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Danny Fox Steals Some Fish
Danny Fox lived in a small cave on the side of a mountain near the sea. He had a wife called Doxie and three children who were always hungry. Danny and Doxie were often hungry too. The names of their children were Lick, Chew, and Swallow.
Out on the mountain it was very cold,
but in the cave it was warm and snug and Danny Fox liked to sleep curled up, with his nose tucked under his hind leg and his long bushy tail round his face like a scarf. Mrs Doxie Fox liked to sleep curled up, with her nose tucked underneath Lick's chin and her front legs hugging Chew and her hind legs hugging Swallow. And Lick, Chew, and Swallow liked to sleep curled up like furry balls against their mother's tummy, while she covered their backs with her long bushy tail like a scarf.
One day the little foxes woke up early and began to whine and yelp and howl.
"Why are you whining, Lick?" said Mrs Doxie Fox. "I'm whining because I have nothing to lick," said Lick to his mother, Mrs Doxie Fox.
"Why are you yelping, Chew?" said Mrs Doxie Fox. "I'm yelping because I have nothing to chew," said
Chew to his mother.
"Why are you howling, Swallow?" said Mrs Doxie Fox.
"I'm howling because I have nothing to swallow," said Swallow.
"Oh, please stop whining and yelping and howling," said Mrs Doxie Fox, "and I'll ask your father to fetch some food. Wake up, Danny Fox. It is time to go hunting."
"I'm not awake yet," said Danny Fox, and his voice sounded muffled underneath his bushy tail.
"Then how did you hear what I said?" said Mrs Doxie Fox.
"I heard you in my sleep," said Danny Fox. "And now I'm talking in my sleep." But he
opened one eye and they knew he was only pretending. Lick, Chew, and Swallow thought he wasn't going to move, so they began their hullabaloo again.
"Oh, please fetch some food," said Mrs Doxie Fox. "Lick, Chew, and Swallow need something to lick, chew and swallow, and I need something too."
Danny Fox sat up and yawned. He stretched out his front legs and yawned and he stretched out his hind legs and yawned. Then he put his nose outside the cave and sniffed the cold air.
"Sniff, sniff. I can sniff a rabbit." He began to run faster and faster up the mountainside, sniffing the ground. Then he saw the rabbit, and yelped and ran faster than ever. But the rabbit escaped by diving into a crack between two rocks. The crack was too narrow for
He trotted along and he trotted along. Then suddenly he stood quite still, with his bushy tail stretched out behind him and his long, smooth nose stretched out in front.
"Sniff, sniff. I can sniff a pigeon." He looked and he looked and he saw a wood-pigeon just below him on the hill, pecking at the ground. He walked very quietly, one step at a time. Then suddenly he sprang at the pigeon. But the pigeon saw him just in time and flew away, and Danny turned head over heels and rolled down the hill.
"Sniff, sniff," said Danny at the bottom of the hill. "I can sniff a mouse." But the mouse ran into its hole.
He trotted along and he trotted along till he came to a farm at the foot of the mountain.
"Sniff, sniff. I can sniff a hen." But the hen saw him and flew up to a branch of a tree.
"Sniff, sniff. I can sniff a duck." But the duck waddled into the farmer's house, where Danny was afraid to go.
"Sniff, sniff. I can sniff a goose." But the goose made such a noise that the farmer came out to see what was wrong and Danny had to hide beneath a bush. "I am unlucky this morning," he said to himself. "What can I find to take home?"
When the farmer had gone, he sneaked out of the farmyard and began to trot along the road. The road went along by the sea-shore, from the harbour to the town.
"Sniff, sniff. That's funny. I can sniff a fish."
Danny trotted along and he trotted along, feeling very hungry. The smell of fish got stronger and stronger, and the more he smelt it the hungrier he grew. His mouth watered, his pink tongue hung out and saliva dribbled from it on the road. He sniffed and sniffed and began to run fast. Then he came round a corner and suddenly stopped.
He saw a horse and cart in front of him. The horse was walking very slowly, the driver seemed to be asleep and the cart was loaded with boxes of fish, all gleaming silver.
Danny Fox walked very quietly, one step at a time.
