In the following story I have tried to trace the
career of a fox of the backwoods districts of Eastern Canada. The hero
of the story, Red Fox, may be taken as fairly typical, both in his
characteristics and in the experiences that befall him, in spite of the
fact that he is stronger and cleverer than the average run of foxes.
This fact does not detract from his authenticity as a type of his kind.
He simply represents the best, in physical and mental development, of
which the tribe of the foxes has shown itself capable. In a litter of
young foxes there is usually one that is larger and stronger, and of
more finely coloured fur, than his fellows. There is not infrequently,
also, one that proves to be much more sagacious and adaptable than his
fellows. Once in awhile such exceptional strength and such exceptional
intelligence may be combined in one individual. This combination is apt
to result in just such a fox as I have made the hero of my story.
The incidents in the career
of this particular fox are not only consistent with the known
characteristics and capacities of the fox family, but there is authentic
record of them all in the accounts of careful observers. Every one of
these experiences has befallen some red fox in the past, and may befall
other red foxes in the future. There is no instance of intelligence,
adaptability, or foresight given here that is not abundantly attested by
the observations of persons who know how to observe accurately. In
regard to such points, I have been careful to keep well within the
boundaries of fact. As for any emotions which Red Fox may once in a
great while seem to display, these may safely be accepted but the most
cautious as fox emotions, not as human emotions. In so far as man is
himself an animal, he is subject to and impelled by many emotions which
he must share with not a few other members of the animal kingdom. Any
full presentation of an individual animal of one of the more highly
developed species must depict certain emotions not altogether unlike
those which a human being might experience under like conditions. To do
this is not by any means, as some hasty critics would have it, to
ascribe human emotions to the lower animals.
N.B., August, 1905.