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The Wallet of Kai Lung

The Story Of Yung Chang
Narrated by Kai Lung, in the open space of the tea-shop of The Celestial Principles, at
Wu-whei.
"Ho, illustrious passers-by!" said Kai Lung, the story-teller, as he spread out his
embroidered mat under the mulberry-tree. "It is indeed unlikely that you would
condescend to stop and listen to the foolish words of such an insignificant and altogether
deformed person as myself. Nevertheless, if you will but retard your elegant footsteps for
a few moments, this exceedingly unprepossessing individual will endeavour to entertain
you with the recital of the adventures of the noble Yung Chang, as recorded by the
celebrated Pe-ku-hi."
Thus adjured, the more leisurely-minded drew near to hear the history of Yung Chang.
There was Sing You the fruit-seller, and Li Ton-ti the wood-carver; Hi Seng left his
clients to cry in vain for water; and Wang Yu, the idle pipe-maker, closed his shop of
"The Fountain of Beauty", and hung on the shutter the gilt dragon to keep away
customers in his absence. These, together with a few more shopkeepers and a dozen or so
loafers, constituted a respectable audience by the time Kai Lung was ready.
"It would be more seemly if this ill-conditioned person who is now addressing such a
distinguished assembly were to reward his fine and noble-looking hearers for their
trouble," apologized the story-teller. "But, as the Book of Verses says, 'The meaner the
slave, the greater the lord'; and it is, therefore, not unlikely that this majestic concourse
will reward the despicable efforts of their servant by handfuls of coins till the air appears
as though filled with swarms of locusts in the season of much heat. In particular, there is
among this august crowd of Mandarins one Wang Yu, who has departed on three
previous occasions without bestowing the reward of a single cash. If the feeble and
covetous-minded Wang Yu will place within this very ordinary bowl the price of one of
his exceedingly ill-made pipes, this unworthy person will proceed."
"Vast chasms can be filled, but the heart of man never," quoted the pipe-maker in retort.
"Oh, most incapable of story-tellers, have you not on two separate occasions slept
beneath my utterly inadequate roof without payment?"
But he, nevertheless, deposited three cash in the bowl, and drew nearer among the front
row of the listeners.
"It was during the reign of the enlightened Emperor Tsing Nung," began Kai Lung,
without further introduction, "that there lived at a village near Honan a wealthy and
avaricious maker of idols, named Ti Hung. So skilful had he become in the making of
clay idols that his fame had spread for many li round, and idol-sellers from all the
neighbouring villages, and even from the towns, came to him for their stock. No other
idol-maker between Honan and Nanking employed so many clay-gatherers or so many
modellers; yet, with all his riches, his avarice increased till at length he employed men
whom he called 'agents' and 'travellers', who went from house to house selling his idols
 
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