BEHIND THE STORY...
After several meetings with the head of development at Disney, I asked if they were interested in anything in particular. The studio was trying to find famous properties of which the actual stories were not well known. It felt by using less known stories, there would be fewer complaints about Disney altering the tales. Almost immediately I suggested Tom Thumb. I told them it was a name that was famous around the world, but that the real story was basically unknown. They loved the idea and asked what I might come up with. My first thoughts were towards a poster that would attract attention. I came up with the idea of a tiny man riding a fox. From there, I came up with the first pitch.
The studio liked the idea. They especially liked the aspect of Tom and the fox. It seemed the studio had been having some live action success with comedies featuring buddies. They felt that doing “buddy-comedy” animated films could be a new direction and bring in more sophisticated audiences. So I was asked to come back with a revised pitch that focused more on the idea of Tom and the fox being a team.
This new version was extremely well received. The studio really liked the focus on Tom and Merlin (the fox). It was at this point Tim Disney came into the picture. He thought the idea of Tom riding around on a fox was great. However, the studio was now thinking they wanted to move away from European fairy tales. They wondered if I could turn the story into something more American. Figuring we had carte blanche with the character, I told them it could be moved to a period of early American history. They liked the idea and asked me to come back with something.
This version was very successful. The head of development was very keen on the idea. He said that Tim was even thinking of producing it himself. Several months later, Tim decided he was not interested in working in the film business. Also, the studio was changing its mind. OLIVER AND COMPANY had done well at the box-office, but it was not the hit they had hoped. However, there was growing belief that THE LITTLE MERMAID was going to be a truly breakthrough film. Suddenly the studio decided buddy comedies were out and the future of Disney was going to be the return to classic, musical fairy tale romances. Oddly, when Pixar began their run of animated features, it was their buddy comedies like TOY STORY and MONSTER’S INC that became break out hits and lead the way to other such buddy films as SHREK and ICE AGE.
Around a year later, another studio asked if I had an idea for a feature. They were looking for something a bit more classical, with a strong romantic slant. I decided to freshen up the story. I kept the American setting, and most of the characters, but emphasized the romantic relationship more. The studio ended up not getting any funding, so the project was dropped.
And now my pitch...
An Animated Feature Proposal by John Cawley
Pitch by John Cawley - Dated September 29, 1987
Tom Thumb, only four-inches high, takes on a giant task when he joins forces with a thieving fox in an attempt to warn the King of a deadly plot to overthrow the country.
TOM THUMB - The same magic that made Tom only four-inches high (barely larger than a man's thumb), also gave him the ability to talk with small animals. An outcast from his village, Tom finds his friends among the small animals. Now in his early 20's, he has come to know peace with nature and himself. Tom is a friend to all. He believes that good will always conquer evil and that there is an inner beauty in everything.
MERLIN - The village scourge, Merlin is a vicious, thieving, clever fox. Long an outcast from the animal community, Merlin has become angry and bitter towards others. He trusts no one and is not to be trusted. Merlin dislikes Tom because he is human, and because Tom has helped many a small creature escape from his dinner menu.
Tom Thumb is an internationally known character whose story is not familiar. This original adventure brings a new concept that will allow for future adventures of the tiny hero and his trusty "steed," Merlin.
Tom Thumb, who at four inches in height and barely larger than a man’s thumb, enjoys his life. Though still considered a “bad omen” and generally an outcast in the community, his family and a few neighbors love Tom. Tom’s best friends are the small animals. Unknown even to his parents, the magic that made Tom so tiny has also given him the ability to talk to small animals. He spends his time playing with mice, rabbits, and gophers, frequently helping them avoid villagers’ traps and the jaws of scavengers – the most notorious being Merlin, a fox.
All is quiet in Tom’s village until an evil Warrior arrives with his army. The Warrior plans to spend the night in the village readying his army for a final attack on the King’s castle. To ensure that the King is taken by surprise, the Warrior has the village surrounded so no one can leave.
The villagers hold a secret meeting at a local hunter’s home to plan an escape to warn the King. Some of the best runners are considered for the task. Tom feels he is best suited to escape because of his height, but the villagers reject it because his legs are so short it would take him too long to run to the castle. Suddenly, the Warrior’s army breaks into the meeting and a fight ensues. Tom slips out of the main hall into a back room full of traps and hunting gear.
