“Both swords flashed, but before a blow could be struck the spirits of his ancestors hurled Li Ting lifeless to the ground, to avenge the memories that their unworthy descendant had so often reviled.
“‘So perish all the enemies of Yung Chang,’ said the victor. ’And now, my venerated but exceedingly short-sighted father-in-law, learn how narrowly you have escaped making yourself exceedingly objectionable to yourself. I have just received intelligence from Peking that I have passed the second degree, and have in consequence been appointed to a remunerative position under the Government. This will enable us to live in comfort, if not in affluence, and the rest of your engaging days can be peacefully spent in flying kites.’”
The probation of Sen Heng
Related by Kai Lung, at Wu-whei,
as a rebuke to Wang Yu and
certain others who had questioned the practical value of his
“It is an undoubted fact that this person has not realized the direct remunerative advantage which he confidently anticipated,” remarked the idle and discontented pipe-maker Wang Yu, as, with a few other persons of similar inclination, he sat in the shade of the great mulberry tree at Wu-whei, waiting for the evil influence of certain very mysterious sounds, which had lately been heard, to pass away before he resumed his occupation. “When the seemingly proficient and trustworthy Kai Lung first made it his practice to journey to Wu-whei, and narrate to us the doings of persons of all classes of life,” he continued, “it seemed to this one that by closely following the recital of how Mandarins obtained their high position, and exceptionally rich persons their wealth, he must, in the end, inevitably be rendered competent to follow in their illustrious footsteps. Yet in how entirely contrary a direction has the whole course of events tended! In spite of the honourable intention which involved a frequent absence from his place of commerce, those who journeyed thither with the set purpose of possessing one of his justly-famed opium pipes so perversely regarded the matter that, after two or three fruitless visits, they deliberately turned their footsteps towards the workshop of the inelegant Ming-yo, whose pipes are confessedly greatly inferior to those produced by the person who is now speaking. Nevertheless, the rapacious Kai Lung, to whose influence the falling off in custom was thus directly attributable, persistently declined to bear any share whatever in the loss which his profession caused, and, indeed, regarded the circumstance from so grasping and narrow-minded a point of observation that he would not even go to the length of suffering this much-persecuted one to join the circle of his hearers without on every occasion making the customary offering. In this manner a well-intentioned pursuit of riches has insidiously led this person within measurable distance of the bolted dungeon for those who do not meet their just debts, while the only distinction likely to result from his assiduous study of the customs and methods of those high in power is that of being publicly bowstrung as a warning to others. Manifestedly the pointed finger of the unreliable Kai Lung is a very treacherous guide.”