The Tale Never Ends Chapter 22 What Goes Around, Comes Around
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And where did the second brother carried the baby to? The market. In those days people were openly trafficked in the market without suffering much scrutiny and stigma. The man found a spot in the market, laid a piece of cloth on the ground and placed his nephew on it, himself kneeling just beside. Anyone walking past him would instantly realize that he was putting the baby up for sale. Before long, troupes of onlookers began cl.u.s.tering around curiously.
Oddly, the baby neither cried nor wailed. Some of the onlookers began teasing him, and he laughed adorably like a sacrificial lamb oblivious of its fate. Until suddenly, a manservant plowed through the crowd to make way for his master, a wealthy-looking merchant who had another servant following behind with a large pouch over his shoulder. The merchant marched forward and inquired the second brother of his plight that had led to such a pitiable decision to sell a child. Still on his knees, the second brother gave a deep bow and said to the merchant, "Great misfortune, dear sir, has visited my family. The boy is barely a year old, his mother has just pa.s.sed, and we have no money to arrange for her burial. Please, dear sir, the boy is for sale for just a little money. Consider this charity an act of kindness for the baby to perform his filial duties for his deceased mother. He would surely enjoy a better life at your knees than to suffer dest.i.tution with me." As he spoke, the sight of tears rolling down his cheeks touched the hearts of a good many onlookers that some began to shed tears. The merchant took the second brother's lies for truth and asked, his eyes now red and moist, "How much are you selling him?" The second brother clasped his hands together respectfully and said, "With your kindness, I'll ask only for enough money to be able to arrange for his mother's burial." The merchant turned to his servant behind and extracted a stack of notes from the pouch. He offered the money to the second brother and asked, "Would these be enough?" The second brother cast a quick glance at the money he received and bowed profusely, repeatedly mumbling "Thank so much Sir, you're a living Bodhisattva!" The merchant reached down and lifted the second brother to his feet. "Go to bury your deceased wife!" He then turned to his servant and ordered, "Take the boy. Let us leave."
The second brother then returned home to find his family already greatly worried and anxious over the disappearance of the child. He pretended to be surprised. "Alas! The most beloved of all! I must help find him!" He rushed out of the house and fled. Now plagued with sorrow over the loss of the baby and their vain efforts to search for him, the hearts of everyone in the family plunged into despair as if all hope and happiness had been blotted out of their lives. Days pa.s.sed by miserably until one day, the eldest brother went out to look for eight lengths of rope and told his family that he would be out looking for the child.
Lin Feng asked suddenly, "What are the eight lengths of rope for, Blind Master?" The old man deposited a piece of braised pork into his mouth and began chewing, muttering through his food, "It's used to tie baskets on both ends of a pole. The eldest brother traveled from village to village, carrying baskets of farm produce that he bought from the market and sold them door to door. The meager profit from his sales he would then use to quench his hunger to survive."
It was an errand doomed to fail; a lost caused that would never see the silver lightning. The eldest brother wandered aimlessly around. What was originally a hopeless search for his missing child then became a pathetic and wretched bid to pull himself from the pain and misery, to leave the home that now bore the gloom of his anguish and grief! For years he drifted with no end until he died, alone and pitiful tramp whose hopes had shattered with the loss of his only child. The second brother, after getting ahold of the money from the trade of his own nephew, returned later when all of his money was spent. But seeing that he was now the senior in the family, he forbade his brother from continuing his studies, citing the family's hards.h.i.+p and had his brother began pulling rickshaws for a living. But his wickedness had hardly reached its limits. With no money in the family, he came up with another nefarious scheme. The depraved man gave some money to his wife and asked her to bring their sister-in-law out to shopping, telling her that some distraction might do her some good. But instead, he was arranging for people to abduct his sister-in-law and sell her off as a slave. Not knowing how deplorable her own husband could be, his wife trusted her husband and took their sister-in-law to the market. When they came across a peddler selling ornaments, the unsuspecting sisters-in-law had an interest in some of the hair ornaments sold at the stall. The second brother's wife chose a red-colored adornment while the eldest brother's wife opted for another one in blue. The sisters-in-law then put them on and continued their walk through the marketplace.
