Read by Trish Rowland
It was dark in the early morning before sunrise on Breakers Island.
Fran’s mother said, “Be careful where you play. Do not leave our area.”
Soon Fran was at play with the other fox pups.
There was a still quiet in Fire Fall Woods as Felix began to count, “One, two, three.”
The pups ran in all directions to hide. Felix called, “Four, five, six.”
Fran looked from behind a tree at Felix. His eyes were closed as he counted, “Seven, eight, nine.”
Fran ran deep into the woods. She ran fast and jumped into a large pile of leaves. Fran covered herself in the beautiful fall leaves of red, orange, and gold. Her fur was almost the same color as the leaves. She thought, “This is a perfect hiding place. Felix will never find me in here.”
Felix opened his eyes as he finished counting. He called to his friends, “Ten. Ready or not, here I come!” The game was on.
He listened for sounds around him. He sniffed the air for the scent of the red fox pups.
The young foxes were hiding in different places. Felix was a cunning hunter. He loved to play hide and seek. He had to find all four pups to win.
Fran rolled into a small, tight ball under the leaves and was very still.
In no time, Felix found three of the pups in their hiding places. He called out, “I see you! Come out from under that tree. I see your snout! Come out from behind that bush. I see your bushy tail! Come out of that hole.” Now he only needed to find Fran to win the game. Felix thought, “Three down and one to go. Where is Fran hiding?”
Fran knew Felix wasn’t close to where she was hiding. He couldn’t quite catch her scent.
Fran saw Felix heading in the wrong direction.
Fran thought, “I was right. Felix can’t see me because of the color of the leaves.” She could hear her friends moving away.
Fran wanted to win the game. In her rush to hide, she hadn’t checked for other animal scents. This area of the woods had been marked by gray wolves.
Then Fran heard the sound of paws coming near her hiding place. She thought, “Has Felix come back? Has he found my hiding place?” Then she caught another scent. It was a wolf!
Wolfgang, a lone gray wolf, was hunting in Fire Fall Woods. He stopped when he caught Fran’s scent. Wolfgang thought, “What is that smell? Who is hunting in our marked area?”
Fran was frozen in fear. She lay very still, but her heart was racing.
She thought, “What should I do? Mother always tells me to think first. Be smart and use your head. You don’t need to be stronger to win.”
The air was filled with the sound of wind and falling leaves. Wolfgang thought, “This is the scent of a fox.” He called, “Fox, I know you are here. Come out, come out, wherever you are.”
Wolfgang used his sharp hearing and night vision but couldn’t find Fran. He let out a loud howl to scare the fox out into the open. Fran played it smart. She stayed in hiding and was very quiet. The sound of dry leaves crunched under Wolfgang’s paws as he looked for the fox.
Crunch! Crunch! Crunch!
Then a barking, “wow, wow, wow,” was heard in the distance. Wolfgang turned his head to listen. The foxes had heard his howl and were heading his way. He knew better than to take on a fox troop alone.
Again the fox calls, “wow, wow, wow,” filled the air. They were getting closer.
Fran heard the sound of Wolfgang running away. She came out from under the leaves after she was sure the wolf had left. Fran called back to the foxes, “wow, wow, wow,” as she ran to meet them.
They were so happy that Fran wasn’t harmed. It was time to quickly leave before the wolf pack came back. Peace among the animals of Fire Fall Woods was kept by respecting the marked territory of others.
Now Fran understood the warning, “No Trespassing!”
Mother always tells me to think first. Be smart and use your head. You don’t need to be stronger to win.