8. Gambling
9. Folding Willow Flutes
10. Words of Thanks

Midis Page Six

1. Extra Hour of Life
2. Why Keep Hitting Me?
3. A Space of His Own

4. We Will Arrest You
5. Wearing a "Hat"
6. Thanks for Loving Me
7. Are You Civilized?

​​         Chinese Stories in English   

1. An Extra Hour of Life (多活一小时)
Feng Jicai (冯骥才)

            Sometimes time is like dust, you just need to brush it away. Sometimes it's actually more precious than treasures of gold and silver. But in any event it's like a ray of light, and you can't grab hold of it. The difference between the living and the dead is having time; when you have no time, your life is over.
            One day at the end of the year, ten people died from old age, illness, accidents or other reasons. They ran out of time, and they died. Regardless of whether they loved life or had grown tired of living before they died, each and every one of them wished they could return to this world, even if only for a few moments. The living have never personally experienced this sort of feeling.
            At the very moment of death, they met up with the god who controls the human life-span. The god's hands held riches—ten extra hours. He was feeling compassion for these life-loving dead people, and he decided to give each of them one hour to enjoy back in the world. This was something that had never happened before!
            The ten dead people were ecstatic. But before bringing them back to life, the god was very interested in learning how they would use this short but precious hour of time. What follows are the answers the ten gave to this question, each in turn –
            One: "I want to tell my closest family members about an immoral thing I did. I've always lacked the determination to do so, but now I have the determination. As it is, I've been carrying this thing around with me, and now that I'm dying, it's a kind of a burden."
            Two: "Being born again for one hour, I hope that within that time scientists will be able to find the cause of the illness that brought about my death, and find an effective medication, so that I won't have only one more hour to live."
            Three: "During this most precious hour, I want to keep my wife and daughter beside me. While I was alive, I was busy working every day, and was never able to spend a quiet hour with them."
            Four: "I want to go back and tear up the will I left. Only now can I see things clearly. I no longer care about all those things. What was that ten percent for this one, fifty percent for that one? The reason I died so soon was because I got tired out writing that will!"
            Five: "This time I'll absolutely have to have my secretary take care of my children's residence. Otherwise there's no hope once I'm dead."
            Six: "I just want one hour of her love. That'll be enough!"
            Seven: "I want to use this time to write the truth. I've spent my life writing about things with one eye shut tight, but this time I'll open both eyes. I'm just worried that one hour is too short, not enough time."
            Eight: "That's right! One hour is too little. I had hopes of going abroad when I was alive. One trip overseas would open my eyes, so that my life wouldn't be considered a waste!"
            Nine: "I want to know if John Doe's fat wife had a boy or a girl. He's better than me in every way, but if he has a girl this time, his family line will die out, and the anger I've felt my whole life will be appeased!"
            Ten: "I won't waste even one second. I'll work my fingers to the bone and finish that portrait I've been painting for four years, but only completed the subject's left ear! Then I can die with no regrets!"
            The god suddenly changed his mind when he heard all this. Instead of giving each person one hour, he would reallocate the ten hours.
            When he bestowed the gift of time on people, he'd always done so based on his interests alone. He didn't think a lot about it, and didn't understand how time has content and value. But would he be able to change this habit from now on, the habit he'd had since time immemorial? Hardly!

传世经典微型小说108篇 / 108 World-Wide Classic Mini-Stories, page 178
Translated from version at
2. Why Do They Keep Hitting Me? (怎么老撞我)

He Xianfeng (贺显峰)

