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Thread: The Deer and The Cauldron - Unabridged Thread

  1. #21
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 3 - Part 3

    Wei Xiaobao heard some scraping noise, presumably Xiao Guizi used a knife to cut the rope binding Mao Shiba's hands and feet. A moment later, the rope tying his own hands and feet was also cut, followed by the cloth covering his eyes were taken away. As he opened his eyes, Wei Xiaobao could see that they were in a large room, which was sparsely furnished. There was only a table and one chair, with a teapot and teacup on the table. The old eunuch Hai was sitting, half-reclining, on the chair; his cheeks were very deep, his eyes were half-open half-closed. By this time the sky had turned dark. There were two flaming candles on the wall, held by a couple of copper candle holders. The flame swayed, making old eunuch Hai's sallow face flicker between light and dark. Xiao Guizi took the cloth stuffed inside Mao Shiba's mouth out.

    "This child's mouth is unclean, let him be gagged a while longer," old eunuch Hai said.

    Wei Xiaobao's hands were free, but he did not dare to take the cloth out himself. Perhaps the obscenities he hurled in his heart were ten times worse than the old eunuch Hai could ever imagined.

    The old eunuch Hai said, "Go get a chair, let him sit down." Xiao Guizi went into the next room and brought back a chair, which he set next to Mao Shiba. Mao Shiba sat down immediately. Seeing he was not given any chair, without any care Wei Xiaobao sat down on the floor.

    "Laoxiong," old eunuch Hai addressed Mao Shiba, "May I know your honorable surname and your great name? Which family or school do you belong to? Your qin na technique is not bad, apparently not part of our northern style martial art."

    "My surname is Mao," Mao Shiba replied, "I am called Mao Shiba. I belong to the Five Tigers Breaking the Gates Saber School of Taizhou, Jiangbei."

    The old eunuch Hai nodded and said, "Mao Shiba, Mao Laoxiong, I have heard about your reputation. I heard around the Yangzhou area Laoxiong has plundered and killed some officers to escape from prison. It was quite an accomplishment indeed."

    "That's right," Mao Shiba said. He could not help but to admit defeat to this sickly, tuberculosis old eunuch's astonishing martial art skill, so he did not dare to openly contradicting him.

    The old eunuch Hai said, "What is the purpose of your visit to the capital, Sire? Do you care to share it with me?"

    Mao Shiba said, "Since I am already fallen into your hands, you want to kill, you want to hack, I am entirely at your disposal, the one surnamed Mao is a Jianghu man, I won't wrinkle my brows. If you want to extort a confession, you are misjudging me."

    The old eunuch Hai showed a faint smile as he said, "Who does not know that Mao Shiba is a firm, real man? I would not dare to extort your confession. I heard that Sire is Pingxi[1] Wangye's trusted aide ..."

    He had not finished speaking when Mao Shiba's anger rose, he shouted, "Who has anything to do with this big traitor Wu Sangui? By saying such thing, you are smearing Mao Shiba's reputation as a patriot."

    The old eunuch Hai coughed several times, with a faint smile he said, "Pingxi Wangye has rendered great merit to the Great Qing, His Majesty has a really high regard of him. If Sire is Pingxi Wangye's man, by looking at Pingxi Wangye's face, such a trivial offense need not be haggled over."

    "I am not, I am not!" Mao Shiba shouted loudly, "Mao Shiba and that stinky thief Wu Sangui do not have any relation whatsoever, the one surnamed Mao is unwilling to receive any favor from this big traitor to China. If you want to kill just kill, if you say I was this Wu thief's trusted aide, surnamed Mao's ancestors were all rotten and moldy."

    Wu Sangui had led the Qing army entering the pass, to the extent that the Ming Dynasty was subjugated to the foreign power. At the marketplace, whenever the name Wu Sangui was mentioned, Wei Xiaobao always heard the phrases 'traitor to China', 'stinky thief', or 'his mother thief' added to his name; he thought, "From this old turtle's tone, if only Mao Dage is willing to admit that he is Wu Sangui's trusted aide, the old turtle would let us go. Too bad that Mao Dage's bones are too stiff and he is unwilling to pretend to be one. But his bones are stiff, his skin and flesh will suffer. The common saying is right, 'A real man won't be at a disadvantage from the outset', naturally those who are disadvantaged are not hero or real men. There is no harm for us to speak nonsense, saying Wu Sangui regards the two of us with such care. When we escape alive, it won't be too late to curse Wu Sangui's eighteen generations ancestors."

    Gradually the blood in his hands and feet was able to flow again; quietly he brought his sleeve to cover his face as he take away the cloth gagging his mouth. The old eunuch Hai's gaze was focused on Mao Shiba's expression, he did not see Wei Xiaobao playing trick in secret.

    Seeing Mao Shiba's stern expression, the old eunuch Hai smiled and said, "I thought Sire was sent to the capital by Pingxi Wangye; turns out I was wrong."

    Mao Shiba thought, "This time I am being captured in Beijing, the footstool of the Emperor himself, obviously I won't escape with my life. A dead leopard leaves behind its skin, a dead man leaves his name. Mao Shiba's death is nothing, but I must not be an obscure person." He noticed Wei Xiaobao was looking at him helplessly, he loudly said, "Let me be honest with you, in the south I heard a rumor in Jianghu that Oboi is Manchu's number one warrior, that he is able to kill a wild bull with his palm, that he is able to kick tigers and leopard; people always give an exaggerated account of things. The one surnamed Mao refuses to accept; therefore, I came to Beijing with the special purpose of challenging him to a duel."

    The old eunuch Hai sighed. "You want to have a duel with Oboi?" he said, "Oboi has reached the highest rank of officialdom. In Beijing, he is inferior only to the Emperor and Empress Dowager. Even if laoxiong waits in Bejing for eight years, ten years, you might not necessarily be able to see him, how can you have a duel with him?"

    At first Mao Shiba believed the old eunuch Hai was using some kind of sorcery, afterwards the acupoint on his back was sealed, and only now did it gradually become unsealed; he knew he was facing an expert in internal energy cultivation. Looking at the old eunuch's expression and the tone of his voice, Mao Shiba guessed the old eunuch was a Manchu. If he was not an old, sickly Manchu's match, what chance did he have against the Manchu's number one warrior? When he fought Shi Song and his troops at the Victory Hill of Yangzhou, although the situation was critical, he was not in the least bit desperate; but now, facing this ghost eunuch suffering for tuberculosis, unexpectedly his heroic spirit disappeared completely. In the end, he could only heaved a deep sigh.

    The old eunuch Hai asked, "Do you still want to have a duel with Oboi, Sire?"

    "May I ask, how is that Oboi's martial art skill compared to Your Excellency?" Mao Shiba asked.

    The old eunuch Hai smiled faintly as he said, "Oboi is a great minister who has both military and civil talents, with matchless glory and splendor. I am but a cruel-fated, despicable person. While Oboi is high in the sky, I am low on the earth, how can we be compared?" He was speaking only about the difference in two people's status, unexpectedly not one sentence about martial art ability was even mentioned.

    Mao Shiba said, "If that Oboi has half of your martial art skill, I am definitely not his match."

    The old eunuch Hai said with a smile, "Laoxiong is too modest. Tell me, with my shallow martial art skill, if I want to compare it to Chen Jinnan's, how do you think I will fare?"

    Mao Shiba sprang up and said, "You ... you ... what did you say?"

    The old eunuch Hai said, "I am talking about your respected society's Zongduozhu, Chen Jinnan. I heard Chen Zongduozhu practices ‘Blood Clotting Divine Claw’, his internal energy cultivation is unfathomably deep. It's a pity we are not destined to see each other; I am a despicable person, I do not have the fortune to pay Chen Zongduozhu a visit."

    "I don't belong to Tian Di Hui, and I don't have the fortune to pay Chen Zongduozhu a visit either," Mao Shiba said, "I only heard Chen Zongduozhu's martial art skill to be very high, how high or what his technique looks like, I can't possibly know."

    The old eunuch Hai sighed and said, “Mao Xiong, I have known from the start that you are a good man. With this kind of good skill, why don’t you serve the imperial household? You may be a provincial governor in the future, or even a general won’t be out of question. If you follow Tian Di Hui starting a rebellion, ay …” He shook his head, and then continued, “You won’t have a good end. Let me give you an advice, you’d better rein the horse at the edge of the precipice, withdraw from Tian Di Hui.”

    “I … I … I am not a Tian Di Hui’s member,” Mao Shiba said. Suddenly he raised his voice and said, “It’s not that I am denying that I am one of them. The one surnamed Mao wishes to become a member of the Tian Di Hui, it’s just that I do not have anybody to sponsor me. There is a saying in Jianghu: ‘Whoever never knew Chen Jinnan, he calls himself a hero in vain’. Hai Laogong, I believe you have also heard this saying. The one surnamed Mao is definitely a Han, although I haven’t joined the Tian Di Hui, I am determined to fight the Qing and restore the Ming; how can you advise me to serve the Qing and become a traitor to Han instead? Just kill me quickly; the one surnamed Mao has killed and burned, my crimes are too great, I should have died early on. It’s just that I have never seen Chen Jinnan, so there’s a part of me which does not want to die with closed eyes.”

    The old eunuch Hai said, “You, Han people, refuse to accept Manchu’s rule over the land under the heaven, there’s nothing wrong with that. I respect you as a real man, so I won’t kill you today. I am going to let you see Chen Jinnan first, so that you can die with your eyes closed. The earlier you see him the better. When you see him, tell him that Hai Laogong wants to see him very much, I want to try his ‘Blood Clotting Divine Claw’, I want to see how formidable it really is. I wish for him to come to the capital as soon as he can. Ay, the old man don’t have too many days left, if Chen Zongduozhu does not come to Beijing soon, I won’t be able to see him at all. Hey, hey, ‘Whoever never knew Chen Jinnan, he calls himself a hero in vain’! I want to see what kind of hero Chen Jinnan really is, why does he have such a big reputation in the Jianghu?”

    Hearing that the old eunuch Hai unexpectedly agreed to let him go, Mao Shiba was taken aback. He stood motionless and did not walk out immediately. “What are you waiting for?” the old eunuch Hai said, “Why haven’t you left?”

    “Right!” Mao Shiba said. He turned around and pulled Wei Xiaobao’s hand along. He wanted to say something nice, but did not know what to say.

    The old eunuch Hai sighed. “In vain you have been wandering around the Jianghu for a long time, even a little bit of custom you do not understand. You just want to walk away without leaving anything?”

    Mao Shiba clenched his teeth. “You’re right, the one surnamed Mao is negligent. Little brother, lend me your knife, I’ll cut my left hand for you,” he said, while pointing to the dagger by the little eunuch, Xiao Guizi. The dagger was approximately eight cun [cun is a unit of length, approximately an inch or a thumb], it was the dagger Xiao Guizi used to cut the rope binding their hands and feet.

    “Just a left hand is not enough,” old eunuch Hai said.

    Mao Shiba’s face turned ashen. “Do you want me to cut my right hand as well?” he asked.

    The old eunuch Hai nodded. “That’s right,” he said, “Both hands. Actually, I also want your pair of eyes, (cough … cough …) but I figure you want to see Chen Jinnan. If you don’t have any eyes, you won’t be able to see him. Let’s do this: gouge your left eye, you may keep the right eye!”

    Mao Shiba took two steps back and let Wei Xiaobao’s hand go. His left palm raised, his right hand slanting with palm down, in the ‘Rhinoceros Gazing at the Moon’ stance, thinking, “You want to gouge my left eye, and break my both hands, why would I want to live as a cripple? I’d rather stake everything to fight you, if I die in your palm, that will be the end of it.”

    The old eunuch Hai did not even look at him; he coughed repeatedly, his coughing was getting more violent, until at last he could not breathe at all. His originally sallow face had turned red and swollen.

    “Gong-gong,” Xiao Guizi said, “How about another dose?”

    The old eunuch Hai shook his head repeatedly, but his coughing did not stop. A moment later he could not take it anymore, he stood up and grabbed his own neck with his left hand, his expression showed extreme pain.

    “If I don’t leave now, what am I waiting for?” Mao Shiba mused. With a leap he pulled Wei Xiaobao’s hand and bolted toward the door. The old eunuch Hai pinched the table with his right hand’s thumb and index finger, immediately a piece of wood broke off. ‘Swish!’ he flicked it out. Mao Shiba was a large stride away from the door, the piece of wood struck the futu [crouching rabbit] acupoint on his right leg. Immediately his right leg went numb and he fell kneeling down on the floor. Another ‘Swish!’ was heard as another piece of wood flew and struck the acupoint on Mao Shiba’s left leg. Amidst the old eunuch Hai’s coughing, taking Wei Xiaobao along, Mao Shiba rolled down on the ground.

    “Take half a dose,” Xiao Guizi said, “It won’t do you any harm.”

    “Alright, alright,” the old eunuch Hai said, “Just … just a little bit. Too much … it’s too dangerous.”

    “Yes!” Xiao Guizi replied, while reaching out to get the medicine pouch from his pocket. He turned around toward the other room, and went back out with a cup of wine. Opening up the pouch, he took a little bit of powder with the nail of his little finger. “Too … too much,” old eunuch Hai said.

    “Yes!” Xiao Guizi said, returning some of the powder on his nail back into the pouch, his eyes were at the old eunuch Hai. The old eunuch Hai nodded. He bent down again and started coughing; suddenly he threw his body forward, he crawled on the floor and did not stop twisting and turning.

    Xiao Guizi was greatly alarmed, he rushed forward and cried out, “Gong-gong, Gong-gong, what happens?”

    Gasping for breath, the old eunuch Hai said, “Hot … it’s hot … help … help me … to water … water tub to soak … soak …”

    “Yes!” Xiao Guizi replied, as he struggled to help him up. The two of them staggered together into the inner room, followed by splashing noise of the water.

    All of these did not escape Wei Xiaobao’s eyes. He got up quietly and tiptoed to the table. Stretching out his little finger, he took three fingernails full of medicinal powder and dumped it into the wine. Afraid it was not enough, he took two more fingernails, and then folded the medicine pouch and re-opened it, and thus erasing the fingernail mark from the powder.

    He heard Xiao Guizi in the inner room said, “Gong-gong, is it enough? Please don’t soak too long.” “Hot … I’m hot …” the old eunuch Hai said, “It feels like I am being roasted.” Seeing the dagger lying on the table, Wei Xiaobao took it in his hand, and went back toward Mao Shiba and lay down on the floor.

    Not too long afterwards, the splashing noise diminished. Dripping wet, the old eunuch Hai came out of the inner room, supported by Xiao Guizi. He had not stopped coughing. Xiao Guizi took the wine cup from the table and brought it to his mouth. The old eunuch Hai was still coughing and did not drink immediately. Wei Xiaobao felt his heart was about to jump out his throat.

    The old eunuch Hai said, “If I can not take … it’s best if I not … not take the medicine.”

    “Yes!” Xiao Guizi said, putting the wine cup back on the table. He wrapped the medicine pouch securely and put it back into the old eunuch Hai’s pocket. But the old eunuch Hai’s coughing was getting worse. He pointed to the wine cup. Xiao Guizi picked up the wine cup and brought it to his mouth. The old eunuch Hai drank it in one gulp.

    Mao Shiba was unable to remain calm and let out a cry, “Ah!”

    The old eunuch Hai said, “You … if you think … you can escape alive …” Suddenly with a crash the chair collapsed. The old eunuch Hai crouched on the table, but he was leaning with such a tremendous force that, with two loud crashes, the table and the person collapsed together.

    In great alarm Xiao Guizi screamed, “Gong-gong, Gong-gong!” as he rushed forward to help the old eunuch Hai up, his back was facing Mao Shiba and Wei Xiaobao. Wei Xiaobao lightly sprang up, raising his dagger he drove it ferociously on Xiao Guizi’s back. Xiao Guizi let out a low groan and died instantly. The old eunuch Hai was still twisting and turning on the floor. Wei Xiaobao raised his dagger and aimed it at the old eunuch Hai’s back, ready to drive it down again. Right this moment, the old eunuch Hai lifted up his head and said, “Xiao … Xiao Guizi, something’s wrong with the medicine.”

    [1] Lit. 'peaceful west'. Ping Xi Wang – king who pacifies the west.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:25 AM.

  2. #22
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 3 - Part 4

    Wei Xiaobao was scared out of his wits, how could he dare to drive his dagger down? The old eunuch Hai turned around and reached out, he grabbed Wei Xiaobao’s left wrist as he said, “Xiao Guizi, the medicine just now, haven’t you made a mistake?”

    “No … no mistake,” Wei Xiaobao mumbled his response. He felt as if his left wrist was clamped with an iron hoop, the pain penetrated his bone. In his fright, he withdrew the dagger in his right hand about a cun.

    With a trembling voice the old eunuch Hai said, “Quick … quickly light the candle, it’s so dark in here, I can’t … can’t see anything.”

    Wei Xiaobao was greatly puzzled, the candles were burning bright, why did he say it was so dark? “Could it be that he is blinded?” Thereupon he said, “The candle is still burning, Gong-gong, you … can’t you see?”

    Both he and Xiao Guizi still had their children’s voice, but Xiao Guizi spoke with Manchurian Bannerman[1] official’s accent, which Wei Xiaobao could not learn in such a short time, and thus he was mumbling with the hope that the old eunuch Hai would not discover it.

    The old eunuch Hai said, “I … I can’t see a thing, who says the candle is burning? Quickly light it up!” While saying that, he let Wei Xiaobao’s wrist go.

    “Yes! Yes!” Wei Xiaobao said. He walked away hurriedly toward the candle-holder hanging on the wall. Reaching up, he fiddled the copper ring of the candle-holder, creating some clinking noise, and said, “It’s lighted!”

    “What?” the old eunuch Hai said, “Nonsense! Why haven’t you lighted the candle …?” He had not finished speaking when his body twisting and he fell face up on the floor.

    Wei Xiaobao gestured anxiously to Mao Shiba, telling him to run away quickly. Mao Shiba waved back at him, wanting him to escape together. Wei Xiaobao turned toward the door, but he heard the old eunuch Hai whispering and groaning, “Xiao … Xiao Guizi, Xiao … Xiao Guizi, you …”

    Wei Xiaobao replied, “Yes, I am here!” His left hand beckoned Mao Shiba to escape first, since he must find a way to deal with the old eunuch Hai. Mao Shiba struggled to stand up, but the acupoints on both of his legs were sealed. Reaching down, he tried to massage the acupoints, but after exerting all his strength, nothing happened at all. He thought, “My legs are incapable of moving, I must crawl out. This child is as crafty as a ghost, besides, he is only a child, nobody will pay him any attention, it won’t be difficult for him to escape. If he is coming with me and we come across an enemy, he may be implicated instead.” Therefore, he waved toward Wei Xiaobao and put his hands down to quietly crawl out.

    The old eunuch Hai’s whispering and groaning was sometimes soft, sometimes audible. Wei Xiaobao did not dare to leave for fear that the old eunuch Hai found Xiao Guizi was dead and thus raised an alarm; if his subordinates started to surround them, it would be difficult for Mao Shiba and him to escape. He thought, “I caused all these disasters. Mao Dage cannot walk, I don’t know how long will it take for him to escape, I’d better stay here to stall a little bit. As long as the old turtle would not discover that I am an impostor, I will be alright. This old turtle is so sick that his mind is muddled, I’ll wait till he pass out, then I’ll kill him with a stab, and then I can escape.”

    A little while later, he heard the distant ‘de du de du dang, de du de du dang’ of the night watchman, indicating it was the first watch of the night [11 pm – 1 am]. Wei Xiaobao saw the candle sparkled, it suddenly brightened; the candle on his left had been burned to the very end, it would soon die out. He saw Xiao Guizi’s body curling up and was very scared. “I killed him,” he mused, “When he turns into a ghost, will he come back to demand his life back from me?” He also thought, “If I wait till daybreak, it will be more difficult to escape, I must run away in the middle of the night when it is still dark.” But the old eunuch Hai was still groaning, he had not lost his consciousness at all. He was lying face up on the floor. Even if Wei Xiaobao had more guts, he would not dare to raise his dagger and plunge it toward the old eunuch Hai’s pit of the stomach or perhaps his lower abdomen, knowing that this old man’s martial art was extremely formidable; as soon as the dagger hit his flesh, he would regain consciousness, if he strike with his palm, Wei Xiaobao’s brain would definitely be dashed out.

    After another while, the other candle also died out. In the darkness, Wei Xiaobao was thinking that Xiao Guizi’s corpse was within reach; he was terribly scared and his only hope was that he could escape as early as possible. But as soon his body moved, the old eunuch Hai called out, “Xiao … Xiao Guizi, you … are you here?”

    “I am here!” Wei Xiaobao did not have any choice.

    More than an hour later, he tiptoed toward the door. The old eunuch Hai called out again, “Xiao Guizi, where are you going?”

    “I … I want to go pee,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

    The old eunuch Hai asked, “Why … why not pee inside?”

    “Yes, yes,” Wei Xiaobao replied. He went to the inner chamber, the one he had never been in before. He had just walked into the door and took a couple of steps when ‘bang!’ his kneecap bumped into the corner of a table.

    Outside, the old eunuch Hai asked, “Xiao … Xiao Guizi, what … what are you doing?”

    “No … nothing!” Wei Xiaobao replied. Stretching out his arm he groped around the table to find a fire knife or a flint. Hastily he struck the flint and lighted a fire paper. He saw several dozens of candles on the table, immediately he lighted one and plugged it into a candlestick. He saw a large bed and a small bed in the room, which he presumed must be the old eunuch Hai and Xiao Guizi’s. There were also several chests, a table and a cabinet; other than that, there was nothing else. On the east end there was a large tub, which looked extremely tall to him, underneath the tub the water splashed everywhere.

    He was contemplating whether he could run away from the window, when the old eunuch Hai called out from the outside, “Why haven’t you peed yet?”

    Wei Xiaobao was startled, “Why doesn’t he stop calling me? Could it be that he heard something wrong in my voice and grew suspicious? Otherwise, whether I pee or not, it is not a fart business of his.” Thereupon he answered at once, “Yes!” From underneath the small bed he groped out a chamber pot. He peed while looking at the window. He saw the window was tightly shut, each window panel was covered with silk paper; he thought it must be because the old eunuch Hai’s coughing was so severe that he was afraid of catching cold, therefore, not a draft of cold air was allowed to come in. If he opened the window by force, the old eunuch Hai would definitely hear it. Most probably before he could even get out, he would be captured. He looked everywhere around the room, looking for a place where he could escape, but even a hole in the wall to let the dog or the cat in and out was non-existent. If he escaped from the front room, the old eunuch Hai would definitely find out. Suddenly with the corner of his eyes he caught sight of a set of new clothes by the corner of Xiao Guizi’s bed; he had an idea. Hurriedly he shed his own clothes and put the new set on.

    From the outside the old eunuch Hai called again, “Xiao Guizi, what … what are you doing?”

    “I am coming, I am coming!” Wei Xiaobao replied. He walked out while fastening his buttons. He picked up Xiao Guizi’s hat and put it on his own head, while saying, “The candles died out, I’ll light another one.” Returning to the room, he picked two candles and lighted both.

    The old eunuch Hai heaved a sigh and in a low voice asked, “Have you really lighted the candles?”

    “Yes,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Don’t tell me you cannot see?”

    The old eunuch Hai was silent for half a day. He coughed several times before answering, “I was fully aware the medicine must not be taken too much, but the coughing was really … was really … too painful. Ay, although each time I only take a little, but accumulated over a long period of time, the toxicity is too heavy, until finally … finally my eyes failed.”

    In his heart Wei Xiaobao felt relieved, “The old guy did not know I added medicinal powder into his wine; he thought it was because he had taken the drug for a long time that the effect accumulated and flared out just now.”

    He heard the old eunuch Hai asked again, “Xiao Guizi, how did Gong-gong usually treat you?”

    Wei Xiaobao had no idea how the old eunuch Hai usually treated Xiao Guizi, he quickly said, “Very good, actually.”

    The old eunuch Hai said, “Um, now that Gong-gong … is blind, in this whole world, only you alone will take care of me. You wouldn’t leave Gong-gong, wouldn’t … wouldn’t ignore me, would you?”

    “I … of course I won’t?” Wei Xiaobao said.

    “You are not telling me lie?” the old eunuch Hai asked.

    “Naturally not the least bit of lie,” Wei Xiaobao said. He replied without the slightest hesitation, in addition, his tone was so sincere that it was impossible for the old eunuch Hai not to be moved. He added, “Gong-gong, you have no one to keep you company, if I don’t keep you company, who will? I think your eyes will get well in a few days, you don’t have to worry.”

    The old eunuch Hai sighed and said, “They won’t get well, they won’t get well!” After a moment, he asked, “Has that one surnamed Mao run away?”

    “Yes!” Wei Xiaobao replied.

    “Did you kill the child he brought along?” the old eunuch Hai asked.

    Wei Xiaobao’s heart was thumping wildly, he answered, “Yes! His … his body; what should we do with it?”

    The old eunuch Hai contemplated for a while, and then said, “We have a dead body in our room, if people find out, they will ask questions, very troublesome. You … get my medicine box out.”

    “Yes!” Wei Xiaobao replied. He entered the inner room, but did not see any medicine box, so he opened the cabinet drawers one by one to look for it.

    Suddenly the old eunuch Hai said angrily, “What are you doing? Who … who told you to randomly open the drawers?”

    Wei Xiaobao sprang up in fright, he thought, "Turns out I am not supposed to open these drawers," he said, “I am looking for the medicine box, I don’t know where it is.”

    "Rubbish!" the old eunuch Hai said, "How come you don't know where the medicine box is?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "I ... I killed someone ... I am very afraid. You ... Gong-gong ... is also going blind. I ... I am completely confused." Speaking to this point, unexpectedly he broke into a loud bawling. He did not know where the medicine box was, and was afraid that based on this fact alone he would give himself away, thereupon he cried as soon as he spoke, which, for him, was not difficult at all.

    "Ay, this child," the old eunuch Hai said, "What's so frightening about killing people? The medicine box is inside the first chest."

    Sobbing and sniffling, Wei Xiaobao said, "Yes ... yes ... I ... I am very scared." He saw both chests were locked with copper padlocks, and he did not know where the key was. Reaching out to the lock, he tried to pull it, and the padlock immediately opened. Turned out it was not locked at all. "I am in luck!" he cheered inwardly, "If I did not know the trick of this padlock, the old turtle would be greatly suspicious." Setting the lock aside, he opened the chest and saw that it contained mostly clothes. On the left there was a medicine box like the one used by the doctors. He picked it up immediately and took it outside.

    The old eunuch Hai said, "Take some 'Corpse Transforming Powder' to melt the body."

    "Yes," Wei Xiaobao replied, pulling the small drawers of the box one by one. He saw the drawers were full of porcelain bottles of all colors, shapes and sizes, no two bottles were alike. He did not know which one was the 'Corpse Transforming Powder', so he asked, "Which bottle?"

    "This kid," the old eunuch Hai said, "How come you are confused about everything today? Are you really frightened that you lost your head?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "I ... I'm scared. Gong-gong, your eyes ... can ... can they get well?" His voice sounded full of concern over the old eunuch Hai's eyes, truly it was incomparably earnest.

    The old eunuch Hai seemed to be quite moved; he reached out and gently caressed Wei Xiaobao's head. He said, "It's the triangular bottle, greenish-blue in color, with white dot on it. This powder is very precious, only a tiny bit is enough."

