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

Mr. Fox

But by that time Lady Mary had fled; for no sooner did she hear the awful, dragging noise pass into the gallery, than she upped and ran for dear life—through the wide door with

BE BOLD, BE BOLD; BUT NOT TOO BOLD

engraven over the arch, across the wide courtyard past the wide gate with

BE BOLD—BE BOLD

engraven over it, never stopping, never thinking till she reached her own chamber. And all the while the hand with the diamond ring lay in her kilted lap.

Now the very next day, when Mr. Fox and Lady Mary's brothers returned from the lawyers, the marriage-contract had to be signed. And all the neighbourhood was asked to witness it and partake of a splendid breakfast. And there was Lady Mary in bridal array, and there was Mr. Fox, looking so gay and so gallant. He was seated at the table just opposite Lady Mary, and he looked at her and said:

"How pale you are this morning, dear heart."

Then Lady Mary looked at him quietly and said, "Yes, dear sir! I had a bad night's rest, for I had horrible dreams."

Then Mr. Fox smiled and said, "Dreams go by contraries, dear heart; but tell me your dream, and your sweet voice will speed the time till I can call you mine."

"I dreamed," said Lady Mary, with a quiet smile, and her eyes were clear, "that I went yesterday to seek the castle that is to be my home, and I found it in the woods with high walls and a deep dark moat. And over the gateway were carven these words:

BE BOLD—BE BOLD."

Then Mr. Fox spoke in a hurry. "But it is not so—nor it was not so."

"Then I crossed the wide courtyard and went through a wide door over which was carven:

BE BOLD, BE BOLD; BUT NOT TOO BOLD,"

went on Lady Mary, still smiling, and her voice was cold; "but, of course, it is not so, and it was not so."

And Mr. Fox said nothing; he sate like a stone.

"Then I dreamed," continued Lady Mary, still smiling, though her eyes were stern, "that I passed through a wide hall and up a wide stair and along a wide gallery until I came to a dark narrow door, and over it was carven:

BE BOLD, BE BOLD; BUT NOT TOO BOLD,

LEST THAT YOUR HEART'S BLOOD SHOULD RUN COLD.

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A Riddling Tale
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