During the spring and autumn period, a high-ranking official named Yang Chufu, who resided in the state of Jin and was very handsome in appearance, was ordered by the King to go on a mission to the state of Wei.
Along the way, Yang Chufu stayed at an inn in Ning City. The owner of the inn, Ning Yin, was very excited to meet Yang. He believed Yang to be very handsome, and based on his appearance, he must have a noble character and a bright future.
Ning told his wife: “For years, I’ve dreamed about serving a noble official, but I could not find one. Now, I believe that Yang is someone I want to follow and serve.”
With this, Ning went to see Yang and expressed his intention. Yang was happy that Ning wanted to serve him, and the following day, Ning left home with Yang.
As the two men moved forward, they spent time together and chatted often. Slowly, Ning discovered that Yang was not a learned scholar, nor was he someone of noble character. Thus, Ning changed his mind and went back home.
When his wife saw Ning returning home, she asked: “Aren’t you going to the state of Jin with Yang? Why have you returned home?”
Ning said: “Yang is a handsome man and well-mannered. However, it’s a shame that he is insincere and likes to brag, which is quite disgusting. He is on a diplomatic mission. If he does not tell the truth and has the bad intention to please people, sooner or later he will attract resentment and run into trouble. I don’t think it is a good idea to serve him. I cannot learn much from this type of person, and he may eventually encounter harm.”
Ning was indeed correct. Many years later, Yang was killed for offending others.
The moral of the story is, do not be taken in by a person’s outward appearance, for it’s what’s on the inside that matters, and these things may not be readily seen.