Stories from Ancient China: Zhao Dun Rewarded for His Good Deeds

In the Chunqiu Dynasty (770-476 B.C.), King Jinlinggong (620-607 B.C.) of Jin Kingdom had no integrity as king. His official, Mr. Zhao Dun (ca.654-601 B.C.), was able to repeatably persuade Jinlinggong, but simultaneously annoyed him greatly. King Jinlinggong secretly sent an assassin, Chu Ni, to kill Zhao Dun. Chu Ni arrived at Zhao Dun's house very early in the morning, and found his door open. Mr. Zhao Dun had dressed properly, ready to serve the king. It was still quite early, so he was sitting there with his eyes closed. On seeing this, Chu Ni withdrew from the house, and said to himself, "Our state has hope since such a noble and hardworking man is the official. If I were to kill such a noble man, I would be not loyal to our state, but if I refuse to kill him, I will lose the king's trust. I will be wrong no matter which direction I take. I would rather die." He then rammed his head against a tree and died.

Later, Jinlinggong invited Zhao Dun for dinner, and arranged to have soldiers hidden and ready to kill him. Mr. Zhao Dun's carriage driver, Ti Miming, learnt of this plan, and ran up to the hall to find the official. He took Mr. Zhao Dun by the arm and led him out of the hall. Jinlinggong directed a dog to bite Zhao Dun, but the dog was killed by Ti Miming. The hidden soldiers all ran out and killed Ti Miming. At this critical moment, one of Jinlinggong's guards blocked the soldiers, saving Zhao Dun's life.

Who was this guard?

The guard was Ling Zhe.

Once, Mr. Zhao Dun went hunting in Shoushan, and met Ling Zhe while staying in Yisang. Ling Zhe was very hungry, having not eaten in three days. Zhao Dun gave him some food. But Ling Zhe only ate half the food that Zhao Dun offered. Zhao Dun asked him why. Ling Zhe said, "I have been a slave for three years and away from home. I do not know if my mother is still alive. I am about to arrive home, please allow me to take this food to my mother." Mr. Zhao Dun asked Ling Zhe to finish the food and prepared a basket of meat and grains for him to take home.

Later, Ling Zhe became Jinlinggong's guard.

When Zhao Dun asked him why he saved him from danger, Ling Zhe answered, "I was that hungry person in Yisang." Zhao Dun asked him again, "What is your name?" Ling Zhe did not answer, but left.

(From Chunqiu, a Lu State history book that recorded events from 722 B.C. to 481 B.C. It is the earliest chronological history book.)

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