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The tiger of chao-ch'eng

AT Chao-ch'eng there lived an old woman more than seventy years of age, who had an only son. One day he went up to the hills and was eaten by a tiger, at which his mother was so overwhelmed with grief that she hardly wished to live. With tears and lamentations she ran and told her story to the magistrate of the place, who laughed and asked her how she thought the law could be brought to bear on a tiger. But the old woman would not be comforted, and at length the magistrate lost his temper and bade her begone. Of this, however, she took no notice; and then the magistrate, in compassion for her great age and unwilling to resort to extremities, promised her that he would have the tiger arrested. Even then she would not go until the warrant had been actually issued; so the magistrate, at a loss what to do, asked his attendants which of them would undertake the job.  Upon this one of them, Li-Neng, who happened to be gloriously drunk, stepped forward and said that he would; whereupon the warrant was immediately issued and the old woman went away. When our friend, Li-Neng, got sober, he was sorry for what he had done; but reflecting that the whole thing was a mere trick of his master's to get rid of the old woman's importunities, did not trouble himself much about it, handing in the warrant as if the arrest had been made. "Not so," cried the magistrate, "you said you could do this, and now I shall not let you off." Li-Neng was at his wits' end, and begged that he might be allowed to impress the hunters of the district, this was conceded; so collecting together these men, he proceeded to spend day and night among the hills in the hope of catching a tiger, and thus making a show of having fulfilled his duty.

A month passed away, during which he received several hundred blows with the bamboo, and at length, in despair, he betook himself to the Ch'eng-huang temple in the eastern suburb, where, falling on his knees, he prayed and wept by turns. By-and-by a tiger walked in, and Li-Neng, in a great fright, thought he was going to be eaten alive. But the tiger took no notice of anything, remaining seated in the doorway. Li-Neng then addressed the animal as follows: "O tiger, if thou didst slay that old woman's son, suffer me to bind thee with this cord;" and, drawing a rope from his pocket, threw it over the animal's neck. The tiger drooped its ears, and allowing itself to be bound, followed Li-Neng to the magistrate's office. The latter then asked it, saying, "Did you eat the old woman's son?" to which the tiger replied by nodding its head; whereupon the magistrate rejoined, "That murderers should suffer death has ever been the law. Besides, this old woman had but one son, and by killing him you took from her the sole support of her declining years. But if now you will be as a son to her, your crime shall be pardoned." The tiger again nodded assent, and accordingly the magistrate gave orders that he should be released, at which the old woman was highly incensed, thinking that the tiger ought to have paid with its life for the destruction of her son.

Next morning, however, when she opened the door of her cottage, there lay a dead deer before it; and the old woman, by selling the flesh and skin, was able to purchase food. From that day this became a common event, and sometimes the tiger would even bring her money and valuables, so that she became quite rich, and was much better cared for than she had been even by her own son. Consequently, she became very well-disposed to the tiger, which often came and slept in the verandah, remaining for a whole day at a time, and giving no cause of fear either to man or beast. In a few years the old woman died, upon which the tiger walked in and roared its lamentations in the hall. However, with all the money she had saved, she was able to have a splendid funeral; and while her relatives were standing round the grave, out rushed a tiger, and sent them all running away in fear. But the tiger merely went up to the mound, and, after roaring like a thunder-peal, disappeared again. Then the people of that place built a shrine in honour of the Faithful Tiger, and it remains there to this day.

趙城虎

趙城嫗,年七十餘,止一子。一日,入山,為虎所噬。嫗悲痛,幾不欲活,號啼而訴於宰。宰笑曰:「虎何可以官法制之乎?」嫗愈號咷不能制止。宰叱之,亦不畏懼。又憐其老,不忍加威怒,遂諾為捉虎。嫗伏不去,必待勾牒出,乃肯行。宰無奈之,即問諸役,誰能往者。一隸名李能,醺醉,詣座下,自言:「能之。」持牒下,嫗始去。隸醒而悔之;猶謂宰之偽局,姑以解嫗擾耳,因亦不甚為意,持牒報繳。宰怒曰:「固言能之,何容復悔?」隸窘甚,請牒拘獵戶。宰從之。隸集諸獵人,日夜伏山谷,冀得一虎,庶可塞責。月餘,受杖數百,冤苦罔控。遂詣東郭嶽廟,跪而祝之,哭失聲。無何,一虎自外來。隸錯愕,恐被咥噬。虎入,殊不他顧,蹲立門中。隸祝曰:「如殺某子者爾也,其俯聽吾縛。」遂出縲索摯虎頸,虎帖耳受縛。牽達縣署,宰問虎曰:「某子,爾噬之耶?」虎頷之。宰曰:「殺人者死,古之定律。且嫗止一子,而爾殺之,彼殘年垂盡,何以生活?倘爾能為若子也,我將赦之。」虎又頷之。乃釋縛令去。嫗方怨宰之不殺虎以償子也,遲旦,啟扉,則有死鹿;嫗貨其肉革,用以資度。自是以為常,時啣金帛擲庭中。嫗從此致豐裕,奉養過於其子。心竊德虎。虎來,時臥簷下,竟日不去。人畜相安,各無猜忌。數年,嫗死,虎來吼於堂中。嫗素所積,綽可營葬,族人共瘞之。墳壘方成,虎驟奔來,賓客盡逃。虎直赴冢前,嗥鳴雷動,移時始去。土人立「義虎祠」於東郊,至今猶存。

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