A STORY FROM CHINA
Once there was a Chinese boy called Lo-Sun. He was blind, and he had nowhere to live because his cruel father had sent him away From his home. ‘ You are no use to me,’ his father said. ‘What work can a blind boy do? I have no money to spend on food for a child like you. You can go out into the world and beg for your food.’
So the poor blind boy had nowhere to live. He had been a beggar for five years, and he had no one to look after him except his faithful dog, Fan. Fan loved her little master very dearly, and went everywhere with him. Lo-Sun always carried a stick with him to help him to find the way, and if the road was very hard and stony Fan led him carefully through the rough places. In this way the little dog often saved her master from falling.
Fan was a clever dog and she often earned money for her master. When Lo-Sun clapped his hands three times, Fan went down on her knees and touched her head to the ground. The people in the street were so pleased to see this clever trick that they often gave a small coin to Lo-Sun.
From morning till night the ten-year-old boy and his dog walked through the city streets begging for money and food. At night they slept wherever they were able to find a resting-place. Sometimes they slept on someone’s doorstep; sometimes they slept in a field. One night Fan led her master to a large leafy tree by the roadside. They ate a small piece of bread, and then lay down together to go to sleep.
In his sleep Lo-Sun had a dream. He dreamed that a beautiful fairy came to him and said softly, ‘ Lo-Sun, Lo-Sun, can you see me?’
‘ Alas, no!’ Lo-Sun said sadly. ‘ I can’t see you because I am blind.’
‘ Poor little boy,’ the fairy said. ‘ But don’t be sad. Perhaps I can help you.’
‘ Can you give me my sight?’ Lo-Sun asked hopefully. ‘ Can you really make me see?’
No, I can’t do that,’ answered the fairy. ‘ But I can help you to help yourself. Every time you do a really good action, a little light will come into your eyes. Every time you are kind to someone, you will be able to see a little better. But every time you are unkind or selfish, the light will go out again, and you will become blinder than you were before.’
The voice was silent and Lo-Sun woke from his sleep. He felt the warmth of the sun on his face, and he was happier than he had been for years. Fan seemed happy, too, and she licked her master’s hand and barked loudly.
‘ Gone on, Fan,’ said Lo-Sun, ‘ you must help me to see. I can’t do much without you.’
They walked down the road together, and Lo-Sun thought hopefully about the good fairy in his dream. Spoil they passed an old beggar sitting by the roadside, and the old man called, ‘ Give a poor blind man a penny! Please don’t pass me by.’.
‘But I am blind, too,’ Lo-Sun answered. ‘ And I am also a beggar.’
‘ You are luckier than I am, little boy,’ the old man said. ‘ You can walk, but I am lame as well as blind.’
‘ Oh, I’m so sorry,’ said Lo-Sun, and, without thinking of the fairy’s promise, he gave the old man a small coin. It was the only money he had.
The old beggar thanked him, and suddenly there was a flash of light before Lo-Sun’s eyes. He closed his eyes, and when he opened them again, the world seemed lighter. His eyes could see a little brightness shining through the darkness. ‘ Oh, Fan, the dream was really true!’ said Lo-Sun. ‘ Every time I do a kind action my eyes become a little less blind.’
That night Lo-Sun slept in the Beggar’s Temple. This was an old, broken-down building outside the city. In one corner of the temple there was an old, old beggar-woman. She was sick as well as old, and she was almost dying with hunger. Lo-Sun had only one small piece of dry bread for his supper, but he gladly gave this to the old woman. She thanked him, and suddenly there was another flash of light before Lo-Sun’s eyes. He closed his eyes, and when he opened them again, the world seemed lighter. ‘ Is the moon shining tonight?’ Lo-Sun asked the old woman.
‘ Yes,’ she answered, ‘it is a full moon tonight.’
‘ I thought so,’ said Lo-Sun happily. ‘ I can almost see it.’ And he went to sleep, forgetting that he had had no supper.
The next morning Lo-Sun and Fan were both very hungry, but they had nothing to eat. ‘Come, Fan,’ said the boy, ‘ we must go back to the city to beg for food. And they set off together down the dusty road. Suddenly a hen ran across the road, squawking loudly, and Fan ran after it. She caught it and killed it and brought it back to her master.
