A Grateful Wolf

A painting of a mountain.

A carpenter named Jia Cai often traveled back and forth on the mountain roads because of his work. (Image: via Wikimedia Commons)

This story about a grateful wolf took place in the time of the Daoguang Emperor during the Qing Dynasty in China (1782-1850). There were many mountains to the southeast of Jinan in Shandong Province where wolves lived. One area was called Wolf Mountain and the wolves could be seen running in packs.

A carpenter named Jia Cai often traveled back and forth on the mountain roads because of his work. One day, Jia Cai went home passing Wolf Mountain. He saw a wolf cub crying quite pitifully in its den. Jia Cai waited for a while, confirmed that there was no adult wolf around, then boldly walked over and took the little wolf back home.

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At home, Jia took a knife, cut off the tail of the wolf cub, named him Ruyi, and then raised the wolf as if he was a dog. Two years later, Ruyi had grown to be bigger than the average dog and was much more fierce. The villagers approached Ruyi with fear and caution. Later, Jia Cai found that Ruyi seemed to be intent on attacking the children.

Jia Cai was so afraid of Ruyi hurting people that he said to the wolf: “In the beginning, your mother died. If I didn’t bring you back to raise you, you would have already starved to death in the mountains. Now that you have grown up, you are not suited for living here. Today, I will let you go back to the mountains where you belong.”

Jia Cai took the wolf back to the mountain

Jia Cai then fed Ruyi, took the wolf to the mountain, told him that he was home, and left. However, when he turned and headed back to his house, Ruyi was there. Despite walking quickly Ruyi was just as fast. When he walked slowly Ruyi also slowed down. Jia Cai said: “You don’t need to walk with me.” Ruyi stopped and looked at Jia Cai with eyes full of disappointment.

Jia Cai was also somewhat reluctant to leave Ruyi. After being together for so long, he loved Ruyi, but felt he must do this. He went on. After walking for about a mile, he couldn’t help looking back and found that Ruyi was sitting on a stone staring at him.

After walking for about a mile, he couldn’t help looking back and found that Ruyi was sitting on a stone staring at him.
After walking for about a mile, he couldn’t help looking back and found that Ruyi was sitting on a stone staring at him. (Image: via Pixabay)

Because of his work, Jia Cai always came home very late. When passing  Wolf Mountain, most of the time it was already sunset. One day, he went home later than usual and three wolves appeared on the road ahead of him. Jia was shocked and stopped and looked at them quietly. If there was only one wolf, it was no problem for him to deal with it, but with three, he was not sure. He looked around and saw the cliff not far away. He quietly retreated back to the edge of the cliff to prevent the wolves from attacking him from behind.

Man and wolves confronted each other for a while, and then another two wolves arrived, and then a few more, a total of 10 ended up in front of him, arranged in a fan shape. Jia Cai noticed that some wolves seemed to be getting ready to attack him. He was terrified and shouted: “Am I destined to die here today?”

Unexpectedly, one of the wolves heard his voice and suddenly looked up. It turned around to face the wolves. Its back was turned toward Jia Cai and it slowly retreated. It seemingly said to Jia Cai: “Look and see my tail.” At that time, the moonlight was rising. When he saw that the wolf retreating to his side had no tail, he recognized it was Ruyi and shouted: “Ruyi, save me!”

Being called by name and encouraged, Ruyi turned to face the wolves. After a while, the wolves gave up and scattered one by one. Jia Cai didn’t feel safe yet and shouted: “Ruyi, walk me home!” Then Ruyi followed and guarded Jia Cai until he reached his home.

Jia Cai told his wife about what had just happened. He said with emotion that if it were not for Ruyi, he would have been eaten by the wolves. Then his wife came to serve him dinner. Jia Cai did not eat it, but fed it to Ruyi before letting him leave.

From then on, Ruyi often waited for Jia Cai on the road and walked him home. If other people in the village were unfortunate enough to encounter a wolf pack, as long as they saw that there was a wolf with no tail, they only needed to shout: “Ruyi!” Then, Ruyi would lead the wolves away.

One night, there was a sudden knock at the door. Jia Cai opened it and found Ruyi dripping wet with a bulging cloth bag on the ground. Jia opened it and saw that it was filled with silver. There were about 200 coins. Where did so many silver coins come from? Jia Cai thought that a traveler must have been killed by wolves and Ruyi took the silver in order to repay him. Since the silver had no ownership, Jia Cai accepted it.

One night Ruyi showed up at the door with a bulging cloth bag filled with silver coins.
One night Ruyi showed up at the door with a bulging cloth bag filled with silver coins. (Image: via Pixabay)

After that, Ruyi often visited the house with silver coins or other valuable items. After some time, Ruyi came during the day or stayed in Jia Cai’s home or out in the street and met the villagers who were no longer afraid of him and even gave him food. In the villagers’ eyes, Ruyi was no longer a ferocious wolf, just a big dog in the village.

Later, Jia Cai died and was buried outside the village. The villagers often found Ruyi lying by his grave. This lasted for more than a year. After that, Ruyi was never seen again.

Translated by Jean Chen

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