/ Language: English / Genre:prose_classic

Journey to the West (vol. 2)

Wu Cheng-en

Journey To the West was written by Wu Chen-en, and is considered to be one of the four great classic novels written during the Ming Dynasty (c. 1500-1582). Wu Chen-en was an elder statesman who witnessed a lot in his life, both good and bad, yet ultimately came away with great faith in human nature to face hardships and survive with good humor and compassion. The story has many layers of meaning and may be read on many different levels such as; a quest and an adventure, a fantasy, a personal search (on the Monkey’s part) for self-cultivation, or a political/social satire. The story is a pseudo-historical account of a monk (Xuanzang) who went to India in the 7th century to seek Buddhist scriptures to bring back to China. The principle story consists of eighty-one calamities suffered by (Monkey) and his guardians (Tripitaka and Sandy, who are monks, and Pigsy, a pig).

Wu Cheng-en

Journey to the West (vol. 2)

Chapter 51

In Vain Does the Mind-Ape Use a Thousand Tricks

Fire and Water Fail to Harm the Demon

The story tells how the Great Sage Equaling Heaven went empty-handed and beaten to sit down behind Mount Jindou, tears streaming from both eyes.

“Master,” he called out, “I had hoped

As Lord Buddha graciously brought us together

To go on to live with you, Master, for ever,

With you to train and to learn to be free.

Of the favours received ever mindful I'd be.

Our hearts were both joined and our fates were entwined;

As we studied the Way we shared the same mind.

I never expected to be at my wit's end

Unable to win with no stick in my hand.”

Just when he was in the depths of misery Monkey thought, “That fiend knew who I was. I remember him saying something about the sort of skill that made havoc in Heaven when he was praising me during the fight. That means he can't be a common mortal monster: he must be an evil star from Heaven come down to earth for love of worldly things. I don't know where he come down from, so I'd better go up to Heaven to make some inquiries.”

Only then did Monkey start using his mind and taking the initiative again. At once he somersaulted up on an auspicious cloud, going straight to the Southern Gate of Heaven, where he looked up to see the Broad-visioned Heavenly King Virupaksa bowing to him in greeting and saying, “Where are you going, Great Sage?”

“There's something I must see the Jade Emperor about,” said Monkey. “What are you doing here?”

“It is my turn today to supervise the Southern Gate of Heaven,” Virupaksa replied, and before he could finish the four marshals Ma, Zhao, Wen and Guan bowed and said, “Great Sage, we failed to greet you. Will you have some tea?”

“I'm busy,” Monkey replied, and taking his leave of Virupaksa and the four marshals he went in through the gate and headed straight for the Hall of Miraculous Mist, where the four Heavenly Teachers Zhang Daoling, Ge Xianweng, Xu Jingyang and Qiu Hongji, the Six Officers of the Southern Dipper and the Seven Originals of the Northern Dipper all raised their hands in greeting to him in front of the palace hall.

“For what purpose are you here, Great Sage?” they asked, adding. “Have you yet finished escorting the Tang Priest?”

“It's too early to be talking like that yet,” Monkey replied. “It is a very long journey with many a demon along the way and we've only completed half of it. At present we are in trouble at the Jindou Gave in Mount Jindou, where a rhinoceros spirit has grabbed my master and taken him into the cave. When I went there and fought him he had such tremendous magic powers that he seized my gold-banded cudgel. It's impossible for me to capture him. That's why I've come to accuse the Jade Emperor of lax supervision.”

“You're as wild and wicked as ever, you ape,” said Xu Jingyang with a smile.

“No I'm not,” Monkey replied. “I've spoken bluntly all my life as it's the only way to get anywhere.”

“That's enough of this talking,” said Heavenly Teacher Zhang Daoling. “We will report your arrival.”

“Thank you very much,” Monkey replied.

The four Heavenly Teachers reported all this to the Hall of Miraculous Mist and then took Monkey to the jade steps to the throne. Monkey make a loud “re-e-er” of respect then said, “Well, old man, I'm here to bother you. I won't bore you with all the dangers of escorting the Tang Priest to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven, but we've now reached the Jindou Cave on Mount Jindou where a rhinoceros demon has captured the Tang Priest and taken him to his cave. I don't know whether the demon's planning to steam, boil or dry him. When I went to the cave and fought him he knew who I was, and he really does have miraculous powers. He's taken my gold-banded cudgel, so I can't capture him. I think he must be an evil star from Heaven gone down to earth for the love of worldly things, which is why I've come here to submit a request. I beg Your Celestial Majesty in your mercy and perception to order an inspection of the evil stars and to send troops to capture the demon. I'm shaking with fear of Your Majesty.” He then made a deep bow and added, “I beg to submit this report.”

Ge Xianweng, who was standing at the side of the hall, smiled as he said, “Why is it that you were recalcitrant before but are respectful now?”

“It's not that,” said Monkey, “not that at all. I haven't become respectful. It's just that I don't have my cudgel today.”

Having heard Monkey's memorial the Jade Emperor sent an order straight to the star officer Kehan: “Please inspect all the stars in all the heavens and find out if any of the divine kings of any of the constellations have gone down to earth out of love for worldly things. Report back afterwards.” Having been given this command the True Lord Kehan went off with the Great Sage to make his inspection. First they went to see the divine kings and the officials at the four gates of Heaven. Then they inspected all the True Ones within the Three Little Enclosures; the Thunder Officers Tao, Zhang, Xin, Deng, Gou, Bi, Pang and Liu; and the Thirty-three Heavens, every one of which was in place. Next they checked the twenty-eight zodiacal constellations: Horn, Gullet, Base, Chamber, Orion, Tail, and Winnower in the East; Dipper, Ox, Woman, Barrens, Roof, House and Wall to the West; and the constellations of the North and South as well; but every constellation was peacefully in its place. They inspected the Seven Powers of Sun, Moon, Water, Fire, Wood, Metal, and Earth; and the Four Others-Rahu, Ketu, the Gases and the Comets. None of the stars in the sky had gone down to earth for love of worldly things.

“In that case,” said Monkey, “my journey to the Hall of Miraculous Mist was for nothing. I've disturbed His Jade Majesty-it was most inconvenient of me. You had better go and report back. I'll be waiting here for your reply.” The True Lord Kehan did as he had been told, and Monkey began a long wait. He made up a poem to record his feelings that went,

Pure winds, a cloudless sky, and blissful peace;

Calm gods, bright shining stars, and blessings clear.

Still is the Milky Way; Heaven's troubles cease;

Throughout the world no sounds of war we hear.

The True Lord Kehan reported back to the Jade Emperor on his thorough inspection: “No star or constellation in the sky is missing. All the regional gods ad officers are present, and nobody has gone down to earth for love of worldly things.” Having heard this report the Jade Emperor ordered that Sun Wukong was to select some heavenly generals to take down to earth to catch the demon.

When the four Heavenly Teachers had been given this order they left the Hall of Miraculous Mist and said to Monkey, “Great Sage, the Jade Emperor in his generosity orders you to select some heavenly generals to take down to earth to catch the demon as none of the stars has gone down there for love of worldly things.”

Monkey bowed down and thought, “Most of the heavenly generals are not as good as I am: few are any better. When I made havoc in Heaven the Jade Emperor sent a hundred thousand of his heavenly soldiers who spread out heaven-and-earth nets, but not one of those commanders dared to fight it out with me. The only one who was a match for me was the Little Sage Erlang he sent later. That demon's powers are as good as mine, so how will I ever be able to beat him?”

“Times have changed,” said the Heavenly Teacher Xu Jingyang. “As the saying goes, everything can always be beaten by something. Would you dare to disobey an imperial edict? Choose some heavenly generals according to your illustrious judgement and don't waste time: it could be disastrous.

“In that case,” said Monkey, “I am very grateful to His Majesty for his kindness, and I would not dare disobey his commands. Besides, I don't want to have made this journey for nothing. So please ask the Jade Emperor to send Heavenly King Li the Pagoda-carrier and Prince Nezha. They have demon-subduing weapons, so let's see what happens if they go down to earth and fight that fiend. If they can catch him I'll be in luck, and if they can't we'll have to think again.”

The Heavenly Teacher reported this to the Jade Emperor, who ordered Heavenly King Li and his son Prince Nezha to take their heavenly troops to Help Monkey. The Heavenly King obediently went to see Monkey, who said to the Heavenly Teacher, “I am extremely grateful to the Jade Emperor for sending the Heavenly King. There is another request I would like you to pass on. I would like two thunder gods to stand in the clouds while the Heavenly King is fighting the demon and kill him by throwing thunder splinters at his head. This would be a very good method.”

“Splendid, splendid,” said the Heavenly Teacher, and he reported this request to the Jade Emperor, who then ordered the Office of the Nine Heavens to send the thunder gods Deng Hua and Zhang Fan to help Heavenly King Li capture the demon. They then went out through the Southern Gate of Heaven with the Heavenly King and the Great Sage.

They were soon there. “This is Mount Jindou,” said Monkey, “and the Jindou Cave is in it. I would like you gentlemen to decide which of you is going to be the first to challenge the demon to battle.” The Heavenly King brought his cloud to a stop and encamped his troops under the Southern slopes of the mountain.

“As you know, Great Sage,” he said, “my boy Nezha has put down the demons in ninety-six different caves, is very good at transformation, and always carries his demon-subduing weapons around with him. He should go into battle first.”

“That's right,” said Monkey. “I'll take him with me.”

The prince summoned up his martial prowess, leapt to the mountaintop with the Great Sage, and went straight to the entrance to the cave, where they found the doors tightly closed and not an evil spirit to be seen by the rock-face. “Vicious fiend,” shouted Monkey, going up to the doors, “open up at once and give me back my master.”

When the little devils guarding the doors saw this they hurried back to report, “Your Majesty, Sun the Novice has a little boy with him and he's challenging you to battle outside the doors.”

“I've got his gold-banded cudgel,” the demon king said, “and he'd find it hard to fight me empty-handed, so I suppose he must have found some reinforcements. Fetch my weapons!” He then went outside to look, brandishing his spear. The little boy was a pure and remarkable sight, and full of strength and vigor. Indeed:

His face was like the moon when it is full,

Red lips, a square-cut mouth, and silver teeth.

His eye shot lightning from their fearsome pupils;

Over his broad and fine-hued brow were tufts of hair.

His sash danced in the wind like tongues of flame;

A silken gown gleamed golden in the sun.

Bright rings held a bronze mirror at his chest,

And precious armor set off well his warrior's boots.

Tiny in body, but mighty in his voice,

Terrible Nezha, protector of the faith.

“You're Heavenly King Li's third son, Prince Nezha,” said the demon with a smile. “Why have you come shouting at my door?”

“Because you have made trouble, vicious fiend, by harming the holy monk from the East. I'm here to arrest you at the command of the Jade Emperor.”

“I'm sure Sun Wukong must have asked you here,” said the demon king in a great fury. “Yes, I'm the demon who's got the holy monk. I wonder what fighting skills you've got, little boy, if you dare to talk such nonsense. Stay where you are and see how you like my spear.”

The prince met the thrust at once with his demon-beheading sword. Once the two of them had come to blows the battle began. Monkey rushed round the mountain shouting, “Where are the thunder gods? Hurry up and strike the fiend with your thunder splinters to help the prince subdue him.”

The thunder gods Deng and Zhang stepped at once on their clouds and were just about to strike when Prince Nezha used magic to give himself three heads and six arms that wielded six weapons with which he hacked at the monster. The demon king then gave himself three heads and six arms too, holding three long spears with which he parried them. The prince next used his demon-subduing dharma power and threw his six weapons up into the air. What were the six weapons? The demon-beheading sword, the demon-hacking cutlass, the demon-binding rope, the demon-quelling pestle, the embroidered ball and the fire-wheel.

Nezha shouted “Change!” and each one of them became ten, each ten a hundred, each hundred a thousand, and each thousand ten thousand of the same weapons that flew at the demon like a hailstorm. The demon king was not afraid in the least. Bringing out his gleaming white ring he threw it into the air with a shout of “Catch them!” and as it came whistling down it trapped all the six different kinds of weapons, so terrifying Nezha that he fled for his life empty-handed. The demon king returned to his cave in triumph.

When the two thunder gods saw this from up in the sky they smiled to themselves and said, “It's a good thing we realized how things were going and didn't throw our thunder splinters. If he'd caught them too we'd never have dared report back to the Heavenly Honoured Ones.” The pair of them landed their clouds and went with the prince to the Southern slope of the mountain.

“The demon king really has got enormous powers,” they told Heavenly King Li.

“The wretched demon's magic powers are nothing much,” said Monkey with a laugh, “apart from that terrible ring. I wonder what sort of treasure it is and why it can catch everything when it's thrown into the air.”

“You don't have a shred of humanity in you, Great Sage,” said Nezha angrily. “We're thoroughly upset after being beaten, and all for your sake too. What have you got to laugh about?”

“You may be upset, but what makes you imagine I'm not?” Monkey replied. “I'm at my wit's end, and as I can't cry about it, laughing's the only thing I can do.”

“How are we going to bring all this to an end?” the Heavenly King asked.

“You lot can make whatever plans you like,” said Monkey, “but we can only capture him with what his ring can't catch.”

“The best things his ring can't catch are water and fire,” said Heavenly King Li. “As the saying goes, water and fire show no mercy.”

“You're right,” Monkey replied. “Sit still here while I go up to Heaven again.”

“What for?” the two thunder gods asked.

“This time I won't bother with a memorial to the Jade Emperor,” said Brother Monkey. “I'll go straight in through the Southern Gate of Heaven to the Palace of Crimson Splendor to ask Yinghuo, the Star Lord of Fire, to come here and start a fire that will burn the demon and perhaps even reduce his ring to ashes so that we can capture him. Then you can have your weapons back and return to Heaven and my master can be saved.”

The prince was greatly cheered up to hear this. “Please don't lose any time, Great Sage,” he said, “and get back as soon as you can. We'll wait here.”

Monkey set his auspicious light going again and went straight back to the Southern Gate of Heaven, where Virupaksa and the four generals met him and asked, “Why are you back again, Great Sage?”

“Heavenly King Li sent Prince Nezha into battle,” Monkey replied, “but in their first fight the demon king took all his six weapons. I now want to go to the Palace of Crimson Splendor to ask the Star Lord of Fire to help us in the fight.” The four generals let him in, not daring to delay him any longer.

When he reached the Palace of Crimson Splendor the gods of fire all went in to report, “Sun Wukong is here to see you, my lord.”

The Star Lord of Fire of the South straightened up his clothes and came out to greet him with the words, “Kehan was here to inspect us yesterday, and nobody here is longing for earthly things.”

“I know,” Monkey replied. “Heavenly King Li and Prince Nezha have been defeated in battle and lost their weapons, which is why I have come here to ask for your help.”

“Nezha is the God of the Third Altar, the Seas, who first made his name by subduing ninety-six caves of demons,” the Star Lord of Fire replied. “His magical powers are tremendous, so if he can't subdue the fiend what hope would I have of doing so?”

“I've discussed it with Heavenly King Li,” Monkey replied. “Water and fire are the most powerful things in heaven and earth. That fiend has a ring that can catch things. I don't know what treasure it is. As they say that fire can destroy everything I've come here to ask you, Star Lord, to lead your fire forces down to the mortal world to burn up that evil monster and rescue my master.”

When the Star Lord of Fire heard this he mustered his divine troops and went with Monkey to the Southern slopes of Mount Jindou, where he exchanged greetings with the Heavenly King and the thunder gods. “Great Sage Sun,” said Heavenly King Li, “call that demon out again and I'll start fighting him. When he throws his ring I'll get out of the way and the Star Lord can lead his forces to burn him up.”

“Yes,” said Monkey. “I'll go with you.” The Fire Star Lord stood with Prince Nezha and two thunder gods on a high peak to challenge the demon to battle.

When the Great Sage reached the mouth of the Jindou Cave he shouted, “Open up! Give me my master back at once.”

“Sun Wukong's back,” the little devils reported with urgency, and the demon led his horde out of the cave to say to Monkey, “Impudent ape, what soldiers have you brought here?”

Heavenly King Li, the Pagoda-carrier, came forward to shout back, “Vicious monster, do you know who I am”

“Heavenly King Li,” replied the demon with a laugh, “no doubt you want to avenge your distinguished son and get his weapons back.”

“I want my revenge and his weapons,” replied the Heavenly King, “and I'm also going to catch you and rescue the Tang Priest. Stay where you are while I get you with my sword.” The demon dodged the cut and thrust back with his spear. The two of them fought a magnificent fight in front of the cave. Just watch:

The Heavenly King hacked with his sword,

The demon's spear parried.

The sword gleamed cold and breathed out fire,

The sharp spear belched out baleful clouds.

One was the monster who had grown up in Jindou Cave;

The other had been sent from the Hall of Miraculous Mist.

One wished to use his might to oppress the dharma nature;

One was employing his greatness to rescue the priest.

The Heavenly King's powers made sand and gravel fly,

The demon fighting back stirred up the dust.

The dust cast heaven and earth in darkness,

The sand and gravel made seas and livers turbid.

The two of them struggled hard for victory

Because the Tang Priest wanted to see the Buddha.

When Monkey saw the two of them starting to fight he jumped up to the highest peak and said to the Star Lord of Fire, “Pay attention.” Watch as the demon produces his ring again when the fight is at its fiercest. When Heavenly King Li saw this he set his auspicious light moving and fled in defeat. At once the Star Lord of Fire issued the order to his troops from his peak to release all their fire together. It was a terrifying sight:

The Classic says that in the South is the essence of fire.

Even a single spark

Can burn a hundred thousand acres.

The might of the Star Lord

Could create a hundred different kinds of fire.

He had fire spears, fire swords,

Fire bows and crossbows,

And all his gods used different weapons.

The sky was filled with cawing crows of fire.

Fire horses galloped on the mountaintops.

Fire rats came in twos,

Fire dragons in pairs.

The fire rats coming in twos breathed flame,

Making a thousand miles glow red;

The pairs of fire dragons belched thick smoke,

Casting a pall of darkness all around.

The fire carts were brought out,

The fire gourds opened up.

When fire banners waved the skies glowed sunset-red;

Fire cudgels made the whole earth blaze.

Compared with this the charge of burning oxen was nothing;

This beat Zhou Yu's fire ships attacking Red Crag.

It was a terrible heavenly conflagration,

A blazing burning storm of fire.

But the onslaught by the fire did not frighten the demon in the least. He threw his ring up into the air, and as it came whistling down it caught the fire dragons, fire horses, fire crows, fire rats, fire swords, fire spears, fire bows and fire arrows. The demon then led his troops back to his cave in victory.

The Fire Star Lord, holding a useless banner, called back his officers and went to sit with Heavenly King Li and the others on the Southern slope of the mountain. “Great Sage,” he said to Monkey, “I've never seen so ferocious a demon before. Now I've lost all my fire-raising equipment what am I to do?”

“Stop complaining,” said Monkey with a smile. “Will you gentlemen please sit here for a while while I go off again?”

“Where are you going this time?” Heavenly King Li asked.

“If that fiend isn't bothered by fire I'm sure he must be vulnerable to water. As the saying goes, water defeats fire. I'm going to the Northern Gate of Heaven to ask the Star Lord of Water, the planet Mercury, to use the power of water to flood the cave and drown the demon king. Then I'll be able to return you all your things.”

“That's a very good idea,” said the Heavenly King, “except that I'm afraid your master might be drowned too.”

“No problem,” said Monkey. “Even if he is drowned I have a way that will bring him back to life. But I'm wasting your time, gentlemen, and that is quite wrong.”

“In that case,” said the Star Lord of Fire, “please be on your way.”

The splendid Great Sage went straight to the Northern Gate of Heaven by his somersault cloud. He looked up to see the Heavenly King Vaisravana bowing to him and asking, “Where are you going, Great Sage Sun?”

“There is something about which I must see the Star Lord of Water in his Palace of Dark Vastness,” said Monkey. “What are you doing here?”

“It is my turn to patrol today.” Vaisravana replied. As he was speaking the four heavenly generals Pang, Liu, Gou and Bi greeted him courteously and offered him tea.

“As I'm in such a hurry I won't trouble you,” said Monkey, and taking his leave of them he went straight to the Palace of Dark Vastness, where he sent all the gods of Water in to announce him.

“Sun Wukong, the Great Sage Equaling Heaven, is here,” they reported. As soon as he learned this the Star Lord of Water dismissed the gods of the Four Seas, the Five Lakes, the Eight Rivers, the Four Streams, the Three Great Watercourses and the Nine Tributaries, as well as all the dragon kings, then straightened his hat, tightened his belt, and went out through the gates of the palace to greet him and lead him inside.

“Yesterday Kehan came here on his inspection,” the Star Lord said. “He wondered if any of my Water gods had become demons because they longed for worldly things. We are checking all the gods of rivers, seas and streams but have not yet finished.”

“That demon king's no river god,” said Monkey, “He's a much more powerful spirit. The Jade Emperor sent Heavenly King Li, Prince Nezha and two thunder gods down to the lower world to capture him, but he caught Nezha's six magic weapons with a ring. So I had to go up to the Palace of Crimson Splendor to ask the Star Lord of Fire to take all his fire gods to start fires, but the fiend caught the fire dragons, fire horses and everything else with his ring. I reckon that as he isn't bothered by fire he must be vulnerable to water, which is why I've come here to ask you to deploy your water, capture the fiend for me, return the heavenly generals' weapons, and rescue my master too.”

When the Star Lord of Water heard this he ordered the Earl of the Yellow River to go with the Great Sage to help him. “I can carry water in this,” said the river earl, taking a white jade bowl from his sleeve.

“But that can't hold very much,” said Monkey. “How could it possibly drown the fiend?”

“I'm not lying when I tell you that this bowl can hold the waters of the Yellow River,” the earl replied. “Half a bowlful is half the river, and the whole bowlful is the whole river.”

“Half a bowlful will be all we need,” replied a delighted Monkey, who then took his leave of the Star God of Water and hurried out through the gates of Heaven with the Earl of the Yellow River.

The earl half filled his bowl in the Yellow River then went with the Great Sage to Mount Jindou, where he greeted the Heavenly King, the prince, the two thunder gods and the Star Lord of Fire, who started telling him what had happened until Monkey said, “Cut out the details. River earl, come with me. When I shout at the doors telling them to open up don't wait till the doors are open. Tip the water straight in and drown the whole den of demons. Then I'll fish out the master's body and bring him back to life.”

The earl did as he was told, following Monkey round the mountain to the mouth of the cave.

“Open up, devils,” Monkey shouted, and when they recognized his voice the little devils hurried in to report that he was back, At this the demon king went out again, brandishing his spear and taking his treasure as the doors opened with a loud noise. The river god threw all the water in his white jade bowl into the cave. Seeing it coming, the demon threw down his spear and quickly took out his ring to seal the inner doors tightly. The water then all surged noisily out again, giving Sun Wukong such a fright that he had to give an immediate somersault and leap straight back up to the mountaintop with the river god. The Heavenly King and the rest of them then stood on their clouds in front of the peak looking at the great waves of the mighty flood. It was splendid water. Indeed:

A mere scoopful

Produces fathomless depths;

A divine achievement

Fills a hundred rivers for the general good.

Hear the great roaring shake the valley,

See the mighty waters flood the sky.

A sound like thunder fills the world with awe;

Fierce are the waves with curling crests like snow.

The towering waves now inundate the roads,

While countless billows wash against the mountains.

Cold they are as nephrite,

Rolling with the sound of strings.

As they crash against the rocks they scatter chips of jade;

The waters swirl in eddies as they ebb.

The current sweeps across all dips and hollows,

Filling ravines and joining all the streams.

The sight filled Brother Monkey with alarm. “This is terrible,” he said. “The water's flooding the peasants' fields, and going everywhere except into the demon's cave. What are we to do?” He asked the river god to put his water away at once.

“I can only let it out,” the earl replied. “I can't put it away again. As the saying goes, spilt water can't be picked up.” Oh dear! But as the mountain was both high and steep the water flowed down it fast and in a few moments had all gone away along gullies and ravines.

Some little devils leapt out from the cave and played around with great pleasure as before, shouting, yelling, shaking their fists, waving their sleeves, and brandishing their cudgels and spears. “So the water never got inside the cave at all,” said the Heavenly King. “All that effort was for nothing.” Unable to control the great anger that surged up him, Monkey charged the demon king's doors, lashing out with both fists, shouting, “Where do you think you're going? I'll get you.”

The terrified little devils dropped their spears and cudgels and fled back into the cave to report in fear and trembling, “Your Majesty, he's attacking again.”

The demon king went out through the doors, his spear at the ready, and said, “Impudent ape, you're such a hooligan. You've tried and failed to beat me several times. Even fire and water have got nowhere near me. So why are you here again? To throw your life away?”

“You've got it the wrong way round, my boy,” said Brother Monkey. “It's not me throwing my life away, but you throwing yours away. Come here and I'll punch you one.”

“You're just trying to be awkward, ape,” the demon king replied with a laugh. “You can use your fists, but I'll use my spear. Your skinny little fist is no bigger than a walnut. It's not even the weight of a small hammer. Very well then. I'll put my spear down and we'll try some boxing.”

“Well spoken,” said Monkey with a smile. “Come on then.”

The demon then hitched up his clothes and took up a stance with both of his fists raised. They were the size of the mallets used in oil-presses. The Great Sage spread his feet apart, summoned up his energy, and started to show his skill as he traded blows with the demon king in front of the doors of the cave, it was a splendid fight. Goodness!

They started with a foursquare stance,

Kicked with pairs of flying feet.

Each threw with menace at the other's chest

Hard blows that could cut out the heart.

The Immortal pointing the way

“Lao Zi riding his crane.”

Terrible as the tiger when he falls on his prey,

Vicious as the dragons sporting in the water.

The demon king did a dragon roll;

The Great Sage fought like a roebuck with his antlers.

They kicked up their heels like spitting dragons,

Twisting their wrists like sky-supporting camels.

The blue lion opened its jaws,

The carp leapt so high he risked breaking his back.

Flowers were scattered around their foreheads,

And ropes pulled tight around their waists.

The wind stayed close to the fan,

The driving rain made blossoms fall.

When the demon used a “Guanyin hand”

Monkey countered with an “arhat's foot.”

The longer punches were open and relaxed,

Not as intense as the short jabs to the body.

When they had fought for several dozen rounds

Their skills were equal; no winner had emerged.

While the two of them fought in front of the cave Heavenly King Li and the Star Lord of Fire were shouting and clapping in encouragement and admiration. The two thunder gods and Prince Nezha led the armies of the gods to leap down by where they were fighting to help Monkey, while on the other side the devilish horde all came forward to guard their master with banners, drums, swords and cutlasses. Seeing that things were going badly Monkey pulled out a handful of hairs, scattered them in the air, and with a shout of “Change!” turned them into three or four dozen little monkeys who rushed forward and held the demon still.

They put their arms round his legs, grabbed him by the waist, jabbed at his eyes, and pulled his hair. The demon in his alarm pulled out his ring. When Monkey arid the Heavenly King saw him doing this they turned their clouds away and fled back to the top of the mountain to keep out of the way of the fight. As soon as the demon threw the ring into the air it came whistling down, caught the three or four dozen little monkeys who were hairs transformed and turned them back into their original form. The demon took them into the cave when he led his troops back in triumph, shut the doors and celebrated.

“Great Sage,” said Prince Nezha, “you really are a tough guy. That was a superb display of boxing, as skilful as putting embroidery on brocade. And by magically dividing yourself up you showed him how good you are.”

“You gentlemen were all watching from here,” said Monkey with a smile. “How did the demon's technique compare with mine?”

“His boxing was slack and his footwork slow,” said Heavenly King Li, “where you were neat and quick. When he saw us going he was worried, and when you used your self-dividing magic he was panicked, which was why he had to use his ring magic.”

