Crazee, indeed, the world is small. BTW, in USA, Labor Day is the first Monday in September. Sky, thanks. How about you? Anh, you are welcome, glad you like it. Gubrak, thanks for the info. I will fix the text per your suggestion. Smurf, one word: yi qi. He was good to his friends too.
Here's the end of Chapter 23.
Suddenly they heard the sound of horses’ hooves, about a dozen or so riders galloped- toward them. When they were near, it could be seen that the riders were wearing Imperial Bodyguards’ uniform, altogether there were sixteen men. Before they even reached the Temple, all sixteen of them stopped and dismounted the horses, and walked toward the Temple in formation. The two foremost men were none other than Zhang Kangnian and Zhao Qixian.
As soon as Zhang Kangnian saw Wei Xiaobao, he called out loudly, “Du … Du … Daren, are you, Senior well?” He was going to call ‘Dutong [commander] Daren’, but seeing Wei Xiaobao was wearing monk robe, he had no choice but to call vaguely. Immediately the sixteen of them kneeled down to pay their respect to Wei Xiaobao.
Wei Xiaobao was delighted. “Gentlemen, please rise,” he said, “No need to be overly courteous. I have been looking forward to seeing you daily.”
Galdan and the others noticed that these sixteen men were imperial bodyguards whose pin rank was not low, yet they were that respectful toward Wei Xiaobao. They all thought, “This little monk indeed has some background.”
According to Qing military system, commanders were of regular second pin rank, first-class imperial bodyguards were of regular third pin rank, and the second-class imperial bodyguards were of regular fourth pin rank. Although compared to army commanders the official rank of Zhang Kangnian and the others was quite low, they were the Emperor’s personal bodyguards, they did not have any regard toward ‘outside’ military officials. They only nodded slightly toward Commander Ma as a way of greeting, and then were back showing their eager attention to Wei Xiaobao.
Seeing how these Imperial Bodyguards doing everything they could to please Wei Xiaobao while turning a blind eye to everybody else, Galdan was angry. “Humph,” he snorted, and said, “Let’s go, I can’t bear to see this kind of attitude.” His party cupped their hands toward Abbot Hui Cong and then walked down the mountain.
Wei Xiaobao invited the Imperial Bodyguards to enter the Temple. Zhang Kangnian walked beside him and said in a low voice, “His Majesty has a secret edict.” Wei Xiaobao nodded.
When they entered the Hall of Great Strength, Zhang Kangnian took out the Impersial Edict and read it out loud; it was only several sentences of official announcement: the Emperor bestowed five thousand taels to Shaolin Temple, to build more monks’ residence, to repair the gilded image of Buddha, and also to confer Wei Xiaobao the title of ‘Fu Guo Feng Sheng Chanshi’ [Dhyana Master Revered Sage Supporter of the Country]. Hui Cong and Wei Xiaobao kowtowed to express their gratitude.
Zhang Kangnian said, “His Majesty’s order: for ‘Fu Guo Feng Sheng Chanshi’ to get ready to set on a journey, your destination will be Mount Wutai.”
Wei Xiaobao had already anticipated this matter; he bowed to comply and said, “Your servant obeys the Emperor’s decree.”
After they all had been served tea, Wei Xiaobao invited Zhang Kangnian and Zhao Qixian, two people toward his own meditation room to chat. From his pocket Zhang Kangnian produced a secret imperial edict, which he presented with both hands while saying, “His Majesty has another decree.”
Wei Xiaobao kneeled down and kowtowed, and received the edict with both hands. Seeing that it was sealed with stamped lacquer wax, he thought, “I wonder what instruction His Majesty might have. The letters written on the Imperial Edict may recognize me, but I don’t recognize them. Since it is secret, I am not supposed to let Zhang and Zhao to know, I’d better ask Fangzhang Shixiong for guidance. I am sure he won’t reveal the secret.”
Thereupon, carrying the secret edict, he went to Hui Cong’s meditation room and said, “Fangzhang Shixiong, His Majesty has a secret order for me, I am asking you to give me directions.” Breaking the secret edict’s seal, he saw a large sheet of fine writing paper. Upon spreading it out, he saw four drawings.
The first drawing depicted five mountain peaks. Wei Xiaobao recognized it as Mount Wutai. On the southern peak there was a drawing of a temple, with the caption ‘Qing Liang Si’ three characters. Wei Xiaobao has stayed in Qingliang Temple for many days, and was somewhat familiar with these three characters. If the characters were written someplace else, he would never recognize them; but written on a temple, it could be considered meeting an acquaintance.