            Old Man Zhang was sixty years old when his son brought him from the village into the city to live. At first, everything was new to him and he was quite satisfied, but as time went by he got bored and started complaining that nothing was interesting. His son advised him that "There's an open-air market outside our community where they sell plants and birds. Lots of elderly people go there. If you go, maybe you'll have some fun."
            No need to say it, Old Man Zhang did find some friends there, and he no longer felt bored.
            One day as he was leaving the nursery market, humming a ditty, a bicycle unexpectedly came speeding up from behind him. It hit him, not hard but not lightly, either. Old Man Zhang looked around behind him and saw that it was a thirty-something fellow on the bike. The guy propped up the bike against his body and said quickly, "Sorry, Gramps. Let's go to the hospital right now and get you checked out, to see where you're hurt."
            Old Man Zhang brushed himself off. He really didn't hurt anywhere, so he said, "It's no big deal. I don't need to go to the hospital."
            The guy put down the kickstand, hurriedly reached into his jacket and pulled out a stack of cash, which he then stuffed into Old Man Zhang's hands. Then he pulled out a business card and said, "Take the money first, Gramps, and go see a doctor. If it's not enough, call the number on the card. Look me up if there's any problem." Then he pushed the bike a meter or so and jumped on it, and was gone.
            Old Man Zhang took a look at the money in his hand. He felt there was fully ten thousand Yuan. He thought it was very strange to get that much money just for being bumped into. The guy was gone, though, so all he could do was tuck the money away and take it home with him.
            When he got home he told his son what had happened. His son complained, "Oh, Dad, you can't keep this money. You'd be blackmailing the guy, wouldn't you? We've got to give it back."
            That sounded reasonable to Old Man Zhang, but then he had a thought. "How do we get it back to him? The guy's long gone."
            But his son just laughed. "You have his card, don't you?" he said. "Let me handle this for you, Dad. And be more careful when you're out walking after this."
            A few days later, Old Man Zhang was strolling home from the nursery market when another bicycle came speeding up from behind and struck him. This time it was a fat man who was also very polite. "I'm sorry, grandfather. Let's go to the hospital and get you checked over to see if you're injured anywhere."
            When Old Man Zhang shook his head, the fat man quickly took a small package from his jacket. "There's thirty thousand Yuan here," he said.  "Take it and go see a doctor. If there's not enough, call the number that's on the card in the package." He jumped on the bike as he spoke and rode off.
            Old Man Zhang handed the money to his son when he got home. His son said the same thing as before. "Let me handle this for you, Dad. And be more careful when you go walking after this."
            Strange to say, the same thing happened every few days after that. Someone would come up behind Old Man Zhang and run into him, not hard but not lightly, either. Then they'd stuff a stack of money in his hands and ride off.
            "Why do they keep hitting me?" Old Man Zhang thought this was really weird, but no matter how much he stressed over it, he couldn't figure out what was going on. As the number of times he got hit increased, he got more and more concerned. Eventually he decided he was going to get to the bottom of things.
            The next time he got hit, the man gave him twenty thousand Yuan. But Old Man Zhang only gave his son five thousand Yuan when he got home. When his son saw that's all there was, he muttered, "How come there's so little?"
            "What did you say?" Old Man Zhang asked.
            "Nothing...." his son stammered. "No matter how little there is, you still have to return it. Let me have the guy's card so I can see who it is."
            After dinner, when they saw Old Man Zhang go to his room to go to bed, the son and his wife went into their bedroom as well. After a while, Old Man Zhang crept out of his room and put his ear against the door of his son's bedroom. He didn't hear anything for a long time, but eventually he heard his son say angrily, "This Zhao, he's a cheapskate. He only gave me five thousand this time. He might as well forget about that thing he wanted done!"
            "My God!" Old Man Zhang's eyes opened wide. He finally understood what was happening.

Translated from this site. Also available at http://qk.laicar.com/Home/Content/2381255
3. A Space of His Own (专用车库)

Mei Tianxie (梅天擷)

