FICTION

The Egg of Wisdom

DAGVAR February 1 1935
FICTION

The Egg of Wisdom

DAGVAR February 1 1935

The Egg of Wisdom

FICTION

DAGVAR

IN THE YEAR of the Spotted Unicorn, there lived in China a very poor man named Wu-chow. He had no buffaloes with wide horns to plow his rice fields: neither had he any rice fields to plow. He did not even have a lantern to take part in the Dragon Festival. And when the day came in the third moon of the year on which to honor his ancestors, Wu-chow had no pink paper streamers to adorn their tombs. He could not leave them so much .as a bowl of boiled rice save at the price of his own hunger. In all China there was no man so poor as Wu-chow.

Many a time the Gold Rooster flew up into the sky at dawn; and as many times flew down again at night. But Wu-chow was as poor as ever. In rags, bareheaded, he went about seeking work from others, and doing it successfully because he was endowed with hands. He slept under bridges. When he awoke on cold mornings he stretched, beat his hands against his sides, and said aloud: “I wish the gods would give me riches.” But each morning he was as cold and hungry as before.

One morning when Wu-chow awoke and yawned, shivering, he heard voices near him. He crept up and peered through the bushes. Two old men with pointed ears were sitting on the bank of the lake, a green jade teapot between them. Then Wu-chow rememlx'red that he had gone to sleep beside the Lake of the Two Friendly Dragons. The old men drank tea and fanned themselves with fans, one black and one vermilion, on which were strange characters in gold. They looked as though many things were known to them. At last one of them spoke. Wu-chow hid behind a bush and listened.

“O my companion of wise counsel,” said the old man with the red fan to the other, "have you heard of ixx>r Wu-chow?” "Of course I have heard of poor Wu-chow. He sleeps under bridges. Only this morning he awoke shaking from cold and hunger like a reed in the wind. But why, O my companion worthy of being pleasant with, do you ask me of ixx)r Wu-chow?”

"Because, O my companion of wise counsel, he is hiding near us behind a tree listening to our words, too frightened to run away.”

They both began to laugh, with a sound like dried peas shaking in a pod. And Wu-chow, frightened at their strange speech, started to run away. But they shouted after him: “Come back, Wu-chow!”

He came back and fell on his face before them.

"Get up, Wu-chow,” said the old men, "and sit down with us.”

YYTU-CHOW sat down close to the green jade teapot.

V * "Know, Wu-chow, we are the Dragons of the Lake. And the keepers of the Bowl of Ten Thousand Unparalleled Blessings. Many gifts are ours to give. Ask what you will.” Wu-chow kowtowed to the ground, not daring to raise his eyes to them.

"I would like riches, O venerable Dragons,” he said, trembling at his own boldness. "A house and a rice field, that I may never be cold or hungry again.”

'Ehe old men looked at each other.

“O my companion of wise counsel,” said the old man with the red fan to the other—and he turned about in his hands a great egg of wood, of the yellow of bright sunshine, and smiled—“if poor Wu-chow had wisdom, he would not expect happiness from riches. Is it not so?”

"True, O my companion worthy of being pleasant with. But since he has asked, it must lye granted. Now go your way, Wu-chow. Beyond the woods you will find servants awaiting you with a palanquin. Sit in it and say, ‘Carry me to my house’.”

Poor Wu-chow bowed low, too overcome to speak. He walked through the wood, wondering if this were a dream and he had not yet really wakened from his night’s sleep. But beyond the wood, servants were really awaiting him with a palanquin adorned with gilt and hung with curtains of tasselled silk. Wu-chow trembled so he could hardly seat himself in it; and his voice trembled as he tried to say firmly: ‘‘Carry me to my house.”

They brought him to a palace such as he had never dared even to dream of. It was laughing with colors, and its gilt made the eye glad. Over the windows were lyearl-shell and fish-scale shutters to soften the harsh light of day in the rich rooms. On the roof-tiles at every corner were warriors with drawn swords, and lions and tigers with open mouths, to slay and devour all the evil spirits which tried to approach. Surely the luck of such a house could never be molested; and ever fortunate must lye the one who dwelt therein.

Wu-chow entered the richly carven doorway and struck a gong loudly. A servant hastened with humble obeisance to bring him all kinds of delicious foods, the very odors of which tickled one’s nostrils with pleasant promises. W hile he ate, Wu-chow looked about him and marvelled at the embroideries on the walls, the jade, the ebony and the carved ivory.

