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A piece of land as big as a bull's hide

For instance, we read in the History of the Ming Dynasty, A.D. 1368-1644, a full account of the method by which the Spaniards, in the sixteenth century, managed to obtain first a footing in, and then the sovereignty over, the islands of the Philippines : —

"The Fulanghis (i.e, the Franks), who at that time had succeeded by violence in establishing trade relations with Luzon (the old name of the Philippines), saw that the nation was weak, and might easily be conquered. Accordingly, they sent rich presents to the king of the country, begging him to grant them a piece of land as big as a bull's hide, for building houses to live in. The king, not suspecting guile, conceded their request, whereupon the Fulanghis cut the hide into strips and joined them together, making many hundreds of ten-foot measures in length ; and then, having surrounded with these a piece of ground, called upon the king to stand by his promise. The king was much alarmed ; but his word had been pledged, and there was no alternative but to submit. So he allowed them to have the ground, charging a small ground-rent as was the custom. But no sooner had the Fulanghis got the ground than they put up houses and ramparts and arranged their fire-weapons (cannon) and engines of attack. Then, seizing their opportunity, they killed the king, drove out the people, and took possession of the country."  (H. A. Giles)

A similar story which incident happened between China and the Dutch, and a bull's hide changed to a carpet instead: --

“Formerly, when the Dutch were permitted to trade with China, the officer in command of the coast defences would not allow them, on account of their great numbers, to come ashore. The Dutch begged very hard for the grant of a piece of land such as a carpet would cover ; and the officer above mentioned, thinking that this could not be very large, acceded to their request. A carpet was accordingly laid down, big enough for about two people to stand on ; but by dint of stretching, it was soon able to accommodate four or five; and so the foreigners went on, stretching and stretching, until at last it covered about an acre, and by and by, with the help of their knives, they had filched a piece of ground several miles in extent."  (H. A. Giles)

This story also is also found in the legends of the Castle of Zealand, the trickster was still the Hollanders, but the island changed to Fumosa (Tai Wan), and the victim was Japanese.


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