THE WALLET OF KAI LUNG
First Published 1900 by Mr Grant Richards.
“Ho, illustrious passers-by!” says Kai Lung as he spreads out his embroidered mat under the mulberry-tree. “It is indeed unlikely that you could condescend to stop and listen to the foolish words of such an insignificant and altogether deformed person as myself. Nevertheless, if you will but retard your elegant footsteps for a few moments, this exceedingly unprepossessing individual will endeavour to entertain you.” This is a collection of Kai Lung’s entertaining tales, told professionally in the market places as he travelled about; told sometimes to occupy and divert the minds of his enemies when they were intent on torturing him.
Wikipedia informs us that Bramah spent some time as Jerome K Jerome’s secretary; later became a recluse; also that:
With Kai Lung, Bramah invented a form of Mandarin English that has never been successfully copied although many have tried. It is impossible to write about the glories of Kai Lung without quoting from some of the six books that comprise the Kai Lung canon.
'‘Kai Lung rose guardedly to his feet, with many gestures of polite assurance and having bowed several times to indicate his pacific nature, he stood in an attitude of deferential admiration. At this display the elder and less attractive of the maidens fled, uttering loud and continuous cries of apprehension in order to conceal the direction of her flight.’
'In particular, there is among this august crowd of Mandarins one Wang Yu, who has departed on three previous occasions without bestowing the reward of a single cash. If the feeble and covetous Wang Yu will place in his very ordinary bowl the price of one of his exceedingly ill-made pipes, this unworthy person will proceed.’
‘After secretly observing the unstudied grace of her movements, the most celebrated picture-maker of the province burned the implements of his craft, and began life anew as a trainer of performing elephants.’
The Kai Lung stories are studded with proverbs and aphorisms that delight.
• “He who lacks a single tael sees many bargains.”
• “It is a mark of insincerity of purpose to spend one’s time in looking for the sacred Emperor in low-class teashops.”
• “It has been said there are few situations in life that cannot be honourably settled, and without loss of time, either by suicide, a bag of gold or by thrusting a despised antagonist over the edge of a precipice on a dark night.”
I have added some pictures, a TOC and restored the formatting from the PG textfile.
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