Old Wang lived in a village near Nanking. He cared for nothing in the world but to eat good food and plenty of it. Now, though this Wan was by no means a poor man, it made him very sad to spend money, and so people called him in sport, the Miser King, for Wang is the Chinese word for king. His greatest pleasure was to eat at some one else’s table when he knew that the food would cost him nothing, and you may be sure that at such times he always licked his chopsticks clean. But when he was spending his own money, he tightened his belt and drank a great deal of water, eating very little but scraps such as his friends would have thrown to the dogs. Thus people laughed at him and said,
“When Wang an invitation gets,
He chews and chews until he sweats,
But, when his own food he must eat.
The tears flow down and wet his feet.”
One day while Wang was lying half asleep on the bank of a stream that flowed near his house he began to feel hungry. He had been in that spot all day without tasting anything. At last he saw a flock of ducks swimming in the river. He knew that they belonged to a rich man named Lin who lived in the village. They were fat ducks, so plump and tempting that it made him hungry to look at them. “Oh, for a boiled duck!” he said to himself with a sigh. “Why is it that the gods have not given me a taste of duck during the past year? What have I done to be thus denied?”
Then the thought flashed into his mind, “Here am I asking why the gods have not given me ducks to eat. Who knows but that they have sent this flock thinking I would have sense enough to grab one? Friend Lin, many thanks for your kindness. I think I shall accept your offer and take one of these fowls for my dinner.” Of course Mr. Lin was nowhere near to hear old Wang thanking him.
By this time the flock had come to shore. The miser picked himself up lazily from the ground, and, after tiring himself out, he at last managed to pick one of the ducks up, too. He took it home joyfully, hiding…
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