Then he ran very quietly with his bushy tail stretched
out behind him and his long smooth nose pointing up towards the cart. When he was near enough he sprang on to the cart and grabbed a fish from one of the open boxes. The driver did not look round. Danny Fox lay down very quietly,- hoping not to wake him. His plan was to eat one fish, then pick up as many as he could hold in his mouth and jump off the cart and run home with them. He took a little mouthful of fish and the driver did not look round. He took a bigger mouthful of fish and the driver did not look round. Danny Fox watched him for a moment and saw that his hair was black and curly. He looked young and slim and strong.
"What a pity," thought Danny. "I wish he was old and slow!" And he lay down very quietly, hoping not to wake him. And crunch, crunch, crunch, he took a
great big noisy mouthful and the driver jumped up and brought his whip down — swish! — on the white tip of his tail. Danny Fox leapt off the cart and over a stone wall into a field.
Now he was very unhappy. He had eaten three mouthfuls of fish, but had nothing to bring home to Lick, Chew, and Swallow, and nothing for Doxie either. The cart had gone on but — "sniff, sniff, sniff" —he could still smell the fish as he lay hiding behind the wall.
He lay and he lay and he thought and he thought, till he thought of a plan. Then he got up quickly and he ran and he ran, keeping close behind the wall so that the driver of the cart could not see him. He ran till he came to a place where the road turned a corner, and by now the cart was far behind him. Then he jumped over the wall and lay down in the middle of the road pretending to be dead.
He lay there a long time. He heard the cart coming nearer and nearer. He kept his eyes shut. He hoped the driver would see him and not run him over.
When the driver saw Danny lying stretched in the middle of the road, he stopped his cart and said, "That's funny. That's the fox that was stealing my fish. That's the fox I hit with my whip. I thought I had only touched the tip of his tail, but now I see I must have hurt him badly. He must have run away from me ahead of my cart. And now he is dead." He got down from his cart and stooped to look at Danny.
"What a beautiful red coat he's got," the driver said, "and what beautiful, thick red trousers. What a beautiful long bushy tail, with a beautiful white tip. What a beautiful long smooth nose with a beautiful black tip. I'll take him home with me, I think, and skin him and sell his fur."
So he picked up Danny Fox and threw him on to the cart on top of the boxes of fish. The cart went on. Danny opened one eye and saw the driver's back was turned to him. Then very quietly, he slid the tip of his tail underneath a fish and flicked it on to the road. He lay quite still and threw another fish out with his tail,
then another and another and another, till all down the road behind the cart there was a long, long line of fish stretching into the distance. And the driver never looked round because he thought Danny was dead. At the next corner, Danny jumped off the cart and ran back down the road. When the cart was out of sight, he started to pick the fish up.
He picked up one for Lick. He picked up one for Chew. He picked up one for Swallow. He tried to pick up one for Doxie too but his mouth was too full, so off he ran towards home with three fishes' heads sticking out from one side of his mouth and three fishes' tails sticking out from the other.
He ran past the farm, and the duck and the goose anL, the hen were watching him.
"Look out," said the duck. "There goes Danny Fox!" "That's funny," said the goose, "he has grown new whiskers."
"Those aren't whiskers," said the hen.
"Yes, they arc," said the goose.
"No, they're not," said the hen.
"What are they, then?" said the duck.
"They are three fishes' heads on one side of his mouth," said the hen, "and three fishes' tails on the other."
Danny ran along the bottom of the mountain past the mouse's hole. The mouse was peeping out.
"That's funny," said the mouse. "I can see three fishes running along. But they have legs like a fox."
"Fishes don't have legs," said the pigeon who was flying up above.
"Yes, they do," said the mouse.
"No, they don't," said the pigeon.
"These ones do," said the mouse.
Danny Fox ran up the mountain past the crack in the rocks where the rabbit was hiding.
"That's funny," said the rabbit. "Danny Fox has been out fishing. I didn't know he had a boat."
At last Danny reached home. He threw one fish to Lick, and one fish to Chew and one fish to Swallow and while they were licking and chewing and swallowing
he said to their mother, "Come quickly with me."
Doxie and Danny Fox ran down the mountain again till they came to the road — and after they had eaten three fish each,
they picked up three fish each and carried them home. Then they went back for another three fish each, and another three fish each and another three fish each. They went on all morning carrying fish up the mountain, until there were no more left on the road.
So Danny and Doxie and Lick and Chew and Swallow had an enormous feast. They ate and they ate until they could eat no more. Then they all fell down together in a heap, fast asleep.