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《Chinese Tales for Everyone: Proverb Related_9-驚弓之鳥;10-不合時宜》_ Kong Shiu Loon (53)

Proverb Related Tales

(9) A Bird that Fears the Bow

An archer Geng Lei of the State of Wei in ancient China was accompanying his King in an outing.

He saw a lone goose circling the sky and said to the King: ‘I can down this bird without the use of an arrow.”

“Is the art of your archery so extraordinary?” enquired the King.

In a moment the goose flew near. Geng Lei pulled his bow fully, aimed, and let go his bowstrings in a twang. The goose fell.

The King praised in amazement: “You are indeed a powerful archer!”

“Thank you Your Majesty,” Geng Lei explained humbly, “This is a lost goose, left behind by its companions. It is tired and frightened, not knowing what to do. Thus, seeing my bow and hearing the twang, it simply has no more will to survive. It is more my observation than my archery that has downed the bird.”

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Note: This is an English narration of an allegory in 戰國策 (The Strategy of the Warring States). The original title 驚弓之鳥 has become a proverb to denote people who have lost identity and confidence in life.
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Proverb Related Tales

(10) Unfitting in Time and Business

Once upon a time, there was a couple who lived in the state of Lu (). The man was a cobbler who made stylish and comfortable shoes. The wife was a skillful weaver of silk, with fancy colours.

They wanted a change. So, after much consideration, they decided to move to the state of Yue () to establish a better future.

When the news of their decision became known in town, a wise-man came to tell them not to do so. He advised: “Please change your decision. You are doing very well here. Where you are going you will not be able to survive.”

“Thank you for your concern. But we believe we will be OK anywhere. We have practical skills and we work hard to achieve.” the husband replied.

“You are right in believing your abilities. However, in the state of Yue, people do not wear shoes. They go bare-footed year round. As for silk, women in Yue wear scantily cotton cloths. How will you make a living then?”

The young couple thought about the matter that very evening. They concluded that what skills they had was just unfitting for the time and circumstance

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Note: This is an English narration of an allegory in the book韓非子. The title of the original story 不合時宜 has become a proverbial phrase to denote unfitting of time and business.

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