It was in the afternoon when the second brother arranged for the slavemasters to come to his house. When they had reached home, the eldest brother's wife was aghast by her brother-in-law's treachery that she went to her room and tried to hang herself. But she was discovered by her sister-in-law who had come to console her. As the second brother's wife tried to save her sister-in-law, she accidentally knocked off their hair ornaments. It was dark then, and she accidentally picked up her sister-in-law's hair accessory and put on her hair. Growing impatient for the long wait, the second brother then consented to the impatient slavemasters that they could storm into the room and grab the woman with the blue hair accessory. Consequently, the second brother's evil deeds had caused his own wife to be taken as a slave and when the eldest brother's wife woke up, she too took her own life...
And hence, a family, once merry and cheerful, was torn into shambles by the second brother's own undoing. With only the second brother and his youngest sibling remaining, it was up to the youngest son of the family to slog day and night just to feed his brother. Still, it did not take long for the younger brother to escape from the sisyphean labor of feeding his older brother, who continued his debauchery of living by the bottle and continuously abused him. But during his days in the wild, the young boy was also kidnapped by swindlers.
Lin Feng interjected again, asking this time, "What swindlers were they, Master?" But the old man ignored his question and continued with his tale.
Somewhere else, there was this village woman who was busy with her household errands when a boy, looking about fifteen or sixteen of age, barged into her compound with a large bag over his shoulder. At the immediate sight of the woman, the boy rushed to her and buckled to his knees at her feet, crying, "Save me, kind lady!" The woman asked in return, "Who are you?" The boy pleaded, "I was orphaned when I was young, and my uncle sent me to an apothecary in the city to work there. But the overseer of the store had beaten me and abused me. Not being able to take any more, I fled while taking a bunch of medicinal herbs with me. Another staff member of the shop is just behind, chasing after me! I must not be caught, lest they'll beat me to death!" The woman, now worried and agitated, cried, "But how am I to help you?" "You'll just have to tell my pursuers that I have run towards the east. I'll run southbound when he's left!" The boy said to her. The woman went to her gate, and behold! There was indeed another man, his perpetual gasps for breath and the beads of perspiration that rained down his face told her that he could be the boy's pursuer. To no surprise, the man barked at her, asking if she had seen a boy running past with a bag on his back. The woman hissed back at him, her displeasure evident. "What are you asking me for?" The man replied, "He's a boy from our store! He had stolen some valuable herbs and ran away!" The woman then told him, "I saw a boy running eastward just moments ago!" With a mutter of thanks beneath his breath, the man left, scurrying off to trail his quarry. The boy came back and thanked her for her kindness and begged for some money for him to return to his hometown. But the woman said, "But I am a poor woman myself! I have no money." The boy showed her the bag slung over his back and said, "I have some medicinal herbs here. Some are even valuable. Can you help me sell these for me to collect some money?" The woman went around and rounded up her neighbors, who then looked at the wares the boy peddled. There were various herbs—ginseng, deer velvet, and rhinoceros horns which bore the stencil stamp of an apothecary on their labels. Seeing as these medicines were being sold at a bargain, many of the villagers flocked around him to make their purchases until at last, the boy, screaming that the villagers were demanding for even more obscenely lower prices, tugged at his bag, hoisted it over his back and ran off. The Blind Master paused his tale suddenly and turned to Lin Feng. "This is how these swindlers operated." That earned a bewildered "Oh!" from Lin Feng.
But no one knew that the herbs were, in reality, counterfeits. This was a scam that a swindler and his apprentice first rehea.r.s.ed. The man who had come chasing for the boy was in truth the swindler himself. These shysters looked especially for boys around ages fifteen or sixteen. Children smaller than these ages would seem too young to be working at stores. To control these children, the swindlers would seduce them with a lavish lifestyle of decadence and depravity. They would shower them with luxuries and induce them to a life of opium, alcohol, prost.i.tution, and gambling before arming them with the necessary skills to cheat and con. Therefore, to maintain their lifestyle, the children would be encouraged and compelled to continue their lives of perfidy and treachery. As the children grew older, the cost to maintain such lifestyles also increased while they slowly outlive their usefulness. The swindler would desert his apprentice to search for other prospective preys to be their new apprentices. Without the swindlers to lead them, to work in tandem with them, and to supply them with counterfeit medicines, the former apprentices would then be left to suffer and rot as the toxic and rancor of their perverse lifestyle slowly gnawed at their vitality like an incurable gangrene.
