The Wallet of Kai Lung eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 279 pages of information about The Wallet of Kai Lung.
came to look into the matter, he found to his astonishment that the least order he had received in the past week had been for a hundred idols.  All the sales had been large, and yet Ti Hung found himself most unaccountably deficient in taels.  He was puzzled and alarmed, and for the next few days he looked into the business closely.  Then it was that the reason was revealed, both for the falling off in the receipts and for the increase in the orders.  The calculations of the unfortunate Yung Chang were correct up to a hundred, but at that number he had made a gigantic error—­which, however, he was never able to detect and rectify—­with the result that all transactions above that point worked out at a considerable loss to the seller.  It was in vain that the panic-stricken Ti Hung goaded his miserable son-in-law to correct the mistake; it was equally in vain that he tried to stem the current of his enormous commercial popularity.  He had competed for public favour, and he had won it, and every day his business increased till ruin grasped him by the pigtail.  Then came an order from one firm at Peking for five millions of the ninety-nine cash idols, and at that Ti Hung put up his shutters, and sat down in the dust.

“‘Behold!’ he exclaimed, ’in the course of a lifetime there are many very disagreeable evils that may overtake a person.  He may offend the Sacred Dragon, and be in consequence reduced to a fine dry powder; or he may incur the displeasure of the benevolent and pure-minded Emperor, and be condemned to death by roasting; he may also be troubled by demons or by the disturbed spirits of his ancestors, or be struck by thunderbolts.  Indeed, there are numerous annoyances, but they become as Heaven-sent blessings in comparison to a self-opinionated and more than ordinarily weak-minded son-in-law.  Of what avail is it that I have habitually sold one idol for the value of a hundred?  The very objectionable man in possession sits in my delectable summer-house, and the unavoidable legal documents settle around me like a flock of pigeons.  It is indeed necessary that I should declare myself to be in voluntary liquidation, and make an assignment of my book debts for the benefit of my creditors.  Having accomplished this, I will proceed to the well-constructed tomb of my illustrious ancestors, and having kow-towed at their incomparable shrines, I will put an end to my distinguished troubles with this exceedingly well-polished sword.’

“’The wise man can adapt himself to circumstances as water takes the shape of the vase that contains it,’ said the well-known voice of Li Ting.  ’Let not the lion and the tiger fight at the bidding of the jackal.  By combining our forces all may be well with you yet.  Assist me to dispose of the entirely superfluous Yung Chang and to marry the elegant and symmetrical Ning, and in return I will allot to you a portion of my not inconsiderable income.’

“’However high the tree, the leaves fall to the ground, and your hour has come at last, O detestable Li Ting!’ said Yung, who had heard the speakers and crept upon them unperceived.  ’As for my distinguished and immaculate father-in-law, doubtless the heat has affected his indefatigable brains, or he would not have listened to your contemptible suggestion.  For yourself, draw!’

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The Wallet of Kai Lung from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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