The Fox, The Doe, and The Crow.
There was once a mangy old fox who had fallen on hard times at the beginning of a summer and couldn’t find much food. No matter where the old fox wandered, he just could not scrounge up even the tiniest of mice to eat.
One day, the fox came across a young doe, grazing alone in the grass. “Perhaps the doe will know where I could find some mice to eat,” the fox thought, and approached the doe cautiously, not wanting to frighten her.
“Hello, doe,” the fox said softly. The doe looked up, frightened despite the fox’s precautions, but then realized that the fox was worn down. He did not possess the strength possible to attack her. “What do you want, fox?” she asked warily, despite this fact.
“I just wondered if you knew where I could find any mice to eat,” the fox said. He walked closer to the doe. “As you can see, I am not in the best of health, and I am having trouble finding food.”
“I do not know where you could find any mice, fox, but I can show you what else you can eat. But what will I get in return?” the doe asked. The doe was a kind and gentle creature, but her family used her often for her skills in finding food, and never once thanked her. She accepted that behavior from her family, because the doe believed in helping her family no matter what. However, this fox was not part of her family, and no matter how charming he was, she didn’t owe him anything.
The fox thought about it for a moment. “I can offer you my companionship. You must get lonely sometimes, am I right, little doe? Well, so do I. But when we have each other, we won’t be as lonely anymore. Plus, there is strength in numbers. Though I am older and not as strong anymore, I can still help to scare predators away. What do you say?” the fox concluded.
The doe paused to consider the fox’s offer. “All right,” she told him. “Come along, fox, and let’s get you some food.”
From that day on, the doe and the fox were inseparable, and helped each other out all the time. The doe would show the fox where the best food was hidden, and the fox would entertain the doe. They were always laughing when they were together.
On a day at the very end of the summer, when the first hint of a chill settles into the air, the fox was walking along in the woods on his way to meet the doe. The day before, she had mentioned finding an apple tree, and the fox was excited to eat the sweet treats. There was a rustling in the trees above him, and the fox glanced up curiously. There, nestled between the leaves of a tree in the first stages of changing color, a crow sat. The fox was in awe. The crow’s oily black feathers gleamed in the light thrown by the dying sun. They were beautiful. The crow looked down upon the fox haughtily.
“Hello, fox. Looking for mice, are we?”
“Not exactly, no. I haven’t had too many mice these past few months.”
“That’d explain why you look so sickly, then.”
“I do not look sick!” the fox replied, offended, but he knew what he said was a lie. He had indeed grown skinnier over the summer. Though the doe fretted over him and fed him as often as possible, the sustenance she found for the both of them simply wasn’t enough to keep him happy and full. He still craved mice every day.
“You do look sick, and you know it. I know where to find mice, want to come with me?” the crow asked.
“I don’t know, crow. I’m supposed to be meeting a friend.”
“What friend is this?”
“A doe. She’s found an apple tree for us to share. You can come along with me, instead, if you’d like. She wouldn’t mind, I’m sure of it.”
The crow scoffed, ruffling up her elegant feathers. “A doe? And some apples? How quaint. No, I’d prefer a warm meal tonight. I’ll be off now. This is your last chance, fox.”
The fox was conflicted. Although he enjoyed the doe’s company, he was too tempted by the crow’s promise of mice. He sighed. “Fine. Lead the way, crow.”
The crow cackled. “You’ve made the right choice, friend.”
The crow led the fox to a small clearing near a cluster of houses. As they approached, he saw a few other crows had beaten them to the mice.
“It seems we’re too late,” he said to the crow, but she merely laughed again. “That’s what you’re here for, silly fox. Scare them away.”
“Oh,” the fox said, frowning. The doe never used him like this, never made him scare away other animals. She always insisted that they could share. The fox ran towards the murder of crows, snapping his jaws. The murder scattered, but not before pecking at him a few times. The fox winced. “These mice better be worth it,” he muttered darkly to himself. Finally, all the other crows had flown away, and the fox moved towards the mice eagerly. He had just picked one up by the tail when the crow swooped down and snatched it from him.
“Hey!” the fox protested angrily. “That was mine.”
“Not anymore,” the crow said. “These are my mice now.”
“What do you mean? I helped you get these mice, now share!” The fox moved towards the mice again.
“I don’t think so,” the crow said, amused, and pecked at the fox’s face. “Silly fox, so silly to ever trust a crow.” The crow continued to peck at the fox until he was forced to retreat.
The fox walked along unhappily through the forest. The doe wouldn’t be pleased about his lateness, but hopefully she’d forgive him anyways. He knew she’d save him an apple or two.
The fox reached the patch of land the apple tree was on, and was horrified by what he found.
His sweet little doe was lying in the grass beside the apple tree, bite marks all over her. He rushed up to her.
“What happened?” the fox asked.
“Coyotes,” the doe whispered weakly. “They were waiting for me. You weren’t here, I was alone. I couldn’t scare them off alone.” She shuddered.
“I’m sorry, doe, I didn’t mean to leave you,” the fox cried.
“I thought I could trust you. You were supposed to help me,” the doe said, accusation in her eyes.
“I know, I know. I’m so sorry, doe.”
“I trusted you,” the doe said, and then was still.
Anguished, the fox slunk away. He had learned many lessons that day. He knew, now, that he should never trust a crow again. He knew now that he should never believe in anything that sounded too good to be true.
The fox knew now that he must always keep his promises.