^ Being tortured to death is a horrible way to end a life. Yet, most villains usually get a quick stab in the gut, which I think is highly unjust punishment for their heinous crimes
gqonmars2, thanks for your nice comment. I do understand your sentiment, I'm also looking forward to see how this story will unfold.
SkyWalker, CrazyT, Tweety, you are welcome. Didn't know you are addicted to this story already.
Han, that was a literal translation, and I didn't realize it was offensive, so I edited it and took out those words completely. Please let me know if I miss anything. Thanks for your input.
Ace, I also used 'death by thousand cuts' in White Hair Demoness, I thought I would use something else this time. But I added two more definitions in footnote. From now on I will use all three definitions interchangably. Thanks for your input.
Wei Xiaobao said, "Reporting to Empress Dowager, your servant only knows of red-bellied devotion in protecting my master. Whatever His Majesty commanded, your servant would simply follow the imperial order. Your servant is young, he does not understand anything." He lived in the Palace for only several months, but during the gambling he often heard the eunuchs mentioning the rules and customs of the Palace and imperial court, which he memorized it one by one; he knew masters were most jealous of slaves who claim credit for himself. The bigger merit you render, the least credit you should pretend to claim, then your master would be very pleased with you. Supposing the servant showed a somewhat haughty attitude, the master might bestow a fatal disaster. If the master was irritated and thus loathe the servant, it would not be difficult at all for the servant to lose the favor and the good fortune from the master.
The way he replied had pleased the Empress Dowager very much; she said, "Your age might be young, yet you are sensible, you are better than that Junior Protector [Shao Bao], who was granted the title first class martial artist, Oboi. Child, what do you think we should reward him with?”
Kangxi said, “Empress Dowager, please give your instruction.”
The Empress Dowager muttered, “In the Catering Department, you don’t have any rank, do you? Hai Tianfu, Supervisor Hai is an eunuch of the fifth grade, so I grant you the sixth grade, I promote you to be Eunuch Leader, you may serve as the Emperor’s attendant!”
Wei Xiaobao thought, “Hot piece mama’s sixth grade, seven grade, is the same as making me a grade of eunuch, laozi does not want it.” But his face was all smiles as he knelt down and kowtowed, “Thank you for Empress Dowager’s grace, thank you for His Majesty’s grace.”
The Qing Palace’s common practice was to have fourteen Eunuch Managers, eight Eunuch Assistant Managers, a hundred and eighty nine Eunuch Leaders, and unlimited number of ordinary eunuchs. At the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, there were more than a thousand eunuchs, later, the number grew to more than two thousand eunuchs. The highest level of eunuch with managerial duty was fourth grade, the lowest was eighth grade, ordinary eunuchs did not have any rank. Wei Xiaobao was promoted from without any grade to the sixth grade eunuch; within the Palace, it could be considered a very rare honor.
The Empress Dowager nodded and said, “Do your duty well.”
“Yes, yes!” Wei Xiaobao repeatedly declared. He stood up and withdrew by walking backward. When the palace maid raised the pearl curtain, Wei Xiaobao stole a glance toward the Empress Dowager. He saw her complexion to be extremely pale, her eyes were bright, but her eyebrows were creased, as if she was concerned about something, or perhaps she had a load on her mind; he mused, “She is the Empress Dowager, what makes her unhappy? Ah, that’s right, her husband is dead, even if she is the Empress Dowager, with her husband dead, naturally she is not happy.”
Returning to his residence, he recounted everything that happened that day to Hai Laogong. Unexpectedly Hai Laogong did not show the least bit of surprise; he said drily, “I suspected he would make his move within these two days. His Majesty’s patience is much better than the late emperor’s.”
Wei Xiaobao was greatly astonished, “Gong-gong,” he asked, “You already know?”
“How can I know?” Hai Laogong said, “I have my suspicion for some time. His Majesty learning wrestling can be considered a child having some fun, but when he wanted thirty little eunuchs to also learn wrestling, what was he trying to do? His Majesty attentively learned the ‘Ba Gua Roaming Dragon Palm’, obviously he had some other reason behind it. If these two different paths martial art, the 'Great Compassion Great Sorrow Thousand-Leaf Hand' and the ‘Ba Gua Roaming Dragon Palm’ were trained for ten years, eight years to the point of proficiency, with the two of you join hands, there is a chance you could cope with Oboi. But what good is such tactless and impulsive person who learned only for two, three months? Ay, young people are courageous, but do not know the immensity of heaven and earth. Today’s matter was too dangerous.”
Wei Xiaobao leaned over to look at Hai Laogong, his heart was brimming with amazement and respect, “This old turtle’s eyes are blind, but he has foresight in everything.”
“Did His Majesty take you to see the Empress Dowager?” Hai Laogong asked.
“Yes!” Wei Xiaobao said, he thought, “You know about it too.”
“What reward did the Empress Dowager bestow to you?” Hai Laogong asked.
“It was nothing,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “She only gives me a sixth grade, promoting me to be Eunuch Leader.”
