Chinese Fable Stories – The Dream

















The Dream

There was once a doctor who was very strict with his students. One day, a student committed a breach of discipline. Pulling a long face, the proctor sent for the offender, and sat himself in a chair to await his arrival. The student finally appeared, and, kneeling before the proctor, said, “I meant to come earlier. But the fact is I have just found a thousand ounces of gold and I’ve had a hard time deciding how to dispose of it.”

The proctor melted a little when he heard about the gold. “Where did you find it?” He asked.

“Buried under the ground!”

“And what are you going to do with it?” asked the proctor again.

“I was a poor man,” answered the student. “I have talked it over with my wife and we agreed to put aside 500 ounces to buy land, 200 for a house, 100 to buy furniture and another hundred to buy maidservants and pages. Then we’ll use one half of the last hundred to buy books, for from now on I must study hard, and the other half I will make as a small present to you for the pains you took in educating me.”

“Ah! Is that so! I didn’t think I have done enough to deserve so precious a gift,” said the proctor.

So saying, he ordered his cook to prepare a sumptuous dinner to which he invited the student. They had a happy time, talking and laughing and toasting each other’s health. Just as they were getting tipsy, the proctor had a sudden thought.

“You came away in a hurry,” he said. “Did you remember to lock the gold away in a cabinet before you came?”

The student rose to his feet. “Sir, I had just finished planning how to use the money when my wife rolled against me, and I opened my eyes to find the gold was gone. So what’s the use of the cabinet?”

“So all this you’ve been talking about is only a dream?” gasped the proctor.

“Indeed, yes,” answered the student.

The proctor was angry, but since he had seen so hospitable to the student, it would have seemed churlish to lose his temper with him now, so he contented himself with saying, “I can see you keep me in mind even when you are dreaming. Surely you won’t forget me when you really have the gold?”

And he urged him to more drinks before he let him go.

Stories by Xue Tao

(杨宪益、戴乃迭 译)

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