Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Tiger, the Yak and the Fox (Mongol)

Once a tiger cub encountered a yak calf on the edge of some woods. Not knowing they were supposed to hate each other, they soon became fast friends, in fact, best of friends, and remained inseparable. In time, they grew up together. The tiger's roar thundered throughout the four directions, while the yak's horns grew so that they could pierce the oldest pine trees. No matter what, they stayed closest of friends and lived together.

All the animals of the forest looked up to the tiger and the yak because of the way they lived in harmony. "They're both very powerful, yet they don't fight each other!" they cried. "See how they live in peace? We smaller creatures should be able to do the same."

Now there was one animal who was not happy about this. No, he was not happy at all. He was a fox, and he was jealous of the tiger and yak's brotherly love for each other. Being the vicious little creature he was, he decided to do something to break up this friendship.

One day, while the tiger was lounging by himself under a tree, the fox came by, sniffling and rubbing his eyes.

"What's the matter with you, Fox?" asked the tiger. "Why are you crying?"

"Oh, it's for you that I am crying," answered the fox.

"For me? What do you mean?"

"Well," replied the fox, "you are about to be done in by your worst enemy, and you don't even realize it." The tiger's ears perked up as the fox continued. "I overheard your so-called 'friend,' the yak, tell a snake, 'Tomorrow morning I shall get up, wag my tail and gore the tiger before he even knows what happens!'"

"That's ridiculous!" laughed the tiger. "Why, the yak and I are best friends and always have been so. Besides, I am not afraid of any beast, be he my friend or enemy."

"Tiger, I am telling you as a friend to beware," said the fox. "Our friend the snake said he had overheard the yak's plan to kill you. 'I'll just rise tomorrow, wag my tail and puncture that pompous striped cat,' Yak said!"

"Very well," said the tiger, now quite angry. "We shall see about this tomorrow morning. Now you beware; if you are lying, I shall pull your hide off!"

The fox nodded and then crept away to locate the yak, which he did in a nearby field. The yak spotted him, and he, the fox, began to sob.

"What happened?" inquired the fox. "Why are you crying?"

"Oh, poor Yak!" cried the fox. "My tears are for you!"

"Oh?" asked the yak. "Explain."

"The tiger, your 'friend,' is planning to kill you tomorrow morning!"

"No. That's impossible," said the yak. "We're best friends. You and all the animals know that. I don't believe you."

"Listen carefully to what I am going to tell you," said the fox very solemnly. "I heard the tiger tell a snake, 'Tomorrow morning, I shall stretch my body, wave my paws and then pounce upon that big stupid yak. I'll devour him in seconds!'"

"I fear no one, let alone a tiger," said the yak. "I still don't believe you, but just the same I'll keep my eyes open. Now if I discover you are trying to trick me, I'll gore you."

The fox nodded and stole away.

The next morning both the tiger and yak awoke at the same time and warily eyed each other. The yak's tail began to sway and wag just as the tiger stretched his body and flexed his paws.

Immediately, the same thought came to both of them: The fox was right! He's going to kill me!

They both sprang into action. The tiger went for the yak's throat and chest, slashing them through to the very bone. The yak punctured the tiger's ribs with his horns and blood flowed everywhere. The two animals went at it for what seemed like an eternity until both dropped to the ground, stone dead, as a large cloud of dust covered them.

When he was sure that the tiger and the yak were good and dead, the fox brought his cubs over to the two carcasses.

"Look, children," he said, "we have enough meat to last us for a mighty long while! Now, one of you go and fetch our friends and tell them to joins us!"

(from The Wonderful Treasure Horse)


Mengu minjian gushi, p. 92-94.

This fable is a variant of AT 59*, "The Jackal as Troublemaker."