The GREEN Fairy Book - online children's book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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EOK LEE AND THE DWARFS.                  229
There once lived in a small town in China a man named Hok Lee. He was a steady, industrious man, who not only worked hard at his trade, but did all his own house­work as well, for he had no wife to do it for him. "What an excellent, industrious man is this Hok Lee!" said his neighbors. "How hard he works! He never leaves his house to amuse himself or to take a holiday as others do!"
But Hok Lee was by no means the virtuous person his neighbors thought him. True, he worked hard enough by day, but at night, when all respectable folk were fast asleep, he used to steal out and join a dangerous band of robbers, who broke into rich people's houses and carried off all they could lay hands on.
This state of things went on for some time, and though a thief was caught now and then and punished, no sus­picion ever fell on Hok Lee, he was such a very respect­able, hard-working man.
Hok Lee had already amassed a good store of money as his share of the proceeds of these robberies, when it happened one morning on going to market that a neighbor said to him:
"Why, Hok Lee, what is the matter with your face? One side of it is all swelled up."
True enough, Hok Lee's right cheek was twice the size of his left, and it soon began to feel very uncomfortable.
"I will bind up my face," said Hok Lee. "Doubtless the warmth will cure the swelling." But no such thing. Next day it was worse, and day by day it grew bigger and bigger till it was nearly as large as his head and be­came very painful.
Hok Lee was at his wits' ends what to do. Not only was his cheek unsightly and painful, but his neighbors began to jeer and make fun of him, which hurt his feel­ings very much indeed.
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