by RJ Steed

There was a young girl by the name of Yi Mei who lived in the mountains of China.  She was from a poor family in a poor and tiny village.  After a day’s work in the evenings, she would sit and listen to the gossip by the fire in the village square before returning home to sleep.  She was told many stories of a wonderful kind man who lived far away on the other side of China. 

Mei loved the stories of the kind man who was called Fong Lung.   The stories said he was wealthy and used his wealth to help mankind.  He would work hard to discover new ways to help the people of China.  One night at the fire she said, “I want to give Fong Lung a gift.”  The others laughed at her, saying, “You are as poor as we are.  You have no gift for such a great man!”

As the days went by, young Mei thought about Fong Lung.  As she worked in the fields she would imagine what to give to him.  Finally one day she had decided what her gift to him would be. 

Mei left a short note on parchment paper to her parents and left in the middle of the night to go and find the great man Fong Lung.  She knew her parents would not let her go so she had to leave by darkness. 

She did not know exactly where Fong Lung lived, there were many rumors and many stories about where he called his home.  For several months and many adventures, Yi Mei traveled to find the great kind man.  She crossed the mountains, she crossed rivers, she walked until her shoes were worn too thin.

One day she found the right village where it was true that the kind wonderful man Fong Lung lived.  She was overjoyed to discover he was real, that she might actually see him.  However, she was nothing more than a poor girl from the mountains and was dirty and skinny from her journey.  No one would allow her to see such a wealthy man, of this she was certain.  She began to feel her long journey was without meaning if she could not find a way to meet him.

She stayed as close to his wealthy home as possible, hiding in the shadows hoping to catch a glimpse of him.  On her third day in his village, she finally saw him.  She hid from view but Fong Lung was very observant and he spotted her in the shadows.  She felt her face turn red with shame as she was dirty and wearing tattered clothes.  A guard came towards her after Fong Lung gave notice.

“Who are you to stare at Master Fong?” the guard bellowed.  “How dare you come to his home, you are filthy.” 

Yi Mei dared not to look at Fong Lung and knew not to answer.  She did not have the right to speak.  Would she find out that Fong Lung was not anything like the stories she had heard for such a long time? Even in her travels to find him, strangers would tell her how wonderful he was and how all of China called him “Dai Goh”. 

Fong Lung waved his guard aside and approached her.  “This girl has obviously traveled a great distance to stand here in the shadows,” he said, looking at her as if memorizing her features.  “To what do I owe such an honor, girl?”

Yi Mei was still afraid to speak, her face showed it. 

“It is all right, young girl,” he said in a softer voice.  “Is there something that I can do for you?”

“I came here to give you a gift,” she finally told Fong Lung.

The guard laughed.  “You have NOTHING Master Fong would want.”

Fong looked at his guard and shook his head to silence him.

“Where did you come from to give me a gift?” Fong Lung asked Mei.

“From the mountains on the other side of China,” Yi Mei replied.

“Come inside my home, young one,” Fong Lung suggested.  “You will feel better with hot food and new clothes and a bath.  To be clean is also to cleanse the soul.”

Yi Mei followed the kind Fong Lung inside and marveled at his wonderful home.  She was given a large wooden tub and hot water and soap to clean her body and new clean clothes to wear.  To her surprise she was also given a new pair of shoes.  She hoped that her new shoes would last her all the way back to the mountains where she was from when she returned after giving her gift to Fong Lung.  She ate a hot meal of rice and vegetables.  It was so good she wanted more but dared not to request it.

Finally she was allowed to see Fong Lung again.  It was time to give him the gift she had brought for him over the mountains and across China.  She was taken to his great hall and waited for permission to approach him.  As soon as he saw her, he motioned for her to come to him.  Timidly she walked towards him, and he began to realize how beautiful young Yi Mei was.  She dared not to lift her eyes to meet his gaze.

“Young girl, what are you called?” he asked.

“I am Yi Mei,” she answered.

“And you have come over the mountains and across China to give a gift to me.  Why do so?”

“To honor your kindness and how my heart feels when I hear the stories of how you help those in need,” she replied, then she worried she had spoken too much. 

“Are you in need of my help? Is your village in need of my help?” he asked.

“No, I am not in need, Master Fong, nor is my village.”

Fong Lung smiled a curious smile.  He was amused by this girl.

“Your old clothes had no pockets.  You had no pouch.  Where do you keep this gift?” he asked.

“Close to my heart, Master Fong,” she responded matter of factly.

 After a moment of reflection, he announced, “You may give me your gift, young girl Yi Mei.”

“Please, Master Fong, hold your hands out to me to receive my gift but close your eyes so that you do not see it,” she timidly suggested.

Fong Lung laughed and did as she requested.

Yi Mei took both her hands and pressed them against her heart.  Then she held her hands over his hands, gently touching them with her fingertips in almost a tickle sensation.  Then she stopped.  “You may open your eyes,” she said cheerfully.

Fong Lung opened his eyes and commented on what he saw.  “There is nothing in my hands.”

“Yes there is.  I gave you my gift which I kept close to my heart through my entire journey,” she responded, as if he should know what it is.

“Then what is your gift so close to your heart?” he pondered.

“An idea,” she said.

“What idea?” he asked.

“I do not know, it is now YOUR idea,” she informed him.  “I just hope that whatever you do with it, you will make it a GOOD idea.”

Fong Lung then realized how precious a gift it was that he had just received.  He had received gifts and praise before from those whom he had helped over the years, but no one had ever traveled from far away to give him a gift just from hearing the stories about his charity.  Not just that, but the bearer of such a gift was dirt poor and had nothing else to give, except an idea that he could use to help others in need!

“I am humbled by your gift,” he bowed to her.

Yi Mei thought that she would then make her journey back to the mountains now that she had accomplished her goal.  Her story did not end there.  Fong Lung traveled with her back to her village by caravan and asked her parents for consent to wed her and she became Fong Mei Yi and lived a long happy life helping the man of her dreams with his idea to help those in need.


Thank you to Petra Vogel for drawing "The Gift" cartoon just for this story.



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