(Image is from internet 毛遂自荐)
In the later stage of the Warring States Period, in 251 B.C., the army of the state Qin besieged Han Dan, the capital of the state Zhao. Han Dan was in a desperate situation, and in any minute it would be lost to Qin. The king of Zhao had to send his younger brother, Prince Ping Yuan, to go to the state Chu in order to persuade the king of Chu to unite with Zhao to attack Qin.
Prince Ping Yuan decided to pick twenty men from his retainers to accompany him to visit Chu. The twenty people had to be both intelligent and good at Kung Fu. After picking out nineteen men, Ping Yuan couldn’t find another suitable man who was able to meet the requirements.
One of the retainers named Mao Sui, hearing the news, came to the Prince and said, “My lord, I heard that you will take twenty people to visit Chu, but now you are still lack of one. Please pick me to make up the number.”
Ping Yuan wasn’t familiar with Mao Sui, so he asked, “How long have you been my retainer?”
Mao Sui replied, “Three years.”
Ping Yuan frowned,”A man of ability lives in the world, like an awl is put in a bag, its point will immediately pierce through the bag. You have been here with me for three years, but I have never heard any commendation about you. So I conclude that you are not capable enough, please stay behind. ”
Mao Sui said, “My lord, today, I am asking you to put me in the bag. If you have had done it earlier, not only the point of the awl, but also the whole awl, would have pierced out of the bag. ”
Ping Yuan was convinced and accepted his request. On the way to Chu, his fellow retainers had casual talks with Mao Sui, and they gradually found that he was indeed a capable person, so they all respected him.
They arrived in the state Chu. To their surprise, the king of Chu wasn’t willing to unite with them to attack Qin, and Ping Yuan wasn’t able to persuade him to do so. Thereafter, Mao Sui was sent to talk to the king of Chu, representing the other 19 retainers. When the king of Chu heard that Mao Sui was only a retainer of Ping Yuan, he was angry and thundered Mao Sui to go away. Mao Sui wasn’t scared. Putting his hand on the sword, he approached the king nearer and said, “Your Majesty, the reason that you have the courage to yell at me is because you have a lot of bodyguards. Now I am within ten-step distance with you, although you have strong army and bodyguards, you can’t rely on them because your life is within my hands.” The king was astounded by Mao Sui’s brave behavior, so he had to quietly listen to what Mao Sui was going to say. So Mao Sui went on analyzing to the king why reuniting with Zhao to attack Qin was a win-win situation for both Zhao and Chu. His analysis was so clear that the king found no reason to against him.
So, the king of Chu, Ping Yuan, and Mao Sui licked the blood of animal and swear to fight against Qin together. Three months later, the allied forces of Zhao
and Chu defeated Qin’s army and saved Han Dan.