Nigel was a hound, and from the day he was born, he ran much faster than his brothers and sisters. Thus it was that from his first days as a puppy, he took classes in the art and science of killing foxes. Day after day, between training runs, he would read about the habits of foxes, and came to knew the animals as well as he knew himself.
The trouble was, Nigel grew to like foxes the more he read about them. He read about how a prime component of a fox diet is insects, and caught numerous bugs, which he left in the woods for the animals he came to view with affection. He read about how gray foxes and raccoon dogs climbed trees, and imagined building fox treehouses, where he and the foxes could climb, and scout the countryside.
Throughout all of this, Nigel grew more and more conflicted. The Master of Foxhounds, who, among other things, oversees the dog kennels, spoke proudly of Nigel to his friends, and eagerly looked forward to the day Nigel would lead the pack. Nigel always felt pained when he heard these words of praise, and once the Master of Foxhounds left the kennel, he would work on his skills at sniffing out insects, the better to leave food for his friends.
When the day at last came for Nigel to go on his first hunt, he took his usual place at the head of the pack, and caught the scent of a fox early on. He found the fox, whose name was Simon, and led him on a merry chase, although the chase was not particularly merry for Simon. Finally, he caught up to him, and for several seconds just stood there, for an idea formed in Nigel’s mind.
Nigel swatted Simon with his paw.
“Tag,” Nigel said. “You’re it.”
Simon just stared at him.
“Come again,” said Simon.
“Tag,” said Nigel. “Trust me on this one.”
Nigel bolted away and Simon, with the belief that death would at least be a bit less unpleasant if he engaged in sport before he died, chased after Nigel, who laughed and darted from left to right.
Soon the other hounds caught up to Nigel and Simon, and when they saw the game they were engaged in, their hunting instincts fell away, for the appeal of fun seemed far more appealing than the appeal of murder. Forgetting his fear, Simon, laughing, swatted one of the other hounds with his paw, and said “tag.”
When the hunters caught up to the hounds, they were quite taken aback, for the hounds were all frolicking and skipping around. And as they saw the game that was taking place, their sense of homicidal bloodlust fell away as well, and before long they were all chasing after each other, the occasional cry of “tag” resounding across the countryside.
From that day forward, thanks to Nigel’s humane revolution, fox hunts across the countryside gave way to games of tag. From then on, instead of barks, snarls, and bloodcurdling screams, the air was filled with laughter, yips, and life-affirming giggles. And afterward, when the hunters went back to the estate for cigars and brandy, Nigel, Simon, the hounds and many, many foxes sat down for marathon games of Eucre, slapping each other on the back and laughing all the while.