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Su Dongpo: The Fan Merchant

Su Dongpo: The Fan Merchant

There was a merchant who was on trial for debt. The accused was a young man, and Su Dongpo, as a judge, asked him to explain his predicament.

“My family runs a fan shop,” said the defendant. “Last year my father died, leaving me some debts. It has rained so much this spring that people do no want to buy fans. It is not that I do not want to pay the debts.”

Su Dongpo paused. His eyes brightened with a good idea. He looked at the brush and ink on the table and felt fit for good exercise that morning.

“Bring me a pile of your fans and I will sell them for you,” he said to the man.

The man went home and soon brought back twenty silk fans. Using the judge’s brush on the table, Su began to write running script, and painted bare winter trees, bamboos, and rocks on these fans. In an hour or so he had finished painting all twenty of them. Giving these to the man, he said: “Go out and pay your debts.”

Surprised by his luck and thanking the governor profusely, the man hugged his fans and hustled out of the court. Reports were already going around that the governor was painting fans for sale. The moment the man stepped outside the gate, he was surrounded with people who offered to pay a thousand cash for a fan, and in a few minutes all the fans were sold, to the regret of the late-comers.



Exert from the book The Gay Genius by Lin Yutang.  Page 248.

未经允许不得转载:STUDY IN CHINA GLOBAL (SCG) » Su Dongpo: The Fan Merchant
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