He realizes he is the last chance to warn the King. As Tom searches for an exit, he discovers Merlin in one of the traps. He offers to release Merlin if the fox will run him to the castle. Merlin agrees, but when released the fox grabs Tom and plans to eat him. Soldiers enter the room firing their bows at Merlin and Tom but the pair escape thanks to Tom’s quick thinking. Since he now owes him his life, Merlin reluctantly agrees to take Tom to the castle. However as they head off the Warrior views them. He sends his best huntsmen after the pair and plans to immediately begin his march on the castle.
Facing natural and man-made dangers, Tom and Merlin become more at ease with each other but are still arguing as they reach the castle. They warn the King’s assistant only to be thanked and locked in a large box. They now realize that there are spies within the castle. The pair shows their experience as a team and quickly escapes their prison. Tom and Merlin split up, the fox is to create a diversion so that Tom can reach the King.
Tom reaches the King and tells him of both the upcoming battle and spies. The King is able to call together his guards just in time to meet the approaching army. As a battle rages on the outside, the King’s assistant plots with his partner to kill the King. Merlin watches the pair. Uncertain what is being said, he follows the killer. As Tom and the King learn that the invading army is being defeated, they begin to celebrate. The killer approaches the King from behind and is stopped only when Merlin attacks him. The commotion draws the King’s guard who arrest the villain. Merlin, though, has been injured.
The King takes Merlin and Tom to see his Wizard, who will cure the fox. The King lays Merlin on a table in the lab as the Wizard enters from behind. Tom sees it is the person who first captured them. Locking the lab door, the Wizard knocks the King unconscious and states he will kill all three. Merlin, in pain, knocks a beaker off the table that causes a brilliant flash and smoke to fill the room. Tom uses the diversion to get the key and slip under the door to the guards who enter and arrest the Wizard. Tom rushes to Merlin, who states he is full of pain… but will again escape death.
Tom is knighted by the King and given a miniature sword. A parade is prepared to take Tom and Merlin back to their home. As the parade leaves the castle, to the cheers of the crowd, Tom and Merlin begin reminiscing about their adventure and previous lives. For once they both agree that it would be very dull to go back to living on a farm or chasing rabbits. Both smile and silently slip out of their carriage. Tom mounts Merlin and the pair head off to look for more adventures, arguing which way they should look.
Revised Pitch by John Cawley – Dated November 5, 1987 (The Buddy Pitch)
Tom is more alone than ever before. His parents have died and he is living in town with his Uncle and Aunt. Considered either freak or frail, Tom is not allowed to do anything because he is "too small." His only joy and friendship comes from the animal kingdom ¬ to which Tom can communicate. When forced to go out in the world on his own, Tom discovers that size is only relative. By the end of his adventure, he decides that it is the town that is too small.
Merlin is a fox of legend: a notorious rogue. The town talks of his superior brain and ability to escape all of man's traps. However when he is caught, it becomes obvious that Merlin is merely a bitter, angry, lonely creature. When forced to work with Tom, he sees that there is more to the world than looking for food and fleeing man.
Tom and Merlin have a bad beginning when Tom meets Merlin and the two having nothing to agree on. Tom tries to be friendly but Merlin is a true loner. Released from the cage, Merlin decides to eat the tiny Tom who uses his size to keep away from the fox long enough for aid to arrive. However, once together, the two form an uneasy partnership.
Tom relies on the fox's cunning and ability to get them through danger and mishaps, not realizing Merlin’s skills are limited to self-preservation. Merlin expects the human to be in total control, never suspecting that Tom has led a sheltered life.
After some close calls, the two begin to respect each other for what they can do rather than what they can't. By the end of the story, they are good friends ¬ who still don't agree on very much.
THE BASIC STORY
When the animals of an impending disaster warn Tom, he enlists the aid of a noted rogue fox in traveling to the area of danger.
Tom has lived with his Aunt and Uncle, at their tavern on the river, since the death of his parents several years ago. a local oddity, Tom has increased business at the tavern, as he performs for the many travelers.
Tom is neither happy, nor-unhappy. He is either treated as a freak or fragile item. Tom prefers neither, but he has come to accept his size handicap. His only joy comes from his secret ability to talk with animals, which he does when alone.
As the town prepares to celebrate the end of a long war, all are getting into the spirit, except Tom who is always in the way. Even Tom's animal friends are too distracted to talk with him. The eve of the celebration, a local captures Merlin, a fox known throughout the county as the trickiest of all predators.