It was one such swindler who had ensnared the youngest brother into a point of no return, where he eventually died and perished after a few years. Thus the story ended and Mr. Lee, as if waking up from a dream, could hardly believe that the tear-jerking story had to endure such an ign.o.ble end. He asked frantically, "What happened next?" The Blind Master chewed at his final piece of meat and remarked, "There's no more!" Being the aggressive and impatient person he was, Mr. Lee urged, "Impossible! The second brother had suffered no retribution? This is hardly fair!" Another wicked smile lined across the old man's face, "But you know what happened afterward." This surprised Mr. Lee, who turned surprised and asked in return, "What is it that I know of?" The old man now erupted into a horrid burst of laughter and said, "You yourself had told me earlier. It was the older brother, his wife, the child that was sold off, the second brother's wife, and the younger brother had all taken turns to beat the second brother in his face and had demanded money from him while throwing his bag away..." Stunned, and at a complete loss for words, Mr. Lee could hear himself gasping in disbelief, "Y-you... y-you mean to say that the second brother?" There was the briefest moment of stupor until he shook himself back to consciousness and said, "No! Impossible! If this is the reckoning from their previous life, then what about my wife and I? If it is as what you said, what goes around comes around, does this mean that my wife and I were indebted to him in our previous lives that he has reincarnated now as my son?" But the old man shrugged and merely said, "I don't know myself!" Confused, Mr. Lee asked, "But how could you not know?"
The old man calmed Mr. Lee down and told him about his line of work; the chosen ones who possessed the ability to peer through mists that veiled the sight of the mundane and divined the unknown, which were mostly divided into three groups. The first group was nothing but frauds; ordinary charlatans who only sought to con the unwary and uninitiated out of their money. The other were soothsayers and seers who were learned students of the Yi Jing and its core, a Western Zhou divination text called the Changes of Zhou. As masters of employing the divination techniques with the Bagua diagram like himself, they unravel the mystical secrets of Fate and Karma. Lastly, there were also fortune tellers who intermixed fiction with the hidden truth; this group of seers would weave yarns of imagination and myth over the truth that they have foreseen. Nevertheless, all soothsayers or fortune tellers, regardless of their variety, would hardly be able to escape the fate of condemnation from Heaven. Cheaters and charlatans would be judged for their deceit and trickery, while those that reveal the mysteries of Fate and Karma, an act against the will of Heaven, would also be doomed to die. Xu Fu, a renowned seer in Ancient China, was one such precedent. She had looked into Han Xin, the famous military strategist who was instrumental in the birth of the Han Dynasty, and had told him that he would live up to the ripe age of 72 and would die a wealthy and prosperous man. This very prophecy was said to be the prime reason that Han Xin had adamantly refused to revolt during his later years and was infamously executed when he was summoned to the Changle Palace (literally the Palace of Everlasting Happiness). However, he was only 32 when he was sentenced to a traitor's death. When Xu Fu was judged in h.e.l.l, the Underworld official Sima Chongxiang had condemned her to reincarnate as Pang Tong of Xiangyang, the famous military tactician during the Three Kingdoms Period who would later die at the age of 32. That was due to her misdeed of misrepresenting Han Xin's age. This was one of the many unbreakable laws that soothsayers have to adhere to, lest they suffer the wrath of Heaven. These restrictions include laws that forbid them from performing divinations twice a day and strictures against using their skills on the first and fifteenth day of every month on the Chinese calendar, holidays, and rainy days too...
The Tale Never Ends Chapter 22 What Goes Around, Comes Around
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The Tale Never Ends Chapter 22 What Goes Around, Comes Around summary
You're reading The Tale Never Ends Chapter 22 What Goes Around, Comes Around. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: Mu Xiao Song, 木筱松 already has 46 views.
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