Hezekiah licked his paws; he had just finished the last of his berries when he heard the shout. “To the church! To the church!”
The Indians were coming! The field was no place for a gray fox like himself to be running around. It was time to put his plan into action. He’d been scouting around and found a perfect hiding spot right next to the church. A pile of rocks, left over from one of the buildings the people had made, had just enough room for him to slip behind.
Wait—he slowed. Had he heard something?
There it was again—a little whimper. Where could it be coming from?
He looked around. There, in a bushy patch of weeds, was a little fox pup.
“Come on,” Hezekiah called, “that’s no place to hide.”
But the pup didn’t move.
“Don’t be silly! We have to get out of here!”
Still the pup didn’t move.
“Fine,” Hezekiah said and headed for the church once more. He felt bad leaving the little pup behind, but he’d done his best, hadn’t he?
When he reached the church, people were everywhere. Hezekiah ducked behind the pile of rocks and tried to catch his breath.
That’s when he heard the woman inside the church crying. Her son wasn’t at the church like she had thought. Now he was lost and she didn’t know where to find him. If he wasn’t inside the church and a battle began…
Hezekiah felt sad for the mom, but he didn’t know what he could do.
That’s when he got company.
“Oh, Hezekiah, I’m so glad it’s you. Watch Smoky for me. I have to go find Earl.” A mother fox plopped a tiny pup at his feet. “He was right beside me, and then…”
Earl must have been the little pup in the weeds. He knew right where he was. He should go bring him back to his mom. But that meant risking getting caught in the battle and leaving his safe hiding place.
What should he do? He wanted to be brave, but…
He heard a commotion inside the church. One of the men was telling the crying woman he would go find her son. Then he was gone, just like that.
Hezekiah knew he should follow his example, even though he didn’t want to.
He took a deep breath. “Stay here,” he told the mother fox. “I’ll get Earl.”
Before she could say a word, Hezekiah darted out from behind the rocks and ran straight for the patch of weeds.
The moment he found him, he heard a shot.
It had started!
“Oh, you’ve gotten us both into a mess now, Earl,” Hezekiah said. “Why aren’t I behind my pile of rocks where I belong?”
But Earl didn’t answer him. He just curled up against Hezekiah’s legs and huddled close to him.
Hezekiah’s heart melted. He remembered what it was like to be a scared pup. Yelling at Earl wasn’t going to make either of them feel any better.
He wrapped his tail around Earl and made sure he was tucked in safely. The shooting and the yelling didn’t last long. It was just a skirmish, a little fight and not a big battle. As soon as it stopped, Hezekiah picked Earl up in his mouth and trotted back over to his pile of rocks.
Earl’s mom was so happy! She checked over every inch of him to make sure he was OK.
Then Hezekiah heard another shout—but it wasn’t the shout of an attack. It was the shout of a mom who had found her son!
The same man who had left the church before the battle, had just arrived carrying a perfectly safe little boy in his arms. The mother couldn’t stop crying; the man couldn’t stop smiling.
Hezekiah heard someone say it was just like the parable of the lost sheep in the Bible. Jesus said a good shepherd will go look for a sheep that gets lost, even if he has ninety-nine who are safe. Jesus said He was the Good Shepherd and was very happy whenever He found one of His lost sheep.
Hezekiah imagined Jesus was pretty happy right now that the man had followed His example and went looking for the one who was lost. Come to think of it, Hezekiah had followed His example, too, and went looking for Earl.
That meant Hezekiah had made Jesus smile, and that made this a very special day.
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