The Boy Who Played the Flute

Once, there were three orphaned brothers. When the eldest brother became a man he married a mean wife. The middle brother married a kind one. And the youngest brother, still a boy, married no one at all.

20. The Boy with the FluteThe eldest brother was responsible for taking care of his brothers. But he worked such long hours that the duty fell on his mean wife’s shoulders. She took every opportunity to goad the youngest brother for being lazy.

“I’ve had enough of him,” she announced to her husband one day. “It’s time he became independent. Hire a kaido and dump him on the nearest island.”

In order to please his wife, the eldest brother did what she demanded. A boat owner sailed him and his youngest brother to Shek Kwu Chau. While his brother was roaming the beautiful island, and without giving him a backward glance, the eldest brother sailed away.

Meanwhile, the youngest brother discovered friendly goats, cats, and dogs. He gazed out to sea, and laughed at playful pink dolphins and diving bats. Then he sat down back on the beach and waited. And waited. The sky turned black and the sea turned grey before he realised he’d been abandoned.

But he was a brave boy who didn’t mind being alone. He picked some fruit to eat and slept curled up inside a cave. The following morning, he played his flute, which he always carried in his pocket. Sometimes he played it all day, with sunshine glistening on the sea, and goats, cats, dogs, crabs and crayfish gathered to listen. Soon, pink dolphins bobbed up from the sea to listen too.

So if you happen to be travelling to Macau one day, look carefully, because you may see them all.

This story is a Hong Kong version of a Chinese folk tale called The Boy Who Played Flute published in the collection民前趣事by 北新書局北新书 in 1933.

Illustrated by Bianca Lesaca

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