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The Fox and The Tiger

ONE day a fox encountered a tiger. The tiger showed his fangs and waved his claws and wanted to eat him up. But the fox said: 'Good sir, you must not think that you alone are the king of beasts. Your courage is no match for mine. Let us go together and you keep behind me. If the humans are not afraid of me when they see me, then you may eat me up.'

The tiger agreed and so the fox led him to a big high-way. As soon as the travellers saw the tiger in the distance they were seized with fear and ran away.

Then the said: 'You see? I was walking in front; they saw me before they could See you.'

Then the tiger put his tail between his legs and ran away.

The tiger had seen that the humans were afraid of the fox but he had not realized that the fox had merely borrowed his own terrible appearance.

[This story was translated by Ewald Osers from German, published by George Bell & Sons, in the book 'Chinese Folktales'. 

Osers noted that this story was from oral tradition. He seemed not aware of the origin of the idiom “The Fox Assuming the Majesty of the Tiger” 狐假虎威, or translated into “a fox exploits a tiger’s might”, or “Fox Borrowing the Awe of Tiger”, the simplest translation is the title of this story, “the fox and the tiger”.  I notice a  slight difference between the Osers’ version and the original story recorded in the book “Intrigues of Warring States”, or “Strategies of the Warring States”: --
‘During the Warring States period (475–221 B.C.), Zhao Xixu was a valiant general in the state of Ch’u. He was dispatched by the king of Chu to oversee the northern borders of the country. Zhao’s reputation as a formidable foe spread and the warlords from the north were all terrified of him.
‘One day, the king of Chu said to officials in the imperial court, “I’ve heard that all the northern warlords are very afraid of Zhao. Is that true?”

All were silent. After a little while, one of the ministers, Jiang-yi, stepped forward and said to the king: “Your majesty, you know how a tiger likes to catch all kinds of animals for food. Well, one day, a tiger caught a fox.’ 

Then Jiang-yi then related the story how a fox assumes the majesty of a tiger. In his version, the fox claimed that he was sent by God of Heaven to rule over all animals, and he led the tiger into the forest instead of ‘big high-way’, jungle animals instead of human travellers were scared away.
Jiang-yi said, ‘Now your Majesty rules a state which covers five thousand square li and maintains an armed force of one million people, which you entrust to General Zhao Xixu entirely. It is really the powerful army of your Majesty, rather than General Zhao, that holds the northern states in awe.’ When the King of Ch’u heard this story, he was glad. ]


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