“Now children,” said Mrs Vulpo to her four frisky fox cubs, “I hope you thanked Miss Tabitha for cub-sitting for you whilst your father and I enjoyed a quiet evening in The Fox and Hounds.”
“Ruff,ruff, we’ve all been very good,” replied Suzanne Emilia. She was the cubs half-sister from the previous year and liked helping her mother whilst learning all she could about the ways of the wild.
“Excellent,” replied Mrs Vulpo, “it’s now time for sleep, so I want you all to settle down.”
“Ruff, ruff, a story, a story,” the cubs hoped this was a good chance to settle down under the soothing tones of Mamma’s storytelling voice.
“All right, which would you like?” she said.
“The tale of Kenneth Jonathan Peel, please Mamma,” squeaked Honoria Jane.
“The wonderful Tale of Mr Tod, please Mamma,” ruffed Louisa Alice.
“The story of Tabitha and Mrs Vulpo, please Mamma,” barked Samantha Joanne.
“The fabled tale of the Fox and the Crow, please Mamma,” grinned Mabel Matilda.
Now, at first glimpse, it would appear that Mrs Vulpo’s family consisted of girl foxes, but this is not the case. Foxes enjoy an inherent good road sense, unlike their adversaries, the Badgers. Being a long established surprisingly successful urban fox, Vulpo himself, was conversant with the dangers of fast busy roads and motorways, and whilst waiting for his chance to cross safely, was impressed by the frequent huge red and green articulated lorries which whisked last his nose. At that low level, it was quite easy to spot the individual name that each lorry had been given, and with practise, to memorise the spelling and possible pronunciation. Foxes have little comprehension of the gender implied by names and therefore all the cubs received the names of the current lorries in the area.
“Ruff, ruff, splendid,” said Mrs Vulpo, “I shall relate the tale of the Fox and the Crow for you. Are you all comfortable and ready for foxy beebows? Then I shall begin!”
“A clever Fox was once quite hungry and spotted a Crow, far above him, sitting on the branch of a tree. The Crow was holding a tasty chunk of ripe Cheddar in his beak, and the fox believed he could smell the delicious aroma which wafted down to him. ‘I should love a mouthful of cheese, followed perhaps by some tasty ripe blackberries from a nearby bush.’ he said to himself. He called up to the Crow, “Wotcha, my fine feathered friend, what’s a handsome iridescent guy like you doin’ up there in a boring old tree? As for myself, I love a bit of bird song. Why not give me a song, whilst you’re up there in the heights. Perhaps the famous crow rendition of Bob Dylan’s Black Crow Blues?
“The Crow was astounded to hear this. He thought, ‘You’ve got a lotta nerve, Mr Fox, to assume a fine avian fellow like myself would swoop to give you a personal performance.’ He just opened his beak to tell the Fox what he thought, when…
“‘Thank-you, Mr Crow,’ called Foxy, ‘and remember for another time, flattery usually gets me anywhere and that pride often precedes a falling chunk of cheese’.”
Mrs Vulpo sat back. The cubs were dozing with appealing grins on their little faces. Suzanne Emilia opened one eye. “Ruff, ruff, Mamma,” she said, “a piece of cheese would go down a treat at this time!”