A long time ago, in China, the country was separated into three kingdoms, each kingdom fighting for full control of China. In one state, there was a general named Zhou Yu, who was planning to burn his enemy's ships with fiery arrows. But their supplies were low, and they were surrounded by enemies so they couldn't re-supply. How would his army get enough arrows to burn the ships?
In Zhou Yu's camp there was a military strategist named Kong Ming. He was one of China's greatest war strategists, and was known for his cleverness. But Zhou Yu did not like Kong Ming very much, and did not want to admit that Kong Ming was the smarter of the two. So he called Kong Ming over to his tent.
"Kong Ming, if you really are so clever, I want you to get me 10,000 arrows in a week -- or I shall have you beheaded!" Zhou Yu demanded loudly. "Now get out of my sight!"
Kong Ming smiled. "I'll get the arrows in 3 days. Just let me borrow 20 boats."
After Kong Ming left Zhou Yu's tent, Zhou Yu appointed one of his personal guards to follow Kong Ming and report his actions.
The first day, Kong Ming spent the whole day drinking wine with his friends. The same thing happened the second day.
"What is this?" Zhou Yu demanded, "All he does with his precious time is drink. He will never be able to get those 10,000 arrows!"
On the night of the third day, Kong Ming ordered his men to build men made of straw, and post them up around each boat. Then the 20 boats sailed toward the enemy fortress.
The next day Kong Ming was ordered to Zhou Yu's tent, where a guard was ready with a large sword used for execution.
"Wait," Kong Ming chuckled, and his men brought in the 10,000 arrows. Zhou Yu was in total shock, and coughed out blood because he was so angry.
"How -- how?" Zhou Yu asked.
"I asked my men to post up fake soldiers made of straw on the boats, and when the boats sailed into enemy territory, they were welcomed by the arrows. The arrows were caught in the straw men and my men sailed away with the 10,000 arrows," Kong Ming replied, and left the tent, victorious.
(Based on a tale from "The Three Kingdoms.")