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《Chinese Tales for Everyone__ Real and Imaginary: (20) Mortal Succession》__ Kong Shiu Loon (53)

Tales Real and Imaginary
(20) Mortal Succession

Long ago, a king went up to a high mountain with his ministers for leisure. He looked northward to his capital and the fertile land around it. Tears rolled down his cheeks without stop.

“Such a splendid country,” he said, “swarming and burgeoning; if only I didn’t have to die and leave it all! What if there was no death in the universe, I should be the immortal one to enjoy this forever!”

His Prime Minister joined him weeping. He echoed his mood and lament: “People say we owe our lives to Your Highness. If I had only one wish, I would willingly die in exchange for our king’s immortality.”

Yenzi(晏子)smiled vividly, keeping himself apart from his fellow ministers.

The king was annoyed. He wiped away his tears and looked hard at Yenzi.

“All my ministers wept with me, sharing the sadness I feel on today’s venture,” said the king, “why do you chuckle showing content?”

Yenzi replied calmly: “What if the worthiest king ruled forever? What about the bravest? Then, Zhang or Ling would be king forever. With such as those in power today, my Lord, you would be plowing the fields, wearing a straw hat and a bamboo coat, feeling fatigue, with no energy to brood over death.”

“And then,” he continued, “my Lord, how could you have reached your present position? Your Highness, it was through the succession of your mortal and wise predecessors who held and gave up the throne each in his turn, that you became king of our beautiful country. For you alone to lament this is selfish. Seeing a selfish king and his flattering ministers, I presume not to hide my smile.”

The king was embarrassed. He raised his flagon and penalized his oficers two drafts of wine apiece.
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Note: This is an English narration of a passage in the book 《列子》. It showed the wisdom and courage of Yenzi, the scholar famed for his quick wit and perception.

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