Chapter 5: Plum Flower Decoration on the Pure White Arm
By the time Zhang CuiShan reached the river, it’s already dark. Only to see a boat with two bright lanterns on it, the same one he saw last night. Under the lantern lights a young woman sat on the edge, wearing a long, light-green robe, a lady’s outfit.
Zhang CuiShan originally planned on asking her about the events last night, but somehow held back upon seeing her in a lady’s dress. That young woman looked up in the sky and said, “Sitting on the edge of the boat, thinking of meeting a guest, the wind blows by, waking me up.” Zhang CuiShan said, “My name is Zhang CuiShan. I have some questions. I hope you won’t mind.” That young woman said, “Then please come on the boat.” Zhang CuiShan lightly sprung onto the head of the boat.
That young woman said, “Dark clouds hovered over last night’s sky, and covered the moon. The weather’s much nicer today, now that those clouds have dissipated.” Her voice beautiful and clear, spoken while watching the sky, without looking at him even once. Zhang CuiShan said, “May I ask for the young lady’s name?” That young woman suddenly turned her head around, her bright, stunning eyes shinned at him, but did not respond. Zhang CuiShan saw her indescribable beauty looking at him, and felt a bit awkward. Afraid to press further, he jumped back onto the land, and began to walk back.
After ten steps or so, his footsteps stopped. Zhang CuiShan thought to himself, “Zhang CuiShan, oh Zhang CuiShan. What happened to you? How can a man like you, so experienced in the martial world, be afraid of a young girl?” He turned around, only to see that young woman’s boat floated down the river, the jade lanterns lit up the river. Zhang CuiShan couldn’t make up his mind, so he simply followed the boat by the river edge.
One on the river, one on land, traveling in parallel fashion. That young lady remained at the head of the boat, her head aimed towards the moon in the night sky.
After walking a while, Zhang CuiShan unconsciously looked in the direction of her eyes, only to see dark clouds gathering in the distance. These clouds quickly covered the moon. Soon, the wind began to blow, and sleek rain came down. There’s only grassland by the lake, so Zhang CuiShan could not find any place to hide from the rain. Of course, he didn’t care much for the rain anyway. The rainfall was not heavy, but enough to totally soak his body after a while. Only to see that young woman still sitting on the head of the boat, also totally soaked.
Zhang CuiShan yelled, “Young lady, you should enter the cabin to avoid the rain.” That young woman immediately stood up and let out an ‘Oh!’ She quickly gathered herself, and then asked him, “Why are you not afraid of the rain?” As she spoke, she walked into the boat’s cabin. After a while, she came out again, this time holding an umbrella, which she threw to him.
Zhang CuiShan grabbed the umbrella, saw that it was made out of oilpaper, and opened it. He saw rivers in the foreground and mountains in the background, covered with willow trees, obviously a scenery painting. Along with the painting are seven characters, “No need to return simply due light wind and sleek rain*.” It’s not strange to see such paintings and writings on the umbrellas here in HangZhou, as it’s famous for such things. The painting came from a craftsman, so it carried a peculiar craftsman feel to it. What’s amazing is that a craftsman could paint in such an intricate and elegant way. The writing didn’t seem to live up to the standards of the painting, and looked like a rich young lady wrote it, yet at least the style carried a clear, beautiful, unworldly feel.
*Note: The seven characters themselves are ‘Xie2 Feng1 Xi4 Yu3 Bu4 Xu1 Gui1’. Translated literally ‘Tilted Wind Sleek Rain No Need Return’.
Zhang CuiShan did not slow down his steps as he examined the writing, and couldn’t see a ditch in his path. As his left foot came down, Zhang CuiShan felt it land in midair. Any normal person would’ve tripped and fell. But he quickly reacted, applied force to his right foot, jumped up, and landed on the other side of the ditch. Only to hear the young lady yell, “Great!” Zhang CuiShan turned around, saw that she has since put on a bamboo hat, and is standing there on the head of the boat. As her dress waved back and forth among the winds, she looked like a goddess from Heaven.
