Unrequited love

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子曰:「孰謂微生高直?或乞醯焉,乞諸其鄰而與之。」
Confucius said: “Who said that Weisheng Gao was upright? When someone asked him for vinegar, he went and begged for some from his neighbor and then gave it as though it was a gift from him.”

The tale of the “upright” Weisheng Gao is just as strange as the one of the brothers Boyi and Shuqi featured in my previous entry.

According to the popular tale, Weisheng arranged a date with a maiden under a bridge, and when she didn’t turn up stubbornly waited for her until he was drowned in a flood.

Weisheng may not have got the girl, but he subsequently became famous for being “upright” because of his refusal to break his promise to the girl even though she didn’t make it to their assignation.

As for his anecdote about Weisheng and the vinegar, perhaps Confucius was just having fun in puncturing the myth that had grown up around this rather eccentric character.

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