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The Traveler's Prologue
Many years ago, there were two brothers who worked together in the fields. The older brother’s name was Yang, and the younger brother’s name was Ying. Day after day, they would pick the fruits in the fields of their master Wu, put the fruit in sacks, and bring them back for a bag of gold. The amount of gold in the bag was determined by the weight.
Both brothers had families and made an honest living working for their Master. They got up early in the morning, bid their wives and children goodbye, worked most of the day, and usually made just enough money to buy the food for the next day’s meals. Rarely were the brothers able to spend the money on themselves, but they were happy as they were.
One day, while walking through the streets, Ying came across a peddler selling leather shoes. Ying looked at his own shoes and saw that they were tattered and worn away. He envied the fine material of the shoes being sold and decided he needed to make some extra money the next day so he could buy them. Ying thought about how he could make enough money for the shoes and came up with a plan.
The next day in the fields, before the brothers began picking the fruit in the fields of their master Wu, Ying put a few rocks in the bottom of the bag to add a little weight. Yang saw what his brother had done and asked him what he was doing. Ying told him his plan and Yang decided to join in; he figured a new pair of shoes would be good for him too.
After they had finished for the day, the brothers brought their sacks to Wu so they could get their pay. Wu weighed the sacks and noticed that they were heavier than usual.
“Why are the sacks of fruit you have brought heavier than usual,” he questioned them.
“We both want new pairs of shoes so we picked more,” the brothers replied.
“Very well, I will give you the extra money,” Wu replied with a hint of suspicion in his voice. Wu gave them the extra gold and the two brothers immediately took their extra gold to the marketplace and bought the new shoes. They both realized that putting rocks in the bag to get more gold had been wrong, and the brothers vowed to never cheat their master Wu out of his money for he had always been just and fair.
Many days passed and Ying began to see more items in the marketplace that he wanted. His greed grew and he soon began to put rocks into his sack again. Yang saw this and shook his head in shame at his brother. Ying filled his sack more and more every day and Yang knew something must be done soon before their master Wu killed them for stealing his money.
Finally, after a week of Ying filling his sack with more and more rocks, Yang confronted him. He told Ying he would tell Wu about what he was doing because he knew Wu respected the truth beyond all else and might give Ying a second chance. Ying was enraged by this, so while they were out in the fields, Ying took a large rock, killed his brother Yang, and buried his body out in the fields.
Throughout this time of Ying’s greed, Master Wu knew that Ying was filling the sack with more and more rocks and was waiting for him to come and tell the truth. The guilt would have been enough for Wu. However, when Wu realized that Ying was consumed by his greed, he knew he must teach Ying a lesson.
The next day, when Ying came to collect his pay, Wu handed him a small sack and said there was a special surprise in it for doing so well these past few days. Ying rushed to the marketplace and opened the sack, only to find that it was filled with rocks. Ying was enraged by this, so the next day, instead of picking fruit, Ying filled his sack with rocks and gave it to Wu as payback. Angered that Ying had not learned his lesson, Wu took the sack of rocks, tied Ying to it, and flung him into the river. No one ever stole from Wu again.