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Thread: The Deer and The Cauldron - Unabridged Thread

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    Default The Deer and The Cauldron - Unabridged Thread

    Here's the unabridged thread for The Deer and The Cauldron. Please do not post any comment here.

    Disclaimer
    This work is an unofficial fan translation of Jin Yong’s Lu Ding Ji. The Copyright owner is Jin Yong and the publisher of his original Chinese text. No part of this translation may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the copyright owner(s) nor be otherwise circulated for commercial purpose. This translation is (mostly) from the 3rd Edition.

    This is a fan translation of Jin Yong's last book, The Deer and the Cauldron (Lu Ding Ji). In translating this story, I am making a conscious effort to stick as close as possible to the original Chinese text (even more so that my previous works), for two reasons:
    1. To distance this work as far as possible from existing work,
    2. To save time, since I do not have to think too much about the proper English equivalent of the words.
    Therefore, the names, titles, and especially curse words (which, surprisingly, Jin Yong used a lot in this book) are kept in their original forms, or translated literally. Those of you who are used to Hollywood-style cussing may find it sounds a bit strange. The only exception is 'tamade' [他妈的], which I translate as 'damn it'. I even keep the units of measurement in their original form, with modern day equivalent in footnote. For the same reason, I apologize for grammatically-inaccurate and other sounds-rather-strange sentences.

    WARNING: This story is for mature audience for violence, rape and foul language.

    In translating this story, I received a lot of help from the readers. I try to give credits where the credit is due, but if I miss anything, it is definitely an oversight; please kindly let me know.

    The version here is the revision of the original thread, I corrected typos, cleanup some notes, incorporated new notes, etc.

    Index:

    The story can also be found in other sites:

    http://wuxiatranslations.wikispaces.com/Jin+Yong

    http://xiaoshuo.genreverse.com/forum...ead.php?tid=46

    http://wuxiasociety.com/translations/

    (When I posted this message, it is still 'work in progress', i.e. these sites may not have the complete work yet.)
    Last edited by foxs; 04-25-13 at 11:25 AM.

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    Default Chapter 1 - Part 1

    Chapter 1 - Crooked bunch went on a rampage courting disaster, discussing early morning moon during high wind.
    (Translated by Foxs)


    LuDingJi-01.jpg

    The scholar rushed to the bow of the boat, he picked up the bamboo pole for punting boats, and hurled it out. Under the moonlight the bamboo pole appeared like a flying snake, as it was shooting forward. “Ahhh!” they heard Gua Guandai let out a long scream. The bamboo pole pierced his back, and nailed him to the ground. The pole did not stopped swaying.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:09 AM.

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    Default Chapter 1 - Part 2

    Northern wind as sharp as a blade, ice and frost covered the earth.

    Along a Jiangnan [area south of the River, i.e. Yangtze] coastal road, a company of Qing troops with sabers and spears in their hands was escorting seven prisoner carriages, braving the wind and the cold as they travelled northward. The first three carriages in the front separately held three men, all dressed as scholars. One was an old man with white hair, the other two were middle-aged men. The four carriages on the rear held women, the very last prisoner carriage held a young woman, holding a baby girl in her bosom. The baby was crying incessantly. Her mother comforted her with tender voice, but the baby kept crying loudly. A Qing soldier by the prisoner carriage got angry, he lifted his leg and kicked the carriage. “Keep crying, keep crying,” he shouted, “Laozi[1] will kick you dead!” The baby was scared, she cried even louder.

    There was a big house several dozen zhang [unit of length, approximately 10 ft or 3 m], away from the road; under the eaves of the house stood a middle-aged scholar and a boy about eleven or twelve. Seeing this situation, he could not help heaving a deep sigh, his eyes also turned red as he said, “Have mercy, have mercy!”

    Die die [pronounced ‘dee-eh’ – Dad],” the boy asked, “What crime have they committed?”

    “What crime have they committed?” the scholar echoed, “Yesterday and this morning they already arrested more than thirty people, all are our Zhejiang’s famous intellectuals, each and every one is innocent and is only guilty by association.” When he said the four words ‘innocent, guilty by association’ [wu gu zhu lian], he lowered his voice considerably, afraid that the officers and men escorting the prisoner carriages would hear it.

    The boy said, “That little baby girl is still sucking the breast, could it be that she also committed the same crime? Really does not make any sense.”

    The scholar said, “You understand that the officers and men do not make any sense, you are a really good child. Ay, others are the sacrifical knife and altar, we are the fish and the meat; others are the [tree-legged] cauldron, we are the elk!”

    Die,” he boy said, “Just a few days ago you taught me that the phrase ‘others are the sacrifical knife and altar, we are the fish and the meat’ carries the meaning that other people behead, cut and massacre us. Others are the cutting cleaver, the hot iron plate, and we are the fish, the meat. These few words ‘Others are the cauldron, we are the elk’, is the meaning also more or less the same?”

    “Exactly!” the scholar replied. Seeing the officers and men, along with the prisoner carriages have already far away, he pulled the boy’s hand and said, “It’s too windy outside, let us go back into the house.” Right away father and son entered the study room.

    The scholar picked up a writing brush and dipped it into the ink, and then he wrote a character ‘deer’ on a piece of paper. He said, “This beast, the deer, although they are huge, their temper is extremely gentle, they only eat grass and leaves, they never harm other animals. When the fierce animals want to harm them, eat them, they can only run. If they cannot run, then they will be eaten by others.”

    And then he wrote two more characters ‘zhu lu’ [pursue the deer, fig. to vie for supremacy], and said, “For this reason the ancients often used the deer as a metaphor of the world. Common people on the earth are all docile, good and honest; their allotted share in life is only to be bullied and slaughtered by others. The ‘History of Han Dynasty’ says, ‘Qin lost its deer, people all over the world chase after it.’ What it means is that the Qin Dynasty lost the world, the heroes rose together, everybody fought over, finally Han Gaozu[2] defeated Chu Bawang [overlord/hegemon Chu], and thus he obtained this big and fat deer.”

    The boy nodded and said, “I understand. There is a novel talking about ‘hunting deer in the central plain’, the idea is that everybody struggle to become the Emperor.”

    The scholar was delighted; he nodded repeatedly. He drew a picture of a cauldron on the paper and said, “When people of old cooked their food, they did not use pot on the stove, but used this kind of three-legged cauldron, with firewood underneath it. When they caught a deer, they cooked it in the cauldron and ate it. Emperors and high-ranking officials were very cruel, if they did not like someone, they would say that man committed a crime and boiled him alive in the cauldron. There is a written account in the ‘Record of the Grand Historian’ about Lin Xiangru saying to the King of Qin, ‘Chen [I, your servant; a minister referring to himself when talking to a ruler] is aware that I have offended the Great King and deserve to be punished by death, Chen asks for a cauldron.’ In other words, ‘I deserve to die, just burn me to death in a cauldron!’”

    The boy said, “The novel often says about ‘to inquire of the cauldron’. This phrase seems to have more or less the same meaning as ‘hunting deer in the central plain’.”

    “That’s right,” the scholar said, “King of Xia Yu collected metal from the nine divisions [of China during the earliest dynasties] and cast nine large cauldrons. At that time, the so-called ‘metal’ was actually copper. Each cauldron was cast with the names of the nine divisions and a map of the mountains and rivers. When later generations became the ruler of the world, they retained the nine cauldrons. ‘Mr. Zuo’s Annals’ noted: ‘Viscount of Chu inspected his troops at the Zhou border. The present King sent the king’s grandson Man to console Viscount Chu. Viscount Chu inquired the size and weight of the cauldron.’ Only the ruler of the world can keep the nine cauldrons. The King of Chu was merely a feudal prince from the State of Chu, he inquired about the size and weight of the cauldron, it means he harbored intention to rebel, thinking of taking the King of Zhou’s position for himself.”

    The boy said, “So ‘inquiring of the cauldron’ and ‘pursuing the deer’ means someone wanted to be the emperor. ‘Not knowing to whom the deer falls’ means not knowing who might become the emperor.”

    “Exactly,” the scholar said, “Later on, ‘inquiring of the cauldron’ and ‘pursuing the deer’, four characters [wen ding, zhu lu] can also be used elsewhere, but the original idea was pointing especially to one who wanted to be the emperor.” Speaking to this point, he sighed and said, “We, as common people, are always at the death’s door. ‘Not knowing to whom the deer falls’ simply say that nobody knows who would kill the deer, but this deer is bound to die.”

    Finished speaking, he walked over to the window and looked out. He saw the sky was overcast, apparently it was going to snow. He sighed and said, “Why is Laotianye [God/Heaven] so heartless? Several hundred innocent people walk on this ice and frost covered earth, when the snow falls, it will add to their torment.”

    Suddenly he saw on the southern end of the main road two men wearing conical bamboo hat, walking side by side to this direction. When they were near, he could recognize their faces. The scholar was delighted; he said, “Your Huang Bobo [father’s elder brother] and Gu Bobo are here!” Quickly he went outside to meet them; he called out, “Lizhou Xiong [brother, generic term], Tinglin Xiong, which good wind has blown the two of you to honor me with your presence?”

    The man on the right was short and stout, his chin was covered in black beard; his surnamed was Huang, given name Zongxi, alias[3] Lizhou [lit. pear island], a native of Yuyao [county level city in Ningbo], Zhejiang. The one on the left was slim and tall, his face dark, surnamed Gu, given name Yanwu, alias Tinglin [lit. pavilion forest], a native of Kunshan [county level city, Suzhou], Jiangsu. Huang and Gu[4], two people were great scholars of the present age. After the Ming [dynasty] perished, their hearts were broken over the changes to their country, they went to live in seclusion and quit their official posts; this day they ‘join sleeves’ to uphold virtue.

    Gu Yanwu walked several steps closer before saying, “Wancun [lit. evening village] Xiong, there is an urgent business we need to discuss with you.”

    The scholar was surnamed Lu, given name Liuliang, his alias was Wancun; in all his life he resided in Chongde County of Hangzhou Prefecture, Zhejiang. He was also a very famous hermit in the late Ming, early Qing dynasties. He noticed Huang and Gu, two men’s grim countenance; he also knew that Gu Yanwu was always very adaptable and was always calm in facing anything; therefore, when he said it was urgent, naturally it was indeed not a small matter. Cupping his fist, he said, “Gentlemen, please come in and drink three cups first to dissolve the cold air.”

    Immediately he took the two men inside and ordered the boy, “Baozhong, tell your Niang [mother], Huang Bobo, Gu Bobo are here; cut two dishes of lamb in paste first to down the wine.”

    Shortly afterwards, the boy, Lu Baozhong and his brother Yizhong came out with three sets of cups and chopsticks and arranged them on the study room’s table. An old servant came out with the food and drink. Lu Liuliang waited until the three people withdrew before he closed the study room’s door and said, “Huang Xiong, Gu Xiong, please drink three cups first!”

    Huang Zongxi looked distressed; he shook his head. Gu Yanwu poured a drink for himself and downed six cups in one breath.

    Lu Liuliang said, “Gentlemen came here this time, does it have something to do with the case of ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’?”

    “Exactly!” Huang Zongxi said.

    Gu Yanwu picked up the wine cup and loudly moaned, “’Although cool breeze is fine, it cannot blow me, why can’t the bright moon illuminate people?’ Wancun Xiong, this poem of yours is indeed the most perfect song! Everytime I drink wine, I always recite this poem, and I am always moved big time.”

    Lu Liuliang always had the old country in his heart, he was unwilling to take official post with the Qing dynasty. Local high-ranking government officials admired his reputation and sponsored and recommended him as the ‘mountain hermit’, to be recruited as official of the imperial court. Lu Liuliang adamantly refused. The local official did not dare to force him. Later on another high-ranking official sponsored and recommended him as the ‘profound scholar’. Lu Liuliang saw that if ke kept refusing, it would appear that he was disparaging and insulting the imperial court; inevitably he would bring the disaster of execution upon himself. Thereupon he shaved his head to become a fake Buddhist monk. The local officials saw his determination and henceforth no longer urging him to ‘leave the mountain’.

    The poem about ‘cool breeze, bright moon’ was to mock the Manchurian Qing [lit. clear/cool] and cherish to memory of former Ming [lit. bright]. Although he did not dare to have it printed and circulated, it spread far and wide among the like-minded friends and colleagues, and this moment Gu Yanwu recited it again.

    “Really good poem!” Huang Zongxi said, as he picked up the wine cup and downed it in one gulp.

    “Gentlemen praised wrongly.” Lu Liuliang said.

    Gu Yanwu looked up and saw a scroll of painting hanging on the wall, about five chi [Chinese foot, approx. 1/3 of a meter] tall, and almost a zhang wide, a painting of a wide expanse of landscape. The brush stroke moved unhindered, the scene looked grand; he could not help but loudly shouted his praise. The painting only had four large characters on it, ‘ru ci jiang shan’ [lit. in this way the rivers and mountains; loosely translated: ‘this is our country’]. He said, “Looking at the brush stroke, it is Mr. Erzhan’s painting.”

    “Exactly,” Lu Liuliang said. This ‘Erzhan’ was surnamed Zha, given name Shibao, a great painter of the late Ming, early Qing dynasties; he was also a good friend of Gu, Huang and Lu.

    Huang Zongxi said, “This kind of good painting, how come there is no annotation?”

    Lu Liuliang sighed and said, “This painting of Mr. Erzhan’s has a rather deep meaning. Only he is a very staid and prudent man; since he did not put any signature on it, he did not put any annotation either. He stayed in my humble abode last month, for a short while he was happy and painted this for me. How about the two gentlemen inscribe several sentences on it?”

    Gu and Huang, two men stood up and walked over to have a closer look at the painting. They saw the grand river flowing expansively to the east, with countless ridges and peaks on both sides, sprinkled with wonderful trees and strange rock formations. Only the scenery was covered in a mist; although the mountains and the rivers were beautiful, there was a sense of dismal feeling deep in the hearts of the people who look at it.

    Gu Yanwu said, “This beautiful land sinks into oblivion in the hands of barbarians. Our generation submit to humiliation and live without purpose; it’s really stuffing our breasts with grieve and indignation. Wancun Xiong, if it is not inconvenient, why don’t you inscribe a poem to display Mr. Erzhan’s meaning?”

    “Alrght!” Lu Liuliang said. Immediately he took down the painting and spread it out on the table. Huang Zongxi ground the ink. Lu Liuliang pondered deeply for half a day, and then his brush started to dance on the painting. In a short time it was finished:

    “Is it the Song (dynasty) crossing to the south? In this way the rivers and mountains are in disgrace. Is it after the cliff of the mountain? In this way the rivers and mountains cannot bear to be looked at. Only today I comprehend the meaning of the painting, weeping bitter tears seems the right thing to do. Because today I looked at former times just like now, swallowing my cries need not bridle my mouth. The painting spread on the table is a western platform for tears, delving deeply into the picture taking up my pen brightly and brilliantly. Therefore, a picture without poetry and literatture, poetry and literature being exhausted in just four characters. Once grew accustomed to come across the beginning of Hong Wu[5], as if undiscerning, ignorant pupil of the eye and the lame able to tread on. Mountains and rivers clear up, the former wall completed, how can looking at scenic place not bring ecstasy?”

    The poem completed, he tossed the brush to the floor and burst into tears.

    Gu Yanwu said, “Delightfully uninhibited. It is indeed an exquisitely good ballad.”

    “This poem is not subtle at all,” Lu Liuliang said, “It can’t be considered good, I was merely spelling out Mr. Erzhan’s original idea, so that people who look at the painting may know.”

    Huang Zongxi said, “When the former country will repeat its light, that the ‘mountains and rivers clear up, the former wall completed’ part. Even thought it was full of barren hills and treacherous rapids, those who look at it will have their bosom greatly free; it is indeed ‘how can looking at scenic place not bring ecstasy?’”

    Gu Yanwu said, “This poem is written very well! There will come a day when the barbarians will be driven out and taken captives, and our great Han’s mountains and rivers will be restored. Compared to believers like us pouring out grief and indignation, the people’s spirit will be even more strengthened.”

    Huang Zongxi slowly rolled the painting and said, “This painting can’t be hung anymore, Wancun Xiong must hide it well. Supposing crafty scoundrel like Wu Zhirong saw it, the authorities will investigate, while admittedly Wancun Xiong will be inconvenienced, Mr. Erzhan will be weighed down as well.”

    Gu Yanwu slapped the table and cursed, “That dog thief Wu Zhirong, I really wish I could eat his meat raw.”

    Lu Liuliang said, “Gentlemen are neglecting the urgent matter you mentioned earlier. We, the scholars, fall into an old habit, composing poem and inscribing painting, and put aside proper business. I wonder what is it?”

    Huang Zongxi said, “This time the two of us came, it was for the sake of Mr. Erzhan’s distant relative [of the same surname], Mr. Yihuang. The day before yesterday Xiaodi [little brother, referring to self] and Gu Xiong received news that in this big case of the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’, unexpectedly Mr. Yihuang is also implicated.”

    Lu Liuliang was alarmed. “Yihuang Xiong is implicated?” he asked.

    “That’s right,” Huang Zongxi said, “The day before yesterday the two of us rushed toward Yuanhua town in Haining [county, Jiaxing, Zhejiang], but Mr. Yihuang was not home at all, they said he was out to visit a friend. Seeing the urgency of the situation, Yanwu Xiong hastily urged Mr. Yihuang’s household to go into hiding that very same night. Remembering Mr. Yihuang and Wancun Xiong are good friends, we came with the specific purpose to inquire of you.”

    Lu Liuliang said, “He … he did not come here. I don’t know where he went.”


    [1] Lit. ‘old man’; 'I, your father' or simply 'I', used arrogantly or jocularly.

    [2] Posthumous name of the first Han Emperor Liu Bang (256 or 247 – 195BC, reigned 202-195BC).

    [3] ‘Alias’ – my dictionary gives this explanation: ‘courtesy or style name traditionally given to males age twenty in dynastic China’.

    [4] Gu Yanwu (1613-1682), late Ming/early Qing Confucian philosopher, linguist and historian, played a founding role in phonology of early Chinese, author of ‘Record of Daily Study’. Huang Zongxi (1610-1695), scholar and writer of the Ming-Qing transition.

    [5] Emperor Hong Wu, regnal name of first Ming emperor Zhu Yuanzhang (1328-1398), reigned 1386-1398). Temple name Ming Taizu.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 08:57 AM.

  4. #4
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    Default Chapter 1 - Part 3

    Gu Yanwu said, “If he was in your respected residence, he would have come out already to meet us. I already inscribed a poem on the wall of his study room, if he came back home, he would have understood and hastened to go into hiding. What I am afraid of is that the did not hear the news and appeared in public, then the authority would arrest him; it would be terrible.”

    Huang Zongxi said, “In this case of the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’, nearly all our western Zhejiang’s famous scholars have met with evil scheme. The Qing court’s intention is really vicious, Wancun Xiong’s fame is really too great, Tinglin Xiong and Xiaodi’s thought is that we want to urge Wancun Xiong to leave home and travel far for the time being, to take shelter from the wind.”

    Lu Liuliang indignantly said, “If the Tatar Emperor arrest me and take me to Beijing, I don’t care if he makes mincemeat out of me, in any case I will be able to curse him a bit to vent this resentment in my chest, and then I’ll die without a moment’s hesitation.”

    Gu Yanwu said, “Wancun Xiong’s heroism reaching to the clouds, you make other people filled with admiration. I am afraid you will not see the Tatar Emperor but will die under some lowly slaves’ hands. Furthermore, the Tatar Emperor is only a child, he doesn’t understand anything, the political power of the imperial court is entirely in the powerful minister Oboi’s hands. Xiongdi and Lizhou Xiong reckon that this time the case of the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ is exposed with great fanfare, it passes like thunder and moves like the wind, it is because Oboi wants to dampen our Jiangnan scholars’ spirit.”

    Lu Liuliang said, “Gentlemen’s view is correct. Ever since the Qing troops entered the Pass, they went on the rampage in Jiangbei [area north of the River] unhindered, as soon as they came to Jiangnan, they encountered resistance everywhere, particularly the intellectuals who know how to guard against Chinese-Barbarian relationship, constantly giving them trouble. Oboi is seizing this opportunity to suppress us, Jiangnan scholars. Humph, even a prairie fire cannot destroy the grass, it grows again when the breeze blows; unless he wipes out us all, Jiangnan intellectuals.”

    “That’s right,” Huang Zongxi said, “For this reason we want to retain useful people to deal with the Tatars to the end. If we flaunt our blood and vital breath and show bravery for a period of time, we will fall prey to Tatars’ scheme.”

    Lu Liuliang understood immediately, Huang and Gu two people braved the cold, one was to look for Zha Yihuang, two was to urge him to flee; they were afraid he might not be unable to hold back and thus would deliver his life in vain. Good friends made painstaking effort, he was deeply grateful. “Gentlemen’s gems of wisdom, how can Xiongdi dare not to follow?” he said, “Early in the morning tomorrow Xiongdi’s entire family will leave.”

    Huang and Gu, two people were greatly delighted. “That is only proper,” they both said.

    Lu Liuliang hesitantly said, “But I don’t know where should I go?” He felt that in the boundless horizon, everywhere was the Tatars’ world; there was really not a single clean soil. “Where is Taoyuan [the Garden of the Peaches of Immortality] that I can escape from cruel Qin? Where is Taoyuan that I can escape from cruel Qin?” he muttered irresolutely.

    Gu Yanwu said, “In the world today, if there really exists Taoyuan paradise, we still cannot liberate ourselves and go into hiding …”

    Without waiting for him to finish, Lu Liuliang slapped the table and stood up; he said in a loud voice, “Tinglin Xiong’s reprimand this time is so true, the rise and fall of the nation concerns everyone, we can temporarily flee from disaster, but if we hide in Peach Flower Garden, freely and leisurely, while the millions and millions common people suffer under the Tatars’ iron hoof, how can our hearts be at peace? Xiongdi has a slip of the tongue.”

    Gu Yanwu smiled and said, “In recent years Xiongdi has roamed far and wide, I indeed make not a few friends. On both sides of the Great River, as far as I can see and hear, not only the intellectuals are opposing the Tatars, even peddlers and carriers, butchers and marketplace people, everywhere people’s hearts are filled with hot blooded heroic spirit. If Wancun Xiong so desires, the three of us can go to Yangzhou together. How about Xiongdi introduce you to several kindred spirits?”

    Lu Liuliang was greatly delighted. “Wonderful, wonderful!” he exclaimed, “Tomorrow all of us are going to Yangzhou. Gentlemen please sit back and relax, Xiongdi is going to inform my humble wife, let her pack.” Finished speaking he hurried inside.

    Shortly afterwards Lu Liuliang returned to the study room and said, “About the case of the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’, although there are rumors everywhere on the outside, but one, rumors are not necessarily true, two, people are in a lot of apprehensions, they do not dare to speak everything openly. Xiongdi lives alone in a snail’s home, I do not know the details; what exactly was the cause?”

    Gu Yanwu sighed and said, “This book the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’, all of us have seen it. The content is not too respectful toward the Tatars, that much is true. This book originated from our Great Ming’s Prime Minister Zhu Guozhen’s hands. Speaking about establishing an administrative division outside the Pass; how can it be polite toward the Tatars?”

    Lu Liuliang nodded and said, “I heard the Zhuang family of Huzhou has spent several thousand taels of silver to buy the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ manuscript from Prime Minister Zhu’s later generations’ hands to be published; unexpectedly it brewed this kind of catastrophe.”

    Western Zhejiang’s Hangzhou, Jiaxing, and Huzhou, three prefectures were located on the bank of Lake Tai, the land was flat, the soil fertile, abound in rice and natural silk. Huzhou prefecture’s principal county magistrate is known as Wuxing County today, during the Qing dynasty, it was divided into Wu Cheng and Gui An, two counties. From the beginning its literary style was extremely flourishing, people of talents and scholars of successive generations came forth in large numbers. During the Liang period, Shen Yue [441-513, writer and historian] divide the Chinese characters into four tones, namely level or even tone, third tone, fourth tone and entering tone. During the Yuan era, painting and calligraphy reached its best quality in Zhao Mengfu’s work. These were all Huzhou natives. Writing brush produced locally was well-known; Huzhou’s writing brush, Huizhou’s ink, Xuancheng’s paper, and Zhaoqing Duanxi’s [lit. end/extremity creek of Zhaoqing] ink-stone were famous all over the world as the ‘Four Treasures of the Study’.

    There was a city in Huzhou prefecture called Nanxun. Although it was a small town, it was bigger than ordinary county capitals. There were a lot of rich families in town, among the famous rich families and big clans, there was one family by the surname of Zhuang. By this time the head of the Zhuang household was called Zhuang Yuncheng. He had several sons; the oldest was called Tinglong, who loved literature since his childhood, and had made quite a number of friends among famous and gifted scholars of Jiangnan. During the Shunzhi years [second Qing emperor, 1644-1662], due to excessive reading, Zhuang Tinglong suddenly went blind. Famous doctors were searched, but no one was able to cure him; since then he grew melancholy and was depressed.

    One day suddenly a young man surnamed Zhu from their neighborhood came with a manuscript, saying that it was his paternal grandfather, Prime Minister Zhu’s bequeathed draft that he wanted to mortgage to the Zhuang family, begging to borrow several hundred taels of silver. The Zhuang family was usually generous; they always showed consideration to Prime Minister Zhu’s later generations. Since he came to borrow money, they agreed immediately, without asking any surviving manuscript as collateral. But the young man surnamed Zhu said that after receiving the money, he was going on a journey to a distant land; if he carried his ancestor’s manuscript with him, he was afraid it would get lost, while he did not feel at ease to leave it at home, therefore, he wanted to keep it in the Zhuang family. Zhuang Yuncheng agreed.

    After the young man surnamed Zhu left, to relieve his son’s boredom, Zhuang Yuncheng had the guests who settled in his house[1] to read it aloud to him. For the most part, Zhu Guozhen’s manuscript of the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ had been published and was widely available. This time the manuscript that his grandson brought to the Zhuang family to be mortgaged was actually the last of many articles of historical biography.

    After listening to the guest [see footnote] reading for several days, Zhuang Tinglong was very interested. Suddenly he remembered, “In the past Zuo Qiuming [556-451 BC], who was also a blind man, was able to write ‘Mr. Zuo’s Annals’ and hence enjoy the benefit of great name for a thousand years. Today I am blind and bored of staying idle at home, why not composing a history book to be circulated to the later generations?”

    For rich families, everything was easy. Since he had the desire to do this, immediately he hired quite a few scholars to have the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ manuscript read to him from top to bottom. He considered which section needed to be expanded, and which section needed to be deleted; he recounted his thought orally and had the guests write it down. However, thinking that being blind he was incapable to extensively examine the written record, when this ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ was finished and published, if there were a lot of errors in it, not only he would not enjoy the fame, he might be ridiculed instead. Thereupon he spent large quantities of money to employ many scholars who knew this subject very well, to amend and revise, to research this subject and bring the book to perfection. Some of the great scholars were people who could not be invited with wealth, Zhuang Tinglong passed this matter through many hands and humbly invited them. The banks of Lake Tai were always teeming with literary scholars, those who received the Zhuang family’s invitation, on one hand they took pity of the blind and was touched by his sincerity, on the other hand they believed that compiling the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ was a beautiful thing. Most of them stayed in the Zhuang family’s home for ten days or half a month to work on the manuscript; some correcting the errors, some adding notes or even one or two sections. For this reason the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ was definitely a collective power of not a few writing brushes of many great hands. Not long after the book was completed, Zhuang Tinglong passed away.

    Grief-stricken by his beloved son’s death, Zhuang Yuncheng immediately published the book. Publishing books during the Qing dynasty was really not easy, one must recruit artisans to engrave wood blocks one by one before printing the book. This book ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ was voluminous, the cost to hire the engravers and the printers was considerable. Fortunately the Zhuang family had plenty of money, they set aside several large houses as factories and invited many artisans. Several years later the books and publications were completed.

    The book was titled ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’, with Zhuang Tinglong listed as the compiler, famous scholar Li Lingxi was asked to write the preface. All scholars who have helped with this project were also listed: Mao Yuanxi, Wu Zhiming, Wu Zhirong [different characters from Wu Zhirong mentioned by Huang Zongxi and Gu Yanwu above], Li Qitao, Mao Cilai, Wu Chu, Tang Yuanlou, Yan Yunqi, Jiang Linzhi, Wei Jinyou, Wei Yiyuan, Zhang Juan, Dong Eryou, Wu Yan, Pan Chengzhang, Lu Qi, Zha Jizuo, Fan Xiang; eighteen people altogether. The book also mentioned that the content was based on Zhu clan’s manuscript, which was expanded and deleted. However, Zhu Guozhen was a prime minister of the Ming Dynasty, his fame was too great, it was unsuitable to mention his full name; therefore, it was mentioned vaguely as ‘Zhu Clan’s manuscript’.

    Having undergone so many scholars composing, verifying and revising, the ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’ had a very exquisite style, its coverage was comprehensive and clear, the script was magnificent, the layout was in good taste; its publication has garnered praise from literary community. The Zhuang family’s aspiration was to become famous, the books were sold at a very inexpensive price.

    When the manuscript touched upon Manchuria, there were originally not a few of criticism and exposures of past misdeeds, which the editors had already deleted one by one, but sentences showing approval to the Ming Dynasty were inevitable. At that time the Ming had not fallen for too long, the intellectuals still cherished the memory of their former country; as soon as the book went into publication, it immediately reached best-seller status, Zhuang Tinglong’s name was buzzing north and south of the Great River. Despite the pain of the death of his son, seeing his son became famous after his death, Zhuang Yuncheng’s old heart was greatly comforted.

    Troubled times are when lowly people accomplish their ambition, while people of noble character meet calamity. The county head magistrate of Huzhou’s Gui An County was one surnamed Wu, given name Zhirong, who committed corruption and abuse of the law during his tenure. Common people gnashed their teeth in anger toward him, eventually someone lodged an accusation and the imperial court had him deposed.

    Although when he was the county head magistrate of Gui An, Wu Zhirong raked in more than ten thousand taels, during the court proceeding and investigation of his disposal, he bribed to the east and sent a gift to the west, spending money everywhere to avoid being searched and his possession confiscated, these ten thousand taels booty were obliterated completely, even the people in his household left him, their whereabouts unknown.

    With his official post and his wealth gone, he had no choice but to go from house to house to seek gratuitous financial help, saying that he was a just and honest official who had fallen hard and lost his post, that he did not even have enough travel expenses and was incapable of embarking on the journey home. Some rich people simply wanted to avoid trouble and gave him ten taels or eight taels. When he got to the rich Zhu family, the master of the home, Zhu Youming was an upright person of noble character who shunned evil. Not only he did not give him anything, he ruthlessly derided Wu Zhirong, saying that Sire took an official post in Huzhou, you have caused common people a great deal of hardship; even if I, the Ol’ Zhu, have some money, I would rather donate it to the poor people who suffer under Sire’s administration.

    Although Wu Zhirong was enraged, he was incapable of lashing it out. Since he was already deposed, he had no power and no influence; how could he take a case against a rich and powerful family? Thereupon he paid a visit to Zhuang Yuncheng. Zhuang Yuncheng usually made friends with impoverished scholars, but he looked down upon corrupt official like this. Seeing his arrival and request, he laughed coldly and gave him a tael of silver, saying, “Based on Sire’s conduct, I should not have given you this tael, but common people of Huzhou are hoping Sire would leave, the sooner the better. If this tael can hasten your departure just a moment sooner, then it will be good.”

    In his heart Wu Zhirong was extremely angry. Taking a glance he saw a copy of the ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’ lying on a table in the main hall; he thought, “This man surnamed Zhuang loves to hear flattery, as long as people praise this Ming History as such and such good, he will present shining white silver with both hands, no more knitting of his brows.” Thereupon he laughed and said, “Something that old gentleman Zhuang generously bestows, refusing it would be impolite. Today Xiongdi will leave Huzhou, what I regret the most is that I am not able to bring ‘Huzhou treasures’ with me, so that ignorant and inexperienced people of my humble hometown may greatly broaden their horizons.”

    Zhuang Yuncheng asked, “What are ‘Huzhou treasures’?”

    Wu Zhirong laughed and said, “Old gentleman Zhuang is too modest. Among the literary community, everybody says that your esteemed son, Tinglong Gongzi [young master] has personally composed that book the ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’. In terms of historical talent, historical knowledge, historical composition, not a single one is not a rarity since the dawn of time. Zuo Ma Ban Zhuang, those are ancient and modern times’ four great historical experts. This ‘Huzhou treasure’ is naturally the book ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ your esteemed son personally composed.”

    Hearing Wu Zhirong mentioned ‘your esteemed son personally composed’ in the front, another ‘your esteemed son personally composed’ at the end, Zhuang Yuncheng was bursting with joy. He was fully aware that this book was not really composed by his son, inevitably there was regret in the deepest part of his heart. By saying those words, Wu Zhirong had thrown himself in a favorable light. Zhuang Yuncheng thought, “People are saying that this man is greedy of bribes, is a dirty lowly person, but he is, after all, a scholar; contrary to what one might expect, he has some perspective. Turns out people on the outside call Long’er’s [‘dear Long’, referring to Zhuang Tinglong, term of endearment] book a ‘Huzhou treasure’. This is the first time I have ever heard it.” He could not refrain smile from appearing across his face. He said, “Old gentlemen Rong mentioned something about Zuo Ma Ban Zhuang, four great historical experts of ancient and modern times; Xiongdi does not understand, would you please give your advice?”

    Seeing his expression softened considerably, Wu Zhirong knew his flattery had hit the target; he was secretly delighted. “Old gentleman Zhuang is rather too modest. Zuo Qiuming wrote ‘Mr. Zuo’s Annals’, Sima Qian [145-86 BC] wrote ‘Record of the Grand Historian’, Ban Gu [32-92] wrote ‘History of the Former Han Dynasty’. These are all widely-known masterpiece, which garnered thousand praises. After Ban Gu, there was no more great historian. Ouyang Xiu [1007-1072] wrote ‘History of the Five Dynasties’, Sima Guang [1019-1086] wrote ‘A mirror for the wise ruler’ [or ‘Comprehensive Mirror for aid in Government’]; although the writing was fine, in the end the ability and insight is rather lacking. Until our Great Qing’s flourishing period, your esteemed son personally composed this brilliant masterpiece ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’, which people say can run neck to neck with Zuo Qiuming, Sima Qian and Ban Gu, three qianbei [older generation], as the ‘four great historical experts’. The term ‘Zuo Ma Ban Zhuang’ came from this fact.”

