【明報專訊】Mrs Crow decided that the fox and his kind were going too far and needed to be taught a good lesson. So she got together some of the other birds and animals who had been the targets of the fox and his many tricks.
"Listen to me, folks," she said to the group. "For too long, we have fallen victim to the fox and his devious schemes. He cheats us blind and gets off scot-free (逍遙法外). This can't be allowed to go on!"
The crowd shouted, "Hear, hear! We won't stand this any more. Let's find the villain and put a stop to his cunning!"
So they set off in high spirits and searched high and low, through bush and briar, but after hunting all day, they found not a trace of their enemy. Exhausted, they turned back home when, lo and behold (真沒想到), who should come sauntering (閒逛) along but Mr Fox in person.
"Good evening, dear friends, have you been on an outing? Fine day for a picnic," he commented politely.
"Oh, you're just the one we've been looking for," cried Mrs Crow. "We're all sick and tired of being cheated by you time and again. This has got to stop or else!"
"Or else what?" inquired the fox innocently. "What will you do with a poor, little creature like me?"
"We'll teach you a good lesson, that's what! It's time you learned to earn your living through hard work, like the rest of us, instead of living an easy life deceiving innocent folks."
The fox bowed his head, pointing his sharp muzzle at the ground and flattening his ears. He seemed the very picture of contrition (顯得十分悔疚) as he said, "I'm truly sorry but I was born a fox — I live by cunning and can't really imagine any other way of life. Do others complain when the spider catches flies and moths in her web? Do you protest when the wolf attacks the fawn? It is in my nature to deceive and, by the way, while you were out and about, I took the opportunity to visit your homes and help myself to eggs, fruit and other such delicacies. I hope you don't mind. In future, may I suggest you guard your own homes instead of wandering over hill and dale?"
With a contemptuous laugh, the audacious animal bounded off. Convinced that he had once again gained the upper hand over his dimwitted victims, he was so full of himself that he became careless and walked straight into a hunter's trap.
■Some useful words
to cheat: to deceive
to gain the upper hand: to get the better of
to be contrite: to be sorry
■Something to discuss
The fox claims that it's "natural" for him to cheat since he was born that way. Do you think this is a valid reason or just a cheap excuse?
Text: A Lamb