As envoy of the king of Zhao, Lin Xiangru scored a series of diplomatic victories in dealing with the king of Qin thanks to his uncommon courage and resourcefulness. The king of Zhao was so pleased he appointed him chief minister, a position more senior than that held by Chief General Lian Po, the country’s highest-ranking army officer.
Consequently General Lian Po bore Lin Xiangru a grudge. “I did much more for the country than Lin Xiangru,” he complained. “All he did was wagging his tongue. How come he has a higher rank? When I see him, I’ll give him a piece of my mind.”
When Lin Xiangru heard of his remark, he made a point of keeping himself out of the general’s way. He even pretended illness so as to avoid meeting him in the court.
One day he was riding in his carriage when he saw General Lian Po coming in the opposite direction, he ordered his driver to quickly turn into an alley until the general went past.
“Why are you so afraid of him?” asked his aides. “You hold a higher position, but you act as though you were inferior to him. You made us feel ashamed.”
“Who is more formidable, the king of Qin or General Lian Po?” asked Lin Xiangru.
“Of course, the king of Qin.”
“Just think of it,” explained the chief minister, “I’m not afraid of the king of Qin, would I be afraid of Lian Po? Qin dare not invade Zhao because people like Lian Po and I are serving in the government. If the two of us start fighting like two tigers, one is bound to perish. For the interest of the country I must swallow my pride.”
His words reached General Lian Po’s ears. Baring his shoulders and carrying a thorny switch on his back, he called on Lin Xiangru to apologize.
“Please forgive me, Your Honor,” he spoke as he knelt down. “You have a big heart; but I am an ignorant boor. I’m ashamed of my behavior. I deserve to be whipped with a thorny switch.”
Lin Xiangru got down on his knees too. “General, I do appreciate your understanding. Let’s work together for the country.”
His words brought tears to the general’s eyes. The two men embraced each other and became great friends.