Prickly Porky in "Old Man Coyote Loses His Appetite"
Old Man Coyote Loses
Hardly was Sammy Jay out of sight, flying towards the Old Orchard, before Old Man Coyote started for the Green Forest. He is very sharp, is Old Man Coyote, so sharp that it is not very often that he is fooled. If Sammy Jay had gone to him and told him what a splendid chance he would have to catch Ryder Rabbit if he hurried up to the Green Forest right away, Old Man Coyote would have suspected a trick of some kind. Sammy had been clever enough to know this.
So he had just mentioned in the most matter-of-fact way that he had seen Ryder over on Prickly Porky's hill and that Ryder appeared to have been in trouble, so that he was too lame to go to his home in the dear Old Briar-patch. There wasn't even a hint that Old Man Coyote should go over there. This was what made him sure that the news about Ryder was probably true.
Now as soon as Sammy was sure that Old Man Coyote couldn't see him, he headed straight for the Green Forest and the hill where Prickly Porky, Jimmy Skunk, Unc' Billy Possum, and Ryder and Mrs. Ryder Rabbit were waiting. As he flew, he saw Reddy Fox and old Granny Fox stretched flat behind an old log some distance away, but where they could see all that might happen.
"I knew they would be on hand," he chuckled.
When he reached the others, he reported that he had delivered the message to Old Man Coyote, and that he was very sure, in fact he was positive, that Old Man Coyote was already on his way there in the hope that he would be able to catch Ryder Rabbit. It was decided that everybody but Ryder should get out of sight at once. So Unc' Billy Possum climbed a tree. Jimmy Skunk crawled into a hollow log. Sammy Jay hid in the thickest part of a hemlock tree. Prickly Porky got behind a big stump right at the top of the hill.
Little Mrs. Ryder, with her heart going pit-a-pat, crept into the old house between the roots of this same old stump, and only Ryder was to be seen when at last Old Man Coyote came tiptoeing along the hollow at the foot of the hill, as noiseless as a gray shadow.
He saw Ryder almost as soon as Ryder saw him, and the instant he saw him, he stopped as still as if he were made of stone. Ryder took a couple of steps, and it was very plain to see that he was lame, just as Sammy Jay had said.
"That good-for-nothing Jay told the truth for once," thought Old Man Coyote, with a hungry gleam in his eyes. Whenever Old Man Coyote thought that Ryder was not looking his way, he would crawl on his stomach from one tree to another, always getting a little nearer to Ryder. He would lie perfectly still when Ryder seemed to be looking towards him. Now of course Ryder knew just what was going on, and he took the greatest care not to get more than a couple of jumps away from the old house under the big stump, where Mrs. Ryder was hiding and wishing with all her might that she and Ryder were back in the dear Old Briar-patch.
It was very still in the Green Forest save for the song of happiness of Redeye the Vireo who, if he knew what was going on, made no sign. My, but it was exciting to those who were watching!
Old Man Coyote had crept half-way up the hill, and Ryder was wondering how much nearer he could let him get with safety, when a sudden grunting broke out right behind him. Ryder knew what it meant and jumped to one side. Then down the hill, rolling straight towards Old Man Coyote, started the strange, headless, tailess, legless creature that had so frightened Reddy and Granny Fox.
Old Man Coyote took one good look, hesitated, looked again, and then turned tail and started for the Green Meadows as fast as his long legs would take him. It was plain to see that he was afraid, very much afraid. Quite suddenly he had lost his appetite.