Censored by Confucius: Ghost Stories by Yuan Mei

By Kam Louie; Louise Edwards et al. | Go to book overview
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Hanging onto the Ears of a Tiger

In Dala County, Yunan Province, there lived a peasant farmer by the name of Li Shigui whose family had worked the land for many generations.

Li owned two water buffalo, and one night when he went out to bring them in he discovered that one was missing. As he wandered among the dark fields searching for his beast, he saw an animal lying in the paddy snoring loudly. Li presumed this to be one of his missing buffalo.

He walked over and scolded the beast: "Why aren't you home yet?! It's late."

In the dim moonlight Li jumped onto the beast's back, intending to grab its horns and ride it back to the house. Only then did he realize his grave mistake.

There were ears in place of the horns he had expected, and when he looked down at the broad back onto which he had leaped, he could see the telltale orange and black stripes of a tiger. Li quickly realized that in such a situation the worst thing he could do would be to try to escape.

The tiger, rudely awakened from its slumber, leaped up with a roar and tried to shake the terrified Li off its back. "If I jump off now, this tiger will make a meal of me," Li thought. And so he resolved to remain on the tiger's back clutching those ears with all his might. So tight was his grasp that eventually his fingers pierced the tiger's ear lobes. Still he did not release his grip. In fact he hung on even tighter.

Li's persistence drove the tiger to distraction. In anger it began bucking and weaving, leaping rivers and bounding across mountains in an effort to shake this pest from its back. In its rampaging fury the tiger's body became lacerated by thorns and prickles. This furious pace continued throughout the night until the tiger collapsed from exhaustion and died early the next morning.

-180-

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Censored by Confucius: Ghost Stories by Yuan Mei
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