W hen he had eaten all he could—for the first time in his life—the servant brought him a long pipe. And Wuchow smoked and dreamed until he was like one drunk with his new possessions.

XTEXT MORNING Wu-chow put on the most exquisitely embroidered silken garments and went out into the garden. White blooming plum trees greeted him with their perfume; the peach blossoms trembled in the morning breeze like pink butterflies. A slender red lacquer bridge humped over the curving pool. Golden carp swam slowly about among the blooming lotus lilies. Only once before had Wu-chow seen a garden so marvellous—on the great porcelain vase in the Temple of Kwan-yin. A humble servant followed his master with a little red umbrella to keep the sun’s rays from burning him.

“The Garden of Morning Meditations” was the name Wu-chow gave to his garden. And he spent in it all the hours from morning until the evening afterglow when shadows began to enfold the earth.

In the morning he meditated on deep and serious matters; on the Scroll of Nine Thousand Sayings of Conspicuous Wisdom of the Three Wise Men of the

Jade Mountains. Wu-chow committed them to the cablets of his mind, and meditated that he might know how to apply them when occasion arose.

But in the evening when the earth, tired from the day, breathed forth soft mists, Wu-chow left his meditations and took his flute of bamboo. And, seated under a crooked, spreading plum tree, he played. And the nightingale that lived in the garden sang with him.

Thus tranquilly did Wu-chow enjoy the honor and dignity of his riches. The path to his gate was well worn—a rich man, even if he lives on a mountain top, will always have poor relations. And Wu-chow gave bountifully. Also, many came to ask his advice—for a man with money always sj)eaks wisely.

Many times the Golden Rooster flew up into the sky in the morning and looked on Wu-chow's riches; and as many times flew down again at night. So his days rolled by like the unhurried turning of a water-wheel in the canal in the rice field.

Until Wu-chow found that the Sayings of Conspicuous Wisdom were indelibly printed on the tablets of his mind, and he had meditated on everything under the sun. Neither did his riches delight him any more. For the colors of his house, from much looking upon them, had become less brilliant; and his costly food, from much tasting of it, had become no better than boiled rice for, to a full man, even honey is not sweet. And the worm of discontent began to gnaw at the root of his tranquillity.

He might have engaged himself in the earning of many more taels of wealth. But he had enough. When he was ixx)r there was always rest and a full rice bowl to look forward to and songs of content after the day’s work. But now all days were alike; his rice bowl was always full. And because he could sing at any time, he had no wish to sing at all. He threw his bamboo flute in the lotus pond. And the emptiness of his life was heavier, far heavier, than the burden of his jx)verty had been.

AT LAST Wu-chow decided to unloosen his spirit and let it join his ancestors, at the Yellow Springs. So he took his way through the woods to the Lake of the Two Friendly Dragons to cast himself in.

The two old men with pointed ears and red eyes were still sitting on the bank with the green jade teapot between them. They fanned themselves with their fans covered with strange golden characters, and spoke of many things. Wu-chow did not like to interrupt; so he sat down behind a bush and waited.

“The crickets chirped at dawn today,” said the old man with the red fan, staring at the lake.

“A pink-toed mouse ran past this morning carrying rice,” said the other. “It means some great happiness is coming to someone today.”

Then Wu-chow listened, for he heard his name.

“O my companion of wise counsel,” said one of the old men, fanning himself with the red fan, “have you heard anything about the rich Wu-chow?”

“Of course, O my companion worthy of being pleasant with. He has committed to the tablets of his mind all the Sayings of Conspicuous Wisdom of the Three Wise Men of the Jade Mountain, and has become venerably wise. Even now he is sitting behind a bush listening to us. . . Why do you hide from us, Wu-chow? Come here and tell us if you are happy in your happiness?”

Wu-chow came out and bowed low to the two old men.

“I greet you, O Dragons worthy of much respect. It is true that I hid myself from you. For I am ashamed. That in my incomparable stupidity I have not found happiness in the gift of riches which your incomparable wisdom bestowed on me.”

"Did I not say, O my companion of wise counsel,” said one of the old men turning to the other—and he still held in his hands the egg of wood which was now the color of young green leaves—“did I not say that if Wu-chow had wisdom, which is the shell of truth, he would not ask riches for happiness?”

“True, O my companion worthy of being pleasant with.