    With smiling expression across his face, Zhuang Yuncheng repeatedly cupped his fist and said, “Erroneous praise, erroneous praise! However, this term ‘Huzhou treasure’ is, after all, not worthy to be mentioned.”

    With serious expression Wu Zhirong said, “What do you mean not worthy to be mentioned? People outside are saying, ‘Huzhou treasures are history, silk and writing brush’; isn’t Zhuang’s history ranked to be the first?”

    [1] I seem to remember reading about rich families in ancient China who had guests staying in their homes for an extended period of times. Interestingly, Bing Translator gives this definition: protégés of the powerful who stay with their benefactors like parasites.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 08:58 AM.

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    Default Chapter 1 - Part 4

    Natural silk and writing brush were two famous products of Huzhou, although Wu Zhirong’s character was contemptible, he was still somewhat talented, and was able to speak like a printed book; he lumped ‘Zhuang History’ together with Huzhou’s silk and Huzhou’s writing brush, hearing it, Zhuang Yuncheng was even more delighted.

    Wu Zhirong continued, “Xiongdi came to your precious place to take an official post, both sleeves flowing in the breeze [i.e. having clean hands/uncorrupted], gaining nothing. Today I am wearing my old face to ask Old gentleman Zhuang a copy of the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’, to be passed on as my family treasure. Someday my Wu family’s offsprings will read it day and night, certainly their imaginative power will greatly increased, they will bring honor to their ancestors. I am hoping for Old gentleman Zhuang’s generosity in bestowing one.”

    Zhuang Yuncheng laughed and said, “Naturally I can give one as a present.”

    Wu Zhirong talked several more sentences, but did not see Zhuang Yuncheng was about to take any action. Thereupon he launched another speech, giving great compliments to the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’. Actually, he had not even read one page of the book; therefore, how amazing this history book was, how beyond understanding the writing of this history book was, everything was not to the point, he merely talked drivel.

    Zhuang Yuncheng said, “Old gentleman Rong, please sit back and relax.” And then he went into the inner hall.

    After a good while, a manservant came out, holding a bundle with both hands, and put it down on the table. Seeing Zhuang Yuncheng did not come out, Wu Zhirong hurriedly weighed the bundle in his hand. Although the bundle was big, it was as light as a feather, apparently it contained no silver; in his heart he was quite disappointed.

    Shortly afterwards, Zhuang Yuncheng returned to the main hall, he presented the bundle with both hands and said with a laugh, “Old gentleman Rong thinks much of our local products; hence I sincerely present this to you.”

    Wu Zhirong thanked him and took his leave. Before he was even back at the inn, he reached into the bundle and groped around. What he found was one book, a bundle of natural silk, and several dozen of writing brushes. He wasted a lot of words, the idea was that other than the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ book, Zhuang Yuncheng would also give several hundred taels of silver, but the gifts were unexpectedly the crazy nonsense he invented, the so-called ‘Huzhou Three Treasures’. He cursed in his heart, “Damn it, these moneybags of Nanxun are all this stingy! But I did say the wrong thing; if I said the ‘Huzhou Three Treasures’ are gold, silver and the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’, wouldn’t I have reaped great harvest?”

    Still fuming, he returned to the inn and tossed the bundle to the table, and then he put his head down and slept. When he woke up, it was already dark, the inn’s dinnertime had passed. He did not want to order special dinner; with anxiety and hunger burning, he was tortured on both sides, and could not return to sleep. Thereupon he untied the bundle, opened up the ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’, and started to read.

    After reading several pages, he saw a glimmer of gold, a sheet of golden leaf suddenly appeared. Wu Zhirong’s heart was thumping wildly, he rubbed his eyes; but what was it if not a golden leaf? Trembling with excitement he shook the book and ten golden leaves came out, each sheet was at least five qian [1/10 of a tael], ten sheets of golden leaves equal to five tael of gold. At that time gold was precious, five taels of gold worth four hundred taels of silver. Wu Zhirong was unable to contain his joy; he thought, “This surnames Zhuang is indeed very sly, he is afraid that after getting this book I would casually toss it aside and would not even flip a single page, thereupon he hid golden leaves among the pages, so that those who read his son’s book would have the good fortune of finding the golden leaves. Right, I am going to read several sections, tomorrow I will drop in again, both to express my thanks for the gold, and to recite several paragraphs from the book, heap some more praise on it. If he is happy, maybe he would give me several more taels of gold.”

    Thereupon he trimmed the oil lamp and flipped the pages to read. When he reached Emperor Wanli’s [1573-1619] fortieth year, the Later Jin dynasty’s Taizu [Great Ancestor, founder of a dynasty] Nurhachi succeeded the throne, the title of current dynasty was changed to Jin, establishing the primary ‘Mandate of Heaven’, suddenly his heart shivered, “Our Taizu establishing the primary in the year bingchen [53rd year of the 60-year cycle, i.e. 1616]. From that year on, we should not use Ming Dynasty’s Wanli era name anymore; it should be the Great Jin Mandate of Heaven’s primary year [first year of emperor’s reign].”

    Thumbing through the book, he saw the dingmao [4th year of 60-year cycle, i.e. 1627] year of Later Jin’s Taizu on the throne, the book still said ‘Ming’s Tianqi[1] Emperor’s seventh year’, and not ‘Great Jin’s Tiancong’s first year’. In the bingzi [13th year of 60-year cycle, i.e. 1636] year, Later Jin changed the title of the dynasty to Qing, and changed the Emperor’s reign title to Chongde. The book still said ‘Chongzhen’s ninth year’, and not ‘Great Qing’s Chongde’s first year’. In the jiashen [21st year of 60-year cycle, i.e. 1644] year, the book said ‘Chongzhen seventeenth year’, and not ‘Great Qing’s Shunzhi’s first year’. Also, he could see that after the Qing troops entered the Pass, the book mention the yiyou [22nd year of 60-year cycle, i.e. 1645] year as ‘Longwu’s first year’, the year dinghai [24th year of 60-year cycle, i.e. 1647] was called ‘Yongli’s first year’. Longwu and Yongli were Ming Dynasty’s King Tang and King Gui’s era names, the authors of the book plainly called them ‘Ming Dynasty’ still, they did not consider the Qing Dynasty at all.

    Reading to this point, he could not help slapping the table and shouted, “Rebellion, rebellion, this is an outrage!” This slap had caused the table to shake, the oil lamp fell down, the oil splashed his hand, as well as the lapel of his robe. In the dark, suddenly a bright idea occurred; he could not help feeling crazy with joy, “Isn’t this Laotianye giving me easy money? I can be promoted and gain wealth, all because of this.”

    Thinking about this, he could not help shouting in joy. Suddenly he heard the inn worker banged the door, “Mister guest, mister guest, what happened?”

    Wu Zhirong laughed and said, “Nothing!” Lighting the oil lamp, he flipped through the book again. He read all night until the rooster crowed in the morning, before he finally took off his clothes and went to bed. He found about seventy or eighty taboo words in the book, so that even in his dream he could not help giggling and laughing.

    When dynasties changed, the current political ruler paid most attention to correct the era name. The biggest taboo was in speech and in writings, since the implication was that the people were still thinking about the previous dynasty. The narrative in the ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’ was about the Ming Dynasty, there was actually nothing out of ordinary of the usage of era name and calendar of the Ming Dynasty. However, during the time when it was a taboo, it could bring enormous disaster. Most of the scholars who participated in writing the history book only helped with several sections, they could not be expected to go through the entire book, while those who compiled the last few sections were the ones who hated the Qing Dynasty to the bones, naturally they would not be willing to use the Great Qing’s era names in the book. Zhuang Tinglong was a young master of a rich family, plus he was blind, unavoidably he was rather careless, so that in the end a lowly person was able to seize the opportunity to exploit the loopholes.

    By noon the next day, Wu Zhirong took a boat to Hangzhou on the east. In the inn he wrote a report, which he delivered, along with the History of the Ming Dynasty, to General Songkui’s mansion. He expected that when Songkui received the report, he would be summoned for an interview. At that time the Manchurian Qing used to give generous reward to people who report treasons. By rendering this great merit, Wu Zhirong was expecting his former official post to be reinstated, perhaps he could even enjoy three grades promotion as well. Who would have thought that after waiting left and right at the inn, all the way to more than half a year, every day he went to the general’s mansion to make discreet inquiries, it was as if he had thrown a stone and saw it sank without a trace in the ocean? Later on even the doorkeeper reprimanded him severely and did not allow him to drop in and create a disturbance at the door anymore.

    Wu Zhirong was extremely anxious; he was about to exhaust the money he obtained by exchanging the golden leaves Zhuang Yuncheng gave him, yet the accusation did not give him the least bit of result. He was distressed, but was also astonished. One day he wandered around the city of Hangzhou and happened to stroll by the door of Wen Tong Tang [lit. literary expert hall] bookstore. He walked in to browse and kill the long day. Seeing three copies of ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’ on the shelf, he thought, “Could it be that the faults I found in the book are not enough to indict Zhuang Yuncheng? I’d better find some more treason and heresy writings and tomorrow write another report and deliver it to the general’s mansion.”

    The inspector-general of Zhejiang at that time was a Han, but the general was a Manchu. He was afraid the inspector-general would not be willing to prosecute this literary case, hence he made up his mind to lodge the accusation to the Manchurian general.

    He opened the book and only read several pages, and could not help but jumped in fright; he felt as if his entire body had just entered an icehouse. Momentarily he felt like stupid monk, unable to make any sense of the matter. He saw all the offending texts had disappeared completely from the book, from the Great Qing Taizu onward, the book used the Great Jin, Great Qing’s era name and calendar. As for exposing Jianzhou Guardian Commander-in-chief’s faults (a relative to the Manchurian Qing Emperor’s ancestor), as well as any reference to Longwu, Yongli, and others’ era name, not even a single character was left. But the text was strung together, the pages were clean, there was not a single trace of any alteration. How did they conjure this magic trick? It was indeed very strange.

    Holding the book in his hands inside the bookstore, he stared blankly as if he was entranced for half a day. And then he suddenly cried out, “That’s it!” He saw the cover and the pages of this book were spotlessly white and looked brand new; when he asked the shopkeeper, as expected, the books were new delivery, sent from Huzhou book distributor, arrived not even seven or eight days ago. He said in his heart, “This Zhuang Yuncheng is really formidable! Indeed money can reach anything. He pulled the books back, redid the engraving, and printed another set of new books, removing all the taboo in the original edition. Humph, do you think I will drop it just like that?”

    Wu Zhirong’s guess was indeed not wrong. What happened was that Hangzhou general Songkui did not know Chinese characters, when the administrative secretary saw Wu Zhirong’s report, he was so scared that cold sweats broke on his entire body; he knew that the implication of this matter was very grave, without realizing it, his hands holding the report did not stop trembling.

    This secretary was surnamed Cheng, given name Weifan, a native of Shaoxing [prefecture], Zhejiang. During Ming and Qing dynasties, eight or nine out of ten aids and advisors to top feudal officials were Shaoxing natives, therefore, often times two characters ‘Shaoxing’ were added in front of the word ‘secretary’, became ‘Shaoxing secretary’ [i.e. experts in legal briefs]. These secretaries first learned the trade secret from their hometown former generations, afterwards, they would be very experienced and careful in handling criminal law, money and grain. All documents in the feudal office were handled by these secretaries. Since they all were from the same town, documents prepared by low ranking administrative assistants to be presented to their superior in yamen[2] seldom met with nitpicking criticism. As a result, when new officials, big and small, took office, the most urgent business was to employ the service of a Shaoxing secretary. During Ming and Qing dynasties, the number of Shaoxing natives who became high-ranking officials was really not many, yet they held control over numerous government affairs in China for several hundred years; they could be considered a marvel in Chinese political history.

    This Cheng Weifan was honest and considerate, he believed in ‘religious practice in public life’. That is to say that the feudal officials grasped the life-and-death power over common people, the several characters drafted by the secretaries were serious, it could cause common people’s family bankrupt and the people dead, it could justify or condemn, it could help people to escape alive from mortal danger. Consequently, helping people in public office was more effective than performing religious practice in the temple. He saw that if this case of ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ led to investigation, countless people in southern Jiangsu and western Zhejiang would lose their lives and had their families destroyed. Thereupon he asked for several days off from the general, and left that very same night by boat to Nanxun town in Huzhou, and informed Zhuang Yuncheng about this matter.

    Suddenly faced with imminent catastrophe, Zhuang Yuncheng’s soul flew to the outer sky, he was so scared that his whole body went weak, his saliva trickled down his chin, he was completely at a loss. After a long while he finally stood up, bent his knees and kowtowed to Cheng Weifan to express his gratitude, afterwards he asked for advice.

    During his journey from Hanzhou to Nanxun, Cheng Weifan had already gone through this matter over and over, and he thought of a good plan. Since the book ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’ had been in circulation for quite a while, they could not conceal it; they had to take drastic measures to deal with this situation: while sending people to book shops everywhere to purchase these books back and destroyed them completely, they had to hasten day and night to engrave new printing blocks, delete all the taboo phrases and print new books, and sell them outside. If the authorities investigated this matter, they would look into the new edition, and would discover that Wu Zhirong’s accusation was unsubstantiated; hence they would put an end to this unexpected calamity.

    Immediately they put this plan into action. Zhuang Yuncheng was frightened but happy at the same time, he repeatedly kowtowed to say thanks. Cheng Weifan also taught him quite a bit of urgent matters, how to give a present to government official so-and-so, how to clear away obstruction and communicated with such-and-such yamen, et cetera. Zhuang Yuncheng diligently did everything.

    Cheng Weifan returned to Hangzhou. He waited more than half a month before transferring the original book, along with Wu Zhirong’s report, to the inspector-general of Zhejiang, Zhu Changzuo. He downplayed the report, saying that the submitter was a deposed county head magistrate due to corruption, who appeared to hold a grudge and hence blowing his whistle to vent his resentment, asking Futai [inspector-general] Daren[3] to investigate in details.

    While Wu Zhirong painstakingly waited for news in an inn in Hangzhou, Zhuang Yuncheng’s money flowed out like water. By this time Zhuang Yuncheng’s heavy bribery had already reached the general’s yamen, inspector-general’s yamen, and literary office yamen. Upon receiving this case, Zhu Changzuo thought that this kind of publication matter belonged to the literary office; after another ten-day delay, he transferred the documents to Hu Shangheng of the literary office. Literary office yamen’s secretary put it on the shelf for more than half a month, and then he took another month sick leave, before finally slowly he drafted the official document and sent it to Huzhou prefecture.

    In the Huzhou prefecture office, the case sat for more twenty days before it was passed on to Gui An and Wu Cheng counties’ literature offices, asking these offices to respond. The two literary offices had already received Zhuang Yuncheng’s bribe, by this time the new edition of ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ had been printed. The two officers handed over the new edition to their superior with this report: ‘The book is mediocre and is of low quality, it will not help the ways of the world or the heart of human being in any way. We have gone through the entire book and did not find any taboo or offending words.’ And thus by stretching and delaying the matter was settled by leaving it unsettled.

    It was not until he found the new edition of ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ in the book store that Wu Zhirong found out the inside story. He thought if only he could find the original edition of the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ he would be able to re-expose this case. In all the book stores in Hangzhou the original edition had been bought back by the Zhuang family, thereupon he went to remote counties in eastern Zhejiang trying to find it; who would have thought that even there he failed to find a single copy? Destitute and troubled, he had no choice but to return home dejectedly.

    As chance has it, along his journey home, he stopped by an inn, where he saw the innkeeper was swaying his head while reading a book. When he looked at the cover, it was indeed a copy of ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’. He asked to borrow the book, and found out that it was unexpectedly the original edition. He was overjoyed at unexpected good news, and thought that if he wanted to buy it from the innkeeper, on one hand he might not be willing to sell, on the other hand Wu Zhirong did not have any money, he could not afford it anyway. Without any better option, he had to steal.

    In the middle of the night he quietly got out of bed, stole the book, and slipped out of the inn. Thinking that in the whole province of Zhejiang all government officials had received Zhuang Yuncheng’s bribe, he had to either give up, or go through to the end; hence he might as well go to Beijing to report this case.

    Upon his arrival in Beijing, Wu Zhirong wrote the report and sent it to the Ministry of Rites, the Capital Investigative Bureau, and the General Secretary Office, three yamen. He explained how the Zhuang family bribed local officials and published the new edition by altering the printing. Unexpectedly, in just less than a month one after another all three yamen refuted his claim. They all stated that Zhuang Tinglong’s ‘Compilation of Ming Documents’ has been investigated carefully and the content did not have any taboo in it, the deposed county head magistrate Wu Zhirong’s report was not based on truth, obviously he held a grudge and has accused someone falsely. As for the government officials received bribes and so on, it was chasing the wind and clutching at shadows, groundless accusations that should be dismissed.


    [1] Tianqi Emperor, fifteenth Ming emperor Zhu Youxiao (1605-1627, reigned 1620-1627).

    [2] The term yamen is practically used to describe any local government office in feudal China.

    [3] ‘Daren’ (lit. big person), a term used by common people (or an officer of lower rank) to address government official (or his/her superior).
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 08:59 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Chapter 1 - Part 5

    The General Secretary Office’s rebuttal was even more severe; it said, “The deposed county head magistrate Wu Zhirong is corrupt and hence was expelled from office, thereupon he considers all honest and upright officials in the world as corrupt as he is.” Turned out Zhuang Yuncheng had received Cheng Weifan’s instruction and had early on sent the new edition of ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ to the Ministry of Rites, the Capital Investigative Bureau, and the General Secretary Office, three yamen; he had also sent generous gifts to the officers and secretaries in charge of this matter.

    Once again Wu Zhirong had bumped into a wall; he had no travel expensed to return home, and was wandering destitute in a place far from home. At that time the Qing court treatment of Han intellectuals was extremely strict, if they found the slightest bit of taboo in their writings, they would be immediately put to death. If Wu Zhirong’s accusation was against an ordinary scholar, he would have succeeded early on; it’s just happened that his opponent was a very rich and powerful family that he was thwarted again and again. Since he had no way to retreat, even if he risked imprisonment, he simply must continue this case to the end. Thereupon he wrote four reports to be sent separately to the four Advisroy Board Ministers; while in the inn he simultaneously writing several hundred accusation letters exposing this matter and posted the letters everywhere in the city of Beijing. This was a very risky move, since if the authorities decided to investigate, he might be charged with spreading frightening words to scare people, trying to disturb the people’s mind, inevitably a serious crime punishable by execution.

    At that time the four Advisory Board Ministers were Suoni, Suksaha, Ebilong and Oboi, all were Manchuria’s outstanding founding ministers. When Emperor Shunzhi passed away, the posthumous edict was to appoint these four high-ranking ministers to assist in running the government. Among these four, Oboi was the most vicious and harsh, his henchmen among the imperial court were extremely numerous, his power in the imperial court was great, it was almost as if the power was in his hand alone. He was always afraid the party of his opponents was against him, hence he sent out countless informants inside and outside the Capital to make discreet inquiries and listen to the sound of people’s acitivities. One day he received a secret report about the appearance of many posters in the city of Beijing, exposing Zhejiang’s civilian surnamed Zhuang writing a book scheming rebellion, treason and heresy, Zhejiang’s officials received bribe and ignored the situation, and so on.

    As soon as Oboi was notified, he investigated immediately; his people passed like thunder and moved like the wind. Right this moment Wu Zhirong’s report arrived at Oboi’s mansion. He summoned Wu Zhirong at once, asked him about this matter in details, and he also had his secretary, a Han, to inspect in details the original edition of the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’ presented by Wu Zhirong; the result was that the report was true.

    Oboi achieved his dukedom and became a high-ranking official from his meritorious service in military, he always looked down on Han officials and intellectuals. After he grasped power, he wanted to run a few big cases to suppress and intimidate the hearts of the people, not only to make the Han people not dare to have any thought of rebellion, but also to make his political opponents in the imperial court not dare to act against him. Immediately he dispatched an imperial commissioner to Zhejiang to follow up. Naturally the entire Zhuang family was arrested and brought to the Capital, but even General Songkui of Hangzhou, Inspector-general Zhu Changzuo of Zhejiang, along with the government officials under them, big and small, were all deposed and investigated. All the scholars listed on the ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’, not a single one escaped shackles and imprisonment.

    At Lu Liuliang’s house, Gu Yanwu, Huang Zongxi, two people narrated this case’s sequence of events [orig. ‘mountain has a connecting pulse throughout like a dragon’, an idiom from fengshui] in details. Lu Liuliang listened while sighing incessantly.

    That evening the three of them lay on the couch and continued their long talk about the affairs of life. When they talked about how during the late Ming period Wei Zhongxian[1] and the others eunuchs framed loyal and good subjects, how they gained control of the imperial court and committed all kinds of things against the tide, until finally the House of Ming perished, how after the Qing entered the Pass Han people suffered massacre and unbearable and deep misfortune; none did not wring their hands and gnash their teeth in anger.

    Early in the morning the next day, Lu Liuliang’s entire family, along with Gu and Huang, two people, took a boat heading east. In Jiangnan, middle-class families or higher owned their own boat. Jiangnan countryside was criss-crossed with water, river ways opened in all directions, dense like spider web. Average people travelled afar by boats; it was called ‘northern people ride horses, southern people ride boats’, and it has always been so since ancient times.

    Upon reaching Hangzhou, the canal branched to the north. One evening they stopped outside the city of Hangzhou to hear the news. The Qing court had already executed not a few government officials and common people because of this case; Zhuang Tinglong had already died, they opened his coffin and mutilated his remains; Zhuang Yuncheng could not endure the mistreatment in prison and died; several dozen of Zhuang family members, fifteen years old and up, were beheaded, their wives and children were sent away to Shenyang [Liaoning, northeast China] to serve a penal sentence, becoming Manchurian soldiers’ slaves.

    The former assistant minister of the Ministry of Rites Li Lingxi who wrote the preface of the book was executed by death of a thousand cuts, his four sons were beheaded. Li Lingxi’s youngest son had just turned sixteen, when the prosecutor saw that the number of people to be killed was a lot, his heart softened; he ordered him to reduce his age by a year, because according to Qing law, fifteen years and under were exempt from execution or banishment. The youngster said, “My Die-die and Gege are all dead, I don’t want to live alone.” In the end he refused to change his confession and was beheaded as well.

    Songkui and Zhu Changzuo were sent to prison awaiting trial. The secretary Cheng Weifan was executed by lingering death. The two literary officers of Gui An and Wu Cheng were beheaded. The number of people implicated in this case, including those who were accused wrongly and died, really cannot be counted. Huzhou’s prefectural magistrate Tan Ximin had just taken office for half a month, the imperial court said that he knew the facts but did not report it, he accepted bribe to cover it up; along with the prefectural judge Li Huan, and director of discipline Wang Zhaozhen, he was executed by hanging.

    Wu Zhirong harbored a deep hatred toward Nanxun rich man Zhu Youming. That day he came to seek gratuitous financial help, he was severely reprimanded and chased out of the door. Now he reported to the prosecutor of this case that the book clearly indicated that ‘the content was based on Zhu clan’s manuscript, which was expanded and deleted’. He said that this ‘Zhu clan’ was indeed Zhu Youming; he also said that the name ‘Zhu Youming’ [Zhu was the family name of Ming emperors, ‘you’ means assist/protect, ‘ming’ bright, the same character as in ‘Ming Dynasty’] clearly showed that his heart was still in the former Ming dynasty, that he was cursing the current dynasty. And thus Zhu Youming and his five sons were beheaded together, Zhu family’s estate, worth more than a hundred thousand taels, was rewarded to Wu Zhirong by the Qing court.

    The most tragic thing was: all the engravers who carved the printing blocks, the printers, the book binders, as well as the book distributors, the owners of the bookstores, the shop assistants who received the books, the readers who purchased the books, were all investigated and beheaded.

    According to historical records, at that time there was a tax officer working on a tollbooth (a custom officer) at the bank of a river in Suzhou, by the name of Li Shangbai. He loved to read, and heard that the Chang Men [gate of heaven] Bookstore in Suzhou had the newly published ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’, which the reviewers said was very good, hence he sent one of his workers to go and buy. When the worker arrived, the bookstore owner was out, hence the worker went next door, to a house of an elderly man surnamed Zhu to sit and wait. When the bookstore owner returned, he purchased the book and went back home. Li Shangbai read several chapters and did not think more of it. Several months later, this case broke out, the investigation included people everywhere who bought the books. By this time Li Shangbai was in Beijing on official work, he was charged with purchasing treasonable book and was immediately executed in Beijing. The bookstore owner and his purchasing assistant were also beheaded. Even the next door old man surnamed Zhu was implicated, they said that he knew someone was buying a seditious book, yet why he did not report it but let him sit around his house instead? He should have been beheaded, but since he was over seventy years old, he was excused from execution, but he, along with his wife and children, were banished to an army post in a remote place.

    As for the famous scholars of Jiangnan, because Zhuang Tinglong admired their names and listed them as the editors of the book, they were put to death by a thousand cuts on the same day, including Mao Yuanxi and the others, fourteen men. The so-called ‘executed by death of a thousand cuts’ means blade by blade, the person’s entire body, his limbs and flesh, was slowly cut off, until the convict suffered enough pain, and then he was put to death. The number of people whose family went bankrupt and died because of this book was really difficult to count.

    When Lu Liuliang and the others received the news, their hatred was unbearable; they gnashed their teeth in anger and cursed incessantly. Huang Zongxi said, “Mr. Yihuang was listed as the editor, I am afraid it will be difficult for him to escape this time.” The three of them and Zha Yihuang had always been good friends, they were extremely concerned.

    One day the boat reached Jiaxing. Gu Yanwu bought an imperial bulletin in the city, which contained a detailed list of the names and surnames of people who were guilty in the case of ‘History of the Ming Dynasty’. They saw a sentence in the imperial edict that said, ‘Although Zha Jizuo, Fan Xiang, Lu Qi, three people are listed as the editors, but they have never seen the book, hence they are exempt from punishment and will not be investigated anymore.’ Gu Yanwu brought the bulletin back to the boat to be reviewed together with Huang Zongxi and Lu Liuliang; they clicked their tongue in amazement.

    Huang Zongxi said, “This must be Da Li Jiangjun’s [lit. general with great power] doing.”

    “Who is Da Li Jiangjun?” Lu Liuliang asked, “Please advise.”

    Huang Zongxi said, “Two years ago, Xiongdi went to visit Mr. Yihuang’s home. I saw that his mansion house looked completely new, the flower garden was spacious, the furnishing was luxurious and beautiful; it was completely different from before. The mansion even had a group of Kunqu[2] theatrical troupe performing folk musical theater, which is hard to see in Jiangnan. Xiongdi and Mr. Yihuang have always been good friends, we can be considered sharing liver and gallbladder, thereupon I asked him what happened. Mr. Yihuang told me a story, a really happy encounter in the windblown dust [i.e. vicissitudes of life].” Hence he narrated the story.

    One day, Zha Jizuo, alias Yihuang (In the book ‘Goblet Remains’ there is an article ‘Unexpected Meeting in the Snow’, which talks about this marvelous story. The opening paragraph says, “Zha Xiaolian[3] of Haining [county], Zhejiang, alias Yihuang, was a man with splendid literary talent, as well as elegant and graceful demeanor, often speaks in long drawn out manner, unbearably melancholy, an unusually distinguished person throughout the land, not at all looking like he is coming out of the dust, or that he is obtainable.’) was at home at the end of the year, drinking wine alone. Not long afterwards the snow started to fall; the more it fell, the harder it became. Zha Yihuang was bored drinking alone, so he went out the door to enjoy the snowy scenery, and saw a beggar standing underneath the eaves to shelter from the snow. The beggar was big and tall, his bone structure looked unusually powerful, he was wearing tattered clothes, yet did not seem to mind the cold wind at all, only his face seemed to bear some anger, grief and indignation.

    Zha Yihuang felt strange in his heart, thereupon he said, “The snow will not stop for a while, how about coming in for a cup of wine?”

    “Very good!” the beggar replied.

    Thereupon Zha Yihuang invited him to come into the house and ordered the page boy to prepare cups and chopsticks. Pouring the wine, he said, “Please!”

    The beggar raised the cup to toast him and downed it. “Good wine!” he praised.

    Zha Yihuang poured three cups in succession, the beggar drank in a frank and straightforward manner. Zha Yihuang loved frank and straightforward people the most; he was inwardly very happy. “Xiongtai’s [brother, generic term] wine capacity is superb,” he said, “I wonder how much can you drink?”

    The beggar replied, “When drinking with a bosom friend, a thousand cups will still be too little; when the conversation gets disagreeable, to say one word more is a waste of breath.”

    Although these two lines were familiar polite set of phrases, but spoken by a beggar made Zha Yihuang felt strange. Immediately he ordered the page boy to fetch a large earthen jar of Shaoxing Nu’erhong [lit. blushing young woman (or young woman’s red) from Shaoxing] wine; he said with a laugh, “Zaixia[4] has limited wine capacity, and just now I have drunk enough, I can’t accompany brother in enjoying the drink. Laoxiong [old brother] drink a large bowl, I accompany with small cup, what do you say?”

    “That will work,” the beggar said. Thereupon the page boy warmed the wine and separately poured it into the bowl and the cup. Zha Yihuang drank a cup, the beggar drank a large bowl. By the time the beggar already drank more than twenty bowls, his face still did not show any sign of tipsiness, but Zha Yihuang was already drunk.

    It should be known that as it entered the mouth, Shaoxing Nu’erhong was mild, but the wine character was quite powerful. When people of Shaoxing gave birth to a son or a daughter, they brewed wine, ranging from just a few to several dozen earthen jars, and buried the wine in the ground. When the daughter grew up and get married, the wine would be taken out and served in the wedding feast. The wine had an amber color, hence it was called ‘blushing young woman’. Since the wine was buried for seventeen, eighteen years, sometimes for more than twenty years, its nature was extremely mellow and rich. When the family gave birth to a son, the buried wine was called ‘zhuangyuan hong’[5], with the hope that in the future the son would serve the wine during the feast celebrating he becoming a ‘zhuangyuan’. Since not everybody could be a ‘zhuangyuan’, most would simply serve it during the son’s wedding. The wine that was brewed to be sold later also took the name ‘zhuangyuan hong’ and ‘nu’erhong’.

    The page boy helped Zha Yihuang into the inner hall to sleep. The beggar went out on his own accord to stand underneath the eaves again. The next morning Zha Yihuang woke up, hastily he went out to see the beggar; he saw the beggar was still standing with his hands behind his back, enjoying the snow. A burst of north wind blew, Zha Yihuang felt the cold penetrated his bones and marrow, yet the beggar showed no sign of nerves.

    Zha Yihuang said, “Cold weather, frozen ground, Xiongtai’s clothes is unavoidably too thin.” Thereupon he took off the sheepskin coat he was wearing and draped it on the beggar’s shoulder. He also took ten taels of silver and presented it with both hands, saying, “Just a little bit to buy some wine, please Xiongtai do not refuse. If it pleases you, please come again to drink wine. Last night Xiongdi was drunk, and failed to sweep the couch to retain the guest, please do not blame me for my negligence.”

    The beggar received the money and said, “Well said.” Without even say thanks, he shook his sleeve and left.

    The following spring, Zha Yihuang went to Hangzhou on a leisure visit. One day he saw an enormous ancient bell in a broken-down temple, he estimated the bell weighed at least four hundred catties [1 catty is approximately 1 pound or 0.5kg]. While he was enjoying the decorative design, the inscription carved onto the surface of the bell, suddenly a beggar entered the Buddha hall in big strides, grabbed the bottom of the bell with his left hand, and lifted it up. The big bell unexpectedly was raised several chi [Chinese foot, approximately 1/3 of a meter] off the ground. The beggar took a large bowl of meat and a large bowl of wine from underneath the bell and put the bowls aside, and then he put the ancient bell back to its original place.

    Seeing his divine strength, Zha Yihuang could not help gasping with astonishment. When he looked carefully, unexpectedly the beggar was the one he drank wine with the previous winter. He laughed and asked, “Xiongtai, do you still remember me?”

    The beggar cast him a glance, and then he also laughed and said, “Ah, it is you. Today I will be the host, we will all drink and be merry. Come, come, come, drink wine.” While saying that, he handed over the earthen bowl.

    Zha Yihuang received the bowl and took a mouthful. “This wine is really not bad,” he said with a laugh.

    The beggar took a large piece of meat from the tattered bowl; he said, “This is dog meat, will you eat it or not?”

    Zha Yihuang felt squeamish, but he thought, “Since I already regard him as a drinking buddy, if I decline, it would mean I am looking down on him.” Thereupon he reached out to grab it, took a bit and chewed; it was actually quite sweet and delicious. So the two of them sat on the floor of the broken-down temple, passing the tattered earthen bowl back and forth, you drink one mouthful, I drink one mouthful, while reaching into the meat bowl and ate the dog meat piece by piece. Not too long afterwards the meat and wine were finished.

    The beggar laughed aloud and said, “Too bad the wine is not enough to make Xiaolian Gong [master Xiaolian (see above)] drunk.”


    [1] Wei Zhongxian (1568-1627), infamous eunuch politician of late Ming. (See also ‘White Hair Demoness’, translated by Faerie Queene and yours truly.)

    [2] Kunqu opera, influential musical theater originated in Kunshan, Jiangsu province during the Yuan [Mongol] dynasty.

    [3] Xiaolian – successful second degree candidate in imperial exam.

    [4] Lit. ‘under’; lowly one, a humble way of referring to self.

