Category Archives: Stories and Legends

The Hunter and the Bobcat

The Hunter and the Bobcat

(original story by BoSt)

 

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Once there was a great hunter and his family who lived in a remote part of the Northern wilderness, a long distance from any other lodge and it was seldom that they saw any faces other than those of their own household.

He was nevertheless content living in isolation, for he had a fair wife and two healthy, boisterous sons. Each day they were left in the lodge while he went out hunting in quest of the game whose flesh was their primary source of food.

02

Game was very abundant in those days and his labors in the hunt and chase were often well rewarded. His two sons were still too young to accompany him and so all day long they were free to play make believe and discover things so long as they played within the confines of the lodge.

Observant as they were, they once espied a young man who visited the lodge during their father’s absence, and noted that these visits became more frequent as time went by.

03Brother-and-Sister800--Final-Painting

Curiosity winning over, once the elder of the two asked his mother in all innocence:

“Mommy, tell us who this tall young man is that comes here so often during our father’s absence.  Does the stranger wished to see father, but misses him? Shall we tell father when he comes back this evening so he can delay his departure time just a little?”

“Donquri, you little fool,” said the mother angrily, “this is grown up business, mind your bow and arrows, and do not be afraid to enter the forest in search of birds and squirrels, with your little brother. It is not manly to be ever about the lodge. Nor will you ever grow up to become a warrior if you tell fibs or all the little things that you see and hear to your father. Say not a word to him about this.”

The boys obeyed, but as they grew older and still noticed the visits of the stranger, their gut feeling being ill at ease, they resolved to speak again to their mother.

They now told her that they meant to make known to their father all that they had witnessed, for they frequently saw this young man passing through the woods, and he did not walk in the path, nor did he carry anything to eat. If he had any message to deliver at their lodge, why did he not give it to their father? For they had observed in other cases, that messages were always addressed to men, and not to women.

When her sons spoke thus to her, the mother was greatly perturbed. Fear took hold in her heart and she in great fury admonished them:

“You are still both young and have no real comprehension of things.  Hence, you should not interfere in adult concerns. If you insist with your meddling and cause trouble, I will be forced to be more severe. “She said, “I warn you both, do not speak of this to your father or me ever again!”

In fear they, for a time, held their peace, but still noted that the stranger’s frequent stealthy visits to the lodge persisted, they long at last resolved to brave any consequence and disclose this fact their father. Their loyalty to their father demanded it after all!

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Accordingly, one day when they were out in the woods, by then having grown up and learned to follow the chase, they caught up with their father and quickly told him all that they had seen in the past.

They watched with worrying eyes as the anger manifested on their father’s face then grew unnaturally dark. He remained silent and still for a while, and when at length he looked up there was unholy fire flaming in his pupils.

“It is done!” he said. “My children I ask that you tarry here until the hour of the setting sun, and then come to the lodge and you will find me there.”

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In two shakes of a hat he was at the lodge. The door flew open and he barged right in resembling a big fierce bear ready to tear all about him into smithereens.

But she was seated lone mending some tears in the children’s coats.

“Where is he?” He bellowed.

“Who?” She cried out in fear.

“You know very well who?” He murderously grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her senseless. “You broke your promise… Now I shall not beholden to my promise. I shall vanquish your kind one and all.” He growled at her.

She knew no amount of pleading will be of any use. He was heartless, a brutal hunter that had no compunction about killing entire species and wiping them from the mountains.  On that day he’d cornered her and her younger brother after killing her parents, the two little bobcat pups were shivering with fright.

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He was   about to deal both  a death blow when she had  stood in front of her brother  to protect him and swore by the Great Spirit of the Mountains, that if spared, she would serve this brute without complaint to the end of her days. The Great Spirit had answered her prayers, and turned her into a human. The hunter in turn had promised never to hunt her kind, so long as she stayed away even from her brother and served only him.  Tears streamed from her face remembering that cursed day and all the miserable days after that when she was not free and missed her brother terribly.  Her only solace was that her kind was left alone from then on to thrive and hunt in the mountain whereas all other predators faced extinction without mercy from the Hunter. Some species were hunted to extinction. Meanwhile her brother had grown up among other bobcats that adopted him. Missing his sister terribly, he’d eventually tracked her scent and found her for the bond of kinship was very strong.

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She was fearful for what the Hunter might do if he ever found out; still she could not help herself, for she loved her brother dearly. He called on her frequently and relayed to her all the news about her kind which somewhat mitigated her homesickness.

She pleaded and pleaded with the hunter for his mercy.  But he was bent on revenge and called on the Great Spirit to punish her.  The Great Spirit punished her for violating her promise by turning her into a horrid version of a Bobcat.  And so from then on she was barred from having any contact with her children as well as being shunned by her own kind. She was forced to live a horrible existence for the duration of her natural life, always lurking in the shadows.

Meanwhile, the two ingrate sons, that had more their father’s temperament than their mother’s, remained sporting away the time till the hour for their return had come.

When they reached the lodge the mother was not there. They dared not to ask their father whither she had gone, and from that day forth her name was never spoken again in the lodge.

In the course of time the two boys grew to be men and, although the mother was nevermore seen neither in the lodge nor on the paths in the forest, nor by the river side, she still lingered near the lodge.

Changed, but the same, with ghastly looks and arms that were withered, she appeared to her sons as they returned from the hunt, in the twilight.

08

At night she darkly unlatched the lodge-door and glided in, and bent over them as they sought to sleep. Oftenest it was her bare brow, white, and bony, and bodiless, that they saw floating in the air, and making a mock of them in the wild paths of the forest, or in the midnight darkness of the lodge.

Fuelled with false facts, with outraged bias against her, the sons viewed their mother as a terror that hunted their peace and lives.  They cursed her existence for according to them she made every spot where they had seen her, hideous to the living eye. The hunter never witnessed such; still he was frustrated and grew somewhat weary of his sons’ complaints. Finally his sons were resolved, together with their father, now stricken in years, to leave the country.

They began a journey toward the South. After traveling many days along the shore of a great lake, they passed around a craggy bluff, and came upon a scene where there was a rough fall of waters, and a river issuing forth from the lake.

