Văn học nước ngoài  English News

Red Wolf in the Ba Dau Mountain

Thứ Sáu, 25/01/2019 15:48

Author TRAN THI TU NGOC

One morning, one man and his grandchild in Lin village came to the stream, suddenly seeing the reflection of a large animal sitting on a rock. It was a red-haired wolf, with a head as big as the pumpkin and sharp triangular eyes. His grandchild ran away quickly, but the poor man was so frightened that he fell down to a stream and choked to death. It was the first person’s death due to the wolf's shadow.

The story then spreaded like wildfire throughout Quan Ha district. Many people going to the forest discovered dry white feces of wolves, in which furs and bone fragments were not digested. At night they heard its long and cold howls from the Ba Dau Mountain. The villagers were panic so that no one dared to leave the house when it was dark, every house doors were always closed in silent, and the trails got more and more desolated. In the past, Quan Ha is a ghostly hill with poisonous water and many wild animals, in this area there was a team of hunters. But after the population increased, wild animals were destroyed, the hunters were disbanded, no one knew where the red wolf came from.

The bad news of the red-haired wolf was reported to the Dignitary of Quan Ha district when he was having fun in the Peony House. In the past two months, the wolf took away a cow, four pigs, bited two persons, a child in the Tria village were caught when following his mother for fishing in the stream. Dozens of people gathered and insisted the Dignitary to catch the wolf to help the people.

- Disband those fools right away. – The Dignitary beated the table and screamed. Of course, the noise caused by him was not as tainted as one of his hands was busy hugging the waist of a beautiful girl named Tuyet Nhi. - Why couldn’t they take after their pigs and children, what’s the reason for reporting me? Put fussy ones into fail for me.

The ragged and poor people at the gate of the district building resigned themselves to come home. Who would know that the Dignitary was drunk at the party? In the Peony House, he was very passionate about caring for Tuyet Nhi. She was a singer with great skills but she vowed to sell the llute soundsbut not her body. But the Dignitary couldn’t help ignoring this beauty.

- Tuyet Nhi, tonight you certainly come to my palace to serve me.

Tuyet Nhi stopped playing the lute, speaking gently but clearly:

- Please do not force me to come to the end.

- You don’t know who I am? Do not take death to threaten me; I have been light-handed with you for too long. The Dignitary of Quan Ha district embraced her; the prurient evil found his heart boiling. Tuyet Nhi knew it was hard to overcome this circumstance, she found a way:

- If you really want to bring me to your palace, please satisfy my request.

The Dignitary laughed:

- What do you want? I do not lack any jewelry and gold in this life. I will definitely satisfy your request.

- Please kill the red-haired wolf, and lay its leather on the bed, and we will make love there.

The Dignitary frowned. Speaking of red-haired wolf, he lost his interest, but by his side, the beauty lifted her eyebrows up and waited. He suddenly imagined her white body prominent on the red wolf leather, and got burning inside. He nodded hastily:

- Okay, it's nothing hard.

*

* *

Unexpectedly, it was not easy to catch the red wolf. The wolf has turned into a goblin already. Once eating human flesh, it got familiar and stalked to catch people in the desolate roads at night or twilight, biting off their throat and pulling out their heart. Soldiers defending the city were a bunch of cowards who usually collected the tax and got drunk, now they had to rush into the trouble, so they pushed each other. As a result, more than a moonlit week passed away but they got nothing, even a wolf's hair, the dungeons in the forest opened like a laughing mouth.

The Dignitary of Quan Ha district was very angry. The story of the red-haired wolf flied to Dinh Luong's fortress, so the Dignitary determined to have Tuyet Nhi and the red wolf feather submitted to the fortress. Certainly this precious gift would help his career open wide. He knew that his useless soldiers could not do anything, so he had to find the hunter named Nguyen Hang, the only one could catch the wolf.

