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Main > Chinese folktales > Fairy tale "The Panther"

The Panther

Once upon a time there was a widow who had two daughters and a little son. And one day the mother said to her daughters: “Take good care of the house, for I am going to see grandmother, together with your little brother!” So the daughters promised her they would do so, and their mother went off. On her way a panther met her, and asked where she were going.

She said: “I am going with my child to see my mother.”

“Will you not rest a bit?” asked the panther.

“No,” said she, “it is already late, and it is a long road to where my mother lives.”

But the panther did not cease urging her, and finally she gave in and sat down by the road side.

“I will comb your hair a bit,” said the panther. And the woman allowed the panther to comb her hair. But as he passed his claws through her hair, he tore off a bit of her skin and devoured it.

“Stop!” cried the woman, “the way you comb my hair hurts!”

But the panther tore off a much larger piece of skin. Now the woman wanted to call for help, but the panther seized and devoured her. Then he turned on her little son and killed him too, put on the woman’s clothes, and laid the child’s bones, which he had not yet devoured, in her basket. After that he went to the woman’s home, where her two daughters were, and called in at the door: “Open the door, daughters! Mother has come home!” But they looked out through a crack and said: “Our mother’s eyes are not so large as yours!”

Then the panther said: “I have been to grandmother’s house, and saw her hens laying eggs. That pleases me, and is the reason why my eyes have grown so large.”

“Our mother had no spots in her face such as you have.”

“Grandmother had no spare bed, so I had to sleep on the peas, and they pressed themselves into my face.”

“Our mother’s feet are not so large as yours.”

“Stupid things! That comes from walking such a distance. Come, open the door quickly!”

Then the daughters said to each other: “It must be our mother,” and they opened the door. But when the panther came in, they saw it was not really their mother after all.

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