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Short Stories (Stories for the Youth), book by Father Tadros Yacoub Malaty

466- The Fox Marring the Image of Marriage

 

I hesitated a great deal before writing this symbolic story that is drawn from the Jewish folklore. However, it was urgent to write it in order to reveal the role of evil friendships in damaging the sacredness of marriage.

It is not a comic story for it expresses the role of the world in distorting or marring the active and practical role of the wife.

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The Plan of the Fox to Get Rid of the Tiger

In a conversation between a fox and his wife, the wife said, I wonder how you can sleep feeling that were all completely safe: the children, you and myself, when a tiger lives close by, and he has a wife and little ones. They will definitely devour us if they got hungry!

Dont be afraid, dear wife. Im a personal friend of the tiger. Yet I dont trust him at all. Im thinking of a way to get rid of him as well as of his wife and children.

It seems you wont act until something happens to me and you lose me, or one of the children, or even get hurt yourself.

Ill leave now to carry out my plan.

The fox then left the den and headed to meet the tiger, as was his habit. Having greeted him, the fox asked the tiger to join him for a walk. As they went along, the following conversation took place:

The fox said, I notice that the place in which you and your family are living is a deserted place. In contrast, there is a place next to our place that is covered with beautiful flowers and grass. You could be happy there, and youll also find a lot of animals that you could prey upon.

The tiger answered, Thats a good idea.

The fox said, Go now and bring your wife and children and Ill show you that place.

The tiger replied, Ive to consult my wife for shes my life partner and the bride of my youth.

The fox, pretending to be very sad, said, Im surprised to see that a great and gifted tiger like you should consult your wife. Youre so much feared by most of the animals as well as all mankind, yet youve to consult her! I believe that a wifes advice is always wicked and stupid. A wifes heart is like marble: it is soft and rigid. A wifes like a pest invading the house. If you wish, you could consult her, then do just the contrary to what she tells you.

The tiger returned to his den, and began talking about moving out of their place. His wife sensed that this was a decision her husband had taken as a result of the advice of the sly fox.

She therefore rejected and said, There are two small animals that we need to fear due to their slyness. These are the fox and the snake.

St-Takla.org Image: Tiger صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: نمر

St-Takla.org Image: Tiger.

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: نمر.

The tiger was astonished at his wifes words. She then went on saying, Havent you heard how a fox once killed a lion?

The tiger laughed and said, Are you joking?

The tigers wife said, in a serious tone, No, my dear husband, you dont know how sly foxes are. Im serious.

The tiger asked, Does a fox dare to appear before a lion in order to kill him?

The wife answered, Yes! Ill tell you the story of the fox who killed a lion".

→ English translation of the story here at St-Takla.org: ثعلب يشوّه صورة الزواج.

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The Fox who killed a lion

The lion had a dear friend whose company he enjoyed greatly. That friend was a sly fox. Once, the fox came to the lion moaning bitterly. Every now and then, he would hold his head between his two front paws and scream out, What a terrible headache! Who can save me from this headache?

The lion asked him, What can I do to relieve your pain?

The fox said, Take this rope and tie all my four feet together!

The lion asked, Is this a medicine?

Yes, this is a unique medicine.

The lion took the rope and tied the fox. Immediately, the fox smiled and said, The headache has gone. Thank you, dear lion.

A few days passed by. Then, once, the lion suffered from a headache. He went to his dear friend, the fox, and asked to be tied with a rope so that he would be cured of his headache. The fox actually tied him tightly. He then took hold of a huge rock and hit his head and smashed it.

The tigers wife ended her story by saying, Dont trust a fox, dear husband, for his kisses spell enmity, and his heart cannot hold sincere love.

The tiger listened to his wife but did not believe her. From time to time, however, the story of the fox who killed a lion would resound in his depths.

A few days later, the tiger met his friend the fox as usual. The fox said sarcastically, Youve surely listened to your wife. I know all about the advice women can give, especially that of wives. Theyre so stupid. I fear lest your fate be like that of the maker of silver.

The tiger asked, What do you mean?

The fox answered, Havent you heard about the maker of silver who was destroyed by his wife?

