The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse Part 7

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The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse is a Webnovel created by Thornton W. Burgess.
This lightnovel is currently completed.

There was only one who could make such a sound as that–Mr.

Blacksnake.

Now Danny can run very fast along his private little paths, but he knew that Mr. Blacksnake could run faster. “If my legs can’t save me, my wits must,” thought Danny as he started to run as fast as ever he could. “I must reach that fallen old hollow fence post.”

He was almost out of breath when he reached the post and scurried into the open end. He knew by the sound of the rustling that Mr.

Blacksnake was right at his heels. Now the old post was hollow its whole length, but halfway there was an old knothole just big enough for Danny to squeeze through. Mr. Blacksnake didn’t know anything about that hole, and because it was dark inside the old post, he didn’t see Danny pop through it. Danny ran back along the top of the log and was just in time to see the tip of Mr.

Blacksnake’s tail disappear inside. Then what do you think Danny did? Why, he followed Mr. Blacksnake right into the old post, but in doing it he didn’t make the least little bit of noise.

Mr. Blacksnake kept right on through the old post and out the other end, for he was sure that that was the way Danny had gone.

He kept right on along the little path. Now Danny knew that he wouldn’t go very far before he found out that he had been fooled, and of course he would come back. So Danny waited only long enough to get his breath and then ran back along the path to where another little path branched off. For just a minute he paused.

“If Mr. Blacksnake follows me, he will be sure to think that of course I have taken this other little path,” thought Danny, “so I won’t do it.”

Then he ran harder than ever, until he came to a place where two little paths branched off, one to the right and one to the left.

He took the latter and scampered on, sure that by this time Mr.

Blacksnake would be so badly fooled that he would give up the chase. And Danny was right.

“_Brains are better far than speed As wise men long ago agreed,_”

said Danny, as he trotted on his way for the gra.s.s seed he liked so well. “I felt it in my bones that this would be an exciting day. I wonder what next.”

XXII

What Happened Next to Danny Meadow Mouse

Danny is so used to narrow escapes that he doesn’t waste any time thinking about them. He didn’t this time. “He who tries to look two ways at once is pretty sure to see nothing,” says Danny, and he knew that if he thought too much about the things that had already happened, he couldn’t keep a sharp watch for the things that might happen.

Nothing more happened as he hurried along his private little path to the edge of a great patch of gra.s.s so short that he couldn’t hide under it. He had to cross this, and all the way he would be in plain sight of anyone who happened to be near. Very cautiously he peeped out and looked this way and looked that way, not forgetting to look up in the sky. He could see no one anywhere.

Drawing a long breath, Danny started across the open place as fast as his short legs could take him.

Now all the time, Redtail the Hawk had been sitting in a tree some distance away, sitting so still that he looked like a part of the tree itself. That is why Danny hadn’t seen him. But Redtail saw Danny the instant he started across the open place, for Redtail’s eyes are very keen, and he can see a great distance. With a satisfied chuckle, he spread his broad wings and started after Danny.

Just about halfway to the safety of the long gra.s.s on the other side, Danny gave a hurried look behind him, and his heart seemed to jump right into his mouth, for there was Redtail with his cruel claws already set to seize him! Danny gave a frightened squeak, for he thought that surely this time he would be caught.

But he didn’t mean to give up without trying to escape. Three jumps ahead of him was a queer-looking thing. He didn’t know what it was, but if there was a hole in it he might yet fool Redtail.

[Ill.u.s.tration: _With a frightened squeak, Danny dived into the opening just in time_]

One jump! Would he be able to reach it? Two jumps! There was a hole in it! Three jumps! With another frightened squeak, Danny dived into the opening just in time. And what do you think he was in? Why, an old tomato can Farmer Brown’s boy had once used to carry bait in when he went fishing at the Smiling Pool. He had dropped it there on his way home.

Redtail screamed with rage and disappointment as he struck the old can with his great claws. He had been sure, very sure, of Danny Meadow Mouse this time! He tried to pick the can up, but he couldn’t get hold of it. It just rolled away from him every time, try as he would. Finally, in disgust, he gave up and flew back to the tree from which he had first seen Danny.