That young woman said, “Are the painting and writing worthy of Mr. Zhang’s eyes?” Zhang CuiShan never cared much for paintings, as he studied mainly on writings in his life. He said, “These words are written in the famous Mrs. Wei’s style. The characters separate but their meanings connect, the lines are short but their meanings are stretched, very charming with its rhyming.” That young woman felt very happy that Zhang CuiShan understood her writing style, and said, “Among the characters, I thought the character ‘No’ was the worst.” Zhang CuiShan examined that character, and said, “This ‘No’ is quite naturally written, but it lacked any deep meaning, unlike the other characters, which leave an aftertaste in the reader’s mind, making them hard to forget.” That young woman said, “I understand now. I’ve always thought that this character somehow didn’t belong, but couldn’t spot the reason. Thank you for enlightening me.”
Her boat continued to travel down the river, while Zhang CuiShan walked alongside it. The two people continued to talk about writing, until the sky became so dark they could not longer see each other. That young woman suddenly said, “Speaking with a scholar for just a short while beats reading books for ten years. Thank you for your help. Now let us part.” She pulled up the sail, and the boat started to move faster with the aid of the wind. Zhang CuiShan stood as he watched the boat travel further and further away, and felt saddened, his mind in a void. Only to hear the young woman yell from far away, “My surname is Yin… should we meet again, I’ll surely ask for more pointers…”
When Zhang CuiShan heard the words ‘My surname is Yin’, he suddenly remembered, “Wait a minute. Didn’t Du DaJin say that a handsome scholar, whose surname is Yin, asked for them to deliver Third Brother Yu? Could he be this young lady in man’s clothing?” Once he realized this, he forgot all about the tradition that man and woman should remain apart, and began to chase after the boat. Although the boat traveled very fast, it still could not beat out his lightness kung fu. Soon, he caught up with the boat and asked loudly, “Ms. Yin, do you know my third brother Yu DaiYan?”
That young woman turned around, but did not respond. Zhang CuiShan seemingly heard a sigh, but wasn’t sure due to their distance.
So Zhang CuiShan added, “I have this suspicion in my mind, which I hope you can help clear up.” That young woman said, “Do you really need to know?” Zhang CuiShan said, “Did you ask the Dragon Gate Escort Agency to take my third brother back to Wu Dang? If so, then I would surely repay your kindness.” That young woman said, “Sometimes, it’s so hard to distinguish generosity and cruelness.” Zhang CuiShan said, “My third brother was gravely wounded at the bottom of Wu Dang Mountain. Do you know about this?” That young woman said, “I was saddened too, and is really sorry.”
As they spoke, the wind picked up, and the boat sailed even faster. But Zhang CuiShan had no problem keeping up with the boat.
As they traveled further, the river became wider, the light wind and sleek rain turned into heavy wind and heavy rainstorm.
Zhang CuiShan asked, “Do you know who killed the people in the Dragon Gate Escort agency?” That young woman said, “I made it clear to Du DaJin for him to take good care of Third Hero Yu. Should there be any problems…” Zhang CuiShan said, “You said you’d kill everyone in his agency.” That young woman said, “That’s correct. He didn’t protect Third Hero Yu, so it’s his fault. You can’t blame others.”
Those words sent a chill down Zhang CuiShan’s spine, and he said, “So you’re saying that everyone… everyone was killed by…” that young woman said, “Killed by me!” Zhang CuiShan’s ears trembled. He couldn’t believe that this incredibly beautiful young woman could be such cold-blooded killer. After a while, he said, “What about those two Shaolin monks?” That young woman said, “Also killed by me. I originally didn’t want to bother with them, but they used poisoned darts on me first, so I didn’t have a choice.” Zhang CuiShan said, “Then… then why did they say that I was the killer?” That young woman said, “Oh, I planned that.”
Zhang CuiShan fumed, and yelled, “You planned for them to wrong me like that?” That young woman laughed, and said, “That’s correct.” Zhang CuiShan yelled angrily, “Surely we’re not enemies. So why would you do that to me?”
That young woman waved her hand, and entered the cabin. Zhang CuiShan obviously couldn’t stop asking now, yet he’s too far from the boat to jump on it. So he grabbed two thick branches from a nearby willow tree and threw them onto the river. With the branches as his stepping-stones, Zhang CuiShan jumped onto the head of the boat. He then yelled, “How… how did you plan it?”
No sound came out from the dark cabin, so Zhang CuiShan planned to go in. But at the last moment he changed his mind, thinking, “It’s rude to barge into a young lady’s room like that.” As he pondered about what to do, he saw a light appearing in the cabin, as a candle lit up.