In the Eastern Han Dynasty (东汉), there was a man named Chen Shi (陈寔) .
One day, a thief slipped into his living-room. Hiding behind the beam, the thief waited for Chen Shi to fall asleep.
Chen Shi, finding the thief, called his family together, saying, "To be a upright man one must have aspirations. Men are not born evil. But if one gets used to doing evil things, it will be hard to reform. The gentleman above the beam is such a man."
The thief, hearing this, hurriedly jumped down and knelt on the ground to beg forgiveness.
This idiom is used to refer to a thief.
a selfish giant自私的巨人
every afternoon, as the children were coming back from school, they used to go and play in the giant's garden.
it was a beautiful large garden. beautiful flowers grew in the grass. there were twelve fruit trees. in the spring the fruit trees were covered with red and white flowers, and later in the year they bore rich fruit. the birds sang in the trees so sweetly that sometimes the children stopped their games and listened to them. "how happy we are here!" they cried to each other.
one day the giant came back. he had been away for seven years. when he arrived, he saw the children playing in his garden. "what are you doing here?" he cried in a very loud voice. the children ran away.
"my own garden is my own garden," said the giant. "i will allow no one to play in it but myself. "so he built a high wall round it and put up a notice: keep out. he was a very selfish giant.
so the children had nowhere to play. they tried to play on the road, but the road was dusty and full of hard stone, and they did not like it. they wandered round the high walls when their lessons were finished and talked about the beautiful garden inside. "how happy we were there!" they said to each other.
the spring came, and there were flowers and little birds all over the country. but in the garden of the selfish giant it was till winter the birds did not like to sing in it because there were no children, and the trees forgot to bear flowers. snow covered up the grass, and ice covered all the trees with silver. the north wind came, and driving rain.
"i can't understand why the spring is so late in coming," said the selfish giant as he sat at the window of his house and looked out at his cold white garden. "i hope that there will be a change in the weather."
but the spring never came, nor the summer. when there was golden fruit in every other garden, there was no fruit in the the giant's garden. it was always winter there with the north wind, and snow, and ice, and driving rain.
the giant was lying in bed one morning when he heard some beautiful music. it was a little bird singing outside his window. it was so long since he had heard the song of a bird that it seemed to him the most beautiful music in the world. then the north wind and the rain stopped.
"i believe that spring has come at last!" said the giant. he jumped out of bed and looked out.
what did he see?
he saw a most wonderful sight. the children had come in though a hole in the wall and were sitting in the branches of the trees. there was a little child in every tree that he could see. the trees were so glad to have the children back that they had covered themselves with flowers: the birds were flying about and singing with joy, and flowers were looking up through the green grass.
a little boy was standing in the farthest corner of the garden. he was so small that he could not reach up to the branches of the tree, but was wandering round it and weeping. that tree was still covered with ice and snow.
"how selfish i have been!" said the giant. "now i know why the spring would not come here. i'll put the little boy on the top of the tree. then i'll pull down the wall and my garden shall be a children's playground for ever." he was really sorry for what he had done.
so he went down: he opened the door very quietly, and went out into the garden. but, when the children saw him, they were afraid and ran away. only the little boy did not run: his eyes were so full of tears that he did not see the giant coming. the giant came quietly behind him. he took the little boy gently in his hand and put him up into the tree. then the tree was suddenly covered with flowers, and the birds came and sang in it, and the little boy put his arms round the giant's neck and kissed him.
the other children saw that giant was not bad and selfish now, so they came running back.
"it's your garden now, little children," said the giant, and he pulled down the wall. when the people were going along the road to the town, they found the giant playing with the children in the most beautiful garden they had ever seen.
the children played all day, and in the evening they came to the giant to say goodbye to him.
"but where is your little friend?" he said. "where is the little boy i put in the tree?" the giant loved him best because the little boy had kissed him.
"we don't know," answered the children. "he has gone away."
"you must tell him to come tomorrow, he must come tomorrow." "we don't know where he lives. we had never seen him before." the giant felt very sad. every afternoon when school ended, the children came and played with the giant. but the little boy whom the giant loved was never seen again. the giant was very kind to all the children, but he did want to see his first little friend. "how much i would like to see him!" he said.
years went by, and the giant became very old and weak. he could not play in the garden now; so he sat in a big chair and watched the children at their games and looked at his beautiful garden. "i have many beautiful flowers," he said, "but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all."
one morning, when he was dressing himself, he looked out of the window. he did not hate the winter now, because he knew that the spring was sleeping and the flowers were resting: he knew that they would come again.
suddenly he rubbed his eyes; he looked again at the wonderful sight! in the farthest corner of the garden there was a tree quite covered with beautiful white flowers. its branches were golden, and silver fruit hung down from them. and the little boy whom he loved was standing under the tree.
he ran out into the garden: he hurried across the grass and came near the child. when he came quite close, his face became red with anger and he said, "who has dared to wound you?" there were marks on the child's hands, and on the little feet.
"who had dared to wound you?" cried the giant. "tell me and i will take my sword and kill him!"
"no," said the child, "these are the wounds of love."
"who are you?" said the giant. he was afraid, and knelt before the little child.
"you once let me play in your garden," said the child. "today you'll come with me into my garden in heaven."
when the children came into the garden on that afternoon, they found the giant lying dead under the tree, covered with white flowers.