“The demon king would be easy enough to deal with,” said Monkey, “if it weren't for his ring. That's hard one to beat.”

“If we're to beat him,” said the Star Lord of Fire to the Earl of the Yellow River, “we have to get that treasure. We'll be able to capture him then.”

“But how else are we to get it apart from by stealing it?” Monkey asked.

The two thunder gods laughed at this and said, “If we're going to do him the honour of stealing it there's nobody to compare with the Great Sage. When he made havoc in Heaven he stole imperial wine, magic peaches, dragon liver, phoenix bone-marrow and even Lord Lao Zi's elixir. That was some skill! Now he ought to be using it to get that ring.”

“You are flattering me,” said Monkey, “you are flattering me. You'd better sit here while I go and spy things out.”

The splendid Great Sage sprang down from the peak and made his way stealthily to the mouth of the cave where he shook himself and turned into a most elegant fly. Look at him:

He had wings just as fine as membranes of bamboo,

A body as small as a plum blossom's heart,

His hands and his feet barely thicker than hairs,

And eyes full of lights that both sparkle and dart:

He follows his nose when he smells something good,

And rides on the wind as he flies at great speed.

The scales would not move if he come to be weighed,

And yet he's a lovable true friend in need.

He flew quietly to the doors and crawled in through the narrow gap between them to see all the devils young and old dancing or singing in ranks on either side while the demon king sat on a high dais. Before him were set snakemeat, deer jerky, bears' paws, camels' humps, wild vegetables from the mountain and fruit. He had a celadon jug of wine as well as some delicious-smelling koumiss and coconut toddy, all of which he was drinking freely by the large bowlful. Monkey landed among the little devils and turned himself into a badger spirit. He inched his way nearer to the throne, but even after taking a long look he could not make out at all where the treasure was hidden. He quickly withdrew and went round behind the throne, where he saw hanging high from the ceiling in the rear hall the fire dragons groaning and the fire horses whinnying. He looked up to spy his gold-banded cudgel leaning against the Eastern wall. This made him so happy that his heart had an itch he could not scratch, and forgetting his disguise he went over, picked the cudgel up, resumed his own appearance, tried out some movements with it, and started to fight his way straight out of the cave. All the devils shook with terror, and there was nothing the demon king could do about it as Monkey opened up a trail of blood, pushing three over here and pulling a couple down there as he went straight out through the front doors. Indeed:

The demon was unready in his pride;

The cudgel went back to its owner's side.

If you don't know whether all turned out for good or for ill, listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 52

Monkey Makes Havoc in the Jindou Cave

The Buddha Gives a Hint About the Owner

The story tells how after recovering his gold-banded cudgel Monkey fought his way out of the cave and jumped up to the peak to see all the gods. He was very pleased with himself. “How did it go this time?” asked Heavenly King Li. “I did a transformation and went into the cave,” said Monkey, “where I saw the devils dancing, singing and drinking to celebrate their victory. But I heard nothing about where the demon keeps his treasure. When I went round to the back I heard the horses and dragons whimpering and realized they must be the fire beasts. My gold-banded cudgel was leaning against the Eastern wall, so I took it and fought my way out of the cave.”

“You have your treasure now,” said the gods, “but how are we going to get ours back?”

“Easy,” said Monkey, “easy. With this iron cudgel I can beat him whatever he does. I'll recover your treasures.” As they were talking there rose from the mountainside a concerted sound of gongs and drums as well as earth-shaking shouts: the Great Rhinoceros King was leading his host of spirits out in pursuit of Monkey, who called out at the sight of them, “Great, great, Just what I want. Please sit down, gentlemen, while I go to capture him.”

The splendid Great Sage raised his iron cudgel and struck at the demon's face with a shout, “Where do you think you're going, damned demon? Take this!” Warding the blow off with his spear, the demon insulted him back: “Thieving ape! You're a disgrace. How dare you steal my property in broad daylight?”

“I'll get you, evil beast. Have the decency to die! All you can do is use your ring to steal our property in broad daylight. None of those things are really yours. Stay where you are, and take this!” Once again the monster parried with his spear. It was a splendid fight.

The Great Sage was ferocious,

The demon was not gentle.

Both sides fought with courage;

Neither would give in.

The iron cudgel was a dragon's tail,

The long spear was a serpent's head.

Blows from the cudgel whistled like the wind,

The spear's moves flowed as smoothly as a stream.

The mountain darkened, wreathed in coloured mists;

Auspicious clouds hung heavy on the woods.

The birds in the air all stopped their flying;

The wild beasts of the field all hid away.

The demons on one side raised battle cries

While Monkey on the other was Ml of vigor.

An iron club that no one could withstand

Had fought its way along the long road West;

A long spear that was a worthy match,

And always held its power supreme on Mount Jindou.

Once they joined battle there could be no respite:

They swore to carry on until one conquered.

The demon king and the Great Sage had been fighting for six hours without either gaining the upper hand. As night was falling the evil spirit held out his spear and said, “Stop, Wukong. It's too dark for fighting now. Let's have a night's sleep and I'll go on having it out with you tomorrow.”

“Shut up, damned demon,” replied Monkey abusively. “I've only just warmed up. I don't care how late it is: I'm going to carry on till one of us has won.” The demon gave a shout, made a feint with his spear, and fled for his life, leading his host of devils in retreat back to the cave, where they shut the doors tight.

When Monkey returned to the mountain top with his cudgel the gods from Heaven all congratulated him. “You really are strong and capable, Great Sage Equaling Heaven,” they said, “and your powers are boundless.”

“You're overdoing your praises,” Monkey replied.

“No,” said Heavenly King Li, coming up to him, “this is not empty praise. You really are a tough guy. The force you were up against today was as strong as the Heaven and Earth nets all those years age.”

“Let's not go into all that ancient history,” said Monkey. “That demon must be exhausted after his fight with me. I haven't been put to any trouble worth speaking of, so if you'll all sit here and relax I'll go back into the cave, find out where he keeps the ring, and steal it if I possibly can. Then I'll capture the monster, find your weapons, and return them to you to take back to Heaven.”

“It's late now,” said Prince Nezha. “You'd better have a good night's sleep and go tomorrow morning.”

“You don't understand life, my lad,” replied Monkey. “Who ever heard of a burglar liking to steal in broad daylight? This sort of groping about has to be done in secret under cover of darkness. That's the way the job's done.”

“Stop arguing, Your Highness,” said the Star Lord of Fire and the two thunder gods, “We don't know anything about that sort of thing, and the Great Sage is an old hand. Let him make the most of the nighttime, when the demon is exhausted and nobody is expecting anything to happen. Please go at once.”

With a chuckle the splendid Great Sage tucked his iron cudgel away, jumped down from the peak and went to the mouth of the cave, where he shook himself and turned into a cricket. Indeed:

Hard mouth, black skin, and long antennae,

Bright eyes and legs that bend like branches.

In the clear wind and in moonlight he sings by the wall;

When the night is still he talks like a human.

As he weeps in the dew the scenery seems cold;

His marvellous voice now comes in fits and starts.

Just when the homesick traveler least wishes to hear him

He finds him lurking underneath the bed.

With a few bounds of his mighty legs Monkey was at the doors. Squeezing through the narrow gap between them he squatted at the foot of the wall, looking carefully at where the light was coming from. He saw all the big and little devils devouring their food like wolves or tigers. Monkey chirped for a while, and a little later the banquet was cleared away and the devils all went to bed. About two hours later, when Monkey had just reached the room at the back, he heard the demon king ordering, “Little ones on the doors, stay awake! Sun Wukong may change himself into something and sneak in here to steal.”

Those who were on watch duty that night were neatly turned out and sounding their clappers and bells. This made it even easier for the Great Sage, to go about his business. Creeping into the monster's bedroom he saw a stone bed on either side of which stood powdered and painted mountain and tree spirits. They were spreading out the bedding and waiting on the old demon, taking off his boots and clothes. When the old demon was undressed Monkey could see the ring gleaming white on his left arm. It looked like a bracelet made from a string of pearls. Instead of taking it off the demon pushed it up his arm a couple of times to jam it more firmly into place before going to sleep. Seeing this, Monkey changed himself again, this time into a brown-skinned flea that jumped up on the bed, burrowed into the bedding, climbed on the monster's arm, and bit him so hard that he sat up with a yell of, “Bloody slaves, you need some more flogging. You didn't shake out the quilt or dust the bed, and I've just been bitten.” He rubbed the ring twice more and went back to sleep. Monkey climbed on the ring and bit him again, so that the monster sat up again, unable to sleep. “I'm itching to death,” he complained.

Seeing that the security was so strict and that the demon kept the treasure on himself and was not going to take it off Monkey realized that he would be unable to steal it. So he jumped down from the bed, turned himself back into a cricket, left the bedroom, and went straight to the back, where he heard the groans and whimpers of the dragons and horses again, but now from behind tightly shut doors. Monkey turned back to his own form and went up to the doors to open the lock by magic. He said a spell and rubbed the lock, making its tongues both click open. He then pushed the doors open and rushed inside, where it was as bright as day in the light from all the fire instruments and creatures. He noticed some weapons leaning against the walls on either side: Prince Nezha's demon-hacking cutlass and other arms as well as the fire bows, arrows and the rest of the Star Lord of Fire's gear. Looking all around by the light of the fires he noticed to his delight a handful of hairs lying in a bamboo basket on a stone table behind the doors. Monkey picked them up, blew on them twice with warm breath, shouted “Change!” and turned them into three or four dozen little monkeys. He told them to take the cutlass, sword, pestle, rope, ball, wheel, bow, arrows, spear, carts, gourd, fire crows, fire rats, fire horses and everything else that had been caught in the ring; then he mounted the fire dragon and started a blaze burning from the inside outwards. There was a great roaring and loud cracks that sounded like thunder and cannons. All the big and little demons were thrown into such panic and confusion that they wrapped themselves in their quilts, covered their heads, shouted and wept. As they had nowhere to flee most of them were burnt to death. When the Handsome Monkey King returned in victory it was about midnight.

When Heavenly King Li and the other gods spotted the dazzling fire from the mountaintop they rushed forward to see Brother Monkey riding the dragon and driving the little monkeys straight up to the peak. “Come and get your weapons,” he shouted, “come and get your weapons.” The Star Lord of Fire and Nezha shouted greetings, whereupon Monkey shook himself and put all the hairs back on his body. Nezha recovered his six weapons, and the Star Lord told his subordinates to collect the fire dragon and the rest of the fire creatures and implements. They were all laughing with pleasure as they congratulated Monkey.

The blaze in the Jindou Cave gave the Great Rhinoceros King such a fright that his souls left his body. He sat up at once, threw open the doors of his bedroom, and held the ring out in both hands to the East and the West to put out the fire. Then he ran all around holding out his treasure, which extinguished all the flames and smoke that filled the air, and tried to rescue his demons, most of whom were dead. He could only muster a hundred or so, male and female; and when he looked at where the weapons were kept he found them all gone. Going round to the back he saw Pig, Friar Sand and the Tang Priest still tied up there, the white horse still tethered to the trough and the luggage still in the room.

“I wonder which careless little devil started that fire,” he said angrily. “Look what it has done!”

“Your Majesty,” said his attendants, “the fire was nothing to do with anyone in our household. It was probably a burglar who let all the fire creatures go and stole the magic weapons.”

Only then did the demon realize what had happened. “I'm certain it was Sun Wukong,” he said. “It can't have been anyone else. No wonder I couldn't get to sleep. The thieving monkey must have turned himself into something to get in here and bite my arm twice. He must have been trying to steal my treasure but failed because I was wearing it too tightly. So he stole the weapons and released the fire dragon. What a vicious idea: he was trying to burn me to death. Evil monkey! Your cleverness will get you nowhere: you don't know my powers yet. As long as I have this treasure I can go into the ocean without drowning and into fire without being burnt. If I catch that bandit I'll chop him up into little bits and burn him as a torch. That's the only way I'll feel better about it.”

After he had been talking to himself in his misery for a long time he did not notice the cocks crowing for the dawn. Up on the mountaintop Prince Nezha, who now had his six weapons back, said to Monkey, “Great Sage, it's light now and we must lose no time. We should fight the demon while his morale is still low. We'll support you with all the fire forces while you take him on, and this time I think you'll be able to capture him.”

“You're right,” said Monkey. “We'll all pull together. Let's have some fun.” Every one of them braced himself and displayed his martial prowess as they headed for the mouth of the cave. “Come out, damned demon,” shouted Monkey, “and fight with me.” The two stone doors had been reduced to ashes by the blaze, and the little devils inside were sweeping up and picking over the cinders. The approach of all the gods made them drop their brooms and their ash forks in panic as they rushed back inside to report, “Sun Wukong is here with a host of gods from Heaven demanding battle again.” The news caused the rhinoceros monster great alarm. He noisily ground his teeth of steel, his eyes bulged with fury, and he went out holding his spear and his treasure, pouring out insults: “I'll get you, you thieving arsonist of an ape. What sort of powers do you have that give you the right to treat me with such contempt?”

“Damned devil,” retorted Monkey with a smile on his face, “if you want to know my powers I'll tell you:

Since I was little my powers have been great;

My fame has spread in heaven and in earth.

As a bright young thing I learned to be immortal,

Acquiring the traditions of eternal youth.

I determined to visit the land of the heart

And reverently went to the country of the sages.

I learned the magic of infinite changes

And roamed at will through cosmic space.

My hobby was subduing the tigers on the hills;

When bored I forced the ocean dragons to submit.

I was monarch of the Mountain of Flowers and of Fruit,

And showed off my power in the Water Curtain Cave.

Often I decided to go up to Heaven

And in my folly I occupied the place above.

I was called the Great Sage Equaling Heaven

And given the title of Handsome Monkey King.

When they held a banquet of their magic peaches

I was most angry at not being invited.

Secretly I went to steal jade liquor,

Drinking this rare wine in their elegant pavilions.

Liver of dragons, the marrow of the phoenix,

And many other delicacies did I steal that day.

I ate my fill of those immortal peaches,

And packed my stomach with pills of eternal life.

I then purloined all kinds of Heavenly marvel

And tucked away the treasures of that palace.

Because the Jade Emperor had learned of my powers

Heavenly soldiers were sent into battle

The Nine Bright Shiners I sent on their way;

I wounded all five of the evil constellations.

The generals of Heaven were no match for me:

A hundred thousand soldiers all lost their nerve.

The Jade Emperor then was forced to summon

The Little Sage Erlang to join in the fight.

We both went through our seventy-two changes,

Each of us showing his spirit and strength.

The Bodhisattva Guanyin came to their aid

With her vase of pure water and her sprig of willow,

And Lao Zi used his Diamond Jade

To take me a prisoner back up to Heaven.

They led me in chains to the Jade Monarch's palace

Where legal officials determined my fate.

Strong soldiers were ordered to cut off my head,

But the hacks at my scalp only made sparks fly

When they tried all their tricks but nothing killed me.

I then was escorted to the palace of Lao Zi.

The Six Dings refined me with the fire of their furnace

And made my whole body as hard as steel.

After seven times seven days the furnace was opened,

And out I jumped, more terrible than ever.

The gods all shut their gates, unable to resist,

And the sages decided to ask the Buddha's help.

Great was the power of the Buddha's dharma,

Indeed his wisdom is infinitely mighty.

I wagered with a somersault to jump out of his hand,

But he crushed me with a mountain that rendered me powerless.

Then the Jade Emperor celebrated peace

And the West was proclaimed to be a land of bliss.

I was crushed by the mountain for five hundred years

Never tasting a mouthful of tea or of food.

When the Golden Cicada came down to earth

He was sent from the East to visit the Buddha.

He wants to bring the scriptures back to China,

So the Tang ruler could save his ancestors' souls.

Guanyin converted me to the side of goodness,

To hold to the teachings and keep myself in check.

Since I was released from the agonizing mountain

I have been heading West to fetch the true scriptures.

Do not try to use your evil cunning, devil:

Return to me my master to worship the Buddha.”

When he had heard all this the demon pointed at Monkey and replied, “So you're the thief who robbed Heaven. Stay where you are and take this!” The Great Sage parried the spear whit his cudgel, and just as the two of them were starting to fight again Nezha and the Star Lord of Fire lost their tempers and flung all their magic weapons and fire-raising equipment at the demon king. Monkey was more ferocious than ever, while the thunder gods with their thunder splinters and the Heavenly King with his sword rushed into the fray together, not worrying about rank and seniority.

The demon king gave a mocking and majestic laugh, discreetly brought the ring out of his sleeve and threw it into the air with a shout of “Catch them!” It came whistling down, catching the six magic weapons, all the fire-raising equipment and creatures, the thunder gods' thunderbolt, the Heavenly King's sword and Monkey's cudgel. Once again the gods were all empty-handed and the Great Sage Sun disarmed. The triumphant demon turned round to say, “Little ones, fetch rocks to make new doors, and start digging and building to refurbish all the rooms inside. When that's done I'll slaughter the Tang Priest and his disciples as a thanksgiving to the local god, and you'll all have a share.” The little demons all set to as they had been instructed.

When Heavenly King Li led his troops back up the mountain the Star Lord of Fire was grumbling about Nezha's impatience and the thunder gods were angry with the Heavenly King for behaving badly. The only person keeping quiet was the Earl of the Yellow River. Seeing how they were all unwilling to look each other in the face and were worried, desperate, resentful and trying to make himself look cheerful, Brother Monkey said to them with a smile, “Don't be upset. Victory and defeat are all part of the soldier's routine. The demon's only so-so in fighting skill. The only thing that makes him so dangerous is that ring which has caught all our weapons again. Don't worry. I'll go and make some more inquiries about who and what he is.”

“But last time you asked the Jade Emperor to have an inspection of the whole of Heaven you found no trace of him,” said Prince Nezha. “Where are you going to look for him now?”

“As I recall,” said Monkey, “the Buddha's dharma is boundless. I'll go to the Western Heaven to ask the Tathagata Buddha to look at all four continents with his all-seeing eyes and find out where the demon was born, where his home is officially registered, and what his ring really is. Whatever happens we must capture him to avenge you gentlemen and allow you to return to Heaven happy.”

“In that case,” said the gods, “don't stay here a moment longer. Go at once.”

Splendid Monkey said, “Go!” and with one bound of his somersault cloud he was soon at Vulture Peak. Bringing down his auspicious right he looked all around. It was a wonderful place:

Nobly tower the sacred peaks,

Pure is the beauty of the many crags,

Magical summits rise to touch the jade-blue sky,

This is what holds the Western Heaven in place,

Dominating China with its great might.

Its primal energy permeates earth and sky,

Covering all with splendor as its majesty spreads.

The sounds of bells and chimes reverberate for long

While voices can be heard reciting holy sutras.

Under blue pines the faithful preach

While arhats stroll among the cypresses.

White cranes come with purpose to the Vulture peak;

Phoenixes choose to perch on its empty pavilions.

Monkeys in twos pick immortal fruit;

Pairs of deer present milk vetch.

The songs of hidden birds seem to pour out their woes;

One cannot put names to the strange and brilliant flowers.

Ridge upon ridge enfold here many times over;

Smooth are the ancient paths that wind around.

This is a place of purity and magic,

The noble home of the enlightened Buddha.

As Monkey was admiring the mountain scenery someone called to him, “Where have you come from, Sun Wukong, and where are you going?” He turned round at once to see it was an honorable bhiksuni, or nun.

“There is a matter on which I would like to see the Tathagata,” said Monkey with a bow.

“You're so naughty,” said the bhiksuni. “If you're here to see the Tathagata why don't you go straight up to his monastery instead of admiring the scenery?”

“I only had the effrontery to look because this is my first visit,” Monkey replied.

“Come with me at once,” said the bhiksuni, and Monkey went with her to the gates of the Thunder Monastery, where their way was blocked by the eight vajrapanis, the ferocious guardian gods. “Wait here for a while, Wukong, while I make a report on your behalf,” said the bhiksuni. Monkey stood outside the gates while the bhiksuni went into the Buddha's presence, put her hands together, and said, “Sun Wukong is here on a matter over which he wishes to see you, Tathagata.” The Buddha sent for Monkey, and the vajrapanis then allowed him in.

When Monkey had made his kowtows the Buddha asked, “Why are you here by yourself? I was told that you were converted to the faith after the honorable Guanyin released you, and that you were escorting the Tang Priest here to fetch the scriptures. What has happened?”

“I report to my Buddha,” said Monkey, his head touching the ground, “that your disciple has been escorting the Tang Priest Westwards ever since my conversion. At the Jindou Cave in Mount Jindou we're up against an evil demon called the Great Rhinoceros King who has tremendous magic powers. He is holding my master and fellow disciples as prisoners in his cave. I have asked the demon to return them, but his intentions are evil. When we fought he grabbed my iron cudgel with a gleaming white ring. I thought he might be some officer from Heaven with a yearning for earthly things so I went straight up there, but on inspection could not find any missing. The Jade Emperor kindly sent Heavenly King Li and his son Nezha to help me, but the demon took the prince's six weapons. Then I asked the Star Lord of Fire to burn him out, but he took all the fire-raising equipment and creatures. Next I asked the Star Lord of Water to drown him, but not a drop touched him. I went to a lot of effort to steal back the cudgel and all the rest of it, challenged him to another fight, and lost it all to him again. I have no way of subduing him. That is why I have come to ask my Buddha to show his disciple mercy and look to see where the monster is from. Then I'll be able to arrest his relations and neighbors, capture him and rescue the master. Then we'll all be able to seek the true achievement together reverently.”

When the Buddha heard this his all-seeing eyes looked far away, and all was revealed to him at once. “I know who that monster is,” he said, “but I must not tell you. You cannot keep your mouth shut, little monkey, and once you put it about that I told you he would stop fighting you and come to make a row here on Vulture Peak. I would only be asking for trouble for myself. Instead I will give you some dharma power to help you capture him.”

“What dharma power will the Tathagata give me?” asked Monkey, kowtowing in thanks. The Tathagata Buddha then told his eighteen arhats to open their treasury and take eighteen grains of golden cinnabar sand with them.

“What does golden cinnabar sand do?” Monkey asked.

“Go and have another contest with the demon outside the cave,” the Buddha replied. “Lure him out so that the arhats can drop their sand on him and fix him to the spot. He will not be able to move his body or lift a leg, and you will be able to beat him up as you see fit.”

“Splendid,” said Monkey with a smile, “splendid. Let's go straight away.” Not daring to delay, the arhats fetched the golden cinnabar sand and set out, while Brother Monkey thanked the Buddha once more. When they were on their way Monkey found on counting that there were only sixteen arhats.

“What sort of place is this if you let people bribe their way out of their duties?” Monkey asked.

“What do you mean, bribing their way out of their duties?”

“Eighteen of you were sent,” Monkey replied, “so why are there only sixteen of you now?”

Before the words were out of his mouth the arhats Dragon-subduer and Tiger-queller came up to him and asked, “Wukong, how can you be so wicked? We stayed behind to receive the Buddha's instructions.”

“You've too tricky,” said Monkey, “too tricky. If I'd called out any later I dare say you wouldn't have come at all.” All the arhats were laughing as they mounted their auspicious clouds.

They were soon at Mount Jindou. When Heavenly King Li saw them he led his hosts out in greeting and started to tell them all that had happened. “Spare us the details,” the arhats said, “Call him out as soon as you can.”

The Great Sage made a spell with his hands, went to the mouth of the cave, and started shouting insults: “Come out, you bloated fiend, come out and see if you can beat your grandfather Monkey.”

The little devils flew in to report, and the demon king said in fury, “Who's the thieving ape asked along to help him in his wickedness?”

“There are no soldiers with him,” the little devils replied. “He's there by himself.”

“How could he possibly dare to come back here alone?” the demon king wondered. “I've got his cudgel. Does he want another boxing match?” Taking his ring and brandishing his spear the demon told the little devils to clear away the rocks blocking the entrance and leapt outside. “Damned ape,” he shouted insultingly, “make yourself scarce. You've been beaten often enough. What are you here shouting for again?”

“Damned demon,” said Monkey, “you don't know what's good for you. The only way to stop me coming back is to surrender, apologize and give my master and my fellow disciples back. Do that and I'll spare you.”

“I've already had those three monks of yours cleaned up,” the monster replied, “and soon I'm going to slaughter them. Don't you realize that yet? Get lost!”

At the word “slaughter” Monkey stamped his feet, and his cheeks reddened as he could not hold back his anger for a moment longer. Dropping his guard he took a sidestep and swung his fist at the monster's face. The monster struck back with his spear, and not realizing that Monkey was deliberately springing from side to side he allowed himself to be lured South further and further from the cave. Monkey then called on the arhats to throw their golden cinnabar sand at the demon all together. It was a marvellous display of divine power. Indeed:

At first it spread like mist or smoke

Drifting gently down from the sky.

A vast expanse of whiteness

In which nothing can be seen;

A blanket of obscurity

That hides one's way in an instant.

The woodcutter loses his mate when gathering firewood;

The young Taoist gathering herbs cannot see his home.

The fine grains blow in the wind like flour,

The coarse ones roll like sesame seeds.

The world is lost to sight, the mountain peaks are dark,

And sunshine from the sky is blotted out.

This is not the dust kicked up by horses

Nor like the softness of a fragrant carriage.

This cinnabar sand is a merciless thing

Covering heaven and earth and capturing all demons.

Only because the monster attacked the true Way

Were the arhats commanded to show off its splendor.

In their hands they were holding pearls of brilliance

To shine with dazzling brightness at the right time.

When the demon was being blinded by the flying sand he bent down to see that it was already three feet deep on the ground. In his alarm he sprang up at once to the level above it, but before he had steadied himself it was already over two feet deeper. Now desperate, he pulled his feet free, took out his ring, and threw it up in the air with a shout of “Catch them!” As it came whistling down it caught all eighteen grains of golden cinnabar sand. The monster went back into his cave.

The empty-handed arhats stopped their clouds. “Why have you stopped dropping your sand, arhats?” asked Monkey as he came towards them.

“There was a noise just now and all our golden cinnabar sand disappeared,” they replied.

“That thing must have caught it too,” said Monkey with a laugh.

“If he's as invincible as this however are we going to capture him?” the Heavenly King and the rest of them said. “When will we ever go back to Heaven, and how will we be able to face the Jade Emperor?”

Then the two arhats Dragon-subduer and Tiger-queller said to Monkey, “Wukong, do you know why we two were late setting out?”

“I was cross because I thought you were skulking somewhere and not coming,” said Monkey. “I didn't know you were having a conversation.”

“The Tathagata Buddha gave us these instructions,” the arhats replied. “He said, 'That fiend has very great magic powers. If you lose your golden cinnabar sand tell Sun Wukong to go to Lord Lao Zi's Tushita Palace in the Lihen Heaven to find out about the fiend's background. If he does that he may be able to capture the monster easily.'”

“What a horrible thing to do,” said Monkey. “The Buddha's tricked me again. He should have told me before and spared you this long journey.”

“As those are the Buddha's clear instructions you should be on your way as soon as possible,” said Heavenly King Li.

Splendid Monkey. Saying, “I'm off!” he sent his somersault cloud straight in through the Southern Gate of Heaven, where the four marshals raised their hands in greeting and asked how the capture of the demon was going. “I haven't got him yet,” said Monkey without stopping, “but I now know where to find out about his background.” Not daring to delay him, the four marshals let him pass through. He did not go to the Hall of Miraculous Mist or the Palace of the Dipper and the Bull, but went straight to the gates of the Tushita Palace in the Lihen Heaven that lies beyond the thirty-three heavens, where he saw two immortal boys standing in attendance. Monkey did not report his name but rushed straight in, to the consternation of the boys who grabbed him.

“Who are you?” they asked, “and where are you going?”

“I am the Great Sage Equaling Heaven,” Monkey replied, “and I'm here to see Lord Lao Zi.”

“How could you be so ill-mannered?” the boys said. “Just wait there while we make a report.” Allowing no further discussion Monkey shouted at them and went straight in, colliding with Lord Lao Zi who was coming out to meet him.

