Border Town: A Novel
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New in the Harper Perennial Modern Chinese Classics series,
say about the woman after that, much of it obscene. Cuicui was not used to such language, but she couldn’t leave the spot. Not only that, she heard one of the boatmen say that the woman’s father had been stabbed at Cotton Ball Slope—seventeen times. That uncomfortable thought suddenly seized her again: “Could Grandpa be dead?” As the boatmen continued conversing, the remaining white drake in the pool swam slowly toward the pier where Cuicui stood. She thought to herself, “Come any closer and
and their voices grew weak, they would make their way back in the dimming moonlight. Or they might stop at a familiar grain mill that operated all night without rest, lying down to sleep in the cozy barn until daybreak. It was all so natural, and although neither brother could imagine the outcome, that would come just as naturally. They decided to do it that very night: engage in a competition honored by local custom. CHAPTER THIRTEEN Cuicui sat beneath the white pagoda behind her house
1911 revolution, mumbled to himself in bed, incoherently: “The emperor values literary renown; admonishes you people to get it for your own; other pursuits are all beneath us; only book learning commands us to bow down…Is it daylight? Time to rise and shine!” Under the old monarchy, a tongsheng was merely qualified to sit for examinations that might lead to the xiucai, the minimal degree that conferred lower or sub-gentry status. What the old Daoist recites while waking was written in earnest by
and winter arrived, dwellings on the cliffs and by the water came clearly into view—not one could escape notice. Walls of yellow earth and pitch-black tiles, neatly placed there for all time and in harmony with the surroundings on every side, brought the viewer a sense of extraordinary joy. A traveler with the slightest interest in poetry or painting could sail this narrow river curled up in a little boat for a whole month without ever getting tired of it. Miracles could be discovered everywhere.
to watch the sailors lifting cargo and listen to them sing as they climbed up the masts. Come evening, though, they’d take their turns serving the merchants and the boatmen, earnestly doing all that it was a prostitute’s duty to do. Folkways in a border district are so straightforward and unsophisticated that even the prostitutes retained their everlasting honesty and simplicity. With a new customer, they got the money in advance; with business settled, they closed the door and the wild oats