Nguyen Hang was the last remaining hunter of the famous hunter association of Quan Ha district in the old days. He was nearly sixty years old but still powerful. After retirement, he retreated to hide in the Ling Chi Mountain, planting and growing different vegetables and fruits alongwith her young daughter. Linh Lan, who was not his biological daughter, was found in a wolfpack on a hunting trip. For no reason, after eating the unlucky woman, the wolf mother did not kill her and bring her back to her nests to feed like her children. When Nguyen Hang and his hunter team discovered the girl in the creek of Ba Dau Mountain, she was about two years old, full of hair, crawling with four legs, and screaming like wolf. Despite all the barriers, he decided to adopt her and care for her since that day.

Ảnh: Tào Linh

When the riders rode in front of their little hut, the hunter sensed that something bad was going to happen.

- Nguyen Hang, you surely heard the news of the wolf harming the villagers. Knowing that you are a skillfull hunter, the Quan Ha Mandary commanded you to take to road and kill the wolf to help people.

- Dear sirs, I quit the job for a long time, my limbs are too weak to cope with the beast, so I hope you find someone stronger than me.

- We don’t care about that. It’s the Dignitary’s command you have to follow. The Dignitary has already prepared a decent house in the capital, inviting you and your daughter to take a rest, after you kill the beast, and the Dignitary will offer so much perks and you can enjoy happiness forever.

Nguyen Hang exclaimed:

- No, please. Please leave us alone.

A fire licked up quickly and burnt down the grass hut, Nguyen Hang and his daughter were escorted into the custody of the capital. After only one night, his hair turned into white all.

- Please do not accept. Linh Lan clutched her father's hands. - You are very weak; you will be the bait for the beast if taking the road now.

- It’s ok my dear. I know how to do it.

It was just for the peace of mind of his daughter; actually he was like a tangled skein. He knew that the Dignitary regarded people like him as a thorn in his eyes. Under his fierce rule, the people were extremely miserable, the lament resounded everywhere. Being fear of insurrection, he tried to suppress people, and the ones who were skillful hunters and won the heart of the villager would be the first objects of his misterious extermination. To be out of sight of the soldiers and for their safety, Nguyen Hang quit his job, no longer hunting again and going hided.

- Linh Lan, please listen to me. I will go to the mountain to find the red wolf. Two days after I left, find a way out of here, waiting me near the top - cut Bombax ceiba five miles away from the west gate.

*

* *

Nguyen Hang set off on a misty early morning. Quan Ha Dignitary personlly sent him away from the city, carefully preparing everythingfor him from arrows, knife or food drink. Nguyen Hang went alone because this wolf was very intelligent, he was afraid that the large crowd will scare him. He made an appointment that in three days,the Dignitary would assign his soldiers to go up the mountain to take the wolf body.

Nguyen Hang went deeply into the forest. It’s a long time since he last came to Ba Dau Mountain, the old trees were crowded everywhere. The trees were low but as big as the hug of two persons, the body was full of holes, twisted branches and white mold like the gallows. With the hunter's special wit, he knew where the wolf was. Nguyen Hang neither sets a trap nor use bait; he took himself as bait for the wolf. For decades in the profession, he knew that there was a special connection between the hunter and the prey. Whereever the preys were, there were hunters and vice versa. In the vicious circle of birth and death, the one who was more sober would win. Nguyen Hang ​​opened the rice ball to eat and then poured a glass of wine for a relaxed drink. He laid face down in the grass and closed his eyes. The eye is meaningless if it’s impossible to identify the position of the prey. The hunter believed in his abilityand his sensitive ears.

After a day of waiting, finally the wolf appeared.

The hunter sensed the beast’s presence before smelling it. The wise wolf knew how to walk towards the wind direction, but he heard the sound of his feet on the grass. In the blink of an eye, he rose without sounding, and the wolf stood in front of him, about fifty feet away. It looked straight at him with no trace of fear and its golden triangle-shaped eyes.

