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Fox: Self Believer

Tom’s pocket money had been stopped this week, so rather than visit the toy stall, the children were flicking through the boxes of battered second-hand reading at the local market. Tom was unusually quiet. He was in trouble with his parents.

‘It’s no use sulking,’ said Martha in her best grown-up voice. ‘You shouldn’t have used the scissors. You’re not allowed.’

‘I am allowed to use scissors,’ Tom protested.

‘Not to cut up a perfectly good football net!’ said Martha.

‘There’s a book here on horses,’ said Tom, desperate to change the subject.

Martha felt a surge of sympathy for her brother. He had lost his pocket money and upset his parents, but you could see that holding back his tears was really difficult. Why wouldn’t he just say sorry and be done with it?

Just then a face popped up over the box of books. ‘Hi,’ said the face. It was Fox. They hadn’t seen Fox for some time.

‘Where’ve you been?’ said Martha.

‘Here and there. Out and about. Busy, busy, busy.’

 ‘Being chased by cross farmers, very likely,’ Martha said, thinking of a cartoon she’d seen on TV.

‘Have to keep up. Work hard, do the best you can,’ said Fox, perched on the book box and swishing his extremely fine tail with pride.

‘You steal chickens,’ said Tom, not in the mood for a lecture.

‘Hey. I’m a Fox. That’s what we do. I must eat. You’ll have dinner tonight, so, what’s the difference?’ Fox grinned. Tom thought about all the stories of foxes he had read, where they were shown to be sly and cruel. Stibler Fox seemed rather more perky and confident.

‘Foxes are animals,’ explained Martha, ‘They have to hunt and eat too.’

‘You’d better believe it!’ said Fox. ‘I was born to be who I am: not popular. Everyone thinks I am sly and sneaky, but I can do amazing things like climb trees fast and use my ears to hear what’s moving underneath the ground.  I believe in myself!’

‘You’re a Self-Believer!’ said Martha. ‘That’s good, being a Self-Believer. Miss Silva said.’

‘That’s me. Even if it doesn’t suit others, I’m a Fox and proud of it!’ Two pointy front teeth rested on his lower lip.

‘I think I’m a Self-Believer,’ said Tom suddenly. Martha gazed at her brother in amazement.

‘I saw a Reception year kid had his foot stuck in the football net so I cut him free with a pair of scissors,’ Tom said all in one breath.

‘Nice work,’ approved Fox.

‘He cut up a new football net!’ Martha declared, ‘and the school and Mum and Dad are very angry with him.’

‘He saved a little kid’s foot,’ cried Fox. ‘Too bad if everyone else is upset!’

For once, Martha was silenced. She looked at Tom and saw, for the first time in two days, a smile appear on his face. ‘It was the right thing to do,’ he said quietly.

Fox chuckled.

‘Ok’ said Tom, by now feeling altogether more cheerful. ‘What would be a good game to play with us today?’

‘Rescue a chicken?’ suggested Fox with an extremely cheeky smile.