The one with the fox

Please note this is a work of fiction based on a story of the saint with a fox and how I imagine it might have happened. This is UPG, fictional, NOT REAL.

We were worried, it’s true. The auld Fox, him that caused the phrase comh glic le sionnach (clever as a fox) to be coined in the first place, had been killed. Out on the hunt he was and a spear took him down. No one admitted to it of course, but there he was all the same, bleeding out on the ground, and nothing any of us could do to save him. And then of course, someone had to tell Himself that the Fox was gone, and to be fair it was a brave woman that did it in the end. Well, she was married to him, we thought she’s be safe enough, but even so it was a worry. Himself did love his auld Fox.

But now the Fox was gone from us. And we were left with Himself in a mood, an ongoing, ever lasting mood. Nothing could life him. We tried. We retold the stories the Fox used to tell. We re-sang the songs he used to sing. We had tumblers and dancers and musicians and entertainers galore in to try and life him and nothing worked.

And at the same time, there was a man kept confined. It was not our way usually, but really, we couldn’t trust Himself to give right judgement and blast it, there’s times you have to manage them above us. The man was likely to be killed if he went for judgement in that time and he hadn’t done anything worthy of that – or so we thought anyway, those of us who had hidden him away. Stolen a sheep from what I remember, for a youthful joke and the sheep given back the next day, but worry was given to the auld farmer who owned said sheep, the sheep being part of the family. So usually that would lead to a season’s work on the farm for the young lad or hiring someone to do it for him, if such could be found, but prices jumped when it was a judgement hire to be sure.

In the end, the Lady from Kildare was due a visit anyway. So we waited and kept him fed and tried to keep Himself from doing anything he’d really regret. And when she came walking up, she was maybe a bit surprised at the level of welcome she got. But the first thing she did was to throw Himself off someone he was yelling at. So that was a great start. Now Himself and the Lady were old friends, but you’d never think it from the row that followed. I won’t repeat the language used at all for fear someone might read it and think of using it, but they yelled each other up and down every wall in the place. And we had tall walls! It went on for hours. Hounds ran from them. Children were hiding behind their mothers’ skirts and some of them were taller than said mother! We were running interference as they moved through the place, moving any weapons we could see, leaving them blankets and rugs to fall on and throw at each other.

Well, the pair of them had tempers and Himself had been brewing a while and herself could never abide wallowing. In the end, she stopped and looked at him and said “Are you feeling better now, do you think?” And he laughed and we all heaved a sigh of relief.

Then while we were all at dinner, she left early to go say her prayers – her thoughts were always with God, you know, from the time she first heard of Him – and we thought nothing of it. And the next morning, she went off work a walk and we went to feed the young lad we had waiting for judgement only to find him gone. So we had to go chasing him. And the trail was easy enough to find, the lad had headed straight home and sure we could see him tearing along ahead of us. But he was on foot, and tired and we were on horses, so anyone could see how that was going to end. But the Fear must have been on the lad, because he was determined to escape us, he was scrambling on all fours to escape us, pulling himself up a hill, through brambles, squirming and twisting, dammit the horses couldn’t catch him.

So we went through the brambles on foot, with thorns as long as swords digging into us with every step. and hearing him ripping ahead of us. And we broke through the last barrier and there was the Lady standing in front of us, staring us down. And so we asked her had she seen the young lad, explaining what was going on and she said no, she had only seen a fox that had run under her skirts and weren’t we to be shamed for scaring the poor thing so. And we looked and thought it must be one big fox she had hidden, but she stared us down again and asked were we thinking that she, the holy lady that she was, would be lying about such a thing? And sure what could we do but say that no, of course we wouldn’t be accusing her of lying, didn’t everyone know she was brutally honest… And we stood there, scruffing our toes off the dirt, trying not to make it look like we were trying to see under her skirts, cos it wasn’t a fox, but the lady wouldn’t lie to us, but still…

In the end, she took pity on us. She laughed and took pity on us and shook out her skirts and sure enough, there was yet man, bold as brass. Well not so much bold, as shaking and shivering, hunkered down on the ground, trying to hide even now. And explained to us that the young lad would be no good for the season on the farm, but as a Fox, now, as a Fox, he might work out very well. And wouldn’t we get great praise from Himself for finding him a Fox as cunning and entertaining as the last one. Now she couldn’t be seen to be passing him over, seeing as how she had just torn strips off him the day before, but couldn’t we present him with his new Fox as a new entertainer tonight.

And what of the poor farmer and his recompense? Well of course she’d thought of that. The poor farmer was going to get help as well, with the young lad gone from home, there was trouble there somehow, but she wouldn’t give the details and the poor young lad was speechless, anyway, with the young lad gone from home, there was someone else that could leave as well and they’d be well pleased to help out the farmer for a season or maybe more. And even better the farm was close enough to the places the Fox was likely to be anyway, so they could still be family, even if not the same as before.

Well, we weren’t going to say her nay, now were we? Sure he was worth a try as a new Fox and if we threw him in with the other entertainers, he’d be safe enough. The Lady would take care of the help for the farmer she said, but laid a clear obligation on the young lad that he was to visit the farmer in 9 days time and not to miss it, because it was important. None of our business as to why, of course, but he nodded and looked a bit relieved. And we were told to make sure this happened as well, that he wasn’t caught in a hunt or such on that day.

And so the young lad performed that night and he proved a success. He kept Himself entertained and although he had a different way about him, he reminded more than a few of us of the way the auld Fox had about him. He could tell the stories, make Himself laugh, ended up pulling him out of a few moods as well… He was too old to be the auld Fox come back to us, so we just figured the Lady knew something we didn’t and left it at that.

Now he wasn’t tied to Himself in any way, it was a job, the same as most of the rest of us had. He could leave anytime he wanted, but he really seemed to enjoy coming up with the riddles and the tales and the songs – silly things, nothing a bard or file would contemplate most of the time, but he made a fine Fox for us all the same. And kept Himself happy, which really, was all we wanted. Life was a lot easier when Himself was happy.

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