Ban tu er fei(Leave a task unfinished)
During the East Han Dynasty there was a man named Yue Yangzi in Henan province. His wife was well-educated and virtuous.
Once, Yue Yangzi picked up a bar of gold, and happily brought it home. His wife said, “I have heard that men of ambition do not drink water from other’s springs, and honest men do not accept dishonorable alms. Then what kind of man picks up another’s lost treasure and keeps it for himself?” Yue Yangzi heard his wife’s words and was very ashamed. He threw the bar of gold out and went out to look for a teacher.
He returned a year later, and his wife happily asked him, “Did you finish your studies?”
Yue Yangzi replied, “No, I didn’t.”
“Then why did you come back?” she asked.
He answered, “When I was away from home for a long time, I missed you, so I came back to see you.”
His wife picked up a sword, walked over to her loom, and cut the piece of cloth she had been weaving in half. Then she said to Yue Yangzi, “This piece of silk came from the cocoons of silk worms. On the loom I weaved it together, thread by thread, until it was an inch long. I kept working, inch by inch, until it was ten feet long. Only by tireless effort, weaving everyday, could I have made such a long piece of cloth. Just now I cut it short, and so I’ve wasted all that time and effort I spent weaving it.” She continued, “Studying is the same way. You have to keep studying and asking questions little by little. Everyday you learn something, and day by day your character will improve. But if you turn around and come back when you are halfway finished, it’s the same as my cutting this piece of silk in half.”
Yue Yangzi listened to his wife’s explanation and felt very ashamed again. At once, he took leave of his wife and went to continue his studies. For seven years he remained away from home. After seven years, he had finally come to the end of his studies.