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Ts’ui Chu had assassinated Duke Chuang

After Ts’ui Chu had assassinated Duke Chuang, he ordered the nobles and Great Officers to make a covenant with him. The covenanters all had laid aside their swords before entering. Those who did not speak quickly or who did not touch the blood with their fingers were put to death.

Over ten men had been killed when it came to Yen-tzŭ's turn. He raised up the cup of blood, and, facing Heaven, said with a sign, "Alas! that Ts’ui Chu has been so unrighteous as to slay his prince!" Whereupon the covenanters all looked at him.

Ts’ui Chu said to Yen-tzŭ, "If you help me, I will share the state with you. If you do not help me, I will kill you: A straight sword will pierce you, and a curved one will hook you. I hope you will think about it."

Yen-tzŭ said, "I have heard that he who, being deterred by profit, is unfaithful to his prince lacks jên, and he who permits himself to be forced by weapons to abandon his determination lacks courage. The Ode says,

Luxuriant are the dolichos and other creepers,
Clinging to the branches and stems;
Easy and self-possessed is the superior man,
Seeking for happiness by no crooked ways.

Can I be crooked, then? Straight swords may pierce me and curved ones may hook me, but I will not change."

Ts’ui Chu said, "Let Yen-tzŭ go."

Yen-tzŭ got up and went out. Taking the traces of the carriage harness, he mounted the chariot. His servant wanted to drive fast, but Yen-tzŭ clapped his hands and said, "The deer in the mountain forest—his fate is in the kitchen. Our fates are dependent on something, but how on hasty driving?" He proceeded peacefully, with calm demeanour, and so left. The Ode says,

His lamb's fur is glossy,
Truly smooth and beautiful.
That gentleman
Rests in his lot and will not change.

Yen-tzŭ is an example of this.



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