During the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang Dynasty, Zhao Dongxi was the minister of the Ministry of Officials. The Ministry of Officials was involved in the matter of selecting officials, and each year the offices of the selected officials were allowed to select one member each according to the custom. When it came time to discuss the recommendation of their relatives, everyone enthusiastically recommended.
There was a magistrate named Qu Siming who, within two years, had never heard of him recommending himself or anyone else. Dongxi said to him, “It is the custom to select officials. Each government office should get an official position, or there is some benefit in recommending others.” Si Ming still didn’t recommend, but only Hen He promised and withdrew. Dongxi was even more surprised by his behavior.
One day Dong Xi summoned him again and said to him, “With my power today, among the more than 3,000 chosen guests, I can make people from poor to rich, from lowly to noble, from hungry to full, all by the stroke of my pen. Everyone has a request, but you are the only one who does not say a word, why is that?”
Siming said, “Life and death are Destiny, wealth and prosperity are related to the sky, the official position should come, no promotion and why despair? The three thousand people, one official, have already been decided, but I just borrowed your pen. I myself know that my fate is not yet prosperous, so I do not dare to bother you with idle matters.”
Dong Xi said, “If, as you say, you are really a virtuous man, you can know your own fate?”
Siming said, “A wise man dare not be, Siming come year, only should be granted an official under the Shang Shu, so has not been requested as well.” Dong Xi said, “What official will you be in the coming year?” Siming said, “I can’t tell you.” Dong Xi said, “Why is that?”
Siming said, “Please let me write here the month and day of the official appointment under Shang Shu next year, and the amount of salary, and then ask Shang Shu to seal it together. Please dig a small piece of the wall of the living room, hide these words inside, and then find clay to seal them, so that if there is a single word of difference in the date of my appointment in the coming year, I will die under this step.” After saying that, he paid his respects and went away.
Although Dong Xi did not say anything, but in his heart, he blamed him for being too arrogant and absurd. He often wanted to annotate other people as officials.
Suddenly, one day, the emperor came to the hot spring and saw the white deer ascending to heaven, so he changed Huichang County to Zhaoying County, and the royal decree was sent to the Ministry of Officials to annotate the officials there, and Dongxi immediately annotated Si Ming to that county.
When this was finished, Dongxi summoned Siming and asked him, “Yesterday, the emperor went to the hot springs and the white deer ascended to heaven, and changed the name of the county there to Zhaoying. Now I have registered you as an official there, and how can you know in advance that what you had said was delusion?”
Si Ming paid his respects and said, “Please, Shang Shu, dig up the wall and test it!” Dong Xi immediately removed the seal on the wall and opened it for inspection, only to see Siming write, “On a certain day of the coming year, the emperor came to Hot Springs and changed his county to Zhaoying, and was granted an official by the Mongol note, along with the salary granted. No word of difference.” Dong Xi was even more amazed very much, from this onwards there is anything, he sent people to ask Siming, there is no unfulfilled.
Dong Xi was removed from the post of Minister of Justice and sent someone to ask Siming what official he should be again. Siming replied that he would become an official in a big county. After ten days or so, the emperor summoned Dongxi and asked him about the local customs of Jiangxi. Dongxi’s answer was to the emperor’s liking and he said, “Dongxi is really a parent of Yuzhang.” So he was asked to be the observation history of Jiangnan. After he arrived at the county, he sent ambassadors to ask Siming, and not once did he fail.
After two more years, Dongxi became seriously ill and sent another envoy to ask Siming, who replied, “We can deploy and arrange family affairs.” Dongxi knew that he was dying, and later became seriously ill and died.
(From “Huichang Xieyi”)