Lie Zi Was Frightened by Soup Shops in the State of Qi

Lieh Yü-khâu had started to go to Khî, but came back when he was half-way to it. He met Po-hwän Wû-zän, who said, ‘Why have you come back?’ His reply was, ‘I was frightened.’ ‘What frightened you?’ ‘I went into ten soup-shops to get a meal. and in five of them the soup was set before me before I had paid for it.’ ‘But what was there in that to frighten you?’ Lieh-dze said, ‘Vendors of soup supply their commodity simply as a matter of business, and however much they may dispose of, their profit is but little, and their power is but slight; and yet they treated me as I have said:–how much more would the lord of ten thousand chariots do so! His body burdened with the cares of his kingdom, and his knowledge overtasked by its affairs, he would entrust those affairs to me, and exact from me the successful conduct of its government. It was this which frightened me.’ Po-hwän Wû-zän replied, ‘Admirable perspicacity! But if you carry yourself as you do, men will flock to you for protection.’

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