The second drawing depicted a little monk entering a temple, written above the temple also the three characters ‘Qing Liang Si’. The little monk was followed by a group of monks, above these monks’ heads there were five characters ‘Shao Lin Si He Shang’ [monks of Shaolin Temple]. Wei Xiaobao recognized the first three characters. Although he did not know the last two characters ‘he shang’, he could guess what they mean.
The setting on the third drawing was the Hall of Great Strength, where the little monk sat in the middle, happy and grinning, his face looked a lot like Wei Xiaobao, but he was wearing red kasaya, the apparel of an abbot. Next to him were many monks standing up. Wei Xiaobao realized that the little monk in the picture looked a lot like him, the more he looked, the more he was fascinated by it, unconsciously he broke into laughter.
The fourth drawing showed the little monk was kneeling on the ground, in front of a middle-aged monk. The middle-aged monk looked thin, it must be the Emperor Shunzhi who assumed the Buddhist name Xing Chi after leaving home.
Other than these four drawings, there were no other characters written on the secret edict. Turned out Kangxi was very adept at painting; knowing that Wei Xiaobao’s literacy was limited, he put the imperial decree in paintings. These four drawings could not be clearer, he wanted Wei Xiaobao to go to the Qing Liang Temple to be the head administrator and serve the Old Emperor.
At first Wei Xiaobao found it amusing, but his delight quickly disappeared; he groaned inwardly, “It’s alright for me to be a little monk, but now he wants me to be an old monk; that’s very bad!”
Hui Cong smiled and said, “Congratulations Shidi, His Majesty is sending you to be the head monk of Qingliang Temple. Qingliang Temple is a distinguished ancient temple, it was established during the reign of Emperor Xiao Wen of Northern Wei Dynasty, a lot earlier than Shaolin Temple. Being the head of a large monastery, Shidi will have great opportunity to proclaim Buddhist teachings, helping all living beings to cross over and help our religion to flourish.”
Wei Xiaobao shook his head and said with a forced smile, “I can’t be a head administrator of a temple, I will definitely make ridiculous mistake and will collapse in confusion.”
Hui Cong said, “It is clear from the drawing in the imperial edict that Shidi is to lead a group of our Temple’s monks to accompany you going there. Shidi may choose whoever you want. Everybody is your younger generation whom you know well, they will support you with all their hearts, absolutely no one will let you be careless. Shidi may set your heart at ease.”
Wei Xiaobao was staring blankly for half a day before it suddenly dawned on him: the young emperor had meticulously planned everything. When he was sent to Shaolin Temple to be a monk, the Emperor had already arranged today’s matter. The Emperor let him live in Shaolin Temple for about half a year, so that he could get to know the monks well, in order for him to select desirable monks to accompany him to Qingliang Temple. Since the Old Emperor had left home, certainly he did not want to have any Imperial Bodyguards to guard him; perhaps he would even leave and henceforth could not be found anymore.
Shaolin monks had outstanding martial art, plus it was Wei Xiaobao who personally led them, they would be a lot more dependable than the officers of Imperial Bodyguards. Besides, this matter was a huge secret, if the Emperor sent the officers and men of the Imperial Bodyguards to guard an old monk on Mount Wutai, it would be bound to create sensation and then the whole world would know. There must be someone in the Imperial Bodyguards who would recognize the Old Emperor. To have a Shaolin monk entering Qingliang Temple to be the head monk was actually very ordinary. The former head monk of Qingliang Temple, Cheng Guang, was one of Shaolin Temple’s Eighteen Luohan anyway.
Wei Xiaobao also thought, “If Xiao Huangdi [young emperor] sent me to be a monk at the Qingliang Temple, it would be too conspicuous, but by coming to Shaolin Temple first and then take a turn, nobody will suspect anything.” Thinking to this point, he could not help but was full of admiration to Kangxi’s planning ability.
Returning to his meditation room, he took out six thousand taels and instructed Zhang Kangnian to distribute the money to the Imperial Bodyguards. Zhang and Zhao, two people did not expect after becoming a monk Wei Xiaobao was still this generous; they were pleasantly surprised. “Since ancient times,” they praised, “There has never been any monk who gives money to the Imperial Bodyguards, except you, Wei Daren, one person. It is indeed unprecedented and will never be duplicated. There has never been a person from the ancient time, there will never be a person from the future generation.”
Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “There has never been a monk from the ancient time, there will never be a monk from the future generation.”
Zhang Kangnian lowered his voice and said, “Wei Daren, we do not dare to ask what business His Majesty is sending you to attend to, but whatever it is, please do not hesitate to give your orders. Handling matters for you is the same as handling matters for His Majesty; all of us will strive to do our best all the same.”
