Tuesday, August 12, 2008


There lived in the State of Qi a man who had a very bad memory. While walking, he would forget to stop; while sleeping, he would forget to rise. His wife was very much worried about this and said to him one day: "I've heard that Master Ai is a very learned man with a glib tongue. He can even bring the dying back to life. Why don't you go and consult him?"

"Good idea!" the man agreed.

So he set out on horseback, bow and arrow in hand. Before he had covered a distance of 30 li he felt a call of nature. He dismounted and, after sticking the arrow into the ground and tying the horse to a tree, crouched down to relieve himself. This done, he stood up and looking to the left caught sight of the arrow.

"Wow!" he cried. " What a narrow escape! I wonder where that stray arrow came from. It nearly hit me."
Then, looking to the right, he saw the horse.

"Well, well!" he said with joy. " Though I've been badly frightened, I'm now rewarded with this windfall of a horse."

Seizing the bridle of the horse, he was about to turn round when he inadvertently stepped on his own excrement. Stamping his foot, he cried: " Damn! This pile of dog's dung has soiled my shoe. What a pity!"

Whipping his horse, he galloped off in the wrong direction. Not long afterwards, he arrived home. Pacing up and down in front of his own house, he muttered to himself: "Whose house is this? Can this be the residence of Master Ai?"

At this moment, his wife saw him. Guessing that his memory must have taken leave of him again, she let loose a torrent of abuse. Very much upset, the man complained: "I've never seen you before in my life. Why hurl insults at me like that, lady?"

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