Puslapio vaizdai
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"The other's features, yellow as old parchment, indifferent, dull, almost sleepy, had curled in a queer slow smile"

on the street, a cloudy, gurgling trickle weal of Pell Street, it had been the latof obscene abuse, presently fading into ter's custom, when he foregathered with the memory of sounds.

his countrymen, to gain face for himself The men sighed heavily. Coolies and his sacerdotal caste by talking with they were, the sweepings of the Canton nagging, pontifical unction about things gutters and river-banks, cooks, waiters, religious and sectarian. But, being a grocers, petty traders; yet men of an hedge-priest, self-appointed, who had ancient race, behind whom stretched received only scanty training in the forty centuries of civilization and cul- wisdom of the “three precious ones," ture and philosophy, in solemn, graven the Buddha past, the Buddha present, rows. Thus they were patient, slightly and the Buddha future, he had found it hard, not easily embarrassed, sub- hard to uphold his end when tackled by limely unselfconscious, tolerant, per- Li Ping-Yeng, the banker, the literatus, mitting each man to look after his own anent the contents of such abstruse fate, be it good or evil. Anti-social, books of theological learning as the an American would have called them, "Park of Narratives," "Ku-liang's Comand he would have been wrong.

mentaries," or the "Diamond Sutra." Li Ping-Yeng had bared his naked, Now, with the other baring his bleedquivering soul to their gaze. He was ing soul, he had seen a chance of settling their friend; they respected him. He the score, of causing him to lose a great was a rich man, an educated man. Yet deal of face. Li Ping-Yeng's life was his own to make “Little brother," he had purred, "I or to mar. Sympathy? Yes; but not am a man of religion, a humble seeker the arrogant indelicacy of help offered, after truth, whose knowledge is not to be of advice proffered.

compared with yours; yet have I thought Thus they had thought, all except much. I have thought left and thought Yu Ch'ang, the priest of the joss-temple. right. Often in the past have we

For many years, since he made his differed, you and I, on minor matters of frugal living by catering to the spiritual philosophy and ceremonial. May I,

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the very useless one, address words of in the Lotus! The most perfectly advice to you, the great literatus?"

awakened Blessed One who meditates in “Please do."

heaven on His seven-stepped throne!" “Ah! Then let me reply with the And again the grave assembly of words of Confucius, that he who puts Chinese had sat very still, sucking in too much worth on worthless things, their breath, staring at their neat, such as the love of woman, the love of slippered feet from underneath heavy, the flesh, is like the wolf and the hare, hooded eyelids, intent, by the token of leaving the direction of his steps to low their austere racial simplicity, on effacpassions. To lead such a man into the ing their personalities from the focus of august ways of tao is as futile as tether- alien conflict; and then, like many a ing an elephant with the fiber of the priest of many a creed before him, Yu young lotus, as futile as the attempt to Ch'ang, sensing the silent indifference cut a diamond with a piece of wood, as fu- of his countrymen and interpreting it tile as trying to sweeten the salt sea with as a reproach to his hierarchical caste, a drop of honey, or to squeeze oil from had let his rage get the better of his sand. Ah, ahee!” He had spread out professional, sacerdotal hypocrisy. his fingers like the sticks of a fan and had “The Buddha? Here? In Pell looked about him with brutal triumph. Street?" he had exclaimed. He had

The other's features, as yellow as old laughed hoarsely, meanly. “Find parchment, indifferent, dull, almost Him, the Excellent One, the Perfect sleepy, had curled in a queer, slow smile. One, in Pell Street? Look for the He was smoking his fourth pipe, a pipe shining glory of His face here in the of carved silver, with a green-amber soot and grease and slippery slime of mouthpiece and black tassels. The Pell Street? Search, belike, for fish on room had gradually filled with scented top of the mountain, and for horns on fog. The objects scattered about had the head of the cat! Bah!” He had lost their outlines, and the embroidered spat out the word, had risen, crossed stuffs on the walls had gleamed less over to the window, thrown it wide, brilliantly. Only the big, violet- and pointed to the west, where a great, shaded lanterns on the ceiling had con- slow wind was stalking through the tinued to give some light, since poppy sky, picking up fluttering rags of cloud. vapors are slow to rise and float nearer Go! Find Him, the Buddha, in the the ground.