    "Yes, yes!" Wei Xiaobao replied. Picking up the greenish-blue with white dot bottle, he pulled the cork, picked a sheet of white paper from the medicine box, and poured a little bit of powder out, and then scattered it onto Xiao Guizi's body. But half a day later, nothing happened.

    "What is it?" the old eunuch Hai asked.

    "I don't see anything," Wei Xiaobao replied.

    "Did you scatter it on the blood?" the old eunuch Hai asked.

    "Ah, I forgot!" Wei Xiaobao exclaimed. He took some more powder and sprinkled it on the corpse's wound.

    "Something's really weird with you today," the old eunuch Hai said, "Even your voice is greatly different."

    Right this moment, they heard the wound on Xiao Guizi's corpse started to sizzle, a thin smoke appeared, followed by yellowish liquid flowing out from the wound. The smoke was getting thicker, the yellow liquid also flowed more and more, producing a very strong acid stench. The corpse's wound decomposed bigger and bigger. As the flesh made contact with the yellow liquid, it emitted smoke and slowly turned into liquid. Even the clothes were turning into liquid.

    Wei Xiaobao watched with his tongue stuck out; he took his old clothes and threw it onto the corpse. Seeing his own shoes were torn at the toes, he hastily pulled Xiao Guizi's shoes and put them on his feet, and then threw the worn-out shoes onto the yellow liquid. Approximately two hours later, Xiao Guizi's body, including his clothes and Wei Xiaobao's shoes and socks, everything disappeared; only a pool of yellow liquid was left on the floor.

    Wei Xiaobao thought, "If the old turtle pass out now, nothing can be better. I'll put poisonous liquid into him, then a moment later he would melt that even his skeletons would not remain." But the old eunuch Hai did not stop coughing, did not stop sighing, without any sign that he would pass out anytime soon.

    He saw the paper panes on the window gradually turned brighter, it was already dawn. Wei Xiaobao thought, "I have changed clothes, I can simply go out in grandiose, nobody will recognize me, I have nothing to worry about."

    "Xiao Guizi," the old eunuch Hai suddenly said, "It is dawn, isn't it?"

    "That's right," Wei Xiaobao said.

    The old eunuch Hai said, "Fetch some water and mop the liquid on the floor clean, this odor is nasty." Wei Xiaobao complied; he returned to the inner room and fetched several ladles of water from the water tub and flushed the liquid on the floor.

    The old eunuch Hai also said, "After breakfast, you may go gambling with them."

    Wei Xiaobao thought it was very strange, he expected the old eunuch Hai was joking; thereupon he said, "Gambling? I am not going! Your eyes are not well, how can I go alone and play?"

    The old eunuch Hai angrily said, "Who said anything about playing? I have taught you for the last several months, you have lost several hundred taels, coming and going, everything is for this great cause; aren’t you going to obey me anymore?”

    [1] Refers to the Manchurian Eight Banners. We’ll see more about it later.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 09:26 AM.

  3. #23
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 3 - Part 5

    Wei Xiaobao did not understand his intention, he had no alternative but to mumble his response, “No … it’s not that I don’t want to obey you, but you are not well, your coughing is so severe. I do care about … about this cause, but nobody is taking care of you.”

    "You are helping me in this matter, it is better than anything else," the old eunuch Hai said, "Try throwing it again."

    "Throw it again, throw ... throw what?" Wei Xiaobao asked.

    "Go get the dice!" the old eunuch Hai angrily said, "Always decline with all sorts of excuses. Not willing to make an effort to practice. Has learned for a long time, has never made any progress."

    Hearing it was 'throwing the dice', Wei Xiaobao was shaken inwardly. In Yangzhou, other than listening to stories, he spent most of his time throwing dice with other people. Although he was young, in the streets and alleys of Yangzhou, he could already be considered an expert. It was just that he did not know where the dice was kept, therefore, he said, "This day made my head spins, I don't know where those dice are kept."

    "Useless creature," the old eunuch Hai cursed, "Hearing the words 'throwing dice' you get scared out of your wits. The money you lose is not yours anyway. Aren't those dice nicely kept in the chest?"

    "I don't know," Wei Xiaobao replied. He went back into the inner room and flipped around in the chest. In a brocade box he indeed saw a small china bowl, in the bowl were six dice. It was as if he had met an old friend far from home; he could not refrain from cheering. Picking up the six dice, he cheered again. Turned out, not only he met an old friend, he met a very close old friend. As soon as he held the six dice, he immediately knew that the dice were cheating dice; they were filled with mercury.

    Bringing the bowl and the dice to the old eunuch Hai he said, "Are you sure you want me to go gambling? You will be alone in here with nobody taking care of you, is that alright?"

    "Just cut the crap," the old eunuch Hai said, "Let's see if within ten throws, you can give me one 'Heaven'."

    In those days, gamblers could use either four or six dice. If six dice were used, four of the dice must show the same number of dots, with the remaining two dice became dominoes. Two 'sixes' was 'Heaven', two 'ones' was 'Earth', otherwise the winner was determined by the number of the dots, large or small.

    Wei Xiaobao thought, "These dice are loaded with mercury, you want me to throw ten times to get one 'Heaven', you are belittling laozi too much." But cheating with dice loaded with mercury is a lot more difficult than using dice loaded with lead. He threw four, five times and failed to get the desired numbers. By the sixth throw, he got two 'sixes', three 'threes', and one 'four'. If this 'four' were 'three', then he would have gotten a 'Heaven'. With the tip of his pinkie he pushed lightly and the 'four' turned into 'three'. He clapped and exclaimed, "Good! Good! Isn't this a 'Heaven'?"

    "Don't cheat on me just because I cannot see," the old eunuch Hai said, "Bring it here, let me feel it." He ran his finger inside the bowl and sure enough, out of six dice, four were 'threes', two were 'sixes'. "Your luck is good today," he said, "Now give me a 'Plum Blossom'."

    Wei Xiaobao lifted the dice, and was about to throw when suddenly a thought occurred to him: "From the way he speaks, that little turtle Xiao Guizi's skill in throwing dice was extremely lacking. If I can throw whatever I want, I will definitely raise this old turtle's suspicion." Thereupon he shifted the strength of his hand and successively threw seven, eight times without the desired result. After the next throw, he heaved a sigh.

    "What did you throw?" the old eunuch Hai asked.

    "It's ... it's ... " Wei Xiaobao stammered.

    "Humph," the old eunuch Hai snorted, he reached out to the bowl and felt four 'twos', one 'four' and one 'five', which made it a 'nine'. "Reduce your hand's strength a little bit," he said, "Your 'Plum Blossom' turned into a 'nine'. But a 'nine' is not bad either. Try again."

    Wei Xiaobao threw seventeen, eighteen times. He got one 'long three', which was only a level below 'Plum Blossom'. After running his fingers on the dice, the old eunuch Hai was quite happy; "You are making some progress," he said, "Now go and try your luck. Today you may take fifty … fifty taels."

    When he was looking for the dice earlier, Wei Xiaobao had already seen a dozen or so yuanbiao. Speaking of gambling, it was his most favorite activity; it’s just that first, he did not have the capital, second, he loved to cheat too much, within the marketplace of Yangzhou, he was known as the little swindler, other than out-of-town people, nobody was willing to gamble with him. This time from the state of panic he suddenly could go gambling, not only that, he even had fifty taels gambling capital; not even in his wildest dream he would imagine he could enjoy an unrestrained gambling like this. Moreover, he had the loaded dice in his hand; truly it was hell turning into heaven. Even if he were to be beheaded after gambling, he would not be willing to escape. Only he did not know who the opponent was, or when he was supposed to go gambling. If he asked every detail, he would definitely give himself away. Currently, these were his greatest concerns.

    He opened the chest and took two yuanbao, each worth twenty five taels. While he was still busy thinking of a way to extract the information from the Old eunuch Hai, suddenly he heard someone outside the door loudly calling, “Xiao Guizi, Xiao Guizi!”

    Wei Xiaobao walked out into the outer hall and called back. In low voice Old eunuch Hai said, “They are here to get you, just go.” Wei Xiaobao was about to go out happily when suddenly he came to this realization: “These gambling ghosts are not blind, as soon as they see me, they will know I am not Xiao Guizi. What should I do?” He heard the person outside was calling again, “Xiao Guizi, come out! I want to talk to you.”

    “Coming!” Wei Xiaobao replied. He returned to the inner room at once and took a piece of white cloth, which he wrapped around his head and face, leaving only his eyes and mouth exposed. “I am leaving!” he told Old eunuch Hai, and walked out the door quickly. He saw outside the door there was a thirty-something man, who asked him in low voice, “What happened to you?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Lost some money, Gong-gong beat my eyes blue and my nose swollen.”

    The man chuckled; he did not suspect anything. In low voice he asked again, “Do you dare to win your money back?”

    Wei Xiaobao pulled his sleeve and took him several steps farther, and then also with a low voice he said, “Don’t let Gong-gong hear it; of course I want to win my money back.”

    The man raised his thumb and said, “Good boy, you have guts. Let’s go!”

    Wei Xiaobao walked alongside the man. He noticed the man had a small head and pointy forehead, his complexion looked greenish white. After walking several zhang the man said, “The two Wen brothers and Ping Wei are already there. Your luck may be good today.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “If I don’t win today, that … that will be really bad!”

    They walked along winding corridors, passing through courtyards and gardens . “Damn it,” Wei Xiaobao mused, “The owner is really rich, this is such a big house.” He saw the hanging eaves were brightly painted, the ridgepoles and beams were carved with decorative patterns. In all his life, he had never seen such a rich, beautiful and luxurious big house like this. He thought, “Our Lovely Spring Courtyard in Yangzhou can be considered the most beautiful, or at least the second most beautiful, large courtyard, but compared to this place it falls too short. If managed well, we can open a courtyard in here, the brothel patrons will be very happy. It's just that a courtyard this big, if not filled with hundreds of young ladies, it may look unseemly."

    Wei Xiaobao followed the man for quite some time before they finally entered a side room of a building. Passing through two rooms, the man knocked at the door. 'Knock, knock, knock' three times, 'knock knock' twice, then 'knock, knock, knock' three times again. The door creaked open, he heard 'ding ling ling', 'ding ling ling', the rattling of dice in the bowl; it was such an unspeakable music to Wei Xiaobao's ears.

    Inside the room there were five, six people, all dressed in similar outfits, their attention was focused on the dice. A twenty-something man asked, "What happened to Xiao Guizi?"

    The man who brought Wei Xiaobao in replied with a laugh, "Lost some money, got beaten by Hai Laogong."

    "Heh, heh ..." the man laughed while clucking his tongue.

    Standing behind these men, Wei Xiaobao saw they were placing their bets. Some put down one tael, some other five taels, they all used bamboo stick as the bargaining chips. One man said, "Xiao Guizi, how much stolen money are you going to lose today?"

    "Pei!" Wei Xiaobao spat, "What do you mean 'stolen money'? 'Win' or 'lose'? So unpleasant to hear!" Actually, he had wanted to shoot curses like 'son of turtles' and 'son of a *****', but he realized his accent greatly differed than theirs; if he swear too much, he would only give himself away, so he thought the less he speak the better, while at the same time trying to learn their accent.

    The man who take him in picked some chips, he looked somewhat uncertain. Another man by his side said, "Lao Wu [Ol’ Wu], the banker is rotten, bet a bit more."

    "Alright!" Lao Wu said. He put down two taels. "Xiao Guizi," he said, "What about you?"

    Wei Xiaobao thought, "I must not let them pay too much attention to me; I must not win too much, I must not lose too much, I must not bet too much either." Thereupon he put down five qian. Nobody paid him any attention.

    The man acting as the banker was a fat man, whom everybody called Ping Dage. Wei Xiaobao remembered Lao Wu mentioned the name Ping Wei as one of the gamblers, so this Ping Dage must be Ping Wei. He saw Ping Wei was picking up the dice and shaking them in his palm; "Last bets!" he shouted, and tossed the dice into the bowl. Wei Xiaobao attentively watched his hand movement, and immediately felt relieved. "This man is a cattle [orig. 'yang gu' (羊牯) - sheep and bullock/cow]," he thought. In his book, a gambler who cannot cheat was a 'cattle'.

    Ping Wei threw six dice, and got an 'ox head', which was the weak side of 'large'. Subsequently one by one they all threw the dice; some won, some lost. Lao Wu threw an 'eight', so he lost. Each time he saw someone throw the dice, Wei Xiaobao would cry out in his heart, "Cattle!" And so he cried out "Cattle" seven times in a row; instantly he was very relieved.

    Wei Xiaobao had planned to use the old eunuch Hai's mercury-loaded dice in his pocket halfway through the game; he would switch the dice and after winning some money he would try to switch again. Throwing loaded dice involved an extremely-difficult-to-train technique, switching it also required sharp eyes and quick hands, very much like performing magic tricks. First he must divert other people's attention, such as suddenly kicking a stool, spilling a cup of tea, and so on. When people's eyes were on the stool or the tea cup, then the real and fake dice were switched. For a real expert, however, there is no need for any inferior trick like kicking stool or spilling tea, usually the expert would conceal the six dice on his wrist, as the fingers grab the dice and throw, the dice fallen into the bowl would be the ones concealed on his wrist, while the six dice among his fingers would switch into his left palm. The gods were unaware, the ghosts did not realize, the real dice would go into his pocket. But Wei Xiaobao had not mastered this skill yet.

    There is a saying, 'Dice loaded with lead, to win money is not difficult; dice loaded with mercury, touching iron will turn it into gold'. Both mercury and lead are heavy, one side of the dice would be light, the other side would be heavy, so the dice would be steered at will. However, lead is a solid, while mercury is constantly flowing, therefore, throwing lead-loaded dice is easy, throwing mercury-loaded dice is extremely difficult. Lead-loaded dice is easy to detect; beside, if you can throw a large number, the opponent can also throw a large number. But if the dice were loaded with mercury, the desired number cannot be achieved without excellent technique; a common cheater would not be able to perform this trick.

    Wei Xiaobao had about 60-70% confidence in throwing dice loaded with lead, but only about 10 or 20% confidence throwing dice loaded with mercury. Although his confidence was only 10-20%, in ten throws he only need to win once or twice, within several hours of playing, he would definitely win big. A real first-class master would be able to throw ordinary dice and get whatever number his belly desired, without fail; there is no need to load the dice with lead or mercury. However, this kind of master may not necessarily exist one in ten thousand. Wei Xiaobao had never seen this kind of master. Even if he had, he might not necessarily be able to tell.

    Seeing his opponents were all 'cattle', Wei Xiaobao thought switching the dice would be completely safe, so there was no need to hurry. When he started, he had two yuanbiao worth twenty-five taels each; he exchanged one for bargaining chips, and now he put the other one on his left, with the intention of using it as diversion when he switch the dice later. He also thought, "Since Xiao Guizi often lost money, I'd better lose first and win later, to avoid drawing people's suspicion." Throwing several times, he only got a measly 'six', naturally he lost.

    In this way he lost some, won some, but he kept playing, until he lost five taels of silver. After gambling for half a day, the stake was growing higher and higher, but Wei Xiaobao kept his bet at five qian. Banker Ping Wei refused to take his bamboo stick, "At least one tael," he said, "Five qian is not accepted." Wei Xiaobao immediately added another bargaining chip. The banker threw a ‘Man’, and thus ate down the others’ bets.

    Wei Xiaobao was angry the banker was not willing to take his bet, this time he was determined to win. He mused, “You don’t want to take my five qian and insist on I lose one tael. Good chap, you have guts, your scheming is exquisite. If I beat you with a ‘Heaven’, I am not a hero.” With his left hand he grabbed the dice, his left elbow stuck out, and bumped the big yuanbao that it fell down. ‘Thud’ it landed on his left foot. “Aiyo! It hurts!” he screamed loudly, while jumping up and down.

    His fellow gamblers roared in loud laughter and watched him stooping down to pick the yuanbao. Wei Xiaobao lightly and easily switched the dice, which he promptly threw. Four dice had three dots, two dice had one dot; it was an ‘Earth’, which happened to be a notch above the ‘Man’.

    “Damn it!” Ping Wei cursed, “Little demon is lucky today!”

    Wei Xiaobao was startled, "Not right!" he thought, "if I win this way and the others start paying attention, they will know I am not Xiao Guizi." So the next time he threw, he lost a tael. Right away everyone started to raise their stake, some put down three taels, some two taels, while Wei Xiaobao himself put down two taels, and won two taels. The next time he lost one tael.

    Gambling all the way thru noon, Wei Xiaobao accumulated twenty taels, only each bet was very small, so nobody paid any attention. Lao Wu had lost his entire capital of thirty taels, and was looking very dejected. Spreading out his hands he said, "Today my luck is not good, I quit!"

    When Wei Xiaobao gambles, nine times out of ten he would always cheat, yet toward his fellow gamblers he was exceedingly forthright. Normally people threw insults at him and beat him, nobody has had any regard of him; yet when there was someone who lost everything, he would lend money to that person. Of course the person would be grateful, and would see him with special fondness. In all his life, Wei Xiaobao has had several opportunities to be a hero by loaning gambling capital to people like this. Even if the person did not pay him back, he did not really care. Putting things back in order, he realized that the money was not his to begin with.

    This time, seeing Lao Wu had lost everything and was about to walk away, he grabbed some bargaining chips, worth about seventeen, eighteen taels, which he stuffed into Lao Wu's hand and said, "Take this to recover your capital, pay me back when you win!"

    Lao Wu was ecstatic at this turn of events. Gamblers had never be willing to lend money to others; first, they were afraid the lenders would not pay it back, second, they thought that as the money leaves their hands, their good luck will turn into a bad one, their initial win might turn into loses. Seeing Wei Xiaobao to be so generous, he was greatly delighted. Repeatedly patting Wei Xiaobao's shoulder, he praised, "Good Xiongdi, you are a real friend."

    The banker Ping Wei was in a winning-streak; he was most afraid people lose their all and leave the game, thereupon he was also full of praise over Wei Xiaobao's 'magnanimous act'. He said, "Ha, Xiao Guizi has turned his way, you are not so stingy today!"

    The game continued, Wei Xiaobao won another six, seven taels; suddenly someone said, "Lunch time, we will continue playing tomorrow."

    As they heard the words 'lunch time', everybody stopped immediately and hurriedly exchanged their bargaining chips into money. Wei Xiaobao did not have enough time to switch the mercury-loaded dice back, but thinking that these 'cattle' would not be able to see through it anyway, he set his heart at ease.

    Wei Xiaobao followed Lao Wu out, thinking, "I wonder where the lunch is being served?"

    Out of more than a dozen taels he borrowed, Lao Wu had lost almost all; he said, "Xiao Xiongdi, I will have to pay you back tomorrow."

    "We are brothers," Wei Xiaobao replied, "Why so strict?"

    "Heh heh," Lao Wu laughed, "You are such a good brother. Hurry on back, Hai Laogong is waiting for you for lunch."

    "Yes," Wei Xiaobao replied; he mused, "Turns out I'll have to eat with the old turtle. If I don't make my getaway now, what am I waiting for?" Seeing Lao Wu enter a hall, he considered, "There are halls, gardens and corridors in here, I wonder where the main gate is?" Without any choice he simply walked blindly; oftentimes he came across people who dressed like himself, but he did not dare to ask where the main gate was.

    He walked farther and farther away, gradually his heart began to panic, "I'd better return to old turtle Hai's place first." But by now he had already lost even the way back to the old eunuch Hai's place, he was at places he had never been before. Oftentimes he saw a horizontal inscribed board above the hall or above the door, but since he did not know any characters, he did not bother to look.

    Walking a moment longer, he did not even see anybody else. His belly was growling from hunger. Passing a moon gate, he saw a building on the left with an unlatched door. Passing by the door, a whiff of food aroma suddenly assaulted his nostrils; he could not refrain himself from drooling. Pushing the door lightly, he poked his head inside.

    He saw a dozen or so dishes of light refreshments, cakes and pastries spread on a table. Seeing there was nobody inside, he tiptoed in, picked a piece of 'thousand-layer' cake, and put it in his mouth. Several chews later, he could not help but secretly praised. This thousand-layer cake was made of layers of flour, honey, sugar and lard, flavored with osmanthus flower's fragrance; it was light and sweet.

    Weiyang district of Yangzhou city was renowned for its light refreshments in the whole China; to entertain their patrons, the brothels always had the light refreshments exquisitely made. Wei Xiaobao frequently preceded the patrons to have a taste of the snacks; despite the beating and scolding from the old procuress and mistresses, he still stole the foods without any care. This time eating the cake, it was obvious that the quality of the light refreshments here was much finer than the ones in the brothels. He thought, "This thousand-layer cake is made really well; I think I am most likely at the number one brothel in Beijing."

    Finished with the piece of thousand-layer cake, he still did not hear anybody coming, so he picked a shumai[1] and stuffed it into his mouth. He had a vast experience in stealing food; he knew he must not take too much from a plate or a dish, only then it would not be easily detected. After having eaten the shumai, he took a piece of pea-flour cake; taking care to rearrange the cakes and pastries in the dish to remove any sign that it had been stolen.

    While he was still eating, suddenly he heard the sound of boots outside the door, someone was coming; hastily he picked a mince meat cake coated with sesame seed. He saw the room was bare; there were several human shapes cut out of cowhide hanging on the wall, and several large cloth sacks hanging from the beam, presumably filled with rice, wheat or perhaps some sandy soil. Other than those, there was only this table, with a piece of table cloth hanging in front of it. Almost without thinking he crawled underneath the table.

    [1] Steamed dumpling, with pork, shrimp, etc. filling (Incidentally, this is my favorite 'dimsum'. )

    I started to post Chapter 21, but due to the size of the chapters (Jin Yong's chapters are sooo .... long ...), it took a long time just to refresh the screen. My home internet is high-speed, although not T1. I can't imagine what will happen for other people whose internet connection is slower, or even dial-up ...

    I think I am going to revisit the entire thread and reshuffle the chapters to make the posts shorter, and thus, hopefully, more manageable.Please be patient as I am extremely busy until next Saturday (April 13). I will have more leisure time after that.

    Posting will resume week of April 15, 2012
    Last edited by foxs; 04-14-13 at 10:29 AM.

  4. #24
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 4 - Part 1

    Chapter 4 - Stealthily seeking the antelope hanging its antlers, forgetting the opportunity to resist the crane combing its plume.
    (Translated by Foxs)


    As Wei Xiaobao pounced forward, Xiao Xuanzi sidestepped, while stretching out his hand to push Wei Xiaobao's back. Wei Xiaobao pounced on an empty air. His own momentum plus Xiao Xuanzi's push had sent him crashing heavily on the ground.
    Last edited by foxs; 04-15-13 at 11:22 PM.

  5. #25
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 4 - Part 2

    The person walked in. From underneath the table Wei Xiaobao peeked, he saw the boots were not big, so the incoming person must be a boy about the same age as himself, instantly he was relieved. He put the sesame coated cake in his mouth, but he did not dare to chew, he just used his saliva to slowly soak the cake and then when it was soft enough he swallowed it. He heard the sound of munching next to the table, the boy was eating the cake and pastry. Wei Xiaobao thought, “Another food thief. I’ll jump out and scream, this little demon will certainly be frightened and run away, then I can enjoy my food in peace.” He also thought, “I was so stupid, I should’ve put those light refreshments in my pocket and leave. This is not Lovely Spring Courtyard, they will not miss anything, surely they won’t make me responsible for it?”

    Suddenly he heard some ‘bang, bang’ noise, the boy was pounding something. Wei Xiaobao’s curiosity was piqued, he craned his neck to look around, and saw the boy, approximately fourteen or fifteen years old, wearing short gown, was punching the sack hanging from the beam. After punching the sack for a while, he turned his attention to the cowhide dummy hanging on the wall and started to attack. The boy punch the pit of the dummy’s stomach, followed by reaching out with both arms to grab the dummy’s waist and pressed it to the floor. The technique the boy used was similar to the Manchurian wrestling technique he saw at the wine shop the previous day.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed aloud and jumped out from underneath the table; he said, “Dummy is dead, what so fun about it? I am here to play with you.”

    Seeing Wei Xiaobao suddenly appear with his face wrapped in white cloth, the boy was slightly startled, but hearing that he was here to accompany him playing, immediately his face showed a happy expression. “Good,” he said, “Bring it on!” Wei Xiaobao pounced forward, trying to twist the boy’s arm. The boy sidestepped and tripped with his right foot. Wei Xiaobao staggered and fell to the ground.

    “Pei,” the boy spat, “You don’t even know wrestling.”

    “Says who?” Wei Xiaobao replied. He leaped back up and grabbed the boy’s left leg. The body reached down to grab his back, but Wei Xiaobao dodged, the boy caught an empty air. Wei Xiaobao recalled the technique Mao Shiba used to deal with the seven Manchurians at the wine shop; suddenly he threw a punch with his left hand toward the boy’s lower jaw. ‘Bang!’ it hit the target. The boy was startled, his eyes revealed an angry look. Wei Xiaobao laughed. “Pei,” he spat, “You don’t even know wrestling.”

    The boy did not say anything; his hand made a feign move, Wei Xiaobao leaned sideways to evade, the boy suddenly sent out his elbow and hit Wei Xiaobao’s waist. Wei Xiaobao cried out in pain and doubled over. From behind the boy slipped both arms underneath Wei Xiaobao’s armpits and hooked them up; ten fingers grasped each other behind his neck, forcing Wei Xiaobao down lower and lower. Wei Xiaobao kicked backwards with his left foot. The boy abruptly pushed with both hands, flinging Wei Xiaobao out, ‘bang!’ he fell face down like a dog eating dung.

    Wei Xiaobao was greatly angered, he rolled over and grabbed the boy’s legs with all his might and pulled him down as hard as he could. The boy could not withstand and fell down; he happened to fall on top of Wei Xiaobao’s body. The boy was comparably bigger and taller than Wei Xiaobao. Right away he used his elbow to press down the back of Wei Xiaobao’s neck. Wei Xiaobao could not breathe, he struggled to stand up with everything he had. After a bit of struggling, he finally succeeded to be on top and now he pressed down on the boy’s body. However, Wei Xiaobao was small, his body was light, he was unable to press for long; soon the boy was back on top again.

    Wei Xiaobao was very slippery, releasing the boy’s legs, he slipped to his back, and fiercely kicked the boy’s butts. The boy reached backward to grab Wei Xiaobao’s right leg and pulled it hard; Wei Xiaobao fell face up. The body pounced and clutched Wei Xiaobao’s neck with both hands. “Surrender?” he shouted.

    Wei Xiaobao hooked his left foot around the boy’s waist, but because the boy’s clothes were slippery, his foot was rubbing the boy’s waist. The boy was ticklish and he giggled, his hands loosened. Wei Xiaobao seized this opportunity to leap up and grabbed the boy’s neck. The boy used a wrestling technique to seize the back of Wei Xiaobao’s neck and threw him heavily on the floor. Wei Xiaobao was dizzy and was unable to move a single step. The boy laughed aloud and asked, “Surrender?”

    Wei Xiaobao suddenly leaped up and rammed his head against the opponent’s lower abdomen. “Humph!” the boy grunted and staggered several steps backwards. Wei Xiaobao lunged forward, the boy leaned slightly to the side, and swept his leg across. Wei Xiaobao fell down, but managed to grab onto the boy’s thigh with all his life. Both of them tumbled down together.