Hai Laogong chuckled and said, “That’s very good, you are only a grade lower than me. From little eunuch I was promoted to be Eunuch Leader, I had to toil for no less than thirteen years.”
Wei Xiaobao thought, “One of these days I am going to leave. You have taught me not a few of martial art skill, yet it was me who blinded your eyes. Unavoidably I owe you something, so I have to steal those several sutras for you. I cannot not steal it.”
Hai Laogong said, “You have rendered a great merit today, hereafter it will be easier for you to go to the Upper Study Room …”
Wei Xiaobao said, “That’s right, it will be easier for me to take that ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’. Gong-gong, your eyes are greatly inconvenienced, why do you want to have this sutra?”
Hai Laogong gloomily said, “You’re right, I am blind, I cannot read the sutra, you … you can read it for me, you can keep me company for the rest of your life, for … for the rest of your life you can read this ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’ for me …” As he said that, he suddenly coughed violently.
Seeing the way he stoop down and cough violently, Wei Xiaobao could not help having pity on him, he mused, “This old … old man is really strange.” Originally he had always referred to Hai Laogong as the ‘old turtle’, but this moment he could not bear to call him ‘old turtle’.
That night Hai Laogong did not stop coughing, so that even in his dream Wei Xiaobao was still hearing his cough.
The next day Wei Xiaobao went to the Upper Study Room to wait upon the Emperor. He noticed that the imperial bodyguards on duty outside the study room were all new. As soon as Kangxi arrived, Distinguished Learned Prince Kang and Songgotu also came in to submit a report, saying that the team of Princes and senior ministers who were handling this case had already investigated and found that Oboi was guilty of thirty charges.
Kangxi was rather taken aback. “Thirty charges?” he said, “That many?”
Prince Kang said, “Oboi has committed grave offenses; actually, he did not stop at these thirty, however, your servants have received Your Majesty’s sacred command, so we managed this investigation leniently.”
“So be it,” Kangxi said, “What are those thirty?”
Prince Kang produced a sheet of white paper and read, “Oboi took unfair advantage of his mater and arrogate power, crime one. He appointed a clique of traitors, crime two. He formed a clique to control politics, crime three. He amassed wealth to support rebellion, crime four. He manipulated statement of confession, crime five. Without authority he promoted people like Marsai, whom the late emperor would not employ, crime six. Without authority he murdered Suksaha and the others, crime seven. Without authority he murdered Sunahai and the others, crime eight. He protected his cronies of the same Banner, by forcefully taking over land, crime nine. He was irreverent to the Holy Mother, crime ten.” He continued reading down one by one, until reaching the thirtieth major crime, which was ‘because other people’s grave was obstructing his own house’s fengshui, he ordered it to be moved’.
Kangxi said, “Turns out Oboi has committed these many evil deeds. How do you propose he should be sentenced?”
Prince Kang replied, “Oboi’s crime is great, his evil is extreme, he should be executed by lingering death, yet the ministers are considering Your Majesty’s sacred desire to show benevolence and mercy, thus we are proposing to depose him and execute him by beheading. Other members of his clique, Ebilun, Bambursan and Asiha, should also be beheaded.”
Kangxi pondered over it and said, “Although Oboi’s crime is great, he was an executive minister who has served for many years; he may be exempted from execution. He will be deposed and held in custody without parole, his family properties will be confiscated. As for the other members of his clique, you may do according to your proposal, execute them by beheading.”
Prince Kang and Songgotu knelt down and kowtowed, “Holiness is benevolent and merciful, even the Ming rulers of old all fall short.”
That day the cabinet ministers appeared before Kangxi; they were busy dealing with Oboi and the members of his clique. The ministers presented to Kangxi in details the power struggle between the Bordered Yellow Banner and the Plain White Banner. Wei Xiaobao was listening, but he did not have any clue what was happening. All he knew was that Oboi was the Banner Master of the Bordered Yellow Banner, while Suksaha was the Banner Master of the Plain White Banner. The two banners had been fighting over fertile and beautiful land, just like water against fire. After Suksaha was put to death by Oboi, a lot of wealth, estate and farmlands affiliated with the Plain White Banner were merged into the Bordered Yellow Banner’s property. And now the Plain White Banner ministers beseeched the Emperor to restore everything to the original state.
Kangxi said, “You may reach an agreement among yourselves and report to me afterwards. The Bordered Yellow Banner is one three upper banners, although Oboi is guilty, I cannot let the entire banner suffer the setback. In everything we must be fair and just.”
The ministers kowtowed and said, “Your Majesty is enlightened sage, all the people of Bordered Yellow Banner have received holy graciousness.”
Kangxi nodded, “You may leave,” he said, “I want Songgotu to remain, I have another instruction for him.”
When everybody else had left, Kangxi said to Songgotu, “After Suksaha was put to death by Oboi, was all his family property seized by Oboi?”
Songgotu replied, “Suksaha’s farmland and estate have not entered into the inner warehouse, but Oboi has personally led his men to search Suksaha’s home; gold, silver, jewels and valuable things had all entered Oboi’s personal pouch.”
