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A Grateful Elephant

During the Song Dynasty, a hunter from Yangshan County (in present-day Guangdong Province) had caught some wild game, such as hares and pheasants, and was ready to go home. Suddenly, an elephant walked toward him. He stepped back to avoid it, but was too late. The elephant came to the hunter and wrapped its trunk around his torso. The hunter had to close his eyes and let the elephant do what it wished.

The elephant took the hunter to the mountain. While he was being carried along, the hunter felt that the elephant did not intend to hurt him, so he opened his eyes and paid attention to his surroundings. After a short while, he saw another elephant lying on the path with a 3-foot-long thorn through its foot, which was bleeding. The elephant loosened its trunk and gently placed the hunter on the ground.

The hunter looked at the prone elephant and sensed its discomfort, so he plucked up the courage to step forward and stretch out his hands, forcefully pulling out the big thorn from the elephant’s foot. Then he used some grass to wipe off the blood.

The injured elephant got up from the ground and then walked back and forth with the other elephant for a while as if they were very happy.

The elephant that had brought the hunter to the mountain kept shaking his trunk to communicate with the hunter. The hunter understood that the elephant wanted him to get up on its back. The elephant stood up and took the hunter for a long walk, and they finally came to a wetland. The elephant used his trunk to dig up a few pieces of ivory, and took the hunter back to the where they met originally. The elephant placed the hunter and the ivory on the ground.

The hunter knew that the elephant used the ivory to repay him. He felt that the elephant might understand human language, so he said to the elephant: “My family has a few acres of land and the crops planted are often harmed by elephants. If you can remember my kindness, don’t come to trample on my family’s plot. The elephant listened and walked back and forth a few steps and nodded. From that day on, the crops on the family plot were never again trampled by elephants.

Translated by Yi Ming

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