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To tie up a bunch of grass and ask for a light

In Ch’i were two retired gentlemen, Master Tung-kuo and Master Liang Shih. At the time when Minister of State Ts’ao was minister of Ch’i, a retainer said to Master K’uei, "Master Tung-kuo and Master Liang Shih are the worthy men of the times. They have secreted themselves in the depths of the mountains and will not bend their bodies or degrade their wills to seek office. I hear that you have access to Minister of State Ts’ao. I wish you might recommend them. Now in my village the matrons are on good terms with one another. A girl was suspected of stealing meat, and her mother-in-law drove her out. Indignant, the girl told a village matron, who said, ‘Go slowly, and presently I will have your mother-in-law call you back,' and tying up a bunch of grass, she went to ask for a light from the family that had driven the girl out. She said, ‘My dogs were fighting over a piece of meat and killed each other. May I have a light so that I can cook them?' Whereupon the mother-in-law immediately sent a man after the girl she had driven out to bring her back. Now a village matron is not a gentleman skilled in speech, nor is tying up a bunch of grass and asking for a light the way to bring a woman back home, but there are things that touch off the proper response and situations which can be properly dealt with. Will you not recommend them?"

Master K’uei said, "I am afraid I can not come up to it, but I will try my best to tie up a bunch of grass and ask for a light on behalf of Master Tung-kuo and Master Liang Shih." After this he had an interview with Minister of State Ts’ao and said, "In my village there was a woman who married again three days after her husband's death. There was another who all her life long never re-married. Now if you were going to marry, which kind of woman would you take for a wife?"

The Minister of State said, "Of course I would marry only the one who to the end of her life would never re-marry."

Master K’uei said, "In Ch’i are the retired gentlemen, Master Tung-kuo and Master Liang Shih. They are the worthy gentlemen of the times, secreting themselves in the depths of the mountains and not bending their bodies or degrading their wills to seek office. If Your Honor in choosing a wife would want to marry one who would not re-marry, are you going to make an exception in choosing a minister by not taking one who will not serve another master?"
Whereupon Minister of State Ts’ao through the good offices of Master K’uei sent a "comfort chariot" with rolls of silk to fetch Master Tung-kuo and Master Liang Shih and treated them as guests of honor. The Ode says,

Let us but see the superior man
And our hearts will be at rest.



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