Chinese Idiom Stories

The Gentleman On The Beam

During the Later Han dynasty, there lived a very famous scholar named Chen Shr. One day, Chen Shr came home and discovered a man hiding on one of the beams of his house. He first pretended that he didn't see this man, and went about his business straightening up his clothes. He then sat down and called his grandsons to him, saying, "You must all study very hard, and work conscientiously at whatever you do, so that later you will be useful people. There are some people in our society who do bad things-not because they're naturally bad people, but because they are unwilling to work." He then pointed up above his head, and continued, "Look! That gentleman up there on the beam is just this sort of person."

The thief hiding on the beam was quite alarmed. He climbed down, knelt in front of Chen Shr, and begged for forgiveness. Chen Shr patted the thief on the shoulder, and said to him, "You don't look like a bad person; I'm sure that you must come from a very poor family. Here, I'll give you some money; go start a business!" And with that, the thief very gratefully left.

Even today, people sometimes refer to thief as "the gentleman on the beam."




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