    Sometimes the boy was on top, sometimes Wei Xiaobao was on top; after rolling around for seventeen, eighteen times, finally the two of them were grabbing each other, both were gasping for breath. Suddenly, as if by prior agreement, both of them broke out in laughter, since both thought that this kind of wrestling was very fun; then slowly they let their hands go.

    The boy reached out to tear the cloth wrapped around Wei Xiaobao’s face; he laughed and said, “What do you wrap your head for?”

    Wei Xiaobao was startled; he was about to reach out and snatch it back, but then he thought the boy had seen most of his face anyway, so trying to conceal it again would be useless. He laughed and said, “I wrapped my face, so that when I come and steal the food, nobody would recognize me.”

    The boy stood up and said with a laugh, “Alright, turns out you often come here and steal the food.”

    “Not often,” Wei Xiaobao said, while also standing up. He saw the boy’s face had delicate features and a lofty expression, so Wei Xiaobao had a favorable impression on him.

    The boy asked, “What’s your name?”

    “Xiao Guizi,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “And you?”

    The boy hesitated for a moment, then said, “I am … I am Xiao Xuanzi[1]. Which Gong-gong do you work for?”

    “I am with Hai Laogong,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

    Xiao Xuanzi nodded. He used Wei Xiaobao’s wrapping cloth to wipe the sweat from his forehead; picking up another piece of light refreshment, he started eating again. Wei Xiaobao did not want to be outdone, he thought ‘you dare to steal the food, my courage is not inferior to yours’; thereupon he picked up another piece of thousand-layer cake and without the slightest care put it into his mouth.

    Xiao Xuanzi chuckled and said, “You haven’t learned wrestling, but your hands and feet are very nimble, surprisingly I am not able to hold you down for a long time. If we fight a bit longer, you will definitely lose.”

    “That’s not necessarily true,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Let’s try again.”

    “Very good,” Xiao Xuanzi said. The two of them started to wrestle again.

    Xiao Xuanzi seemed to know some wrestling techniques, plus he was older and stronger than Wei Xiaobao. However, Wei Xiaobao had fought hundreds of fights at Yangzhou marketplace, he had survived countless scuffles against big thugs and little rascals, his ‘battle’ experience was far richer than Xiao Xuanzi. Yet in the end he remembered Mao Shiba’s lecture, plus his wrestling against Xiao Xuanzi was just a game, not a life-and-death fight; and thus he did not resort to the stunts that he was famous of, such as finger twisting, braid pulling, throat biting, eyeball poking, ear pulling, scrotum pinching, and so on. As a result, it was more difficult for him to score a victory.

    After wrestling for a while, Wei Xiaobao was pinned down with Xiao Xuanzi riding on his back without he was able to stand up. Xiao Xuanzi laughed and said, “Surrender now?”

    “I won’t surrender even to the death,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

    Xiao Xuanzi laughed aloud and jumped up from Wei Xiaobao’s back. Wei Xiaobao leaped up and pounced on him again, but Xiao Xuanzi shook his hand and said with a laugh, “No more fighting today, we’ll do it again tomorrow. But you are not my match, fighting again will be useless.”

    Wei Xiaobao refused to give in, he fished his pocket for an ingot, weighed approximately three taels, he said, “Tomorrow we’ll fight again, but for money. You must also bring three taels.”

    Xiao Xuanzi was taken aback, he said, “Alright, we’ll fight for a prize. Tomorrow I will bring my stake here. Midday, we’ll fight again in here.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “We have a dead appointment, don’t leave before we meet. A real man gave his words, … some horses cannot pull it back.” For some reason, he could never remember the ‘four-horse team’ part of this saying, so he could only mumble that part.

    Xiao Xuanzi laughed aloud and said, “That’s right, a real man gave his words, … some horses cannot pull it back.” While saying that, he walked out the room.

    Wei Xiaobao grabbed a handful of light refreshments and put it in his pocket, and then he also left. He remembered Mao Shiba who was having a martial art duel appointment, even though he was in prison, he must escape from prison to keep the appointment. Although he was seriously injured, he still vowed to keep his promises, waiting for the two experts at the foot of the Victory Hill. This kind of spirit had won others’ true admiration. Many times he had heard the storytellers told about heroes, oftentimes he would fantasize himself were a big hero, a real warrior, who was having duel appointment with others, wasn’t it his chance has come now?

    Thinking that tomorrow he must come, tonight he must return to Hai Laogong’s residence. Thereupon he retraced his path, slowly looking for the building he had been gambling earlier. Since previously he had taken a right turn, which had led him farther and farther away, this time he took the left turn. Walking past two winding corridors, he vaguely remembered the gardens and the courtyards he had seen before. By looking for familiar landscape, eventually he reached Hai Laogong’s residence.

    As he walked through the door, he heard the sound of Hai Laogong’s coughing. “Gong-gong,” he called out, “Are you feeling better?”

    “Better your fart!” Hai Laogong’s gloom voice replied, “Get in, quick!”

    Wei Xiaobao walked into the room and saw Hai Laogong was sitting on a chair. The broken table had been replaced with a new one. Hai Laogong asked, “How much did you win?”

    “I won more than ten taels,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “But … but …”

    “But what?” Hai Laogong asked.

    “But I lent it to Lao Wu,” Wei Xiaobao said. Actually, he won more than twenty taels, other than what he loaned Lao Wu, he still had eight or nine taels, but because he was afraid Hai Laogong would ask him to hand it over, when Hai Laogong asked the account, he unavoidably did not tell the truth.

    Hai Laogong’s countenance sank, he said, “What good it is to lend money to that kid Lao Wu? He does not even work for the Upper Study Room. Why didn’t you lend it to the two Wen brothers?”

    Wei Xiaobao was unclear of the reason, he said, “The Wen brothers did not ask for a loan.”

    Hai Laogong said, “Didn’t ask you for a loan, can’t you think of a way so that they would? Don’t tell me you have forgotten everything I told you?”

    “I … I killed that boy last night,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I am so scared that I have forgotten everything. Must loan money to the Wen brothers, right, right, you, Senior, did instruct me to do that.”

    “Humph,” Hai Laogong said, “What’s so great about killing one or two people? But you are still young, you have never killed anybody before, I can’t blame you. That book, you haven’t forgotten about it, have you?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “That book … book … I … I …”

    Hai Laogong snorted again, he said, “So you really have forgotten everything?”

    “Gong-gong, I …” Wei Xiaobao said, “I have a terrible headache, I … I am very scared, you are coughing like that, I am really worried, everything … everything is muddled in my head.”

    “Alright, come here!” Hai Laogong said.

    “Yes!” Wei Xiaobao replied, as he walked several steps closer.

    Hai Laogong said, “Let me tell you again, if you don’t remember it this time, I am going to kill you.”

    “Yes, yes,” Wei Xiaobao said, thinking, “If you tell me all the way through, I won’t forget it for a hundred years.”

    Hai Laogong said, “Win the Wen brothers’ money, when they are out of money, you give them loan, the more the better. After a few days, you then want them to take you to the Upper Study Room. They owe you money, they won’t dare not to comply. If they give you all sorts of excuses, tell them that I will settle the account with the Upper Study Room manager, Wu Laogong. If the Wen brothers still do not want to pay, we may have to bring this to the Emperor’s attention …”

    “The Emperor?” Wei Xiaobao said.

    “What is it?” Hai Laogong asked.

    “No … nothing,” Wei Xiaobao said.

    Hai Laogong continued, “They may ask you what do you want in the Upper Study Room. You tell them that people are bound to go to higher place, you wish to see the Emperor by doing some errand at the Upper Study Room. Of course the Wen brothers won’t let you see the Emperor, when they take you there, certainly the Emperor won’t be in the Upper Study Room. That’s when you will try to steal a book.”

    Hearing him kept mentioning of the Emperor, Wei Xiaobao’s heart was stirred, “Could it be that this is the Imperial Palace? And not Beijing’s biggest brothel? Aiyo hey, that’s right, that’s right, if this is not the Imperial Palace, how could there be such splendor and majesty? These people must be court eunuchs attending the Emperor.”

    Although Wei Xiaobao had heard people mentioning the Emperor, Empress, Crown Prince, Princess, as well as palace maids and court eunuch, he only knew that the Emperor are supposed to wear dragon robe, but how the Emperor actually look like, he had no idea. In Yangzhou he had watched a lot of plays, but the court eunuchs in those plays did not dress like Hai Laogong, Lao Wu or the others at all, the actors’ hands always held a whisk, which they waved here and there. The songs in the play were not pleasant to hear. He had contact with Hai Laogong only for a day, he had gambled with Lao Wu, the Wen brothers and the others for half a day, but he did not know they were eunuchs. This time hearing Hai Laogong’s words, he gradually understood; he thought, “Aiyo, in this case, haven’t I turned into a court eunuch?”

    In stern voice Hai Laogong said, “Have you understood clearly what you heard?”

    “Yes, yes, very clear,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I have to go to the Em … Emperor’s Upper Study Room.”

    “To the Emperor’s Upper Study Room for what?” Hai Laogong said, “To play?”

    “To steal a book,” Wei Xiaobao replied.

    “Steal what book?” Hai Laogong asked.

    “This … this … some book … I … I can’t remember,” Wei Xiaobao stammered.

    Hai Laogong said, “I’ll tell you one more time, remember it well. It is a Buddhist scripture, called ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’. This book will look very old, there are several copies, I want you to bring them all to me. Do you remember? What’s the book called?”

    “It is called the ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’,” Wei Xiaobao happily replied.

    Hai Laogong detected the happiness in his voice, he asked, “Why are you happy?”

    [1] ‘Xuan’ means black/mysterious. ‘Xiao’ – little, ‘Zi’ – child/small thing.

  6. #26
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 4 - Part 3

    Wei Xiaobao said, “As soon as you mentioned it, I then recalled it to mind, therefore I am happy.”

    Actually, when he heard that Hai Laogong wanted him to steal a book in the Upper Study Room, the ‘stealing’ part was absolutely not difficult, but the ‘book’ part was actually the real problem for him. He did not know any characters as big as watermelons; wanting him to recognize a book, even if he was beheaded he would be unable to accomplish. As soon as he heard the title of the book to be ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’, he could not restrain his heart from swelling in full bloom. ‘Chapter’ and ‘scripture’ he did not know, but ‘forty-two’ three characters [si shi er], he could recognize. Out of five characters [si shi er zhang jing], unexpectedly he knew three, no wonder he was very pleased with himself.

    Hai Laogong added, “If you want to steal book at the Upper Study Room, your movements must be clean and in order; if anybody catch you, even if you have a hundred lives, you won’t be able to keep them.”

    “I understand this part well,” Wei Xiaobao said, “If you steal something and are caught, how could you sing and play trick?” A sudden inspiration struck; he said, “In no way would I mention Gong-gong’s name.”

    Hai Laogong said, “Mention my name or not, it has nothing to do with this matter.” He coughed several times, and then continued, “You have done well today, unexpectedly you win some money. Did they get suspicious?”

    “Hey hey,” Wei Xiaobao laughed, “No, no, how could they get suspicious?” He wanted to toot his horn a little bit, but in the end he restrained himself.

    “Don’t be lazy, idling left and right without doing anything,” Hai Laogong said, "You must practice a lot.”

    Wei Xiaobao complied and walked into the room, he saw bowls and chopsticks on the table, plus four dishes of meat and vegetables, and one bowl of soup, but nobody had touched anything. "Gong-gong," he hastily said, "You haven't eaten? Let me get some food for you."

    "I am not hungry," Hai Laogong said, "I don't want to eat. You go ahead and eat."

    Wei Xiaobao was delighted. Without taking any rice, he picked a red-cooked pork with his fingers and ate. Although the dishes were already cold, as it entered his stomach, he found it was indescribably delicious. "I wonder who sent this meal over," he mused, "I'd better not ask this kind of trivial matter, I just have to open my eyes and slowly I will find out." He also thought, "If this is really the Imperial Palace, then Lao Wu, the Wen brothers, and that Xiao Xuanzi that I'll have to deal with, are all eunuchs. I wonder what do the old Emperor and Empress really look like? I guess I will have to see to know that. When I return to Yangzhou, hey hey, laozi can tell it with some air. I wonder if Mao Dage can escape from the Imperial Palace? During the gambling nobody mentioned anything about catching anybody, most likely he was able to get out."

    After eating, because he was afraid he might raise Hai Laogong suspicion, he took the six dice and 'ding ling ling', he threw them into the bowl continuously. After throwing dice for a moment, his eyelids grew heavier and heavier. He did not sleep at all the previous night, and only now did he finally feel very weary, so in a short while he was already asleep.

    He slept until the evening, when a worker eunuch came to deliver their dinner. Wei Xiaobao waited on Hai Laogong as he ate, he also helped him to bed, and then he lay down on the small bed. He thought, "The most important thing tomorrow is the martial art contest with Xiao Xuanzi. It would be best if I can beat him." Closing his eyes, he recalled the technique Mao Shiba used to fight the Manchu wrestlers at the wine shop, but the picture in his mind was fuzzy; he could not help but feel a tinge of regret, "Mao Dage wanted to teach me martial art, I was not willing to learn. If I had learned it along the way, although Xiao Xuanzi is stronger than me, how can he be my match? If tomorrow he manage to sit on me and I am not able to flip over, losing money is nothing, but losing face is a big thing. I, the Little White Dragon Wei Xiaobao, cannot mingle around in Jianghu anymore." Suddenly another thought popped up, "The Manchu warriors are not Mao Dage's match, but Mao Dage is not the old turtle's match, why not swindle the old turtle to teach me some skill?" Thereupon he said, "Gong-gong, you want me to go to the Upper Study Room to get the book, but there is a small problem."

    "What problem?" Hai Laogong asked.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "On my way back from gambling today, I met a little ... little eunuch. He stopped me and told me to give him the money. I refused, so we had a duel. He said that if I can beat him, then he would let me go. I fought with him for half a day, that's why ... that's why I was late for lunch."

    "And you lost, didn't you?" Hai Laogong said.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "He is taller and stronger, a lot stronger than I am. He said he wants to have a duel with me every day. The day I can beat him, that will be the day he won't bother me anymore."

    "What's this baby's name?" Hai Laogong asked, "Which building does he belong to?"

    "He is called Xiao Xuanzi," Wei Xiaobao replied, "But I don't know which building he belongs to."

    Hai Laogong said, "Must be because you won some money, your manner appeared disgusting in the eyes of others; otherwise, why would he look for you?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "I refused to submit to him, I'll look for him again tomorrow. I just don't know if I can beat him."

    "Humph," Hai Laogong said, "You want to ask me to teach you martial art. I told you I won't teach you, so I won't teach you. It's useless for you to ask in a roundabout way."

    Wei Xiaobao cursed silently, "This old turtle is smart, he won't fall into my trick." He said, "This Xiao Xuanzi also does not know martial art. If I want to beat him, I don't need to learn any martial art; who ask you to teach me? Today clearly I was able to sit on his body, it's just that he is strong, he managed to turn me over. Tomorrow I am going to grab him with all my strength, this fellow may not necessarily be able to turn over like a turtle." For the whole day he had been careful, restraining himself not to speak any vulgar word, but now finally he could not bear not to say one.

    Hai Laogong said, "You want to hold him down that he won't turn over, that is easy."

    "I also think it won't be difficult," Wei Xiaobao said, "Tomorrow I will grab his shoulder really hard."

    "Humph," Hai Laogong snorted, "What good is it to grab his shoulder? Whether he can turn over or not depends on the strength of his back. You must use your knee to press against the acupoint on his lower back. Come here, I'll show you."

    Wei Xiaobao rolled down from his bed and leaped toward Hai Laogong's bed. Hai Laogong ran his finger on Wei Xiaobao's lower back, and lightly pressed. Immediately Wei Xiaobao felt his entire body limp and painful, his strength was gone.

    "Can you remember it?" Hai Laogong asked.

    "Yes," Wei Xiaobao replied, "Tomorrow I'll give it a try, I just don't know if it will work."

    Hai Laogong angrily said, "What do you mean it won't work? That is 'one hundred shots, one hundred hits, ten thousand times tests, ten thousand times effective'." He then put out his hand on either side of Wei Xiaobao's neck, and pressed lightly.

    "Ah!" Wei Xiaobao screamed, he felt the pit of his stomach was choked, his breathing could not flow.

    Hai Laogong said, "If you pressed hard these two acupoints, he won't have any strength to fight you."

    Wei Xiaobao was overjoyed, "That will do," he said, "Tomorrow I might be allowed to defeat him." He had just learned the word 'allow' during the gambling that day. Returning to his own bed, he fantasized that the following day the 'Little White Dragon' Wei Xiaobao would beat Xiao Xuanzi so that he would call 'surrender'; and he felt very proud of himself.

    The next day Lao Wu called him up again to gamble. The Wen brothers' names were Wen Youdao and Wen Youfang, and today it was these two brothers' turn to be the banker. Wei Xiaobao used his trick and won more than twenty taels from them. The two brothers' luck was quite bad that day, in less than an hour, their fifty taels capital was wiped clean. Wei Xiaobao loaned them twenty taels, but by quitting time, the Wen brothers also lost these twenty taels.

    Wei Xiaobao's mind was occupied with his martial art competition against Xiao Xuanzi. As soon as the gambling adjourned, he rushed to that room. He saw the table was still loaded with dishes of light refreshments. He picked several pieces and started munching. Soon he heard the sound of boots. Afraid that the incoming person was not Xiao Xuanzi, he thought it would be better for him to hide underneath the table first. But he heard from outside the door Xiao Xuanzi had already called, "Xiao Guizi, Xiao Guizi!"

    Wei Xiaobao leaped to the door and said with a laugh, "Appointment to the death, don’t leave before we meet."

    Xiao Xuanzi also laughed, "Ha ha ... Appointment to the death, don’t leave before we meet," he said as he walked in.

    Wei Xiaobao noticed that Xiao Xuanzi was wearing a brand new set of outfit, it looked really gorgeous, so that he could not help but feeling rather jealous. He thought, "Wait till I tear your new clothes, you won't be so cocky!" With a loud shout he pounced on Xiao Xuanzi.

    Xiao Xuanzi also shouted, "Good move!" Grabbing Wei Xiaobao's arms, he swept with his left leg. Wei Xiaobao could not withstand it, he tottered several steps and tumbled down on the ground, pulling Xiao Xuanzi along that he also fell.

    Wei Xiaobao rolled away and leaped up to sit on Xiao Xuanzi's back. Remembering Hai Laogong's lesson, he stretched his hand to press on the acupoint on Xiao Xuanzi's lower back. However, he had never practiced sealing acupoints before, how could he seal the acupoint simply by grabbing it? His grab missed a little bit, Xiao Xuanzi had already turned around and caught Wei Xiaobao's left arm, which he twisted backward forcefully.

    "Aiyo!" Wei Xiaobao screamed, "Have you no shame, twisting my arm like that?"

    Xiao Xuanzi laughed and said, "Learning wrestling is precisely learning how to twist others' arm; what do you mean I have no shame?"

    Taking advantage while Xiao Xuanzi was still speaking, Wei Xiaobao threw himself as hard as he could toward Xiao Xuanzi's lower back, ramming his head against his back, while sneaking his right hand underneath Xiao Xuanzi's armpit, and flung him upward as hard as he could. Xiao Xuanzi's body flew over Wei Xiaobao's head and 'thump!' he landed on the floor.

    Xiao Xuanzi leaped up and said, "So you also know the move 'antelope hanging its antlers'."

    Wei Xiaobao had no idea what an 'antelope hanging its antlers' move look like, he simply moved without thinking and succeeded. Feeling proud of himself he said, "This 'antelope hanging its antlers' is nothing, I still have many formidable moves I haven't used yet."

    Xiao Xuanzi happily said, "Nothing better than that; let's fight again."

    Wei Xiaobao said in his heart, "Turns out you have practiced martial art, no wonder I cannot beat you. But you use one move, I learn one move; at most you will throw me down several times, I will be able learn your technique." Seeing Xiao Xuanzi was pouncing at him, he also threw himself forward forcefully. To his surprise, Xiao Xuanzi attack was a feign one. As Wei Xiaobao pounced forward, he had already held his momentum and sidestepped, while stretching out his hand to push Wei Xiaobao's back. Wei Xiaobao pounced on an empty air. 'Bang!' His own momentum plus Xiao Xuanzi's push had sent him crashing heavily on the ground.

    Xiao Xuanzi cheered loudly and jumped to ride on Wei Xiaobao's back. "Surrender now?" he asked.

    "No!" Wei Xiaobao replied. He was about to straighten his back to stand up, suddenly his waist went numb; the two acupoints on his lower back were pressed by Xiao Xuanzi's fingers. This acupoint sealing technique was exactly the one Hai Laogong taught him the previous night. Although he had learned it, the opponent had beaten him in using it first. Wei Xiaobao struggled several times, but all along he was unable to free himself. "Alright," he had no choice but to call out, "I surrender this time!"

    Xiao Xuanzi laughed aloud and let him stand up. Suddenly Wei Xiaobao extended his foot to trip him. Xiao Xuanzi's body tilted sideways, he was about to fall. Wei Xiaobao sent a punch toward his lower back. Xiao Xuanzi grunted in pain and doubled over. From behind Wei Xiaobao pounced with both hands grabbed his neck from two directions. Xiao Xuanzi had a spell of dizziness and fell down on the ground. Wei Xiaobao was delighted, without taking his hands away, he asked, "Surrender now?"

    Xiao Xuanzi grunted; suddenly both of his elbows struck backwards. Wei Xiaobao felt a severe pain that he thought his ribs were about to break. He screamed and fell face up. Xiao Xuanzi turned around and sat on the pit of his stomach. He had just scored another victory, but he was panting heavily and was feeling very tired that he was unable to breath normally. "Do ... do ... do you surrender now?" he asked.

    "Surrender your fart!" Wei Xiaobao said, "No ... no ... surrender. A hundred times ... ten ... ten thousand times no surrender. You've just won by chance."

    Xiao Xuanzi said, "If you don't surrender, then get up and fight again."

    With both hands pushing the floor, Wei Xiaobao wanted to stand up, but the vital acupoint on the pit of his stomach was still being pressed by the opponent, his body was numb and aching that he was unable to exert his strength. After struggling for a long time, he did not have any choice but to surrender one more time.

    Xiao Xuanzi stood up, his arms were limp and painful. Wei Xiaobao strived to get up, but his body swaggered; he said, "Tomorrow ... tomorrow we'll fight again, I must ... must make you surrender."

    Xiao Xuanzi laughed and said, "Fighting a hundred times more, you will ... will ... will lose. If you have guts, tomorrow we'll fight again."

    "I am afraid it's you who don't have guts," Wei Xiaobao said, "Why wouldn't I have guts? Appointment to the death, don’t leave before we meet."

    "Alright," Xiao Xuanzi said, "Appointment to the death, don’t leave before we meet."

    Both of them were fired up because of the fight, nobody mentioned anything about the money. Since Xiao Xuanzi did not mention it, Wei Xiaobao was glad to pretend that he forget. If he were the victor, he would definitely want his money.

    Wei Xiaobao returned to his room and said to Hai Laogong, "Gong-gong, your technique was useless, it was too sloppy and ordinary."

    "Humph," Hai Laogong snorted, "Hopeless, you lost again.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “If I had used my own technique, granted that although I may not win, I may not necessarily lose either. But your technique is just too useless, all other people already know how to us it, what's so special?"

    "He also knows this technique?" Hai Laogong wondered, "Show me."

    Wei Xiaobao thought, "You are blind, you want me to show you, can you see it?" But then he had a second thought, "But I don't know if he is really blind or just pretending to be blind, I might as well test him." Immediately both of his elbows struck backward and he said, "He strikes like this and each one of the three-thousand bones in my body was very painful."

    Hai Laogong sighed and said, "You told me he strike like that, how can I see it?" He rose up shakily and said, "Try to do what he did."

    Wei Xiaobao was secretly delighted, "The old turtle is really blind." With his back against Hai Laogong, he thrust his elbows slowly backwards, and said, "He used his elbows like this to strike me." As soon as his elbow reached Hai Laogong's chest, he no longer exerted any strength.

    "Hmm," Hai Laogong said, "This is 'armpit-bottom hammer'; nothing special about it.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Then there is this one." He pulled Hai Laogong's left hand and placed it on his right shoulder; he said, "He put forth his strength and flung me, my body then flew over his head." Actually, it was he who flung Xiao Xuanzi, which he was very proud of, but he intentionally reversed the role to test Hai Laogong.

  7. #27
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 4 - Part 4

    "It is the 'antelope hanging its antlers'," Hai Laogong said.

    "So you know that one," Wei Xiaobao said. Then he pulled Hai Laogong's arm and slowly twisted it backward.

    "Um, that one is the third stance of the 'Falling Broken Plum'," Hai Laogong said, "What else?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Turns out all Xiao Xuanzi's moves have famous names. Then the techniques I used, my random punch and random twist against him should also have some pleasant sounding famous names. I pounced at him, this kid sidestepped, but taking the opportunity he pushed on my back, and I ..."

    Without waiting for him to finish, Hai Laogong cut him off, "Where did he push?"

    "As soon as he pushed, I was thrown and knocked out of my mind, how could I remember where he pushed?" Wei Xiaobao said.

    Hai Laogong said, "Try to remember it, did he push here?" He stretched out his hand to push behind Wei Xiaobao's left shoulder.

    "Not there," Wei Xiaobao replied.

    "Is it here?" Hai Laogong asked.

    Wei Xiaobao still replied, "Not there."

    Successively Hai Laogong pressed seven or eight locations, Wei Xiaobao always replied, "Not there." Hai Laogong stretched out his palm to press Wei Xiaobao's right waist underneath his ribs and asked, "Is it here?" While saying that, he gently pushed.

    Wei Xiaobao staggered and tumbled several steps away. Right away he remembered it was the exact spot Xiao Xuanzi had pushed. "That's it!" he shouted, "Dead on, that's the exact spot. Gong-gong, how do you know?"

    Hai Laogong did not answer, he was deep in thought for half a day, then said, "I taught you two techniques, yet you say he knew both of them already. Are you telling me the truth?"

    "Naturally it's the truth," Wei Xiaobao said, "Genuine goods at fair prices, treating both the young and the old honestly. Not only this kid can press my lower back, he can also crush the pit of my stomach right here, so that I could not breathe, and thus I was forced to surrender that time. It was called ..."

    Hai Laogong did not care whatever name Wei Xiaobao was going to mention; he held out his hand and said, "He pressed on the pit of your stomach where?"

    Wei Xiaobao pulled his hand and pressed it against the pit of his stomach, right on the spot where Xiao Xuanzi had pressed. "Right here," he said.

    Hai Laogong sighed and said, "This is the zigong ['purple palace'] acupoint. This child's Shifu is a martial art master."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "That's nothing, a real man can submit or can stand tall, living on a green mountain, no need to worry there won't be cooking firewood (Book note: the actual phrase is 'firewood to cook with' but he changed it to 'cooking firewood'). I ... I, Wei ... I, Xiao Guizi has lost a fight today, tomorrow I will win it back from him, it's not a difficult matter."

    Hai Laogong sat back on his chair. He bent his right hand and stretched it out again, then he stretched it out and bent it again. His eyes closed in contemplation. After quite a long time, he said, "He knows 'little grappling[1] technique', it's not so strange; but his palm pushed the yishe ['desire residence'] acupoint on your right waist, it was exactly Wudang Pai's 'Soft Palm' technique. Afterwards he pressed your jinsuo ['muscle shrinkage'] acupoint, and then your zigong acupoint. Those are Wudang Pai's acupoint striking technique. Turns out there is a Wudang master hiding in our palace. Hmm, very good! Very good! Tell me, that Xiao ... Xiao Xuanzi, how old is he?"