    [5] Zhuangyuan – top scorer in palace examination, ‘hong’ means red.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:02 AM.

  7. #7
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    Default Chapter 1 - Part 6

    Zha Yihuang said, “Last winter we met by chance at my humble residence, today we met again without any previous appointment, we are indeed brought together by fate. Xiongtai’s divine strength is astonishing, turns out you are a world-class extraordinary man. To be able to make friend with such a gentleman, Xiaodi is very delighted. If it is alright with Xiongtai, how about we go to a restaurant and drink some more?”

    “Wonderful, wonderful!” the beggar replied.

    The two of them went to a restaurant by the bank of Xihu [West Lake, Hangzhou], where they sat on a table outside on the second floor, ordering wine and drinking together. Not too long afterwards Zha Yihuang passed out again. By the time he sobered up, the beggar had disappeared.

    That was during the final years of Emperor Chongzhen of the Ming dynasty. In several years, the Qing troops entered the Pass, the Ming dynasty fell. Zha Yihuang decided not to forge ahead, he simply spent his days leisurely at his house. One day suddenly a military officer leading four soldiers arrived at the Zha mansion. Zha Yihuang was alarmed, thinking that disaster was knocking at his door. Who would have thought that the military officer was very respectful? He said, “We received order from the Wu Military Office of Guangdong province to deliver a meager present.”

    “Your honorable superior and I are total strangers,” Zha Yihuang said, “I am afraid there is a mistake here.”

    The military officer took out a visiting case and extracted a sheet of crimson-colored, gilded with gold, business card; on it were written, ‘Paying my respect to Mr. Zha Yihuang, alias Jizuo’, underneath it said, ‘Junior [orig. ‘wan sheng’ – later generation] Wu Liuqi kowtows to pay a hundred respect’. Zha Yihuang thought, “I have never even heard about this name Wu Liuqi, why is he sending a present to me?” Thereupon he was speechless, not knowing what to say.

    The military officer said, “My humble superior said that this is a meager gift, asking Mr. Zha not to ridicule it.” While saying that he produced two vermillion-lacquered, gold-lettered round cases, put them on the table, and bowed to pay his respect before taking his leave.

    Zha Yihuang opened the gift boxes, and to his amazement he found fifty taels gold in one box, and six bottles of foreign wine in the other, the wine bottles were embelished with pearl and emerald; it was extraordinarly luxurious. Zha Yihuang’s shock was growing even deeper; he ran outside trying to get the military officer to take the present back, but military people moved fast, they were already far away.

    Zha Yihuang was puzzled, “Ill-gotten gains flew in, there won’t be any good fortune, only disaster. Could it be that someone is trying to frame me?” Thereupon he closed the gift boxes, resealed them, and hid them in his private room. Zha family was comparably well-off, they did not have any use of the gold, but the foreign wine was of a very famous brand; since he did not dare to open it, he could not stop his heart from itching.

    Nothing happened in the next several months. One day, a gongzi [young master, son of official] wearing magnificent clothing arrived. The young master was only seventeen or eighteen years old, full of vigor, and had an impressive appearance; he brought eight attendants with him. As soon as he saw Zha Yihuang, he kneeled down to kowtow; he said, “Zha Shibo [uncle, an affectionate name for a friend older than one’s father], nephew Wu Baoyu paying his respect.”

    Zha Yihuang hastily helped him up and said, “Your calling me Shibo, I really do not dare to accept the honor. I wonder who is your honorable Daren?”

    Wu Baoyu replied, “My humble father’s name is Liu on top and Qi on the bottom, presently residing in Guangdong province, taking office as Tidu [local commander] of the entire province’s land and sea. He sends little nephew with the specific purpose of respectfully invite Shibo to stay for several months in Guangdong.”

    Zha Yihuang said, “I have previously received your esteemed father Daren’s generous gift, in my heart I feel uneasy. I am ashamed to say, Xiongdi’s natural disposition is forgetful, I do not remember when did I make your esteemed father Daren’s acquaintance? Xiongdi is a scholar, I do not usually make friends with honorable government officials. Gongzi please sit down for a moment.” Finished speaking he went into the inner room. When he returned, he brought those two giftboxes out, saying, “Would Gongzi please bring these back? I really do not dare to receive such a generous gift.”

    He thought that as the Tidu of Guangdong, this Wu Liuqi must have admired Zha Yihuang’s name, and thus used very expensive give to hire him to be his secretary. This man held a high position in government, he was Manchu people’s eagle and dog to bully Han people; if Zha Yihuang received his gold and silver, he would corrupt his own innocence, thereupon his expression looked quite displeased.

    Wu Baoyu said, “My humble father instructed that I must invite Shibo. If Shibo forgot my humble father, there is one thing here, please Shibo take a look.” From his attendant’s hand he took a bundle and opened it up. It was an extremely worn-out sheepskin coat.

    When Zha Yihuang saw this old coat, he remembered he gave this coat to the strange beggar in the snow. He suddenly realized that this General Wu Liuqi was actually his drinking buddy in the past. His heart was moved, “The Tatars occupy our land under the heavens, if there is someone with authority over the troops raising righteous banner, with response from every direction, perhaps we could drive the Tatars out of the Pass. This strange beggar unexpectedly still remembers my favor of a meal and a coat of the former days, he is not someone without any conscience, if I can move his righteousness, it’s not necessarily a hopeless case. Men establish meritorious service by dedicating our lives to the service of our country. At this point, the worse that can happen is that he would kill me, so what?” Thereupon he gladly set off on a journey to Guangzhou.

    General Wu Liuqi welcomed him into the mansion, his manner was extremely respectful; he said, “Liuqi wandered destitute in Jiangnan, Mr. Zha did not abandon me, and treated me as a friend. You invited me to drink wine and gave me a leather coat, that is trivial matter; but in that broken-down temple you drank wine from a tattered bowl and grabbed dog meat with me, that showed how high you regarded me. At that time Liuqi was poor and dejected, everywhere I went I met with people’s cold eyes, yet Mr. Zha was treating me with such a warm heart, Liuqi was able to raise my spirits to great height. What I have accomplished today is entirely thanks to Mr. Zha.”

    Zha Yihuang indifferently said, “In Junior’s [‘wan sheng’, see above] eyes, the General Wu’s brilliance of today is not necessarily comparable to the amazing beggar in the snow of the past’s.”

    Wu Liuqi was startled, but he did not ask, he simply said, “Yes, yes!”

    There was a large banquet that night, all civil and military officials in the city were invited, Zha Yihuang was made to sit in the seat of honor, while Wu Liuqi himself sat in the next seat to accompany him. The civil and military officials in Guangdong province, from inspector-general down, saw how respectful the Tidu Daren was to this Zha Yihuang, no one was not secretly astonished. The inspector-general even thought that Zha Yihuang was an imperial envoy minister sent by the Emperor incognito to investigate something; otherwise, Wu Liuqi usually was very arrogant toward other people, why would he be this respectful toward an ordinary scholar from Jiangnan?

    After the wine had made its round, the inspector-general quietly inquired of Wu Liuqi, whether this honorable guest was a favored member of the imperial court. Wu Liuqi smiled and said, “Laoxiong [old brother] is really smart, you can recognize color just by its appearance; your guess is ninety percent correct.” These words of him were meant to ridicule the inspector-general by saying that the tenth time he guessed, it was incorrect. Who would have thought that the inspector-general really believed that Zha Yihuang was an imperial envoy? He thought that if this Zha Daren stayed in Wu Tidu’s mansion, he would be able to curry favor with him. Wu Tidu and me are always not in a good terms with each other; if when the imperial envoy returned to the Capital and submitted an unfavorable report on me, won’t that be terrible? Therefore, as soon as he was back into his mansion, he prepared a hefty gift, which he delivered in person to the Tidu mansion early in the morning the next day.

    Wu Liuqi came out to receive the guest, saying that the previous night Mr. Zha was drunk and was not awake yet; Futai’s gift would definitely be delivered to his hand, please be assured and do not worry too much. When the inspector-general heard this, he was greatly delighted; he left after repeatedly expressed his thanks.

    The news spread, all government officials knew that the inspector-general delivered generous gifts to Mr. Zha. Nobody knew this Mr. Zha’s origin, yet if even the inspector-general sent him a generous gift, how could they not do the same? Within the next several days, the gifts in the Tidu mansion piled up like a mountain. Wu Liuqi ordered his people to duly record every single gift, but he did not want Mr. Zha to know about it. Every day, other than managing military and public affairs, he would always accompany Zha Yihuang for a drink.

    One late evening, the two of them were drinking wine in the flower garden pavilion. After a few rounds of wine, Zha Yihuang said, “I have disturbed your honorable home for many days, experiencing your great kindness. Tomorrow Wan Sheng is going to return to the north.”

    “How could Mister say those words?” Wu Liuqi said, “It was not easy to get Mister to the south, if you do not stay a year or a half, I will not let Mister go back. Tomorrow I am going to accompany Mister to five-story pagoda for a visit. Guangdong has so many scenic and historical spots, you won’t be able to visit them all in a few months.”

    Zha Yihuang was rather drunk, he boldly said, “Although mountains and rivers are good, it has sunk into the barbarians’ hands; looking at it will only add grief to my heart.”

    Wu Liuqi’s countenance changed slightly; he said, “Mister is drunk, let us take a rest a bit early tonight.”

    Zha Yihuang said, “When we first met, I respected you as a hero in windblown dust [i.e. hardships of travel], hence it was enough for me to make you my friend; who would have thought that actually my eyes have failed me?”

    “How did you eyes fail you?” Wu Liuqi asked.

    In a loud and clear voice Zha Yihuang replied, “You have great skills, yet you do not strive for the country, for the people, but helping tyrant Zhou in his oppression, by becoming the Tatars’ eagle and dog, bullying our Great Han’s common people; this moment you are still immensely pleased with yourself, without any sense of shame. Ol’ Zha inevitably is ashamed to be your friend.” While saying that he suddenly stood up.

    Wu Liuqi said, “Mister please hold down your voice, if others hear this, it will bring disaster.”

    Zha Yihuang said, “Today I still regard you as a friend, I have some good words and encouragement. If you don’t want to listen, there is no harm in killing me. Ol’ Zha has no strength to truss a chicken, in any case I cannot resist.”

    Wu Liuqi said, “Zaixia is listening with respectful attention.”

    Zha Yihuang said, “General holds power over the military and government of the entire Guangdong province in your hand, you have a golden opportunity for an uprising and come over from the enemy’s side. Make a public appeal, the whole world will respond; even if the great undertaking is not successful, it will bust the Tatars’ guts. Only by dealing with them in large-scale operation will it fit your natural disposition of divine bravery, your great head.”

    Wu Liuqi poured a bowl of wine and downed it in one gulp. He said, “I am delighted to hear what Mister has to say!” With both hands he reached down, ‘rip’ he tore the front piece of his own gown, exposing his black-hair-covered chest; parting the chest hair, he exposed eight small characters cut into his flesh: ‘Tian Fu Di Mu, Fan Qing Fu Ming’. [Heaven is my father, Earth is my mother, Fighting the Qing, Restoring the Ming.]

    Zha Yihuang was startled and delighted at the same time. “This … what is this?” he asked.

    Wu Liuqi closed his lapel well before answering, “Just now listening to Mister’s magnificent speech, I honor and respect you. In spite of the danger of perishing and extermination of your entire family, Mister opens up your liver and drip gall, giving Zaixia directions, Zaixia no longer dare to cover up the truth. Previously Zaixia belonged to the Beggar Clan, but this moment I am the Red Banner Xiangzhu of the Great Obedience Hall of Tian Di Hui [Heaven and Earth Society]. I took an oath to use the hot blood in my entire body to fight the Qing and restore the Ming.”

    Looking at the tattoo on Wu Liuqi’s chest, Zha Yihuang had no more doubt; he said, “Turns out General lives in Cao camp but have your heart in Han camp. Just now my words were offensive, I have greatly offended you.”

    Wu Liuqi was greatly delighted, thinking that by saying ‘live in Cao camp but have the heart in Han camp’, Zha Yihuang was comparing him to Guan Yunchang; he said, “This comparison, I dare not to accept the honor.”

    Zha Yihuang said, “I wonder what is the Beggar Clan, what is Tian Di Hui? Please advise.”

    “Mister please drink another cup,” Wu Liuqi said, “Zaixia will explain it slowly.” Thereupon the two of them drank another cup.

    Wu Liuqi said, “The Beggar Clan already exists for a long time, since the Song Dynasty, it is a big clan in Jianghu. The brothers in the Clan beg to make a living, even people from rich and powerful families, upon entering the Beggar Clan, they must totally disperse their family resources and live as beggars. Within the Clan, under the Bangzhu [Clan Leader] there are four Zhanglao [elder], and then front, rear, left, right and middle, five directions, Hufa [protector of the law]. Zaixia held the Left Protector position, an eight-pouch disciple in the Clan, a position that can’t be considered too low. Afterwards, because I did not get along well with an Elder surnamed Sun, we had a fight. At that time Zaixia was drunk, I accidentally beat him that he was seriously hurt. Disrespecting superior is a big violation of the Clan’s law, beating up and injure an elder is an even bigger violation. Bangzhu and the four Zhanglao held a meeting, they blamed Zaixia and expelled me from the Clan. That day when we met at your mansion, Mister invited me for a drink, Zaixia has just been reprimanded and expelled, in my heart I was quite depressed, yet Mister did not abandon me, and treated Zaixia as a friend instead. My mind was eased quite a bit.”

    “So that’s how it is,” Zha Yihuang said.

    Wu Liuqi continued, “Spring of the following year, we met again by chance by the bank of West Lake, Mister made a comment, praising me as a world-class extraordinary man. Zaixia thought hard for many days, thinking that since the Beggar Clan could not tolerate me, all the friends in Jianghu looked down on me, every day I was as drunk as mud, abandoning myself to despair, in just several years I would die of intoxication. Yet this gentleman, Mr. Zha, said that I am an extraordinary man; could it be that I, Wu Liuqi, once stumbled, am unable to rise, and would not stick out my head to see the sun? Not long afterwards, the Qing troops marched southward, my heart was outraged, I did not know right from wrong, unexpectedly I went to surrender to the Qing army, and rendered quite a bit of military service, massacred my fellow citizens. When I think about it, I am quite ashamed.”

    With grim expression Zha Yihuang said, “That is wrong. Xiongtai does not belong to the Beggar Clan, you may come and go alone, you may establish your own faction, why make such an unwise move, offering your service to the Qing army?”

    Wu Liuqi said, “Zaixia is simple-minded, at that time I did not have Mister to give me directions, I have done not a few wrong things; I really deserve to die.”

    Zha Yihuang nodded, “Since General knew your own mistakes, it’s still not too late to atone for your crimes by meritorious acts,” he said.

    Wu Liuqi continued, “Later on the Manchurian Qing swept the north and south, I was promoted to become a Tidu. Two years ago, suddenly someone broke into my bedroom in the middle of the night to assassinate me. This assassin’s martial art skill was not my match, I captured him. When I lighted a lantern to look, to my surprise he was the Beggar Clan’s Sun Zhanglao, whom I injured in the past. He rained curses on me, saying that I was despicable and shameless, that I was willing to be the barbarians’ eagle and dog. The more he cursed, the more vicious he was, each sentence hit the bottom of my heart. Actually I already knew it, and every now and then I thought about it, I knew perfectly well that my conduct and deeds were very wrong. When I searched my soul deep in the night, I was very ashamed; it’s just that what I thought was far less clear compared to what he cursed me. I sighed, and unsealed his acupoint. ‘Sun Zhanglao,’ I said, ‘Your cursing is very true. You may go now!’ He was quite surprised, but then he leaped out the window and left.”

    “You have done the right thing!” Zha Yihuang said.

    Wu Liuqi said, “At that time, there were quite a few good anti-Qing men locked up in the Tidu yamen prison. First thing in the morning the next day, I looked for some excuses to release them one by one; some I said mistaken identity, some I said not the main culprit, hence I was being lenient in dealing with them. A month or so later, that Sun Zhanglao came back in the middle of the night to see me, he got right to the point [orig. ‘open the door and see the mountain’], asking me whether I had a repentant heart and wanted to set up merit by fighting the Qing. I pulled my saber and chopped two of my left hand fingers, saying, ‘Wu Liuqi is determined to completely correct my former misdeeds, from now on I will listen and obey Sun Zhanglao’s order.’” Stretching out his left hand, indeed his ring finger and little finger were gone, only three fingers remained on it.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:02 AM.

  8. #8
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    Default Chapter 1 - Part 7

    Zha Yihuang raised his thumb, “Good man!” he exclaimed.

    Wu Liuqi continued his story, “Seeing my sincerity, Sun Zhanglao knew that even though I am hot-headed, I have never eaten my own words; thereupon he said, ‘Very good. Let me go back to report to Bangzhu, I’ll ask Bangzhu to issue his order.’ Ten days later, Sun Zhanglao came back to see me, saying that Bangzhu and the four Zhanglao have had a meeting, and they decided to take me back into the Clan, but I have to start as a one-pouch disciple. He also told me that the Beggar Clan has formed an alliance with Tian Di Hui, to work for a common purpose, fighting the Qing restoring the Ming. Tian Di Hui is founded by Taiwan’s Guoxing Ye [Koxinga, ‘Lord of the Imperial Surname’] Grand Marshal Zheng’s subordinate, the military strategist Chen Yonghua, Mr. Chen. In the recent years it is thriving in Fujian, Zhejiang and Guangdong regions. Sun Zhanglao went to see the Society’s Great Obedience Hall’s Xiangzhu [incense master] on my behalf, to sponsor me into Tian Di Hui. Tian Di Hui checked me up for one year, they had me handle several important matters. After seeing that I was absolutely loyal and not double-hearted, recently Mr. Chen issued an order from Taiwan, promoting me into the Red Banner Xiangzhu of the Great Obedience Hall position.”

    Although Zha Yihuang did not understand Tian Di Hui’s background, but the army of Guoxing Ye Yanping Jun Wang [king of Yanping] Zheng Chenggong of Taiwan resisted the Qing alone; their loyalty and bravery, nobody under the heavens did not know or hear. Since Tian Di Hui was established by his military strategist Chen Yonghua, naturally they were of kindred spirit. Thereupon he repeatedly nodded his head.

    Wu Liuqi continued, “In the previous years, Guoxing Ye commanded a large army to besiege Jinling, too bad the few are no match for the many, they were driven back to Taiwan. But the number of officers and soldiers under his command who found it too late to retreat and thus remained in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian, three provinces, are indeed not a few. Mr. Chen contacted these old brothers in secret, and established this Tian Di Hui. The slogan of the Society is ‘Tian Fu Di Mu, Fan Qing Fu Ming’, which is the eight characters Zaixia cut onto my chest. Ordinarily the Society brothers do not tattoo their bodies, Zaixia voluntarily tattooed my body to imitate Yue Wumu’s idea of ‘loyal to the end, dedicate oneself to the service of the country’ in the past.”

    Zha Yihuang was very happy in his heart, he downed two cups in succession and then said, “By your action, Xiongtai is indeed worthy of the praise ‘world-class extraordinary man’.”

    “These five characters ‘world-class extraordinary man’ [hai nei qi nan zi], I am ashamed and dare not accept the honor,” Wu Liuqi said, “As long as Mr. Zha is willing to recognize me as your friend, the one surnamed Wu will be eternally happy. Our Tian Di Hui Zongduozhu[1] Chen Yonghua, Mr. Chen, has another name, Chen Jinnan; now he is the real famous hero and warrior. In Jianghu, no one speaks about him with disrespect; there’s even a saying that said it well: ‘Whoever never knew Chen Jinnan, he calls himself a hero in vain.’ Zaixia has never seen Chen Zongduozhu’s face, hence I can’t be considered anybody.”

    Imagining Chen Jinnan’s lofty quality as a hero, Zha Yihuang could not help having a longing in his heart to see him. He poured two cups of wine and said, “Come, let us drink to Chen Zongduozhu!” The two of them downed their cups in one gulp.

    Zha Yihuang said, “Ol’ Zha is only a scholar, I have no benefit to the country and to the people. Only on the day General seizes the opportunity to make your move, rising vigorously to fight the Qing, the Ol’ Zha will definitely offer my service in front of the righteous army, to exhaust what little I have, my tiny toil.”

    From that date onward, staying at Wu Liuqi house, Zha Yihuang had secret chat with him day and night, discussing the strategy on how to fight the Qing. Wu Liuqi said, “Tian Di Hui’s influence progressively expands to the northern provinces, every major province now have a fragant hall.”

    In total, Zha Yihuang stayed at Wu Liuqi’s mansion for six or seven months, and then he returned to his hometown. When he reached home, he was greatly surprised, unexpectedly there was a huge new building right next to his former residence. As it turns out, Wu Liuqi sent people to take all the gifts and gold that Guangdong officials, big and small, presented to Zha Yihuang to Zhejiang, with which they carried out a large scale construction to build a multi-story house.

    Zha Yihuang knew very well that Huang Zongxi and Gu Yanwu’s aspiration was definitely to awaken and restore the Ming, they rushed about all directions to assemble the world’s heroes and warriors, together they drew a plan to fight the Qing. For this reason he told them this story without concealing anything. On the boat Huang Zongxi recounted the ins and outs of the entire story to Lu Liuliang; he said, “If this matter is leaked out, the Tatars might strike first and gain the upper hand, while Mr. Yihuang and General Wu will definitely meet the calamity of extermination along with their entire families, the great undertaking of fighting the Qing will lose one pillar.”

    Lu Liuliang said, “Other than you and me, three people, this matter must never be revealed even for one word, even when we see Mr. Yihuang, we must not mention the name of Guangdong’s General Wu.”

    Huang Zongxi said, “Mr. Yihuang and General Wu have this kind of relationship, the high-ranking ministers of the imperial court want to be hospitable to General Wu, when General Wu appeared in person to intercede and clear the charge on Mr. Yihuang, the imperial court will definitely not want him to lose face.”

    Lu Liuliang said, “What Huang Xiong said is very true, it’s just that I was wondering how did Lu Qi, Fan Xiang, two people, also obtain the same verdict as Mr. Yihuang, ‘never seen the book, exempt from punishment and will not be investigated anymore’? Could it be that they also have a powerful figure in the imperial court who intercede for them?”

    Huang Zongxi said, “When General Wu interceded on behalf of Mr. Yihuang, if he singled him out, perhaps it would arouse suspicion, thereupon he pulled along these two people to serve as sidekicks; we will never know.”

    Lu Liuliang laughed and said, “In that case, perhaps until now Lu and Fan, two people still do not know how they still get to keep their lives.”

    Gu Yanwu nodded and said, “For each life of Jiangnan scholars preserved, our strength will also increase by one person.”

    (Book note: In the book ‘Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio’ [Qing dynasty book of tales by Pu Songling, 1640-1715], there is a section about ‘Powerful General’, narrating the story about how Zha Yihuang encountered Wu Liuqi. The concluding remarks said, ‘Later on Zha was cleared of this legal case, his guilt by asccociation was withdrawn, finally he was exempted of future investigation, it was all due to the General’s power.’ The commentary stated, ‘Profound act of disregarding one’s reputation was indeed chivalrous achievements of ancient real men. Moreover, it is reported that this General was generous, outspoken and straightforward, outstanding and a rarity throughout all ages. This kind of aspiration ought not to be outdated or thrown into the ditch. Accordingly, these two worthy people’s encounter was not an accident at all.’ In the book ‘The Remainder of the Law’ there is this narrative: ‘Formerly there was a rich man by the name of Zhuang Tinglong in the ‘reed grass’ [not sure, perhaps a place’s name], who purchased the history manuscript of Prime Minister Zhu. He obtained the help of three famous scholars surnamed Wu to increase and polish the written piece, and then he printed and circulated the book. The front page listed the family names of a dozen people, with the renowned Xiaolian [see note 12 above] also listed to add credibility. Disaster struck before personal opportunity was achieved, all because of this ordinary book was discussing extreme literary allusions. The powerful Wu presented a report to the throne to intercede for this Xiaolian so that he was exempted.’ As for Wu Liuqi participated in Tian Di Hui, it was not mentioned in true history, as well as past official government records.)

    What the three of them were talking about was top secret at that time, they were on a boat floating on the canal, in the rear cabin there were only Lu family’s mother and children, three people, plus Huang Zongxi was talking in very low voice, hence they did not expect anybody else to eavesdrop, the boat did not have any wall, they were not afraid of any ear on the other side of the wall. Unexpectedly, Gu Yanwu had just finished talking, suddenly they heard strange laughter from above their heads. The three men were shocked. “Who’s there?” they shouted together. But there was not the least bit of sound. The three of them looked at each other in dismay; they all thought, “Could it be that ghosts and demons really exist?”

    Among the three, Gu Yanwu was the boldest, plus he had trained a little bit of superficial martial art for self-defense; after calming himself down, he reached into his bosom and pulled a dagger. He pushed open the cabin door and walked toward the bow. Focusing his eyes he looked at the top of the sail. Suddenly a dark shadow suddenly appeared from the sail and pounced down on him. “Who’s there?” Gu Yanwu shouted, while lifting his dagger to stab at the dark shadow. But suddenly he felt pain on his wrist, as it was grabbed by the shadow, followed by his back went numb, since his acupoint was sealed. The dagger fell from his hand, while he was pushed back into the cabin.

    Seeing Gu Yanwu was pushed back into the cabin, and that behind him stood a man wearing black clothing, Huang Zongxi and Lu Liuliang were shocked. They noticed the man was big and tall, with malicious laugh across his face. Lu Liuliang said, “In the middle of the night, Sire charged in without permission, what is your intention?”

    With a cold laugh the man said, “Thanks to the three of you, Laozi will be promoted and gain wealth. Wu Liuqi is about to rebel, Zha Yihuang is about to rebel, When Ao Shaobao [Junior Guardian Ao – referring to Oboi] receives the secret report, won’t he reward me handsomely? Hey, hey, the three gentlemen may come with me to Beijing as witnesses.”

    Lu, Gu and Huang, three people were secretly fearful; they had deep regret in their hearts, “We whispered in the night on the boat, he still heard it. We were too reckless, death is nothing to be resented, but this time we implicate General Wu, we may spoil the great undertaking.”

    Lu Liuliang said, “Sire, what are you talking about? We don’t understand it the least bit. If you want to frame good people, go ahead and do it yourself, but if you are thinking of dragging other people along, that will not work.” He has made up his mind to disregard everything; if the man killed him, then it would be ‘the dead cannot testify’.

    The big man let out a cold laugh, suddenly he lunged forward and sealed the acupoints on the pit of Lu Liuliang and Huang Zongxi’s stomach. Immediately Lu and Huang, two people were unable to move a single step. The big man laughed aloud and said, “Brothers, come into the cabin. This time we, Vanguard Battalion, are rendering great meritorious service.” From the stern several men responded together, and four men entered the cabin, all wearing clothes commonly wore by people who live and make a living on a boat; they all laughed heartily.

    Gu, Huang and Lu, three persons looked at each other in dismay. They knew that Vanguard Battalion was the Emperor’s personal guard, for some reason, unexpectedly these people had been able to catch up with them early on, dressed as boatmen, all along eavesdropping on them outside behind the sail. Huang Zongxi and Lu Liuliang could not be blamed, but for the past several years Gu Yanwu has been tracking all over Shenzhou [old name for China], everywhere he went he got to know heroes and warriors, it could even be said that his vision was not weak, yet toward this several boatmen he was unexpectedly not being careful.

    One of the personal guard called out, “Boatmen, turn the boat around, we are going back to Hangzhou. If you do something strange, watch your dog life.”

    The boatman holding the rudder at the stern responded, “Yes!”

    The helmsman was a sixty, seventy years old man, when Gu Yanwu hired the boat, he had had a talk with him, the boatman’s face was full of wrinkles, his back was bent like a bow, certainly he looked like someone who row and pull the boatman’s tow-rope all year round; at the time of the meeting, he did not have any suspicion. What he did not expect, however, was that although this old boatman was genuine goods at fair prices, his helpers, the other boatmen had been swapped with these personal guards under threat. With no way out, Gu Yanwu could only blame himself for having a loud arrogant talk with Huang and Lu, two people, that they fell into this perilous situation without knowing it.

    The man in black laughed and said, “Mr. Gu, Mr. Huang, Mr. Lu, the three of you, gentlemen simply have too great of a reputation, that even those old men in the Capital have heard about you; otherwise, we would not have been following you. Ha ha …!” Turning his head toward his four subordinates he said, “We have obtained the conclusive evidence that Wu Tidu of Guangdong is plotting a rebellion. Now we must hasten to Haining [county, Zhejiang] to arrest that man surnamed Zha. These three rebel thieves are extremely obstinate, since they are not able to escape, we must guard against them taking poison or drowning themselves by jumping into the river. Each one of you must keep your eyes on each one of them, if there is any mishap, your responsibility might not be small.”

    “Yes,” the four of them replied, “We will carefully obey Gua Guandai’s [not sure what it is, must be military rank] instruction.”

    Gua Guandai said, “When we are back in the Capital and see Ao Shaobao, we won’t have to worry about promotion and gaining wealth.”

    A personal guard laughed and said, “All of us rely entirely on Gua Guandai’s cultivation for promotion. Based on the four of us alone, how can we have this kind of good fortune?”

    From the bow suddenly someone let out a ‘hey, hey’ laugh; the man said, “Based on the four of you, indeed you do not have that kind of good fortune.”

    ‘Whoosh!’ suddenly the cabin’s door flew open, a thirty-something man dressed as a scholar appeared on the doorway. He had his hands behind his back, his face carried a smiling expression.

    Gua Guandai shouted, “There are officers at work here; who are you?”

    The scholar smiled without answering; he took a step into the cabin. Saber’s light flashed, two single-blade sabers chopped down on him from left and right. The scholar sidestepped the attack, his palm hacked down onto the top of Gua Guandai’s head. Gua Guandai hastily raised his left arm to block, while his right hand clenched into a fist and he punched it forward with all his might.

    The scholar’s left foot kicked backward, the kick hit a personal guard on the pit of his stomach; the personal guard screamed while spurting a mouthful of blood. The other three personal guards raised their sabers, sweeping across and chopping down. The space inside the cabin was too narrow, the scholar fully used his qin na [grab and capture, grappling] skill, as he hacked, struck, hooked and hit. ‘Crack!’ a hack with the edge of his palm hit a personal guard on the neck, breaking his neckbone.

    Gua Guandai struck with his right palm toward the back of the scholar’s head. The scholar parried with a backhand left palm. ‘Bang!’ two palms collided, Gua Guandai was thrown backward, his back heavily crashed onto the cabin’s wall, a section of the wall immediately collapsed. The scholar sent out two palm strikes in succession, striking the remaining two personal guards on the pit of their stomach. ‘Crack, crack!’ two persons’ ribs immediately broke. Gua Guandai leaped out through the hole on the cabin’s wall. The scholar shouted, “Where do you think you are going?” He sent out a left palm strike. It seemed that the palm would strike Gua Guandai’s back, unexpectedly right this moment Gua Guandai’s left foot kicked back, the palm happened to strike the sole of his foot, the palm force sent him flying out instead.

    Gua Guandai urgently leaped and ran away. He saw a weeping willow on the bank of the river, with its branches drooping down into the river. Immediately he grabbed the willow branch and somersaulted over the willow tree. The scholar rushed to the bow of the boat, he picked up the bamboo pole for punting boats, and hurled it out. Under the moonlight the bamboo pole appeared like a flying snake, as it was shooting forward. “Ahhh!” they heard Gua Guandai let out a long scream. The bamboo pole pierced his back, and nailed him to the ground. The pole did not stopped swaying.

    The scholar entered the cabin. He unsealed Gu, Huang and Lu, three people’s acupoints, and then pushed the bodies of four personal guards into the canal before finally lighting the lantern again. Gu, Huang and Lu, three people did not stop expressing their gratitude, and asked his name and surname.

    The scholar laughed and said, “My lowly name has just been mentioned my Mr. Huang. Zaixia surnamed Chen, my coarse name Jinnan.”


    [1] ‘zong’ – chief, ‘duo’ – helm/rudder, ‘zhu’ – master or host, manager, someone who is in charge. Translator’s note: My apology. I do not know how to translate it properly. I am aware that you guys do not like ‘helmsman’, so until we can agree on a good translation, I am going to stick with ‘zongduozhu’.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:03 AM.

  9. #9
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    Default Chapter 1 - Part 8

    [The following part is beyond me, my apology for bad translation.] Book Note:

    Our book was written from October 23rd, 1969 to September 22nd, 1972. When it was planned out at the beginning, involuntarily I thought about literary inquisition. In my home I have a well-known historical literary inquisition. One of my ancestors was Zha Siting. He was made the imperial examiner of Jiangxi province by the assistant minister of the Ministry of Rites in the fourth year of Yongzheng of Qing. One of the exam questions he came out with was ‘Holding the people together’ [维民所止 wei min suo zhi]. This sentence came from the ‘Book of Songs’, ‘Eulogy of Shang Dynasty’, ‘Mysterious Bird’: “A thousand li of the country’s territory, holding the people together.” The idea was that the country’s vast territory is the place where common people reside, it is to cherish the people.

    It was actually a very common subject, but someone lodged an accusation to Emperor Yongzheng, saying that the two characters ‘wei zhi’ [维止] were actually ‘yong zheng’ [雍正] with the head removed [i.e. the radical stroke removed]. By producing this exam question, the idea was to remove the Emperor’s head. At that time Yongzheng had just ascended the throne, he became the Emperor after intense struggle and he himself had chopped not a few people’s heads. Inevitably he had a guilty conscience, and had gone as far as depending on ‘fortune telling by unpicking Chinese characters’ in his conducts.

    He had Zha Siting’s entire family arrested and dealt with severely. Zha Siting was tortured badly, and finally died in prison. Yongzheng still issued an order to have his body mutilated. His son also died in prison. His family exiled. The scholars in the entire Zhejiang province were banned from taking palace examinations for six years. Later on Zha Shenxing was released from prison and allowed to return to his hometown, but he passed away not long afterwards.

