Ding Qianxi: A Tale of Hospitality, Kindness, and Transformation

Follow the story of Ding Qianxi, a man known for his hospitality and transformation, as he helps those in need and receives unexpected kindness.

Ding Qianxi is a native of Zhucheng. His family is wealthy and has an abundance of grain. He travels around, upholding chivalry and justice, greatly admiring the character of Guo Jie from the Han Dynasty. The Imperial Censorate intends to investigate and understand Ding Qianxi. So, Ding Qianxi leaves home and, on his way, encounters heavy rain in Anqiu. He takes shelter in an inn. The rain continues until noon. A young man comes out to receive him and arranges for his accommodation and meals, which are very generous and thoughtful.

As evening falls, Ding Qianxi decides to stay here for the night. The inn provides food for guests and prepares fodder for livestock, taking care of everything very thoughtfully. Ding Qianxi asks for the host’s surname and name, and the young man says, “Our host’s surname is Yang, and I am his nephew. Our host enjoys socializing and happens to be out today. Only our lady is at home. Due to our family’s poverty, we can’t entertain guests very well, so please understand.”

Ding Qianxi asks about the host’s livelihood and learns that this family doesn’t have any industry and makes a living by running a small gambling house every day. On the second day, the rain continues without stopping, but the inn continues to provide food without any slack. In the evening, when they start cutting fodder, the fodder is very wet and uneven in length. Ding Qianxi is puzzled. The young man explains, “To tell the truth, our family is poor and doesn’t have any feed for the livestock. Those were the thatched grass my lady just removed from the roof.”

Ding Qianxi finds this family increasingly strange and thinks their purpose is to make money. When morning comes, Ding Qianxi wants to pay, but the inn refuses to accept payment. He forces the young man to take the money inside. After a while, the young man comes out and returns the money to Ding Qianxi, saying, “My lady said that I don’t earn a living this way. Our host often goes out without money for several days. When guests come to our house, why should we take their money?”

Ding Qianxi praises them repeatedly, prepares to take his leave, and instructs, “I am Ding Qianxi from Zhucheng. When the host returns, it’s best to inform him. If you have the chance, please come to my house as a guest.”

Several years passed, and there was no news of each other. One year, during a severe famine, the Yang family faced extreme hardship and had no way to make a living. In casual conversation, Yang’s wife advised her husband to go and see Ding Qianxi. Her husband agreed and went to Zhucheng. He announced his name at the gate. Upon hearing the report from the gatekeeper, Ding Qianxi couldn’t recall such a person at first. The gatekeeper repeated it several times before he remembered. He hastily put on his shoes and came out to bow and invite the guest inside.

Yang, dressed in tattered clothes with shoes showing worn heels, was placed in a warm room. He was treated to a feast, and the courtesy extended to him was unlike that for an ordinary person. The next day, Ding Qianxi had new clothes and a new hat made for him, providing both comfort and warmth. Yang felt that Ding was very loyal, but when he thought about having no rice at home, he couldn’t help but worry and hoped to get some help from the Ding family.

After staying for several days and not seeing any sign of Ding Qianxi’s intention to bid him farewell, Yang became anxious. He then told Ding Qianxi, “I dare not hide the truth from you. When I came, there was less than a sheng of rice left in my home. Now, thanks to your gracious hospitality, it has been a pleasure, but what about my wife and children at home?”

Ding Qianxi replied, “You don’t need to worry about that. I’ve already taken care of it for you. Please stay a few more days, and I will help you plan for some funds.” So, Ding Qianxi sent for a number of gamblers and had Yang participate in the gambling. In one night, Yang earned one hundred taels of silver, and only then did Ding Qianxi send him back home.

After Yang returned home, he found his wife dressed brightly and neatly, with a young maid serving her. He was very surprised and asked what had happened. His wife said, “Since you left, the very next day, someone drove a cart filled with cloth and grains to our house, saying it was a gift from a guest named Ding. They even gave us a young maid for my service.” Yang was extremely grateful. From then on, their family became well-off and he refused to engage in the old business of running a gambling house.

The chronicler of strange tales said: “Being poor yet hospitable is something that alcoholics, gamblers, and wanderers especially enjoy doing. What’s even more peculiar is that Yang’s wife turned out to be one of them. Can she still be considered a decent person when she received kindness from others but didn’t seek to repay it? However, she ingrained the favor after having a meal at someone else’s place, and Ding Qianxi possessed this virtue.”

《丁前溪》

丁前溪,诸城人。富有钱谷,游侠好义,慕郭解之为人。御史行台按访之。丁亡去,至安丘,遇雨,避身逆旅。雨日中不止。有少年来,馆谷丰隆。既而昏暮,止宿其家,莝豆饲畜,给食周至。问其姓字,少年云:“主人杨姓,我其内侄也。主人好交游,适他出,家惟娘子在。贫不能厚客给,幸能垂谅。”问主人何业,则家无赀产,惟日设博场,以谋升斗。次日,雨仍不止,供给弗懈。至暮,剉刍,刍束湿,颇极参差。丁怪之。少年曰:“实告客:家贫无以饲畜,适娘子撤屋上茅耳。”丁益异之,谓其意在得直。天明,付之金,不受。强付少年持入,俄出,仍以反客,云:“娘子言:我非业此猎食者。主人在外,尝数日不携一钱,客至吾家,何遂索偿乎?”丁叹赞而别,嘱曰:“我诸城丁某,主人归,宜告之。暇幸见顾。”

数年无耗。值岁大饥,杨困甚,无所为计。妻漫劝诣丁,从之。至诸,通姓名于门者。丁茫不忆,申言始忆之。躧履而出,揖客入。见其衣敝踵决,居之温室,设筵相款,宠礼异常。明日,为制冠服,表里温暖。杨义之,而内顾增忧,褊心不能无少望。居数日,殊不言赠别。杨意甚亟,告丁曰:“顾不敢隐,仆来时,米不满升。今过蒙推解,固乐,妻子如何矣!”丁曰:“是无烦虑,已代经纪矣。幸舒意少留,当助资斧。”走伻招诸博徒,使杨坐而乞头,终夜得百金,乃送之还。归见室人,衣履鲜整,小婢侍焉。惊问之,妻言:“自若去后,次日即有车徒赍送布帛菽粟,堆积满屋,云是丁客所赠。又婢十指,为妾驱使。”杨感不自已。由此小康,不屑旧业矣。

异史氏曰:贫而好客,饮博浮荡者优为之,最异者,独其妻耳。受之施而不报,岂人也哉?然一饭之德不忘,丁其有焉。

Leave a Comment