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《Chinese Tales for Everyone: Proverb Related_5-晏子; 6-愚公移山》__ Kong Shiu Loon (53)

Proverb Related Tales

(5) The Ambassador’s Reply

About 3000 years ago China was divided into a number of independent states. They were in constant rivalry.

When the King of the state of Chu ()heard that the state of Qi () had dispatched Yan Zi (晏子), a short man, to be the ambassador to his state, he intended to insult him.

He ordered that a small door be built next to the main entrance to welcome the new ambassador.

Seeing the situation on arrival, Yan Zi responded calmly. He asked the welcoming officer: “Is this the State of Dog that I should enter through a dog-hole?”

He walked into the main door, heads holding high.

Later, at the reception in honour of the new ambassador, the King of Chu tried again to insult Yan Zi.

In the middle of feasting, a soldier brought in a criminal to knell before the King, who asked: “What has this man done and where is he from?”

“He is a robber and he came to our country from the state of Qi not long ago,” replied the soldier.

The King laughed heartily and said: “So people of Qi are good in doing robbery!”

Yan Zi stood up and replied with dignity: “Your Majesty must have learned from the old poet who wrote that tangerine trees from the south bear sour fruits when transplanted in northern soil. So it is that a son of Qi would become a robber soon as he comes to live in your country, a place of bad soil.”

The King had nothing to say but to accept the snub of his own design.

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Note: This is an English rewrite of an allegorical tale from 晏子春秋(Yanzi chunqiu) The original title自討沒趣has become a proverb to mean “begging for a snub”.
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Proverb Related Tales
(6) A Determined Old Man Moved Mountains

Once upon a time, an old man lived in a house facing two tall mountains, the Taihang and the Wongwu.

He was annoyed whenever he wanted to visit friends on the other side of those mountains, having to take a circuitous route around them. It was most inconvenient.

On his 90th birthday, friends and family members gathered to celebrate his longevity. To their surprise he told them his wish: “I’ve decided to dig a road through these mountains in front of our house. Once it is done, we will no longer need to go around but to go directly to visit friends on the other side. We will begin our work tomorrow.

Most people agreed. All members of his family and a couple of neighbors bellowed out their support.

But a lone voice from a wise old man disagreed. He said, “Your wish is easily said than done. You are now 90 years old and not many years lie ahead of you. How could you dig through such hard rock to reach the other side in your remaining years?”

“You may be wise and true in what you say,” acknowledge the determined old man, “but you should accept the fact that, with determination and hard work, we will have the job done. You must not forget that my children will continue the work after my death, and their children and the many generations after them will also continue the work until it is completed. If a job is beneficial to everyone, it will be completed with determination.”

Early the next morning, the old man and his supporters all clamored to begin digging through the two tall mountains.

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Note: This is an English rewrite of an allegory in the book列子》(Lie Zi).The original title 愚公移山 has become a proverb to denote the power of human determination and persistence.

太行、王屋二山,方七百里,高万仞,本在冀州之南,河阳之北。北山愚公者,年且九十,面山而居。惩山北之塞,出入之迂也,聚室而谋,曰:吾与汝毕力平险,指通豫南,达于汉阴,可乎?杂然相许。其妻献疑曰:以君之力,曾不能损魁父之丘,如太形、王屋何?且焉置土石?杂曰:诸渤海之尾隐土之北。遂率子孙荷担者三夫,叩石垦壤,箕畚运于渤海之尾。邻人京城氏之孀妻有遗男,始龀,跳往助之。寒暑易节,始一反焉

河曲智叟笑而止之,曰:甚矣汝之不惠!以残年余力,曾不能毁山之一毛,其如土石何?北山愚公长息曰:汝心不固,固不可彻,曾不若孀妻弱子。虽我之死,有子存焉。子又生孙,孙又生子,子又有子,子又有孙;子子孙孙,无穷匮也;而山不加增,何苦而不平?河曲智叟亡以

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