15. Mosquitos
16. Not a Precedent
17. Old Leader, An
18. Old Zhang
19. Our Tree
20. Protocols
21. Pursuit

1. A Cat's Imaginings
Ma Changshan (马长山)
            A man was in the process of scarfing down a roast chicken.
            "Master," his cat said, drooling, "please let me have a piece."
            The man was eating a drumstick and ignored the cat.
            "Master, please let me have a piece," the cat said one more time, still drooling.
            The man was eating the breast and paid it no mind.
            Master…." His cat was losing hope, because all that was left in the man's hand was the rump.
            "Here, I'll give you the whole rump." The man magnanimously tore off the hind end and threw it to his cat.
            "It'd be better," the cat thought as it ate, "if chickens had assholes over their whole bodies." (Page 251)
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2. Next Life a City Dog
Hai Qingjuan (海清涓)
            The puppy jumped on the sofa, so Grandma Li used a broom to chase after it. It bit down on her fingers and the pain made her kick it away. The puppy howled in agony.
            "Oh, my Precious," Grandma Li's daughter-in-law said in distress, "I'll take you to the hospital to get that looked at." She held the puppy in her arms as she headed out the door.
            Grandma Li had never thought that dogs in the city would be valued more highly than people. She sighed and daubed some purple medicine on her wound.
            It wasn't long until Grandma Li came down with tetanus.
            "Ma, if you have any last wishes, you should tell us," her son said. He was sitting with her as she lay on her deathbed.
            "Bury me… beside the… the doghouse," Grandma Li replied with difficulty. "Next life I… want to be a… city dog." With that, her head dropped over and she departed this world. (Page 31)
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3. The Confession
Literary Blade Quill (文刀画羽)
            "Tell the authorities. I'll name another one."
            In the middle of the night, the suspect suddenly bolted upright in bed and shouted at the guards.
            After they went in, it was the same as always. The revelations oozed out of him as slow as toothpaste squeezed from a tube.
            They heard the tough guys around his cell banging their metal cups, stirring up trouble to the high heavens, but the assigned interrogators had fallen into this vicious attitude and felt it would be beneath their dignity to do anything about it: "Please speak a little more directly. It would be best if you told us clearly about everything all at one time."
            "I'll report to the authorities! I'm guilty! I'll confess! I'll tell everything! I'll inform on them all. But there were so many who gave me 'gifts' that I can't remember them all at once. But the ones who didn't give me 'gifts', there were so few of them, I can remember them very clearly. You can work backwards from that, OK?" (Page 229)
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4. Diagnosis
Jiang Xiaohui (蒋小辉)
            I checked in to see a specialist.
            "You again," the doctor said. I replied, and then I explained my symptoms.
            "First we'll do an electrocardiogram," the doctor said.
            When it was done, the doctor said "Your heart's in good shape. Go to the lab and get your urine and stool examined."
            When I brought back the test results, the doctor looked them over and said, "Within normal range. Go back for a blood test."
            After waiting a long time in line, I got the blood test. The doctor said, "All items tested OK. We'll skip the chest X-ray for now, but let's do a CT scan."
            I got the receipt from the dispensary. I paid 280 Yuan!
            The doctor checked the CT results and said, "Not bad. Next go get a nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy."
            "Have I got a terminal illness or something?" I asked.
            The doctor was surprised. "A complete examination is necessary for an accurate diagnosis."
            "But I told you," I said, "I came in to have a tooth pulled!"
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5. Doctor E's Thumb Formula
by Hint of Evening Incense (夜色飘香)
            Doctor E has gone missing. There are two categories of conjecture: the first, recognizing that he's said he'd like to spend the latter half on his life in peace and quiet, is that he's gone off to be a hermit; the second is that, even if he did go into hiding somewhere, he's also been murdered.
            Doctor E was a genius. He developed a concoction called the "Thumb Formula".
            Whenever a person's mood turns evil, without exception, the Thumb Formula causes the person's thumb to become a dark color. Thus people, even those who are romantically involved, have started to rely solely on an examination of each other's fingers as a way to judge their mutual trustworthiness. After a while, though, the Public Security organs also began using it to apprehend people who'd broken the law.
