Page:A history of Chinese literature - Giles.djvu/43

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Text.—“In summer, in the 5th month, the Sung State made peace with the Ch’u State.

“In B.C. 587 King Chuang of Ch’u was besieging the capital of Sung. He had only rations for seven days, and if these were exhausted before he could take the city, he meant to withdraw. He therefore sent his general to climb the ramparts and spy out the condition of the besieged. It chanced that at the same time an officer of the Sung army came forth upon the ramparts, and the two met. ‘How is your State getting on?’ inquired the general. ‘Oh, badly,’ replied the officer. ‘We are reduced to exchanging children for food, and their bones are chopped up for fuel.’ ‘That is bad indeed,’ said the general; ‘I had heard, however, that the besieged, while feeding their horses with bits in their mouths, kept some fat ones for exhibition to strangers. What a spirit is yours!’ To this the officer replied, ‘I too have heard that the superior man, seeing another’s misfortune, is filled with pity, while the ignoble man is filled with joy. And in you I recognise the superior man; so I have told you our story.’ ‘Be of good cheer,’ said the general. ‘We too have only seven days’ rations, and if we do not conquer you in that time, we shall withdraw.’ He then bowed, and retired to report to his master. The latter said, ‘We must now capture the city before we withdraw.’ ‘Not so,’ replied the general; ‘I told the officer we had only rations for seven days.’ King Chuang was greatly enraged at this; but the general said, ‘If a small State like Sung has officers who speak the truth, should not the State of Ch’u have such men also?’ The king still wished to remain, but the general threatened to leave him, and thus peace was brought about between the two States.”