09

In pursuit of them the mother came out of the woods in the form of a giant, grotesque, rabid bobcat. At this moment, one of them looked out and saw a stately crane sitting on a rock in the middle of the rapids. They called out to the bird, “See, grandfather, how we are persecuted? Come and take us across the falls that we may escape her.”

The crane so addressed was of extraordinary size, and had arrived at a great old age, and, as might be expected, he sat, when first described by the two sons, in a state of profound thought, revolving his long experience of life there in the midst of the most violent eddies.

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When he heard himself appealed to, the crane stretched forth his neck with great deliberation, and lifting himself slowly by his wings, he flew across to their assistance.

“Be careful,” said the old crane, “that you do not touch the crown of my head. I am bald from age and long service and very tender at that spot. Should you be so unlucky as to lay a hand upon it, I shall not be able to avoid throwing you both in the rapids.”

They paid strict heed to his directions, and were soon safely landed on the other shore of the river. He returned and carried the father in the same way; and then took his place once more where he had been first seen in the very midst of the eddies of the stream.

But the woman, who had by this time reached the shore, cried out, “Come, my grandfather, and carry me over, for I have lost my children, and I am sorely distressed.”

The aged bird, now questioning his earlier judgement, at first obeyed her summons, and flew to her side. He was a suspicious sort and seeing how hideous she looked in her grotesque bobcat form, once more doubted her story.  She had to have been an evil spirit in pursuit. She would harm then soon as she crossed the water. And so feeling rather noble he harboured a secret desire to harm this evil spirit and defend them. He carefully repeated the warning, expecting her to disregard it, that she was not to touch the crown of his head. Outwardly he begged her to bear in mind that she should respect his old age, if there was any sense of virtue left in her.

She promised to obey; but they were no sooner fairly embarked in the stream, that instantly the crane cast her into the rapids, and shook his wings as if to free himself of all acquaintance with her.

11

“Why have you wronged me?” She cried as she sunk in the raging stream. The woman disappeared, was straightway carried by the rapid currents far out into the waters, and in the wide wilderness of shore-less depth, without companion or solace, and was lost forever.

“I’m preventing you from harming any other, you foul creature!” He responded very much pleased with himself for doing the noble thing. 

Suddenly however the gust of wind derailed him and unable to find his bearing, he too plummeted into the waters.

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“What a fool!” The hunter gritted his teeth for the loss of such a fine meal. They picked themselves off the ground and trudged along to find some other game to satisfy their growing hunger.

The mountain spirit could stand this injustice no longer, and in one breath, turned the hunter and his sons all to field mouse.

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They deservedly from then on live in fear and hunted by many.

Fin

 

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Why Blackfoot Never Kill Mice

Why Blackfoot Never Kill Mice

(Indian Why Stories- Author Frank Bird Linderman, 1869-1938)

 

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Muskrat and his grandmother were gathering wood for the camp when they came upon an old buffalo skull.  The plains were dotted with these relics of the chase, for already the hide-hunting white man had played havoc with the great herds of buffalo.

 This skull was in a grove of cottonwood-trees near the river, and as they approached two Mice scampered into it to hide. 

Muskrat, in great glee, secured a stick and was about to turn the skull over and kill the Mice, when his grandmother said: “No, our people never kill Mice.  Your grandfather will tell you why if you ask him.  The Mice-people are our friends and we treat them as such.  Even small people can be good friends –remember that.”

All day long the boy wondered why the Mice-people should not be harmed and at dusk he went to War Eagle’s lodge. When he entered he found the other children already assembled there. As soon as he was seated Muskrat sounded the question:

“Grandfather, why must we never kill the Mice-people?  Grandmother said that you knew.”

“Yes,” replied War Eagle, “I do know and you must now know too.  Therefore I shall tell you all about why the Mice-people must be let alone and allowed to do as they please, for we owe them much; much more than we can ever repay. 

“It happened long, long ago, when there were few men and women in the world.  Old-Man was Chief of all then, and the animal-people and the bird-people were greater than our people, because we had not been on earth long and were not wise.

“There was much quarrelling among the animals and the birds.  You see the Bear wanted to be Chief, under Old-Man, and so did the Beaver. Almost every night they would have a council and quarrel over it. Beside the Bear and Beaver, there were other animals, and also birds, that thought they had the right to be Chief.  They couldn’t agree and the quarrelling grew worse as time went on.  Some said the greatest thief should be chosen.  Others thought the wisest one should be the leader; while some said the swiftest traveller was the one they wanted. So it went on and on until they were most all enemies instead of friends, and you could hear them quarrelling almost every night, until Old-Man came along that way.

“He heard about the trouble.  I forget who told him, but I think it was the Rabbit.  Anyhow he visited the council where the quarrelling was going on and listened to what each one had to say.  It took until almost daylight, too.  He listened to it all–every bit.  When they had finished talking and the quarrelling commenced as usual, he said, ‘Stop!’ and they did stop.

“Then he said to them: ‘I will settle this thing right here and right now, so that there will be no more rows over it, forever.’

“He opened his paint sack and took from it a small, polished bone. This he held up in the firelight, so that they might all see it, and he said:

“‘This will settle the quarrel.  You all see this bone in my right hand, don’t you?’

“‘Yes,’ they replied.

“‘Well, now you watch the bone and my hands, too, for they are quick and cunning.’

“Old-Man began to sing the trickster song and to slip the bone from one hand to the other so rapidly and smoothly that they were all puzzled.

Finally he stopped singing and held out his hands–both shut tight, and both with their backs up.

“‘Which of my hands holds the bone now?’ he asked them.

“Some said it was in the right hand and others claimed that it was the left hand that held it.  Old-Man asked the Bear to name the hand that held the bone, and the Bear did; but when Old-Man opened that hand it was empty–the bone was not there.  Then everybody laughed at the Bear.

 

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Old-Man smiled a little and began to sing and again pass the bone.

“‘Beaver, you are smart; name the hand that holds the bone this time.’

“The Beaver said: ‘It’s in your right hand.  I saw you put it there.’

 

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“Old-Man opened that hand right before the Beaver’s eyes, but the bone wasn’t there, and again everybody laughed–especially the Bear.