When Tom sneaks down to the cellar to see the prize catch, he is surprised at the bitter, lonely creature he finds. Merlin is far from the "elegant rogue" he had heard about. Worse, the fox has bad news. There is an upcoming disaster that will destroy the town. It is this sense of doom that has caused Tom's animal friends to be distraught.
Unable to get the attention of the partying town folk, Tom strikes a bargain with Merlin. Tom will release the fox if he will take Tom to the trouble spot. The fox agrees, but once free attacks Tom. The entrance of Tom's uncle changes the odds, but Tom still assists Merlin's escape.
Bound by the fact that he has saved his life twice, Merlin agrees to take Tom to the danger and the two head northward along the river. After a while, they discover that they will make better time if Tom rides Merlin. The fox at first rejects the notion, but finally agrees. On the way, animals running southward, away from the danger, frequently attack them.
Tom, at first uncertain of how to handle situations, soon takes command as he discovers the fox has little cunning except in the area of survival. When the fox again becomes caught in a trap, Tom goes to the rescue, only to be captured himself by two men. The hunters feel Tom is a far better catch than a fox, so release Merlin.
Merlin, again on his own begins to realize that Tom has now saved his life three times. Worse, he feels all he is good at doing is escaping and not thinking. He follows after the men and is able to devise a plan to help Tom escape.
Together again, the uneasy pair continues northward until they find the source of danger: a weakened natural dam. Around the structure are various large weapons and bodies: the remnants of one of the recently ended war's major battles.
Though weak, the dam is far from seriously hurt. The pair relaxes for the first time and suddenly realizes they have been through a lot together. As they reminisce and relax it begins to rain. The rain comes down harder and harder.
Both realize that the dam will not withstand a heavy rain, and that disaster will come to the town downstream. Tom, finding his size allows him to do nothing, becomes angry at his handicap. Merlin reminds him that it was Tom's mind and courage that had gotten them this far.
Tom and Merlin begin thinking and realize that they can use the large weapons to create a new dam. Together they fire a cannon in the right direction and destroy a cliff that tumbles onto the earthen dam, strengthening it.
Once again, rejoicing they congratulate themselves. As the rain continues, the fox tells Tom he'll take him back to the Town now. Tom surprises the fox by stating he's not going back to the village. He tells Merlin that he has found that once out in the world there are "big things" at every size. In fact, as far as Tom is concerned, the town is "too small" for Tom.
Tom announces that he is going to continue traveling upriver to find what is there. Merlin says he will miss Tom, for the fox has learned many things. The two sit silently next to each other for a few moments, when Merlin asks if Tom needs a ride. Tom smiles and both turn northward and begin walking.
Revised Pitch by John Cawley – Dated March 1988 (The American Version)
During the American Revolution, Tom Thumb searches for a lost race of "little people" with the aid of a notorious fox.
Having lost his parents recently, Tom Thumb has been uprooted from his familiar farm and is now residing with an aunt and uncle who run a small tavern. Though his new guardians are kind, Tom feels lost and alone as he watches the Revolution bring families and lovers closer together. His new family, aware of Tom's unusual size (which they use to attract customers), is unaware of his ability to talk to small animals.
One evening a pair of strangers arrive that stir strange feelings within Tom. The first is Merlin, a notorious, thieving fox who has been trapped and is being stored in the tavern's basement until Tom's uncle has time to mount him. When Tom talks to Merlin, he is both intrigued and frightened by the many adventures and close calls the fox has had.
Later, a traveling salesman comes to town trying to sell his wares, including tiny items from magical "little folk." When the tavern clientele doubt his tales, he tries to use Tom as proof without success. Tom, who believes the story, cannot find anyone to take his desire to seek them seriously.
That night, when all are asleep, Tom goes to Merlin and offers him a chance at freedom if the fox will take him to the little people. Not wishing to waste his life looking for something that doesn't exist, Merlin agrees to help... but only for one week. Tom accepts and the two escape into the night.
Tom and Merlin find traveling difficult due to the warring factors and their inability to get along with each other. Merlin can't understand how Tom, a human, can be so naive to man's ways. Tom has trouble believing that a tricky fox is unable to deal with problems of travel. However, between the two, they are able to escape dangers from both sides of the revolution as well as natural forces for seven days. Merlin says he has met his part of the bargain, and since there is no evidence of the little people it is time for them to part ways.
