Chinese Idiom Stories

A Dried Fish Store

During the Warring States Period, Juang-tz's family was very poor. When they had nothing left to eat, Juang-tz went to borrow some money from a local official. However, the official told Juang-tz that he would not be able to lend him any money until after he had collected the rent.

Juang-tz was very angry, and he said to the official, "Yesterday I saw a crucian carp in a ditch that had dried up.He looked as if he was about to die, and asked me to quickly fetch a bucket of water to save his life. I told him that I was on my way south, where there is a lot of water, and that I would certainly bring some back for him. But the carp grew very angry and said, "By the time you've gotten back with that water, I won't be here anymore! You'll have to go look for me at a dried fish store!"

This idiom is used to mean that a promise of help later is of no use in an immediate crisis.




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