The Tiger’s whisker

The tiger's whiskerOnce upon a time, a young spouse named Yun Ok was at her wit’s end. Her husband had always been a soft and loving soul mate prior to he had left for the wars but, ever considering that he returned home, he was cross, angry, and capricious. She was almost scared to live with her own husband. Only in looking moments did she catch a darkness of the husband she used to know and love.

When one condition or another worried people in her village, they would often hurry for a cure to a hermit who lived deep in the hills. Not Yun Ok. She often prided herself that she could heal her own problems. But this time was various. She was anxious.

As Yun Ok contacted the hermit’s hut, she saw the door was open. The old man said without switching around: “I hear you. What’s your issue?”

She explained the situation. His back continue to her, he said, “Ah yes, it’s frequently that way when military return from the war. What do you expect me to do about it?”

“Make me a potion!” cried the young wife. “Or an amulet, a drink, whatever it takes to get my spouse back the way he used to be.”

The old man converted around. “Young woman, your demand doesn’t precisely fall into the same classification as a broken bone or ear infection.”

“I know”, said she.

“It will take 3 days before I can even look into it. Come back then.”

Three days later, Yun Ok came back to the hermit’s hut. “Yun Ok”, he greeted her with a giggle, “I have good news. There is a potion that will restore your spouse to the way he used to be, but you should know that it needs an unusual component. You must bring me a whisker from a live tiger.”

“What?” she gasped. “Such a thing is difficult!”

“I cannot make the concoction without it!” he shouted, stunning her. He turned his back. “There is practically nothing more to say. As you can see, I’m very busy.”

That night Yun Ok tossed and turned. How could she get a whisker from a live tiger?

The next day before dawn, she crept out of the house with a bowl of rice protected with meat sauce. She went to a cave on the hill side where a tiger was known to live. She visited her mouth very softly as she crept up, her heart pounding, and carefully set the bowl on the grass. Then, trying to make as small noise as she could, she backed away.

The tiger's whiskerThe next day prior to dawn, she took another bowl of rice covered with meat sauce to the cave. She contacted the same spot, simply clicking softly with her tongue. She saw that the bowl was vacant, replaced the empty one with a fresh one, and again left, simply clicking softly and trying not to break twigs or rustle leaves, or do anything else to startle and unsettle the wild beast.

So it went, day after day, for various months. She never noticed the tiger though she knew from foot prints on the floor that the tiger – and not a smaller sized mountain creature – had been consuming her food. Then one day as she contacted, she noticed the tiger’s head poking out of its cave. Glancing downward, she stepped very carefully to the same spot and with as little noise as she could, set down the fresh bowl and, her heart pounding, picked up the one that was empty.

After a few weeks, she noticed the tiger would come out of its cave as it heard her footsteps, though it stayed a distance away (again, thank goodness! she thought, though she knew that someday, in order to get the whisker, she’d have to come closer to it).

Another month went by. Then the tiger would wait by the empty food bowl as it heard her approaching. As she picked up the old bowl and replaced it with a fresh one, she could fragrance its scent, as it could absolutely smell hers.

Basically”, she believed, keeping in mind its almost kittenish look as she set down a fresh bowl, “It is a rather helpful creature, when you get to know it.” The up coming time she visited, she looked up at the tiger briefly and observed what a lovely recession of reddish fur it had from over one of its eye-brows to the next. Not a week later, the tiger permitted her to carefully rub its head, and it purred and expanded like a house cat.

Then she knew the time had come. The next early morning, very early, she brought with her a small knife. After she set down the clean bowl and the tiger permitted her to pet its head, she said in a low voice: “Oh, my tiger, May I please have just one of your whiskers?” While stroking the tiger with one hand, she held one whisker at its base and, with the other hand, in one quick stroke, she designed the whisker off. She stood up, speaking softly her thanks, and left, for the last time.

The next morning seemed endless. At last her husband left for the rice areas. She ran to the hermit’s hut, clutching the precious whisker in her fist. Bursting in, she cried to the hermit: “I have it! I have the tiger’s whisker!”

“You don’t say?” he said, switching around. “From a live tiger?”

“Yes!” she said.

“Tell me”, said the hermit, fascinated. “How did you do it?”

Yun Ok told the hermit how, for the last 6 months, she had gained the trust of the creature and it had lastly permitted her to cut off one of its whiskers. With pride she passed him the whisker. The hermit examined it, satisfied himself that it was indeed a whisker from a live tiger, and then flicked it into the fire where it sizzled and burned in an instant.

“Yun Ok”, the hermit said softly, “you no longer need the whisker. Tell me; is a man more vicious than a tiger? If a dangerous wild beast will respond to your gradual and patient care, do you think a man will respond any less willingly?”

Yun Ok stood speechless. Then she turned and stepped down the trail, turning over in her mind images of the tiger and of her husband, back and forth. She knew what she could do.

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