Ancient Chinese Stories: Robbers Disappear After the Granaries Are Opened

September 19, 2018 Updated: September 19, 2018

At the time of the Eastern Han Dynasty, there was a man called Zhong Mou. He became an orphan when he was young and worked very hard in the fields to support his brother. He liked to read when he had spare time. When he grew up, he received a commendation for being a person of high character and then became an official in Xindu County. As a Xindu County official, he was fair in handling matters and put effort into promoting moral education. Within three years, more people from surrounding areas migrated to his county, and the number of households in his county multiplied by over 10 times.

Later, when Mr. Zhong Mou was promoted to head of the county, there was a famine. He decided the county should open the government granaries to save his people. But some officials did not agree. They were afraid that they would be punished by the royal officials in the capital. They argued with him and even wanted to report it to the Imperial Court. Zhong Mou said, “If we wait for approval from the Imperial Court, that means we’ll watch people starve to death. In order to save people’s lives, I am not afraid of sacrificing myself.” So, he opened the granaries, and many people in his county were saved from disaster. Emperor Shun of Han praised him upon hearing this. A year later, there was a harvest and no one embezzled or stole grain in his county.

Later, Zhong Mou was promoted to commander of a border area in order to protect the nation. The invaders heard about him and thus showed him respect such that, for a long time, the nation was peaceful. People would say that wherever Zhong Mou stayed, people’s moral character improved. This showed the great power of his character.

Translated by Dora Li into English, this story is reprinted with permission from the book “Treasured Tales of China,” Vol. 1, available on Amazon.