For what is the pleasure of riches but hoar frost on the tiles under the morning sun? But know, O Wu-chow, many gifts are still in our power to give. What do you now wish for happiness?”

“Nothing, O venerable Dragons. All has been given me.”

“Perhaps you would wish poverty again, O Wu-chow.”

“No, O Dragons worthy of much respect. For once having tasted riches, poverty would now be too bitter. Moreover, what could I hope for—knowing, as I do, that the riches I used to dream of do not bring happiness? What is there to desire?”

The Dragons looked again at each other, and fanned themselves with their strange fans.

“Three gifts we shall give you, O Wu-chow, that the incomparable wisdom of all our deeds may be made clear to all. You wish something to desire? You shall desire.”

The old men tossed some tea from their little cups on to

Continued on page 43

The Egg of Wisdom

— Continued from page 17—Starts on page 16 —

the reeds beside the lake. A puff of smoke arose, and when it drifted away, there sat a green crow with red eyes. Fie flew over and sat upon Wu-chow’s shoulder. And the old men spoke thus:

“Tomorrow is the Feast of the Dragon, Wu-chow. Take this green crow with you to the festival. Seek throughout its length and breadth. And what the green crow indicates, that look upon. And you will find that which will fill the emptiness of your heart.”

Wu-chow bowed low to the Dragons and walked back through the woods, the green crow upon his shoulder.

THE NEXT morning at dawn he was awakened by the sound of firecrackers which ushered in the happy Feast of the Dragon. The heart of all China was glad. Even the servants smiled as they ran to do his bidding and laughed over their work, anticipating the hour when they could join the festival. Yet Wu-chow’s heart was as heavy as ever.

But, as the Dragons had ordered, in the afternoon he called for his palanquin, dressed himself in his richest robes, placed the green crow on his shoulder, and set out for the city where the Feast of the Dragon was held.

The roadway was crowded with people, all on their way to the festival. Men walked on the right side, women on the left, stepping behind each other as closely as geese fly after each other in a row. Wu-chow’s palanquin was carried in the middle of the roadway, and the people he passed kowtowed before its magnificence as if he had been some great mandarin.

When he reached the festival, Wu-chow left his palanquin and walked about, the green crow on his shoulder. Fie walked among the sweetmeat sellers, and the sellers of mincemeat balls and the sellers of round moon-cakes. He walked among the dancing girls, and the jugglers and the acrobats. He looked upon the flyers of kites, dragon kites and bird kites. And everything the green crow looked upon, too, with its red eyes. But it gave no sign.

Finally, when the afternoon was growing short and the shadows were growing long, Wu-chow went a little apart from the crowd, wearied by the noise of the firecrackers, and sat down in the shade, with the green crow upon his shoulder.

As he sat resting, nibbling a mincemeat ball which he was not hungry enough to eat, a palanquin passed him with curtains of coral jade. The bearers carried it lightly, so that it was plain it was either empty or the one within was of a weight too slight to notice. But Wu-chow paid little heed.

Hardly had the palanquin reached them, however, than the green crow suddenly left Wu-chow’s shoulder, flew to it and darted between the coral curtains. As instantly he darted out again and, flying back, dropped a tiny dragon of carved ivory on a broken gold chain at Wu-chow’s feet.

At the same instant, as if trying to catch the thieving bird, a little hand thrust the coral curtains apart, Wu-chow picked up the dragon, and with low obeisance approached the palanquin to restore it. Not looking up at the curtainsthough it was the time of the Dragon Festival and therefore permitted. Not until he stood before them, with triple obeisance, to restore that which was stolen, and a tiny hand aching with weight of rings reached out for the trinket. Then he looked up.

Wu-chow’s lips spoke— but his heart had only eyes. Elven when the coral curtains closed and the coolies moved on into the stream of many palanquins that thronged the highway, Wu-chow only stood and stared. Then he awoke suddenly to the fact that she had gone— and he had not even found out her name. Not that he could have asked her, but a piece of silver would have

loosened the tongue of a coolie. Fie looked hastily about, but the green crow had gone, too. And it was impossible to find alone the j palanquin of the coral curtains among so I many. . . After a time Wu-chow gave it : up, called his own palanquin and went home. I

HE NEXT DAY Wu-chow returned j again to the festival. From the acrobats to the kites, from the kites to the mincemeat sellers, from the mincemeat sellers to the cockfighters, he went seeking. And some he questioned. To the barber and embellisher of pigtails by the three-tiered pagoda, he spoke, for the barber must know many customers.

