Hai Laogong asked what had happened that day, Wei Xiaobao told him how he went to Oboi's home to search the house and confiscate his possessions. However, he did not mention anything about how he embezzled some treasure, gold and silver, dagger, et cetera. He concluded his narrative by saying, "The Empress Dowager sent me to Oboi's home to get hold of two copies of the 'Forty-two-chapter Sutra' ..."
Hai Laogong suddenly sprang up and asked, "Oboi has two copies of ‘Forty-two-chapter Sutra'?"
"That's right," Wei Xiaobao replied, "It was the Empress Dowager and His Majesty who sent me to fetch the books; otherwise I would have fetched it for you, other people do not need to know."
Hai Laogong's countenance darkened. "Humph," he grunted, and then coldly said, "So it fell into the Empress Dowager's hands. Very good, very good!"
A moment later the kitchen delivered their dinner. Hai Laogong only ate half of a small bowl and then he stopped eating altogether, he rolled his eyes until only the white part was visible, looked up to the ceiling and was lost in thought.
After dinner, Wei Xiaobao was thinking of a short nap before leaving on the third watch to see that little palace maid to chat and have fun. Seeing Hai Laogong was sitting unmoving while staring blankly into the space, he went to bed, fully clothed, and fell asleep.
After sleeping fitfully for a while, he quietly got up and tucked the small box containing the cake and pastry into his pocket. Afraid to wake Hai Laogong up, step by step he quietly tiptoed out. He reached the door, quietly opened the latch, and quietly pushed one door leaf; suddenly he heard Hai Laogong ask, "Xiao Guizi, where are you going?"
Wei Xiaobao was startled. "I ... I want to pee," he said.
"Why don't you pee in your room?" Hai Laogong asked.
"I couldn't sleep," Wei Xiaobao replied, "I want to take a walk in the garden." Afraid Hai Laogong might stop him, without saying anything he stepped out. But his left foot had just moved one step when he felt the collar behind his neck tightened as he was grabbed by Hai Laogong and lifted up.
"Ah!" Wei Xiaobao screamed, then he had a thought, "Bad, bad, the old turtle knew I was going to see that little palace maid and stop me from going." Before he finished his thought, Hai Laogong had already thrown him onto the bed.
"Gong-gong," Wei Xiaobao said with a laugh, "Are you testing my martial art? You haven't taught me anything these past several days. What do you call that grab?"
"Humph," Hai Laogong said, "It is called 'Catching a Bie [freshwater soft-shelled turtle] in the Jar', it's very easy. A bie is an armored fish, so I can catch you, a little armored fish."
"Old armored fish caught little armored fish!" Wei Xiaobao said in his heart, but of course he did not dare to say it out loud. He rolled his eyes, trying to find a way to escape.
Hai Laogong sat on the side of the bed and gently said, "You are bold yet cautious, smart and witty; although you are unwilling to steadfastly train martial art, yet if I polish and refine you well, you may be considered as a good material. It's too bad, really too bad."
"Gong-gong, why is it too bad?" Wei Xiaobao asked.
Hai Laogong did not answer, he only heaved a sigh. After half a day, he said, "Your Beijing accent is not bad, you learned well. If several months ago you were able to speak like this, without any Yangzhou accent at all, it would not be easy to detect."
Wei Xiaobao was really shocked. In a split second all the hair in his body stood up; he was unable to stop his body from trembling, and his teeth from chattering lightly. With a forced laugh he said, "Gong-gong, tonight you ... you speak really ... hee hee ... really strange."
Hai Laogong heaved a sigh again and asked, "Child, how old are you this year?"
Hearing his gentle tone, Wei Xiaobao's fright and panic somewhat diminished; he said, "I ... I am thirteen, I think."
"Thirteen is thirteen, fourteen is fourteen," Hai Laogong said, "Why is it 'thirteen, I think'?"
Wei Xiaobao said, "My mother did not remember it too clearly, of course I won't have any way of knowing." It was a true statement, his mother was actually muddle-headed, she could not ascertain Wei Xiaobao's real age.
Hai Laogong nodded and coughed several times before saying, "During martial art training several years ago, I accidentally suffer a fire deviation, and thus triggered up this coughing illness. The longer I cough, the worse it is, so for the last few years I know I won't get better."
Wei Xiaobao said, "I ... think recently ... recently your cough is getting better."
Hai Laogong shook his head, "What do you mean better?" he said, "Not better at all. My chest hurts very bad, how would you know that?"
"How do you feel now?" Wei Xiaobao asked, "Do you want me to get the medicine for you to take?"
Hai Laogong sighed, "My eyes can no longer see," he said, "Medicine cannot be taken randomly."
Wei Xiaobao did not dare to breathe loudly; he was wondering the real reason behind those words.
Hai Laogong continued, "Your luck is very good, you managed to curry the Emperor's favor, actually, you might achieve great things. Your body has not been cleansed, but it's not a big deal, I can purify you myself. It's just that, ay ..., it's too late, too late."