            Old Wong bought a car, but there were a lot of cars for very few parking places in the condo where he lived. Basically it was first come, first served, and always a mad scramble to get there first. Wang thought it over: If he could somehow get a private space, it would be there for him no matter how late he got home. After struggling with the problem for several days, he had a stroke of genius.
            Late one night, Old Wong dug a small pit in the ground at the parking spot nearest his home.  He stuck a wood sign beside the pit, saying: “Danger, leaky gas pipe!” To make it more believable, he poured a little left-over gas in the pit, so that the odor of gas could be smelled from quite a distance away.
            It worked at first. For a while nobody but Old Wong parked a car in that location. But Wong had had less than a month to feel smug when he found his parking place had been occupied by a beat-up old wreck, and once it had taken the spot, it remained there for several days.
            Wong asked around and learned that the wreck belonged to his neighbor, Abacus Wu. Wong thought to himself, “I spent a long time planting that tree, and I’m not about to let you have the fruit. I’m going to get you out of there.” So he poured some more gas into the pit.
            The next day Old Wong saw Abacus Wu parking in his spot, and said to him: “Wow, you’re a brave man. Aren’t you afraid the gas will explode and ruin your car while you’re parked here?”
            But Abacus Wu really wasn’t worried. He lowered his voice and whispered: “I’m parking here because I hope there’ll be an accident. That way I can get some compensation from the insurance company. Look at that old wreck. If I tried to sell it nobody would buy. It just isn’t worth anything. Don’t tell anyone, but I even put a lot of flammable stuff in the thing. I’m just waiting for the accident to happen.”
           When he heard that, Old Wong shook his head and left. But the more he thought about it, the madder he got. He told himself that, since Wu hadn’t paid him any hush money, he had no reason to keep silent. So he spread Wu’s plans to cheat the insurance company around the neighborhood.
            Contrary to his expectations, all he did was frighten people into believing that there was going to be an accident near Wu’s car. Thus, wherever Wu parked became his own private parking spot.
            Old Wong made a note of Wu’s license plate number and went to turn him in to the insurance company. But after a thorough search of its files, the insurance company could find no record of a policy issued to Abacus Wu.

故事会, 2012, 9 月, 下半月, 第92页, also online at this site.
4. We Will Arrest You Within Three Days (我们将于三天内逮捕您)

by Chen Mu (陈牧)

            Hua Hua is a fellow Chinese who went to school with me in Sweden. One day she got a letter from the police. When she opened and read it, her face suddenly turned pale. The letter contained an accusation that she was a suspected drug smuggler – "Please prepare yourself. We will come to arrest you within three days." You should know that drug smuggling is a very serious offence in Sweden. If you happen to get convicted, the sentence you'll get won't be as easy as just being deported back to China.
            But my classmate Hua Hua didn't even have the smoking habit. Things as strong as drugs, well, she'd never even seen any. How could the police connect her with anything like "drug smuggling"? Hua Hua started to wonder about it, too, after she'd settled down a bit.
            And so Hua Hua, this Chinese citizen "drug smuggling suspect", contacted the police right away. They looked into it, and it turned out they were mistaken about the person they wanted to arrest. They don't have registration cards in Sweden, but every citizen has a personal ID number, and foreign students are no exception. This personnummer is formed by adding a four-digit number onto one's numerical birth date. The suspected drug smuggler's "honorable title" happened to have the same birth date as Hua Hua's, and the police by chance had mistakenly switched the order of the other four digits.
            Once it was proven to be a false alarm, my classmate and I both began to think about this event that was too bizarre to be real, but was in fact real: The bizarre thing wasn't that the police had identified the wrong person, it was that they would send out a notification three days before they were going to arrest the suspect.
            I started to "get the picture" only recently, when I saw a news item – a suspected murderer who'd been on the run for 15 months went to the police to surrender and was turned away. The reason was that "the office was closed and temporarily not accepting surrenders." It turns out that Swedish police not only make appointments for arrests, like they would for customers; they treat themselves just as politely and don't work overtime. This is just like Confucius said, "Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you."
            Nevertheless, the officer involved in the news item was "gung ho". Since the criminal wanted to surrender and come clean, even though his office was closed, the policeman directed the man to another office that wasn't yet closed. The man's plan to "surrender himself" ended up the way he wanted it.

青年文摘,June 2013 #11, 1st Semimonthly Issue, p. 22
5. Wearing a "Hat" (找“帽子”)

Jiang Zilong (蒋子龙)

