Once upon a time, a farmer delighted in caring for his hens. Every morning he cleaned the sturdy hen house, whistling to his brood, for the farmer loved his hens. And day after day, in return for his tender care, the hens laid eggs for the farmer.
One day a gray fox came upon the hen house. I will feast tonight,thought the fox, then stretching out in a spot of cool shade under a pin oak tree, he slept away the afternoon.
That night, after the dogs had drifted off to dreams of chase, when the horses rested in the stables and the cows lay in distant pastures, after the hens had settled down and the good farmer had extinguished the lights in the house, when all the farm dozed in sleep, except for the tabby cat in search of a mid-night meal, the fox crept into the hen house.
“Squeak, squeak,” creaked the floor board the farmer had placed at the entrance to the hen house.”
The farmer leaped straight up and out of his bed. Grabbing his shot gun, he raced to his hen house, past the groggy dogs lying on the farmhouse porch, past the horses stirring in the stables, past the tabby cat hunting her midnight snack. The farmer drew the weapon and fired, sending a single shot sailing over the hen house.
Night after night, the farmer ran after the fox in his hen house. Night after night, the fox ran from the farmer and his shotgun.
I must find a way to get to those hens, the fox thought, hunger gnawing at his empty belly.
After the sun had fallen behind the rolling hills, when moon beams fell like water through the heavy oak canopy, lighting the cool earth underneath, the hungry fox ventured in the clearing which opened before the farmer’s hen house. The moonbeams glistened on a tall plant with clusters of violet flowers. He stared at the plant. Why, these flowers were just the size to slip over his feet!
The fox removed four of the blooms. One by one, he slid his feet into the satiny flowers. With these gloves, he thought, I will enter the hen house as silently as the stars came to the night sky. I will snatch my dinner and I will feast!
Which is, of course, exactly what he did.
Photo of the Foxglove plant