stinking, rotten heaven of Pell Street! “You are wrong, wise priest," he had Go, go-by all means! And, perhaps, replied.

when you have found Him, you will Wrong?

also have found your tao, fool!” “Yes. For there is one who can I shall try, " had come Li Pingtether the elephant with the fiber of the Yeng's reply. "Yes; most decidedly young lotus, who can cut a diamond shall I try.' He had walked to the with a piece of soft wood, sweeten the door. There he had turned. “Little salt sea with a drop of honey, and brother," he had said to the priest over squeeze oil from sand.”

his shoulder, without malice or hurt or “Who?", Yu Ch'ang had asked, smil- bitterness, “and why should I not find ing crookedly at the grave assembly Him even in the Pell Street gutters? of Chinese who sat there, sucking in Why should I not find my tao even in their breath through thin lips, their the stinking, rotten heaven that vaults faces like carved ivory masks.

above Pell Street? Tell me. Is not Li Ping-Yeng had made a great my soul still my soul? Is not the diagesture.

mond still a diamond, even after it has “The Excellent Buddha,” he had fallen into the dung-heap?" replied, in low, even, passionless, mo- And he had stepped out into the night, notonous accents that were in curious, staring up at the purple-black sky, his almost inhuman, contrast to the sub- coat flung wide apart, his lean, yellow lime, sweeping faith in his choice of hands raised high, indifferent to the words. “The Omniscient Gautama! rain that had begun to come down in The All-Seeing Tathagata! The Jewel

The Jewel flickering sheets.

"Say, John, wot's the matter? Been “No savvy." hittin' the old pipe too much? Look "Listen!"—from the old Spanish out! One o' these fine days I 'll raid woman who kept the second-hand store that joint o' yours," had come detective around the corner, on the Bowery,Bill Devoy's genial brogue from a door- “What do you think he 's going to do way where he had taken refuge against with all the truck he bought for his wife? the elements.

I'd like to buy the lot. Now, if you Li Ping-Yeng had not heari, had want to earn a commission” not replied; except to talk to himself, “No savvy." perhaps to the heaven, perhaps to the "Is he goin' t' try holy matrimony Buddha, in staccato, Mongo. mono- again, or near-matrimony?"-from Mr. syllables, which, had Bill Devoy been Brian Neill, the saloon-keeper, who able to understand, would have con- occasionally added to his income by vinced him more than ever that that unsavory deals between the yellow and there Chink was a sure-enough hop-head: the white,-"For, if he wants another

"Permit me to cross the torrent of goil, there 's a peacherino of a redgrief, O Buddha, as, even now, I am headed good-looker that blows into my crossing the stream of passion! Give back parlor once in a while and that me a stout raft to gain the other side don't mind Chinks as long 's they got of blessedness! Show me the way, O the kale King!"

"No savvy." Back in the Honorable Pavilion of And even to the emissary of a very Tranquil Longevity, slant eye had great Wall Street bank that in the past looked meaningly into slant eye.

had handled certain flourishing Manila “Ah, perhaps indeed he will find his and Canton and Hankow accounts for tao," Yung Long, the wholesale grocer, the Pell Street banker, and who, unable had breathed gently; and then to Yu to locate him personally and being Ch'ang, who had again broken into slightly familiar with Chinese customs, harsh, mean cackling, said:

had sought out the head of the latter's “Your mouth is like a running tap, masonic lodge and had asked him why O very great and very uncouth cock- Li Ping-Yeng had retired from busiroach!"

ness, and if, at all events, he would n't “Aye, a tap spouting filthy water." help them with the unraveling of a This was from Nag Sen Yat, the opium knotty financial tangle in far Shen-si. merchant.

Even there was the same singsong “A tap which, presently, I shall stop answer: with my fist,” said Nag Hop Fat, the "No savvy," exasperatingly, stonily soothsayer, winding up the pleasant repeated. round of Oriental metaphor.

