The Love of Life

76. The Litter of Four


There was once an old man named Chu P’ing. He was always kind, but he especially loved animals. One day he went to visit a relative. When he got there, the relative was dragging out four puppies.

“What are you doing with those?” Chu P’ing asked.

“I’m going to go ditch them. Our dog had a litter of four puppies, and you know people say four puppies in a litter is bad luck, so I’m going to get rid of them now.”

“Would you give them to me instead?”

“It’s your neck. Go ahead.” This is how Chu P’ing became the proud owner of four frisky puppy dogs. He took good care of them and enjoyed playing with them, and before long, they had grown into four strong, healthy dogs.

One evening as Chu was sitting at home, he heard a whispering sound in the grasses outside. Closer and closer came the sound, getting louder as it came. First it sounded like a whisper, then a breeze, then it sounded like a mighty wind roaring through the valley!

Chu went out to investigate, and there, a few paces from his door, he saw a huge python! Its body was the size of a wheel. It looked around savagely with its gigantic, mesmerizing eyes, and its bright red tongue hung out, twitching.

Then it spotted Chu! Like an arrow launching from the bow, it charged straight for him! Chu was petrified. He was too scared to even whimper.

Then, just as he seemed to be doomed, his four dogs came flying at the snake! They flung themselves at it, seemingly unafraid of this enormous monster, barking and baying as they attacked from four sides.

The commotion brought out the neighborhood. Nobody dared approach the python, but they all cheered on the four brave dogs from a distance.

In an instant, two of the dogs had fastened themselves onto the python’s throat. They were too far up for the snake to bite them. Serpent blood spurted through the air, and in a minute, the huge python was dead.

The dogs inspected the corpse for a moment, sniffing it carefully. Then they contemptuously scratched some dirt over its corpse, and came to Chu P’ing with their tongues hanging out, wagging their tails. All the neighbors burst into applause as Chu P’ing squatted down to pat the dogs. They licked his arms and face.

“Who says a litter of four is unlucky?” Chu P’ing asked his dogs.

“Little did I think that when I saved your lives, one day you would save my life!

“Saving others’ lives is saving your own life!”

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