成語故事

On The Eastern Bed with His Stomach Exposed

Shi Jian, a high official of the Chin dynasty, was looking for a suitable husband for his daugther. He heard that there was an old Mr. Wang, who had many sons, and sent someone to Mr. Wang's for a look. Mr. Wang told the visitor he was welcome to go to the eastern wing of the house, where his sons lived, and take his choice from among them.

When Mr. Wang's sons heard that someone was coming from Official Shi's house to check them out, they all began to put on an act, and their attitudes were very unnatural. Only one young man appeared to be unconcerned with the whole stomach exposed, eating.

After his representative's description of each of the sons, Shi Jian announced that the natural one - the one lying on his bed with his stomach exposed - was the kind of person he had in mind for his son-in-law. And so his daughter married this young man - the very famous writer and calligrapher Wang Shi-ji.

People of later generations still often refer to their son-in-law as the "son-in-law of the eastern bed", or simply as the "eastern bed."

袒腹東床

東晉時,王家和謝家都是大的家族,社會地位高,時人稱他們為「王謝」。我們看羊土諤的詩:「山陰道上桂花初,王謝風流滿晉書」,就可相像出來,王、謝家的地位是多麼崇高了。

正因為王謝是大家,當時的太尉郗鑒,就想在王家挑選女婿。郗鑒這個女兒,才貌雙全,郗鑒愛如掌上明珠。這麼一個寶貝疙瘩,得要找個門當戶對的人家。郗鑒覺得王家與自己情誼深厚,又同朝為官,聽說他家子弟甚多,個個都才貌俱佳。一天早朝後,郗鑒就把自己擇婿的想法告訴了王丞相。王丞相說:「那好啊,我家裡子弟很多,就由您到家裡任意挑選吧,凡你相中的,不管是誰,我都同意。」郗鑒就命心腹管家,帶上重禮到了王丞相家。王府子弟聽說郗太尉派人覓婿,都仔細打扮一番出來相見。尋來覓去,一數少了一人。王府管家便領著郗府管家來到東跨院的書房裡,就見靠東牆的床上一個袒腹仰臥的青年人,對太尉覓婿一事,無動於衷。郗府管家回去向郗鑒報告:「王家的少爺個個都好,只是他們聽到了相公要挑選女婿的消息以後,個個都打扮得齊齊整整,裝模作樣的循規蹈距;唯有東床上有位公子,袒腹躺著若無其事。」郗鑒說:「那個人就是我所要的好女婿!」於是馬上派人再去打聽,原來那人就是王羲之。郗鑒來到王府,見到此人既豁達又文雅,才貌雙全,當場下了聘禮,擇為快婿。現在我們流傳的「東床坦腹」、「東床快婿」的成語,就是指這個故事。

郗鑒為甚麼會選中王羲之呢?他大概認為這個青年純真,不矯飾做作,而且不把個人的事兒放在心上,精力集中於其書法事業上,這正是有出息的表現,有這樣的鑽勁、迷勁,是不愁不成才的。


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