from ancient china
upon a time there was a leading county official, who when settling
lawsuits could never clearly distinguish between right and wrong,
truth and falsehood, and merits and demerits. Therefore, the people
nicknamed him "the bungler," and verses were made up to
taunt him. Soon many people copied the verses and pasted them up on
the walls in all the streets and lanes. The bungling official saw
these posted and scolded his subordinates. "Outside there are
official notices everywhere saying there are many bunglers throughout
the county. Why aren't you out there arresting them?" He said
to one of his messengers."I'll give you three days to arrest
at least three bunglers. If you are one short, I will have no mercy!"
messenger left the government office and loathed, "Damn him!
Where am I going to arrest these bunglers?"
the city gate the message happened to see a man riding with a parcel
on his head. He went straight up to the man and asked, "Why don't
you put the parcel on the horse's back?"
am afraid it will be too heavy for the horse," said the man.
"I put it on my head to lighten its burden."
fellow can be counted as a bungler," said to him the messenger
and arrested the riding man.
went back to the city gate again where he fortunately found a country
bumpkin holding a long bamboo pole and attempting to go through the
city gate. He first tried to enter holding the pole vertically, but
the gate was too low. Then, holding it horizontally, he found the
gate was too narrow. Pacing up and down the country bumpkin hadn't
the slightest idea how to get into the city.
guy can be counted as a bungler, too." The messenger arrested
this man. Now only once was left to be caught.
heard the two men's stories, the official laughed at the first bungler
and said, "How foolish you are! Carrying the parcel on your head,
isn't this letting your horse take advantage of you"
fool!" the official, turning to the bungler with the pole, sneered,
"Why didn't you break this long pole into two? If the pole is
broken into two short ones, you can enter the gate."
the bungling official's muddled talk, the messenger knelt down and
reported, "I've just found the third bungler."
Go and get him here quickly," said the official.
the next county official arrives, I will get the third one at once,"
answered the messenger.
and Translated by Liu Jiangting et al.)