Tales of Chinese Children
The Merry Blind-Man
 

The little finger on Ah Yen's little left hand was very sore. Ah Yen had poked it into a hot honey tart. His honorable mother had said: "Yen, you must not touch that tart," but just as soon as his honorable mother had left the room, Yen forgot what she had said, and thrust the littlest finger of his little left hand right into the softest, sweetest, and hottest part of the tart.

Now he sat beside the window, feeling very sad and sore, for all the piece of oiled white linen which his mother had carefully wrapped around his little finger. It was a very happy-looking day. The sky was a lovely blue, trimmed with pretty, soft white clouds, and on the purple lilac tree which stood in front of his father's cottage, two little yellow eyebrows were chirping to each other.

But Yen, with his sore finger, did not feel at all happy. You see, if his finger had not been sore, he could have been spinning the bright-colored top which his honorable uncle had given him the day before.

"Isn't it a lovely day, little son?" called his mother.

"I think it is a homely day," answered Yen.

"See those good little birds on the tree," said his mother.

"I don't believe they are good," replied the little boy.

"Fie, for shame!" cried his mother; and she went on with her work.

Just then an old blind-man carrying a guitar came down the street. He stopped just under the window by which Yen was seated, and leaning against the wall began thrumming away on his instrument. The tunes he played were very lively and merry. Yen looked down upon him and wondered why. The blind-man was such a very old man, and not only blind but lame, and so thin that Yen felt quite sure that he never got more than half a bowl of rice for his dinner. How was it then that he played such merry tunes? So merry indeed that, listening to them, Yen quite forgo to be sour and sad. The old man went on playing and Yen went on listening. After a while, the little boy smiled, then he laughed. The old man lifted his head. He could not see with his sightless eyes, but he knew that there was a little boy near to him whom he was making happy.

"Honorable great-grandfather of all the world," said Yen. "Will you please tell me why you, who are old, lame, and blind, make such merry music that everybody who hears becomes merry also?"

The old man stopped thrumming and rubbed his chin. Then he smiled around him and answered: "Why, I think, little Jewel Eyes, that the joyful music comes just because I am old, lame, and blind."

Yen looked down at his little finger.

"Do you hear what says the honorable great-grandfather of the world? " he asked.

The little finger straightened itself up. It no longer felt sore, and Yen was no longer sour and sad.