Wei Xiaobao did not understand the meaning of 'purification', he only felt that somehow the way Hai Laogong speaking tonight was very strange. He said in a gentle voice, "Gong-gong, it's late, you should sleep."
"Sleep? Sleep!" Hai Laogong said, "Ay, after I wake up from sleep, then what? Sleep in the morning, sleep at night, I want to sleep without waking forever. Child, an eternal sleep, no need to wake up, no pain in the pit of your stomach, no bad cough, won't that be extraordinarily beautiful?" Wei Xiaobao was so frightened that he did not dare to make any noise.
"Child," Hai Laogong continued, "Who else is there in your home?"
It was such a boring, ordinary question, but Wei Xiaobao had such a hard time to answer it. He did not know who else were in the dead Xiao Guizi's home; if he gave a random answer, he would most likely give himself away, but he could not not answering it. He was hoping that Hai Laogong did not know the situation in Xiao Guizi's home, and thus the reason he asked. Thereupon he said, "There is only my Laoniang at home; as for the rest of my family, over these last few years, ay, I don’t want to talk about it.” He spoke in such a way that he mentioned the top part, but did not continue to the bottom. Supposing Xiao Guizi still had a father, older brother, older sister or younger brother, there was no harm in him using ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ as an excuse.
Hai Laogong said, “Only your Laoniang. In your Fujian dialect, is that how you call your mother?”
Wei Xiaobao was again very shocked. “What Fujian dialect?” he mused, “Could it be that Xiao Guizi is from Fujian? He said earlier that I have Yangzhou accent, perhaps … perhaps … the fact that his eyes were blinded by me, he still does not know?” In a flash, innumerable thoughts flitted through his mind; he said vaguely, “This … this … why did you ask?”
Hai Laogong sighed and said, “You are still young, yet so bad. Hey, in the end, do you look like your father, or like your mother?”
Wei Xiaobao giggled and said, “I don’t look like anybody. Good, I am not very good, bad, I can’t be considered outstandingly bad.”
Hai Laogong coughed several times before saying, “I was already a grown-up when I was purified and became a eunuch …”
Wei Xiaobao groaned inwardly, “Turns out to become a eunuch one must be purified; that is cutting off your peeing thing. He knew I haven’t been purified, if he purifies me, that will be sending the dragon nicely to the east …”
He heard Hai Laogong continued, “Actually, I had a son, what a pity he died when he was eight. If he were alive today, my grandson would be about your age. That man surnamed Mao, Mao Shiba, is not your father, is he?”
With a trembling voice Wei Xiaobao said, “No … he is not! Hot piece mama, of … of course he is not.” In his fright, he blurted out Yangzhou slang.
Hai Laogong said, “I don’t think he is. If you were my son, and I lost you trapped in the imperial palace, even if there were great dangers, I would still try to help you out.”
Wei Xiaobao forced a laugh and said, “Too bad I don’t have a father as good as you.”
Hai Laogong said, “I taught you two sets of martial art, the first one was the 'big grappling technique', the second one was the 'Great Compassion Great Sorrow Thousand-Leaf Hand'. I have not learned both sets of technique entirely, naturally you haven’t mastered the sets, perhaps you only learned a tenth, half a tenth. Hey hey, hey hey.”
“That’s right,” Wei Xiaobao said, “You, Senior, better teach me so that I may master these two sets or technique entirely. You have this kind of number-one-under-the-heavens martial art skill, if you have someone to pass your skill on, he may make you famous, it’s the sensible thing to do.”
Hai Laogong shook his head. “These words ‘number one under the heavens’, how do I dare to accept? I don’t know how many people have superior martial art skill in the world. These two sets of martial art skill, even in all my life I won’t have enough time to learn it entirely.” He paused for a moment, then said, “Take a breath, put your hand on the left side of your lower abdomen, about three cun away from your belly button, and press hard, how do you feel?”
Wei Xiaobao put his hand according to his instruction and pressed hard. Instantly a pain penetrated his heart and liver; “Ah!” he could not help but scream. In a flash his brow was beaded with sweat and he could not stop panting. For nearly more than half a month he had occasionally felt a dull ache on the left side of his lower abdomen, but he always thought it was because he ate something bad, moreover, the pain only appeared momentarily and immediately subsided, thus he had never given it any further thought. Who could have imagined that with a hard press like that the pain could be this severe?
With a gloomy voice Hai Laogong said, “Isn’t it amusing?”
Wei Xiaobao cursed fiercely in his belly, “Dead old turtle, stinky old turtle!” But what he said was, “Just a little pain, what’s so amusing about it?”
Hai Laogong said, “Every morning when you go gambling and training martial art with His Majesty, the food is always delivered before you come back. I thought that the soup is not tasty enough, so every day I took a bottle of medicine from the medicine chest and added a little bit of stuff into your soup. Only a little tiny bit; if I added too much, the toxicity would be too heavy, it would not be appropriate for your body. You are a very careful person, but I have never taken the soup, don’t you have the least bit of suspicion?”