            This time one could say that Cash Flow was flabbergasted. He stood beside the flower bed in the courtyard of the Education Department like a block of wood, completely at a loss. He looked like an old daffodil drooping under the frost.
            He'd always slouched, as though he had no sense of pride and lacked any opinion about things that happened to him, but this time he seemed to have been smashed to death on the craggy rock in the flower bed. One after the other, the Rightists in his village had all been rehabilitated and given back their rightful status, and the policy allowing them to return to the city had been implemented. All except him. No one cared about or asked after him.
            Today he'd came to the place he used to work, the Education Department, to find out what was happening. When the comrade in the Organization Section looked in the file, he found that every Rightist in the entire Department had already been rehabilitated and allowed back in the city. Cash Flow wasn't listed in the booklet where the Rightist's names had been recorded. Since he'd never had to wear the Rightist's hat, he might as well just go home.
            "Good Lord, there's no doubt they put that Rightist hat on me back then. Otherwise, why would I have been sent down to the countryside?"
            "That we don't know. No one who participated in your re-education back then is with the Department of Education anymore."
            For twenty years Cash Flow had both hated and feared that Rightist hat. But these days it was a lucky symbol for him, like a gift from the god of wealth. And now it had gone and flown away, just when it had become incomparably valuable and important. Without that Rightist hat, his reputation wouldn't be restored and the government's rehabilitation policy wouldn't apply to him. Where could he go to look for this hat he'd worn so long and now lost?
            Old Wang from the Reception Office took pity on him. He came over and patted Cash Flow on the shoulder. "Go find Old Sui," he said sincerely. "Ask him to give you the proof."
            Right, Old Sui had been the Secretary of Education when Cash Flow was re-educated and could prove that Cash Flow had been classified as a Rightist. Cash Flow ran around to dozens of places and asked dozens of people, and finally found him in a small meeting room in a luxury hotel.
            Old Sui remembered him after he'd said only a couple of sentences. He remembered that the little fool in front of him had been turned in as a rightist, but the guys upstairs hadn't approved the classification. He'd been treated as a Rightist anyway and sent down to the countryside. But what good would it do to try to right things now?
            "Comrade Cash Flow, when I was the Secretary of Education, you most certainly were not classified as a Rightist," Old Sui said categorically. "It's all in the files."
            Cash flow was mad as all get out and wanted to argue, but Old Sui waved his hand. "Now I have an important meeting. I've explained your situation to you clearly. The government's rehabilitation policy has nothing to do with you. You'd best get on back and work hard at your job." And with that, he strode off into the meeting room.
            Cash flow dejectedly left the hotel, muttering "The hat, my hat...."

小小说名作、佳作阅读与欣赏 Famous Mini-Story Masterpieces to Read and Appreciate
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_6ceb4af10101f1qd.html, Story #6
6. Thanks for Having Loved Me (谢谢你曾爱过我)

by Wei Xuanli (卫宣利)

            They ran into each other in a store elevator a year after they’d broken up. He had his arm around another young beauty at the time, one with bedroom eyes and a sultry voice. Happiness was gurgling uncontrollably out of him like soap bubbles overflowing from a bottle. She put one foot in when the elevator door opened, then looked up and saw him and wanted to step back out, but the door was already closing slowly behind her.
            He saw her, too. He stood there awkwardly, not knowing whether to take his arm off the young woman’s shoulder or leave it where it was. After not seeing her for year, she looked much more gaunt, but more energetic, too. She wasn’t wearing much make-up and looked calm, capable and experienced. He could tell that this woman whom he had hurt so deeply was now living as busy and rich a life as ever. Did she still hate him? It was because of the woman beside him now that she’d made up her mind to leave him back then, even though she’d already prepared her wedding dress. She was like Mrs. Xiang Lin, the character in Lu Xun’s novel, a pursuer, running around everywhere condemning ungrateful people, hating that she couldn’t take a knife and slice him, couldn’t cut out his heart. Meeting her today was almost entirely bad luck and very little good.
            He was quite disturbed, but she’d already stuck out her hand and with a polite smile said “Hello, there.” Her glistening fingernails lightly brushed his palm and were as quickly withdrawn. The gentle warmth of her hand made his heart hot. He really wanted to ask her how things were going, but he couldn’t form a complete sentence. The elevator door opened and, with a slight smile, she turned and got off.
            She’d just gotten back to the office and sat down when she got his text message: Thanks for your forgiveness. Her face opened up with a smile as she replied: Not forgiveness, gratitude. Thanks for having given me those beautiful times, and for giving me the chance to find another.
            Yes, the love is gone, we’ve broken up, and the promises we made to one another have faded into the air. The hatred and complaining have in the end left a magnanimous and compassionate heart – this is the highest realm of love.
            Thank you for having loved me.

