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An Assassination Gone Astray

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During the Spring Autumn period in China, the Country of Jin had a minister named Zhao Xuan Zi (赵宣子). The king at that time was Jin Ling Gong (晋灵公), who was still young, immature, and disobedient. King Jin did not take good care of the country’s citizens.

Zhao was a caring and loyal minister who often admonished King Jin with directness and honesty. King Jin got upset and decided to send an assassin named Chu Ni (鉏麑), who was a highly skilled fighter, to kill Zhao in secret.

Chu went to Zhao’s home before dawn, planning to kill him in his sleep. He sneaked into his house, and when he went to Zhao’s room, he noticed the room door was already wide open. He peeked inside and saw that Zhao was already up, dressed extremely respectfully, sitting elegantly in front of his table. At a glance, Chu understood that Zhao had gotten up extremely early to prepare state affairs for the imperial meeting later. Since he was already ready, Zhao sat there resting with his eyes closed.

Zhao’s dignified and awe-inspiring manner moved Chu deeply, and he couldn’t bear to assassinate him. He retreated outside the house. He thought about the situation and said to himself, “If Zhao Xuan Zi is so respectful and dignified even when no one is around, then he must deal with all people and matters with the utmost respect, humility, and carefulness. To have such a person as our minister is a blessing for the country. How can I kill this man? To do some would be unfaithful to my country.”

But since King Jin personally ordered Chu to assassinate Zhao, if Chu returned without completing the task, then he would surely be punished for not keeping his word to the king. He would rather have control over his death than be killed by the King. Hence, Chu banged his head against a tree and killed himself.


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