A Nail To A Kingdom (1. Chen Or Li?)

2007-01-25

1. Chen Or Li?

Many of us have heard: lacking a nail, a horse shoe was lost; lacking a horse shoe, a horse was lost; lacking a horse, a knight was lost; lacking a knight; the troop lost the battle; losing the battle, the kingdom was lost. Yes, indeed.

[To encourage his readers to read on, the author likes to assure to them hereby that there will not be too many Chinese-character names appearing later on. For the sake of authenticity, these names unfortunately must be used. Please bear with him for a while. ]

In a hot summer evening in 208 B. C., underneath the shade of a birch tree, Di2 Fen1 was watching a Go game intently. And guess what, the fate of this Go game eventually determined the fate of the entire China. Of course, at that moment, nobody knew that such an insignificant event would become so important in the history.

Di2 Fen1 was a 14-year-old girl. By today’s standard, she was under-aged. By the standard of Qin2 dynasty in China in 208 B. C., however, it was about time for her parents to make a mental note of starting to look for a husband for their daughter.

The village where Di2 Fen1 lived was called Da4 Ze2, meaning big pond, situated in the central part of China. Perhaps there were many ponds, lakes, and marshes around this village of about 5,000 farming inhabitants. Most of the villagers were poorly educated. How could they not be? They did not have time to go to schools. They had to busy themselves to farm throughout the year, in order to survive and to pay heavy taxes to Qin2 government. Besides, the government prohibited its civilians from getting educated. Hence there were no schools around.

Possibly Qin2 was the first dynasty, from which the westerners heard of the existence of China in the orient. Hence they named the country China. The sound of “Chi” is close to that of “Qin”. (Actually, Cheena would be even closer)

Di2 Fen1’s grandparents loved flute (Di2) music. Fen1 means “fragrant”, a common Chinese character given to female names. At this moment, DF (hereafter we will use this abbreviation) could not tell which side was winning or losing the Go game. Black and white were engaged in a complicated battle in the central area. Other than that, both sides’ had enclosed approximately equal territories.

While watching the game, she did not forget to occasionally use the feather fan to fan 5 times for the black player, and then 5 times for the white players.

"I must try to appear to be very fair to both sides." She reminded herself. The air was humid and hot. Whether or not her fanning brought the cooling effect to the sweating players was unknown. Nonetheless, both of them appreciated her good intention.

Both Chen Sheng4 and Li Qiang2 were slightly older than DF. Several years ago, DF’s grandfather taught three of them the game of Go. Since then, Chen and Li had become attracted to the game, and had somewhat improved their skill. Often after their daily farming labor, they two would get engaged in a few games. Even though the grandfather was originally the teacher, very soon Chen and Li already surpassed him.

DF’s attraction to Go was not as strong as these two young men's. So she did not improve as much. But she did not mind watching the games.

Every year near the end of summer and the beginning of fall, there would be a festival held in a nearby town. Folks in Da Ze villages and in other villages would all flock to the town to enjoy the festivity. The festival was especially designed for youngster lovers. Games, dances, selling of ornaments, flowers, souvenirs, etc. were filled with the flavor of love, holding hands, and affection.

The scale and the atmosphere of the festival deteriorated as years elapsed. Many men in the villages had to be drafted by the government to participate in the construction of A1-Fang2 Palace, an extremely luxurious building for the emperor to enjoy in his later years.

Even so, DF, Chen, and Li all looked forward to attending the festival. There was a problem, however. Both Chen and Li asked DF to be their companion. To compound the problem was that DF was fond of both of them. Chen was not as bright as Li, but seemed to be more ambitious in becoming a successful bread winner. Li was not as ambitious as Chen, but seemed to be a romantic and thoughtful young man.

To go with Chen or Li? It was a difficult decision for DF to make. Troubled by being unable to make a decision for a few days, DF finally announced,

“OK, you two play a Go game. I will go with the winner.”

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