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《Chinese Tales for Everyone__Real and Imaginary:(31) An Ultimate Desire, (32) Tall Hats 》__ Kong Shiu Loon (53)

Tales Real and Imaginary

(31)An Ultimate Desire

Once upon a time, a man encountered an old friend who had acquired supernatural abilities. He was an immortal (神仙)

The man told his friend that he was in great hardship, having not enough money for food and shelter. The immortal was moved to help. He pointed to a rock by the roadside with his index finger. It turned into a brick of pure gold.

The man received the extraordinary gift, but he wanted more.

The immortal then pointed to a stone lion carving to turn it into a gold lion for his friend. Still, the latter was not satisfied.

“What else can I give you to meet your ultimate desire?” asked the immortal.

The man answered, a bit hesitantly: “I’ll be satisfied having your index finger.”

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Note: This is an English narration of an allegory in the book笑府(House of Laughter). It denotes that human desires have no limit.

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Tales Real and Imaginary

(32)Tall Hats

Putting a tall hat on some one has been known as flattering him in Chinese culture. Even those who are seen as holding high moral principles could scarcely resist receiving an honour or praise that comes without effort.

Once, a man who was going to assume a high office in the Capital visited his former teacher to say adieu.

The teacher was very pleased. He advised: “You must be very careful in conducting yourself; a high office in the Capital is full of interpersonal struggles.”

“Thank you for your advice, sir. But I am well prepared. I have designed 100 tall hats to appease people, regardless of how they treat me. I believe flattery can conquer people, good or evil.”

“What a sly person you have become!” the teacher exclaimed in anger, “You must remember the high moral principles that I have taught you, and be a righteous officer.” he added.

“I will remember your words, sir,” the student replied, “However, it is the reality in officialdom that very few people would refuse flattery and praise. Everyone likes a tall hat on his head. There simply are very few people as highly principled as you, sir.”

“You are so right.” said the teacher with a smile, “I wish you well in your new position in the Capital.”

Reaching home, the student told his wife: “I have now 99 tall hats left.”

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Note: This is an English narration of an allegory in the book笑林新雅》(New Additions in the Laughter Woods). It shows the powers of flattering. The original expression of 載高帽 is widely used in daily affairs since.

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