Chinese Stories in English
3. The Hunter
4. Wolves Howling
5. You Wanna Get Me in Trouble?
1. Looking at Monkeys
2. Debt Collection Trick
1. Looking at Monkeys (看猴)
Gao Qiaolin (高巧林)
After we’d visited the five or six scenic spots specified in the contract, the tour guide told us, “It’s still early. For an extra fee, would you like to take a sightseeing cruise to Monkey Island and have a look around?”
“How much per person?”
“How long does it take, round trip?”
“About an hour and a half.”
I’d known for a long time that Snow Wave Lake Scenic Area has a Monkey Island. Roundish and a little more than three square kilometers, you wouldn’t say it’s too big. It sits alone in the center of the lake like a giant turtle floating up through the surface, with verdant trees on a craggy small hill. Over three thousand monkeys and small apes live on the hill, including snub-nose monkeys, gibbons, macaques and many other rare species.
I got excited when the guide mentioned it – it’s not easy to travel all the way to the Scenic Area, and I’d miss an opportunity to see the island if I didn’t go then. Best go take a look.
That’s why my wife and I went to the cashier window and lined up in a long queue to buy tickets.
Hawkers of all kinds wandered around on both sides of the line, like fish in the lake busy foraging for food. They were more civil than fish, of course, and didn’t compete savagely with each other for "food", but they held up their wares and enthusiastically called out for buyers: “Tourist maps of Monkey Island”, “Monkey food,” “Slingshots to keep the monkeys away,” etc.
I didn't think we needed to spend money to buy any of those things. The guide map was definitely unnecessary; an island the size of someone’s butt, why would we need a map to guide us? As for the monkey food and slingshot, I’d think about it.
The hawkers were quite smart and seemed to know what I was thinking. They kept after me, marketing their goods with all their might.
“You’ll need to present some gifts of greeting to the monkeys after you get to the island. Otherwise they’ll attack your body savagely. For women, they’ll kiss you shamelessly or even rub your breasts....” That’s what one hawker said.
“I’m going to return the tickets. I don't want to go,” my wife said quickly.
“Don't do that. Let me buy a bag of monkey food, and that’ll solve the problem, won’t it?” I comforted her as I pulled out some money.
“The monkeys on the island run loose and are mischievous. They’ll occasionally hurt tourists, but if you have a slingshot in your hand, they won’t bother you. That’s because there are a number of keepers on the island who patrol around with slingshots. Whenever they see a monkey getting wild, they’ll hit it with a pellet that hurts like crazy. Because of that, the monkeys are conditioned to retreat obediently when they see someone holding a slingshot.” Another hawker said that.
“All right, I’ll buy one.” I paid again.
The cruise ship could seat seventy or eighty tourists on two decks. The lower deck was enclosed, so passengers could only peek out at part of the magnificent lake and mountain scenery through glass windows; the upper deck was open, so passengers could lean on railings and take in the whole of the beautiful view.
After the clerk checked our tickets so we could get on board, my wife and I headed for the upper deck. But when we started up, our way was blocked by a girl cruise ship attendant wearing a red armband. She said the upper deck was the sightseeing level and required an additional five yuan. “What the heck?” I argued. With a kindly expression, she explained, “From there you can see far out into the distance and take photos. You can even experience a real treat for the eyes, “Monkeys on Arrival at Monkey Island".
I didn't know what “Monkeys on Arrival at Monkey Island" was, but I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to do it and I might be disappointed if I didn’t, so with a gentleman’s air I forked over another five yuan.
We tourists who paid the five yuan squeezed together and leaned on the railing, craning our necks and sticking out our heads to gaze at Monkey Island as it came faintly into view in front of the cruise ship.
It was seven or eight minutes before the hill on the island became clearly visible.
Like a guide, the girl with the red armband said, “Passengers, please appreciate the special panorama of "Monkeys on Arrival at Monkey Island".
I felt energized and my eyes widened.
As the hill got closer, Red Armband pointed to it and deadpanned, “At this moment, anyone who sees one monkey has the eyes of an ordinary person; anyone who sees two has the eyes of a sage; anyone who sees three or more has the eyes of a saint; and anyone who sees a multitude of monkeys has the eyes of the Buddha.”
The sightseeing deck, which had been noisy before, became so silent that even the birds stopped twittering, as if the group were in a sacred place. The tourists all had their eyes wide open looking for monkeys on the hill.
They looked here, there and everywhere, but no one saw monkeys.
