A TUNNEL

In 721 B.C., the mother of Duke Chuang of the Ch’ing State conspired against him, with a view to put her younger son on the throne. The plot failed.

Then the Duke placed his mother under restraint, swearing to her the following oath: “Until we meet in the Underworld, I will not look upon you again,” an oath of which he shortly repented. Later on, one of the frontier officials, who had heard the story, came to pay his respects. The Duke entertained him with a meal, and noticed that he put aside a portion of the meat served to him. On the Duke asking him why he did so, the official replied, “Your servant has a mother, who always shares his food; she has never tasted your Grace’s meat, and I beg to be allowed to keep some for her.” The Duke said, “Ah, you have a mother to whom you can give things; alas! I have no mother.” The official ventured to ask how this could be; and the Duke told him, adding that he now repented of his oath. “This need not trouble your Grace,” said the official. It will be necessary only to dig down to the Underworld and form a tunnel in which the meeting can take place. Who shall say that this is not in accordance with your oath?” The Duke agreed, and entered the tunnel singing,

“Herein we find

Our peace of mind,” while his mother came in singing.

“Without, no more

Was joy in store,” and thus they became mother and son as before.

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