Bowser The Hound by Thornton W. Burgess
Chapter XXXIX. A Vanished Dinner
This fact you'll find where'er you go Is true of Fox or Dog or Man: Dishonesty has never paid, And, what is more, it never can. Bowser the Hound.
Very pleasant were the thoughts of Reddy Fox as he trotted back to the swamp where was the hollow stump in which he had hidden the fat hen he had stolen. Yes, Sir, very pleasant were the thoughts of Reddy Fox. He felt sure that no dinner he had ever eaten had tasted anywhere near as good as would the dinner he was about to enjoy.
In the first place his stomach had not been really filled for a long time. Food had been scarce, and while Reddy had always obtained enough to keep from starving, it was a long time since he had had a really good meal. He had, you remember, traveled a very long distance to catch that fat hen, and it had been many hours since he had had a bite of anything. There is nothing like a good appetite to make things taste good. Reddy certainly had the appetite to make that fat hen the finest dinner a Fox ever ate.
So, with pleasant thoughts of the feast to come, Reddy trotted along swiftly. Presently he reached the little swamp in which was the hollow stump. As he drew near it, he moved very carefully. You see, he was not quite sure that all was safe. He knew that the farmer from whom he had stolen that fat hen had seen him run away with it, and he feared that that farmer might be hiding somewhere about with a terrible gun. So Reddy used his eyes and his ears and his nose as only he can use them. All seemed safe. It was as still in that little swamp as if no living creature had ever visited it. Stopping every few steps to look, listen, and sniff, Reddy approached that hollow stump.
Quite certain in his own mind that there was no danger, Reddy lightly leaped up on the old stump and peeped into the hollow in the top. Then he blinked his eyes very fast indeed. If ever there has been a surprised Fox in all the Great World that one was Reddy. There was no fat hen in that hollow! Reddy couldn't believe it. He wouldn't believe it. That fat hen just had to be there. He blinked his eyes some more and looked again. All he saw in that hollow stump was a feather. The fat hen had vanished. All Reddy's dreams of a good dinner vanished too. A great rage took their place. Somebody had stolen his fat hen!
Reddy looked about him hurriedly and anxiously. There wasn't a sign of anybody about, or that anybody had been there. Reddy's anger began to give place to wonder and then to something very like fear. How could anybody have taken that fat hen and left no trace? And how could a fat hen with a broken neck disappear of its own accord? It gave Reddy a creepy feeling.