“‘Now, you see,’ said Old-Man, ‘that this is not so easy as it looks, but I am going to teach you all to play the game; and when you have all learned it, you must play it until you find out who is the cleverest at the playing.  Whoever that is, he shall be Chief under me, forever.’

“Some were awkward and said they didn’t care much who was Chief, but most all of them learned to play pretty well. 

First the Bear and the Beaver tried it, but the Beaver beat the Bear easily and held the bone for ever so long.  

 

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Finally the Buffalo beat the Beaver and started to play with the Mouse.  Of course the Mouse had small hands and was quicker than the Buffalo–quicker to see the bone.  The Buffalo tried hard for he didn’t want the Mouse to be Chief but it didn’t do him any good; for the Mouse won in the end.

“It was a fair game and the Mouse was Chief under the agreement.  He looked quite small among the rest but he walked right out to the centre of the council and said:

“‘Listen, brothers–what is mine to keep is mine to give away.  I am too small to be your Chief and I know it.  I am not warlike.  I want to live in peace with my wife and family.  I know nothing of war.  I get my living easily.  I don’t like to have enemies.  I am going to give my right to be Chief to the man that Old-Man has made like himself.’

“That settled it.  That made the man Chief forever, and that is why he is greater than the animals and the birds.  That is why we never kill the Mice-people.

 

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“You saw the Mice run into the buffalo skull, of course.  There is where they have lived and brought up their families ever since the night the Mouse beat the Buffalo playing the bone game.  Yes—the Mice-people always make their nests in the heads of the dead Buffalo-people, ever since that night.

“Our people play the same game, even today.  See,” and War Eagle took from his paint sack a small, polished bone.  Then he sang just as Old-Man did so long ago.  He let the children try to guess the hand that held the bone, as the animal-people did that fateful night; but, like the animals, they always guessed wrong.  Laughingly War Eagle said:

“Now go to your beds and come to see me to-morrow night.  Ho!”

 

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The End

Fishing

Fishing

 

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A popular idiom, the trick of “passing off fish eyes as pearls,” in a military context refers to, respectively, false and actual manoeuvres. First, the commander offers the enemy some bait, which can be a body of weak troops, poorly guarded provision carts, or a herd of oxen or horses that seem to be unprotected.  At the prospect of sure gain the enemy will advance to swallow the bait.  In this way the able commander has gained initiative by maneuvering the enemy of his own accord and so the victory is assured even before the battle is fought.

Give profit to the enemy to lure it. In warfare, the so-called baiting does not refer to poisoning the enemy’s food.  Instead, any force used to tempt the enemy with the prospect of gain is called a bait army.

 If, during an engagement, the enemy troops scatter oxen and horses, abandon property or jettison supplies, we must not seize them, for that would lead inevitably to our defeat.  The principal goes, “do not swallow the bait army.”

When the enemy comes from far to mount a challenge it aims to entice you to advance. Abandon goods to throw the enemy into disorder, abandon troops to entice it, and abandon fortresses and land to encourage its arrogance.  When it is expedient to apply abandonment, success can hardly be won with too much attachment.

One who is good at manoeuvring the enemy makes the move so that the enemy must make a corresponding move, offers bait so that the enemy must swallow it, or lures the enemy with the prospect of gain and waits for it with one’s main force.

Cao Cao’ s note: entice the enemy with profit , lead it away from its fortress, assume a vantage point, and attack when the enemy is weak and lacking in support.

(Strategy Seventeen in Art of War)

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This excerpt from the Three Kingdoms will demonstrate this principle:

Zhuge Liang vs Sima Yi

 

1-Zhuge Liang observes enemy camp.

Zhuge Liang:  The camps remain the same, and the soldiers are unchanged. But with one glance, I can tell there is a new Grand Commander.

2- Wei Yan asks

Wei Yan: We already have Chenchang in our hands. With the supply lines open, what can Sima Yi do?

Zhuge Liang: You mustn’t think like that. Sima Yi knows the art of war well and is a master of strategy. He is my arch-nemesis.

Wei Yan: Your Excellency, pardon me for my poor understanding, but I really can’t tell how Sima Yi is a master of strategy. In the last northern campaign, your “empty city ruse” scared the wits out of him!

Zhuge Liang: Let me tell you about Sima Yi’s mastery of strategy. Sima Yi does not excel in attacking, but in defending. He is the best defense strategist in the realm.  As for us, we detest their deep ditches, tall ramparts and their other defensive tactics, because time is not on our side, but on their side. Sima Yi hopes that we will attack each and every city by force. At this rate, we won’t arrive at Louyang for another 50 years. Now you should understand that defense is Sima Yi’s strategy. Though it may seem like a foolish move, it’s actually quite wise.

Wei Yan: I understand now. Your Excellency, what is your plan?

Zhuge Liang: If we can’t get rid of Sima Yi, we will never take the Central Plains. We need to lure Sima Yi out and engage him in a decisive battle.  Jiang Wei, how is the enemy’s defense in the cities of of Longxi?

3- Zhuge Liang questions Jiang Wei

Jiang Wei: I have investigated that among the 15 cities of Longxi,  Wudu and Yingping’s defenses are the weakest.

Zhuge Liang: Wei Yan, can you take down Wudu and Yingping?

Wei Yan: Your Excellency, there is no difficulty in capturing two small cities.

Zhuge Liang: Good. However it’s not as simple as just attacking the cities. You know what to do right?

Wei Yan: I do. First besiege without attacking, and then attack without occupying the city. Wait until Wei’s reinforcement’s come.

……………………………

4- Sima-Yi

Sima Yi:  Have you investigated the camp thoroughly? Does Shu really only have 3,000 men?

Reporting Scout: I’ve seen them very clearly.  Shu troops are very few indeed. They might not even amount to 3, 000.

Sima Yi:  Have you investigated the area surrounding the city?

Reporting scout: The Mountains surrounding the city have been investigated, and there are no hidden enemy troops.

Sima Yi: You may leave.

Sima Yi (addressing Generals next):  Since I’ve just assumed command, I am eager to report victory to the Court. Generals, who among you is willing to bring me honor by destroying the Shu army at Wudu?

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General Sun Li: I will go.