No.

The fox then told him this story:

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The Silver Maker Destroyed by his Wife

A skilled silver maker lived in the city of Babylon. He made beautiful silver statues, Many Babylonians, however, stopped buying these statues in obedience to the kings order. One night, the silver makers wife advised him to make a beautiful statue of the kings only daughter to earn a great reward.

The man obeyed his wife and made a truly beautiful statue. The wife then took it and presented it as a gift to the kings only child, the princess. The princess was so pleased that she gave the silver makers wife some golden jewelry.

The wife returned home, full of joy. The husband, however, said, What the princess has given you is not worth even half what the statue has cost me.

The wife answered, Dont be rash. Youll definitely receive a great reward from the palace as everyone loves the princess.

That evening, when the king returned to his quarters, his only child, the princess, ran to him and said, Dad, come and see!

The father looked at the statue and asked angrily, who had made it. When she told him, the king ordered that the hands of the silver maker be cut off as he had disobeyed the kings orders and had made a statue.

As his hands were being amputated, the silver maker kept shouting out, Husbands, listen to me, never obey your wives. This is the reward of those who follow their advice.

As the tiger listened to this story he was all shaking with anger at his wife, as well at all wives in general. The fox, on the other hand, calmly said, It seems that youve no real experience, O happy husband. Let me tell you the story of the woodcutter of Damascus.

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The Woodcutter of Damascus and His Wife

A woodcutter had a wife who always sat and watched him as he cut wood. She noticed that he held the axe in his right hand while he was cutting. She expressed her amazement as she said to him, Im amazed that you cut wood by holding the axe in your right hand, and this is so unlike my late father. Even when you get tired, you dont use your left hand. My father used to cut with the axe in his right hand; then, when he got tired, he would use his left hand. He used to produce twice as much as you do, even though he was not as healthy as you are.

The husband commented and said, This is the first time I hear about a woodcutter who holds the axe in his left hand to cut wood.

The wife said, Im your loving wife. Listen to my advice, dear husband. Try and work in the same way as my father did.

 The man held the axe in his left hand and struck with all his strength, and the blow landed on the fingers of his right hand and cut them off. As he was angry, he lost control over himself and raised the axe and hit his wifes head and so killed her. The woodcutter was arrested and sentenced to death by stoning and so the two of them died as a consequence of the wifes advice.

The tiger was greatly moved by this tale, but the fox had one more story to tell him, Ill tell you the story of the king and the honest wife.

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The King and the Honest Wife

A king met with his counselors to discuss some state matters. At the end of the meeting the king said, I dont trust any wife in the world.

His counselors were surprised and said, How can you say that, your majesty? Surely there are chaste, wise, pure, and honest wives.

 The king said, Here is my kingdom stretched out before you. Search and find me a wife who has good and sincere advice.

His counselors dispersed to look for that wife. They finally found a merchants wife. The man and his wife both loved each other deeply, and she had great beauty, purity, and wisdom.

The kings counselors met with their king and informed him of what they found. So the king secretly summoned the husband and said to him, Ive heard about your honesty, Ive also learned that youre chaste, wise, and have a good reputation. I havent seen your equal anywhere in my kingdom. Ive only one daughter, and I wish to give her to you in marriage so that you would inherit my kingdom with her.

The man replied, Im married, and I love my wife.

The king said angrily, Kill her, then youll become king.

The man retorted, How can I kill someone who never wronged me? Weve lived together for fifteen years, and weve eaten out of the same plate, and drunk out of the same glass. She has filled my heart and home with joy. My love for her increases everyday.

The king said, Kill her, and become king.

The man left, deeply saddened. As soon as he reached home and saw his wife and their child, he said within himself, My wife is more precious than the whole kingdom. Cursed be every king who conspires with a husband to kill his wife. This would lead a husband to grief and depression, while others may think this would bring joy.

Days went by, but the man never returned to the king. Then the king summoned him, and when he spoke with him and saw his insistence to continue loving his wife, he said, I thought you were a man; but now I find you have a womans heart!

