Repaying Others Who Have Helped Us and Being Honest and Trustworthy

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Zhan Gu lived in the Qing Dynasty, under Emperor Qianlong. Although he was poor, he was a kind and trustworthy man.

There was a pawnshop at Chongming Island in Shanghai. The owner of the shop was an elderly man named Chen who was from Wan County, Sichuan (currently Wan County of Chongqing City). He hired Zhan Gu as a clerk to help him in the shop.

Zhan Gu was a very diligent and competent person who treated every guest with sincerity and patience. He handled every transaction clearly and correctly. As a result, the business at the pawnshop became more profitable. Trusting Zhan Gu, the owner increased his responsibilities and treated him like his family member.

The owner received a letter from his family saying that his wife was very sick and that he must return to his home immediately. Knowing Zhan Gu to be a honest man, the owner entrusted the business to Zhan Gu and went back home. Zhan Gu promised the owner that he would take care of the business in the best way possible and hoped the owner would come back as quickly as possible.

The owner was old, weak, and very anxious. The long trip was very stressful for him. Unfortunately, he got very sick after he went back home and after a short while he died.

Shanghai and Sichuan are a fair distance from each other, so it was difficult to communicate between the two places. After the owner left, Zhan Gu took care of the shop all by himself and never dared to slack off a bit. The business kept advancing smoothly and he never thought about going back home to see his parents, wife and children. Since the owner had not returned, he never really had a chance to go back home.

Ten years passed in this manner and one day, a young man came to the shop. He looked very similar to the owner. Zhan Gu asked the young man and found him to be the son of the owner. The news of the owner’s death was also revealed to Zhan Gu, and tears fell from his eyes as he recalled the owner’s kindness to him.

Zhan Gu immediately took out the account books from the last ten years and gave them to the owner’s son. The owner’s son looked at the accounts and found all the transaction to be in order. Then Zhan Gu checked the inventory with the owner’s son and handed over everything to him. Deeply moved by Zhan Gu’s actions the owner’s son immediately paid him an amount worth ten years’ of salary and also presented 400 taels (528 oz.) of silver to him as a gift.

Zhan Gu accepted the salary but he refused to accept the silver. He said, “Your father helped me ten years ago and so I should pay it back. Your father entrusted the business to me, it is my responsibility to keep the promise. I just did what I should do. Please do not thank me. My only concern is that I have been away from my home for ten years. Since you have come back, please let me return to my home and reunite with my family.”

Before Zhan Gu left, he ardently explained the business procedure to the owner’s son again. Then he packed some simple baggage and said goodbye to the owner’s son. The owner’s son was very regretful that he could not retain Zhan Gu. He sighed, “Zhan Gu is really an honorable man!”

It’s a Chinese traditional virtue to return to others who have helped us and be honest and trustworthy. The owner entrusted his shop to Zhan Gu, who spent ten years to fulfill his promise. He was not selfish when confronted with the loss of wealth. He really deserved the title of an honest and trustworthy man.

感恩圖報 誠實守信
 

詹谷,清乾隆年間人氏,家境貧寒,為人忠厚守信。

上海崇明島有一家當鋪,店主是四川萬縣(今重慶萬州)的一位陳姓老人,他僱請了詹谷來當鋪做夥計幫忙。

詹谷在當鋪十分勤勉能幹,待客誠懇耐心,凡詹谷經手的錢財物品都一清二楚,當鋪的生意也越來越好,店主把很多事都放心讓詹谷去做,對待他好像自己的家人一樣。

後來,店主收到家信,說是妻子病重,要他趕緊回去。店主看出詹谷是位誠實君子,便將整個當鋪託付給了詹谷,自己回了老家。詹谷答應店主會盡力幫忙照顧當鋪的生意,希望他快去快回。

店主本來就年老體衰,加上憂慮焦心及長途跋涉,沒想到剛到家就一病不起,很快就病逝了。

兩地相隔千里,訊息閉塞。店主走後,詹谷獨自照顧著當鋪的生意,不敢有絲毫鬆懈,生意發展的很好。他曾想回家探望父母妻兒,但因店主還沒回來,所以一直沒有成行。

這樣一直過了十年時間。一天,當鋪裡來了個年輕人,與店主長得十分像,詹谷一問,原來是店主的兒子。詹谷在得知店主早已去世後,想起當年店主對自己的知遇之恩,自己不禁潸然淚下。

詹谷隨即取出十年來的帳簿交給了店主兒子,店主兒子一看,所有帳目清清楚楚。又帶著店主兒子清點實物,並一一交接。店主兒子非常感動,立即付給了詹谷十年來的薪水,並饋贈他四百兩銀子。

詹谷收下了薪水,但對贈送的銀子卻堅決不收,說:「受人之恩,理當相報;受人之託,理當守諾。我只是做了我應該做的事,你也不必再言謝。只是我已經出來十年,如今你來了,還請公子允許我回老家去與家人團聚。」

詹谷臨走時,向店主兒子殷殷叮囑當鋪的生意,然後背起簡單的行李告辭了。店主兒子十分惋惜沒能留住詹谷,感嘆道:「真是位誠實守信的君子!」

感恩圖報、誠實守信是中華傳統美德。詹谷受店主一言之託,為履行一個承諾花費了十年的時間,即使面對巨額財物也沒有絲毫私心,稱其為誠實守信的君子真是當之無愧。
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