Just a duck story . . !

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A few years ago while spending a pleasant evening in one of the many family run restaurants in Korea, seated comfortably on cushions at low tables with legs crossed in modified lotus position, the middle aged waitress came and started saying something to us; unfortunately none of us understood Korean. Vispi turned to me; I looked at Ashok who looked blankly at Rufus.

She seemed to be thanking us for something. “She thanks you for the five dollar tip you left her yesterday!” said the owner of the restaurant, “tipping is not common here!” “She served us well!” said Rufus and we found the waitress again gesticulating and telling us something. “She thinks you are very compassionate; she wants to tell you a story!” said the owner, “I will translate for you!” We settled down on our mats and listened to her. “I am going to tell you about Yoon Hwae who was the vice minister of King Sejong the Great,” said the waitress. “When did King Sejong rule?” asked Rufus, always curious. “In the fourteenth century!” said the owner.

“One day when Yoon was young he was traveling in the country side and stopped at an inn, when it was growing dark. But there was no room in the inn and so Yoon settled himself down underneath the low eaves of the house and spent the night there.”

“In the night, he saw the innkeepers daughter come to the yard and as she was walking a pearl earring fell to the ground. At that moment a duck in the same yard came over and swallowed the pearl, thinking it was food.” “When the owner of the inn found the pearl missing, he was suspicious of Yoon Hwae. He bound him with a rope and took him to the local court.

Yoon did not try to defend himself but only requested that the owner tie the duck next to him and put them both in jail.” “The next day Yoon told him to view the duck’s excrement and they were shocked to see the pearl embedded there.” “Why didn’t you say anything when we arrested you?” asked the judge. Yoon smiled quietly, “If I had,” he said, “You would have undoubtedly cut the duck open in order to find the pearl!”

Compassion comes in many forms, and we don’t need to look far to see where we can spread some of ours, maybe an overworked waiter, maybe a hungry dog or sometimes it could be taking the blame for someone weaker than us! “And do you know what the judge said?” asked the waitress, “he said I have two jewels in front of me, ‘one a pearl and the other a diamond..!’

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