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The Mirror of Kong Ho

Letter 5
Concerning the neglect of ancestors and its discreditable consequences. Two
who state the matter definitely. Concerning the otherside way of looking at things
and the self-contradictory bearing of the maiden Florence.
VENERATED SIRE,--A discovery of overwhelming malignity oppresses me. In
spite of much baffling ambiguity and the frequent evasion of conscious guilt,
there can be no longer any reasonable doubt that these barbarians DO NOT
WORSHIP THEIR ANCESTORS!
Hitherto the matter had rested in my mind as an uneasy breath of suspicion,
agitated from time to time by countless indications that such a possibility might,
indeed, exist in a condensed form, but too inauspiciously profane to be
contemplated in the altogether. Thus, when in the company of the young this
person has walked about the streets of the city, he may at length have said,
"Truly, out of your amiable condescension, you have shown me a variety of
entrancing scenes. Let us now in turn visit the tombs of your ancestors, to the
end that I may transmit fitting gifts to their spirits and discharge a few propitious
fireworks as a greeting." Yet in no case has this well-intentioned offer been
agilely received, one asserting that he did not know the resting-place of the
tombs in question, a second that he had no ancestors, a third that Kensal Green
was not an entrancing spot for a wet afternoon, a fourth that he would see them
removed to a greater distance first, another that he drew the line at mafficking in
a cemetery, and the like. These things, it may occur to your omniscience, might
in themselves have been conclusive, yet the next reference to the matter would
perhaps be tending to a more alluring hope.
"To-morrow," a person has remarked in the hearing of this one, "I go to the
Stratford which is upon the Avon, and without a pause I shall prostrate myself
intellectually before the immortal Shakespeare's tomb and worship his
unequalled memory."
"The intention is benevolently conceived," I remarked. "Yet has he no
descendants, this same Shakespeare, that the conciliation of his spirit must be
left to chance?"
When he assured me that this calamity had come about, I would have added a
richly-gilded brick from my store for transmission also, in the hope that the
neglected and capricious shadow would grant me an immunity from its resentful
attention, but the one in question raised a barrier of dissent. If I wished to adorn a
tomb, he added (evading the deeper significance of the act), there was that of
Goldsmith within its Temple, upon which many impressionable maidens from
across the Bitter Waters of the West make it a custom to deposit chaplets of
verses, in the hope of seeing the offering chronicled in the papers; and in the
Open Space called Trafalgar there were the images of a great captain who led
many junks to victory and the Emperor of a former dynasty, where doubtless the
matter could be arranged; but the surrounding had by this time become too
involved, and this person had no alternative but to smile symmetrically and reply
that his words were indeed opals falling from a topaz basin.
 
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