Friday, December 23, 2016

THE OLD MAN AND THE TIGER (Elementary-Intermediate level)

There was once an old man, who, when he was cutting reeds for his fence in the jungle, heard a tiger growling close to him; and it happened that at that moment a bird also flew away. On which the old man, though he was in truth very frightened, called after the bird "Ah! If you had only stopped, I would have taught you the secret of the ghughu ban." And this saying he kept on repeating, so that the tiger said to himself "What is it that the old man is saying? I must get him to tell me; and in that case I won't even eat him." So he called to the old man. "Look here, old man, what is that about the ghughu ban?" But the old man, answering not a word, kept on chopping his reeds. Then the tiger crept up quite close to him, and said to the old man "If you don't tell me what you are talking about, I will eat you!" But the old man, for all his fear, only said "You come to my house tomorrow, and I will tell you." Very early the next morning the tiger asked his way to the old man's house, and when he got there, it being still early morning, the old man said "And what may your honour be pleased to want?" And the tiger replied "I want to know what you were talking about yesterday." But the old man replied "I cannot possibly teach you alone. You had better go and get two or three other tigers." And so the tiger went away and returned with two or three of his brethren. In the meanwhile the old man had spread his unthreshed paddy in the yard. And, putting his earliest acquaintance first, he tied all the tigers to the post, round which the cattle revolve when they are treading out the grain, and set them to work to tread.
But the one in the middle, who was unaccustomed to such labour, cried out in a piteous voice that his head ached, and that he was getting very giddy. But the old man said "Wait a bit, my friend; you haven't learned yet." And when the tiger complained again, the old man fetched his goad and pricked him sore, so that, giddy and stumbling, he had to go round and round, and when the tiger said "I shall die at this rate," the old man replied "You wanted to learn the ghughu ban yesterday, and unless you endure this trouble, you cannot possibly learn;" and, so saying, pricked him the more cruelly. Finally, the tiger said "If so be, I must be in pain, I must be. But I don't see what it is all about." Then the old man replied "This is precisely what they called the ghughu ban." Then the tiger said "I see, I see, now let us go. We have learned our lesson." But the old man said "Wait a bit, the paddy is nearly trodden out," and would not stop pricking the tigers for all their entreaties. And when the paddy was all threshed, the old man began untying their bonds. But before he had finished, the tigers were in such pain that they tore the rope out of his hands and ran away. When they stopped to rest, they saw the old man's rope, and said to one another "If we do not give the old man his rope again, we shall get into further trouble." So, after much debate, the first tiger was deputed to take it back.
So back he went, trembling with fear in every limb, and, getting close to the old man's house, offered him his rope. But the old man said "It is night, and I am in bed. I can't come out. Put the rope in at the window." So the tiger put it on his tail and thrust it in at the window. But the old man had his knife ready and cut the tiger's tail off. On which the tiger once more fled, howling with pain. But the old man shouted after him "You may run as far as you like, but my brother is after you, and will catch you." On which the tiger ran faster than ever. At last, however, he stopped to rest near a cool pool of water, and, not seeing the old man's brother, dipped the wounded stump of his tail into the pool for refreshment. But a crab, which dwelt in that pool, nipped the stump of his tail; and the tiger crying "The old man's brother has caught me!" again fled through the jungle, and it was not till the crab was knocked off against the trees that he at last rested. And that's all!

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