Once upon a time, there lived a rich man, who being a lover of s and had a large collection. Among them was a rare vase made of jade. The vase of exquisite workmanship and of historical value and he loved it dearly.
One night he noticed a mouse passing near the precious vase. The mouse jumped into the vase and was trying to eat some food which the man had carelessly left there. The sigh infuriated the man and in a fit of rage he threw a stone at the mouse.
Background and Comment:
This idiom story "Don't Ruin The House To Kill A Mouse--Tou Shu Ji Qi" is from
The Book of Han, a history of China finished in 111 AD, covering the Western, or Former Han dynasty from the first emperor in 206 BCE to the fall of Wang Mang in 23 BCE.
The first teller of this idiom story is Jia Yi, a minister of Han Dynasty, who used this story to tell the emperor that an emperor was just like a precious vase and his ministers who had broke laws were like mice, and they were so close to the emperor that they were not suppose to be punished by torturing, otherwise the authority of the emperor would be ruined as well.
Apparently, Jia Yi's opinion is wrong. All people should be equal before the la. So the original meaning of the idiom "Don't Ruin The House To Kill A Mouse--Tou Shu Ji Qi" has nearly been forgotten.
Now people use this idiom to describe someone who fears the repercussions of certain actions, which is similar the English old saying "Don't Ruin The House To Kill A Mouse" .