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On a hill above the valley there was a wood.
In the wood there was a huge tree.
Under the tree there was a hole.
In the hole lived Mr Fox and Mrs Fox and their four Small Foxes.
Every evening as soon as it got dark, Mr Fox would say to Mrs Fox, ‘Well, my darling, what shall it be this time? A plump chicken from Boggis? A duck or a goose from Bunce? Or a nice turkey from Bean?’ And when Mrs Fox had told him what she wanted, Mr Fox would creep down into the valley in the darkness of the night and help himself.
Boggis and Bunce and Bean knew very well what was going on, and it made them wild with rage. They were not men who liked to give anything away. Less still did they like anything to be stolen from them. So every night each of them would take his shotgun and hide in a dark place somewhere on his own farm, hoping to catch the robber.
But Mr Fox was too clever for them. He always approached a farm with the wind blowing in his face, and this meant that if any man were lurking in the shadows ahead, the wind would carry the smell of that man to Mr Fox’s nose from far away. Thus, if Mr Boggis was hiding behind his Chicken House Number One, Mr Fox would smell him out from fifty yards off and quickly change direction, heading for Chicken House Number Four at the other end of the farm.
‘Dang and blast that lousy beast!’ cried Boggis.
‘I’d like to rip his guts out!’ said Bunce.
‘He must be killed!’ cried Bean.
‘But how?’ said Boggis. ‘How on earth can we catch the blighter?’
Bean picked his nose delicately with a long finger. ‘I have a plan,’ he said.
‘You’ve never had a decent plan yet,’ said Bunce.
‘Shut up and listen,’ said Bean. ‘Tomorrow night we will all hide just outside the hole where the fox lives. We will wait there until he comes out. Then… Bang! Bang-bang-bang.’
‘Very clever,’ said Bunce. ‘But first we shall have to find the hole.’
‘My dear Bunce, I’ve already found it,’ said the crafty Bean. ‘It’s up in the wood on the hill. It’s under a huge tree…’
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