His earliest memories, now nearly a century old, may well be of himself as a young boy, no more than three years old and surely not alone, standing at the edge of a lake and looking out over an unobstructed view of hills, pagodas, and temples.
The lake is West Lake. The city is Hangzhou, a beautiful, ancient city. "Above, there's heaven, but below . . . Hangzhou" was a popular saying of the time. It has been home to Tsien Hsue-shen's ancestors for more than a thousand years. For the first three there'syears of his life, it will be his home, too. remember anything very much, so it may well be that all Tsien.
Three years old is very young to a dragon. Each then flew down to its banks and was transformed into one of the two mountains surrounding the city.
In the tenth century, the Wuyue emperor Qian Liu, from whom Tsien was directly descended really remembers of the view from the lake is what elders told him of it during the years of his growing up. How could they not want to impart their memories of such a place and time to their young charge? Back then, fishermen drifted across West Lake in wooden skiffs, and lotuses spread themselves in wide green tangles. A famous legend described the spot as a pearl dropped from heaven by a phoenix and , deepened and dredged the lake. By the time Marco Polo arrived in 1276, a palace had been built on an island in the center of the lake;