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EVERYTHING SHOULD BE UNDER THE SUN
Part: 5

Old Wei & Young Wei

by Robert J. BAUMANN

Grandfather returned just as the sun was an hour or two from setting. It was low in the cloudless sky and the heat of the day had lessened a bit. He found me almost in the same place he had left me. I was sitting still beneath the shade of the tree.

"Come to the market with me," he said. I noticed he was carrying two melons. He handed one to me.

"Why are we going back? Did you not finish shopping, Grandfather?"

"Look at the melon." I did.

"Sniff it." I did.

"What do you smell?'' I did, but I was curious to know what all this was leading up to. It smelled like melon and I told my Grandfather just that.

He snorted and walked on.

"It isn't a melon? It looks like a melon. It smells like a melon. It even feels like a melon. What is wrong?"

"You are holding a monkey melon. It is not best. It is fit for a monkey, but not for your family. If you do not use your eyes and nose, your family will not eat well. Learn to be careful.''

"Grandfather, if you are carrying the melon out of the market, didn't you buy it?''

Grandfather stopped and looked at me. He even smiled. He was happy. I rarely saw him smile this way. What had I said to make him so happy?

What could I do to keep that smile upon his face?

"I bought two," he said. "They are both monkey melons. I bought them from two different fruit stands. I want you to return them for me and get a good, fresh melon.''

Ah. It was a test. I was here to show Grandfather that I could be a true man and make a merchant who had cheated us be honest. I was here to defend my family honor and let that seller know he could not take advantage of an old man and his family. Everyone heard that monkey melons were sold by scoundrels who tried to pretend their fruit was sweet and delicious.

They knew it wouldn't be tasted until dinner time, and by then it was too late.

They go from market to market, never selling in the same place twice.

Grandfather was aware of this when he bought the melons. He could tell by their smell. He could tell by their look. He left me at the tree so I could return the melons as a test. How clever Grandfather was. I would not make him ashamed of me. I would get a fresh melon or someone would get a black eye.

To be continued...

E-mail: rbaumann@mindspring.com

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