    "He is a lot older than I am," Wei Xiaobao replied.

    "How much older?" Hai Laogong asked.

    "Several years," Wei Xiaobao replied.

    Hai Laogong angrily said, "What do you mean several years? One or two years is several years, eight or nine years is also several years. If he is eight or nine years older than you, do you still want to fight him?"

    "Alright," Wei Xiaobao said, "Let's just say he is one or two years older than I am. But he is a lot bigger and taller than I am."

    Luckily the opponent was older and bigger, so losing was not considered a major face loss. If not for the fact that he wanted Hai Laogong to teach him some martial art, Wei Xiaobao would have not say anything about his defeat in the duel; when he returned, he would inevitably give an exaggerated account of things, he would say that it was him who scored a big victory instead.

    Hai Laogong muttered, "This child is fourteen, fifteen years old. Hmm, how long did you fight him before you were beaten?"

    "At least four or six hours [orig. ‘2, 3 sichen’, 1 sichen is 2 hours],” Wei Xiaobao said.

    Hai Laogong's face sack. "Don't brag!" he barked, "How long?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Perhaps it's less than 2 hours, but it is more than one hour."

    "Humph," Hai Laogong said, "I am asking you, you'd better answer nicely. This kid knows martial art, you don't; so even if you lose the fight, you don't lose your face. It does not matter whether you fought ten times or eight times, even if you lose a hundred times, two hundred times, you are still young, what are you afraid of? So long as the last one time you win, your opponent will not dare to fight with you anymore. Now that is a hero and a warrior."

    "That's right," Wei Xiaobao said, "In the past, Han Gaozu[2] fought a hundred battles and lost a hundred times. Finally in the last battle he beat Chu Bawang [Overlord/hegemon Chu] that he hanged himself by the River Wu ..."

    Hai Laogong said, "What do you mean he hanged himself by the River Wu? He cut his own throat by the River Wu."

    "Hanging himself or cutting his own throat, it does not matter, he lost and thus he killed himself," Wei Xiaobao said.

    "You always want to win every argument," Hai Laogong said, "Tell me, during your fight with Xiao Xuanzi today, how many times did he beat you?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "About one or two times, maybe two or three times."

    "It was four times, wasn't it?" Hai Laogong said.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Actually, I really lost twice, the other two times he was cheating, it didn't count."

    "Each time how long did you fight?" Hai Laogong asked.

    "I didn't keep track of the time," Wei Xiaobao replied, "Sometimes it was like pooping, sometimes it was like peeing."

    "Rubbish!" Hai Laogong said, "What do you mean sometimes it was like pooping, sometimes it was like peeing?"

    "Defecating is somewhat slower," Wei Xiaobao explained, "Urinating does not take too much time."

    Hai Laogong chuckled, he said, "Although this kid's analogy is vulgar, what he said is very clear." After pondering for half a day he said, "You have not learned martial art, this Xiao Xuanzi still need to fight you for a while before he can knock you down, that means his 'little grappling technique' is newly learned. Don't be afraid, I'll teach you the 'big grappling technique'. Learn it well, and tomorrow you may challenge him again."

    Wei Xiaobao was delighted. "He is using the 'little grappling technique', we are using the 'big grappling technique', big will overcome small, we will definitely win," he said.

    "That's not necessarily true," Hai Laogong said, "Both big and small grappling techniques have their own strong points. We must take the practitioner into consideration. If he trained better than you do, the little grappling technique will surpass the big grappling technique. This big grappling technique altogether has eighteen moves, each one has seven or eight variations. You won't be able to remember all, let's practice one or two moves before we proceed further."

    Right away he stood up and performed the move. Finished with one move, he said, "This move is called 'Immortal Crane Combing its Plume'. Practice it well, then try it with me."

    Wei Xiaobao only looked one time, and he already remembered. After practicing for seven, eight times, he thought he had mastered it well. He said, "I have mastered it."

    Still sitting on a chair, Hai Laogong stretched out his left arm to grab Wei Xiaobao's shoulder. Wei Xiaobao raised his hand to ward it off, but he was one step slower, his shoulder was already grabbed.

    "Mastered what? Practice again," Hai Laogong said.

    Wei Xiaobao practiced several more times, then he tried it again with Hai Laogong. Hai Laogong stretched out his left arm, he was using exactly the same posture and move as the previous time. This time Wei Xiaobao was prepared, as soon as he saw the hand moved, he raised his hand to ward off; who would have thought that he was still somewhat slower and his shoulder was grabbed again.

    "Humph," Hai Laogong said, "Little idiot!"

    In his heart, Wei Xiaobao cursed, "Old turtle!" And he was back practicing again.

    By the third try, his shoulder was still grabbed; he could not help but feeling at a loss, without knowing the reason.

    "This grab of mine," Hai Laogong said, "Even if you practice for three years, you won't necessarily be able to parry. Let me tell you this: if you cannot evade, when my hand is moving to your shoulder, you must use your palm to chop my wrist. It is called using offense as a defense."

    Wei Xiaobao was delighted. "So that's how it is, it's very easy!" he said, "If you have told me earlier, I would have mastered it early on."

    As soon as Hai Laogong's left hand came to grab him, Wei Xiaobao raised his right palm to chop down on his wrist. Unexpectedly, Hai Laogong did not even withdraw his hand, his palm moved slightly to the side, 'Slap!' he heavily slap Wei Xiaobao's face. Wei Xiaobao was angry, he also tried to slap Hai Laogong's face. Hai Laogong flipped his left palm to catch Wei Xiaobao wrist and casually flung him away. He laughed and said, "Little idiot, have you remembered it?"

    As he was being thrown away, Wei Xiaobao's shoulder crashed into the foot of the wall. Fortunately in this throw Hai Laogong only used very light force, otherwise his shoulder bones might be broken by the collision. Wei Xiaobao was very angry, the curse 'Old Turtle' was already at the tip of his tongue, but in the end he was able to curb it. He thought, “These two techniques are very good, when I fight Xiao Xuanzi tomorrow, I’ll use one of these damn moves, I guaranteed Xiao Xuanzi won’t be able to withstand.” Immediately he crawled up and tried to commit Hai Laogong’s two techniques into his memory, and then practiced it several times.

    After practicing it for about a dozen times, Hai Laogong’s mysterious technique did not seem too unfathomable anymore, until finally he was able to evade the grab on his shoulder, but all along he was never able to avoid the slap on his face. It’s just that Hai Laogong did not use as much force as he did the first time, as long as his hand and fingers brushed away lightly on Wei Xiaobao’s face, it was already considered a slap. Although this brush was not painful, each time he was always hit on the same spot. Since Wei Xiaobao was always unable to counter, Hai Laogong did not grab and fling him away like before.

    In his heart Wei Xiaobao was dismayed, “Gong-gong,” he asked, “How do I evade this move of yours?”

    Hai Laogong smiled faintly and said, “If I want to hit you, even if you practice for ten years you won’t be able to evade. But Xiao Xuanzi won’t be able to beat you either. Let’s practice the second move.” He stood up and demonstrated the second move of the 'big grappling technique', called the ‘apes and monkeys pick the fruits’, and then have Wei Xiaobao tried it to him.

    By nature, Wei Xiaobao was very lazy; actually, he was unwilling to diligently learn martial art, but his desire to win and outdo others took precedence, he wholeheartedly wanted to master these several ingenious techniques to force Xiao Xuanzi to call ‘surrender’; therefore, he painstakingly practiced these moves. Surprisingly, Hai Laogong was not fed up with him at all.

    From afternoon to evening that day, the two of them trained incessantly. Hai Laogong was sitting on a chair, his arm was able to reach anywhere at will. As soon as he made a move, Wei Xiaobao was hit, but on the whole his force was very light, each move did not use much strength. Even so, when he went the bed that night, Wei Xiaobao felt that no part of his entire body, from head to toe, did not ache. For more than half a day, at least he had received four to five hundred hits. As he lying on the bed, he secretly cursed, “Old turtle, you have hit laozi so many times. Tomorrow laozi will beat Xiao Xuanzi; old turtle, even if you kowtow to laozi for three hundred times, laozi will not learn martial art from you again.”

    The afternoon the next day, after gambling Wei Xiaobao had another duel with Xiao Xuanzi. He noticed that Xiao Xuanzi was wearing another set of new clothes; he mused, “You, this kid, are wearing new set of clothes every day, are you going to visit a girl in a brothel?” He was very jealous, so as soon as he made his move, he ripped his new clothes. ‘Rip’ a large tear appeared on Xiao Xuanzi’s clothes. But in doing so, he had forgotten the newly-learned skill, so that his waist was punched by Xiao Xuanzi; he screamed in pain.

    Xiao Xuanzi seized this opportunity to stretch out his finger and poked Wei Xiaobao’s left leg. Wei Xiaobao’s left leg went numb and he fell kneeling down. From behind Xiao Xuanzi pushed, right away Wei Xiaobao tumbled down. Xiao Xuanzi jumped to ride on his back and pressed his yishe acupoint. Wei Xiaobao had no choice but to concede.

    Wei Xiaobao stood up and focused his attention, waiting for Xiao Xuanzi to make his move, then he used the 'Immortal Crane Combing its Plume', chopping the opponent’s wrist. Xiao Xuanzi hastily withdrew his hand, while sending out a punch. Wei Xiaobao had anticipated this move; he grabbed the wrist and twisted it around, followed by a left elbow strike toward Xiao Xuanzi’s back. Xiao Xuanzi cried out in pain was powerless to resist. This round belonged to Wei Xiaobao.

    Ever since the two of them started this martial art competition, this was the first time Wei Xiaobao scored a victory; his joy was unspeakable. Although he had killed a military officer at the Victory Hill in Yangzhou, and killed Xiao Guizi in the palace, but both times he had been cheating. In all the fights in his life, other than bullying eight, nine years old children, which he always triumphed, he had never won any fight against grownups. Occasionally he gained the upper hand by biting, throwing dirt on their eyes, or other despicable tricks. As for chopping people’s legs from underneath the table at the restaurant, that was not really a honorable thing to do, so it need not be mentioned anymore. Using a real skill to achieve victory, this was the very first time in his entire life.

    In his self-satisfaction, unavoidably his ego was inflated and he lost the third round. In the fourth round, Wei Xiaobao gathered his thoughts and used the move ‘apes and monkeys pick the fruits’; he wrestled the opponent for quite a long time, unexpectedly they fell into a deadlock until both of them were depleted of their strengths. Holding each other in their arms, they were panting for breath, and had no choice but to stop fighting.

    Xiao Xuanzi was very happy; he laughed and said, “Today your … your skill is progressing. Competing martial art with you is bit more interesting. Who … who taught you?”

    Also panting for breath, Wei Xiaobao replied, “I’ve already known this skill long ago, it’s just that I did not use it the previous couple of days. Tomorrow I will show you a more … more formidable technique. Will you or will you not dare to oblige?”

    [1] Orig. 'Xiao Qin Na' - little grab and capture.

    [2] Posthumous name of the first Han emperor Liu Bang (reigned 202-195 BC).

  8. #28
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 4 - Part 5

    Xiao Xuanzi laughed aloud and said, “Naturally I will oblige, most probably it will be the new technique of yelling ‘Surrender!’.”

    “Pei!” Wei Xiaobao spat, “Tomorrow it will be you who scream ‘Surrender!’”

    Wei Xiaobao returned to his room. Immensely proud of himself, he said, “Gong-gong, your 'big grappling technique' is really deathly, I twisted that kid’s wrist, and strike his back with my elbow, this kid did not have any choice but to surrender.”

    “How many rounds did you fight with him today?” Hai Laogong asked.

    “I fought him four rounds, I won two,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “Actually, I could win three rounds, but I was not being careful the third time.”

    Hai Laogong said, “You always speak ‘breaking seven fastening eight’; if you say that you fought four rounds, at most you only won one round.”

    Wei Xiaobao chuckled and said, “The first round I did not win, the second round I really did win. If I have empty words, may the heaven punish and the earth exterminate. The third round he cannot be considered lost, the fourth round we both fought until we are out of strength, so we agree to fight again tomorrow.”

    Hai Laogong said, “Tell me truthfully, every move every style, in great details.”

    Although Wei Xiaobao had a good memory, his knowledge of martial art was too little, how these four rounds were unfold by every move and every style, he could not narrate in details; he could only remember the third round where he scored a victory and thus the move he was most proud of. But Hai Laogong was insistent that he have a detailed account on how he was defeated. Wei Xiaobao was thinking of giving him a vague answer to dismiss his inquiry, but in the end he had to tell Hai Laogong the truth. The styles Xiao Xuanzi used to score victory, Hai Laogong was able to spell them out one by one, as if he was personally witnessing the fight, adding ten times the details of what Wei Xiaobao was able to tell. As he mentioned one style, Wei Xiaobao was then able to remember that it was indeed so.

    “Gong-gong,” Wei Xiaobao said, “You have eyes that can see a thousand li; otherwise, how can you know clearly which technique Xiao Xuanzi was using?”

    Hai Laogong lowered his head in contemplation, he muttered, “He is really a Wudang master, he is really a Wudang master.”

    Wei Xiaobao was pleasantly surprised, “You said this kid Xiao Xuanzi is a Wudang Pai master? And I was able to fight this master evenly? Ha ha …”

    “Pei!” Hai Laogong spat, “Don’t show off shamelessly! Who says he was the master? I was talking about the Shifu who taught him punching and kicking.”

    “So what Sect [‘Pai’] do you belong to?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “Our martial art is matchless under the heavens, naturally it is a lot more formidable than Wudang Pai; that is an obvious fact.” He still did not know which school Hai Laogong belonged to, but he bragged about it first without restraint.

    “I belong to Shaolin Pai,” Hai Laogong replied.

    Wei Xiaobao was greatly delighted, “That’s very good; Wudang Pai’s martial art encounters our Shaolin Pai, of course they will be utterly defeated, they will run away hiding their tails between their legs.”

    “Humph,” Hai Laogong snorted and said, “I haven’t taken you as my disciple, how can you consider yourself a Shaolin disciple?”

    Wei Xiaobao embarrassedly said, “I did not say I was a Shaolin Pai disciple, I only learned Shaolin Pai martial art, is that correct?”

    Hai Laogong said, “The technique Xiao Xuanzi was using is indeed Wudang Pai’s orthodox qin na technique, so we must use Shaolin Pai’s orthodox qin na technique to cope with him, otherwise we would not be his match.”

    “That’s right,” Wei Xiaobao said, “My lost to him is small matter, implicating the prestige of our Shaolin Pai is greatly unworthy." On how great Shaolin Pai's prestige really was, he was completely clueless, but if he was somewhat responsible of maintaining Shaolin Pai's prestige, it must be not a trivial business.

    Hai Laogong said, "I passed on those two moves from the 'big grappling technique' yesterday with the intention of defeating that kid to get out of a difficult situation, so you won't be entangled anymore and can go to the Upper Study Room to get the book. But right now the situation is slightly different. This kid is definitely a direct disciple of Wudang Pai. Then the eighteen moves of the 'big grappling technique' must be taught to you, each stance and each style, from the start. Do you know the 'bow-and-arrow step'?"

    "Bow-and-arrow step?" Wei Xiaobao asked, "Isn't that the posture an archer takes when he is bending the bow?"

    Hai Laogong's countenance sank, he said, "You want to learn martial art, you must be modest, if you don't know it, just say so. People who learn martial art must abstain from thinking oneself clever, from believing that oneself is infallible. Bend your forward leg on the knee so that it will look like a bow, that is called 'bow foot'. Stick out your back leg in an angle so that it will look like an arrow, that is called 'arrow foot'. When those two are used together, the posture is called 'bow-and-arrow step'." While saying that, he demonstrated the 'bow-and-arrow step' stance.

    Wei Xiaobao copied the stance and said, "What's so difficult about this stance? I can do it a hundred or eighty times a day."

    Hai Laogong said, "I don't want you to do it a hundred or eighty times, I just want you to do it once. Now do the stance, if I do not tell you to stand up, you must not move." While saying that he ran his hands on Wei Xiaobao's legs to check their positions. He pushed the forward leg further down, and the back leg even straighter.

    "It's so easy," Wei Xiaobao said. However, keeping the stance without moving like that, in less than half the time needed to burn an incense, his legs were tingling. "Is it enough?" he called out.

    "It is far from enough," Hai Laogong replied.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "What's the use of me practicing this strange posture? Are you saying that by doing this I can knock Xiao Xuanzi down?"

    Hai Laogong said, "When you train the 'bow-and-arrow step' until your stance is steady, others cannot push you down. Its usefulness is great."

    Wei Xiaobao stubbornly argued, "Even if people push me down, I can always stand back up and not suffer any defeat."

    Hai Laogong nodded slowly, but did not pay any attention to him. Seeing him nodding, Wei Xiaobao straightened up his body and patted his tingling legs. Hai Laogong barked, "Who told you to stand up? Quickly do the 'bow-and-arrow step' again!"

    "I want to poop!" Wei Xiaobao said.

    "You can't!" Hai Laogong said.

    "I want to poop!" Wei Xiaobao said.

    "You can't!" Hai Laogong said.

    "My poop is really about to come out!" Wei Xiaobao said. Hai Laogong sighed; he had no choice but to let him go to the toilet to loosen his legs.

    Although Wei Xiaobao was intelligent, but to expect him to follow the compass and go with the set square, to follow a prescribed pattern in martial art training, was easier said than done. In the end Hai Laogong did not force him anymore, he only taught him several qin na and wrestling techniques. During the sparring, Wei Xiaobao was required to bend down and turn around, to squat and crouch low on the ground; Hai Laogong did not join him in performing these exercises, he only called out the directions and stretched out his hand to feel whether there was any mistake in Wei Xiaobao's posture and technique.

    The next day Wei Xiaobao had another martial art competition against Xiao Xuanzi. Thinking that the previous day they fought for four rounds, in which he lost two rounds and won one round, with the newly-learned skill, today he should be able to win all four rounds. Who would have thought that as soon as the fight began, when he use several new techniques against Xiao Xuanzi, regardless of how he was using it, one after another Xiao Xuanzi was able to neutralize it. So much so that Wei Xiaobao lost the first two rounds.

    Wei Xiaobao was shocked and angry; in the third round he was extra careful, only then did he manage to twist and pull Xiao Xuanzi's left palm backward that Xiao Xuanzi was unable to turn around and was forced to surrender.

    Wei Xiaobao was so immensely proud of himself that he lost again the fourth round. Xiao Xuanzi was able to sit on his head, with both legs astride the back of Wei Xiaobao's neck, so that he was almost suffocated.

    After he surrendered, Wei Xiaobao stood up and cursed, "Damn it, you ..."

    Xiao Xuanzi's countenance sank. "What did you say?" he asked sternly. Instantly his expression turned cold and imposing.

    Wei Xiaobao was greatly alarmed; he mused, "It’s not right, this is the imperial palace, I must not speak vulgar language. Mao Dage warned me that when we get to Beijing, we must not say anything wrong. I said ‘damn it’, that means I say something damn wrong, and thus I am exposing my trickery." Thereupon he hastily said, "I said my style 'damn it' cannot defeat you, so I'd better surrender."

    Xiao Xuanzi's face showed a smiling expression as he asked, "Your style is called 'damn it' [ta ma de - literally 'his mother's']? What does it mean?"

    Wei Xiaobao mused, "I'm lucky, I am lucky! This little turtle lives in the imperial palace all day long, and does not understand the way people on the outside curse." Thereupon he made up a wild story, "This style 'stepping on horse's hoof' [ta ma ti] was originally a skill based on the horse loses its front hooves [figuratively: sudden failure through miscalculation or inattentiveness]. As I 'step on' [ta], you cannot defend against it, so I turn over and press you down. Who would have thought that you were not fooled, so this 'ta ma ti' style was useless."

    Xiao Xuanzi roared in laughter and said, "What 'ta ma ti'? Even 'ta niu ti' [stepping on cow's hooof] cannot defeat me. Do you dare to fight with me again tomorrow?"

    "Do you need to ask?" Wei Xiaobao said, "Naturally I will fight you. Hey, Xiao Xuanzi, let me ask you one question, please answer me truthfully and honestly, don't conceal anything from me."

    "What is it?" Xiao Xuanzi asked.

    "The Shifu who teach you martial art, he is a Wudang Pai master, isn't he?" Wei Xiaobao said.

    "Uh, how did you know?" Xiao Xuanzi wondered.

    "I can see from the technique you are using," Wei Xiaobao said.

    "You know my martial art style?" Xiao Xuanzi asked, "What is it called?"

    "Who does not know?" Wei Xiaobao replied, "That is Wudang Pai's orthodox skill, handed down in direct line from the founder, called the 'little grappling technique', considered first-rate martial art in the Jianghu. However, against our Shaolin Pai's orthodox skill, handed down in direct line from the founder, called the 'big grappling technique', it is still one class lower."

    Xiao Xuanzi laughed aloud and said, "What a horn-tooting! Aren't you ashamed of yourself? In our martial art competition today, did you win, or did I win?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Victory or defeat is common in a war, a hero is not measured by victory or defeat."

    Xiao Xuanzi said with a laugh, "A hero is not measured by success or failure."

    "Victory or defeat is the same as success or failure," Wei Xiaobao said. He had once heard the storyteller mentioning 'A hero is not measured by success or failure', but these two words 'success or failure' was too difficult, so he could not remember it. However, since Xiao Xuanzi was able to say the correct phrase, he could not help but feeling admiration, "You are only a year or two older than I am, yet you actually know a lot of things."

    Wei Xiaobao returned to his residence and sighed, "Gong-gong," he said, "The more I learn new technique, the more others also learn new ones; but others' Shifu is so skillful, he teaches better technique." He did not say that his own skill was inadequate, but blaming Hai Laogong's teaching method instead.

    Hai Laogong said, "Obviously you lost all four rounds today! Muddle-headed kid, you don't blame yourself as being useless, but you come here to complain about others."

    "Pei," Wei Xiaobao spat, "How could I lost all four rounds? At least I would win once or twice, or twice, three times. I have asked him today, his Shifu is indeed a direct disciple of orthodox school Wudang Pai."

    "Did he admit it?" Hai Laogong asked. He sounded rather excited.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "I asked him, 'The Shifu who teach you martial art, he is a Wudang Pai master, isn't he?' He said, 'Uh, how did you know?' Isn't that the same as admitting it?"

    Hai Laogong mumbled, "Just as I thought, it's really Wudang Pai." And then he was lost in thought, seemingly pondering a hard-to-understand matter. After a long time he said, "Let us practice some tripping feet techniques."

    And so every day Wei Xiaobao learned new techniques from Hai Laogong, and had his daily martial art contest with Xiao Xuanzi. During training, whenever he encountered a rather difficult technique, Wei Xiaobao would do it perfunctorily with all kinds of obscure excuses. Surprisingly, Hai Laogong followed his whim; disregarding the fundamentals, he only taught him how to dodge, evade, and various kinds of defensive tricks, anything that would give Wei Xiaobao an immediate benefit. However, during his fight with Xiao Xuanzi, Wei Xiaobao's technique was advancing, Xiao Xuanzi's technique was advancing even more. Fighting here and there, out of ten rounds Wei Xiaobao would lose seven or eight times.

    Every morning Wei Xiaobao always went gambling with Lao Wu, Ping Wei, Wen Youdao, Wen Youfang and others eunuchs. For the first several days he always had plain white cloth covering his face, but afterwards the covering was getting less and less. Although everybody could see that his facial features were completely different from Xiao Guizi's, but first, they always met in the heat of the gambling, what Xiao Guizi actually looked like, they only remembered it vaguely; second, Wei Xiaobao was always giving others a loan, so everybody loved this generous friend; third, each day Wei Xiaobao took only a little bit of the wrapping, so the others were slowly getting accustomed to his look, unexpectedly, nobody ask him anything.

    When the gambling adjourned, Wei Xiaobao would have his martial art competition with Xiao Xuanzi, and have martial art lesson after lunch. The qin na technique he learned was getting increasingly difficult. Wei Xiaobao was disinclined to memorize it, he was even more disinclined to practice; fortunately, Hai Laogong did not force him or insist on supervising him strictly, he simply let nature take its course.

    Day in day out, without realizing it Wei Xiaobao had been in the imperial palace for two months. Every day he had money to gamble. Although it could not be said that his life was free and unrestrained, he was actually quite happy. His only regret was that he must not speak any obscenities, wantonly hurling abusive words to others; he also did not dare to imitate dog and steal chicken[1], or to make a scene and raise havoc in the palace. It was a rather minor defect in an otherwise perfect world. Sometimes he did think about escaping from the palace, but he did not know anybody within Beijing's city limit; the more he thought about it, the more trepidation grew in his heart, and thus he kept lingering in the palace for 'yet another day'.

    Wei Xiaobao and Xiao Xuanzi had been fighting with each other for two months, they met every day, the friendship between them grew. Wei Xiaobao was getting used to losing, but putting things back in perspective, 'a hero is not measured by victory or defeat'; his win in the gambling arena offset his lost in the martial art arena, and thus he did not give it further thought. Both he and Xiao Xuanzi felt that if they miss a day of martial art contest, their whole body would be uncomfortable. Wei Xiaobao made a slow progress in martial art skill, but Xiao Xuanzi's progress was also so-so. Although Wei Xiaobao lost more than he won, he was not entirely in losing streak without any victory.

    [1] An idiom, it means 'to dally with women' or 'to have affairs'. [Although I don't understand how he was going to do it, given the fact that he was only about 12, 13 years old.]

  9. #29
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 4 - Part 6

    During these past two months, the Wen brothers lost so much money in gambling that they owed Wei Xiaobao more than two hundred taels. This particular day, before the game was even finished, the two brothers signaled each other with their eyes. Wen Youdao said to Wei Xiaobao, "Gui Xiongdi, we have something we'd like to discuss with you. Let's step aside and talk."

    "Alright," Wei Xiaobao replied, "Do you need some money? No problem."

    "Thank you very much," Wen Youfang said. The two brothers went out the door, with Wei Xiaobao following behind them. The three of them went to a side room next door.

    “Gui Xiongdi,” Wen Youdao said, “You are very young, but you are naturally magnanimous, it is indeed rare.”

    Hearing such flattery, Wei Xiaobao’s heart was in full bloom, “There, there! We are brothers here, you lend me, I lend you, why so uptight about it? There are borrowing and there are paying, we are all honest people here.”

    In these past two months, he had managed to learn some Beijing accent; although occasionally he would still blurt some Yangzhou slangs, it did not sound too harsh in other people’s ears.

    Wen Youdao said, “Our luck these past two months is just not good, we have lost quite a lot of money. Although you, brother, do not mind, in our hearts we are very worried.”

    Wen Youfang added, “Our lost is getting heavier and heavier, while your luck is getting better and better, and we owe you more and more money. If this situation continued, we don’t know how many tears it will take us to pay you back. If we continue on living burdened with debt like this, our lives would be tasteless.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Going into debt and not able to pay back is indeed inevitable and all right, the two of you must not bring it up anymore.”

    Wen Youfang sighed and said, “Xiao Xiongdi’s character, we need not mention again. Frankly speaking, if we owe only you, Xiao Xiongdi, even if we owe you for a hundred years, we should not be uptight, should we?”

