Author: Norman Hinsdale Pitman
Rewritten by: Liana Chau
In a Chinese city there lived young Tang and Widow Tang. They were very poor and lived on Young Tang working in the forest and chopping trees for wood and selling them to live. They lived in one room, as a matter of fact,very tiny.They had to ren it from a neighbor, since they were too poor to afford a house. One day, young Tang got up early as usual and before he set out for the woods to collect wood and sell it for his mother, he told the old woman that he would be home later than usual and get more wood to get more money, for he wanted to feed his mother more food on a special occasion. The young man carried his axe on his shoulder and merrily walked off. Widow Tang thought that there was no other son like her’s in the whole world. As the sun went down, she started to worry.
” What has happened, why isn’t he home yet?” she muttered to herself. ” Oh no! He’s never been home this late before! Something must’ve happened!” she screamed.
She went to the neighbor’s house and begged him to go search for her son. The neighbor was kind-hearted and agreed, since she was too old, a woman of 70, to go up to the mountains to search herself. The neighbor jogged up the hill to where young Tang always went to work. All he saw was a pile of blood covered rags and his axe on the ground. He shook his head, grabbed what was left of the boy, and trudged down the hill, where Widow Tang was waiting. She saw what he had in his hand, not in need of an explanation and wept. She went mad and hollered and yelled.
” How am I supposed to live?! That was my only boy and he has been swallowed by a vicious beast!” she cried.
One day she could stand it no longer and went to the yamen, or court, to tell the mandarin about her misfortunes. She yelled and cried outside, banging on the door for the mandarin so he shall take care of the beast. The mandarin, or city meditate, heard this and ordered one of his servants to let her in .
She told the mandarin about her son and the tiger eating him. He nodded but then laughed.
” How am I supposed to find a tiger? I only take care of human matters.” he said.
” But the tiger ate my son!” the woman said crazily.
” Very well, I shall send one of my servants for you. But you can leave and I will contact you when I do find a man that is willing to find that tiger.” he replied.
Of course, he was annoyed by the old woman and planned to break his promise and when she comes back, he’ll just refuse to meet her.
” I will not go until you confirm a man in my presence!” she said, not willing to back off.
” All right then, ” he said as he turned to his servants. ” Which one of you are willing to go in search of this beast?” he asked , knowing that his plan has failed.
There was a young fellow, Li-neng, who was half asleep and was drunk so he didn’t hear what the mandarin was saying. His friend poked him in the ribs and he regained his senses. Thinking that the mandarin has asked for him, and not knowing what his request was, he said:
” Yes master, I shall do it.”
” Very well, are you satisfied?” he asked the old lady.
” Yes indeed,” she said and muttered a little thanks as she left.
Later on, Li-neng’s friends told him:
” Do you know what you have done?”
” Well, it’s just a little task of the mandarin right? No big deal.” he replied with a shrug of the shoulders.
” No, you fool, you just agreed to slay a tiger!” they all yelled at Li-neng.
” WHAT? I didn’y know what he was asking! Oh no! I was drunk!” he said.
He went to the mandarin and told him that he cannot complete the task, but was told that he promised to do it for the poor woman. He was also told that he was allowed to hire some very skilled hunters. For days and days they searched, but they couldn’t find the tiger. Li-neng got a beating and turned weaker and weaker. The hunters soon left of disgust, while Li-neng got another beating. One day Li-neng was praying and saw a tiger behind him. He was not afraid, but said:
” You have come to eat me have you? My flesh won’t taste good because they are covered in wounds from my beatings. So you must help me and come to the court with me to meet with the mandarin. In surprise, the tiger nodded slowly, and let Li-neng chain him on the neck and lead him through the crowd of people, the streets, and past Widow Tang who went crazy seeing the killer of her son. The mandarin questioned him:
” Have you ate this widow’s son?” he asked, pointing at Mrs. Tang.
Right after that nod, the old woman yelled,
” KILL HIM!! He is the beast of this whole situation! “
” But,” the mandarin continued to the tiger, ignoring the old lady,said:
” if you are willing to serve her like you are her son, I will let you live.”
The mandarin let him out of the chains and he walked slowly back to his beloved mountain home.The widow wept, knowing that he would not serve her and just flee.
But, surprisingly, the next morning there was a freshly killed deer at her doorstep, that had tiger claw markings on it, and that is when, the old woman realized, the tiger does care for her. She sold the deer skin for a lot of money, and had a fantastic dinner. Everyday he served her with different kinds of animals that he killed. They became close friends and sometimes he even waited outside for her to come out and pet him. Soon enough, she died, and because of the tiger’s care, she had enough money to afford a handsome tombstone, while the tiger mourned for his forever gone mistress, waiting for the voice he knew so well. He left the grave and went back to his mountain home, and never came back again.
Some people say he died of sadness for his mistress, while others say he bacame a fairy and lived in the heavens, for being rewarded for his kindness.