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A mid-summer night dinner under the Mulberry tree

It's the mid-summer night, the sun was setting down at the Brush-holder Mountain in the west, the Sheng's set out dinner table under the mulberry tree in the garden, and the plum tree. They have boiled patatoes and rice porridge for dinner tonight.

The mid-summer breeze is blowing through the pine woods in front of the village, and  cicadas are singing everywhere, it's very pleasant night indeed!

As they are eating, the darkness of the night closes in, and fireflies start to flashing around, the adults begin to slap their bare shoulders and legs, cursing the flies, and the children conplaining itching. Then Mr Sheng goes to fetch some special grass and lighted up to repel mosquitoes, the smoke starts to waving in the wind with a pleasant smell.

The younger brother Xian the first who finished his dinner, and started running around to catch the fireflies, several minutes later he caught dozens and put in a straw, swishing like superman's laser sword.

 Watching amusingly on it, the eldest boy Biao remarked: "Xian, can you catch hundred, and make a light of firefly, so we don't need to light the oil lamp. "

"Yeah, you may read by the firefly lamp," Mrs. Sheng said, "just as that poor scholar did. "

"How can you see the character in a book by firefly light?" Xian asked.

Mrs Sheng said, "Surely we can. That poor scholar was an orphan, and has not money to buy candles, but he loves studying so much that he often read books late in the night, so he caught hundreds of fireflies,and put in a bag, then he reads his book."

"Wow!" said the boys, "How long would he take to caught so many fireflies?"

"There might be more fireflies in ancient times, so he can catch dozens by one grab. "

"He might use a fly-catcher, something like a net with a handle, so he swished around and easily caught thousands."

"That's fun!" the younger boy said, "how about the winter, there are no firefly in winter."

"He read by the light of snow!" Mr Sheng had been listening quietly all the time, but seems to enjoy these conversations between his sons and his wife, until then he couldn't hold up himself any more, and  supplemented the second half of the story.

"Once upon a time, there was also an orphan, he was so poor that couldn't afford to pay charcol to warm himself and  buy candle, but he loved studying, he kept reading all day, when it was getting dark inside, he went outside, and continued reading by the weak light of white snow. Because snow can reflect the light."

The brothers and sisters fell quiet for several seconds, then the young brother said,  "he must feel very cold."

"How about the spring and autumn, then?" the young sister asked, "it's not too hot to have firefly, and not too cold to have snow, what did he do? "

The parents laughed merrily at this idea. "Good question," the father turned to his eldest daughter and said, "Eh, I suppose that you know the answer, because you have just learned this story in your literature lesson."

Until then, Eh had never interrupted their conversation, he seems shy at the present of her father. Reluctantly she said on her father's request:  "Well, the poor scholar just happened to have a rich neighbour, he cut a hole on the wall and stole the lights of his neighbour."

These sterotyped stories have been lost in the Great Culture Revolution, now they picked up bits and pieces of these once treated as cliche and harmful. The children seemed to be amazed by them.

While they were taking, they finished potatoes, and their porridge. Mr Sheng lighted his pipe, and Mrs cleared the bowls and plates.


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