Fox Meets Sly Red Fox©

It was a bright fall day in the English countryside. A young fox was being chased by a pack of foxhounds and hunters. He managed to escape by squeezing through a hole in a tall stone wall. His tongue was hanging low as he stopped to catch his breath. Suddenly, he heard a voice. “What happened to you, my friend?” asked an old fox sitting under a nearby tree.

“Oh,” answered the young fox, still gasping, “it’s those fox hunters. They are always trying to catch us. I will never live to be as old as you.”

“That may be true,” said the old fox, “but it need not be. I’ve never been captured by the hunters.”

“You’re right,” said the young fox. “How did you escape all these years?”

“Because they respect me,” said the old fox. “You see, I am not an ordinary fox. I am important.”

“What makes you important?” asked the young fox.

“Well,” responded the old fox, “I have a little secret; I have a name, and anyone who has a name is important. That’s why people are important. They have names. A name means you are somebody and deserve respect. Otherwise, you are just another animal.”

“Do you mean to tell me if I had a name, the hunters would not harm me?”

“That’s right,” said the old fox. “People believe everyone with a name must be respected.”

“And what is your name?” asked the young fox.

“My name is Sly Red Fox.”

“What a great name,” exclaimed the young fox. “Could I be given a name?”

“Of course,” replied Sly Red Fox. “Because I have a name, I can give you one.” He paused for a moment, then said, “From this day forward, I grant you the name Jolly Red Fox.”

“Oh, thank you, Mister Sly Red Fox!” said Jolly Red Fox.

“Don’t thank me yet,” he answered. “Now that you have a name, you can no longer act like a wild animal. You have to show respect to everyone you meet, or you could lose your good name.”

“I could? How could that happen?” asked Jolly Red Fox.

“Well,” explained Sly Red Fox, “when people act like wild animals, they are sometimes put in jail, and their names are taken away and changed to numbers.”

“Gosh, I’ll have to be careful with everyone I meet,” replied Jolly Red Fox.

“That’s true,” responded Sly Red Fox. “So why don’t you see if you can defend your good name at this very moment? Go face those hunters on the other side of the wall. Tell them who you are. Be proud—remember, you have a name.”

“Yes, you’re right,” said Jolly Red Fox. “I can face them.” He then slowly put his head through the hole in the wall and looked up toward the hunters. “Make way,” he declared. “I’m coming through!”

But one of the nearby hunters grabbed him as he reached the other side. “I’ve got you, little fox!” he shouted.

“I beg your pardon,” exclaimed Jolly Red Fox. “Please put me down. Show me some respect. Don’t you know that I am not an ordinary fox?”

The hunter was taken by surprise. “What do you mean?” he replied. “You look like an ordinary fox to me.”

“But I’m not. I have a name. My name is Jolly Red Fox, and I am a part of this world just like you. So please, sir, would you show me some respect?”

The hunter barely knew what to say. He had never faced such an animal before. He meekly responded, “Oh, do forgive me, Jolly Red Fox. I had no idea you had a name. You certainly deserve my utmost respect. Please, be on your way. I shall not harm you.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Jolly Red Fox. “You are a true gentleman. And in case we ever meet again, let us here and now make a pledge that we shall continue to respect each other.”

The hunter agreed. Jolly Red Fox then scurried away into the woods and lived up to his name for the rest of his long, long life.

Lose all your money and you might regain,
But that's not so if you lose your good name.

Fox Fox