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Shvoong Home>Books>The Courtesan's Jewel Box Review

The Courtesan's Jewel Box

Book Review   by:ashwang     Original Author: Feng Meng Long
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Decima was the most famous courtesan and had accumulated a substantial amount of wealth since she became a courtesan, because she serviced countless young men of rich and noble families. She met Li Jia and fell in love with him. As Li grew poorer, the Decima’s mistress started insulting him because he monopolized the girl. However, Decima became more and more attached to him and believe that he was the person to spend the live with. The mistress allowed Decima to go off with Li under the condition that he had to pay three hundred taels in ten days. Li was unable to collect the three hundred taels from the relatives and friends, as they did not trust him. Decima was a very wise lady. She did not show her entire wealth to Li, as the wealth was what she saved for her future. Instead, she brought out only one hundred and fifty taels of silver to help Li. With this one hundred and fifty taels of silver from Decima as well as the help from Mr. Liu, Li Jia was able to pay for Decima and the couple finally left the mistress’ house together. On the way back to see Li’s father, a dissolute young man Su Fun, who frequented the courtesan’s quarter, was lured by Decima’s voice and approached Li Jia.
He persuaded Li Jia to give up Decima by questioning Decima’s loyalty to Li and pointing out the inappropriateness of bringing a singsong girl to Li’s father who was a high official. As Li was a weak character who stood in great awe of his father, Sun’s argument convinced him completely. Li Jia decided to accept one thousand taels from Sun Fu and gave Decima to him in exchange. On hearing the plan, Decima tested Li’s determination by agreeing with the plan. When the deal between Li Jia and Sun Fu was made, Decima presented to the two men all the wealth she stored in the jewel boxes. Then she threw the jewel boxes into the river and drowned herself afterwards. Li remained insane in his life and Sun was felt ill with fright and died soon. Only Mr. Liu received a casket full of priceless jewels, through which Decima expressed her gratitude for Liu’s earlier help. Adapted from Feng Meng Long's book "Stories of Old and New"
Published: July 13, 2005   
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