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《Chinese Tales for Everyone:Real and Imaginary_ (5) Seventeen Peaches for Three and (6)The Sun and the Cock》__ Kong Shiu Loon (53)

Tales Real and Imaginary

(5) Seventeen Peaches for Three

Li Ying (李瑛) was an active and curious girl of seven. She loved to run around and push herself into a crowd in the market to watch people do business.

One day, she was strolling leisurely down a street, holding a peach from home. As the market became crowded, a commotion broke out around a fruit stall. Getting herself into the center, she heard the hawker and three men arguing what to do with the sale of seventeen peaches.

One man wanted to buy half of what the hawker had. A second man wanted to buy one-third, and the third man wanted one-ninth. No one knew what to do to satisfy the three purchases. The crowd became boisterous, with people making suggestions that did not work.

“I know what to do!” Li Ying shouted. Everyone laughed. An old woman asked her to keep quiet and mind her own business. But the little girl was very confident. She pushed the three men aside and stood before the stall. People watched wondering what would happen.

Li Ying put her own peach beside the hawker’s peaches. She took nine peaches and gave to the first customer. It was half of the eighteen peaches present.

Next, she gave the second customer six peaches. That was one-third of the lot. Finally, she turned to the third man with a big smile and gave him two peaches, saying: “I think this is what you wanted.” Then, she took back her own peach, as if things were so easy.

People in the crowd were impressed. They broke out into a thunderous applause as the innocent little girl walked away, muttering softly: “It sure is a lot of fun minding other people’s business.”

Li Ying grew up and became a famous mathematician in ancient China.

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Note: This is a narration of an anecdote in the book趣聞述集》.It showed that mathematical solutions could be by wit rather than formal calculation.
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Tales Real and Imaginary
(6) The Sun and the Cock 

At the beginning of times, the universe was in a state of chaos.

Originally, there were ten suns. They were the sons of Heaven Emperor (天帝). They were very playful, often forgetting to take turns to rest. That was a disaster for all things on earth, including human beings.

People prayed for help. The Heaven Emperor was compelled to send Yi the Archer (后羿) to shoot down nine suns. To the remaining sun, the Heaven Emperor demanded that he rise at dawn each and every day and rest at dusk, keeping time.

That was too much responsibility for the playful sun. Fortunately, he befriended the cock, which was a miner god.

The cock loved to eat millipedes. He ate them whenever he could find them in day light.

“I will give you light to find them if you remember to call me to get up at dawn.” the sun said to his friend.

“Sure we can do that,” replied the cock who specialized in discipline.

Remembering the sun was too playful to keep his responsibility, the cock told him in no uncertain terms: “At the beginning of each and every day, I will call to say four words. You must get up from bed and rise in the sky.”

“Which four words will you call?”

“I will loudly call Uk, Uk, uk-uk…”

“They sound the same. What do they mean?”

“No, the sounds might be the same, but the tones are different. Listen, Uk, Uk, uk-uk means I LOVE MILLI-PEDES…. Whenever you hear me, you must get up and shine in the sky.”

Thus the sun always rises at dawn because his good friend the cock calls to remind him of his responsibility.

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Note: This is a narration from a passage in the book民間傳. It tells us that all things in the universe cooperate to keep things in order. They trade interests equally and keep their responsibilities for the good of all.

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