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Main > English folktales > Fairy tale "Mr. Fox"

Mr. Fox

Lady Mary was young and Lady Mary was fair, and she had more lovers than she could count on the fingers of both hands.

She lived with her two brothers, who were very proud and very fond of their beautiful sister, and very anxious that she should choose well amongst her many suitors.

Now amongst them there was a certain Mr. Fox, handsome and young and rich; and though nobody quite knew who he was, he was so gallant and so gay that every one liked him. And he wooed Lady Mary so well that at last she promised to marry him. But though he talked much of the beautiful home to which he would take her, and described the castle and all the wonderful things that furnished it, he never offered to show it to her, neither did he invite Lady Mary's brothers to see it.

Now this seemed to her very strange indeed; and, being a lass of spirit, she made up her mind to see the castle if she could.

So one day, just before the wedding, when she knew Mr. Fox would be away seeing the lawyers with her brothers, she just kilted up her skirts and set out unbeknownst—for, see you, the whole household was busy preparing for the marriage feastings—to see for herself what Mr. Fox's beautiful castle was like.

After many searchings, and much travelling, she found it at last; and a fine strong building it was, with high walls and a deep moat to it. A bit frowning and gloomy, but when she came up to the wide gateway she saw these words carven over the arch:

BE BOLD—BE BOLD.

So she plucked up courage, and the gate being open, went through it and found herself in a wide, empty, open courtyard. At the end of this was a smaller door, and over this was carven:

BE BOLD, BE BOLD; BUT NOT TOO BOLD.

So she went through it to a wide, empty hall, and up the wide, empty staircase. Now at the top of the staircase there was a wide, empty gallery at one end of which were wide windows with the sunlight streaming through them from a beautiful garden, and at the other end a narrow door, over the archway of which was carven:

BE BOLD, BE BOLD; BUT NOT TOO BOLD,

LEST THAT YOUR HEART'S BLOOD SHOULD RUN COLD.

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