THE ELIXIR OF DEATH

A certain person having forwarded some elixir of immortality to the Prince of Ching, it was received as usual by the door-keeper. ” Is this to be swallowed? ” enquired the Chief Warden of the palace. ” It is,” replied the door-keeper. Thereupon, the Chief Warden purloined and swallowed it. At this, the prince was exceedingly wroth, and ordered his immediate execution; but the Chief Warden sent a friend to plead for him, saying, ” Your Highness’ servant asked the door-keeper if the drug was to be swallowed; and as he replied in the affirmative, your servant accordingly swallowed it. The blame rests entirely with the door- keeper. Besides, if the elixir of life is presented to your Highness, and because your servant swallows it, your Highness slays him, that elixir is clearly the elixir of death; and for your Highness thus to put to death an innocent official is simply for your Highness to be made the sport of men.”

The prince spared his life.

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