A String of Chinese Peach Stones


” There were two friends in adversity who consulted how they could escape therefrom. And what was their adversity? The old woman! So they agreed to go upon a trading expedition. Li Kai-tai, no relative of Seng-teh’s or mine either, was the name of one; Sen Tin-hwa that of the other.”

” The latter went home, and, with many a conciliatory smile, acquainted his lady of his intention. ‘ You are going off because you are afraid I shall make you kneel down again.’

” ‘ N-not s-so! I-I-I w-w-wish to g-g-go and d-do b-b-busi- ness, and b-b-bring you a whole l-l-lot of m-m-money.’

” ‘ Nonsense. Kneel down at once.’

” ‘ Oh, please ‘

“‘Kneel down.'”

” Li Kai-tai, his ‘ sympathetic friend ‘ [with a nod to Nieh Shen-seng] arrived at the door, which had been closed, pushed it open and entered. ‘ How is this? ‘

” ‘ I am l-lookiug for a c-cash which I have d-dropped.’

” ‘ Never mind the cash. Get up.’

” At that moment the ‘ old woman ‘ came in, and asked what business the man had to come interfering. He said he had come as mediator for his friend. ‘ What! a sheep-faced   man like you! ”

” At this stage Li-Kai-tai’s wife came in. He stammered frightfully, fearing greatly. She ordered him to kneel down too. The two wives then retired to consult as to what to do next.

” ‘ Now or never! ‘ cried one of the victims, and both ran off to appeal to the mandarin. They beat the drum – at the yamun door, for their case was urgent. The mandarin emerged, and asked what had happened.’

” ‘ The old woman,’ they pleaded.

” ‘ Whose? ‘ gasped the magistrate in trepidation.

” He sent for the two women, but before he had time to question them, his own wife appeared. He turned pale with fear, and addressed her most deferentially.

” ‘ Why did you not call me before? ‘ she screamed out. ‘ I mean to judge this matter. What is your complaint, my good women? ‘

” ‘ Disobedient husbands, great lady.’

” ‘ A hundred blows each! Now, carry your wives home on your backs, and learn to be submissive in future. And you! If you were not an official, I would order you a hundred blows too. Carry me in on your back, and be more submissive hereafter.’ “

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