Ancient Chinese Fable with a Modern Touch: the Fox and the Tiger

Once upon a time, in an isolated forest lived a tiger and many smaller animals. The tiger had no predator, and he preyed on all other animals. Animals all feared the tiger and would run away at the first sight of him.

One day, the tiger was foraging for food and caught a fox. When he opened his big mouth and was ready to eat the fox, the cunning fox started to speak.

‘Stop! How insolent you are!’

Seeing the tiger’s puzzled face, the fox continued, ‘I am the envoy of God. God appointed me as the king of all kings. All animals fear me.’

Startled, the tiger gave the fox a suspicious look.

Seeing the tiger’s hesitation, the fox became more confident. He straightened his body and pointed at the tiger’s nose, ‘You don’t believe? Follow me. I’ll show you.’

The tiger said to himself, ‘Well, I can eat the fox anytime, so there is no need to rush.’ He thus followed the fox and wandered about in the forest.

In no time, they arrived at a place full of sweet berries, where various small animals were foraging.

The animals didn’t like the fox because he planned to make the berry bushes his personal property. He was to build a fence around these bushes, and all other animals had to pay an entrance fee to have access to the berries.

Sensing the fox’s disgusting smell, the animals around the bushes were to give the fox a disgusted look. But the moment they saw the tiger behind the fox, they were frightened and started to run away.

The fox proudly turned his head back to the tiger, ‘You see? They all fear me.’

They traversed the entire forest, and the same phenomenon repeated itself. They repeated the experiment day after day, week after week, with the tiger increasingly convinced that the fox was truly a God’s envoy. He dared no longer to eat the fox.

The tiger had a low IQ; he didn’t know that it was himself that these animals feared, rather than the fox.

Gradually, every animal in the forest knew that the fox was with the tiger: When the fox was present, there must be the tiger nearby. The fox served as an ahead-of-time (AOT) signal for them to escape from the tiger: As soon as they saw the fox, they would run away.

Taking advantage of this phenomenon, the fox successfully built a fence around the berry bushes with no one interrupting him. With the entrance fee, the fox quickly became the richest animal in the forest.

In the meantime, the tiger became poorer and poorer. Because of frequently hanging out with the fox, the tiger caught the fox’s smell, which alerted his prey.

The fox thus proposed that the tiger be his bodyguard in exchange for a miserable wage. Unable to hunt down prey, the tiger had no other choice but to accept.

The fox thus became the king of the forest. ‘Maybe I am truly a God’s envoy, after all.’ The fox talked to himself.

The status quo was maintained for years until a straying foreign lion entered the forest.

Seeing the fearless fox and the bony tiger, the hungry lion was blissful.

The fox wasn’t fearful at all, ‘&$%$@+%#&*#&…’

Unable to understand the local language of the forest, the lion threw himself at the fox.

Scared, the fox shouted, ‘Tiger, protect me!!!’

Seeing the strong muscles of the lion, the bony tiger fled.

The fox thus ended up being the lion’s meal.

Written on April 24, 2022