Once upon a time, wild tigers roamed our mountains. So when a local villager fell into a tigers' pit, he thought he would die.
Three cubs played in the deep muddy hole. The man squeezed into a corner and said his prayers. The sky above darkened and an evening wind rustled the trees.
Then a strong smell filled the air and the man saw the bloody teeth of a female tiger. The cubs circled the pit as their mother ripped up a wild boar and dropped body parts into the pit.
The cubs ate until they couldn't eat anymore. One juicy boar chop remained – one of the cubs nosed it to the man.
The next night, the tiger mother came back with a barking deer. The cubs ate to their fill, leaving the man some belly meat. He washed it down with some rainwater he'd collected in his boot.
A month went by and the cubs grew fat. One morning they jumped one by one onto their mother's back and she leapt up to ground level. The man once more feared for his life. "Please don't leave me," he said.
The tiger let the man straddle her. So grateful was he that he promised her a pig. 'I will roast one for you next full moon," he said, hurrying back to his village.
The mountain pathway lit up like silver the night when the tiger and her three cubs padded down to the village and hid between the trees. But a villager smelled them and raised the alarm. People grabbed sticks, metal bars, and torches.
"Stop!" cried the man, and told his neighbours his story.
Amazed, the villagers lay down their weapons and helped carry the pig to the tiger and her cubs.
The tigers ate it with gusto, then disappeared back up the mountain.
This is an adaptation of the story異虎記from the Qing dynasty book舊小說.
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