During the Jiajing Reign (1522 – 1566 AD) in the Ming Dynasty, a man called Shi Fu lived in the Town of Wujiang in Jiangsu Province. He and his wife made a living by growing silkworms and operating two silk-weaving machines.
One day, Shi Fu was on his way back from selling silk at a market, when he found a bag filled with silver coins. He thought, “If the silver belongs to someone who is running a small business like me, then his whole family would be hurt badly and may even suffer bankruptcy.”
So, he patiently waited for the owner to come to look for his lost silver. He waited for a long time, enduring hunger and fatigue until at last he saw the owner anxiously looking for it.
The owner was a young man. After Shi Fu checked the details, he returned the silver to the owner. The young man was very grateful and insisted on giving Shi Fu half of the silver as a token of gratitude. Shi Fu refused. The young man then tried to buy him some fruit and wanted to invite him to a meal. Shi Fu declined it all politely and left without leaving his name.
After he got home, he told his wife about it. His wife said, “You did well.” Unlike how many people in today’s society might feel, they didn’t view it as good fortune to have found some silver, and felt peaceful and content that the silver was returned to its owner.
After that, Shi Fu’s business became very successful and he earned good profits.
One year, he had trouble getting mulberry tree leaves for the silkworms and was quite concerned. He decided to go with ten other people to cross a nearby lake to get the leaves he needed. It was getting late so they stopped the boat at a small wharf and tried to cook some dinner. Shi Fu went onshore to look for a source of fire to light his kindling, and happened to come to the house of the young man who lost silver years ago.
The young man’s name was Zhu En. They were very pleased to see each other and had a good chat. Shi Fu told him about the shortage of mulberry tree leaves in his hometown and that they had to cross the lake to get them in Mount Dongting.
Zhu En said, “I have mulberry trees in my garden and they’ve grown exceptionally well lately. There are more than enough leaves for both our families. They seem to have grown for you, my brother. Isn’t it predestined?”
Shi Fu said, “It’s also destined that I’ve come to your house today.” The two men became sworn brothers. Shi Fu had a little boy and Zhu En a little girl, so they also arranged for their future marriage and became in-laws.
Zhu En and his wife were overjoyed and decided to cook some food to entertain Shi Fu and put him up for the night. They were about to kill a chicken. Shi Fu immediately stopped them, “I’m very grateful for your kindness, but there is no need to kill a life!”
Later, Zhu En made up a bed for Shi Fu by putting a door across two stools. That night, Shi Fu heard the chicken suddenly making a loud noise. He got up quickly and went outside to look. Just then, there was a terribly loud crash inside and something fell heavily on his bed. Zhu En heard the crash too and rushed in to see what had happened. He saw the door smashed into pieces and the stools lying on their sides.
In great shock he said, “The axle hanging above the bed fell! My brother, you didn’t want me to kill the chicken, now it’s saved your life to repay your grace.”
The next day, Zhu En sent Shi Fu home by boat, carrying the mulberry leaves he needed. Later they learned that the boat Shi Fu was on with ten others, had run into a storm and capsized. There was only one survivor who managed to come back with the terrible news. Shi Fu said to Zhu En, “If you had not kindly provided me for the night, I would have perished as well.” Zhu En said, “It happened because you were rewarded with good for all your good deeds. What has it got to do with me!”
Since that event, Shi Fu and his wife became more philanthropic and tried their best to do good deeds. One of their neighbors was quite wealthy, but was only interested in profits and thus suffered losses year after year. In contrast, Shi Fu, for his kindness and benevolence, accumulated significant assets within ten years and became the richest man in town.
His children and grandchildren were also very virtuous and filial towards elders. All those “coincidences” Shi Fu had encountered were not accidents; they had all been arranged by the Divine.
There is a saying that “A family that accumulates goodness will always have prosperity to spare.” Shi Fu was rewarded with good for doing good deeds; he had his ill luck turned into blessings and ended up having plentiful wealth.
There was a poem to emphasize the point, “It might not seem a big deal to return the money; Heaven already knows his virtues. Good deeds are always rewarded with good, every thought is known to supernatural beings.”