A String of Chinese Peach Stones

Punning Propensities of the Fates.

” One of the underlings of a yamun, on the last night of a year, left his hat on an empty coffin he had extorted from a dealer. In the early morning, the mandarin went out as usual to worship the god of riches. ‘ Where’s my hat? ‘ exclaimed the yamun runner when the time came for him to accompany his official master. ‘ On the coffin ‘ [Kwan ts’ai], replied his wife, to his great horror. He would surely need the coffin that year. But snatching up his hat, he had to go out without relieving his pent-up feelings. He was only just in time.

” That year he prospered wonderfully. The word Kwan had meant official recognition, and ts’ai riches. [The gods had given him the benefit of the pun.].

” A comrade of his, hearing of his good luck, resolved to try the experiment. ‘ Where’s my hat ? ‘ he cried as the moment came. ‘ On the ” longevity chest ” ‘ [seu ch’i], replied his well-instructed wife. But that year he did nothing but receive the anger of his master.”

So to Chinese, which are lucky and which unlucky words seems to be an open question.

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