"The Story of One Wetnurse."

Lately, I found myself unable to resist the temptation to translate this very pertinent classic to English. If you, reader, know of a better translation, do not hesitate to write in. And so, here goes:


"The Story of One Wetnurse."
by Vlas Mikhailovich Doroshevich (1864--1922).


Emperor Jing-Li-O, nicknamed Hao-Tu-Li-Chi-San-He-Nun, which means Justice Itself, once woke up feeling unwell.

- The Emperor has taken ill!

Rumours spread through the palace. Many stopped bowing to the first minister. The court poet wrote a welcoming ode to the crown prince.

The best doctors, pale with fear, bowed and apologetic, examined the Emperor, whispered in horror, and the chief doctor, falling at his feet, exclaimed:

- Permit me to tell the whole truth, oh consolation of humanity?

- Speak! - the Emperor allowed.

- Of course, you are the Son of Heaven! - said the chief doctor. - But by your unspeakable mercy, you sometimes come down to the people and allow yourself to contract such diseases as ordinary mortals may suffer. Today is the day of your greatest indulgence: your stomach is simply upset.

The Emperor was rather surprised:

- From what? Before bed, I drank nothing but my wetnurse's milk. Three hundred and sixty months have I reigned, and I nourish myself, as befits me, with the milk of a wetnurse. I have changed three hundred and sixty wetnurses, and nothing like this has ever happened to me. Who overfed my wetnurse, and with what?

The strictest investigation was immediately carried out - but it turned out that the wetnurse had eaten only the finest dishes, and that, moreover, they had been given to her in moderation.

- It could be that she fell ill naturally. What were those who chose her for me thinking? - the Emperor was angry. - Execute the culprits.

The culprits were executed, but according to the most thorough investigation, it turned out that they were blameless: the wetnurse was completely healthy.

Then the Emperor ordered his wetnurse to be brought to him.

- Why did your milk spoil? He asked sternly.

- Son of Heaven, Benefactor of the Universe. Justice Itself, - answered the trembling wetnurse, - you are seeking the truth not where it is hidden. Nobody overfed me and I myself did not overeat. Likewise, I have never been ill in my life. My milk has spoiled because I think about everything that is going on at home.

- What is going on at your home? - asked the Emperor.

- I come from the province of Pe-Chi-Li, which you saw it fit to to entrust to the mandarin Ki-Ni. He does terrible things, oh Joy of the Universe. He sold our house and took the money for himself, because we could not give him the bribe he demanded. He took my sister as his concubine, and beheaded her husband so that he would not complain. In addition, he executed my father and imprisoned my mother. In general, he treated us the way he treats everyone. When I remember all of this, I cry - and that's why my milk spoils.

The Emperor was terribly angry.

- Summon all of my advisers to me!

And when they appeared, he strictly ordered:

- Find me an honest man now.

They found one.

And the Emperor said to him:

- Mandarin Ki-Ni, to whom I entrusted governing the province of Pe-Chi-Li, does such things that even my wetnurse's milk has spoiled. Go there now, carry out the most severe investigation in my name and report to me. And there is to be no concealment, you will neither add nor take away - so that the truth reflects in your words, like the moon appears in a calm, sleeping lake. You know, on a quiet night, when you look and cannot make out: where is the real moon and where is the reflection - in the lake or in the sky? Go forth now.

The honest man set out at once with a hundred of the most skilled investigators.

The mandarin, terrified to death, seeing that his position was unenviable, offered the messenger a hefty bribe.

But the honest man, having been sent by the Emperor himself, did not dare to take it.

The moon in heaven went through three changes, and the honest man and his hundred investigators were still unraveling the matter. Finally, when the fourth moon was nearing its end, the honest man came to the Emperor, fell at his feet and asked:

- Is it the whole truth that I shall tell, Justice Itself?

- All of it! - ordered the Emperor.

- If there is in the whole world, which belongs to you and to no one else, a corner worthy of tears, then it is the province of Pe-Chi-Li, the Son of Heaven. Truly, it could bring tears to the eyes of the most malevolent dragon. All over the province, everyone begs for alms, and there is no one to give alms, because everyone is begging for them. Houses are ravaged, rice fields lie fallow. And all of this is not because the inhabitants are uncommonly lazy, but because the Ki-Ni mandarin takes everything from them, no matter what they earn. There is no justice in the courts, and only he who gives the most to the mandarin is in the right. As for good morals, they have forgotten about them entirely. Just as soon as Ki-Ni lays his eyes on a pretty girl, he takes her for himself and away from her father and mother. And not only girls - he takes even married women.

- How could this be! - exclaimed the Emperor.

- Not only the moon, but the sun could vouch for the truth of my words! - replied the honest man. - Everything I have spoken is true. The ornament of your power, the cream of your provinces - the province of Pe-Chi-Li is dying!

The Emperor took his head in his hands, showing deep sorrow.

- I'll have to think about what to do! I'll have to think!

He ordered all of his courtiers to wait in the great hall, while he himself, retiring to his chamber, walked from corner to corner in contemplation. The whole day went by. Before nightfall, the Emperor appeared before his courtiers, solemnly sat down under the canopy and, when all of them fell face down to the ground, announced:

- The province of Pe-Chi-Li is in a terrible state, and therefore We proclaim: never again shall wetnurses be taken from there for the Emperor.

And ever since then, they have never once taken a wetnurse from the province of Pe-Chi-Li for the Emperor.

This entry was written by Stanislav , posted on Wednesday September 22 2021 , filed under Books, Chumpatronics, Distractions, NonLoper, Philology, Philosophy, Translations . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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