There was a businessman named Kan who worked in the concession area in Shanghai, China during the Guangxu years in the late 1800s. He was respected by his master, as he was a very honest man. One day, his master sent him to the southern part of Shanghai to collect some money several days before the May 5th festival.
He left home in the morning, collected 1,800 pieces of silver, and put them into a small bag he had with him. He was very hungry and thirsty, so he had his lunch at a tea house and hurried back to his workplace.
The silver is lost
After he arrived, he suddenly realised that the small leather bag with all the money was gone. He had no idea where it might be. His master got very angry with him and suspected that he had pocketed the money, so he scolded him and warned him that if he could not return the silver by the next day, he would take him to the police station. Kan could not help but cry out loud.
There was another man named Jin, who also did business in the concession area. Despite his best efforts, he always failed at business. He was planning to take a boat back to his hometown that day. It just so happened that after Kan left the tea house, Jin went into the same tea house to wait for his boat.
An honest man finds the silver
The small bag on the floor caught his eyes; he was very surprised to see so much silver in the bag. Just before he was ready to pocket the money, a thought struck him:
“If I keep all this money, I would live a very easy and joyful life in my hometown, and I would be free from all the hardships and troubles in life; however, this money must be returned to its owner.
“How sad I would be if I heard that someone lost his social standing or even his life because he lost this money. There is always a reason for one’s being rich or poor, and I should abide by it. So since it was me who found this money today, I shall wait here until its owner returns and give it back.”
It was already in the afternoon and there were not too many people in the tea house. Jin observed everyone entering the teahouse, but none of them looked nervous, like the owner of the money would likely be. Jin was starving, as he could not afford to buy any food, but he kept looking at the people coming into the tea house.
It seemed none of them were looking for anything. Jin waited and waited at the teahouse for the owner of the money to come. It was getting very late, all the customers of the tea house had already gone, and the tea house was about to close. Suddenly, he caught sight of a dreary looking gentleman followed by two strong men rushing into the tea house.
It was actually Kan who rushed in, followed by the two strong men. Kan was able to persuade his master to let him leave to look for the money, but his master suspected that if he let him go all by himself, he might take this opportunity to flee, so he ordered the two men to follow him.
The silver is returned
Jin observed them very carefully and went up to them and asked: “Did you lose anything?” Kan described the bag to him. Jin smiled and replied: “Finally, you are here. I’ve been waiting for you for quite a long time.” Seeing that Jin had found the money brought tears to Kan’s eyes. He said:
“Thank you so much. I would have committed suicide tonight if it were not that an honest man such as you who found the money.”
They exchanged names and Kan offered to give one fifth of the money to Jin, but Jin refused. Kan pleaded to allow him to give him one tenth, but Jin refused again. Kan offered one hundredth of the total amount, but Jin refused again.
Finally, Kan said: “Would it be all right if I treat you to a feast tomorrow morning?” Jin accepted. They decided to meet each other at 10 the next morning in a nearby restaurant.
One good deed, two people saved
The next morning when Jin arrived, he seemed to be very excited. When Kan was about to toast Jin, he interrupted and said:
“I should express my gratitude to you. I was planning to catch the boat home yesterday, but because I stayed in that tea house waiting for you, I missed my boat. This morning, I learned that the boat I was going to take overturned in the Huangpu River and all of its 23 passengers drowned.”
It was quite a surprise that Jin’s one good deed saved two people. When Kan’s master heard this story, he admired Jin’s honesty and had a long talk with Jin. Then he assigned Jin to be his accountant, and arranged for him to marry his daughter. With the help and support of Kan’s master, Jin turned out to be a very wealthy man.