“Bah! Onions and beets are to be eaten by rabbits, not with rabbits! No fox worth a single hair of his shiny coat would ever stoop to eating onions and beets!”
From out of the shadows stepped a grim simulacrum of a fox. Lank matted hair hung in islands like tufts upon a sea of exposed and mottled skin. Uthor leapt back with irrepressible revulsion as Gerald showed himself.
“You! You disgusting wretch, little wonder you hide yourself amongst the bushes. You are a poor excuse for a fox with rotting fur and flea bites and ticks covering your body. I should tear your throat out this very instant; it would be a kindness to you.”
“Well I please hope that you won't,” retorted Gerald. “For if you could hold back your desire to bleed me dry, then perhaps I could tell you how to solve your lack of culinary variation?”
Uthor's eyes narrowed with interest and suspicion, as Gerald unveiled his plan.
The following night four foxes stood beyond the edge of the Wilderwood, on the border of the realms of men. They stood on a slither of a precipice overlooking a valley. Within the valley could be seen the smoke and lights of houses and the noise of cars and people. Yet directly beneath the precipice was a single large building surrounded by a mighty fence of barbed wire, and inside this compound stood coop after coop after coop of chickens.
“How can we carry all of the chickens back to the Wilderwood? It's far too steep; I could barely make it without carrying anything.” A hint of trepidation had crept into Clarabella's voice.
“Carry the chickens back? Why on earth would one wish to carry the chickens back when we can simply gorge ourselves here and then slink back to the cover of the woods with our bellies full?” said Dapper with an air of casual disbelief.
“Here, here!” Burst the bluff voice of Uthor. “If it weren't for the clouds overhead, I would probably just sleep here, ready for a second helping when the morning comes.”
Clarabella had been slightly less enthusiastic about their proposed expedition than the two males. When Uthor had returned to the den with that grubby creature Gerald in tow, he had been full of bluster and bravado; applauding himself already for the great feats of daring he would undertake, while boasting of the stories that all would tell of their great courage and quick wits, and how it is no wonder that foxes are known for their cunning. Whereas Dapper had merely stretched himself slowly and lazily, yawning as he did so, before remarking how having a belly full of chicken did seem like a rather splendid notion. Even to Clarabella the idea had seemed interesting and exciting, though as she stood on the edge of the precipice looking down upon the farm below, butterflies fluttered frantically inside her stomach.
“But what about Great Oak?” she whispered.
“What about Great Oak?” replied Dapper. “Are they Great Oak's chickens? Have they been fed and raised by Great Oak? Will Great Oak help us obtain the chickens? No, No and No. [Eve1] Everything we take from the Wilderwood must be returned to the Wilderwood, for that is the way of the Wilderwood. But this is not the Wilderwood, is it? This is the realm of men, and the chickens that we will feast upon are the chickens of men. So I really don't see how Great Oak could possibly have anything to do with this, do you?”
Cowed by Dapper's sharpness, Clarabella relented. Meanwhile, unseen by the other three, Gerald smiled to himself.
Swift and deadly, the four foxes descended upon the farm. Digging frantically with their paws, they dug beneath the wire fence and into the compound. Not a sound they made as they slunk towards the coops. After worrying the latch for a few anxious moments they entered into the nearest coop and amongst a cacophony of clucking and the frantic beating of wings they snatched their prey and slunk once more into the night.
Beneath the shadow of the precipice, Clarabella, Dapper and Uthor feasted greedily on their juicy fowl. So elated by the thrill of their recent escapades and the tender meat that was their prize, not one of the three even noticed Gerald, who sat by quietly watching them stuff and gorge themselves, while he did not eat one single morsel.