1st March


A fox and a hound met early one morning on a hillside. It was a beautiful spring day: the sun warmed the earth, daffodils stood around in groups smiling and nodding, and everywhere were the sounds of birds and insects at their work. Nothing was further from the fox’s mind than being torn to pieces by a pack of hounds, and nothing less desired by the hound than to be part of a frenzied mob murdering a fox.

‘How is it,’ the fox asked, as they lay on the grass together, ‘that we are such enemies? Although we are genetically distinct, it’s surely only chance that made you a friend of humans, and left me here in the wild.’

‘I often wonder about that,’ the hound replied, ‘awake at night in the kennel, or when the keepers bring us our food. Whether it’s chance or design, we can’t undo it. Yet, for all my comfort and security, I envy you your freedom. Sometimes at night we hear you barking, and that sets us off. They think we’re simply desperate to get after you, and at one level they’re correct. But what we really want is to be you, not hunt you down.’

‘I’ve heard you howling,’ the fox said, ‘and often laughed at the thought of you stuck in your pen, but other nights I’ve wished I was there too, with a full belly and a warm bed. But if I were, you’d gang up and kill me in seconds.’

‘Sadly, you’re right again,’ the hound said. ‘Our forebears made a pact with men, and we must live with it.’

The fox was suddenly nervous. ‘How did you get out here?’ he asked. ‘Is this a trap?’

‘Not at all,’ said the hound. ‘I found a hole in the fence last night. In fact I must get back or it’ll be mended, and then where would I be? I’ve enjoyed our chat, but next time I see you I’m afraid it’ll be business as usual.’

‘Of course,’ the fox said. ‘Goodbye.’ And he sat on alone, thinking of the hole in the fence, and wondering if there was some way it might not be mended.

Reader: Gerda Stevenson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Harmonium: Kit Downes
Subscribe here for more stories & music