Before they can separate, Indians capture them. Having been used by both sides of the war, the Indians are extremely hostile. Tom is taken to the Chief while Merlin is dumped in with the rest of the animals. When brought before the Chief, Tom finds that the Indians feel he may be a god due to his size and offer their home.
Tom states he appreciates the offer, but he must move on to find his home. He does ask that they release Merlin, which they agree. Merlin demands they also release a young vixen he has found in the pen. Tom requests it and it is granted. Once outside the camp, Merlin and Tom again begin to say their good-byes when in discussing the "little people" the vixen says she has heard of such a group in a distant valley.
Merlin, at first reluctant to make the journey soon gives in to show the vixen he does have compassion. The trio begin their trek and in time arrive at a misty valley. However, unlike the rest of their journey, there seems to be no life whatsoever in the valley. It is totally still. Broken, Tom decides he will head back home on his own.
Merlin and the vixen both agree to help him when a small elderly man steps from behind a rock and greets them. As they talk, more and more tiny folk emerge as Tom is told all were hiding from the foxes until they saw that Tom was their friend. Tom is introduced to a number of the small clan, including a friendly female who seems most enchanted with the visitor who can talk with animals.
Once again Tom and Merlin say their good-byes. Only this time both are generally happy. Merlin promises to come back on occasion to visit Tom, though both now know that their destinies travel different paths and in truth this is a final good-bye. As the foxes leave the valley, the small people again vanish into the mists with Tom following.
Revised Pitch by John Cawley – Dated January 9, 1989 (Non-Disney)
Five personalities (a joking prankster, an insecure coward, a level headed woman, a giddy gal, and a demanding lady) on four bodies are running for their lives and searching for what each thinks is happiness. By the end of their journey they just might find what they really want.
Tom Thumb – Six-inch high, self-centered prankster
Black Tip – Cowardly brother of a notorious fox
June/June – Two-headed snake; one sharp, the other man-hungry
Lost – Cunning vixen
Dr. Wise – Supreme con man
TOM THUMB takes one of the most famous names in literature and adds a new dimension to it. Previously regarded as a fairy tale or famed circus midget, the animated Tom Thumb re-defines both character and legend. In this adventure, he lives in early America during the days just prior to the revolution. Along with his diminutive size he has the ability to talk to small animals. His wisecracking, cynical personality is the perfect centerpiece for a comedy adventure, which has him joining forces with four eccentric personalities in a run for their lives.
Tom Thumb – Only six-inches high, Tom is somewhat of a secret celebrity around his parents’ farm in early America. His tiny size has made him the object of protection and suspicion. He is a self-centered, cynical, rowdy, unruly wise=cracker. In his early twenties, he has no friends outside of his family except for some of the farm creatures. He also has a personal secret: he can talk to small animals. When he is forced out on his own, he learns patience, purpose and finally grows (internally) to manhood. He also learns his parents have their own amazing secret. [Voice Suggestions: Robin Williams, Paul Reubens, Eddie Murphy]
Black Tip – A fox with a black-tipped tail, Black Tip is the look-a-like brother of the notorious Black Tip, an outlaw fox known for his cleverness who died some time back. Tom’s Balck Tip originally lived off his brother’s cunning, and was always instructed how to perform as part of the famed fox’s tricks. However, without his brother, Black Tip is totally lacking in self-confidence. He needs to be told what to do in any situation. Though cowardly and indecisive, once given direction, he becomes a strong, heroic figure… until he once again must make a decision. After meeting Tom, Black Tip begins to learn how to work as an actual team and soon is able to function as an individual. [Voice Suggestions: Jonathan Winters, Woody Allen, John Ritter, Bob Denver]
June/June – A freak of nature, June/June is a two-headed snake. This odd sister team is forced to share the same body from the neck down. June is a smart cookie, always ready to get ahead while June is just having too much fun being a girl. The two are often bickering and constantly “shushing” each other. When June and June see how totally opposite Tom and Black Tip get along, they decide they could at least work at being friends with each other. [Voice Suggestions: Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, Madonna]
Lost – Far from her namesake, Lost is a vixen that is both cunning and streetwise. She is harsh, demanding and always on the lookout for a companion equal of her. Her adventures with Tom and Black Tip show her compassion and allow her to accept creatures for what they are. [Voice Suggestions: Roseanna Barr, Diana Rigg]
Dr. Wise – He’s no doctor, but Wise owns a traveling freak show that offers everyone a chance to see “nature’s attempts to befuddle man”. A scheming opportunist, he is both conman and thief. [Voice Suggestions: John Cleese, Joe Isuzu, Dan Ackroyd]
TOM THUMB is unhappy with life on the farm. Though his folks treat him well and he cares for them, he doesn’t feel close to them. His parents try to keep a continual watch on him for safety reasons, but this is not easy as Tom is always running off. Being so isolated, Tom has gotten used to having the world revolve around him. In his attempt to hide his loneliness, Tom has become a comical figure. Bu joking and pulling pranks, he draws attention to himself and keeps too busy to feel bad. He is often found causing trouble. Whether its creating a disturbance when guests come to dinner, or playing pranks with his animal friends such as the rats, squirrels and skunks, his cynical way of life seems to affect everyone he touches.
