春秋时期，齐国的北边是燕国，燕国和齐国是友好国家，但是有一个叫 山戎的小国家经常骚扰燕国的边境。 燕国请齐国帮忙。于是，有一年，齐国的齐桓公和他的宰相管仲带领军队去攻打山戎。开始的时候， 因为山戎害怕齐桓公， 没有反击就带着家人和财物逃到旁边的孤竹国去了。管仲对齐桓公说，“虽然山戎逃跑了，但是我们得去追他，把他彻底打败。
孤竹国的国王派大将黄花去和齐国的军队打仗。但是，黄花的军队根本不是齐军的对手。接连打了几次败仗以后， 黄花打算向齐军投降。 这时候，他的一个手下建议： “北方有个地方，是无边无际的沙漠，没有向导带路，进去了以后没有人能走出来。 我们假装向齐国投降，然后把他们引到沙漠里，这样，一个人也不死就能把齐军消灭。
管仲想了一夜， 第二天早上，他突然想到一个办法。他对齐桓公说： “我听说老马能记住走过的路，我们为什么不用老马带我们走出沙漠呢？”于是，他挑了几匹老马在前面走，齐军跟着老马在后面走，最后安全地走出了沙漠。
chun1qiu1 shi2qi1, qi2guo2de bei3bian1 shi4 yan1guo2, yan1guo2 he2 qi2guo2 shi4 you3hao3 guo2jia1, dan4shi4 you3 yi2ge4 jiao4 shan1rong2de xiao3guo2jia1 jing1chang2 sao1rao3 yan1guo2de bian1jing4. yan1guo2 qing3 qi2guo2 bang1mang2. yu2shi4 you3yi1nian2, qi2guo2de qi2huan2gong1 he2 ta1de zai3xiang4 guan3zhong1 dai4ling3 jun1dui4 qu4 gong1da3 shan1rong2.
kai1shi3 deshi2hou, yin1wei4 shan1rong2 hai4pa4 qi2huan2gong1, mei2ou3 fan3ji1 jiu4 dai4zhe jia1ren2 he2 cai2w4 tao2dao4 pang2bian1de gu1zhu2guo2 qu4le. guan3zhong1 dui4 qi2huan2gong1 shuo1: "sui1ran2 shan1rong2 tao2pao3le, dan4shi4 wo3men dei3 qu4 zhui1 ta, ba3 ta1 che4di3 da3bai4.
gu1zhu2guo2 deguo2wang2 pai4 da4jiang4 huang2hua1 qu4 he2 qi2guo2de jun1dui4 da3zhang4. dan4shi4 huang2hua1 de jun1dui4 gen1ben3 bu2shi4 qi2jun1de dui4shou3. jie1lian2 da3le ji3ci4 bai4zhang4 yi3hou4, huang2hua1 da3suan4 xiang4 qi2jun1 tou2xiang2. zhe4shi2hou, ta1de yi2ge4 shou3xia4 jian4yi4: "bei3fang1 you3ge4 di4fang1, shi4 wu2bian1wu2ji4 de sha1mo4, mei2you3 xiang4dao3 dai4lu4, jin4qu4le yi3hou4 mei2you3ren2 neng2 zou3chu1lai2. wo3men2 jia3zhuang1 xiang4 qi2guo2 tou2xiang2, ran2hou4 ba3 ta1men yin3dao4 sha1mo4li3, zhe4yang4, yi2ge4ren2 ye3 bu4si3 jiu4neng2 ba3 qi2jun1 xiao1mie4.
