| Folk story about childhood friends Lu Yao and Ma Li. The title in literal translation also means “Distant road tests a horse’s stamina”, i.e. judge people after a period of time.
Lu Yao’s father is a rich merchant, Ma Li’s father is a humble servant at the Lu residence, yet the two children are bond by close friendship. When the time arrives, they both want to get married. No problem for Lu Yao, but the poor Ma Li has difficulties with finding a proper wife.
Finally Lu Yao is offering a healthy amount for Ma Li to cover the wedding costs, but has a condition: he wants to substitute Ma Li in the bridal room for the first three days.
Ma Li is upset of course, but has no alternative and agrees.
Ma Li is suffering for three days after the wedding. On the forth day, he angrily rushes into the bridal room in the dark, grumpily covering his head with the blanket and goes to sleep. His wife starts to complaining then: “Dear husband, for three days you’ve been studying a book all night long, and now you cover your head and fall asleep, how is this fair?”
Ma Li realizes that Lu Yao was playing a prank with him, of course he hasn’t touched his wife. Ma is annoyed but relieved as well.
Later Ma Li passes his exams and becomes a high ranking official in the capital, but Lu Yao falls on hard times, and decides to ask financial aid from Ma Li. When he arrives to the capital, Ma Li is happy, offering him drinks, but when Lu Yao tells about the real purpose of his coming, Ma Li pretends to not hear it at all. After several days, Ma Li asks Lu Yao: “Now you are going home, right? Don’t let your wife to worry.”
Lu Yao is very annoyed, but has no other option and returns home.
He’s almost at home when he hears heart-wrenching crying out of his house. He hurries in, what happened? His wife and children are bitterly crying over a coffin. It turns out that previously Ma Li sent a coffin to Lu’s house with the news that due to a serious illness, Lu Yao died in the capital.
Lu Yao is upset, but when he’s opening the coffin, it’s full of gold and silver, and there’s a letter from Ma Li: “You let my wife waiting in vain for three days, I let your wife to have a good cry.”