The Lost Brother (3)
Cheng then told his brother how the tiger had carried him
away, and how he had been thrown down in the road, where he
had passed a whole night; also how the mandarin, Mr. Chang,
on his return from the capital, had seen him there, and,
observing that he was no common-looking youth, had set to
work and brought him round again. Also how he had said to
Mr. Chang that his home was a great way off, and how Mr.
Chang had taken him to his own home, and finally cured him
of his wounds; when, having no son of his own, he had
adopted him. And now, happening to be out with his father, he had caught sight of his
As he was speaking Mr. Chang walked in, and Na thanked him
very heartily for all his kindness; Cheng, meanwhile, going into
the inner apartments to get some clothes for his brother. Wine
and food was placed on the table; and while they were chatting
together the mandarin asked Na about the number of their family
in Honan. "There is only my father," replied Na, "and he is a
Shantung man who came to live in Honan."
"Why, I am a Shantung man too," rejoined Mr. Chang; "what
is the name of your father's native place ?"
"I have heard that it was in the Tung-chang district," replied
"Then we are from the same place," cried the mandarin. "Why
did your father go away to Honan ?"
"His first wife," said Na, "was carried off by soldiers, and my
father lost everything he possessed; so, being in the habit of
trading to Honan, he determined to settle down there for good."
The mandarin then asked what his father's other name was, and
when he heard, he sat some time staring at Na, and at length hurried away within.
In a few moments out came an old lady, and when they had all
bowed to her, she asked Na if he was Chang Ping-chih's grandson. On his replying
in the affirmative, the old lady wept, and, turning to Mr.
Chang, said, "These two are your younger brothers." And then she explained to Na and Cheng as follows:
"Three years after my marriage with your father, I was carried
off to the north and made a slave in a mandarin family. Six
months afterwards your elder brother here was born, and in
another six months the mandarin died. Your elder brother being
his heir, he received this appointment, which he is now resigning.
I have often thought of my native place, and have not infrequently sent people to inquire about my husband, giving them the
full particulars as to name and clan; but I could never hear anything of him. How should I know that he had gone to Honan ?"
Then, addressing Mr. Chang, she continued, "That was rather
a mistake of yours, adopting your own brother."
"He never told me anything about Shantung," replied Mr.
Chang; "I suppose he was too young to remember the story; and
I only looked at the difference between our ages." For he, the elder of the brothers, was forty-one; Cheng, the younger, being
only sixteen; and Na, twenty years of age. Mr. Chang was very
glad to get two young brothers; and when he heard the tale of
their separation, proposed that they should all go back to their
father. Mrs. Chang was afraid her husband would not care to
receive her back again; but her eldest son said, "We will cast our
lot together; all or none. How can there be a country where
fathers are not valued?"
They then sold their house and packed up, and were soon on
the way to Honan. When they arrived, Cheng went in first to tell
his father, whose third wife had died since Na left, and who now
was a desolate old widower, left alone with only his own shadow.
He was overjoyed to see Cheng again, and, looking fondly at his
son, burst into a flood of tears. Cheng told him his mother and
brothers were outside, and the old man was then perfectly trans-
fixed with astonishment, unable either to laugh or to cry. Mr.
Chang next appeared, followed by his mother; and the two old
people wept in each other's arms, the late solitary widower hardly
knowing what to make of the crowd of men and women-servants
that suddenly filled his house.
Here Cheng, not seeing his own mother, asked where she was;
and when he heard she was dead, he fainted away, and did not
come round for a good half-hour. Mr. Chang found the money
for building a fine house, and engaged a tutor for his two
brothers. Horses pranced in the stables, and servants chattered in
the hall -- it was quite a large establishment.