青年文摘2008十月上半月,第38页 Youth Digest, October 2008, First Biweekly, page 38
Also at
http://www.xzbu.com/5/view-1208424.htm, second story
7. Are You Civilized? (你有没有文化)

Luo Yichong (罗义翀)

            At a meeting of our company's Working Committee on Building Civilized Behavior, the leader was on the rostrum giving a report. He was so into it that his voice rang out like a huge bell.
            When the speech he was giving and the reports he was reading had reached a hundred pages, a string of drawn-out, ear-piercing farts suddenly resounded through the meeting hall. It startled the leader and woke up all the drowsy staff members in attendance.
            The audience looked toward where the sound had come from. A young fellow, all red in the face, said, "Sorry, I have an upset stomach…."
            The leader scowled at him. "What I want to ask this man is, 'Are you civilized?' You know enough to put your cell phone on 'quiet' or turn it off completely for a meeting. So don't you know to stifle a fart when you have to, to keep it from becoming a room-rattler? Comrades, the extent to which a person has cultivated his civitity shows his quality as a human being. How is a person like this one ever going to get ahead?"
            The young man's face instantly turned ashen. It seemed like he'd been condemned to death, the ultimate penalty.
            Next the leader touched bases with a village to research poverty assistance programs. The road in the village was narrow, rutted and muddy. The car couldn't get through, so they had to get out and walk.
            While the leader was carefully stepping around a pile of dog excrement, a farmer drove his motorbike right by him and splashed muddy water on his shiny leather shoes.
            The leader blew his top and instantly let loose a stream of invective. "You hillbilly, you've got no grasp of etiquette. Don't you know to keep your distance from pedestrians when you're driving? You deserve your life as an uncivilized farmer!"
            The farmer turned red in the face but didn't dare say anything. He stole away with his tail between his legs.
            The leader was bold enough to accept the first place prize in a calligraphy competition at our company. The piece that won it for him was displayed in the square downtown. When a teacher looked at it, he was mystified and said, "This is a terrible mess. The characters are all crooked. How did it ever win first place?"
            The leader, who was being one with the people by waiting to be escorted through the crowd to look at the works on display, happened to come up to his own treasured ink just at that moment. His face turned dark when he heard what the teacher said. A thousand people, not wanting to miss out on the action, pressed forward and stood up straight to hear the leader cuss out the teacher. "You really are uncivilized. This is called 'calligraphy'! It's art! Do you understand?"
            The teacher just walked away, filled with resentment but confessing that he was no match for the leader.
            The leader and an even higher-up leader went to a banquet together. It was decadent, with beautiful young girls for company, and the higher-up leader was having a great time. When his poetic muse came to the fore, he wrote an erotic, titillating limerick. Everyone in attendance roared with laughter.
           The leader stuck his thumb into the air right in front of the even higher-up leader's eyes. "You are so civilized! Really a reincarnation of
Li Bai. Or Du Fu reborn! Having a leader like you makes me feel proud!"
            The higher-up leader smiled so broadly you could see his teeth but not his eyes. He was indeed pleased.
            The leader was ultimately exposed for taking a large amount of money as a bribe. He was sent up before the Communist Party's
disciplinary court.
            In front of the court personnel, the leader beat his chest, stamped his feet and wept bitter tears. "I'm not civilized. I didn't know that it's illegal to take a little money for the inconvenience when you help someone out. I implore the organization to bend the rules a little this time and not look into it too closely. If you let me keep my job, I'll perform really well to redeem myself!"
            The court personnel looked at the leader like he was from outer space. They kept shaking their heads, not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

Translated from Segmented Readings. Also available here.
8. Gambling (打赌)


