Gua Tian Li Xia (While Walking in a Melon Patch or under a Plum Tree)
There is a an ancient folk song literally interpreted as follows:
A gentleman always seeks to provide against possible troubles. And never renders himself under suspicion:
He will not pull on his shoes in a melon patch,
Nor adjust his hat under a plum tree.
One story recorded in The Book of Tang - The Life Story of Liu Gongjuan illustrates the poem and, later on, the use of this idiomatic expression. It says that Emperor Wen Zong of the Tang Dynasty commissioned Guo Min to be a magistrate in Binning (present-day Binxian County, Shaanxi Province). This became the subject of much discussion. It was said that Guo Min got this appointment because he had offered his two daughters to the throne. On hearing this, the Emperor at once said to Liu Gongjian, a celebrated calligraphist, who was then Assistant to the Minister of Construction and Public Works, by way of explanation: "Guo Min's two daughters were only given an audience by my mother. That was how they came into the palace. It has nothing at all to do with me." But Liu Gongjian had this to say to the Emperor: "How can you make people understand you when you are under the suspicion of having been 'in a melon patch and under a plum tree'?"