Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Young Head of Family

...The family, having become wealthy thanks to the clever young woman, built an ancestral hall of fine design and elaborate workmanship, and put the words "No Sorrow" as an inscription over the entrance. Soon aftter, a Mandarin passed that way, and, noticing this remarkable inscription, had his sedan-chair set down, that he might inquire who were the people that professed to have no sorrow. He sent for the head of the family, and was much surprised on seing so young a woman thus appear, and said: "Yours is a singular faamily. I have never before seen one without sorrow, nor one with so young a head. I will fine you for your impudence. go and weave me a piece of cloth as long as this road."

In most fairy tales, this is where the girl sits down to cry and her animal friends come to help her. Not this chick.

"Very well," responded the little woman; "so soon as your Excelleny shall have found the two ends of the road, and informed me as to the number of feet in its length, I will at once begin the weaving."

This girl rocks.

Finding himself at fault, the Mandarin added, "And I also fine you as much oil as there is water in the sea."

"Certainly," responded the woman; "as soon as you have measured the sea, and sent me correct information as to the number of gallons, I will at once begin to press out the oil from my beans."

"Indeed!" said the Mandarin "Since you are so sharp, perhaps you can penetrate my thoughts. If you can, I will fine you no more. I hold this pet quail in my hand; now tell me whether I mean to squeese it to death or to let it fly in the air."

"Well," said the woman, "I am an obscure commoner and you are a famed magistrate; if you are no more knowing than I, you have no right to fine me at all. Now I stand with one foot on one side of my threshold and the other foot on the other side; tell me whether I mean to go in or to come out. If you cannot guess my riddle, you should not require me to guess yours."

Being unable to guess her intention, the Mandarin took his departure. The family live long and in opulence and good reput under its chosen head.

The Chinese seem to have a slightly wordier "happily ever after."

I love this story. It is a traditional tale, but it is different from most especially in moral. Being witty is not usually the defining characteristic of the hero or the way out of trouble. And they mentioned weaving...


At 5:40 PM, Blogger Dusty Truck said...

I heard a slightly different version of this story. First it was the Emperor and he was holding a Dove. The story didn’t end when she ask him to choose whether she would step forward or backwards.
He ordered his archers to take aim and shoot if she stepped backward. The Emperor then said “If you step backwards I will kill you and take all your land and property. If you step forward I will marry you and make you my queen.” He then said “I am the Emperor and I can affect what choice you make, can you affect what choice I make?” She thought for a moment and answered “ If you release the bird I will know you are a good man and I will step forward and marry you. If you kill the bird I will step backward and die rather than serve evil.”
The emperor released the bird and married the woman. Some time later the Queen ask the Emperor “Of all the women in your kingdom why did you pick me?” The Emperor answered with your wisdom and my knowledge of power maybe our children can rule China in peace for many generations to come.


Post a Comment

<< Home