Once upon a time, in the ancient lands of China, there was a charioteer named Zi Chushang from the esteemed Shusun family. One day, while gathering firewood in the immense wilderness, he chanced upon a creature of exceptional beauty and grace - a Qilin.
The Qilin, a revered mythical creature in Chinese lore, was considered akin to the Western Unicorn. Its awe-inspiring features, as described by scholar Lu Ji, included the body of a deer, the tail of an ox, the hooves of a horse, and a captivating yellow hide. It bore a single horn with flesh at the end. Its voice was as harmonious as bells and musical stones, reverberating in the tranquil wilderness. The Qilin moved with an air of disciplined orderliness. It selected its dwelling place with meticulous care, ensuring to avoid stepping on living insects or damaging thriving grass. This solitary creature did not herd with other animals nor travel with them. It was adept at evading traps and could not be ensnared by nets. The Qilin's appearance was said to signify the rule of a supremely benevolent king.
Zi Chushang, flabbergasted by the sight of the Qilin, inadvertently harmed its front left foot during his attempt to capture it. He carefully transported the injured Qilin back to the city, burdened with a sense of unease. On arrival, Shusun, overwhelmed with fear and viewing the incident as an ominous sign, chose to abandon the Qilin outside the city walls.
Desperate for understanding, Shusun dispatched a messenger to seek the wisdom of the esteemed philosopher Confucius, detailing the strange encounter. Intrigued, Confucius rushed to witness the majestic creature. Upon laying eyes on the Qilin, he exclaimed in dismay, "It's a Qilin! But why has it come? Why now?"
Unable to contain his emotions, Confucius turned away, wiping his face. Tears streamed down his cheeks, soaking his collar. Hearing Confucius' reaction, Shusun was filled with regret and promptly ordered his men to retrieve the Qilin.
Zigong, a disciple of Confucius, puzzled, asked, "Master, why do you weep?" Confucius, voice laden with sorrow, responded, "The Qilin, an embodiment of peace and benevolence, has arrived at an untimely moment and met harm. That's why my heart grieves." Thus, the tale of the Qilin unraveled, becoming a profound testament to the respect and care for all living beings.