the time of the Warring States (475-221 BC), there lived a well-known
archer named Geng Ying whose art in shooting was excelled by none
at his time.
One day, as he was standing by the side
of the King of Wei, a flock of swan geese were flying over. With
confidence, Geng Ying said to the king, "The twang of my bow-string
might bring down a bird." The
King doubted much. Just then a solitary swan goose appeared, low
and slow in its flight, sad and dolorous in its cry. Instantly Geng
Ying bended his bow and forcibly pulled the bowstring. Twang! High
up went the shrilling sound into the air and down fell the bird to
the ground. The king admired with bewilderment. Gang Ying then explained: "The
bird was flying low and slow, because it was already hurt; it was
crying in a bitter tone, because it had lost its companions. Due
to the fact that it was already hurt and sad at heart, the twang
of my strong bow, that birds dreaded most, startled it. The shrilling
sound made its heart beat fast, its wings weak, its balance uneven.
Thus it fell down just as commonly as a man drops his chop-sticks,
at the thunder-stroke, at a dinner table." Henceforth comes
the idiom "A bird startled
by the mere twang of a bow-string", illustrating a case where
a man who had been previously and repeatedly frightened became numb
and stupefied by a new thing of the same nature not knowing how to
face the new situation.