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Main > Chinese folktales > Fairy tale "The Panther"

The Panther

At evening, when the daughters were already in bed, the panther was still gnawing the bones he had brought with him.

Then the daughters asked: “Mother, what are you eating?”

“I’m eating beets,” was the answer.

Then the daughters said: “Oh, mother, give us some of your beets, too! We are so hungry!”

“No,” was the reply, “I will not give you any. Now be quiet and go to sleep.”

But the daughters kept on begging until the false mother gave them a little finger. And then they saw that it was their little brother’s finger, and they said to each other: “We must make haste to escape else he will eat us as well.” And with that they ran out of the door, climbed up into a tree in the yard, and called down to the false mother: “Come out! We can see our neighbor’s son celebrating his wedding!” But it was the middle of the night.

Then the mother came out, and when she saw that they were sitting in the tree, she called out angrily: “Why, I’m not able to climb!”

The daughters said: “Get into a basket and throw us the rope and we will draw you up!”

The mother did as they said. But when the basket was half-way up, they began to swing it back and forth, and bump it against the tree. Then the false mother had to turn into a panther again, lest she fall down. And the panther leaped out of the basket, and ran away.

Gradually daylight came. The daughters climbed down, seated themselves on the doorstep, and cried for their mother. And a needle-vender came by and asked them why they were crying.

“A panther has devoured our mother and our brother,” said the girls. “He has gone now, but he is sure to return and devour us as well.”

Then the needle-vender gave them a pair of needles, and said: “Stick these needles in the cushion of the arm chair, with the points up.” The girls thanked him and went on crying.

Soon a scorpion-catcher came by; and he asked them why they were crying. “A panther has devoured our mother and brother,” said the girls. “He has gone now, but he is sure to return and devour us as well.

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