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▶ son-in-law of the eastern bed
  
Shi Jian, a high official of the Chin dynasty, was looking for a suitable husband for his daugther. He heard that there was an old Mr. Wang, who had many sons, and sent someone to Mr. Wang’s for a look. Mr. Wang told the visitor he was welcome to go to the eastern wing of the house, where his sons lived, and take his choice from among them.
 
When Mr. Wang’s sons heard that someone was coming from Official Shi’s house to check them out, they all began to put on an act, and their attitudes were very unnatural. Only one young man appeared to be unconcerned with the whole stomach exposed, eating. 
 
After his representative’s description of each of the sons, Shi Jian announced that the natural one – the one lying on his bed with his stomach exposed – was the kind of person he had in mind for his son-in-law. And so his daughter married this young man – the very famous writer and calligrapher Wang Shi-ji.
 
People of later generations still often refer to their son-in-law as the “son-in-law of the eastern bed”, or simply as the “eastern bed.”
 
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东晋时,王家和谢家都是大的家族,社会地位高,时人称他们为“王谢”。我们看羊土谔的诗:“山阴道上桂花初,王谢风流满晋书”,就可相像出来,王、谢家的地位是多么崇高了。
 
正因为王谢是大家,当时的太尉郗鉴,就想在王家挑选女婿。郗鉴这个女儿,才貌双全,郗鉴爱如掌上明珠。这么一个宝贝疙瘩,得要找个门当户对的人家。郗鉴觉得王家与自己情谊深厚,又同朝为官,听说他家子弟甚多,个个都才貌俱佳。一天早朝后,郗鉴就把自己择婿的想法告诉了王丞相。王丞相说:“那好啊,我家里子弟很多,就由您到家里任意挑选吧,凡你相中的,不管是谁,我都同意。”郗鉴就命心腹管家,带上重礼到了王丞相家。王府子弟听说郗太尉派人觅婿,都仔细打扮一番出来相见。寻来觅去,一数少了一人。王府管家便领着郗府管家来到东跨院的书房里,就见靠东墙的床上一个袒腹仰卧的青年人,对太尉觅婿一事,无动于衷。郗府管家回去向郗鉴报告:“王家的少爷个个都好,只是他们听到了相公要挑选女婿的消息以后,个个都打扮得齐齐整整,装模作样的循规蹈距;唯有东床上有位公子,袒腹躺着若无其事。”郗鉴说:“那个人就是我所要的好女婿!”于是马上派人再去打听,原来那人就是王羲之。郗鉴来到王府,见到此人既豁达又文雅,才貌双全,当场下了聘礼,择为快婿。现在我们流传的“东床坦腹”、“东床快婿”的成语,就是指这个故事。
 
郗鉴为甚么会选中王羲之呢?他大概认为这个青年纯真,不矫饰做作,而且不把个人的事儿放在心上,精力集中于其书法事业上,这正是有出息的表现,有这样的钻劲、迷劲,是不愁不成才的。
 

 


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