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.





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