A youngster from a rich family saw a poor
porter lying on the ground as he was walking along the road one morning. He asked the onlookers, "Why is this man lying here?"
Someone answered, "He had no food to fill
his stomach and is so hungry that he is lying on
the ground to catch his breath."
The rich youngster said, "Since he has nothing
to eat? why didn't he have a cup of ginseng
decoction before leaving home in the morning?
This would support him for half a day."
When Duan Guangqing served as a county magistrate, he was known for his honest, upright nature. One day while passing a grain shop, he saw a crowd of people who seemed to be quarreling about something. Upon inquiry he learned that a country fellow had trampled a chick to death and the boss of the grain shop had asked for nine hundred coins in compensation.
Duan Guangqing asked, "Why does a chick
cost nine hundred coins?"
The fellow from the country answered, "The
boss said the chick, which was of fine quality,
would weigh nine jin after a few months, The current price for a chicken is one hundred coins per Jin, so he asked me to pay nine hundred coins for the loss."
Hearing this, Duan Guangqing asked the boss,
"Is that true?"
The boss of the grain shop nodded. "Yes,
that's the way I calculated it."
Then Duan Guangqing brought the case to
a conclusion. "It seems that nine hundred coins
is not too much. You just pay him that much.
If you don't have enough, I'll make it up."
The onlookers all complained behind his
back that the judgment was unfair. The countryman dared not protest and had to pawn some of
his clothes for six hundred coins. With these and
three hundred coins volunteered by Duan Guangqing, the man paid the boss for the chick.
Seeing the money, the boss was full of glee.
He took the coins and was about to go when Duan
Guangqing said hurriedly, "Wait a moment;
listen to me, please. There is a saying 'dou grain, jin chicken'. That is to say, to gain one jin of weight the chick will eat one dou of grain. Now that the chick has died, the nine dou of grain have been saved, haven't they? It is only fair for you to give the nine dou of grain to the countryman."
Hearing this, the boss was agape and tongue-tied. He could do nothing but give nine dou of grain.
The countryman went away happily with the
grain. All the people praised Duan Guangqing
unanimously for his fair judgment and uprightness.
A Mysterious Letter
A man got a kick out of turning simple things
into mysteries when composing a letter, though
he was not good at all at writing.
One day his father told him to write a letter
to his brother and tell him four things:
1. A villager died not long ago.
When the son had finished, however, the letter read:
2. The price of meat has gone up.
3. The household has employed a new
4. His brother's wife is going to have a
"A villager died not long ago. The meat
sold for 179 silver coins.
The household has employed a new accountant. My sister-in-law's belly is getting bigger and bigger."
He soon got an angry answer from his brother:
"Domestic shame should not be made public.
How can the flesh of the dead be sold to
Punishment for a Rascal
A rascal lived a hard life and barely managed
not to starve to death.
One day he happened to pass a household
that was holding the funeral of one of its family
members. He slipped in and cried bitterly in front of the memorial tablet of the dead. Nobody
knew him, so, surprised, people asked him why he
"I was best friends with the dead. We hadn't
seen each other for months. Now he has passed
away, how could I not feel sad? Since I just
happened to be passing, I wasn't prepared for this. All I can do now is to cry for my best friend, which is an expression of our friendship." The family was deeply moved at this and invited him for dinner.
On his way home the rascal met a friend whose
life was equally precarious. "Where did you
manage to eat and drink today?" the friend asked
the rascal, who told him the story from beginning
The next day the friend also found a family
that was holding a funeral and cried likewise.
When they asked him the reason, he replied that
he was a best friend of the dead. Before he had
finished, however, he received a storm of blows
and kicks. The deceased of the family was a
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