    Another argument was that Zha Siting had written a book called ‘Wei Zhi Lu’ [Diary of holding together]. There was a eunuch telling Yongzheng that ‘wei zhi’ was removing the head of ‘yong zheng’. He also said that in the ‘Wei Zhi Lu’ there was a paragraph, “Kangxi’s sixty-first year, on such and such month and such and such date, there was a major thunderstorm; I was on furlough at home, suddenly I heard great traveling, the Emperor’s fourth son succeeding the throne, it’s very strange.” ‘Great traveling’ was the Emperor passing away, ‘the Emperor’s fourth son’ was precisely Yongzheng. The book said ‘very strange’, obviously it was ridiculing Yongzheng seizing the throne by dishonest method.

    ‘Wei Zhi Lu’ also documented in the vicinity of Zhu Qiao [Zhu bridge] town near Hangzhou, there was a Guan Di [Emperor Guan’s] Temple; it was said about the Temple: “An ancient temple in an abandoned village just like the remains of man [汉 – han, also means ‘Han ethnic group’]; only the field, shop and pontoon bridge have various [诸 - Zhu] surnames.” The character ‘Zhu’ [诸 - various] and ‘Zhu’ [朱 – vermillion, also the surname of Ming Emperors] are homophone, Yongzheng thought that Han people cherished the memory of the former Ming.

    As for Zha Siting’s exam question in Jiangxi, actually the poem in the exam subject was from the ‘Analects of Confucius’: “Person of noble character do not use words to raise other people, do not reject words because of the speaker.” The third topic was from Mencius: “Mountain path among the footpath, anything useful can become a road, anything useless in between are no more than reeds and grass. Today the reeds and grass are the heart.” At this time ensuring any action would take five days. The palace courtyard said that he was intentionally slandering the imperial decree; the third subject ‘reeds and grass as the heart’ was akin to saying that ‘not knowing what it pointed to, the palace courtyard was bent on not asking anything’.

    Yongzheng’s imperial decree said, “Zha Siting … Zhen [I, an emperor referring to self] ordered to walk in the inner palace courtyard, afterwards to instruct the scholars in the government cabinet. Seeing his words tricky and hypocritical, while at the same time hold the notion of looking out for the wolf [i.e. watch one’s back], presumably his intentions are dishonorable. Upon reviewing Jiangxi’s examination subject today, it is obvious that he harbors the thought of resentment, and intents on mocking the present situation. In anticipation of the aforementioned, his daily perverse ideas were be recorded, and officers were dispatched to search his dwelling and belongings, two books of diary were found, rebellious and confusing beyond belief, with fabricated words of complaint and slander in abundance. Also toward the administrative personnel and servants of the divine ancestor, he ridicule and slander wantonly … the flooding disaster of Rehe [Qing imperial resort at Chengde], this book says more than eight hundred government officials were drown, it also says flying locusts in the rain covered the sky; this is a preposterous statement, there is no such thing … He is to be arrested and interrogated immediately, handed over to the Three Judicial Chief Ministries for them to strictly examine and draft the final plan.”

    Yongzheng’s criminal charge, which he announced publicly was: looking at his appearance as well as deducing his dishonorable designs, mocking the present situation, recording natural disaster in his journal.

    When our book was first published in ‘Ming Pao’ [newspaper, Hong Kong], the first chapter was called ‘Prologue’, the chapter title was Zha Shenxing’s poem, ‘In this way is the ice and frost, in this way is the road’ [‘ice and frost’ is allusion to moral integrity]. Zha Shenxing’s original name was Silian, he was Zha Siting’s older brother. He, as well as his second brother Sili and third brother Siting, were all Hanlin [i.e. graduate of Hanlin Imperial Academy]. Their paternal older male cousin Sihan was a Bangyan[1], their paternal nephew Zha Sheng was a Shi Jiang [侍讲 I don’t know what this is.], also Hanlin. Zha Shenxing’s oldest son Kejian, younger paternal male cousin Sixun, were all Jinshi [successful candidate in the highest imperial civil service examination/palace graduate]. At that time they were called ‘One family seven Jinshi, paternal uncle paternal nephew five Hanlin’, the extended family was very prosperous.

    Because Zha Shenxing and Sili were implicated in their younger brother’s literary inquisition, they were brought from their hometown to the prison in the Capital on imperial orders during a severe winter. At that time the number of famous scholars implicated by this case was really not a few. En route to the prison Zha Shenxing penned a poem which he gave as a present to a friend in disaster, another Jinshi in his extended family, part of it says, “In this way is the ice and frost, in this way is the road, seven full periods apart from two of the same year.”

    Zha Shenxing could be considered first-class poet of the Qing Dynasty, among the people of Tang and Song dynasties, probably he could be considered second-class. Qing people Wang Shizhen, Zhao Yi, Ji Xiaolan, and the others considered his poem to be on par with Lu You [1125-1210, widely regarded as the greatest of Southern Song poets], both had their own strength and weakness; perhaps this praise was a bit too much.

    Emperor Kangxi loved his poems. He took the provincial level imperial examination three times but failed to reach Jinshi. Kangxi summoned him into the Palace, and drilled him at the Southern Study Room. After entering the Palace he took the exam again, and finally he scored second place and became the second Jinshi. At that time his older paternal male cousin, his second brother, paternal nephew, and son had already become Jinshi. Taking the exam together with Zha Shenxing and became Jinshi in guwei year [twentieth year of 60-year cycle, i.e. 1703] (or Kangxi’s forty-second year) was his younger paternal male cousin Sixun, as well as his fellow hometown scholar Chen Shiguan (the father of Chen Jialuo from ‘The Book and The Sword’). Both Zha Shenxing and his second brother Sili were disciples of Huang Zongxi.

    Zha Shenxing also wrote ‘Poetry Anthology Dedicated to Paternal Cousin’, fifty chapters, with six-chapter sequel. When in Beijing prison, he did not stop writing poems. Today his journal of prison poem numbered several, the poetic style looked similar:

    ‘Weeping over Third (younger) Brother Runmu [lit. moist/damp wood]’: “Family gathered together in difficulty, more to come to deliver thine ends, swallowing my cries from my brothers, sobbing blood into my child. The earth exudes its cold yin [shady/negative (of yin and yang)] hole, the sky cries out its wretched placid wind. No sigh reaches to distant netherworld, father and son capture accidental encounter.” (Original note: the aforementioned nephew died one day earlier.) Note: Runmu was Zha Siting, his son died one day earlier.

    ‘Leap day at the beginning of the third month’: “The year ended and elderly man wearing mourning garments, it is something that one constantly has to deal with. Concern over less spring rain for the grass, in place of more dawn breeze cherished by thousand flowers.” Note: ‘less spring rain’ was an allusion to less kindness of the imperial court, ‘more dawn breeze’ was pointing at the harsh government affairs.

    Five-character-quatrain[2]: “A place in the south to the supervisor in the north, the one being passed on was the embroidered prison garment. What’s left surrounded the people on the outside, chasing after the memory of summer after summer of ruthless disaster.” (Note: ‘disaster’ clearly pointed to Wei Zhongxian [see note 10 above] and the other eunuchs framing the innocents.) “The bugs get their name from the stench, rampant crimes are difficult to conceal, all doing harm to the flesh and blood, contemptible people [orig. ‘louse’] at the end of degradation.” “Human world has peach and apricot, gazing in despair toward preserved spring sunset. The rolling wind brought flowers flying over, under which family’s tree will it land?” (Original note: There was a storm one day before Qingming[3], apricot flower spread underneath the tree, blown into the wall.)

    ‘Defeated flock of magpies’: “’Cha, cha’ in the morning, ‘luo, luo’ in the evening, magpies happily sang, over the ugly cry of crows. Children shoot crows, they do not shoot magpies; the reason was tasseled shield produced cheerful south. (Note: tasseled shield, mountain name, snow-covered and extremely cold). Two magpies, heartless birds of prey, occupying a nest on a tall tree with no neighbor next to it, just like a hawk changed into a turtle-dove, but its eyes had not changed, having a voracious desire to look around and scheming to swallow the neighbor up with a sudden cross-over. Every time it feeds the flock withdraw, how can six states dare to struggle against the powerful Qin? I desire to press on, to light a fire to burn the nest, while at the same time moving back and forth with a sigh. Which creature wishes to lose its flock? Alas! Which creature wishes to lose its flock?”

    ‘At the end of spring, a lone willow has not stretched its branch, hard-pressed walk underneath enjoys accidental success’: “New leaves and trees outside the encirclement, out of the wall came high pavilion, the drawing on the ground thus became a prison, coming alone the companions are captured behind bars. I became feeble no matter which road I take, day and night looking towards thine glory. Already after the third month, in the end, all eyes have not turned green. Desiring for the unlearned old man, why did thou appear to be disorganized? Furthermore, living between the heaven and the earth, grass and trees are not heartless. After sending forceful words, accordingly ask the prisoner office in haste.”

    In his poems, Zha Shenxing sympathized with common people’s pain and difficulties a lot, so much so that he also had compassion toward birds and animals, grass and trees. When the ‘Poetry Anthology Dedicated to Paternal Cousin’ was published, the poems written in prison were also retained.

    All the titles of our book’s fifty chapters are taken from the couplets of Zha Shenxing’s poems. Although the ‘Poetry Anthology Dedicated to Paternal Cousin’ has rich variety of writings, to pick fifty seven-character lines that are related to each chapter’s content is not easy. [Translator’s note: the original titles of each chapter consist of two lines, seven characters each.] The method that was used here is not picking similar lines from different poem of different journal, or even gathering lines from poetry anthologies of different authors; rather, it was selecting and using completely related lines of one person’s poem. Sometimes the upper line was correct, the bottom part was unrelated, or the bottom line was very suitable, but the upper part could not be used; hence the entire lines had to be abandoned. For this reason, inevitably some chapter titles are not too close-fitting.

    The reason why I want to collect of Zha Shenxing’s poems was because Kangxi had seen most of it (except the ‘prison poems’); Kangxi had even written the ‘Dedicated to Paternal Cousin’ [jing ye tang[4]] three characters on a horizontal inscribed board for Zha Shenxing. Of course, I also have a personal desire to proclaim my own ancestor’s poems. Modern scholars are aware that Zha Shenxing was a major poet of the Qing dynasty, but as for how he wrote the poems, I am afraid very few people have ever read about it; after all, he must not be compared to genuine great poets.

    When people from ancient times wrote literary work mentioning their own ancestors, they would never dare to address the ancestor by name; usually they would add a character ‘Gong’ [公 – duke/father-in-law/honorable gentleman] after their nickname (honorary title) of official rank. I remember growing up listening to my elders talking about our ancestors in the memorial hall, when it comes to Zha Shenxing, they said ‘Chu Bai Tai Gong’ [lit. the first white great-grandfather’; when it comes to Zha Sheng, they said ‘Sheng Shan Tai Gong’ [lit. sonorous mountain great-grandfather’. When modern writers write in vernacular, we do not need to be such literal-minded, if we want to revere our ancestors, revering them in our hearts is enough.

    In the title of this chapter, the ‘crooked bunch’ refers to ‘people who implicate and frame others’, the meaning of ‘crooked bunch wend on a rampage courting disaster’ is the persecution of many well-known scholars charged with guilt by association by such people. The ‘high wind’ is ‘high and steep, and clear-cut’, describing lofty personality with elegant manner, smart and bright; the idea behind ‘discussing early morning moon during high wind’ is: only virtuous hero, scholar with strength of character, can obtain the acclaim as ‘man with excellent knowledge and experience’.


    [1] Bangyan - candidate who came second in the Hanlin examination (Zhuangyuan was the first place, Tanhua was the third place).

    [2] Poetic form consisting of four lines of five syllables, with rhymes on first, second and fourth line.

    [3] The Pure Brightness Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day) (Confirmed by CFT).

    [4] The character ‘tang’ [堂] here can also mean ‘hall’, hence ‘jing ye tang’ can also be translated as ‘Hall of Dedication’.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:04 AM.

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    Default Chapter 2 - Part 1

    Chapter 2 - In most peculiar circumstance best friendship at first meeting.
    (Translated by Foxs)


    LuDingJi-02.jpg

    Wei Xiaobao was scared out of his wits, he held on tightly to the horse's tail. He heard the wind rushing on his ears and felt his body was slipping down, he did not stop shouting and cursing, "My good mama, hot piece mama! Mao Shiba, if you don't stop the horse, laozi ..."
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:06 AM.

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    Default Chapter 2 - Part 2

    Since the ancient time Yangzhou has always been known as a flourishing city with famous scenic spots. Tang dynasty's poet Du Mu wrote, "I awake, after dreaming ten years in Yangzhou, Known as fickle, even in the Street of Blue Houses[1]." People of old said that among the pleasures of life, nothing can surpass ‘having a string of a thousand taels wrapped around one's waist and ride a crane to Yangzhou[2]. Yangzhou was located within the canal built by Emperor Yang of Sui [569-618 AD, reigned 604-618 AD], consequently, the water traffic between Jiangsu and Zhejiang must pass through Yangzhou. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, it had become the gathering place of major salt merchants, and thus it prospered to be one of the wealthiest place in China.

    During Kangxi of Qing Dynasty's early years, Ming Yu Fang ['Fang' means a district, a subdivision of a city, 'Ming' - cry (of a bird), 'Yu' – jade] by the Shouxi [lit. 'slender/thin west'] Lake of Yangzhou, where the Street of Blue Houses was located, was known for its high concentration of famous courtesans.

    It was a nice evening in the spring, the lanterns were just lit, from each courtyard in Ming Yu district came the sound of bamboo flutes and happy laughter, mixed with shouts of people playing drinking game and ordering more drink, plus songs and drunken brawl. Music and wine were everywhere; it was indeed a picture of gaiety in a peaceful time.

    Suddenly, from both the south and the north side of the area came the sound of about five or six men shouting together, "Friends of courtyard businesses, ladies, and guests who are here to have fun, everybody, listen up: We are looking for a man, we are not interested in everybody else, please do not shout or move needlessly. If you do not obey our instruction, please do not blame us for being rude!"

    After a short burst of commotion, Ming Yu district immediately turned very quiet, but not for long, because noise was rising from all directions in the courtyards; the women were screaming and the men were shouting in great confusion.

    A large banquet was being held at the Li Chun Yuan [lit. 'beautiful/lovely spring courtyard'], about a dozen or so prominent salt merchants were sitting around three tables, each one of them had a courtesan sitting next to him. As soon as they heard the commotion, their countenance was greatly changed. "What is it?" "Who is it?" "Are they policemen investigating a case?" they all wondered.

    Suddenly there was the beating-drum-like sound outside the main gate, or perhaps the main gate itself was being beaten. The servants [orig. ‘turtle slave’] were so frightened that they did not know whether they should open the door. 'Bang!' the main gate was broken, about seventeen, eighteen big men burst in. These men were wearing short clothes, with plain white band tied around their heads and dark green belt around their waists. In their hands they held either a flickering saber, an iron club, or an iron stick. As soon as the salt merchants saw them, they recognized these men as salt smugglers.

    At that time the salt duty was quite heavy. To avoid paying tax, these smugglers sold the salt in the black market and made quite a fortune. Yangzhou was the salt distribution center of the Huai River north of the Yangtze River. Generally outlaws would form gangs of smugglers. These salt traffickers were very fierce and tough, and would disperse instantly whenever they met a squad of government officers and soldiers, but if they came across a smaller number of soldiers, without saying anything they would simply take out their weapons and attack. Therefore, the local authorities would frequently close their eyes and did not intervene.

    The salt merchants were aware that these salt smugglers' trade was usually limited to illegal salt; they neither rob travelling merchants nor commit other crimes, they only dealt with common people and usually were quite fair, seldom use force. Today, seeing those smugglers breaking into Ming Yu district carrying malicious air, the merchants panicked, but they were also surprised.

    A man, about fifty years of age, among the smugglers said, "Friends, we apologize for this disturbance." While saying that, he raised his cupped fist from left to right, then again from right to left; and then he said loud and clear, "I wonder if a friend of Tian Di Hui[3] by the surname of Jia, Jia Laoliu [lit. 'Ol' Six'], Jia Laoxiong [Old Fellow Jia], is here?" His gaze swept the faces of the salt merchants one by one.

    Meeting his sharp gaze, the merchants were terrified; they repeatedly shook their heads, but inwardly they were quite relieved, thinking, "It's only the clan and society in Jianghu carrying vendetta against each other in a bustling street, it may have nothing to do with outsiders."

    Raising his voice, the elderly smuggler called out, "Jia Laoliu, this afternoon at a tavern by Lake Shouxi you were talking rubbish; you said Yangzhou's salt smugglers are cowards who do not dare to rebel by killing government officials, who can only smuggle salt, small-scale business which does not require any guts. You were drunk [orig. 'full of yellow soup'], shouting and mumbling big; you said that if Yangzhou's salt smugglers refuse to accept, we should go to Ming Yu district to look for you. Well, here we are! Jia Laoliu, you are a warrior of the Tian Di Hui, how come you are now shrinking back your head like a turtle?"

    The rest of them, a dozen or so salt smugglers, echoed, "Tian Di Hui warrior, how come you are shrinking back your head like a turtle? Hot piece mama, are you the Heaven and Earth Society, or Turtle Head Society?"

    The elderly man said, "It was Jia Laoliu alone who spoke rubbish, we must not drag the other good friends of Tian Di Hui into this. We are salt smugglers, we earn our food with sweat and blood, how can we be compared to the heroes of Tian Di Hui? But we are not turtles who pull back our heads either!"

    After waiting for quite a while, that Jia Laoliu of Tian Di Hui had never answered. The old man shouted, "Go and search every room, if you see that turtle head surnamed Jia, invite him to go out. This man has a big blade scar on his face, he is very easy to recognize." The salt smugglers complied loudly and immediately went from room to room.

    Suddenly from a room on the eastern wing came a rough yet heroic voice, "Who's shouting and rambling in here, disturbing laozi seeking merriment?"

    The salt smugglers called out one after another, "Jia Laoliu is here!" "Jia Laoliu, come out!" "Damn it, this dog thief has guts!"

    The man on the east wing laughed aloud and said, "Laozi is not surnamed Jia, it's just that you guys recklessly scolding Tian Di Hui, it's not pleasing in laozi's ears. Laozi is not of Tian Di Hui, but I know each and every one of Tian Di Hui friends are heroes and warriors. You, salt smugglers, are not even fit to carry their shoes or wipe their butt."

    The salt smugglers shouting and yelling indistinctly; three men wielding sabers charged into the room, but a series of 'Aiyo!' was heard, the three men flew out of the room one by one and dropped to the floor. One man's saber knocked his own forehead, blood flowed and he passed out instantly. Six salt smugglers charged together into the room, but with repeated cry every single one of them was thrown back out. These people continued swearing and cursing, but no one dared to enter.

    The old man took several steps forward toward the room, under the dim light he saw a big burly man with dragon-like [orig. '虬' - qiu, young dragon with horns] whisker was sitting on the bed, his head was wrapped in plain white cloth. There was no blade scar on his face, apparently he was not Jia Laoliu. In loud voice the old man asked, "Sire has quite a talent, may I ask your honorable surname and your great given name?"

    The man inside the room cursed, "Whatever your Die-die’s [see Chapter 1] surname and given name are, naturally that's what laozi's surname and given name are. Good kid, you have forgotten your own [paternal] grandpa's name and surname?"

    From among the crowd of courtesans standing on the side, a woman, approximately thirty years old, suddenly giggled. A salt smuggler rushed a step forward and 'slap! slap!' he struck the courtesan that tears flowing for her eyes and nose. "Damn it!" the salt smuggler cursed, "Stinky prostitute, what's so funny?" The courtesan was so scared that she did not dare to make any noise.

    Suddenly from the main hall a boy, about twelve, thirteen years old, scrambled in and swore loudly, "You dare to hit my Ma! You are a dead turtle, rotten bastard. I wish a thunder will strike you when you go out, I wish the back your hands will be infected by rotten boils, which will eat your hands and your tongue. I wish bloody pus will go into your belly, rotting your stomach and intestine!"

    The salt smuggler was livid, reaching out, he was trying to grab the boy, but the boy dodged and hid behind another salt smuggler. With his left hand the first salt smuggler pushed the second salt smuggler, toppling him down in the process, then with his right fist he punched the boy's back as hard as he could.

    "Daye[4], please spare his life!" the middle-aged courtesan called out in great alarm.

    The boy was very slippery, he ducked and slipped under the salt smuggler's crotch, while reaching up to grab; he happened to grab his scrotum, which he squeezed with all his might. The salt smuggler was so much in pain that he let out a strange 'wah! wah!' cry. The boy quickly slipped away. To vent his anger, the salt smuggler punched the middle-aged courtesan. 'Bang!' the courtesan passed out instantly.

    The boy threw himself on her body while calling out, "Ma, Ma!" The salt smuggler grabbed the back of the boy's collar and lifted him up. He was about to punch the boy when the older salt smuggler shouted sternly, "Don't create trouble! Put that little boy down!" The salt smuggler put the boy down and kicked his buttocks, sending him rolling down on the floor and 'bang!' he hit the wall.

    The older man cast a glance to the salt smuggler, then he said toward the door, "We are the brethrens from the Green Gang; just because a friend from Tian Di Hui by the surname of Jia insulted the Green Gang in public and said he would wait for us to settle the account here in Ming Yu district, we have come to look for him. Since Sire is not a friend from Tian Di Hui, we are like the well water does not mix with the river water; why did you injure us? Please leave your name, so that when our Bangzhu [Clan or Gang Leader] ask, we can explain to him."

    The man inside the room laughed and said, "You are looking for a Tian Di Hui friend to settle an account, what does it have to do with me? I am here looking for pleasure. Since we are like the well water does not mix with the river water, then don't come here bothering laozi. I do have an advice for laoxiong, though: Tian Di Hui people, it would be better if laoxiong do not provoke them. If they curse you, just let it go, you'd better tuck your tail between your legs and continue smuggling salt quietly, making some money."

    The older man angrily said, "I have never seen anybody in Jianghu more unreasonable than you."

    The man inside the room coldly said, "Reasonable or not, what do I have to do with you? Could it be that you are looking for someone to marry into your family, and you want to call me your Jiefu [older sister's husband]?"

    Right this moment, three men quietly sneaked in from outside, they were also dressed as salt smugglers. One of them was a skinny man wielding spear chain, in a low voice he asked, "What is this all about?"

    The older man shook his head and said, "He doesn't want to talk, just keep on saying that we must swallow Tian Di Hui's insult. Perhaps that man surnamed Jia is hiding inside."

    The skinny man swung his spear chain and tossed his head. The older man pulled out a pair of about a foot long daggers from his waist. Suddenly the four of them charged together into the room, followed by the sound of weapons colliding.

    Lovely Spring Courtyard was one of four biggest courtyards in Ming Yu district, each room was exquisitely furnished with pear wood tables and chairs, with mahogany beds and couches. An uninterrupted series of 'Bing! Bang! Crack!' was heard; obviously all the furniture inside the room was shattered. The madame proprietor's chubby face was trembling, her mouth mumbled prayers to Buddha, her heart was in constant pain.

    The four salt smugglers did not stop shouting and yelling, but the man in the room did not make any noise. The people in the hall stood far away for fear that they might suffer disaster by accident. The noise of colliding weapons inside the room was getting faster and faster. Suddenly someone let out a miserable scream; presumably one of the salt smugglers was hit.

    The burly man who kicked the boy, whose scrotum was still hurting really bad, saw that the boy was crawling up from the bottom of the wall. His anger flared again, and he swung his fist to punch the boy. The boy sidestepped, but the burly man flipped his hand and slapped him on the face, sending the boy spinning twice. The crowd of servants and salt merchants saw how vicious the salt smuggler was, if the beating continued, the boy would be killed, but nobody dared to intervene. The burly man raised his right fist to strike the crown of that boy's head. The boy darted forward to escape, he pushed the side-room door open and dashed in.

    "Ah!" everybody in the hall gasped. The burly man was also startled, but he did not dare to pursue into the room.

    As the boy dashed inside, for a moment he was unable to see clearly. Suddenly the weapons clashed again, 'Ding! Dang!' Under the sparks he saw a man was sitting on the bed, his head was wrapped in white cloth bandage; his appearance looked terrifying. "Ah!" the boy screamed in terror.

    When the sparks vanished, the room turned dark again. But the candles in the hall shone their light through the door, gradually his eyes adjusted to the dark and he was able to see clearly. The man with bandaged head was wielding a single-edged saber, which he brandished furiously. From the four salt smuggler leaders, only two remained, the other two were lying on the floor. The two that remained were the older man wielding a pair of daggers, and a tall and sturdy man. The boy thought, “This man’s head is heavily injured, and he is unable to fight standing up, he won’t be these salt smugglers’ match; I’d better flee immediately. But I wonder how Mama is?”

    Remembering how his mother was beaten and humiliated, anger surged up in his breast; he swore through the door, “Turtle thief, your granny, f*ck your eighteen generations ancestor’s stinky salt skin … your salt smuggling home is full of salt. Your granny, your mother, your wife are all dead, and you pickle them with salt and you sell them as pork jerky on the street, three catties for a wen [coin of smallest denomination], as if people would want to buy your stinky salt-cured meat …” Hearing his malicious and sarcastic swearing, the salt smugglers in the hall were furious; they wanted to rush inside and beat him to death, but nobody dared to enter the room.

    The man in the room suddenly swept his saber diagonally down, ‘shua!’ he chopped the tall and sturdy man’s shoulder that even his shoulder bone was severed. The big man staggered back while screaming in loud voice, his body swayed and he almost fell down. The older man raised his pair of daggers and stabbed straight toward the pit of the man’s stomach. The man lifted up his saber to parry. Right this moment there was a dull slap as the big man’s whip struck his right shoulder. With a ‘clang!’ the saber fell down. The older man howled and struck with his pair of daggers. The man turned his left palm over and ‘Crack! Crack!’ several of the older man’s ribs were broken as he was thrown outside the room, spurted fresh blood, and fainted on the floor.

    Although the big man’s left shoulder was heavily injured, he was still very bold. Grabbing a mace, he swung it down on the top of the man’s head. The man was unable to dodge, as if his entire strength was already depleted and he was unable to move even a single muscle. Actually, the big man’s strength was almost spent as well, the mace in his hand moved very slowly.

    Seeing the critical situation, the boy’s anger and hatred rose up again; throwing himself forward, he grabbed both of the big man’s legs and pulled backward with all of his might. The big man weighed at least two hundred catties, while the boy was small and skinny; normally, the boy would not be able to move even half a hair of the big man’s. However, this moment the man was heavily injured, while he used the last ounce of his strength to move the weapon. With a sudden pull from the boy, his legs gave up; he fell down and lay still on a pool of blood.

    Gasping for breath, the man on the bed laughed and said, “Come in and fight if you have guts!”

    The boy shook his hand repeatedly, telling him not to provoke the people outside. But when the older man was thrown out of the room, his body bumped against the door, sending it swinging continuously. Illuminated by the candle light from the hall, the man’s dragon whisker and his face full of blood looked very mean and ferocious.

    The crowd of salt smugglers in the hall was unclear of the real situation inside; they looked at each other in shock, only to hear the man inside shouted again, "Son of a b*tch, you don't dare to come in, the old man will come out and kill you one by one."


    [1] From the poem 'Confession', translated by Bynner. Source: http://wengu.tartarie.com/wg/wengu.php?l=Tangshi&no=293,

    [2] Idiom, meaning: get an official position.

    [3] Lit. 'heaven and earth society'. I am aware that Minford translated this as 'Triads', however, I prefer the original form.

    [4] Master Sir, lit. big master.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:11 AM.

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    Default Chapter 2 - Part 3

    The crowd of salt smugglers cried out and lifted their wounded comrades lying on the floor, they bolted out the door. The man laughed aloud, and then lowering his voice he said, "Kid, go ... go bolt the door."

    The boy thought the door definitely must be bolted. "Yes!" he hastily replied and bolted the door, then he slowly walked toward the bed. In the dark his nose caught the intermittent smell of blood.

    The man said, "You ... you ..." but before he could finish, he slumped down; apparently he fainted. His body swayed and was about to fall off the bed. The boy quickly rushed forward to prop him up. This man's body was very heavy. The boy struggled hard to straighten him up and put his head on a pillow.

    The man was breathing laboriously; a moment later he said in a low voice, "Those salt smugglers will come back in an instant, my strength has yet to return, I must get ... get damn away from here."

    Holding out his hand to stand up, he seemed to bump a sore spot for he groaned loudly. The boy quickly helped him up. The man said, "Pick the saber, give it to me!" The boy picked the saber from the floor and stuffed it into the man's right hand. The man slowly got up from the bed, his body was constantly swaying. The boy stepped forward and set his right shoulder underneath the man's left armpit.

    "I am leaving," the man said, "Don't help me, otherwise if those salt smugglers saw you, they would kill you as well."

    "Damn it," the boy said, "If they want to kill, just kill, I am not afraid. We, good friends, must uphold yi qi [loyalty, code of brotherhood], I cannot not help you."

    The man burst out in laughter, mixed with several coughs. He said with a laugh, "You and I must uphold yi qi?"

    "Why not?" the little boy replied, "Good friends enjoy blessings and endure misfortune together."

    In the teahouses around Yangzhou, there were many storytellers; they told the story of the Three Kingdoms, the Water Margin, the Ming Dynasty’s 'Legend of Heroic Deeds', and all kinds of heroic tales. Day in and day out this little boy went in and out of brothels, casinos, teahouses and restaurants, running errands and buying things for the customers; by scrapping here and there, he was able to earn some money. Whenever he had free time, he would squat by the tea table listening to people telling stories. He always sweet-talked the teahouses' proprietors by calling them uncle this and uncle that, and thus the proprietors had never chased him away.

    He had heard quite a few stories, and was extremely fascinated by the sagas of heroes and warriors of old. Seeing this man that albeit his heavy injury was able to defeat not a few of salt smugglers, his heart was filled with admiration. Since the heroes in the story often said those words, he just blurted it out.

    The man laughed aloud and said, “Those words are well said. In Jianghu laozi has heard it mentioned a thousand times, the fellows who enjoying blessing together seem to be many, but I haven’t seen too many of those who endure difficulties together. Let’s go!”

    With his right shoulder the boy supported the man’s left arm; he opened the door and walked into the hall. When the people saw them, they were startled and scrambled away from them.

    “Xiaobao, Xiaobao,” the boy’s mother called out, “Where are you going?”

    “I am walking this friend out,” the boy replied, “I will be back soon.”

    “This friend! Ha ha … now I have become your friend!” the man said with a laugh.

    “Don’t go,” the boy’s mother called out, “You must quickly hide.” The boy laughed and walked away from the hall in big strides.

    The two of them left Lovely Spring Courtyard and found the alley was surprisingly extremely quiet; presumably because they met a formidable opponent, the salt smugglers went back to call for reinforcement. As they left the alley and entered a small street ahead, the man looked up to the stars above and said, “Let’s go to the west.”

    After walking for several zhang [unit of length, approximately 10 ft or 3 m], they came across a donkey cart. “Let’s rent a cart!” the man shouted. The driver halted. Seeing the two of them were covered in blood, his face showed astonishment and suspicion. The man took out a silver ingot from his pocket, about four or five taels [1 tael worth approximately 50 grams or 2 oz. of silver] worth. He said, “Take the money first!”

    Seeing a quite valuable silver ingot, the driver stopped the cart immediately and put down the footboard. The man slowly heaved his body up on the cart. From his pocket he fished another yuanbiao [gold or silver ingot, shaped like a boat], worth ten taels, and gave it to the boy. He said, “Little friend, I am leaving. I give this yuanbiao to you.”

    Seeing such a big yuanbiao, the boy could not help but mumbling indistinctly and swallowing his saliva, while thinking, “What a good guy!” However, he remembered many chivalrous tales he had heard and recalled that heroes and warriors only make friends, they do not love money. Today, after so many difficulties, he finally had a chance to become a hero; whatever happened, he must continue to the end, he cannot be a useless person who was greedy for money. Thereupon, with a loud voice he said, “We are speaking about yi qi, and not about money. If you give me the yuanbiao, you are considering me unworthy. You are injured, and I am going to send you off.”

    The man was startled, but then he laughed to his heart’s content with his face to the sky. “Very good! Very good!” he said, “You meant well.” And he put the yuanbiao back into the pocket. The boy crawled up the cart and sat by his side.

    “Mister, where do you want to go?” the cart driver asked.

    “To the west of town,” the man replied, “The Victory Hill!”

    “Victory Hill?” the cart driver was startled, “Going to the west of town in the dead of the night?”

    “Exactly!” the man said, while lightly knocking his saber against the side of the cart.

    The cart driver was scared, “Yes, yes!” he hastily said. Pulling down the cart’s curtain, he drove the donkey out of town. The man closed his eyes to rest, his breathing was short and heavy, sometimes he would cough several times.

    Victory Hill was a large rural area about thirty li [unit of length, about 0.5 km or 1/3 of a mile] northwest of Yangzhou. During the Shaoxing years of the Southern Song Dynasty, Han Shizhong scored a major victory against the Jin army on this hill, hence the name ‘Victory’. The cart driver drove his donkey in great haste, in just over two hours they had reached the bottom of the hill. "Mister, we have arrived!" he said.

    The man saw the hill was only seven, eight zhang high, it was only a knoll actually. "Pei!" he spat and asked, "Is this the damned Victory Hill?"

    "It is," the cart driver said.

    The boy also said, "This is indeed the Victory Hill. When my Ma and the sisters went to burn incense in the Madame Ying Lie [lit. 'heroic deed'] Temple, I came along and played in here. The Madame Ying Lie Temple is a bit farther ahead."

    The Madame Ying Lie Temple was dedicated to Madame Han Shizhong, Liang Hongyu. Yangzhou residents called it 'Distinguished Prostitute Temple'. When she was young, Liang Hongyu[1] was a courtesan, and that was how she met Han Shizhong. Every year the courtesans of Yangzhou would visit the Madame Ying Lie Temple to burn incense and pray, asking the spirit of this mistress from Anguo, Hebei province, of the Song Dynasty, to look after the latter generation sisters of the same trade.

