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The Two Chinamen
by [?]

Ages ago, when this world was new, having been created but a short while, two Chinese boys left their native country and started out on their travels to discover things new and strange. After wandering for many days they came to the hill and water country where the Shans live. Here they found a monastery, where lived very wise and learned priests, who instructed them in many ways.

They lived here some time and won the esteem of the head priest to such an extent that he showed them a magic sword and bow that had lain in the monastery many years waiting for somebody to carry away. The law was that the man who could bend the bow or could draw the sword from its sheath should keep it.

The elder brother went to the sword and tried to draw it. He pulled, he tugged, he strained, till the sweat ran down his face, but in vain. He could not draw it out one inch.

Seeing the ill success of his elder brother, the younger thought it impossible for him to draw the magic sword, but at his brother’s command he took the handle in his hand and pulled with all his might. To everybody’s surprise out came the magic sword, and the Chinaman walked away in triumph.

The elder brother now made up his mind that if he could not get the sword he would try for the bow, and he might have more success with that, so he exerted all his strength, and slowly, slowly bent it, till the cord was taut and the bow all ready to shoot.

The people of the city were amazed that the two brothers should have such strength and good luck, and many envious eyes followed them as they again set out on their journey, carrying their trophies with them.

They traveled on and on till they gave up counting the distance, it was so great, till one day, as they were resting on the banks of a large river in a far country, they saw a great fish swimming in the water. It was so great that nobody heretofore had been able to catch it, and it was in fact the king of all the fishes. It broke all the nets and smashed all the traps. It snapped all the lines that were set for it, and nobody was strong enough to pull it ashore when it did take the hook. The Chinamen saw it, and the elder brother instantly strung his bow, put on a bolt, and shot the great fish as it was swimming in the shallow water. In a few minutes he had it on his shoulder, and they commenced to cross the bridge to the other side of the river.

Now the river was very wide, the current was very swift, and the bridge was not at all strong. It was only made of bamboos and rattan and swung from side to side as the men crossed it. When they got to the middle it began to creak and strain till the two travelers were in great fear it would break. The one who had killed it turned to his brother and said:

“O brother, the fish is so heavy I am afraid the bridge will break. Please draw your magic sword and cut it in halves, and then we will be able to get to the other side in safety.”

The younger brother therefore drew his sword and cut the fish in halves; but he did not yet know how sharp the sword was, for he cut the fish in halves, it is true, but not only that, but the whole bridge as well, so that his brother fell into the water and was immediately swept from his sight. On his part he could not of course cross, now the bridge was down, so he returned to the same side of the river and ran along the bank looking to see whether his brother would be swept ashore in some shallow place; but although he ran till he was exhausted and then traveled for many days by the side of the river through the jungle, he could discover no trace of his lost brother.