More than a thousand years ago, there was a farmer with the surname Chai who lived deep in the mountains.
He guarded a simple cabin and lived a happy life.
Because his parents passed away, he only needed to care for himself.
He grew some vegetables outside the front door and raised a few chickens and ducks.
He climbed up the mountain to gather firewood and sold them at the local markets in exchange for rice and oil.
One day, the farmer left home with an ax and ropes as soon as the sun rose from the east.
The farmer was optimistic; he hummed an unknown melody on the way, the birds in the mountain chirped continuously as if they were singing together with him.
At the deep end of the mountain, the farmer was about to chop down the nicely grown branches when he suddenly heard a usual grieving whine.
It sounded like a wounded animal.
The farmer put down his ax and searched where the sound came from.
He saw a little fox with snow-white fur struggling in a pile of dried-up branches.
Its legs were wounded by the branches and its fur was soaked in blood.
The little fox looked at the farmer with watery eyes as if it was seeking help.
“Ah, you poor thing, let me help you.” The farmer was kind, and all the animals in the forest knew it.
The flying birds in the sky and the running hares on the ground have all received the farmer's care.
The farmer held the wounded little fox in his arms, realizing that it was severely injured and needed treatment.
He gave up gathering firewood and took it home along with his ax.
The little fox recovered and became better as each day passed, slowly, it started to run and hop around again.
It accompanied the farmer to gather firewood during the day and slept on top of the farmer's blanket during the night.
A farmer and a fox started living a life of codependency.
“Snow Fox, don't go over there.
It's dangerous.” Snow Fox was the name the farmer gave the little fox because its fur was as white as pure snow.
The farmer didn't forget to check on the little fox as he chopped down branches.
The little fox looked like it could understand human language.
It stopped temptingly in its tracks as soon as the farmer called out and returned to his side while wagging its tail.
Days went on by.
The farmer didn't marry because he was too poor, and Snow Fox accompanied him for seven years.
As if this was happiness, and perhaps Heaven was jealous, misfortune began to fall on them.
There was an old master with the surname Qian in town who heard that there was treasure hidden under the farmer's cabin and forced him to move out without evidence.
The farmer had no one to voice the bitterness in his heart; the limit was three days, and he must move away within three days.
The little fox felt sad at the sound of his sighs.
There were many things it didn't understand, but it knew that the farmer was the person who treated it the best.
All it could do was to lay by his feet and let him feel its existence.
“Snow Fox, my dear Snow Fox, you poor little thing.
We don't have a home from now on.” The farmer picked up the little fox and looked at it as if it was his child.
Tomorrow was the last day.
The farmer thought of his life in the future and made a big decision.
He decided to return the little fox to the forest, let it search for its family.
So, he took out the last bit of rice wine that he had at home and gave it to the little fox.
After the little fox drank it, it was drunk and fell asleep.
Under the darkness of the night, the farmer quickly traveled through the forest with the soundly asleep fox in his arms.
He must send it to a safe place; he saw tragedy in Old Master Zhao's eyes.
Old Master Zhao didn't want his house, but his eyes were filled with greediness for the little fox.
The farmer knew that Old Master Zhao won't let him slip away even if he gave up his house, and he must arrange something for the little fox first as he couldn't bear to see it getting skinned alive.
The farmer cried at the thought of the little fox's possible future, and tears fell on its fur.
After putting the little fox in a safe place, the farmer looked back longingly as he left, “Snow Fox, go back to your family and don't ever come back again.”
And just like this, the farmer bid his farewell to the little fox.
When it woke up, it found out that it was sleeping in the forest, but the farmer was nowhere in sight.
The farmer underestimated the little fox; even if it had never walked that way, it could recognize his smell.
The little fox ran and ran, and it reached home in half a day's time.
Their house was still standing, but the door was fully opened.
The smell of blood filled its nose.
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