“I expect as much,” Kangxi said, “I want you to go to Oboi’s home and take a look, verify his family property, if there is anything that originally belongs to Suksaha, return it to his heir.”
“Your Majesty’s holy graciousness is vast and mighty,” Songgotu said. Seeing that Kangxi did not say anything else, he slowly drew back toward the study room’s door.
Kangxi said, “The Empress Dowager has an order: the Senior likes to pray to Buddha and read sutras, we heard that both the Banner Masters of Plain White Banner and Bordered Yellow Banner have a copy of ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’ in their possession …”
As soon as he heard the five words ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’, Wei Xiaobao was jolted. He heard Kangxi continue, “These two Buddhist texts are sheathed in silk pouches, the Plain White Banner’s copy in plain white silk, the Bordered Yellow Banner’s copy in yellow silk with red border. The Empress Dowager says the Senior wants to see if these two copies are identical to the Buddhist text in the Palace. When you are going through Oboi’s family property, see if you can find it.”
“Yes, yes,” Songgotu said, “Your servant will see to it.” He knew the Emperor was young, yet he had a strong filial piety to the Empress Dowager. In important matters of the court politics, if the Empress Dowager had something to say, the Emperor would not disobey even a single one of her order. The Empress Dowager’s order is more urgent than the Emperor’s business. Looking for two Buddhist books was certainly easy, he thought he should be able to manage it quickly.
 Songgotu, Ebilun, Bambursan were real historical characters, however, I could not find anything on Asiha (or Asahe).
 Book note: According to the ‘Draft History of the Qing Dynasty (compiled under Zhao Erxun in 1927 during the Northern Warlords period), Divine Ancestor’s biographic sketch of an emperor’: In his eighth year, Kangxi was already aware of Oboi’s despotic corrupt politics, especially considering his far-reaching power which was difficult to control; and thus he picked Bai Tang’a, a vigorous young imperial bodyguard, to do the pouncing and striking. The day Oboi appeared, he led a group of imperial bodyguards to strike and bind him; hence completely subdued him and took him under control of the inner ministerial circle. In the year 1680 Minister Wang suggested that Oboi be imprisoned and charged with thirty major crimes, and asked that his entire family be executed. The imperial edict said: ‘Oboi rebelled out of ignorance, he deserves to have his entire clan exterminated. Considering his long duration of service and repeated outstanding military merit, he is pardoned from death, but will have his properties confiscated and he is taken into custody.’
 Orig. 圣上 – sheng shang, from the dictionary: courtier’s or minister’s form of address for the current Emperor.
Last edited by Ace High; 09-06-10 at 12:57 AM.
THANKS for the translation Foxs!
Funny how after all the wrestling/sparring matches, Kangxi still thinks Wei Xiaobao's an eunuch!
Last edited by spacerfiller; 09-06-10 at 02:56 PM.
"Every man dies, but not every man really lives." -BH
Ace, two things: 1. Minford uses 'sutra in forty two sections', and as I said at the very first post, I don't want to use Minford's, if I can help it. 2. Earlier it was said that WXB knew three out of five characters [si shi er], and it is mentioned again in this part. The 'Sutra of Forty Two Chapters' won't have this detail. So, this time I keep it as it is. Thanks for your input though.
Sky, Hoang & gqonmars, you are welcome. Thanks for dropping by.
Kangxi said, “Xiao Guizi, come with him. When you find the sutras, the two of you can bring them back together.”
Wei Xiaobao was delighted and hastily complied, he thought how Hai Laogong had wanted him to steal the ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’, but it had been more than half a year, in the end not only he had never seen what kind of sutra the book was, he had not even seen half a shadow of the book. This time he was under the imperial order to fetch the sutras, he was confident he would find the sutras. It would be best if Oboi had three copies at his home, then he would be able to fish in troubled water and embezzle a copy to be given to Hai Laogong; that would make him very happy.
Songgotu noticed that Xiao Guizi was the little eunuch close to the Emperor whom he doted very much, who, in the arrest of the traitor this time, had rendered great merit. He thought that fetching two copies of Buddhist sutras was not a big deal, so there was no need to send this eunuch. But then he had another thought and it suddenly dawned on him: “Of course, His Majesty wants to give him some benefit. Oboi has been in power for many years, the amount of gold, silver and valuables in his home must be beyond counting. His Majesty is sending me to search and confiscate his home, that is indeed a very lucrative assignment. In this matter I did not have the slightest contribution, why would he want me to get rich? His Majesty is sending Xiao Guizi to accompany me fetching the sutras, in reality he wants him to take a look. Searching and confiscating Oboi’s property is this little eunuch’s business, the Ol’ Songgotu is just secondary. If this business went awry, I would be greatly inconvenienced.”
Songgotu’s father was Sonin, the chief of four Executive Ministers when Kangxi fist took over the government. After Sonin’s death, Songgotu was promoted to be a junior minister in the personnel office. At that time Oboi was domineering the court, Songgotu did not dare to oppose him, hence he resigned from his post at the personnel office and took position as a first class imperial bodyguard. Kangxi knew that he and Oboi did not get along with each other, and thus this time he send him on a very serious assignment.
