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Title: The Tiger's Eye
Author: L. Frank Baum
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0605191.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: August 2006
Date most recently updated: Nov 2016

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The Tiger's Eye: A Jungle Fairy Tale
L. Frank Baum




This is a fairy tale of Pocofo, which is an island of the South Seas,
where the people are black and have never heard of telephones or
chocolate caramels.

One half the Island of Pocofo is a dense jungle, filled with wild
beasts which devour one another when they cannot get black people to
eat. The other half of the island is inhabited by warring tribes of
natives who fight and rob each other when they are not hunting the
wild beasts.

So it is not very peaceful in Pocofo, and I have often wondered how
the wee brown children and baby animals manage to grow up where they
are surrounded by so many dangers.

But they do grow up, and become strong men and women and fierce
beasts. They take their part in the wars and worries of their day.

Once on a time a baby tiger was born in the jungle, and it was found
to be blind in one eye.

The father and mother tiger loved their baby and were sorry it had but
one eye to see with.

"The black people may easily kill our darling," said the mother, "for
when they approach it on the blind side it cannot see them."

"The leopards and lions will do the same," added the father tiger,
sadly. "We really need three or four eyes, to be able to watch all our
enemies, and one eye is no protection for a baby tiger at all."

So they decided something must be done, and resolved to visit a Magic-
Maker who lived near the edge of the jungle.

This Magic-Maker had the heart of a beast and the form of a man. He
understood the language spoken by the animals and that spoken by the
black men, and he served anyone who brought him payment for his magic.
So the father and mother tigers took their baby to the straw hut in
which Nog the Magic-Maker lived, and told him they must have another
eye for their darling one.

"A glass eye?" asked Nog.

"No; one that can see," was the reply.

"That is impossible," declared the Magic-Maker. "I have much wisdom,
and considerable skill in magic, but I cannot give your baby an eye
that will see."

"Is there absolutely no way it can be done?" enquired the mother, in a
grieved and disappointed voice.

"Oh, there is one way," said Nog, carelessly. "I could transform
myself into an eye that could see; but in that case I would destroy my
own form forever and become helpless except as an eye."

"Therefore, as I said, the thing is impossible."

"It may be from your point of view," growled the father tiger; "but to
us it is more important that our baby has the eye than that you
continue to live in your present form--an unlovely shape at the best.
So we insist upon your transforming yourself into an eye."

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Nog, beginning to be frightened. "You don't
suppose I'll consent to destroy myself for your foolish whim, do you?"

"Not willingly," admitted the tiger. "But here is the alternative;
either you transform yourself into an eye for our child, or I and my
dear wife will tear you into shreds."

The Magic-Maker, hearing this dreadful threat, looked around for a way
to escape. But the mother tiger was crouched on one side of him and
the father tiger upon the other, while the baby tiger was glaring
hungrily at Nog with its one eye, as if longing to eat him.

Nog was a wise man. He knew that tigers were merciless and had little
respect for Magic-Makers--or anything else, for that matter. So he
thought over this uncomfortable alternative and decided it would cause
him extreme pain to be torn to shreds by sharp tiger claws and teeth,
whereas it would not hurt at all to transform himself into an eye.
Moreover, as an eye he would still be alive, with a faint--a very
faint--hope that some day he might be saved, whereas to be torn into
shreds would kill him in the operation.

"I will have revenge if you make me do this dreadful thing," he
threatened.

"We are determined to make you do it," declared the father tiger.
"What do we care for your revenge?"

Finding escape impossible Nog heaved a deep sigh and transformed
himself into an eye. It was just like a tiger's eye and it hopped into
the empty eyesocket in the baby tiger's face and rolled around with a
fierce and wicked expression, for the Magic-Maker was angry because he
had been trapped and transformed against his will.

All the way home the baby tiger leaped here and there about the
jungle, growling ferociously and never at rest. It even snarled at its
mother when she tried to quiet it. And the very next day the child
deserted the safety of the lair where it was born and wandered through
the jungle in search of prey.

So sharp and far-seeing was the new eye that nothing escaped it, and
so fierce was the temper of the wearer that the baby tiger boldly
attacked animals twice its own size and defeated them all.

It could not devour all the slain, so the bodies of the young tiger's
victims littered all the jungle, and the animals complained bitterly
of this awful destruction. One of the laws of the jungle is that no
animal may kill except for food, yet here was the baby tiger killing
for the wicked sport of murder. The animals straightway condemned the
murderer and banded together to destroy the tiger which wore Nog the
Magic-Maker for an eye.

But the baby tiger avoided the stronger beasts and conquered the
weaker ones. Meantime it grew wonderfully until it became a full sized
tiger and a greater terror to the jungle folk than ever. One day it
savagely fought its own father, who barely escaped with his life.

By this time the animals had become so angry and annoyed that they
declared war upon the lawless tiger. They formed their army in line of
battle and hunted the outlaw through the jungle till he was forced to
fly to that part of the island where the black people lived.