“The jewel in the Flower of the Lotus,” said Wu-chow. “Fier brows are like two willow leaves above a shining ixx>l—”

“Ah,” said the fat barber but recently married. “Tell me, when did you see my wife unveiled?”

Wu-chow made polite protest.

‘A ou could not otherwise have described her so accurately,” insisted the barber. “Even a single glance would hardly suffice for so perfect a description.”

Wu-chow saw that argument would be useless.

“A tranquil life and a painless death,” he said with low obeisance, and went hastily away.

After a time he saw a man with a grey beard watching the festival of the kite flying, a little apart. And because he seemed to know many people and spoke pleasantly to many, of him Wu chow enquired.

“Mothlike eyebrows of moonlight beauty . . . her hands like lily petals jewelled with dew. . . ”

“And how is it possible, impertinent stranger, that you should have glimpsed my ¡ daughter, who passed here yesterday already j locked in her marriage chair?”

In vain did Wu-chow protest.

“Your own words have convicted you. Flave you not painted me her picture as you spoke? If she had not already passed from my family into her husband’s—”

Wu-chow backed away with polite obeisance.

“May your path be flattened before your feet,” he said, and took hasty departure.

Yet again did Wu-chow, driven by grief at his loss, make question for the maiden he had seen.

“Aie!" said the man. “Now I see why my favorite concubine had no wish to come to the festival with me yesterday. Would you have me believe it was the first meeting— when she knew so carefully how to plan it? If you wish to buy her, of course. . . ” He moved nearer and his face lighted at the prospect of trade.

But Wu-chow found sudden business elsewhere.

“Grow large in hope,” he said politely. And, bowing many times, he shook hands with himself and hurried away.

He asked no more questions. But every day he came and wandered about the festival, yet not a glimpse of the palanquin with the coral curtains rewarded him.

Each evening for six days Wu-chow sat in his garden and thought of nothing but the girl he had lost. For six days he took neither a swallow of water nor a handful of rice. He would have died of hunger and thirst if, on the seventh day, he had not become angry with the nightingale which still sang in the crooked plum tree over his head. Wu-chow climbed the tree to tear down its nest and drive it out. And as he did so, he looked over the wall into his neighbor’s garden.

The daughter of his neighbor, the beauti-1 fui Tao-li, was plucking flowers in the garden. Her eyebrows were two willow leaves above pools of delight. Fier hands moved j like white lily petals. FYom her neck hung j a tiny dragon of carved ivory. And when j she turned, Wu-chow saw that it was indeed the maiden he had lost. ¡

HE DID NOT tear down the nightingale’s nest. Instead, he climbed down from the tree and with his own hands searched his flute out of the lotus pool. He seated himself under the crooked plum tree and played the song of his loneliness. It was so melancholy that even the nightingales came near to listen.

The beautiful Tao-li waved her fan, and sighed.

Then Wu-chow remembered the story of how the gnat was made chief mandarin of the flies, and played a song so gay that it set the whole garden to quivering with mirth.

The beautiful Tao-li laughed. And went away.

Wu-chow shut himself up in his house, and sat from morning until evening drawing with a fine brush on white fans the most beautiful words he knew about the joy and pain of those who are in love. It seemed to liim that he painted, not with ink, but with the blood of his own heart.

Once he sent a fan with the most exquisite of his heart’s poems to the beautiful Tao-li.

“Looking from my window I consider—

That a man without woman Is like a flower—naked Without its leaves.”

She read it and laughed.

“It is a beautiful fan,” she said. And sent the bearer away.

Wu-chow ordered his servants to burn his poems, and never touched brush or paper again.

Once he went into his neighbor’s garden and met the beautiful Tao-li fluttering down the path, stepping in her tiny slippers like small green silk almonds. He bowed low to her.

“Tell me, Tao-li, would I make a good husband?”

“Yes, Wu-chow. You are trustful. You would make a good husband.”

Wu-chow bowed his head in submission. “Then be my wife.”

“I will think it over,” laughed Tao-li carelessly. And went away.

The moments in which she thought were no longer than it takes a lark to swallow a grasshopper ; but to Wu-chow each moment seemed as long as it takes a turtle to crawl a li. But at last she came to him and said : “I will be your wife, Wu-chow.”

THEN WERE the go-betweens called.