            That's when Doctor E went missing. (Page 8)
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6. Doom
By Zhao Shouyu (赵守玉)
            The young girl asked, "Mom, why do you like flutes?"
            Her mother sighed. "Sixteen years ago…."
            Sixteen years previously she'd given birth to a girl, and Young Concubine had given birth to a boy. In order to carry on the Thunder House line, she'd surreptitiously hired a murderer, and Young Concubine and her son had both met their end. The boy had been clutching a flute at the time.
            Suddenly Young Concubine appeared. Startled, the mother exclaimed, "You're not dead?"
            "Heaven sees all. Sixteen years ago I recorded a blood debt."
            The mother laughed. "The old man's dead, and Thunder House has passed to my daughter. What's the use of coming here to mourn your son's ignoble existence?"
            Young Concubine laughed crazily. "It's the will of Heaven! After we gave birth back then, I had someone do a switch in secret. It was your son that died! You don't believe me? The girl and I each have a red birthmark on the left side of our chests."
            The young girl realized the brutal truth and threw herself off a cliff.
            Only the two women, locked in a battle to the death, were left in the world. (Page 1)
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7. The Eccentric
Mi Heng
By Dispersed from West Ditch (西沟散人)
            Outstanding heroes arose en masse during the years of strife at the end of the Han Dynasty. Literary talents and military strategists alike, contrary to traditions, displayed behaviors unrestrained in spirit. Take the piteous Mi Heng: Being particularly good at insults and flaunting his uninhibited manner of speaking, he ended up suffering the calamity of execution and left behind an insubstantial reputation as a prodigy.
            His good friend Kong Rong, acting as go-between, presented Mi-Heng with a short-cut to honor; the warlord
Cao Cao would only elevate talented people and it seemed that Mi Heng was born at just right time; Governor Liu Biao magnanimously considered him a superior soldier and it seemed that it was Mi Heng's time to become a respected literary talent; Admiral Huang Zu treated him very well at first and gave him an opportunity to cultivate his abilities profoundly.
            Rather than saying that Cao Cao and Liu Biao put him to the sword, or that Huang Zu killed him in his brashness and stupidity, it would be better to state that Mi Heng's own conceit and arrogance determined his fate: Death is preferable to going one's own way, not considering the consequences and drifting through life.
Mi Heng (173 -198 AD) late Han Dynasty author of ci (辞) poems and fu (赋) poetic essays. From today's Linyi County in Shandong Province. (Page 183)
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8. Escape from the Jaws of Death
by Poet Caravan (诗人马帮)
            The soldiers pursuing him were getting closer and closer – he could even hear them shouting "Get him!" – but he was becoming weaker and weaker. He hadn't eaten anything for two days, not since he'd strayed away from the volunteer army the day before. Besides that, he had an arrow wound in his arm.
            He ducked into a forest just as the soldiers were about to come upon him. The mouth of an ancient well appeared before him, and the gleaming waters were seductive in his hunger and thirst, but he didn't have time for even a sip. He burrowed under a huge piece of bark that lay nearby.
            Shrieking birds woke him from his delirium. He couldn't hear anything moving around him, so he dug himself out from under the piece of bark. He found the blackened bodies of the soldiers laying around the edge of the well. It looked like they'd met an evil death by poisoning, but he didn't dare stop to think about it. He kept on running for his life…. (Page 1)
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9. Favored by Heaven
Hou Jianzhong (侯建忠)
            Yu Xin was six when she went. She was crossing the street, looking for one of her buddies to play with, when a speeding car came out of nowhere and knocked her for a loop. Several hours after she was taken to the hospital, she left her mother forever.
            For three days and nights, her mother didn't close her eyes. She held her daughter in her arms, calling out her name.
            Her mother seemed to go crazy when they buried little Yu Xin. She wouldn't eat or drink anything all day, no matter what anyone said to her.
            Her family had been out of town, but they came home a dozen or so days later. They told her they'd found a "spiritual advisor" and received the honored man's guidance: Yu Xi was favored by Heaven and could not remain with our family. She'd been reborn in Beijing in a cadre's family. In the future she would attend college and would even go overseas to study.
