Chinese Idiom Stories
Three in the Morning and Four at Night
There once lived a man called Mr. Jiu, who loved to raise monkeys. Mr. Jiu prepared for his monkeys a very comfortable place to live, and personally fed them everyday. Therefore, Mr. Jiu knew his monkeys very well, and the monkeys understood everything that he said.
However, Mr. Jiu's monkeys ate so much food that soon there was not enough left for his family. And so Mr. Jiu was forced to decrease the amount of food he fed his monkeys.
Mr. Jiu first went to talk to his monkeys. He told them that from then on, he would give them each three chestnuts every morning, and four every night. Realizing that their food supply was about to be decreased, these monkeys began to jump up and down with displeasure. So Mr. Jiu said, "Well, then, four in the morning and three at night, OK?" And thinking that this was a greater amount than before, the monkeys nodded their heads in agreement.
Today, "three in the morning and four at night" is used to describe a person who is always changing his mind, so that one can never depend on what he says.