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China Perspectives
The Twenty-four Paragons of Filtal Piety 20

Number Twenty
A Bubbling Spring and Leaping Carp: Jiang Shi and His Wife

Jiang Shi was a filial son who lived during China"s Han Dynasty. He and his wife were both devoted to serving his aged mother. The elder woman had a curious habit in that she didn"t like to drink well-water. She preferred river-water, because the rapid current of the river produced cleaner water, and the flavor was much improved over well-water.

The nearest river was over six miles from the family home. Jiang Shi"s wife volunteered to travel the distance every day with bucket in hand to carry back fresh river-water for her mother-in law. No one ever heard her complain of the trouble involved; she was glad to serve the mother of her husband.

Jiang Shi"s mother also enjoyed eating fresh fish. On order to comply with her wishes, the husband and wife would bring back fresh fish from the river as well, and then prepare it the way she liked it. Further, they would invite in all the elderly women from the neighborhood to enjoy the meal, so that their mother would have company with her dinner.

The two filial children passed many years in this way, and they never expressed dislike or resentment over the toil. One day a spring gushed up right behind the house, and its flavor was just like that of running river-water. Strange as it may seem, two carp would leap out of the spring each day, as if waiting for Jiang Shi"s wife to gather them in for the meal. Ever after, the couple did not have to travel so far to serve their mother, and without as much tiring effort, they could still bring her river-water and fresh fish.

A verse in their honor says,

The son delights in his filial regard;
The daughter, too, finds service not too hard;
Every morning carp came leaping out
Of the sweet-dew spring in their back yard.

 
   
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