“Haven't seen you for ages, old fellow,” said Monkey after bowing and uttering a respectful “re-e-er.”

“Why are you here, you little monkey, instead of going to fetch scriptures?” asked Lord Lao Zi with a smile. To this Monkey replied,

“To fetch the holy scriptures

I toil day and night,

And now that I'm in trouble

To see you would be right.”

“What have your troubles on the road to the Western Heaven to do with me?” Lord Lao Zi asked. Monkey's answer was:

“Of the Buddha's West Heaven

Please don't talk today.

It's to follow a trail

That I've come up this way.”

“But this is a Supreme Immortals' palace,” Lord Lao Zi replied, “so how can you be following anyone's trail up here?”

Monkey went into the palace and looked about him with great concentration. When he had gone along a number of covered walkways he noticed a boy sleeping by the buffalo pen, from which the water-buffalo was missing. “Old man,” shouted Monkey, “your buffalo's escaped, your buffalo's escaped.”

“When did that wicked beast get away?” asked Lord Lao Zi with horror. The noise woke up the boy, who knelt before Lord Lao Zi and said, “My lord, I was asleep. I don't know when it went.”

“When did you go to sleep, you little wretch?” asked Lord Lao Zi angrily.

“I picked up an elixir pill in the elixir laboratory and ate it,” replied the boy with kowtows, “then went to sleep here.”

“I suppose you ate one of the seven-fired elixir tablets that must have been dropped when I refined them the other day, damn you,” said Lord Lao Zi. “One of those tablets would make you sleep for seven days. The evil beast took the chance to escape and go down to the mortal world when you went to sleep and left it unguarded. That must have been seven days ago.” He then ordered an inspection to find out if it had stolen any treasures.

“It doesn't have any treasures, only a terrible ring,” said Monkey.

When Lord Lao Zi made an urgent check he found that nothing was missing except a diamond jade bangle. “The evil beast must have stolen my Diamond Jade Bangle,” said Lord Lao Zi.

“So that's what his treasure is,” said Monkey, “that's what he fought me with. Goodness only knows how many of our weapons he's caught with that now he's rampaging around in the mortal would.”

“Where is that wicked beast now?” Lord Lao Zi asked.

“In the Jindou Cave on Mount Jindou, where he's holding the Tang Priest and has captured my gold-banded cudgel. I asked for the help of heavenly soldiers, and he took Prince Nezha's magic weapons. When I invited the Star Lord of Fire to come his fire-raising equipment and creatures were taken. Although the Earl of the Yellow River couldn't drown him, at least his gear wasn't taken. Then when I asked the Buddha to send his arhats to scatter their golden cinnabar sand the demon took all that too. It looks as though you are guilty of a very serious crime in allowing a thieving and murderous monster to get away.”

“That Diamond Jade Bangle is a treasure I refined and created after I went out through the Han Pass to convert the foreigners. Nothing can get anywhere near it, not weapons, fire or water. But if my Plantain Fan had been stolen not even I would have been able to do anything about it”

Monkey was feeling very pleased as he accompanied Lord Lao Zi, who was carrying his Plantain Fan, out of the palace by auspicious cloud. Once they were through the Southern Gate of Heaven they brought the cloud straight down to Mount Jindou, where Lord Lao Zi greeted the eighteen arhats, the thunder gods, the Earl of the Yellow River, the Star Lord of Fire, Heavenly King Li and Prince Nezha, who told him all about what had happened. “For me to catch him Sun Wukong will have to go down to lure him out once more,” Lord Lao Zi said.

Monkey jumped down from the peak and started yelling abuse once more. “Bloated, evil beast, come out and be killed.”

When the little devils reported once again the demon king said, “I wonder who the evil monkey has fetched this time.” He went out with his spear and his treasure to have Monkey cursing him once again.

“Vicious demon, you're definitely going to die this time. Stay there, and take this!” Monkey leapt straight at him, punched the demon on the ear with a swing of his fist, turned and fled. The demon was going after him, wielding his spear, when a shout came from the top of the mountain: “Go home, buffalo. What are you waiting for?”

When the demon looked up and saw Lord Lao Zi he trembled with fear. “That thieving ape really is a devil. How did he ever persuade my master to come?”

When Lord Lao Zi recited a spell and fanned his fan once, the monster surrendered the ring which the lord caught in his hand. When he fanned it again all the strength went out of the monster, who reverted to his true form as a water-buffalo. Lord Lao Zi then blew on the Diamond Bangle with magic breath, put it thorough the buffalo's nose, undid the sash at his own waist, threaded it through the ring and held it.

To this day water-buffaloes still have devices called pegs put through their noses through which a rope can be run: this does the same job.

Lord Lao Zi then took his leave of the gods, mounted the buffalo, and rode on his multicolored cloud up to the Tushita Heaven, taking the demon with him on its lead.

Only then could the Great Sage Sun, Heavenly King Li and all of the host charge into the cave, killing all the hundred and more big and little devils and recovering their weapons and equipment. Monkey thanked Heavenly King Li and Nezha, who went back to Heaven; the thunder gods, who returned to their residence; the Star Lord of Fire, who went to his palace; the Earl of the Yellow River who went to his river; and the arhats, who returned to the Western Heaven. Finally he released the Tang Priest, Pig and Friar Sand and took back his iron cudgel. When the three of them had thanked Monkey the horse and the luggage were got ready and master and disciples left the cave to find the main route to the West.

As they were walking along they heard a call of “Holy Tang Priest, have a vegetarian meal,” which startled the master. If you do not know who was calling, listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 53

The Dhyana Master Conceives after Eating a Meal

The Yellow-Wife Brings Waster to Remove a Devil Foetus

Eight hundred kinds of virtue must be cultivated,

Three thousand good deeds must be secretly performed.

Do not distinguish objects from self, or friend from foe:

That conforms with the teaching of the Western Heaven.

The rhinoceros demon feared no weapons;

No blame attached to the failure of water and fire.

Lord Lao Zi subdued him and took him to Heaven,

Turning the buffalo round with a smile.

The story goes on to tell who was calling by the wayside. The mountain god and local deity of Mount Jindou came out carrying a bowl of purple gold. “Holy monk,” they said, “this bowl of rice was begged by the Great Sage Monkey from a pious household. You fell into the clutches of an evil demon because you would not heed good advice, putting the Great Sage to endless trouble before he was finally able to free you today. Please eat this food before continuing on your way, and do not be ungrateful for the Great Sage's respect and sense of duty.”

“I am very grateful to you, disciple,” said Sanzang, “and I cannot find words to express all my thanks. If I had realized before that I should not step out of the circle I would never have been in such danger of being killed.”

“I tell you frankly, Master,” said Brother Monkey, “that because you did not trust the ring I drew you ended up the victim of someone else's ring. It caused so much trouble and suffering. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!”

“What do you mean about another ring?” Pig asked.

“It was all your fault, you evil-tongued cretin, for getting the master into that terrible danger,” said Monkey. “I had to turn heaven and earth upside down to fetch heavenly soldiers, water, fire, and even the Buddha's cinnabar sand, all of which was caught by his gleaming white ring. It was only because the Buddha gave a hint to the arhats who told me where the demon had come from that I could fetch Lord Lao Zi to subdue him. He was a water-buffalo turned demon.”

“Good disciple,” said Sanzang with infinite gratitude when he heard this, “after this experience I shall definitely take your advice in future.” The four of them then ate the steaming food. “Why is this rice still hot after such a long time?” Monkey asked. “I heated it up myself when I knew that the Great Sage had succeeded,” replied the local deity on his knees. The food was soon eaten, after which they put the bowl away and took their leave of the local deity and the mountain god. The master remounted and they crossed the high mountain. Their minds freed from worries, they returned to true perception; dining on the wind and sleeping in the dew they continued to the West. When they had been travelling for a long time it was once again early spring. They heard

The soft call of swallows,

The beauty of orioles.

The soft call of swallows tiring their fragrant voices;

The beauty of orioles and their frequent song.

The land is covered with flowers like brocade,

The emerald-green hills seem piled with cushions.

Fruit forms on the greengage trees on the ridge,

While an ancient cypress holds a cloud before the scar.

Pale is the misty light on the fertile plain;

Warm sands are bathed in the glow of sunset.

Orchards and trees now break into blossom;

Willows grow new shoots as the spring returns.

As they were walking along they came to a little river in which the water flowed cool, pure and deep. When he reined in his horse for a better look the Tang Priest could make out some of the roof of a thatched cottage under the green shade of willows. “That must be a ferryman's house,” said Monkey, pointing at the cottage. “It looks likely enough,” replied Sanzang, “but I would not like to be too sure as I cannot see any boat.”

“Ferryman!” yelled Pig at the top of his voice, putting the luggage down. “Bring the boat over.” After a number of these shouts a rowing boat came creaking out from under the willows and was soon near their bank. When they looked carefully this is what they saw:

Short oars dividing the waves,

Lightly skimming on the water.

The hull is painted in many colours,

Enclosing a full hold.

Iron chains are neatly coiled in the bows,

And bright is the tiller in the stern.

Although the skiff is only as light as a reed

It is the equal of an ocean-going vessel.

It may have no ivory mast or silken rigging,

But it does have cassia oars and a sternpost of pine.

Indeed this is no ship for mighty voyages,

Just a ferry fit to cross a single stream,

Coming and going between the river's banks,

Never leaving the ancient crossing place.

The boat was soon at the bank, “This way to cross the river,” called the boatman. Urging the horse forward for a closer look, Sanzang saw that the boatman looked like this:

A head wrapped in a toweling cloth,

Feet in black shoes of silk.

Many a patch on cotton-padded tunic and trousers,

And around the waist was a much-stitched cotton apron.

Horny skin on the hands, and muscles hard,

Eyes dim, a wrinkled brow, and an aged face.

But the voice was a melodious as an oriole's song;

At a closer look she was clearly an old woman.

“Do you do the ferrying?” asked Monkey, approaching the boat.

“Yes,” the woman replied.

“Why isn't the ferryman here?” Monkey asked. “Why has he left it to his wife to pole the boat?”

The woman smiled and said nothing as she put the gangplank into position. Friar Sand carried the luggage aboard while Monkey helped the master on then followed himself. Pig led the horse on, after which the plank was stowed. The woman pushed off and quickly rowed them across the river.

When they were on the Western bank Sanzang told Friar Sang to open one of the bundles and take out some coins to give her. The ferry woman did not argue about the amount, but moored the boat by its painter to a stake beside the water and went back into her cottage chuckling.

As he was thirsty and the water was so clear Sanzang said to Pig, “Get the bowl and fetch me some water to drink.” Pig did as he was told and handed the water to his master, who drank only about a third of it, leaving two-thirds for the idiot to snatch and down in a single draft before helping the master back on his horse.

Master and disciples had been going less than an hour on the road West when Sanzang started to groan, “My stomach's hurting.”

“I've got the bellyache too,” said Pig, who was behind him.

“It must be because you drank cold water,” said Friar Sand, only to be interrupted by groans of “It's agony!” from his master and Pig. The two of them were in unbearable pain and their abdomens were gradually swelling. When they felt with their hands there was something like a lump of flesh and blood moving and jerking around incessantly. Sanzang was feeling very unsteady when he noticed two bundles of straw hanging from the top of a tree in a village by the road.

“That's good, Master,” said Monkey. “There's a wineshop there. I'll go and beg you some hot water and find out if anyone sells medicine there and will let you have some medicine to ease your pain.”

Sanzang was very pleased with the suggestion, so he whipped the white horse forward and was soon at the gates of the village, where he dismounted. An old woman was sitting on a bundle of straw outside the gates twisting hempen thread. Monkey went up to her, put his hands together in front of his chest in greeting, and said, “We monks have come from the Great Tang in the East. My master is the Tang Emperor's younger brother, and he has a stomachache because he drank some water from a river.”

“Which river did you drink from?” asked the old woman, laughing aloud.

“From the clear river to the East of here,” replied Monkey.

“What a laugh,” chuckled the old woman, “what a laugh! Come inside and I'll explain.”

Monkey supported Sanzang while Friar Sand helped pig into the thatched cottage where they sat down. The two of them were groaning in agony from their protruding bellies, their faces sallow and their foreheads creased with frowns. “Please boil some water for my master, missus,” said Monkey. “He must have it, and I'll be very grateful.”

Instead of doing this she went into the back of the house, still chuckling, and called, “Come and see, come and see!” There was a slap of sandals inside as two or three middle-aged women came out to stare at Sanzang with grins across their faces. This made Monkey so angry that he shouted and bared his teeth at them, sending them all scurrying and stumbling inside in terror.

Monkey went after them, grabbed the old woman, and said, “Boil some water this minute and I'll spare your life.”

“My lord,” said the old woman, “hot water won't be any use. I can't do anything to help those two with their bellyaches. If you let me go I'll tell you all about it.” When Monkey released her she continued, “This is the Womanland of Western Liang. All of us in this country are female, and there isn't a man among us, which is why we were so pleased to see you. It's terrible that the reverend father has drank from that river, which is called the Motherhood River. There is a Male-welcoming Post Station outside our capital with a Pregnancy-revealing Spring. In this country we only dare drink of the river's water when we reach the age of twenty. After drinking it we feel the stomach pains of pregnancy. Three days later we go to the Pregnancy-revealing Spring at the Male-welcoming Post Station. If we see a double reflection in the waters we give birth to a child. Because your master has drunk from the Motherhood River he's pregnant. He's going to have a baby soon. What will a hot drink do to help that?”

Sanzang went pale with shock at the news.

“What am I to do, disciple?” he asked.

“I'm going to have a child, but I'm a man,” said Pig, writhing around in his agony. “Where will the child come out? How am I to give birth to it?”

“As the old saying goes, a melon falls when it's ripe,” replied Monkey with a laugh. “When the time comes a hole will open under your ribs for it to be born through.”

This conversation made Pig shake with fear, and the pain was more than he could bear. “I can't take any more,” he said, “I can't take any more. I'm dying, I'm dying.”

“Stop fidgeting, brother,” said Friar Sand with a grin, “stop fidgeting or else you'll get the umbilical cord in a twist and be ill before the birth.”

The idiot's panic was now worse than ever as with tears in his eyes he held on to Monkey and said, “Brother, ask the old lady where there are midwives with a gentle touch and send for some. The pains are coming very close to each other now. They must be labor pains. It'll be very soon now.”

“If they're labor pains, brother, you'd better stop writhing about if you don't want your waters to break,” said Friar Sand, still grinning.

“My good lady,” groaned Sanzang, “are there any doctors round here? Send one of my disciples to buy some medicine that will make me abort.”

“Medicine won't be any use,” said the old woman. “There's a Miscarriage Spring in Childfree Cave in Mount Offspring Dissolved on the road due South from here. To end your pregnancy you must drink the water of that spring. But the spring water cannot be had now as a Taoist called the As-you-will Immortal came here the other year and changed the Childfree Cave to the Hermitage of Immortals. He's hoarding the waters of Miscarriage Spring, which he won't give away. Anyone who wants water must take him rich gifts. You have to offer mutton, wine and fruit, and be very reverent indeed before you can get a bowl of the water from him. You travelling monks couldn't possibly afford to do all that, so you'll just have to let fate take its course and have the babies when your time comes.” Monkey, who was very pleased to learn all this, then asked how far it was to Mount Offspring Dissolved. “Ten miles,” the old woman replied.

“Fine,” said Monkey. “You can stop worrying, Master. I'll go and get you some of the water.”

“Look after the master properly,” said the splendid Great Sage in his parting instructions to Friar Sand, “and if the people here try to bully him use your old trick of pulling a face to scare them till I get back with the water.”

Friar Sand was preparing to do as he was told when the old woman came out with a big earthenware bowl that she gave to Monkey. “Take this and fetch as much as you can,” she said, “so that we can keep some for emergencies.”

Monkey left the thatched cottage with the bowl in his hands and was off on his cloud, at which the old woman bowed to the sky and said, “That monk can ride on clouds, my lord.” Then she went inside and called the other women out to kowtow to the Tang Priest. They started calling him “arhat” and “Bodhisattva,” boiled water and prepared a meal to offer him.

Monkey's somersault cloud soon brought him within sight of a mountain that blocked his cloud, so he brought it down to gaze at the superb mountain. He saw

A brocade of subtle blossoms,

Wild flowers spreading a green carpet,

Streams running into each other,

Brooks and clouds both at their ease.

Dense grow the creepers in many a valley,

And trees are packed close on a distant ridge.

While songbirds call wild geese fly over,

Deer drink, and gibbons climb.

The green line of peaks stands like a screen;

The blue rock face is shaped like a topknot.

It is hard to reach it across the drifting sands;

None could tire of watching the waterfall.

Taoist boys roam in search of herbs;

Foresters return with loads of firewood.

It is a worthy rival to Mount Tiantai,

And better than the threefold Huashan summit.

As the Great Sage was looking at the mountain he saw a farmhouse on its Northern slope from where the barking of dogs could be heard. The Great Sage went straight down the mountainside to the farm, which was indeed a splendid place:

A bridge across a lively stream,

A cottage sheltered by the hill,

Dogs barking by the broken fence,

A recluse who comes and goes at will.

Monkey was soon at the gate, where he saw an old Taoist sitting on a green cushion. Putting down the earthenware bowl, Monkey went forward to greet him. The Taoist returned his greeting with a bow from where he sat and asked, “Where have you come from? What business brings you here to this hermitage?”

“I have been sent by the emperor of the Great Tang in the East to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven,” Brother Monkey replied. “My master's belly is unbearably painful and swollen because he drank some of the water of the Motherhood River. When we asked the local people they said it was because he is pregnant, and that there is no cure for this apart from the Miscarriage Spring in Childfree Cave in Mount Offspring Dissolved. So I have come especially to pay my respects to the As-you-will Immortal and beg him for some of the spring water with which to save my master. Could you be so kind as to show me the way?”

“This was Childfree Cave,” said the Taoist with a smile, “but now it's called the Hermitage of Immortals. I am none other than the senior disciple of my master the As-you-will Immortal. Tell me your name and I will announce you.”

“I am the senior disciple of the Patriarch Tang Sanzang,” said Monkey politely, “and my name is Sun Wukong.”

“Where are your presents, your wine and your offerings?” the Taoist asked.

“I'm only a passing itinerant monk,” said Monkey, “so I haven't been able to arrange them.”

“Fool!” said the Taoist with a laugh. “My master controls the spring and never gives any thing away for nothing. You'd better go and fetch your offerings if you want me to announce you, or else go away and forget about it.”

“People will do more as a favour than on the emperor's command,” Monkey replied. “Go and tell him my name and he's bound to do me this favour. He might even give me the whole spring.”

The Taoist went in to report all this to the immortal, who was playing his qin zither, and waited till he had finished before saying, “Master, there's a Buddhist monk outside who says he's Sun Wukong, the senior disciple of Tang Sanzang. He is asking for some of the water of the Miscarriage Spring to save his master with.” Had the immortal not been told this the matter would have ended there, but at the name of Sun Wukong anger surged up from his heart and evil grew from his gall. He sprang to his feet, stepped down from the low table on which he was playing the qin, changed from his informal clothes into his Taoist robes, and rushed out through the gates of his hermitage with his As-You-Will hook in his hands. “Where is Sun Wukong?” he shouted, and Monkey turned to see that he looked like this:

On his head was a star-crown of many colours,

And his magic robe was red with threads of gold.

The cloud-shoes on his feet were thickly embroidered;

The jade belt at his waist was delicately worked.

His wave-treading hosiery was of brocade,

And glimpses showed of a silk velvet underskirt.

He held a golden As-You-Will hook,

Long-handled with a base shaped like a dragon.

Bright were his phoenix eyes, and lotus-like his brows;

Steel-sharp were his teeth, and his lips bright crimson.

He looked more evil still than Marshal Wen

Although he wore a different kind of dress.

When Monkey saw him he put his hands together and said, “My name, sir, is Sun Wukong.”

“Are you really Sun Wukong,” said the Taoist master with a smile, “or are you just pretending to be?”

“What a thing to ask, sir! As the saying goes, a gentleman never changes his name whether he's travelling or staying at home. I am indeed Sun Wukong. Why should I want to pretend?”

“Do you know who I am?” the Taoist master asked.

“I've been converted to the Buddhist faith and follow Buddhist teachings,” Monkey said. “I've grown distant from the friends of my child hood on this long journey and I haven't visited any. I'm afraid I don't quite recognize you. I only know your name because the people in the village West of Motherhood River told me that you are the As-you-will Immortal.”

“You're busy on your journey, and I am busy cultivating my true arts,” the Taoist replied, “so why have you come to see me?”

“Because my master is pregnant and has a belly ache after mistakenly drinking water from the Motherhood River,” said Monkey. “I've come to your immortal abode to beg you for a bowl of water from the Miscarriage Spring with which to deliver him from his agony.”

“Is your master Tang Sanzang?” asked the Taoist with an angry glare.

“Yes, yes,” said Brother Monkey.

“Did you ever meet the Boy Sage King?” asked the Taoist, gnashing his teeth with hatred.

“That was the title of the demon Red Boy in the Fire-cloud Cave by Withered Pine Ravine on Mount Hao,” Monkey replied. “Why are you asking about him, immortal?”

“He is my nephew,” the immortal replied. “I am the brother of the Bull Demon King. He wrote me a letter telling me how Sun Wukong, the vicious senior disciple of Tang Sanzang, destroyed the boy. It was my great regret that I had no way of taking revenge on you here, but now you've come to my door begging for water.”

“You are mistaken, sir,” said Monkey, putting on a smile. “Your respected elder brother used to be a friend of mine, and we were two of seven sworn brothers in my youth. The only reason I did not come to pay my respects earlier was because I did not know your address. Your good nephew has done very well. He's now serving the Bodhisattva Guanyin as the page Sudhana. He's much better off than the rest of us, so why be so angry with me?”

“Damned ape!” shouted the Taoist master. “How dare you argue like that? Is my nephew better off as a slave than he was when he enjoyed the delights of being a king? Learn to behave yourself, and try a taste of my hook.”

Monkey parried with his iron cudgel and said, “Don't talk about fighting. Give me some of the spring water instead.”

“Vicious ape,” the Taoist master said again, “you don't know whether you want to live or die. If you can hold out against me for three rounds I'll give you your water, but if you can't I shall avenge my nephew by cutting you up and stewing you in soy sauce.”

“I'll get you, you impudent and evil creature,” replied the Great Sage. “If you want a fight try my cudgel.” The Taoist master blocked it with his hook, and the two of them fought a fine battle by the Hermitage of Immortals.

The holy monk conceived after drinking from a river,

So Monkey went to call on the As-you-will Immortal,

Not knowing that the Taoist was in fact a monster,

Who had used his powers to seize the Miscarriage Spring.

When he met Monkey old hatreds were revived:

They were locked in struggle and neither would yield.

As they talked on he became ever angrier,

Evilly determined to have his revenge.

One came for water to save his master's life,

Which the other would not give for his nephew's sake.

More lethal than a scorpion was the as-out-will hook,

While the gold-banded cudgel struck like a dragon,

The cudgel kept thrusting savagely at the chest,

While the hook made subtle cuts to the legs.

Grievous were the wounds where the cudgel fell,

And the hook rose from the shoulders to strike at the head.

The cudgel swung round the waist

Like a hawk after a sparrow;

The hook struck thrice at the head

Like a mantis catching a cicada.

They came and went as they struggled for mastery,

The ebb and flow of battle taking them forward and back.

There was nothing to choose between cudgel and hook;

Neither contender emerged as the victor.

After the Taoist master had fought over ten rounds with the Great Sage but was no match for him Monkey struck at the head with more ferocity than ever, his cudgel's blows falling like a stream of shooting stars. Completely exhausted, the Taoist master fled down the mountainside trailing his As-You-Will hook behind him.

Instead of pursuing him Monkey went to the hermitage in search of water, only to find that the other Taoist had already fastened the gates. Holding the earthenware bowl in his hands he went straight up to the gates, kicked through them with all his strength, and rushed in. The Taoist disciple was crouching behind the well's railings. The Great Sage shouted at him, raised his cudgel, and was about to kill him when the Taoist fled into the back. Monkey had just fetched a bucket and was on the point of filling it with spring water from the well when the master came up behind him, caught his feet with the hook, and sent him sprawling on the ground. The Great Sage pulled himself to his feet and started hitting back with his cudgel. The Taoist master swerved aside and said, wielding the hook, “We'll see if you can steal the water from my well.”

“Come here,” shouted Monkey, “come here. I'll get you, you evil creature, and I'll beat you to death.” The Taoist master did not go for Monkey but just stood guard over the well, preventing him from drawing any water, Seeing that he was not moving, Monkey whirled his cudgel round and round with his left hand and in his right took the bucket, which he sent noisily down the well on the rope. The Taoist master came back to the attack with his hook. Monkey, unable to hold him off one-handed, was tripped round his legs again and sent sprawling, dropping the bucket and rope down the well.

“What a way to behave,” remarked the Great Sage, getting back on his feet and taking his cudgel in both hands to lash wildly back. Once again the Taoist master fled, unable to face him. The Great Sage still wanted to draw some water but now he had no bucket and was also worried that he might be tripped by the hook again. “I'd better get someone to help me,” he thought.

The splendid Great Sage turned his cloud round, went straight back to the cottage door, and shouted, “Friar Sand.” When Sanzang and Pig, who were groaning and moaning in agony, heard his shout they said with relief, “Friar Sand, Wukong's back.”

Friar Sand opened the door as quickly as he could, asking, “Have you got the water, brother?”

When Monkey came in and told them what had happened Sanzang said with tears in his eyes, “What are we to do, disciple?”

“I've come to take Brother Sand back to the hermitage with me,” Monkey replied. “He'll fetch the water to save you while I fight that damned Taoist.”

“If both you healthy ones go and abandon us invalids who will look after us?” Sanzang asked.

“Don't worry, venerable arhat,” said the old woman who was standing beside them. “You won't need your disciples. We can look after you. We were very kind to you when you first came, and now that we have seen how that Bodhisattva can travel by cloud we know that you are arhats and Bodhisattvas. We could never possibly harm you.”

“You women,” snorted Monkey, “you wouldn't dare hurt anyone.”

“You don't know your luck, my lord,” the old woman replied with a smile. “If you'd gone to any other house you'd never have come out in one piece.”

“What do you mean?” Pig groaned.

“All of us in this family are getting on,” the old woman replied, “and desire doesn't bother us any more, which is why we didn't harm you. If you'd gone to another household with women of different ages the younger ones would never have let you go. They'd have forced you to sleep with them, and if you'd refused they'd have murdered you and cut all the flesh off your bodies to put in perfume bags.”

“In that case I'd have been safe,” said Pig. “The others smell lovely, just right for a perfume bag, but I'm a stinking boar and any flesh cut off me would stink too. I'd come to no harm.”

“Stop boasting,” said Brother Monkey with a smile, “and save your strength for the delivery.”

“Fetch the water as soon as you can. Don't waste any time,” the old woman said.

“Do you have a well-bucket on a rope I could borrow?” Monkey asked. The old woman went out to the back and brought in a bucket on a rope as well as a spare coil of rope that she handed to Friar Sand. “Take both ropes in case the well is so deep you need them,” she said.

Friar Sand took the bucket and the ropes, left the cottage with Monkey, and flew off on the same cloud. It took them less than an hour to reach Mount Offspring Dissolved, where they landed directly outside the gates of the hermitage. “Take the bucket and the ropes,” Monkey told Friar Sand, “and hide over there. Let me challenge him to battle. When the fight's going good and strong sneak in, fetch the water, and take it back.” Friar Sand accepted his orders.

Brandishing his iron cudgel the Great Sage Sun went up to the gates and shouted, “Open up! Open up!”

When the gate-keeper saw him he hurried inside to report, “Master, Sun Wukong's here again. The Taoist master was furiously angry.”

