The Fox’s Wedding

A junior at PALY, Noel Ying is an avid fan of fairy tales and fantasy. In their free time, Ying illustrates whimsical comics and writes stories about what it means to be human.



The girl first met the old fox by the riverbed. He, sly and proud, had been admiring his handsome reflection in the rushing waters, when he noticed a young lady step into the clearing to draw water from the stream. Startled, he jumped and fell into the river – splash! – and was swiftly swept away. Noticing this, the girl plucked the struggling fox out of the water.

“Thank you,” the sly fox croaked, already forming a plan upon seeing her pity for him. “However may I repay you?”

“You’re so skinny, your bones don’t have half a stew’s worth of meat on them,” the girl replied.

“Oh, but watch!” cried the cunning fox, leaping away and soon producing three plump rabbits.

Cautiously, the girl took the rabbits before sprinting off; one did not trifle with the arcane. From behind her, the old fox cried, “I have not repaid you in full!”

Day after day, the girl found baskets of berries and nuts left at her doorstep, or a small pile of fat game, or pails of spring water clearer than that of any earthly well. While she put it all to good use, whispers ran throughout the village.

“Magic,” said the women.

“Enchantery,” said the men.

Fie, thought the girl.

On the next clear day, the girl returned to the riverbank. “Fox,” she called. “Come out.”

The old fox slunk out of the brush. “Do my gifts not please you?”

“They are nice,” the girl sighed, “but people are suspicious. It is witchcraft to have food and drink appear on your doorstep every morning. Every night I return to my bed under such accusations, and I must worry that I may never again see the light of day. How could I tell them that this is all because of a generous little fox?”
The sly fox thought for a moment, then smiled a conniving smile, with all his teeth on display. The girl did not like that smile much. “Very well,” exclaimed the fox. “I shall dispel those accusations posthaste and bother you no more!”

The fox disappeared, bounding back into the forest. The girl returned to her housekeeping duties, and in time, the whispers of witchcraft died down.

One day, the village’s sentry raised a cry from the watchtower. “Look there!” he yelled. “Travelers!”

A glorious caravan of swordsmen on horses guarded a splendidly plush red carriage, from which a stunning young man bearing a delicately embroidered crimson robe stepped out, his long black hair hanging sleek, and his visage dripping with jewels and furs.

“A prince!” cried the women.

“The lord is here!” cried the men.

But the red pelt hanging from the young lord’s waist was what riveted the girl.

The villagers gathered their best fare for the lord’s meal and constructed a dwelling for his lordship. However, the young lord declared that he had but a single purpose for his journey. Pointing to the girl, he declared, “I shall marry this young lady, if she will have me. With her permission, we shall have a ceremony tomorrow!”

The girl hadn’t wanted to agree, but her old mother pushed her to accept, furiously whispering to her that this was likely her only chance to ever rise from village girl to lady. So the girl accepted, even if it was because she knew that the young lord would have had his way even if she said no.

At her acceptance, the visibly relieved young lord called forth his retainers to bring out the roasts and rice cakes and prepare for the celebration to be held posthaste. The girl had never seen, let alone tasted, so many splendid dishes at a single setting before.

Once the villagers brought out their wooden tables and feasted on strong wine and meat, the excitement of it all faded down. One by one, the lord’s retainers and the sated townsfolk trickled away until just the girl and the lord remained, sitting at the opposite ends of a table with only the moon to illuminate them.

The girl was the first to speak. “Pray tell, my liege, for what reason are you so sudden in your choice to wed? I myself have no dowry to provide, and though I am beautiful by this humble village’s standards–” here, she gestured to her own brittle dark hair and then to the lustrous ebony hair of the young lord “–I stand nothing against the beauties of a city province.”

At this, the lord smiled a mysterious smile and touched the pelt at his waist. “That, my lady, would be a strange little fox’s idea.” He elaborated no more, but his toothy smile gleamed in the moonlight. The girl did not like how pointy his teeth seemed in that moment.

Abruptly, the lord stood from his position at the table. “I must be going,” he said. “Rest, my lady.” And then he glided into the darkness, and the girl was left shivering alone in the moonlight.

The next morning, the villagers led the lord and the girl to the altar of their shrine to be wed. The priestess who oversaw the wedding vows had only just set out the cups when suddenly, without a cloud in the sky to obscure the sun, a droplet of water fell down to the ground.

Ever so slightly, the lord’s upturned lips tugged downwards.

Two, three, four, five droplets fell, before a torrent of rain drenched the ceremony and its attendees.

“Rain during sun,” whispered the women.

“Demons’ work,” muttered the men.

“Fox!” cried the priestess overseeing the ritual. “Rain in clear skies is the omen of a fox’s wedding!”

All eyes turned to the girl. Slowly, a murmur started within the crowd and rose up to a roar. “Kill the fox! Burn the demon who dares seduce our lord!”

The young lord rose from his seat at the altar to speak, but a man from the audience leapt to the wedding table and ripped a ceremony light from its stand. “Burn the vixen who dared to eat my righteous son’s liver less than a moon ago!” he cried, thrusting the torch into the girl’s hair and setting it aflame.

‘But it wasn’t me,’ thought the girl. She turned her eyes, glazed from the pain, to the young lord.

He had stepped up to help, but the villagers shouted, “Burn the fox!” One by one, rocks flew from the audience and pummeled the girl until she fell to the ground dead, a stream of blood trickling from her scalp and forming a puddle on the altar.

“Imbeciles,” muttered the lord.

“My lord, we have killed the fox that had you under her spell!” said the villagers.

And suddenly, the young lord was no longer a young lord in his red wedding raiments but an enormous red fox, as large as two horses, with nine plush red tails waving in the wind. “You have murdered my wife-to-be, and for that, I will have you dead,” the fox growled.

The uniforms of the fox lord’s soldiers melted away until all that was left was an army of raccoon dogs that swarmed the villagers and bit them all dead. After snapping up the livers of every one of them, the fox gently picked the girl up by the collar of her wedding garment and ran to the abode of the King of Hell.

“My king,” the fox cried. “My wife-to-be has been murdered at the altar, and I beg of you to return her to me.”

The King of Hell stared down at the fox. “What can you provide for this one in exchange?”

Only slightly hesitating, the fox turned to nip off one of his beautiful tails, carefully presenting it to the King of Hell. He said, “I have little means, so the most I can give you in return is my tail.”

Upon seeing how wonderfully maintained and soft the fox’s tail was, the king was greatly pleased. “My good fox, you have not only earned your wife-to-be back but also my favor. May you both be blessed with happiness.”

At this, the girl’s corpse glowed, her injuries healing and her stilled eyelids fluttering open. Being blessed by the King of Hell, the fox and the girl were permitted to use the king’s altar to be wed. The ceremony proceeded without a hitch, with demons of all sorts attending the proceedings and giving the pair well-wishes.

Near the feasting’s end, the girl frowned. “Fox, why would you give away one of your beautiful tails for my life?”

Smiling, the fox replied, “I would have lost one in the river if it were not for you, wife. And how could I marry you if you were dead?”

“That’s a stupid reason to fall in love,” the girl said. But, she thought to herself, better a fox than a lord. She preferred demons who wore their skins on the outside.