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Chieh-yü, the madman of Ch’u

Chieh-yü, the madman of Ch’u, tilled the fields with his own hands for food. One day his wife had gone to the market and had not yet returned. The King of Ch’u sent a messenger with a present of one hundred i of gold to his gate. The messenger said, "The great king has sent me to offer one hundred i of gold and wishes to request you, sir, to administer Huai-nan."

Chieh-yü laughed but would not assent. The messenger in the end left without a definite answer from him.

When Chieh-yü's wife came back from the market, she said, "When you were young, you practiced your principles (i); why do you abandon them as you grow older? How is it that the carriage tracks outside the gate are so deep?"

Chieh-yü said, "Today the king sent a messenger to offer me one hundred i of gold, wishing to have me administer Huai-nan."

His wife said, "You did not consent?"

He said, "I did not!"

His wife said, "When the prince wants to employ you, not to obey is disloyal, while to obey is to abandon your principles (i). It is best we go away."

Whereupon the husband shouldered the boilers and pots, and the wife carried the loom on her head. They changed their names so that no one knew where they went.

The Lun yü says, "seeing the countenance, she instantly rises. She flies round, and by and by settles." Chieh-yü's wife was like this.

The Ode says,

We will leave you,
And go to that happy land;
Go to that happy land,

There we shall find our place.



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