“That evil ape is utterly impossible. I've long heard of his powers and now I know what they really are. That cudgel of his is unbeatable.”

“Master,” said the other Taoist, “his powers may be great, but you're as good as he is. You are a match for him.”

“He beat me the last two times,” said the master.

“Yes,” said the other, “but that was just because he went for you with such fury. You tripped him up with your hook twice when he was trying to draw water, so that leveled the score, didn't it? He had to run away. If he's back now it must be because he's had to. I expect Sanzang's been complaining too much as his pregnancy's so far advanced. I'm sure that he's feeling resentful of his master. You're absolutely bound to win this time, master.”

This pleased the Taoist immortal and made him feel very cheerful as he went out through the doors. His face was wreathed in smiles, his manner imposing, and his hook in his hands. “Wicked ape, what are you back here for?” he shouted.

“Just to fetch some water,” Monkey replied.

“It's my well,” said the immortal, “and even if you were a king or a minister you'd still have to made me presents and offer mutton and wine before I gave you any. On top of that you're my enemy. How dare you come here empty-handed expecting water?”

“Do you refuse to give me any?” Monkey asked.

“Yes,” said the immortal, “I won't.”

“Vicious and evil beast,” Monkey yelled, “if you won't give me the water, take this!” He dropped his guard to strike hard with his cudgel at the immortal's head. The immortal dodged the blow and struck back with his hook. It was an even finer combat than the previous one.

The gold-banded cudgel,

The As-You-Will hook,

And two fighters filled with hatred and anger.

The flying sand and stones darkened earth and sky;

The clouds of dust and dirt made sun and moon seem sad.

The Great Sage was fetching water to save his master;

That the evil immortal refused for his nephew's sake.

Both sides fought with equal vigor

In their battle that allowed no rest.

They struggled for victory with tight-clenched jaws,

Gritting their teeth as they strove to win.

With growing skill

And ever-greater vigor

They breathed out clouds to frighten gods and ghosts.

Noisily rang the clash of their weapons

As their battle cries shook the mountains and hills.

They were a whirlwind wrecking a forest,

A pair of murderous fighting bulls.

As the battle went on the Great Sage felt happier

And the Taoist immortal had ever more energy.

Each was determined to carry on the fight;

Neither would give up till the issue was resolved.

The two of them leapt around in their fight from the gates of the hermitage to the mountain slope. It was a long and bitter struggle.

When Friar Sand rushed in through the gates with the bucket in his hand the Taoist disciple blocked his way and asked, “Who do you think you are, coming to steal our water?” Friar Sand put down his bucket and ropes, brought out his demon-quelling staff, and struck at the Taoist's head by way of an answer. Because the Taoist could not move out of the way fast enough the blow broke his arm and he fell to the ground, straggling to escape.

“I was going to kill you, you evil beast,” roared Friar Sand, “but seeing as you're human I feel sorry for you and I'll let you go. Now let me get my water.” The Taoist crawled to the back of the hermitage thanking heaven and earth for his escape. Friar Sand then filled his bucket with water from the well, went out through the gates, rose up on his cloud, and called to Monkey, “I've got the water, brother. Spare him now, spare him.”

Hearing this, Monkey held the hook at bay with his cudgel and said, “Listen to what I have to say. I was going to wipe all of you out, but you've broken no laws and your brother the Bull Demon King is a friend of mine. The first time I came you tripped me up with your hook a couple of times and I couldn't get the water. I lured you out to fight me so that my fellow disciple could get some water. If I'd used my full powers I'd have killed several of you, never mind just one As-you-will Immortal. But it's better to spare life than to take it, so I'll let you live a few more years. Never ever try extortion on anyone who comes here for the water again.”

The evil and foolish immortal moved and tried to hook Monkey once more, but Monkey avoided the hook, rushed at him, and shouted, “Don't move!” The helpless immortal fell head first to the ground and was unable to get up. The Great Sage picked up his As-You-Will hook, snapped it in two, then broke the two pieces into four, and threw them to the ground. “Damned beast,” he said, “are you going to try any more nonsense?” The trembling immortal had to bear his humiliation in silence, and the laughing Great Sage rose up on his cloud. There is a poem that testifies to this. It goes:

When true lead is melted it yields a true liquid;

If the true liquid is mixed right, true mercury hardens.

True mercury and true lead have no feminine quality;

Magic cinnabar and herbs are the elixir of immortality.

When a child is recklessly formed and a pregnancy results

The mother of earth succeeds without any effort.

Heresy is pushed over and orthodoxy honoured;

The heart's lord succeeds and returns in smiles.

The Great Sage set off his cloud and caught up with Friar Sand. They were very pleased to be returning with the magical water as they brought their cloud down at the cottage to find Pig leaning against the door and groaning with his big belly sticking out. “Idiot,” said Monkey, stealing up on him, “when did you get yourself pregnant?”

“Stop teasing me,” said the idiot in desperation.

“Did you fetch the water?” Monkey was going to keep the joke up but Friar Sand then arrived to report with a smile, “Here's the water.”

Despite his agony Sanzang managed to lean forward in a kind of bow as he said, “Disciples, I'm very grateful to you.” The old woman was pleased too, and the whole household came in to bow and say, “Bodhisattvas, this is wonderful, wonderful.” She fetched a drinking bowl of decorated porcelain, half filled it with the water, and handed it to Sanzang with the words, “Venerable sir, please drink it very slowly. One mouthful will be enough to end the pregnancy.”

“I won't need a bowl,” said Pig. “I'll drink the lot, bucket, rope and all.”

“Venerable sir,” the woman said, “don't give me such a terrible fright. If you drank the whole bucketful it would dissolve all your insides.” This gave the idiot such a fright that he behaved himself and drank only half a bowlful too.

Within less time than it takes to eat a meal the two of them were in agony: their intestines felt as if they were being wrung out and gave several loud rumbles. After that the idiot could contain himself no longer; he emptied his bowels and his bladder. The Tang Priest, also unable to contain himself, wanted to go to the lavatory.

“Master,” said Brother Monkey, “you mustn't go anywhere you might be in a draft, If you catch a cold you may get milk fever.” The woman then brought in two latrine buckets for the pair of them. When they had both used them several times the pain stopped and their stomachs gradually started to resume their normal size as the extra flesh and blood in them was dissolved.

The woman then cooked them some plain rice porridge to settle their stomachs. “Lady,” said Pig, “my stomach's very strong, and it doesn't need settling. Boil me some water for a bath before I eat my porridge.”

“You mustn't have a bath, brother,” said Friar Sand. “Washing in he first month after childbirth can make you ill.”

“That wasn't childbirth,” said Pig, “just a miscarriage: nothing to worry about. I want a bath to clean up.” The woman then boiled some water for them to wash their hands and feet. The Tang Priest could only manage two bowls of porridge while Pig downed a dozen or so and still wanted more.

“Idiot,” said Monkey with a laugh, “don't eat so much. It wouldn't look pretty at all if you got a big belly like a sandbag.”

“No problem,” said pig, “no problem. I'm not a sow, so I don't need to worry about that.” The women then went out to cook him some more rice.

“Will you give me the rest of the water?” the old woman asked the Tang Priest.

“Have you had enough of the water?” Monkey asked.

“My stomach's stopped hurting,” said Pig, “and I'm sure the pregnancy's completely finished. As I'm fine now I don't need any more.”

“As they're both better now we'll give you the water,” said Monkey. The woman thanked him and buried the water in a glazed jar behind the house.

“That jar of water will be enough to pay for my coffin,” she told the rest of her family, who were all delighted. A vegetarian meal was prepared, tables and chairs were set out, and the monks dined. They took their time over the meal then retired for the night.

The next morning they thanked the old woman and her family and left the cottage. Sanzang mounted the horse, Friar Sand shouldered the luggage, the Great Sage Monkey led the way, and Pig held the bridle. This had been a case of

Rinsing away the evil and leaving the body pure,

Dissolving the mortal foetus to restore the natural self.

If you don't know what else happened in that country listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 54

The Buddha-Nature Traveling West Enters Womankind

The Mind-Ape Makes a Plan to Escape from the Beauties

When Sanzang and his disciples left the cottage they headed West, and about a dozen miles later they entered the country of Western Liang. “Wukong,” said the Tang Priest on his horse, “there is a city not far ahead, and I can hear a great hubbub of voices from the marketplace. You must all be very, very careful and on your best behavior. Do not make nonsense of the teachings of our Buddhist faith by running wild or becoming infatuated.” The three disciples were determined to obey his instructions.

Before the Tang Priest had finished speaking they reached the street leading in from the Eastern gate. Everyone they saw was wearing a skirt and a woman's jacket, a powdered face and oiled hair. All the people, young and old, were women. When those buying and selling in the street saw the four of them coming they started to applaud, laugh and say with smiles all over their faces, “Men, men!” Sanzang was so alarmed that he reined in his horse, unable to go any further forward. In a moment the streets were packed and the air was ringing with happy voices.

“I'm a gelded pig, a gelded pig!” yelled Pig in a panic.

“Stop that nonsense, idiot,” said Monkey. “Just show them your face the way it used to be.” Pig then shook his head a couple of times, stuck up his ears shaped like reed fans, twisted his bristly, dropping snout and give a roar that made all the women collapse with fright. There is a poem to prove it that goes,

The monk came to Western Liang on his way to the Buddha;

The streets were a feminine world where males were not seen.

Peasants, scholars and artisans, merchants and fisherfolk,

Woodcutters, tillers and stock-raisers-all were women.

The beauties poured into the streets to welcome the men;

Young women come in crowds to hail the handsome groom.

If Wuneng had not made full use of his hideous face,

The pilgrims could not have withstood a siege by the ladies.

The women were then all so frightened that they dared not approach.

Clutching their hands, stooping, shaking their heads, chewing at their fingers, trembling and shaking they blocked the streets to look at the Tang Priest. The Great Sage Monkey also pulled a hideous face to clear a way for them, helped by grimaces from Friar Sand. Leading the horse, pig stuck out his snout and was flapping his ears. As they moved forward they saw that the buildings along the city streets were well-built and the shop fronts imposing. There were grocers and corn-chandlers, bars and teahouses, multi-storied shops where everything was sold, towers and fine mansions with well-draped windows.

Master and disciples turned one corner to come up against a female official standing in the street and shouting. “Envoys from afar, you may not enter the city gates without permission. Please go to the government post station and register your names so that I can report them to Her Majesty. When they have been examined you will be allowed to proceed.” Hearing this, Sanzang dismounted and saw that the words MALE-WELCOMING POST STATION were written on a board across the door of the official building.

“Wukong,” said the venerable elder, “what the village people told us was true. There really is a Male-welcoming Post Station.”

“Brother Pig,” chuckled Friar Sand, “you'd better look in the Pregnancy-revealing Spring to see if you have a double reflection.”

“Stop trying to make a fool of me,” said Pig. “I aborted after drinking the water from Miscarriage Spring. What would I need to look for?”

“Watch your words, Wuneng, watch your words,” said Sanzang, turning back to give Pig his instructions before going forward and greeting the official.

She led them into the main hall of the post station, where they sat down and tea was sent for. Here too the staff all had their hair in bunches and wore skirts. There were many smiles as the tea was brought. A little later, when it had been drunk, the official gave a slight bow as she sat there and asked, “On what business have you emissaries come?”

“We are envoys sent to the Western Heaven by the Great Tang emperor in the East to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures,” Monkey replied. “My master Tang Sanzang is the Tang emperor's younger brother. I am Sun Wukong, his senior disciple, and these two are my fellows, Zhu Wuneng, Pig, and Sha Wujing, Friar Sand. If you count the horse there are five of us altogether. We are carrying a passport with us that we beg to have inspected so that we may be allowed to continue on our way.”

When the woman official had finished writing all this down she dropped to her knees to kowtow to them and said, “Forgive me, my lords. I am only the superintendent of the Male-welcoming Post Station and I did not realize that you were gentlemen from a superior country who deserved to be met at a great distance from here.” She rose to her feet and ordered the staff to provide them with food and drink. “Please make yourselves comfortable, my lords, while I go into the city to report to our queen. Then your document will be dealt with and you will be seen on your way West with rich presents.” Sanzang was happy to sit there.

The superintendent neatened her clothes and went straight into the city to the Tower of Five Phoenixes at the palace entrance, where she said to the gate officer, “I am the superintendent of the Male-welcoming Post Station and I would like an audience with Her Majesty on a certain matter.” The gate officer reported this to the queen at once, at which the superintendent was summoned straight to the throne hall to be asked what it was she had come to say.

“Your humble subject,” she replied, “has received in her post station Tang Sanzang the younger brother of the Tang emperor in the East. He has three disciples called Sun Wukong, Zhu Wuneng and Sha Wujing and a horse, making five of them altogether. They wish to go to the Western Heaven to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures. I have come especially to submit a memorial to Your Majesty asking whether they may be allowed to submit their passport for approval and proceed on their way.”

The queen was delighted at his report, and she said to her civil officials, “We dreamed last night of a gold screen shining with colours and a jade mirror full of light. They must have been good omens of what has happened today.”

The women officials crowded round the steps of the throne and said with kowtows, “Your Majesty, how can you tell that they were good omens for today?”

“This man from the East,” the queen replied, “is the younger brother of the Tang emperor. Since primal chaos was first cleared we have never seen a man in our country under all the queens who have reigned here. The fortunate arrival of the Tang emperor's younger brother must be a gift from Heaven. I have decided to use our country's wealth to persuade the emperor's brother to become king with me as his queen. Then we can unite the male and the female and produce sons and grandsons to pass the throne on to. So weren't they good omens?” The joyful women officials all performed dances of obeisance.

“Your Majesty's idea of passing the throne on to future generations in an excellent one,” the superintendent of the post station further submitted, “but the three hideous disciples of the emperor's younger brother are not at all attractive.”

“What does the emperor's brother look like,” the queen asked, “and how are the disciples so unattractive?”

“The emperor's brother has a handsome face and an impressive bearing,” the superintendent replied. “He really does look like a man from a great country ruled by a heaven-sent dynasty, a son of China in the Southern Jambu continent. But the three disciples look thoroughly vicious with faces like demons.”

“In that case,” said the queen, “give presents to his disciples, return their passport, and send them on their way to the Western Heaven. Keep only the emperor's brother here. Is there any reason why we should not?”

To this the officials bowed low and replied, “Your Majesty's ideas are completely right and your subjects will respectfully implement them. The only difficulty is that we have no matchmaker to arrange the marriage. As the old saying goes

Marriage and mating depend on red leaves;

A matchmaker ties the threads between husband and wife.

“From what you suggest,” the queen replied, “the royal tutor should be invited to be matchmaker, and the superintendent of the Male-welcoming Post Station will be the mistress of ceremonies. Go to the post station and ask for the consent of the emperor's younger brother. When he has agreed we shall go out of the city in our carriage to greet him.” The tutor and the superintendent left the palace to carry out their instructions.

Sanzang and his disciples were just enjoying a vegetarian meal in the hall of the post station when someone was heard outside announcing the arrival of the queen's tutor and the superintendent.

“Why is the queen's tutor here?” Sanzang asked.

“Perhaps it's an invitation from the queen,” said Pig. “It's either that or a proposal of marriage,” said Brother Monkey.

“But if she tries to force me to marry her and refuses to let us go what am I to do, Wukong?” Sanzang asked.

“Just agree, Master,” said Monkey. “I'll find a way to cope.”

Before, they had finished their conversation the two women officials entered and bowed low to the venerable elder, who returned their courtesies and said, “I am a humble monk. What wonderful powers do I have that you should bow to me thus?”

The queen's tutor was discreetly delighted with his noble bearing, thinking, “Our country will indeed be very fortunate if this man is to become our queen's husband.” When the two officials had finished bowing they stood on either side of Sanzang and said, “Imperial brother, many, many congratulations.”

“I am a monk,” Sanzang replied, “so what good fortune is there to congratulate me on?”

Bowing again, the queen's tutor said, “This is Womanland of Western Liang, and no man has ever come here before. As Your Excellency the emperor's brother has graced us with your presence I am here on the orders of Her Majesty the queen to propose marriage.”

“Good gracious!” said Sanzang. “I have come to your distinguished country with no children apart from my three boorish disciples. Which of them is it that Her Majesty wishes to marry?”

“I have just been to the palace to report,” the superintendent of the post station said, “and our queen was very, very happy. She said that last night she had an auspicious dream in which a golden screen shone with many colours, and a jade mirror was full of light. When she learned that Your Excellency the emperor's brother was a man from the great land of Tang she decided to offer you all the wealth of our country to persuade you to stay here as her husband and sit on the throne. Her Majesty would become queen consort. The royal tutor was commissioned to act as matchmaker and I was made mistress of ceremonies. We are here to ask for your hand.” At this Sanzang bowed his head in silence.

“A true man does not throw away his chance,” the queen's tutor said. “There is nothing unusual about a man being asked to marry a woman and live in her house, but rarely does it happen that one is offered the wealth of a state to do so. I beg the emperor's brother to assent quickly so that I may report back to Her Majesty.” The venerable elder seemed to have been struck dumb.

Pig, who was standing beside them, put his hands to his snout and called, “Tutor, please report back to Her Majesty that my master is an arhat who has long cultivated the Way. He's not interested in your country's wealth or in Her Majesty's great beauty. Hurry up and return our passport and send him on his way to the West. You can keep me here to be her husband. What about it?” The suggestion made the tutor tremble. She was speechless with shock.

“You may be a man,” the superintendent said, “but you are much too ugly for Her Majesty.”

“You don't understand,” said pig. “Thick willow twigs make dustpans and fine ones make funnels. There's a use for everything. There's not a man in all the world who's really ugly.”

“Idiot,” said Monkey, “stop that nonsense. Let our master decide. If he agrees the wedding is on, and if he doesn't it's off. Don't waste the matchmaker's time.”

“Wukong,” said Sanzang, “you decide.”

“If you ask me,” Monkey replied, “you'd be very well off here. As the old saying goes,

A thousand miles can't keep apart

A couple that's fated to wed:

Their lives and destinies are tied

By a long and invisible thread.

Where else will you find a place that offers you this much?”

“Disciple,” said Sanzang, “if we stay here out of a love for wealth and status who will go to the Western Heaven to fetch the scriptures? Would that not be a terrible thing to do to our Great Tang emperor?”

“Your Excellency,” the royal tutor replied, “I must tell you the truth. Our queen only intends to marry you, the emperor's brother. Your three disciples will be invited to the wedding banquet, given presents, have their passport returned, and be allowed to go on their journey to the Western Heaven to fetch the scriptures.”

“What the royal tutor says is right,” replied Monkey. “We three mustn't make difficulties. We'll let our master stay here as the queen's husband. Hurry up and return us our travel document so that we can be on our way West. We will pay our respects to Her Majesty on our way back with the scriptures, and ask for some money for the journey back to the Great Tang.”

The royal tutor and the superintendent both bowed to Monkey and said, “We are very grateful to you, sir, for your helpfulness.”

“Tutor,” said Pig, “don't just talk about feeding us. Now that we've agreed, get your mistress to lay on a banquet so that we can all drink a cup of betrothal wine. What about it?”

“Yes, yes,” said the tutor, “a banquet will be provided.” The superintendent and the tutor returned in great delight to report back to the queen.

Sanzang meanwhile grabbed Monkey and started abusing him. “You're trying to kill me, you ape. How could you say things like that? Making me stay here to be her husband while you go to the Western Heaven to worship the Buddha! I'd die before I agreed to do that.”

“Don't worry, Master,” said Monkey. “Of course I know your nature. But faced with people like that in a place like this I had to play them at their own game.”

“What do you mean by playing them at their own game?” Sanzang asked.

“If you had been obstinate and refused her she would not have returned our travel paper or let us continue on our way,” Monkey replied. “If she had turned vicious and called on all her underlings to slice your flesh off to make perfume bags or whatever we'd never have earned a good reward. We'd have had to use our magic powers for subduing and killing demons. You know how hard we hit and how murderous our weapons are. Once we got going we'd have wiped out everyone in the whole country. But they're people, not demons, even if they are blocking our way. And all along this journey you've been good and merciful-you haven't killed a single soul. How could you bear to kill so many innocent people? That really would be evil.”

“Wukong,” replied Sanzang, “that is a very fine argument. But I'm afraid that when the queen takes me into her palace she will want me to perform my conjugal duties. I could not possibly lose my primal masculinity and ruin my conduct as a Buddhist monk, or let my true seed escape and destroy my status in the faith.”

“As you have agreed to the marriage she is bound to treat you as king and come out in her carriage to fetch you,” Monkey replied. “You must on no account refuse. Take your seat in the phoenix and dragon carriage, enter the throne hall, and sit on the throne facing South as monarch. Tell the queen to fetch her royal seals and write an invitation summoning us to court. Stamp our travel permit with the official seal and ask her to sign it herself and return it to us. Have a banquet laid on as a celebration for yourself and the queen and to say farewell to us too. When the banquet is over have the carriage got ready and tell her that when you have seen us three out of the city you will be coming back to sleep with her. This will put the queen and her subjects into such a good mood that they won't try to keep us any more, let alone have any evil intentions towards us. When you have escorted us out of the city, get out of the carriage. Tell Friar Sand to stay with you and help you mount the white horse while I use some immobilizing magic to stop the queen and her subjects from moving. Then we can carry on West along the main road, and when we've been travelling for a day and a night I'll say a spell to undo the magic and revive them so that they can go back into the city. This way none of them will be killed and you won't have to harm your essential spirit. This is what they call a plan to 'slip through the net with a false marriage.' It works both ways, doesn't it?”

These words sobered Sanzang up and woke him from his dream. He forgot his worries and thanked Monkey profusely: “I am profoundly grateful to you, good disciple, for your brilliant suggestion.” Now that the four of them had agreed on a plan we shall leave them discussing it.

The queen's tutor and the post station superintendent went straight through the gates of the palace to the steps of the throne without waiting to be summoned. “Your Majesty's auspicious dream was completely justified,” they announced. “You two will be as happy together as fish and water.”

When the queen heard their report she lifted the pearl curtain, came down from her dragon throne, and gave a smile that opened her cherry lips and showed her silvery teeth as she asked in her charming voice, “What did the emperor's brother say when you spoke to him?”

“When we reached the post station and had bowed to the emperor's brother,” the queen's tutor replied, “we told him of the proposal of marriage. He tried to decline it, but fortunately his senior disciple agreed on his behalf. He would like his master to marry Your Majesty and sit on the throne as king. He asked that you should first return their passport and send the three disciples on their way West. When they come back with the scriptures they will pay their respects to their master and Your Majesty and ask for some money for their journey back to Great Tang.”

“What did the emperor's brother say to that?” the queen asked with a smile.

“He did not speak,” the tutor replied, “but he is willing to marry Your Majesty. The only thing is that his second disciple wants a betrothal feast first.”

When the queen heard this she ordered the office that dealt with foreign relations to lay on a banquet. She also had the state carriage prepared to take her out of the city to welcome her lord and husband. The female officials obediently swept the palace clean and laid on a banquet in the hall. Those who were setting out the banquet moved as fast as fire, and those who were preparing the chariot did so with the speed of shooting stars. Western Liang was a country of women, but its state carriage was no less splendid than a Chinese one:

Six dragons snorting out coloured clouds,

A pair of phoenixes full of good omen.

The six dragons supported the carriage as it came out,

The pair of phoenixes were riding upon it.

Fragrant were the perfumes,

Dense the clouds of auspicious vapor.

Officials with goldfish-shaped pendants of jade now crowded around;

The women were all drawn up with their hair full of ornaments.

Mandarin-duck fans gave shade to the carriage,

While curtains of jade and pearl did shelter the queen.

Beautifully sounded the songs to the panpipes

While strings and woodwinds all played in harmony.

A surge of joy soared up to the heavens;

Boundless bliss poured out from the heart.

The triple silken canopy shook the sky;

Brilliant banners cast their light on the throne steps.

Never before had the marriage cup here been drunk;

Today the queen would be taking a husband.

The carriage soon left the city and reached the Male-welcoming Post Station. At once the queen's arrival was announced to Sanzang and his disciples, who straightened up their clothes and came out to meet the queen's carriage. The queen raised the curtain and came out. “Which of these gentlemen is the Tang emperor's brother?” she asked.

“The gentleman in front of the post station who is wearing a long gown,” the tutor replied. The queen took a very careful look at him with her phoenix eyes, her moth-eyebrows raised. He was indeed an exceptional sight. Look at him:

A noble manner,

Distinguished features.

White teeth as if made of silver,

A square-cut mouth with lips of red.

The top of the head flat, the forehead broad and ample;

Fine eyes, a clear brow, and a long jaw.

His ears had the round lobes of a great man;

His body was that of one with no ordinary talent.

A handsome, intelligent and gallant gentleman;

The ideal consort for the graceful queen.

As the queen was gazing at him with delight and admiration she felt a great surge of desire and passion. Opening her cherry lips she said, “Younger brother of the Great Tang emperor, won't you ride in my royal carriage?” This made Sanzang blush from ear to ear. He was too embarrassed to look up at her.

Pig, who was standing beside him, put his hands to his snout and devoured the queen with his eyes. She was a slim beauty:

Brows like green willow,

Flesh like mutton fat,

Cheeks set off with plum blossom,

Hair like the plumage of a golden phoenix.

The autumn waves of her eyes were full of charm;

Like bamboo shoot in spring was her graceful posture.

Red tassels floated with elegance over her temples,

Pearls and kingfisher feathers adorned her high-piled hair.

Why talk now of the Princess Zhaojun's beauty?

This queen is lovelier than the legendary Xi Shi.

As her willow waist gently bends gold pendants tinkle;

Her lotus feet move lightly with her limbs of jade.

The Lady of the Moon could not compare with her;

No heavenly fairy could be her match.

Her exquisite palace clothes were not those of a mere mortal;

She was the Queen Mother of the West come to the Jade Pool.

Seeing how beautiful she was the idiot could not help drooling. His heart pounded and his limbs went weak; he melted like a snow lion next to a bonfire.

When the queen came closer to Sanzang she took hold of him and said in a most beguiling voice, “Dear emperor's brother, won't you come into my dragon coach, ride back with me to the throne hall and marry me?” The venerable elder trembled, feeling unsteady on his feet. It was as if he were drunk or stupefied.

“Don't be so shy and modest, Master,” urged monkey, who was standing beside him. “Please get into the carriage with your future wife. Have our passport returned to us as soon as possible so that we can continue on our journey to fetch the scriptures.” Sanzang could not bring himself to reply as he put his hand on Monkey, unable to hold back his tears.

“Don't be so upset, Master,” Monkey said. “Here's your chance to enjoy wealth and honour, so make the most of it.” Sanzang had no choice but to do as Monkey bade him. Wiping his tears away he forced himself to smile as he stepped forward to

Hold the queen's white hand

Sitting in the dragon carriage.

The queen was in raptures at the prospect of a husband;

The elder in his terror wanted only to worship the Buddha.

One longed to embrace her man in the candle-lit bedroom;

The other wanted to see the

World-honoured on Vulture Peak.

The queen was sincere,

The holy monk was pretending.

The queen in her sincerity

Hoped that they would grow old in harmony together.

The holy monk pretending

Controlled his tender feeling to nourish his primal spirit.

One was so happy to see her husband

She wished they could be man and wife in broad daylight.

The other was afraid of woman's beauty,

Longing to escape her clutches and climb to the Thunder Monastery.

The two ascended the carriage together,

But the Tang Priest's intentions were far away.

When the civil and military officers saw their mistress enter the royal coach with the venerable Sanzang sitting beside her their faces were all wreathed in smiles. The procession turned around and went back into the city. Monkey told Friar Sand to carry the luggage while he led the horse as they followed behind the coach. Pig rushed wildly ahead, and when he reached the Tower of Five Phoenixes he started shouting, “This is very fine and splendid, but it won't do, it won't do at all. We've got to have some wedding drinks to toast the groom.”