Here the tiger's plan was to lie hidden by day and prowl over the
country at night, killing all with whom he met. The people began to
fear this enemy more than all the other animals of the jungle, yet few
were brave enough to face the ferocious beast. These few he usually
succeeded in killing before the fight was over.

Terror filled all the land and mothers kept their children in the huts
so the cruel tiger could not find them.

Titticontoo was the little son of a native chieftain, and some time,
if he lived to grow up, would rule a thousand black men himself. He
was a pretty child, with sparkling brown eyes and soft hair, and he
laughed all day at his play, being joyous of heart and quite happy.

Titticontoo did not know the meaning of clothes. He wore a cloth
around his middle, woven of cocoanut fibre, but aside from that his
little brown body was bare both night and day. He had no toys, so his
only playthings were a small spear and a bow and arrows. With these he
learned to skillfully shoot small birds, and so lithe were his muscles
that he won every leaping and running contest from the other boys. He
swam in the streams as nimbly as a fish. He said little and thought
much. All the black people loved him because he was so smiling and
cheerful, and Titticontoo loved his people in return and was generous
and kind to all.

About the time the fierce tiger made its appearance in the land the
boy's mother began to keep him shut up in the hut, fearing he might be
killed. And at about the same time a horde of strange warriors from
some unknown distant island landed on the coast of Pocofo and began to
burn and slay and pillage wherever they went. So all the black men,
headed by the chieftain who was Titticontoo's father, marched away to
fight these strangers, while the women stayed at home to protect the
children from the dreadful tiger.

One afternoon, as Titticontoo sat upon the floor of the hut playing
with his little spear, a fierce growl was heard and suddenly there
bounded into the room a great tiger. Its teeth were terrible to look
at and its bared claws might well make the bravest shudder. One of its
eyes--the left one--rolled with a glare so wicked and cruel that
Titticontoo's mother screamed and fainted with fear.

The boy, with the spear clutched in his little hand, sat still and
looked at his enemy. The tiger snarled and crouched for a spring. Then
its lean yellow body shot forward, the dreadful claws extended to
clutch and rend its victim.

Titticontoo had never been afraid in his life, and he was not afraid
now. He knew the tiger was dangerous and realized his mother had
fainted and could not help him. So he must do his best to help
himself. He set one end of his spear against the ground and pointed
the other--the sharp end--at the leaping tiger.

Next moment the beast was upon him. A blow from its sharp claw sent
the boy flying against the wall of the hut and tore out his left eye,
leaving two livid gashes on his cheek. But the spear pierced the heart
of the tiger and it fell dead.

In spite of the burning pain in his eye the brave boy crept forward to
examine his fallen enemy.

And then a strange thing happened. The eye that had once been the
Magic-Maker popped out of the tiger's head and popped into the head of
Titticontoo, where it took the place of the eye which had been torn
out by the tiger's claw. For Nog was still alive, although he was now
only an eye, and he realized there was no use in remaining in the head
of a dead tiger. He could do many more wicked and vengeful deeds, he
thought, if he was in the head of the boy.

Strangely enough, Titticontoo's pain began to pass away as soon as the
new eye popped into his head. He was glad at first to have the eye to
see with, for he did not know it would try to influence him to evil
deeds. When his mother recovered from her swoon she found the tiger
dead and Titticontoo trying to bandage the gashes in his cheek. The
eye did not pain him at all now.

All the women in the village, hearing the glad news that the tiger was
slain, came running to the hut to congratulate Titticontoo upon his
bravery; but the boy returned surly and ungracious answers and seemed
to have lost his old merry ways and his kindly disposition.

Just then a band of the black men came running into the village to say
their chieftain had been defeated and slain by the invaders and
telling the women and children to fly to the jungle or they would all
be captured and made slaves.

Hearing this Titticontoo sprang up angrily and cried out:

"You are cowards--every man of you! How dare you be alive when your
chieftain is dead?"

"Follow me, and do not fear, for I will defeat these strangers and
drive them from our island."

"You! What can you do--you who are a mere boy?" asked the men,
wonderingly.

"I have slain the tiger," replied Titticontoo, pointing proudly to the
body of the beast.

They were amazed at this masterful feat, and when they looked upon the
boy they noticed that his left eye flashed in a cruel and ferocious
manner that was terrible to see. So they consented to return to the
fight with the boy as their leader, and in spite of his mother's wails
and protests Titticontoo seized his spear, pulled it from the tiger's
heart, and with the blood still dripping from the weapon rushed away
to lead his men.

They met the enemy not far from the village, and so bravely and
desperately did the boy fight that his black men were encouraged and
fought better by his side than they had ever fought before. Presently
the strangers who had invaded the island became afraid and started to
flee, for they could not bear the awful gleam of the tiger's eye when
it was turned upon them.

Titticontoo pursued his foe, killing many with his spear and more with
his bow and arrows.

And when the strangers reached their boats they hastily tumbled into
them and rowed away home; nor did they ever dare to invade Pocofo
again.

