This story took place in the Western Han Dynasty. A man who lived in Chang’an had an enemy. This enemy wanted to avenge but he couldn’t get near the man. He heard the man’s wife was dutiful and benevolent. So he abducted her father and caused him to demand his daughter to be a contact. The woman thought if she refused, her father would be killed and she was not a dutiful daughter, but if she obeyed, her husband would be killed and she was not a faithful wife. If a person was not dutiful and faithful, this person had no face to live in the world. So she decided to sacrifice her life for her father and husband. She said to the enemy of her husband: “Tomorrow he will sleep upstairs after a bath and his head will be toward the east. I will open the window.”
She returned home and let her husband sleep in another room in the next day. After a bath, she opened the window and slept upstairs, and her head was toward the east. At midnight, the enemy came and watched a sleeping person. He thought this person was that man, and cut the head of that person. He took away the head. The next day, he found the head was that woman’s. This enemy was very sad, and thought this woman was a really faithful wife. So he released the woman’s father and he didn’t take revenge on the woman’s husband any longer.
People thought this young woman regarded benevolence and righteousness as important, and regarded her life as light, so she had noble virtue. The Analects of Confucius said, “A person of noble character and integrity dies to achieve virtue, and doesn’t harm righteousness for living.”