By Zachary Brenner
The snow covered the small village on this especially dingy Saturday morning. As usual, James woke up with excitement for the day. The skulk would gather each weekend morning at the tall tree to discuss their plans for the day, and being only cubs, there was not a worry in the world. On this particular morning, James was startled to hear his mother call after him before he left the igloo. It was still dawn, and James liked to leave before his mother woke up— it gave him a sense of independency. And to him, reynards always spoiled the fun.
“Don’t stay out too long today— you have to catch up on your schoolwork!” cried his mother. James snarled and left, annoyed. He was the last to arrive at the tree— even Roland had arrived before he did. Roland couldn’t even roll a snowball— how could he have made it to the tree first? Resisting his urge to be fed up, James joined the group and listened to the plans for the day. The leader of the pac, Chris, had indicated some sort of exciting journey for this particular day. When James heard of the plans, he could not help but smile in admiration for Chris— a noble, confident fox. Sure, Chris was a year older and had more experience in the wild, but James sensed that Chris might become the leader of the entire village someday.
They left within the next minute. They had heard myths of the village they were traveling to; rabbits as far as the eye could see. Their parents had always stressed the importance of rabbits and other hare species. Today, they would find out what all the fuss was about— certainly they would be nice and playful. James and his friends were always looking for a rival hockey team to play on Saturday afternoons. Would the rabbits be good at hockey? James was unsure, but hoped they would provide good, friendly competition.
They heard a noise from above— a harsh, powerful noise. Immediately, they all knew who it was. Victor: the king of the eagles. Bald and majestic, anyone who earned the respect of the bald eagle clan would be eternally grateful. Tremendous resources and a group of citizens far greater than that of the foxes, the bald eagle clan was the most powerful of any group in the area. Victor soared high and mighty, never looking down to spot the onlookers— he didn’t care. As Victor passed, the leash regrouped and continued on their mission. The journey took slightly less than thirty minutes. When they arrived at the neighboring village, they were surprised to see the leader of the foxes, George, at the village. The cubs were not meant to be this far from their territory, but given that they were already at the rabbit town, they were not intrigued to turn back.
As they watched George, they recognized familiar faces following his lead— the hunting group. Suddenly, James and his friends knew why rabbits were so important— and why they had never seen the rabbits in their humble village. The rabbits were food. Disgusted, James remained still, watching the leader of his group stock the seemingly innocent prey.
Chris’ anger crescendoed in front of James’ very eyes and in one fluid motion, the slightly older, admirable fox ran out from behind the sheltering trees and screamed after George.
“What are you doing?!!” cried Chris.
Surprised, George looked back at Chris and approached him slowly and fatherly.
“What are you doing here, Chris? You’re not meant to be this far away from our village.”
“We wanted to meet the rabbit village. Why are you hunting them?”
“We need to eat, and we need our village to be safe”, replied George.
Confused, Chris responded, “They haven’t done anything wrong!”
“This issue is greater than the present moment, Chris.” George said this in a very convincing tone, as if to remind Chris that he had much to learn.
Chris looked into the eyes of the leader and nodded gently, and began walking back to his friends.
George, unaltered, signaled his hunters to follow him closer to the village.
Chris told his friends that George seemed confident in what he was doing. Still, James was confused. He looked at the situation and saw only innocent rabbits and ravenous foxes. He felt ashamed to be a fox in that moment. Still, he wondered if what George had told Chris was true— was the issue greater than this exact moment? Was there a long and painful history behind the rabbits and foxes? Maybe so. Feeling helpless to make up his mind, James followed Chris and the gang back to their village— thinking about how he would educate himself enough to form his own opinion. But would it be too late?