The Red Armband chuckled. “All of you, look. Isn’t the hill shaped like a big monkey looking cool as a cucumber, half-squatting and half laying down?
Everyone suddenly realized that it was.
“Are there other monkeys?” one tourist asked.
“Please, all of you, take a close look at the hill’s rock wall,” Red Armband said slyly.
The rock wall was weathered and eroded. No vegetation grew there, but the rocks were rather colorful. It looked like an ancient, dull room divider screen. How could there be any monkeys to speak of there?
Red Armband took a step forward and pointed “Please bring your dual powers of eyesight and imagination fully into play”, she said. “Look for the patterns of monkeys in the lines and colors of the rock wall.”
The tourists sighed. “So that's what it is.” Then, from time to time, a tourist would yell out in surprise – “I saw two” or “I saw three!”, “I....”
I stayed as dull-witted as before; No matter how I used my “dual powers”, I saw only some weird patterns of what might or might not be cats, dogs, clouds and streams.
In the midst of my confusion and self-abasement, a gentleman at my side wearing sunglasses dumped a mountain of humiliation on me and sent me into a vale of emotions. It was because he was yelling ecstatically – “I saw a whole bunch of monkeys.”
Often, time goes by very fast when people's heartstrings are stretched taut and their mood is at its lowest.
That could be said of the moment when the cruise ship had docked at the port of Monkey Island and the tourists were starting to walk ashore on the wooden plankway.
In all fairness, there was absolutely no need for me to allow my recent mood of gloomy humiliation to get extended or spread any further.
And yet Mister Sunglasses, blind man’s cane in hand, insisted on pounding another bolt of pain through my heart!
Text at p. 185; Translated from 今日昆山 at
2. Debt Collection Trick (讨债绝招)
Li Zhongyuan (李忠元)
Third Zhang’s son, Broadcast Zhang, hadn’t found a job for some time after he’d graduated from college. Third Zhang told him to take a job as a common laborer at a construction site so as to cultivate a hard-working attitude.
Broadcast also wanted to improve himself, so he readily agreed to his father’s request. After working on the construction site for a little over ten days, he came home crying.
Judging from his son’s character and behavior, Third Zhang thought the boy couldn’t endure hardship and fatigue, so he started nagging him. “Into every life some rain must fall,” he said. “Who can live a full life without enduring a bit of hardship and fatigue?”
Broadcast stopped crying when his father said that. He looked up and glared at Third Zhang. “Take the hardships and endure the fatigue? That’s a lousy idea,” he said. “I have endured a lot, but it was all wasted. The boss only had us work and didn't pay us!”
“What? Is that kind of thing still going on. Didn't the government issue a ton of rules and regs telling people that defaulting on wages to migrant workers was prohibited?”
This made Broadcast even more angry. He stood up and snarled at Third Zhang, “Government, shmovernment! The government says all kinds of things, but what ever gets done the way they say?”
To console his son, Third Zhang said, “Don't worry, Broadcast. It’s only eight hundred yuan. I’ll think of a way to get it back for you.”
Broadcast's mood lightened a little, but he was still sniffling. He sat there muttering, “The contractor is the magistrate's brother-in-law. How’s a straightforward old guy like you going to get the money?”
Third Zhang looked at his son but didn’t say anything more. He put the matter aside for the time being.
Early the next morning, Third Zhang unexpectedly called for his son to come to him. "Take me to that company and I’ll get your money back for you!"
Broadcast looked his father up and down. “Just you?” he asked doubtfully?
“What? You don't believe your old man? Just watch me today.”
Feeling helpless to do otherwise, Broadcast went to the company with Third Zhang. When they arrived at the door, he told his father, “Builders these days are all crooks. I ... I don’t dare go in. You can if you want!”
“I wasn’t going to let you go in, anyway. Hide somewhere and watch how I deal with these crooks!”
Broadcast was worried about his father's safety, so, while he didn’t go inside the building, he hid behind a large tree nearby and peeped inside through a clear glass window.
He watched while his father put on the coat he was carrying and pushed open the company's swinging door. His heart was beating wildly, like he had a little rabbit in his shirt pocket.
He saw his old man walk up to the platform where Boss Get Rich Xiang, who was the contractor and the project manager, sat. He began to speak so politely, it seemed that he actually wanted to borrow money.
Broadcast kept on looking. Suddenly Get Rich Xiang stood up angrily and raised his hands up high, all the while gesturing at Third Zhang. As Broadcast saw it, Get Rich Xiang must have blown his stack and was ordering Third Zhang to get out of his sight!