The two of them went out the Palace gate, Songgotu’s attendant pulled a horse for him to ride on. Songgotu said, “Gui Gong-gong, please mount the horse first!” He assumed this little eunuch did not know how to ride, so he was prepared to look after him a bit, making sure that he would not fall and break his neck. Who would have thought that after several months of martial art training in the Palace, although Wei Xiaobao did not make any real progress, his hands and feet became very agile; plus in the past Mao Shiba had taught him some riding technique, so this time he no longer was ‘Zhang Guolao riding donkey, Wei Xiaobao riding a horse’, he nimbly leaped onto the horseback and unexpectedly his riding was very stable.
The two of them arrived at Oboi’s mansion. Oboi’s entire household, from top to bottom, no exception, had been arrested early on. The gates, front and rear, were under strict guard. “Gui Gong-gong,” Songgotu said to Wei Xiaobao, “If you see anything fun, do not hesitate to take it. His Majesty is sending you here to fetch Buddhist sutra, it is to reward your great merit, no matter what you take, His Majesty will not ask about it.”
Wei Xiaobao saw in Oboi’s mansion, jewels, treasures and amusing things were everywhere, his eyes were dazzled. He felt that each object was better than the other. Compared to the utensils, curios or furniture in the Lovely Spring Courtyard at Yangzhou, it was as far as the heavens from the earth. At first he wanted to take everything, but looking at this thing he thought it was very amusing, looking at that thing he found it was more fascinating, he could not decide which one was better. He also recalled that in a few days he would slip away from the Palace anyway, if he took too many things, it would only inconvenience him to carry it, so he decided to take only a few especially valuable things.
Songgotu’s clerk started to take inventory of the articles, he duly noted every single one on his list. When Wei Xiaobao picked up a pearl to look at it, the clerk would strike this pearl from his list, to state that in Oboi’s mansion there was no such pearl existed. When Wei Xiaobao shook his head and put the pearl down, the clerk would add the pearl back into the list.
When they were still going through the inspection, suddenly they heard an officer’s quick steps coming out. After paying his respect to Songgotu and Wei Xiaobao, he said, “Reporting to two officials: we found a secret treasure-trove inside Oboi’s bedroom; humble officials did not dare to open without authority, please two officials take the trouble to inspect it.”
“Secret treasure-trove?” Songgotu happily asked, “That’s strange indeed.” He also asked, “Have you found those two sutras?”
The officer replied, “We did not find a single book in this house, only several dozens of accounting books. Humble officials are still searching diligently.”
Pulling Wei Xiaobao’s hand along, Songgotu entered Oboi’s bedroom. He saw tiger skin and leopard skin spread on the floor; the walls were packed with bows, arrows, sabers and swords, it was a typical rough Manchurian warrior’s bedroom. The secret treasure-trove was actually inside a hole beneath the floor, with an iron panel covering it. A tiger skin lay on top of the iron panel. By now the tiger skin and the iron panel had been opened, two guards were standing on either side of the hole. Songgotu said, “Take it out so we can take a look.”
The two guards jumped into the hole and hauled the things hidden inside up. Two clerks took them over and carefully lay them down on a piece of leopard skin. Songgotu laughed and said, “Oboi’s best treasure is obviously hidden inside this hole. Gui Gong-gong, you should pick your most beloved treasure here, I guarantee you won’t make a mistake.”
Wei Xiaobao laughed, “There is no need to be polite,” he said, “You yourself should also choose some.” He had just finished speaking when suddenly “Ah!” he exclaimed, as he saw the guard handed over a large white-jade box, five cinnabar red large characters were inscribed on top of the box, the first three characters were ‘forty-two’ [si shi er]. Wei Xiaobao hastily received the box, open the jade lid, and saw a thin book inside. The book was inside a white silk envelope, the same five characters were written on the seal. “Suo Daren,” he asked, “Is this the ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’? I know the word ‘forty-two’, but I don’t know the characters ‘chapter’ and ‘sutra’.”
“Yes, yes,” Songgotu happily replied, “This is the ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’.”
Wei Xiaobao said, “These two characters ‘chapter’ and ‘sutra’ are very difficult to recognize. Actually, I don’t need to think hard to recognize the characters, as long as there are five characters together, and the first three are ‘forty-two’, then the last two characters must be ‘chapter’ and ‘sutra’.”
Songgotu mused, “That’s not necessarily true,” but with a smile on his face he said, “Exactly.”
Then the guard handed over another jade box, with a book inside, but the envelope was made of yellow silk, with red silk border on the side. Both books looked very old. But inside the treasure-trove there was no third jade box, Wei Xiaobao was secretly very disappointed.
Songgotu delightedly said, “Gui Gong-gong, the two of us completed this task, Empress Dowager will be very happy, she will reward us handsomely.”
“What kind of sutra are those?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “I want to have a look.” As he said that, he opened one of the envelopes.