Titticontoo returned with his victorious warriors to the village,
where there was great rejoicing.

Everyone declared he was the greatest chieftain and the fiercest
fighter they had ever known; although he was but a boy.

Yet Titticontoo was strangely silent and ill at ease. He retired from
the feasting and merrymaking to his mother's hut, where a great
struggle took place in his heart.

Being by nature kind and gentle the boy was alarmed to find himself so
cruel and bloodthirsty as he had been in the recent fight. He had
begun to hate even his own people, and when his mother entered the hut
to speak with him he drove her out in a fit of unreasonable anger.

"I know I am growing wicked and doing unmanly and unjust things," said
he to himself; "and I believe it is all because of the tiger's eye
which is in my head. I am becoming as fierce as the tiger was, and
unless I pluck out this dreadful eye I shall soon be unable to resist
its wicked influence. Then my life will be ruined and my people and my
friends come to hate me."

Titticontoo realized it would hurt dreadfully to pluck out the eye. He
remembered the burning pain he had felt when his own eye was torn out.
But after a brief struggle his gentle heart and true manly courage
finally triumphed. He suddenly clutched the eye with his fingers,
pulled it out and cast it upon the floor. Then he bore the pain
courageously and bathed his wound in clear water and bound it up.

I am inclined to think this noble act proved what a great chieftain
Titticontoo really was. His good heart saved him from a dreadful fate,
for as soon as the tiger's eye was cast away he regained his finer
nature and all his old gentleness.

The boy was ill and in pain for several days. Then he slowly recovered
and his wound healed.

"Titticontoo, the One-Eyed," he was always called after that; but
every person on that island grew to love and respect him. He is now
known as the greatest chieftain of his race.

Oh; I must tell you what became of the tiger's eye.

For many days, while Titticontoo was ill, the eye lay upon the floor
of the hut, and no one dared to touch it. For it glared as fiercely
now as ever, since the spirit of old Nog the Magic-Maker was still
alive within it. And what do you suppose Nog thought all this time? He
knew he had his revenge for being obliged to transform himself into an
eye, yet perhaps he wondered anxiously what was to be his future fate.

After a time the boy came and looked at the eye, and its cruel
expression made him shudder.

He was glad the evil thing was lying there upon the floor instead of
being in his own head; but it seemed alive, and he did not know what
to do with it.

That night he cast it into the fire; but when the embers had burned
away there lay the eye among the ashes, as bright and watchful as
ever. Then Titticontoo tried to stamp upon it, but it slipped from
underneath his heel and remained uninjured.

The boy knew it would never do to leave the dreadful eye in his hut,
where it would glare upon him constantly and watch with its intent
gaze every movement he made. So he tied the thing to an arrow and shot
the arrow from his bow far into the air, in the direction of the
jungle. For it was a tiger's eye, and the jungle was the home of
tigers.

The arrow sailed far over the tangled trees and then descended. It
struck a dappled deer, glancing past its cheek and putting out the
poor creature's left eye. The thing which Titticontoo had tied to the
arrow became loosened and rolled upon the ground; but as the deer
stood trembling with terror and pain the tiger's eye suddenly popped
into the place of the one which had been dislodged, and so the spirit
of Nog the Magic-Maker found a new resting place.

It is said the deer is the most timid and harmless of animals, but
this creature now seemed inspired by a new and evil nature. It dashed
away through the jungle, fighting every beast it met and transfixing
its victims upon its sharp horns with wicked glee. And all the while
the tiger's eye glared viciously and thrilled the hearts of all who
looked upon it with fear and dismay.

Finally the demon deer, panting and exhausted by the desperate war it
had waged upon its fellow creatures, reached a pool of water and bent
its head to drink.

Aha! That was just what old Nog the Magic-Maker had been looking for.
Only one charm would restore him to his natural form: the tiger's eye
must first be bathed in fire and then in water. Already Titticontoo
had given it the test of fire, and now, as the deer bent over the
pool, the eye which contained the spirit of Nog dropped out of the
deer's head and fell into the water.

How wonderful these magic charms are! Here in the shallow pool stood
the old Magic-Maker himself, while the startled deer screamed at sight
of him and dashed into the forest.

The cry was heard by the father tiger, who stalked out of the thicket
to find Nog scrambling from the water and grinning an evil grin of joy
at regaining his natural form.

"Oh," said the father tiger, clicking his teeth together. "I believe I
owe you a debt for destroying my child. Prepare to die, Magic-Maker!"

The yellow body made a spring, but Nog dodged it and sped away through
the jungle, trying to reach the safety of his home. The father tiger
followed in pursuit, and an interesting race took place. Fear made the
old wizard's feet to fly, and the tiger's leaps were long and swift,
for his heart was bursting with rage and sorrow.

Near the edge of the jungle a vine tripped Nog and he fell flat upon
his face. An instant later the great body of the tiger fell upon the
Magic-Maker--and so the story ends.

It is a fairy tale told me by a black man who once lived on that same
island of Pocofo.



THE END




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