The Silly Son-In-Law
On the second day of the Chinese New Year, a silly but good-natured son-in-law called A-Tsai set off toward his father-in-law"s house to pay his respects. He took with him a bolt of red cloth, a basket of noodles, and two ducks. When he crossed the river, the ducks quacked and he thought they were thirsty. He put them in the river to drink some water. But the ducks swam away once they were in the river. A-Tsai panicked and shouted, "Come back! Come back!" But the ducks did not come back. Because he lost the ducks, A-Tsai decided to use the noodles to weave a net and catch some fish in the river. But the net broke when it touched the water and A-Tsai lost his noodles. Suddenly, a strong gust of wind made the bamboo trees rustle. A-Tsai thought the bamboo trees felt cold, so, he took the bolt of red cloth and wrapped the bamboo trees in it.
Then, A-Tsai picked up his empty basket and continued his journey. On the way, he saw a piece of cow dung with lots of flies on it. A cow herder nearby said, "Little green flies eat dung all day. But they stop eating and stand up when they see me." A-Tsai thought it interesting and memorized it. Then, he came across a farmer who was repairing a wooden fence. A-Tsai stopped and asked the farmer, "Why not make a new fence?" The farmer replied, "A new fence, an old fence, one can make do with either." A-Tsai memorized what the farmer said, and continued on his journey. He arrived at a place where two rivers joined. One of the rivers had clear water and the other river had murky water. A nearby fisherman said, "A river on the east, a river on the west, the rivers may join, but the color of the water looks different." A-Tsai memorized this too.
When he arrived at his father-in-law's house and sat down to dinner, his wife tied a string to A-Tsai's leg and said, "When I pull the string once you should eat some rice. When I pull the string twice, you should drink some wine. Then, no one will laugh at you." Alas, The father-in-law's dog got caught on the string and kept pulling it. A-Tsai became very confused. He spilled his wine and dropped rice on himself. Everyone laughed at A-Tsai. They laughed so hard they stood up. Suddenly, A-Tsai said, "Little green flies eat dung all day. But they stop eating and stand up when they see me." Everybody stopped laughing and sat down quickly. Everyone else had beautiful ivory chopsticks, but A-Tsai was given a plain pair of bamboo chopsticks. Suddenly, Ah-Tsai said, "A new fence, an old fence, one can make do with either." The servants quickly brought him a pair of ivory chopsticks. When the servants poured cheap wine in A-Tsai's cup, A-Tsai remembered the fisherman's words and said, "A river on the east, a river on the west, the rivers may join, but the color of the water looks different." Everyone felt embarrassed and ashamed, and stopped thinking A-Tsai was silly.