Songgotu’s heart was stirred, “Gui Gong-gong,” he said with a laugh, “I have something to say, but please don’t be angry.”
Ever since he was little, at the brothel Wei Xiaobao was always bossed around; names like ‘little animal’ or ‘little turtle’ had never ceased being thrown at him. But when he obtained Kangxi’s favor, whenever somebody, no matter who, saw him the Palace, they were exceptionally polite to him. He was only a thirteen, fourteen years old boy, yet in all his life, when did he ever receive such respect? Here was Songgotu at Oboi’s mansion, his prestige was spread over eight directions, whenever any civil or military officer see him, they were all trembling with fear, yet this man was so courteous toward him; Wei Xiaobao could not help but greatly enjoy it and he had an even better impression of Songgotu. He said, “Whatever instruction Suo Daren has, please just say it.”
Songgotu laughed and said, “I don’t dare to have any instruction, it’s just that I suddenly remember something. Gui Gong-gong, these two sutras are wanted by the Empress Dowager and His Majesty, Oboi kept them in a secret treasure-trove, apparently they are not ordinary books. Just how important they are, we may not understand. I also very much want to take a look, but I am afraid there is something of utmost importance, involving great responsibility, written in them. The Empress Dowager may not like it if we as the servants see it. This … this … hee hee …”
As soon as he said that, Wei Xiaobao realized immediately. He was secretly frightened. Hastily he put the book back on the table and said, “You are extremely right, you are extremely right! Suo Daren, thank you for your direction. I did not understand this logic before, and almost attract great calamity.”
Songgotu laughed and said, “Why did Gui Gong-gong say such words? His Majesty sends the two of us together to handle this matter. Your business is also mine, why do you make such distinction between you and me? If I do not consider Gui Gong-gong as one of my own, I would not dare to casually say those words.”
Wei Xiaobao said, “You are a high-ranking official, I … I … am a little … little eunuch, how can you consider me as one of your own?”
Songgotu waved his hand to the numerous officers in the room and said, “Wait for us outside.”
The numerous officers bowed and said, “Yes, yes!” and they withdrew outside.
Songgotu pulled Wei Xiaobao’s hand and said, “Gui Gong-gong, you must never ever said those words again. If you would consider me, Ol’ Songgotu worthy, what do you say the two of us pay obeisance and become sworn brothers?” He said those words very earnestly.
Wei Xiaobao was startled. “I … I become sworn brother with you?” he said, “How … how can I deserve it?”
“Gui Xiongdi,” Songgotu said, “If you say those words again, you are clearly deriding me. I don’t know why, but as soon as I saw you, I feel there is a predestined affinity. The two of us go to the worship hall and swear brotherhood, and then we will become like real siblings. You and I will not announce it to outsiders, as long as nobody else know, what’s the harm in doing it?” Gripping Wei Xiaobao’s hand tightly, his eyes showed a fervent expression.
Actually, Songgotu was an extremely shrewd person; seeing the fall of Oboi, he knew there would be great power shift among the senior ministers of the imperial court. This time the Emperor seemed to be very well-disposed to him, it appears that someday he would get a promotion. To be an official in the imperial court, if he wanted to be in the Emperor’s good graces, he must understand the Emperor’s temper and mood. This little eunuch was by the Emperor’s side from morning to evening, if he could say a few good words on his behalf, he would benefit infinitely. Even if he could not say any good words on his behalf, as long as he could disclose to him what make the Emperor happy, what make him disgusted, what he was thinking of doing next, then he could plan accordingly with half the work, twice the effect, and win the Emperor’s favor.
He grew up in a government officer’s family, his father Sonin was the head of the Executive Ministers, he should know that ‘to figure out the superior’s intention’ was the high-ranking official’s sole secret, while it was also the most difficult thing to do. Before his very own eyes was one golden opportunity, so long as he could win this little eunuch over, someday the ‘divine steed Huang will flash past’; appointment as the prime minister would not be a difficult matter. Therefore, he was hit by an inspiration and wanted to be sworn brothers with him.
Although Wei Xiaobao was clever, he did not, after all, have the slightest understanding of the government bureaucracy of the imperial court; he only knew that this high-ranking official was very fond of himself, so he could not help but feeling very proud. “This … this is really beyond my expectation,” he said.
Songgotu pulled his hand. “Come, come, come!” he said, “Let us go to the worship hall.”
Manchu people were devout Buddhists; in all civil and military officers’ mansions there would be a Buddhist worship hall. The two of them entered the worship hall. Songgotu lighted incense and pulled Wei Xiaobao down to kneel together in front of the Buddhist image. He bowed and worshiped several times, and then said, “Today, disciple Songgotu and … and … and …” He turned his head and asked, “Gui Xiongdi, what is your great name? I haven’t consulted you, it’s truly preposterous.”
“I am called Xiao Guizi,” Wei Xiaobao replied.
Songgotu smiled and said, “Your honorable surname is Gui, isn’t it? But by what great name are you called?”