    “Exactly, exactly,” Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “But what about two hundred years, three hundred years?”

    “Two hundred, three hundred years?” Wen Youfang said, “Everybody will be dead by then.” Speaking to this point, he turned toward his elder brother. Wen Youdao nodded. Wen Youfang continued, “However, we, two brothers, know, that Xiao Xiongdi’s master is very difficult to deal with.”

    “You mean Hai Laogong?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    “Isn’t he?” Wen Youfang said, “You, Xiao Xiongdi, may not pursue this matter, but there will come a day Hai Laogong will not let us, two brothers, off. If he, Senior, extends one finger to us, the Wen family’s Lao Da and Lao Er[1] won’t be able neither to eat nor escape at all. Consequently, we must think of a way to pay the money back.”

    Wei Xiaobao mused, “Here it comes, here it comes, that old turtle Hai Laogong truly able to prophecy with supernatural accuracy. These days I only remember to practice boxing, to have martial art contest against Xiao Xuanzi, but I completely forgot about going to the Upper Study Room to steal the book. I’d better not mentioning it, I want to see what they are going to say.” Thereupon he simply mumbled, “Um,” noncommittally.

    Wen Youfang said, “We have thought about it over; there is only one way, we ask for Xiao Xiongdi’s magnanimity, to write off our debt completely, do not mention it to Hai Laogong. Later, when we brothers win, naturally we will return everything with our thanks, not lacking even a wen.”

    “Your granny,” Wei Xiaobao cursed in his heart, “You, a pair of stinky turtles, consider me, Wei Xiaobao, as a ‘cattle’? Based on your bastards’ skill, when will you ever win anything back from laozi?” Thereupon with an awkward expression he said, “But I have already told Hai Laogong. The Senior says that this money must be paid back, several days delay is all right.”

    The Wen brothers looked at each other, with very awkward expression on their faces; obviously these two brothers dreaded Hai Laogong very much. Wen Youdao said, "In that case, we are wondering if Xiao Xiongdi would be willing to help us? As you win money later, give it to Hai Laogong, just tell him ... tell him that we are paying you back."

    Wei Xiaobao cursed again in his heart, "Your words are getting more and more preposterous, do you think I am a three-year old kid?" But he said, "It's not that I don't want to do it, but I ... my loss will be too great."

    From the tone of his voice, the Wen brothers could hear that he was willing to cut them some slack, instantly their faces showed delight as they cupped their hands and said, "Thank you for your kindness, we owe you a big favor."

    Wen Youfang said, "Xiao Xiongdi's kindness, the two of us brothers will never dare to forget as long as we live."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "If we do it this way, I want the two Dage to do me a favor, I wonder if you would be willing to?"

    "Of course, of course," the two of them incessantly replied, "Whatever it is, the answer is yes."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "I have lived in the palace for many days, but even His Imperial Majesty's face I have never seen. The two of you are serving His Majesty at the Upper Study Room, I wish to ask the two brothers to take me to see His Majesty."

    Immediately the two Wen brothers looked at each other in dismay, with a very distressed expression on their faces. Wen Youdao repeatedly scratched his head. Wen Youfang said, "Ay, this ... this ... this ..." He muttered the word 'this' seven, eight times.

    Wei Xiaobao said, "I do not wish to present a memorial to His Majesty, I only want to linger at the Upper Study Room for a while, to see His Majesty's golden face; to slaves like us, that will be our good fortune. If I do not have the good fortune of seeing him, I will not blame the two of you."

    Wen Youdao hastily said, "It can be arranged. Today at the Shenpai hour [ninth hour, 3 - 5 pm], I will come to your place and take you to the Upper Study Room. At that time, His Majesty is always in the study room writing poetry and do calligraphy; most likely you will be able to see him. At other times His Majesty is working at the Palace Hall, it won't be easy to see him." While saying that, he tilted his head toward Wen Youfang and gave him a wink.

    Wei Xiaobao saw this, and the curse 'stinky turtles, thief bastards' was raging in his heart; he pondered over it, "As soon as these two turtles hear I wanted to see the Emperor, their expressions turned very ugly. They said on the ninth hour the Emperor will be at the Upper Study Room, but he most definitely won't be there. They do not dare to let me see the Emperor, so now I want to see him. His granny, if the Emperor speaks to laozi, how am I supposed to answer? If I said something that will give me away, won't he order me to be executed along with my whole family to the third generation? Perhaps even laozi’s Ma will be dragged away from Yangzhou and be beheaded here. The old turtle Hai teaches me martial art, but I don't know if he taught me correctly? How come after so many fights I still cannot overcome Xiao Xuanzi? I'd better steal that book - was it thirty-two-chapter sutra or forty-two-chapter sutra? - from the study room and give it to the old turtle. If his heart is happy, perhaps he would teach me real martial art." Thereupon he cupped his hands to Wen brothers to express his gratitude, saying, "If we as slaves cannot even see the Lord of Ten-thousand-year's golden face, when we die, Yan Wang will certainly rain curses on us as turtle bastards."

    After his martial art contest with Xiao Xuanzi, he returned to his residence, and told Hai Laogong only the martial art contest's situation; he did not mention even a word about how the Wen brothers had agreed to take him to the Upper Study Room. He thought he would steal the book first, so that the old turtle will be enormously pleasantly surprised.

    Just before the appointed time, the Wen brothers really came. Wen Youfang let out a soft whistle. Wei Xiaobao slipped out quietly. The Wen brothers signaled with their hands, but did not say anything. They walked to the west, with Wei Xiaobao following on their heels. Based on previous experience, he now keep his eyes open to commit into his memory the shapes of the corridors, gardens and buildings along the way, so that he could retrace his path without getting lost.

    Compare to the building where they gambled, the Upper Study Room was farther away from where he lived; they walked for almost the time needed to prepare tea. With a quiet voice Wen Youdao said, "We have arrived at the Upper Study Room, must be more careful now!"

    "I understand," Wei Xiaobao replied.

    The two brothers led him circling to the rear courtyard, and entered via a small side door. Passing through two small gardens, they finally entered an enormous room. He saw the room was full with row after row of bookshelves, and each shelf was full of books; he did not know how many thousands or tens of thousands of book were there. Wei Xiaobao sucked a mouthful of cold air and groaned inwardly, "Hot piece mama did not blossom, once blossoms give birth to a little baby! His granny! The Emperor's room has this many books, all day long he sees books; he sees books in the morning, he sees books in the evening, how will he find time to gamble? Hai Laogong only wants several books, how am I going to find them?"

    He grew up in marketplace, he had never seen a study room in all is life, he only knew that if there were seven or eight books in a room, then that room must be a study room. From these seven or eight books, supposedly to find one with the characters ‘thirty-two’ or ‘forty-two’ written on it would not be difficult. At this moment, suddenly seeing thousands or tens of thousands books, he was dazzled and at a loss of what to do. He thought of turning around and running away.

    In low voice Wen Youdao said, “Shortly, His Majesty will come into the study room and sit on this desk reading or writing.”

    Wei Xiaobao looked at the enormous red sandalwood desk, the tabletop was inlaid with gold and jade. He thought, “The tabletop is inlaid with yellow gold and white jade, certainly it is not a fake. If this thing is scooped out and brought to the jewelry store, it will be sold for quite a bit of money.” He saw a book was spread out on the desk, the ink stone and brush pot to the left were also exquisitely carved. The chair was draped in brocade cloth, embroidered with a golden dragon.

    Seeing this kind of imposing style, Wei Xiaobao could not stop his heart from thumping hard. “His granny,” he mused, “This turtle emperor truly lives a happy and prosperous life!”

    On the right hand side of the table there was an ancient bronze three-legged pot, where sandalwood incense was being burned. The lid of the pot was shaped like a beast’s head, a wisp of green smoke gracefully curling out from its mouth.

    Wen Youdao said, “You may hide behind the bookshelf, looking quietly at His Majesty and that’s it. When His Majesty is reading or writing, no one is allowed to make any noise; you must neither cough nor sneeze. Otherwise His Majesty might get angry and call the Imperial Bodyguard to drag you out and chop off your head.”

    “Of course I know I must not cough or sneeze, I must not fart even more,” Wei Xiaobao said.

    Wen Youdao’s countenance sank. “Xiao Xiongdi, the Upper Study Room is unlike any other places,” he said, “You must not speak anything disrespectful or irreverent.” Wei Xiaobao stuck out his tongue; he did not dare to say anything. He saw the two brothers picked up a duster and a cleaning rag, and started dusting and wiping everywhere. The study room was exceptionally clean, untainted by even a speck of dust, but the two brothers were still doing their job attentively.

    After the Wen brothers finished dusting, they fetched a piece of snow white plain cloth from the cabinet and started wiping everywhere, and then they looked at the white cloth to see if there is any sign of dark spot. They were even more careful than wiping a mirror. They wiped for more than half a day before they quit.

    Xiao Xiongdi,” Wen Youdao said, “If His Majesty is still not here in a little while, chances are he is not coming to the Upper Study Room at all today. Soon an Imperial Bodyguard officer will come over to do an inspection, if he sees you in this place, he will investigate and then everybody will eat the blame.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “You can leave first, I want to wait a while before leaving.”

    “That won’t do!” the Wen brothers said together. Wen Youdao said, “According to the palace rules, which you are also aware of, wherever His Majesty goes, the ones serving in that area must not have the slightest carelessness. There are several thousands court eunuchs and palace maids, supposing whenever one of them wanted to see His Majesty would simply walk in to His Majesty’s presence, what will become of the propriety?”

    “Good brother,” Wen Youfang said, “It’s not that we brothers do not want to help, but we can be in this Upper Study Room for only an hour a day. Finish cleaning and wiping, we must get out immediately. We are not concealing anything from you, forget about you cannot linger too long in the Upper Study Room, even if we, the two brothers, do not leave when it's time for us to leave, when the Imperial Bodyguard officers investigate and find out, at the most our house will be searched and our possessions confiscated, we will be beheaded, at the least we will be imprisoned with stock over our head."

    Wei Xiaobao stuck out his tongue. "That fierce, huh?" he said.

    Stomping his foot, Wen Youfang said, "The matter of His Majesty's safety, do you think we would joke about it? Good brother, if you want to see His Majesty, let's come back tomorrow at the same time to try our luck."

    "Alright," Wei Xiaobao said, "Let us go then."

    The Wen brothers felt as if a heavy burden was relieved from their shoulders. With one pulling Wei Xiaobao's left arm, the other pulling his right, for fear that he would not leave, they walked him out.

    Suddenly Wei Xiaobao said, "Actually, the two of you have never seen His Majesty, have you?"

    Wen Youfang was startled, "How ... how did you ..." he stammered. It was obvious that he was going to say, 'How did you know?'. Wen Youdao hastily said, "Why haven't we seen him? His Majesty reads and writes at the Upper Study Room, of course we often see him."

    Wei Xiaobao thought, "Every day around this time the two of you are in the Upper Study Room wiping and dusting, naturally His Majesty cannot be here. Could it be that when you two bastards are wiping the dust and chasing the dust's grandchildren to the east and to the west, His Majesty would love to watch?"

    Wen Youdao added, "Xiao Xiongdi agrees to pay Hai Laogong back on our behalf, we brothers will certainly repay your kindness in the future. About seeing His Majesty, that is one's good fortune in life, one's karmic reward cultivated in the previous incarnation, by building the bridge and paving the way, by accumulating innumerable secret virtue. If one is not destined to have this good fortune, one will not achieve it even by forcing it."

    While speaking, the three of them exited the side door. Wei Xiaobao said, "In that case, you can take me here again in a few days to try our luck!"

    "Excellent, excellent!" the two brothers repeatedly said. And thus the three of them split up.

    Wei Xiaobao quickly turned around; passing through two long corridors, he hid behind a sliding door. After a while, he presumed the two brothers already went far away; he came out from the back door and retraced their route back to the study room. When he pushed the side door, to his surprise, the door was bolted from inside. He was startled, thinking, "It was only a short while, the door is already bolted from inside? It seems that the Wen brothers are telling the truth, the Imperial Bodyguard did come to patrol this place. I wonder if they have already left?"

    Pressing his ear to the door he tried to listen, but did not hear anything. Then he put his eye to a crack on the door and peeked inside, there was nobody in the courtyard. He thought for a while, and then fished out a very thin dagger from his boots. It was the same dagger he used to assassinate Xiao Guizi the other day. He was hiding in the Imperial Palace, he knew danger was lurking from all directions, since that day, this dagger had never left his body. Presently he inserted the dagger into the crack on the door and gently pushed several times, the door bolt was lifted up. He shoved the door open two cun, and put out his hand through the opening to hold the door bolt, so that it would not fall down and make noise. Then he pushed the door wider and slipped in, lastly, he turned around and reattached the door bolt. After listening attentively and did not hear any noise, he proceeded step by step and poked his head into the study room, luckily there was nobody inside. After waiting for a moment, he went in.

    [1] Lit. Ol’ First and Ol’ Second, respectively, common terms to denote children ranks in the family.

  10. #30
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 4 - Part 7

    Walking toward the desk, he saw the chair draped in dragon embroidered brocade and had a hard-to-resist sudden impulse. “Damn it, this is the dragon chair the Emperor sit, must laozi sit on it?” Taking a diagonal step forward, he suddenly found himself sitting on the chair. At first his heart was thumping fast, but after a while he mused, “This chair is not so comfortable anyway, being the Emperor is nothing extraordinary.”

    But in the end he still did not dare to sit too long; he stood up and went to the bookshelves to look for the ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’. But the bookshelves were full of books stacked up on top of other books. Among the hundreds of titles, he recognized only one or two characters. He did his utmost to find the ‘four’ character, and found several books that started with the character ‘four’; however, none of the next characters were ‘ten’ or ‘two’[1]. Actually, what he found were the ‘Four Books’[2], the ‘Four-Book Annotation Collection’, the ‘Four-Book Commentary’, and so on. Looking a bit more, he found the ‘Analysis on Thirteen Classics[3] Collection’. He knew the two characters ‘Thirteen’ [shi san], and was delighted for a moment, but ten realized that eventually it was not the ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’.

    While he was still confused, without a clue of what to do, suddenly he heard the sound of boots outside the door on the other side of the study room, followed by the creaking noise of the double-door being opened. Turned out behind the large screen on that side there was another door, from which this person was walking in.

    Wei Xiaobao was shocked. “Today laozi will be executed to the third generation.” He was thinking of slipping out from the bolted door from which he came, but in any case he was too late, hastily he flattened his body against the wall, shrinking behind a row of bookshelf. He heard two men enter the study room, dusting, brushing and wiping all around.

    Not too long afterwards, another man come in, the first two men then withdrew from the study room. This other man was pacing back and forth slowly in the study room. Wei Xiaobao cried out inwardly, “It’s terrible; must be the Imperial Bodyguard on inspection of this room. Could it be that they found a trace of me entering via the back door?” He could not help cold sweat from soaking his back.

    The man was pacing back and forth for a good while, suddenly there was a loud and clear voice from outside the door, “Reporting to Your Majesty: Ao Shaobao has an urgent matter to kowtow in front of Your Majesty, he is waiting outside.” The man in the study room grunted.

    Wei Xiaobao was startled and delighted at the same time. “Turns out this man is the Emperor. That Ao Shaobao is the man Mao Dage wanted to have a martial art contest with. This man is considered the Manchurians’ number one warrior, I wonder what mighty appearance he looks like, I must steal a look. Next time I see Mao Dage, I will have something to tell him.”

    He heard heavy footsteps from outside the door, a man entered the study room and said, “Servant Oboi kowtows to Your Majesty!” while kneeling down and pressing his forehead to the ground.

    Wei Xiaobao quickly poked his head out to steal a look, he saw a tall and sturdy man crawling on the floor, kowtowing. He did not dare to look too long, for fear that as soon as Oboi raised his head he might see him; hastily he pulled his head back, but he shifted his body slightly to be diagonally opposite to Oboi. He mused, “You are kowtowing to the Emperor, also kowtowing to laozi. What First Warrior of Manchuria, or Second Warrior? Nothing special about him, didn’t he kowtow to me, Wei Xiaobao?”

    He heard the Emperor say, “Enough!” Oboi rose up and said, “Reporting to Your Majesty: Suksaha is harboring disloyalty, his memorial to the throne is filled with treason and heresy, he must receive supreme penalty.”

    “Hmm,” the Emperor grunted noncommittally.

    Oboi continued, “Your Majesty has just personally guided the government into a new era, this servant Suksaha presented a memorial to the throne, saying something like ‘Now personally encountering the great government, humbly begs the wise reflection to let your servant, state official, to go guarding the late Emperor’s mausoleum, in order to survive the remaining breath, which is like a string of thread’. Isn’t it obvious? Your Majesty has just taken over the government, and he already desires to die. It is the same as saying Your Majesty is treating his servants with cruelty.”

    “Hmm,” the Emperor was still grunting.

    Oboi continued, “Your servant has had a conference with the princes and dukes, and various ministers; we are all agree that altogether Suksaha is guilty of twenty-four major crimes, he is cherishing treachery, harboring disloyalty, taking unfair advantage of the young master, unwilling to return to government service, indeed he is reeking with treason and heresy. According to our dynasty’s ‘Great Rebellion Law’, he and his eldest son, Internal Minister Chakdan, should be put to death with a thousand cuts, his six foster sons, one grandson, and two brothers should be beheaded. His clansmen, the commander of the vanguard regimen Barhe, and imperial bodyguard Otu, should also be beheaded.”

    “For that kind of crime, isn’t the punishment too heavy?” the Emperor said.

    Wei Xiaobao said in his heart, “This emperor’s voice sounds like a boy, in fact it is very similar to Xiao Xuanzi’s voice. That’s funny.”

    Oboi said, “Reporting to His Majesty: Your Majesty is still young, perhaps you are still not fully clear about the important matter of the imperial court government. This Suksaha accepted orders from the late Emperor, together with your servant and others to be regents, to assist Your Majesty in guiding the government into the new era; we should be delighted to offer our talents. Yet he submitted this memorial to the throne, slandering Your Majesty, obviously he is harboring evil intentions. I request Your Majesty to allow Chen to deal with this matter, with power to make more serious punishment. Your Majesty has just taken over the government, you should establish power, to make your subjects’ hearts trembled with fear. If you are being lenient to Suksaha, this rebel who harbor treason, someday the other subjects will take advantage of Your Majesty’s young age, will speak disrespects, will behave rudely, then Your Majesty’s business will not be managed properly.”

    Listening to the way he speak, Wei Xiaobao thought he was very arrogant, he said in his heart, “You, the old turtle, are the one who speak disrespect and behave rudely. You said the Emperor is young, could it be that the Emperor is a small boy? This is very interesting, no wonder his voice somewhat sounds like Xiao Xuanzi.”

    He heard the Emperor saying, “Although Suksaha is wrong, he is an Executive Minister, the same as you, whom the late Emperor held in very high regards. If at the beginning of my taking over the government ZhenZhen [an Emperor addressing himself] kill an important minister whom the late Emperor held in high regards, I am afraid the spirit of the late Emperor in Heaven will not be happy.”

    Oboi laughed a loud and said, “Very true, but your words are childish talk. The late Emperor appointed Suksaha as an Executive Minister, to serve Your Majesty well, to handle affairs attentively. If he considered the late Emperor’s benevolence, he should spare no effort to do his utmost, to go through water and tread on fire, to toil just like a dog or a horse; that is the principle of a servant. Yet this Suksaha bears grievance, publicly slanders Your Majesty, asking for rest, begging for life, regarding his own life more important, and set aside the imperial court’s affairs as unimportant. This servant is offending the late Emperor, and not Your Majesty offending this servant. Ha ha, ha ha!”

    The Emperor said, “Ao Shaobao, what’s so funny?”

    Oboi was startled, and busily said, “Yes, yes, no, nothing.” Wei Xiaobao guessed that right this moment Oboi’s expression must be very awkward.

    The Emperor was silent for a long time before saying, “Even if I am not offending Suksaha, but if I kill him like this, I would offend the late Emperor’s spirit. Either the people under the heavens would say that I kill the wrong person, or they would say that the late Emperor was an incapable ignorant. If the imperial court publishes Suksaha’s twenty-four big crimes to the world, the people would think that Suksaha is so guilty of the most heinous crime, is such a scoundrel, yet the late Emperor unexpectedly appointed him as an Executive Minister, to stand alongside you, Ao Shaobao. This … this … isn’t this too much without knowledge and experience?”

    Wei Xiaobao thought, “This child Emperor’s word makes a lot of sense.”

    Oboi said, “Your Majesty only knows one, does not know two. Whatever the people under the heavens like to think, let them indulge in flights of fancy, but they will not dare to speak as they please. Whoever dares to utter a single sentence that the late Emperor is to be blamed, I want to see how many heads they have.”

    The Emperor said, “The ancient book said it well: ‘Guarding against the mouth of the people is more than guarding against the river’; blindly chopping people’s heads, not letting the common people speak out their hearts, in the end it will not bring good.”

    Oboi said, “The words of the Han scholars are the worst to listen to, if these Han scholars’ words were true, how come Han people’s rivers and mountains fall into our hands, the Manchus? Therefore, let your servant offers a bit of advice to Your Majesty: those many books of Han people, the less you read the better, the more you read, the more your mind will be muddled.”

    The Emperor did not reply at all. Oboi continued, “Your servant has followed Taizong Huangdi[4] and the late Emperor in battles on all sides, from outside the Pass to inside the Pass, establishing countless meritorious service against the Han cavalry. I did not know a single Han character, yet I killed not a few southern barbarians. We defeat the world, we protect the world, all using our Manchurian way.”

    The Emperor said, “Without a doubt Ao Shaobao’s contribution is enormous, otherwise the late Emperor would not entrust you with such heavy responsibility.”

    Oboi said, “Your servant only knows how to serve with body and soul, to handle Your Majesty’s affairs. Ever since Taizong Huangdi, to Emperor Shunzi, it’s all the same. The way we Manchus handle affairs is by paying particular attention to bestow rewards and impose punishments, we reward those who are loyal, and punish those who are treacherous. This Suksaha is a major treacherous court official, he must be punished severely.”

    Wei Xiaobao said in his heart, “Hot piece mama, I only have to listen to your voice and I know that you are the major treacherous court official.”

    The Emperor said, “You are determined to have Suksaha killed, in the end, what is your own reason?”

    “What reason do I have?” Oboi said, “Could it be that Your Majesty believes your servant has a personal motive?” His voice grew louder, his tone was also growing more stern. After a short pause he said menacingly, “Your servant only has our Manchurian’s realm in my heart. Taizu Huangdi[5], Taizong Huangdi have painstakingly laid out the foundation, we must not let their descendants make mistake. Your Majesty asks your servant this way, your servant really does not understand Your Majesty’s meaning!”

    Hearing he speak with such ferocity, Wei Xiaobao was shocked; he could not bear not to stick out his head to look, and saw a fierce-looking big man, his eyebrows were raised straight up, like a monster he stepped forward, his hands were tightly clenched into a pair of fists.

    “Ah!” a young man cried out in alarm and jumped up from the chair. The young man turned his head sideways, and Wei Xiaobao could not refrain from letting out an ‘Ah!’ cry of his own. This young Emperor was not a stranger, he was precisely the boy who had martial art contest with him every day, Xiao Xuanzi.

    [1] In Chinese, ‘forty-two’ consists of three characters: ‘si’ – four, ‘shi’ – ten, and ‘er’ – two.

    [2] Namely, The Great Learning, The Doctrine of the Mean, The Analects of Confucius, and The Analects of Mencius.

    [3] Thirteen Confucian Classics: Book of Songs, Book of History, Rites of Zhou, Rites and Ceremonies, Classic of Rites, Book of Changes, Mr. Zuo’s Annals, Mr. Gongyang’s Annals, Mr. Gu Liang’s Annals, The Analects, Erya, Classic of Filial Piety, and Mencius.

    [4] Posthumous name given to second emperor of a dynasty, in this case, Nurhachi’s son, Emperor Hung Taiji.

    [5] Founding Emperor, in this case, Nurhachi.

  11. #31
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 5 - Part 1

    Chapter 5 - Golden spear to dispel the society, a book in jade box to keep the fantasy.
    (Translated by Foxs)


    The twelve little eunuchs pounced together, they firmly hold on to Oboi's waist and legs. Aiming for the 'sun acupoint' on Oboi's temple, Wei Xiaobao sent out a ferocious punch. Kangxi clapped his hands and laughed. "Ao Shaobao," he said, "I am afraid you are going to lose."

  12. #32
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 5 - Part 2

    Seeing the Emperor, even if his appearance was like a demon or a ghost, it was unlikely that Wei Xiaobao would cry out or make any noise; but seeing it was Xiao Xuanzi, his shock was really not mild. As soon as the cry escaped his mouth, he knew he was in deep trouble. He turned around at once, thinking to escape, but then he had a second thought, “Xiao Xuanzi’s martial art skill is higher than mine, but that Oboi is even more formidable, when all is said and done, I still cannot escape.” He also had a sudden inspiration, “Our valuables are already down on the table! Either we make a kill or we get killed, it’s time to roll the dice.”

    Leaping out, he stood in front of the Emperor, and shouted to Oboi, “Oboi, what are you doing? You dare to be rude to His Majesty? You want to beat people, kill people, you must go over me first.”

    Oboi had fought hundreds of battles, rendered great many services, he had little regard of the young Emperor Kangxi. Kangxi’s [Book note: Kangxi was an era name (subdivision in the reign of an emperor), but it is a common practice in popular fiction not to call him by his original name Xuan Ye (‘xuan’ - black/mysterious, ‘ye’ glorious/blaze of fire), instead, he was only known as Kangxi.] scorning his desire to kill Suksaha as stemmed from selfish intention had been exposing his painful sore. This man was a warrior who used to charge and break through enemy lines, in his anger, he was going to let his fist do the talking against Kangxi, he had never thought about rebelling or defying his superior. When he suddenly saw a little eunuch jumping out from behind the bookshelf and blocking in front of the Emperor, reproaching him, he could not help but was startled and only then did he remember that as a subject, he was making a fist and threatening the Emperor. Hastily he retreated several steps and sternly said, “What nonsense are you talking about? I was only going to make a report to His Majesty; who dares to be rude to His Majesty?” While speaking, he took two more steps backward, with hands hanging on his sides.

    The Xiao Xuanzi who had martial art match with Wei Xiaobao every day was indeed the current emperor of the Great Qing, Emperor Kangxi. His given name was Xuan Ye. Realizing that Wei Xiaobao did not recognize him and asked for his name, in his childish innocence, he blurted out his name as ‘Xiao Xuanzi’. Inheriting Manchurian’s habit, he loved to wrestle. It’s just that when one is in training of this kind of skill, one must scuffle and tumble, pull the neck and bend the waist. Although the imperial bodyguards taught him the wrestling technique, who would dare to treat the Emperor in this rude, uncouth manner? Who would dare to pull his dragon head or clutch his imperial neck forcefully? When they were compelled, they would put on a good act. When the Emperor’s imperial leg swept, they would immediately tumble over; when the Emperor’s hand twisted theirs, they would immediately kneel down to surrender. When they were forced to retaliate by a move or half a style, they would only touch the edge of the Emperor’s clothing before stopping instantly.

