The Wallet of Kai Lung HTML version

The Vengeance Of Tung Fel
For a period not to be measured by days or weeks the air of Ching-fow had been as
unrestful as that of the locust plains beyond the Great Wall, for every speech which
passed bore two faces, one fair to hear, as a greeting, but the other insidiously speaking
behind a screen, of rebellion, violence, and the hope of overturning the fixed order of
events. With those whom they did not mistrust of treachery persons spoke in low voices
of definite plans, while at all times there might appear in prominent places of the city
skilfully composed notices setting forth great wrongs and injustices towards which
resignation and a lowly bearing were outwardly counselled, yet with the same words
cunningly inflaming the minds, even of the patient, as no pouring out of passionate
thoughts and undignified threatenings could have done. Among the people, unknown,
unseen, and unsuspected, except to the proved ones to whom they desired to reveal
themselves, moved the agents of the Three Societies. While to the many of Ching-fow
nothing was desired or even thought of behind the downfall of their own officials, and,
chief of all, the execution of the evil-minded and depraved Mandarin Ping Siang, whose
cruelties and extortions had made his name an object of wide and deserved loathing, the
agents only regarded the city as a bright spot in the line of blood and fire which they were
fanning into life from Peking to Canton, and which would presumably burst forth and
involve the entire Empire.
Although it had of late become a plain fact, by reason of the manner of behaving of the
people, that events of a sudden and turbulent nature could not long be restrained, yet
outwardly there was no exhibition of violence, not even to the length of resisting those
whom Ping Siang sent to enforce his unjust demands, chiefly because a well-founded
whisper had been sent round that nothing was to be done until Tung Fel should arrive,
which would not be until the seventh day in the month of Winged Dragons. To this all
persons agreed, for the more aged among them, who, by virtue of their years, were also
the formers of opinion in all matters, called up within their memories certain events
connected with the two persons in question which appeared to give to Tung Fel the
privilege of expressing himself clearly when the matter of finally dealing with the
malicious and self-willed Mandarin should be engaged upon.
Among the mountains which enclose Ching-fow on the southern side dwelt a jade-seeker,
who also kept goats. Although a young man and entirely without relations, he had, by
patient industry, contrived to collect together a large flock of the best-formed and most
prolific goats to be found in the neighbourhood, all the money which he received in
exchange for jade being quickly bartered again for the finest animals which he could
obtain. He was dauntless in penetrating to the most inaccessible parts of the mountains in
search of the stone, unfailing in his skilful care of the flock, in which he took much
honourable pride, and on all occasions discreet and unassumingly restrained in his
discourse and manner of life. Knowing this to be his invariable practice, it was with
emotions of an agreeable curiosity that on the seventh day of the month of Winged
Dragons those persons who were passing from place to place in the city beheld this
young man, Yang Hu, descending the mountain path with unmistakable signs of profound
agitation, and an entire absence of prudent care. Following him closely to the inner