The king then secretly summoned the mans wife, and said to her, Ive heard about your wisdom and talents. Ive also learned that theres no other woman like you in the whole world. I desire that you become my wife. Kill your husband and come and I will make you my queen.

The wife was so flattered with that proposal, and said to the king, I dont know how to kill him.

The king handed her a sword and said to her, Hide this sword. In the evening, offer your husband alcoholic drinks until he gets drunk and eventually falls asleep. Then strike his neck with this sword.

 The wife took the sword and went home. She prepared a banquet for her husband and offered him drinks until he became drunk, then fell asleep. The wife seized the sword and struck his throat. But the sword got bent in her hand, for it was a mere toy and not made of metal.

At once, the husband woke up and asked, What are you doing?

She replied, I got this toy, and when I found you sleeping I wanted to wake you up and talk with you. Why do you ignore me when Ive spent all day preparing this banquet for you?

The man apologized to his wife for falling asleep, and began talking with her while she playfully responded to him.

On the next day, she went to the kings palace and told him that the sword was nothing but a childs toy. She thought he had just mistakenly given her the wrong sword. She then asked him to give her a real one.

The king called all his counselors and asked the husband and wife to relate what had happened. When each had recounted the incident, the king commented, Havent I warned you never to trust a wife?

The fox then said to the tiger, Beware of your wife, For through her stupid advice, she will harm both you and your children.

The tiger was convinced by the idea. Yet he asked the fox, How can I be harmed by my wife?

The fox answered impatiently, Have you heard the story of the roman wife who desecrated her husbands corpse?

The fox then began to tell the tiger this story too:

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The Roman Wife who Desecrated her Husbands Corpse

Furiously, a Roman king ordered the execution of a traitor. He also ordered that his body be left hung on a tree and not be buried. To make sure that friends or relatives would not steal the body, the king ordered one of his military captains to guard the body day and night.

At midnight, the captain heard some noise that seemed to come from a source close by. Out of curiosity, and to make sure no one was coming towards him, he left his post and went to find out. He came upon a woman standing in front of an open grave. There were many friends and relatives around her. They were consoling her as she had lost her husband a couple of hours ago. The captain went forward and offered a few words of consolation and sympathy.

The same thing happened on the following night, and the captain spoke with the woman and then returned to his post. The same thing happened again on the third night.

The widow began to develop a sort of emotion towards the captain. So she returned at midnight to talk with him while he stood on watch over the hanging corpse. Suddenly they realized that the corpse had been stolen.

The captain was greatly agitated and did not know what to do. As for the widow, she calmly said, Dont worry, lets carry the corpse of my husband and hang it on the tree.

The captain said, How can I steal the corpse of a dead person? I fear the angel of death.

The widow retorted, Dont fear, Ill pull the body out, and if the angel of death obstructs my way, Ill tell him that it belongs to my husband and that Im entitled to do whatever pleases me.

She then went and brought the corpse. The captain however noted that the executed man was bald whereas the corpse was not. He was at a loss for that would expose the matter and the king would execute him too. The widow was not moved as she hastily pulled out all the hair from her late husbands head until it was completely bald.

A few days later, these two got married.

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The Plan of the Fox Succeeding

As a result of all these stories, the tiger was greatly convinced by the foxs theory. He ran home and gruffly told his wife, Get up, gather the children, and follow me to the valley that the fox told me about. There well be able to lead a good life. If you dont obey me, Ill kill you.

So the wife was obliged to gather her children and follow her husband. They entered the valley that was covered with flowers and the tiger praised the fox for bringing them to this comfortable place.

Seven days passed by, and then heavy rains began to fall. The rainfall swept down from the mountaintops and the valley turned into a deep lake. The tiger, his wife and children tried to climb out but in vain.

Seeing that he and his family were on the brink of death, the tiger wailed, Woe unto me. I didnt listen to my wifes advice!

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O Lord, when You dwell in the family,

Everyone behold You living in the other members,

The family would be transformed into a heaven.

With love and humbleness, each member listens to the others.

Transform our homes into holy churches,

And make our hearts springs of sincere love.

May You be transfigured in every home, Amen.


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