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The Fox and the Cat

The Fox and the Cat is an ancient fable that addresses the difference between a resourceful expediency and the master strategist. In the basic story a cat and a fox discuss how many tricks and dodges they have. The fox boasts that he has many; the cat confesses to having only one. When hunters arrive with their dogs, the cat quickly climbs a tree, but the fox is caught by the hounds.

Once, long ago, a fox and a cat were in a field, comparing tactics for escaping their enemies. The fox was boasting of its clever devices for escaping its enemies.

“I’ve got a whole bag of tricks, which contains a hundred ways to escape my enemies” he said.

The cat thought on this for a moment and replied: “I have only one, but it works for me.”

“What kind of a trick is it?” asked the fox.

“When the dogs are chasing me, I can jump into a tree and save myself.” replied the cat.

Just at that moment, the cry of a pack of hounds rang out, and the cat immediately ran up the tree they were standing next to.

“Here’s my plan,” said the cat. “What’s in your bag of tricks?”

The fox was stumped: he had too many options, and while he was mulling them over, the hounds closed in on him, giving the huntsmen the chance to capture and kill him.

The cat, who saw the whole incident from the trees wisely said: “Better one safe way than a hundred on which you cannot reckon.”

From Children’s and Household Tales — Grimms’ Fairy Tales,
7th ed. (Berlin, 1857), no. 75.