A man of the Lu State lived alone in a cottage, and a neighbour, who was a widow, lived alone in another.
One night, there was a terrific storm of wind and rain; the widow’s cottage was destroyed, and she herself ran across to the man and asked to be taken in. The man, however, bolted his door and refused to admit her; whereupon the widow called to him, saying, “Where, sir, is your charity of heart, that you do not let me in?”
“I have heard,” replied he, ” that until a man is sixty, he may not share a house with a woman. Now, you are young, and I too am young; so that I dare not receive you.”
“Sir,” said the widow, ” why not play the part of Liu-hsia Hui? Besides, I am an old dame, and not a damsel of doubtful reputation; there would be no scandal talked about us.”
“Liu-hsia Hui,” answered the man, “was a man of eminent virtue, and could hold a lady in his lap without the slightest imputation on his moral character, but I am unable to do so. I will follow my own inability in striving to imitate the ability of Liu-hsia Hui.”
When Confucius heard this, he said, ” Good indeed! Can a desire to be good, without the attempt to succeed, be accounted wisdom?”