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The Magistrate and The Little Boy

2006-07-09 00:54

  A long, long ago, there was a mean and corrupt town magistrate. One of his officials was a mild-natured man of integrity who would not stand by idly when he saw injustice done to the town's people by any body. The magistrate always felt uneasy with this official because he could not do things as he wished without this second-ranking official's tenacious plea for reconsideration of his decision. Finally, the magistrate decided to find some way of getting rid of this official by trying to find some fault with him.

  It was one day when there was a blinding blizzard. The magistrate called the official in and made a preposterous demand: “My good fellow. I have this terrible craving for fresh peaches and strawberries. I want you to go out and get these for me. You shall have a full month to do this. When you succeed, I will reward you generously. But if you fail to obtain them in a month, I want you to resign from your position.” The official was completely at a loss. “Where can I get fresh peaches and strawberries in this cold winter? This is hopeless. This is totally hopeless, indeed.” So he thought.

  The official could not protest magistrate's order, even though his demand was obviously unreasonable. He knew that it was a test of his loyalty; so, he decided that he should at least give it his best try. After simply saying to his family that he was on his way on an official business, he left home. He went from place to place in search for fresh peaches and strawberries. Nowhere could he find any fresh fruits in the freezing winter. After several days of searching, he fell ill and returned home.

  Seeing that his father was seriously ill in bed, his ten-year-old son was worried and asked what he had been doing during all those days. The official told his son the whole story, worried that he might not recover. The little boy listened attentively and said: “Father, I want you to regain strength and recover from your illness without worrying about it. I have a good idea and will try to persuade the magistrate to withdraw his demand.” And out he went.

  The boy went straight to the magistrate's residence and requested an audience with him. After a big bow, the boy said, “Your Honor, my father fell seriously ill after he was bitten by a snake while he was out in search for fresh peaches and strawberries in the snow to satisfy your request. And ……” The boy was interrupted by a thunderous shout by the magistrate: “You loathsome little liar! How could anyone be bitten by a snake in this winter snow?! ……” The magistrate was trembling with anger. But the boy, as if he had been waiting for such a response, bowed and asked politely: “Your Magistrate, if one can not find a snake in the winter snow, then how could one be expected to find in the snow fresh summer fruits like peaches and strawberries? I beg you to rescind your order.” The magistrate was speechless.

  It was said that, soon after the incident, the magistrate was replaced with the boy's father by the governor of the prefecture, and the new magistrate ruled wisely.

  A tyrannical local magistrate is confronted by a little boy who tries to persuade the magistrate into withdrawing an unreasonable demand made of his father. Instead of begging, he follows the magistrate's own reasoning and uses the very reasoning to his advantage.

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