            Her mother was satisfied and recovered from her sorrow. (Page 227)
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10. Free Treatment Card
Wang Haoming (王豪鸣)
            I caught a chill. I was dizzy and had a slight fever. I went to the hospital outpatient clinic, registered, and eventually got into the specialist's office.
            It was a woman specialist, a bit chubby and very pleasant. She felt my forehead as she told me she would do an examination before prescribing anything. I told her it was just a cold, but she said it was her responsibility to sufferers to determine the source of their discomfort clearly, so I nodded. Then she gave me a Results of Examination form and told me to go have the cost totaled up.
            When I got the total, goodness gracious, it was 1,000 Yuan! I was so shocked I broke into a cold sweat and fled home like I was flying.
            But, gee, strangely enough, my cold was gone.
            After that, whenever I caught a cold, I would get out that Results of Examination form. Once I got through the cold sweats, I would immediately feel fantastic.
            One day, without warning, that Results of Examination form apparently sprouted wings and flew away. That made me feel another bout of sickness. (Page 1)
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11. A Match Made in Heaven
Kang Wei (康伟)
            In high spirits, the woman ran back home and told her husband, "I've got some huge news to tell you, dear. Our Baobeir and Qianjin from the Bureau Chief's family seem to have gotten together."
            "Is that true?" the man asked, happily surprised. "You're not mistaken, are you?"
            "I saw it with my own eyes," the woman answered. "How could I have got it wrong?"
            "That's fantastic, really fantastic," the man said, wiping his hands. "Everyone knows that the Chief's wife really dotes on her Qianjin. If they've gotten together, we'll have an in with the Chief's wife. That's almost the same as having an in with the Chief himself."
            The woman said, "This time our Baobeir really has given us some face. We've got to reward him with a special meal. I'll go to the market and buy him some dog food." (Page 31)
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12.You Can't Escape Heaven's Net
Huang Juan (黄娟)
            After the Public Security officer finished the paperwork, he could no longer suppress his curiosity. "What made you want to turn yourself in?"
            The suspect was completely exhausted. He said, "I heard someone yell 'Gotcha' while I was walking past a mahjong parlor."
            The officer maintained his composure. "Lucky for you," he said. "We were going to bust your entire crew before long. When we did, you wouldn't be getting off so easy. Who was it shouted 'Gotcha', you think?"
            "I don't know," the suspect said hastily. "I'm not lying! I really don't know!"
            The officer nodded. "Well, you go and think about it."
            After the suspect was led away, the officer laughed merrily. "That jerk! His case was open forever and we'd never been able to find a shred of evidence!" (Page 294)
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13. We Have a House, Now
Wang Haoming (王豪鸣)
            Mighty went to beg Little Beauty. "We've been together for five years now, and we should get on with it."
            Little Beauty raised her head and said, in a very literary manner, "Have you read Housing Affairs? One first resolves the housing situation, then one does the other things. After all, we can't make love in the middle of the road, can we?"
            Mighty was thoroughly crushed! He seemed to be in a stupor all the way home. Moonlight fell on him like rain and he couldn't keep from shivering. Suddenly he felt a sharp pain and fell to the ground….
            Little Beauty hadn't heard from Mighty for three straight days. She was about to go out looking for him when she heard a shout from outside her door. "Little Beauty! We have a house, now!"
            She opened the door but couldn't see anyone. "Where are you, Mighty?"
            A snail was crawling toward her. "I'm here!" (Page 229)

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14. Man and Locust
Ma Changshan (马长山)
      Man: "Hello, Locust."
      Locust: "You're really crafty, bidding me 'Hello' while you're carrying insect poison in your hand."
      Man: "Sorry, it's a habit. But as a lower class creature, don't you feel kind of inferior when you see us humans?"
      Locust: "No."
      Man: "Do you mean to say you consider yourselves as our equals?"
      Locust: "I think there seems to be not much difference between us."
      Man: "Not much difference? You'll have to give me an example to convince me of that."
      Locust: "Whether it's you or us, once we check out a place, it gets turned into a wasteland." (Page 252)
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15. Mosquitos Progress, Too
by Yellow Leaves Everywhere (遍地黄叶)
      A certain fellow was especially attractive to mosquitos. His entire body was densely covered with scars and ulcers where he'd been bitten. He'd used every method to ward off the insects but none had done any good.