huang2hua1 ting1le zhe4ge4 jian4yi4 hen3 gao1xing4. jie1guo3 qi2huan2gong1 he2 guan3zhong1 dou1 shang4ledang4, yi3wei2 huang2hua1 yao4 dai4 ta1men qu4 gu1zhu2guo2 de shou3du1, gen1zhe huang2hua1 jin4le sha1mo4. zai4 sha1mo4li3 ta1men mi2lelu4, bu4zhi1dao4 dong1nan2xi1bei3. zhe4shi2hou, tian1qi4 hen3leng3, you4 gua1zhe da4feng1, ta1men mei2you3 xiang4dao3, shui3 ye3 mei2le, dao4le zhong1wu3, zhan4shi4men kou3ke3de zou3bu2dong4le. da4jia1 dou1 bu4 zhi1dao4 zen3me ban4.
yi2ge4ren2 shuo1: "ma2yi3 zhu4de di4fang1 de di4xia4 hui4 you3shui3, ru2guo3 zhao3dao4 ma2yi3wo1, jiu4neng2 zhao3dao4shui3. da4jia1 an1zhao4 ta1de ban4fa3 zhen1de zhao3dao4le shui3. ke3shi4, da4jia1 hai2shi4 mei2you3 ban4fa3 zou3chu1 sha1mo4.
guan3zhong1 xiang3le yi2ye4, di4er4tian1 zhao3shang4, ta1 tu1ran2 xiang3dao4 yi2ge4 ban4fa3. ta1 dui4 qi2huan2gong1 shuo1: "wo3 ting1shuo1 lao3ma3 neng2 ji4zhu4 zou3guo4de lu4, wo3men wei4shenme bu2yong4 lao3ma2 dai4 wo3men zou3chu1 sha1mo4 ne?" yu2shi4 , ta1 tiao1le ji3pi1 lao3ma3 zai4 qian2mian4 zou3, qi2jun1 gen1zhe lao3ma3 zai4 hou4mian4 zou3, zui4hou4 an1quan2de zou3chu1le sha1mo4.
One year, Duke Huan and his prime minister Guan Zhong attacked a state named Shan Rong who often harassed the border of state Yan, a confederate state of Qi. At the beginning, the war went along very well. Scared by the fame of Duke Huan, the king of Shan Rong took his family and belongings to flee to the state of Gu zhu even without a fight.
Guan Zhong said to the Duke: " Though Shan Rong run away, we have to chase and completely destroy them, otherwise they will come back and continue to raid Yan."
The general Huang Hua was ordered by the king of Gu Zhu to resist Qi, but his men was no match for Qi's warriors. After losing a series of battles in a row, he was going to surrender. At this point, a subordinate official suggested : " There is a place named 'Dry Sea' in the north. It's an endless desert. Nobody can get out of it without good guides. If we kill the king of Shan Rong and give his head to Duke Huan, he will certainly trust us, then we lead them into the 'Dry sea'. In this way, we can get rid of them all without casualties."
Huang Hua was happy with this idea and did as was suggested. As might be expected, neither Duke Huan nor his ministers saw through the trick. They really believed that Huang Hua and his men would lead the way to the capital of Gu Zhu until they found themselves in the middle of the desert without water and guides.
Seeing the surroundings deserted, windy and cold, the whole troop including the cavalry of Wu Zhong got into panic. At noon, soldiers were too thirsty to move any more. A minister named Xi Peng said:" Ants live in the place close to water. We'd better seek ant holes first. " What he said was proved to be correct. However, they still failed to find a way out.
After a cold and sleepless night, the prime minister Guan Zhong suddenly recalled that some old horses in the cavalry of Wu Zhong were captured from Gu Zhu. So he said to the Duke: "Old horses know the way it once traveled. Why not use their wisdom to guide us?" So they picked some old horses to lead the way. And the Qi army followed. Finally, they went out of the desert safely.
Comments:Duke Huan of Qi was the best-known ruler of the state of Qi in the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. He was the Duke of Qi from 685 BC until his death; under this period Qi reached its zenith, and the Duke himself was elected to be one of the Five Hegemons.
The idiom is used to describe an experienced person who knows how to deal with difficult situations or people. It reflects the Chinese idea about the elderly. They may not run or skip like the young people, but they are surely indispensable at the critical moment.