Sima Yi: Good Sun Li, you are truly courageous general. I will give you 3,000 men. Here are the conditions- If you seize Wudu, you will be granted riches and noble rank. If you do not, don’t return.

General Sun Li: Yes sir!

6-Sima-Yi gives orders to Guo Huai

Sima Yi: All of you may leave, except Guo Huai.  

Guo Huai; do this task for me, but do not let the other generals know.  Prepare 3, 000 coffins. Sun Li will not be returning. I don’t want their corpses exposed in the wild. Wudu is at the flank of our camp. How would Shu dare to attack the city with only 3, 000 troops? Zhuge Liang is trying to lure me out for an ambush.

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Zhang He: If you already knew that Sun Li wouldn’t succeed, why did you let him go?

Sima Yi: I have no choice. If I don’t send reinforcements and Wudu falls, the troops in the other cities will think I won’t save them when they are besieged. They will falter before the battle even begins, and thus all the neighboring cities will fall. If that comes to be, how will the main camp survive? Sun Li is loyal and brave. Just as mentioned sending reinforcements to Wudu, he eagerly volunteered.

8- Sima Yi's pain

Sima Yi:   Though I could not have explained things openly, the thought that such a courageous general should not return, I…my heart is racked with pain!

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Guo Huai:  Grand Commander, please give me another 3,000 men. I’ll go and support Sun Li’s troops.  I’m sure I can save him.

Sima Yi:  Guo Huai , do you really dare to brave this danger?

Guo Huai:  At worst, it’ll just be another 3, 000 coffins. As a general, I don’t fear death.

10 - Sima Yi's gratitude to Guo

Sima Yi:  Allow me to thank you. Go with peace of mind. I won’t let you die.

Guo Huai: Thank you, Grand Commander.

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………………………………….

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Scout meeting the first contingent: General, Wudu is just 10 miles ahead. Shu troops are attacking the city.

Sun Li:   Scout again. Then addressing the army, Brothers! The time has come for us to demonstrate our loyalty and our might! Follow me!

The way is blocked.

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Wei Yan:  Listen up, I’m Wei Yan. The Prime Minister has instructed me to wait here for you. You petty scoundrels are not my match. Dismount and surrender now.

14

Sun Li:   Wei Yan, I Sun Li specialize in beheading generals! Your life is mine!

Wei Yan:  Shoot them.

(The second reinforcements arrive just in time.)

 

Guo Huai:  General Sun Li! Grand Commander has sent me to save you! Hurry, follow me!

15-Wei-Yan blocks the way

Wei Yan:  The enemy has sent reinforcements! Do not let the enemy generals flee! Charge!

Guo Huai:  General Sun, I’ll bring up the rear!

16- Charge

Sun Li:  General Guo, you came just in time! Fight your way out with me! Charge !

……………………….

17-Zhuge Liang

(Sometime later, Wei Yan reporting back to Zhuge Liang)

 

Wei Yan: Your Excellency, the Wei troops have been routed.

Zhuge Liang:  How many enemy troops did you kill?

Wei Yan:  The Wei general, Sun Li , led 3,000 to rescue Wudu. I killed more than 2,000 of them. I was about to kill Sun Li, but unexpectedly, Vice Commander Guo Huai broke through and rescued him. I didn’t expect there to be another regiment behind the reinforcements.

Zhuge Liang:   Sima Yi guessed my intentions.

Wei Yan:  Your Excellency, why do you say that?

Zhuge Liang:  I had you besiege Wudu and Yinping in order to attack the reinforcements.  A rookie general would have seen right through such a simple ruse.   How would Sima Yi be unable to guess my intentions? If he had chosen to abandon the cities, the Wei troops in the neighbouring cities would lose all hope when we attack them. They might even surrender the cities to us.

Jiang Wei:  However, Sima Yi didn’t abandon them. He sent men to their rescue.

Zhuge Liang:  He sent that boor, Sun Li , to rescue Wudu, and then sent the Vice Commander to rescue Sun Li. The first rescue was clearly a ruse, a show for the Wei troops defending the cities. The second one was the real rescue. But Sima Yi would never lead the reinforcements personally.  We need to lure Sima Yi out and engage him in a decisive battle.

Jiang Wei: That cunning fox, Sima Yi …

Zhuge Liang:   We can’t lure him out without attractive bait.

Wei Yan:   Your Excellency, who should we send as bait?

18-

Zhuge Liang:   Me.   Sima Yi dreams of taking my head.

Wei Yan, return to camp and prepare the troops for battle. Jiang Wei, tomorrow morning send 5,000 men with me to go reassure people of Wudu.

Jiang Wei:  Your Excellency, it’s too dangerous.

Wei Yan:  Your Excellency, if Sima Yi sends all his troops against us, I will not be able to rescue you in time.

Zhuge Liang:  I Understand. Life and death are matters of fate. Return to camp and get ready.

………………………………

19-Spy reporting

(Back at Sima Yi’s command centre)

 

Spy: Grand Commander, Zhuge Liang is leading his troops towards Wudu.

Sima Yi:  Drag this man away and execute him.

Spy:  Grand commander, why do you want to kill me?

Sima Yi:  Because you have reported false information. I truly despise liars.

Spy:  Grand Commander, I am not lying! I saw Zhuge Liang with my own eyes!

Sima YI:  How tall is Zhuge Liang? What was he wearing? Was he riding a horse or in a cart? Who were his guards? How many troops were with him? No hesitating. Reply at once.

20- The spy gives account

Spy:   Zhuge Liang had a feathered fan and silk cap. He sat in a four-wheeled cart, so I could not tell his height.   He was guarded by Jiang Wei, who is just over six spans tall.   They had around 5, 000 men with them. I followed them for more than 20 miles and saw Zhuge Liang enter the city.

Sima Yi:   Indeed, you’re not a liar. On the contrary, you are bold and meticulous. I promote you to colonel and reward you with 3, 000 cash.

Spy: Thank you, Grand Commander! Thank you, sir!

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Guo Huai:  Grand Commander, can this be true? Zhuge Liang left his main camp for Wudu?