    Kangxi repeatedly urged them to fight for real, but none of the imperial bodyguards had this kind of guts. At most they would make some effort to act better. Even in playing chess with the Emperor, they might make a convincing act of giving a fierce resistance, by making some killing or lock the pieces in inextricably positions, until at the final juncture, they would inevitably lost the game [Book note: reportedly, during the final years of the Qing Dynasty, Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) was playing Chinese chess with certain eunuch; the eunuch captured Cixi’s horse (or knight) and said, ‘Your servant has captured one of Old Buddha’s horses’. [In late Qing Court, the term ‘Old Buddha’ refers exclusively to Empress Dowager Cixi]. Angered by his rude remark, Cixi immediately ordered him to be dragged out and beaten to death].

    Actually, it was extremely difficult to pretend in wrestling. Granted that they had to lose eventually, but during the match, who would dare to grab the emperor and fling him away? Kangxi had a very high interest in wrestling. He always saw the imperial bodyguards staking everything they had and displaying hundreds of brilliant techniques when wrestling with each other, but when they wrestled against him, they would immediately shake with fear, their competency dead and their spirit subdued; he was extremely dissatisfied. Later, he took the court eunuchs as his opponents, but every one of those eunuchs only love to take a beating and none dare to retaliate, just like he was fighting dead people.

    Being an emperor means he could do whatever he wanted to do, but to find a genuine opponent in martial art match proved to be a very difficult matter to accomplish. Sometimes he really wanted to leave the palace incognito, to find a commoner with whom he may fight, to find out the level of his own martial art skill level. But this kind of action was extremely dangerous, in the end it was no more than a fantasy, which the young emperor indulged in his heart once in a while.

    That day when he met Wei Xiaobao, he had a really good fight. Wei Xiaobao was fighting with everything he had, yet in the end he lost. Kangxi was extremely happy, he felt this fight was the most satisfying he had ever had in his entire life. Wei Xiaobao challenged him to have another match the following day; it was exactly his heart’s desire. Henceforth the two of them had a martial art contest every day. From the very beginning, Kang Xi had never exposed his own status. During the match, he also prohibited other eunuchs from coming too near, so as not to let them divulge the secret. As soon as this little eunuch knew the opponent was the Emperor, the match would be not in the least interesting anymore.

    There were thousands of court eunuchs in the Palace, those who had never seen the Emperor was also not a few. But when they first entered the Palace, they had to learn all kinds of customs and regulations of the Palace, as well as the color of the clothes to distinguish the relative superiority of the workforce. No one but the impostor Wei Xiaobao see the Emperor’s clothes Kangxi was wearing yet failed to recognize him. To Kangxi however, this muddleheaded little eunuch worth more than ten thousand taels of gold, indeed it was a rare opportunity and extremely valuable to him.

    Hereafter Kangxi’s martial art skill gradually progressed; unexpectedly Wei Xiaobao was also able to keep up with him. The two of them fighting back and forth, all along they were like two armies of equivalent banners and drums. Moreover, Wei Xiaobao was only a notch inferior to him, and thus Kangxi must strive to train harder, so that he would not be defeated. He was a very competitive and always-eager-to-outdo-other type of person, the more he progressed, the higher his interest grew; while his favorable impression toward Wei Xiaobao was also greatly increased.

    This day Oboi went up the Upper Study Room to present a memorial, petitioning the Emperor to kill Suksaha. Kangxi was already aware that because of internal power struggle between Oboi’s Bordered Yellow Banner and Suksaha’s Plain White Banner, Oboi harbored an enmity against Suksaha. Therefore, his insistence today that Suksaha be executed was because of personal grudges, consequently, he played slowly, unwilling to grant the petition. Who would have thought that Oboi was aggressive and domineering; in his raging temper, he exhibited the bad habit of a man of war; stroking his sleeves and made a fist, he was about to charge forward.

    Oboi was a huge man with ferocious look; seeing him coming up aggressively, Kangxi was unavoidably shocked. His imperial bodyguards were waiting outside the study room, so even if he shouted they would be too late to help; besides, most of the imperial bodyguards were Oboi’s trusted aides and cannot be relied on. While he was at a loss of what to do, by lucky coincidence Wei Xiaobao leaped out of his hiding place.

    Kangxi was greatly delighted, he thought, “If I join hands with Xiao Guizi, we might be able to fight this Oboi.” But then he saw Oboi retreated, so he was even more relieved.

    Wei Xiaobao was unable to restrain his emotion and gave out a cry of alarm, and thus revealed himself. He had no choice but to take a chance, to gamble, by dashing out and barking at Oboi. To his own surprise, Oboi backed off; this made him really happy. He loudly said, “To kill Suksaha or not, naturally it’s His Majesty’s decision. You are being rude to His Majesty, by making fist and was about to hit him, aren’t you afraid to be beheaded and your possessions confiscated?”

    His words had touched Oboi’s heart; immediately his back was wet with cold sweat, knowing that just now his action was indeed too reckless. At once he said to Kangxi, “Your Majesty must not listen to this little eunuch’s nonsense. Your servant is a greatly loyal minister.”

    Since Kangxi had just taken over the government, he was actually very afraid of Oboi. Seeing Oboi withdrew and yielded, he thought that this was not the right moment to confront him face-to-face; thereupon he said, "Xiao Guizi, step aside."

    Wei Xiaobao bowed and replied, "Yes!" He retreated to one side of the desk.

    "Ao Shaobao," Kangxi said, "I know you are a greatly loyal minister. You are used to charge and break through the enemy lines, and not a refine man like those scholars, I am not going to blame you."

    Oboi was greatly delighted. "Yes, yes," he hastily said.

    Kangxi said, "About Suksaha, I'll leave it you to handle. You are a greatly loyal minister, he is a greatly treacherous minister. Naturally I will reward loyalty and punish treachery."

    Oboi was even more delighted; he said, "Your Majesty has understood the truth. Hereafter your servant will loyally and devotedly let Your Majesty handle the government affairs."

    "Very good, very good," Kangxi said, "I will petition Empress Dowager during the morning audience tomorrow, to reward you heavily."

    "Thank you very much, Your Majesty," Oboi happily said.

    "Anything else?" Kangxi asked.

    "No, your servant asks to be excused," Oboi replied. Kangxi nodded. With smile across his entire face, Oboi withdrew.

    Kangxi waited until Oboi was out of the room before he jumped out of the chair and said with a laugh, "Xiao Guizi, now you know my secret."

    Wei Xiaobao said, "Your Majesty, I ... I really deserve to die, I did not know you are the Emperor, and have exchanged blows and kicks with you; that was really too bold."

    Kangxi sighed and said, "Ay, now that you know, you won't dare to fight with me for real, that will be extremely boring."

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, "As long as you are not offended, there is no harm in me fighting you for real."

    Kangxi was delighted. "Alright," he said, "Once you've made a promise, if you don't fight for real, you are not a true man." While saying that, he held out his hand.

    First of all, Wei Xiaobao did not know any court customs, secondly, he was a mischievous person who was afraid of neither the heavens nor the earth; he also held out his hand to grasp the extended hand and said with a laugh, "From now on, if I don't fight for real, I am not a true man." Grabbing each other's hand, the two of them broke into a laughter.

    As soon as the crown prince leaves his mother's womb, he is doomed to be the future emperor. The instructions with which he was nurtures are completely different from those of the average man. His cry, his laugh, his action, his movement, none was not scrutinized by lots of eyes; in fact, he did not even have half a part of freedom. The prisoner locked up in jail can still talk as he wishes; he can still move at will in the confinement of his prison cell. The restriction the crown prince must abide by is actually a hundred times more strict. The 'master guardian'[1] in charge of teaching him to read, the court eunuchs and palace maids in charge of his day-to-day necessities, were afraid the Crown Prince would befall any mishap, they all lived in constant fear, as if they were facing a bottomless abyss, as if they were treading on thin ice. If the Crown Prince ever utters half a word of wantonness, the master would earnestly advise him, for fear that the Emperor would be provoked to anger. If the Crown Prince wishes to wear a little less clothing, the court eunuchs and palace maids would act as if they were facing imminent catastrophe, for fear that the Crown Prince would catch cold. If any man lives this kind of life since childhood, day and night suffers this kind of strict surveillance, he really miss out a lot of life pleasures. Throughout history, there were a considerable number of muddle-headed monarch and tyrants; this is one of the reasons. After the individual attained the freedom of action when he became the emperor, he would immediately want to vent the depression and anger accumulated over the years, by doing all kinds of misdeed, which other people see as unreliably repulsive, but mostly was nothing more than excessive venting of pent-up energy.

    Kangxi also received this kind of strict treatment since childhood. It was not until he took over the government that he often ordered the court eunuchs and palace maids to keep some distance from him, and need not following him left and right. However, in front of his mother and various senior ministers, he still had to follow the rules, to act the part of a youngster with mature disposition. In front of the court eunuchs and palace maids, he still had to display the air of the Emperor, he did not dare to be negligent. In all his life, the number of occasions he was able to laugh heartily was only a handful.

    However, young people always love to play and enjoy festivities, which is human nature, there is no difference between an emperor or a beggar. In common people's homes, any boy can shout and jump randomly, can fight and make a ruckus with their playmates daily. But if this young emperor wanted to enjoy this kind of opportunity, he would need 'good fortune' and 'karma'. Only when he was with Wei Xiaobao did he enjoy true freedom, abandoning his emperor's persona and wrestled to his heart's content. Indeed he had never experience such happiness in all his life. During these days, even in his sleep he would often dream of wrestling and frolicking with Wei Xiaobao.

    Holding Wei Xiaobao's hand, Kangxi said, "In front of other people, you call me 'His Majesty', but if nobody’s around, we are still like before.”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Nothing better than that. Even in my wildest dream I would never thought that you are the Emperor. I always thought that the emperor is an old man with white beard.”

    Kangxi mused, “When Father Emperor passed away, he was no more than twenty four years old, not any old man with white beard. Don’t you, this little kid, know anything?” He asked, “Could it be that Hai Laogong has never told you about me?”

    “Never,” Wei Xiaobao shook his head, “He only taught me how to practice martial art. Your Majesty, who taught you martial art?”

    Kangxi laughed and said, “We said when nobody’s around, we are still like before; why do you call me ‘Your Majesty’?”

    Wei Xiaobao also laughed, “That’s right,” he said, “I am a bit nervous.”

    Kangxi sighed, he said, “I knew it, as soon as you know I am the Emperor, you won’t fight me like you used to do.”

    Wei Xiaobao smiled and said, “I will definitely fight you like I used to, it’s just that I am afraid it won’t be easy. Hey, Xiao Xuanzi, who taught you martial art?”

    “I can’t tell you that,” Kangxi replied, “Why do you ask?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “That fellow Oboi thinks that his own martial art skill is superb, so he wanted to crush you with his fist and wipe you with his palm, he seemed eager to beat people. I am thinking that your Shifu’s martial art skill must be very high, let’s invite your Shifu to deal with him.”

    With a faint smile Kangxi shook his head and said, “That won’t do; how can my Shifu do such thing?”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Too bad my Shifu Hai Laogong is blind, otherwise we can ask him to beat Oboi, most likely he will be able to defeat him. Ah, I know, tomorrow the two of us join hands to fight him, what do you say? Although this Oboi is Manchurian’s number one warrior, but with the two of us fighting together, we might not necessarily lose.”

    Kangxi was ecstatic; “Wonderful, wonderful!” he called out; but immediately realized that this plan would be difficult to execute. He shook his head and sighed, “The Emperor fights his senior minister, that doesn’t make any sense.”

    “It would be better if you are not the Emperor,” Wei Xiaobao said.

    Kangxi nodded; for an instant he was envious of this little eunuch Wei Xiaobao, who was able to do anything he liked. Although he was in the Imperial Palace, he was still free and unrestrained. He also recalled Oboi’s furrowed brows and blazing eyes just now, his aggressive bearing as he strode toward him, and could not stop his heart from thumping fast. He thought, “This man was so rude to me, whoever he wanted to kill, he would simply kill, without giving me any consideration at all. Who is the real emperor? Is it he, or I? But all Imperial Bodyguards in the Palace are under his command, the Eight Banners troops’ movement is also under his control. If I issue an imperial decree ordering his execution, he might raise an upheaval and perhaps he would kill me first. I must replace the Imperial Bodyguard Chief first, and then take away his military leadership; next I must remove him from his Executive Minister position, and lastly push him out of the Wu Men [Meridian Gate], and behead him publicly; only then will I vent the hatred in my heart.”

    But then he had a second thought that this plan was not appropriate, since as soon as he replaced the Imperial Bodyguard Chief, Oboi would immediately know that he was about to deal with him. This man wielded enormous power; if he managed to strike first and gain the upper hand, Kangxi himself would suffer calamity. Thereupon he decided not to make any move for the time being, and waited until he could think of a proper method before making his move.

    [1] Orig. 'Shi Bao', same 'shi' character as in 'Shifu'.

  13. #33
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 5 - Part 3

    He did not want to appear clueless in front of Wei Xiaobao, thereupon he said, “Go back to Hai Laogong’s place, practice your martial art well, tomorrow we still have a martial art match over there.”

    “Yes,” Wei Xiaobao complied.

    Kangxi added, “Don’t say anything about you seeing me and Oboi.”

    “Yes,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “There is no one else here, if I want to leave I can just leave, I don’t have to pay respect and kowtow to you.”

    Kangxi laughed aloud; he waved his hand and said, “No need, tomorrow we still have an appointment to the death, don’t leave before we meet.”

    Although Wei Xiaobao had failed to steal the ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’, but he discovered that the person he had martial art match with every day was unexpectedly the Emperor, so he was extremely excited. Fortunately Hai Laogong was blind, so he was unable to see anything different on Wei Xiaobao’s expression; yet he felt that Wei Xiaobao was especially talkative that day, only he did not know what matter had made him very cheerful, so he tried to probe him with several questions, but Wei Xiaobao was alert, he did not slip even half a word.

    The next day Wei Xiaobao went to have a martial art match with Kangxi. He had every intention to fight just like he always did; however, since he was aware the opponent was the Emperor, although while he managed to give a tight defense, his offense was involuntary weak and powerless. Kangxi understood his kindly feelings, so he also reduce his power in his offense, thinking that since the opponent was damped by his own conscience, if he launched an all out attack, the victory he earned would be an unfair one. They only fought for a short moment and Wei Xiaobao had already lost two rounds.

    Kangxi sighed and said, "Xiao Guizi, why did you go to my study room yesterday?"

    Wei Xiaobao replied, "Wen Youdao had a fever yesterday, and could not get up. His brother asked me to help him clean up and tidying the Upper Study Room. I have never done it before, so I was a bit slow; I did not expect to meet you." He spoke those words seriously, not only his face did not change, he himself was also convinced that that was what actually happened.

    Kangxi said, "After you find out that I am the Emperor, we cannot have any real fight anymore." There was disappointment in his voice.

    "I also felt that I don't have any strength to fight today," Wei Xiaobao said.

    Suddenly Kangxi remembered something, he said, "I know what to do. Since we cannot fight anymore, I can watch you fight with other people. At least that will satisfy my craving. Come, let us change our clothes, we'll go to the clothes warehouse."

    "What kind of place is the clothes warehouse?" Wei Xiaobao asked, "Is it the place where you store the fabric?"

    Kangxi laughed, "No," he said, "The clothes warehouse is where the warriors train martial art and wrestling."

    Clapping his hands, Wei Xiaobao said, "That's wonderful!"

    Kangxi changed his clothes, Wei Xiaobao followed behind him. When he finished changing his long gown, accompanied by sixteen court eunuchs, the ones in front shouting his arrival, the ones in rear escorting him, he went to the clothes warehouse to see the warriors wrestling. His expression was stately, he no longer chit-chatted with Wei Xiaobao.

    Seeing the arrival of the Emperor, none of the warriors did not strive to excel the others. Kangxi watched for a while, then he called a big and fat warrior over and said, "I have a little eunuch here, he had learned a bit of wrestling. I want you to teach him some tricks." Turning his head to Wei Xiaobao he said, "I want you to learn from him." As he said this he signaled him with his left eye. The two of them had seen that although this warrior was big and tall, he was quite clumsy, it looked like he was not Wei Xiaobao's match.

    The two of them went down the arena and wrestled several rounds. Wei Xiaobao launched the 'push the boat with the current' move, intending to push the warrior away. Unexpectedly, the warrior's body was too heavy, whatever he did, he simply could not push him away. The warriors' chief turned around and winked several times. The big fat warrior understood, he pretended to stumble and fell down on the floor, and did not crawl back up for quite some time.

    The crowd of warriors and eunuchs broke in loud cheers. Kangxi was very happy, he ordered a nearby eunuch to reward Wei Xiaobao with a silver ingot. Kangxi thought, "Xiao Guizi's martial art skill is inferior to mine, if he can push this fat fellow down, so can I." His heart was unbearably itching to give it a try, but he was the Lord of Ten-thousand Years, and must not go down the arena to fight. He sighed and said to the nearby eunuch, "Choose thirty little eunuchs, around fourteen, fifteen years of age, tell them to come over here to train every day. Whoever makes the fastest progress like Xiao Guizi here, will receive a reward." With a smile on his face the eunuch complied, thinking that the Emperor still had his childish nature, and wanted to have some new toys to play with.

    Wei Xiaobao returned to his room. Hai Laogong asked him the result of his martial art match with Xiao Xuanzi today. Wei Xiaobao narrated the fight dramatically, as if it was a great war, with both sides involved in an extraordinarily intense battle. But under Hai Laogong's interrogation, he soon revealed some flaws in the story. With a straight face Hai Laogong asked, "What happened to Xiao Xuanzi? Is he ill today?"

    "He isn't," Wei Xiaobao replied, "But he is not in a good spirit."

    "Humph," Hai Laogong said, "Tell me everything, from beginning to end, every move and every style." Wei Xiaobao knew he could not conceal anything from him; having no other choice, he gave him a truthful account of what actually happened.

    Hai Laogong raised his head and slowly said, "With this move you clearly can pull his head to the left, but you wrapped your arms around his body instead, to such an extent that you lost. It's not that you cannot do it, but rather, you were deliberately yielding to him; why is that?"

    "I was not deliberately yielding to him," Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, "It's just that he did not hit me too hard, so I was also being lenient to him. He and I have become good friends, naturally we both did not use too much force." Thinking that he had become a good friend of the Emperor, he could not help but was feeling very proud of himself.

    "You and he have become good friends?" Hai Laogong said, "Humph, it's not that you were being lenient to him, but you did not dare to knock him. Finally ... finally you know?"

    Wei Xiaobao’s heart skipped a beat, with a trembling voice he said, “Know … know what?”

    Hai Laogong said, “Did he tell you himself, or did you guess?”

    “What are you talking about?” Wei Xiaobao said, “I don’t understand.”

    Hai Laogong sternly said, “Just tell me truthfully! (Cough, cough … Cough, cough …) How did you know Xiao Xuanzi’s identity?” He reached out and grabbed Wei Xiaobao’s left wrist.

    Immediately Wei Xiaobao felt severe pain enter his bone marrow, with the bones of his hand cracking, as if it was about to snap. “I surrender, I surrender!” he called out.

    “How did you know?” Hai Laogong asked, his grip was getting tighter instead.

    “Hey, hey, you … you ... don’t you understand the rule?” Wei Xiaobao cried out, “I already shouted ‘surrender’ and you still haven’t let go?”

    “I am asking you, you’d better answer me nicely,” Hai Laogong said.

    “Alright,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “If you knew long ago who Xiao Xuanzi really is, I will talk reason with you. Otherwise, even if you pinch me to death, I will not tell you.”

    “What’s so strange about it?” Hai Laogong said, “Xiao Xuanzi is His Majesty; when I started teaching you the ‘big grappling technique', I was already aware of it.” While saying that he let Wei Xiaobao go.

    “Turns out you already knew,” Wei Xiaobao happily said, “I had a hard time hiding it from you. In that case there is no harm in me telling you.” Thereupon he narrated how he met Kangxi and Oboi by accident in the Upper Study Room the previous day, he also talked about how he knock down a big fat warrior at the clothes warehouse today; he spoke with his eyebrows dancing around. Hai Laogong was listening attentively, he constantly interrupted the story with questions.

    Finished telling the story, Wei Xiaobao said, “His Majesty ordered me not to say anything to you, if you reveal this secret, our two heads will roll.”

    Hai Laogong coldly said, “His Majesty is your good friend, he won’t kill you, he’ll kill me.”

    Immensely proud of himself, Wei Xiaobao said, “It’s good that you know.”

    Hai Laogong was deep in thought for half a day, then he said, “His Majesty wants thirty little eunuchs to train martial art together, what's his intention? Most probably his hands are itching, fighting with you did not satisfy his craving, so he is looking for some little eunuchs to receive his beatings." Standing up, he walked in circle around the room for ten times, he then said, "Xiao Guizi, do you want to flatter the Emperor?"

    Wei Xiaobao said, "He is my good friend; making a friend happy is also a principle of being friends."

    Hai Laogong sternly said, "I have something to tell you, I want you to remember it well. From now on, whenever the Emperor says you are his friend or what have you, you must never accept it. Who do you think you are, that you can be the Emperor's friend? Today he is only a child, and he said that in a cheerful mood; how can you take it seriously? If you keep speaking nonsense, just be careful with the head above your neck."

    Actually, Wei Xiaobao also realized that this kind of matter should not be spoken thoughtlessly or randomly; as soon as he was reminded by Hai Laogong with such hasty words and stern countenance, he stuck out his tongue and said, "Later I won't say it even if my head is chopped. It's just that after the head rolls to the ground, whether the mouth can still speak or not, perhaps we need to pay particular attention."

    "Humph," Hai Laogong snorted, "Do you want to learn high quality martial art or not?" he asked.

    Wei Xiaobao happily said, "If you want to teach me high quality martial art, that's truly what I've been looking for. Gong-gong, you have such a good martial art skill, but you did not take a single disciple to pass it on, isn't that a pity?"

    Hai Laogong said, "There are too many sinister and deceitful people in the world, while those who are honest, considerate and sincere are a few. If I took a bad disciple and let him conspire against his Shifu, why bother?"

    Wei Xiaobao's heart was stirred, he mused, "I made his eyes blind, I wonder if he had a bit of suspicion in his heart? This is a matter of life and death, I simply must investigate it clearly." But looking at Hai Laogong's wooden face, he could not see any trace of anger; thereupon he said, "That's right, one who is trustworthy and loyal to you, is not easy to find. I am afraid in this whole wide world there is only Xiao Guizi one person. Gong-gong, why do you think I went to the Upper Study Room? I brave the danger, risking my head, to steal that 'Forty-two-chapter Sutra' for you. It's just that in His Majesty's study room the books number in thousands and ten thousands, and I don't know too many characters ..."

    "Um," Hai Laogong interrupted, "You don't know too many characters!"

    Wei Xiaobao's heart jumped. "Aiyo, not good!" he cried out inwardly, "I don't know if Xiao Guizi knew many characters or not, if he knew a lot of characters, what I said might give me away." He said hastily, "I looked everywhere, but did not find that 'Forty-two-chapter Sutra'. But don't worry, later I can go to the Upper Study Room often, I will then be able to snatch this book like leading away a got in passing[1], or plucking the peach away while the leaves are falling."

    "You haven't forgotten," Hai Laogong said, "That's good."

    "How can I forget?" Wei Xiaobao said, "Gong-gong's kind treatment to me need not be mentioned. If I cannot think of something to repay you, in my entire life, I would have become a man in vain."

    "Hmm," Hai Laogong mumbled, "If I cannot think of something to repay you, in my entire life, I would have become a man in vain." These words were said in icy cold tone. Listening to this, Wei Xiaobao could not restrain the hair on his back from rising up. But when he stole a glance toward Hai Laogong's face, he could not read the slightest bit of clue of what he was thinking.

    "The old turtle is very formidable," Wei Xiaobao thought, "He knew early on that Xiao Xuanzi is the Emperor, but never revealed it the least bit. I must be very careful; if he knew that I caused his blindness, if I, Wei Xiaobao, can keep my own eyes, then surely the Heavens do not have eyes."

    The two of them faced each other silently. Half-step by half-step Wei Xiaobao crept toward the door. As soon as he saw Hai Laogong's face show ill-expression, he would bolt out the door and escape from the Palace, this time he would never come back. But he only heard Hai Laogong said, "Later on you must not use the ‘big grappling technique' against His Majesty. If the training of this kind of martial art continued, it would become a tendon-tearing, bone-snapping technique, it could dislocate joints and break people's muscles and bones; how can it be used against the Emperor?"

    "Yes!" Wei Xiaobao replied.

    Hai Laogong continued, "Starting today, I am going to teach you different skill, it is called the 'Great Compassion Great Sorrow Thousand-Leaf Hand'."

    "The name is so strange," Wei Xiaobao said, "I have heard the 'great compassion great sorrow, helping the distress, Guanshiyin Pusa' [Goddess of Mercy, Avalokitesvara]."

    "Have you seen the 'Thousand-hand Guanyin'?" Hai Laogong asked.

    "The 'Thousand-hand Guanyin'?" Wei Xiaobao replied, "Yes, I have. Guanyin Pusa has so many hands. Each hand is holding different object, there is water bottle, there is a twig, and then a basket, a bell, it's very interesting."

    "Did you see it in the temple at Yangzhou?" Hai Laogong asked.

    "The temple at Yangzhou?" Wei Xiaobao said. This time his shock was really not a small matter. Like an arrow he darted toward the door, and was about to run outside.

    Hai Laogong said, "In all the world, the 'Thousand-hand Guanyin' can only be found in the temple at Yangzhou. If you have never been to the temple at Yangzhou, how can you see the 'Thousand-hand Guanyin'?"

    Wei Xiaobao silently let out a deep breath, thinking, "Turns out only the temple at Yangzhou has the 'Thousand-hand Guanyin'; you scared the piss out of me." Hastily he said, "How can I go to Yangzhou? What kind of place is Yangzhou? Whatever the 'Thousand-hand Guanyin' is, I only heard it from others, I have never seen it. I was thinking of blowing my horn in front of you, Senior, bragging my knowledge, who would have thought you are experienced and knowledgeable, and was able to see through my big talk."

    Hai Laogong sighed and said, "To expose a little smart-aleck's[2] big talk like yours is really not easy."

    "It's easy, it's easy," Wei Xiaobao said, "If I say a sentence of lie, you, Senior, will expose it in less than an hour."

    "Mmm," Hai Laogong mumbled, "Are you cold?" he asked, "Why don't you wear more clothes?"

    "I am not cold," Wei Xiaobao said.

    "Then how come your voice is a bit trembling?" Hai Laogong asked.

    "There was a cold draft just a moment ago," Wei Xiaobao replied, "But now it's all right."

    [1] An idiom, meaning 'to steal something under cover of an emergency'.

    [2] Orig. 'little slippery/smooth head'.

  14. #34
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 5 - Part 4

    "The wind is strong by the door," Hai Laogong said, "Don't stand at the entrance."

    "Yes, yes!" Wei Xiaobao replied, and walked several steps inside, but all along he did not dare to come close to Hai Laogong.

    Hai Laogong said, “The 'Great Compassion Great Sorrow Thousand-Leaf Hand' is a Buddhist martial art, when used in a fight, it can control the opponent, but will not kill or harm people; this is the most benevolent martial art in the world.”

    “This style of martial art will not kill or harm people,” Wei Xiaobao said, “To be used in a fight against the Emperor, nothing is better than this.”

    “But this martial art is very difficult to learn,” Hai Laogong said, “There are many outstanding styles, it won’t be easy to memorize it thoroughly.”

