He Fanned the Pillows and Warmed the Sheets: Huang Xiang
During the Han Dynasty, a nine-year-old boy named Huang Xiang became famous as a model of filial service to his father. His mother had just died, and the young boy noticed that his father was wasting away with grief and loneliness. He resolved to make it his business to cheer up his father. After making that decision, there was no job in the house too troublesome for him, and he performed his chores with vigorous, positive energy. His only concern was to spare his father worry and anxiety. While the elder Hwang read by the light of a candle, Huang Xiang, in the sticky heat of the summer"s evening would fan the pillows, so that they would be cool when his father went to sleep.
In wintertime, when the freezing winds and drifting snow turned the world to ice, the little boy would first hop into his father"s bed to warm up the blankets. Then he would call his father in to come sleep in the cozy nest he had made. Mr. Huang was deeply touched by his son"s considerate treatment, and his mind was greatly calmed. To have such a rare person as his son, who spared no details in serving as a dutiful child, was certainly a blessing. The story of Huang Xiang"s behavior spread far and wide. Eventually his reputation as an exemplary filial son reached everyone in the land. "There"s no one to compare with Huang Xiang anywhere", was a verse that could be heard throughout China.
The magistrate of Jiangxia, named Liu Hu, heard of a nine-year-old filial child in his district who understood the principles of filial respect, and made a special petition to the Imperial Court for recognition of Huang Xiang. How glorious and noteworthy was Huang Xiang"s filial regard!
A verse in his honor says,
In winter months he warmed the sheets just right;
And fanned the pillows on hot summer nights.
In knowing how to be a filial son,
In all these years, Huang Xiang"s still number one.