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LITTLE WHITE FOX AND HIS ARCTIC FRIENDS
[Illustration: "Such ugly, bent noses I never saw before in all my life, either." FRONTISPIECE.
LITTLE WHITE FOX
AND HIS ARCTIC FRIENDS
ROY J. SNELL
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
GEORGE F. KERR
LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.
Published, September, 1916
Six of the Little White Fox Stories appeared serially in the
LITTLE WHITE FOX AND HIS ARCTIC FRIENDS
CHAPTER I. LITTLE WHITE FOX MAKES A DISCOVERY
Little White Fox was very, very much worried, for something dreadful had happened, something he couldn't account for at all: Tdariuk, the reindeer, was dead!
Tdariuk was not related to Little White Fox. And he wasn't a bit in the world like him. He was many times bigger than Little White Fox would ever be, and he was quite different from him in every way. But all the same, Little White Fox loved him. If you had asked him why he loved the big reindeer, he would probably have told you that, for one thing, Tdariuk, in spite of his huge body, was very gentle and kind. None of the little animals of the tundra was afraid of him. Little Mrs. Ptarmigan calmly hunted for dry blueberries and weed seed right beside him while he cropped his moss. And when he drew close to the shore by the sea, Little Brown Seal never thought of such a thing as slipping off his rock and hiding in the water. Even if there were no other reason, wouldn't Tdariuk's gentleness alone make Little White Fox love him?
Now when Little White Fox discovered that his big, kind friend was dead, he ran home as fast as his legs could carry him to tell his mother the sad news.
"Mother! Mother!" he called tumbling into his home under the great rock, "Tdariuk is dead!"
"Tdariuk dead!" cried Madam White Fox. "Who could have been mean enough to kill him?"
"I don't know who killed him, but he's dead, I know that," said Little White Fox, the tears running down his cheeks.
"It must have been Old Man Gray Wolf, or Omnok, the hunter," said Madam White Fox, wiping her eyes with her paw. "For my part, I could easily wish them both dead themselves. None of us is safe as long as they are about. But who told you Tdariuk was dead?"
"No one told me. I found it out for myself," boasted Little White Fox proudly, quite forgetting his sorrow in thinking what a wise young chap he was.
"Why, you see," explained Little White Fox, with an air of deep mystery, "I was down on the tundra, at the foot of Saw Tooth Mountain, looking all around to see what I could see. And all of a sudden I came right on one of Tdariuk's great, fine antlers lying there in the snow. Now, what do you think of that? And when I went on a little farther, there was the other one! And then I knew, of course, that Tdariuk was dead."
When Madam White Fox heard that, she smiled a little and stopped wiping her eyes. But all she said was: "Keep your eyes wide open, my son, and one of these days you will see something very strange."
Little White Fox thought that a queer way to answer him. Why, she hadn't even told him he was smart to discover about Tdariuk.
"What do you mean, mother? What will I see? Tell me what I will see!
But not another word would Madam Fox tell him. Little White Fox wondered why she dried her tears for Tdariuk so quickly, but he couldn't find that out, either.
And so every day and all day, Little White Fox went peering curiously about everywhere, just as his mother had told him to do, trying to find the something that was "very strange." He looked all around among the sand dunes by the ocean, but there was nothing strange there. He went in and out among the big rocks at the foot of Saw Tooth Mountain and came near falling into one of Omnok's cruel traps, but there was nothing strange there. He went here and there, and back and forth, all over the tundra, but there was nothing strange there.
Hunt as he would, Little White Fox could find nothing strange anywhere. He had grown quite discouraged, when one day, when he was searching down among the scrub willows by the river, his ear caught a familiar sound, "Ark! Ark! Ark!"
Little White Fox couldn't believe his ears.
"Why, that's queer!" he exclaimed. "It sounds just like Tdariuk, the reindeer. But it can't be Tdariuk. How could it be Tdariuk, when Tdariuk's dead?"