    The man said, "Since you know it, it must be right. Get down."

    The boy jumped down and then he helped the man stepped down the cart. It was pitch-black all around. The boy thought, "That's right, this is a desolate place. If we are hiding here, those salt smugglers will never find us."

    The cart driver was afraid this man, whose body was covered in blood, would ask him to take him someplace else; pulling the reins, he whipped the donkey to leave. "Hold it," the man said, "Take this little friend back to the city."

    "Yes," the cart driver replied.

    "Let me keep you company for a while," the boy said, "Early tomorrow morning I can buy some steamed buns for you to eat."

    "Do you really want to stay with me?" the man asked.

    "No one is taking care of you," the boy replied, "It won't be right otherwise."

    The man roared in laughter again. "In that case," he said to the cart driver, "You may go!" The cart driver hurriedly urged the donkey to walk.

    The man sat on a big rock. When the cart driver was out of sight, no more noise was heard all around. The man suddenly shouted, "Two bastard turtles behind the willow tree, roll out to laozi here!"

    The boy jumped in fright. "Someone is here?" he mused. But then he saw two men walking slowly from behind the willow tree. Those two wore plain white band around their heads and dark green belt around their waists; obviously they belong to the salt smuggler gang.

    The two men had flickering sabers in their hands. After taking only two steps, they halted. The man shouted, "Bastard son of turtles, you have been trailing your old man all the way from the pleasure house to this place; not coming out to deliver your life, what are you waiting for?"

    The boy thought, "That's right, they are here to ascertain where we are, then they are going to send reinforcement to kill him."

    The two men talked to each other in low voice, then suddenly they turned around and ran. The man quickly leaped to pursue. "Ay!" he exclaimed, and fell sitting down. His injury was simply too heavy that he was incapable of running after those men.

    The boy thought, "The donkey cart has already left, the two of us cannot go too far. If those two managed to spread the news, it would be terribly bad if a large number of troops come here to kill us." Suddenly he cried loudly, "Aiyo, why did you die? You must not die! You cannot die!"

    The two salt smugglers were running like crazy, suddenly hearing the boy's cry, they were startled and halted their steps immediately, only to hear the boy crying out, "Why did you die?" They could not help but were pleasantly surprised. One of them wondered, "The evil thief died?" The other man replied, "His injury was very heavy, he could not bear it. The little demon is crying like that, I am sure he is really dead."

    Looking from the distant, they saw the man curled up on the ground. The first man said, "Even if he is not dead yet, we need not be afraid of him. Let's chop his head and take it back; won't we render a great service that way?"

    "Wonderful!" the other man agreed. With a saber in their hands, the two of them slowly came near.

    The boy was wailing loudly while beating his chest and stomping his feet. "Laoxiong," he called out, "Why did you die suddenly? If those salt smugglers came back, how am I supposed to deal with them?"

    The two men were greatly delighted, they leaped toward them. One of them said, "Evil thief, it is best that you die!" He grabbed the back of the boy's clothes, while the other man chopped his saber down on the man's neck.

    Suddenly a saber flashed; one man's head flew up, while the other man who grabbed the boy had his chest and abdomen cut open from top to bottom. The man laughed aloud up stood up, propped by his saber.

    The boy cried, "Aiyo, salt smuggler friend, how come your head is missing? The two of you, Seniors, are going to see Yan Wang [Yama, King of Hell]; who will come back to tell your friends? Isn't it terrible?" Crying to this part, he could not refrain from breaking out in laughter.

    The man said with a laugh, "You, this little demon, are really smart, your crying is really convincing. If you did not cry like that, those two bastards would not come back."

    The boy replied with a laugh, "What's so difficult about pretending to cry? When my Ma was about to beat me, before the whip even reach my body, I cried my heart out, that way the whip would not come down too heavily."

    "Why would your mother want to beat you?" the man asked.

    "It depends," the boy replied, "Sometimes it was because I stole her money, sometimes it was because I created trouble for the aunties or uncles."

    The man sighed. "If I did not kill these two scouts, we will have a serious problem," he said. "Hey, when you cried just now, why didn't you call me 'master' or 'uncle', but you called me 'laoxiong'?"

    The boy said, "But you are my friend, of course I would call you 'friend'. What damned 'Master' are you? You want me to call you 'Master', what in the devil are you to me?"

    The man roared in laughter. "Very good!' he said, "Little friend, what is your name?"

    "Are you asking my honorable surname and my great name?" the boy replied, "I am called Xiaobao [lit. 'little treasure/precious']."

    The man laughed, "Your great name is Xiaobao," he said, "What about your honorable surname?"

    The boy knitted his eyebrows. "I ... my honorable surname is Wei," he said.

    He was born in a brothel, his mother's name was Wei Chunhua [lit. 'spring flower']. As for his father, even his own mother did not know who. Everybody called him Xiaobao, nobody had ever asked his surname before. This time the man asked, he simply blurted out his mother's surname. This Wei Xiaobao was born in a brothel and grew up in a brothel; he had never been to school. When mentioning his ‘honorable surname and great name’, he was not joking; it’s just that he often heard the storytellers mentioning the four words ‘honorable surname’ and ‘great name’, without realizing that it was a way of respectfully addressing other people, and thus it was inappropriate to be used to refer to oneself.

    Following the example, he also asked, “What is your honorable surname and your great name then?”

    The man smiled and said, “Since you are my friend, I should not hide my name from you. I am surnamed Mao, the ‘mao’ from ‘maocao’ [cogon grass], not the ‘mao’ from ‘maochong’ [caterpillar]. I am the eighteenth in rank, thus I am called Mao Shiba [eighteen].”

    “Ah!” Wei Xiaobao exclaimed and jumped, “I have heard that the government … the government wants to arrest you?” he said, “They said you are a big robber[2] or something.”

    Mao Shiba grunted and said, “That’s right, aren’t you afraid of me?”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Afraid of what? So what if you are a big robber? Lin Chong, Wu Song, those heroes from the Water Margin were also big robbers.”

    Mao Shiba was very happy. “You are comparing me with Lin Chong, Wu Song, those heroes; that’s wonderful!” he said, “Who told you that the government wants to arrest me?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “There are official announcements posted all around Yangzhou; it says that the big robber Mao Shiba is wanted, dead or alive. Whoever can kill you will be rewarded two thousand taels. If anybody can give information leading to your arrest, the reward is somewhat less, only a thousand taels. Yesterday I heard some people talking about it at the teahouse; they said that you possess such a great skill that whoever is thinking to arrest you or kill you should forget it. It is best if anybody knows your whereabouts and informs the authority, thus collecting the thousand taels reward, which actually is an ill-gotten gain anyway.”


    [1] Liang Hongyu was a female general and the wife of a mighty Song Dynasty general, Han Shizhong. Even today, it is said that, standing on Golden Mountain, one can still hear her beating the mighty war drum which stirred the hearts of her Song soldiers. (Wikipedia)

    [2] Both the online text and the book have 江洋大盗 (jiang yang da dao - Lit. 'big robber of river and ocean'); however, my dad says that it should be 汪洋大盗 (wang yang da dao, meaning 'the biggest robber/high-caliber criminal'), since 'jiang yang da dao' does not mean anything.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:11 AM.

  13. #13
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    Default Chapter 2 - Part 4

    Mao Shiba leaned his head sideways to look at him and snorted contemptuously. A thought flashed through Wei Xiaobao’s mind, “If I can collect this thousand taels reward, Ma and I, two people, will have enough money to spend: eating chicken, duck, fish and beef, gambling and fooling around; this money won’t be spent for several years.” Seeing Mao Shiba leaning his head looking at him with somewhat strange expression, Wei Xiaobao angrily said, “What are you thinking? You think I am going to report you for the reward?”

    “Yes,” Mao Shiba admitted, “White and shiny silver, who does not love?”

    “F*ck your granny,” Wei Xiaobao swore, “What Jianghu’s yi qi are you talking about?”

    “It’s up to you,” Mao Shiba replied.

    “Since you do not trust me, why did you tell me your real name?” Wei Xiaobao said, “Your head and your face are wrapped in that much bandage, you look completely different from the picture on the official announcement. If you did not say that you are Mao Shiba, who would recognize you?”

    Mao Shiba said, “You said that we should enjoy blessings and endure misfortune together. If even my real name I conceal from you, what kind of damn bastard friend am I?”

    Wei Xiaobao was greatly delighted, he said, “Absolutely correct! Even if there is a ten thousand taels, a hundred thousand taels reward, no way would laozi report you.” While in his heart he said, “If there really is a ten thousand taels, a hundred thousand taels reward, will I or won’t I betray a friend?” He was not so sure.

    “Very well,” Mao Shiba said, “Let us sleep for a while, tomorrow at noon [orig. ‘wu shi’, between 11am-1pm] there will be two friends coming for me. We have an appointment to meet at the Victory Hill west of Yangzhou; even if I am dead, I won’t leave before we meet.” Wei Xiaobao had been running around for the whole day, he was already tired early on. As soon as he heard him, he leaned against a tree trunk and fell asleep.

    When he woke the next day, he saw Mao Shiba was pressing both his hands against his chest; he said with a laugh, “You are awake. Drag these two dead men behind the tree, and sharpen these three sabers.”

    Wei Xiaobao pulled the dead bodies as told. The morning sun had just appeared, it was only now that he was able to see clearly: Mao Shiba was roughly forty years of age, his hands and arms were bulging with muscle, his eyes were bright, his expression was bold and powerful. He took the three sabers to a mountain stream nearby, dipped the saber into the water, and then sharpened it on a rock. He thought, “To deal with the salt smugglers, one saber is enough. Supposing this Mao Laoxiong is killed, why do I have to sharpen the other two? So that other people can use it to kill Wei Xiaobao?” He was always lazy, after putting an act of sharpening the blades for some time, he said, “Let me go buy some deep-fried breadstick and steamed buns for us to eat.”

    “Where would you buy some deep-fried breadstick and steamed buns?” Mao Shiba asked.

    "There's a small town over there, not too far from here," Wei Xiaobao replied, "Mao Dage, may I borrow two taels of your money?"

    Mao Shiba chuckled; taking out the big yuanbiao from his pocket, he said, "We are brothers, what's yours is mine, what's mine is yours, you can just use mine, there is no need to say the word 'borrow'."

    Wei Xiaobao was delighted, he thought, "This hero indeed considers me as a friend; even if there is a ten-thousand taels of reward, I simply cannot report him to the authority. But what about a hundred thousand? Now that is going to be a problem. Pei! Just look at him, will he worth that much money? I don't need to think too much." Receiving the money, he asked, "Do you want me to buy you some medicine?"

    "No need," Mao Shiba said, "I have my own medicine."

    "Alright, I am leaving," Wei Xiaobao said, "Mao Dage, don't worry, supposing I am caught by the authorities, even if they kill me, I will never tell them that you are Mao Shiba." Hearing the sincerity in his voice, Mao Shiba nodded. Wei Xiaobao muttered to himself, "You will have two friends coming over, I'd better buy a pot of wine, and several catties of cooked beef."

    Mao Shiba happily said, "Nothing's better than wine and meat; go quickly and return quickly. I can kill better with a full stomach."

    Wei Xiaobao was startled, "Do the salt smugglers know you are here?" he asked, "Are they after you?"

    "It's not that," Mao Shiba said, "I have an appointment to fight with someone on the Victory Hill. Otherwise, why would I rush to this place?"

    Wei Xiaobao let out a breath. "You are still injured," he said, "How can you fight? Why do you have to keep the appointment? It won't be too late to wait until you recover, it's just that ... it's just that I am afraid the other party won't agree to it."

    "Pei!" Mao Shiba spat, "The other party is a famous hero and warrior, why won't he agree? It's me who is unwilling. Today is the twenty-ninth day of the third month, isn't it? Half a year ago, the appointment has been decided. Afterwards I was caught by the authorities and was put in jail. I was concerned over this appointment, I have to keep it; hence I had to break out from jail and in the process killed several Eagle Claw's[1] grandsons, only then was the city of Yangzhou thrown into a complete mess, and so they put up some damn posters to arrest laozi. His granny, just the day before yesterday I came across several Eagle Claw's kids, whose martial art skill was very strong. I killed three of them, but unexpectedly I also suffered a bit of injury in the process; just consider it my bad luck."

    "Alright," Wei Xiaobao said, "I will hurry to buy something to eat. When you are full, you may fight." He started to run immediately. Rounding the hillside, he rushed for six, seven li before reaching a small town. He made a plan in his heart, "Mao Dage cannot even walk from his wound, how can he fight? He said the opposite party is a famous hero and warrior, his martial art skill must be good; what can I do to help him?"

    With the money in his hand, his heart was itching unbearably; in all his life, he had never held that much money, he knew he would not be happy unless he spend it all. Going to a grocer, he bought two catties of cooked beef, a duck marinated in soy paste, and two bottles of yellow wine. He still had quite a bit of money left. With it he bought a dozen steamed buns, and eight strips of deep-fried breadstick, at most it was only twenty-some wen. Suddenly he had an idea, "Why don't I buy a roll of rope? I can put some horse-tripping rope on the ground. When they fight, if the opponent is not careful, he may trip on the rope and fall down, then Mao Dage can chop him with his saber."

    He remembered a storyteller once told a story about a general who went to battle, his horse was tripped and he fell down, the enemy general raised his saber and chopped down the man into two pieces. In high spirit he went to buy the rope. When he reached the general store, however, he saw a row of four big vats in the store; one contained rice, the next one soy bean, the next one salt, and the last one contained small chunks of lime. Right away he recalled, "Last year, when gangs of salt smugglers fought by the Fairy Bridge, someone threw lime at their eyes and turned defeat into victory at once; why didn't I think about it earlier?" Therefore, he did not buy rope, but a bag of lime instead, and returned to Mao Shiba.

    Mao Shiba was lying by a tree, sleeping; hearing his footsteps, he woke up immediately. Opening a wine bottle, he took two mouthfuls and loudly praised it. "Aren't you going to drink?" he asked.

    Wei Xiaobao had never had wine before, but since he was acting as a hero or warrior, he took the bottle and took a mouthful. He felt a rush of heat bubbling up his stomach and he coughed immediately. Mao Shiba roared in laughter and said, "Little hero has not learned drinking wine skill."

    Suddenly from a distant someone was calling out loud and clear, "Shiba Xiong, are you well since we parted?"

    "Wu Xiong, Wang Xiong," Mao Shiba called back, "You two also look very well!"

    Wei Xiaobao's heart was pounding. He looked up to the direction of the voice, and saw two men were walking quickly along the main road, whom very soon had arrived in front of them. One was an old man, with long white beard hanging in front of chest, yet his countenance was ruddy and bright, without any wrinkle at all. The other one was a middle-aged man in his forties, short and stout. His head was bald, with a small braid hanging from the back of his head, his forehead looked like a hard-boiled egg without its shell.

    Mao Shiba raised his cupped fist and said, "Xiongdi [generic term for 'brother'; referring to self] is inconvenienced on the legs, cannot stand up to pay my respect."

    The bald man slightly frowned. The old man laughed and said, "Why be polite?"

    Wei Xiaobao thought, "Mao Dage is too honest, why must he tell people his legs are injured?"

    "We have wine and meat here," Mao Shiba said, "Would the two of you eat a little bit?"

    "Thank you for your hospitality," the old man replied. Sitting next to Mao Shiba, he took the wine bottle.

    Wei Xiaobao was delighted. "Turns out these two are Mao Dage's friends, they are here not to fight with him," he thought, "That's wonderful! When the enemy arrives, these two may help him fight."

    As the old man brought the bottle to his lips, the bald man said, "Wu Dage, you must not drink this wine!"

    The old man was startled, but he laughed immediately, he said, "Shiba Xiong is a firm and frank good man, how can there be any poison in the wine?" 'Glug, glug' he drank two mouthfuls of wine, and then handed the bottle to the bald man and said, "If you don't drink the wine, you are holding a good friend in contempt."

    Hesitation flashed on the bald man's face, but it was inappropriate for him to defy the old man's words, thereupon he received the wine bottle. He was just about to bring the bottle to his mouth when Mao Shiba suddenly reached out and snatched the bottle away, saying, "We don't have much wine! Since Wang Xiong does not like to drink wine, save several mouthfuls for me." Raising the bottle, he poured two mouthfuls of wine into his mouth. The bald man's face turned red; he sat down and grabbed some beef and started to eat.

    Mao Shiba said, "Let me introduce you to a good friend of mine." Pointing toward the old man, he said, "This is Wu Laoyezi [Old Master Wu], his title is Dapeng [lit. ‘the Great Roc’], in Jianghu he is known as 'Cloud Scraper Hand'. His punching and kicking skill is very famous."

    The old man laughed and said, "Mao Xiong has painted gold on my face." Looking all around, he did not see any other people, hence he was rather astonished.

    Mao Shiba pointed to the bald man and said, "This is Wang Shifu [respectful form of
    address for older men], whose given name is a single character 'Tan'; his nickname is 'A Pair of Pens Cut Into a Mountain'. His skill in using a pair of judge-pens has truly reached perfection."

    "Mao Xiong is making fun of me," the bald man said, "I have been defeated under your hands, I am really ashamed."

    "You flatter me," Mao Shiba said. Pointing toward Wei Xiaobao he said, "This young friend is my newly found brother ..." Listening to this point, Wu and Wang, two people were startled. They looked at each other, and then turned their gaze toward Wei Xiaobao. In all honesty they could not figure out the background of this skinny twelve, thirteen years old boy. In the meantime, Mao Shiba continued, "This young friend is surnamed Wei, given name Xiaobao. In Jianghu he is known as ... known as, um, his nickname is ... is ..." After pausing for a moment, he said, "He is known as the Little White Dragon. His water skill is superb, he can stay in the water for three days and three nights, live on fish and shrimp, and his face will not change.”

    He wanted to give this new friend some face, so that he would not appear discouraged in front of strangers, hence he had a mind to boast somewhat. However, Wei Xiaobao did not know any martial art, while Wu and Wang, two people were martial art experts, they would know from his voice or his movements, so it would be hard to deceive them. After thinking for a moment, Mao Shiba decided to say that Wei Xiaobao’s water skill was truly formidable. Wu and Wang, two people, were northern warriors, they did not know their way around the water, hence they would not know the genuine from the fake. He then said, “The three of you are good friends, you should know each other better.”

    Wu and Wang, two people, raised their cupped fist and said, “It’s an honor to meet you at last!”

    Wei Xiaobao simply copied what they were doing, he also raised his cupped fist and said, “It’s an honor to meet you at last!” While inwardly he was pleasantly surprised, “Mao Dage brags on my behalf, what kind of Jianghu warrior am I? I am sure this trickery will be exposed later.”

    With the four of them, the wine, meat and steamed buns were finished in no time. The bald Wang Tan’s appetite was really good; at first he was rather shy, but later on he started to take big bites. The amount of beef, steamed buns and deep-fried breadsticks he alone ate was more than the other three people combined.

    Mao Shiba used the sleeve of his clothes to wipe his mouth. “Wu Laoyezi,” he said, “This young friend’s water skill is fabulous, but he has not learned his land’s skill yet. Without any choice I will have to fight you one against two; it is not because I am looking down on the two of you.”

    Wu Dapeng said, “I’ll say our appointment can be postponed another half a year.”

    “And why is that?” Mao Shiba asked.

    Wu Dapeng said, “Mao Xiong is injured, obviously you cannot unleash you true skill. If the old man defeats you, there is no glory in that; if I am defeated, I won’t have any face to see other people even more.”

    Mao Shiba laughed aloud and said, “Injured or not, there is not much difference. If I have to wait another half a year, won’t I be anxious even more?” With left hand pressed against the tree trunk for support, he slowly stood up; his right hand already held his saber. “Wu Laoyezi has always been bare-handed,” he said, “Wang Xiong, pull your weapon!”

    “Very well,” Wang Tan said. Both hands entered his pocket, ‘clang!’ he pulled out a pair of judge-pens.

    Wu Dapeng said, “In that case, Wang Xiandi [‘worthy (younger) brother’], please give your humble brother an opportunity to have a try first. If I fail, it won’t be too late for you to try.”

    “Yes!” Wang Tan complied, and retreated three steps.

    With left palm upturned and right hand moved in circle, light as a feather Wu Dapeng delivered a strike toward Mao Shiba. Mao Shiba’s saber hacked down diagonally, lightly chopped Wu Dapeng’s left arm. Wu Dapeng lowered his head, and quickly came in under the blade, with his left hand slapped under Mao Shiba’s right elbow. Mao Shiba leaned sideways and dodged behind the tree. 'Slap!' Wu Dapeng's palm struck the tree trunk. The tree was about five, six zhang tall, the trunk was thick and solid, yet Wu Dapeng's palm strike had made the yellow leaves of the tree fall down like rain.

    "Good palm strength!" Mao Shiba called out. His saber cut horizontally across Wu Dapeng's waist. Wu Dapeng suddenly leaped up and from the air pounced down, his white beard floating; it was a wonderful sight. Mao Shiba countered with ‘Westerly Wind Rolling In’, his saber swept up from below. Wu Dapeng made a somersault in the air and leaped away. Mao Shiba's saber was less than half a foot from his abdomen. The saber was no doubt swift and fierce, but the way Wu Dapeng evaded it was also swift and brilliant.

    Wei Xiaobao had seen too many fights in his life, but it was all marketplace brawls where the rogues butting head with each other, kicking and pulling the opponent's braid, wrestling and beating each other randomly. Other than Mao Shiba's fierce battle with the salt smugglers at the Lovely Spring Courtyard the previous day, he had never seen martial art masters dueling each other in such a dangerous competition.


    [1] 'Eagle claw' usually refer to martial artists/pugilists/fighters who work for imperial court. Additional info courtesy of Forgot Password: Besides some other meanings, 鹰爪 (eagle claws) can also be used to refer to lackeys, underlings, hired thugs and the likes. I think it is a combination of two words 鹰犬 (eagles and dogs) and 爪牙 (talons and fangs), both of which can be applied to lackeys.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:12 AM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 2 - Part 5

    He saw Wu Dapeng advancing and retreating in quick successions, his palms danced, while Mao Shiba brandished his saber in front of his body like a silvery light shield. Several times did Wu Dapeng press in, but each time he was pushed back by the saber light.

    In the midst of intense battle, suddenly they heard hoof beats as about a dozen riders came galloping by; they were all dressed in Manchurian Qing military attire. When they were near, those dozen or so soldiers spread out and surrounded these four men in the middle. The leader shouted sternly, "Don't move! We have an order to arrest the Big Robber Mao Shiba. It has nothing to do with anybody else, please step away!"

    Hearing this, Wu Dapeng held his palms. Mao Shiba said, "Wu Laoyezi, the Eagle Claws have arrived! They are coming for me, you don't need to pay attention, let's continue our fight!"

    Wu Dapeng turned toward the soldiers and said, "This Xiongtai [brother, generic term] here is a law-abiding common person, how can he be the Big Robber? You mistook him as someone else."

    The leader laughed coldly and said, "He is a law-abiding common person, too bad there are too many law-abiding common people in the world. Friend Mao, you have committed a horrendous crime in Yangzhou. A real man is always responsible for what he did. Come follow us nicely!"

    "Just wait a moment," Mao Shiba said, "Wait until victory or defeat between me and these two friends is decided, then we'll talk." Turning toward Wu Dapeng and Wang Tan he said, "Wu Laoyezi, Wang Xiong, we must decide victory or defeat today, if you want to wait for another half a year, I don't know if I, the one surnamed Mao, will still alive. In short, why don't the two of you come together?"

    The leader shouted, "If the two of you are not Mao Shiba's accomplices, leave this place at once, do not get involved in this matter."

    "Your granny," Mao Shiba said, "What are these shouting and screaming for?"

    "Mao Shiba," the leader said, "You broke out of jail and killed people, that was the local authority's business, we need not take notice of it. But I heard that in a brothel you were yelling and boasting that the traitors of Tian Di Hui, who started a rebellion, are heroes and warriors; did you or did you not say such thing?"

    Mao Shiba loudly said, "Of course the friends of Tian Di Hui are heroes and warriors; are you saying that people like you, traitors of the Hans who lick the imperial court’s eggs, are heroes and warriors?”

    The leader’s eyes flashed a murderous look; he said, “Ao Shaobao [Oboi, see Chapter 1] sends us from Beijing to the south exactly to arrest the Tian Di Hui rebels. Mao Shiba, come with us.” While saying that, he turned toward Wu Dapeng and Wang Tan, he said, “The two of you were fighting with this traitor and bandit, presumably you are not his accomplice. You may leave.”

    Wu Dapeng said, “May I know your honorable surname and great name?”

    The leader proudly patted the shiny black flexible whip wound around his waist and said, “I am the Black Dragon Whip Shi Song, on assignment from Ao Shaobao to capture Tian Di Hui rebels.”

    Wu Dapeng nodded; he turned to Mao Shiba and said, “Mao Xiong, by Heaven my father and Earth my mother!”

    With eyes wide open Mao Shiba asked, “What did you say?”

    “Nothing,” Wu Dapeng smiled and said, “Mao Xiong, you probably are not a Tian Di Hui brother, but why did you speak well of Tian Di Hui?”

    “Tian Di Hui protects common people and kills traitors, they are doing heroes and warriors’ work, naturally they are heroes and warriors,” Mao Shiba said, “There is a saying in Jianghu: ‘Whoever never knew Chen Jinnan, he calls himself a hero in vain.’ Chen Jinnan, Chen Zongduozhu [see note 14 Chapter 1], is the leader of Tian Di Hui. All Tian Di Hui friends are working under Chen Zongduozhu, how can there be anyone who is not a hero and warrior?”

    Wu Dapeng asked, “Mao Xiong, have you met Chen Zongduozhu?”

    “What?” Mao Shiba angrily said, “Are you saying I am not a hero and warrior?” Since he was that angry, apparently he had never met Chen Jinnan.

    Wu Dapeng smiled, “I do not dare to presume,” he said.

    Mao Shiba said, “Are you saying you have met Chen Zongduozhu?” Wu Dapeng shook his head.

    Shi Song asked Wu and Wang, two people, “Do you know any Tian Di Hui people? If you have any information that will lead to the arrest of Tian Di Hui leader, that Chen Jinnan or whatever his name is, Oboi will certainly heap you with rewards.”

    Wu Dapeng and Wang Tan had not replied, Mao Shiba laughed aloud with his face to the sky; he said, “You mother’s dreaming a big dream in a clear autumn day; a lump of brick like you wants to arrest Tian Di Hui’s Chen Zongduozhu? You keep saying Ao Shaobao this and Ao Shaobao that; this Oboi calls himself the number one warrior or Manchuria, how is his martial art skill anyway?”

    Shi Song said, “Ao Shaobao is supernaturally brave, his martial art skill matchless. Once on a Beijing street he killed a mad bull with his fist; do you, a traitor, also know about it?”

    “His granny,” Mao Shiba swore, “I don’t believe Oboi is that formidable, I am just about to go to Beijing to challenge him.”

    With a cold laugh Shi Song said, “Are you worthy to fight with Ao Shaobao? The Senior only needs to extend one finger and you will be a dead man. The one surnamed Mao, we have talked enough nonsense, come follow us!”

    “You think it’s that easy?” Mao Shiba replied, “You have thirteen men; laozi will fight one against thirteen. Even though I know I am not your match, I will still fight you.”

    Wu Dapeng laughed and said, “Why does Mao Xiong consider us as outsiders? We have here three against thirteen; one man takes four, we may not necessarily lose.”

    Both Shi Song and Mao Shiba were stunned. Shi Song said, “The two of you must not have a change of mind and make a mistake; committing treason by helping a rebel is not a fun thing to do.”

    Wu Dapeng laughed and said, “If you say we are helping a rebel, so be it; but to commit treason, that we do not dare.”

    Shi Song said, “Helping a rebel is committing treason! You two think carefully, are you determined to help this traitor?”

    Wu Dapeng said, “Half a year ago, Mao Xiong and this Wang Xiongdi here made an appointment for a friendly duel in this place, it has nothing to do with me. Unexpectedly the government authority was not sensible enough by locking this Mao Xiong in jail. He is a good man of his words; if he did not keep this appointment today, how would he conduct himself in Jianghu in the future? So it was because he was forced by the government authority that he broke out of jail and killed people. It is called the government official drives the people to revolt, he has no choice but to rebel. Shi Daren, if you would give laohan [‘the old man’, referring to self] a face, please take your squad back, let laohan and Mao Xiong have a competition to measure their martial art skills. Whether you are going to arrest him tomorrow, laohan and Wang Xiongdi will not care!”

    “No, can’t do,” Shi Song said.

    One of the soldiers suddenly shouted, “Old fellow, you speak too much already!” While saying that, he pulled out his saber and squeezed his legs to spur the horse; raising his saber, he chopped it down on the top of Wu Dapeng’s head. Wu Dapeng tilted his body to evade the saber, his right arm reached out while leaping up at the same time to grab the soldier’s back. With one smooth motion he threw the soldier to the ground.

    The rest of the soldiers cried out, “Revolt! Revolt!” and jumped down their mounts to surround Wu Dapeng, three people. Mao Shiba’s legs were injured, he was still leaning on the tree, but he lifted his saber and hacked down a soldier to his death. The saber pared across and cut another soldier’s waist, sending him to his death. Seeing his ferocity, the rest of the soldiers did not dare to close in. With hands on his waist, Shi Song sat on the horseback, watching.

    At first Wei Xiaobao was also at the center of the encirclement, but when Shi Shong was still talking to Mao Shiba and Wu Dapeng, step by step he walked away. The soldiers did not know what this skinny and shriveled kid was doing in that place, so they did not pay him any attention. When the fight broke, he hid behind a tree several zhang away. “Shall I go now, or shall I stay and watch?” he asked himself, “Mao Dage only has three on their side, they will be killed by this soldiers for sure. After that, will these soldiers come and kill me as well?” But then he had a second thought, “Mao Dage considers me as his good friend, we should enjoy blessings and endure misfortune together. If I sneak out quietly, I am not holding up yi qi.”

    With a sweep of his palm, Wu Dapeng struck down a soldier. Wielding his pair of judge pens, Wang Tan fought three soldiers. By this time Mao Shiba had chopped down another soldier’s right leg. The soldier fell down on his own pool of blood, cursing and swearing loudly, his voice was sad and shrill.

    Shi Shong let out a loud and long cry; with the Black Dragon Whip in his hand, he also jumped down his mount. Before his feet landed on the ground, the tip of his whip had already coiled toward Mao Shiba. Mao Shiba unleashed the saber technique ‘Five Tigers Breaking the Gates’ to counter move for move. Shi Song lashed out his flexible whip seven, eight times in succession with formidable stances, but Mao Shiba countered each and every one with his saber.

    Suddenly Wu Dapeng shouted loudly, one soldier flew up and ‘Bang!’ he fell to the ground. The number of soldiers was reduced by one. On the other front, Wang Tan was fighting one against three, he gradually fell under a disadvantageous position, his left leg had been gashed by a sawtooth saber; blood gushed out of his wound, yet while limping and soaked in blood, he was still fighting hard.

    The three soldiers who fought with Wu Dapeng were not weak either; two sabers and one sword were weaving in and out around his body, Wu Dapeng’s Cloud Scraper Hand failed to land on their bodies.

    Shi Song’s flexible whip moved faster and faster, yet all along he was unable to subdue Mao Shiba. Suddenly he launched the stance ‘White Snake Spitting At Will’, the tip of his whip went straight toward Mao Shiba’s right shoulder. Mao Shiba raised his saber to block; to his surprise, however, Shi Song’s attack was an empty move, with a flick of his wrist, the former move, ‘Make a Sound in the East and Strike in the West’ changed into ‘Jade Belt Wrapped Around the Waist’, where the Black Dragon Whip was lashing to the left, but then immediately coiled back to the right to wrap itself around Mao Shiba’s waist.

    Mao Shiba’s legs could walk only with difficulty, all along he was standing against a big tree for support. As Shi Song’s attack, the ‘Jade Belt Wrapped Around the Waist’ arrived, he should have either dash forward or leap backward, since it was the only way to evade. But now he had no choice but to take the attack head-on; ‘Crack!’ he struck the tip of the whip with his saber that it fell down. Shi Song shook his whip loose. As the whip handle was loose, the whip dropped slightly, but suddenly it coiled up again, with an unimaginable speed it wrapped itself around Mao Shiba and the tree trunk; altogether it circled three times around. ‘Stab!’ the tip of the whip hit Mao Shiba’s right chest.

    Shi Song wanted to capture Mao Shiba alive so he could interrogate him on the Tian Di Hui. Seeing Wu Dapeng and Wang Tan had not surrendered, he was eager to retrieve the Black Dragon Whip, thereupon he stooped down to pick up a discarded saber on the ground with the intention of chopping Mao Shiba’s right arm. With the saber in his hand, he was just about to straighten up his body when a white cloud swayed in front of his eyes, countless fine powder assaulted his eyes, his nose, and his mouth. Instantly he choked up, followed by burning pain on his eyes, as if they were pricked by ten thousand steel needles at once. He wanted to open up his mouth to shout, but it was filled with the powder, even his throat seized up that no sound came out of his mouth. This mishap happened so suddenly that although he was a veteran of Jiang Hu, he was panic-stricken. Dropping the saber in his hand, he raised both hands to rub his eyes. After rubbing for a while, he suddenly realized, “Aiyo! The enemy scattered lime on my eyes!” Raw lime would boil in contact with water, immediately his eyes were burning. Right this moment, he felt an ice-cold sensation on his abdomen; a saber had penetrated his belly.

    When the whip wrapped his body, Mao Shiba had lost all hope. Suddenly he saw white dust fly upward, Shi Song’s saber dropped down, both hands were rubbing his eyes. While still in shock, he saw Wei Xiaobao pick up the saber and with both hands thrust it into Shi Song’s abdomen, and immediately dashed away to hide behind a tree.

    Shi Song’s hands were shaky, he staggered and swayed several turns, then tumbled face down on the ground. Several soldiers were greatly shocked, they called out together, “Shi Dage! Shi Dage!”

