Half Street Lai


Once upon a time in Shi-gang Town in Central Taiwan, there was a rich man whose surname was Lai. He owned many houses and lots of lands. More than half of the houses lining the streets belonged to him. So, the locals called him “Half-Street Lai.”

One day, a traveling shepherd passed by Shi-gang Town, and got caught in a thunderstorm. He decided to take shelter from the storm under the front porch of a house. Just then, Half-Street Lai came out of the house. He did not like seeing the flock of noisy and smelly sheep, and he asked the shepherd to leave. The shepherd begged to be allowed to stay until the thunderstorm was gone, but Half-Street Lai refused. So, the shepherd moved to the porch next door. Seeing this, Half-Street Lai shouted, “No! Be gone! The houses in this area are all mine.” The poor shepherd had no choice but to continue his journey in the heavy rain.

Three years later, Half-Street Lai went to the countryside to collect rent from farmers. However, he got caught in heavy rain along the way. He looked around and saw a small cottage ahead. So, he ran over and knocked on the door. A young man opened the door. Half-Street Lai asked, “May I spend the night here?” The young man said, “Of course! Come on in!” The young man brought Half-Street Lai a set of dry clothes to change into, and a hot bowl of sweet potato porridge. Half-Street Lai was so cold and hungry, he finished the bowl of porridge quickly and said, “I never knew sweet potato porridge tasted this good!” The young man laughed and said, “You are such a wealthy man, I am surprised you would find a humble bowl of porridge to be so delicious!” Hearing this, Half-Street Lai asked, “Have we met before?” The young man replied, “I was the shepherd you chased away during the thunderstorm three years ago” Half-Street Lai was ashamed to hear this and thought to himself, “This man not only forgave my unkind behavior, he has shown me great kindness too. What a broad-minded man!” He immediately apologized to the young man.

From then on, Half-Street Lai stopped being selfish and stingy. He became kind and generous, and frequently donated money to the poor and needy. He became a great local philanthropist.