            I heard that Tom and Dick went to a movie together…. Tom noticed there was a bald guy sitting in front of them. "I'll bet you ¥500," he said to Dick, "that I can slap that guy's bald head without him cussing me out!"
            "That's impossible," Dick thought. He took the bet.
            Tom walked straight toward the front of the theater. "Whack", he slapped the bald guy's head. "Harry, my friend," he said, "what a coincidence seeing you here at the movies!"
            "Sir, my name is not Harry!" the bald man said.
            "Wha…? You aren't Harry? Oh, I'm sorry, I thought I recognized you." Just like that, Tom had earned himself ¥500.
            After a while Tom said to Dick, "Believe it or not, I can go swat him again without him bawling me out. I'll bet you ¥500."
            Dick thought: "How could anyone swat an innocent stranger twice without the guy getting mad? I'll take the bet!"
            Tom walked straight to the front and, "pow," popped the bald guy's head. "Harry, my friend, what a coincidence seeing you here at the movies!" he said.
            The bald guy said, "Sir, I tell you, I am not Harry!"
            "Wha…? You aren't Harry? Oh, I'm sorry, I thought I recognized you."
            Just like that, Tom had himself another ¥500.
            After a while Tom said to Dick, "Believe it or not, I can go swat him again without him bawling me out. I'll bet you ¥500."
            Dick thought: "How could anyone swat an innocent stranger three times without the guy getting mad? I'll take the bet!"
            Just like before, Tom walked straight to the front and slapped the bald head again. "Harry," he said, "don't be like that. You're only pretending not to know me because you owe me several thousand Yuan."
            The bald guy was quite angry, but all he could do was say, "Sir! I'm really not him! You're mistaken!"
            Tom: "… I'm really sorry! It's so dark here in the theater that I… I'm sorry!" And Tom had himself another ¥500!
            The more the bald guy thought about it, the darker his mood got. He changed seats so he wouldn't get slapped again without reason.
            Tom laughed at once and said to Dick, "Good! Here's your chance to get some money back. I'll bet ¥1,000 that I can go whack him again without getting cussed out."
            "How could you possibly do that? It'll be a miracle if you don't get beaten up. OK, I'll take the bet!"
            Tom stood up and went over to the bald guy. Once again, "pow," he hit him on the head. "Harry, so here's where you're sitting. I thought the bald guy sitting over there was you!"

Translated from here. Also available at http://www.baiyun.net/jokes/Joke_Collection.htm
9. Pearls of Memory: Folding Willow Flutes (忆海拾珠:折来柳条拧脆笛)

Zhou Dongsheng (周东升)

            Early spring, and there's a chill in the air. Poplars and willows are sprouting. The willows posing cleverly in the landscaped street median are putting forth pale yellow shoots in a gentle spring breeze. The dance of their swirling branches immediately stirs up childhood memories in my mind: cool wicker hats, cutesy wicker braids, intoxicating willow flutes…. For a brief time I seem to hear once more the crisp, melodious tones of a willow flute wafting in the breeze.
            March in the countryside, when the peaches are red and the willows green. This is the season when kids can let loose and enjoy themselves to their heart’s content. For a time, wherever there are willows, like the edges of river dykes and ponds in the village or places where the barley is turning green at the ends of irrigation trenches, you can see signs that groups of three or five playmates have been there. They’ve climbed up the tree trunks with the agility of monkeys and specifically chosen smooth, slick branches with uniform thickness to bend and break off.
            Then they’ve sat together in circles of two or three and, from among the branches they’ve collected, picked ones of relatively satisfactory lengths and thicknesses that are unscarred by twigs or branchlets. With these they’ve begun to make willow flutes. And they’ve surreptitiously compared their skills, looking to see who’s working the quickest and whose flute will make the sweetest and sharpest tones.
            Take a look and you’ll see playmates grasping the end of a willow branch firmly in one hand as, with the thumb and index finger of the other, they twist the bark carefully but forcefully to pull it free of the wooden core. When it’s completely loose, the slender, white core can be slowly pulled out from the thicker end. The perfect willow-bark tube which remains is the most satisfactory material for making a flute.
            Next they use a pencil sharpener to cut the two ends neatly. They pinch one end with their left hand, gently so as to avoid flattening the tube; and use the fingernails of the right hand to lightly scrape the dark brown skin from the opening at the other end, which is used as a mouthpiece. They cannot scrape too much away, about one centimeter is most appropriate. After pinching the mouthpiece flat, they can put it up to their lips and test the sound quality.
            There are many other techniques to make the sound of the flutes they’ve produced sweeter and more melodious. Most kids are not too successful when they first start making flutes. When they put the flute to their mouth and blow, often the sound is either shrill and ear-shattering, “di-di-di” and “wah-wah-wah”; or it’s oppressive and closed-off, not at all on key. But with repeated adjusting and testing, the sound gradually becomes resonant.
            Thus everyone constantly improves and slowly works out rules: The sound quality depends on the thickness of the mouthpiece, the size of the opening, and the length and thickness of the flute’s tubes. A short, thin willow flute has a high-pitched sound; a thick, long one has a low, deep sound.
                        "Make a little flute, thin and curt,
                        Twist the willow branches while you’re sittin’ in the dirt;
                        The sounds so crisp will carry on ahead,
                        Blow and blow till your face turns red...."
            That’s a children’s rhyme that’s often chanted at such times. When the willow flutes are finished, the playmates try them out one against the other.
            When they’re up on the stage (that is, standing on a big pile of dirt) they hold their flute with two hands. With their eyes perfectly round, they’ll take a deep breath and bow jerkily at the waist. Their cheeks puffing out and turning red, they’ll blow with all their might, refusing to be defeated. They start performing, and self-satisfied expressions appear on their faces as soon as they hear the first “chirp”. Some blow one tube but then, feeling they haven’t fully expressed themselves, change styles by simply putting a second and even a third willow tube to their mouths, blowing on them all together. All of a sudden, the crisp tones of the flutes and the sounds of children laughing echo the songs of birds singing and become a joyous symphony, immersing the entire village in an atmosphere of peace.

