When Duan Guangqing
served as a county magistrate, he was known for his honest, upright nature. One
day while passing a grain shop, he saw a crowd of people who seemed to be
quarreling about something. Upon inquiry he learned that a country fellow had
trampled a chick to death and the boss of the grain shop had asked for nine
hundred coins in compensation.
Duan Guangqing asked, "Why does a chick cost nine hundred coins?"
The fellow from the country answered, "The boss said the chick, which was of
fine quality, would weigh nine jin after a few months, The current price for a
chicken is one hundred coins per Jin, so he asked me to pay nine hundred coins
for the loss."
Hearing this, Duan Guangqing asked the boss, "Is that true?"
The boss of the grain shop nodded. "Yes, that's the way I calculated it."
Then Duan Guangqing brought the case to a conclusion. "It seems that nine
hundred coins is not too much. You just pay him that much. If you don't have
enough, I'll make it up."
The onlookers all complained behind his back that the judgment was unfair.
The countryman dared not protest and had to pawn some of his clothes for six
hundred coins. With these and three hundred coins volunteered by Duan Guangqing,
the man paid the boss for the chick.
Seeing the money, the boss was full of glee. He took the coins and was about
to go when Duan Guangqing said hurriedly, "Wait a moment; listen to me, please.
There is a saying 'dou grain, jin chicken'. That is to say, to gain one jin of
weight the chick will eat one dou of grain. Now that the chick has died, the
nine dou of grain have been saved, haven't they? It is only fair for you to give
the nine dou of grain to the countryman."
Hearing this, the boss was agape and tongue-tied. He could do nothing but
give nine dou of grain.
The countryman went away happily with the grain. All the people praised Duan
Guangqing unanimously for his fair judgment and uprightness.