He so alarmed the women officials carrying ceremonial insignia who were leading the procession that they all went back to the queen's carriage to report, “Your Majesty, the one with big ears and a long snout is making a row in front of the Tower of Five Phoenixes and demanding wedding drinks.”

On hearing this the queen leant her fragrant shoulder against Sanzang, pressed her peach-blossom cheek against his, and opened her sandalwood-scented mouth to murmur in her seductive voice, “Dear emperor's brother, is the one with big ears and a long snout one of your distinguished disciples?”

“He is my second disciple,” Sanzang replied. “He has an enormous appetite, and he has spent all his life trying to get good things to eat. We must lay on some food and drink for him before we can get on with things.” The queen then asked anxiously if the office dealing with foreign relation had yet prepared the banquet.

“It is ready,” the women officials reported. “It is set out on the Eastern hall and includes both meat and vegetarian dishes.”

“Why both sorts?” the queen asked.

“Your subjects thought that the Tang emperor's brother and his distinguished disciples might be vegetarians,” the officials replied. “That was why we had both sorts of food provided.”

“Dear emperor's brother,” said the queen with another little laugh of pleasure as she rubbed herself against Sanzang's fragrant cheek, “do you eat meat or vegetarian food?”

“I eat vegetarian food,” Sanzang replied, “but I have never given up wine. We must have a few cups of light wine for my second disciple to drink.”

Before he had finished speaking the queen's tutor said to the queen, “If it pleases Your Majesty, will you come to the Eastern hall for the banquet? Today is an auspicious day, and at a lucky hour tonight you may marry the emperor's brother. Tomorrow a new ecliptic begins, and I beg that the emperor's younger brother will enter the throne hall tomorrow to take his throne facing South as monarch and inaugurate a new reign.”

The queen was delighted by this suggestion. Descending from the coach hand-in-hand with Sanzang she went in through the palace's main gate. This is what they saw and heard:

Magic music wafting down from a gallery,

As the turquoise carriage came within the palace.

The phoenix gates stood wide open amid gentle light;

The harem in all its splendor was not closed.

Incense smoke curled aloft in the unicorn hall;

Shadows were moving behind the peacock screen.

The buildings were magnificent as those of a mighty state;

The jade halls and golden horses were even more splendid.

When they reached the Eastern hall the harmonious sounds of panpipes and singing could be heard and two rows of powdered beauties seen. In the middle of the hall two sumptuous banquets were set out; a vegetarian one to the left and a meat one on the right. Below were two rows of individual places. The queen folded back her sleeves, took a jade goblet with her ten delicate fingers, and led Sanzang to the feast. Monkey went up to her and said, “We are all vegetarians, so would you ask my master to sit at the vegetarian feast to the left while three places are set below him for us three disciples?”

“Yes, that's right,” said the queen's tutor. “Master and disciples are like father and sons. It would be wrong to seat them side by side.” The women officials quickly rearranged the seating, and the queen gave goblets to each of them as she led them to their places. Monkey gave the Tang Priest a look to remind him to return her courtesies, at which he came down from his seat with a jade goblet in his hand and led the queen to her place. The civil and military officials all kowtowed to the queen in gratitude and took their seats in order of precedence on either side. Only then did the music cease and the toasts begin.

Pig did not worry about anything as he relaxed his belly and ate for all he was worth. He did not care whether it was jadeflake rice, steamed buns, sweet cakes, mushrooms, gill fungus, bamboo shoots, tree-ear fungus, day lilies, agar, laver, turnips, taro, devilpepper, yams or sealwort: he wolfed the whole lot down together. Then he drank some six or seven goblets of wine and shouted, “Fill it up, bring me another. I want a big goblet. Give me a few more drinks, then we can all go off and do what we've got to do.”

“What is there so important that makes us have to leave this fine banquet?” Friar Sand asked.

“There's an old saying,” replied the idiot with a grin, “'that each man should stick to his trade. Some of us are getting married now, and others of us have to be on our way to fetch the scriptures. We mustn't ruin everything for the sake of a few more drinks. We want our passport returned as soon as possible. As they say, 'The warriors stay on their horses, all of them pressing ahead.'“ When the queen heard this she sent for big cups, and the officials in attendance quickly fetched some parrot-shaped goblets, cormorant ladles, golden baskets, silver beakers, glass chargers, crystal dishes, immortals' bowls and amber goblets. Ambrosial liquor was now served out and everybody drank of it.

Sanzang then bowed, rose to his feet, put his hands together in front of his chest and said to the queen, “Your Majesty, I am very grateful for this sumptuous banquet. We have had enough now. Could you now go to the throne hall and return the passport so that I may see the three of them off from the city tomorrow morning?” Doing as he asked, the queen led Sanzang by the hand as they ended the banquet and climbed the steps to the throne hall, where she invited the Tang Priest to sit on the throne.

“No,” he said, “it would be wrong. As Your Majesty's tutor said, a new ecliptic begins tomorrow: only then will I dare to take the throne. Today the passport must be stamped so that they can be sent on their way.”

The queen accepted his suggestions, sat on the dragon throne again, had a gilt chair placed to the left of it for Sanzang to sit on, and told the disciples to bring the passport. The Great Sage asked Friar Sand to open the cloth wrapper and take it out, then offered it with both hands to the queen, who examined it carefully. At the top were nine stamps from the Great Tang emperor's seals, and underneath were the seals of the countries of Elephantia, Wuji and Tarrycart. When she had looked at them the queen said with a delightful, tinkling smile in her voice, “Is your surname Chen, emperor's brother?”

“My lay surname was Chen,” he replied, “and my religious name is Xuanzang. It was when the Tang emperor in his wisdom and mercy took me as his younger brother that he granted me the surname Tang.”

“Why do your illustrious disciples' names not appear on the passport?” the queen asked.

“My three stupid disciples are not men of Tang.” Sanzang replied.

“But if they are not from Tang why have they come here with you?” the queen asked again.

“My senior disciple,” Sanzang answered, “was originally from the country of Aolai in the Eastern Continent of Superior Body. My second disciple is from Gao Village in Stubet in the Western Continent of Cattle-gift. My third disciple is from the Flowing Sands River. They were all punished for offences against the laws of Heaven until the Bodhisattva Guanyin delivered them from their sufferings. Since then they have been converted to the faith and have volunteered to escort me on my journey to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven to redeem their past crimes. I won each of them during the journey, which is why their religious names have not been entered on the passport.”

“Would you like me to add their names to it?” said the queen.

“If that is Your Majesty's pleasure,” Sanzang replied. The queen then sent for brush and inkstone, and when she had rubbed the ink-stick on the stone to produce a thick and fragrant ink with which she filled the hairs of her writing brush she wrote the names of the three disciples-Sun Wukong, Zhu Wuneng and Sha Wujing-at the bottom of the passport. Then she stamped it fair and square with her royal seal, wrote her signature, and handed it down to Monkey, who told Friar Sand to wrap it up again carefully.

The queen then presented them with a dish of small pieces of gold and silver, came down from her throne and said to Monkey, “You three must take this to help with the costs of your journey and go to the Western Heaven as quickly as you can. When you come back with the scriptures we shall richly reward you again.”

“We are men of religion,” said Brother Monkey, “and we do not accept gold and silver. There will be places along the way for us to beg food from.” Seeing that they were not going to accept it the queen had ten bolts of damask and brocade brought out that she gave to Monkey with the words, “You are in such a hurry that we do not have time for this to be made up. Please take this to have some clothes made on the journey to keep you warm.”

“We monks may not wear damask or brocade,” Monkey said. “We are only allowed to cover ourselves with cotton cloth.” Seeing that he would not accept the silk either, the queen ordered that three pints of rice be brought out to provide them with a meal on their journey. The moment Pig heard the word “rice” he took it and put it with the bundles of luggage. “Brother,” Monkey said to him, “the luggage is very heavy now. Will you be able to carry the rice as well?”

“You wouldn't know that rice is best eaten the same day it's cooked,” Pig replied. “One meal and it'll be finished.” He then put his hands together in thanks.

“May I trouble Your Majesty to come with me while I escort my disciples out of the city?” Sanzang asked. “When I have given them some parting instructions about their journey West I shall come back to enjoy perpetual glory with Your Majesty. Only when I am freed from these cares and worries will we be able to join together like a pair of phoenixes.” Not realizing that this was a trick, the queen sent for her coach and climbed into it, leaning her fragrant shoulder against Sanzang as they rode Westwards out of the city. Bowls has been filled with clean water and fine incense put in all the burners. This was because the people were seeing their queen in her carriage and also because they were seeing a man, the emperor's younger brother. All of them, young and old alike, were women with powdered and lovely faces, and green-black hair piled high in cloud coiffures. The coach was soon out of the town and outside the Western gate.

Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand, joined in a common cause, neatened up their clothes and went to meet the carriage. “There is no need to escort us a long way, Your Majesty. We shall take our leave of you here.”

Sanzang stepped down from the royal carriage, raised his hands together to the queen, and said, “Please go back now, Your Majesty, and allow me to fetch the scriptures.” When the queen heard this her face went pale with shock. She grabbed hold of the Tang Priest and said, “Dear emperor's brother, I have offered you the wealth of my realm to become my husband. Tomorrow you are going to take the throne as monarch, and I am going to be your consort. We have already eaten the wedding feast. How can you go back on your word now?”

This was too much for Pig, who went wild. Thrusting his snout about and waving his ears he rushed to the royal coach shouting. “What would monks like us want to marry a powdered skeleton like you for? Let my master go!” This rough and violent behavior so frightened the queen that her souls all went flying and she collapsed in the coach. Friar Sand pulled Sanzang out of the crowd and helped him mount the horse. Just then a woman shot forward from the roadside shouting, “Don't go, Tang emperor's brother. You and I are going to make love.”

“You ignorant, wicked creature,” Friar Sand shouted at her, striking at her head with his staff. The woman then made a whirlwind that carried the Tang Priest off with a great roar. He had disappeared without shadow or trace. Indeed

He escaped from the net of beauties

To encounter a lecherous ogress.

If you don't know whether the woman was a human being or a monster, or whether the master lived or died, then listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 55

The Tang Priest Is Tempted with Sex and Debauchery

Because His Nature Is Upright He Resists Unharmed

The story tells how the Great Sage and Pig were just about to use their magic to immobilize all the women when they suddenly heard the noise of a wind. Friar Sand, who was shouting, looked round at once to find the Tang Priest gone.

“Who's taken the master?” Monkey asked.

“A woman made a whirlwind and carried him off in it,” Friar Sand reported. At this news Monkey jumped up with a whoosh to stand on his cloud and shade his eyes as he looked all around. He saw the gray dust cloud of a whirlwind that was heading Northwest.

“Brothers,” he turned back to shout, “come straight up on your clouds. We're going after the master.” Pig and Friar Sand tied the luggage on the horse and both sprang noisily into the air.

All this gave such a fright to the queen of Western Liang and her subjects that they fell to their knees in the dust and said, “He is an arhat who has flown away in broad daylight. Do not be alarmed, Your Majesty. The Tang emperor's brother is a dhyana monk who has mastered the Way. We were too blind to see who this man of China really was, and we allowed ourselves all that longing for nothing. Please ride back to the palace in your carriage, Your Majesty.” The queen felt ashamed as she went back into her capital with her officials, and we shall say no more of them.

Monkey and the other two disciples meanwhile were riding their clouds through the air after the whirlwind. They chased it to a high mountain, where the gray dust settled and the wind fell, so that they did not know which way the demon had gone. The brothers brought their clouds down to land to search for the way. Suddenly they noticed a gleaming rock shaped like a screen. Leading the horse round behind it they found a pair of stone doors above which was written:

DEADLY FOE MOUNTAIN PIPA CAVE

In his ignorance Pig went up to the doors and was about to beat on them with his rake when Monkey rushed forward to stop him. “Don't be in such a hurry, brother,” he said. “After following the whirlwind we had to look around for a while before we found these doors. We don't know what's behind them. If they're the wrong doors we'd stir up trouble offending the wrong people, and we don't want to do that. You two take the horse round to the front of the rock screen and wait a moment. I'm going to take a look around and find out what's happening here. Then it'll be much easier to know what to do.”

Friar Sand liked this idea. “Splendid, splendid,” he said, “You've found the subtle solution when things were looking rough, the calm way out of the crisis.” The two of them then led the horse to the other side of the rock screen.

Monkey then showed his magic powers. Making a spell with his hands and saying the words he shook himself and turned into an exquisite bee. Just look at him:

Fine wings bending in the wind,

A narrow waist gleaming with the sun.

With his sweet mouth he searched for stamens,

While the sting in his tail killed toads.

Great was his achievement in making honey,

And he always entered the hive with courtesy.

Now be would use a brilliant plan

As he flew in under the eaves of the doorway.

Monkey squeezed in through the crack between the outer doors then past the inner doors to see a female monster sitting in a flower pavilion with serving girls in brightly-coloured embroidered clothes and their hair sticking upwards in two bunches. They were all very pleased, but he could not hear what they were talking about. Monkey flew up to them very quietly, perched on the lattice of the pavilion, and cocked his ear to listen. He saw two women with their tangled hair tied in a bun carrying two piping hot dishes of food to the pavilion and saying, “Madam, this dish has steamed rolls with human flesh in them, and that one has vegetarian ones with sweet beanpaste fillings.”

“Little ones,” said the she-devil with a smile, “Bring the Tang emperor's brother out.” Some of the serving girls in embroidered clothes went to the room at the back to help the Tang Priest out. His face was sallow, his lips white, and his eyes red as the tears streamed down his face, “The master's been drugged,” thought Monkey with a silent sigh.

The she-devil went down from the pavilion and showed her ten fingers that were as delicate as spring onions as she grabbed hold of Sanzang and said, “Don't worry, emperor's brother. This may not be as rich and splendid as the palace in the Womanland of Western Liang, but it's peaceful and comfortable, and an ideal place for reciting the Buddha's name and reading the scriptures. With me as your companion we'll be able to live in harmony till we're a hundred.” Sanzang said nothing.

“Don't be upset,” the she-devil said. “I know that you had nothing to eat or to drink at your banquet in Womanland. Here are two dishes, one of meat and one of vegetarian food. Won't you take some to calm your nerves?”

Sanzang thought deeply: “If I say nothing and eat nothing, this she-devil may murder me. She is worse than the queen, who was at least human and knew how to behave. What am I to do? My disciples don't know that I'm a prisoner here. If I let her murder me I'll be throwing my life away for nothing.” Though he racked his brains he could find no other plan, so he pulled himself together and asked, “What is the meat dish and what is the vegetarian one?”

“The meat one is steamed rolls stuffed with human flesh, and the vegetarian one steamed rolls with sweet fillings,” the she-devil replied.

“I would like some of the vegetarian ones,” said Sanzang.

“Servant girls,” said the she-devil, “bring hot tea and give your master some vegetarian steamed rolls.” A servant girl then brought in a tray of tea that she set before the Tang Priest. The she-devil broke a vegetarian roll open and handed it to Sanzang, who offered a whole meat one to her. “Why won't you open it for me, emperor's brother?” the she-devil asked with a smile.

“I am a man of religion, so I would not dare to break meat food,” said Sanzang.

“In that case,” said the she-devil, “Why did you eat wedding cake at the Motherhood River, and why are you insisting on eating beanpaste now?”

To this Sanzang replied,

“When the river is high I'm carried away.

When bogged down I have to slow down.”

Monkey, who could hear from his perch in the lattice just how friendly their conversation was getting, started worrying that the master's true nature might become disturbed. It was more than he could bear, so he resumed his own appearance and brandished his cudgel with a shout of “Behave yourself, you evil beast.” When the she-devil saw him she spat out smoke and light that covered the pavilion and told her underlings to shut the Tang Priest away.

Then she seized her steel trident and leapt out through the door of the pavilion, shouting abusively, “Hooligan ape! How dare you sneak into my house to set your dirty eyes on me! Stay where you are and take this!” The Great Sage parried the lunge from her trident and fell back, fighting all the way.

When they came to the outside of the cave where Pig and Friar Sand were waiting, the sight of the hard-fought battle so alarmed Pig that he led the white horse over to Friar Sand and said, “Look after the horse and the luggage. I'm joining in.” The splendid idiot then raised his rake with both hands and rushed forward with a shout, “Stand back, brother, while I kill this vicious beast.” Seeing Pig coming the she-devil used another kind of magic to breathe fire out of her nose and smoke from her mouth as she shook herself and charged him with her trident flying and dancing. Goodness only knows how many hands she had as she somersaulted towards them, lashing out furiously. Monkey and Pig were both fought to a standstill.

“Sun Wukong,” said the she-devil, “you don't know when to keep your head down. I know who you are, but you don't recognize me. Even your Tathagata Buddha from the Thunder Monastery is afraid of me. Where do you think you two little wretches are going to get? Come here, all of you, and watch me beat every one of you.” It was a fine battle:

Great was the she-devil's prowess

As the Monkey King's anger rose.

Then Marshal Tian Peng joined in the fight,

Showing off wildly wielding his rake.

One was a many-handed mistress of the trident,

Surrounding herself with smoke and with light;

The other two were impatient and their weapons powerful,

As they stirred up many a cloud of mist.

The she-devil was fighting to win a mate,

But the monk would never lose his vital seed.

Ill-matched male and female fought it out,

Each showing heroism in the bitter struggle.

Calmly the female had built up her strength, longing for action;

The male was on guard in his love of pure stillness.

This made peace between them impossible

As trident fought for mastery with cudgel and rake.

Powerful was the cudgel,

Even stronger the rake,

But the she-devil's trident was a match for them both.

Nobody would yield on Deadly Foe Mountain;

No mercy was given outside Pipa Cave.

One was happy at the thought of the Tang Priest as a husband;

The other two were going with him to collect the scriptures.

Heaven and earth were alarmed by the battle,

Which darkened sun and moon and displaced all the stars.

When the three of them had been fighting for a long time without anyone emerging as victor, the she-devil shook herself and used the sting in her tail to jab the Great Sage in the head. Monkey yelled in agony at the unbearable pain and fled, defeated. Seeing that things were going badly Pig withdrew too, dragging his rake behind him. The victorious she-devil put her steel trident away.

Monkey had his hands round his head and his face screwed up in agony as he shouted, “It's terrible, it's terrible.”

“Brother,” said Pig, going up to him, “why did you run away howling in pain just when you were fighting so well?”

“It's agony, agony,” groaned Brother Monkey, still holding his head.

“Is it an attack of your migraine?” Pig asked.

“No, no,” said Monkey, hopping around in pain.

“But I didn't see you get wounded,” said Pig, “so how can your head be hurting?”

“It's unbearable,” groaned Monkey. “Just when she saw that I was beginning to beat her trident she braced herself and jabbed me in the head. I don't know what weapon she used, but it's made my head ache so unbearably that I had to run away, beaten.”

“In quiet places you're always boasting that your head was tempered in the furnace,” said Pig with a laugh, “so why was that too much for you?”

“Yes,” replied Monkey, “after my head was refined I stole the magic peaches and immortal wine and Lord Lao Zi's golden elixir tablets. When I made havoc in Heaven the Jade Emperor ordered the Strongarm Demon King and the Twenty eight Constellations to take me to be beheaded at the Dipper and Bull Palace. The gods used their cutlasses, axes, hammers and swords on me, struck me with thunderbolts and burned me with fire. Then Lao Zi put me in his Eight Trigrams Furnace and refined me for forty-nine days. None of that harmed me at all. Goodness only knows what weapon that woman used to make my head hurt like this.”

“Put your hands down and let me have a look,” said Friar Sand. “Has it been cut open?”

“No, no,” said Monkey.

“I'd better go back to Western Liang to get you some ointment to put on it,” said Pig.

“It's not cut open or swollen; I don't need ointment,” said Monkey.

“Brother,” laughed Pig, “I wasn't at all ill when I was pregnant or after I lost the baby, but you've got a carbuncle on your forehead.”

“Stop teasing him, brother,” said Friar Sand. “It's getting late, our eldest brother's been wounded in the head, and we don't know whether the master is dead or alive. What on earth are we going to do?”

“The master's all right,” groaned Brother Monkey. “I flew in as a bee and saw the woman sitting in a flower pavilion. Before long two servant girls came in with two dishes of steamed rolls, one with fillings of human flesh and one with sweet fillings of beanpaste. She sent two other serving girls to help the master come out to eat something to soothe his nerves. She was talking about being his companion. At first he wouldn't reply or eat any of the rolls, but she was giving him so much sweet talk that he said he'd have a vegetarian one. Goodness knows why. The woman broke one open and gave it to him, and he passed her an unbroken meat one. 'Why won't you open it for me?' She asked, and he said, 'I am a man of religion, so I would not dare to break meat food.' Then she said, 'In that case, why did you eat wedding cake at the Motherhood River, and why are you eating sweet fillings now?' The master did not catch what she was driving at, and replied, 'When the river is high I'm carried away; when bogged down I have to slow down.' Listening to all this from the lattice I got worried that the master was going to forget himself, so I turned back into myself and hit at her with my cudgel. She used magic too, breathed out clouds, told them to shut the master away, and drove me out of the cave with her trident.”

Friar Sand bit his finger and said, “That low bitch must have followed us at some stage, she knows so much.”

“From what you say,” said Pig, “we mustn't rest. From dusk to the middle of the night we've got to keep going back and challenging her to fight. We'll have to yell and make such a din that she can't go to bed or have it off with our master.”

“I can't go back,” said Monkey. “My head's hurting too badly.”

“We can't challenge her to battle,” said Friar Sand. “Our eldest brother's head is aching and our master is a true monk. He won't let the illusion of sex disturb his nature. Let's spend the light sitting somewhere under the mountain that's sheltered from the wind. Then we can build up our energy and think of something else in the morning.” The three brother disciples tethered the white horse and guarded the luggage as they spent the night resting under the slope of the mountain.

The she-devil then put aside thoughts of murder and started to wear a mile again as she said, “Little ones, shut the front and back doors tight.” Then she sent out two scouts to keep an eye on Monkey, and ordered them to report the moment any sound was heard at the door. “Maids,” she commanded, “tidy the bedroom and get it ready. Bring candles, burn incense, and ask the Tang emperor's brother in. I'm going to make love with him.”

The Tang Priest was then helped out from the back, while the she-devil, looking utterly bewitching, took him by the hand and said, “As the saying goes, pleasure's worth more than gold. You and I are going to have some fun as man and wife.”

The venerable elder clenched his teeth and let out not a sound. He would have preferred not to go with her but he was afraid she might kill him, so in fear and trembling he accompanied her into the bridal chamber, he was as if stupefied and dumb. He would not lift his head and look up, let alone catch sight of the bed and the curtains in the room, and even less did he see the intricately carved furniture or her hairstyle and clothing. He was deaf and indifferent when she spoke of her desire. He was indeed a fine monk:

His eyes saw no evil beauty,

His ears heard no voluptuous words.

To him the brocade and the lovely face was dung,

The gold, the jewels and the beauty so much dirt.

The love of his life was contemplation;

He never took a step from Buddha land.

He did not care for female charms,

Knowing only how to nourish his true nature.

The she-devil

Was full of life

And unbounded desire.

The venerable monk

Seemed almost dead,

His mind fixed on meditation.

One was soft jade and warm fragrance;

The other was dead ash and withered wood.

One spread open the bridal sheets,

Full of voluptuousness;

The other fastened his tunic more tightly,

His heart ever true.

One longed to press her breasts against him and entwine their limbs

In rapturous union;

The other wanted only to sit facing the wall

Like the monk Bodhidharma.

The she-devil took off her clothes,

Displaying her smooth skin and fragrant body;

The Tang Priest pulled his robes together,

Covering the roughness of his hide and flesh.

The she-devil said,

“There is room on my pillow and under my sheet:

Why not come to bed?”

The Tang Priest replied,

“My head is shaven and I wear monk's robes:

I may not join you.”

She said, “I would like to be Liu Cuicui in the story.”

He replied, “But I am not like the Monk of the Moonlight.”

The she-devil said, “I am more lovely than Xi Shi herself.”

“Long was the king of Yue buried on her account,” the monk replied.

“Do you remember the lines,” the she-devil asked,

“'I'm willing to die and be buried under flowers;

Even as a ghost shall I live and love?'”

To this the Tang Priest replied,

“My true masculinity is my great treasure;

I could not lightly give it to a bag of bones like you.”

The two of them kept up their battle of words till it was late in the night, and the Tang Priest's resolution was unmoved. The she-devil kept tugging at his clothes, refusing to let go of him, while the master kept up his resistance. The struggle went on till the middle of the night, when the she-devil finally lost her temper and called, “Bring rope, little ones.” Sadly she had her beloved man tied up like a dog and dragged outside to the portico. Then the silver lamps were blown out and everyone went to bed for the night.

Before they knew it the cocks had crowed three times. On the mountainside the Great Sage Monkey leaned forward and said, “This head of mine ached for a while, but now it doesn't hurt or feel numb. It's just a bit itchy.”

“If it's itchy then what about letting her jab it again for you?” said Pig with a grin.

“We've got to make her let him go,” said Monkey, spitting.

“'Let him go, let him go,'“ mocked Pig. “I bet our master spent last night having a go.”

“Stop arguing, you two,” said Friar Sand. “It's light now. We've got to capture that demon as quickly as we can.”

“Brother,” said Monkey, “you stay here and look after the horse. Don't move. Pig, come with me.”

The idiot braced himself, tightened the belt round his black cotton tunic and went with Monkey as each of them leapt up to the top of the car and arrived beneath the stone screen, weapon in hand. “You stand here,” said Monkey. “I'm afraid that the she-devil may have harmed the master during the night, so wait while I go in and find out. If he was seduced by her into losing his primal masculinity and ruining his virtue then we'll all split up. But if he kept his spirit firm and his dhyana heart was unmoved we'll have to hold out till we've killed the she-devil and rescued the master. Then we can head West.”

“Idiot!” said Pig. “As the saying goes, can a dried fish be a cat's pillow? Even if she didn't succeed she'll have had a good grab at him.”

“Stop talking such nonsense,” said Monkey. “I'm going to have a look.”

The splendid Great Sage took his leave of Pig and went round the rock screen. Then he shook himself, turned back into a bee, and flew inside, where he saw two serving girls sound asleep with their heads pillowed on their watch-keepers' clappers and gongs. When he reached the flower pavilion he found that the devils were still asleep, exhausted after being up half the night, and not aware that it was dawn. Monkey then flew on to the back of the cave, where he could half hear Sanzang's voice. He looked up to see the master with his hands and feet all roped together under the portico. Landing lightly on Sanzang's head he said, “Master.”

Recognizing his voice, Sanzang said, “Is that you, Wukong. Rescue me!”

“Did you have a good time last night?” Monkey asked.

“I would have died first,” Sanzang replied through clenched teeth.

“Yesterday it looked to me that she was in love with you,” Monkey continued, “so why has she been torturing you like this?”

“She pestered me for half the night,” Sanzang replied, “but I never undid my clothes or even touched the bed. She only tied me up and left me here when she saw that I was not going to give in to her. Whatever happens you must rescue me so that I can go and fetch the scriptures.” By now their conversation had woken the she-devil up. Ferocious though she was she still could not bear to lose Sanzang.

As she woke up and sat up she heard him saying “fetch the scriptures,” rolled straight out of bed, and shrieked, “What do you want to go and fetch scriptures for instead of being my husband?”

This alarmed Monkey, who left the master, spread his wings, flew out, turned back into himself, and shouted for Pig. The idiot came round the stone screen and asked, “Well? Did it happen?”

“No,” laughed Monkey, “it didn't. She kept pawing him but he wouldn't go along with her, so she lost her temper and tied him up. Just when he was telling me what had happened the fiend woke up and I had to rush out in a panic.”

“What did the master say?” Pig asked.

