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The Dancing Fox

The Dancing Fox

A Peruvian fable from M. Rigoberto Paredes

Freely translated with omissions from M. Rigoberto Paredes “El Arte Folkorico”

Foxes love to dance. They dance in the dark with young women who slip quietly from their beds and come running out into the night. But the fox who dances must wear a disguise.

He must hide his long, bushy tail and wrap it around him and stuff it inside his trousers, though when he does, he is really too warm. He sweats. Yet still he can dance.

Now, one of these foxes was young and amorous, and he never missed the nightly dancing. Toward morning, however, as the rooster called, he would always hurry away. This fine fox was a subtle flatterer, a favorite with all the young women. Each of them wanted to dance with him. One or another would sometimes feel slighted and grow resentful.

One of them once, in a fit of anger, drew her companions aside and pointed out that the fox always left before dawn. Who was he? And why did he run away? The young women wondered. Then they made up their minds to catch him and hold him until it was daylight.

The next night, when it was fully dark, they made their circle and danced. Soon the fox appeared, as usual disguised as a young man in shirt and trousers. Suspecting nothing, he danced and sang. The girls made him heady with their caresses, and he became more spirited and more flattering than ever.

As soon as the rooster welcomed the morning, he started to leave. “No, no,” they all cried, “don’t go! Not yet! The rooster crows six times. You can stay till the fifth.” The dancing continued, and there were more caresses. The fox forgot that he had to leave, and at last the white light of dawn appeared. Frightened, he tried to flee. But the young women held him. They entangled him in their arms. Then, with a growl, he bit their hands, leaped over their heads, and ran.

As he leaped, his trousers ripped open and out flew his tail. The girls all shrieked with laughter. They called after him and mocked him as he ran out of sight, his long, bushy tail waving between his legs.

Then he disappeared and was seen no more. He never came back again.

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