Tales of Chinese Children
The Dreams that Failed
 

Ping Sik and Soon Yen sat by the road-side under a spreading olive tree. They were on their way to market to sell two little pigs. With the money to be obtained from the sale of the little pigs, they were to buy caps and shoes "with which to attend school.

"When I get to be a man," said Ping Sik, "I will be so great and so glorious that the Emperor will allow me to wear a three-eyed peacock feather, and whenever I walk abroad, all who meet me will bow to the ground."

"And I," said Soon Yen, "will be a great general. The reins of my steeds will be purple and scarlet, and in my cap will wave a bright blue plume."

"I shall be such a great poet and scholar," continued Ping Sik, "that the greatest university in the Middle Kingdom will present me with a vase encrusted with pearls."

"And I shall be so valiant and trustworthy that the Pearly Emperor will appoint me commander-in-chief of his army, and his enemies will tremble at the sound of my name."

"I shall wear a yellow jacket with the names of three ancestors inscribed thereon in seven colors."

"And I shall wear silk robes spun by princesses, and a cloak of throat skins of sables."

"And I shall live in a mansion of marble and gold."

"And I in halls of jadestone,"

"And I will own silk and tea plantations and tens of thousands of rice farms."

"All the bamboo country shall be mine, and the rivers and sea shall be full of my fishing boats, junks, and craft of all kinds."

"People will bow down before me and cry: 'Oh, most excellent, most gracious, most beautiful!'"

"None will dare offend so mighty a man as I shall be!"

"O ho! You good-for-nothing rascals!" cried the father of Ping Sik. "What are you doing loafing under a tree when you should be speeding to market?"

"And the little pigs, where are they?" cried the father of Soon Yen.

The boys looked down at the baskets which had held the little pigs. While they had been dreaming of future glories, the young porkers had managed to scramble out of the loosely woven bamboo thatch of which the baskets were made.

The fathers of Ping Sik and Soon Yen produced canes.

"Without shoes and caps," said they, "you cannot attend school. Therefore, back to the farm and feed pigs."