The Mouse and the Fox

Laszlo Zumwalt

A mouse was playing along the banks of a stream. He found a nut, almost twice his size, and of course he was delighted. He wanted to carry it away, but as it was too big to fit in his mouth, he decided to roll it back to his mouse-hole.

Halfway there, his path was blocked by a fox. The fox let a sly smile play upon his lips, and he said, "Good morning Mr Mouse."

"Good morning Mr Fox," said the mouse, nervously.

"What have you there?"

"A nut for my supper."

"What will you eat when you’re done with that nut?"

"I won’t be hungry then."

"Not even this time tomorrow?"

The mouse thought for a minute – the fox had a point.

"Well," said the mouse, "I guess I’ll have to look for more nuts."

"And if you don’t find them?"

This the mouse hadn’t considered. What if he couldn’t find any nuts – what then?

"Well, I don’t know," said the mouse, "perhaps I’ll ask my neighbour mice, they might help."

"They might. Then again…"

By now the mouse was getting very cross. First the shock of the fox, then all these irritating questions. Who did this fox think he was anyway?

"Listen you, I don’t see the point of this-"

"Let me stop you there," said the Fox. "Now, I’m not trying to upset you – no, not at all. Just to make you think. After all, wouldn’t you be better investing that nut, to try and achieve a surplus?"

"What are you on about?"

"Well," said the Fox, "if you were to take that nut, and say, sell it at market, you’d get enough money for two nuts. Then, you’d have food for two days. Or, if you sold both nuts, then you would have four nuts, and so on. As it is, you will only eat today."

This did make sense, the mouse had to concede. After all, it was a hassle always looking for nuts. Why not let the Market take care of things?

"You may have a point, Mr Fox."

"Of course I do. Now, here’s what you do. Go with that nut to the market, speak to Mr Clausen, the Market Overseer, and tell him you wish to sell that nut. Then…oh dear," said the Fox, and his face fell.

"What’s wrong," cried the Mouse.

"Well, I just realised, you would need to rent a stall at the Market. Have you got any money to do so?"

"No. What a shame!"

"I know – you may starve!"

"Oh dear! All is lost!" and the Mouse began to weep.

"Wait! I’ve got an idea!" cried the Fox.

"What? What?"

"Well, I just remembered – I’ve got a stall at the Market. I could sell your nut."

"Why – you’d do that for me?"

"Well, if you give me a small cut from the proceeds – say, a third of a nut. Then, you could still invest, but you would always give me a third, and that would cover my costs for letting you use my stall."

The Mouse thought long and hard. Finally, he decided that it sounded like a fair deal. After all, the Fox was lending him the use of his stall, and had given him the idea in the first place.

It was decided that the Fox would sell the nut at his stall in the Market that day, and meet the Mouse by the banks of the stream, as the sun set.

The Mouse was ready to meet the Fox at the appointed time and place. After a while, the Fox arrived, looking downcast.

"I’ve bad news," announced the Fox.


"Well, no one wanted to buy your nut."

"Oh dear! And I’m so hungry…"

"Well, here’s you nut."

And the Mouse devoured it.

"Aren’t you forgetting something?" asked the Fox.

"What?" asked the Mouse as he finished his nut.

"Well, you promised me a third of your nut for the use of my stall."

"Oh, but I just ate it."

"Well, a deal’s a deal," said the Fox, pointing to his open mouth.

The Mouse sighed, and knew what he had to do. The laws of the Market were not to be trifled with, and so he jumped into the Fox’s mouth.

A surplus is always achievable.

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