Wei Xiaobao said, “I … I … I am called Gui Xiaobao.”
Songgotu laughed, “Good name, good name,” he said, “You are indeed a jewel among men!”
Wei Xiaobao said in his heart, “In Yangzhou, people always call me ‘That little turtle Xiaobao’. What’s so special about this name ‘Xiaobao’ anyway?” He heard Songgotu said, “Today, disciple Songgotu with Gui Xiaobao, Gui Xiongdi, swear to be brothers. Hereafter blessings will be enjoyed together, sorrows will be endured together. We cannot be born on the same year, same month and same day, but wish that we will die on the same year, same month, and same day. If disciple does not uphold yi qi [see footnote 15 of Chapter 2], let me be punished by heaven and extinguished by the earth, forever will not raise my head to see the sun.” Finished speaking, he kowtowed and worship some more, then he said, “Xiongdi, you must also worship Buddha and make your vow!”
 Zhang Guolao was one of the Eight Immortals who was usually depicted by riding a donkey backwards.
 FYI, Songgotu’s name in Chinese is ‘Suo E’tu’. See footnote 34 of Chapter 2 for ‘da ren’.
 Figuratively means a meteoric rise in one’s career.
 Reminder: Xiaobao means ‘little jewel/treasure’.
 Orig. ‘golden orchid’, meaning profound friendship or sworn brotherhood.
Last edited by foxs; 09-07-10 at 11:09 PM.
WOW, thanks foxs. I reread the past two postings and I am imagining that you are definitely a great translator / story teller, because the words and the terms which was used, its just unimaginable that any Jane or Joe can speak/write as such.
I think this story must be hard translating.
Great work and great choice of words.
"Every man dies, but not every man really lives." -BH
I think it’s quite touching that WXB is trying so hard to find the sutras for Hai gong gong. He is compensating for blinding the old eunuch, but I think WXB has grown fond of the man.
Thanks for the update, foxs! Yes, I’ve become addicted to this translation despite watching the tv adaptation
It's obvious that HGG is aware of WXB's real identity and is using him to get the sutras. But I still think that they do care for each other.
gqonmars, thank you for the very kind words.
Tweety, Sky & Ali, thanks for dropping by. Tweety, you are lucky, I have never seen any adaptation of this story. I don't know where to get them.
Wei Xiaobao thought, "You are a lot older than I am; if I really die on the same year, same month, and same day with you, my loss will be too great." But then he changed his mind, he had idea, "I am not Gui Xiaobao anyway, what is there to be feared to speak nonsense just for once?" Therefore, he also kowtowed before the image of Buddha and said in a loud and clear voice, "Disciple Gui Xiaobao came to the Emperor's Palace to be a little eunuch earlier, everybody calls me Xiao Guizi, with Songgotu, Suo Daren, Suo Laoge, swear to be brothers, blessings will be enjoyed together, sorrows will be endured together. We cannot be born on the same year, same month and same day, but wish that we will die on the same month, same month, and same day. If Xiao Guizi does not uphold yi qi, let Xiao Guizi be punished by heaven and extinguished by the earth. When Xiao Guizi die, let Xiao Guizi be banished to the eighteenth level of the underworld and seized by the Ox-head and Horse-Face, and for a thousand years, for ten thousand years will not be reincarnated."
He shifted all disasters on Xiao Guizi; he also mentioned the words 'same month' twice, and thus changed the phrase 'die on the same year, same month, and same day' became 'die on the same month, same month, and same day', but he said it very quickly so that Songgotu did not catch it. Wei Xiaobao thought, "To die on the same month and same day with you is not a big deal; if you die on the third day of the third month, and I return to heaven a hundred years later on the third day of the third month, I won't suffer any loss." As for saying that after Xiao Guizi die, let Xiao Guizi be banished to the eighteenth level of the underworld and for ten thousand years will not be reincarnated, it was actually his real wish. Xiao Guizi had died under his hands, if his ghost returns for revenge, it would not be fun; but if in hell Xiao Guizi was detained securely by the Ox-head and Horse-face, in the world of the living Wei Xiaobao would enjoy peace and security very much.
When Songgotu heard Wei Xiaobao had finished speaking, the two of them bowed and kowtowed eight times before standing up together, and burst in loud laughter. Songgotu said with a laugh, "Xiongdi, now we are sworn brothers, we must be ten times closer to each other than blood-brothers. From now on, whatever you want your Gege to do for you, do not hesitate to open your mouth, no need to be polite."
"Do you need to say it?" Wei Xiaobao also laugh, "Ever since I came out of my mother's belly, I do not understand the meaning of the word 'polite'. Dage, what does 'polite' mean?" They looked at each other and roared in laughter.
"Xiongdi," Songgotu said, "The fact that we have sworn brotherhood must not be told to others, to avoid other people use it against us. According to the imperial palace's regulations, we, external ministers, must not be too close to you, Xiongdi, internal officers. As long as we know it in our hearts, that should be enough."
"Right, right!" Wei Xiaobao said, "The mute eat the wonton, he counts it in his heart."