“He told me that he never undid his clothes,” Monkey replied, “and never even touched the bed.”

“That's wonderful,” said Pig. “He's a true monk. Let's go and save him.”

The idiot was too crude to bother with arguing: he lifted his rake and brought it down with all his might against the doors, smashing them to pieces. This gave the serving girls who were asleep with their heads pillowed on their watch-keepers' clappers and gongs such a fright that they ran to the inner doors shouting, “Open up! The two ugly men who came here last night have smashed the front doors down.”

The she-devil was just coming out of her bedroom when four or five serving girls came rushing in to report, “Madam, the two ugly men who were here yesterday have come back and smashed the front doors down.”

On hearing this the she-devil ordered, “Little ones, boil water at once for me to wash and comb my hair.” Then she told them, “Carry the emperor's brother roped up as he is and lock him up in the back room. I'm going out to fight them.”

Out went the splendid monster, brandishing her trident and shouting abusively, “Vicious ape! Dirty hog! Ignorant beast! How dare you come knocking down my doors!”

“Filthy whore,” Pig retaliated, “you tie our master up and then you have the nerve to talk tough like that. You tried to seduce our master into being your husband. Give him back now and we'll spare your life. If there's so much as a hint of a 'no' from you this rake of mine will smash your whole mountain down.”

The demon did not allow any more argument but summoned up her spirits and used the same magic as before to breathe out smoke and fire as she thrust at Pig with her steel trident. Swerving aside to avoid the blow, Pig struck back with his rake. When Monkey joined in to help him with his cudgel the she-devil used more magic to give herself endless pairs of hands with which to parry their weapons to left and to right. When they had fought four or five rounds the mystery weapon jabbed Pig in the lip, making him flee for his life, dragging his rake behind him and pressing a hand to his mouth. Monkey, who was also rather scared of her, feinted with his cudgel and fled in defeat too. The she-devil went back into her cave in victory, telling her underlings to build up a temporary outer barrier with rocks.

Friar Sand heard piggish groans as he was pasturing the horse and looked up to see Pig coming towards him with his hand on his face and moaning. “What's up?” Friar Sand asked.

“It's terrible, terrible,” the idiot groaned, “the pain, the pain.”

He was still complaining when Monkey turned up too, saying with a grin, “Idiot! Yesterday you wished me a carbuncle on my forehead, and today you've got one on your lip.”

“I can't bear it,” groaned Pig, “it's agony, it's excruciating.”

Just as the three of them were at a loss as to what to do an old woman came by with a green bamboo basket carrying wild vegetables from the hills to the South. “Brother,” said Friar Sand to Monkey, “that woman's coming this way. I'll ask her who this evil spirit is and what weapon she has that causes such terrible wounds.”

“You stay here while I go and ask her,” Monkey said, and taking a quick look he saw that there was a halo of auspicious cloud directly above the old woman's head, and that fragrant mists were all around her.

Recognizing who it was, Monkey called out, “Come and kowtow, brothers. This lady is the Bodhisattva.” This so surprised them that Pig kowtowed despite his pain, Friar Sand bowed low as he held the horse, and Monkey fell to his knees and called, “I submit to The Merciful and Compassionate Deliverer from Suffering, the Miraculously Responding Bodhisattva Guanyin.”

Seeing that they had recognized her, the Bodhisattva rose up into midair on her auspicious cloud and appeared in her true form as the carrier of the fish basket. Going up into the sky with her, Monkey kowtowed and reported, “Bodhisattva, please forgive your disciple for failing to come to meet you. Because we were so busy trying to save the master we did not realize that you had come to see us. We are now up against a monster we can't beat, and we beseech you, Bodhisattva, to help us.”

“She is indeed a very terrible monster,” the Bodhisattva replied. “Her trident is really the two claws she was born with, and what causes such agonizing wounds is a sting in her tail called 'horse-killer poison'. She was originally a scorpion spirit who used to listen to the Buddha preaching the scriptures on the Thunder Monastery. When the Tathagata Buddha saw her and mistakenly tried to push her away with his hand she used her tail to sting him on his left thumb. The Buddha in his pain told one of the vajrapanis to arrest her and she is now here. You will have to ask someone else for help as I too have to keep my distance from her.”

Monkey then bowed again and said, “I beg the Bodhisattva for further instructions. Please tell your disciple whom I should go to see to ask for help.”

“Go to the Palace of Light inside the Eastern Gate of Heaven and look for the Star Officer of the Pleiades. He will be able to subdue her.” Having spoken she turned into a beam of golden light and went straight back to the Southern Ocean.

The Great Sage Monkey then brought down his cloud and said to Pig and Friar Sand, “Don't worry, brothers. Our master has a star to save him.”

“Where?” Friar Sand asked.

“The Bodhisattva has just told me to ask the help of the Star Officer of the Pleiades,” Monkey said. “I'm off.”

“Brother,” groaned Pig, his hand still on his mouth, “please ask the star lord for some ointment to stop this pain.”

“You don't need any ointment,” laughed Monkey. “After a night's pain it'll get better, just as mine did last night.”

“Stop all that talk,” said Friar Sand, “and get there as fast as you can.”

The splendid Monkey set off at once on his somersault cloud and was outside the Eastern Gate of Heaven in an instant. The Heavenly King Virudhaka suddenly appeared to greet him courteously and ask, “Where are you going, Great Sage?”

“I want to go to the Palace of Light to see the Star Lord of the Pleiades because the Tang Priest I'm escorting to the West to fetch the scriptures is being pestered by a devil,” Monkey said. Then the four marshals Tao, Zhang, Xin and Deng appeared to ask Monkey where he was going.

“I'm looking for the Star Officer of the Pleiades to subdue a demon and rescue my master,” he said.

To this they answered, “The star officer has gone on an inspection to the Star-viewing Tower today at the Jade Emperor's command.”

“Is that true?” Monkey asked.

“We left the Dipper and Bull Palace with him,” Heavenly Lord Xin said, “and we would not dare lie about it.”

“He has been gone for a long time,” Heavenly Lord Tao said, “so he may be back by now. Great Sage, you would do best to go to the Palace of Light first, and if he is not back, go on to the Star-viewing Tower.”

This delighted the Great Sage, who took his leave of them and went to the gate of the Palace of Light. Finding that the star officer was indeed not there he was just about to leave when he noticed a column of soldiers outside. Behind them was the star lord returning in his court dress sewn with golden thread. This is how he looked:

The Five Peak pins in his hat gleamed gold;

The mountain and river tablet he held was of the finest jade.

The Seven Stars hung from his waist amid clouds and mist;

Bright were the rings of jade on his Eight-pole sash.

His pendants chimed with a rhythmical sound;

The wind rushing past made a noise like bells.

The Star Officer of the Pleiades came holding his kingfisher fan;

While clouds of heavenly incense filled the hall.

When the soldiers in the front ranks saw Monkey standing outside the Palace of Light they hurried back to report, “My lord, the Great Sage Sun is here.” The star officer put away his clouds and tidied his court dress, then when the attendants carrying his insignia of office stood aside to left and right he stepped forward to greet Monkey courteously and ask, “Why are you here, Great Sage?”

“I have come especially to pay my respects and beg you to rescue my master from disaster,” Brother Monkey replied.

“What disaster, and where?” the star officer asked.

“He is in the Pipa Cave on Deadly Foe Mountain in Western Liang,” Monkey replied.

“What evil monster is there in the cave that you should need to send for me?” asked the star officer.

“The Bodhisattva Guanyin appeared to us just now,” Monkey said, “and told us that she is a scorpion spirit. She specially mentioned you, sir, as the only person who would be able to control her. That is why I have come here to ask your help.”

“I would have preferred to submit a memorial to the Jade Emperor,” the star officer replied, “but as you have come here, Great Sage, and as I am much obliged to the Bodhisattva for recommending me I would not like to lose any more time. Excuse me if I don't offer you tea: let's go down to subdue the demon. I can report back to His Majesty on my return.”

At that the Great Sage went out with the star officer through the Eastern Gate of Heaven and straight back to Western Liang. Seeing Deadly Foe Mountain not far off, Monkey Pointed to it and said, “That's the mountain.” The star lord brought his cloud down and went with Monkey to the slope in front of the stone screen.

“Get up, brother,” said Friar Sand to Pig on seeing them. “Brother Monkey is back with the star officer.”

“Forgive me,” said the idiot, his hand still pressed over his mouth, “forgive me, but I'm too ill to pay you all the courtesies.”

“But you are one who cultivates his conduct,” the star lord said. “How can you be ill?”

“The she-devil jabbed me in the lip when I was fighting her,” Pig replied, and it still hurts.”

“Come here,” said the star lord, “and I'll cure it for you.”

Only then did the idiot put his hands down as he groaned, “Please, please cure it for me. I'll pay you well when it's better.” The star lord then touched his lip and blew on it, at which the pain stopped. A delighted Pig went down on his knees and kowtowed to the star lord. “Wonderful, wonderful,” he said.

“Will you touch my head too?” asked Monkey with a smile.

“Why?” the star lord asked. “You weren't jabbed with the poison.”

“I was yesterday,” said Monkey, “and it only stopped hurting after last night. It's still rather numb and itchy and may be bad again when the weather turns overcast, which is why I would like you to cure it.” The star officer then touched and blew on his head too, thus removing the remaining poison and stopping the numbness and itching.

“Brother,” said a wrathful Pig, “let's go and fight that vicious creature.”

“Yes, yes,” the star lord said, “you two call her out so that I can put her in her place.”

Monkey and Pig leapt up the slope and went round the stone screen once more. Yelling insults the idiot used his hands like picks and hit with his rake to clear a way through the wall of stones that had been built outside the mouth of the cave. Once through these outer defenses he struck again with his rake to smash the inner doors to sawdust, giving the little devils behind them such a shock that they ran inside to report, “Madam, those two hideous men have smashed the inner doors now.” The she-devil had just had the Tang Priest untied and sent for some vegetarian breakfast for him when she heard the inner doors being smashed. Leaping out of her flower pavilion she thrust at Pig with her trident. He parried with his rake while Monkey joined in the fight from the side. The she-devil went right up to them and was just going to use her vicious trick when the two of them, who now knew what she was about, turned and fled.

As soon as the two of them were round the rock Monkey shorted, “Where are you, star lord?” The star lord stood up at once on the mountainside in his original form as a giant rooster with twin combs. When he raised his head he was six or seven feet tall, and as soon as he crowed the monster reverted to her true appearance as a scorpion spirit the size of a pipa mandolin. When the star officer crowed again the monster's whole body crumbled in death. There is a poem as evidence that goes,

With fancy combs and a tasseled neck,

Hard claws, long spurs and angry eyes,

Nobly he leaps, complete in all his powers,

Towering majestic as three times he cries.

He is no common fowl who by a cottage crows

But a star down from the sky in all his glory.

Vainly the vicious scorpion took a human form:

Revealed now as herself she ends her story.

Pig went forward and said, one foot planted on the monster's back, “Evil beast, You won't be able to use your horse-killer poison this time.” The monster did not move, whereupon the idiot pounded her to mincemeat with his rake. The star lord gathered his golden light around him once more and rode away on his cloud. Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand all raised their clasped hands to Heaven in thanks.

“We have put you to much trouble,” they said. “We shall go to your palace to thank you another day.”

When the three of them had finished expressing their gratitude they bot the luggage and the horse ready and went into the cave, where the young and old serving girls were kneeling on either side saying, “My lords, we are not evil spirits but women from Western Liang who were carried off by the evil spirit. Your master is sitting in the scented room at the back crying.”

On hearing this Monkey took a very careful look around, and seeing that there were indeed no more devilish vapors he went round to the back and called, “Master!” The Tang Priest was very pleased indeed to see them all there.

“Good disciples,” he said, “I have put you to such a lot of trouble. What has happened to that woman?”

“That damned female was really a scorpion,” said Pig. “Luckily the Bodhisattva Guanyin told us what to do. Brother Monkey went to the palaces of Heaven to ask the Star Lord of the Pleiades to come down and defeat the demon. I've beaten her to pulp. That's why we dared to come right inside to see you, Master.”

The Tang Priest thanked them deeply. They then looked for some meat-free rice and noodles and laid on a meal for themselves that they ate. The kidnapped women were all taken down the mountain and shown the way back home. Then they lit a firebrand and burned down all the buildings there before helping the Tang Priest back on his horse and continuing along the main road West. Indeed:

They cut themselves off from worldly connections,

Turning away from the lures of desire.

By pushing right back the ocean of gold,

In their minds and their hearts their awareness was higher.

If you don't know how many years were to pass before they finally won their true achievement, listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 56

The Spirit Goes Wild and Wipes Out the Bandits

The Way in Confusion Sends the Mind-Ape Away

As the poem goes,

The heart that is empty of all things is said to be pure,

In utter placidity not giving rise to a thought.

The ape and the horse must be tethered, not left to run wild;

The spirit must always be cautious, not seeking for glory.

Wake up to Three Vehicles, wipe out the Six Bandits,

And all human destinies then become clear.

Extinguish the evil of sex and rise to enjoy

The pleasures of paradise that can be found in the West.

The story tells how Tang Sanzang bit on the bullet, straggled with all his powers to preserve the purity of his body and was rescued from the Pipa Cave when Monkey and the others killed the scorpion spirit. There is nothing to tell about the next stage of their journey, and it was soon summer again. What they saw was

Fragrant winds carrying the scent of wild orchids,

New bamboo cool as the skies clear after rain;

No travelers to pick artemisia on the hillside,

And the fragrant flowers of cattails filling the streams.

Bees are bewitched by pomegranates' beauty,

While siskins delight in the willow trees' shade.

How can the wayfarers offer dumplings to Qu Yuan?

Dragon boats should be mourning his death in the river.

Master and disciples were just enjoying the early summer scenery as they spent the day of the Dragonboat Festival without being able to celebrate it when a high mountain rose in front of them to block their way forward. Sanzang reined in his horse and turned back to say, “Be careful, Wukong: I'm worried that there may be demons on that mountain ahead.”

“Don't worry, Master,” said Brother Monkey. “We are all faithful believers. I'm not scared of demons.” This reply pleased the venerable elder greatly, who

Whipped on his noble charger,

Gave the dragon steed his head.

Before long they were above a rock-face on the mountain, and when they raised their heads to look around this is what they saw:

Cypress and pine that touch the azure heavens,

Creepers climbing up hazels on the cliffs.

A hundred thousand feet high,

A thousand sheer-cut strata.

A hundred thousand feet high are the towering pinnacles;

A thousand sheer-cut strata of the chasm's sides.

Mosses and liverwort cover damp rocks,

Locust and juniper form a great forest.

Deep in the forest

Birds are heard unseen,

Singing their songs with beautiful voices.

The water in the brook is a torrent of jade;

The fallen blooms by the path are piles of gold.

The mountain is steep,

The going is hard,

And hardly a pace is on level ground.

Foxes and David's deer come in twos;

White stage and black gibbons greet one in pairs.

The bowl of the tiger fills one with terror;

The call of the crane resounds through the sky.

Plum and red apricot provide one with food;

No names can be put to the many wild flowers.

After climbing the mountain slowly for a long time the four of them crossed the summit, and on the Western slopes they saw a stretch of level sunlit ground. Pig put on a great show of energy, telling Friar Sand to carry the luggage while he raised his rake in both hands and tried to drive the horse ahead. But the horse was not afraid of him and carried on at the same slow pace despite all the noises he made to speed it up.

“Why are you trying to make the horse go faster, brother?” Monkey asked. “Let it walk slowly at its own speed.”

“It's getting late,” Pig replied, “and I'm hungry after that day on the mountain. We'd better get a move on and find a house to beg some food from.”

“In that case let me speed him up,” said Monkey waving his gold-banded cudgel and shouting, at which the horse slipped its halter and started to gallop along the track with the speed of an arrow. Do you wonder why the horse was afraid of Monkey but not of Pig? It was because five hundred years earlier Monkey had been given a post in the Imperial Stables in the Daluo Heaven as Protector of the Horses; the name has been passed on right till the present day, which is why all horses are still afraid of monkeys. The venerable elder could not keep hold of the reins: he simply held tight to the saddle and gave the horse its head as it galloped six or seven miles towards some farm land before slowing down to a walk.

As Sanzang was riding along he heard a gong being struck as over thirty men armed with spears, swords and staves emerged from both sides of the track to block his way and say, “Where do you think you're going, monk?” This made the Tang Priest shake with fright so badly that he lost his seat and fell off the horse.

“Spare my life, Your Majesty,” he pleaded as he squatted in the undergrowth by the path, “Spare my life.”

The two chiefs of the gang then said, “We're not going to kill you. Just give us your money.” Only then did the venerable elder realize that they were bandits. As he raised his head to look at them this is what he saw:

One's blue face and protruding fangs were worse than an evil god's:

The other's bulging eyes were like the Star of Death.

The red hair at their temples seemed ablaze;

Their brownish bristles were as sharp as needles.

Both wore berets of tiger skin.

And kilts of marten fur.

One carried a cudgel with wolf-tooth spikes,

The other a rope of knotted rattan.

They were no less terrible than mountain tigers,

And just as frightening as dragons from the waters.

On seeing how murderous they looked Sanzang could only rise to his feet, put his hands together before his chest, and say, “Your Majesties, I have been sent by the Tang emperor in the East to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. It has been many years since I left Chang'an and all my travelling money was finished long ago. We monks may only support ourselves by begging-we don't have any money. I beg you, Your Majesties, to show charity and allow me to pass.” The two bandit chiefs led their men forward and said, “We here are tigers. The only reason we stop travelers on the main roads is to get rich. Charity doesn't come into it. If you've got no money, take your clothes off and give us that white horse, then we'll let you go on your way.”

“Amitabha Buddha!” said Sanzang. “This habit of mine was begged piece by piece, a bit of cloth from one family and a needle from another. If you take it you will be killing me. If you act as tough guys in this life you'll be reborn as animals in the next.”

One of the bandit chiefs was so infuriated by this remark that he started to wave his cudgel about and went up to Sanzang to strike him. Unable to speak, Sanzang could only think, “Poor man, you may think you've got a cudgel: wait till you find out about my disciple's.” The bandit was in no mood for argument as he raised his cudgel and started to lay about Sanzang. Sanzang, who in all his life had never told a lie, in this desperate crisis had to make one up now: “Don't hit me, Your Majesties. I have a young disciple following behind me who'll be here soon. He has several ounces of silver that he'll give to you.”

“Don't hurt the monk,” said one of the bandit chiefs. “Tie him up.” The crowd of bandits then fell upon him, roped him up, and suspended him high from a tree.

The three disaster-bringing spirits were still following behind. Pig was chuckling aloud as he said, “The master's been going very fast. I don't know where he's waiting for us.” Then he saw Sanzang in the tree and said, “Just look at the master, He could have just waited if he'd wanted to, but he was in such high spirits he had to climb a tree and make a swing out of creepers.”

“Stop talking nonsense,” said Monkey when he saw what had happened. “The master's been hung up there, hasn't he? You two wait for a moment while I go up and look around.”

The splendid Great Sage then rushed up the slope to look around and saw the bandits. “I'm in luck,” he thought with glee, “I'm in luck. Business has brought itself to my front door.” With that he turned round, shook himself, and turned into a trim little novice of only sixteen wearing a black habit and carrying a bundle wrapped in blue cotton cloth on his shoulder. Then he stepped out until he was by the master and called, “Master, what's been happening? Who are these wicked people?”

“Rescue me, disciple,” said Sanzang, “and stop asking so many questions.”

“What's it all about?” Monkey asked.

“These highwaymen blocked my way and demanded money,” Sanzang replied. “As I don't have any they hung me up here. I'm waiting for you to work something out. If you can't you'll just have to give them the horse.”

“You're hopeless, Master,” laughed Monkey. “Of all the monks in the world there can be few as soft as you. When the Tang Emperor Taizong sent you to worship the Buddha in the Western Heaven he never told you to give that dragon horse away.”

“Whatever was I to do when they hung me up here and were hitting me as they demanded things?” said Sanzang.

“What did you say to them?” Monkey asked.

“I was so desperate when they beat me that I had no choice: I had to tell them about you,” Sanzang replied.

“Master,” said Monkey, “you're useless. Why ever did you squeal on me?”

“I told them that you were carrying some money,” said Sanzang. “I only did it in desperation to stop them beating me.”

“Great,” said Brother Monkey, “great. Thanks for the recommendation. That just how to squeal on me. You can do that seventy or eighty times a month if you like, and I'll do more business than ever.”

When the bandits saw Monkey talking to his master they spread out to surround them and said, “Little monk, get out the money your master told us you're carrying inside your belt and we'll spare your life. But if you even try to say no, you're dead.”

“Don't shout, gentlemen,” said Monkey, putting his bundle down. “I've got some money in here, but not much-only twenty horseshoe ingots of gold and twenty or thirty ingots of frosted silver, not counting the smaller pieces. If you want it I'll get the whole packet out as long as you don't hit my master. As the ancient book has it, 'Virtue is the root, and wealth is only the tip of the branch'. This is just the tip of the branch. We men of religion can always find a place to beg. When we meet a benefactor who feeds monks there'll be plenty of money and clothes for us. We don't need much at all. As soon as you've let my master down I'll give you it all.”

When the bandits heard this they were delighted, and they all said, “The old monk is stingy, but this little monk is very generous. Let him down.” Now that his life had been spared the venerable elder leapt on the horse and galloped back the way he had come, making good use of the whip and not giving Monkey another thought.

“You've gone the wrong way,” Monkey called out in alarm, then picked up his bundle and started to run after him, only to find his way blocked by the bandits.

“Where do you think you're going?” they asked. “Give us your money or we'll have to torture you.”

“Now we're on that subject,” said Monkey, “we'll have to split the money three ways.”

“You're a bit of a rascal, aren't you, little monk?” said one of the bandit chiefs. “You want to keep something without letting your master know. All right then. Bring it all out and we'll have a look at it. If there's a lot we'll let you keep a bit to buy fruit with on the side.”

“That's not what I mean at all, brother,” said Monkey. “I haven't got any money. What I mean is that you've got to give me a cut of the gold and silver you two have stolen from other people.”

This infuriated the bandit chief, who shouted abusively, “You're asking for it, little monk. Wanting ours instead of giving us yours! Stay where you are and take this.” He lifted his knotted rattan cane and brought it down on Monkey's head six or seven times.

Monkey pretended not to notice, and his face was wreathed in smiles as he said, “Brother, if you can only hit me like that you could still be hitting me at the end of next spring and you wouldn't really have hit me at all.”

“You have a very hard head,” exclaimed the shocked bandit.

“No, no, you overpraise me: I just get by with it,” Monkey replied. With that the discussion was cut short as two or three of the bandits rushed at Monkey and started lashing out at him.

“Keep your tempers, gentlemen,” said Monkey, “while I get it out.”

The splendid Great Sage then felt in his ear and pulled out an embroidery needle. “Gentlemen,” he said, “we monks really don't carry money with us. All I can give you is this needle.”

“What lousy luck,” said one of the bandits. “We've let the rich monk go and kept this bald donkey who's not got a penny to his name. I suppose you do tailoring. A needle's no use to us.” On hearing that they did not want it Monkey held the needle in his hand, waved it, and turned it into a cudgel as thick as a rice bowl.

“Young you may be, little monk,” said the terrified bandits, “but you certainly have some magical powers.”

Monkey then thrust the cudgel into the ground and said, “If any of you gentlemen can move it it's yours.” The two bandit chiefs rushed up to grab it, but they could no more move it than a dragonfly can move a stone pillar: it did not shift a fraction of an inch. How could those bandits have known that the gold-banded As-You-Will cudgel had been weighed on the scales of Heaven at 13,500 pounds? Then Monkey stepped forward, lifted it effortlessly, spun it in a writhing python movement, pointed it at the robbers and said, “You're all out of luck: you've met Monkey.”

The bandit chief rushed at him again and hit him another fifty or sixty times. “Your hands must be getting tired,” said Monkey. “Let me hit you one now, but don't think this is the real thing.” Watch him as he swings his cudgel, shakes it, and makes it as thick as the top of a well and seventy or eighty feet long. A single blow of it struck one bandit chief to the ground. He bit the dust and said no more.

“You're pretty cheek there, baldy,” said the other bandit chief abusively. “You've got no money, and now you've killed one of us.”

“Just a moment,” said Monkey with a smile. “I'm going to kill every one of you and wipe you all out.” With another swing of his cudgel he killed the other bandit chief, at which all their men threw down their spears and clubs and scattered in terror, fleeing for their lives.

The Tang Priest galloped Eastwards until Pig and Friar Sand stopped him and asked, “Where are you going, Master? This is the wrong way.”

“Disciples,” said Sanzang, reining in his horse, “go back and tell your brother to be merciful with that cudgel of his and not kill all the bandits.”

“Stop here, Master,” said Pig. “I'll go.” The idiot ran straight back along the path, shouting at the top of his voice, “Brother, the master says you're not to kill them.”

“Have I killed anyone?” Monkey asked.

“Where have the bandits all gone?” said Pig. “They've all run away apart from the two chiefs. They're asleep here.”

“You pox-ridden pair,” said Pig, addressing them, “no doubt you had a hard night of it and were so exhausted that you had to choose this of all places to sleep.” Walking closer to them he went on, “You're like me: you sleep with your mouths open and dribble.”

“It's because I smashed the beancurd out of them with my cudgel,” said Monkey.

“But people don't have beancurd in their heads,” said Pig.

“I beat their brains out,” said Monkey.

The moment he heard Monkey say that the idiot turned and rushed straight back to say to the Tang Priest, “He's scattered them.”

“Splendid, splendid,” said Sanzang. “Which way did they go?”

“He hit them so hard he laid them out,” Pig replied. “They can't go anywhere.”

“Then what do you mean by scattering them?” Sanzang asked.

“He killed them,” Pig replied. “If that isn't scattering their band, what else is it?”

“How did he hit them?” Sanzang asked.

“He hit two big holes in their heads,” said Pig.

“Open the bundle,” said Sanzang, “Take out a few coins, and buy some ointment somewhere to put on their wounds.”

“You're not being at all sensible, Master,” said Pig. “There's only any point in putting ointment on the wounds of people who are still alive. Why put it on gaping holes in people who are already dead?”

“Has he really killed them?” said Sanzang, losing his temper and beginning to mutter abusive remarks about monkeys and macaques as he turned the horse round and rode back with Friar Sand and Pig to where the dead men lay covered with gore, their heads pointing down the mountainside.

The sight was too much for the venerable elder. “Dig a grave for them with your rake and bury them,” he told Pig, “while I say the Burial Sutra for them.”

“You're giving the job to the wrong man, Master,” complained Pig. “Monkey killed them, so Monkey ought to bury them. Why make me do the digging?”

Brother Monkey, who was already in a very bad mood after being told off by the master, shouted at Pig, “Hooligan! Moron! Bury them at once. I'll hit you if you waste any more time.” This so alarmed the idiot that he started digging with his rake. When he was three feet down he came to a layer of stones that the prongs of his rake could not shift, so he threw the rake aside and rooted about with his snout. In the softer earth he could get two and a half feet down with one push and five feet with two. He then buried the two bodies and piled up a tombmound above them.

“Wukong,” said Sanzang, “fetch some incense and candles so that I can pray for them and recite sutras.”

“You understand nothing,” Monkey retorted, pouting. “We're in the middle of the mountains with no village or inn for miles around. Where do you expect me to get candles and incense? There's nowhere I could buy them even if I had the money.”

“Out of my way, ape,” said Sanzang with fury, “I am going to scatter earth on the tomb, burn incense and pray.”

Sanzang dismounted sadly by the tomb in the wild;

The holy monk prayed by the desolate grave.

