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Duke Huan of Ch’i set up torches in the courtyard

Duke Huan of Ch’i set up torches in the courtyard for the sake of gentlemen who might want to come to see him. For a full year no one came. Then a rustic from the eastern fields came to see him because of his skill in arithmetic. Duke Huan joked with him, saying, "Is arithmetic sufficient reason for an interview?"

The villager said, "I had not thought arithmetic to be sufficient reason for an interview. I had heard that Your Highness set up torches in his courtyard so as to await gentlemen, and that for a full year not one came. Now the reason that no gentlemen came was that Your Highness is the sage ruler in the empire, and everywhere gentlemen feel they are not adequate to Your Highness. Therefore they do not come. Now arithmetic is but a wretched accomplishment, yet if Your Highness treats me with courtesy, how much the more could those with worthier accomplishments than arithmetic expect! Now Mt. T’ai does not decline pebbles and stones, nor do rivers and oceans refuse small streams—thus have they accomplished their magnitude. The Ode says,

The ancients had a saying:
Consult the grass and firewood gatherers.

It speaks of a great plan."

Duke Huan approved, and the man was accordingly entertained formally for a full month. From all over gentlemen came leading one another to him. The Ode says,

From the hall they go to the base of the gate house,
And from the sheep to the oxen.

It speaks of proceeding from the inside to the outside and of achieving great things from small ones.



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