During the reign of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, the
articles of tribute received by the imperial court included a jar of wine which
was supposed to give the drinker eternal life. It so happened that Dongfang Shuo
drank a mouthful of it on the sly. The Emperor was so angry when he learnt about
this that he wanted to put Dongfang Shuo to death.
"The wine I drank, Your Majesty, " pleaded Dongfang Shuo, "was
supposed to give me eternal life. I wouldn't die even if Your Majesty put me to
death. If I should die, then the wine is not the genuine stuff it was supposed
The Emperor was so amused that he pardoned Dongfang Shuo.