“No savvy, no savvy." Thus was displayed, then, the serene, For two days after his wife's tragic if negative, sympathy of the Pell Street death Li Ping-Yeng, to quote his own confraternity, further demonstrated by words, had given up vigorously threshits denizens leaving Li Ping-Yeng here ing mere straw, by which term he meant after severely alone and by replying to all the every day, negligible realities all questions and remarks of outsiders of life. with the usual formula of the Mongol He had begun by selling his various when he does not wish to commit business interests; nor, since he was a himself.

prosy Mongol whose brain functioned "I feel so terribly sorry for him,”. with the automatic precision of a photothis from Miss Edith Rutter, -"Is graphic shutter and was nowise affected there really nothing I can do to" by whatever was going on in his soul, "No savvy."

had he made a bad deal. On the con"Looka here,"—from Bill Devoy, trary, he had bargained shrewdly down "you tell that brother-Chink o' yourn, to the last fraction of a cent. that there Li Ping-Yeng, to stop hittin' Then, prudently, deliberately, the the black smoke, or I 'll pinch him on patient and materialistic Oriental even spec, see?

in matters of the spirit, he had swept

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Say, John, wot 's the matter? Been hittin' the old pipe too much? Look out!'"

his mind clear of everything except the him and destroy his clogging, individual search for his tao, the search for his entity. salvation. This tao was to him a con- But how was this to be attained? crete thing, to be concretely achieved, Had he been a Hindu ascetic, or even since it was to link him, intimately and a member of certain Christian sects, strongly, not with, as would have been he would have flagellated his body, the case had he been a Christian, an would have gone through the ordeal of esoteric principle, a more or less recon- physical pain. But, a Mongol, thus dite theological dogma, but with a

a stolidly unromantic and rational, almost precious and beneficent influence that, torpidly sane, he had done nothing of although invisible, was not in the least the sort. On the contrary, he had consupernatural. For he was of the East, tinued to take good care of himself. Eastern; he did not admit the exist- True, he had begun to eat less, but not ence of the very word "supernatural.” purposely; simply because his appetite To him everything was natural, since had decreased. And his real reason everything, even the incredible, the for keeping his wife's Pekinese spanimpossible, the never-to-be-understood, iel tucked in his sleeve was because · had its secret, hidden roots in some evo- "Reverential and Sedate" reminded lution of nature, of the Buddha, the him when it was time for luncheon or blessed Fo, the. active and eternal dinner, hours he might otherwise have principle of life and creation.

forgotten. Perhaps at the very first his search The idea of suicide had never entered had not been quite as concise, had his reckoning, since he held the belief rather shaped itself to his perplexed, of half Asia, that suicide destroys the groping mind in the terms of a con- body and not the soul; that it is only a Alict, a distant and mysterious encounter crude and slightly amateurish interwith the forces of fate, of which his ruption of the present life, leaving the

, wife's death had been but a visible, thread of it still more raveled and outward fragment.

tangled and knotted for the next life, Then, gradually—and by this time and yet the next. it had become spring, wakening to the He had passed over the obvious soluwhite-and-pink fragrance of the south- tion of devoting himself to charity, to ern breezes-spring that, occasionally, the weal of others, as it had seemed to even in Pell Street, painted a sapphire him but another instance of weak and sky as pure as the laughter of little selfish vanity, fully as weak and selchildren-he had stilled the poignant fish as the love of woman; and the questionings of his unfulfilled desires, solace of religion he had dismissed with his fleshly love, and had turned the the same ready, smiling ease. Research for his tao into more practical ligion, to him, was not an idea, but a channels.

stout, rectangular entity, a great force Practical, though of the soul! For, and principle, that did its appointed again, to him, a Chinese, the soul was duty not because people believed in it, a tangible thing. Malcer it was, to be but because it was. The Buddha would constructively influenced and molded help him, if it be so incumbent by fate and clouted and fashioned. It had upon the Buddha, regardless, if he seemed to him to hold the life of to- prayed to him or not, if he memorized morrow, beside which his life of to-day the sacred scriptures, if he burned and yesterday had faded into the drab- sweet-scented Hunshuh incense-sticks ness of a wretched dream. He had before the gilt altar or not. For the wanted this to-morrow, had craved it, Buddha, too, was tied firmly to the sensing in it a freedom magnificently Wheel of Things. The Buddha, too, remote from the smaller personal exist- had to do his appointed task. Thus, ence he had known heretofore, feeling Li Ping-Yeng had decided, prayers that, presently, when he would have would be a waste of time, since they achieved merit, it would stab out of the could not influence the Excellent One heavens with a giant rush of splendor one way or the other. and, blessedly, blessedly, overwhelm How, then, could he acquire sufficient

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