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Retribution

One day Ma once more rose early, and stood leaning against his window. And he saw old Wang come out upon his terrace and begin to water his chrysanthemums. Little Li sat in the upper story of his house flying his pigeons. Suddenly some of the pigeons flew down on the railing of the flower-garden. The boy was afraid they might fly off and called them, but the pigeons did not move. The boy did not know what to do: he picked up stones and threw them at the birds. By mistake one of them struck old Wang. The old man started, slipped, and fell down over the terrace. Time passed and he did not rise. He lay there with his feet outstretched. The boy was very much frightened. Without uttering a sound he softly closed his window and went away. The sun gradually rose higher, and the old man’s sons and grandsons all came out to look for him. They found him and said: “He slipped and fell to his death!” And they buried him as was the custom.

Note: This little tale, from the “Sin Tsi Hia,” is a literary masterpiece because of the exactness with which the punishment follows upon the act, long after the latter has been forgiven, and all chance of mishap seemed to have passed.

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