Chapter XXXIII. Reddy Watches the Fat Hens
 
    Sooner or later the crookedest trail will straighten.

    Bowser the Hound.

At the sound of that rooster's voice on the other side of the little swamp, Reddy became a changed Fox. Could you have been sitting where you could have seen him, as did Blacky the Crow, you never, never would have guessed that Reddy had run a very long distance and was tired. He did not even glance up at Blacky. He did not even say thank you to Blacky for having shown him the way. He looked neither to the right nor to the left, but with eyes fixed eagerly ahead, began to steal forward swiftly.

Making no sound, for Reddy can step very lightly when he chooses to, he trotted quickly through the little swamp until he drew near the other side. Then he crouched close to the snow-covered ground and began to steal from bush to bush until he reached the trunk of a fallen tree on the very edge of the swamp. To this he crawled on his stomach and peeped around the end of it.

Everything was as Blacky the Crow had said. Not far away was a farmyard, and walking about in it was a big rooster, lording it over a large flock of fat hens. They were not shut in by a wire fence as were Farmer Brown's hens. Some were taking a sun bath just in front of the barn door. Others were scattered about, picking up bits of food which had been thrown out for them. A few were scratching in some straw in the cowyard. In the barn a horse stamped. From the farmhouse sounded the voice of a woman singing. Once the door of the farmhouse opened, and an appetizing odor floated out to tickle the nose of Reddy.

Reddy looked sharply for signs of a dog. Not one could he see. If there was a dog, he must be either in the barn or in the house. It was quite clear to Reddy that no Fox had bothered this flock of fat hens. He was sorely tempted to rush out and grab one of them at once, but he didn't. He was far too clever to do anything like that until he was absolutely sure that it would be safe.

So Reddy lay flat behind the old tree trunk, with just his nose and his eyes showing around the end of it, and studied what would be best to do. He was sure that he could get one of those fat hens, but he wanted more. Early that morning Reddy would have been quite contented with one, but now that he was sure that he could get one, he wanted more. If he were too bold and frightened those hens while catching one, they would make such a racket that they would be sure to bring some one from the farmhouse. The thing to do was to be patient until he could catch one without alarming the others. Then perhaps he would be able to catch another. Reddy decided to be patient and wait.