DETECTING ROBBERS

In the Chin State, which was infested with robbers, there lived a certain Ch’i Yung, who was able to tell a robber by his face; by examining the expression of his eyes he could read his inmost thoughts. The Marquis of Chin employed him in the inspection of hundreds and thousands of robbers, and he never missed a single one. The Marquis expressed his delight to Wên Tzu of Chao, saying: ‘I have a man who, singlehanded, is ridding my whole State of robbers. He saves me the necessity of employing a whole staff of police.’ Wên Tzu replied: ‘If your Highness relies on a detective for catching robbers, you will never get rid of them. And what is more, Ch’i Yung is certain sooner or later to meet with a violent end.’

Meanwhile, a band of robbers were plotting together. ‘Ch’i Yung,’ they said, ‘is the enemy who is trying to exterminate us.’ So one day they stole upon him in a body and murdered him. When the Marquis of Chin heard the news, he was greatly alarmed and immediately sent for Wên Tzu. ‘Your prophecy has come true,’ he said; ‘Ch’i Yung is dead. What means can I adopt for catching robbers now? ‘in Chou,’ replied Wên Tzu, ‘we have a proverb: “Search not the ocean-depths for fish: calamity comes upon those who pry into hidden mysteries.” If you want to be quit of robbers, the best thing your Highness can do is to promote the worthy to office. Let them instruct and enlighten their sovereign on the one hand, and reform the masses below them on the other. if once the people acquire a sense of shame, you will not find them turning into robbers.’

The Marquis then appointed Sui Hui to be Prime Minister, and all the robbers fled to the Ch’in State.

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