Zhao Qixian said, “If Wei Daren needs to do something but for the time being is not convenient to do, perhaps we can strive a little and make insignificant contribution. For instance … for instance, if Wei Daren needs to fetch a martial art manual from Shaolin Temple, we can set the monastery on fire, so that in the confusion, Wei Daren may seize the opportunity to make your move.”
Zhang Kangnian cackled, and then said in a low voice, “That’s right, this is called ‘fishing in troubled water’.”
Wei Xiaobao was startled, but understood immediately, “Right, they must be thinking that there must be a reason the Emperor sent me to Shaolin Temple to be a monk. Plus this time they came here to deliver a secret order without knowing what’s written inside. They knew the Emperor is fond of martial art; he sent me to be a monk in Shaolin Temple, naturally it is to steal a treasured martial art manual from the Temple.” He chuckled, and then also said in a low voice, “Gentlemen, don’t worry! This … I have already succeeded.”
Zhang and Zhao, two people were delighted, they bowed and paid their respect together, saying, “His Majesty’s flood of good fortune fills the heavens, Wei Daren is astute, capable and experienced. Congratulations for setting up this great merit.”
Zhao Qixian said, “Do you want us to smuggle it out for you? If the monks get suspicious, they might search Wei Daren’s clothes.”
Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “That’s not necessary. Go back to His Majesty, report to him that his servant Wei Xiaobao has solemnly received the imperial edict, and will remember the drawings firmly in my heart. I will handle this matter diligently; His Majesty may set his heart at ease.”
“Yes,” the two people replied. Zhao Qixian thought for a moment, he understood, “Turns out this martial art manual is a diagram. Wei Daren looked at it and remembers the drawings firmly in your heart,” he said.
Zhang Kangnian also saw the truth, “That’s even better,” he said, “If the treasured manual was stolen, the monks of Temple would naturally find out, in the end … in the end the outcome would be worse. By memorizing it, the deities will not know, the ghosts will not realize. Fortunately by nature Wei Daren is extremely intelligent; if you are blunt like me, you won’t remember anything.”
Realizing that these two misunderstood the drawings he was talking about as Shaolin Temple’s martial art diagram, Wei Xiaobao was secretly amused. “Zhang Xiong need not be too modest,” he said, “By staying in the Temple and looking at it slowly, one or two days may be inadequate, but after several months I can finally remember everything.”
The two of them expressed their agreement together; they both thought that after living in the Temple for more than half a year, you must have memorized not a few of Shaolin Pai’s martial art manuals.
They took their leave. Wei Xiaobao remembered something; he asked, “The group of men you met outside the mountain gate just now, do you happen to know their background?”
“We don’t,” Zhang and Zhao replied.
“Quickly go and investigate for me,” Wei Xiaobao said, “That group of people came to Shaolin Temple sneakily, evidently they also want to steal treasured martial art manuals from the Temple. That troop commander in particular, I wonder whom he is working for. He is acting as an imperially appointed official, yet has the audacity to spoil His Majesty’s important matter; it is indeed treason and heresy, he wants to rebel intentionally. Go and investigate what kind of person is the man behind this, you will render an enormous service.”
“That’s easy,” the two of them delightedly said, “They have not gone down the mountain too long, we will definitely able to catch up with them. That troop commander has a name and a surname, we will find out as soon as we investigate.”
Wei Xiaobao knew perfectly well that that Commander Ma was Wu Sangui’s subordinate, yet deliberately entrap him, pretending that he did not know his background, letting the Imperial Bodyguards to investigate and report to the Emperor so that they may take the credit. It would be a lot better compared to if he brought the false charge himself.
Wei Xiaobao added, “With this group of people, there is a young woman disguised herself as a man. They are looking for another young girl, sixteen, seventeen years old, with beautiful face. These two girls are heavily involved in this big rebellion conspiracy. You try to verify in detail these two girls’ names and family background. After finding out, report to me in a sealed envelope.”
By saying those things, naturally he was trying to use official authority for private interests. He was sending the Emperor’s personal bodyguards to trace his own sweetheart. They were seeking after monetary reward, they would undoubtedly make every effort to handle this matter. When the Imperial Bodyguards wanted to investigate a case, the government officials all over the world would follow their orders by sending their people to investigate. With this kind of ‘pass like thunder and move like the wind’ investigation, how can there be any information they would not be able to find?
Zhang and Zhao, two people patted their chests, guaranteeing that they would investigate until the truth comes to light. They promised to repay Wei Daren’s graciousness, his kindness in recognizing their worth and employing them, his concern for their country, and for the generous reward he bestowed to them.
 Please see Ace High’s note earlier on pin rank.