During the Warring States Period (475-221BC), there was a man called Yue Yangzi in State Yue. One day he saw a piece of gold on the road and picked it up. He took it home and gave it to his wife. But his wife was not happy. The virtuous woman said, “I hear that a man of morality doesn’t drink a thief’s water and a man of probity refuses to accept alms. What do you think of the action of picking up another’s lost valuable and possessing it for one’s own?”
Yue Yangzi, feeling ashamed, sent the gold back to where he found it. The next year, Yue Yangzi felt that he should go out and visit scholars to enrich his knowledge. So he set off.
A year later, he came back home suddenly. “Why have you returned?” asked his wife in surprise, “You’ve only spent one year studying with scholars.” “I come back because I missed you very much.”
Without saying anything, his wife took a pair of scissors and went to the loom at which she had worked. Pointing at the half done brocade, she proclaimed: “This brocade is woven from the finest silk. I wove one strand after another to produce the brocade. Now if I cut it, all my previous work will be wasted. It’s the same with your studies. You can acquire knowledge only through diligence. Now, you’ve stopped halfway. Isn’t it the same as cutting the brocade on the loom?”
Yue Yangzi was moved by what she said. He again left home to visit scholars. Several years later he became a learned man.
virtuous ['vɜːtjʊəs; -tʃʊəs] adj. 善良的；有道德的；贞洁的
morality [məˈrælətɪ] n. 道德；品行
brocade [brə'keɪd] n. [纺] 织锦；锦缎