Once, a long time ago, a tiger was snuffling for food along a river bank. Birds clucked cries of danger. But one animal – a toad – didn’t hear them because he was underwater. Poking his head out for air, he came face to face with the tiger.
“Good morning,” said the tiger, twitching his whiskers.
“How do you do?” said the toad politely, leaping on top of a large mound of mud.
The tiger wrinkled his nostrils. “I’m fine. A little hungry though. I haven’t eaten for three days. But before I gobble you up, please tell me who you are.”
The toad blew up his belly as round as a ball. “Call me the king of the toads. Because I can leap very far and do all kinds of amazing things.”
“You?” chuckled the tiger.
“I bet I can jump farther across this river than you,” said the toad.
“No chance,” said the tiger, crouching down to leap.
At that moment, the toad jumped off the mound, bit into the tip of the tiger’s tail, and held tight.
The tiger leapt across the river, then glanced back to the other side.
“What are you looking for?” croaked the toad, sitting on a boulder ahead.
The tiger snarled.
“Wait!” croaked the toad. “I mean ... I bet I can spit more than you too.”
Not to be outwitted, the tiger accepted the challenge. He hadn’t drunk for a few hours so his spit was less than normal.
The toad spat out more – including a mass of hair from biting the tiger’s tail.
“Why do you have so many tiger hairs in your stomach?” said the tiger.
“Oh those,” said the toad airily. “They’re from the one I killed yesterday.”
“Good day,” said the tiger, and fled.
This is a retelling of an ancient fable originally from southwest China.
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