Seeing how smart and witty Wei Xiaobao was, how when the head was pointed to him he immediately knew the tail, Songgotu was even happier. "Xiongdi," he said, "In front of other people, I still call you Gui Gong-gong, and you call me Suo Daren. In a few days, come to my home, your Gege is going to accompany you drinking wine and watching the opera; we, two brothers, will have fun for a while."
Wei Xiaobao was greatly delighted; he did not drink too much wine, but as soon as he heard the words 'watching the opera', his delight was incomparable. He clapped his hands and said with a laugh, "Wonderful, wonderful! I like watching the opera the most. When is it?"
Yangzhou's salt merchants lived extravagant lives, when they get married or given their daughters in marriage, or when a baby was born or they celebrated birthdays, oftentimes they would have the opera play for several consecutive days. Whenever Wei Xiaobao came across such occasion, naturally he would take advantage of the excitement and squeeze himself to the front of the stage to watch the opera. The host was celebrating an auspicious day, naturally they would not seriously deal with little rascal like him; oftentimes they would serve him a bowl of rice, with pieces of meat piled high on top of the rice. Whenever there was a folk festival, even more opera groups would perform around town. As soon as the words 'watching opera' was mentioned, his heart was in full bloom.
Songgotu said, "Since Xiongdi loves opera, I will invite you often. Whenever Xiongdi has some free time, do not hesitate to let me know."
"How about tomorrow?" Wei Xiaobao said.
"That's great!" Songgotu said, "Tomorrow on the tenth earthly branch [between 5 - 7 pm] I will wait for you outside the Palace gate."
"Is it all right for me to leave the Palace?" Wei Xiaobao asked.
"Of course it is all right," Songgotu replied, "You serve the Emperor during the day; come evening, nobody has any right to interfere with your business. You have been promoted to be an Eunuch Leader, and you are very successful in the presence of His Majesty, who would dare to mess with you?"
Wei Xiaobao was beaming from ear to ear; originally he was thinking of slipping away from the imperial palace and would not come back, but listening to Songgotu, he realized his status was different now; he could come in and go out the imperial palace freely, he did not have to slip away hastily. "Alright," he said with a laugh, "It's a deal. We, two brothers, blessing we enjoy together, opera we watch together."
Songgotu pulled his hand and said, "Let's go back to Oboi's room and pick some treasures."
The two of them returned to Oboi's bedroom. Songgotu carefully look over various objects taken out of the hole on the ground. "Xiongdi," he asked, "Which one do you like?"
Wei Xiaobao said, “Which one is the most valuable? I don’t understand anything. Please pick one for me.”
“Alright!” Songgotu said. He picked a double-string of pearls and a jade horse and said, “These two items are very valuable. Will Xiongdi take it?”
“Very well!” Wei Xiaobao said; he put the pearls and jade horse into his pocket. Casually he picked a dagger, and felt it to be unusually heavy. The dagger, including the hilt, was no more than a chi and two cun; the sheathe was made of dried shark skin, at a glance it looked no different than an ordinary long knife or a sword. Wei Xiaobao grabbed the hilt with his left hand and pulled it out; he felt a burst of cold air hit his face, his nose itched and ‘Ah-choo!’ he sneezed. When he looked at the dagger again, he saw that the blade was as black as ink, without the least bit of glossiness. At first he thought that since Oboi hid this dagger in the secret treasure-trove, it must be a treasured dagger; who would have thought that the dagger looked this ugly? It looked like a wooden dagger. Slightly disappointed, he tossed it casually to the side. He heard a light ‘swish’ noise; the dagger penetrated the floor straight to its hilt.
“Ah!” Wei Xiaobao and Songgotu exclaimed; they were quite amazed. Wei Xiaobao tossed it casually, without exerting the least bit of strength, yet surprisingly the dagger could penetrate the floor by itself. The blade must be fantastically sharp that it was able to penetrate the floor like mud.
Wei Xiaobao stooped down to pick up the dagger and said, “This short sword looks rather strange.”
Songgotu had vast experience and knowledge, he said, “Apparently this is a treasured sword, let us test it.” From the wall he took a saber, unsheathed it, and held it horizontally across his chest; he said, “Xiongdi, use the dagger to chop on this saber.”
Wei Xiaobao raised the dagger and chopped it down on the saber. ‘Tchak!’ the saber was smoothly cut into two. “Good!” both of them exclaimed as if by prior agreement. Without a doubt this dagger was indeed a treasured sword which was rarely seen in the world. What was amazing was that it cut the saber like a piece of wood, without producing any metallic clanking noise at all.
Songgotu laughed and said, “Congratulation, Xiongdi, for obtaining such a treasured sword. Among Oboi’s family’s treasure, this sword must be the chief.”
Wei Xiaobao was really happy, “Dage,” he said, “If you want it, I’ll give it to you.”
Songgotu shook his hand repeatedly, “Your Gege came from a military official family, afterwards, I became a civil officer, and left the military service behind. It would be better if Xiongdi take this treasured sword to play with.”
