Once early in his pup years, the gray fox, eSmith, happened upon a lion. He knew about lions as much as he knew about most things, through his parents. eSmith’s father, the tailless one, and his mother, the red-furred vixen, had taught him to identify the situation, comprehend what it meant, and use the information to resolve the situation at hand.
He roamed the grasslands near the den with that in mind when a lion roared behind him.
Jumping around, eSmith barked, “What’s that?” He gasped at the sight of the mighty beast, a light brown furred feline with a magnificent dark shaggy mane. It was the biggest one he had ever seen. He dashed for the trees.
The lion roared once more.
eSmith hid behind a large maple, trembling with fear, until the lion had passed. Soon, the lion’s furious roars weakened and fell away, leaving him shaken for some time.
Eventually, the fox pup gathered his courage, puffed out his chest, and jumped from his hiding place. He growled, “That’s right, you better go! You don’t want none of this action. This is my territory. I’ll show you who’s king.” He strutted home with his head held high.
The next day, eSmith journeyed from the den, head held high, chest puffed out. He invaded the meadow and found no foe. Wadding in the creek near the den, he heard rustling from among the mulberry bushes. The lion he had braved yesterday emerged from the bushes.
The king of beasts roared his arrival, challenging all predators.
eSmith snarled at the lion. He stepped out of the water, barking, “You’re not all that scary to me.”
“What’s this? A pup?” The lion laughed, ignoring the fox cub, for he had recently eaten and never killed for sport. He chuckled at the brashness of the puppy before he moved on.
Once the lion had left, eSmith deflated his puffed-out chest and barked softly, “You can pass this time.” He paced about, imagining what he would have done if the lion had not left peacefully—as if he could have done something about it. Yes, he decided, I will do something about it!
The spunky fox cub wandered back home and rested on top the hill overlooking the den. He howled, “I rule here.”
The third time the lion arrived with his roar, eSmith had grown even bolder. He pranced up and confronted the king of beasts. “Who said you could come around here?”
“What?” the lion growled. He had recently lost an antelope and was not in good humor.
“You don’t scare me,” eSmith snarled, getting into the lion’s face. “Acting all huffy-puffy doesn’t frighten me.”
“My my,” the stunned lion grumbled. The mighty cat studied the brash fox pup. “Cocky little thing, aren’t you?”
“What does a chicken have to do with this?” yapped eSmith. “Go, run back to your mommy. You’re not the king of beasts around here!”
“Arrogant little pup!” the lion roared. He whacked eSmith on the side of the head, sending the fox cub hurling through the air.
eSmith slammed into a tree and dropped to the ground, a crumpled mess.
The lion took a sniff at the unconscious puppy.
“Now, who’s the arrogant one?” the mighty beast announced to the world before he strolled away.
eSmith did not hear the lion’s roar. He woke up later in the day, head hurting. Once his head cleared and his vision returned, the gray fox pup recalled his bravado in facing the lion.
Such brash behavior was not appropriate in most situations, the gray pup realized. Yet, he had pulled it off. Brash and cocky have their place among the mightiest of beasts, but don’t overdo it.