A Tale of Mr. Fox and Mr. Hare
"Ah, er… Hello there, Mr. Fox," said the hare, twitching slightly. "You caught me by surprise."
"Not intentionally, I assure you," replied the fox. "I wasn't on the lookout for you, friend Hare."
"I'm sure. So…" The hare paused. "I don't suppose I might take a few minutes to talk, before we're done?"
"Of course not, friend Hare. But I've got things to do today, keep in mind, so while I'd love to just talk, I'm afraid that you can't keep me all day."
"I know, I know," the hare said, and he settled down on the ground, and the fox sat down as well. "It's taking a little while, to really get that it's all over."
"Same here, same here. We've had some good times, though. It's not all bad. But all things come to an end, sooner or later. It's the Way."
"Do you remember when the hunters came, last year? I must say, if nothing else, that's made it all worthwhile. I was sure we were all going to die, then."
"They weren't going to kill all of us," said the fox in a matter of fact tone. "Just some of us."
"Well, we still put a stop to the matter anyhow."
"They've got the right to hunt us, it's the Way."
"Yes, yes, but you weren't saying anything like that back when we were discussing the matter."
"Because your idea sounded like fun. I especially like what you did to the tire. Besides, fighting back is the Way, too." The fox seemed to grin. "Do you remember what we did to that badger?"
"Oh yes, yes. He thought he was getting easy pickings, fighting us."
"It should be granted to him, though, that he did put up quite a nasty fight, even for his size."
"He still had to run and get help from the coyote, though."
"I do so love, friend Hare, how you can mention how the badger, while drunk on apples, was forced to solicit aid from his companion after holding us at bay for a good while, and yet forget entirely how, when the coyote came into play, we ourselves were lucky that we were nearby a few of my own friends."
"It ruins the story, Mr. Fox."
"Speaking of which, how are your children? Doing well?"
"Very much so. They'll be leaving soon enough, and good riddance. It's already been long enough."
"You'd want them back soon enough, trust me."
"If so, and if I've not managed to overcome that insanity quickly enough, there's always another batch of little leverets which can come along next year." The hare chuckled. "Oh my, it is so easy to forget, isn't it? Here we are, chatting, and I forget so easily... Oh, I feel so old, lately..."
"The time does go by so quickly."
"That it does. That it does. Wherever does it go?"
There was a brief silence.
"This is, you know, where you're supposed to chime in with one of your sayings. You know, the ones which I can't decide whether they're utterly profound or utterly stupid?"
"I thought it might not be the most... appropriate time."
"We've had good times, haven't we, Mr. Fox?"
"Very good times, even if I have had to present more than my share of force in the fights we get ourselves into, and even if you have demonstrated the uncanny ability to cause more than your share of fights."
"Hey now, I put every ounce of effort into it."
"It sure helps to have a hare on my side," said the fox, "when I'm at risk of my bones being gnawed on by a ferocious badger and coyote. We're lucky that the wolves had stopped by at Mr. Bear's for a brief chat, and heard the commotion."
"That little monster put up a fight, I'll admit it, okay."
"I don't think it's quite appropriate for you to call the badger 'little.' Inappropriate for anyone, moreso for you."
"Say hello to your wife for me, will you?"
The fox nodded. "Certainly."
"I never thought..."
"Pure chance. But it's the Way, isn't it?"
"That it is. Well, I hope it'll be quick."
"Oh, I'm sure it will be," said the fox, and he snapped his jaws, and it was, indeed, a very quick death. There was a brief instant of regret, but it passed. Mr. Fox had been hungry, and it was the Way of things. Foxes have got to eat, after all.