      When he heard that mosquitos can't get up to the thirteenth floor, he rushed out and bought a place on the fourteenth floor. He thought, "We'll see what you mosquitos can do to me now."
      Three days went by peacefully. On the fourth night, though, he was startled out of bed in the middle of a dream by a buzzing sound. "How'd you find me here, mosquito," he said. "This is the fourteenth floor!"
      The mosquito laughed, bzz bzz. "Used to be we couldn't climb up to the thirteenth floor," it said. "But now there's garbage piled all over the building roofs, providing the conditions for us to get higher." (Page 227)
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16. Not a Precedent
Li Guoxin (李国新)
      Before the new leaders were to take office, the organization asked some of the more advanced comrades to strive to outdo each other in visiting the new boss's home.
      The boss had just transferred in. As he accepted the things [the comrades gave to him as welcoming gifts], he said with a very serious expression, "This, it should just be this once!"
      No one knew what was going on. They all thought the head was very upright and hard to get in with, and they were all disappointed. They didn't compete with each other to visit him at home any more, [because they didn't want to] make him say "it was just one time".
      One rather naive clerk in the organization just laughed. He understood what "just this once" meant, and he often visited the head at home to report on his work.
      After a while this young clerk became a member of the team, and [eventually] was appointed to be the other comrades' leader.
      It turns out that this young clerk had never given the boss the same gift twice. (Page 265)
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17. An Old Leader
Wang Yu (王雨)
      With the approval of Mayor Zhao, Company A's bid on the reconstruction of the Second Ring Line had been accepted.
      At the banquet to celebrate the award, Mayor Zhao told the company's CFO: "You've got to reduce the price by twelve percent!"
      The CFO was startled. "Mayor Zhao, sir, do you want us to get no profit at all from this job?!"
      "I don't expect you to guarantee this road for ten years," the Mayor replied, "or even eight. You just need to guarantee that there'll be no problems for five years."
      The CFO was still worried, so he telephoned the company's Senior Legal Advisor. "Where does the mayor get off doing this, reducing our guarantee from ten to five years? Won't there be problems?"
      "Mayor Zhao has been handling these kinds of jobs for many years. If he says five years, you can rest assured that this road won't see a sixth year of use. You have no reason to worry…." (Page 227)
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18. Old Zhang Gets Cursed
Second Autumn Tree (二秋树)
      Old Zhang's appearance and bearing were quite similar to the mayor's. He had "benefited" not a little from the resemblance.
      One day he passed by a place where vegetables and breakfasts had previously been sold. "Whoa, how could such a messy place get cleaned up so quickly?"
      A man walked up beside him and looked around. Without looking directly at Old Zhang, he started to curse. "Bastards! They chase off all the vendors just to make a 'modern hygienic city', so now we can't find anywhere to go buy food. The authorities are all blind and deaf!"
      Several others walked up, one by one, and uttered curses in filthy language. None of them faced Old Zhang, but they made it clear that these rantings were directed at him.
      Old Zhang suffered in silence. In his heart he blamed his parents: "I could have been born with any old appearance, so why did you have to make me look like the mayor?!" (Page 270)
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19. From Our Tree
Jia Shuling (贾淑玲)
      She brought some plums with her when she came back from her Mom's. She gave him a big one to eat.
      He didn't take it. He'd never liked fruit.
      "These aren't like the ones they sell on the street," she teased him. "These were grown on our own family's tree."
      "Don't the ones sold on the street come from trees?" he asked.
      She laughed. "The ones grown on our tree taste better."
      He went ahead and took the one she offered.
      She laughed at him while she ate one, too.
      Suddenly she shouted "ah" and dropped the plum.
      He looked and saw a worm wriggling around where she's bitten into the plum. It had almost been decapitated.
      Off to the side, he said "No big deal. That worm is from your family's tree."
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20. A Gentleman's Protocols
Crazy Ancient Pride (古傲狂生)
      Four County Magistrates in Imperial China, Zhang, Wang, Li and Zhao, got together for a few drinks after they finished a promotional exam.
