Djang Liang was a student. He was walking along one day when he came to a bridge and saw an old man sitting there with one of his shoes on the ground in front of him. Courteously Djang Liang stooped and put the shoe on the foot of the old man.
The man was so pleased that he told the boy to come to the bridge very early next morning. Then he would tell Djang something that would affect his whole life.
The boy went to the bridge very early, but the old was there ahead of him, and all that he received that morning was a lecture on his lazy habits.
He was told to come again, and the next morning he went at dawn. But still the old man was ahead of him and Djang was reprimanded severely this time and told to come again on the third morning.
This time the boy went to the bridge right after his supper, and spent the night there. When the old man came at dawn, he was delighted to find Djang Liang there ahead of him, and gave him instruction of such value that when Djang grew up he became a general.
There were three strong and brave generals in Qi. They were skilful at fighting, but also proud and a bit unruly at times. Once they came across the prime minister. Thinking him but a swaggering tongue, they showed him no respect.
This annoyed the minister greatly. He went to the king of Qi and said, "In my opinion, generals and officers under a wise king should observe rules and ceremony. But your generals do not. Today they insult me, tomorrow they can disobey you. We would be wise to do away wish them."
The king was upset. He hesitated for a while and said, "But it is not so easy to deal with them, especially when they three are together."
The minister racked his brains and then said, "Well, send two peaches to them with the instructions that the two who have made greater contributions may take the peaches."
The plan was carried out accordingly.
No sooner had the peaches reached the three generals than they had words with each other. Each insisted that he had the right to get one, and the two who were nearer to the peaches, got one each. The third general at once flew into fury. He raised his voice, saying, "Who of you can match me? Now give back my peach!" With these words he drew out his sword and killed them.
Then he came to his senses. "What a shame, to kill two friend for two peaches!" he said, and the next moment he lay on the ground beside his two friends with his sword in his chest.
Confucius had a son-in-law, Kung Yeh Chang, who understood birds. He built a pavilion in his garden, which was rich in flowers, trees, shrubs, and ponds, so that the birds loved to gather there. Thus he was able to spend many delightful hours near them, watching.
One day while Kung Yeh Chang was resting in his pavilion, a small housesparrow lit in a tree near-by and started to sing and chatter. A little later a wild goose dropped down by the pond for a drink. Hardly had he taken a sip when the little sparrow called out, "Who are you? Where are you going?"
To this the goose did not reply and the sparrow became angry and asked again, "Why do you consider me beneath your notice?" and still the goose did not answer. Then the little sparrow became furious and said in a loud, shrill voice, "Again I ask, who are you? Tell me or I will fly at you," and he put his head up, and spread his wings, and tried to look very large and fierce.
By this time the goose had finished drinking, and looking up he said, "Don't you know that in a big tree with many branches and large leaves the cicadas love to gather and make a noise? I could not hear you distinctly. You also know the saying of the ancients, 'If you stand on a mountain and talk to the people in the valley they cannot hear you,' "and the wild goose took another drink.
The little sparrow chattered and sputtered, shook his wings, and said, "What, for example, do you know of the great world? I for my part can go into people's houses, hide in the rafters under their windows, see their books and pictures, what they have to eat and what they do. I can hear all the family secrets. I know all that goes on in the family and state. I know who are happy and who are sad. I know all the quarrels and all the gossip, and I know just how to tell it to produce the best effect. So you see that I know much that you can never hope to know."
"It may be good to give others an equal chance with ourselves, or even to give them the first choice," said the goose. "We geese therefore fly in a flock in the shape of the letter V and take turns in flying first. No one takes advantage of the other. We have our unchanging customs of going north in the spring and south in the winter. People come to depend on us, and make ready for either their spring work or the cold of winter. Thus, we stay away from gossip and are a help to man.
"You sparrows, however, gossip and only thinking of your own good. Now, we are respected. Is there not a proverb that 'There are many people without the wisdom and virtues of the wild goose'? You sparrows, however, chatter about small affairs beneath my notice and I bid you good-day."
The sparrow now trembled with so much rage that she could not fly away nor keep her hold on the branch. She fell to the ground and soon died from the fall.
Kung Yeh Chang exclaimed after he had looked on it all, "Sad, sad, most of mankind are like the sparrow, but the truly superior man is somehow like the wild goose, and wiser still."
Long ago there was a strong man named Kuafu who wanted to race against the sun. Every day the sun rises in the east, travels across the sky and then goes down below the western horizon. Where does it come from and where does it hide itself? Kuafu resolved to find an answer to this himself.
He started to run, and so fast did he dash towards it sun that he approached it too. But the closer he got to the sun, the more thirsty he became.
He looked round, and to his delight saw the rivers Huanghe and Weihe with their jolly waves. He plunged into the rivers and drained them, gulping them down. But even this was not enough, so he turned to run north to the Great Lake for more water. But before he got there, he died of thirst. Falling down, he threw away his walking stick. It became a grove of green peach-trees for the good of later generations.