道聽途説 – Word on the Street

Today, I translated another tale from the textbook. It calls up a couple chucklesome mental images.

道聽途説
齊國有一個人,性毛名空,最喜歡講義一些誇大不實的話。他雖然說得頭頭是道,廳的人卻覺得前後矛盾,牛頭不對馬嘴,十分可笑。
有一次,艾先生從楚國旅行回來。毛空去看望他,兩人就閒聊起來。
艾先生說:「我這一次到楚國去了好幾個月, 我們國內可有甚麼新聞? 請你講一兩件給我聽聽, 好不好?」
毛空說:「你要聽新聞, 那可多得很. 在京城郊外的一個農家, 一隻母鴨孵出來一百多隻小鴨.」
艾先生「搖搖頭說:[沒有這個道理,你不要胡説。」
毛空說:「那大概是兩隻母鴨孵的。」
艾先生說:「也不可能。」
毛空說:「那也許是十隻母鴨孵的。」
艾先生說:「你爲什麽不減少小母鴨的數目,而總是添加母鴨孵的數目呢?」
毛空很得意地說:「我寧願添加大的,而不願減少小的。」
停了一會兒,艾先生又問:「還有什麽其他的新聞嗎?]
毛空說:「前些日子,從天上掉下來一大塊肉,好大的一塊,有三十丈長,十丈寬。」
艾先生說:「哪裡會有這樣的怪事?」
毛空:「如果不是三十丈長,十丈寬,就是五十丈長,二十丈寬。」
艾先生很不耐煩地說:「我請問你,鴨子的主人叫什麽名字?肉掉下來什麽地方?你能舉出證據嗎?」
毛空說:「你這個人真死心眼兒。馬路上的人都這個說,難道會假嗎?」

Word on the Street
There once was a man from Qi, last name Mao, first name Kong, who loved to tell tall tales. Though he spoke methodically, his stories didn’t add up, like if you saw the mouth of a horse on the head of a cow, so his listeners thought he was one hundred percent laughable.
One day, Mr. Ai returned from a trip to the state of Chu. Mao Kong went to visit him, and the two of them had a chat.
Mr. Ai said, “I’ve been abroad for several months now. Surely something’s happened in our country while I was gone. Could you please give me some news?”
Mao Kong said, “You want it, you’ve got it. On a farm outside the capital, a duck gave birth to over a hundred ducklings.”
Mr. Ai shook his head and said, “That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Then it was two ducks.”
“That can’t be true, either.”
“Then it must have been ten ducks.”
“Why do you keep adding ducks instead of taking away ducklings?”
“I’d rather have a bigger story than a smaller one,” Mao Kong said proudly.
This gave Mr. Ai pause, but then he ventured: “Is there any more news?”
Mao Kong said, “Several days ago, a giant piece of meat fell down from heaven. It was 100 meters long and 30 meters wide.”
“Where on earth could such a bizarre thing happen?!”
“Okay, if it wasn’t 100 meters long and 30 meters wide, then it was 150 meters long and 60 meters wide.”
Mr. Ai couldn’t take it anymore. “Please tell me, what’s the farmer’s name? Where did the meat land? Where’s your proof?”
Mao Kong replied, “People like you are so stubborn! How could the word on the street be wrong?”

Personal Notes:
-“Mao” means “tail” and “Kong” means “empty” or “sky.”
-When I first heard Mao Kong’s last line read aloud, I thought he was saying “If travelers on the road were as demanding as you, how would anyone ever get home?” Not a bad retort itself.

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