There was a wealthy old man who could not read or write.
His friends advised him to engage a teacher to instruct his son. This student, when he had learned one character, made a stroke with his pen; two characters, he made two strokes; and three characters, three strokes.
Then he laid down his pen and told his father that he already knows all the characters and what is the use of engaging a teacher.
When his father heard of this, he felt quite happy, and at once dismissed the teacher. On that day his father determined to invite a friend named Wan (萬 means ten thousand) to dinner.
He told his son early in the morning to write out an invitation. Up to midday his son did not finish writing it. His father went to his study and asked why these few words have given him so much trouble.
His son, with his mouth tightly closed, replied to his father, ” Why do you not invite someone else instead of inviting a friend whose name is Wan. Since early morning I have been writing till now, and I have made only 500 strokes. Do you think it is so easy to complete the ten thousand strokes? “
Translation: Y. T. Woo. , 1909, from ‘Chinese merry tales’ by Woo, Y. T, 1909 (The American Presbyterian Mission Press)