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What Price to Save a Life?

In May of the 10th year of the rule of the Qianlong Emperor in 1721, an examinee named Qian Weicheng from Wujin County and his friend, Li Jianzhong, went to Beijing for official exams. Because of fatigue from the journey, Qian Weicheng fell into a deep sleep on the first night.

He had a dream in which he had already took the exam. He saw many examinees looking at the list of scores on a wall. He saw Li Jianzhong’s name clearly at the top of the list.

He wondered, “Where is my name?” He quickly looked down the lists and saw that his name was ranked 30th. He was surprised and when he awoke, he told Li Jianzhong about his dream. When Li Jianzhong heard this, he was too excited to sleep.

In May of the 10th year of the rule of Qianlong in 1721, an examinee named Qian Weicheng from Wujin County invited his friend, Li Jianzhong, to come to Beijing for official exams. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)
The Qianlong Emperor in court dress. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

The next morning, they resumed their journey. Suddenly, they heard a voice shouting, “Help! Help!” It came from the forest near the river. Qian Weicheng quickly turned his horse and rushed towards the cries but Li Jianzhong, who feared there were robbers nearby, fled in the opposite direction.

When Qian Weicheng entered the forest, he found a woman holding a little girl in her arms. The woman was crying, and told him that she ready to jump into the river with her daughter.

It was a little girl in the forest on the other side of the river. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)
They heard cries the forest near the river. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Qian Weicheng asked:

The little girl and her mother cried loudly again.

Upon hearing this, Qian Weicheng, who was not from a wealthy family, took 10 taels of silver from his pouch and handed it to the woman. It was not easy for his family to raise more than 20 taels of silver. He could barely afford the cost for the rest of his journey, and ate only meager rations.

The examination results were posted a month later and Qian Weicheng’s name was at the top of the list, while Li Jianzhong was ranked in the 30th. The result was the exact opposite of Qian’s dream because of his righteous actions.

Translated by Kitty Zhang.

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