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The Wallet of Kai Lung

The Career Of The Charitable Quen-Ki-Tong
FIRST PERIOD: THE PUBLIC OFFICIAL
"The motives which inspired the actions of the devout Quen-Ki-Tong have long been ill-
reported," said Kai Lung the story-teller, upon a certain occasion at Wu-whei, "and, as a
consequence, his illustrious memory has suffered somewhat. Even as the insignificant
earth-worm may bring the precious and many coloured jewel to the surface, so has it been
permitted to this obscure and superficially educated one to discover the truth of the entire
matter among the badly-arranged and frequently really illegible documents preserved at
the Hall of Public Reference at Peking. Without fear of contradiction, therefore, he now
sets forth the credible version.
"Quen-Ki-Tong was one who throughout his life had been compelled by the opposing
force of circumstances to be content with what was offered rather than attain to that
which he desired. Having been allowed to wander over the edge of an exceedingly steep
crag, while still a child, by the aged and untrustworthy person who had the care of him,
and yet suffering little hurt, he was carried back to the city in triumph, by the one in
question, who, to cover her neglect, declared amid may chants of exultation that as he
slept a majestic winged form had snatched him from her arms and traced magical figures
with his body on the ground in token of the distinguished sacred existence for which he
was undoubtedly set apart. In such a manner he became famed at a very early age for an
unassuming mildness of character and an almost inspired piety of life, so that on every
side frequent opportunity was given him for the display of these amiable qualities. Should
it chance that an insufficient quantity of puppy-pie had been prepared for the family
repast, the undesirable but necessary portion of cold dried rat would inevitably be allotted
to the uncomplaining Quen, doubtless accompanied by the engaging but unnecessary
remark that he alone had a Heaven-sent intellect which was fixed upon more sublime
images than even the best constructed puppy-pie. Should the number of sedan-chairs not
be sufficient to bear to the Exhibition of Kites all who were desirous of becoming
entertained in such a fashion, inevitably would Quen be the one left behind, in order that
he might have adequate leisure for dignified and pure-minded internal reflexion.
"In this manner it came about that when a very wealthy but unnaturally avaricious and
evil-tempered person who was connected with Quen's father in matters of commerce
expressed his fixed determination that the most deserving and enlightened of his friend's
sons should enter into a marriage agreement with his daughter, there was no manner of
hesitation among those concerned, who admitted without any questioning between
themselves that Quen was undeniably the one referred to.
"Though naturally not possessing an insignificant intellect, a continuous habit, together
with a most irreproachable sense of filial duty, subdued within Quen's internal organs
whatever reluctance he might have otherwise displayed in the matter, so that as
courteously as was necessary he presented to the undoubtedly very ordinary and slow-
witted maiden in question the gifts of irretrievable intention, and honourably carried out
his spoken and written words towards her.
 
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