SATIRE : A SHORT STORY
THE WILY FOX
A severe drought hit the jungle, and the pastures became barren. The herbivores either died of starvation or migrated to greener leas. The carnivores also suffered as their prey shrank, and they verged on cannibalism. After a series of urgent meetings, the carnivores decided the immediate short-term solution lay in their invading the neighboring jungle and enslaving a stock of herbivores to last them until matters improved.
Accordingly, the next morning an army of carnivores set out under the leadership of the Lion. It was made up of six brigades representing the Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Hyenas, Wolves and a brigade for the rest of the carnivores. The Fox tried to obtain the prestige of a separate brigade for the foxes, but was rejected by the Lion who sarcastically replied: “Thank your stars that we classify you as carnivores, otherwise we would have had you for breakfast together with the two lambs we enjoyed. Go back to your brigade, runt”. The Fox had no choice but to accept the Lion’s decision, however it left such a bad taste in his mouth that he promised himself to pay it back, with interest.
When the invading brigades reached the edge of their jungle, they discovered that the border was a flowing river. As they stopped to rest before crossing, two hungry Hyenas, unable to wait, waded in and headed towards the far bank. Once they reached mid river, a sudden rough disturbance in the water occurred, and the two hyenas disappeared. The onlookers were surprised and scanned the river for the missing hyenas to no avail. Then, the tails of two huge crocodiles appeared, and it became clear what had happened.
The Army got unnerved by the crocodiles and decided to head north and try to cross a couple of miles upriver. But on reaching the new crossing point, a wolf ventured into the water and was almost immediately grabbed by the jaws of a crocodile even bigger than the ones seen earlier. The animals trekked five miles south of their original crossing and the same thing happened to a young showoff tiger who boastingly waded into the water.
The Lion met with the brigades’ Chiefs and spent the night discussing how to overcome this major hurdle. At dawn, they weren’t any closer to a solution and were ready to call off the invasion and head back to their famine-stricken jungle. At the last moment, an idea struck the Tiger, and he jumped up: “I’ve got it; let us call in the Fox. He will find a way out”.
While the rest of the beasts realized the Fox would likely come up with a solution, they were usually reluctant to use his services, because he always managed to fleece them with exorbitant fees and rewards in return for his interventions. But now they had no choice, and so they called the Fox in.
THE FOX SAVES THE MISSION
As expected, the Fox negotiated a very expensive deal for himself and then set out to the river bank. There, he whistled at the largest crocodile basking in the sun on the other bank. The Crocodile whipped up his head in surprise and pointed his finger at himself and yelled: “Me? Are you calling me?”
The Fox nodded his head and waved his hand beckoning him to come over.
The huge Crocodile swam over and shuffled up the bank to where the Fox stood. His curiosity stopped him from gobbling up the tiny Fox, and instead, asked him what was so important that he called a fearsome Crocodile.
The Fox laughed and said: “You don’t scare me a bi,t because we are both animals and we all want one thing: to eat! And I have a proposal for you that guarantees the crocodiles a food supply for a year. What say you?”
The Crocodile began drooling and responded: “For one year? One whole year? Tell me more.”
The Fox smiled and thought, I’ve got him in my pocket, if I had a pocket that is. Then he explained to the Crocodile the plan: “Yes, one year and maybe longer. The plan is for you to allow the animal army to cross to raid the neighboring jungle, and on their return they will grant the crocodiles half their catch of the enslaved herbivores.”
The Crocodile pulled out a calculator from his pocket and punched the numbers, then frowned and looked suspiciously at the Fox: “My calculator indicates half the slave herbivores will feed us for only six months!? Where is our food for the rest of the year?”
The Fox moved nearer to the Crocodile and whispered in his ear. Then they parted, shook hands, and each went back to his group.
The army crossed successfully and raided the neighboring jungle. They feasted gluttonously and then, as usual with raiding parties, distributed the booty among the warriors. Grudgingly, they gave the foxes a double allotment of enslaved herbivores, as per the negotiated agreement.
Having achieved their objective, the carnivores set off towards the river to cross back to their jungle. On arriving at the river, the Fox stopped them and informed them it is his duty and obligation to cross first in order that the crocodiles recognize him and let them through, and also to ensure that they are still abiding by the agreement concluded with them.
After the foxes crossed safely with their enslaved herbivores, the Fox returned to the edge of the river bank, whistled to the Head Crocodile and waved his hand to the army on the other bank to cross.
Once the army was half way across, the crocodiles launched an hour long massive attack that decimated the army, and no one survived.
THE FOX WINS ALL
The Fox smirked a smile and approached the river bank and whistled to the Head Crocodile, who quickly swam over and, panting, thanked him for the great bounty that he provided them and said: “Fox, you are a genius. Your idea of letting them pass and then pounce on them on their return delivered to us four times the amount of food we would have gotten had we eaten the army during their first crossing. This way we got the army, plus the piles of food in their bellies, which they had just eaten, and plus all their enslaved herbivores, not half. I can’t thank you enough. And I would be more than glad to participate at any time in any of your devilish schemes”.
And so it transpired; the Fox succeeded in amassing a large stock of food in the form of enslaved herbivores – enough to keep the foxes well fed for a year. But more importantly, he succeeded in ridding the foxes off their vicious powerful enemies, the carnivores, who were eaten by the crocodiles. The foxes were now free to hunt the jungle undisturbed and unthreatened – at least until the orphaned carnivore children grew up to adulthood.
***** END *****