THE DUTIFUL SON
A Chinese Story
translated by George
At the foot of the Oriental-Perfume-Mountain,
in one of the most beautiful
places of this celebrated district, the
passers-by could see a small lodge. Chou
The-favourable lived there with his mother.
He was still young, being only thirty years
old, and earned his living in the way so
highly praised by the ancient Classics; he
cultivated a small field by his house, and
every week went to the next market to
exchange what he had for what he wanted.
Both were very happy, when a calamity
befell them; the old mother one morning
felt a pain in her right leg. Two or three
days afterwards she had there an ulcer that
no remedies could cure; everything was
tried and everything failed. Day and
night she was moaning, turning over in her
hard wooden bed.
The-favourable forgot to drink and eat,
in his anxiety to give his mother the
medicines the doctor advised.
Several months wore on; the ulcer did
not heal. The despair of the son was
greater every day; at last, overcome by
his fatigue, he fell asleep and dreamt that
he saw his father. The old man told
"You have been a dutiful son. But I
must tell you that your mother will not
recover if you can't apply to her ulcer a
piece of man's fat."
Then everything was dissolved like a
smoke in the wind.
The-favourable awoke and, thinking over
his dream, he found it very strange.
"What can I do?" thought he. "Man's
fat is not easily found in the market. My
father would not have appeared to me if
this extraordinary medicine was not really
the only thing that will cure my mother.
Well, I will take a piece of fat of my own
body; I have nothing else to do."
Then, rising from his bed, he took a
sharp knife, and, pulling the skin of his side,
he cut a large piece off. His pain was not
so great as he had expected it to be, and,
what seemed more extraordinary to him,
no blood flowed from the wound.
He could not see that, from the heaven
above, a messenger had come on a cloud,
was recording this noble feat on his life's
register, and helped him by averting all
The-favourable hastened to put the piece
of flesh on his mother's ulcer; the pain
disappeared immediately, and a few days
after the old woman could walk as she
used to do; on her leg there remained only
a red scar.
When she asked what medicine had been
employed, The-favourable eluded the
answer. But somehow the truth was known
in the neighbourhood; the prefect sent a
report to the Throne and came himself
with a decree of the Emperor, giving a title
and an allowance to the dutiful son.