Gasping Grasper.

A Chinese Story:Gasping Grasper.

China's greatest miser lay dying and he wanted to hand over the keys of his treasure house to someone who would safeguard his wealth after he was gone.

He had three sons to choose from, so he called them to his bedside.

Turning to his eldest, he said, "Tell me, how you will conduct my funeral after I die?"

"It will be a grand funeral, father," said his son, earnestly. "I will have a silver coffin made for you and dress you in robes embroidered in gold. Afterwards I will feed the poor for three days in your honor."

"You're a fool," rasped his father. "Silver coffin! Golden robes! You will feed the poor for three days! Oh, woe is me! What a wastrel I've raised!" And he began sobbing in distress.

The second son realized that his father did not want much money to be spent on his funeral. So he said, "Elder brother has extravagant ideas, father. I will see to it that you have a simple and inexpensive funeral. Buddhist and Taoist priests will chant the prayers at your funeral. And there it will end. No feeding of the poor or anything of that sort."

"Buddhist and Taoist priests!" gasped his father. "Oh, you nitwit, do you know how much those priests eat?! And you have to pay them in gold afterwards!! You are as useless as your elder brother. Move aside, let us hear what your younger brother has to say."

The youngest son had always loathed his father's niggardliness and now, disgusted with his behavior, said, "I will spend no money on your funeral, father. In fact, I will make money when you die."

"And how will you do that, my son?" asked the miser, his eyes lighting up.

"As soon as you're dead I'll dump your body in a cart and take it to the various medical schools in the Northern provinces and sell it to the highest bidder."

"You're a true son of your father!" said the miser, admiringly. "You shall be my heir." And he began to grope under the pillows for the keys of his treasure house.

"But father!" said his elder son. "Did you hear what he said? He said he would sell your body to the highest bidder in the Northern provinces!"

"I absolutely forbid you to do that," said the miser, looking sternly at his youngest son. "The northerners want everything on credit. Take me to the southern provinces."

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