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《Chinese Tales for Everyone__Real and Imaginary: (30) Three Dead Thieves》__ Kong Shiu Loon (53)

(30) Three Dead Thieves
 
One day long ago, a father and his thirteen-year-old son were hiking on a hill.

It was a sunny day with a blue sky stretching far and wide.

As they approached a cave, they saw three corpses. Two were lying at the edge of the cave, face down. Inside the cave, one was killed with a knife. There was a bag of money beside an empty wine jar.

The father said: “These bad thieves must be struck down by lightening. They deserved it, being vile.”

“It does not seem so simple, Dad.” The son conjectured.

“You always have a story to everything.”

“Didn’t you see the one inside the cave was killed by a knife?

“So I see,” said the father, urging his son to reason what had happened.

“Well, the three thieves had stolen the bag of money. They came to this cave to divide the root. But, two of them asked the third one to go to town to buy wine so they could celebrate. When he came back with the wine, they killed him so they could divide the money between them.”

“Then why did the two die, and facing down?” the father asked.

“Quite simple.” said the son, taking his time to construct the story.

“Thieves are what they are. They don’t trust each other. Moreover, they are very greedy.” He continued.

“Just tell the story and don’t beat around the bushes.”

“Wait, Dad.” The son continued, “The thief who was sent to fetch the wine suspected that he would be killed as soon as he got back. But he too was greedy. He wanted to have all the money for himself.”

“So?”

“So, he bought a jar of the most poisonous wine for his friends to drink.”

“I still don’t get the point!” said the father.

“Simple. The two thieves drank to celebrate after they had killed their friend. They did not know the wine was poisonous. They ended up dead, probably dancing happily until the poison took effect. That is why they were lying face down.”

The father nodded smiling, being satisfied with having a son so imaginative and inspiring.
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Note: This is an English retelling of a tale from the book《新羅書》of the Silla Dynasty. The original tale taught children about the vile and greedy nature of thieves.
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