Lo-Sun was very pleased. Here was a piece of good luck indeed! He would sell the hen in the market, and the money would buy enough food to keep him and Fan from hunger for several days. He hid the dead hen under his coat, and told Fan to lead him to the market. They soon found a man who agreed to buy the hen, and he took the dead bird and gave Lo-Sun the money for it. But when Lo-Sun took the coins in his hand, a dark cloud came over his eyes and he was blinder than he had been before.
‘ This is my punishment because I have done something wrong/ he thought sadly. ‘That hen was not mine to sell. I have stolen it.’
Although he was very hungry, he went back to the place where Fan caught the hen. Here he asked a man if anyone had lost a hen that morning. ‘Yes,’ the man answered. ‘ My brother has lost one of his hens. He is very sad, because he is a poor man, and the hen gave him an egg each day.’
‘ I am very sorry,’ said Lo-Sun. ‘ My dog killed the hen this morning. I’ve come to pay for it. Please will you’ give this money to your brother?’
He gave the money to the man, and suddenly there was a flash of light before his eyes. The world seemed brighter again, and Lo-Sun smiled with happiness.
For a number of weeks Lo-Sun continued in his new way of life. He was kind and good, and helped many people who were even poorer and more unhappy than himself. After a month had passed, he found he was able to tell night from day. He could even see the dark shadows of trees and houses, and Fan did not need to guide him when they walked down the street.
One day he and Fan were sitting by the river. There had been a lot of rain in the night, and the sky was cloudy. The river was very full, and was flowing fast. Suddenly Lo-Sun heard a cry. A man’s voice shouted, ‘ Help me, help me! I am drowning.’ The man must have fallen into the river, and now he was being carried away by the strong stream.
Lo-Sun did not know what to do. How could a blind boy save a man from drowning? And then he thought of Fan. Fan could swim, and she was strong and clever. She might be able to save the man. ‘ But what will happen if my dear Fan is drowned, too?’ thought Lo-Sun. ‘ She is my only friend. What could I do without her?’
And then the man cried for help again. Lo-Sun said, ‘ Go, Fan, go to save him.’ And he pushed the little dog into the water.
The man saw the dog swimming towards him, and he called, ‘Thank you, thank you!’
Lo-Sun listened to the noise of the river, and as he listened he prayed that Fan and the man would both be saved.
At last he heard the man climb out of the water and throw himself down on the bank. Lo-Sun ran to him and asked, ‘Are you all right ? Where is my dog?’
The man could hardly speak, but at last he said slowly, ‘Oh, child, the dog has gone. I am so sorry. I tried to pull her out of the river with me, but we were both too tired. Look! She is over there in the water. She saved my life, but I am afraid she is drowned.’
Lo-Sun gave a great cry and threw himself down on the grass. ‘ Oh, Fan, Fan!’ he cried, in great unhappiness. ‘ What shall I do without you? You were my only friend.’ He buried his face in his hands and began to cry bitterly.
The man sat up and put his arm round the unhappy boy. ‘ Don’t cry!’ he said. Go home and tell your father. I am sure he will buy you another dog’
I have no home,’ said Lo-Sun. ‘ I’m a blind boy and my father sent me away from home when I was five years old. Fan was my only friend.’
The man gave a cry. ‘ Let me see your face, child,’ he said. Lo-Sun lifted his head and looked at the man. Yes, he looked at him, and he found that he could see! His last great act of kindness had cured his blindness. He had lost his dog, but he had found his eyesight.
The man said in a low voice, ‘ Is your name Lo-Sun?’
‘ Yes, it is,’ answered the boy. ‘ But how do you know?’
‘ Lo-Sun, my son, forgive me!’ the man said. ‘ I am your father. I was cruel and wicked to send you away. Come home with me now and I will never be cruel to you again. I will buy you another dog, and I will do everything to help you in your blindness.’
For a moment Lo-Sun was angry. This was his cruel father, the cause of all his unhappiness! And then he said softly, ‘ Father, I forgive you, and I shall be glad to come home with you. But look! I can see now. I am no longer blind.’
His father cried out in wonder, and as they walked slowly homewards, Lo-Sun told him about his dream and the fairy’s promise.
Lo-Sun has another dog now, called Min. But although Lo-Sun is happy and loves his home, he will never forget his faithful Fan.