Then did they hasten back and forth busily for the space of time suitable to the dignity of Wu-chow and the beauty of Taoli. It was a moon-to-moon business, for many things were asked and many things were answered. At last Wu-chow’s gift of two grey geese sealed the marriage bargain with the family of Tao-li.

Then was the beautiful Tao-li carried in a magnificent red wedding palanquin from her father’s house to the house of Wu-chow, while many firecrackers exploded with much noise. She was dressed in red silk, her arms heavy with bracelets of twisted gold. Her hair was twined with pearls and jade. Over her face was a veil of strings of pearls.

The wedding procession was many li in length; and many tens of coolies bore the camphor-wood baskets containing the garments of Tao-li. The oldest brothers of the bride walked before the procession and threw pieces of roast pork and handfuls of rice right and left over their shoulders to pacify the hungry evil spirits that continually wander over all the roads in China. Behind the procession a servant led two black pigs on a silk cord, who joined the wedding music with their natural flutes.

The house of Wu-chow was worthily prepared to receive the beautiful Tao-li. All about the walls of the courtyard hung little paper lanterns—blue, yellow, green and red. A faint breeze swayed them, and the flames of the tiny candles trembled as though they were alive.

Before Wu-chow dared to open the door of the wedding palanquin, he shot showers of arrows into the air at the evil spirits who lurked about trying to steal what was not for them. The beautiful Tao-li was carried by a maidservant over a burning brazier on the

threshold so that none of the evil spirits might follow her into her new home. Then the wedded couple bowed to the ancestral tablets, and drank the marriage drink from two cups of rice wine joined by a red cord ... So Tao-li became Wu-chow’s wife.

Many times the Gold Rooster flew up into the sky in the morning, and each time before he flew down at night he beheld the wedded ! happiness of Wu-chow.

Like a brilliant butterfly in her gay brocades, Tao-li fluttered down the garden paths, her step light as the lotus on water. She had many desires, and it was the delight of Wu-chow to fulfill them all. True, he found much to meditate upon which had not j come to his mind before. But he had no ; time to meditate. His days passed now like 1 a waterwheel awhirl in flood-time.

At last it became necessary for Wu-chow j to leave his wife and go on a trip to an eastern province. When he left home he took ¡ with him a magic mirror. j

“This parting from you, my beautiful ! Tao-li,” he told her, “tears at my breast like the teeth of a tiger. Endless will be the days as trailing creepers. But I shall be consoled in my loneliness when I look in this mirror, for, so long as you think of me I shall always see your loving face reflected in it.”

TNURING MANY days Wu-chow was ks away. Nor could all his impatience cut a single hour from the days. For time, like a donkey’s tail, will neither stretch nor shrink.

At first the vision in the magic mirror softened his sorrow. When his heart was sad, he looked at it and thought of Tao-li. But soon the beautiful vision became clouded; and when Wu-chow, thinking the fault was in the mirror, would have polished it anew, he beheld only an empty blankness and no vision at all.

“It is my fault,” said Wu-chow to himself. “My profane hands have tampered with it j and destroyed the magic.” Nevertheless he was troubled in his heart and hastened his ; steps homeward.

The beautiful Tao-li swayed down the path to meet him on her tiny feet like twin green almonds. Her face smiled with welcome, and her laughter was like the tinkle of seed pearls on a dish of milk-white jade. And Wu-chow was content.

The next day Tao-li told him;

“Your nephew has been here many times, seeking words of advice from the unworthy lips of your wife concerning the moonflower girl he would wed. I have spoken with him from behind the crimson curtain. Yet I said it was your words of wisdom which he must await.”

Her words were frank. Surely it was only the part of an obedient wife which she had played. Yet when he enquired of her the day on which his nephew had first come, he found it was the same on which the vision of the mirror had become dim. And as Wuchow smoked his pipe in the garden after his rice, he meditated. And for many days his flute gathered dust, while he smoked and thought upon the wise things he had learned.

But strangely, in all the Nine Thousand Sayings of Conspicuous Wisdom of the Three Wise Men of the Jade Mountains, he could find not one to meet his need.

AT LAST Wu-chow bestirred himself to look into his own small knowledge. Then he sought his friend, the Mandarin O.

“I have a nephew,” said Wu-chow, “whose talents far exceed the opportunities of such an isolated district as this. I f your exalted influence could find him suitable occupation in the capital, this, your servant, would not be insensible to the favor.”

