"To explain this would be indeed a long story，" said Leng Tzu-hsing. "Last year，" continued Yue-ts'un， "I arrived at Chin Ling， as I entertained a wish to visit the remains of interest of the six dynasties， and as I on that day entered the walled town of Shih T'ou， I passed by the entrance of that old residence. On the east side of the street， stood the Ning Kuo mansion； on the west the Jung Kuo mansion； and these two， adjoining each other as they do， cover in fact well-nigh half of the whole length of the street. Outside the front gate everything was， it is true， lonely and deserted； but at a glance into the interior over the enclosing wall， I perceived that the halls， pavilions， two-storied structures and porches presented still a majestic and lofty appearance. Even the flower garden， which extends over the whole area of the back grounds， with its trees and rockeries， also possessed to that day an air of luxuriance and freshness， which betrayed no signs of a ruined or decrepid establishment."
"You have had the good fortune of starting in life as a graduate，" explained Tzu-tsing as he smiled， "and yet are not aware of the saying uttered by some one of old： that a centipede even when dead does not lie stiff. （These families） may， according to your version， not be up to the prosperity of former years， but， compared with the family of an ordinary official， their condition anyhow presents a difference. Of late the number of the inmates has， day by day， been on the increase； their affairs have become daily more numerous； of masters and servants， high and low， who live in ease and respectability very many there are； but of those who exercise any forethought， or make any provision， there is not even one. In their daily wants， their extravagances， and their expenditure， they are also unable to adapt themselves to circumstances and practise economy； （so that though） the present external framework may not have suffered any considerable collapse， their purses have anyhow begun to feel an exhausting process！ But this is a mere trifle. There is another more serious matter. Would any one ever believe that in such families of official status， in a clan of education and culture， the sons and grandsons of the present age would after all be each （succeeding） generation below the standard of the former？"