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Part: 6

Old Wei & Young Wei

by Robert J. BAUMANN

 

My luck is like a crow. A crow that makes a lot of noise. You know the crow is somewhere in the trees, but it is always hiding. If the crow is seen, it flies away. That is my luck.

Grandfather was putting me to a test. He had bought two monkey melons in the marketplace from different merchants. He told me what they were and that they had to be returned. I had vowed that anyone who sold bad fruit to Grandfather would pay. I would finally show Grandfather I had become a man.

Do you hear that crow laughing? Ah. I thought so. You are older and wiser than I was that day. You have already suspected it would not be so easy, didn't you? Hah. It was true. I knew that it would be a horrible experience as soon as Grandfather took me to the place where he bought the first melon. He pointed out the stand to me. It was on the side of the main road in the marketplace.

Any merchant wanting to sell a lot of produce always came early to get the best location. Some farmers were always in the same place, so they had a permanent stand built right inside the market on the main road. Other poor farm families who brought produce less often were on the side of the main road. You could find bargains on the side of the road, but you could also get tricked. Men who looked for a fast yen or two were always coming to the market when they passed through town. They would get rid of their junk and move on. You might never see them again. If they did return, they would try to change their looks or what they sold. Repeat customers were something to be avoided. Many times they would leave the market early fearing a customer might return and cause trouble.

Grandather went to just such a stand. It had a crude hand-lettered sign that said "Lung's Fresh Melon". Lung was standing behand his merchandise, which was a table filled with monkey melons, just like the one Grandfather bought. Where is the crow you ask? Ah. I was coming to that next. Standing at that very table ready to purchase a melon was that old bag of bones in a dress, Fang Li's mother. I had half hoped the woman would bite into the monkey melon just as she was bragging to all her friends what a good shopper she was. I was chuckling to myself as I thought of this. I saw the witch spitting out pieces of melon from her mouth half choking on the rancid taste. What a thought. Ha ha. Then I saw dear Fang Li helping her mother to inspect the melons. It was then I knew how it would happen.

Poor Li would carry these heavy melons home. She would be gentle and kind to her mother, of course. When the melons were served at dinner and the taste became obvious, her mother would save face by blaming her daughter. It was Fang Li who would be punished. I was even sure that the mother had been the one to turn off the main road, thinking to save money and keep the difference from her husband. Women like this in China were all too common in those days.

What could I do? I turned to find out where Grandfather was, but he had vanished again. How was I supposed to prove myself to him if he was not around to watch? What should I do to protect Fang Li? My heart was racing and the monkey melon that I had to return was growing warm in my hands. I decided to act as soon as I saw old Lung leer at Fang Li. He smiled at the mother, but he licked his lips when he looked at the daughter. What an evil old man, I thought. It will be justice for me to make him take back his melon..... and Fang Li's as well! I would be a hero and Fang Li would see the real Wei. I would be her champion at last.

Yes. Now you know how the crow began to shake his wings preparing for flight. My lucky crow, who would circle the market laughing out loud before flying away.


TO BE CONTINUED
Write to:rbaumann@mindspring.com

This issue is dedicated to such distinguished artists and author as (alphabetical order):
We will be celebrating the second anniversary with the Winter-2002 issue.
Deadline: January 7, 2002
This e-magazine is under the umbrella of The Light Millennium, Inc.,
which was granted a NOT-FOR-PROFIT organization
status based in New York since July 17, 2001.

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© The Light Millennium e-magazine was created and designed by Bircan ÜNVER. 7th issue. Fall 2001, New York. http://www.lightmillennium.org
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