Of course Danny had been terribly frightened when the can rolled, and by the noise the claws of Redtail made when they struck his queer hiding place. But he wisely decided that the best thing he could do was to stay there for a while. And it was very fortunate that he did so, as he was very soon to find out.

[Ill.u.s.tration]

XXIII

Reddy Fox Grows Curious

Danny Meadow Mouse had sat perfectly still for a long time inside the old tomato can in which he had found a refuge from Redtail the Hawk. He didn’t dare so much as put his head out for a look around, lest Redtail should be circling overhead ready to pounce on him.

“If I stay here long enough, he’ll get tired and go away, if he hasn’t already,” thought Danny. “This has been a pretty exciting morning so far, and I find that I am a little tired. I may as well take a nap while I am waiting to make sure that the way is clear.”

With that Danny curled up in the old tomato can. But it wasn’t meant that Danny should have that nap. He had closed his eyes, but his ears were still open, and presently he heard soft footsteps drawing near. His eyes flew open, and he forgot all about sleep, you may be sure, for those footsteps sounded familiar. They sounded to Danny very, very much like the footsteps of–whom do you think? Why, Reddy Fox! Danny’s heart began to beat faster as he listened. Could it be? He didn’t dare peep out. Presently a little whiff of scent blew into the old tomato can. Then Danny knew–it was Reddy Fox.

“Oh dear! I hope he doesn’t find that I am in here!” thought Danny. “I wonder what under the sun has brought him up here just now.”

If the truth were to be known, it was curiosity that had brought Reddy up there. Reddy had been hunting for his breakfast some distance away on the Green Meadows when Redtail the Hawk had tried so hard to catch Danny Meadow Mouse. Reddy’s sharp eyes had seen Redtail the minute he left the tree in pursuit of Danny, and he had known by the way Redtail flew that he saw something he wanted to catch. He had watched Redtail swoop down and had heard his scream of rage when he missed Danny because Danny had dodged into the old tomato can. He had seen Redtail strike and strike again at something on the ground, and finally fly off in disgust with empty claws.

“Now I wonder what it was Redtail was after and why he didn’t get it,” thought Reddy. “He acts terribly put out and disappointed.

I believe I’ll go over there and find out.”

Off he started at a smart trot toward the patch of short gra.s.s where he had seen Redtail the Hawk striking at something on the ground. As he drew near, he crept very softly until he reached the very edge of the open patch. There he stopped and looked sharply all over it. There was nothing to be seen but an old tomato can. Reddy had seen it many times before.

“Now what under the sun could Redtail have been after here?”

thought Reddy. “The gra.s.s isn’t long enough for a gra.s.shopper to hide in, and yet Redtail didn’t get what he was after. It’s very queer. It certainly is very queer.”

He trotted out and began to run back and forth with his nose to the ground, hoping that his nose would tell him what his eyes couldn’t. Back and forth, back and forth he ran, and then suddenly he stopped.

“Ha!” exclaimed Reddy. He had found the scent left by Danny Meadow Mouse when he ran across toward the old tomato can. Right up to the old can Reddy’s nose led him. He hopped over the old can, but on the other side he could find no scent of Danny Meadow Mouse. In a flash he understood, and a gleam of satisfaction shone in his yellow eyes as he turned back to the old can. He knew that Danny must be hiding in there.

“I’ve got you this time!” he snarled, as he sniffed at the opening in the end of the can.

[Ill.u.s.tration]

XXIV

Reddy Fox Loses His Temper

Reddy Fox had caught Danny Meadow Mouse, and yet he hadn’t caught him. He had found Danny hiding in the old tomato can, and it didn’t enter Reddy’s head that he couldn’t get Danny out when he wanted to. He was in no hurry. He had had a pretty good breakfast of gra.s.shoppers, and so he thought he would torment Danny awhile before gobbling him up. He lay down so that he could peep in at the open end of the old can and see Danny trying to make himself as small as possible at the other end. Reddy grinned until he showed all his long teeth. Reddy always is a bully, especially when his victim is a great deal smaller and weaker than himself.

“I’ve got you this time, Mr. Smarty, haven’t I?” taunted Reddy.

Danny didn’t say anything.

“You think you’ve been very clever because you have fooled me two or three times, don’t you? Well, this time I’ve got you where your tricks won’t work,” continued Reddy, “so what are you going to do about it?”

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