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The Greatful Fox

Once a group of children caught a young fox which they bound with ropes. They were carrying the frightened animal to the village to sell for fur when they ran into a young man who offered them some money for the fox. The young man’s friend laughed at him for wanting the animal but he laughed even harder when he found out that his friend had purchased the fox simply so he could set it free.
The fox ran off and rejoined his parents who had been watching what had happened from afar and were both overjoyed and grateful to the young man.
For a long time afterwards no one thought much of what had happened and the man who’d freed the fox moved to a distant city. The man grew ill and the doctors said that his life could only be saved with a fox’s liver, but none of his friends were able to help him obtain one. A letter was sent out requesting that a fox’s liver be sent. A while later a well dressed, very polite but sad man came with a fresh fox’s liver.
The patient was immediately treated and soon was well again. He believed of course that a friend from the small town had sent the remedy and was therefore surprised to receive a letter starting that there was a shortage of foxes and so his friend had been unable to buy a liver. The man then remembered his earlier encounter with the foxes and realized that they must be his benefactors. He didn’t know for certain however until he moved back to his previous home where he once again saw the fox. He called out the animal which came to him. The fox came to him and reported that he and his wife had learned of his illness, and so they had sacrificed one of their sons to keep him alive. The man was deeply touched and thanked the fox with tears in his eyes. He promise that he would donate a beautiful fox portrait at the temple of the kam Inari according to the ancient custom in which pictures of foxes line the temple entrances.