the Woodpecker never drums just that way for pleasure. But Reddy Fox paid no attention to it. He didn't notice it at all. You see, he was so full of the idea of his own smartness that he didn't have room for anything else.
"Stupid thing!" said Drummer the Woodpecker to himself. "I don't know what I am trying to warn him for, anyway. The Green Meadows and the Green Forest would be better off without him, a lot better off! Nobody likes him. He's a dreadful bully and is all the time trying to catch or scare to death those who are smaller than he. Still, he is so handsome!" Drummer cocked his head on one side and looked over at Reddy Fox.
Reddy was laughing to see how hard Bowser the Hound was working to untangle Reddy's mixed-up trail.
"Yes, Sir, he certainly is handsome," said Drummer once more.
Then he looked down at the foot of the old tree on which he was sitting, and what he saw caused Drummer to make up his mind. "I surely would miss seeing that beautiful red coat of his! I surely would!" he muttered. "If he doesn't hear and heed now, it won't be my fault!" Then Drummer the Woodpecker began such a furious rat-a-tat-tat-tat on the trunk of the old tree that it rang through the Green Forest and out across the Green Meadows almost to the Purple Hills.
Down at the foot of the tree a freckled face on which there was a black scowl looked up. It was the face of Farmer Brown's boy.
"What ails that pesky woodpecker?" he muttered. "If he doesn't keep still, he'll scare that fox!"
He shook a fist at Drummer, but Drummer didn't appear to notice. He kept right on, rat-a-tat-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat-tat!