A long time ago, high in the mountains, the people of a small village came together to decide what to do about tigers wandering near their home.
"We have to do something! With all these tigers wandering around we're too scared to go out of the village" said one man.
"Yes! we have to do something. Last week a tiger ate one of my legs" said another, pointing to his leg that was not there.
After much talking the villagers decided the best thing to do was to dig deep holes to trap the tigers. Everyone helped, including the bigger children and the man whose leg was not there. They dug deep holes near all the tracks leading to the village.
A few days later a young man came to visit his uncle and heard loud howling sounds as he walked along a track to the village.
"What's making all that noise?" he asked. "Whatever it is it doesn't sound very happy."
The young man followed the howling sounds until he saw a deep hole with a tiger in it. The tiger tried to jump out and each time he fell back and howled.
"Hello Mr. Tiger" said the young man. "How did you get down there?"
"I don't know" cried the tiger. "I was walking along in the forest as tigers do, looking for something to eat, when suddenly I fell into this deep hole."
The tiger pleaded with the young man to help him. "Please, please help me get out of here. My wife and children will be worried about me. If you help me I'll be very grateful."
The young man was a very kind person. He found a large tree branch that had fallen on the ground and pushed and pulled it to the side of the deep hole.
"Watch out Mr. Tiger" yelled the young man as he pushed it down inside.
The tiger sprang up the branch and out of the deep hole.
"Ah! that's better" said the tiger pleased to be free.
The young man felt suddenly very nervous, standing next to the large tiger and decided to leave.
"I must be going now. Good-bye Mr. Tiger" he said.
"Not so fast" said the tiger. "I'm going to eat you."
"But, but, you said you'd be grateful if I helped you" stammered the young man.
"I am grateful" said the tiger. "But it was humans who dug that hole to trap me and since you're a human I am going to eat you."
"That's not fair" cried the young man.
"I'm a tiger and that's what tigers do. Eat people" growled the tiger.
"I helped you and now you're going to eat me just because I'm human" said the young man. "I think we should ask some one else to judge if that's fair or not."
The tiger agreed and they went to look for someone to act as a judge.
They found an Ox and told him the story. "I think it's fair for the tiger to eat you" said the Ox. "Humans treat us Oxen very badly. We're made to work all day and when you want to, you kill us and eat us."
The tiger moved closer to the young man, who quickly yelled "Let's make it two out of three."
The tiger agreed and they went to ask the biggest tree in the forest. "I think it's fair for the tiger to eat you. You humans chop us down whenever you want to and set fire to the forest and burn us."
The tiger looked pleased and showed his big teeth as he smiled at the young man.
The young man was so frightened his legs began to shake. He saw a hare hopping along. "Please Mr. Hare, help judge if Mr. Tiger should eat me."
The hare listened to their story then said "Before I can judge I must see exactly what happened."
They all went to the deep hole where the young man had rescued the tiger.
"Now show me exactly where you were" the hare said to the tiger. Anxious to hurry up and eat the young man, the tiger jumped down into the hole.
"Was this branch in the hole?" asked the hare.
"No it wasn't" answered the tiger. The young man and the hare pulled the branch out.
"My judgment is that it's not fair for you to eat the young man" said the hare. "Just because it was humans who dug the hole doesn't make it fair for you to eat him. You should have been grateful for his help."
The hare hopped away and the young man hurried off to the village leaving the ungrateful tiger howling in the deep hole.