These were the words of his invocation:

I bow to you tough guys and ask you to hear my prayer. I am from the land of Tang in the East. At the command of Emperor Taizong I was going to the West to fetch the scriptures when I met you gentlemen here. I do not know what province, prefecture and county you came from to form your band in the mountains here. I spoke to you kindly and pleaded earnestly, but you paid no heed as you repaid good with wrath. Then you encountered Sun the Novice, who killed you with his cudgel. Out of consideration for your bodies left lying in the open I had them buried and a mound piled over them. I broke off some bamboo to serve instead of incense and candles; although they give no light, they come from a sincere heart. Only stones can I offer in place of food: they have no flavor, but they are given in honest faith. When you reach the Underworld to lodge your complaint and look for the roots of your misfortune, remember that his surname is Sun and mine is Chen: they are different. Know who it was who wronged you, just as you would know a debtor, and do not bring a case against the monk who is going to fetch the scriptures.

“You've shuffled off all the blame,” said Pig with a laugh. “We two weren't there either when Monkey killed them.”

Sanzang then picked up another pinch of earth and prayed again. “Tough guys, when you bring your case you must only indict Sun the Novice. It was nothing to do with Pig or Friar Sand.”

When Monkey heard this he could not help laughing as he replied, “Master, you've got no finer feelings at all. Goodness knows what efforts I've been to so that you can fetch your scriptures, but now that I've killed those two bandits you tell them to go and bring a case against me. It's true that I did kill them, but it was only for you. If you hadn't set out to fetch the scriptures and I hadn't become your disciple I'd never have come here and killed them. I'm damned if I don't invoke them, too.”

He took his iron cudgel, pounded the grave three times, and said, “Listen to me, pox-ridden bandits. You hit me seven or eight times, then seven or eight times again; you didn't hurt me or even tickle me at all, but you did make me lose my temper. One misunderstanding led to another and I killed you. You can bring a case against me wherever you like-I'm not scared. The Jade Emperor knows me. The Heavenly Kings do as I say. The Twenty-eight Constellations are afraid of me. The Nine Bright Shiners, the star lords, are scared of me. The city gods of counties and prefectures kneel to me; the God of the Eastern Peak Who Is Equal to Heaven is terrified of me. The Ten Kings of the Underworld used to be my servants. The Five Fierce Gods were once my juniors. The five Commanders of the Three Worlds and the Officers of the Ten Directions are all my very good friends. So go and bring your case wherever you like.”

Hearing Monkey speak in this most unpleasant way was another shock for Sanzang. “Disciple,” he said, “my prayer was only intended to teach you to spare life and become good and kind. Why do you have to take this all so seriously?”

“This is not something to fool around with, Master,” Monkey replied. “We must find somewhere for the night as soon as we can.” The master had no choice but to hold in his anger and remount.

With the Great Sage Sun feeling disgruntled and Pig and Friar Sand also suffering from jealousy, master and disciples were only getting on together on the surface: underneath there was hostility. As they carried along their road Westwards a farmhouse came into sight to the North of the track. Pointing at it with the whip Sanzang told them that this was the place where they would find somewhere to spend the night.

“Very well,” said Pig, and they went up to the farm to look at it. It was a fine sight:

Wild flowers on the paths,

Trees shading the doorways.

A mountain stream fell down a distant cliff;

Wheat and mallows grew in the fields.

The reeds moistened by dew were beds for the gulls;

Poplars in the wind were perches for weary birds.

Among blue cypress the pine's green was a rival;

Red rush competed with knotweed in fragrance.

Village dogs barked,

The cocks crowed at dusk,

Well-fed cattle and sheep were led back by boys.

Under clouds of smoke from the stoves the millet was cooked;

Now it was evening in the hill farm.

As the venerable elder went closer an old man came out through the gateway of the farm, noticed Sanzang, and greeted him. “Where have you come from, monk?” he asked, to which Sanzang replied, “I have been sent from the Great Tang in the East to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. As I am passing this way and it is getting late I have come to beg a night's lodging from you, benefactor.”

“It is a very long way indeed from your distinguished country to here,” the old man replied with a smile, “so how did you manage to cross so many rivers and climb so many mountains to get here by yourself?”

“I have three disciples who have come with me,” Sanzang said. “Where are they?” the old man asked. “There they are, standing by the road,” said Sanzang.

The old man looked up and was so appalled by their hideous faces that on the instant he turned to run back inside, only to be held back by Sanzang, who said, “Benefactor, I beg you in your mercy to let us spend the night here.”

The old man was shivering, barely able to open his mouth, shaking his head and waving his arms around as he said, “Th…th… th…they're not human. They're e…e…evil spirits.”

“Don't be afraid, benefactor,” said Sanzang, putting on a smile. “They just grew ugly. They're not evil spirits.”

“But my lord,” said the old man, “one's raksha demon, one's a horse-faced devil, and one's a thunder god.”

When Monkey heard this last remark he shouted at the top of his voice, “The thunder gods are my grandsons, the rakshas are my great-grandsons, and the horse-faced devils are my great-great-grandsons.”

This sent the old man's souls flying as he paled and wanted to go in. Sanzang held him up as they went into the thatched main room of the house, and said with a forced smile, “Don't be afraid of him. They are all rough like that. They don't know how to speak properly.”

As he was making his explanations a woman came out from the back holding a child of four or five by the hand. “What has given you such a fright, sir?” she asked.

“Bring some tea, wife,” he said, and the woman let go of the child's hand and fetched two cups of tea from the inside. When the tea had been drunk Sanzang stepped down from his seat to greet her and explain, “I have been sent by Great Tang in the East to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. I had just arrived here and was asking for a night's lodging in your distinguished mansion when the sight of my three disciples' ugly faces gave the old gentleman rather a fright.”

“If the sight of ugly faces gives you such a scare how would you cope if you saw a tiger or a wolf?” the woman said.

“Their ugliness I could take, wife,” the old man replied. “What terrified me was the way they spoke. When I said they were like a raksha, a horse-faced devil and a thunder god one of them shouted that thunder gods were his grandsons, rakshas his great-grandsons, and horse-faced devils his great-great-grandsons. That was what really terrified me.”

“No need to be frightened,” said Sanzang, “no need. The one like a thunder god is my senior disciple Sun Wukong. The one like a horse-faced devil is my second disciple Zhu Wuneng, or Pig. And the one like a raksha is my third disciple Sha Wujing, or Friar Sand. Although they are ugly they are all faithful Buddhists who believe in the true achievement. They are not evil monsters or vicious demons. They are nothing to be afraid of.”

When the old man and his wife heard who Sanzang was and were told that the disciples were all devout Buddhists their nerves were finally somewhat calmed, and they told Sanzang to invite them in. The venerable elder went to the door to call them over, then told them, “The old gentleman was really appalled by the sight of you just now. When you go in to see him now you must all be on your best behavior and be very polite to him.”

“I'm handsome and cultured,” said Pig, “not rough and noisy like my brothers,”

“If it weren't for your long snout, big ears and ugly face you'd be a very good-looking man,” laughed Monkey.

“Stop quarrelling,” said Friar Sand. “This is hardly the place for a beauty contest. Get inside!”

With that they carried the luggage and led the horse in, entered the main room, made a respectful call of greeting, and sat down. The good and able wife took the child out and gave orders for rice to be cooked and a vegetarian meal prepared. When master and disciples had eaten it the night was drawing in, so a lamp was fetched and they sat talking in the main room. Only then did Sanzang ask his host's surname.

“Yang,” the old man replied, and on being asked his age said he was seventy-three.

“How many sons do you have?” Sanzang asked.

“Only one,” the old man replied. “It was my grandson that my wife brought in just now.”

“Won't you ask your son in? I would like to greet him,” said Sanzang.

“He's not worth your courtesy, the wretch,” the old man replied. “I was fated to raise a worthless son, and he isn't at home now.”

“Where does he make his living?” Sanzang asked.

The old man nodded and sighed as he replied, “It's sad story. I would be very happy if he were willing to make an honest living, but his mind is set on evil and he won't work at farming. All he wants to do is to rob houses, hold up travelers, burn and kill. His cronies are all worse than foxes and dogs. He went away five days ago and he hasn't come back.”

Sanzang did not dare to breathe a word when he heard this, but he thought, “Perhaps he was one of the ones Wukong killed.” Feeling very uneasy, he bowed as he sat there. “Oh dear,” he said, “oh dear. How could such good parents have so wicked a son?”

Monkey went up to the old man and said, “What do you want a rotten son like that for? He's a murderer and a rapist, and he'll get both of you into trouble too. Let me find him and kill him for you.”

“I wish I could be rid of him,” said the old man, “but if I did I have no other son. Evil though he is I'll need him to bury me.”

“Stop meddling in things that are none of your business, brother,” said Friar Sand and Pig. “We're not the government. What's it to us if his son's a bad lot? Benefactor, could you give us a bundle of straw to spread out and sleep on over there? We'll be on our way tomorrow morning.” The old man rose to his feet and sent Friar Sand to take two bundles of rice straw to the yard at the back, where they were to spend the night in a thatched shed. Monkey led the horse and Pig carried the luggage as they took their master to the shed and slept the night there, where we shall leave them.

Now old Mr. Yang's son was indeed one of the bandits who had fled for their lives after Monkey killed their two chiefs on the mountainside the previous morning. Late that night, in the small hours, a group of them gathered together again and knocked at the front gate. Hearing the noise the old man pulled some clothes over his shoulders and said, “Wife, those damned bandits are here.”

“Then open the gate and let them in,” she replied. Only then did he open up, and what he saw was a crowd of bandits shouting, “We're starving, we're staving.” Old Mr. Yang's son rushed in, and made his wife get up to cook some rice. As there was no firewood in the kitchen he went into the yard to fetch some.

Back in the kitchen he asked his wife, “Where did the white horse in the yard come from?”

“There are some monks from the East who are going to get scriptures,” she replied. “They asked to stay here last night. Your parents treated them to supper and put them up in the thatched shed.”

The news made the bandit clap his hands with glee as he came out of the hall saying, “What a piece of luck, brothers, what a piece of luck. Our enemies are right here in my own home.”

“What enemies?” the others all asked.

:The monks who killed our chiefs came here for the night,” he replied, “and they're asleep in the shed.”

“Lovely,” said the other bandits. “Let's get those bald-headed donkeys. We can chop them all up and pickle them in soy sauce. We'll have their things and their horse and be avenging the chiefs into the bargain.”

“Take it easy,” said Yang the bandit. “You lot go and sharpen your swords while we cook the rice. Let's all have a good feed before we do them in.” Whereupon the bandits sharpened their swords and their spears.

The old man had heard all this, so he crept stealthily round to the back to tell the Tang Priest and his disciples, “That evil son of mine has brought the gang here. They know you're here and they want to murder you. Knowing how far you've come I couldn't bear to see you murdered, so please pack your bags as fast as you can. I'll let you out through the back gate.”

Sanzang, now shivering with fright, kowtowed to the old man in thanks then told Pig to lead the horse while Friar Sand shouldered the carrying pole and Monkey took the nine-ringed monastic staff. The old man opened the back gate to let them out then made his way quietly back to the front to go to bed.

By the time the bandits had sharpened their weapons and eaten a good meal it was the fifth watch and almost dawn. They crowded into the backyard to find their intended victims gone. Quickly lighting lamps and fires they made a long search but could find no traces of them anywhere except that the back gate was open. “They've got away out the back,” they all exclaimed. “After them! Catch them!”

They all rushed along as fast as arrows, and when the sun rose in the East they finally saw Sanzang, who looked back when he heard shouts and saw a crowd of twenty or thirty men armed with spears and swords coming after him.

“Disciples,” he called, “the bandits have caught up with us. Whatever shall we do?”

“Don't worry,” said Monkey. “I'll finish them off.”

“Wukong,” said Sanzang, reining in his horse, “you're not to hurt them. Just scare them off.”

Not a blind bit of notice did Monkey take of this as he swung his cudgel and turned to face them. “Where do you gentlemen think you're going?” he asked.

“Bloody baldies,” they shouted back abusively, ringing Monkey in a circle, “give us back our chiefs.” When they started thrusting and hacking at him with their spears and swords the Great Sage whirled his cudgel once around, made it as thick as a ricebowl, and scattered the lot of them. Those who took the full impact of it were killed outright; glancing blows broke bones, and even a touch left an open wound. A few of the nimbler ones managed a getaway, but the slower ones all had to pay their respects to King Yama in the Underworld.

At the sight of so many people being struck down a panic-stricken Sanzang made his horse gallop West as fast as it could, with Pig and Friar Sand rushing along beside. “Which of you is old Yang's boy?” Monkey asked the wounded bandits who were still alive.

“The one in yellow, my lord,” they groaned.

Monkey went over, took his sword from him, and sliced off his head. Holding the gory head in his hand he put his cudgel away and caught up with the Tang Priest by cloud. “Master,” he said, waving the head in front of the horse, “here's the head of old Yang's wicked son.”

Sanzang, pale with horror, fell out of the saddle. “Evil macaque,” he said, “you will be the death of me, terrifying me like that. Take it away at once.” Pig kicked the head to the side of the path and buried it with his rake.

“Do get up, Master,” said Friar Sand, putting down the carrying pole and supporting the Tang Priest. Pulling himself together as he sat there on the ground the venerable elder started to recite the Band-tightening Spell. Monkey's skull was squeezed so tight that his face and ears turned bright red, his eyes bulged and his head ached. “Stop! Stop!” he pleaded, rolling around in agony, but even when Sanzang had said it a dozen times or more he still carried on.

In his unbearable agony Monkey turned somersaults and stood on his head, screaming, “Forgive me, Master. Say what you have to say. Stop, stop!” Only then did Sanzang stop reciting the spell.

“I've nothing to say to you,” he replied. “I don't want you with me any more. Go back.” Kowtowing despite his pain, Monkey asked, “Master, why are you sending me away?”

“Wicked ape,” said Sanzang, “you're too much of a murderer to fetch scriptures. I gave it to you yesterday for your cruelty in killing the two bandit chiefs on the mountainside. When we reached the old gentleman's house late yesterday evening he gave us a meal and a night's lodging, and we only got away with our lives because he helped us to escape through the back gate. Even though his son was a bad lot that was none of our business, and it was wrong of you to cut off his head, to say nothing of all the other lives you destroyed. Goodness knows how much you have damaged the harmony of heaven and earth. Despite my repeated advice there is not a shred of goodness in you. I do not need yon at all. Clear off at once if you don't want me to say the spell again.”

“Don't say it, don't say it,” pleaded Monkey in terror, “I'm going.” No sooner had the words left his mouth than he disappeared without a trace on his somersault cloud. Alas!

When the mind is full of murder,

Cinnabar cannot be treated.

If the spirit is in disorder,

The Way stays uncompleted.

If you don't know where the Great Sage had gone listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 57

The True Sun Wukong Makes His Complaint at Potaraka

The False Monkey King Copies a Document in the Water Curtain Cave

Angry and depressed, the Great Sage Sun rose up into the air. There were many places he would have liked to go to but could not. In the Water Curtain Cave on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit he was afraid of being teased for coming back so soon after he had gone, not like a real man. He did not think he would be allowed to stay long in the palaces of Heaven; he could not face the immortals in the three magic islands in the sea; and he could not bring himself to beg for the help of the dragon king in his dragon palace. He had nobody to turn to.

“There's nothing for it,” he thought bitterly. “I'll just have to go back to the master and pursue the true achievement.”

He then brought his cloud straight down to stand in front of the Tang Priest's horse and say, “Please forgive me this time, Master. I'll never commit another murder, and I'll do every thing you tell me. You must, must let me escort you to the Western Heaven.” The moment the Tang Priest saw him he reined in the horse. His only reply was to start reciting the Band-tightening Spell, which he did over and over again more than twenty times, not stopping until Monkey lay weeping on the ground, the band sunk a good inch into his head.

“Why haven't you gone back? Why are you still bothering me?” Sanzang asked.

“Don't say it again,” said Monkey, “don't! I've got places I can live, but I'm afraid you'll never reach the Western Heaven without me.”

“You are a brutal murderer, you macaque,” Sanzang angrily burst out. “You have got me into a lot of trouble on your account. I want nothing more to do with you. Whether I get there or not is nothing to do with you. Go at once. One more moment's delay and I'll say the spell again, and I won't stop till your brains have all been squeezed out.” In unbearable pain, and seeing that the master would not change his mind, Monkey had no choice. Once again he shot up into the air on his somersault cloud, and this time he had a sudden inspiration.

“That monk has let me down,” he thought. “I'm off to Potaraka to lodge a complaint with the Bodhisattva Guanyin.”

The splendid Monkey set off once more on his somersault cloud and in less than two hours he was at the Southern Ocean. He stopped his auspicious cloud and then straight to Potaraka.

Sun Wukong charged in to the Purple Bamboo Grove where Moksa the Novice appeared to greet him politely and ask, “Where are you going, Great Sage?”

“I would like to see the Bodhisattva,” he replied. Moksa then led him to the mouth of the Tide Cave, where the page Sudhana bowed and asked, “Why are you here, Great, Sage?”

“I want to lay a complaint before the Bodhisattva,” Monkey replied.

At the word “complaint” Sudhana said with a smile, “What an evil tongue you have, you ape. It's just like when you tricked me after I caught the Tang Priest. Our Bodhisattva is an infinitely holy and good Bodhisattva who in her great mercy and compassion has made a vow to use the Great Vehicle to save all suffering beings. What could she have done wrong for you to complain about?”

At this Monkey, who was already in thoroughly bad spirits, exploded with fury. He gave a shout that made Sudhana fall back: “Ungrateful little beast! Stupid fool! You used to be a monster-spirit till I asked the Bodhisattva to win you over and convert you. Now you're living in eternal bliss and freedom, and you'll go on doing so as long as the heavens last. You ought to be bowing low to thank me instead of being so thoroughly insulting. I come here with a complaint to lay before the Bodhisattva, and you accuse me of having an evil tongue and complaining about her.”

“I see you're as hot-tempered a monkey as ever,” said Sudhana. “I was only teasing: no need to turn nasty.”

As they were talking the white parrot came and flew around them, which they recognized as a summons from the Bodhisattva. Moksa and Sudhana then led Monkey in to her lotus throne, where he kowtowed to her, howling aloud as the tears streamed down his cheeks. Telling Moksa and Sudhana to help Monkey to his feet, the Bodhisattva said, “Wukong, tell me straight out what it is that is upsetting you so. Don't cry: I shall deliver you from your troubles.”

“I've never been treated this badly in the whole of my life,” said a tearful Monkey, continuing to kowtow to her. “Ever since you saved me from the disaster sent by Heaven I've been a faithful Buddhist and protected the Tang Priest on his way to the Western Heaven to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures. I've risked my skin to rescue him from demons, even though it's been like taking crunchy bones out of a tiger's mouth, or lifting the scales on a dragon's back. I've been trying so hard to win a true reward and wipe out my past sins. I never thought that the master would be so ungrateful that he'd ruin my chances of a good destiny because he couldn't tell right from wrong.”

“Explain what you mean by not telling right from wrong,” said the Bodhisattva, and Monkey told her all the details of how the bandits had been killed, and of how in his anger at so much slaughter the Tang Priest had said the Band-tightening Spell many times over without going into the rights and wrongs of the case then repeatedly sent him away. He said he had come to her because he had no way of getting up to heaven or into the earth.

“The Tang Priest is travelling West on his emperor's orders,” said the Bodhisattva, “and would not allow anyone to be killed for no good reason. He is a monk whose heart is set on kindness. Why did someone of your tremendous powers need to bother with killing so many small-time bandits? Bandits like that are bad, but they're human and it's wrong to kill them. It's not the same as with evil beasts, demons and spirits. Killing them is a good deed. Killing those men was cruel. You could have saved your master by just making them run away. In my impartial judgement it was wicked of you to kill them.”

“Even if I was wicked,” said Monkey, “I ought to be allowed to redeem it by doing good. He was wrong to sent me away like that. I beg you in your mercy, Bodhisattva, say the Band-loosening Spell and take it off. I'll give the band back to you and go and live in the Water Curtain Cave.”

“The Tathagata Buddha taught me the Band-tightening Spell,” the Bodhisattva replied. “He gave me three treasures when I was sent to the East to find a pilgrim to fetch the scriptures: the brocade cassock, the nine-ringed monastic staff, and the three bands. He taught me the three secret spells, but a band-loosening spell was not one of them.”

“In that case, Bodhisattva, I must say good-bye,” Monkey replied. “Where will you go?” the Bodhisattva asked. “I'll go to the Western Heaven to pay my respects to the Tathagata and ask him to teach me the Band-loosening Spell.” Monkey replied. “Wait a moment while I find out for you whether the prospects are good.”

“No need,” said Monkey. “Things are quite bad enough as they are already.”

“I'm not finding out about yours but about the Tang Priest's,” the Bodhisattva replied.

The splendid Bodhisattva then took her seat on her lotus throne and sent her heart roaming through the three worlds while her perceptive eyes traveled all over the universe. Within the instant she spoke: “Wukong, your master is just about to be wounded, and he will soon be coming to look for you. Wait here while I go to see the Tang Priest and tell him to continue taking you with him to fetch the scriptures and achieve the true reward.” The Great Sage could only agree and control his impatience as he stood at the foot of the lotus throne.

The story returns to the Tang Priest, who since sending Monkey away had done some fifteen more miles to the West with Pig leading the horse and Friar Sand carrying the luggage. “Disciples,” he said, reining in the horse, “I'm extremely hungry and thirsty. I've been going for many hours since we left that cottage before dawn and I've been thoroughly upset by that Protector of the Horses. Which of you is going to beg me some food?”

“Down you get, Master,” said Pig, “while I look round here for a village to beg some food in.” At this Sanzang dismounted, while the idiot went up into the air on a cloud and took a good look all around. All he could see were mountains: there was no hope of spotting a human house. Bringing the cloud back down Pig said to Sanzang, “There's nowhere to beg from here. I couldn't see a single farm when I looked around.”

“In that case,” said Sanzang, “fetch us some water to quench our thirst.”

“I'll get some from the stream on that mountain to the South,” said Pig, and Friar Sand handed him the begging bowl. While Pig carried it off on his cloud the master sat and waited beside the path for a very long time, getting more and more unbearably thirsty, and there was no sign of Pig. There is a poem to prove it that goes,

Preserve the true spirit and nourish the breath, for this is called essence.

Feeling and nature originally shared the same form.

When spirit and heart are disordered all illness arises;

If essence and form both decline the primal will crash.

Without the three contemplations all effort is wasted;

Should the four elements be too wretched there's no point in contending.

Without earth and wood there can be no more metal or water;

How can the dharma body be won through idleness?

Seeing his master in agony from thirst as Pig was not back with the water, Friar Sand put the luggage down, tethered the white horse, and said, “Master, make yourself comfortable. I'm going to hurry him up with that water.” Sanzang, too tearful to speak, nodded his head in agreement, whereupon Friar Sand headed by cloud for the mountain to the South.

Sanzang was left by himself to endure his excruciating pain. In his deep misery he was alarmed by a noise that made him sit up and look. It was Monkey kneeling by the side of the path holding a porcelain cup and saying, “Without me you can't even have water to drink, Master. Drink this cup of lovely cold water while I go to beg you some food.”

“I won't drink water you give me,” said Sanzang. “I'd rather die of thirst right here. I want no more of you. Go away.”

“But you'll never get to the Western Heaven without me,” said Monkey. “Whether I get there or not is none of your business,” the Tang Priest replied. “Wicked ape! Why do you keep pestering me?” At that Monkey turned angry and started shouting abusively, “You've been lousy to me, you cruel, vicious old baldy.” With that he threw the bowl aside and swung his cudgel, hitting Sanzang on his back. Sanzang fell to the ground, barely conscious and unable to speak, as Monkey took the two bundles wrapped in blue felt in his arms and disappeared without trace on a somersault cloud.

As Pig was hurrying to the mountain to the South with the bowl in his hand he noticed a thatched cottage in a hollow. He had not spotted it when first he looked because it had been hidden in a fold of the mountain. Realizing that it was a house now he was close to the idiot thought, “If I show them my ugly mug they'll be so scared they won't possibly give me any food. It'd all be wasted effort. I'd better turn into something a bit better-looking.”

The splendid idiot then made a spell with his hands, said the magic words, shook himself seven or eight times, and turned himself into a consumptive monk with a fat, sallow face who was mumbling something as he went up to the door and called out, “Benefactor, have you any leftover rice in the kitchen for starving travelers? I'm from the East and I'm on my way to fetch scriptures from the Western Heaven. My master is back at the road, hungry and thirsty. If you have any left-over rice stuck to the bottom of your pan I beg you to give me some to save our lives.”

As it happened the men of the house were all out transplanting rice and sowing millet, and the only people in were two women who had just cooked the rice for the midday meal and had filled two platters with it that they were preparing to take to the fields. There was some rice left at the bottom of the pan. Seeing how sickly he looked they took what he said about going from the East to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven as delirious ravings. Afraid he might collapse and die in the doorway, they made a great to-do as they filled his bowl with rice from the bottom of the pan. The idiot took it from them, reverted to his true form, and went back the way he had come.

As he was going along he heard a shout of “Pig!” and looked up to see Friar Sand standing on the top of a precipice yelling, “Over here, over here.” Friar Sand came down and walked straight towards him, asking, “Why didn't you take some of the fresh water from this stream? Why did you go over there?”

“After I got here I saw a cottage in a hollow, so I went and begged this bowlful of rice.”

“We could certainly use it,” said Friar Sand, “but the master is terribly thirsty, so how are we going to carry some water back?”

“That's easy,” said Pig. “Carry this rice in the fold of your habit while I go and fetch some water in this bowl.”

The two of them were feeling very cheerful as they went back to the path, only to find Sanzang lying face downwards in the dirt. The white horse had slipped its bridle and was running to and fro beside the path, whinnying. There was not a sigh of the baggage. Pig stumbled and beat his breast with horror, “Don't tell me,” he shouted, “don't tell me. The survivors of the gang Monkey drove away have come back, killed the master and stolen the baggage.”

“Tether the horse,” said Friar Sand. “Whatever shall we do? We've failed halfway along our journey. Master!” Tears poured down his face as he sobbed bitterly.

“Don't cry, brother,” said Pig. “As this is what's happened we'll just have to forget about fetching the scriptures. You look after the master's body. I'll take the horse till I get to some town, village, market or inn where I can sell it for a few ounces of silver to buy a coffin to bury him in. Then we'll split up and go our separate ways.”

Friar Sand, unable to bear the loss of his master, turned the body over to warm the face with his own. “Poor, poor master,” he cried, then noticed hot breath coming from his master's nose and felt warmth in his chest. “Come here, Pig,” he shouted, “the master's still alive.” Pig came over and helped Sanzang to sit up.

As Sanzang came to he groaned and said bitterly, “That evil macaque tried to murder me.”

“What macaque?” the other two asked. The venerable elder sighed and said nothing.

Only when he had asked for and drunk a few mouthfuls of water did he reply, “As soon as you'd gone Wukong came to pester me again. When I still refused to take him back he hit me with his cudgel and stole the bundles wrapped in blue felt.” At this Pig ground his teeth as the fury rose higher and higher in him.

“Damn that monkey,” he said. “How could he do such a terrible thing? Look after the master,” he continued, addressing Friar Sand, “I'm going to his house to get back the bundles.”

“Don't lose your temper,” said Friar Sand. “Let's help the master over to that cottage in the hollow to ask for hot tea. Then we can heat up the rice you've begged already, and get the master better before we go after Monkey.”

Accepting this suggestion Pig helped the master back on the horse. Carrying the bowl of water, and with the rice in Friar Sand's habit, they headed straight back for the door of the cottage. There was only an old woman at home, and at the sight of them she hid herself as fast as she could. Friar Sand put his hands together in front of his chest and said, “Good lady, we've been sent by the Tang court in the East to the Western Heaven. As our master is not very well I have come to ask you for some hot tea to warm his rice with.”

