The Peddler

Sample translated by Canaan Morse , from the book Hua Meng Lu.

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The handled drum in the peddler’s hand begins to sound. A day in June, as the westward-tilting sun covers with light the white outer wall and the pagoda trees standing outside of it, their numberless layers of leaves deeply green. The metallic whine of the cicadas suddenly ceases, and a stillness follows; while no one knows how long this old estate has been around, it is still surprising to see travelers come this way. The outer door lies half-closed, as if pushed softly by the inattentive hand of someone going out. Yet here, carrying his yellow wooden crate comes the peddler, over the grassy bank of the outlying field, turns in, passes an ancient ancestral tomb and, knowing without needing to look that this is the Liu family estate, begins rotating his lifted wrist, and the beng-beng-beng of his drum comes pulsing out.

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