Chinese Folktales

6. The Tiger’s Bait

THE fox borrowing the tiger’s terrible appearance is only a parable, but the tiger’s bait is something one reads about frequently in history books and hears grandfathers talk about—so there must be some truth in it. It is said that whenever a tiger eats a human his spirit cannot escape and the tiger uses it as a bait. When he goes out marauding the spirit of his victim must walk in front to hide him, so that the people don’t see the tiger. The spirit may then turn into a beautiful girl or a lump of gold or silken raiments. All kinds of illusions are used to decoy humans into the mountain gorges. Then the tiger appears and devours his victim. The spirit of his new victim must then become his bait and the old one is released from his services and is allowed to depart. In this Way the chain continues.

People who are forced by cunning and powerful men to allow themselves to be used to the detriment of others are therefore called ‘the tiger’s bait’.

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