Zheng Jian, Contributor, Dora Li, Contributing Translator
This story happened during the Qing Dynasty when several European nations as well as other foreign nations had trading posts in China.
Mr. Jia worked for a foreign firm in Shanghai. He was very loyal and his boss greatly trusted him. Before the Dragon Boat Festival in May, his boss sent him to the southern cities to collect the debts owed to the firm. He soon left carrying a paper bag with him.
The process of debt collecting went very smoothly, and when it was nearly noon, he had collected more than 1,800 pieces of silver. Because he talked continuously as he went to the various debtors, his mouth became dry and he was tired. Just then, he passed a tea house. He thought that it might be good to drink some tea and relax a bit before returning to his firm.
However, as soon as Mr. Jia walked into the office, he noticed that he was no longer carrying the paper bag which contained all the silver. Like a thunderbolt, a wave of shock and fear ran through his body! He broke out in a cold sweat. He was so confused that he could not explain what happened. His boss thought that he was trying to cheat him. He began to scold Mr. Jia sternly and said, “I trusted you so much! You’ve really disappointed me! If you cannot get the money back today, I will take you to court.”
More than 1,800 pieces of silver was a large amount of money and more than one person could spend in his entire lifetime. If he could not find the bag of money, how would Mr. Jia ever be able to pay back such a huge sum? At that moment, he thought his life was over, and he cried out loudly. He wished that he could just disappear!
Another man, Mr. Yi, also worked for a foreign firm. But, because Mr. Yi’s luck was bad, he always lost his money. He had purchased a boat ticket to go home that day. Because it was too early for him to get on the boat, he went to the same tea house that Mr. Jia had stopped at. Mr. Yi wanted to rest, but he also wanted to think about what to do with his future.
Just as Mr. Jia walked out of the tea house, Mr. Yi came in and sat down next to the seat that Mr. Jia had been sitting in. When Mr. Yi sat down, he noticed a paper bag on the chair next to him. He ignored it at first, and just drank his tea. He sat and drank tea for a long time, but no one came to get the bag. Mr. Yi started to wonder what was in it. When he lifted the bag, it felt pretty heavy. Finally, he opened it. To his great surprise, it was filled with shiny silver coins.
Overcome with surprise and happiness, he thought that this was like a cup of water dropping from the sky to a man dying of thirst. He thought, “Oh, my goodness! Such a large amount of money! It will change my fate! I won’t have to work for the rest of my life. I won’t have any more cares or worries!”But then, he immediately thought, “No. This money does not belong to me, I cannot take it. If I take this money the person who lost it might be in trouble! He may even lose his life. It would be a big sin!”
In ancient China, everyone knew that it was wrong to take something that did not belong to them. Mr. Yi thought, “Since I’m the one who found this bag of money, it’s my responsibility to return it to the owner.”
It was nearly lunchtime, and there were only nine people left in the tea house. Mr. Yi looked around, but no one looked like they were looking for something they had lost. Even though he was hungry, he continued waiting there with an empty stomach. He waited for hours, until it was dark outside. All the guests in the tea house had gone home. Only Mr. Yi was left, waiting and watching the people hurrying home outside.
Suddenly, a man followed by two others rushed into the tea house. It was Mr. Jia, pale-faced and sweating profusely. As soon as he entered, he pointed to the chair next to Mr. Yi and said, “I sat here! I must have left the bag here!”
And then the three men walked directly to Mr. Yi. Mr. Yi realized that Mr. Jia must be the person who lost the bag of silver. He smiled and said, “Did you leave your money bag?”
When Mr. Jia nodded his head, Mr. Yi said, “I have waited for you for a long time.” He took out the bag of money. Trembling, Mr. Jia thanked him. He knelt down in front of Mr. Yi and said, “You have saved my life!”
Mr. Jia explained that when he discovered that he lost the money, he wanted to retrace his steps and his boss had two men follow him.
Mr. Jia and Mr. Yi had a friendly chat. Mr. Jia wanted to thank Mr. Yi by giving him one-fifth of the silver. Mr. Yi refused. Mr. Jia asked him to take one-tenth, but again he refused. Then Mr. Jia offered him one percent, but Mr. Yi refused. Mr. Jia did not know how to thank him and said, “Please come to breakfast tomorrow morning. It will set my heart at ease.” Then they parted ways.
The next morning, Mr. Yi entered the restaurant. Just as Mr. Jia was about to thank him again, Mr. Yi stopped him and said, “It is I who should thank you! If I had not waited for you the entire afternoon at the tea house, I might have died!”
Mr. Jia looked confused, so Mr. Yi explained, “I bought a boat ticket to go home yesterday. However, because I waited for you at the tea house I missed the time to get on the boat. When I finally returned home last night, I found out that the boat I was supposed to get on capsized in a raging storm, and all 23 people on the boat died.
If I had gotten on that boat, I would have also died. It is you who saved my life!”
As he said this, he bowed to Mr. Jia. As the two men thanked each other, the other guests in the restaurant all showed their approval by raising their cups in a toast to honor their noble spirits.
They all said that Mr. Yi’s high morals and honorable behavior saved two lives.
Thank you for sharing beautiful story
I share it with my kids
Nowadays it is so important to have moral education for kids
Please have more kind story to share to help children
Always pleased to read these mini stories. While historians might not be focusing on them, there have always been righteous people in the past. And while the traditional values do not attract attention of contemporary sensation-hungry media, the righteous people still live among us today as well.
Great story about hearts of compassion, forbearance, fate, and morality.
This is the proof that all of life is happening as it should, always for our benefit. Even if we are unable to see in a moment the truth behind a situation, if we wait for the thinking mind to leave we are able to see the greater connection in all things as one thing happening for alls greatest good.
The story is lovely and filled with virtue and uprightness. It displays the courage to maintain honesty when taking something that belongs to someone else without always knowing how it will impact another’s life.
This is such a beautiful and heartwarming story! The lives of two men facing adversity gives us lessons of integrity, humility, compassion for all humankind to adopt and adapt in our personal walk here on earth.
The story brought tears to my eyes;
the joy that resounds all around is impossible to buy!
It is in the giving that you become🙏🏽
Very interesting thoughts to ponder upon words of wisdom and advice thanks much
These are real stories that inspire us to always be better persons and improve ourselves. Thanks for sharing them!
I really enjoy these short tales. Such wisdom contained in them!