When the reports of rabies came around, Minnie sat her children down and told them to carry a big stick all the way to school and to stay together. She charged 10-year-old Billy with the care of his younger sister and brother. Then she prayed. She prayed for their safety.
The very next day at suppertime the kids excitedly related how Billy had saved them from the fox who was sitting halfway up the big hill beside the road. Six-year-old George was the first to see the fox. Mary probably would have walked right past, none the wiser if her brothers hadn’t stop her. Bill waved his stick. The fox sat, eyeing them.
They were sure it was rabid. “Foxes just don’t sit beside the road halfway up a hill waiting for three little kids,” Billy explained in his most grown-up voice.
That bit of road was very narrow. There was a cliff up behind the fox and the other side of the road sloped down into the valley. Billy took his place between his siblings and the fox. It didn’t occur to any of them to turn around and head home. Missing school wasn’t an option. Being late for school wouldn’t do. Billy stuck his stick out toward the fox and whispered to his sister and brother, “Pray.” The other two immediately knelt down right there in the middle of the road, closed their eyes and prayed. When they opened their eyes the fox had disappeared.
“He went that way.” Billy pointed in the direction the children had come.
“We weren’t even late,” Billy announced at supper time.