A lonely man lived by himself in a little hut.
His name was Sun Liang. He was dirt poor, but he was honest and kind. He did odd jobs. His pay was very low. Whenever he saw an animal in a trap, if he had any money, he would buy the animal and set it free in the forest.
In this way, he saved many animals, but he didn’t save any money, so he was still very poor.
When he was too old to work, he had to beg for food to stay alive. One day when he was over seventy years old, he was too weak to get up from his bed, and before long, he left this world.
Sun Liang had no relative and no friends. He was so poor that he didn’t even have enough money for a coffin, and for Chinese people, the worst possible fate is to die and not get buried. But there was nobody to look after him. His neighbors were almost as poor as he was. They didn’t know he was dead, and even if they had, they certainly didn’t have enough money to buy him a coffin and bury him.
The morning after Sun Liang died, the neighbors were amazed to see the sky full of birds. Thousands of birds came from all directions and flew into Sun Liang’s hut. The neighbors came to see what was wrong. They saw Sun lying dead on his bed. They thought the birds must have come to peck the flesh off his bones.
Then they saw that every bird brought a little soil in its beak, and dropped the soil on Sun’s body. They had come to show their gratitude by burying their savior!
Thousands and thousands of birds came. They flew back and forth. Before noon, they had filled his whole hut with soil and turned it into a tomb for Sun Liang.
The neighbors were deeply touched when they saw this. From then on, they never caught another animal in a trap or a net.