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The Dutiful Son






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 him:

"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 ordinary sufferance.

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.





Next: Through Many Lives

Previous: The Marble Arch



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