      Three of them, Zhang, Wang and Li, wore worried expressions. Only Magistrate Zhao seemed confident.
      The three Magistrates were perplexed. "Brother Zhao," they asked, "can it be that you have some special connections that will ensure you pass this exam?"
      Magistrate Zhao smiled. "What special connections? I just showed the proper deference when I greeted the examiners, that's all."
      The three were even more perplexed. "Brother Zhao, exactly how did you greet them?"
      Magistrate Zhao laughed. "I told them, 'Sirs, your servant Zhao believes in the old saying that 'A gentleman should follow the customary protocols' in this room."
      The three still didn't understand. "Brother Zhao, we don't see what's so important about greeting them in that manner."
      Magistrate Zhao laughed again. "The important thing is that, when I said it, I emphasized the words 'customary protocols'." (Page 228)
[The word '礼' (rites), translated here as 'protocols', includes the rules of etiquette such as the custom of giving gifts on certain occasions. 'Gift', in turn, is a euphemism for 'bribe'. – Fannyi]
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21. Pursuit and Capture
By Poet Caravan (诗人马帮)
      Officer Wang Qiang of the Criminal Division had been sitting behind the victim's window overlooking the lake, smoking, for three straight days. In his mind, he kept going over and over everything that had happened on the night of the pursuit.
      The lake's surface area wasn't large. It would actually be more accurate to call it a pond. Officer Wang strolled around it in the evenings, but during the days he returned to his current position and stared unwaveringly at the lake. His intuition told him that the criminal hadn't gone very far.
      It was the dog days of summer and the sunlight was ruthless. Right at noon on the third day, a phone call from Officer Wang woke up his fellow cop, Young Liang, who was home sleeping.
      "I've found him!" His voice was very excited. It seems he'd noticed that a lotus leaf in the center of the lake had suddenly shriveled up.
      Officer Wang and his fellow cop fished the criminal up from the surface of the lake that afternoon. (Page 8)
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22. Quitting Smoking
Guo Shiping (郭世平)
      Old Yu was heavily addicted to cigarettes. He had health problems but desperately enjoyed smoking. Whenever he lit up he had a coughing fit. His whole family was opposed to him smoking and stridently urged him to quit.
      So Old Yu made a painful resolution – he would take his lighter and the cigarettes he'd already purchased and throw them into the toilet.
      When habitual smokers quit cold turkey, their entire body feels off, like something is missing. Whenever Old Yu was itching to have a cigarette, his wife would be right there to give him a glass of sugar water to take his mind off it.
      After a week, whenever people saw Old Yu, they'd ask how his attempt to quit smoking was going. "Ah, damn it all," he'd say, laughing at himself. "I haven't quit smoking, but I now also have a problem with drinking sugar water." (Page 228)
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23. Really Black
Hou Jianzhong (侯建忠)
      CFLAC [the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles] was hosting a session of PEN [the International Association of Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists and Novelists]. Some local calligraphers were in attendance to put on a demonstration of their art.
      Some people recommended that a certain gentleman do a scroll.
      The gentleman was the head of a company with real power, but his reputation as an artist was rather lacking. He often called himself an artist and occasionally, when the mood was upon him, he would do some casual writing and painting.
      When he heard that people were recommending him, he rolled up his sleeves and got to work. When he finished, before he'd even put away his brushes, some of his underlings oohed and awed and said his calligraphy was like "a dragon flying and a phoenix dancing." One lady even said that the paper he wrote on had "come alive."
      The gentleman was quite pleased with himself. He looked over the people surrounding him and saw a local calligrapher from the older generation, a man who was known to be honest and forthright, standing off to one side not saying anything.
      He asked, "Master calligrapher, sir, what do you think of my work?"
      The old fellow glanced up at the gentleman, then looked directly at the man's calligraphy. After a long while he commented, "Ink's really black!" (Page 31)
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24. Regrets
Crazy Ancient Pride (古傲狂生)
      Four famous authors met one another in Hell and began a lively discussion.
      Shi Nai'an said: "People these days are really screwed up. They've taken the characters in my novel Outlaws of the Marsh and turned them all into brawlers and murderers. No brains at all!"