Though frequently warned of danger, Tom decides to sneak into town one day by hiding on the wagon. Once in town, he is amazed at the amount of “large” people that actually exist. Again he feels the loneliness of being the only tiny person in the world. His depression changes, though when he thinks of all the mischief he can cause in such an area.
As he looks for his first target, he spies an ornate coach surrounded by a number of cages and figures. It is the traveling exhibit of DR. WISE. He is shouting about the wonders of nature and it’s mysteries from the largest of animals to the smallest man in the world. This claim intrigues Tom who goes to investigate. While trying to see, he hears the man discuss his various exhibits including the notorious BLACK TIP (a fox), the two-headed snake (JUNE/JUNE), and a bone of the North Woods Dragon (a dinosaur bone).
Climbing up one of the stands, he comes face to face with Black Tip. The fox, amazed at the size of Tom, exclaims that Tom must be an illusion or evil spirit. However, when Tom tries to explain, the fox becomes even more agitated. The audience, seeing the frightened fox, begins heckling Dr. Wise. Angered, he threatens not to show them proof of the world’s tiniest people. The crowd hushes as he pulls out of his pocket what looks like a tiny hat.
Wise begins to explain how it comes from the mysterious mountaintops near the West where a race of little people lives in secret. The audience begins to laugh when one viewer suggests the hat is merely the left over tip of a glove. Tom, however, seems most interested. He asks Black Tip if it really does come from a group of little people. The fox is too tongue tied to give a proper answer. Tom vows he will wait till the crowd leaves and then ask the Doctor.
When the crowd dissipates, Dr. Wise is generally unsuccessful at collecting any coins. He begins to put his exhibits away when he comes over to Black Tip. Cursing the animal for acting up and ruining the crowd, he is about to strike the fox when he Tom steps forward. Wise is frozen in disbelief.
Tom talks to Wise, explaining it is his fault the fox reacted. He then begins asking questions about the little people. As Tom talks on, the sight paralyzes Wise. Tom soon becomes tired of the lack of communication and reverts to his more caustic tones. Only when he insults the Dr. by questioning his exhibits does Wise finally break out of his trance. The two talk briefly, each asking questions but getting no answers from each other.
Finally, Tom gives up and begins to leave when Wise grabs him. Wise tells Tom that there really is a race of little people; and that Wise sees them somewhat regularly. If tom would like a lift, the Dr. would be glad to oblige. Tom thinks for a second. Yes, if he can just get word to his parents. Wise agrees by taking dictation. However, Wise’s letter is far different from Tom’s words.
On the road, Tom, wearing the little hat for luck, sits in the back of the wagon with Black Tip and the only other live exhibit, June/June, the two-headed snake. Tom finds the dual personalities of June/June easy prey for his wise cracks. Black Tip explains it’s hard to have a conversation with two ladies who each insist on being the cent of attention. In defense, the snake comments it is even harder talking to someone who cannot do or say anything on their own. Tom then discovers that Black Tip is really “Black Tip II”, brother of the famous and “late” rogue fox.
Black Tip describes how he assisted his brother on many raids, making it look like the fox was in two places at once. However the fox explains his brother, being the smarter, always made certain that Black Tip only did what was told. Tom can see Black Tip is very uncertain and has sport with the fox by making him feel self-conscious.
When the wagon arrives in a small village, Tom overhears that Wise is not planning taking Tom anywhere. In fact, he plans to make Tom the star of the act while having Black Tip and June/June stuffed so that they won’t need food anymore. It will also keep the cowardly Black Tip from disrupting the show.
