Zhang Wuji was startled; he did feel a bit of itch and numb, a rather unusual feeling. Hastily he tore the handkerchief down and brought his hand to his nose. “Aiyo!” he could not help exclaiming. He knew it was the ‘qu fu xiao ji gao’ [flesh/muscle decomposer ointment], an external medication, which could erode rotting flesh from a wound. Although it was not a poison, applied to the bite-marks it would deepen the wound. This ointment actually carried a pungent smell, but Zhao Min had mixed some rouge in it; she also used her own handkerchief to wrap the wound, so the smell was somewhat obscured that Zhang Wuji was not able to detect it.
Zhang Wuji hurriedly ran to the stern to wash his wound with some fresh water. Zhao Min followed behind him; helping him washing the wound while laughing and giggling.
Zhang Wuji pushed her shoulder away and said angrily, “Stay away from me! What kind of joke is this? Do you think it didn’t hurt?”
Still giggling Zhao Min replied, “It is truly ‘the dog that bites Lu Dongbin’; you are unable to recognize other’s kindness. I was afraid you are in so much pain that I used this method.”
[Translator’s note: ‘the dog that bites Lu Dongbin’ is a Chinese proverb, which means an inability to recognize goodness and repay kindness with vice. Lu Dongbin was one of the Eight Immortals (ba xian) in Taoist legends.]
Zhang Wuji ignored her remark; he furiously went back to his cabin and closed his eyes.
Zhao Min followed in and called, “Zhang Gongzi!” Zhang Wuji pretended to be asleep. Zhao Min called him two more times, but Zhang Wuji simply snored even louder. Zhao Min sighed, “If I knew you would be like this, I would have spread a real poison to take your dog’s life then I wouldn’t have to deal with you anymore.”
Zhang Wuji opened his eyes and said, “How can I be the dog that bites Lu Dongbin; unable to recognize other’s kindness? You tell me.”
Zhao Min smiled and said, “If I tell you, then what are you going to do?”
“You are always able to present a strong argument on everything; naturally I can’t argue with you,” Zhang Wuji said.
“You haven’t heard what I am going to say and you admit defeat already?” Zhao Min said with a smile, “You knew all along that my intention was good.”
“Pei!” Zhang Wuji spat, “Good intention indeed! You bit my hand, but did not apologize. Fine! But why did you have to spread poison on my wound? I’d rather not receive your kindness.”
“Hmm,” Zhao Min said, “Let me ask you this: which one was deeper, my bite on you, or your bite on Miss Yin?”
Zhang Wuji blushed. “That … that was a long time ago,” he stammered, “Why do you have to bring it up?”
“I want to bring it up,” Zhao Min insisted, “Just answer my question; don’t talk in circles.”
“Granted that my bite on Miss Yin was deeper,” Zhang Wuji admitted, “But at that time she was grabbing me, while my martial art was inferior to her; no matter what I did, I could not shake her loose. As a child, my heart was anxious, and I just bit her. You are not a child; I did not grab you and want you to come to the Ling She Island, did I?”
“That’s strange,” Zhao Min laughed, “So she grabbed you and wanted you to come to the Ling She Island, but you’d rather die than come with her. Presently nobody invited you to come, yet you willingly came without any fuss? After all, when people grow, their hearts also grow, everything changes.”
Zhang Wuji’s entire face turned red. “You are the one who wanted me to come!” he said with a smile.
Hearing this, Zhao Min’s face also turned red, but she felt an indescribable sweetness in her heart. It was as if Zhang Wuji was saying, ‘She wanted me to come, I’d rather die than come. You wanted me to come, I immediately came.”
Two people looked at each other for half a day without saying anything then suddenly they averted their gaze from each other. Zhao Min lowered her head and said, “Very well, I’ll tell you: it was a very long time ago that you bit Miss Yin, yet she has never forgotten you. I heard the way she talked; I am afraid she won’t ever forget you for the rest of her life. The reason I bit you is so that you also won’t forget me for the rest of your life.”
Only upon hearing this last sentence did Zhang Wuji finally understand her profound meaning; his heart was moved and he was speechless.
“I saw the tooth marks on the back of her hand,” Zhao Min continued, “Your bite was very deep; I thought that you bit her really deep, her memory of you is also deep. I wanted to bite you really deep, but I did not have the heart to do so; but if I bit you lightly, I am afraid you will forget me in the future. I thought about it left and right, then decided to bite you first, then spread the ‘qu fu xiao ji gao’; so that those tooth marks will be deepened.”
At first Zhang Wuji thought it was funny then he thought that although with this act she was indulging in fantasy, in the end it was a demonstration of her deep affection to him. He sighed and softly said, “I don’t blame you. I was truly the dog that bites Lu Dongbin; I was unable to recognize your kindness. You are treating me this way, as such; there is no way I’m going to forget you.”
Initially Zhao Min felt vulnerable after revealing her tender feelings, but after hearing his words her eyes flashed mischievously; she smiled and said, “You said, ‘you were treating me this way’; are you saying that I treated you badly, or I treated you well? Zhang Gongzi, my bad treatments to you is actually numerous, but my good treatment is none.”
Zhang Wuji said, “Later on your treatment to me will be somewhat better.” Grabbing her hand, he brought it to his mouth. “I want to also bite you really bad, so you won’t forget me for the rest of your life,” he said with a laugh.
Zhao Min suddenly felt very bashful; she shook his hand and rushed out of the cabin. As she opened the cabin door, she almost bumped into Xiao Zhao. Zhao Min was startled. “Damn it!” she silently cursed, “If my conversation with him was heard by this girl, I would die of embarrassment.” She could not help but blushing profusely while she ran to the upper deck.
Xiao Zhao came to Zhang Wuji and said, “Gongzi, I saw Jin Hua Popo and that ugly girl went that way; they were carrying a big sack together. I don’t know what kind of crafty trick they are planning to do.”
“Hmm,” Zhang Wuji mumbled. He realized his conversation with Zhao Min had turned intimate; to have Xiao Zhao suddenly appear, he was unavoidably ashamed. He stared blankly for a moment before finally asking, “Are they going toward that small mountain hut on the northern side of the island?”
“They are going north alright, but they are not going to the mountain,” Xiao Zhao replied, “It seemed like they were in a deep argument with each other. That Jin Hua Popo looked very angry.”
Zhang Wuji went to the stern. He saw Zhao Min was standing at the bow with her eyes gazing toward the ocean. She did not turn her body around. He heard the mighty waves of the sea pounding the hull of the boat. He felt that his heart was as tumultuous as those fluctuating waves; he tried with great difficulty to calm it down.
The sun gradually set toward the western horizon in what he felt like a very long time; the trees on the island turned darker and became a blur in his eyes. Finally Zhang Wuji returned to his cabin.
During supper that night he told Zhao Min and Xiao Zhao, “I am going to visit Yifu. It would be better for the two of you to stay and guard the boat, so that we won’t scare Jin Hua Popo away.”
“Then I think you’d better wait for another night watch,” Zhao Min said, “Wait till the sky turns really dark before you leave.”
“Yes,” Zhang Wuji replied. His heart was boiling with anxiety over his Yifu’s safety; this one night watch was indeed unbearable to him.
With great difficulty he waited until he could not see anything anywhere he looked. Finally he stood up, smiled faintly at Zhao Min and Xiao Zhao then he walked toward to the cabin door.
“Zhang Gongzi,” Zhao Min called while loosening the Yitian Sword on her waist, “Take this sword for self defense.”