      Luo Guanzhong said: "That's for sure. They have the characters in Romance of the Three Kingdoms talking about love affairs all over the place. They say it humanizes them. What a farce!"
      Wu Cheng'en [author of Journey to the West] said: "It's the same for me. Nowadays Master Xuanzang and his disciples have become jokers who spout post-modern terminology. I don't understand a word I read."
      Cao Xueqin hadn't said a word through all this, so the others asked him: "Cao, old chap, how're things with your A Dream of Red Mansions?"
      He started to cry: "I'm the most miserable of all. These days the characters in my novel are just a talent show and I don't even get a vote." (Page 228)
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25. Revenge
By Qing Fu (青夫)
      My bitter enemy was terminally ill. I took the opportunity to go get my revenge.
      Back then, he had used his power and influence to steal my fiancée away from me.
      I'd swallowed my pride and lived in shame. I'd left home and drifted, living incognito, roaming to the farthest corners of the world. I'd worked hard and struggled and become a wealthy man.
      With my head held high and my chest puffed up, I went off to where my enemy lived.
      Many mourners surrounded his door. Bursts of a funeral dirge filled the air.
      The widow was caressing the coffin, crying sorrowfully. She took me for a friend or relative come to pay my condolences.
      I accepted the mourning cloth and wore it over my chest. I burned an offering of paper money and made a sacrifice in veneration.
      Calculating a plan to get my revenge, I stepped forward and promised, "I will accept responsibility for the lives of your entire family."
      The widow recognized me and began to cry even more grievously. She led her children by the hand to bow down before me…. (Page 1)
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26. Shaking Hands
Third Master from South Lake (南湖三少)
      Zhang Three was a mortuary worker. He had one wish: that someday he'd be able to shake hands with the leadership.
      One day he got his chance. His cousin was putting on a wedding reception and the bride's father was one of the leaders. Friends and relatives of both families would greet each other and shake hands when they met.
      Who would have thought that, when it was Zhang Three's turn, the leader just smiled broadly and patted him on the shoulder?
      Zhang Three was irate. He firmly believed that the family was afraid his hands were dirty.
      He got drunk as a skunk that evening and, purely by coincidence, ended up at the funeral parlor. He opened up the locker where the bodies were kept and pulled out the hands of the departed. He called out warmly to them, "Mr. Office Manager, Mr. Director, Mr. Assistant Section Chief, Mr. Section Chief….  Come, let's shake hands."
      The humidity in the peaceful quiet under the neon lights moistened Zhang Three's face. (Page 227)
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27. A Warning
Hou Jianzhong (侯建忠)
      Right after they built the first public roadway through the village, Old Man Heh drove his donkey cart on it. He took a nap while riding, trusting his donkey to get along on its own, just as he used to do when it was a dirt road.
      This time, a jeep came up behind him. The driver honked the horn several times, but Old Man Heh didn't wake up. With no way around, the driver decided he had to get out of the jeep and play a little trick on the old fellow. He turned the donkey cart around and headed it back the way it had come.
      The cart had already travelled a long way by the time the old man woke up.
      After he got home and told his family what had happened on the road, he continued with an admonishment: "That kind-hearted fellow reminded me that there are more good people than bad in the world. He showed me that the road is dangerous and you'd better not fall too deep asleep while driving. If you do, things could get all screwed up." (Page 229)



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22. Quitting Smoking
23. Really Black
24. Regrets
25. Revenge
26. Shaking Hands
27. Warning, A

8. Escape
9. Favored
10. Free Treatment
11. Heavenly Match
12. Heaven's Net
13. House
14. Man-Locust

Chinese Mini-Literature, One Thousand Stories (Page 1)
中国迷你文学1000 篇, Principal Eds. Ma Changshan (马长山) and Cheng Siliang (程思良)
Modern Press, ISBN 780244358X, 9787802443587 (Page numbers cited at end of each story)

​​         Chinese Stories in English   

1. Cat's Imaginings, A
2. City Dog
3. Confession, The
4. Diagnosis
5. Doctor E
6. Doom
7. Eccentric, The