Nguyen Hang had never seen such a big wolf in his life before. The wolf's large mouth could reach his head, his jagged, sharp teeth looked like knives, it had flaming red hair from head-to-toe like a fire. The hunter knew he had only one chance. Then the wolf was shot with an arrow through the teeth, piercing the beast's throat. If it was a shot away, the beast would swarm to the hunter and kill him. Everything just happened in the blink of an eye, the wolf came towards the hunter, and the hunter turned the arrow out of the bow. At the moment of birth and death, suddenly an abrupt stomach ache made him turn out his left hand a little. He shook his hand and made the arrows fly away, then just hitting the beast’s cheek. The wolf leaned on the hunter’s throat and tried to bite it. Nguyen Hang's blood was flushed out.

In such a fateful moment, Nguyen Hang was intended to find his knife behind his back to hit the beast's neck but not in time. The wolf knew that no enemy can survive after it’s tearing; it released him to watch the prey dying without loss of strength. Nguyen Hong aimed at the wolf's teeth as it left his neck to poke his arm deep into its throat. His arm stuck in there. The beast breathed out heavily. It furiously struggled to get out of the hunter's arms, the hunter tried his best to hold his hand in the beast’s throat, both man and beast rolled around until they died.

*

* *

The Mandarin of Quan Ha district led soldiers to Ba Dau Mountain, a lot of villagers also followed. He knew for sure that Nguyen hang would eliminate the wolf but the hunter himself would die too. Killing two birds with one stone, and he mixed the poison into Nguyen Huyen's carry-on foods, the poison then gradually developed enough for the hunter’s death like a hunter was exhausted by hunting without anyone's doubts. He silently thanked the prompt appearance of the wolf that would give him too many chances.

Ba Dau Mountain ridge presented a catastrophic scene. Broken trees, furs along with flesh and pieces of torn clothings were scattered, and the black crows flied around. In the midst of grassland, the hunter's body was overlaid with the wolf's body, his arm was trapped in the beast’s throat, his face was deformed by being dragged and rubbed among the rocks. The villagers collapsed and bowed upon him. Soldiers tried their best but could not get the hunter’s arm out of the beast’s throat. The district Mandarin was impatient. He was very upset to see the wolf’s fur that was pretty badly damaged. He turned the poor people and the soldiers gathered around the corpses, pulling the sword out of the shell. A very sweet slash, the hunter's arm was broke away from the wolf, throwing the corpse aside, he said, "Bring this wolf to the town for skinning."

Linh Lan waited for her father by the bombax ceiba at the west gate one day a night, the next morning she knew that her father died. When she came to the Linh Chi Mountain, her father was washed by the villagers, anointed with perfume oil, and changed into new clothes. She threw up her handkerchief, not believing her eyes. "Where is my father's arm?" "It was still stuck in the wolf's throat. The district dignitary cut off to bring out the wolf back. “Please wait until I bring the rest of my father’s body back and get buried. " The hunter's daughter said and walked away. She didn’t dropp even a tear. It was said that when Linh Lan was raised by the mother wolf, so her heart was so rocky.

Immediately after Nguyen Hang died, Linh Lan fled away, the district Mandarin posted on arrest list to chase her everywhere with the crime of stealing Inn’s gold and silver. Linh Lan had to disguise as a young merchant to live the city. In the Peony House, Tuyet Nhi felt an incredible sense of loss when it was reported that the last hunter of hunting association of Quan Hoa district died in a fight with the wolf. She heard the host calling guests, she was tired but the young guest entered into the room.

- What do you want to hear? She struggled with a smile while adjusting the strings.

- A funeral song. - The guest coldly answered and took her hair off, Tuyet Nhi surprised to see the young merchant in front turned out to be a girl. - I am the hunter's daughter who has killed the wolf. - Ling Lan was angry. – It issaid that you are a person who wanted to spread the wedding cushion with its fur.

Tuyet Nhi was panic:

- It’s not true. I don’t kill your farther. I am also a hunter's daughter. My father is Hoang Tin, twenty years ago, he accompanied with your father in the hunting association of Quan Ha district.