He was worried about his old man. All of a sudden, he saw that the security guard who’d been watching the door was standing behind his old man, pointing at him.
He was shocked by the sight and broke into a cold sweat.
“Are they going to murder him?” At that thought, Broadcast bent down right away to pick up a rock from the side of the road. He was going to break into the building. But he settled down a bit after he picked a rock up and took another look inside the building. The situation had changed, and to his surprise, he saw Get Rich Xiang counting out some pink hundred-yuan banknotes into his father's hands. Not only that, the boss was all smiles as he escorted Third Zhang out the door.
Broadcast was full of questions. What wonderous trick had his father used to get out of there with the money?
When his old man walked past the big tree where he was hiding, Broadcast saw that a piece of white cloth had at some time been sewn onto the back of his coat. Written clearly on the cloth with a marker was: “Home phone 1367438xxxx.” Broadcast was stunned. What kind of performance had his old man pulled off?
Broadcast had hidden behind the tree and never showed himself from beginning to end, but he heard the security guard’s and Get Rich Xiang’s friendly banter as they watched his old man walk away:
“Broadcast’s dad is an idiot for sure, Boss!”
“Yeah, good thing you pointed it out. I only decided to count out the money for him after I also saw the piece of cloth on his back! Truth is, we can't upset such a benighted fellow ever again. If you upset him, there’s no way to tell what kind of stupid stunt he might try. It’s not worth the trouble!”
After he heard that, Broadcast thoroughly understood the farce his old man had performed that day. He’d sewn the white cloth with his home phone written on it to his coat in order to pretend he was a crazy lunatic!
Text at p. 190; Translated from 新浪博客 at
3. The Hunter (猎手)
Liu Daofu (刘道福)
They said Old Ding, a hunter who’d been harvesting game from the mountain for many years, was headed for the mountain again. This time, however, he wasn’t going to hunt.
He’s in his seventies this year. He used to be known as a hunter for miles around, but for some reason, one day more than twenty years ago, he up and took the home-made gun that he’d had for many years, broke it in two, and washed his hands of the whole business.
He had a sharp eye and could hit his target nine shots out of ten. As long as it was within his range, no matter what the prey was, it could hardly escape. Hunters would all give a thumbs up whenever anyone mentioned Old Ding.
At noon on a spring day one year, Old Ding was sitting upright on his kang taking a nap after lunch. Suddenly he heard his eight-year-old grandson shouting from outside, "Grandpa, grandpa, there’s an eagle in the sky." At the mention of prey, Old Ding jumped off the kang with a clunk and walked outside, sleepy-eyed, with gun in hand. He looked up when he got outside, and for sure there was an eagle over the neighbor’s yard looking intently at one particular spot. A chicken was about to come to a calamitous end.
That wouldn’t do at all! Quicker that you could say it, Old Ding raised his gun and got off a shot. Then he told his grandson, "Go pick it up. I’m going back inside to nap a while more." He went back in, but before he got settled in, his neighbor, Blackie, came running in all out of breath. He looked disconsolate and said, "Uncle Ding! My kid was flying a kite. Why’d you shoot it down?" While this incident later became a joke, the fact remains that people near and far heard about Old Ding's good marksmanship!
Old Ding was skilled with guns and was also held in high repute by his neighbors. The most important thing was that he always abided by the Way of the Hunter, especially "Don't take food from the mouths of children and grandchildren”, and “Don't do anything that would end a family’s lineage." He not only refrained from collecting birds’ eggs, but also observed some do-not-kill rules: pregnant prey, cubs clamoring to be fed, endangered animals protected by the state.... Further, he wasn’t selfish about his take; he’d share whatever he bagged with his friends and family and even other hunters.
He was especially able to endure hardship. Every winter, no matter how cold it was, he’d definitely go up the mountain early on the morning after the first snow. In his words, there was good hunting after it snowed, because all the prey would be out looking for food. He bagged a lot every winter.
Every family had it tough back then. New Year’s celebrations were minimal, and Old Ding’s dinner table was the only one filled with all kinds of game. Of course he invited his neighbors over every year, so that everyone could experience the meats and fish and satisfy their hunger. He was quite popular because of that, and people had his back. During the hunting season, when he stayed on the mountain all day and didn't come home, his neighbors helped with the work around his house. But then, that winter more than twenty years ago, for some unknown reason, after he’d asked his neighbors over for an especially good meal of wild foods, he simply put down his gun and quit.
