Synopsis of The Chinese Statue by Jeffrey Archer

About The Author Jeffrey Archer

Jeffrey Archer, a twentieth-century English author and former politician was born on 15th April 1940. He has penned a number of popular novels and quite a few short stories. His stories are full of surprise, suspense and twists. They give subtle reflections on human nature. His novels like Kane and Able, Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less, Shall we tell the president? The Prodigal Daughter, are bestselling novels.

The Chinese Statue is the first story from the collection, A Quiver Full of Arrows. It is an interesting tale about a statue of Emperor Kung bought by a British diplomat and what happens to it years later.

Summary of The Chinese Statue

"The Chinese Statue' is a delightful story about what happened to a small statue of Ming origin. It was gifted to Sir Alexander Heathcote, a diplomat in the service of the Queen. He happened to visit a small workshop of a poor Chinese artisan. He inadvertently expressed his desire to own an exquisite figurine. The Chinese according to the custom of not refusing a guest offered it to the gentleman. Sir Alexander felt ashamed of expressing his desire loudly, but he was told that according to the Chinese custom, a gift like that can be rewarded with a counter gift. When he came back home, he made inquiries about the price of the statue which came to be his three years' salary and without hesitation, he sacrificed the amount as a token of appreciation to the artefact. In fact, he built a beautiful house for the poor Chinese shopkeeper. The statue became the centre of attraction in his ancestral home. He bequeathed the piece of heirloom to the first son of each generation. There was a condition attached that the statue should not be given away or sold unless there happens a situation where the family name was involved. Thus the statue remained a venerable item that was passed on through generations. Finally, the heirloom reached a prodigal son who was in dire financial crisis. His family name had to be protected. So, he put it up for auction. At the auction, to his horror, the owner found that it was fake, but the base turned out to be a winner, valued at twenty-two thousand guineas. Ironically, it went to an American who had no family name to boast of.


masterpiece - work of outstanding skill:
quaint - unusual, old fashioned, charming:
heirlooms - valued object belonging to a family for several generations:
exacting - demanding, challenging:
Mandarin - high ranking official in former imperial Chinese civil service;
hackney - a horse-drawn vehicle kept for hire:
ramshackle - run down;
crammed - completely fill:
enthralled - captivate:
scampered - ran with quick steps;
detract - take away the attention from:
evinced - demonstrate;
inscrutable - impossible to understand or interpret;
rummaging - search untidily for something:
emolument - a salary or fee:
diligence - care:
mystified - puzzle or confuse:
bequeathed - handed down to someone;
faltered - loss of strength or momentum;
jeopardy - a dangerous position:
reverend - used as a title of respect or a form of address for members of the clergy:
augmented - made greater in size or value;
intestate - not having made a will before one's death;
doughty - brave and resolute;
roulette - a gambling game in which a ball is dropped on to a revolving wheel with numbered compartments;
unsolicited - unasked:
purred - speak in a low voice;
cursory - casual;
sardonically - mockingly;
guineas - former British gold coins. 
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