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.

“That is not so simple as to be contained within the hollow of an acorn sheath.  Let it suffice that she has the left ear of Shan Tien, even as Ming-shu has the right, but on which side his hearing is better it might be hazardous to guess.”

“And her meritorious name?”

“She is of the house of K’ang, her name being Hwa-mei, though from the nature of her charm she is ofttime called the Golden Mouse.  But touching this affair of your own immediate danger:  we being both but common men of the idler sort, it is only fitting that when high ones threaten I should stand by you.”

“Speak definitely,” assented Kai Lung, “yet with the understanding that the full extent of my store does not exceed four or five strings of cash.”

“The soil is somewhat shallow for the growth of deep friendship, but what we have we will share equally between us.”  With these auspicious words Li-loe possessed himself of three of the strings of cash and displayed an empty sleeve.  “I, alas, have nothing.  The benefits I have in mind are of a subtler and more priceless kind.  At Yu-ping my office will be that of the keeper of the doors of the yamen, including that of the prison-house.  Thus I shall doubtless be able to render you frequent service of an inconspicuous kind.  Do not forget the name of Li-loe.”

By this time the approaching sound of heavy traffic, heralded by the beating of drums, the blowing of horns and the discharge of an occasional firework, indicated the passage of some dignified official.  This, declared Li-loe, could be none other than the Mandarin Shan Tien, resuming his march towards Yu-ping, and the doorkeeper prepared to join the procession at his appointed place.  Kai Lung, however, remained unseen among the trees, not being desirous of obtruding himself upon Ming-shu unnecessarily.  When the noise had almost died away in the distance he came forth, believing that all would by this time have passed, and approached the road.  As he reached it a single chair was hurried by, its carriers striving by increased exertion to regain their fellows.  It was too late for Kai Lung to retreat, whoever might be within.  As it passed a curtain moved somewhat, a symmetrical hand came discreetly forth, and that which it held fell at his feet.  Without varying his attitude he watched the chair until it was out of sight, then stooped and picked something up—­a red blossom on a thorny stalk, the flower already parched but the stem moist and softened to his touch.

CHAPTER II

The Inexorable Justice of the Mandarin Shan Tien

“By having access to this enclosure you will be able to walk where otherwise you must stand.  That in itself is cheap at the price of three reputed strings of inferior cash.  Furthermore, it is possible to breathe.”

“The outlook, in one direction, is an extensive one,” admitted Kai Lung, gazing towards the sky.  “Here, moreover, is a shutter through which the vista doubtless lengthens.”

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