Chapter XXXIV. Patience and Impatience
 
    Patience is a virtue
      In a cause that's right.
    In a cause that isn't,
      It's a cause for fright.

    Bowser the Hound.

One of the first things that the little people of the Green Forest and the Green Meadows who hunt other little people learn is patience. Sometimes it takes a long time to learn this, but it is a necessary lesson. Reddy Fox had learned it. Reddy knew that often even his cleverness would not succeed without patience. When he was young he had lost many a good meal through impatience.

Reddy could not remember when he had been more hungry than he was now. Lying there behind the fallen tree, watching the fat hens walking about unsuspectingly just a little way from him, it seemed to him that he simply must rush out and catch one of them. But Reddy was smart enough to know that if he did this there would at once be such a screaming and squawking that some one would be sure to rush out from the farmhouse to find out what was going on. If he were discovered, there would be small chance for him to get another fat hen. Reddy is keen enough to make the most of an opportunity. He knew that if he could get one of these hens without frightening the others, he would have a chance to get another. He might have a chance to get several in this way.

So, though he was so eager and so hungry, he made himself keep perfectly still, while he studied out a plan. By and by he stole ever so carefully around back of the barn to the cowyard. Some of those fat hens were scratching in the straw of the cowyard. Just outside the cowyard was a pile of old boards. Reddy crawled behind this pile of old boards and then crouched and settled himself to be patient. He knew that sooner or later one of those fat hens would be likely to come out of the cowyard. In this way he might be able to catch one without the others knowing a thing about it.

Blacky the Crow sat in the top of a tall tree where he could see all that was going on. Blacky was as impatient as Reddy was patient. "Why doesn't the red rascal rush in and get one of those fat hens?" muttered Blacky. "What is the matter with him, anyway? I wonder if he is afraid. He could catch one of them without half trying, and there he lies as if he expected them to run right into his mouth. I don't want to sit here all day. Yet I can't do a thing until he catches one of those hens."

So Reddy waited patiently and Blacky waited impatiently, and the fat hens wandered about unsuspectingly, and for a long, long time nothing happened.