From then on, people said, Old Ding kept silent whenever hunting was mentioned.
This spring, TV reports said that someone had poured poison into the lake that produced the most water chestnuts in the county. Not only had many fish been poisoned, but many birds as well, among them some that were protected by the state. Old Ding was so angry that he couldn’t enjoy his food or sleep well for several days. He kept seeing a wild-eyed brown bear in his dreams.
"Isn’t that outrageous? Some wild animals were just recovering after the government banned hunting for many years, and now this disaster will make them extinct. I’ve got to catch that bastard to keep him from killing off our food supply!"
One after another, his fellow villagers tried to talk him out of it. "Do you need to do that? We have the government to do it!"
"That’s no good. I’ve got to go. It's too hateful!"
His wife stopped talking when she saw his resolute expression. "So go ahead. I used to.... This time, it’s like you’re doing a good deed to make up for past mistakes.” Although she was a little uneasy about it, she still agreed to let him go.
With his satchel on his back, Old Ding hurried off to the water chestnut lake about fifteen miles away. He squatted there for several days in a row and finally caught the creep who was doing the poisoning. Who knew? It was one of his distant relatives, a nephew.
"Asshole! The government doesn't allow you to keep a gun, so you resort to poison. Your actions cause too much damage. You’re cutting off our food supply, aren’t you?"
He wanted to take his nephew to the police station to turn him in. But when the guy realized he was a relative, he said all kinds of nice things, as if honey had been smeared on his lips. Old Ding still insisted on taking him to the police station.
When the soft sell didn’t work, the nephew came out with the hard sell. "If my using poison was cutting off the food supply, so was your use of a gun to shoot things, wasn’t it? If we shake out all the things you’ve done, your crimes aren’t any less than mine!"
At first Old Ding was taken aback by those words, but then his bloodshot eyes opened wide. "Bastard! With what you’ve done, you still dare threaten me? This old man’s still going to do everything he can to put you in jail."
Old Ding kept his promise. He resolutely took his nephew to the police station.
On his nephew’s second day in jail, someone from the police station came to Old Ding's home....
His encounter with a brown bear that winter had been purely by accident. Old Ding hadn’t intended to kill it, but when the beast pounced on him, he’d taken defensive action automatically and the gun went off unexpectedly. As the bear lay in a pool of blood, its protruding abdomen let Old Ding understand why he’d been attacked. That’s when he came to a sober realization: he’d broken a rule, and spoiled the Way of the Hunter by which he’d abided for so many years.
Text at p. 202; Translated from edited version named 猎手之道 at
4. Wolves Howling (狼叫)
Gan Yingxin (甘应鑫)
[We present this story as an example of shameless propaganda in Chinese lit. – Fannyi]
My bachelor cousin had just turned fifty-six when he went bald. He’d gone with some other people from the village to work as a temporary porter at the railway station in the city.
He was surprised to hear a baby crying as he was passing by a garbage dump outside the station one day. That seemed odd so he took a look. He opened a dirty bag and saw it was a baby girl, who was dying. His heart melted and he thought, "A gift from Heaven. I’ll adopt her." He hugged her firmly and went home.
Ten years passed in a blink of an eye. His adopted daughter got food and other benefits free, while my cousin saw no end to suffering. His life was slashed and burnt. He grew thin as a stick of kindling and suffered an eye disease as well. He went into the mountains to collect medicinal herbs for sale in order to earn extra money to send her to school, and in the process he fell and hurt his back, almost going to his eternal reward.
Not everyone has nice clothes to wear and good food to eat. My cousin's life was too harsh back then. His meals were meagre and his rice was soaked in tears. When he and his daughter went to market, the villagers kept pointing at him and making comments that pierced his heart. Some praised him for his good deeds and longevity, but others disparaged him as a do-nothing reprobate who’d picked up a child to raise when he couldn’t even afford to feed himself.... My cousin took it all in with a wry smile and kept silent. He continued as before to care for the girl as his own and never cast her aside.
The township government has focused on targeted poverty alleviation in recent years. Special subsidies were allocated to encourage villagers to raise their own funds and “leave the nest” to build foreign-style houses in town. My cousin didn’t have enough money to build a house for himself. He remained in his place by the mountain, with a creek for a companion, a humble abode in the village. People in the village had been watching out for him, but when people and animals started moving away, he was left pretty much on his own.