    “Since there are many outstanding styles,” Wei Xiaobao argued, “It doesn’t matter if I cannot remember all; even if I have forgotten most, the remaining ones will still be not a few.”

    “Humph, lazy kid,” Hai Laogong said, “You haven’t even started, yet you are already nurturing the idea of laziness. In all your life, you can forget of ever mastering any excellent martial art skill.”

    “Yes, yes,” Wei Xiaobao replied, “If I want to learn such a formidable martial art like you, Senior, have, in all my life naturally I will be like an old cat smelling a hanging salted fish, smells good, smells good[1].” While in his heart he said, “Even if I train so that my martial art skill is exactly the same as yours, in the end your eyes were still blinded by other people, and you old turtle are very happy about it?”

    “Come over here,” Hai Laogong said.

    “Yes!” Wei Xiaobao replied, and took several steps forward, but he stopped several feet[2] away from Hai Laogong.

    “Are you afraid I am going to eat you?” Hai Laogong said.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “My flesh is sour, it does not taste good.”

    Hai Laogong raised his left hand, suddenly he sent out a palm strike. Wei Xiaobao was shocked, he wanted to evade to the right, but suddenly, ‘whack, whack!’ his back was slapped twice, immediately he knelt down and was unable to move. He frantically thought, “This is it, he … he is going to take my life away.”

    Hai Laogong said, “This is the first move of the 'Great Compassion Great Sorrow Thousand-Leaf Hand', it’s called ‘South Sea Worships Buddha’. The two acupoints on your back are being sealed. But sealing acupoint is a very difficult technique to learn, plus you have to have good internal strength foundation. When fighting against His Majesty, you can’t possibly seal his acupoint for real and force him to kneel down in front of you. Just remember the technique, and go through the motion, performing the style, that should be enough.” As he said that, he reached down on Wei Xiaobao’s back and pressed on the two acupoints.

    Immediately Wei Xiaobao’s limbs were able to move again. Calming his heart, he slowly stood up, while thinking, “Turns out the old turtle is teaching me martial art. He scared the wits out of me, I wonder if I will ever get it back.”

    That day Hai Laogong taught him three moves, he said, “The first day is especially hard. Later on if you are diligent, you can learn many more moves.”

    The next day Wei Xiaobao did not go gambling, shortly before noon he went to the small room where he usually have martial art match, and waited for Kangxi there. Knowing that the cakes, pastries and light snacks were supposed to be for the Emperor, he did not dare to pick up anything anymore. But after waiting for more than an hour, Kangxi still did not show up. “That’s right,” Wei Xiaobao mused, “Since fighting with me has lost its flavor, he does not want to play anymore.” Thereupon he went to the Upper Study Room.

    The imperial bodyguard on duty outside the study room had seen Kangxi brought Wei Xiaobao to the clothes warehouse the previous day, he was familiar with Wei Xiaobao’s appearance, knowing that he was the little eunuch whom the Emperor favored, and thus he did not stop him.

    Entering the study room, Wei Xiaobao saw Kangxi was kicking a leather stool. He kicked again and again, with anger across his face, while repeatedly shouted, “Kick you to death, kick you to death!”

    “Is he practicing a kicking skill?” Wei Xiaobao wondered in his heart. Not daring to interfere, he stood quietly on the side with hands hanging down.

    After kicking for a while, Kangxi raised his head and saw Wei Xiaobao; with smile on his face he said, “I felt stifled, come play with me.”

    “Yes,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Hai Laogong taught me new martial art technique, called the 'Great Compassion Great Sorrow Thousand-Leaf Hand', it is fiercer than the one he previously taught me, the ‘big grappling technique’. He said when I have mastered it, you won’t be my match for sure.”

    “What kind of martial art is that?” Kangxi asked, “Show it to me.”

    “Alright!” Wei Xiaobao said, “I am going to attack you!” Both of his palms flew up, ‘South Sea Worships Buddha’, ‘Gold and Jade Roof Tiles’, ‘Breath of Life’ altogether three moves were performed, fast and nimble, toward Kangxi’s back, shoulder, left side of his torso, right leg, and his throat, five points, which Wei Xiaobao lightly pat with his fingers. The changes of 'Great Compassion Great Sorrow Thousand-Leaf Hand' were quite peculiar, it was entirely different from the ‘big grappling technique’. Kangxi was caught off-guard and was not able to dodge a single move. Wei Xiaobao was using a very light force, so naturally Kangxi did not feel any pain. Actually, with Wei Xiaobao not having any internal energy, his physical strength was also very weak, even if they fight seriously, several hits would not bring any harm. However, with one attack he successfully hit five times; it had never happened before.

    “Ah!” Kangxi cried out in astonishment, “This martial art is very amazing. Come again tomorrow, I am going to ask Shifu to teach me an excellent martial art as well. We’ll have another match.”

    “Excellent, excellent!” Wei Xiaobao said.

    Returning to his residence, he recounted what Kangxi had said. Hai Laogong said, “I wonder what kind of martial art will his Shifu teach him. Today you are going to learn several more moves from the ‘Thousand-Leaf Hand’.”

    That day Wei Xiaobao learned six moves, namely ‘Watching Reflection in the Mirror’, ‘Catching the Moon in the Water’, ‘Floating Clouds Coming and Going’, ‘Water Bubble Vanishing and Reappearing’, ‘A Very Clear Dream’, ‘Emptiness After Realization’. These six moves were all very mysterious; they seemed to be hidden, yet in plain sight, the changes were unpredictable, without clear pattern, many fake attacks, a few real ones. Hai Laogong only wanted Wei Xiaobao to memorize the motion, without explaining the subtlety of the style, so much so that he did not even verify whether the execution of the style was proper, or the position of the move was perfect. First, Hai Laogong could not see, second, he hardly paid any attention.

    Seeing how Hai Laogong was so casual in teaching him, Wei Xiaobao was secretly delighted. He mused, “You teach me carelessly, I also learn sloppily; the two of us can be considered going through this muddle-headedly together. If you want to take it seriously, laozi does not have idle time to accompany you playing.”

    The next day Wei Xiaobao went to the Upper Study Room, and saw there were four guards, which he had not seen before, standing outside the door. While he was hesitating, one of the guards said with a smile, “Are you Gui Gong-gong? His Majesty ordered you to come in immediately.”

    Wei Xiaobao was startled, “What Gui Gong-gong?” he mused, but then understood immediately, “Laozi is Gui Gong-gong! This imperial bodyguard knows I am the Emperor’s trusted aide, so he is particularly polite to me.” Thereupon he laughed and nodded his head, saying, “Fortunate meeting, fortunate meeting. May I ask the surnames of the four of you?” The four imperial guards told him their surnames and given names. Wei Xiaobao exchanged some pleasantries with them.

    The guard surnamed Zhang laughed and said, “You’d better go in quickly, His Majesty has been asking about you several times.” Wei Xiaobao walked in.

    Kangxi sprang up from the chair and laughed, “Your three moves yesterday, my Shifu has taught me how to counter them. Let us try it.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Since your Shifu said you are going to counter it, naturally you will counter it; there is no need to try.”

    “We must try it!” Kangxi said, “You go quietly to our martial art match hall first, don’t let anybody know, I will come shortly.” Wei Xiaobao complied, and went to the small room. Kangxi had just learned a new set of skill, he was impatient to test it out, therefore, he arrived shortly afterwards.

    The two of them fought immediately. Kangxi did indeed use ingenious technique, he managed to neutralize the three moves Wei Xiaobao launched the previous day, but still, Wei Xiaobao managed to land a palm strike on the back of his shoulder.

    Seeing the brilliant moves Kangxi was displaying, Wei Xiaobao’s heart was also full of admiration; he asked, “This set of technique you are using, what is it called?”

    Kangxi replied, “This is the ‘Ba Gua[3] Roaming Dragon Palm’. My Shifu said, your 'Great Compassion Great Sorrow Thousand-Leaf Hand' has too many styles, and is very troublesome to memorize. Our ‘Ba Gua Roaming Dragon Palm’ only has eight times eight, sixty-four styles, but changes repeatedly, so when used to the greatest extent, it may match your ‘Thousand-leaf Hand’.”

    “Which one is superior?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

    “I also asked the same thing,” Kangxi said, “Shifu said that these two are equally excellent palm techniques, so it’s hard to say which one is superior. Whoever has profound power, and able to use it ingeniously, will win.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “Yesterday I learned six more moves. You may try it.”

    Right away he launched the six moves he learned yesterday. Although the second and third moves were completely forgotten, and the fifth move was executed incorrectly, Kangxi was still hit seven, eight times. Kangxi nodded and said, “These six moves of yours are amazing, I must learn how to counter them.”

    Wei Xiaobao returned to his residence and told Hai Laogong how Kangxi had learned the ‘Ba Gua Roaming Dragon Palm’. Hai Laogong nodded his head and said, “As a matter of fact, our Shaolin Pai’s ‘Thousand-Leaf Hand', only Wudang Pai’s ‘Ba Gua Roaming Dragon Palm’ can be its match. His Shifu was not wrong. The palm techniques of our two Sects have their respective advantage; whoever master it better will be the more formidable one.”

    “He is the Emperor,” Wei Xiaobao said, “How can I surpass him? Of course I’ll have to let him learn a good deal better.” He was unwilling to assiduously train martial art, and thus had arranged a good excuse for his falling behind.

    Hai Laogong said, “If you are too disappointing, His Majesty won’t have any interest to spar with you.”

    Wei Xiaobao said, “There is a saying: brilliant teacher will produce superior student, there are no poor soldiers under a capable general. You are a brilliant teacher, and also a capable general; the person you teach cannot be too disappointing. You are the Old Wang’an, releasing a hundred and twenty kind-hearted men!” [I am not sure about this, can’t find any reference.]

    Hai Laogong shook his head, he said, “Don’t boast too much, the dishes on the table are getting cold, eat the bowl of soup first!”

    “Let me serve you, Senior, the soup,” Wei Xiaobao said.

    “I don’t eat the soup,” Hai Laogong said, “Each time I eat, I am coughing.”

    “Yes,” Wei Xiaobao said. He took the soup by himself and mused, “I, the Senior, ate the soup and am not coughing.”

    For the next several months, Kangxi and Wei Xiaobao learned their styles and had martial art contest. The two of them did not have any real fight, neither one of them exerted their full potential and strived with all their hearts to score victory, unavoidably the delight in fighting with everything they had had diminished greatly. The styles they were learning were getting more and more complicated, as were the techniques to counter them, and the variations within the styles. However, the match had turned into a cultured contest, just like a game of chess, not resembling any fight at all. Kangxi knew perfectly well that Wei Xiaobao would not dare to kick his butt fiercely, nor would he be comfortable to deliver a heavy blow on his head.

    Wei Xiaobao only learned martial art to keep the Emperor company, he himself had no interest at all. He would learn new moves, and forget the previous ones. It was obvious that Kangxi’s Shifu was also rather negligent in teaching him. The two of them made an extremely slow progress, their interest in having a match was also greatly reduced. Later on, several days would pass before Kangxi would exchange a move with Wei Xiaobao.

    During this time, other than having martial art match with Wei Xiaobao, Kangxi often took Wei Xiaobao to the study room to accompany him studying. The imperial bodyguards and the court eunuchs in the Palace all knew that the little eunuch from the Catering Department, Xiao Guizi, was now the Emperor’s most favorite person. When they saw him, nobody dared to call his name ‘Xiao Guizi’ straight out, they always addressed him as Gui Gong-gong this and Gui Gong-gong that, and were very respectful and affectionate towards him.

    Wei Xiaobao still wanted to win Hai Laogong’s favor, each time he went to the Upper Study Room, he was always looking for the ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra’ for him, but after looking around everywhere, he was still unable to find it.

    One particular day, after having a martial art match with Wei Xiaobao, with a serious expression Kangxi said in low voice, “Xiao Guizi, tomorrow we have a very important thing to do, come a bit earlier to the study room and wait for me.”

    “Yes,” Wei Xiaobao complied. He knew the Emperor did not like to talk too much, if he did not say what important thing was, he must not ask too much questions.

    The next day he arrived at the study room early and waited. Kangxi said in low voice, “I want you to do something for me, do you have the courage?”

    “You want me to do something, what is there for me to be afraid of?” Wei Xiaobao replied.

    “This is a matter of utmost importance,” Kangxi said, “If not handled properly, you and I will have our lives to worry.”

    Wei Xiaobao was rather alarmed, he said, “At most it is my life we are talking about; you are the Emperor, who dares to harm you? What’s more, with you watching over me, whatever I say will not put my life in jeopardy.” He thought that he must state it up front, that if I, Wei Xiaobao, has my life in jeopardy, you as the Emperor must be responsible, you cannot ignore me.

    Kangxi said, “This Oboi is harsh and unreasonable, he is a rude bully, his heart has different scheme. Today we are going to deal with him, do you dare?”

    Wei Xiaobao had lived in the Palace for quite a long time. Other than practicing martial art and accompanying Kangxi, he had very little time to enjoy himself. For the last several months Hai Laogong forbade him to gamble with the Wen brothers and the others, only occasionally did he manage to steal a game or two. Besides, his martial art match against Kangxi was getting more and more boring. While he was feeling stifled, hearing that they were going to deal with Oboi, he could not help but was delighted.

    "Wonderful, wonderful!" he said, "I told earlier that the two of us join hands should take him. Even if he is the number one warrior of Manchuria, you and I have trained so much that our skill is not too bad, definitely we are not afraid of him."

    [1] Orig. 嗅鲞 (xiu xiang) – smell of wine-preserved pomfret, it sounds similar to 休想 (xiu xiang), i.e. don’t think of it, or give up any idea of.

    [2] Orig. ‘chi’ –Chinese foot, approximately 1/3 of a meter (a little over 1 US foot).

    [3] Eight trigrams.

  15. #35
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 5 - Part 5

    Kangxi shook his head, "I am the Emperor," he said, "I can't fight with him personally. This Oboi is holding two consecutive jobs, he is a minister, but also the commander of the internal imperial bodyguards. All the imperial bodyguards in the Palace are his men. If he knew I am going to arrest him, most likely he would revolt. If all the imperial bodyguards join the action, you and I won't be able to protect our lives, even the Emperor's Grandmother and Empress Dowager may run into misfortune. Thus, this matter is really dangerous."

    Striking his chest with his hand Wei Xiaobao said, "In that case I am going to wait for him outside the Palace, I'll catch him off-guard, and stab him dead with a dagger. If the stab did not kill him, he wouldn't know it was your idea."

    "This man's martial art skill is superb," Kangxi said, "Plus you are still little, you are not his match. Moreover, outside the Palace gate his bodyguards are numerous, you will have difficulty just to be near him. Even if you succeed in assassinating him, I am afraid you will also be killed by his bodyguards. I have another idea."

    "Yes," Wei Xiaobao said.

    Kangxi continued, "Let's wait until he come over here to present his memorial, I will arrange several little eunuchs in advance to wait in here. When you see the teacup in my hand falls down, pounce on him and twist his hands behind his back. More than ten little eunuchs will then attack together, pulling his hands and legs, stopping him from using his martial art. If that is still not enough, I will have to come forward and help."

    "This is a wonderful idea," Wei Xiaobao happily said, "Do you have a knife? We must not mess up this matter; if we fail to arrest him, I will simply kill him with the knife."

    At first, after killing Xiao Guizi, he always kept a dagger in his boot; later on he found out that Xiao Xuanzi was the Emperor. During the exchange of palm strikes, oftentimes he had to jump and dodge, he was afraid the dagger would fall from his boot. Other than imperial bodyguards on duty, if anybody else was found carrying any blade, the crime was punishable by beheading; therefore, he did not dare to carry his dagger anymore.

    Kangxi nodded, he pulled his desk drawer and took out a couple of golden-handled daggers. He gave one to Wei Xiaobao, and inserted the other one into his own boot. Wei Xiaobao also hid the dagger into his boot. He felt his blood surged, his body grew hot and his breathing quickened. "Good fellow," he said, "We'll deal with him!"

    Kangxi said, "Go get twelve little eunuchs here." Wei Xiaobao complied and went out to get the eunuchs.

    These little eunuchs had been practicing tumbling and wrestling at the clothes warehouse for the last several months. Although they did not know any martial art, their skill in pulling hands and holding onto legs was not too bad. Kangxi said to the twelve little eunuchs, "You all have trained for several months, I don't know whether you are making progress or not. In a moment a senior minister will come in. This man is our dynasty's expert in tumbling and wrestling. I will let him testing your skill. As soon as you see me throwing down the teacup, attack him together. Catch him unaware with twelve against one. If you can hold him down and render him immovable, I will reward you heavily." After saying that, he pulled the drawer and drew out twelve yuanbao, worth fifty taels each. He said, "If you win, each one will receive one yuanbao, but if you lose, twelve heads will roll together. This bunch of lazy, useless fellows, why would I want to spare?" The last two sentences were said with stern voice and expression.

    The twelve little eunuchs knelt down together and said, "Your servants will do our best to handle this matter for Your Majesty."

    Kangxi laughed and said, "Handle what matter? I am only testing you, I want to see which one is diligent, which one is lazy."

    Wei Xiaobao secretly admired him, "He did not reveal anything in front of the little eunuchs, to guard against these little demons lose their patience and reveal the secret plan in Oboi's presence."

    After the little eunuchs withdrew, Kangxi picked up a book from the desk and started to read. Wei Xiaobao could hear him reciting in low voice; unexpectedly his voice did not tremble, his hands did not shake. Confronted with an important event, he was as calm as ever; while Wei Xiaobao felt his hands were clammy, and his body was hot. He cursed himself secretly, "Wei Xiaobao, you are a son of a b1tch, this time you prove yourself to be inferior to Xiao Xuanzi. Your martial art skill is not as good as his, your mental power is also inferior to him." But then he thought, "He is the Emperor, naturally his courage is greater than mine. Nothing so special about it. If I were the Emperor, naturally I will surpass him." yet in the deepest part of his heart he knew it was hard to justify what he had just told himself.

    A good half a day later, there was sound of boots outside the door, an imperial bodyguard announced, "Ao Shaobao desires to have an audience with the Emperor, wishing His Majesty ten thousand good fortune and peace like gold."

    "Ao Shaobao, come in!" Kangxi said. Oboi raised the curtain and walked in. He knelt down and kowtowed.

    Kangxi said with a laugh, " Ao Shaobao, you are just in time. I have here more than ten little eunuchs who have practiced wrestling. I heard that you are our Manchuria’s warrior with number one martial art skill. How about you give directions to them for several stances?”

    With a smile Oboi said, “Your Majesty has the desire, the Minister will serve with my ability.”

    Kangxi laughed and said, “Xiao Guizi, tell the imperial bodyguards outside to go take a break. They do not need to come back unless summoned.” As he said that, he laughed toward Oboi and made a face. Oboi laughed aloud. Wei Xiaobao went out to do the bidding.

    In a low voice Kangxi said, “Ao Shaobao, you advised me not to read Han people’s books, I think you are very right. We’d better spend our time in the study room wrestling and having fun, but don’t let other people hear about it. If the Empress Dowager finds out, she will force me to study.”

    Oboi was delighted. “That’s right, that’s right, that’s right!” he repeatedly said, “Your Majesty’s idea is very brilliant. Those Han people books, what’s the use of reading them?”

    Wei Xiaobao returned and said, “The imperial bodyguards thank Your Majesty for your kindness, they all have withdrawn.”

    “Good,” Kang laughed, “Let us play. Little eunuchs, twelve of you form six pairs, spar with each other.”

    The twelve little eunuchs rolled their sleeves and tightened their belts, they split into six pairs and attacked each other. Oboi watched with smile on his face; seeing these little eunuchs’ skill was only so-so, he shook his head and laughed. Kangxi picked up the teacup and drank a mouthful. He said with a laugh, “Ao Shaobao, do you think these children’s skill is useable?”

    Oboi laughed and said, “To put up a show, they are passable!”

    Kangxi laughed, “Compared to you, Ao Shaobao, naturally they are inadequate!” he said. He leaned sideways, his hand loosened, ‘crash!’ the teacup fell to the floor. “Aiyo!” he cried out.

    Oboi was startled, he said, “Your Majesty …” the two words had just come out of his mouth, behind him the twelve little eunuchs pounced at him at the same time, pulling his hands and climbing onto his arms, wrapping their arms around his waist and holding on to his legs, attacking him from all sides.

    Kangxi laughed aloud and said, " Ao Shaobao, pay attention!"

    Oboi only knew the young Emperor was inciting the little eunuchs to test his martial art skill; with a smile he flung his arms, four little eunuchs fell down to the ground. He still did not dare to use too much force, for fear that he might injure the little eunuchs. His left leg lightly swept, two more little eunuchs were swept down. He roared in laughter. The remaining little eunuchs remembered the Emperor's words, 'if you lose, twelve heads will roll together'; with everything they had they firmly hold on to Oboi's waist and legs.

    Wei Xiaobao had already slipped behind him, aiming for the 'sun acupoint' on Oboi's temple, he sent out a ferocious punch. Oboi only felt a burst of dizziness in his brain; he was slightly angered, "These little eunuchs are very rude," he thought. With a swift sweep of his left arm he threw three little eunuchs away. But when he turned around, his chest was hit by Wei Xiaobao's fist. Although Wei Xiaobao's two sneak attacks could be considered very quick, his strength was lacking, so that although Oboi was hit on vital points, he did not suffer any serious harm.

    Seeing the one launching the sneak attack was unexpectedly the little eunuch close to the Emperor, he had a vague feeling that things were worse than he thought, yet in the end he refused to believe that the Emperor was using these children to apprehend him. Stretching out his left palm, he pressed down on Wei Xiaobao's left shoulder. Wei Xiaobao used the move ‘Emptiness After Realization’, his left palm feigned two attacks in front of Oboi. As Oboi ducked, 'bang!' the pit of his stomach was squarely kicked. "Ah!" but it was Wei Xiaobao who cried out. What happened was that when his kick landed on Oboi's chest, he felt as if he was kicking a brick wall, he felt severe pain on his own leg instead.

    Seeing Wei Xiaobao repeatedly using killer stances against him, Oboi was startled and angered. In the heat of the battle, he did not have time to think the Emperor's real intention; he only thought that as soon as he was able to extricate himself from the little eunuchs' entanglement, he would deal with Wei Xiaobao first. But the little eunuchs were holding fast to his waist and legs, as soon as he managed to throw several eunuchs, the rest were pouncing at him.

    Kangxi clapped his hands and laughed. "Ao Shaobao," he said, "I am afraid you are going to lose."

    Oboi was about to crush the top of Wei Xiaobao's head with his fist, hearing Kangxi, he said in his heart, "So you just want to joke with me; how can I lower myself to these little children's level?" Deflecting his arm slightly and reducing his power, 'whack!' his punch landed on Wei Xiaobao's right shoulder with only one-tenth of his strength. But Oboi's strength was inexhaustible, it was said that during the battle with the Ming army, with his bare hands he was able to grab Ming's officers and soldiers and hurled them away randomly, just like a tornado sweeping away everything in its path.

    Wei Xiaobao only learned martial art casually for several months, plus he was only a child; although he had a throng of little eunuchs to help him, how could he overcome him? When the punch landed, Wei Xiaobao staggered and tumbled forward. Seizing this opportunity, he sent out his left elbow to strike the small of Oboi's back.

    Oboi laughed and cursed him, "You, this baby, are very crafty!" while lightly pushing Wei Xiaobao's back with his right hand. Wei Xiaobao hit the ground head first, but when he stood up, there was a dagger in his hand. Turning around swiftly, he pounced on Oboi.

    Suddenly seeing the shining dagger in Wei Xiaobao's hand, Oboi was taken by surprise, he stared blankly for a moment then called out, “You … what are you doing?”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “I use dagger, you use your bare hands, let us fight!”

    “Quickly put the knife down!” Oboi barked, “In the presence of His Majesty, must not use any murder weapon.”

    “Alright,” Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, “You want me to put it down, I’ll put it down.” Stooping down, he inserted the dagger into his boot.

    By this time there were still seven, eight little eunuchs holding on firmly onto Oboi. Suddenly Wei Xiaobao dropped down, as if he had lost his footing; his body bumped into Oboi, the dagger went straight up, he wanted to stab Oboi’s belly. Unexpectedly Oboi had a quick reaction in facing danger; swiftly he shrank backward and the dagger stabbed his thigh. With a loud roar Oboi flung three little eunuchs and seized Wei Xiaobao’s neck.

    Seeing Wei Xiaobao and the little eunuchs failed to hold Oboi down, Kangxi knew their situation was dire; circling toward Oboi’s back, he pulled his dagger and stabbed it toward Oboi’s back. Feeling the sting of pain on his back, Oboi quickly contracted the muscle on his back, Kangxi’s stab slipped; it did not hit any vital point. Without too much trouble Oboi fung Wei Xiaobao away, and turned around as swift as a whirlwind; he saw a young man before his eyes, which was precisely the Emperor.

    Oboi was stunned; Kangxi jumped two steps back. Oboi let out another roar; at last he understood that the Emperor wanted to take his life. Shaking his fist in the air he pounced on Kangxi. Kangxi sidestepped, Oboi grabbed two little eunuchs and smashed their heads against each other. Two skulls immediately split open. Oboi sent out his left fist straight toward a little eunuch’s chest, followed by a fierce kick with his right leg, sending four little eunuchs crashing onto the wall. Their muscle torn, their bones broken; without even a grunt they all died instantly. Right away he raised his left leg to trample the abdomen of a little eunuch holding on to his right leg, the little eunuch’s stomach burst open and his intestines spilled out. In a split second he had successively killed eight eunuchs. The remaining four little eunuchs were so scared that they stared blankly without knowing what to do.

    With dagger in his hand Wei Xiaobao lunged forward. Oboi met him with his left fist. Wei Xiaobao felt a strong gust of wind assaulting his face so that he could not breathe. Brandishing the dagger, he attacked Oboi’s arm. Oboi slightly turned his arm to evade the dagger, immediately he sent another punch and hit Wei Xiaobao on the left shoulder, sending him flying over the desk and landed on the incense burner. Immediately the ashes from the censer flew up to the air.

    From the beginning Kangxi was very calm and collected, he used the ‘Ba Gua Roaming Dragon Palm’ to fight Oboi, but Kangxi's power in using this palm technique was rather limited, plus he was fighting Oboi, a valiant military leader who was divinely brave by nature; in all honesty the palm technique did not have too much usefulness. Oboi was hit twice by Kangxi's palm, but he seemed hardly noticed it. Oboi sent out a left kick toward Kangxi's right leg. Kangxi staggered and fell forward. Oboi roared like thunder, he shouted, "Let us all die together!" Both fists came down on Kangxi's head.

    Kangxi and Wei Xiaobao had been fighting each other for quite a long time, his ability to adapt to changes in the small room where they spar had been trained that he was able to react fast. Seeing Oboi's fists came, he dropped down at once and rolled away underneath the desk. With his left leg Oboi kick the desk, while with his right leg he repeatedly kicked on Kangxi's body. Suddenly a cloud of dust rose upward, a layer of ash covered Oboi's eyes.

    Oboi let out a 'wah! wah!' cry, while frantically rubbed his eyes with both hands. His right leg kept kicking forward at lightning speed, for fear that the enemy would seize this opportunity to attack.

    What happened was that when Wei Xiaobao saw the urgency of their situation, he grabbed two handfuls of ashes from the incense burner and threw it toward Oboi. The particles of ashes from the incense was very fine, as soon as it made contact with Oboi's eyes, it quickly dispersed.

