A cloud that barely seemed to exist
floated obliquely across the blue sky,
which seemed like a canvas for painting.
At the horizon, the sky connected with
the boundless plains of green grass.
Seated in a carriage and gazing at the
springtime landscape in leisure, Lin
Xiangru stretched his back. Lately, be-
cause of illness, he had been on leave
from the imperial court and had been
cooped up at home for quite some time.
Taking in the scene at that moment, he
experienced the immensity of the uni-
verse, and his body and mind felt very
peaceful. Suddenly, in the distance, a
cloud of yellow dust rose up from the ground. As it approached, a
brightly colored banner could be seen in the midst of the dust. By the
time he made out the large character "Lian" on the banner, he could
already see the valiant general in front of his troops, riding quickly
towards him. Lin Xiangru hurriedly instructed his driver to make a
detour onto a smaller road. The countenance of his retainers and fol-
lowers all changed and they all exclaimed, "Lord!" Lin Xiangru
waved his hand, "It's all right! It's all right! Let's yield a bit!" "Lord!
We have left our hometowns to follow you, out of admiration for your
righteousness, because you are a hero. Now you and General Lian are
both serving in the imperial court. You are afraid of him and trying to
avoid him just because he announced that he would insult you to your
face. You are simply too cowardly! Even ordinary people would con-
sider this a shameful thing to do, how much the more should a supe-
rior official like you! Since we have no ability, we would like to ask
for your permission to leave and return to our homes." Lin Xiangru
sighed and said, "Would you say that General Lian is more awe-in-
spiring than the King of Qin?" "Of course not!" "Then, despite the
high authority of the King of Qin, I dared to scold him in his imperial
court and humiliate his ministers. No matter how contemptible I
might be, how could I be afraid of General Lian? My consideration is:
the reason the kingdom of Qin dares not invade our kingdom of Zhao is because there are two of us here. Should we fight with each other, either he will die or I will perish. Then our country will really be in peril! I am not a coward; it's just that the safety of the country comes before personal grudges!"
Isn't this true? He thought of the time when the King of Qin wanted to usurp the state treasure of the kingdom of Zhao, a piece of flat jade, pretending to offer fifteen cities in exchange for it. Whether or not the exchange was agreed to, the situation would have been dangerous. All the civil and military officials in the imperial court could not think of a safe way out. A eunuch of the King of Zhao recommended Lin Xiangru, one of his retainers, to solve the problem. Lin Xiangru, reasoning that since the enemy was stronger, if his kingdom should decline the offer, they would suffer an immediate loss. Therefore, he volunteered to serve as an ambassador to the State of Qin. Sure enough, the insincere King of Qin took the jade and passed it on to people around him, mentioning nothing about giving up the cities. On the pretext of showing the King a blemish on the jade, Lin Xiangru tricked it back into his own hands. Then he quickly retreated behind a pillar, intending to destroy both himself and the jade. At that time, he was so strong in attitude, so stern and full of proper energy, that his hair stood up. Even the prestigious King of Qin stood in awe of his behavior. With his sharp wits and forceful defense of the cause of justice, Lin Xiangru was finally able to return the jade intact to Zhao. The next year, after killing people and seizing land, the King of Qin sent an envoy requesting a meeting at Mingchi to make peace with the King of Zhao. Lin Xiangru encouraged the King of Zhao not to be a coward and accompanied him to the meeting. During the feast, the King of Qin feigned drunkenness and tried to disgrace the King of Zhao. Fortunately, Lin Xiangru's loyal defense and harsh reproof enabled the King of Zhao to get even. After their return, not only did the King of Zhao promote him to a superior rank, everyone regarded him as a great hero. But that displeased General Lian, who regarded himself as a hero! He had risked his life fighting in so many battles, earning great merit and distinction. Now this scholar of lowly background, who only knew how to show off his eloquence, had suddenly been promoted above him! This was intolerable! Therefore, General Lian had recklessly boasted that should they meet with each other, he would challenge him to see who was the real hero!
However, when Lin Xiangru's words to his retainers reached his ears, Lian Po felt so ashamed that he took off his coat, carried a stick on his back, and went to Lin Xiangru's residence and apologized, "I am a rough and unlearned person. I didn't realize that you were generous and forgiving to such an extent! Now I know you are really a great hero! Please punish me!" Startled and delighted, Lin Xiangru quickly helped him up and said, "General Lian! By being able to change your faults after you realize them, and by being flexible in dealing with situations, you have the characteristics of a great hero!" Clasping each other in their arms, they could not help laughing at each other. Only a genuine hero can cherish a hero. From then on, they were yet another pair of life-and-death friends in Chinese history.