Tom tells his animal friends that they must escape. June/June agrees, but Black Tip is frightened. He won’t know what to do. Besides, they can’t run away because they are all caged. Tom says he can figure a way out of their cages. Tom’s problem is that he isn’t fast enough to get away from full size humans. June/June suggests that Tom ride Black Tip, for the fox will be fast. The fox agrees since that means Tom will be around to help. With some panning and a lot of luck, the trio hopes to escape during the next show.
At the next show, June/June plays dead when a visitor taps the cage. Wise, horrified opens the cage to revive her only to have her leap out. Tom frees Black Tip and then hops on the fox’s back. Panic runs through the crowd as Tom shouts “rabid fox”. With Black Tip as his feet, Tom is easily able to move quickly. June/June is naturally fast, being a snake. Once away from Wise, they rest in a small alleyway. They sit quietly as Wise combs the area for them. When he leaves, they feel safe. However Wise looks toward the road and states he knows how to find the “tine one”.
As they gather for their first night on their own, the trio promise to stick together. They then promptly argue where to go. Tom wishes to head back home, while June/June feels they should head as far from people as they can get. Black Tip is asked to break the tie but is unable to decide. Tom and the snake finally compromise to head towards Tom’s old town, only to split when they get near the village.
The next day finds Tom majestically riding Black Tip with the snake slithering along side. Tom is continually picking on the fox and the snake for their various weaknesses. However, when they remind Tom that it was they who made it possible to escape, he curbs his humor a bit. The four all talk about the great adventures they will have and how they are the kings of the domain. Black Tip though is always worried about Wise finding them. Both Tom and the snake try to ease the fox’s fears when suddenly a wildcat (BOB CAT) jumps in front of them.
The trio move together much to the amazement of Bob. Hissing, the cat tells the fox he has not fight with him, but he wishes the snake for dinner. Tom yells that the snake is not meant for food. The cat looks at the fox and asks him to repeat what he said. Black Tip says he made no sound. The cat, puzzled, takes a step towards the snake. Tom again yells and the cat again stops and looks at Black Tip. As Black Tip tries to deny the comments, Tom gets nastier and nastier. The cat soon begins to ruffle his fur. Just as the cat is about to attack, it is knocked down by LOST, a vixen.
The cat, startled by the new arrival, struggles to get back up. Bob states he is tired of fooling around, he will take who he wants. Tom calls for all to stay together, but Lost yells for the group to break up. When the cat jumps at them, they decide to follow Lost. She jumps up to a small tree branch then down. When Bob does the same, he pauses for a second to get a better look at the surroundings below. Lost instantly starts running around the tree. The cat tries to follow her motions, getting him slightly dizzy. When jumps for Lost, he easily misses her and lands head first into the ground. He gets up groggily and staggers. “Crazy fox,” he calls out as he slowly stumbles away.
Lost then takes a few sniffs at the air and looks into a nearby bush and finds Tom and crew hiding. Looking stern, the new fox’s eyes travel from snake to fox and back again. “I’m Lost,” claims the vixen. Tom states that they only know the way back home. The vixen looks at Black Tip and asks how he can talk without moving his lips. Tom then stands taller so he can be seen. Lost is startled claiming she has never seen such an ugly bug. Tom returns the “compliment” with a few of his own.
Lost chastises “the great” Black Tip for hanging around with such bugs and snakes. She looks at the fox romantically for a second, and then says she will rid him of the pests by eating them. As June/June starts to run, Lost puts her paw on their tail. She then makes a grab, with her mouth, for Tom and barely misses. Tom falls off and she is about to bite him when Black Tip steps in front of her.
Shaking, Black Tip states that they are friends and that she will not harm them. Lost is puzzled by the weakness in Black Tips’ voice. She chastises him for such weakness and demands that he be strong. Straightening slightly, Black Tip gets a little bolder and states to leave them alone, again. Lost is now taken aback. She states that if Black Tip wishes to, she will do it, for she knows that when angered, he is the best fighter of all foxes. Besides, she figures, the fox must have some special plans for the bug and snake.
When asked where they are going, Tom shouts to his home. Black Tip is silent at first, but then agrees with Tom, trying to look like it was his decision. Tom, seeing that the two seem to like each other, apologizes to both foxes. June/June, however, has had enough. She states she is going to the wild and that is where they will find her. She then leaves the group.
