☆The Story of the Foxes - The Book of Fantasy
Niu Chiao, ninth-century Chinese poet and saaant. He wrote more than thirty books.
The story of Foxes
Wang saw two Foxes standing on their hind legs and leaning against a tree. One of them held a sheet of paper in its hand, and they laughed together as though they were sharing a joke. Wang tried to frighten them off but they stood their ground, and finally he shot at the one holding the page. The Fox was hit in the eye and Wang took away the piece of paper. At the inn Wang told the story to the other guests. While he spoke a gentleman having a bandage eye came in. He listened to Wang’s story with interest and asked if he might not be shown the paper. Wang was just about to produce it when the innkeeper noticed that the newcomer had a tail. “He is a Fox!” he shouted, and on the spot the gentleman turned into a Fox and fled. The Foxes tried time after time to recover the paper, which was filled with indecipherable writing, but repeatedly set back. Wang decided at last to return home. On the road he met his whole family, who were on their way to the capital. They said that he had ordered them to undertake the journey, and his mother showed him the letter in which he asked them to sell off all their property and join him in the city. Wang, studying the letter, saw that the page was blank. Although they no longer had a roof over their heads, he ordered, “Let’s go back.”
One day a younger brother appeared whom everyone had given up for dead. He asked about the family’s misfortunes and Wang told him the whole story. “Ah,” said the brother when Wang came to the part about the Foxes, “there lies the roof of all the evil.” Wang showed him the page in question. Tearing it from Wang’s hand, the brother stuffed the sheet into his pocket and said, “At last I have back what I wanted.” Then, changing himself into a Fox, he made his escape.