Tales of Chinese Children
The Little Fat One
 

Lee Chu and Lee Yen sat on a stone beneath the shade of a fig tree. The way to school seemed a very long way and the morning was warm, the road dusty.

"The master's new pair of goggles can see right through our heads," observed Lee Chu.

"And his new cane made Horn Wo's fingers blister yesterday," said Lee Yen.

They looked sideways at one another and sighed.

"The beach must be very cool today," said Lee Chu after a few moments.

"Ah, yes! It is not? far from here." Thus Lee Yen.

"And there are many pebbles."

"Of all colors."

"Of all colors."

The two little boys turned and looked at each other.

"Our honorable parents need never know," mused one.

"No!" murmured the other. "School is so far from home. And there are five new scholars to keep the schoolmaster busy."

Yes, the beach was cool and pleasant, and the pebbles were many, and the finest in color and shape that Lee Chu and Lee Yen had ever seen. The tide washed up fresh ones every second — green, red, yellow, black, and brown; also white and transparent beauties. The boys exclaimed with delight as they gathered them. The last one spied was always the brightest sparkler.

"Here's one like fire and all the colors in the sun," cried Lee Chu.

"And this one — it is such a bright green, there never was another one like it!" declared Lee Yen.

"Ah! most beautiful!"

"Oh! most wonderful!"

And so on until they had each made an iridescent little pile. Then they sat down to rest and eat their lunch — some rice cakes which their mother had placed within their sleeves.

As they sat munching these, they became reflective. The charm of the sea and sky was on them though they knew it not.

"I think," said Lee Chu, "that these are the most beautiful pebbles that the sea has ever given to us."

"I think so too," assented Lee Yen.

"I think," again said Lee Chu, "that I will give mine to the Little Fat One."

"The Little Fat One shall also have mine," said Lee Yen. He ran his fingers through his pebbles and sighed with rapture over their glittering. Lee Chu also sighed as his eyes dwelt on the shining heap that was his.

The Little Fat One ran to greet them on his little fat legs when they returned home at sundown, and they poured their treasures into his little tunic.

"Why, where do these come from?" cried Lee Amoy, the mother, when she tried to lift the Little Fat One on to her lap and found him too heavy to raise.

Lee Chu and Lee Yen looked away.

"You bad boys!" exclaimed the mother angrily. "You have been on the beach instead of at school. When your father comes in I shall tell him to cane you."

"No, no, not bad!" contradicted the Little Fat One, scrambling after the stones which were slipping from his tunic. His mother picked up some of them, observing silently that they were particularly fine,

"They are the most beautiful pebbles that ever were seen," said Lee Chu sorrowfully. He felt sure that his mother would cast them away.

"The sea will never give up as fine again," declared Lee Yen despairingly.

"Then why did you not each keep what you found?" asked the mother.

"Because — " said Lee Chu, then looked at the Little Fat One.

"Because — "echoed Lee Yen, and also looked at the Little Fat One.

The mother's eyes softened.

"Well," said she, "for this one time we will forget the cane."

"Good! Good!" cried the Little Fat One.