Illustrated by: Wenhai Ma
Published by: Morrow, 1994
Copyright © Marilyn Singer 1994

The Painted Fan


When the imperial houses of Li and Chen would not stop fighting over who should control the Land of the Seven Caves, it was easy for Lord Shang to march in and set himself up as ruler. He and his men drove the remaining Lis west into the mountains and the Chens east toward the sea.  “May they never be reunited,” he sneered.

Then he went to his most trusted soothsayer to ask how long and prosperous his reign would be.

The old man gazed deeply into a cup fo tea and said nothing for such a length of time that the lord grew impatient.  He began to tap his fan on the side of his chair.

At last the soothsayer raised his eyes.  “You will reign for many years, and you will acquire much wealth and power.  But you will be hated and feared by all,” he said.

Lord Shang smiled.  “I do not mind being hated and feared, as long as there is nothing for me to fear in return.”

“There is nothing–except for the Painted Fan.”

“The what?” said Lord Shang.

“The Painted Fan,” repeated the soothsayer.  “It will be your undoing.”