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《Chinese Tales for Everyone: Proverb Related_13-疑人偷斧;14-螳螂捕蟬》_Kong Shiu Loon (53)

Proverb Related

(13) Suspicion

A woodcutter once lost his axe.

He suspected it was stolen by his neighbors son. He began to watch the young man closely.

It seemed that this young man’s every behavior is that of a thief, including the way he walked and how he related to others. The woodcutter was quite sure that he was the culprit.

Four days later, the axe was found. The woodcutter had carelessly left it in the woods carelessly.

He encountered his neighbors son again, and watched him closely. Alas, his every move was normal; nothing likes that of a thief.

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Note: This tale is a rewrite from an allegory in the book Lie Zi列子. The original title 疑人偷斧 has become proverb to mean that suspicion confirms suspicion.

《列子說符》:“人有亡斧者,意其鄰之子,視其行步,竊斧也﹔顏色,竊斧也﹔言語,竊斧也﹔動作態度,無為而不竊斧也。俄而掘其谷而得其斧,他日復見其鄰人之子,動作態度無似竊斧者。”

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Proverb Related

(14) A Mantis and a Cicada

One day long ago, a father and his son sat at the backyard of their house, chatting and enjoying the warm fresh air. The son was seven years old and enjoyed watching the movements of nature.

Up on the tree a cicada was hissing continuously to attract its mate. Nearby on the same branch a mantis took position behind some leaves, waiting for the right moment to catch and eat the cicada.

The father was watching the same scene. He saw more, and wanted to teach his son a lesson. He said: “The mantis is also in a dangerous position too. But it is too intent in catching its breakfast to be aware of its own danger.”

The son was about to say he did not see why when, in a fresh, a yellow bird stretched its neck and pecked on the mantis.

“Do you see that?” the father asked, “While the mantis was trying to prey on the cicada, the yellow bird was also taking position to eat the mantis from behind. It is a rule of nature that the strong eats the weak. But, if the mantis was not so intent in eating the cicada, it would have a chance of looking around, and became aware there was a praying bird waiting at its rear.”

“Thanks Dad. Is that why you have always taught me to be moderate?”

“Yes son, you are doing just that.” The father replied, reaching out to give his son a big hug.

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Note: This is an English retelling of a story in the book 淮南子》. The original title 螳螂捕蟬,黃雀在後 has become a proverb to denote a number of wise actions, including to behave moderately, to keep a keen awareness, as well as to know one’s position in life.

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