Sunday, 2 March 2008

Selling the recipe


There was a man in Song who knew a good medicine to prevent hands from chapping. Since many generations, his family made a living washing and bleaching silk. A foreigner heard of it, and offered to buy the recipe for one hundred gold. The man assembled his family and told them this plan: “For generation, we have been washing silk, and never had more than a few gold. Now, in one day, (we can) sell our secret for one hundred gold. I suggest that we accept.” When the foreigner had the recipe, he went to persuade the king of Wu. As there were troubles in Yue, the king of Wu sent him there, as a general. In winter, he fought the people of Yue in a naval battle, badly defeated the people of Yue, and took some land, which became his fiefdom. The ability to prevent hands from chapping was the same. One turned it into a fiefdom, whereas the other did not escape washing silk, because it was used in different ways.