Lost looks deep into Black Tip’s eyes and asks which direction to go. Tom answers and the three head off. She makes several attempts to make conversation, but her strong demands make Black Tip even more insecure and uncertain. She then turns to Tom and asks why he is in charge and why Black Tip lets such a “think” ride him. Tom explains that his knowledge makes him a leader among men. Laughing, Lost states that if it were not for her, Tom’s group would be dead from the wildcat. She tells Tom he may know the human world, but the wild world is very different.
After another night, the trio are nearing Tom’s farm. Tom’s excitement grows as does Lost’s apprehension. She can’t understand how Black Tip can let a human of such small size guide him into a human’s den; one of the most dangerous of all places for a fox. Black Tip tries to explain that he is not the famed fox she thinks she has found. Disappointed, Lost claims she will now leave them.
When she turns, a trap springs, catching all three in a wooden crate. In the dark, the three feel themselves being lifted into the air. Black Tip panics and can’t be calmed down. Tom tries to think as Lost scrapes madly to get out. Suddenly the box’s lid is opened and trio finds themselves in Tom’s house with Wise looking down at them.
Wise explains that his parents think Tom has gone away to find his fortune and won’t return. His parents, explain Wise, had even given the Dr. a letter should he “bump” into Tom again. The dr. tells them he returned to the house, knowing Tom would, and then tricked Tom’s parents into going away for a few days. Now the Dr. would rob the house and take Black Tip and Tom with him. He then states he will sell the vixen to a hunter.
Black Tip’s nervousness overturns the box. Using the house as a battleground, Tom tells Los and Black Tip that in human’s domain, he rules and will make the plans for an escape. The Dr. makes several attempts to capture them to no avail. During the chase, Black Tip skids into the fireplace where he upsets a pot. The fireplace suddenly roars and black smoke fills the room.
In the smoke, Lost makes a wrong turn and Wise grabs her by the neck. He tells Tom if he doesn’t come out, he will kill the vixen. Tom tries to intimidate Wise but can’t. Tom says he will come out if the Dr. will release the vixen and Black Tip. The Dr. promises and Tom steps out into the open. He tells Lost he can’t let Black Tip lose her since its obvious to him that they care for each other. Tom has been friendless so long, that it doesn’t matter if he goes with Wise. He jokes that it will be full employment.
Wise grabs Tom and states that he only needed two out of the three. He will merely paint a tip on the vixen’s tail and she will become “Black Tip”. Tom struggles valiantly but can’t move. Lost struggles causing the Dr. to tighten his grip on her neck and she begins to choke. Black Tip darts out of hiding and begins running circles around Wise. The Dr. attempts to make his way to the door, but becomes disoriented due to the smoke and the motion of Black Tip.
As Wise nears the door, Black Tip stops right in front of his causing him to trip, dropping Tom and Lost. Both foxes run out the door, leaving Tom behind. Wise reaches for the tiny one only to have his hand bitten by Lost as Black Tip swoops up Tom. The threesome makes for the door again, but people block it. They skid, turn and go out a back window. The people, having noticed the smoke have come to the house to investigate. They “arrest” the thief and take him away.
The trio rest outside the house as the people leave with Wise. As the Dr. is ousted, an envelope falls form his coat. Tom sees it is addressed to him and reads it. The letter, from his parents, states how they understand Tom’s desire to travel and will not hold him back. In fact, they confess to actually finding Tom by the river when he was very small and raising him as their son. Tom is astounded to find he is not their true child.
Black Tip stats that perhaps the legend of the little people in the West Mountains is true, since that is where the river comes from. Tom tries to joke about the impossibility of it, but cannot. He is truly hurt. His anger lashes out slightly at the lie his life has been and all the lies he has heard; including about the little people and the “stupid” hat he got from Wise. He tries to hide a small tear by wiping it with the tiny hat when suddenly he stops. His eyes look closely and discovers there is some writing on the inside of the hat, identifying it as the property of someone.
Tom realizes that no large human could have written so tiny a script, so there must be a colony of small folk somewhere. He states his intention to go upriver, into the mountains to find them. Tom turns to Black Tip and asks him to join him. Lost however, asks the fox to stay with her, for even though he is not the notorious Black Tip, he is an “occasional” hero and she loves him for what he is. Black Tip falters for a few seconds uncertain what to do. Suddenly he announces that they will go upriver, “they” being Tom, Black Tip and Lost. Tom is delighted by Tips’ decision and Lost is enchanted that the fox is truly beginning to show “occasional” wisdom. The trio starts walking up river talking of the new adventures that await them.
text, image and format © John Cawley
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