The Fox-lady

A boy wandered in the woods, tear-streaked and lost, with blood on his arm from his battle with a hungry fox. The boy came upon an abandoned cottage, and found shelter for the night, although he was afraid of the sounds of the forest. When he woke, he found food by his side, and found it tasted good. Each day for several years the boy found food when he woke, until one night he resolved to stay awake to find out where the food came from. He pretended to sleep, and sure enough, just before dawn, he saw his provider. It was a woman, she wore a coat of reddish fur, and her eyes looked wild. She left the food, and turned to leave. The boy jumped up and asked her why she left him food each day but never stayed, and the woman explained that she was under an enchantment. As she spoke, the first rays of dawn entered the cottage, and he saw what the enchantment was. The woman’s eyes grew wilder, and she crouched down on all fours. In the blink of an eye she transformed into a fox, the very one who had stolen him from his family. The boy was afraid, and rightly so, as the wild eyes stared at him, and the sharp fox teeth were bared to strike. As she leapt, the boy struck the fox-lady on the head and stood back in fright as he saw her fall to the ground.

As the fox-lady lay on the floor, the life ebbing from her, the boy saw the wildness leave her eyes, and got a glimpse of the lady she had once been. She thanked the boy for ending her enchanted life, and breathed her last. The boy buried the body in the forest, and returned to his cottage, where he slept fitfully. In time he forgot his benefactor, but she lived on in his dreams. When the seeds of a story looked for a place to grow, they saw the magic lodged in his imagination, and found a home there. The boy was never alone with his stories, and lived long and happily.

The End

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