The house you bought is well-enclosed and indeed suitable for residence,
only I feel the courtyard is too small, and when you look at the sky, it is not big enough.
With my unfettered nature, I do not like it.
Only a hundred steps north from this house, there is the Parrot Bridge,
and another thirty steps from the Bridge is the Plum Tower,
with vacant spaces all around.
When I was drinking in this Tower in my young days,
I used to look out and see the willow banks and the little wooden bridge with decrepit huts and wild flowers against a background of old city walls,
and was quite fascinated by it.
If you could get fifty thousand cash,
you could buy a big lot for me to build my cottage there for my later days.
My intention is to build an earthen wall around it,
and plant lots of bamboos and flowers and trees.
I am going to have a garden path of paved pebbles leading from the gate to the house door.
There will be two rooms, one for the parlor, one for the study,
where I can keep books, paintings, brushes, ink-slabs, wine-kettle and tea service,
and where I can discuss poetry and literature with some good friends and the younger generation.
Behind this will be the family living rooms,
with three main rooms, two kitchens and one servants' room.
Altogether there will be eight rooms, all covered with grass-sheds, and I shall be quite content.
Early in the morning before sunrise,
I could look east and see the red glow of the morning clouds,
and at sunset, the sun will shine from behind the trees.
When one stands upon a high place in the courtyard,
one can already see the bridge and the clouds and waters in the distance,
and when giving a party at night,
one can see the lights of the neighbors outside the wall.
This will be only thirty steps to your house on the south,
and will be separated from the little garden on the east by a small creek.
So it is quite ideal.
Some may say "This is indeed very comfortable, only there may be burglars."
They do not know that burglars are also but poor people.
I would open the door and invite them to come in,
and discuss with them what they may share.
Whatever there is, they can take away,
and if nothing will really suit them,
they may even take away the great Wang Hsienchih's old carpet to pawn it for a hundred cash.
Please my younger brother, bear this in mind,
for this is your stupid brother's provision for spending a happy old age.
I wonder whether I may have what I so desire.
This is typical of the sentiment in Chinese literature. This rural ideal of Cheng Panch'iao's is as much based on his poetic feeling of common brotherhood with the poor peasant, which comes natural to a Taoistic soul, as the rural ideal of Tseng Kuofan's is based on the desire for the preservation for the family, and closely connected with the Confucian family system.