Jerry the timberjack did save the fox over the hill, after her howls in the night had woken him.
He had walked the cold plain with a gun at his back, trod careful the creekstones and gone up grassy slopes that glistened with moon-shine towards where he knew she would be.
Beyond the valley below the black forest there lay in a wide doom of the night, and he took pause to gather his bearings.
She howled again, and again, and hearing her pain he moved forthwith without any reservation of his fate.
He saw she was trapped in an almighty struggle, the barbed tangles of treevines wrapped tightly around and without him he knew she would die.
He unsheathed his knife and cut her free and the trees swayed chaos in defeat. The fox had ventured too near, it seemed, and had fallen victim to their spell in her greed.
He tended her wounds in the fireplace warmth, washed off her blood and fed her well and in the morning he did wish her safe travel. Thankful beyond words she left with a smile and roamed wide in the sun full of joy.
The next week she delivered a gift as a thank you and to his concern it was the boots from the bootmaker’s window. He took them to return but the bootmaker was puzzled as they had been purchased in perfectly good tender.
So wear them he did and their comfort was wonderful and he wondered how it was that she’d managed.
Another week passed by when there was a tap on the door, and another box there sat on his porch.
The Thermomix™ inside had features aplenty but he failed them all except breadmaking, to which his expertise grew and the townsfolk were thrilled by his sourdough.
A week later, in the predawn glow, he was already up with a coffee. When the tap did come he rushed out the door and saw her tail vanished quick in the tallgrass.
The box loomed large, too large to be carried, and she could not done so on her own. He ripped back the wrapping and his surprise only grew when it was a vending for Dr Pepper, a beverage for which he was unfamiliar.
The horrendous bubbling brown was of a delicious spicen flavour and with glee he shared it with his friends. But the stock ran dry and he would stare at the machine thinking fond of the fox and her gesture.
The next week he waited on the chair on the porch and as sunrise crested he was most pleased to see her approaching.
She bore no gift and came to his side and put her head on his knee as he scratched her. Her tail wagged shy and he realised then that his friend was worried she could no longer repay him.
But she had no debt at all, none whatsoever, and so he took her in his arms and hummed to assure her.
Together they left and walked long in the sun and they did not return for the day. As dusktime came he invited her in, and they enjoyed sourdough bread and warm mulled wine and sang many a tune of old.
A starry night fell and she decided to stay, and their laughter could be heard for a mile.