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

Mr. Fox

Now Lady Mary was a lass of spirit, and so, of course, she turned her back on the sunshine, and opened the narrow, dark door. And there she was in a narrow, dark passage. But at the end there was a chink of light. So she went forward and put her eye to the chink—and what do you think she saw?

Why! a wide saloon lit with many candles, and all round it, some hanging by their necks, some seated on chairs, some lying on the floor, were the skeletons and bodies of numbers of beautiful young maidens in their wedding-dresses that were all stained with blood.

Now Lady Mary, for all she was a lass of spirit, and brave as brave, could not look for long on such a horrid sight, so she turned and fled. Down the dark narrow passage, through the dark narrow door (which she did not forget to close behind her), and along the wide gallery she fled like a hare, and was just going down the wide stairs into the wide hall when, what did she see, through the window, but Mr. Fox dragging a beautiful young lady across the wide courtyard! There was nothing for it, Lady Mary decided, but to hide herself as quickly and as best she might; so she fled faster down the wide stairs, and hid herself behind a big wine-butt that stood in a corner of the wide hall. She was only just in time, for there at the wide door was Mr. Fox dragging the poor young maiden along by the hair; and he dragged her across the wide hall and up the wide stairs. And when she clutched at the bannisters to stop herself, Mr. Fox cursed and swore dreadfully; and at last he drew his sword and brought it down so hard on the poor young lady's wrist that the hand, cut off, jumped up into the air so that the diamond ring on the finger flashed in the sunlight as it fell, of all places in the world, into Lady Mary's very lap as she crouched behind the wine-butt!

Then she was fair frightened, thinking Mr. Fox would be sure to find her; but after looking about a little while in vain (for, of course, he coveted the diamond ring), he continued his dreadful task of dragging the poor, beautiful young maiden upstairs to the horrid chamber, intending, doubtless, to return when he had finished his loathly work, and seek for the hand.

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