Gems of Chinese Literature/Yo Fei-Good Horses

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HIS Majesty asked me one day if I had any good horses; to which I replied that I used to have two excellent animals. “They ate,” I added, “large quantities of hay and many pecks of beans, daily; besides drinking each a gallon of spring water. Unless their food was fresh and clean, they would not touch it. On being mounted, they did not immediately break into a gallop; but would gradually warm into eagerness for their work. Between noon and sunset they would cover some sixty and odd miles; and on removing the saddle they would be found neither to have lost wind nor to have turned a hair any more than if they had been doing nothing. Such is the capacity for endurance in those who are well fed and well treated; who are willing, but not over-zealous. Unhappily, they both died; and those I have now do not eat more than a few pints per diem. They are not particular about either their food or their drink. Before you have fairly got hold of the bridle, away they go; and then, ere many miles are passed, they pant and sweat and are like to drop with fatigue. Such is the jaded condition of those who get little and are easily satisfied, who are over-eager and are easily exhausted.”

His Majesty praised my reply (“but,” as one commentator says, “quite missed the point.”)