Tuyet Nhi’s Father was also a hunter before, but he did not die under the beast’s teeth, but he was killed in a wrongful case, leaving his sick wife and three squinted children. Tuyet Nhi was the eldest sister, in order to save her mother and brothers from being sold as slaves, she was voluntarily sold into prostitution at the price of three hundred pounds of silver, singing for fun all days long. In the heart of her mind, she was told by the promise’s district Mandarin that he would get rid out of the wolf, so she thought not too late to escape the whorehouse, if she could do something to eliminate the threat for the people, it should be done. Tuyet Nhi gave Linh Lan her father's souvenir carried long with her: a small sharp and cold knife, handle engraved the letter “forbearance”.

- I was determined if one day I fail to hold my body, I will kill the enemy and then kill myself with this knife.

Linh Lan recognized that knife. It was also her object. It was said that before being dissolved under the pressure of soldiers, the hunting association of Quan Ha district forged for each one with a same knife that was identical to them. Her father was unable to retrieve the knife in the last moment. Villagers brought the knife back with his corpse from the top of Ba Dau Mountain and handed it to her. On her knife, “forbearance“letter was submerged in blood.

Tuyet Nhi wiped out her tears:

- My father handed this thing to me on the night before being arresed by the soldiers. Perhaps, he had a bad feeling. Now what should I have to do to revenge for his death? Please let me know.

Linh Lan spoke softly:

- You still have an elderly mother and little brothers, this knife should not used at this time. You try to take me to the district Mandarin and return to the Peony House. Things left to do on my own.

*

* *

The next morning, Linh Lan disguised as a young man, was introduced by Tuyet Nhi to the district Mandarin as the best worker on skinning the wolf’s fur in the area that she could find. District Mandarin totally believed in Tuyet Nhi. After testing the knife on the dogs, he agreed to allow the young worker to skin off the precious wolf’s red fur. He was so excited, promised to give him a lot of gold but the worker would only ask for the rest of the wolf after the peeling. District Mandarin then agreed.

 

Linh Lan stepped closer to the wolf hanging back on the shelf, her face was serious. She poked the blade at the wolf's belly. Scrat ... Scrat ... The bowels were bursting out, the stinky smells rose up. She carefully slipped the wolf's skin from her hind legs to her forelegs; the huge body of the wolf was exposed with o the red flesh and blood. On the bald skull with white teeth, Nguyen Hang's arm was still stuck in it and turned into black and purple, unable to remove.

Linh Lan took a full day to process the wolf skin. For the rest, she gave the meticulous guidance to the artisans hired to turn this gorgeous fur into a perfect mattress. When it was dark, she carried the wolf's corpse and her father's arm to Linh Chi Mountain. At that night, along with the villagers, Linh Lan buried his father on the mountain. The wolf's corpse with his arm was burned to bury along. The fire was burnt out in one area. Linh Lan bowed to her father three times and went away...

*

* *

Ten days later, brilliant red wolf fur was spread on the bed of Quan Ha District Mandary. He decided to enjoy the beauty of Tuyet Nhi for a few days on this mattress and then submit to the Prefect of Dinh Luong for promotion. Tuyet Nhi would be brought to his palace tonight. This beautiful girl always caused him a headache because she was ready to kill herself by knife rather than dedicate herself to him. This time may be different, she volunteered. “Red wolf, red wolf, thank you alot”. He laid his back on the mattress and dreamed.

But in the late afternoon, District Mandarin still could not wake up to prepare for the wedding night, then door was opened, the relatives were panic to find out that Quan Ha District Mandarin had died in bed amongthe red wolf fur. His face was horrificly deformed with his torn cheeks and rolled up eyes; his mouth was jagged with sharp teeth. It was rumored that the District Mandarin was died because of sleeping on a poisoned wolf skin. It was also said that he was killed by the wolf spirit or he himself turned into a wolf and killed himself.

Translated by LE HOA

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