Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Foolish Old Man Moved the Mountains

December 2002
Folk Tales from around the world

There was a ninety-year-old man whose name was Yugong living at the north of two high mountains, Mount Taixing and Mount Wangwu.  The mountains blocked Yugong's way because they stretched over a wide expanse of land; Yugong and his family could not go out anywhere easily and felt inconvenienced.
   One day Yugong gathered his family together and said, "Let's do our best to move out these two mountains and create a straight road to Yuzhou.  If we did it, we would not have to worry about whether going anywhere would be difficult hereafter.  What do you all think?"
   All of his family except only his wife agreed with him.  His wife said with a suspicious attitude, "You don't even have the power to cut a small mound, why on earth do you think that you can dig away Mount Taixing and Mount Wangwu?  Moreover, where will all the dirt and rubble go?"
   "Dump them into the Sea of Bohai!" said everyone.
   So Yugong, his sons, and his grandsons started to break up rocks and remove the dirt.  They transported the dirt and rubble to the Sea of Bogai.  Yugong's neighbor was a widow who had only an eight-year-old son, and they came to help together.
   As the summer went and winter came, it took a full year to come and go from their place to the Sea of Bohai.  The process of breaking up these two mountains was too difficult for them to succeed.
   An old man who was much respected for his wisdom lived on the bank of the Yellow River.  When he saw their back-breaking labor, he ridiculed Yugong, saying, "Aren't you foolish. my friend?  You are very old now, and with whatever remains of your waning strength, you won't be able to remove even a corner of the mountain."
   Yugong lamented and said, "A person with this kind of prejudice like you will never understand.  You can't even compare with the widow's little boy!  Even if I were dead, I still have my children, my grandchildren, my great grandchildren, my great great grandchildren and so on.  They will still keep moving these mountains away, and mountains won't grow anymore.  One day we'll succeed in leveling them!"  Yugong said with confidence in himself.
   The self-righteous old man was completely silenced.
   When the guardian gods of the mountains saw how toilsome and persistent Yugong and his people were, they were struck with fear and report the incident to the emperor of the Heavens.  The Emperor of the Heavens admired Yugong's patience, and he ordered two mighty gods to carry the mountains away.
   All people including Yugong who lived at the north of the two high mountains, Mount Taixing and Mount Wangwu, were very happy and felt thankful, because they wouldn't have to worry about the difficult of going out anymore.


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