RECIPES FOR TIRED TEACHERS
THE LADY AND THE TIGER
By: W I D A Y A N T O *)
Many years ago in a country in North Africa there lived a king who had some very strange customes. One of these was the way he decided if a prisoner was guilty or not guilty. Whenever one of his subjects was accused of a serious crime, the king decided that the fate of the accused would be determined in front of the people. On the chosen day, the king, his followers, and all the people gathered on a small hill. In front of the hill was a big building with two doors, exactly alike, set side by side. At the king’s signal, the accused would walk to the doors, and open one of them. Behind one door was a hungry lion which would eat the prisoner as a punishment for his crime. Behind the other door was a beautiful woman to whom the prisoner would be married immidiately as a reward for his innocence.
The plan seemed most fair to the king. The accused could choose his own fate. He simply opened a door and was at once either eaten or married.
Now it happened that the king’s beautiful daughter, whom he loved above all things, had fallen in love with a poor but handsome young soldier. When the king found out that they loved each other, he put the young man into prison and set a day for his public trial. Then the king ordered the whole kingdom to be searched for the biggest lion and the most beautiful woman.
Finally, the day of the trial arrived. The young man entered the field. He was so handsome that the crowd greeted him with a hum of admiration and fear. How terrible this was for him! Advancing into the field the young soldier turned, as was his custom, and bowed to the king. But he fixed his eyes on the princess, who was sitting on her father’s right. The young man saw in her eyes that the princess knew on which side the lion was and which the lady. There was not a moment to lose. His eyes asked her, “Which door shall I choose?”
The princess knew that the woman her father had chosen was the loveliest in the land. In the past she had seen this woman throw admiring glances at the soldier. Sometimes she even suspected that these glances were returned. How could she bear to lose her lover to another woman? How could she bear to see him torn apart by the lion? The princes paused. Then acting on the decision she had made after days and nights of weighting the awful choice, she nodded to the right. The young man saw, and without hesitating, walked to the right-hand door and opened it ……..FINISH THE STORY!
Adapted from Mo Strangeman’s use of Frank R. Stockton’s story called “ The Lady and the Tiger “ in Cristoper Sion (Ed.) (1985) Recipes for tired teachers. Pp. 49-50. Reading Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley.
*) Widayanto is a teacher of English.