by Mary Montague
Provided there’s a maximum of three, vulpids can be safely carried in wicker baskets. But young cubs are best. Certainly no more than one of the elect. In containment, they gain quiet dignity. Fox melds with willow. Sallow with russet. Bracken in early spring before the green shoots begin to bud. Now it’s time for market. Eyes are soft, ears are splayed. Theirs is the quietude of humble creatures. Velvet black socks. Bog cotton tail-tips. Assets to any home. Buyers will approach. Your charges will be limpid. Place the basket on a long trellis table decorated with a red and white checkered cloth. When there’s serious interest, take a leash of blue satin and lead your fox along the table’s rampart to show the creature to best advantage. Who would not be besotted? The prospect – usually a ruddy, cloth-capped farmer, holder of not more than fifty acres – will purse his lips, narrow his eyes. It’s all a mask. He will pay anything. Do not be surprised. Out of mercy, take just half of what he offers. The gods will reward you. Any vixen, gracile, docile, unrepentant, will not be with her new master more than three moonlit nights. A cat unlatches the back door. The fox runs out to the lune-silvered gorselands to join her wild kin and vanish forever.