|Chinese Fairy Tales
ONCE upon a time there was a widow who had two
daughters and a little son. And one day the mother said to her
daughters: “Take good care of the house, for I am going to see
grandmother, together with your little brother!” So the daughters
promised her they would do so, and their mother went off. On her way a
panther met her, and asked where she were going.
She said: “I am going with my child to see my mother.”
“Will you not rest a bit?” asked the panther.
“No,” said she, “it is already late, and it is a long road to where my mother lives.”
But the panther did not cease urging her, and finally she gave in and sat down by the road side.
will comb your hair a bit,” said the panther. And the woman allowed the
panther to comb her hair. But as he passed his claws through her hair,
he tore off a bit of her skin and devoured it.
 “Stop!” cried the woman, “the way you comb my hair hurts!”
the panther tore off a much larger piece of skin. Now the woman wanted
to call for help, but the panther seized and devoured her. Then he
turned on her little son and killed him too, put on the woman’s
clothes, and laid the child’s bones, which he had not yet devoured, in
her basket. After that he went to the woman’s home, where her two
daughters were, and called in at the door: “Open the door, daughters!
Mother has come home!” But they looked out through a crack and said:
“Our mother’s eyes are not so large as yours!”
Then the panther
said: “I have been to grandmother’s house, and saw her hens laying
eggs. That pleases me, and is the reason why my eyes have grown so
“Our mother had no spots in her face such as you have.”
“Grandmother had no spare bed, so I had to sleep on the peas, and they pressed themselves into my face.”
“Our mother’s feet are not so large as yours.”
“Stupid things! That comes from walking such a distance. Come, open the door quickly!”
the daughters said to each other: “It must be our mother,” and they
opened the door. But when the panther came in, they saw it was not
really their mother after all.
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.”
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!”
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.
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.”
The man gave them a scorpion and said: “Put it behind the hearth in the kitchen.” The girls thanked him and went on crying.
an egg-seller 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.”
So he gave them an egg and said: “Lay it beneath the ashes in the hearth.” The girls thanked him and went on crying.
a dealer in turtles came by, and they told him their tale. He gave them
a turtle and said: “Put it in the water-barrel in the yard.” And then a
man came by who sold wooden clubs. He asked them why they were crying.
And they told him the whole story. Then he gave them two wooden clubs
and said: “Hang them up over the door to the street.” The girls thanked
him and did as the men had told them.
In the evening the panther
came home. He sat down in the armchair in the room. Then the needles in
the cushion stuck into him. So he ran into the kitchen to light the
fire and see what had jabbed him so; and then it was that the scorpion
hooked his sting into his hand. And when at last the fire was burning,
the egg burst and spurted into one of his eyes, which was blinded. So
he ran out into the yard and dipped his hand into the water-barrel, in
order to cool it; and then the turtle bit it off. And when in his pain
he ran out through the door into the street, the wooden clubs fell on
his head and that was the end of him.