United States or Malta ? Vote for the TOP Country of the Week !

'Come, let us ascend into the house. And so saying he led the way up the stair-ladder of the dwelling where Haji Äli lived with his two sons Äbas and Äbdulrahman, and whence a month or two before Patimah had fled during the night-time with a deadly fear in her eyes, and the tale of a strange experience faltering on her lips.

Patimah gazed at the tiger, from the distance of only a foot or two, for she was too paralysed with fear to move or cry out, and as she looked a gradual transformation took place in the creature at her feet.

Patimah could see the bold, black stripes which marked his hide, the bristling wires of whisker, the long cruel teeth, and the fierce green light in the beast's eyes.

In another moment Patimah saw that it was Haji Äli who was ascending the ladder of his house, and the spell that had hitherto bound her was snapped. The first use she made of her regained power of motion was to leap through the doorway past her husband, and to plunge into the jungle which edged the compound.

But Patimah was wild with fear of what she had left behind her, and though she was alone, though the moonlight was dim, and the dawn had not yet come, she preferred the dismal depths of the forest to the home of her Were-Tiger husband.

Thus it happened that when Haji Äli let it be known that he desired to find a wife, there was a bustle in the villages among the parents with marriageable daughters, and, though he was a man well past middle life, Haji Äli found a wide range of choice offered to him. The girl he selected was Patimah, the daughter of poor parents, peasants living on their land in one of the neighbouring villages.

The moon was behind a cloud, and the light she cast was dim, but Patimah saw clearly enough the sight which had driven her mad with terror. On the topmost rung of the ladder, which in this, as in all Malay houses, led from the ground to the threshold of the door, there rested the head of a full-grown tiger.