Select A Husband

This story took place in 541 B.C. in Zheng State. Zheng State was a country of the Spring-Autumn Period in modern-days Henan Province. There was a man called Xuwu Fan. His younger sister was very beautiful. A young noble Gongsun Chu who’s “zi” (another name taken at the age of twenty) was Zinan had been bethothed with her. But another noble Gongsun Hei who’s “zi” was Zixi sent his subordinate to give a betrothal gift to her. Because Gongsun Hei was an imperious influence, Xuwu Fan was afraid. So he had to ask Zichan who was the prime minister of Zheng State for help. Zichan said, “This is because our state lacks governance, and it is not your trouble. Let your sister select one.” Xuwu Fan asked the two men to let his sister select one, and the two men agreed.

Zixi dressed very well and went to Xuwu’s home. He put down munificent presents and left. But Zinan dressed in military uniform and drove a chariot. When he entered Xuwu’s home, he saluted with a shooting rite (shoot an arrow to the left and another one to the right). He put down his hunting bag. He jumped to the chariot and left.

All these behaviors were watched from a window by the sister of Xuwu Fan who was in her room. She said, “Zixi is really handsome, but I prefer Zinan to be my husband. A husband does as a man, and a wife does as a woman. This is called harmony.” So she became the wife of Gongsun Chu.

Gongsun Hei was very angry. He actually wanted to kill Zinan and grab his beautiful wife. In that time, in order to get a heart of a woman, a man must combat with his opponent by himself. So though Zixi was an imperious influence, he had to do by himself. Zixi concealed his armor in a bag, and went to Zinan’s home. But Zinan was very clever, and he found the mind of Zixi. He took a ge(a long weapon) and rushed at Zixi. Gongsun Hei had no time to dress in armor, and actually he had no time to unsheathe his sword. So he had to run away, because he also had no time to ride on his carriage. Zinan who was enraged got after Zixi. In an intersection, Zinan caught Zixi and hit his arm by his ge.

Gongsun Hei returned home. When many ministers visit him, he felt embarrassed and said, “I went to visit him with kindness, but I didn’t know he had an abnormal ambition, so I was wounded.” Though ministers knew Zixi’s character, they did not dare to offend him and they decided to punish Zinan. In order to grasp the overall situation, Zichan had to exile Zinan to Wu State which was a remote country of the south.

The next year, Gongsun Hei rebelled finally, but because his arm’s wound acted up suddenly, he had to stop commanding, so his rebellion failed. Under the pressure of Zichan and ministers, Zixi had to kill himself. After the death of Zixi, Zheng State became harmonious with the leadership of Zichan.

About the later story of Zinan and his wife, there are not records in historical books. But we can believe, when Zinan returned his motherland, he would live happily with his beloved wife.

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