(Minghui.org) During the Spring and Autumn period (771- 476 BC), there was a court official named Song Jiu in the Liang state. He used to work as county magistrate in an area bordering the Chu state. Both states had set up a sentry box along the border to prevent invasion from the opposite side. Soldiers on both sides also grew watermelons on their land.

Soldiers of the Liang worked hard to water and fertilize their melon fields, and as a result, the watermelons they grew were both big and plentiful. In contrast, soldiers of the Chu were lazy and sluggish. They neither watered nor fertilized the fields, so their watermelons were tiny and few.

The county magistrate of the Chu was furious upon hearing the situation. He summoned the head of the sentry box immediately and lashed out at him. The sentry box head felt annoyed and blamed the well-grown watermelons on the Liang side for his misfortune. He was so angry that he took his soldiers across the border and destroyed the Liang’s watermelon fields on a dark night. 

When Liang soldiers found out what had happened, they wanted to do the same to the other side. Realizing the serious damage such an action might do to the relationship between the two states, the head of the Liang sentry box went to seek advice from the county magistrate Song Jiu.

Song didn't think it was a big deal and said to the head of the sentry box, “What the Chu soldiers did was wrong. If we do the same to them, it could lead to big trouble. To keep the Chu on friendly terms, we can return evil with good by helping to water and fertilize their melon fields at night, and this should be done on the quiet.”

The sentry box head took his advice and put it into practice. Soon after, the watermelons on the Chu side began to grow bigger and bigger. The Chu soldiers also found out what had happened.

When the county magistrate on the Chu side heard about the story, he immediately sent someone to report it to the King of the Chu, who was very touched by the way Song Jiu handled the matter. At the same time, he felt deeply ashamed of the conduct of his own soldiers.

To amend the wrongdoing, the King sent an envoy to the Liang state with generous gifts to apologize for his soldiers’ behavior. The two neighboring states became good friends.

The incident later became an idiom encouraging people to repay malice with kindness.