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Dreamed 1997/2/28 by Chris Wayan
I read a children's book aloud. It's a fantasy by Shirley Rousseau Murphy. As I tell the tale, it becomes real:
Once upon a time, a boy lived in the royal court of his uncle, the Wizard King. Now, this boy was endlessly curious--some would say impudent. One day, he asked the wrong question, and offended the King deeply. He punished the boy by turning him into a little fox, who could still talk, but couldn't do much else to cause mischief, since fox-paws have no thumbs. It's an open sentence; he'll be a fox till the King decides he's changed his ways, learned to obey his elders. He must live on other's charity, demoted from prince to mere pet, or else live in a burrow like a wild fox.
But Fox-Boy reacts unexpectedly--rather than learning his lesson, he defies his uncle's sentence and runs away, on a quest to get himself turned human again. He has wild, wonderful adventures--he manages to cross a great chasm, the Gulf Impassable, and enter Spellbound Castle, where great heroes have tried and failed. For as a fox, the boy can smell and hear better than any human being, and thus avoid spells, and slip through cracks, and cross narrow log bridges, and generally go unnoticed.
Being a fox makes all the difference.
He reaches the heart of Spellbound Castle, and frees the magical beings imprisoned there.
And freeing them triggers a social and political revolution--one long overdue.
It couldn't have worked out better if his uncle had planned it.
I wonder. Maybe... he did.
NOTES NEXT MORNING
- Shirley Rousseau Murphy's Nightpool had fox people like this. They're wary of humans in the book, though the two species lived together in ancient times.
- Devious wizard-king:
- My uncle Hugh told me tales of torture in the asylum where he was imprisoned--warning me to be a shy, sly little fox, to hide my own madness to avoid electroshock and drugs.
- Hamlet is forced into a foxy cunning, feigning madness; and his uncle the usurper sends him out to die.
- I just finished Patricia McKillip's The Cygnet and the Firebird, in which a wizard-king curses his own son, though it backfires profoundly...
- Fox-boy = skills Uncle Hugh showed me I'd need to survive in a conformist, coercive world: invisibility, vigilance, intuition, cunning, manipulation. Also gentleness: Nightpool's fox people have much in common with Meg and Nyx in Cygnet and Firebird--alarmed by their warlike neighbors. Weaker, they hide and use their heads, try to stop a war, not to win it.
- Being outcast, being inhuman... has value. It's freed gifts I never would have had, if I'd been raised human.
LISTS AND LINKS:
dream beings -
foxes - another werefox boy:
Close the Gate! -
spells and curses -
political dreams -
an epic dream inspired by Nightpool:
Fisher Girls -
Patricia McKillip -
the secret of
uncle Hugh - same dreamer set up to play envoy again in
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