Sima Yi:  I’ve studied Zhuge Liang for several years. This man has a habit. He has personally inspected every city, parapet and post that has capitulated to Shu, in order to comfort the officials and the people. I also have heard that Zhuge Liang prefers to handle these matters personally.

Zhang He:  Grand Commander, this is an excellent opportunity to kill Zhuge Liang. Wudu is a small city that’s easy to attack but difficult to defend.   I’ll lead 20,000 elite troops there at once. By dawn, I should arrive at Wudu. Before the end of the day, I will have either killed or captured Zhuge Liang.

Sima Yi:  Though Wudu is a small city, it is surrounded by mountains, even if tens of thousands of soldiers were to hide there, they would be undetectable. Don’t forget, Wei Yan set an ambush there in the past.

Zhang He: Grand Commander, you are absolutely correct. Last time, Zhuge Liang used Wudu as bait. This time, he himself is the bait.

Sima Yi:   Zhuge Liang is so bold.  How impressive. How impressive… If I don’t take his bait, then Zhuge Liang will be like the man who picks up a rock to crush his own foot- Overly brilliant men are often victims of their own cleverness.

Zhang He:   Instead of going after Zhuge Liang, we will attack them from behind- Attack the Shu camps directly!

Sima Yi:   General, your experience in the battlefield shows. You see what truly matters right away. Their supplies and provisions are in the main camp. That is their lifeline. If we use this opportunity to attack and burn the main camp, Zhuge Liang’s army will crumble before us.

22-Zhang He

Zhang He:  Grand Commander, it’s my turn to lead this attack. I volunteer to lead 20,000 elite troops to attack the Shu camp.

Sima Yi:  General, you have served Wei for three generations. Your fame is well-known already. Let someone younger lead this battle.

Zhang He:  I haven’t gone to battle for a long time. My sword is rattling with battlelust in its case, and my entire body is itching for a fight. I must be part of this battle!

Sima Yi:  Please supervise this battle then. You don’t need to kill the enemies personally.

Zhang He:   Attack the camp!

23- Attack on the enemy camp

We’ve been tricked! Retreat quickly!

Zhang Bao:  Charge ! Exterminate the enemy! Do not let their commanding general escape!

Zhang He:  Brothers, we’ll fight our way out!

Zhang Bao:  I’m General Zhang Bao! You are surrounded! Dismount and surrender!

24- Fighing way out

Zhang He:  Coward! Don’t you know that I am Zhang He?

Not even your father, Zhang Fei, was a match for me!

Guo Huai:  General, there are too many enemies! We can’t breatk through!

Zhang He:  Charge that way! Hurry!

………………

25-_Zhuge Liang observes fierce fighting

(Zhuge Liang observing  the situation from far, asks)

 

Zhuge Liang:  Who is fighting against Zhang Bao?

Jiang Wei:  Zhang He.

Zhuge Liang:  That explains it. Even 20 years ago, he was already one of Cao Cao’s top commanders. His bravery today is no less that it was then.

26--Jiang Wei observes the enemy

Jiang Wei:  If that man is not killed, he’ll be a thorn in our flesh. Let me capture him.

27-Zhuge Liang

Zhuge Liang:  The road towards Jiange is just ahead, and is flanked by steep cliffs.

28

 Zhuge Liang:  Take 2,000 archers and set up an ambush.  I’ll have Wei Yan leave an opening and lure Zhang He towards Jiange. Remember, do not let him get out alive

……………………

29_Gloomy place

Zhang He:  What place is this? It’s so gloomy.

30--1200_Final Painting_edited-1

Jiang Wei:  Zhang He! Considering your old age, I will ask you this: Will you surrender or not?

31Defient Zhang He

Zhang He growls in defiance.

 

Jiang Wei:  Shoot them.

32-Ambush---Final-Painting

……………………..

33- Sima-Fishing---Final-_Painting--800

Sima Yi:   I’ve spent so many years of my life fishing that I consider myself an angling master. Yet, I’ve taken Zhuge Liang’s bait.

34 Sima Yi's hopeful interpretation

Sima Yi:  But who in the world would set a hook like this?

The bait is at Wudu, but the hook is in their camp!

35-1200_Final Painting_edited-1

Guo Huai:   There were 37 arrows found in the body of General Zhang He!

36--1200--Final, final_Painting_edited-1

Sima Yi:   Why are you crying? Though General Zhang He fell in battle, the morale of our troops has been resurrected. Did you know? Of the 20,000 elite troops by General Zhang He, not one fled from the enemy. This is our victory! With such strong resolve in our rank the Shu army will certainly be defeated!  Sima Zhao; Slaughter my horse and use its hide to wrap General Zhang He’s body! I will personally lead the whole army to send him off one last time!

37- Funeral procession for Gen Zhang He

Fini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Lips Gone, Teeth are exposed to Cold

With Lips Gone, Teeth are exposed to Cold

(From: Spring and Autumn Annals)

 Re-written by BoSt

01-Horseand-Groom-800_Final-Painting

Long ago, Duke Xian of the state of Jin wished to expand his realm and power; the Duke hence, bade Xun Xi to launch an expedition against the powerful State of Guo. The great distance however was of some concern and the campaign’s success depended on traversing the State of Yu. At the time there was a tentative alliance with Yu so Duke Xian asked Xun Xi for his counsel on this matter.

02-Sovereign-and-Xun-800_Final-Painting-Colorized

“In order to secure Duke Yu’s promise to let our army pass …. Hmm…” Xun Xi remained hesitant for a moment, before resuming, “The surest way My Lord, would be to present Duke Yu with our Chuji Jade and good number of Quchan steeds.”

(Note: Xhuji in Xhanxi Province was famous at the time for producing excellent jade stones and Quxhan in Shanxi Province was renowned for its fine breed of horses.)

03-Horse-and-tamer--800-Final_Painting

“Is there no other way?” The Duke Xian was displeased with the suggestion. “The stone is an inherited treasure and should remain so for the next generations. And the idea of losing my steeds to that loathsome, pompous Lord is quite unacceptable. “Duke Xian grumbled, “Perchance, what if Duke Yu accepted our gift but refused our request, what then?”