http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_c27a7d070101avew.html, Story 7
10. Words of Thanks (感谢词)

Zhu Xiling (朱西岭)

            Principal Liu of the Future Prospects High School was more excited than ever that day. A commercial genius named Progressive Wang was coming home to the village from the city to visit his relatives, and the Provincial leaders were going to throw a welcoming banquet for him in a hotel. Principal Liu had received an invitation as the representative of Wang's alma mater.
            At last the evening arrived. Principal Liu set out for the banquet quite early. "This kind of opportunity only comes once in a blue moon," he thought happily as he was on the way. "I've already arranged with my friend the TV reporter to make sure I'll have a shot at some face time. If I can use the opportunity to wrap Future Prospects High School in a nice little package and hype it up, the school's going to make a lot of money!"
            Before he knew it, he had arrived at the hotel. The banquet started on schedule and the hall was filled with cheerful and witty conversation in an enthusiastic atmosphere. As the banquet was drawing to a close, Progressive Wang agreed to an interview with the TV reporter. The principal’s friend wasted no time using the opportunity to ask a question he had prepared well in advance: “Mr. Wang, gratitude is something we always talk about. You’ve had such great success these days, to whom do you feel you owe the most gratitude?”
            With great emotion, Progressive Wang recited a long list of names: “There’s my parents, my leaders, and my partners at work….” Principal Liu couldn’t help being a little disconcerted as he listened to Mr. Wang speaking frankly and with assurance, but not mentioning “my respected teachers and my alma mater”. Fortunately at that moment his friend politely asked a leading question: “Mr. Wang, I understand you attended Future Prospects High School. The school’s principal Mr. Liu is here today. Is there anything you’d like to say to him and to your alma mater?” Principal Liu breathed a sigh of relief when he heard this – the opportunity for some publicity had finally arrived!
            Progressive Wang smiled coolly as listened to the question and quickly spotted Principal Liu in the crowd. Principal Liu immediately nodded and smiled at him. Mr. Wang smiled back and continued to speak with emotion: “Of course, I should mostly express my gratitude to my alma mater – Future Prospects High School. I would not have had the success that I’ve had today without the lessons I learned there. Even though I wasn’t the best of students in those days, the school gave me an awareness of getting rich. It made me understand that selling school supplies, and magazines, and remedial lessons, even printing report cards and test papers, they’re all ways to make money!”
            The crowd roared at these words, and Principal Liu’s face turned red with embarrassment.

故事会, March 2013, 2nd Semimonthly Issue, p. 93, Stories Magazine
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