No More Tricks, Mr. Nan Guo! (滥竽充数 lan yu chong shu)
In ancient times, the king of the Qi kingdom loved music. He especially loved to listen to the playing of the yu (similar to a flute). He enjoyed listening to entire ensembles playing the yu. So, he sent people all over the country to seek out the most talented musicians. 300 musicians were found and formed an ensemble to play the yu for the king. All the musicians who were chosen to play in the court were treated royally.
Then, there was a lazy man in the kingdom, a crafty ne'er-do-well named Nan Guo. When he heard that the king had this interest in music and the court musicians were paid so well, he put all his efforts into getting into the yu ensemble. He managed to get an audience with the king, and began to boast of what an excellent musician he was. His boasts gained the king's favor, so the king accepted Nan Guo into the ensemble.
What was absurd was that Mr. Nan Guo couldn't play the yu at all. At every practice, he would only pretend to play and try to imitate what those around him were doing. He would move his head in time with the music and put on the best act that he could in order to make it appear that he knew what he was doing. Because there were so many people in the ensemble, the king couldn't tell who could play and who couldn't. Nan Guo kept this up for several years, deceiving his audience so successfully that the king never suspected anything. He continued to receive all the benefits of his position, as high a salary as the truly talented musicians. In this way, he managed to live a comfortable life. He became complacent as he came to believe that he could always keep up his deception and remain a member of the ensemble.
Later, the king who loved to listen to the yu died and his son came to the throne. The son also loved to listen to the yu, but his preferences were different from the previous king. He believed that the sound of three hundred people playing together was much too loud. So the new king issued a decree: all three hundred musicians were to practice very well, and then each would play for the king individually.
When Nan Guo heard this, he broke into a cold sweat. He was terrified that his trick would be found out. If he were only to lose his job, it wouldn't be so bad, but he had cheated the emperor, a capital crime. If the king discovered this deception, Nan Guo would lose his head. That night, he packed his things and escaped the court.
The story describes the case in which the spurious is mixed with the genuine
滥竽充数(làn yú chōng shù)
当时,有一个游手好闲(yóu shǒu hào xián)、不务正业的浪荡(làng dàng)子弟,名叫南郭(nán guō).他听说齐宣王有这种嗜好(shìhào),就一心想混进那个吹竽队伍,便设法来见宣王,向他吹嘘(chuī xū)自己是一名了不起的乐师,博(bó)得了宣王的欢心,把他编入了吹竽的乐师班里.
可笑的是,这位南郭先生根本不会吹竽.每当乐队给齐宣王吹奏的时候,他就混在队伍里,学着别的乐工的样子,摇头晃脑(yáo tóu huàng nǎo),东摇西摆(dōng yáo xī bǎi),装模作样(zhuāng mú zuò yàng)地在那儿"吹奏",由于是几百人在一起吹奏,齐宣王也听不出谁会谁不会.南郭先生就这样靠着蒙骗(mēng piàn)混了好几年,不但没有露出一丝破绽(pò zhàn),而且还和别的乐工一样领到优厚的赏赐(shǎng cì),过着舒适的生活.他自己也很得意,以为真的可以混在里面充个数了.
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