The Blackbird and The Fox by Abbie Farwell Brown

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ONE day Madame Fox, who was strolling along under the hedge, heard a Blackbird trilling on a branch. Quick as thought she jumped and seized the little fellow, and was about to gobble him down then and there. But the Blackbird began to chirp piteously:—

“Oh, oh, Madame Fox! What are you thinking of? Just see, I am such a tiny mouthful! And when I am gone—I am gone. Only let me free and I will tell you something. Look! Here come some peasant women with eggs and cheese which they are carrying to the market at Verrières. That would be a meal worth having! Only let me go, and I will help you, Master Fox.”

The Fox saw that this might be a good plan which the bird proposed, so she let him go.

And what do you think the Blackbird did? He began to hop, hop, hop toward the women, dragging his wing behind him as if it were broken, which is a trick some birds know very well.

“Look!” cried one of the women, when she caught sight of him. “Oh, look at the little Blackbird there! His wing is broken and he cannot fly. I shall try to catch him.” And she ran as fast as she could, making her hands into a little cage to put over him. The other women, too, set down their baskets, for convenience—set them down right in the middle of the road—and joined the chase after the poor little Blackbird, so lame, so lame! But always, as they came close to him, he managed to flutter out of reach.

Meanwhile, Madame Fox went round about by the hedge and came all quietly and unseen to the place where the baskets waited in the road. And oh! what a good dinner she found there; chickens and eggs and fresh cheese nicely done up for the market. And the greedy old lady ate them all—all the chickens and the eggs and the cheeses. My! How fat she was when all was done.

Now the Blackbird hopped on and on for a long, long way, until, by cocking his eye, he saw that Madame Fox had finished her dinner. And then, houff! Up he flew, with a jolly chirp of laughter, right over the heads of the astonished women. What of his broken wing now? He began to whistle, to sing, to chirrup like a crazy bird up there in the air. The women looked at one another sheepishly.

“Ah, the wicked Blackbird!” they said. “One would have thought that he could not fly at all. But look at him, the sly creature! Oho, it is a pretty trick he has played us!”

They turned back to where they had left their baskets, intending to start on for the market. But when they came there—well, well! What a shame!—they found the eggs, the chickens, the cheeses all gone—eaten up by the greedy Fox. And then they began to scold and cry.

“Oh, what misfortune!” they wailed. “We have lost our eggs, our chickens, and our cheeses, and there is nothing left to carry to market. We have not even a Blackbird to show for our morning’s work. Oh dear! oh dear! It is all the fault of that wicked, deceitful little bird.”

And, instead of going on to Verrières, they turned about with their empty baskets and went back home, a sorry party, scolding and crying all the way. But long before they reached their homes and their angry husbands Madame Fox was comfortably snoozing her after-dinner nap under the hedge; while the happy Blackbird picked up juicy bugs in the neighboring meadow, with one eye cocked to guard against being surprised a second time by any bushy-tailed rogue.

He managed to flutter out of reach
He managed to flutter out of reach

I do so love crows. Tomorrow, come back, and enjoy a new bird short story.

Project Gutenberg's The Curious Book of Birds, by Abbie Farwell Brown

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Title: The Curious Book of Birds
Author: Abbie Farwell Brown
Illustrator: E. Boyd Smith
Release Date: June 27, 2005 [EBook #16140]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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