Wei Xiaobao was absolutely terrified, he said, “I … I thought you didn’t like the soup. You … you said that when you drink the soup, you … you … will cou … cough …”
“Actually, I really like to drink soup,” Hai Laogong said, “But if the soup is poisoned, although the dose is very light, and you take it daily, over a long period of time, it will be a little bit dangerous, won’t it?”
Wei Xiaobao angrily said, “Absolutely, absolutely! Gong-gong, you are really formidable.”
Hai Laogong sighed. “That’s not necessarily true,” he said, “Actually, I wanted you to take the poison for three more months before I’d let you out of the Palace, so that you will feel the stomach pain gradually worsen. At first you will feel about an hour of pain every day, and the pain won’t be so severe. Later, the pain will be more and more severe, the duration will also be longer and longer. Roughly in about a year, you will feel great pain all day long; a pain so terrible that you will want to dash your own head against the wall, a pain so severe that you will want to bite your own hands, your own legs, piece by piece.” Speaking to this point, he sighed before continuing, “It’s a pity than my body is deteriorating fast, I am afraid I cannot wait much longer. The poison in your body, nobody else has the antidote, I am the only one who has it. Little baby, who sent you? Who has thought about this plan to blind me? If you answer me truthfully, I’ll give you the antidote right away.”
Wei Xiaobao might be young, but he knew that even if he mentioned the name of the person who sent him, in no way Hai Laogong would spare his life; much less there was indeed nobody sending him; thereupon he said, “Of course somebody has sent me, but I am afraid as soon as I say it, you would jump in fright. Turns out you knew it early on that I am not Xiao Guizi, and have thought this method to torture me. Ha ha, ha ha! You are the one who has fallen into my trick! Ha ha, ha ha!” While laughing heartily, his body made a random movement; bending his right leg, his right hand grabbed the hilt of the dagger. Very slowly he pulled the dagger from its scabbard, without making any noise at all. Even if there were some noise, he was confident his laughter would cover it.
“What trick of yours did I fall into?” Hai Laogong asked.
Wei Xiaobao was talking nonsense; he only wanted to distract him. So he simply continued talking nonsense, “From the first day I have already tasted the poison in the soup. I discussed it over with Xiao Xuanzi, and he said that you are poisoning me …”
Hai Laogong was startled, “His Majesty knew about it?” he asked.
“How could he not know?” Wei Xiaobao replied, “It’s just that at the time I did not know he was the Emperor. Xiao Xuanzi told me not to make a word or movement, just to be careful, so when I took the soup, I only put it in my mouth and spit it out again to the bowl; you could not see anyway.” While speaking, he raised the dagger half a cun by half a cun up, with the tip of the dagger aimed at the pit of Hai Laogong’s stomach. He thought that if he failed to kill him in one stab, even if the dagger stabbed Hai Laogong, with just a palm strike Wei Xiaobao’s own life would be gone.
Hai Laogong was half believing half doubting; with a cold laugh he said, “If you did not drink the soup, how come with one press on your left abdomen, the pain was unbearable?”
Wei Xiaobao sighed and said, “I supposed even though I spat the soup out, I did not rinse my mouth afterwards, the poison is still going down my stomach.” While saying that, the dagger was moved several cun closer.
“That’s very good, then,” he heard Hai Laogong said, “In any case, the poison cannot be neutralized. Your poisoning is somewhat lighter, it will flare-up somewhat slower, your suffering can only be worse.”
Wei Xiaobao laughed aloud; in the midst of the long laughter, he brought his entire strength into his right arm as he lunge the dagger violently toward the pit of Hai Laogong’s stomach. He had already planned that as soon as the dagger hit, he would promptly roll toward the corner of the bed, and then from the corner of the bed he would scuttle out.
Hai Laogong felt a burst of cold air hitting his face; he was slightly surprised, but knew that the opponent had already made a move. He did not have time to think about the nature of the attack; his left hand swept forward to block the incoming blade, his right palm struck out, ‘Bang!’ it hit Wei Xiaobao, sending him flying out, crashing through the window frame, and falling straight onto the flower garden outside the window. Right away he felt severe pain on his left hand; four of his fingers were severed by the dagger.
If not for Wei Xiaobao’s dagger emitted a strong cold air, while he did not have the slightest sign of the incoming attack beforehand, by this time the pit of his stomach would have been stabbed. However, if the dagger was an ordinary one, with the discrepancy between the two persons’ strength being too far, even if the dagger stabbed his chest, it would only be a superficial injury. His internal strength was everywhere; his palm was like iron, as it struck a saber or sword, or shook a flying dagger, he could not possibly injure his own palm. But in all honesty this dagger was simply too sharp. Hai Laogong’s painstaking dozen of year’s cultivation of internal strength unexpectedly could not shake this incoming dagger away, instead, it cut off his four fingers noiselessly. However, his right palm hit Wei Xiaobao squarely on the pit of his stomach; this palm strike was able to break an upright stone tablet and could split a rock, it was not a small matter at all. He guessed that Wei Xiaobao’s internal organs were completely smashed and that he had already died before even flying outside the window.
 Old mother, old lady.