Mr. Croup was once a fox.

It was so very long ago that he can barely remember the feel of his red fur, of pine needles under his paws, the smell of rain in his sharp nose. He can recall the way in which he prowled his territory – the little patch of forest he called his own – fiercely and diligently from the time he was a kit only months old to the year in which humans came.

This is when Mr. Croup heard his first word.

Language was such a foreign delight. To think that humans used tongues, teeth, and lips to push these words out into the world to express thought, feeling and opinion. The range was well beyond the bark, wail, and gekkering of a fox.

Mr. Croup was fascinated, enamored, intrigued.

A world of endless expression lay before him, with ever-changing tongues and new expressions. What communication!

And so began Mr. Croup's transformation. A fox's tongue is useful for many things, but speech escapes his snout with clumsy grace. Mr. Croup would not settle for such injustice when perfect articulation was an attainable goal.

He shed his vermillion fur and his sepia paws. The fox had become something like a man, whose boots crackled and crunched through the fall of pine needles and oak leaves, stepped through cobbled streets and onto escalators.

His wit and cunning had been given voice at last. It is such a pity he never expressed anything beyond violence.