Chinese Idiom Stories

When One's Forefinger Jumps

During the Spring and Autumn Period, there lived two young aristocrats who worked as officials in the court of Duke Jeng Ling, one named Sung and the other named Jia. One monring, the two were on their way to court, when suddenly Sung's forefinger jumped up all by itself. He said to Jia, "Whenever my forefinger jumps, it means that I'm going to have something really good to eat that day. I wonder what it'll be today." (The Chinese word for "forefinger" is "food finger".)

When the two young men reached the court, they heard that someone had just sent over a soft-shelled turtle, and that in a little while, the duke was going to invite everyone to have some. Jia and Sung could not help laughing to themselves. When the duke heard the story, he also laughed and said, "Whether or not that forefinger is accurate depends on me!" And sure enough, when the turtle soup was brought out, the last bowl was given to the person right before Sung. Feeling very pleased with himself, the duke laughed and said. "Well?" But Sung reached into the duke's bowl, pulled out a piece of meat, and popped it into his mouth, saying, "Who said my fore-finger wasn't accurate?"

Today, when a person has a strong craving for a certain kind of food, we can say that "his forefinger is jumping."




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