Kai Lung's Golden Hours eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about Kai Lung's Golden Hours.
elder and less attractive of the maidens fled, uttering loud and continuous cries of apprehension in order to conceal the direction of her flight.  The other remained, however, and even moved a few steps nearer to Kai Lung, as though encouraged by his appearance, so that he was able to regard her varying details more appreciably.  As she advanced she plucked a red blossom from a thorny bush, and from time to time she shortened the broken stalk between her jade teeth.

“Courteous loiterer,” she said, in a very pearl-like voice, when they had thus regarded one another for a few beats of time, “what is your honourable name, and who are you who tarry here, journeying neither to the east nor to the west?”

“The answer is necessarily commonplace and unworthy of your polite interest,” was the diffident reply.  “My unbecoming name is Kai, to which has been added that of Lung.  By profession I am an incapable relater of imagined tales, and to this end I spread my mat wherever my uplifted voice can entice together a company to listen.  Should my feeble efforts be deemed worthy of reward, those who stand around may perchance contribute to my scanty store, but sometimes this is judged superfluous.  For this cause I now turn my expectant feet from Loo-chow towards the untried city of Yu-ping, but the undiminished li stretching relentlessly before me, I sought beneath these trees a refuge from the noontide sun.”

“The occupation is a dignified one, being to no great degree removed from that of the Sages who compiled The Books,” remarked the maiden, with an encouraging smile.  “Are there many stories known to your retentive mind?”

“In one form or another, all that exist are within my mental grasp,” admitted Kai Lung modestly.  “Thus equipped, there is no arising emergency for which I am unprepared.”

“There are other things that I would learn of your craft.  What kind of story is the most favourably received, and the one whereby your collecting bowl is the least ignored?”

“That depends on the nature and condition of those who stand around, and therein lies much that is essential to the art,” replied Kai Lung, not without an element of pride.  “Should the company be chiefly formed of the illiterate and the immature of both sexes, stories depicting the embarrassment of unnaturally round-bodied mandarins, the unpremeditated flight of eccentrically-garbed passers-by into vats of powdered rice, the despair of guardians of the street when assailed by showers of eggs and overripe lo-quats, or any other variety of humiliating pain inflicted upon the innocent and unwary, never fail to win approval.  The prosperous and substantial find contentment in hearing of the unassuming virtues and frugal lives of the poor and unsuccessful.  Those of humble origin, especially tea-house maidens and the like, are only really at home among stories of the exalted and quick-moving, the profusion of their robes, the magnificence of their palaces, and the general high-minded depravity of their lives.  Ordinary persons require stories dealing lavishly with all the emotions, so that they may thereby have a feeling of sufficiency when contributing to the collecting bowl.”

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Kai Lung's Golden Hours from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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