Xun Xi braved Lord’s fury with this quick riposte: “Well my Lord, if Lord Yu refuses the fine gifts, we can be certain of his veiled hostility and look elsewhere for the safe passage. If however, his Lordship does accept it, we’d only be allowing his Lordship temporary custody of the treasures. What is there to be worried about?”

Duke Xian nodded with approval and soon after sent Xun Xi to the State of Yu to negotiate the army’s safe passage.  

04-Stone-disk-800_Final-Painting

Xun Xi was quick to gain admittance to the Yu court.  He presented a splendid figure in his fineries holding the large precious stone before him.  Many courtiers gasped witnessing the magnificent steeds that were corralled into the courtyard, dazzling everyone. 

Duke Yu greedy for the fine gifts, was about to make the emissary of Jin Xun Xi a rash promise when one of his loyal subjects, Gong Ziyi, came forward to protest: “My Lord, I beg a private council with you, if you please.”

“What, now?” Duke Yu was annoyed.

“How preposterous an intrusion! Has propriety and good sense left Gong Ziyi” Many courtiers grumbled under their breath.

Nevertheless Guo Ziyi was a well respected, loyal minister and Lord Yu was bit intrigued. He signalled Guo to advance and gave him permission to speak his mind.

Guo Ziyi was most direct. “There shall be no promise of any kind, your Grace.” His strong, resounding voice simply ripped through the stone cold silence that had enveloped the court.

“What Yu is to Guo is like gums to the cheeks. Gums are closely related to cheeks and cheeks to gums; which is exactly the present situation of Yu in relation to Guo. As the old ancestral saying goes, ‘If the lips are gone, the teeth will be exposed to cold.’  The fact that Guo is able to exist depends on Yu while Yu’s ability to survive hinges on Guo.  This inter-dependency will be jeopardized, if we make way for Jin army, allowing Guo to perish.  Their demise will transpire in the morning to be followed by Yu in the evening.”

05-Warring-800-Final-Colorized_Painting

Guo again spoke in good strong voice: “Why should we ever let Jin pass?  Why seek a small gain, only to harm vital interests?”

Duke Yu, however refused to listen to reason and, blinded by greed, in the end still gave the Jin army convenient access to Guo.

Thus Xun Xi attacked Guo and conquered it, and on the way back attacked Yu and conquered it too.

Xun Xi then triumphantly returned to Jin. The jade and the horses were once again restored to Duke Xian who, greatly pleased, said in good humor: “The jade remains the same, but he horses have got some more teeth!”

06-Charge-800-Final-Colorized_Painting

Fin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tulip’s Tale

A Tulip’s Tale

01

The word tulip was first mentioned in Western Europe, in the context of “Turkish Letters” of a diplomat Ogier Ghiselin de Busbercq in about 1554.  This was the time of Ottomans wore typical Turkish tülbend (“muslin” or “gauze”). The correlation between turban and the Tulip flower came about because the tulip in full bloom resembled a turban.  The name Tulip is derived from tulipa or tulipant, tulipe by French and tulīpa in modern Latin.  

02

Did you know that the Tulip can be given as the 11th wedding anniversary flower?  It is said that the tulip’s velvety black center represents a lover’s heart, darkened by the heat of passion.  

Tulips as you well know come in various colors and each carry an important meaning:

Yellow tulips once were associated with jealousy and hopeless love. Lately however, yellow tulips have gained a sunnier disposition; it now represents hope and cheerful thoughts. You may give a yellow tulip bouquet to a good friend as a caring get-well gift. Yellow is also the color of friendship, which makes it great for a just-because floral gift.

04

White conveys forgiveness. White tulips are the flowers to pick for an apology bouquet. You may also include with it some chocolates as a worthwhile gesture to elicit a favorable response.

05

Multi-hued tulips, being the most versatile, can express varied messages to that special someone.  For instance, striped tulips may symbolize a lover’s beautiful eyes, as do tulips with blotched, multicolored petals.

06

Purple represents loyalty. If you want to let her know that she is your queen, choose an arrangement of purple tulips. Purple can also be used to express admiration for a loved one’s accomplishments.

07

Pink flowers express happiness and confidence. This makes them a very good choice when congratulating a friend on a new job or promotion. The flower meaning of pink tulips is the awakening of love. Pink tulips remind me of the lovely little girl in one of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales: Thumbelina.

Thumbelina is a story about a girl who is born from a tulip flower. One day this thumb-sized girl is kidnapped and was carried far, far away. When the destination was finally reached she was then forced to marry a toad.  While in the Toad’s abode however, she comes upon a wounded swallow and with tender loving care, saves him. The ever so grateful swallow, fully recovered, rescues her from her harsh circumstances in return. He then takes her to the Kingdom of Flowers and there she falls in love with and marries the handsome prince of the kingdom. She lives happily ever after.

08

And finally, Red means perfect love and as well, evokes passion and romance. Did you know that in Persia, people give red tulips when they propose? Red tulips have the meaning of eternal love; therefore it’s an ideal choice for expressing deep affections to that someone special.

09

Here’s a Turkish legend that may have contributed to this belief. As the tragic story goes, once a handsome prince named Farhad fell madly in love with a beautiful a maiden named Shirin. Capricious fate however saw to it that Shrin met her untimely demise during the digging of a new replacement well for her village.  When Prince Farhad learned of this he was so overcome with grief that he rode his horse over the edge of a cliff. It’s said that a scarlet tulip sprang up from each droplet of his blood, giving the red tulip the meaning “perfect love.”

10

 Then there is this legend that is told in the Netherlands.

Three knights are enamored by a beautiful girl. Each in turn proposes and presents her with a gift. One gives her a crown which indicates fame. The second one presents her with a mighty sword indicative of power. The third gives her gold which is indicative of property.

The beautiful girl remains in a quandary.  As she cannot choose one over the other, she seeks the Queen of Flower’s help. She pleads with Her Majesty to change her into a flower, and being granted this request, the lovely girl is transformed into a Tulip. Here, as one can see, the crown is the flower, the sword is the leaf, and the gold is the eventual transformation to a bulb.

11

One of the Greek myths is about tulips:

Once, there was a pretty girl named Tulip. One day, the god of autumn while he is about, spotted this enchanting beauty and fell deeply in love. His infatuation grew with each encounter even though she blatantly resisted his declaration of love.