    Wu Dapeng moved his left palm in ‘Iron Tree Blooming’, concentrating his power in the palm, sending a soldier flying several zhang away, spurting blood from his mouth. The remaining five soldiers knew they were lost, and were not in the mood to prolong the battle. They turned around and fled, forgetting even their own horses.

    Wu Dapeng turned around and said, “Mao Xiong's skill is indeed superb, this Black Dragon Whip Shi Song's martial art skill is superior, yet today he lost his life in your hand!" He saw that Shi Song died with a saber in his abdomen, so he assumed it came from Mao Shiba's hand.

    Mao Shiba shook his head and said, "I am ashamed! It was Wei Xiaoxiongdi [little/younger brother (generic term)] who killed him."

    Wu and Wang, two people were greatly amazed, "The little kid killed him?" they asked. Just now they were busy fighting the enemy, so they did not see Wei Xiaobao throw the lime. The ground was covered with blood, since before his death Shi Song was rolling around on the ground, his body was covered with mud; although there were traces of lime on the ground, they had not paid attention.

    With his left hand Mao Shiba grabbed the tip of the Black Dragon Whip and shook it off. 'Whoosh!' he lashed the whip on Shi Song's head. Although his abdomen was penetrated by the saber, Shi Song did not die immediately; as his crown was struck with the whip, his life was gone instantly. "Wei Xiongdi," Mao Shiba called out, "What a good skill!"

    Wei Xiaobao came out from behind the tree. Realizing that he had killed a famous government official, 10% of his heart was proud of himself, but the other 90% was afraid. Half believing half doubting, Wu and Wang, two people looked at him from top to bottom, sizing him up. They noticed his countenance was pale, his body trembled, his eyes brimming with tears, his legs shaky as if he was about to fall. He also looked like he was about to cry, or perhaps he was going to call, 'I want my mommy!'. In any case, they could not believe he killed the Black Dragon Whip Shi Song.

    "Xiaoxiongdi," Wu Dapeng said, "With what style did you kill this man?"

    With a trembling voice Wei Xiaobao said, "I ... I ... killed this of ... officer? No, it wasn't me. No ... not me ..." He knew that killing a government official was a capital offense; panic-stricken, the only thing he could think of was to deny.

    Mao Shiba frowned; he shook his head and said, "Wu Laoyezi, Wang Xiong, I owe you for helping me in critical time and saving my life. Shall we continue fighting?"

    "What saving your life? It is not worth mentioning," Wu Dapeng replied, "Wang Xiongdi, I think we do not need to continue fighting."

    "No, we don't!" Wang Tan said, "Mao Xiongdi and I did not have either deep enmity or grudges to begin with. Why don't we all become friends? Mao Xiongdi's martial art skill is superior, he has guts, and has knowledge and experience; I admire him wholeheartedly."

    Wu Dapeng said, "Mao Xiong, we say goodbye now. The mountain is long, the river is far, we will meet again someday. Mao Xiongdi admires Tian Di Hui's Chen Zongduozhu very much, I will do my best to convey your words to Chen Zongduozhu."

    Mao Shiba was elated, he took a step forward and said, "You ... you ... you know Chen Zongduozhu?"
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:13 AM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 2 - Part 6

    Wu Dapeng laughed and said, "Actually, Wang Xiongdi and I are humble members of the Great Transformation Hall of the Tian Di Hui. Since Mao Dage has such a high esteem to our humble society, even if we have had serious enmity between us, we will definitely write it off, much less we did not have any grudges to begin with."

    Mao Shiba was pleasantly surprised, "Turns out ... turns out you really knew Chen Jinnan."

    "Our society brethrens are numerous, Chen Zongduozhu's whereabouts is uncertain," Wu Dapeng said, "My position in the society is low, I really have not seen Chen Zongduozhu personally. I was not trying to deceive you a moment ago."

    "So that's how it is," Mao Shiba said.

    Wu Dapeng raised his cupped fist and turned around to leave. His palms did not stop striking here and there. A continuous 'Slap! Slap!' was heard, he struck the soldiers lying on the ground one by one; regardless of whether the soldier was dead or alive, after being hit by his Cloud Scraping Palm, the dead soldiers' tendon would be broken tendon and their bones crushes, those who were still alive would take his last breath instantly. In a low voice Mao Shiba mumbled, "What a palm strength!"

    When the two of them had left far, he muttered to himself, "Turns out they are Tian Di Hui people." A few moments later, he turned to Wei Xiaobao and said, "Go get me a horse!"

    Wei Xiaobao had never been near a horse before; seeing the horse was big and tall, he was scared, so he slowly approached the horse from its back.

    "Stay in front of the horse," Mao Shiba bellowed, "If you approach a horse from its butt, it will kick you!"

    Wei Xiaobao circled to the horse's head and put out his hand to pull the reins. Fortunately the horse was docile, it followed him obediently. Mao Shiba tore a piece of his own clothes to bind the wound on his right arm. Pressing the saddle with his left hand, he jumped onto the horseback. "Go home!" he said.

    "Where are you going?" Wei Xiaobao asked.

    "Why do you ask?" Mao Shiba replied.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Since we are friends, of course I have to ask."

    Mao Shiba's countenance fell, "Your granny," he swore, "Who's your friend?"

    Wei Xiaobao took a step back, his small face turned completely red, tears rolled down from his eyes; he did not understand why one moment Mao Shiba was fine, the next moment he was very angry. Mao Shiba asked, "Why did you throw lime on Shi Song's eyes?" His voice was stern, his expression looked even more frightening.

    Wei Xiaobao was really scared; he took another step backward. "I ... I saw he was about to kill you." His voice trembled.

    "Where did you get the lime from?" Mao Shiba asked.

    "I ... I bought it," Wei Xiaobao replied.

    "Why did you buy it?" Mao Shiba pressed.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "You said you were about to fight people, and I know you are injured, so ... so I bought the lime powder to help you."

    Mao Shiba was really angry. "Little bastard!" he cursed, "Your granny, where did you learn such trick from?"

    Wei Xiaobao's mother was a prostitute, nobody knew who his biological father was, so what he hated most was for people to call him 'little bastard'. His anger flared, he also cursed, "Your granny’s old bastard, f*ck your seventeen, eighteen generations of Mao's bastard ancestors. Turtle bastard, why do you care where I learned the trick from? Stinky turtle, to your death nothing will ever get through your old turtle head ..." While his mouth was swearing, his feet was running to hide behind a tree.

    Mao Shiba squeezed his legs, the horse jumped forward, his long arm reached out to grab the back of Wei Xiaobao's neck. Lifting him up, he roared, "Little demon, let's see if you can still curse!"

    Wei Xiaobao's legs kicked randomly in the air, he called out, "You are a thief bastard, stinky turtle, a road kill, a swine that has been cut in a thousand pieces ..." He grew up in a brothel, and thus had learned countless cursing words of all dialects from north to south. This time he was really angry, so filthy speech flowed out of his mouth effortlessly.

    Mao Shiba was getting more upset. 'Whack!' he slapped Wei Xiaobao's face really hard! Wei Xiaobao screamed and wailed, his cursing was getting filthier and filthier. Suddenly he opened his mouth and bit the back of Mao Shiba's hand as hard as he could. In pain Mao Shiba tossed him down on the ground. Wei Xiaobao quickly stood up and ran, while his mouth did not stop shouting obscenity. Mao Shiba unhurriedly followed on horseback. Although Wei Xiaobao was not slow, his stature was small and his legs were short; how could he possibly beat a running horse? Only about a dozen of zhang later he was out of breath and was quite exhausted, but when he turned his head to look, Mao Shiba's horse was only less than a zhang away. In his panic he tripped and fell down on the ground. Since he was already down on the ground, he continued rolling away while wailing and screaming loudly. Having lived in a brothel and on the street, he was accustomed to fighting. Whenever he was not the opponent's match, he would usually resort to this trick. If the opponent was an adult, they would simply shake their heads and leave.

    "Get up," Mao Shiba said, "I have something to talk to you."

    "I won't get up," Wei Xiaobao wailed, "Even if I have to die in here I will not get up!"

    "Fine," Mao Shiba said, "I'll just let the horse loose to trample you to death!"

    Wei Xiaobao had never taken anybody's threat seriously. If someone said, 'I will beat you to death', 'I will kick you to death' or something of that nature, he was almost always able to escape unscathed only to hear it once or twice more; therefore, he had never placed such threat in his heart. Immediately he screamed, "Somebody is beating me to death! There's an adult bullying a child! A turtle bastard riding a horse is going to trample me to death!"

    Mao Shiba pulled the reins, the horse reared up on its hind legs until it almost stand vertically up. Wei Xiaobao rolled away to evade. Mao Shiba laughed and swore, "Little demon, you are scared!"

    Wei Xiaobao shouted back, "I am scared of a dog sh*t like you, not a hero and a warrior!"

    Seeing his unyielding spirit, Mao Shiba could not continue his act any longer; he laughed and said, "And you are a hero and a warrior? Alright, get up. I won't beat you anymore, see, I am stepping away!"

    Wei Xiaobao stood up. With face full of tears and nasal mucus he said, "I don't care if you hit me, but never call me 'little bastard'."

    Mao Shiba said with a laugh, "Your swearing is ten times worse than mine, ten times filthier than mine. Let's just say we are even."

    Wei Xiaobao wiped his eyes with his hand and instantly turned tears into laughter. "You slapped my face, I bit your hand. Let's just say we are even. Where are you going?" he asked.

    "I want to go to Beijing," Mao Shiba replied.

    "Beijing?" Wei Xiaobao wondered, "You are wanted by the authority, why do you want to deliver yourself to their gate?"

    "I always hear that Oboi is Manchu's number one warrior," Mao Shiba replied, "Damn it, some others say that he is the world's number one warrior. I don't believe it. I want to go to Beijing to prove it myself."

    Hearing that he wanted to challenge Manchu's number one warrior, Wei Xiaobao knew he did not want to miss this exciting event. Day in and day out at the teahouses he heard the guests mentioning all kinds of stories about Beijing, the Son of Heaven's domain, his heart was already filled with envy. He also thought that since he had killed Shi Song, the local authority's follow-up investigation would not be fun. Although most of the blame would fall on Mao Shiba, there was still one in ten thousand chance that his trickery would be exposed, and then he would be in deep trouble. In any case, he would be extremely lucky if he could simply slip away. Thereupon he said, "Mao Dage, can I ask you a favor? But this matter is definitely not easy, I am afraid you won't dare to agree."

    What Mao Shiba hated most was for others to call him a coward; his anger flared at once as he cursed, "Your granny! Little ..." he was about to blurt out 'Little Bastard', but was able to stop his mouth in time. He said, "Why would I not dare to agree? Speak up, I will definitely agree." He also remembered that he owed his life to Wei Xiaobao, so even if it was an immensely difficult matter, he simply must help him.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “A real man gave his words, some horses cannot pull it back. Once you agreed, you must not go back.”

    “I definitely won’t,” Mao Shiba promised.

    “Alright,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Take me to Beijing.”

    “You want to go to Beijing?” Mao Shiba was surprised, “What for?”

    “I want to see your duel with that Oboi,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

    Mao Shiba shook his head repeatedly, “Yangzhou and Beijing are thousands of li apart, the authorities are posting a reward for my capture, there will be grave danger along the way, how can I take you?”

    "I knew it!" Wei Xiaobao said, "I knew you would go back on your own words. By taking me, it would be easier for the authorities to catch you; of course you wouldn't dare."

    Mao Shiba angrily shouted, "Why wouldn't I dare?"

    "Then take me with you," Wei Xiaobao replied.

    "Taking you is very cumbersome," Mao Shiba said, "You haven't even asked your Ma's permission; won't she be worried?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "I often do not go home for several days, Ma has never been worried."

    Mao Shiba raised the reins, the horse immediately walked away. "You, little demon, are truly full of tricks."

    Wei Xiaobao raised his voice to shout, "You do not dare to take me because you are not Oboi's match, you are afraid I will see it and you will lose face!"

    Mao Shiba's anger shot through the roof, he pulled the horse around and roared, "Who says I am not Oboi's match?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "You do not dare to take me must be because you are afraid I would see your disgraceful loss. He will beat you until you are crawling on the ground and cry out, ‘Oboi Laoye, have mercy; Oboi Daren, please spare lowly Mao Shiba's dog life'. If I hear it, you will want to die of shame!"

    Mao Shiba was so angry that he let out some indistinct cries. Jumping down from the horseback he reached out to grab Wei Xiaobao and threw him up the saddle. "I'll take you along, I want to see who is going to cry for mercy!" he angrily said.

    Wei Xiaobao was delighted, he said, "If I do not see it with my own eyes, I can only guess that the one crying for mercy will be you, not Oboi."

    Mao Shiba raised his left palm and smacked Wei Xiaobao's buttock very hard while shouting, "I will make you cry for mercy first!"

    "Aaah!" Wei Xiaobao cried out in pain, but he laughed and said, "When a dog's paw hit people, it is actually quite heavy."

    Mao Shiba roared in laughter, he said, "Little demon, I really cannot win against you."

    Wei Xiaobao was unwilling to lose out the least bit, he also said, "Old demon, I also cannot win against you."

    Mao Shiba laughed. "I'll take you to Beijing, but along the way you must listen to what I say and not create any trouble."

    "Who is making trouble?" Wei Xiaobao retorted, "You went into jail, you left the jail, you killed the salt smugglers, you killed government officers, aren't all those things trouble?"

    Mao Shiba said with a laugh, "I said I cannot win against you, I give up." He sat Wei Xiaobao on the saddle and jumped and sat behind him. Pulling another horse along, he look around to get his bearing, then he spurred the horses to gallop toward the north.

    Wei Xiaobao had never ridden a horse before, at first he was rather scared. Five or six li later, his courage returned, "Can I ride that horse?" he asked.

    "If you know how to ride, then go ahead," Mao Shiba said, "But if you don't, you'd better be careful lest you will fall and break your leg."

    Wei Xiaobao wanted to win at all cost, he bragged, "I have ridden dozen horses, why do you say I can't ride?" Jumping down from the horse, he walked to the other horse's left side. His right foot stepped on the stirrup, he exerted his strength to pull himself over the horseback. He did not realize that he must step on the stirrup with his left foot. Since he was climbing up using his right foot, he landed with his face facing the horse's buttocks. Mao Shiba roared in laughter and let go of Wei Xiaobao's horse's reins. He lashed his whip and the horse galloped away immediately.

    Wei Xiaobao was scared out of his wits; he almost fell down from the horse. With both hands holding on tightly to the horse's tail, his legs clung desperately to the saddle while his body crouched low on the horseback. He heard the wind rushing on his ears and felt his body was slipping down. Luckily he was small and his body was light that by holding tight on the horse's tail, he managed to stay on the horseback. His mouth did not stop shouting and cursing, "My good mama, hot piece mama! Mao Shiba, if you don't stop the horse, laozi will f*ck your eighteen stinky ancestors. Aiyo, aiyo, aiyo ..."

    The horse was galloping fast on the major road for more than three li without slowing down the least bit. Rounding a bend, they came into a fork on the road. There was a mule cart coming slowly from the right, behind the cart was a man of about twenty-seven, twenty-eight riding a white horse. The cart and the horse were also heading north. Since nobody was holding the reins of Wei Xiaobao's horse, it was startled as it ran toward the cart and the horse. The distance between them was getting closer and closer.

    "A mad horse!" the cart driver called out, as he hastily trying to steer his cart clear of the road.

    The man riding the horse pulled his horse around. In the meantime, Wei Xiaobao had already arrived in front of him. The man reached out and pulled Wei Xiaobao's horse. The horse was running fast, the man's arm strength was quite big, with a powerful tug, the horse stopped immediately. Spurting a burst of white cloud from its nose, the horse was unable to continue galloping forward. From inside the cart came a female voice, asking, "Bai Dage, what is it?"

    "A runaway horse," the man replied, "There is a child on the horseback, I don't know if he is dead or alive."

    Wei Xiaobao turned over and sat up; turning his head around he said, "Of course I am alive, how can I be dead?" He saw the man had an oval face, his shining eyes were lively; he was wearing a thick dark blue long robe, and a cap adorned with a piece of white jade, obviously this man came from a wealthy family. Wei Xiaobao came from a lowly background, so he detest anybody from a rich family. Spitting a mouthful of spittle on the ground, he said, "Damn it, laozi was having fun riding a splendid steed before coming across a corpse blocking the road that laozi had to stop, had to stop ..." Before he was able to finish, he bent down on the horse's buttocks and coughed violently.

    Because its buttocks were roused, the horse kicked the ground with its left hind leg. "Aiyo!" Wei Xiaobao cried out while slipping down from the horse. "Aiyo hey, aiyo hey!" he screamed.

    When he heard Wei Xiaobao's foul mouth earlier, the man was about to get angry, but seeing Wei Xiaobao's pathetic condition as he fell down from the horse, he smiled and turned his horse around to catch up with the mule cart.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:15 AM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 2 - Part 7

    Rushing on a horseback, Mao Shiba caught up with him. "Little demon," he called out, "You haven't fallen down and died?"

    "I have fallen alright, but I haven't died yet," Wei Xiaobao replied, "Laozi was having fun falling down from the horse, but that stinky kid blocked the way; I am mad to death. Aiyo hey ..." groaning and moaning he crawled back up. His kneecaps hurt, he fell back down, kneeling on the ground.

    Mao Shiba jumped down in front of him. Pulling him up by the back of his collar he threw Wei Xiaobao on the saddle. After learning a hard lesson, Wei Xiaobao did not dare to say that he wanted to ride by himself anymore.

    The two of them rode together for more than thirty li. The sun was right above their heads. Finally they saw a small town ahead. Mao Shiba slowly dismounted the horse, then he helped Wei Xiaobao down in front of an inn. Growing up in a brothel, Wei Xiaobao had always been eating in the kitchen, sitting on the threshold, holding a large blue and white bowl in his hands, filled with rice and a pile of chicken or duck or fish or meat, leftover from the food that the guests had eaten. Although the vegetable and meat dishes were plenty, he had never sat next to anybody else on a table eating the meal properly. This time Mao Shiba was treating him as a friend, an equal. Although their meal only consisted of several bowls of coarse noodles and some scrambled eggs, his heart was very happy.

    He had just finished half a bowl of noodles when he heard the clamor of people and horses outside the door, followed by seventeen, eighteen people crowding in. Judging from their appearance they looked like government officials. Wei Xiaobao was inwardly startled; in a low voice he said, "Soldiers! Perhaps they are here to arrest you. Let's run away quickly!"

    "Humph," Mao Shiba snorted. Setting down his chopsticks, his hand quietly went toward the hilt of his saber. But those men did not pay him the least bit of attention. They were busy calling the waiter to hurry up and prepare food for them. An inn in a small town like this would not have too many choices of food; there were only pork cooked in soy-sauce, smoked fish, dried marinated tofu, and scrambled eggs. The leader ordered his men to get some ham and chicken they had brought as the side dish.

    One man said, "In Yunnan we have always heard that Jiangnan is a good place, where the people wear silk and satin, and eat delicacies of all kinds. I'll say, just from the food, that Jiangnan is not necessarily better than our Kunming."

    Another man said, "It's because you, LaoGe ['Ol Big Brother'], are used to live comfortably at Ping Xi[1] Wang’s Mansion; what you eat and what you drink is entirely different from the rest of us. It's not that Jiangnan is inferior to Yunnan. You must know that perhaps only a few places on earth are better than Ping Xi Wang’s Mansion." The rest of the men voiced their agreement.

    Mao Shiba's countenance changed. "So this bunch of dog's legs[2] is that big traitor to China Wu Sangui's men?" he mused.

    A man with a sallow cheek asked, "Huang Daren, this time you are going to Beijing, do you think you will be able to see the Emperor?"

    A plump man with fair complexion said, "Based on my position alone, I should not be able to see the Emperor, but perhaps by reason of our Wangye's [Lit. 'master king', Prince/Lord/Duke] face, we might see him! The senior officials of the imperial court have always regarded us, the officials of the Xi Xuan [lit. 'western elect'], with special favor."

    "That's only natural," another man piped in, "Among the current government officials, next to the Emperor, our Wangye has the greatest authority."

    "Hey, Xiaobao," Mao Shiba called out loudly, "Do you know who is the most shameless man on earth?"

    "Of course I do," Wei Xiaobao replied, "It's the son of turtle bastard!" Actually, he did not know, what he said was the same as not saying anything.

    Mao Shiba slapped the table heavily, "That's right!" he said, "Do you know who is the son of turtle bastard?"

    "Damn it," Wei Xiaobao said, "That son of turtle bastard is a damn bad thing." While saying that, he also slapped the table as hard as he could.

    Mao Shiba said, "Let me tell you, good kid, that the son of turtle bastard is the big traitor to China, who consider the bandit as his father, who with both hands handed out our great and beautiful rivers and mountains [a common term to refer to one's country, in this case, China], our wonderful world, to the Qing troops ..." As he spoke to this point, those dozen or so government officers had already stared at him, some with angry expression on their faces. Mao Shiba continued, "This big traitor is surnamed Wu; damn it, one turtle is Wu Yigui, two turtles are Wu Ergui, how about three turtles?"

    In a loud voice Wei Xiaobao said, "Wu Sangui[3]!"

    Mao Shiba laughed aloud and said, "It's exactly Wu Sangui this big ..."

    Suddenly a series of ringing sound was heard as seven, eight men unsheathed their weapons and rushed toward Mao Shiba. Wei Xiaobao hastily hid beneath the table. ‘Bing, bing, bang, bang!’ the noise of weapons colliding with each other continuously ringing, Mao Shiba brandished his saber to fight the attackers. Wei Xiaobao saw him still sitting on the long bench, he knew that his leg was still injured and could not walk conveniently, thus he was very anxious inwardly.

    A moment later, ‘clang!’ a saber fell to the ground, followed by a man crying a miserable cry as he also fell to the ground. Still, the opponents were too many, Wei Xiaobao saw all around the table feet were constantly moving. Some of these feet were wearing cloth shoes, some were wearing leather boots; obviously the feet belonged to the enemy, since Mao Shiba was wearing straw sandals.

    He heard Mao Shiba was fighting and cursing at the same time, “Wu Sangui is a big traitor to China, you are all little traitors to China; if laozi do not kill you all … Aiyo!” He cried out loudly; apparently he was injured. Then a man fell face up with blood spurting out of his chest. Wei Xiaobao picked up a saber from the ground and slashed it on a leg wearing cloth shoe. The saber hacked, the lower half of leg was chopped completely. “Aaah …!” the man screamed and fell backwards.

    It was rather dark under the table, plus the men were fighting a tangled battle, nobody knew who had wounded the man, they all thought it was Mao Shiba. Seeing his idea seemed to be working, Wei Xiaobao raised his saber and hacked at another ankle. The man, however, did not fall down; he screamed in pain and loudly called out, “Under the … the table …” While he was stooping down to look, Mao Shiba struck the back of his head with the saber; he fell down and fainted immediately.

    Right this moment Wei Xiaobao hacked another man’s calf. The man screamed; he lifted the table with his left hand, the bowls, chopsticks, soups and noodles all flew up. The man immediately chopped his saber down toward Wei Xiaobao’s head. Mao Shiba swept his saber to block. Wei Xiaobao quickly rolled away from the crowd. The man whose calf was cut was extremely furious, with saber upheld high he gave a chase. “Hot piece mama!” Wei Xiaobao cried out, while slipping underneath another table.

    “Little demon, come out!” the man bellowed.

    “Old demon, you come in!” Wei Xiaobao replied.

    The man was livid, he was extending his left hand to lift the table again, suddenly ‘bang!’ a fist punched the pit of his stomach, his body flew out. It was a man who was sitting on that table who hit him. The man who threw the punch immediately took chopsticks from the cylindrical chopstick container, which he threw one by one. Miserable cries of ‘Aiyo! Aiyo!’ were heard incessantly, as the men surrounding them were pierced by the chopsticks; some were pierced on their eyes, some others on their cheeks, but all injuries were on vital places.

    One of the man called out, “The bandit is formidable, let’s go!” Helping their wounded comrades, they scampered out of the door. The sound of hoof beats were heard as the men mounted their horses and left in a hurry.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed aloud and crawled out from beneath the table, his hand was still holding the blood-stained saber. Mao Shiba stood up and walked limply with cupped fist toward the man sitting by the table, he said, “Thank you, Sire, for your help; otherwise Mao Shiba would be heavily outnumbered, and would not be able to deal with today’s matter.”

    Wei Xiaobao turned his head around and was slightly startled. Turned out the man sitting on the table was the man he encountered earlier, who pulled the runaway horse he was riding on the road, the man to whom he had thrown several cursing sentences.

    The man rose up to return the salute, he said, “Mao Xiong’s body still sustains injury, yet you were still moved by righteous indignation, heavily denouncing the traitor to China, generating respect in the hearts of others.”

    Mao Shiba said with a laugh, “In all my life the man I hate most is the big traitor Wu Sangui; too bad this evil thief lives in the faraway Yunnan, so I have no way of venting out my anger. Today I can beat his cronies of little traitors, I am very happy. I’d like to consult Sire’s honorable surname and great given name.”

    “This is a public place, it’s inconvenient for me to say it out loud,” the man replied, “Mao Xiong, let us part now, I am sure we’ll meet again someday.” Finished speaking, he turned around to help a young woman stand up. This woman had been sitting quietly by the table with her head hung low, so her face was not clearly visible.

    Mao Shiba angrily said, “Even your name you are not willing to say, aren’t you looking down on others too much?”

    The man did not pay him any attention, holding the young woman’s hand, they walked toward the door, but as he passed by Mao Shiba, he whispered something on his ear. Mao Shiba’s body shook, instantly his face showed a respectful expression. With a bow he said, “Yes, yes, Mao Shiba met a hero today, it’s really … it’s really the fortune of three lifetimes.” Surprisingly the man did not respond, still holding the woman’s hand, they walked out the inn’s gate, mounted the horse and the carriage, and left.

    Seeing Mao Shiba’s expression turned from haughty to respectful, Wei Xiaobao was greatly astonished. “Who is that guy?” he asked, “Why are you scared of him?”

    “What guy?” Mao Shiba scolded him, “You need to clean your mouth a bit more.”

    Seeing the inn’s boss and waiters look around, the inn was in a complete mess with blood everywhere, Mao Shiba said, “Let’s go!” Holding on to the tables for support, he went out the door, picked up the door bolt[4] along the way and used it as a crutch as he made his way out to the horse post to untie the horses. “Mount that one,” he said, “Left foot on the stirrup first, then get on the horse … That’s it, exactly like that.”

    “I knew how to ride a horse,” Wei Xiaobao said, “It’s just that I haven’t done it in a very long time, I kind of forget. What’s so strange about it?”

    Mao Shiba laughed, he leaped onto the other horse, pulling the reins of the horse Wei Xiaobao was riding with his left hand, he led both horses northbound. “I am still injured,” he said, “I won’t be able to deal with any more Eagle Claws. We must not travel along the major road, we must find a hiding place. After I recuperate we will ride again.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, "The man we met just now, his martial art skill is superior, one by one the chopstick flew, he struck those men and made them run. Mao Dage, I think you won't be able to beat him."

    "That's for sure," Mao Shiba said, "He is a hero of the Mu Palace in Yunnan, how can his skill be not superior?"

    "So he is from the Mu Palace in Yunnan?" Wei Xiaobao asked, "I thought he was that Chen Zongduozhu of the Tian Di Hui, because I notice how scared you are of him."

    Mao Shiba angrily said, "What am I scared of? Little demon speaks nonsense. I respect the Mu Palace, hence I was being 30% polite toward him."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "But he was not polite toward you! You asked his honorable surname and great given name, he simply ignored you; he only said, 'let us part now, I am sure we’ll meet again someday'."

    Mao Shiba said, "Didn't he tell me in the end? Otherwise, how would I know he is from the Mu Palace?"

    "What did he whisper in your ear?" Wei Xiaobao asked.

    Mao Shiba said, "He said, 'Zaixia is from the Mu Palace of Yunnan, surnamed Bai'."

    "Um," Wei Xiaobao said, "Surname Bai? Turns out he is Chi Baishi[5]."

    "Little kid must not speak nonsense," Mao Shiba said.

    "You saw someone from the Mu Palace and you were scared out your wits, Laozi will not keep it in mind," Wei Xiaobao said, "Mao Dage, you are not afraid of Oboi, you are not afraid of the big traitor Wu Sangui, yet you are afraid of the Mu Palace; do they have three heads and six arms? Ah, I know! You are afraid he might throw two chopsticks to your eyes, and then Mao Shiba will become the Blind Mao."

    "It's not that I am afraid of them," Mao Shiba said, "It's just that in Jianghu, if a warrior offends the Mu Palace, losing life is nothing, but he will attract the condemnation of tens of thousands people, and will be held in contempt by everybody."

    "What kind of place is Mu Palace anyway?" Wei Xiaobao asked, "How can they be that formidable?"

    "Damn it," Mao Shiba said, "What kind of question is that? From the start I have never thought it strange." He continued, "For us in Jianghu, to see the people from Mu Palace of Yunnan is really not easy, to befriend them is even more extremely difficult. It just happened that today I was fighting Wu Sangui's cronies. Mu Palace is the sworn enemy of Wu Sangui, naturally they came to my aid. It was you, this little kid, who did not learn well and have resorted to cheap bastard's trick, so that even laozi was looked down by others." As he spoke, he could not refrain angry look from appearing on his face.

    "Aiyo, tsk, tsk, tsk," Wei Xiaobao clicked his tongue, "Others were putting on an obnoxious air and not willing to become friends with you, how come you are blaming me?"

    Mao Shiba angrily said, "You hid underneath the table, chopping people's feet with a saber, damn it, what kind of skill was that? Heroes and warriors always look at each other's eyes, how can they consider you a friend?"

    "Your granny," Wei Xiaobao retorted, "If not for laozi chopping several feet, I am afraid your life has already gone, yet now you are placing the blame on me."

    Mao Shiba thought about how he was despised by the people of Mu Palace of Yunnan; the more he thought, the angrier he became. "I told you not to come with me, but you insist on coming," he said, "You threw lime on people's eyes, this kind of cheap bastard's trick is the most despised by Jianghu people, it is three levels lower than using knock-out drug or burning poisoned incense. I would rather be killed by that Black Dragon Whip Shi Song than rescued by you using such a mean and shameless trick. Damn it, you, little demon, the more I look at you, the more I am mad."

    It was only then did Wei Xiaobao understand that throwing lime on people's eyes was a mean and lowly matter in Jianghu; without realizing it, he had violated Wulin's biggest taboo. But hiding under the table and chopping people's feet was obviously not something to be proud of either. However, being scolded, from shame he became angry. "Killing people with a saber is murder, killing people with lime is still murder, what 'respectable' or 'lowly'?" he hatefully said, "If it were not for me, the little demon, using a ‘lowly’ trick to save you, you, the old demon, would have become ‘respectable’ ghost early on. Is not your thigh injured? People chopped your thigh using saber, I chopped other people's feet using saber. Both thigh and feet are lower body parts, what's the difference? You are not willing to take me to Beijing, just go your way, let me go mine. From now on, let's just say that we do not know each other."


    [1] Lit. 'peaceful west'. Ping Xi Wang – king who pacifies the west.

    [2] 'one who follows a villain', henchman, hired thug.

    [3] Yigui, Ergui and Sangui mean ‘one’, 'two' and 'three turtles', respectively. Actually, the character 桂 'gui' of 'Wu Sangui' is different from 'gui' of 'turtle' [乌龟].

    [4] Door bolts in those days are long pieces of wood placed across the door.

    [5] 'Bai' means white or vain/empty. 'Chi Bai Shi' means 'to eat without paying'.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:15 AM.

  17. #17
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    Default Chapter 2 - Part 8

    Seeing how Wei Xiaobao was covered in dust and bloodstain, Mao Shiba recalled that the child was injured all because of him. That place was far away from Yangzhou, he definitely could not abandon the child in the wilderness, much less this child had saved his life twice, how could he forget favor and violate justice? Thereupon he said, "Alright, I will take you to Beijing, but you must agree to my three conditions."

    Wei Xiaobao was very happy, he said, "Agree to your three conditions, what's so difficult about that? A real man speak the words, some horses cannot chase it!" He had heard the storyteller mention 'team of four horses cannot chase it', but for some reason he always forget the 'four horses' part.

    Mao Shiba said, "First condition, you must not create trouble, must not curse people with filthy words, you must clean up your mouth a bit."

    "That's easy," Wei Xiaobao replied, "You don’t want me to curse, then I won’t curse. But what if someone is provoking me?"

    "If you are being good, why would anybody want to provoke you?" Mao Shiba said, "Second condition, when you are fighting, you must not bite people, you must not throw lime in their eyes, or rolling around on the ground, or hiding underneath a table and chopping people's feet, or crawling underneath someone's crotch and grab their scrotum, or screaming and crying when you are beaten, or lying down pretending to be dead; you must not do any of those dirty tricks. Those are all despicable things, not things that heroes and warriors would do."

    "If I am not somebody's match, must I just take the beating without hitting back?" Wei Xiaobao asked.

    Mao Shiba said, "If you want to hit back, you must use real skill, don't use your hoodlum or gangster method; don't let others laugh at you until their mouth crooked. You have lived in a brothel, that was all right, but you are roaming the Jianghu with me, you must not resort to those kinds of tricks."

    Wei Xiaobao said in his heart, "Easy for you to say to fight with real skill. I am just a little kid, what 'real skill' do I have? Must not do this, must not do that, won't that be the same as taking the beating without hitting back?"

    Mao Shiba continued, "Martial art must be learned; who can do martial art as soon as he is out of his mother's belly? You are still very young, there is still time if you start training now. You can kowtow and take me as your Shifu, I will take you as my disciple. All my life I have been wandering around in Jianghu, I never had several days of peace and quiet to take any disciple; so consider it your good fortune. As long as you are obedient, study diligently and practice hard, in the future you may not necessarily unable to become a martial art master." As he spoke, there was a hint of hope in his gaze toward Wei Xiaobao.