Wei Xiaobao put the dagger back into its sheathe and tied it on his belt. Songgotu laughed and said, “Xiongdi, this sword is so short, it’s better to keep it inside your boot, so when you enter the Palace, nobody would see it.” According to Qing Palace regulations, other than imperial bodyguards on duty, nobody else was allowed to enter the Palace carrying weapons.
“Yes!” Wei Xiaobao replied; he inserted the dagger into his boot. Based on his stellar reputation, as he enter and exit the Palace gate, it was unlikely that the imperial bodyguards would do a body search to see if he carried any prohibited materials.
After acquiring this dagger, Wei Xiaobao lost interest in any other treasures. A moment later, he was unable to bear it and pulled the dagger out again. He took down an iron spear from the wall, ‘Tchak!’ the iron spear was cut into two. He brandished the dagger and randomly cut and sliced around. Without exception all kinds of solid objects in the room were cut smoothly. Next he used the point of the dagger to draw a turtle on the sandalwood tabletop; he had just finished drawing when 'thud!' a sandalwood turtle fell down, while a hole in the shape of a turtle appeared on the tabletop.
"Old chap Oboi!" Wei Xiaobao shouted, "You, Senior, are good! Ha ha!"
Songgotu meticulously inspected the other articles found in the secret treasure-trove. He noticed among the pile there was a shiny black sleeveless garment. He picked it up and found it to be very light. The fabric was exceptionally soft, it was made of neither silk nor wool, in fact, he did not know any material that felt like it. His sole purpose right now was to curry favor with Wei Xiaobao, thereupon he called, "Xiongdi, this vest must be very warm. Take out your outer garment and put this on."
"What kind of treasure is this?" Wei Xiaobao asked.
"I don't know either," Songgotu said, "Just put it on!"
"It's too big," Wei Xiaobao said.
"It's very soft," Songgotu replied, "It is a bit bigger, but by making a fold like this, it will fit."
Wei Xiaobao took it; it was indeed very light and soft. He remembered the previous year he asked his mother to make a silk cotton-padded jacket, his mother was busy for several days, but did not have enough money that in the end she could not make the jacket. This vest was obviously incomparable to the silk cotton-padded jacket; for once, the color was not too fresh and bright. He thought, "Fine, when I get back to Yangzhou later, I'll have mother look at it." Thereupon he took out his outer garment and put the vest on, before putting back the outer garment on top of it. The vest was rather big, fortunately it was very soft and thin, so it was not uncomfortable.
Finished inspecting Oboi's treasures, Songgotu called his subordinates to come in. Looking at the rough list of Oboi's valuables, he could not help but sticking out his tongue and said, "Oboi certainly know how to extort people; his wealth is many times greater than I anticipated." He waved his men out of the room again and then said to Wei Xiaobao, "Xiongdi, the Han people have a saying: 'A thousand li of officialdom is all wealth.' In his vast and mighty benevolence, His Majesty is sending the two of us on this assignment, it is actually so that we may find an undeserved fortune. About this list, I can always alter it. We have more than two million taels of silver here, how much do you say we should announce it as?"
"I don't know anything about it," Wei Xiaobao said, "I'll leave it to Dage to decide."
Songgotu chuckled and said, "According to this list, altogether we have two million three hundred fifty three thousand four hundred and eighteen taels. The remaining digits can be kept as is, but we can erase one horizontal line and change the amount to one million three hundred fifty three thousand four hundred and eighteen taels. That missing horizontal line can be split fifty-fifty between you and me. What do you think?"
Wei Xiaobao was shocked. "You ... you are saying ..." he stammered.
Songgotu laughed, "Xiongdi thinks it is not enough?" he said.
"No, no!" Wei Xiaobao said, "I ... I am just not too clear."
Songgotu said, "I said, about that one million taels, we split it equally between the two of us, brothers, each one get five-hundred thousand taels. If Xiongdi thinks it is too little, we can always recalculate it."
Wei Xiaobao's countenance changed. Growing up in a the brothel in Yangzhou, he had never had more than one or two taels in his hands. An undeserved fortune like this, gambling in the Palace, even when he won big, it was a matter of only several dozen taels, or perhaps one or two hundred taels of silver. Suddenly hearing that his share was five hundred thousand taels, he nearly did not believe his own ears.
 'Lao' - old, 'ge' - older brother.
 Ox-head and Horse-face are the two guardians of the underworld in Chinese mythology.
 About 1 ft 2 inches.
 In Chinese, the character for one and two are '一' and '二', respectively. The original says 'erase one 'one' character and change the amount ...'
 Orig. 'one half equals zero point five'.
Last edited by foxs; 09-22-10 at 10:21 PM.
what a lucky assignment! the folks in the story using each other does not fit into the general wuxia theories of heroism and honesty but in real life people use each other for personal "networks" all of the time.
great work Foxs!
Thanks foxs! Just in time for me to read during my lunch break.
thanks foxs for the update.
"Every man dies, but not every man really lives." -BH
Greedy bastards!!! I wish I had their jobs...