The Talking Silver Foxes
They had been telling stories about the talking fox of Tower Mountain for more than a hundred years when one fine day, a skilful archer came to that part of the country who saw a creature like a fox, with a fiery-red pelt, whose back was striped with gray. It was lying under a tree. The archer aimed and shot off its hind foot.
At once it said in a human voice: “I brought myself into this danger because of my love for sleep; but none may escape their fate! If you capture me you will get at the most no more than five thousand pieces of copper for my pelt. Why not let me go instead? I will reward you richly, so that all your poverty will come to an end.”
But the archer would not listen to him. He killed him, skinned him and sold his pelt; and, sure enough, he received five thousand pieces of copper for it.
From that time on the fox-spirit ceased to show itself.
Note: The silver fox is known in Chinese as “Pi,” the same word also being used for “panthers,” since this legendary beast partakes of the nature of both animals. “The Old Mother” is really the mother-goddess of the Taischan. But in other localities she is chiefly honored as a child-giving goddess. “A picture of the head priest of the Taoists”: Talismans painted by the head priest of the Taoists or the Taoist pope, the so-called “Master of the Heavens,” (Tian Schi) have special virtues against all kinds of sorcery and enchantment. The war god Guan Di also is appealed to as a savior in all sorts of emergencies.