In the Warring States Period, after the battle of Chang Ping, State Qin's army besieged the capital of State Zhao. Prince Ping Yuan of Zhao planned to ask State Chu for assistance. He wanted to select a capable man to go with him. A retainer of his called Mao Sui volunteered. When the negotiations between the two states were stalled, Mao Sui stepped forward and analyzed the pros and the cons of the whole issue. Finally the king of Chu was convinced and agreed to help Zhao.
In this diplomatic trip, Prince Ping Yuan brought 20 attendants with him, but only Mao Sui played a decisive role, while the rest nineteen, who had been thought by him to be more capable than Mao Sui though, did nothing but stand by and watch. Prince Ping Yuan felt very embarrassed about it. Holding Mao Sui's hand, he was ashamed to say: " Mr. Mao, from now on, I no longer dare to judge talents. You came to Chu only once, but you have significantly risen the stature of Zhao. Now in Chu, nobody dare despise us. Your tongue is only three inches long but it is more powerful than a million of soldiers. "
After returning to Zhao, Mao Sui was given an important position on the highest recommendation of Prince Ping Yuan. Unfortunately, however, the Prince did not keep his words--"no longer judge talents", on the contrary, he soon made another more serious mistake on it.
In 252 BC, state Yan attacked Zhao. The king of Zhao and Prince Ping Yuan both thought that Mao Sui was the best person to be the commander to resist Yan. But Mao Sui who knew himself refused the appointment, and he said: " I don't fear death. I can be a good soldier to fight hand-to-hand in the battlefield, but I'm not qualified to be a general. Please find someone more suitable for this. "
However, no matter how hard he tried to refuse it, the king and the prince still insisted that he was the man. Finally, Mao Sui had to lead the army against Yan. In following battle, his troop was heavily defeated, although he bravely fought at the head of his soldiers. On his way back to Han Dan (the capital of Zhao), Mao Sui killed himself with his sword.
Background and Writer Comment:I have no comment, for the story tells itself.
There are two idioms from this story:
- Succeed Through The Help Of Others--Yin Ren Cheng Shi 因人成事, which describes someone has to rely on others' help to finish a job.
- The Three-inch Long Tongue--San Cun Zhi She 三寸之舌, which describe someone who is good at debating.