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More Vietnam Folk Tales - Travel reading

A Champion

One upon a time, a stingy old man had two daughters which he had married off to pc skin-flints. Customs demanded that on ttadiaooal festival days, the children should, as a tcien of their filial piety, present gifts to their parents and their parents-in-law. Our two sons-in-law. Harpagons though they were, could not escape the usage of traditional ethics. But they did all in their power so as, while not being able to avoid it, to make this usage as lenient as possible on their purse. The gifts had to normally consist of live pigs, goats, chickens, ducks and other similar things. The first son-in-law thought of a stratagem which he straight away carried into effect. He went to a maker of articles for Ancestor-worship and bought a coloured picture representing everything that could satisfy a father-in-law's most unrelenting demands - oxen, pigs, geese, cocks and chickens, fruit and spirit, etc. Our young man triumphantly brought to the father of his better half these riches due to the talent of a religious painter and a skinflint son-in-law, As he arrived, he saw turning up at the same time the other son-in-law hiding something in his robe with a mysterious air. The first was devoured by curiousity, but in reply to his questions, his sister-in-law's husband returned only a pompous silence. The father-in-law ceremoniously sat on his wooden divan bed to receive his sons-in-law's presents. He asked the first one:
- What hare you brought as presents, my son?
- This year - answered he son-in-law -I have
become impoverished and can, O father,bring you but an ox, a cow, geese, fruit and spirits. Here they are. Be good enough not to reject this modest token of the piety of a son who loves you more than life itself and who brings you the warmest greetings for the year which is opening before us. This tirade over, he brought out of his pocket the drawing and presented it with both hands to his father-in-law, pretending to be weighted down with the heaviness of the
imaginary gifts. - That is good - approved the father-in-law with emotion -I thank you. However, allow me to make a remark. Despite your poverty, you have bought me too many things. To my mind, you are too extravagant - And you, my son - he said, addressing the second son-in-law - What nice things have you brought me on the occasion of the New Year?
It was then that the husband of his younger daughter stepped forward, and bringing out from beneath his robe a charcoal stick he had kept carefully hidden until then, rapidly drew on the floor, figures roughly representing animals whose size by far exceeded those in the first son-in-law's picture.
- There, O father, is what I can offer you with my good wishes for a happy New Year. I humbly beg of you to forgive me for not being able to bring you, owing to the smaliness of your floor, bigger and farter oxen, cows and pigs!
- Perfect! — approved the father-in-law -You are certainly more advanced than your brother. But at the same, I still think it is an extravagance. And I as thanks for the tokens of the filial piety you have displayed towards me, I invite you, my dear sons, to partake of this glass of spirits.
And he made the motions of pouring out a drink. Having "drunk," the sons-in-law admitted that they were unworthy of their father-in-law, an exception at genius.
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