There was a rule in old times that no one would be able to look at the king’s face. If anyone was so curious as to take a glimpse of the king’s face, the punishment would be that person’s head.
Xiang Miang was also very curious to know what the king looked like and why the king set up such a silly rule. He thought about it very hard and waited for a chance of seeing the king’s face.
One day the king was out in Xiang Miang’s village to visit the people. He
wanted to find out how his people were doing and if they had any troubles. The king was curious also to find out what people ate for their meals. People came with the dish that they liked the most to show the king. Nothing was so interesting to the king. He looked at the food and disregarded them.
Then Xiang Miang came to have an audience with the king. He prepared Chinese watercress vines boiled in brine. He took the longest vines and coiled them in a bowl. They looked pretty interesting to the king.
“Boy, what is that in your bowl,” asked the king.
“Oh, it’s the most nutritious dish, Your Majesty,” said Xiang Miang with his
face turned to the ground. “It’s called boiled Chinese watercress vines,” continued Xiang Miang.
“How do you eat that,” asked the king. “Show me how you eat it; I want to see,” ordered the king.
“Before I eat this, Your Majesty must promise not to punish me if I break any rule,” requested Xiang Miang. “Otherwise, I will not be able to show Your Majesty how to eat it.”
“Come on, now, show me. I promise that you won’t be punished in any way,” confirmed the king.
So, Xiang Miang picked up the vine and lifted up his face to drop the end of the vine in his mouth. As he was doing so, he could not help but see the king’s face. He quickly chewed the Chinese watercress vine and then he brought his face down.
“Now, I don’t wonder why the king does not allow anyone to look at his face,” thought Xiang Miang. “He looks just like a horse.”