When yet again chancing on her while she was picking flowers he accosted her. She in desperation ran off and sought help from the God of Virginity. Kneeling before Artemis, she pleaded with the Goddess to rescue her from the pesky lover, which the Goddess did … by changing her into a tulip.  

12

Last but not least, here’s a lovely English Folk Tale:

The Tulip Fairies

Once upon a time there was an old woman who lived by herself in a little house. She grew a bed of beautiful multi-colored tulips in her garden, which she would cut and bring into the house, to cheer herself up.

13

One night she was woken up by the sounds of sweet singing and of babies laughing. She looked out of the window and the sounds seemed to be coming from the tulip bed, but she couldn’t see anything.   The next morning she walked among her flowers, but there were no signs of anyone having been there the night before.

14

On the following night she was woken up again by sweet singing and the sound of babies laughing. She rose and stole softly through her garden. The moon was shining brightly on the tulip bed, and the flowers were swaying to and fro. The old woman looked closely and she saw, standing by each tulip, a little fairy mother who was crooning and rocking the flower like a cradle, while in each tulip cup lay a little baby fairy laughing and playing.

15

The old woman was a kind-hearted soul, and so she stole quietly back to her house, and from that time on she never picked another tulip, nor did she allow her neighbors to touch them.

16

The tulips grew brighter in color and larger in size day by day, and they gave off a delicious perfume, like that of roses. They began to bloom all the year round too. And every night the little fairy mothers caressed their babies and rocked them to sleep in the flower cups.

17

Eventually, the day came, as it must, when the good old woman died, and the tulip bed was torn up by people who did not know any better, they didn’t know about the fairies, they didn’t know about the babies, and instead of tulips they planted parsley, but the parsley withered, and died, and so did all the other plants in the garden, and from that time on nothing would grow there.

18

But the good old woman’s grave grew beautiful, for the fairies sang above it, and kept it green – while on the grave and all around it there sprang up tulips, daffodils, and violets, and all the other lovely flowers of spring.

19

The End.

WHY THE CHIMES RANG

WHY THE CHIMES RANG

 (Adapted from Raymond M. Alden-   Re-written by BoSt)

01

 

All acts of kindness however minuscule do not escape the notice of Heaven, even though they may go unnoticed here on Earth.

Once upon a time in a far off land there was a magnificent church set on a hilltop. Tall stained glass windows, placed specifically to catch best angles of the sun’s rays, depicted brilliantly executed religious scenes praising God Almighty’s power and extolling the virtues of the saints. Pious carpenters had painstakingly carved magnificent wooden reliefs above and to the sides of the main entrance. The Church’s most prominent feature however was the gray stone tower with ivy growing over it as far up as the eye can see. In the steeple an array of Christmas chimes was housed.

 

02

 

Every Christmas Eve all the inhabitants of the city, re-enacting an old tradition, flocked to this church bringing with them many offerings to the Christ Child.  Legends told of a time when, after the greatest and best offering was laid on the altar, there arose above the voices of the choir a beautiful sound, emanating from the top of the tower the most divine music of the Christmas Chimes.

 

03

 

Some claimed it had to be the wind that rang them, while other more pious ones believed in their heart of hearts, and exclaimed loudly so,  that it had to be the angels that set the bells  swinging to produce that heavenly  sound.

 

04

 

Then came a time when, however great the offerings were, the chimes never again created blissful melody. As a result people were saddened, feeling there must be something amiss. Yet many Christmases came and went and no chimes were heard.

It so happened that there was an old man living modestly with his wife Madonna, in a ramshackle hut not far from the notable church. This kind old man recalled a time when his mother had spoken to him of hearing the chimes when she was but a little girl.  In her waning years she mourned the fact that people had grown less generous in their hearts with their gifts for the Christ Child.  Love and compassion for their fellow man had diminished; pomp and ceremony, hand in hand with greed and ambition taking root instead.  As a result, when an offering was made without the purest heart and intentions and it became only a show, it did not move the angels and justly did not merit the music of the chimes.  If the old man voiced this mournful insight it unfortunately fell on deaf ears. Everyone dismissed him as a senile old man. When he died some years later his poor old widow Madonna was left to fend for herself in a cruel, cruel world.

 

05

 

In a remote country village a number of miles from the city there lived a boy named Pedro and his little brother Pepito. Their parents had been dead for more than a year and Pedro as the sole provider had done his best to support them.  Pepito had overheard so much about the city’s Christmas celebrations that he pleaded and pleaded with his elder brother to take him to the church.  Not having the heart to say no, Pedro bundled some dry rations, mainly hard bread, a clump of hard, moldy cheese and some grain, in a cloth then tied its ends and slung it over his shoulder. They set out at dawn, both dressed in several layers to escape the bitter, bone chilling cold and skins of water hung at their waists. The day before Christmas was bitterly cold with frigid temperatures plunging below zero and made worse by thrashing winds that whipped and punished any wayward soul who dared venture outside.

 

06

 

For untold hours the boys trudged to cover the great distance to the city. Huddled together, they walked hand in hand bending their backs to brace themselves against the strong winds. The icy drizzle mercilessly chilled them to the very marrow of their bones.  By dusk they were tired, famished and exhausted, almost unable to take another step, yet the lights of the big city now visible just ahead, egged them to soldier on.

 

07

 

Panting, they at long last approached the gates of the city. Fortunately the gates were still wide open, expecting more visitors. As they were about to enter, Pedro spotted something dark on the snow off to the side of the road, and so veered off to take a closer look.   It was a poor beggar woman who had obviously suffered a mishap and fallen into the shallow ditch.  Stranded, she lay there half-dead, too sick and shivering with cold to rise up or call for help. Rushing over, Pedro helped her to sit up and draped his threadbare coat over her shoulders to bring her some warmth. She looked so pale and had difficulty speaking. He helped her take some tentative sips from his water skin. Then, looking up, he addressed his little brother, “It’s no use, Pepito. I can’t leave her in this condition. You go on ahead to the church.”

“Alone?” cried Pepito in a fearful voice.  “No, I can’t.  I can’t let you will miss the Christmas Festival.”

