Saturday, January 12, 2013
SAVED BY THE HAIR
About two thousand years ago, the state of Chǔ 楚 suffered under a king who made a concubine of his own daughter-in-law. Since he had been advised against this course of action by a virtuous minister named WǓ Shē 伍奢, he had Wǔ Shē imprisoned.
A corrupt minister forced Wǔ to summon his two sons, WǓ Shàng 伍尚 and WǓ Yún 伍员 to the capital. The older son, Wǔ Shàng, went at once and was arrested and executed with his father. The younger son Wǔ Yún was suspicious, and did not go at once. A warrant was issued for his arrest, and pictures of him were posted about the kingdom.
Wǔ Yún determined to flee to the neighboring state of Wú 吴 to save his life, raise an army, and avenge the deaths in his family. And so he fled towards Wú. On his way, he was sheltered by an old man named DŌNGGĀO Gōng 东皋公, who lived near the Zhāo 昭 Pass on the road leading into Wú. But the pass was too well guarded for a known fugitive like Wǔ to get through without being arrested.
For a week Wǔ stayed with Dōnggāo, but no plan could be developed. One night, unable to sleep, he worried so much that his hair and beard turned white in that single night. Before his hair turned white, Wǔ looked much like Dōnggāo's neighbor, HUÁNGFǓ Nà 皇甫讷, but after his hair turned white, he looked much older.
Dōnggāo had them exchange clothes. Huángfǔ then tried to journey through the pass and was arrested. This created enough distraction that Wǔ was able to pass through into the state of Wú without the border guards noticing.
When Wǔ was safely through the pass, Dōnggāo came and identified Huángfǔ and convinced the soldiers to release him.
Wǔ, saved by the miraculous change in his hair color, was now free to gather an army in Wú and return to avenge the death of his father and brother.