The Fox (A Story of the Forest)

Following is a story I posted to the Clarion Newsgroups recently. I guess I was trying to be clever. Not sure if it works.

The Fox walked through the Forest. He was an intelligent Fox, especially when talking about Chickens. Oh boy, he knew Chickens alright. Of course, they were crafty Creatures themselves, and he had never actually _caught_ a Chicken.

The Fox didn’t let this minor detail discourage him.

The Fox had a secret. He didn’t _try_ to catch and eat any Chickens. Indeed, it was hard work, much harder than walking through the Forest. He couldn’t understand why you would want to go to all the effort of catching and eating Chickens when it was far easier just to tell the other Creatures of the Forest _about_ catching and eating them.

Every Creature in the Forest looked up and respected the Fox, he was sure. They whispered as he walked past, tail high, bristles clean and magnificent.

"They are whispering of my most excellent wisdom in the area of catching and eating Chickens."

As at the start of every day, the Fox walked through the Forest to the High Hill.

The High Hill was the place of commerce and gossip and work for the Forest Creatures. Here goods were bought and sold in the open. Here friendships were made between Lion and Lamb. There wasn’t any bartering or haggling to speak of, except when a piece of fruit was rotten, or contained Flies. Mostly, it was gossip about other Forest Creatures and especially, the Lord of the Forest.

The Lord of the Forest was almost never present. He was a great Tree, Wise and Ancient. His head of green could be seen moving through the Forest, although the Forest was large enough so that some Creatures never caught a glimpse of him.

Today, as at the start of every Today, the Fox made his way up the High Hill, to the Summit. Proudly he trotted, pretending not to notice the whispering. His mission was of the utmost importance Today (as with every Today).

"I must alert my fellow Creatures to the danger. The Great Fox In The Sky has shown me the future, as he showed my forebears. I must preach this gospel to all who will listen. Nay, to ALL."

Reaching the Summit of the High Hill, the Fox turned around, and waited for silence.

The Creatures of the Forest continued their commerce, gossip and work.

"Creatures of the Forest! I have grave tidings!" The Fox pronounced in somber but magnificent (he was sure) tones.

A Bear rambling past turned her head. "Grave Tidings?" She snorted. "Have you caught any Chickens yet oh Great and Mighty Fox?"

The Fox smiled. "Good Bear, why, that is not important. I cannot enter into such conversations when that which I came here to speak is of such import!"

The Bear shook her shaggy head and continued on.

"The Lord of the Forest loves us no more!"

This turned heads. Some Creatures came forward. A small Turtle, slow and ponderous began to make his way to the Summit. A Hare hopped across and watched the Fox.

"He has forsaken us! His true people, who have done nought but Love and Cherish him!"

More Creatures of the Forest came and sat in front of the Fox, listening. Although more still went about their business.

A Lion, down at the bottom of the High Hill looked at the Fox. The Lion looked, and the Fox pretended not to notice the Look.

"Fellow Creatures! Although my words may bring fear, let us be Brave and Courageous! It is no longer time for the Leaf! It is the Claw and the Tooth that will prevail, bringing us victory!"

The Snake, ever an ally of the Fox, joined him at the Summit.

"Yeessss. It is soooo. The Fox speaks great wisdom."

The Turtle had finally made his way to the Summit.

"Fox. Why should we fight the Lord of the Forest? Without him, the Forest would not exist. You would have no home. All the Creatures of the Forest would have no home. The Forest provides us with safety. It provides us business here, at the High Hill, and the other Hills. And the Lord, he grows the Forest ever onwards."

The Fox waited a moment.

"Yes Turtle. You are correct. We do have the Lord of the Forest to thank for our past blessings. But what of the Now? Where is he?"

The Snake whispered, although loud enough for those around to hear. "Yesssss, I have not seen the Lord of the Forest for months, even years."

The Turtle persisted. "That doesn’t mean the Lord of the Forest has abandoned us. Why, just yesterday I spoke with him."

The Snake laughed. "And where is your proof Slow One? What did the great lord say to you?"

The Turtle twisted slowly, uncomfortable. "I have no proof. And I cannot speak of what he told me. It will be revealed soon."

The Fox joined in the laughter with Snake.

"Foolish Turtle. Why do you seek to deceive these loyal Creatures of the Forest who stand here, only wishing to hear the Truth. Begone with you."

The Turtle turned, sadness in his eyes, and walked down the hill, slowly.

That day, the Today, many Creatures of the Forest were disturbed by the preaechings of the Fox (and the Snake). They went to their homes confused. Did the Lord of the Forest really care for them? Why hadn’t they heard him? Seen him? Or even, as the Snake had finished with, seen Evidence of his passing?

The dawn broke across the Forest. The Creatures of the Forest awoke, blinking in the sunlight.

The Forest was gone.

The Fox was gone, as was the Snake.

The Lord of the Forest stood before them.

"Beware the words of Foxes and Snakes, for they breed heresies and lies."

Then he was gone.

They were no longer Creatures of the Forest.

In the days that followed, some Creatures sought out other Forests. Some passed away, longing for a place without Foxes and Snakes. Others stayed where they were, stubbornly refusing to leave their home. They began to grow new trees, or at least they tried.


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