It was not unknown to the Mandarin O that Wu-chow had but lately married the beautiful Tao-li, and that the nephew' was young and handsome. Wherefore he smiled within himself. But aloud he gave a courteous promise to do what he could.

“May your house ever preserve the fragrance of books,” said Wu-chow. And went away comforted.

It is true that the nephew was soon called to a faraway province to serve the Son of Heaven. But the Mandarin O suddenly found his liking for Wu-chow so increased

that he called on him many times a week. He even came sometimes during the absence of Wu-chow, and waited long hours.

And, too late, Wu-chow recalled that “It is not wise to call in the tiger to drive away the dog.”

It was not that Tao-li failed to be in all things most dutiful and correct. She always fluttered down the garden paths to meet him. Her laughter was still like the tinkle of seed pearls against white jade. Perhaps it was only by chance that she wore always her gayest brocades on the days when the Mandarin O happened to call. Yet Wu-chow felt as if a crab had entered his brain and clenched his claw there.

True, the uncertainty of his thought was perhaps no greater than many of his neighbors concerning the state of their own households. But a thorn in one’s own finger is harder to endure than a sword piercing the sublime Emperor’s arm.

At last Wu-chow could stand it no longer. He took his way through the woods to the Lake of the Two Friendly Dragons. The old men were still sitting on the bank, with the green jade teapot between them. And the tea in it was as warm as ever. Wu-chow bowed very low before them.

“I greet you, O venerable Owls of Great Wisdom.”

“We greet you, O honorable Wu-chow. Sit down and tell us if you are happy in your happiness?”

Wu-chow sat down, and tears poured out of his eyes.

“You have given me my desire, and I have wedded the beautiful Tao-li,” he said. “But now I know not if I have her love. And the uncertainty is a black dragon of misery that engulfs me day and night.”

“O my companion of wise counsel,” said one of the old men to the other—and the egg which he turned about in his fingers was of the blue of a new-washed sky in the spring— “if Wu-chow had wisdom he would not expect happiness from love. Is it not so?”

“True, O my companion worthy of being pleasant with. What is love but a candle flame in the wind? But despair not, Wuchow. There are still gifts in our power.”

“O Dragons of incomparable wisdom, grant me wisdom to know the truth,” said Wu-chow miserably.

The egg stopped its twirling. The old men looked at each other.

“O Wu-chow, is it wise to ask for the wisdom of truth?”

“Nothing else can make me happy,” replied Wu-chow.

The old men looked at each other again. ' “Behold, then, O Wu-chow, this is the Egg of Wisdom. Within it is a small golden j kernel with the words of truth written uix>n I it in letters of fire. One glimpse of these I words and all things will be clear to you. . . Now go. You will not see us any more." j Wu-chow took the azure egg joyfully in his hands, bowed low to the old men and I walked away.

THE OLD MEN threw the remaining tea out of their little cups into the lake and picked up the green jade teapot.

"O my companion of wise counsel,” said one, turning to the other, “do you know what truth is?”

“O my companion worthy of being pleasant with, do you?”

And they laughed, with a sound like dried peas rattling in a pod.

Wu-chow sat down on the bank of the lake and, taking from his sleeve the Egg of Wisdom which enfolded the golden kernel of Truth, he held it in his hand and con¡ templated it with joy. At last he would know the truth and banish all doubts.

But as he meditated, he began to wonder j —and his joy became as clouded as a moonstone.

All day the Golden Rooster sat in the heavens and looked down upon the meditaj tions of Wu-chow beside the lake. Aye; if, the shell were but so much as cracked, all things would become clear. And yet... I Wu-chow thought of Tao-li. He thought of her hands like white lily petals. Of her tiny feet like twin green almonds in their | embroidered slippers of padded satin. How j she smiled when he came in, and fluttered down the paths to meet him, like a bright ! butterfly in her gay brocades. . . And her | laughter. . .

Wu-chow meditated upon all these things, turning about in his fingers the azure Egg of Wisdom which enclosed the kernel of Truth. And the more he looked upon it, the more he feared to break it.

At last, when the Golden Rooster was j ready to fly down at night, Wu-chow suddenly threw the egg, unbroken, into the lake , and went swiftly away.

It was dusk when he reached his garden. ' The beautiful Tao-li fluttered down the I pathway to meet him, light as a lotus on water.

“My lord, it is the hour of evening rice,” j she said.

And her laughter was like the tinkle of seed pearls against white jade.