THE TWO BROTHERS
A Chinese Story
translated by George
In the town of Sou-tcheou there lived
two brothers. The elder, surnamed
Merchant, was very rich; the younger,
named Deceived-hope, very poor. They
lived side by side, and their houses, the
paternal inheritance, were only separated
by a low wall. They were both married.
This year, the harvest having been bad,
Deceived-hope could not afford the necessary
rice for his family to live upon. His
wife said to him:
"Let us send our son to your brother:
he will be touched and will give us something,
without any doubt."
Deceived-hope hesitated, but at last
decided to take this step which hurt his
pride. When the child returned from his
uncle's, his hands were empty. They questioned
"I told my uncle that you were without
rice; he hesitated and looked at my aunt.
She then said to me: 'The two brothers live
separately; their food also is separate.'"
Deceived-hope and his wife did not say
a word; they fetched the bale of rice that
was still in their corn-loft and lived thus.
Now, in the town, two or three vagabonds
who knew the riches of Merchant
broke open his door one night, and tied
him up as well as his wife. As he would
not show his treasure, they began burning
his hands and feet. Merchant and his
wife screamed for help. Deceived-hope
heard them and got up in order to run to
their house, but his wife held him back,
and, approaching the wall which separated
"The two brothers live separately; their
food also is separate."
However, as their cries increased, Deceived-hope
could not contain himself, and,
seizing a weapon, leapt over the wall, fell
on the thieves, and dispersed them. Then,
when his brother and his sister-in-law were
delivered and quieted, he returned home,
saying to his wife:
"They are certain to give us a present."
But, the next day and the days following,
they waited in vain! Deceived-hope could
not resist the temptation to relate everything
to his friends. The same thieves heard
of it and, thinking that he would not interfere
any more, broke open the door of Merchant
the same evening and began again to
torture him as well as his wife.
Deceived-hope, indeed, did not wish to
interfere. However, his heart and his liver
were upset by the painful cries of his brother.
He could not forbear running to his help.
The brigands, disconcerted, flew again,
but this time Merchant and his wife were
severely burnt; they lost the use of their
hands and feet.
The next day Merchant said to his wife:
"My brother has saved our lives; without
him we should be ruined; I am going
to give him a part of what we have."
"Do nothing of the kind," replied his
wife; "if he had come sooner, he would have
saved our hands and feet; now, thanks to
him, we are infirm."
And they did nothing. Deceived-hope,
however, wanting money, made an act of
sale of his house and sent it to his brother,
hoping that he would be touched by his
misery and would send back the deed with
In fact Merchant was going to send him
some silver ingots, but his wife stopped
"Let us take his house; we shall be
able to make ours bigger, and it will be
much more convenient."
Merchant hesitated a little, but he ended
by accepting the act, and sent the price
agreed on. Deceived-hope went and settled
in another part of the town; with his
small capital, he opened a vegetable-shop,
which soon prospered.
The brigands, having heard that Merchant
was now living alone, broke open his door
very quietly, tortured him, and then killed
him, taking away all he had. In leaving the
place, they cried all over the town:
"Merchant's corn-loft is open! Let all
the poor go and take the rice!"
They thus went, one by one, silently,
all the poor of the neighbourhood, taking
away as much of the heaped-up rice as
they could. Soon there was nothing left.
Deceived-hope being informed, wished
to revenge his brother; he pursued the
brigands and killed two of them.
From this time it was he who every day
attended to the needs of his sister-in-law,
now in misery. Some months afterwards,
exhausted, she died.
Deceived-hope came back and was soon
settled in the patrimony that he had recovered.
One night he was soundly sleeping,
when he saw his brother.
"You have saved us twice, and we have
been ungrateful. I should not be dead if
I had not acted badly with you. I wish to
make amends. Under the stone of the
hearth you will find five hundred ounces of
gold that I had hidden, and of the existence
of which my wife was ignorant."
Deceived-hope started from his sleep; he
told his dream to his wife. She at once
got up, drew out the stone of the hearth,
and found the mass of gold. Henceforth,
happy and rich, they lived long and were
charitable and friendly with every one.