    Wei Xiaobao shook his head and said, "No, can't do. You and I are friends of the same standings; if I take you as my Shifu, won't I be a generation lower than you? Your granny, you harbor malicious intentions, you want to take advantage of me."

    Mao Shiba was furious; countless people in Jianghu had wanted to take him as their master, wanted to learn his saber technique ‘Five Tigers Breaking the Gates’, which was famous throughout the Jianghu. It was just that if not the candidate's heart was not in the right place, then his aptitude was not good, or perhaps it was not the opportune time; he did not have the time to leisurely passing on his skill to his disciple. Today, remembering how Wei Xiaobao had saved his life, he wanted to teach him martial art; who would have thought that Wei Xiaobao would flatly refuse? In his anger, he wanted to strike him with his palm. His hand was raised, but in the end he held his hand; he said, "Let me tell you: right now, on an impulse I am willing to take you as my disciple. If later on you kowtow to me a hundred times and ask, I will not take you."

    "What's so strange about that?" Wei Xiaobao said, "If later on you kowtow to me three hundred times and entreat me to take you as my master, I will still be unwilling. If I be your disciple, I will have to obey you in everything, where's the fun in that? I don't want to learn your martial art."

    Mao Shiba angrily said, "Fine, you don't want to learn then don't learn. If in the future someone catch you, making you neither dead nor alive, don't regret it."

    "What's to regret?" Wei Xiaobao said, "Let's just say I learn your martial art skill, what's so good about it? You were tied down by the Black Dragon Whip without being able to move at all; seeing that eating-without-paying fellow from the Mu family of Yunnan you bowed down respectfully to flatter him, to become friends with him, while he plainly ignored you. Although my martial skill is inferior to you, but ..."

    The more Mao Shiba listened, the angrier he got. Finally he could not endure patiently and 'smack!' he slapped Wei Xiaobao's mouth heavily. Wei Xiaobao had anticipated this, surprisingly he did not cry but burst into loud laughter instead, he said, "I was right on target, wasn't I? That's why you are angry. Let me ask you: you wanted to befriend others, but others ignored you, and thus you vent your anger on Laozi?"

    Mao Shiba was exasperated by this child; beating him had failed, scolding him had also failed, ignoring him did not do anything either. His natural temperament was fiery, but now he was forced to exercise patience. "Humph," he snorted, as he puffed his cheeks and blew a mouthful of air. Releasing the reins, he called out, "Horsey, oh, horsey, quickly do a tiger leap, let this little demon fall down and half dead." At first he wanted Wei Xiaobao to agree to his three conditions, but since the second condition had already fallen apart, he did not want to think about the third condition.

    Wei Xiaobao pulled the reins by himself and managed to make the horse trotting nicely, it did not give him any difficulty at all. Wei Xiaobao was inwardly very happy, he mused, "You don't teach me horse riding, can't Laozi learn it by myself?" He also thought, "When I follow you roaming the Jianghu in the future, I will watch how you are going to fight with other people. You do not teach me, don't tell me that I don't have eyeballs that I cannot look. Not only will I learn your martial art skill, I will also learn your opponents' skill at the same time. The skills of several people combined, naturally I will be stronger than you. Pei," he spat, "Damn it, what's so special about your skill? That eating-without-paying fellow's skill in throwing chopsticks is very effective. If he wanted Laozi to kowtow and learn his school's skill, Laozi will have no problem in agreeing. Damn it, why would he want me to kowtow and learn his school's skill?" Thinking to this point, he could not help but scoffing and then burst into laughter.

    Mao Shiba turned his head, "What's so funny?" he asked.

    "I was thinking about that eating-without-paying fellow from the Mu Palace ..." Wei Xiaobao replied.

    "What eating-without-paying fellow?" Mao Shiba asked.

    "Isn't his surname Bai?" Wei Xiaobao asked.

    "Surname Bai is surname Bai," Mao Shiba said, "How does surname Bai turn into eating-without-paying? In the Mu Palace of Yunnan, their Bai family is highly regarded. Liu, Bai, Fang and Su were four great generals of the Mu Palace of Yunnan."

    "What three great generals, four great generals?" Wei Xiaobao asked again, "What kind of ghost place is Mu Palace of Yunnan anyway?"

    "Can't you clean up your mouth a little bit?" Mao Shiba said, "In Jianghu, whenever the name Mu Palace is mentioned, nobody does not filled with admiration; what do you mean 'ghost place'?"

    "Uh", Wei Xiaobao mumbled.

    Mao Shiba continued, "When Ming Taizu [First Ming Emperor, the founder of Ming Dynasty] raised arms against the Yuan [Dynasty, the Mongols], Mu Wangye, Mu Ying has rendered a great merit by subduing Yunnan. Taizu bestowed Yunnan to his family forever. After his death, the title Guo Gong [State Duke] was granted to his offsprings from generation to generation."

    Wei Xiaobao slapped his saddle and exclaimed, "Turns out it was that Mu Palace, the home of Mu Ying, Mu Wangye. You only said Mu Palace of Yunnan, you did not say it clearly. If you had said Mu Ying, Mu Wangye, how can I not know? Mu Wangye has been dead for several thousand years, you don't have to be that afraid."

    "What several thousand years?" Mao Shiba said, "Rubbish! We, the warriors of Jianghu, have a deep respect of Mu Palace, not only because of Mu Ying, Mu Wangye, but because of his descendant, Mu Tianbo. When the last Ming emperor, King Gui ran away to Yunnan, the Duke of Qian [i.e. Guizhou Province], Mu Tianbo, that's right, I remember now, the Duke of Qian was loyal and devoted, he escorted the Emperor and protected his master. When that traitor Wu Sangui attacked Yunnan, Duke of Qian protected King Gui escaping to Burma. The bad people of Burma wanted to kill King Gui, Mu Tianbo died in place of his master. This kind of loyalty is indeed rare among the heroes and warriors, from ancient age to today."

    "Ah," Wei Xiaobao exclaimed, "So this Mu Tianbo, Master Mu was a descendant of the Legend of Heroic Deeds' Mu Ying. Mu Wangye was brave and unstoppable, he was the Taizu Emperor's trusted lieutenant, this much I know, you don't have to tell me." He had heard the Legend of Heroic Deeds told by the storyteller, about Xu Da, Chang Yuchun, Hu Dahai, Mu Ying, and other great generals; in fact, he was very familiar with their stories. "Why didn't you say so earlier?" he asked, "If I knew the Mu Palace is Mu Wangye's family, I would be 30% more polite toward that eating-without-paying fellow. What kind of people are Liu, Bai, Fang and Su, the four great generals?"

    "Liu, Bai, Fang and Su, four families have always been commanders under the Mu Palace," Mao Shiba replied, "Their ancestors helped Mu Wangye to subdue Yunnan. When Tianbo Gong [lit. honorable gentleman] was escorting the Emperor to Burma, the descendants of these four great generals were also fighting to their deaths, only their younger sons and disciples managed to escape with their lives. It was because I remember that that surnamed Bai gentleman was such a hero that I was being polite to him. Besides, in one hand, he had helped me repelling the Eagle Claws working for that great traitor ..."

    "I was also helping you repelling the Eagle Claws working for that great traitor," Wei Xiaobao cut him off, "Why aren't you polite to me?"

    Mao Shiba stared at him, and continued, "On the other hand, he is still very much a loyal subject, all Jianghu people highly esteem him. If we offend the Mu family of Yunnan, wouldn't we be reviled by all the people under the heavens?"

    "So that's how it is," Wei Xiaobao said, "Seeing a loyal subject, naturally we must show a bit of respect."

    "Since I've known you, this is the first time you are speaking reasonably," Mao Shiba said.

    "I don't know how long do I have to wait until I can hear some reasonable words from you," Wei Xiaobao said, "Mu Wangye blew the copper horn and crossing the river, shooting the elephants with rocket, that kind of great hero, who does not respect deeply? Surely I don't have to wait for you to fart?"

    "What blowing the copper horn and crossing the river, shooting the elephants with rocket?" Mao Shiba asked.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed aloud and said, "You only know how to bootlick Mu Palace of Yunnan, yet you don't know how great of a hero Mu Wangye was. Do you know what position Mu Wangye held under the Taizu Emperor?"

    "Mu Wangye was a great general under the Taizu Emperor, who does not know?" Mao Shiba replied.

    "Pei!" Wei Xiaobao spat, "Great general? Of course he was a great general, would he be a nameless soldier? Um, under the Taizu Emperor there were six kings; I am sure you have heard about Xu Da, Xu Wangye, and Chang Yuchun, Chang Wangye, do you know who were the other four kings?"

    Mao Shiba was a hero of the wilderness, he knew nothing about the history of the founding of the Ming Dynasty. Of course he had heard the names Xu Da and Chang Yuchun, but he did not know that they were kings, and neither did he know there were four other kings. Wei Xiaobao, on the other hand, heard the story of the Legend of Heroic Deeds in Yangzhou teahouses so many times that he knew it inside-out. The fall of the Ming Dynasty happened not too long ago, the hearts of the people were still attached to the old way, but nobody dared to openly discuss anti-Qing, restoring-Ming sentiment. The storytellers in the teahouses only talked about the old stories of the Ming Dynasty. The stories the listeners liked most were about the founding of the Ming Dynasty and the defeat of the Tatars, which were recorded in the 'Legend of Heroic Deeds'.

    During the founding of the country, the most arduous battle Ming Taizu faced was the great Lake Poyang battle against Chen Youliang, but the one the listeners most interested to hear was how the Mongolian army was driven away beyond the Great Wall, how the enemy was completely routed on the desert and they fled. In the listeners' ears, it was the story of Ming Taizu defeating the Mongolian army; in their hearts, however, it changed into the Qing army. The great victory of Han people, the crushing defeat of the enemy; the listeners' spirits were swelling with pride. Therefore, among the various ministers who had given outstanding service during the founding of the Ming Dynasty, Xu Da, Chang Yuchun and Mu Ying, were the three names the listeners adored most. When the storytellers narrated how these three people kill the enemy, they were always adding 'oil and vinegar', with much flourish, so that the audience was radiant with delight as if they were drunk and stupefied.

    Seeing Mao Shiba was unable to answer, Wei Xiaobao smugly said, "The four kings were Li Wenzhong, Deng Yu, Tang He, and of course Mu Ying, Mu Wangye. On how these four Wangye were granted the title King, I supposed I should tell you, since I am sure you did not know it, am I right?" Actually, neither did he remember how these six kings get their titles. Mao Shiba nodded.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Tang He was Ming Taizu's old friend, he was older than Taizu. Deng Yu had also known Taizu for a very long time, they had always been fighting together for the country. Li Wenzhong was Taizu's nephew[1]. Mu Wangye was Taizu's foster son, so his surname was originally Zhu, he was called Zhu Ying. Afterwards he rendered a great service, Taizu granted him a two-character surname, thereupon he was called Mu Ying."

    "So that's the story," Mao Shiba said, "What about blowing the copper horn and shooting the elephants? What's the story?"

    "It was 'blowing the copper horn and crossing the river, shooting the elephants with rocket', not 'blowing the copper horn and shooting the elephants'," Wei Xiaobao said, "Taizu subdued the land under the heavens, until only Yunnan left. The King Liang of Guizhou had not surrendered. That King Liang whatsisname was the Mongol's last emperor's nephew, he defended Yunnan and Guizhou, and was not willing to surrender." The King Liang's original name was Basalawarmi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basalawarmi); Wei Xiaobao could not remember his name, so he said whatever comes into his head.

    Although Mao Shiba felt strange, he did not dare to argue, he simply listened as Wei Xiaobao continued, "Taizu Emperor's dragon heart was enraged, he dispatched three-hundred thousand cavalry under the leadership of Mu Wangye to launch an attack. When they arrived at Yunnan border, they met the Yuan army. Yuan army's marshal was called Delmek, who was ten zhang tall, whose head was like a round-bottomed wicker basket ..."

    "How can there be any ten zhang tall man?" Mao Shiba protested.

    Wei Xiaobao knew he had a slip of tongue, but he argued, “Mongolians are bigger and taller than we, Han people, that Delmek’s entire body was covered in iron armor, his hand carried a long spear, he was shouting mumbo-jumbo loudly by the river bank, as if there were three thunderclaps in the air. Suddenly there were continuous ‘splash, splash’ noises from everywhere, do you know what happened?”

    “I don’t know, what happened?” Mao Shiba asked.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Turned out Delmek’s ‘Wah! Wah!’ shout had reached the other side of the river, scaring a dozen or so Ming soldiers out of their wits that they fell down from their horses and into the river. Mu Wangye knew something was terribly wrong, he thought that if Delmek cried out several more times, my troops will fall into the river one by one, then our mission will fail. Thereupon he knitted his brows and thought hard of an idea.”

    When he spoke, usually Wei Xiaobao’s mouth would constantly spit out vulgar language; the words ‘damn it’ had never left his mouth. However, talking about Mu Ying subduing Yunnan, he adapted the storyteller’s tone, surprisingly, not a single vulgar word escaped his mouth; occasionally, he would even quote or misquote Chinese adages.

    He continued his story, “As soon as Mu Wangye saw Delmek was about to open his ferocious mouth, he strung his bow and shot an arrow. ‘Whoosh!’ the arrow went straight toward Delmek’s mouth. Mu Wangye’s shooting skill has reached the ‘penetrating the poplar tree in a hundred steps, penetrating the mouth in a thousand steps’ level. Splitting the air, the arrow flew across the surface of the river toward Delmek’s big mouth. Delmek was also a hero and a warrior, seeing how powerful and fearsome the incoming arrow was, he hastily lowered his head and dodged it. The troops behind him cried out together, ‘Not good!’ Delmek turned around and saw that ten generals had the pit of their stoimachs pierced by the arrow, blood spurt out violently. Turned out Mu Wangye’s arrow successively bored through ten generals, from the first general’s pit of the stomach and went out from his back, then it went to the second general’s pit of the stomach, and so on. Altogether it passed through ten men.”


    [1] Orig. 'wai sheng' - sister's son or wife's sibling's son.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:16 AM.

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    Default Chapter 2 - Part 9

    Shaking his head, Mao Shiba said, “How can there be such thing? Even if Mu Wangye had a supernatural power, it’s impossible for one arrow to pierce through ten men.”

    “Mu Wangye was the celestial constellation descending into the world of the immortals,” Wei Xiaobao said, “He was sent by the Jade Emperor to protect Taizu Emperor; how could be the same as an ordinary person? Did you say you are Mao Shiba? This arrow has penetrated ten, and it even has a special name, it’s called ‘Cloud Penetrating Arrow’.”

    Mao Shiba was incredulous, “And then, what happened?” he asked.

    “Delmek was furious,” Wei Xiaobao said, “He thought, ‘you can shoot arrow, do you think I can’t?’ Thereupon he raised his bow and also shot an arrow to Mu Wangye. Mu Wangye called out, ‘Bring it on!’ Stretching out the two fingers of his left hand, he lightly caught the arrow. Right that moment, a flock of wild geese flew overhead, their cry filled the sky. Mu Wangye had an idea, he called out, ‘I am going to shoot the left eye of the third wild goose!’ ‘Swish!’ he shot an arrow. Delmek mused, ‘It’s not easy just to shoot the third goose, how can you distinguish the left eye from the right eye?’ So he looked up. Right this moment, Mu Wangye repeatedly shot, three arrows were sent flying toward Delmek.”

    “Wonderful!” Mao Shiba exclaimed, “It’s called ‘making a sound in the east and strike to the west’ tactic!”

    “It seemed like Delmek was not fated to die yet,” Wei Xiaobao said, “The first arrow struck his left eye, he fell back with his face up. The second arrow and the third arrow successively killed eight of his generals. Yuan soldiers were hairy, so the Ming soldiers called them ‘hairy soldiers, hairy generals’. Mu Wangye released three arrows, and killed eighteen hairy generals. It was called ‘Mu Wangye fought the Great War across the river, three arrows shot dead eighteen hairy men’[1]!”

    Mao Shiba was startled, “What?!?” he asked.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Mu Wangye shot arrows across the river and killed Mao Shiba!” Speaking to this point, he could not help breaking up in giggles.

    It was only then that Mao Shiba understood that Wei Xiaobao was actually cursing him in a roundabout way. “Damn it!” he swore, “Rubbish! Mu Wangye fought the Great War across the river, three arrows shot dead Wei Xiaobao!”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “At that time I was not even born yet, how could Mu Wangye shoot me to death?”

    “Stop making irresponsible remarks,” Mao Shiba said, “Delmek was hit on his left eye, and then what?”

    “Seeing their marshal was hit by the arrow and fell down from his horse, the Yuan army was immediately thrown into chaos,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Mu Wangye was about to give his troops an order to cross the river, when suddenly he heard loud cry from the other side of the river, the Yuan army’s reinforcement had arrived. From the opposite bank, the enemy shot arrows randomly, darkening the sky. Mu Wangye had another idea, he dispatched four great generals under him to quietly lead the troops crossing the river downstream. When they were behind the Yuan troop’s formation, they blew the copper horns.”

    “Those four generals must be Liu, Bai, Fang and Su, weren’t they?” Mao Shiba asked.

    Wei Xiaobao did not know any better, but he was not willing Mao Shiba to outguess him, thereupon he said, “No, those four generals were Zhao, Qian, Sun and Li. Liu, Bai, Fang and Su stayed behind by Mu Wangye’s side.”

    Mao Shiba nodded. “So that’s how it is,” he said.

    “Mu Wangye passed on his order,” Wei Xiaobao continued, “He instructed Liu, Bai, Fang and Su to have the troops under their command to shout together while lowering small boats and wooden rafts into the river, dispatching a thousand Ming soldiers to pretend they were about to cross the river. Seeing the Ming troops were coming their way, the Yuan soldiers desperately released more arrows. Immediately Mu Wangye withdrew the troops, but less than an hour later, he dispatched the troops again, pretending they were about to cross the river. Again the Yuan soldiers released more arrows. Nobody knows how many fish, turtles, shrimps and crabs died in the river that day.”

    “I don’t believe you,” Mao Shiba said, “Shooting dead some fish, that is still possible; but shrimps are extremely slender, crabs and turtles have hard shells protecting their bodies, how can they shoot them dead?”

    “If you don’t believe me,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Why don’t you buy a turtle in the small town ahead, also buy a crab and a shrimp. String them together and hang them, then shoot an arrow through them. See if you can shoot them dead or not.”

    Mao Shiba thought, "We are in a hurry for an urgent matter, how can there be any time to do this troublesome matter?" He was enthralled by the story, however, and was afraid Wei Xiaobao would sulk and did not continue; thereupon he said, "Alright, if you say they were shot to death then they were shot to death. What happened next?"

    "Afterwards," Wei Xiaobao continued, "The troops under Mu Wangye's command picked up eighteen animals shot dead by the arrows, some were hairy turtles, so they cooked and ate them, and that's the end of the story."

    "Little demon," Mao Shiba cursed, "You are still cursing me in a roundabout way. Tell me, how did Mu Wangye cross the river?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Seeing the Yuan soldiers release the arrow, Mu Wangye ordered his men to beat the drums and shout, as if they were going to cross the river, but actually they were not going to cross the river. They heard the loud blaring noise of the copper horns from behind the Yuan army, so they knew Zhao, Qian, Sun and Li, four generals succeeded in crossing the river downstream and circled behind the Yuan army. Only then did Mu Wangye give the order to cross the river. The soldiers held up their shields in the front while pushing the boats and the rafts to cross the river and attack. The Yuan soldiers had been shooting arrows for half a day, by this time their arrow supply was almost depleted. Hearing the enemy's attack from behind while their commander was seriously injured, their hearts were thrown into chaos. Mu Wangye was the first to charge on his horseback. The Yuan soldiers fled to the east and ran to the west in great confusion. Mu Wangye saw a general lying down on a horseback among the Yuan army, with a lot of Yuan soldiers all around protecting him, so he knew it must be Delmek. Immediately he spurred his horse to pursue, while with a stern voice he shouted, 'Delmek, you haven't get down from the horse and surrender?' Delmek said, 'I ... I am not Delmek, I am Mao ...' Mu Wangye saw a feathered arrow sticking out from his left eye, with a gold character near the arrowhead, it was precisely the character 'Mu'. Whose arrow was that if it was not his own? Mu Wangye did not hesitate anymore, reaching out he grabbed and brought the man down, while shouting, 'Tie him up!'. And so Liu, Bai, Fang and Su, four generals, who had been following him, grabbed Delmek and tied him up solidly. The Yuan army suffered a crushing defeat, with countless soldiers drowned to death in the river. The turtles in the river ate quite a bit of hairy bodies that day, and grew hair on their bodies. This kind of turtles are called Hairy (Mao) Turtles, which are not found anywhere else."

    Mao Shiba had a feeling that Wei Xiaobao was cursing him again. "Humph," he snorted, but did not dare to argue, for all he knew, there might be real hairy turtles in Yunnan's rivers.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "As he seized a total victory that day, Mu Wangye advanced his troops onto King Liang's capital immediately. When they reached the outskirt of the city, he saw the city was deathly still. Mu Wangye gave his order to beat the drum to provoke a battle, but then he saw a wooden tablet hanging on the top of the city wall, with two character 'cease fighting' written on it."

    "It must be that the King Liang knew they were no match for the enemy and thus hung the 'cease fighting' tablet," Mao Shiba commented.

    "Mu Wangye was benevolent and broadminded," Wei Xiaobao continued, "He thought that since the King Liang was hanging the 'cease fighting' tablet, most likely they were about to surrender. If I proceed by attacking, after the wall is down, there will be many casualties among the common people; I'd rather give them three days to surrender, so as to avoid killing innocent people."

    Mao Shiba slapped his thigh and exclaimed loudly, "That's right! Mu Wangye's family has been the guardians of Yunnan, they exist and perish together with the Ming Dynasty. It must be because Mu Wangye cherished common people, he was kindhearted, that's why the Heaven blessed him."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "That night Mu Wangye was sitting in the army camp, reading the Spring and Autumn Annals by the lantern light."

    "It was Guan Wangye who sat by the light reading the Spring and Autumn Annals," Mao Shiba said, "Could it be that Mu Wangye also read the Spring and Autumn Annals?"

    "They were both Wangye," Wei Xiaobao said, "Of course they both read the Spring and Autumn Annals. If they did not read the Spring and Autumn Annals, are you saying that they should read the Summer and Winter Annals? It was Zhang Fei[2] who read the Summer and Winter Annals. The impertinent Zhang Fei was brave but not shrewd; Mu Wangye was the celestial constellation descending into the world of the immortals, just like Guan Wangye, naturally they read the Spring and Autumn Annals and not the Summer and Winter Annals." Not knowing anything about the Spring and Autumn Annals or Summer and Winter Annals, Mao Shiba could only nod his head in agreement.

    "Mu Wangye read for a while," Wei Xiaobao continued, "All of a sudden he needed to pee, he stood up, took the golden chamber pot bestowed to him by the Taizu Emperor, and was about to pee when suddenly he heard several loud cries coming from inside the city wall. It was very loud, it did not sound like tiger's roar, and did not sound like horse's neigh either. When Mu Wangye heard it, he knew something was amiss ..."

    "What cry was that?" Mao Shiba asked.

    "Why don't you try to guess?" Wei Xiaobao said.

    "Seems to me like several Yuan generals were roaring in the city, just like Delmek earlier," Mao Shiba guessed.

    "No," Wei Xiaobao shook his head, "As soon as Mu Wangye heard it, he changed his mind and did not pee. Respectfully he put the chamber pot back on the table ..."

    "Why did he put a chamber pot on the table?" Mao Shiba cut him off.

    "It was a golden chamber pot bestowed by the Taizu Emperor; do you think it was an ordinary chamber pot?" Wei Xiaobao argued, "That's why when Mu Wangye put it down, he must be respectful. After laying down the pot, he beat the drum to summon the generals into his command tent. Picking up a golden arrow as a symbol of his authority, he said, 'General Liu, receive this order: Take three thousands soldiers to catch field mice this very night; reward will be given to those who catch many, martial law will apply to those who catch a few.' General Liu replied, 'Command received!' Taking the golden arrow, he left to catch field mice."

    "Why did he want field mice?" Mao Shiba wondered aloud.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Mu Wangye led his troops like a deity, how could he divulge secret military tactic? The marshals received the order, they followed it to the letter. If the officer receiving the order asked too much, Mu Wangye might be enraged and would send the officer outside the tent to be beheaded. If you were one of Mu Wangye's generals and you keep asking questions like this, even if you have eighteen melon heads, damn it, all eighteen will be chopped by Mu Wangye."

    "If I were one of the generals, naturally I won't ask anything," Mao Shiba said, "But you are not Mu Wangye, why can't I ask you questions?"

    Wei Xiaobao shook his head, "No question, no question!" he said, "Mu Wangye picked up the second golden arrow and gave it to General Bai, saying, 'I order you to lead twenty thousand men to dig a trench within five li of this place. The trench must be two li long, two zhang wide, and three zhang deep. You must finish the trench this very night without any mistake.' General Bai received the order and left. Mu Wangye then gave his order to retreat, to break the camp and pitch the camp again six li from the city walls."

    The more Mao Shiba listened, the more baffled he was. "That's really strange," he said, "I cannot guess anything at all."

    "Humph," Wei Xiaobao snorted, "If you could guess Mu Wangye's military tactics, Mu Wangye would become Mao Shiba, Mao Shiba would become Mu Wangye. At daybreak the next day, the two generals Liu and Bai returned: They caught more than ten thousands field mice, and the trench was dug. Mu Wangye nodded his head and said, 'Very well, send a scout to the city to spy the enemy movements. About wupai hour [seventh hour, between 11am - 1 pm] suddenly they heard thundering drums from the city, followed by loud battle cry. The scout returned, galloping the horse like flying, and reported: 'Reporting to the Marshal, the situation is not good!' Slapping the table, Mu Wangye sternly said, 'Damn it, what matter makes you panic?' The scout said, 'Reporting to the Marshal, the Yuan army opened wide the northern gate, and out of the city came several hundred long-nosed cow demons, running toward our camp to attack!' Mu Wangye roared in laughter and said, 'What long-nosed cow demons? Gather more info!' The scout received the order and left."

    "What kind of animal is a long-nosed cow demon?" Mao Shiba wondered.

    With a straight face Wei Xiaobao said, "I knew you would not know it either. This animal is bigger than a cow, its hide is rough, its muscle thick, its nose is long, with two tusks protruding forward, its pair of large ears look like curtain, its appearance is incomparably fierce; don't you think it looks like a long-nosed cow demon?"

    "Um," Mao Shiba grunted, and nodded his head, apparently he was trying to picture the long-nosed cow demon in his mind.

    Wei Xiaobao continued, "Mu Wangye thought aloud, 'This scout is really muddleheaded, he sees little and marvels at a lot of things; seeing a camel he says it's a horse with a swelling back, seeing an elephant he says it's a long-nosed cow demon!'"

    Mao Shiba was startled; and then he burst out in laughter. "That scout was indeed muddleheaded," he said, "Unexpectedly he regarded elephants as long-nosed cow demons. But he was a northerner, had never seen an elephant, so you can't really blame him."

    Whenever the storyteller in Yangzhou was telling this 'long-nosed cow demon' story, the teahouse audience always broke out in laughter. This time Wei Xiaobao imitated the way the story was delivered, and sure enough, Mao Shiba also broke out in laughter.

    Wei Xiaobao continued, "Mu Wangye arranged his troops in battle formation; looking to the distance, he saw dust was rising high, those several hundred elephants, with daggers tied onto their heads, were rushing wildly toward them, the elephants' tails were ablaze. Yunnan is very close to Burma; King Liang had purchased several hundred elephants from Burma, and trained the elephants to be a fiery formation, by tying pine branches onto the elephants' tails and lighted it with fire. The elephants were scared and thus they charged toward the Ming army. Elephants' skin is firm and their muscle thick; crossbow arrows cannot harm them. As soon as the Ming army was thrown into confusion, the Yuan army would follow behind the elephants and make a surprise attack. The Ming troops were northerners, they have never seen elephants; as soon as they saw the elephants, they cried out inwardly, 'King of cow demon's tail can shoot flames, today's matter can't be good!'"

    Mao Shiba's expression was grim, with subdued tone he said, "Those flaming elephants were formidable for sure."

    "Mu Wangye remained calm and collected, he simply laughed coldly," Wei Xiaobao, "When the elephants were about ten zhang away, he suddenly barked, 'Release the field mice!' Those more than ten thousand field mice were released, instantly the ground was covered with mice running around randomly. You must know that elephants do not fear lions, bears, tigers or leopards, but they are most afraid of mice. If a mouse get into an elephant's ear, it can eat the elephant's brain without the elephant able to do anything. As soon as the elephants saw the mice, they were so frightened as if their spirits had flown up to the sky. They turned around and fled, charging into the Yuan army formation, trampling the Yuan generals and soldiers' head and legs. Some elephants could not tell east from west and ran toward the Ming army, but one by one they all fell into the trench. Mu Wangye called out, 'Release the rocket [orig. ‘fire arrow’]!' As soon as he, the Senior [orig. 'laorenjia' - a polite term to address older (or more respectful) people] gave his order, the sky was filled with thousands, tens of thousands sparks. It was a wonderful sight."

    "How can the arrows catch fire?" Mao Shiba asked.

    "You think those rockets [‘fire arrow’] were arrows on fire?" Wei Xiaobao said, "Wrong! Those rockets were firecrackers and cannons. The Ming army was equipped with cannons, saltpeter and sulfur gunpowder. The previous night Mu Wangye had issued an order to the sergeants to load the cannons with gunpowder and firecrackers. When the cannons were fired, sparks filled the sky with loud 'Bang! Bang! Boom! Boom! noise. Those elephants were even more scared and ran away desperately, trampling the Yuan army into pulp; scattered, collapsed and out of their minds. Mu Wangye gave the order to beat the drums to signal an attack. His troops responded by loud battle cry as they followed the elephants breaking into the city. King Liang, taking along his concubine, was drinking wine at the top of city wall, waiting for the news of the Ming army's defeat. Seeing several hundred elephants bursting into the city, King Liang cried out, "Guluabutu, wuliwu! Guluabutu, wuliwu!"

    Mao Shiba was puzzled, "What did he call wuyewu for?" he asked.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "He is a Mongolian, naturally he cried out in Mongolian. He said, 'Aiyo, not good! The elephants are revolting!' Rushing down the wall, he saw a well and immediately jumped in, wishing to kill himself. Unexpectedly, because King Liang was extremely fat, his belly was enormous; as he jumped halfway down, his belly stuck on mouth of the well, he could neither go up nor down. He cried out, ‘Oh, this is bad! The king is hanging in the air!’”

    “How come this time he did not speak Mongolian?” Mao Shiba asked.

    “He was crying out in Mongolian,” Wei Xiaobao said, “But I know you wouldn’t understand, so I changed it into our language. Riding on his horse, Mu Wangye was the first to break into the city. Seeing an old Tatar wearing yellow gown and golden crown on his head, he knew it was King Liang. Seeing the king’s big belly stuck in the mouth of the well, he could not help but bursting into loud laughter. Grabbing the king’s hair, he lifted him up, but he smelled a stench to the high heaven, it was because King Liang was extremely scared that he pooped and peed in his pants!”

    Mao Shiba roared in laughter and said, “Xiaobao, the way you tell the story is very good. Turns out Mu Wangye subdued Yunnan with both bravery and wisdom. If he did not release the mouse formation, King Liang’s fiery elephant formation would crush the Ming army to utter defeat.”

    “That goes without saying,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Mu Wangye fought a war with mice, we fought with lime, there is not much difference between us.”

    “Wrong!” Mao Shiba shook his head, “As the saying goes, ‘all’s fair in war’, fighting a war with anything is permissible. Didn’t Zhuge Liang[3] use the empty city strategy? But we use saber and spear, wandering the Jianghu with straightforward and upright attitude; fighting a war and fighting one-on-one are completely different.”

    “I’ll say they are more or less the same,” Wei Xiaobao said.

    The two of them talking and chatting along the way, so the journey did not feel so lonely. Mao Shiba explained all kinds of customs, virtues, and taboos of the Jianghu; finally he said, “You do not know martial art, people also know that you are not from any school or societal family, they won’t deal with you with heavy hands; you must never pretend to be what you are not, otherwise you will suffer worse fate.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “I, the Little White Dragon Wei Xiaobao, am an expert in water skill, I can stay underwater, living on fish and shrimp. But my land based skill is nothing to be talk about.” Mao Shiba roared in laughter.

    That evening the two of them sought lodging in a peasant family home. Mao Shiba took out several taels of silver and gave them to the peasant family, so that they could stay for a dozen more days to recuperate. When most of injury was healed, they hired a large cart to continue their journey.

    Book Note: ‘Best friendship at first meeting’ means ‘familiarity at first sight’, not at all talking about friendship at first meeting is the best, and then later on it gradually becomes not good.



    [1] The word ‘mao’ (hairy) sounds like Mao Shiba’s surname. ‘Shiba’ means eighteen.

    [2] A general of Shu, the sworn brother of Liu Bei in the 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms'.

    [3] A military leader and Prime Minister of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period.


    Shaking his head, Mao Shiba said, “How can there be such thing? Even if Mu Wangye had a supernatural power, it’s impossible for one arrow to pierce through ten men.”

    “Mu Wangye was the celestial constellation descending into the world of the immortals,” Wei Xiaobao said, “He was sent by the Jade Emperor to protect Taizu Emperor; how could be the same as an ordinary person? Did you say you are Mao Shiba? This arrow has penetrated ten, and it even has a special name, it’s called ‘Cloud Penetrating Arrow’.”

    Mao Shiba was incredulous, “And then, what happened?” he asked.

