Once upon a midnight dreary in a far far away place, there lived a kindly red fox by the name of Ben. E. Volent. Ben was the leader of his skulk in a remote sort of jungle-like area found on few maps but renowned in the animal kingdom as the Land of Pandemonium.
Anyway, Benny had taken great pains to become the leader of his skulk There were countless scars on his furry red coat to testify to the battles that he had fought to become the dominant one in his skulk, not to mention portions of his territory that he had ceded to those nightmarish geeks, the jackals just so he could keep the best of the food supply for him and his mate and keep the scraps for the rest of the foxes he ruled over. It was funny he mused, how the rest of the skulk could be so appreciative for nearly nothing. But then, after all, he was the leader! It was important that he never go hungry no matter how many other foxes might feel the pangs of starvation eat away at the linings of their bellies.
He had fought foxes from other skulks long and hard for his mate. She was the most beautiful vulpine he had ever seen and he loved her name. Before they shared the same den he would howl her name to the moon, calling endless times, “De Base, De Base, De Baseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
Benny had so many foxes to serve him and his mate De. They would hunt for him and his mate all sorts of mammals, birds insects and fish. They would also bring for him and De, fruits, berries and carrion. And always, before his fox servants left their leader they would say, “Is there anything else you desire, Sire?”
Of course, sire was not greedy and easily satisfied. Since he had the best of the food supply, what more could he ask? He grew plump and so did De. Every day he padded quietly across the sparse grass of his Pandemonium and gloated at his gains. If only the jackals would stay away, then everything would be perfect he thought one damp humid evening as he paced back and forth in front of his den.
He knew that he might be able to bribe them with the gift of a sick or old fox every now and then as a source of nourishment for he knew too, that jackals would eat anything, even a sickly or old fox.
So it was arranged that every month, he would secretly hand over a sick or old fox as a kind of Dane-geld. Payment of a Dane-geld would ensure that the jackals acknowledge Ben’s jurisdiction and stay out of his Pandemonium.
But one day, when Benny was lying down and sunning his shiny red coat of fur, the leader of the pack of jackals sauntered over to him. Benny jumped up. The head jackal howled a long piercing howl that shattered the quiet of the hot summer day and made the hair on the back of Benny’s neck stand straight up. Other Jackals in the distance howled back as if to show that they were giving their leader the support he wanted.
Benny lowered his tail, flattened his ears and slunk himself closer to the head jackal. In reply, the jackal snarled and displayed yellow sharp fangs and said, “Well, Ben E. Volent, how are you doing today and how is your beautiful mate De Base?”
Ben’s ears pricked up a bit and with a glint of hope in his sharp eyes, replied, “Why your Graciousness, so kind of you to ask! De is fine and soon to deliver some pups to our skulk. What brings you here your Graciousness and my good friend?”
Still showing his fangs, the head jackal snarled again, “Our food supply is running low. We need to take some of Pandemonium hunting grounds so that we can replenish our dwindling supply of mammals.
“Furthermore,” he continued with a hiss and a rasp, “one sick or old fox each month is not nearly enough. My pack is hungry and as you know, scavengers that we are, we eat anything and everything!”
Our hero Benny gulped. He hung his tail lower. What a dilemma! How could he give up more of his treasured Pandemonium? And how could he continue to sacrifice more than one fox each month? But as necessity is the mother of invention, it suddenly dawned on him. Low down in the cunning depth of his benevolent mind, he thought of a way to survive, for he was best at survival. His father had always taught him that in the jungle, survival of the fittest rules.
“I can understand your problem Your Graciousness,” he said to the head jackal. “Your requests shall be met, have no fear. Each month you shall have two foxes to feast on and I will cede to you some more of the best hunting grounds of Pandemonium!”
Satisfied, the head jackal smugly displayed his yellow fangs once more and with a warning, left with the snarl, “Be sure you meet my demands. We will show no mercy to you and your skulk if you don’t and the first to go will be you and after that your precious De and then your pups! You are fat and we will feast on your carcass.”
A shiver rattled Ben’s bones as he imagined himself the feast for the jackals.
Before the jackal left, the fox sniffed the air and muttered to himself, “Sheez! That dog has a bad case of halitosis! He should see a good vet!”
Ben should have been concerned to say the least, …nay, he should have panicked. But he was not concerned and he did not panic. As soon as the head jackal disappeared, the fox’s ears sharpened when he noticed a slight sound. He heard an earthworm bristling through the grass. Pinpointing the movement of the worm, Ben poised and then plunged his muzzle into the grass to grab it. The worm tried to resist Ben’s tug, but the fox pulled it taut until he freed it and in one swallow, Ben did away with this small appetizer. He then yawned and stretched out once again in the hot sun remembering that his skulk would soon provide him and De with succulent tasty morsels to dine on and that he really had nothing at all to worry about.
So it passed. Ben kept his word. He gave the jackals some of Pandemonium’s best hunting grounds and each month supplied them with two old or sick foxes, whatever the case might be. Remember that Ben E. Volent was cunning and one that knew how to survive in his jungle so in order to appease the members of his skulk, he benevolently donated one of his many dens for the homeless. Little understood was that the homeless would one by one become meals for the pack of jackals and that the caretakers of the den would convince the rest of the homeless tenants that those who suddenly disappeared each month had been relocated to a new housing complex where they would live comfortably ever after.
Ben’s plan was sure to succeed because one fine day when the jungle smelled especially fragrant and almost like heaven, he decided to call all members of his skulk to his podium where he gave the most eloquent speech he had ever given. He was an expert at equivocating and none could exceed him when it came to expatiation.
At last when it looked like all the skulk was bored to tears or falling asleep, he ended his length speech with, “And so my fine fellow foxes, we all must sacrifice so that we can all survive in our beautiful Pandemonium. However in order for us to survive, I encourage all of you to have as many pups as you can. We will gain strength in number!”
His skulk was overjoyed at his speech. They clapped their padded feet and stamped about in the jungle. Truly, their leader was the greatest of all foxes and they would do anything to ensure his well-being and safety. And look how generous he was to supply the homeless foxes with one of his elaborate dens Ben heard each whisper to the other. And how wise he was to suggest that all foxes have as many pups as possible! Little did they realize that our kind hero Ben wanted to increase the fox population in order to be able to feed the ever-hungry jackals. It really did not matter if the foxes to be donated were old or sick. With a renewed supply of pups, any fox would do. What really mattered was that Ben and his family flourish and become fatter and fatter.