Page:Zhuang Zi - translation Giles 1889.djvu/85

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cap. iv.]
51
Man Among Men

out even casting a look behind. His apprentice however gazed his fill, and when he caught up his master, said, "Ever since I have handled an adze in your service, I have never seen such a splendid piece of timber as that. How was it that you, sir, did not care to stop and look at it?"

"It's not worth talking about," replied his master. "It's good for nothing. Make a boat of it,—'twould sink. A coffin,—'twould rot. Furniture,—'twould soon break down. A door,—'twould sweat. A pillar,—'twould be worm-eaten. It is wood of no quality, and of no use. That is why it has attained its present age."

When the artisan reached home, he dreamt that the tree appeared to him in a dream and spoke as follows:—"What is it that you compare me with? Is it with the more elegant trees?—The cherry-apple, the pear, the orange, the pumelo, and other fruit-bearers, as soon as their fruit ripens are stripped and treated with indignity. The great boughs are snapped off, the small ones scattered abroad. Thus do these trees by their own value injure their own lives. They cannot fulfil their allotted span of years, but perish prematurely in mid-career from their entanglement with the world around them. Thus it is with all things. For a long period my aim was to be useless. Many times I was in danger, but at length I succeeded, and so became useful as I am to-day. But had I then been of use, I