Bowser The Hound by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter XVIII. Mutual Relief
The wise Fox knows that with every chicken he steals he puts an increased price on his own skin. Bowser the Hound.
When Reddy Fox dashed between the legs of Farmer Brown's boy and out of the open door of the henhouse, it was with his heart in his mouth. At least, it seemed that way. Would he find the henyard gate open? Supposing Farmer Brown's boy had closed it after he entered! Reddy would then be a prisoner just as he had been all night, and all hope would end.
Just imagine with what terrible anxiety and eagerness Reddy looked towards that gate as he dashed out of the open door. Just imagine the relief that was his when he saw that the gate was open. In that very instant the snowy outside world became more beautiful and wonderful than ever it had been in all his life before. He was free! free! free!
If ever there was a surprised boy, that boy was Farmer Brown's as he watched Reddy twist around a corner of the barn and disappear.
"Reddy Fox!" he exclaimed. "Now how under the sun did that rascal get in here?" Then, as he realized that Reddy had actually been inside the henhouse, anxiety for the biddies swept over him. Hastily he turned, fully expecting to see either the bodies of two or three hens on the floor, or scattered feathers to show that Reddy had enjoyed a midnight feast. There were no feathers, and so far as he could see, all the hens were standing or walking about.
At once Farmer Brown's boy began to count them. Of course, he knew exactly how many there should be. When he got through counting, not one was missing. Farmer Brown's boy was puzzled. He counted them again. Then he counted them a third time. He began to think there must be something wrong with his counting. After the fourth count, however, he was forced to believe that not a single one was missing.
If Reddy Fox had been relieved when he discovered that henyard gate open, Farmer Brown's boy was equally relieved when he found that not a single biddie had been taken. When two people are relieved at the same time, it is called mutual relief. But there was this difference between Reddy Fox and Farmer Brown's boy: Reddy knew all about what had happened, and Farmer Brown's boy couldn't even guess. He went all around that henhouse, trying to find a way by which Reddy Fox had managed to get in. Of course, he discovered that the little sliding door where the biddies go in and out of the henhouse was open. He guessed that this was the way by which Reddy had entered.
But this didn't explain matters at all. He knew that the gate had been latched when he entered the henyard that morning. How had Reddy managed to get into that henyard with that gate closed? To this day, Farmer Brown's boy is still wondering.