    “Delmek was furious,” Wei Xiaobao said, “He thought, ‘you can shoot arrow, do you think I can’t?’ Thereupon he raised his bow and also shot an arrow to Mu Wangye. Mu Wangye called out, ‘Bring it on!’ Stretching out the two fingers of his left hand, he lightly caught the arrow. Right that moment, a flock of wild geese flew overhead, their cry filled the sky. Mu Wangye had an idea, he called out, ‘I am going to shoot the left eye of the third wild goose!’ ‘Swish!’ he shot an arrow. Delmek mused, ‘It’s not easy just to shoot the third goose, how can you distinguish the left eye from the right eye?’ So he looked up. Right this moment, Mu Wangye repeatedly shot, three arrows were sent flying toward Delmek.”

    “Wonderful!” Mao Shiba exclaimed, “It’s called ‘making a sound in the east and strike to the west’ tactic!”

    “It seemed like Delmek was not fated to die yet,” Wei Xiaobao said, “The first arrow struck his left eye, he fell back with his face up. The second arrow and the third arrow successively killed eight of his generals. Yuan soldiers were hairy, so the Ming soldiers called them ‘hairy soldiers, hairy generals’. Mu Wangye released three arrows, and killed eighteen hairy generals. It was called ‘Mu Wangye fought the Great War across the river, three arrows shot dead eighteen hairy men’[1]!”

    Mao Shiba was startled, “What?!?” he asked.

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Mu Wangye shot arrows across the river and killed Mao Shiba!” Speaking to this point, he could not help breaking up in giggles.

    It was only then that Mao Shiba understood that Wei Xiaobao was actually cursing him in a roundabout way. “Damn it!” he swore, “Rubbish! Mu Wangye fought the Great War across the river, three arrows shot dead Wei Xiaobao!”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “At that time I was not even born yet, how could Mu Wangye shoot me to death?”

    “Stop making irresponsible remarks,” Mao Shiba said, “Delmek was hit on his left eye, and then what?”

    “Seeing their marshal was hit by the arrow and fell down from his horse, the Yuan army was immediately thrown into chaos,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Mu Wangye was about to give his troops an order to cross the river, when suddenly he heard loud cry from the other side of the river, the Yuan army’s reinforcement had arrived. From the opposite bank, the enemy shot arrows randomly, darkening the sky. Mu Wangye had another idea, he dispatched four great generals under him to quietly lead the troops crossing the river downstream. When they were behind the Yuan troop’s formation, they blew the copper horns.”

    “Those four generals must be Liu, Bai, Fang and Su, weren’t they?” Mao Shiba asked.

    Wei Xiaobao did not know any better, but he was not willing Mao Shiba to outguess him, thereupon he said, “No, those four generals were Zhao, Qian, Sun and Li. Liu, Bai, Fang and Su stayed behind by Mu Wangye’s side.”

    Mao Shiba nodded. “So that’s how it is,” he said.

    “Mu Wangye passed on his order,” Wei Xiaobao continued, “He instructed Liu, Bai, Fang and Su to have the troops under their command to shout together while lowering small boats and wooden rafts into the river, dispatching a thousand Ming soldiers to pretend they were about to cross the river. Seeing the Ming troops were coming their way, the Yuan soldiers desperately released more arrows. Immediately Mu Wangye withdrew the troops, but less than an hour later, he dispatched the troops again, pretending they were about to cross the river. Again the Yuan soldiers released more arrows. Nobody knows how many fish, turtles, shrimps and crabs died in the river that day.”

    “I don’t believe you,” Mao Shiba said, “Shooting dead some fish, that is still possible; but shrimps are extremely slender, crabs and turtles have hard shells protecting their bodies, how can they shoot them dead?”

    “If you don’t believe me,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Why don’t you buy a turtle in the small town ahead, also buy a crab and a shrimp. String them together and hang them, then shoot an arrow through them. See if you can shoot them dead or not.”

    Mao Shiba thought, "We are in a hurry for an urgent matter, how can there be any time to do this troublesome matter?" He was enthralled by the story, however, and was afraid Wei Xiaobao would sulk and did not continue; thereupon he said, "Alright, if you say they were shot to death then they were shot to death. What happened next?"

    "Afterwards," Wei Xiaobao continued, "The troops under Mu Wangye's command picked up eighteen animals shot dead by the arrows, some were hairy turtles, so they cooked and ate them, and that's the end of the story."

    "Little demon," Mao Shiba cursed, "You are still cursing me in a roundabout way. Tell me, how did Mu Wangye cross the river?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Seeing the Yuan soldiers release the arrow, Mu Wangye ordered his men to beat the drums and shout, as if they were going to cross the river, but actually they were not going to cross the river. They heard the loud blaring noise of the copper horns from behind the Yuan army, so they knew Zhao, Qian, Sun and Li, four generals succeeded in crossing the river downstream and circled behind the Yuan army. Only then did Mu Wangye give the order to cross the river. The soldiers held up their shields in the front while pushing the boats and the rafts to cross the river and attack. The Yuan soldiers had been shooting arrows for half a day, by this time their arrow supply was almost depleted. Hearing the enemy's attack from behind while their commander was seriously injured, their hearts were thrown into chaos. Mu Wangye was the first to charge on his horseback. The Yuan soldiers fled to the east and ran to the west in great confusion. Mu Wangye saw a general lying down on a horseback among the Yuan army, with a lot of Yuan soldiers all around protecting him, so he knew it must be Delmek. Immediately he spurred his horse to pursue, while with a stern voice he shouted, 'Delmek, you haven't get down from the horse and surrender?' Delmek said, 'I ... I am not Delmek, I am Mao ...' Mu Wangye saw a feathered arrow sticking out from his left eye, with a gold character near the arrowhead, it was precisely the character 'Mu'. Whose arrow was that if it was not his own? Mu Wangye did not hesitate anymore, reaching out he grabbed and brought the man down, while shouting, 'Tie him up!'. And so Liu, Bai, Fang and Su, four generals, who had been following him, grabbed Delmek and tied him up solidly. The Yuan army suffered a crushing defeat, with countless soldiers drowned to death in the river. The turtles in the river ate quite a bit of hairy bodies that day, and grew hair on their bodies. This kind of turtles are called Hairy (Mao) Turtles, which are not found anywhere else."

    Mao Shiba had a feeling that Wei Xiaobao was cursing him again. "Humph," he snorted, but did not dare to argue, for all he knew, there might be real hairy turtles in Yunnan's rivers.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "As he seized a total victory that day, Mu Wangye advanced his troops onto King Liang's capital immediately. When they reached the outskirt of the city, he saw the city was deathly still. Mu Wangye gave his order to beat the drum to provoke a battle, but then he saw a wooden tablet hanging on the top of the city wall, with two character 'cease fighting' written on it."

    "It must be that the King Liang knew they were no match for the enemy and thus hung the 'cease fighting' tablet," Mao Shiba commented.

    "Mu Wangye was benevolent and broadminded," Wei Xiaobao continued, "He thought that since the King Liang was hanging the 'cease fighting' tablet, most likely they were about to surrender. If I proceed by attacking, after the wall is down, there will be many casualties among the common people; I'd rather give them three days to surrender, so as to avoid killing innocent people."

    Mao Shiba slapped his thigh and exclaimed loudly, "That's right! Mu Wangye's family has been the guardians of Yunnan, they exist and perish together with the Ming Dynasty. It must be because Mu Wangye cherished common people, he was kindhearted, that's why the Heaven blessed him."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "That night Mu Wangye was sitting in the army camp, reading the Spring and Autumn Annals by the lantern light."

    "It was Guan Wangye who sat by the light reading the Spring and Autumn Annals," Mao Shiba said, "Could it be that Mu Wangye also read the Spring and Autumn Annals?"

    "They were both Wangye," Wei Xiaobao said, "Of course they both read the Spring and Autumn Annals. If they did not read the Spring and Autumn Annals, are you saying that they should read the Summer and Winter Annals? It was Zhang Fei[2] who read the Summer and Winter Annals. The impertinent Zhang Fei was brave but not shrewd; Mu Wangye was the celestial constellation descending into the world of the immortals, just like Guan Wangye, naturally they read the Spring and Autumn Annals and not the Summer and Winter Annals." Not knowing anything about the Spring and Autumn Annals or Summer and Winter Annals, Mao Shiba could only nod his head in agreement.

    "Mu Wangye read for a while," Wei Xiaobao continued, "All of a sudden he needed to pee, he stood up, took the golden chamber pot bestowed to him by the Taizu Emperor, and was about to pee when suddenly he heard several loud cries coming from inside the city wall. It was very loud, it did not sound like tiger's roar, and did not sound like horse's neigh either. When Mu Wangye heard it, he knew something was amiss ..."

    "What cry was that?" Mao Shiba asked.

    "Why don't you try to guess?" Wei Xiaobao said.

    "Seems to me like several Yuan generals were roaring in the city, just like Delmek earlier," Mao Shiba guessed.

    "No," Wei Xiaobao shook his head, "As soon as Mu Wangye heard it, he changed his mind and did not pee. Respectfully he put the chamber pot back on the table ..."

    "Why did he put a chamber pot on the table?" Mao Shiba cut him off.

    "It was a golden chamber pot bestowed by the Taizu Emperor; do you think it was an ordinary chamber pot?" Wei Xiaobao argued, "That's why when Mu Wangye put it down, he must be respectful. After laying down the pot, he beat the drum to summon the generals into his command tent. Picking up a golden arrow as a symbol of his authority, he said, 'General Liu, receive this order: Take three thousands soldiers to catch field mice this very night; reward will be given to those who catch many, martial law will apply to those who catch a few.' General Liu replied, 'Command received!' Taking the golden arrow, he left to catch field mice."

    "Why did he want field mice?" Mao Shiba wondered aloud.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Mu Wangye led his troops like a deity, how could he divulge secret military tactic? The marshals received the order, they followed it to the letter. If the officer receiving the order asked too much, Mu Wangye might be enraged and would send the officer outside the tent to be beheaded. If you were one of Mu Wangye's generals and you keep asking questions like this, even if you have eighteen melon heads, damn it, all eighteen will be chopped by Mu Wangye."

    "If I were one of the generals, naturally I won't ask anything," Mao Shiba said, "But you are not Mu Wangye, why can't I ask you questions?"

    Wei Xiaobao shook his head, "No question, no question!" he said, "Mu Wangye picked up the second golden arrow and gave it to General Bai, saying, 'I order you to lead twenty thousand men to dig a trench within five li of this place. The trench must be two li long, two zhang wide, and three zhang deep. You must finish the trench this very night without any mistake.' General Bai received the order and left. Mu Wangye then gave his order to retreat, to break the camp and pitch the camp again six li from the city walls."

    The more Mao Shiba listened, the more baffled he was. "That's really strange," he said, "I cannot guess anything at all."

    "Humph," Wei Xiaobao snorted, "If you could guess Mu Wangye's military tactics, Mu Wangye would become Mao Shiba, Mao Shiba would become Mu Wangye. At daybreak the next day, the two generals Liu and Bai returned: They caught more than ten thousands field mice, and the trench was dug. Mu Wangye nodded his head and said, 'Very well, send a scout to the city to spy the enemy movements. About wupai hour [seventh hour, between 11am - 1 pm] suddenly they heard thundering drums from the city, followed by loud battle cry. The scout returned, galloping the horse like flying, and reported: 'Reporting to the Marshal, the situation is not good!' Slapping the table, Mu Wangye sternly said, 'Damn it, what matter makes you panic?' The scout said, 'Reporting to the Marshal, the Yuan army opened wide the northern gate, and out of the city came several hundred long-nosed cow demons, running toward our camp to attack!' Mu Wangye roared in laughter and said, 'What long-nosed cow demons? Gather more info!' The scout received the order and left."

    "What kind of animal is a long-nosed cow demon?" Mao Shiba wondered.

    With a straight face Wei Xiaobao said, "I knew you would not know it either. This animal is bigger than a cow, its hide is rough, its muscle thick, its nose is long, with two tusks protruding forward, its pair of large ears look like curtain, its appearance is incomparably fierce; don't you think it looks like a long-nosed cow demon?"

    "Um," Mao Shiba grunted, and nodded his head, apparently he was trying to picture the long-nosed cow demon in his mind.

    Wei Xiaobao continued, "Mu Wangye thought aloud, 'This scout is really muddleheaded, he sees little and marvels at a lot of things; seeing a camel he says it's a horse with a swelling back, seeing an elephant he says it's a long-nosed cow demon!'"

    Mao Shiba was startled; and then he burst out in laughter. "That scout was indeed muddleheaded," he said, "Unexpectedly he regarded elephants as long-nosed cow demons. But he was a northerner, had never seen an elephant, so you can't really blame him."

    Whenever the storyteller in Yangzhou was telling this 'long-nosed cow demon' story, the teahouse audience always broke out in laughter. This time Wei Xiaobao imitated the way the story was delivered, and sure enough, Mao Shiba also broke out in laughter.

    Wei Xiaobao continued, "Mu Wangye arranged his troops in battle formation; looking to the distance, he saw dust was rising high, those several hundred elephants, with daggers tied onto their heads, were rushing wildly toward them, the elephants' tails were ablaze. Yunnan is very close to Burma; King Liang had purchased several hundred elephants from Burma, and trained the elephants to be a fiery formation, by tying pine branches onto the elephants' tails and lighted it with fire. The elephants were scared and thus they charged toward the Ming army. Elephants' skin is firm and their muscle thick; crossbow arrows cannot harm them. As soon as the Ming army was thrown into confusion, the Yuan army would follow behind the elephants and make a surprise attack. The Ming troops were northerners, they have never seen elephants; as soon as they saw the elephants, they cried out inwardly, 'King of cow demon's tail can shoot flames, today's matter can't be good!'"

    Mao Shiba's expression was grim, with subdued tone he said, "Those flaming elephants were formidable for sure."

    "Mu Wangye remained calm and collected, he simply laughed coldly," Wei Xiaobao, "When the elephants were about ten zhang away, he suddenly barked, 'Release the field mice!' Those more than ten thousand field mice were released, instantly the ground was covered with mice running around randomly. You must know that elephants do not fear lions, bears, tigers or leopards, but they are most afraid of mice. If a mouse get into an elephant's ear, it can eat the elephant's brain without the elephant able to do anything. As soon as the elephants saw the mice, they were so frightened as if their spirits had flown up to the sky. They turned around and fled, charging into the Yuan army formation, trampling the Yuan generals and soldiers' head and legs. Some elephants could not tell east from west and ran toward the Ming army, but one by one they all fell into the trench. Mu Wangye called out, 'Release the rocket [orig. ‘fire arrow’]!' As soon as he, the Senior [orig. 'laorenjia' - a polite term to address older (or more respectful) people] gave his order, the sky was filled with thousands, tens of thousands sparks. It was a wonderful sight."

    "How can the arrows catch fire?" Mao Shiba asked.

    "You think those rockets [‘fire arrow’] were arrows on fire?" Wei Xiaobao said, "Wrong! Those rockets were firecrackers and cannons. The Ming army was equipped with cannons, saltpeter and sulfur gunpowder. The previous night Mu Wangye had issued an order to the sergeants to load the cannons with gunpowder and firecrackers. When the cannons were fired, sparks filled the sky with loud 'Bang! Bang! Boom! Boom! noise. Those elephants were even more scared and ran away desperately, trampling the Yuan army into pulp; scattered, collapsed and out of their minds. Mu Wangye gave the order to beat the drums to signal an attack. His troops responded by loud battle cry as they followed the elephants breaking into the city. King Liang, taking along his concubine, was drinking wine at the top of city wall, waiting for the news of the Ming army's defeat. Seeing several hundred elephants bursting into the city, King Liang cried out, "Guluabutu, wuliwu! Guluabutu, wuliwu!"

    Mao Shiba was puzzled, "What did he call wuyewu for?" he asked.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "He is a Mongolian, naturally he cried out in Mongolian. He said, 'Aiyo, not good! The elephants are revolting!' Rushing down the wall, he saw a well and immediately jumped in, wishing to kill himself. Unexpectedly, because King Liang was extremely fat, his belly was enormous; as he jumped halfway down, his belly stuck on mouth of the well, he could neither go up nor down. He cried out, ‘Oh, this is bad! The king is hanging in the air!’”

    “How come this time he did not speak Mongolian?” Mao Shiba asked.

    “He was crying out in Mongolian,” Wei Xiaobao said, “But I know you wouldn’t understand, so I changed it into our language. Riding on his horse, Mu Wangye was the first to break into the city. Seeing an old Tatar wearing yellow gown and golden crown on his head, he knew it was King Liang. Seeing the king’s big belly stuck in the mouth of the well, he could not help but bursting into loud laughter. Grabbing the king’s hair, he lifted him up, but he smelled a stench to the high heaven, it was because King Liang was extremely scared that he pooped and peed in his pants!”

    Mao Shiba roared in laughter and said, “Xiaobao, the way you tell the story is very good. Turns out Mu Wangye subdued Yunnan with both bravery and wisdom. If he did not release the mouse formation, King Liang’s fiery elephant formation would crush the Ming army to utter defeat.”

    “That goes without saying,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Mu Wangye fought a war with mice, we fought with lime, there is not much difference between us.”

    “Wrong!” Mao Shiba shook his head, “As the saying goes, ‘all’s fair in war’, fighting a war with anything is permissible. Didn’t Zhuge Liang[3] use the empty city strategy? But we use saber and spear, wandering the Jianghu with straightforward and upright attitude; fighting a war and fighting one-on-one are completely different.”

    “I’ll say they are more or less the same,” Wei Xiaobao said.

    The two of them talking and chatting along the way, so the journey did not feel so lonely. Mao Shiba explained all kinds of customs, virtues, and taboos of the Jianghu; finally he said, “You do not know martial art, people also know that you are not from any school or societal family, they won’t deal with you with heavy hands; you must never pretend to be what you are not, otherwise you will suffer worse fate.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “I, the Little White Dragon Wei Xiaobao, am an expert in water skill, I can stay underwater, living on fish and shrimp. But my land based skill is nothing to be talk about.” Mao Shiba roared in laughter.

    That evening the two of them sought lodging in a peasant family home. Mao Shiba took out several taels of silver and gave them to the peasant family, so that they could stay for a dozen more days to recuperate. When most of injury was healed, they hired a large cart to continue their journey.

    Book Note: ‘Best friendship at first meeting’ means ‘familiarity at first sight’, not at all talking about friendship at first meeting is the best, and then later on it gradually becomes not good.

    [1] The word ‘mao’ (hairy) sounds like Mao Shiba’s surname. ‘Shiba’ means eighteen.

    [2] A general of Shu, the sworn brother of Liu Bei in the 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms'.

    [3] A military leader and Prime Minister of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:20 AM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 3 - Part 1

    Chapter 3 - Talisman tucked inside the sleeve encircles and divides the room, unexpected success of an auger out of the sack.
    (Translated by Foxs)


    LuDingJi-03.jpg

    A man pounced, Mao Shiba responded by a flying kick, hitting the man’s lower abdomen, and sent him flying backward. The other five men cursed, and pounced together. Mao Shiba unleashed his qin na skill, his elbow struck his palm hacked, in a short time he managed to knock down four men.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:22 AM.

  20. #20
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    Default Chapter 3 - Part 2

    One day they reached Beijing, by the time they entered the city, it was already afternoon. Mao Shiba warned Wei Xiaobao to be careful in everything he say or do, it was the capital, government’s eyes and ears were numerous, they should not expose any mistake. “What mistake?” Wei Xiaobao said, “You are the one who should not expose any mistake. Aren’t you here to challenge Oboi to a duel? Just go out and find him.”

    Mao Shiba let out a forced laugh without answering. When he said he was going to find Oboi and challenge him the other day, it was on an impulse while his frame of mind was in rage. Although he was a hot-headed and crude warrior, after all, he had been wandering the Jianghu for more than twenty years, how could he not know that Oboi was an important official in command of tens of thousands of men? How could he have a martial art competition with an ordinary Jianghu man? His own martial art skill was only a second or third class, if Oboi was indeed the Manchu’s number one warrior, most likely Mao Shiba was not Oboi’s match. However, he had boasted in front of Wei Xiaobao, he simply must go to Beijing. He was thinking he would take this child strolling around Beijing for about ten days or half a month, enjoying the scenery of the capital, merrily drinking and eating, and then he would send the child back to Yangzhou. Undoubtedly Oboi was unwilling to have a martial art contest, so he did not have any choice, it was not because he did not dare, so Wei Xiaobao could not mock him as gutless. In a very slim chance that Oboi agreed to have a duel, Mao Shiba would definitely stake his old life to fight him.

    The two of them reached a small wine shop in the western part of the city. Mao Shiba ordered some food and wine. While he was drinking, two men entered the wine shop, one old, the other young. The old one was roughly sixty years old, while the young one looked around twelve or thirteen. Both were wearing strange looking attire. Wei Xiaobao did not know what kind of people they were, but Mao Shiba was aware that those two were eunuchs from the Imperial Palace. The old one had a sickly complexion, his back was bent at the waist, and he did not stop coughing, as if he was suffering from a serious illness. The young one was helping him, slowly walking to sit at a table.

    With a shrill and raspy voice the old eunuch said, “Bring me some wine!” The wine shop attendant responded repeatedly and hastily took out some wine. The old eunuch took out a package wrapped in paper from his pocket and opened it. Very carefully he used the tip of his fingernail to scoop a little bit of its content and dissolved it into the wine. He put the medicine package inside his pocket before picking up the wine cup and slowly drank the wine. A short moment later he went into convulsion; his body shook continuously.

    The wine shop attendant panicked. “What is it? What happened?” he asked.

    “Get out of the way!” the little eunuch shouted, “It’s none of your business!” The wine shop attendant bowed and forced a smile; he walked away, but did not stop looking at the two.

    The old eunuch used both hands to prop himself on the table, his teeth chattered, his body shook more and more violently. A moment later, even the table was shaking that the chopsticks on the table fell down to the floor.

    The little eunuch panicked, “Gong-gong[1],” he said, “How about another dose?” while reaching out to fetch the medicine package from his pocket. He was about to open the package when with a shrill voice the old eunuch said, “No … no … I don’t want …” His expression looked pressing. The little eunuch held the medicine package in his hand, he did not dare to open it.

    Right that moment they heard footsteps outside the inn’s door, seven big men walked in. They all naked on top, but wore leather pants on the bottom; their hair braided into pigtails on top of their heads. Their entire body was greasy, glistening under the light, very unsightly; it seemed like their bodies, from head to toes, were smeared with some kind of oil. All seven of them had sturdy muscle like young dragon, their chests were hairy, and their mouth were covered in black mustache; when they stretched out their arms, all their palms were huge with thick fingers. Seven men sat on two tables and shouted in their mumbling speech, “Bring out the wine and some beef and fat chicken, the quicker the better!”

    “Yes, yes!” the wine shop attendant replied, while busily setting up chopsticks. “Master Guest,” he asked, “What would you like to eat?”

    “Are you deaf?” one of the men bellowed. Another man suddenly reached out and grabbed the wine shop attendant on his waist, raising his arm straight up, he brought the attendant up in the air. The wine shop attendant’s hands and feet flailing randomly, he cried out ‘Wah! Wah!’ in fright. The men roared in laughter. The one holding the attendant flung him outside the shop, 'Bang!' the attendant hit the ground. "Aiyo! Mommy!" the wine shop attendant cried out. The men laughed even louder.

    In low voice Mao Shiba said, "What they are doing is a wresting technique. The victim must be thrown far away; if he fell close by, he could spring up and counter-attack."

    "Do you know any wrestling?" Wei Xiaobao asked.

    "I haven't learned it," Mao Shiba replied, "This kind of 'hard' skill is useless against a martial art expert."

    "Can you beat them, then?" Wei Xiaobao asked.

    Mao Shiba said with a laugh, "What good is it for me to beat those boorish men?"

    "But you are alone against the seven them, you will definitely lose," Wei Xiaobao said.

    "They are not my match," Mao Shiba said.

    Wei Xiaobao suddenly raised his voice, "Hey, big men, my friend here says he alone can beat the seven of you."

    "Don't create trouble!" Mao Shiba sternly said. But Wei Xiaobao liked nothing better than creating trouble. Seeing without any reason those seven men tossed the wine shop attendant that he was half-dead half-alive, his heart was angered; hearing Mao Shiba said that he alone could beat the seven of them, he deliberately provoked them, with the hope that Mao Shiba would teach them a lesson.

    The seven big men turned their gaze toward Mao and Wei, two people. "Little baby," one of them said, "What did you say?"

    Wei Xiaobao replied, "My friend here says, you bullied the wine shop attendant, you cannot be considered hero or warrior. If you have guts, come and fight him."

    One of the men glowered and said to Mao Shiba, "Son of a b*tch, did you say that?"

    Mao Shiba knew those seven men were Manchurian wrestlers; at first he did not want to create any trouble, but first of all, he was angry just by looking at a Manchu, secondly, the Manchu was cursing him. Lifting up the wine pot, he threw it toward the man's face. The man reached out to catch the pot; to his surprise, however, in this throw Mao Shiba had used his internal strength. 'Crack!' the wine pot hit the man's arm. "Aiyo!" the man cried out for he felt severe pain on his arm. Another man pounced on Mao Shiba, which he responded by a flying kick. Manchurian wrestlers very seldom used their legs, the man was unable to dodge this kick, his lower abdomen was squarely hit, he was sent flying backward.

    The other five men cursed, "Scoundrel bastard!" and pounced together. Mao Shiba was quick and agile, unleashing his qin na [grab and capture, grappling technique] skill, his elbow struck his palm hacked, in a short time he managed to knock down four men. The last one slanted his body sideways to take Mao Shiba's palm on his shoulder, while he reached out to grab Mao Shiba's lower back and lifted him up. He was about to turn Mao Shiba's body around to dash his head against the stone steps; Mao Shiba suddenly launched a chain kick, 'puff! puff!' twice his feet landed on the pit of that man's stomach. The man's mouth opened, blood spurted out wildly, his grab loosened instantly.

    The man fell face up, Mao Shiba followed and kicked him hard with both feet on the pit of his stomach, then with both palms he launched the 'tornado brushing the willow', hacking diagonally down toward the back of the first man, the one hit by the wine pot. 'Crack!' several of the man's ribs were broken; he scrambled onto a table.

    With one hand Mao Shiba pulled Wei Xiaobao and said, "Little demon, you really know how to get into trouble, let's go quickly!'

    The two of them dashed toward the door of the shop. But they only took two steps when they saw the stooped-down old eunuch was standing at the door. Mao Shiba reached out to lightly push his right arm, he only wanted him to push him aside. To his surprise, as his palm touched the old eunuch's shoulder, Mao Shiba felt a violent jolt; he could not help but stagger and fell several steps sideways, his right waist bumped into a table, immediately the table toppled over.

    The momentum of the fall had brought Wei Xiaobao along. Wei Xiaobao yelled, “Aiyo hey, Mommy, it hurts! I am dead!”

    Mao Shiba quickly held on to the table and only then was he able to stand. He felt his entire body was boiling, as if he was roasted alive. Inwardly he was greatly shocked. Looking at the old eunuch; he saw the old eunuch was still bending down at the waist and did not stop coughing, seemingly oblivious of what had just happened. Mao Shiba knew that he had met an expert today, most likely the opponent was using sorcery; otherwise, even if one had a much higher level of martial art skill than himself, one could not possibly turn his light push into a tremendous force like that. Although there existed skill such as 'borrowing force to counter-attack' within the martial art study, this kind of 'with four tael pulling a thousand catty' technique needs opponent's large force to produce a large force reaction; there has never been any skill turning a light force into a large one.

    Mao Shiba turned around; grabbing Wei Xiaobao, who was still screaming and yelling, he bolted toward the rear of the shop. Yet after taking only three steps, he heard a coughing and saw the old eunuch had already stood in front of him. Mao Shiba was startled, exerting all his strength into his feet, he leaned forward as if he wanted to pounce of the opponent, but just as quick he sprang backward. Before his feet even touch the ground, he felt a light force on his back. Hastily his left hand struck backhandedly, but it hit an empty air. His body was thrown forward and landed on the bodies of two men. It was a heavy fall, fortunately the men were fat and sturdy, with their thick flesh as cushion, they did not suffer any injury.

    Those two men's legs were broken, they were unable to stand; however, their hands were unaffected. Immediately they used their wrestling skill to grab Mao Shiba firmly. Mao Shiba wanted to struggle free, but his limbs were devoid of any strength; turned out the acupoint on his back was sealed by the old eunuch.

    Mao Shiba fell face down, he was unable to see what was happening behind his back, he only heard the old eunuch was coughing continuously, and blaming the young eunuch with weak voice, "You want me to take another dose, aren't you deliberately trying to kill me? Just another half of a dose more, then my old life would be gone. (Cough ... cough ... cough ... cough.) You, little kid, really want to create trouble."

    The young eunuch said, "Child really did not know; next time I will not dare."

    "Will there be next time?" the old eunuch said, "Ay, I don't even know if I will live in a few days. (Cough ... cough ... cough ... cough.)"

    "Gong-gong," the little eunuch said, "Where did this man come from? I am afraid he is a rebel thief."

    "Friends," the old eunuch addressed the men, "Which palace are you from?"

    "Reporting to Gong-gong," one of the men replied, "We are from Zheng Wangye's Palace. If not for Gong-gong's help by catching this rebel thief, we might lose a lot of face today."

    "Humph," the old eunuch said, "Just ... just consider it a coincidence. (Cough ... cough ... cough.) You don't have to raise any alarm, just send this man and that child to the catering department of the Imperial Palace, tell them they are wanted by Hai Lao-gong [lit. ‘Old eunuch’]."

    The men responded with one voice. The old eunuch said, "Why haven't you called a sedan chair? Looking at my condition, do you think I can still walk?" The little eunuch complied and dashed out the door. The old eunuch bent down on a table, while still coughing nonstop.

    Seeing Mao Shiba was captured, Wei Xiaobao remembered a storyteller once said, "Living on a green mountain, no need to fear there won't be any firewood to cook." Must smear some grease on the soles of the feet, execute the thirty-sixth stratagem, if all else fails, retreat! Creeping quietly along the wall, he wanted to slip away from the back of the shop. Seeing that nobody was paying attention, he was feeling very happy inwardly when the old eunuch flicked his finger, sending a chopstick flying toward Wei Xiaobao. The chopstick stabbed the back of his right knee.

    Wei Xiaobao's right leg went numb and he toppled down on the floor, unable to move another step. His mouth immediately went into assault mode, "Tuberculosis sickly old turtle demon ..." But then he saw one of the big man was glowering at him fiercely, he was scared and the next ten malicious sentences went back into his belly.

    Not too long afterwards, a sedan chair arrived outside the door. The little eunuch walked in and announced, "Gong-gong's sedan chair is here!"

    Still coughing incessantly, supported by the young eunuch, the old eunuch entered the sedan chair, which was lifted by two porters and carried away, with the little eunuch following behind. Among the seven men, four only suffered light injury. These four men tightly bound Mao Shiba and Wei Xiaobao with rope. While doing that, they did not stop punching and kicking Mao Shiba. Wei Xiaobao could not stop his mouth from hurling dirty words, but two hard slaps on his ear left him with no choice but quietly accept his fate without making any noise.

    The men also called for two sedan chairs. They squeezed a piece of cloth on Mao Shiba and Wei Xiaobao’s mouths, and used a piece of black cloth to cover their eyes before loading them onto the sedan chairs and took them away. When he was seven, Wei Xiaobao had ridden on a sedan chair with his mother on their way to burn incense. This time, without any better option, he consoled himself, “Damn it, laozi had not ridden a sedan chair for a long time; today filial sons are taking a good care of laozi by letting laozi riding on a sedan chair. What a good son, what a good grandson!” But thinking about whether he was accompanying Mao Shiba to the execution ground, he could not help shuddering in fear.

    Inside the sedan chair, Wei Xiaobao was completely blinded, he only felt the sedan chair was always moving. Sometimes they stopped and he heard someone would ask a question, and the man accompanying the sedan chair would always reply, "Catering Department, on Hai Laogong-gong's order." Wei Xiaobao did not know what kind of place the Catering Department was, but that Hai Laogong was definitely a person of authority. With the man escorting them, the sedan chair proceeded unhindered. Once the person asking question uncovered the curtain of the sedan chair; he peered inside and said, "It's only a baby!" Wei Xiaobao wanted to say, "It's your ancestor!" It was a pity that his mouth was stuffed with the cloth, so that he was unable to say anything.

    The journey was long and uneventful that Wei Xiaobao almost fell asleep. Suddenly the sedan chair stopped, and someone said, "The people wanted by Hai Gong-gong are here."

    A boy's voice replied, "Right, Hai Gong-gong is resting, just leave them here." Hearing the voice, Wei Xiaobao recognized the speaker as the boy he came across at the wine shop.

    He heard the first voice said, "We are going back to report to Zheng Wangye, I am sure Wangye will send someone to thank Hai Laogong."

    "Very well," the boy replied, "Please tell Wangye Hai Laogong sends his respect."

    "We don't deserve it," the man replied.

    And then Mao Shiba and Wei Xiaobao were dragged out of the sedan chairs, brought into the room, and laid down on the floor. They heard voices and footsteps were getting further away, but they could hear old eunuch Hai's coughing quite clearly.

    Wei Xiaobao smelled an extremely strong medicinal smell, he thought, "This old demon is so sick that he is about to die soon, too bad he did not die several days earlier. It seems that he wanted me and Mao Dage to be the herald announcing his arrival to the Yan Wang [Yama, King of Hell]."

    It was very quiet all around them, other than old eunuch Hai occasional coughs, they did not hear anything else. Wei Xiaobao's limbs were bound, his fingers and toes grew numb; his discomfort was unbearable, it was as if old eunuch Hai had forgotten all about them and did not take any notice of them.

    After a very long time, they finally heard old eunuch Hai's soft voice calling out, "Xiao Guizi [lit. 'little cassia/cinnamon/laurel']!"

    "Here!" the little boy replied. Wei Xiaobao mused, "Turns out this stinky kid is called Xiao Guizi. Your name also has the same 'Xiao' character as your grandpa."

    He heard the old eunuch Hai said, "Untie those two, I want to question them."

    "Yes!" Xiao Guizi replied.


    [1] Term to address a court eunuch.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:23 AM.

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