Mistaking the reflection of a bow in the cup for a snake
During the Han Dynasty(206BC-220AD), there was a county magistrate called Ying Bin. One summer day, he invited his secretary Du Xuan to his house and treated him with wine. On the north wall of the room hung a red bow. It was reflected in Du Xuan's cup. Du Xuan took the reflection for a squirming snake. He was very frightened but he dared not turn down Ying Bin's offer because he was his superior. He had to swallow the wine with his eyes closed.
When he was back at home he felt so painful in his chest and stomach that he could hardly eat and drink any more.
He sent for the doctor and tried much medicine but nothing could cure him.
When Ying Bin asked Du Xuan how he got so seriously ill, Du told him he drank the wine with a snake in his cup the other day. Ying Bin found something strange about that. He turned home, thought hard, but he couldn't find an answer. Suddenly the bow on the north wall caught his eye. "That's it!" he shouted. He immediately sent his man to fetch Du Xuan. He seated him where he sat before and offered him a cup of wine.
Du Xuan saw the snake-like shadow again. Before Du was scared out of his wits again, Ying Bin said, pointing at the shadow, "The 'snake'in the cup is nothing but a reflection of the bow on the north wall!"
Now that Du Xuan knew what it was, he felt much easier. his illness disappeared the next moment!
This story was later contracted into the idiom-mistake the reflection of a bow in the cup for a snake. We use it to describe someone who is very suspicious.
当应郴到杜宣家中，问他怎么会闹病的，杜宣便讲了那天饮酒时酒杯中有蛇的事。应郴觉得非常奇怪。他回到家,反复思考，就是弄不明白杜宣酒杯里怎么会有蛇的。 突然，北墙上的那张红色的弓引起了他的注意。"原来是这样! "他大喊道。应郴马上命人把杜宣接来，让他坐在原位上，并递给他一杯酒。