He lived at the foot of a mountain in the east end of the village, in a wooden building built in the style of the Maonan minority (where people live on the second floor and keep their water buffalo on the first). The baked roof tiles leaked during rainstorms. The ceiling beams were on the verge of collapse and snakes and rats sometimes fell through. (They were stunned for a moment but then recovered and ran or slithered away.) The good thing was that township cadres often came around to commiserate with him and help him apply for and realize obtain poor household subsidies, five guarantees payments (proper food, clothing, medical care, housing, and funeral expenses) and rural minimum grants (to equalize living standards with city residents). As his life improved, the stone that had weighed so heavily on his heart fell away.
Many rural elementary schools had been closed long before due to the small number of students. Neighboring village elementary schools and junior highs were merged into “Township Nine-Year Uniform Schools,” and children living within a radius twenty or more kilometers had to walk to town to attend. My cousin's daughter had to walk at least an hour through a foggy forest covered with thick undergrowth to get to elementary school. In one precarious section along the way, she had to wade across a creek, and in another she had to squeeze past precipices and boulders. The mountains were high and the water deep in those places. The road was deserted but didn’t feel quiet or lonely at all because of birds chirping and beasts howling. A strange fragrance permeated the area. Even adults were afraid to go there, feeling it was too remote, so you can imagine how a child felt.
For these reasons, children from better homes would transfer to another school, and some children from families with no money would drop out. My cousin’s adopted daughter wanted to quit school, but he told her, "Take a deep breath and light a candle when the forest is too dark. If I can take hardships, so can you. You have to study and learn, so make up your mind not to quit!" Then he sold the water buffalo to get funds to support her education. After that, his adopted daughter left for school at the crack of dawn and came home after school with the stars.
One evening, when she was passing by Old Cemetery Mountain after school, the crows were cawing and a bunch of new graves drew her attention. A white rabbit jumped out suddenly, sending a shiver down her spine. She talked nonsense about the incident all night, as though she were possessed. Another night, a group of wild boars dug up my cousin’s paddy with their snouts, ruining the crop so that they couldn’t harvest even a single grain of rice. After that, my cousin came up with a secret method to protect the girl and give her courage: He taught her how to howl like a wolf.
Stories about the girl learning to howl like a wolf spread far and wide, through villages and towns. It even attracted the media.
Reporters drove to the village to explore its secrets. Many people told them they’d seen wolves with their own eyes. When one reporter saw the girl leading a water buffalo out of the village gate, he asked curiously, "Aren't you afraid of the wolves in the mountains?"
"No, I'm not,” she replied with a wry smile. “I have a way to deal with wolves."
The reporter was taken aback. He’d underestimated the girl. He stared at her and noted she’d been born with eyes like a mandarin duck’s, with the left eyeball blue and the right one brownish orange. She blinked and blinked again, her eyes resplendent and striking. "What do you want to do when you grow up?" he asked.
She wrinkled her nose. "Get a job and earn money to take care of my pa."
My cousin, who’d been standing off to the side, overheard his adopted daughter. He embraced her and wiped away his tears silently. Then he started to boil water for tea and called to the reporter to sit down have a bowl of five-color sticky rice. "My little girl has gotten the first- or second-best grades in her class since she started elementary school. She’s sensible and well-behaved. Usually, when she gets home from school, she does housework on her own initiative...."
The scenery was heavenly all along the way the way, and Heaven was watching the people as they went about their lives. No wolves were in sight, nothing to get excited about. Father and daughter escorted the reporters from the village and waited like stubs of rice plants for them to be swallowed by the dusk.
The reporters were lethargic as they entered the dense forest and panted as they climbed over boulders. Suddenly from the cliff behind them came a plaintive wail, “ao-oo, ao-oo...." The sound surged through the lonely valley along with the wind whistling in the distance. It was enough to lift people up and knock them off the cliff. The reporters wondered if it was the wind acting up, or the howling of wolves? Or was it people shouting?
My Cousin didn’t expect that the county government would expand the Nature Preserve Area soon after the Dragon Festival, or that the village’s forest land would be included in the newly protected area. People were sent to erect boundary stakes and a stele with the name "Wild Wolf Valley Nature Preserve Area" engraved on it.
He expected even less to be blessed in old age with a stroke of good luck. The township government unexpectedly arranged for him to go help out on a farm cultivating seedlings. They also found a foster family for his adopted daughter, a childless, wealthy middle-aged couple.
In the end, wolves no longer howled in Three Sheep Village.
Text at p. 204; Translated from 卧虎的博客 at
5. You Wanna Get Me in Trouble? (你是不是想害我)
Qi Heshan (祁和山)
Old Wang, Chief of the Admin Section, retired. After going through a process of observation and study, the Department’s Director let Bright Li have the job.
