At this time, Tiger with extraordinary shaman powers comes into Korea: King of Beast and Guard of the West is a tyrant. Searching for the Heavenly Prince, Tiger climbs to the mountain where the Prince entered earth and asked Tiger to be a man and lived with the Bear Maiden. Tiger finds only rubble of the palace, no scent of the Heavenly Prince.
The tiger becomes a vain and arrogant ruler. He bullies the beasts and rules the forest with cruel, selfish rules, and wasteful greed. A rabbit tricks Tiger and leaves Great Tiger with his tail frozen in the creek.
A long, long time ago in ancient Korea, when the animals spoke to each other Uncle Tiger wore a horsehair hat and smoked a long bamboo pipe. He was the King of the Beasts, the Guard of the West, greedy, cruel, and arrogant. All the animal cousins lived in fear of Uncle Tiger. He hunted them day and night for his pleasure.
Hidden deep in the pine forest, the animal cousins gathered to complain about Uncle Tiger.
"He chases us as we climb in the bamboo grove," squirrel grumbled.
"He pounces on us when we eat in the grasses," duck quacked.
"He stalks us when we drink from the river," fox yapped.
"He hunts us at night," bear growled."
"Wasteful!" snake hissed.
"Uncle Tiger is mean!" goat brayed.
"Selfish!" bird peeped.
"He takes advantage of his power," squeaked mouse.
"What are we to do?" badger snapped.
The animals argued for hours.
Finally, a decision made. Great Dragon, Guard of the East, would ask Uncle Tiger to stop his cruelty. "Who would ask the Great Dragon?" The animals quieted and looked at each other.
Cousin Rabbit considered. After a horrid chase I could die of fright in Uncle Tiger's jaws; or, I could die with honor for my cousins. She stood up among her cousins. "I will ask Great Dragon if my Brother and Sister Rabbit come with me."
So it was settled. The Cousin Rabbits would ask the Great Dragon to ask Uncle Tiger to stop his greed.
The three rabbits hopped down the mountain to the ocean. Far away they watched a long, thin serpent appeared and disappeared in the waves. They crossed the beach and stood, looking. Over the lapping of the waves, the three yelled their loudest.
"Great Dragon, Guard of the East."
The long, thin serpent turned towards them. Great Dragon swam to the beach. Larger and larger he grew as long and thick as the tallest pine tree. He stepped onto the sand. His silver and gold scales flashed as crystals of water. On his four paws rested claws sharper than splintered rocks.
Great Dragon bowed.His head held pointed anthers.
"Cousin Rabbits, you called?"
His breath hung as moist and cold as winter's fog and smelled of seaweed.
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ASIAN STORIESHistorical Fiction
Daily in April will be posted a written story: 'How Dragons Shaped China'; the Hindu Ramayana from SITA's point of view; and from Korea, 'Taming of Tiger'; from my days of telling verbal stories at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. These tradi...