A Peking winter dismays and depresses me: the thick snow on the ground and the bare trees’ ashen branches thrusting up towards the clear blue sky, while in the distance one or two skies are floating. At home, the time for kites is early spring. When you hear the whirr of a wind-wheel, you raise your head to see a grey crab-kite or a soft blue centipede-kite. Or there may be a solitary tile-kite, without wind-wheel and flown too low, looking pathetically lonely and forlorn. By this time, though, the willows on the ground are putting out shoots, and the early mountain peaches have budded. Set off by the children’s fancy-work in the sky, together they make up the warmth of spring. Where am I now? All round me dread winter reigns, while the long-departed spring of my long-forgotten home is floating in this northern sky.Yet I never liked flying kites. Far from liking kites, in fact, I detested them as playthings of good-for-nothing children. My young brother was just the reverse. He must then have been about ten, often fell ill and was fearfully thin, but his greatest delight was kites. Unable to buy one and forbidden by me to fly one, he would stand for hours at a time, his small lips parted in longing, gazing raptly at the sky. If a distant crab-like suddenly came down, he would utter a cry of dismay; if the strings of two tile-kites became disentangled, he would jump and skip for joy. This struck me as absurd and contemptible.One day it occurred to me I had not seen much of him lately, but I had noticed him picking up bamboo sticks in the backyard. The truth dawned on me in a flash. I ran to a small deserted store-room and, sure enough, as I pushed open the door, I discovered him there in the midst of the dusty debris. He had been sitting on a foot-stool in front of a big square stool; but now, standing up in confusion, he changed colour and shrank back. Propped up against the big stool was the bamboo framework of a butterfly-kite, not pasted yet with paper; while on the stool lay two small wind-wheels for the butterfly’s eyes, which he had just been beautifying with red paper. This work was nearly done. I was pleased to have found out his secret; but furious that he could deceive me so long, while he toiled so singly-heartedly to make the toy of a good-for-nothing child. I seized the framework at once and broke one of its wings, then swept the wheels to the ground and trampled on them. In size and strength he was no match for me; so of course I came off completely victorious. Then I stalked out proudly, leaving him standing in despair in that little room. What he did after that I neither knew nor cared.But retribution came to me at last, long after our parting, when I was already middle-age. I was unlucky enough to read a foreign book on children, from which I learned for the first time that play is a child’s best occupation, and playthings his good angels. At once this childhood tyranny over the spirit, forgotten for more than twenty years, came to my mind; and that instant my heart seemed to turn to lead and sink heavily down and down.My heart did not break; it simply sank down and down.I knew how I could make it up to him: give him a kite, approve of his flying it, urge him to fly it, and fly it with him. We could shout, run, laugh! … But by this time he, like me, had long had a moustache.I knew another way I could make it up to him: go to ask his forgiveness, and wait for him to say:”But I didn’t blame you at all.” Then, surely, my heart would grow lighter. Yes, this way was feasible. There came a day when we met. The hardships of life had left their marks on our faces, and my heart was very heavy. We fell to talking of childhood happenings, and I referred to this episode, admitting that I had been a thoughtless boy. “But I didn’t blame you at all,” I thought he would say. Then I should have felt forgiven, and my heart would henceforth have been lighter.“Did that really happen?” he smiled incredulously, as if he were hearing a tale about someone else. It had slipThe thing was completely forgotten, with no hard feelings. In that case, what forgiveness could there be? Without hard feelings, forgiveness is a lie.What hope is there for me now? My heart will always be heavy.Now the spring of my home is in the air of these strange parts again. It carries me back to my long-departed childhood, and brings with it an indefinable sadness. I had better hide in dread winter. But clearly all about me winter reigns, and is even now offering me its utmost rigour and coldness.