A FOX TALE 51
came to him very suddenly one night when he was out foraging with his father. They were creeping along together, keeping as much under cover of the long grass as possible, when Mr. Fox struck on a hare's trail, and off the two set with their noiseless gliding motion, their noses well to the ground, and their ears alive to every sound under the moon. All at once, w7hen Mr. Fox was slinking under a gate, he began to back and wriggle as if trying to escape from some unseen power. Young Kenard pulled up, watched the old fox anxiously for a moment, and then, seeing a dark form approach, he fled, thinking only of the safety of his own red skin.
Truth to tell, it was a poacher's net into which the old fox had fallen, and the more he struggled to free himself the tighter he became entangled. Instinctively feeling this, and hearing the poacher himself approaching, the cunning creature lay perfectly still in the hope, no doubt, of escape by feigning death. But the wary old netter was quite up to Eenard's tricks ; and seeing that his nets would be torn to pieces if he did not free the animal at once, he tried to loosen one end off the gate. Mr. Fox, however, thought the trap had been set for him, and was determined not to be taken in that way; so he snarled and bit at the man every time he came near the gate. Again and again the poacher tried, but at last, losing patience, he seized some heavy stones off a dyke close by, and pelted Mr. Fox till he died. ' And,' said the poacher afterwards, when telling the tale to his friend, 'it went sore against me killing that animal, for never a so and did it make from first to last.'
Young Eenard had witnessed his father's fate from a safe distance, and ran off as soon as all was over to tell his mother. He found her busily scratching up their morning meal from the various larders round about: for foxes, you know, always bury their prey, and never keep more than one ' joint' (be it of bird or beast) in the same larder at the same time; they have game safes scattered