    Suddenly Oboi felt a stabbing pain on his left arm; it was Wei Xiaobao's dagger that he threw, it was aimed toward the vital point on the pit of his stomach, but it hit his arm instead.

    By this time the table in the study room was overturned and the stools lying on their sides, it was a complete chaos. Wei Xiaobao saw a chair behind Oboi, it was precisely the dragon chair the Emperor used on day-to-day basis. With all his might he picked up the bronze censer using both hands, jumped onto the dragon chair, aimed the censer on the back of Oboi's head, and smashed it down as hard as he could.

    The censer was an object from the Tang dynasty, at least it weighed about thirty catties. Oboi's eyes were blinded, he could not evade. 'Bang!' the top of his head was hit. Oboi's body swayed and he tumbled down on the ground, fainted. The incense burner was cracked, unexpectedly Oboi's head remained intact.

    Kangxi was ecstatic. "Xiao Guizi," he called out, "You've done it." He had prepared some cow tendon rope, which he busily took out from the drawer of the overturned desk. Together with Wei Xiaobao he bound Oboi's hands and feet.

    Wei Xiaobao was so scared that his whole body was soaked in cold sweat, his limbs trembled, he pulled the rope, but felt that his strength was completely gone. Kangxi and Wei Xiaobao looked at each other, their joy was unspeakable.

    Not too long afterwards Oboi came to his senses, he shouted, "I am a loyal minister, I am innocent! This is a conspiracy to harm me, I refuse to accept even to my death!"

    "Traitor!" Wei Xiaobao sternly said, "You brought knife to the Upper Study Room, for that crime alone you deserve to die ten thousand times."

    "I did not bring any knife!" Oboi shouted.

    Wei Xiaobao also shout harshly, "Aren't those two knives on your body? One on your back and the other on your arm. You still dare to say you did not bring any knife?" With Wei Xiaobao forcefully pushing his twisted logic, how could Oboi debate him? Much less the top of his head was smashed heavily with the bronze censer, his back and his arm were pierced by the knives; although his injuries were not life-threatening, they were not light either. In a moment of desperation, all he could do was shouting and screaming exasperatedly.

  16. #36
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 5 - Part 6

    Seeing out of the twelve little eunuchs only four were left alive, Kangxi said, "You have seen it with your own eyes, this Oboi is rebelling against his superior, he is planning on assassinating me."

    The four little eunuchs were still shaken, their faces were ashen. One of them repeatedly agreed, "Yes, yes!" The other three could not even utter a single word.

    Kangxi said, "Get out now, proclaim my decree, summon Prince Kang Giyesu and Songgotu to come over here. Do not mention even one word of what has just happened. If there is any rumor leaked out, just watch your heads." The four little eunuchs complied and went out.

    Oboi was still shouting defiantly, "Injustice, injustice! The Emperor is personally trying to kill me, a loyal minister. If the former Emperor found out, he would never spare you!"

    Kangxi's countenance sank, he said, "Think of a way, don't let him sprout nonsense!"

    "Yes!" Wei Xiaobao complied. He walked over and stretched out his left hand to pinch Oboi's nose. Oboi opened his mouth to take a breath, with his right hand Wei Xiaobao tore off the dagger from Oboi's arm and stabbed randomly into Oboi's mouth several times. He also grabbed two handfuls of incense ashes from the ground and stuffed it inside Oboi's mouth. Oboi's throat created some gurgling noise, he was chocked and was barely able to breathe, how could he say another word?

    Wei Xiaobao also pulled the dagger piercing Oboi's back and stuck both daggers side by side on the desk, while he himself stood guard by Oboi's side. If he saw the Oboi making the slightest movement, he would immediately pull out the dagger and stab him several times.

    Seeing the important matter had reached its conclusion, in his heart Kangxi was very happy. To see Oboi's impressive build and his mean and ferocious expression with bloodstain all over his face, he could not help but secretly alarmed and scared; he realized now that he had been too reckless, by only relying on he and Xiao Guizi, who had learned martial art for only so long, plus twelve little eunuchs, who had just started training wrestling, he was determined to deal with Oboi. He had never thought that dealing with a genuine warrior, several children would be completely useless; besides, his own martial art skill, as well as Xiao Guizi's, was nowhere near the expert level. If it was not for Xiao Guizi's ruse, right now he would have been killed by Oboi. Once Oboi made his move, he would stop at nothing; most likely he would also harm the Emperor's Grandmother and the Empress Dowager. All the ministers of the dynasty, as well as the imperial bodyguards inside the Palace, were his trusted aides. If Oboi set up another young ruler, no one would dare to inquire about his crime. Thinking to this point, he could not help but shivered.

    After waiting for quite some time, Prince Kang and Songgotu who were summoned by the four little eunuchs came in. As soon as they entered the Upper Study Room, they saw dead bodies sprawled all around with bloodstain scattered everywhere; to say that they were mildly shocked was definitely an understatement. They knelt down immediately and kowtowed repeatedly, while proclaimed together, "Wishing Your Majesty ten thousand good fortune and peace like gold."

    Kangxi said, "Oboi committed treason and heresy, he brought a blade into the Palace, he dared to assault me. Fortunately our ancestors protected me; the little eunuch Xiao Guizi, with the help of other eunuchs, strenuously resisted the ominous rebel, and arrested him. On how to deal with the aftermath, I leave it to you to do as you see fit."

    Prince Kang and Songgotu had never gotten along well with Oboi, they had been under Oboi's oppression for a long time; suddenly seeing a big change in the Palace, they were pleasantly surprised. After paying their respect to the Emperor again, they admitted that they had neglected to take precautions, that they had committed grave offense, that fortunately the Emperor was blessed with flood of good fortune filled the heavens, that the Emperor was cherished by hundreds of deities, such that Oboi's vicious scheme was thwarted.

    Kangxi said, "This matter of assassination attempt, you do not need to mention it to outsiders, to avoid Empress Grandmother and Empress Dowager being startled. If this matter is spread out, the Han officials and the common people will laugh at us. Oboi's crime is great, even without today's matter, he deserved to be punished a long time ago."

    Prince Kang and Songgotu kowtowed again, "Yes, yes!" they said. Yet in their hearts they had doubts, "Oboi is divinely brave by nature, he is our Manchu's number one warrior. If he really wanted to assassinate the Emperor, how could several little eunuchs capture him? There must be something else in this matter." Luckily the two of them were eager to heavily punish Oboi, so they did not see any reason to inquire deeper into the story. Much less the Emperor had said so, who would dare to question him?

    Prince Kang said, "Reporting to Your Majesty: Oboi has too many henchmen, we must spread the net and capture them all, to guard against another rebellion. Let Official Songgotu stay here to protect Your Majesty; he must not leave your Holy Self even for half a step. Your servant will relay the decree, all Oboi's henchmen must be arrested at once. What does Your Majesty think?"

    Kangxi nodded. "Very well!" he said. Prince Kang withdrew.

    Songgotu looked up and down Xiao Guizi, sizing him up, he said, "Xiao Gong-gong, your meritorious deed in protecting His Majesty today is indeed not small."

    "It was His Majesty's good fortune," Xiao Guizi said, "As slaves, what meritorious service can we possibly do?"

    Kangxi was very pleased to see Wei Xiaobao did not claim credit for himself at all, and did not mention even a word of the violent battle just now; he thought that if his personal involvement by stabbing Oboi from the back was ever spread outside, as the ruler, he would lost considerable respect. He also mused, "Xiao Guizi's merit today big beyond compare, it could be said that he had saved my life. It's a pity that he is an eunuch, no matter how I promote him, he will always be an eunuch. Our ancestor has set up a strict rule that an eunuch must not be involved in politics; apparently I can only reward him generously with money."

    Prince Kang handled the matter very rapidly; he was back in a short time, leading several trusted royalties and senior ministers to pay their respect to the Emperor, reporting that most of Oboi's party had been arrested, all guilty imperial bodyguards inside the Palace had been sent outside on imperial orders, not even one was left. Then he requested the Emperor to assign another minister to preside over the imperial bodyguards, and to elect another trusted team of personal bodyguards.

    Kangxi was greatly delighted, "You have managed it very well!" he said.

    The several Princes and civil and military ministers saw the devastation in the Upper Study Room, how Oboi had killed the eight little eunuchs that their skulls disintegrated and their brains scattered, their intestine spilled and their bones broken; no one was not horrified, they all raised up their voices to curse Oboi's treason and heresy. Immediately the head of the Ministry of Justice personally led Oboi away to be detained. The Princes and Ministers also said many other praise and respectful wishes to the Emperor before taking their leave to discuss among themselves what to do with Oboi's crime.

    Prince Kang Giyesu conveyed Kangxi's intention by urging them, "His Majesty is benevolent and filial, he does not wish to massacre too many people and alarm the Emperor's Grandmother and the Empress Dowager; therefore, the matter of Oboi committed treason and heresy does not need to be exposed outside the imperial court. He will only be charged with dominating the government, with being illegally harsh and unreasonable, so we must make a list of detailed charges." All the princes, dukes and ministers raised their voices to praise the sage's virtue.

    Assassinating the Emperor was not a small matter, without a doubt Oboi would have been put to death by dismemberment[1], along with his entire family, young and old, women and children, as well as the family members of those associated with him, and all his clansmen; no one would be lucky enough to escape with their lives. If this major case was pursued down, the implication would be widespread, at least several thousand people would have to die. Although Kangxi hated Oboi's dominance, he did not wish to heap random accusation on his head, he was even more unwilling to implicate the innocents.

    Kangxi’s days of being personally in-charge of the government was not lacking, however, all government affairs, big and small, were handled by Oboi; all along the court officials were only doing what Oboi directed them to do. Today he had arrested Oboi; he saw that the princes, dukes and ministers’ expression was different all of a sudden, he could see that they were a lot more respectful and submissive to him. It was only this time that Kangxi finally felt the joy of being the ruler. He also took a glance at Wei Xiaobao, and saw that he had withdrawn into a corner, without saying anything. Kangxi thought, “This kid does not talk too much, he is very perceptive.”

    After the Ministers had all withdrawn, Songgotu said, “Your Majesty, the Upper Study Room must be cleaned up properly. May I suggest Your Majesty take the trouble of withdrawing to your personal palace [orig. ‘palace to lie down’] to rest?”

    Kangxi nodded. Accompanied by Prince Kang and Songgotu he headed toward his personal palace. Wei Xiaobao was unsure if he should follow; while he was hesitating, Kangxi nodded to him and said, “You may come with me.”

    Prince Kang and Songgotu took their leave several hundred steps outside the personal palace. Other than imperial wives and concubines, princes, court eunuchs and palace maids, outer ministers must not set their feet into the inner courtyard of the Imperial Palace.

    Wei Xiaobao followed Kangxi inside. At first he thought that the Emperor's personal palace would be filled with gold and jade in glorious splendor, that everything would be inlaid with emerald and white jade, that there would be at least two, three thousand pearls on the wall so that there would not be any need of lantern at night. Who would have thought that as he entered the personal palace, it looked like an ordinary room, only the bedding and pillow cases were made of yellow silk, embroidered with dragon and phoenix, nothing more than that. He was quite disappointed, thinking, "Compared to the rooms in our Yangzhou's Spring Courtyard, the style here is far too inferior."

    Kangxi drank a bowl of ginseng soup presented by a palace maid; he let out a long sigh and said, "Xiao Guizi, come with me to see the Empress Dowager." By this time Kangxi had not married yet, his personal palace was not too far away from the Palace of Compassionate and Peaceful where the Empress Dowager resided.

    When they reached the Empress Dowager's personal palace, Kangxi went in alone, he told Wei Xiaobao to wait outside. Wei Xiaobao waited for a long time and was bored; he mused, "I learned the 'Great Compassion Great Sorrow Thousand-Leaf Hand' Hai Laogong taught me, His Majesty learned the ‘Ba Gua Roaming Dragon Palm’, but when we fought Oboi today, any 'Thousand-Leaf Hand' or ‘Roaming Dragon Palm’ were all useless. It was only because of Little White Dragon Wei Xiaobao's third-class trick of scattering the incense ash and smashing the censer did we accomplish our mission successfully. There won't be any more fun in continuing learning those martial art skills. I always pretend to be an eunuch in the imperial palace, kowtowing to Xiao Xuanzi; it's really boring. Oboi is already arrested, Xiao Xuanzi does not need my help anymore. Tomorrow I'll slip out of the palace and won't be coming back."

    While he was contemplating on how to leave the Palace, an eunuch came out and said with a laugh, "Gui Xiongdi, Empress Dowager orders you to come in."

    "His granny," Wei Xiaobao cursed in his belly, "More kowtow! Why don't you, hot piece mama Empress Dowager, kowtow to laozi?" But he said respectfully, "Yes!" and followed the eunuch inside.

    Passing through two big courtyards, the eunuch stopped outside a door curtain and said, "Reporting to Empress Dowager: Xiao Guizi is here for an audience." Gently lifted the curtain, he puckered his mouth.

    Wei Xiaobao walked in; there was another curtain ahead. This time the curtain was made entirely of strung pearls, it emitted a soft glow. A palace maid lifted up the pearl curtain. Wei Xiaobao went in with bowed head, but he raised his eyelids slightly, and saw a noble looking woman, approximately thirty years of age, was sitting on a chair. Kangxi was standing by her side. Obviously this woman was the Empress Dowager. Immediately he knelt down and kowtowed.

    The Empress Dowager smiled and nodded, "Arise!" she said. Waiting for Wei Xiaobao to stand up, she said, "I heard from the Emperor that in the arrest of that rebel minister Oboi today you have rendered a great merit."

    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.

    [1] Or ‘death by a thousand cuts’ or ‘lingering death’.

  17. #37
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 5 - Part 7

    “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. To be promoted from little eunuch to 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, Prince Kang Giyesu and Songgotu also came in to submit a report, saying that the team of princes, dukes 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[1], 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.”

    (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.’)

    Prince Kang and Songgotu knelt down and kowtowed, “Holiness[2] 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 Commander of the Bordered Yellow Banner, while Suksaha was the Banner Commander 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. Bordered Yellow Banner is one of the 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 Commanders 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.

    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’[3], 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 interesting, 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 Daren: we found a secret treasure-trove inside Oboi’s bedroom; lowly officer did not dare to open without authority, please two Daren 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. lowly officer 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 hidden things 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[4] 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 had always been 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 in 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.”

    [1] Songgotu, Ebilun, Bambursan were real historical characters, however, I could not find anything on Asiha (or Asahe).

    [2] Orig. 圣上 – sheng shang, from the dictionary: courtier’s or minister’s form of address for the current Emperor.

    [3] Zhang Guolao was one of the Eight Immortals who was usually depicted by riding a donkey backwards.

    [4] FYI, Songgotu’s name in Chinese is ‘Suo E’tu’.

  18. #38
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 5 - Part 8

    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’ [figuratively means a meteoric rise in one’s career]; 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[1] 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[2]. 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, 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!”

    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 ['Lao' - old, 'ge' - older brother], 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[3], and for a thousand years, for ten thousand years will not be reincarnated."

    He shifted all disasters to 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 youshi hour [the tenth earthly branch, 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[4]; 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 fellow 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."

    [1] Reminder: Xiaobao means ‘little jewel/treasure’.

    [2] Orig. ‘golden orchid’, meaning profound friendship or sworn brotherhood.

    [3] Ox-head and Horse-face are the two guardians of the underworld in Chinese mythology.

    [4] About 1 ft 2 inches.

  19. #39
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 5 - Part 9

    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 one, 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[1] to one million three hundred fifty three thousand four hundred and eighteen taels. That missing horizontal line can be split fifty-fifty [orig. 'one half equals zero point five'] 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.

    The real reason Songgotu kept pushing this riches into his hands was actually to close his mouth, so that in front of the Emperor he did not mention the truth about the real value of Oboi's wealth. Otherwise, if he ever revealed anything in the Emperor's presence, not only he would have to spit the ill-gotten wealth he had just swallowed, he would also ruin the future prospect of his career, plus inevitably he would also be charged with committing a major crime.

    Seeing Wei Xiaobao countenance changed, Songgotu hastily said, "If Xiongdi has another thought, I will listen to your idea."

    Wei Xiaobao let out a deep breath and said, "I have said that I'll leave it to Dage to decide. It's just that five hundred thousand ... five hundred thousand taels as my share it's a bit ... a bit ... too ... too much."

    Songgotu felt a heavy burden was lifted up from his shoulder, he laughed aloud and said, "It's not too much, it's not too much, not too much at all. Let's do it this way then: we have people helping us managing this business, everybody must enjoy some profit. From your Gege's five hundred thousand taels share, I will take fifty thousand taels to be distributed among my subordinates. Xiongdi should also take fifty thousand taels and presented the money to the imperial concubines and to the eunuch managers, so that everybody can have a little benefit. This way, nobody will have any loose tongue."

    "It sounds good," Wei Xiaobao anxiously said, "But I don't know how to divide it."

    "Just leave this matter to your Gege," Songgotu said, "I guarantee I will take care of everything, we won't offend anybody. They all will say that Gui Gong-gong is young, but he really know how to reach out to his friends. Money will open doors, from now on you and I will enjoy smooth sailing; we will have other people in all places helping us along the way."

    "Yes, yes!" Wei Xiaobao said.

    Songgotu added, "About this one million taels, there won't be enough cash in Oboi's house, we must sell off his property as soon as possible, and everything must be with 'dry hand and clean foot', do not let other people have a handle on this. Xiongdi, in the Palace, you won't have any place to store all these gold yuanbao, silver yuanbao, am I correct?"

    Suddenly obtaining a four hundred and fifty thousand taels of unexpected wealth, Wei Xiaobao was momentarily dizzy and light-headed, and was at a loss of what to do, whatever Songgotu said, he could only reply, "Yes, yes!"

    Songgotu laughed and said, "In a few days, I am going to have several banks issue gold banknotes and silver banknotes, a hundred taels and fifty taels each, which Xiongdi can carry with you. Whenever you need it, you can go to the bank and exchange it to gold and silver, it's more convenient, and more reliable. Unless someone is groping your pocket, nobody knows that Xiongdi is this young, yet you are one of the rich men within our Beijing city wall. Ha ha, ha ha, ha ha!"

    Wei Xiaobao followed by several 'Ha ha!', but his heart was filled with: "I really have four hundred and fifty thousand taels? Really four hundred and fifty thousand taels?" and "I have four hundred and fifty thousand taels, how am I going to spend it? Damn it, even if I eat pig's front legs and simmer-fried whole chicken every day for the rest of my life, I won't spend the entire four hundred and fifty thousand taels. Hot piece mama, laozi will open ten brothels in Yangzhou, each one is ten times more beautiful than the Lovely Spring Courtyard."

    Ever since he was little, he had been cherishing the 'lofty aspiration' that when he grew up and flourished, he would open a brothel that was bigger and more luxurious than the Lovely Spring Courtyard, something that would raise others' eyebrows, something better than everybody else's. Whenever he had a quarrel with the proprietress of the Lovely Spring Courtyard, he would often say, "Hot piece mama, what's so great about your Lovely Spring Courtyard? In a few years laozi will flourish and will open a Lovely Summer Courtyard across the street from you, a Lovely Autumn Courtyard on your left, and a Lovely Winter Courtyard on your right; I am going to snatch the light from your business. Brothel customers will visit my three courtyards, no one will visit yours, and you will drink the northwest wind." He wanted to open ten brothels at once, each one would be extravagant, so that nobody in Yangzhou would not see him in a new light; he could not help but was very elated.

    Naturally Songgotu was not able to guess the major undertaking Wei Xiaobao was planning in his heart, he said, "Xiongdi, His Majesty instructed us to return Suksaha's property that was confiscated by Oboi to Suksaha's heir. We'd better take sixty or seventy thousand taels and give it to Suksaha's family. This is His Majesty's benevolence, the Suksaha family will be moved to tears, how can they dare to argue that it is too little? Moreover, if we give too much to Suksaha's family, it would appear that before his death Suksaha was a corrupt official, and then his descendants' face would not be honorable, would it?"

    "Yes, yes!" Wei Xiaobao replied, while in his heart he mused, "Aren't we, the two brothers, dishonest officials? Our faces won't be necessarily disgraced, will it?"

    Songgotu said, "The Empress Dowager and His Majesty clearly instructed us to get these two sutras, this is most important, we must deliver the books right away. It won't be too late if we slowly make inventory of Oboi's property later." Wei Xiaobao nodded his approval.

    Immediately Songgotu fetched a couple of satin brocade to wrap the jade boxes. The two of them carried one box each as they returned to the Palace to see Kangxi. Seeing they managed to complete the assignment given by the Empress Dowager, Kangxi was very happy. He told Wei Xiaobao to follow him with the sutras toward the Empress Dowager's Palace. Songgotu could not enter the Palace, he took his leave to return to put Oboi's family property in order.

    Along the way Kangxi asked, "How much is Oboi's family property worth?"

    Wei Xiaobao replied, "Suo Daren's initial estimate is about one million three hundred fifty three thousand four hundred and eighteen taels." He made sure that the number came from Songgotu; in case the Emperor verify the actual facts in the future, he would have the leeway of denying and shifting the blame to others.

    In this kind of shady business of committing fraud for personal gain, imitating the dog to steal the chicken, Wei Xiaobao could be considered a rare talent. When he was five, one of the prostitutes gave him five wen to buy some peaches on the street; he swindled one wen to buy candy and used the other four to buy peaches for the prostitute. Unexpectedly the prostitute did not suspect anything; she even gave him a peach. In Wei Xiaobao's mind, when some money passed through his hands and he gained some profit, it was heaven's law and earth's principle; it's just that in case somebody inquire, he must come up with some explanation. Because of this his head had been the recipient of several explosions of anger, and his butt suffered countless forceful kicks; therefore, he gained quite a few of valuable experience.

    "Humph," Kangxi snorted, "[email protected]!" he said, "He extorted that much fat and wealth of the people! More than a million three hundred thousand taels. Hey, hey, it's unbelievable."

    Wei Xiaobao smirked inwardly, "And a million more, split in halves." Walking and chatting, they reached the Empress Dowager's Palace of Compassionate and Peaceful.

    The Empress Dowager was very pleased to hear that two sutras had been retrieved; she reached out to take the jade boxes from Kangxi's hands and unwrapped the satin brocade. Seeing the envelope, her smile was even wider. "Xiao Guizi," she said, "You handle this assignment very well!"

    Wei Xiaobao knelt down to pay his respect; he said, "It's all thanks to the Empress Dowager and His Majesty's great fortune."

    The Empress Dowager turned toward a little palace maid by her side and said, "Rui Chu, take Xiao Guizi to the back room, get some sweet preserved fruits and gave it to him."

    Rui Chu was a little palace maid around twelve, thirteen years of age with pretty facial features; she smiled and complied, "Yes!"

    Wei Xiaobao paid his respect again and said, "Thank you for the Empress Dowager's reward, thank you for Your Majesty's reward."

    "Xiao Guizi," Kangxi said, "Finish eating, you may return alone, I am staying here to accompany Empress Dowager to dine, you don't need to wait on me."

    Wei Xiaobao acknowledged and followed Rui Chu to the inner all, where they entered a very small side room. Rui Chu opened a screened cabinet, inside the cabinet were more than a dozen types of cakes, pastries and candies. She laughed and said, “You are called Xiao Guizi, so you’ll have to eat osmanthus[2] flavored pine-nut candy first.” As she said that, she picked small box of pine-nut candy. The aroma of pine-nut mixed with the aroma of osmanthus flower, the smell was very good.

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Jiejie [older sister] should also eat some.”

    Rui Chu said, “The Empress Dowager is rewarding you with something to eat, she is not rewarding me. As slaves, how can we steal food?”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “You can eat quietly, nobody will see it, why so tight?”

    Rui Chu blushed and shook her head repeatedly, she smiled and said, “I am not eating.”

    “I am eating alone, you are watching from the side, it’s just improper,” Wei Xiaobao said.

    Rui Chu smiled. “This is your good fortune,” she said, “I only serve the Empress Dowager, I don’t serve even His Majesty, but today I am serving you some delicacy.”

    Seeing her sweet and captivating smile, Wei Xiaobao also laughed and said, “I am serving His Majesty, but I also serve you delicacies, so we are even.”

    “Pfft,” Rui Chu stifled a laugh, she brought her hand up to cover her mouth, and said with a smile, “Hurry up, eat something. If Empress Dowager knew we are chatting and joking in here, she might be angry.”

    When he was still in Yangzhou, he saw beautiful women coming and going the Lovely Spring Courtyard all the time; upon entering the Palace, however, this was the first time he had ever seen a young woman about his age who was keeping him company. He was very pleased, and suddenly had a bright idea. “How about this,” he said, “I will take some delicacies back with me, when you are done serving the Empress Dowager, you can come out and we can eat together.”

    Rui Chu showed a slight blush, “That won’t work,” she said, “By the time I am done serving the Empress Dowager, it will be very late at night.”

    “So what if it is very late at night?” Wei Xiaobao said, “Will you wait for me here?”

    Serving the Empress Dowager as a palace maid, Rui Chu’s colleagues were mostly women who were considerably older than she was; ordinarily, they could not talk congenially with each other. Now that Wei Xiaobao was determined to eat candy with her, she could hear the sincerity in his voice and was quite moved.

    “How about outside the flower garden?” Wei Xiaobao asked, “Midnight, third watch of the night [between 11pm – 1 am], nobody will know.” Hesitantly Rui Chu nodded her head.

    Wei Xiaobao was delighted, “Good, that’s settled then,” he said, “Quickly give me some preserved fruits, a bit more of the ones you love to eat.”

    Rui Chu smiled, “I won’t eat it all by myself,” she said, “Which ones would you like?”

    Wei Xiaobao laughed, “Whatever Jiejie loves to eat, I’ll eat the same,” he replied.

    Hearing his sweet-talking, Rui Chu was very happy, immediately she chose about a dozen kinds of dried fruits, candy, cakes and pastries, and put it all in a small paper carton.

    In a low voice Wei Xiaobao said, “Tonight, third watch of the night, I will wait for you in the flower garden pavilion.”

    Rui Chu nodded, in a low voice she said, “You must be careful.”

    “And so must you,” Wei Xiaobao replied. He took the paper carton and returned to his residence, full of joy and expectations.

    When he first jostled with the Emperor, who feigned to be Xiao Xuanzi, he was very excited, but when the secret was exposed, he could not play with him anymore. These past few days in the Palace, everybody seemed to fawn on him. Although he was pleased, he did not have the excitement of enjoying himself. This time he was having a rendezvous with a little palace maid in the middle of the night, there was three-part danger in the fun; he thought it was most exciting. After all, he was still very young; although as a child he grew up in a brothel, on the matter between men and women, he only saw a lot, but did not have any personal understanding.

    [1] In Chinese, the character for one and two are '一' and '二', respectively. The original says 'erase one 'one' character and change the amount ...'

    [2] ‘Gui’ of Xiao Guizi means cassia/laurel, but ‘gui hua’ means osmanthus flower.

  20. #40
    Senior Member foxs's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Default Chapter 6 - Part 1

    Chapter 6 - Understanding the idea of compassion and talent today, one will know when to plant the trees.
    (Translated by Foxs)


    The three palms of the two people were locked to each other in internal energy combat. A short blade appeared in the Empress Dowager's left hand, the spike's point moved toward Hai Laogong's lower abdomen. However, when the spike was about a chi away from the opponent's lower abdomen, she was unable to push it even for half a cun farther.

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