A Story of Filial Piety

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Zhang Xiaoji was a scholar of Xuchang in the Song Dynasty. When he grew up, a rich man in the village liked his talent and offered his daughter in marriage to Zhang. This rich man had only one son, who was spoiled and wandered around wasting money. One day, the rich man saw him do nothing useful all day and behavingvery badly. In anger, he drove his son out of the house and broke his father-son relationship with him.

Later, the rich man became seriously ill. Seeing that son-in-law Zhao Xiaoji was kind-hearted, the rich man gave all his property to Zhang before he died. Xiaoji buried his father-in-law like he was the man’s own son. He followed the father-in-law’s will and managed his family well.

After the rich boy was driven out of the house, he became a beggar in the village. Since he could not support himself, he had to beg for a living. One day, when he was begging, he happened to run into Zhang Xiaoji. He did not recognize Xiaoji, but Xiaoji recognized him. If it were a normal person, Xiaoji could have pretended not to know him and leave quietly But Xiaoji did not do that.

Seeing the rich man’s son was so desolate, he couldn’t bear it in his heart. He asked: “Can you take care of the garden?” The son of the rich man said, “If I can make a living by taking care of the garden, then it is good.” Xiaoji let him water the vegetables and take care of the garden. The rich man’s son did a good job. Gradually he was no longer poor and was able to support himself.

When Xiaoji saw the change, he was a little surprised. He asked the rich man’s son again, “Can you manage the warehouse?” The son said, “I am very lucky that you let me take care of the garden. Now you let me manage the warehouse, it would be great.」 So the son of this rich man took over the work of managing the warehouse, and he was very cautious in his work. He was very disciplined and did not have any faults.

After carefully observing for a period of time, Xiaoji knew that the rich man’s son had rehabilitated and no longer had the problems of eating, drinking, and playing. He returned his father-in-law his property to the son.

Although Xiaoji legally inherited his father-in-law’s property, when the father-in-law’s son was poor, Xiaoji wholeheartedly helped him to rehabilitate, so that he could inherit his father’s business. Xiaoji then returned all his father-in-law’s properties to him instead of keeping it to himself.

Translated by Sharon Koumans

孝基還財

張孝基是宋朝許昌的一個讀書人。他長大成人後,鄉裡的一個富紳中意他的才華,就將自己的女兒嫁給了他。這個富翁只有一個兒子,一副紈絝子弟的模樣,整日遊街串鄉,嬉戲玩樂,非常敗家。一天,富翁見他整日浪蕩,實在是不肖,盛怒之下,把兒子趕出了家門,和他斷了父子的關係。

後來,富翁得了一場大病。他見女婿孝基為人厚道,頗有仁愛之心,臨死前就將所有的財產都交給了他。孝基像親生兒子一樣,好好地安葬了岳父。他遵照岳父的囑咐,把家管理得井井有條。

那個富家子弟被趕出家門後,在鄉裡淪為乞丐,因為無力養活自己,只好以乞討為生。一天,他正在乞討時,正巧碰上張孝基。當時,乞丐並不認識孝基;孝基認出了他。如果是一般人,完全可以裝作不認識,悄悄地離開,也不會受到非議。但孝基沒有那麼做。

孝基見他如此落魄,心中很不忍心,於是就問他:「你能澆園子嗎?」富翁的兒子說:「如果澆園子,能混口飯吃,那也挺好。」孝基就讓他澆灌菜園。這件小事,他做得倒也不錯,漸漸擺脫了落魄的樣子,能夠自食其力了。

孝基看到他的變化,也感到有些驚訝,就又問他說:「你能管理倉庫嗎?」他說:「你讓我澆園子,已經讓我很知足了,現在讓我管倉庫,要真能那樣,那我可就實在太幸運了。」於是這富人的兒子接下管理倉庫的工作,行事作風也很謹慎,很規矩,沒有出現甚麼過失。

孝基仔細觀察一段時間後,知道他能夠改過自新,不再犯以前吃喝玩樂的毛病了,就把岳父當年交給自己的財產,全部還給了他的兒子。

儘管孝基是合法繼承了岳父的家產,但在岳父的兒子落魄之時,孝基全心全意地幫他改過自新,使他有能力繼承父業,並將岳父家產全部還給了他,並沒有貪佔岳父的家產。

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