Soon thereafter, heavy rains fell on their town for a day and a night. Many places flooded. The situation was most serious in Treasure Tower Township, the "bottom of the pot" in the county. The Director’s superiors instructed him to go there to investigate the disaster, and he took Bright Li and a few others along. In the afternoon, at the entrance to the last village they were to visit, a deep, wide puddle brought them to a halt.
The Director had a pained expression on his face as he stood before the puddle. Given the kindness the Director had shown by promoting him, Bright Li decided to carry his boss across the puddle on his back. He took off his shoes, rolled up pantlegs, stepped in front of the Director and bent over. "I’ll carry you across, Director Chen,” he offered.
"The Director smiled and said “Good” several times, but just as he was about to lie across Bright’s back, he thought of something. "That won’t be necessary,” he said loudly.” I don’t need it. I’ll get across myself.” He began taking off his shoes as he spoke.
Bright stayed bent over and said, "Don't take them off. It's only a dozen meters or so anyhow. Let me carry you."
The Director's expression turned cold. "You wanna get me in trouble?"
Bright was startled that his good intentions toward the Director would bring such an attitude in return. He didn’t know what he’d done wrong and therefore become despondent. He didn’t snap out of it all afternoon.
Bright again went on a working trip to the countryside with the Director a few days later. It was raining slightly when they arrived at their destination, but luckily Bright was prepared; he had an umbrella in the bag he was carrying. After he’d taken it out and opened it, he was surprised to see that the Director was standing in the rain. He rushed over and held the umbrella over the Director’s head. The Director was talking to a farmer, a fellow over sixty years old. He noticed the umbrella above his head when the rain stopped abruptly. Bright saw the Director turn around and smile at him.
But then the Director seemed to have been bitten by something. He jumped right out from under the umbrella and said, "No need for that, no need. Use the umbrella yourself." Bright thought the Director was just being polite, so he stepped right back up and held the umbrella over the Director again. The Director was very angry, but realized it would be inappropriate to blow his stack at that time and place, so he just growled: "You wanna get me in trouble? Go away."
[This paragraph is in the book but not in the online version. Seeing the look on the Director’s face, Bright was a little intimidated. He explained, “I’m holding the umbrella over you so you won’t get soaked. Your health is at asset to the Revolution.” This unexpectedly made the Director even angrier. "You wanna get me in trouble?” he repeated. “Go away." Bright was so frightened he started trembling and almost dropped the umbrella. He really didn’t know why his boss was so mad so he just stood there, stupefied. Since he didn’t understand, he didn’t dare insist.]
He didn't understand why the Director was so mad, but he couldn't just stare wide-eyed watching his boss get soaked by the rain. He thought it over, then handed the umbrella to the Director: "You use it. I'm young and it won't matter if I get a little rain on me." The director didn't seem to hear him. He stood there in the rain, not moving at all, while he talked to the old farmer.
The villagers standing around watching took all of this in, and they couldn't help giving the Director a thumbs up. Only then did the director's expression soften. Back in the office, the director called Bright on the carpet and really bawled him out. "What did you think you were doing? Is this how you repay me for promoting you? If you do that again, don't blame me for what happens."
Bright was quite angry, too, but he didn’t dare show it. He felt wronged. He waited until the Director was almost finished venting, then said carefully. "I did what I did because I know you’re elderly and not in good health."
The Director still didn’t appreciate the favor. He looked at Bright without blinking, as if he were judging whether the young man was lying. After a long time, the Director said, " All right, all right, go on back to work." Then he asked Bright, "Do you watch the news?"
“Sometimes,” Bright answered honestly.
“Oh,” the Director said. "Watch more often, if you don’t have anything else to do. Otherwise it’s easy to make mistakes."
Bright thought about it extensively when he got home, and suddenly understood. He wanted to call the Director right away but was reluctant to disturb him. He did not sleep well that night. When he got to work the next day, he went to see the Director to explain and apologize to him. The Director patted him on the shoulder and said, in an earnest tone of voice, "You have to know the difference between what’s advantageous and what isn’t."
Bright nodded his head several times, as sincere as the fabled city god Cheng Huang.
The Director was arrested for corruption and bribery a year later. It’s not known who got him in trouble this time.
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Long River (page 09)
Stories printed in Best Chinese Mini-Stories 2017
Text at page noted after story; translated from the webpages cited below.