How the Fox Fell a Victim to His Own Deceit
Tibetan Folk Tale
Retold by A.L. Shelton (1925)
“Between the official and his people is confidence if the head-man is skillful.” ~Tibetan Proverb.
ONCE upon a time, away up in the corner of the mountains, in a little cave, lived a tiger and her baby cub. She had brought for this baby, one day when she was out hunting, a little fox to be his playmate. The fox had a happy time and an easy one, for he didn’t have to work or hunt, but played all day and the mother tiger kept them all supplied with food. One day she went out to hunt and found a little calf, which she took home to be another playmate for her son. But the fox was much displeased and became very jealous of the calf because he thought they all loved the calf better than he and that only the food that was left over was given to him. As a matter of fact, they treated him just the same as ever, but his heart was wrong and he began to plan how he might be revenged on the calf. After a while, the mother tiger became very ill, and as she was about to die she called the calf and her son to her side and said, “Although you are not of the same father and mother, yet you are brothers. I don’t want you to ever quarrel, but to live happily here together, and if any one should tell you lies don’t pay any attention to them, but always be friends.” So saying, she died.
Now the fox saw his opportunity. Every morning the calf was in the habit of running and playing and jumping and shaking his horns in fun, bellowing and taking exercise, while the tiger preferred to lie and rest. So one morning while the calf was skipping around, the fox slipped up to the tiger and said, “Although the calf says he is your friend, have you any idea what he is thinking about, when he runs and jumps and shakes his horns in that manner? In his heart he hates you, and in that manner is gaining strength in order that he may be able to kill you.”
This, of course, made the tiger suspicious and very angry. So daily he watched the calf very closely and became sour and surly.
Then the fox went to the calf and said, “You know your mother told you and the tiger that you were to be brothers, but see, he is growing larger and stronger every day and his heart has changed and he is preparing to kill and eat you.”
The tiger and the calf were now enemies and watched each other with a great deal of suspicion and were very unhappy. Finally one day the calf said to the tiger, “Why do you want to kill me and eat me? I have done you no harm and love you just as your mother said I should.”
The tiger replied, “I love you just the same and never thought of doing such a thing until the fox said you were preparing to kill me.”
Then they realized that the fox had been trying to make them enemies, and they decided on a plan to get even with the fox. The tiger said, “I’ll tell you what we’ll do. We’ll have a sham fight saying we hate each other and we’re going to fight it out and see who wins. Ask him to be present and while we’re in the midst of it, I’ll attack him.”
The day came and they began their fight. They maneuvered round and round and seemed to be fighting very fiercely until they came very near the fox, when the tiger made a jump, landed on him and killed him and sat down and had a feast of the carcass.