“You are brave, just go on by yourself. I’ll be here when you come back.  I can’t leave her.” Pedro answered sternly. He looked at her face and smiled encouragingly. “Poor old lady, her face looks like the Madonna in the chapel window.”

“Madonna” the old woman opened her tear stained eyes slightly and smiled at Pedro.

 

08

 

“Go on. I can’t leave her in this state; she will surely freeze to death if nobody stays with her.”  Then Pedro reached deep into to his inner pocket and withdrew a treasured object for his little brother to take. Then with the choking sound of disappointment he added: “If you get a chance, little brother, to slip up to the altar without getting in anyone’s way, please take this little copper piece of mine and lay it down as our offering when no one is looking. That way it will be the same as me going there. “

 

09

 

Pepito reluctantly left Pedro with a heavy heart.  The great church was truly a magnificent place that night. The decorations, lights and glitter, all the displays, riches he’d never seen the like of before simply took his little breath away. A small urchin like himself was virtually invisible amidst the procession as they took their gifts for the Christ Child to the altar.

 

10

 

Some worshipers laid down wonderful jewels; some gave baskets with massive amounts of gold so heavy they could scarcely carry them down the aisle.  A famed author laid down his prized work, a book he had, after many years, just completed.  

 

 

Then the King appeared in all his majesty hoping, like the least petitioner, to win for himself the music of the Christmas chimes. A great murmur rippled through the church as the people witnessed the King taking his priceless golden crown, set with diamonds and rare precious gems, from his head and laying it to  gleam on the alter as his offering to the Christ Child.

 

13

 

“Surely, “They intoned in unison, “Surely we shall hear the bells now.” But the chimes did not ring. Not even a whimper was heard.  When the gifts were all on the altar, the choir began the closing hymn.

 

14

 

The disappointed crowd grumbling under their breath slowly began to disperse. Suddenly the organist stopped playing, and everyone looked aghast at the old Priest, who was holding up his hand for silence.  

“What’s this?”

 

15

 

When the people strained their ears there came resonating through the air, softly but distinctly, the heavenly music of the chimes in the tower!

The divine music seemed so far away and yet so clear.  The notes were so much sweeter than any sound they had ever heard.  Melody rising and falling in the sky was so entrancing that the people in the church held their breath and stood perfectly still.

 

16

 

Then they all stood up together and stared at the altar, wanting to see what great gift had awakened these long-silent chimes. But all the nearest of them saw was the figure of Pepito, who had crept softly down the aisle, perfectly unseen and placed Pedro’s little piece of copper on the altar.

The End

 

17

Merry Christmas  Everyone

 

18

Besting the Ghost

Besting the Ghost

By BoSt

01

To fall in love with someone special and then plan to share a life time with them through a bond of marriage is ideal. Often however considerations other than love come into play in marriages.  In fact, it is still the custom for families in many countries to have an arranged marriage in order to augment political or economic status.  But I digress.  Let us just say, in the olden days this arranged marriage business was often the norm.

02

There was once a young couple who, after pomp and ceremony, settled in to live comfortably in a fine house with lots of land at the edge of town. As beloved children their families had seen to it that the couple would be compatible before they were married. Unfortunately many hidden vices surfaced after the marriage to disrupt their harmony. In time they were no more than two strangers barely speaking to each other but still living under one roof for the sake of appearances.

03

They thought they would be miserable forever, if only there were children to bridge this growing gap. But fate had other designs and before long, the couple’s strained but seemingly mundane life was seriously rocked with the onset of a grave illness that beset the young wife. Finally, after failed attempts to cure her, on the verge of expiring, the wife whispered to her husband in his feigned distress: “Dear husband, despite all your bad characteristics I still love you very much… Alas our time together was so cruelly interrupted.” She gasped a painful breath before resuming, “But marriage should be forever, here and in the hereafter…Promise me, after I leave you do not hasten from me to another woman. If you do, I shall find no rest and shall certainly return as a ghost and cause you endless trouble.”

04

Soon after this implied threat, the wife passed away. The husband at first respected her last wish and stayed celibate for some time, three months and two days to be exact.  But then the loneliness drove him to seek the company of another. Chancing on an exquisite beauty at a small gathering, he became smitten at once. At first he observed her from afar in other social gatherings, and then he pushed for an introduction and gained a chance to converse with her. She was every bit as intelligent and artistic as she was beautiful. He could not help but fall deeply in love with her.  This time through his own will they became engaged to be married. Immediately after the engagement party however a ghost appeared in his quarters that very night and continued on every night after that, with accusing words and gestures, blaming him for his breach of promise.  The ghost was determined and angry as she related exactly what transpired between him and his new fiancé. Whenever he gave his new beloved a present or a token of their love, the ghost would describe in detail the particulars.  She related, word for word all their private conversations. This so perturbed him that he suffered from a persistent case of insomnia. One of his close confidents advised him to take this problem to the local priest who lived in a seminary close to his home.  He resisted this notion at first but as the problems persisted, he at long last went to the Priest seeking his help.

05

“Your former wife became a ghost and knows everything you do,” thoughtfully commented the Priest. “Whatever you do or say, whatever you give your fiancé, she knows of, you say? Hmm. She must be a very wise ghost.  Really you should admire such a resourceful apparition.  Here’s an idea; the next time she manifests, try bargaining with her. Tell her that, since she is so knowledgeable, you can obviously hide nothing from her and that if she can answer you one question, you will promise to break off the engagement immediately and content yourself thereafter to remaining single. “  

“What is the question I must ask?” inquired the man.

“The Priest smiling replied: “Take a large handful of rice and ask her exactly how many grains of rice you hold in your hand. I she cannot tell you, you will know that she is only a figment of your imagination and upon this realization your trouble with the ghost should be no more.”

On the subsequent night, when the ghost again manifested, the man at first flattered her and told her that he was overawed that she knew everything.

“Indeed,” replied the ghost,” and furthermore, I also know that you went to see that Priest today.”

“I relent; but since you know so much,” demanded the man, “pray tell me how many grains of rice am I holding in my hand?”

There was no answer. The apparition simply vanished and from then on he saw no more ghost.

06

The End