The Clever Fox
By Valerie L. Egar
A long time ago, a clever mother fox lived in a den with her husband and eight children. Though she and her husband hunted every night, keeping eight mouths fed was hard work. By dawn, both were exhausted and the growing children complained they were still hungry.
All of the animals in the countryside were suspicious of the foxes, which made hunting difficult. The chickens squawked when they saw the foxes and warned the rabbits. The rabbits thumped the ground with their back legs, warning the wild turkeys. The turkeys flapped their wings and flew into the treetops, screeching a fox alarm to all the other animals in the forest.
Every night the foxes hunted, the animals warned each other. Even though the chickens had nothing in common with the rabbits, and the wild turkeys found the chickens to be silly, all united to protect themselves from the foxes despite their differences.
The mother fox thought and thought and because she was so clever, she came up with a plan.
“La, la, la,” she sang to herself as she walked near the chicken pen, picking daisies. “So sad the rabbits have started stealing chicken eggs,” she whispered to the chickens.
“That’s not true!” yelled a red hen.
“Oh, but it is,” said the fox. “They probably haven’t started here— yet. But on the other side of the mountain, they steal them every night.”
For the rest of the day, the hens spoke of nothing else. Maybe it was only rogue rabbits, maybe it was all rabbits, but they agreed that rabbits weren’t chickens and could not be trusted.
The fox wandered near a field where the clover grew and the rabbits liked to play. “La, la, la,” the fox sang to herself. “How terrible the turkeys are going to rip out all this nice clover to weave their nests instead of using sticks and leaves!” she whispered.
“That can’t be true,” yelled an old rabbit.
“Oh, but it is,” said the fox. “I overheard them talking about it yesterday. ‘Who cares about the rabbits,’ they said."
For the rest of the day, the rabbits spoke of nothing else. “Turkeys are like that,” they agreed. “Selfish. Not like rabbits at all. You can never trust a turkey.” They felt angry at the turkeys and were grateful to the fox. “Wasn’t she kind to tell us!” they said.
“La, la, la,” the fox sang as she walked in the woods. “Be careful friend turkeys,” she said sweetly. “The chickens are jealous of your freedom and are conspiring to cage all of you.”
“Ridiculous!” yelled a hen turkey.
“Is it?” said the fox. “You are free and they are not. You are smart, and they— well, they aren’t. They’re silly. You all think so, don’t you? So, they want to make you more like them.”
What the fox said made sense to the turkeys. Of course the chickens were envious of them. How kind of the fox to warn them. Chickens were nothing like turkeys and couldn’t be trusted.
That night, as the foxes hunted, the chickens saw them and said nothing. Why should they warn the rabbits, when rabbits steal chicken eggs? The foxes caught several rabbits that night which made the rabbits angry at the chickens for failing to warn them.
“Huh,” the rabbits thought. “The chickens are no better than the turkeys!”
The next night, the rabbits saw the foxes and, because they were angry, they didn’t warn the chickens or turkeys. The foxes dined on turkeys that evening, and the turkeys’ ire spread to the rabbits. “You can’t trust chickens or rabbits!” said the turkeys.
With the animals divided and angry with each other, the foxes dined on chickens the following night. A rumor started that the rabbits, not the foxes, ate the chickens, which made the chickens more determined to never, ever help rabbits.
The animals’ hatred of each other grew and the foxes hunted undisturbed every night.
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Copyright 2018 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied, reproduced or distributed without permission from the author.
Published May 20, 2018 Journal Tribune Sunday (Biddeford, ME).