Neil Gaiman’s fox-wife goes back a long way. Tales of men marrying trickster wives are as old as myth itself. Every culture has its own version:
Many, many years ago, a young man in Gifu was lovestruck by a beautiful woman in a field. Determined to make her his wife, he proposed on the spot. To his great delight, the coquettish lady agreed, and they were married.
Their marriage was a happy one, and in the first year, the wife gifted her husband a son, strong as a god, and as fast as one, too. Yet the husband’s dog and her own puppy would always growl and snap at the wife when she passed them. The wife, fearing the animals, begged her husband to get rid of them, but he could not bring himself to do so.
One day, the dogs at last attacked the wife, who, jumping on a rice barrel, suddenly revealed herself to be a fox. Her husband, exposed to the truth, lamented her discovery, for though they could no longer be together, he still…
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