One summer, Cao Cao led his troops to fight against Zhang Xiu. The weather was unusually hot, the sun was like fire, and there was no cloud in the sky. The troops walked on the winding mountain path. The dense trees on both sides and the hot rocks in the sun were breathless. At noon, the soldiers’ clothes were soaked, and the marching speed slowed down. Several weak soldiers fainted on the roadside.
Seeing that the marching speed was getting slower and slower, Cao Cao was worried about delaying the fighters. However, at present, tens of thousands of people and horses can’t even drink water, how can we speed up? He immediately called the guide and asked him quietly, “is there a water source near here?” the guide shook his head and said, “the spring is on the other side of the valley. It’s still a long way to go around.” Cao Cao thought for a moment and said, “no, it’s too late.” he looked at the woods in front, thought for a moment, and said to the guide, “don’t say anything. I’ll find a way.” He knew that even ordering the troops to speed up at the moment would not help. When his mind turned, the way came. He grabbed the horse’s belly, quickly rushed to the front of the team, pointed at the front with his whip and said, “soldiers, I know there is a large plum forest in front of us. The plum there is big and delicious. Let’s hurry and go around the hill to get to the plum forest!” the soldiers seemed to have eaten it in their mouths, their spirit was greatly boosted, and their pace could not help speeding up a lot.
The meaning of hoping for plum to quench thirst is: the latter metaphor is that a wish cannot be realized and comforts oneself with fantasy.