Chinese Idiom Stories
The Prime Minister's Gift
Lie Zi was poor. Oftern he and his wife had to go hungry, so they both looked malnourished.
Somebody reported his plight to the Prime Minister, "Here's a virtuous man, Lie Zi, who lives in your state, and yet he's starving. Does that mean you don't care a button for men of virtue?"
The Prime Minister immediately sent some men to deliver food to Lie Zi.
On seeing the envoys coming from a distance, Lie Zi hurried to the door and politely refused the Prime Minister' s gift. After the envoys were gone, he went back into the house. There he found his wife, weeping.
"I hear people say that wives of virtuous men all do well. Yet here I am starving most of the time!" she moaned.
"Now that the Prime Minister knows about our poverty and is trying to help, you refuse him. Fate must have decided that we should be poor!" she cried bitterly.
Lie Zi comforted her saying,"The Prime Minister is not sending us food because he respects me. It is because somebody has told him so. In future he might just as well listen to somebody else's words and find fault with me. That is why I couldn't accept his gift."
Some time later the people rose up against the Prime Minister and had him killed.