Once upon a time Tian, the Lord of the Cranes, decided to leave his home, high in the clouds, and fly down to the city to test the people. Dressed in rags, he went begging for alms, but only the innkeeper Wang, passed the test. Tian rewarded Wang with a miraculous gift, a gift that brought fame and fortune to the innkeeper, and in return, Wang vowed to help the Lord of the Cranes with his special mission. The painter Jian Jiang Chen remembered this folktale from his childhood in China. He heard it from an old man who told stories accompanied by a violin — a common form of entertainment at that time when so few Chinese had televisions. Retold here by his wife, Kerstin, it is a haunting and uplifting tale of virtue rewarded.
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