“We had a consumptive monk begging here just now who said he'd come from the East,” the old woman replied. “Now you say you're from the East too. There's nobody at home. Please try somewhere else.”

Hearing this, the venerable elder dismounted with Pig's help, bowed to her and said, “Madam, I used to have three disciples who worked together to protect me on my way to the Thunder Monastery in the country of India to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures. But because my senior disciple Sun Wukong is a born murderer and will not be kind I sent him away. To my utter surprise he sneaked up on me, hit me across the back, and stole my clothes, baggage and bowl. I want to send one of my other disciples after him, and as I can't stay by the roadside I have come here to ask if I may rest in your house for a while. It will only be till the luggage has been recovered. I won't stay long.”

“A consumptive monk with a fat, sallow face begged some food from us just now,” the woman said. “He said he had come from the East and was going to the Western Heaven. There can't be another group of you.”

“That was me,” said Pig, unable to keep a straight face any longer. “I made myself look like that. I thought my long snout and big ears would give you such a fright that you wouldn't give me any food. If you don't believe me, my brother here has the rice from the bottom of your pan inside his tunic.”

Recognizing the rice the old woman stopped trying to send them away. She asked them to sit down inside and prepared a pot of hot tea that she gave to Friar Sand to warm the rice with. He did this and handed it to his master, who ate a few mouthfuls, sat quietly to calm himself for a while, then asked, “Which of you will go to fetch the luggage?”

“When you sent him away the other year,” replied Pig, “I went to fetch him. I know the way to his Water Curtain Cave on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit. Wait here while I go.”

“No,” said Sanzang, “not you. You have never got on with that macaque, and besides you're very rough-spoken. If you say anything wrong he'll hit you. Let Wujing go.” Friar Sand agreed at once, and Sanzang gave him these instructions: “When you get there you must keep a close watch on the situation. If he is willing to give you back the bundles then pretend to be very grateful when you accept them. If he won't you must on no account quarrel with him. Go straight to the Bodhisattva in the Southern Sea, tell her what has happened, and ask her to demand them from him.”

Friar Sand accepted his instructions and said to Pig, “I'm off to find Monkey now. Whatever you do, don't complain. Look after the master properly. You mustn't have a row with these people or they might not feed you. I'll soon be back.”

“I understand,” Pig replied with a nod. “Off you go, and come back soon whether you recover the luggage or not. Otherwise we'll have lost both ways,” Friar Sand then made a hand spell and headed off by cloud for the Eastern Continent of Superior Body. Indeed:

When the body is present but the soul files off, nothing remains to keep it alive;

A furnace without fire can refine no cinnabar.

The yellow wife leaves the lord to seek the metal elder.

Wood's mother puts on a sickly face to look after the master.

Who knows when this journey will ever end

Or when he will return from far away?

The Five Elements give birth and yield to each other.

All is disorder until the mind-ape comes back.

Friar Sand flew for three days and nights before he reached the Eastern Ocean. At the sound of its waves he looked down and saw

Black mists up to the sky and gloomy vapors;

The ocean embracing the sun in dawn's cold light.

But he was in no mood to enjoy the view as he crossed Yingzhou and the other islands of immortals and headed on East straight for the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit. Riding the sea wind and walking on the water it took him a lot longer before he saw a line of peaks like serried halberds and sheer rocks like screens. When he reached the highest peak he landed his cloud and found his way down the mountain, heading for the Water Curtain Cave. As he approached he heard a great commotion: the mountain was covered with yelling monkey spirits. When closer still he saw Monkey sitting on a high stone terrace holding a piece of paper in both hands from which he was reading:

We, the Emperor Li of the Great Tang Dynasty in the East have called to our presence our younger brother the Master of the Law Chen Xuanzang and commissioned him to go West to seek the scriptures from the Lord Buddha in the Thunder Monastery at the Saha Vulture Peak in India. When our soul went wandering in the Underworld after we succumbed to a sudden illness we were fortunate enough to have our years of life extended and to be returned to the world of the living by the Lord of Darkness. Since then we have held many masses and built altars to help the souls of the dead across to the other side. We were blessed by the appearance of the golden deliverer from suffering, the Bodhisattva Guanyin, who informed us that the Buddha in the West has scriptures that will deliver all lost souls. We have therefore sent the Dharma Master Xuanzang to make the long journey across a thousand mountains in search of the sutras and the gathas. We request that in the states of the West through which he passed he be allowed to proceed in accordance with this passport and that his holy cause be not brought to naught. Given on an auspicious day in the autumn of the thirteenth year of Zhenguan of the Great Tang.

Since leaving that mighty empire he has passed through many other states. On the journey he has taken three disciples. The senior one is Sun Wukong the Novice; the second is Zhu Wuneng, or Zhu Bajie; and the third is Sha Wujing, or Friar Sand.

Having read the text of Sanzang's passport through once he read it out again, at which Friar Sand could not help himself calling out at the top of his voice, “Brother, why are you reading the master's passport out?”

When Monkey heard this he jerked his head up and, refusing to recognize Friar Sand, shouted, “Arrest him! Arrest him!” All the monkeys rushed him and surrounded him, pulling him and dragging him towards Monkey, who shouted, “Who do you think you are? What a nerve, coming so close to our immortals' cave.”

Seeing how Monkey had turned cold and was refusing to recognize him any longer Friar Sand had no choice but to go up to him with a bow and say, “Elder brother, it was wrong of our master to be so angry with you, curse you and send you away. Pig and I ought to have persuaded him not to, and we shouldn't have been away looking for water and begging for food for our starving, thirsty master when you were so good as to come back. It was wrong of the master to be so stubborn and to refuse again to let you stay. That was why you knocked him senseless and took the luggage. When we came back we revived the master and now I've come to see you. Unless you hate the master and have forgotten what you owe him for delivering you from your torment in the past, won't you bring the luggage and come back with me to see him? Then we can all go to the Western Heaven and win our true reward. If you really hate him so deeply that you won't come with me, then please, please give me the bundles. Then you can enjoy the sunset of your life here in your native mountain. This way we'll all be fine.”

Monkey's answer to this was to say with a derisive laugh, “that's not what I had in mind at all, brother. The reason why I hit the master and took the luggage isn't because I'm not going to the West or want to stay here. I'm learning the passport off by heart so that I can go to the Western Heaven to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures myself. I shall have all the glory of taking them back to the East. I'll make those people in the Southern Jambu Continent see me as a great master and I'll be famous for ever.”

“What you say isn't quite right,” replied Friar Sand with a smile. “Nobody's ever heard of Sun the Novice going to fetch the scriptures. Our Tathagata Buddha created three stores of true scriptures and sent the Bodhisattva Guanyin to the East to find the pilgrim who would go to fetch them. Our job is to escort the pilgrim across a thousand mountains and through all the countries along the way. As the Bodhisattva has told us, the pilgrim was once the venerable elder Golden Cicada, a disciple of Tathagata Buddha's. Because he was exiled from Vulture Peak and reborn in the East for not listening to the Lord Buddha's sermons on the scriptures he is the one who must make his true achievement in the West and return to the Great Way. We three were saved to protect him from the demons he would meet on the journey. No Lord Buddha's going to give you the scriptures if you turn up without the Tang Priest. It'd just be wasted effort.”

“Brother,” said Monkey, “you've always been rather thick. You don't know the half of it. You may say you've got a Tang Priest, but what makes you think I haven't got one to escort to? I've chosen another holy monk here to escort. No problem! We're starting off on our big journey tomorrow. If you don't believe me I'll show you him. Little ones,” he called, “bring my master out at once.” In they ran, and they came out again leading a white horse, a Tang Sanzang, a Pig carrying the luggage and a Friar Sand with his monastic staff.

“I've never changed my name,” roared Friar Sand in fury at this sight. “There can't possibly be another Friar Sand. How dare you! Take this!” The splendid Friar Sand raised his demon-quelling staff with both arms and brought it down on his double's head, killing him outright and revealing that he had really been a monkey spirit. This made Monkey so angry that he swung his gold-banded cudgel and led all the monkeys to surround him. Lashing about him, Friar Sand fought his way out and escaped by cloud.

“That damned ape is being so thoroughly vicious that I'll have to report him to the Bodhisattva,” he thought; and as Friar Sand had killed a monkey spirit and been driven away Monkey did not go after him. Going back to his cave he told his underlings to drag the corpse to one side, skin it and cook its flesh, on which he and the other monkeys then feasted with coconut toddy and the wine of grapes. Then he chose another monkey fiend who was good at transformations to turn into Friar Sand and started instructing him again as he prepared to travel to the West. There we shall leave him.

Meanwhile Friar Sand flew his cloud away from the Eastern Ocean and traveled for a day and a night to the Southern Ocean. Before long Mount Potaraka came into view not far away, so he pressed forward then brought his cloud down so that he could stop and look. It was a wonderful sight. Indeed:

It includes all the mysteries of heaven and earth.

Here is the confluence of the rivers,

Where sun and stars are washed and bathed.

Hither all creatures come,

The winds are born and the moon is rocked in the ripples.

When the tidal wave rises high the leviathan is transformed.

Amid the mighty breakers the giant turtle swims.

The waters are joined to the Western and Northern Seas;

The waves connect with the Central and Eastern Oceans.

The four seas are linked as the artery of the earth;

In the magic islands are palaces of immortals.

Forget about all the earthly paradises;

Look at Potaraka's cloudy cave.

A wonderful sight:

Noble the primal spirit of the peak at sunset;

Below the cliffs the winds make rippling crystal.

Peacocks fly in the Purple Bamboo Grove;

Parrots talk in the branches of green poplar.

Flowers of jade and jasper always bloom;

Precious trees and golden lotuses grow every year.

White cranes come to pay homage at this peak;

Phoenixes often alight in the mountain pavilions.

Even the fish here cultivate their true nature,

Leaping in the waves as they listen to the scriptures.

As Friar Sand strolled on the mountain enjoying this magical view Moksa the Novice came up to him and said, “Why are you here instead of escorting the Tang Priest on his way to fetch the scriptures, Sha Wujing?”

Friar Sand bowed to him and replied, “There is something on which I would like an audience with the Bodhisattva. Could I trouble you to take me to her?”

Moksa, who realized that he was looking for Monkey, asked no further questions but went straight to the Bodhisattva and said, “The Tang Priest's junior disciple Sha Wujing is here to pay homage.”

When Monkey, who was still there below the lotus throne, heard this he said with a smile, “The Tang Priest must be in trouble if Friar Sand is here to ask for your help, Bodhisattva.” The Bodhisattva then asked Moksa to bring him in. Friar Sand prostrated himself on the ground to kowtow to her, then looked up, about to start making his complaint, when he saw Monkey standing beside her. Without a word he struck at Monkey's face with his demon-subduing staff. Instead of hitting back Monkey dodged the blow and got out of the way.

“I'll get you, you thoroughly evil, treacherous ape,” roared Friar Sand. “You're trying to deceive the Bodhisattva too.”

“Don't hit him,” shouted the Bodhisattva. “Tell me what's been happening.”

Only then did Friar Sand put down his precious staff and kowtow to the lotus throne again, saying with raging fury, “We're lost count of the number of murders this ape has committed on the journey. The other day he killed two highwaymen and the master let him have it, so when we were spending the next night at the bandit chief's home it came as a shock when he butchered as many of the gang as he could and took a severed head all dripping with blood to show to the master. It gave the master such a fright that he fell off his horse, said some nasty things to Monkey and sent him packing. After he'd gone the master was so hungry and thirsty that he sent Pig off to look for some water, and because Pig took a very long time to get back he sent me off after him. We never imagined that Monkey would come back, hit the master with his iron cudgel and steal the two bundles wrapped in blue felt while we were away. We came back and brought the master round. Then I went all the way to the Water Curtain Cave to fetch Monkey. To my amazement he turned cold and refused to recognize me. He was reading the master's passport aloud over and over again. When I asked him why, he said that as he couldn't escort the Tang Priest any further he was going to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven and take them back East himself. Then they'd treat him as a great master and he'd be famous for ever. When I asked who'd give him scriptures if the Tang Priest wasn't with him he said he'd chosen a holy monk and asked him to come out. There was a white horse, a Tang Priest, a Pig and a Friar Sand. Tm Friar Sand,' I said, 'and the one and only Friar Sand too'. I hit him one with my staff, and he turned out to be a monkey spirit. When Monkey came after me with his hordes I decided to come here to tell you, Bodhisattva, and ask for your help. I never realized he'd get here before me by somersault cloud, or that he'd fool you with his fine words.”

“You must not make such slanders, Wujing,” the Bodhisattva said. “Wukong has been here for four days. I never let him go back, and he didn't send for another Tang Priest to go to fetch the scriptures.”

“But what about that Monkey in the Water Curtain Cave? I'm telling you the truth,” replied Friar Sand.

“Calm down,” said the Bodhisattva. “I'll send Wukong back to the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit with you to take a good look round. If he's real he'll be hard to wipe out, but if he's a fake you'll be able to eliminate him easily. You'll find out which he is when you get there.” At this Brother Monkey and Friar Sand took their leave of the Bodhisattva. They were making their journey

To the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit

The rights and wrongs to reveal;

To the cave with a curtain of water

To tell the false from the real.

If you don't know how they told them apart you had better listen to the explanation in the next installment

Chapter 58

Two Minds Throw Heaven and Earth into Uproar

One Body Cannot Achieve True Nirvana

When Monkey and Friar Sand took their leave of the Bodhisattva they departed from the Southern Ocean by two beams of auspicious light. Now Monkey's somersault cloud was much faster than Friar Sand's immortal's cloud, so Monkey was drawing ahead when Friar Sand pulled him back and said, “There's no need for you to show me your heels like that, brother, rushing ahead to sort things out at home. Wait for me to come with you.”

Although Brother Monkey's intentions were good Friar Sand could not help being suspicious. The two of them then flew their clouds together and were soon in sight of the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit. They brought their clouds down and had a good look at the outside of the cave, where there was indeed a Monkey sitting on a high stone terrace, drinking and making merry with his monkey hosts. He looked exactly the same as the Great Sage: yellow hair held in a golden band, fiery eyes with golden pupils, a brocade tunic, a tigerskin kilt, a gold-banded iron cudgel in his hands, and deerskin boots. He had the same

Hairy face like a thunder god,

Cheeks like the planet Saturn;

Pointed ears and a forehead broad,

And long, protruding fangs.

In an explosion of fury the Great Sage left Friar Sand behind as he went up to the other, brandishing his cudgel and shouting abusively, “What sort of demon do you think you are? How dare you! You make yourself look like me, you steal my children and grandchildren, you occupy my immortal's cave, and on top of that you live it up like this.” When the other Monkey heard all this he did not deign to reply but went for him with his own iron cudgel. When the two Monkeys were together there was no way of telling the true from the false. It was a splendid fight:

Two cudgels and a pair of monkey spirits,

A couple of truly formidable foes.

Both want to escort the Tang emperor's brother;

Each longs to achieve what will make him famous.

The true Monkey now accepts Sakyamuni's teachings;

The false demon only pretends to be a Buddhist.

In magic powers and transformations

The false and true are evenly balanced.

One is the Sage Equaling Heaven of primal energy,

The other an earth spirit who has long refined his powers.

One wields an As-You-Will gold-banded cudgel,

The other an iron bar that follows the heart's desire.

As they block and parry neither comes out on top.

First they fight each other outside the cave,

But soon they carry on the struggle in mid air.

Each of them rose on his clouds and light till they were fighting up in the clouds of the ninth heaven. As Friar Sand stood beside them he dared not intervene in their fight as he really could not tell the true Monkey from the false one. He longed to draw his sword and join in, but he was frightened of wounding the real Monkey. When he had endured this dilemma for a long time he shot back down to the mountain scar, where he used his demon-quelling staff to fight his way to the outside of the Water Curtain Cave. Here he sent all the demons fleeing in terror, turned the stone benches over, and smashed the tableware from which they had been eating and drinking to their hearts' content. But although he looked everywhere for the blue felt bundles he failed to find them. Now the Water Curtain Cave was so called because the waterfall screening its entrance looked from a distance like a white cloth curtain and only appeared as the waterfall it was from close to. As Friar Sand did not know that the entrance to the cave was behind it he was unable to find the way in, so he took his cloud back up to the Ninth Heaven and started swinging his staff again, still unable to strike.

“Friar Sand,” said the Great Sage, “you can't help much here. Go back and tell the master what's been happening to us while I drive this demon to Potaraka Island in the Southern Ocean for the Bodhisattva to identify me as the real Monkey.” The other Monkey then repeated what he had said. As they looked and sounded exactly the same Friar Sand really could not tell them apart. He could only do as he was told and ride his cloud back to rejoin the Tang Priest.

The two Monkeys meanwhile fought and shouted their way to the Southern Ocean, where they went straight to Potaraka Island still throwing blows and abuse at each other. Their unending shouts disturbed all the devas who protected the Law, so that they went to the Tide Cave and reported, “Bodhisattva, two Sun Wukongs really have fought their way here.”

The Bodhisattva came down from her lotus throne and went with Moksa, the page Sudhana and the Naga Maiden to the entrance, where she shouted, “Stay where you are, evil beast.”

Each Monkey grabbed hold of the other one while the real one said, “Bodhisattva, this damned fiend really does look just like me. Our fight started at the Water Curtain Cave and has been going on for a very long time without getting anywhere. Friar Sand's mortal eyes are too weak to tell us apart, so he can't help at all. I sent him back West to report to the master while I fought this bloody impostor here for you to distinguish the true from the false. Your eyes are perceptive, Bodhisattva.”

The other Monkey then said exactly the same. Look long and hard though they did, the devas and the Bodhisattva could not tell which was which. “Let go of each other and stand one on each side while I take another look,” the Bodhisattva said.

Doing as she told them, the one on her left said, “I'm the real Monkey,” and the one on her right said, “He's an impostor.”

The Bodhisattva then called Moksa and Sudhana to her and whispered these instructions: “I want one of you to stand very close to each of them while I recite the Band-tightening Spell quietly. The one in agony will be the real one, and the one who isn't will be the impostor.”

One of them went up to each of the Monkeys, but as the Bodhisattva secretly said the words of the spell they both yelled out in pain, clutched their heads, and rolled on the ground shouting, “Stop! Stop!” The moment she did they grabbed each other again and went on fighting and shouting. At her wit's end, the Bodhisattva ordered the devas and Moksa to help, but none of them dared strike a blow for fear of wounding the real Monkey.

“Sun Wukong,” called the Bodhisattva, and both the Monkeys answered her. “As you were once appointed the Protector of the Horses,” said the Bodhisattva, “When you made havoc in the Heavenly Palace, all the heavenly generals recognize you. Go to the upper world: let it distinguish between you two. Come back and tell me the result.” The Great Sage thanked the Bodhisattva for her kindness and the other Monkey also thanked her.

Pulling and tugging at each other and keeping up their ceaseless clamour they went straight to the Southern Gate of Heaven, where the Heavenly King Virupaksa led the four heavenly generals Ma, Zhao, Wen and Guan and all the other gate gods great and small to block the entrance with their weapons.

“Where are you going?” he shouted. “This is no place for a brawl.”

“Sanzang sent me away for killing some bandits while I was escorting him to the Western Heaven to fetch the scriptures,” the Great Sage replied. “I went to Potaraka to complain. To my horror this evil spirit turned himself into my double, knocked the Tang Priest over and stole the luggage. Friar Sand went to the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit looking for me and found that this evil spirit had seized my cave. Then he went to Potaraka to tell the Bodhisattva and ask for her help. When he saw me there he made the outrageous accusation that I'd got there first by somersault cloud and told the Bodhisattva a pack of lies to cover up. Luckily she could vouch for me and didn't believe Friar Sand, so she sent us both back to the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit to find out what had happened. As you can see, this evil spirit looks just like me. We fought our way from the Water Curtain Cave to Potaraka Island to see the Bodhisattva, but she couldn't tell us apart, so I've now fought him all the way here in the hope that all the eyes of all the heavens will be able to see that I'm the real Monkey.” Then the other Monkey told the same story. No matter how long they looked all the gods of the heavens could not tell them apart.

“If you can't tell which is which,” the two Monkey shouted, “get out of the way and let us go to see the Jade Emperor.”

As the gods could not stop them they opened the gates wide to let them go straight to the Hall of Miraculous Mist. Marshal Ma and the four Heavenly Teachers Zhang, Ge, Xu and Qiu all reported to the Jade Emperor, “Two identical Sun Wukongs from the mortal world have charged in through the gates of Heaven and say that they want to see Your Majesty.” Before they had finished the two Monkeys came roaring straight in, so alarming the Jade Emperor that he came down from his throne and stood in the palace hall. “Why are you two making such a row in the heavenly palace and shouting in our presence?” the Jade Emperor asked. “Do you want to die?”

“Long live Your Majesty,” said the Great Sage. “Now that I'm a devout Buddhist I'd never dare try to bully my betters. It's just that this evil spirit has turned himself into my double.” He then told the whole story, concluding, “and I beg that Your Majesty will unmask the impostor.” Then the other Monkey said the same thing all over again.

The Jade Emperor ordered Heavenly King Li the Pagoda-carrier to look at them both in his demon-revealing mirror, kill the false one and preserve the true one. The Heavenly King caught them both in his mirror and invited the Jade Emperor and the other deities all to look. Both Monkeys could be seen in it, wearing the same golden band and the same clothes. There was not the slightest difference between them. Unable to tell them apart, the Jade Emperor had both of them driven out of the palace.

The Great Sage gave a mocking laugh and so did the other Monkey. Then they grabbed each other by the hair and by the throat, fought their way out of the heavenly gates, and landed on the road to the West. “Let's go and see the master,” said one of them; and the other replied, “Let's go and see the master.”

After Friar Sand had taken his leave of the two Monkeys it took him three days and nights' travelling to return to the farm, where he told the Tang Priest everything that had happened. The Tang Priest was full of regrets: “I said that Sun Wukong had hit me and stolen the bundles, never realizing that an evil spirit had turned itself into an imitation Monkey.”

“The evil spirit made doubles of yourself, the white horse, Pig carrying our luggage, and me,” said Friar Sand. “I was so furious that I killed the fake Friar Sand: he was really a monkey spirit. That made them all run away, then I went to tell the Bodhisattva my troubles. She sent Monkey and me back to identify the demon, but he was so much like the real Monkey that I couldn't help in the fight, which is why I've come back to report to you, Master.”

Sanzang paled with horror at this news, while Pig roared with laughter. “Great, great,” he guffawed. “Just as this kind old lady said, there are several lots of pilgrims going to fetch the scriptures. They're one lot, aren't they?”

Everyone in the house, young and old alike, came to ask Friar Sand, “Where have you been looking for money for your travelling expenses these last few days?”

“I went to the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit in the Eastern Continent of Superior Body to look for my eldest brother and fetch the baggage,” Friar Sand replied with a smile. “Then I went to Potaraka Island in the Southern Ocean to see the Bodhisattva Guanyin and to the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit again before coming back here.”

“How long was your return journey?” the old man of the family asked.

“About 70,000 miles,” Friar Sand replied.

“That would be a very long way to walk in only a few days,” the old man said, “You must have gone by cloud to get there.”

“How else do you think he got across the sea?” said Pig.

“What you and I do is like walking compared with Monkey: he'd have been there and back in a day or two,” said Friar Sand. When the family heard this they realized that they must all be gods or immortals.

“No, we're not,” said Pig, “We're senior to them.”

As they were talking they were interrupted by a noisy quarrel in mid air, and when they rushed out to look they saw two Monkeys fighting. The sight made Pig's hands itch. “I'm going up to tell them apart,” he said, and with that the splendid idiot leapt up into the air and shouted, “Stop yelling, brother, Pig's here.”

“Hit the evil spirit,” both Monkeys shouted, “hit the evil spirit.”

All this both horrified and delighted the family, who exclaimed, “We've got a whole lot of arhats who can ride on clouds staying with us. Even if we'd made a vow to feed monks we would never have been able to feed such holy men as these.” They were now more generous with their food and tea than ever. Then they began to worry that if the fight between the two Sun the Novices turned nasty, heaven and earth might be turned upside down: it could be disastrous.

Seeing that behind the old man's delight lay these deep misgivings Sanzang said to him, “There's no need to worry or alarm yourself, benefactor. When I made him submit and become my disciple he gave up evil and turned to good. Of course we will show you our gratitude.”

“That would be too great an honour,” the old man replied, “too great an honour.”

“Stop talking now, benefactor,” said Friar Sand, “and you sit here, Master. Pig and I'll each bring one of them back here to stand in front of you. When you say the spell the one who suffers will be the real Monkey and the one who doesn't will be the impostor.”

“What a very good idea,” said Sanzang.

Friar Sand then rose up into mid-air and said, “Stop it, both of you. I'm taking you for the master to choose between you.” The Great Sage then let go of his opponent, and so did the other Monkey. Friar Sand held one and told Pig to hold the other, and they took them both down by their clouds till they stood in front of the thatched cottage.

As soon as he saw them Sanzang began to say the Band-tightening Spell, at which both Monkeys cried out together, “Why do you have to say that spell when we're fighting so hard? Stop! Stop!” Being a kind and merciful man the venerable elder stopped reciting the spell before he had been able to tell them apart. The two Monkeys then broke free from Pig and Friar Sand and started fighting again.

“Brothers,” the Great Sage said, “look after the master while I fight this impostor down to get the Kings of the Underworld to tell which of us is which.” The other Monkey said likewise, and the two of them soon disappeared, grabbing and tugging at each other.

“Friar Sand,” said Pig, “why didn't you grab the luggage off the fake Pig when you saw him carrying it at the Water Curtain Cave?”

“The evil spirits surrounded me when I killed my double with the demon-quelling staff,” Friar Sand replied. “They were going to get me, so I had to flee for my life. After I'd been to see the Bodhisattva and gone back to the cave entrance again with Monkey I overturned all their stone benches and scattered the little demons, but I couldn't see any entrance to the cave, only a waterfall. I came back empty-handed as I couldn't find the luggage.”

“Let me tell you something,” said Pig. “When I went there a few years ago to ask him to come back we met outside the cave. After I'd persuaded him to come he jumped down and went into the cave to change. I saw him go straight through the water: the waterfall is the entrance. I bet that's where that devil has put our luggage.”

“As you know the way into the cave I think you'd better go and fetch our baggage from there while the demon's away,” said Sanzang. “Even if Wukong does come back I still won't have him.”

“I'm off then,” said Pig.

“There are thousands and thousands of little monkeys in front of the cave,” said Friar Sand. “It'd be terrible if they were too much for you by yourself.”

“I'm not worried,” said Pig, who rushed outside and headed off to the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit to fetch the luggage.

The two Monkeys fought their way round to the back of the Dark Mountain of the Underworld, where all the demons shivered and shook with terror as they hid themselves. The ones who managed to run away first rushed straight to the Underworld government offices and reported to the Senluo Palace, “Your Majesties, two Great Sages Equaling Heaven have come to the Dark Mountain and are fighting their way here.”

The Ring of Qinguang in the First Palace reported this with alarm to the King of Chujiang in the Second Palace. The news was passed on in turn to King Songdi in the Third Palace, the King of Biancheng in the Fourth Palace, King Yama in the Fifth Palace, King Impartial in the Sixth Palace, the King of Taishan in the Seventh Palace, the Metropolitan King in the Eighth Palace, King Wuguan in the Ninth Palace, and King Everturning Wheel in the Tenth Palace. In an instant the Ten Kings all gathered together and sent an urgent message to King Ksitigarbha. Meanwhile the Underworld forces were mustered in the Senluo Palace ready to capture the true and the false Monkey. Just then there was the roar of a mighty wind as dreary mists filled the air and the two Monkeys came tumbling and rolling to the Senluo Palace.

The Lords of the Underworld stepped forward to block their way and say, “Great Sages, why are you making such disorder in our Underworld?”

To this the real Great Sage replied, “I was escorting the Tang Priest on his journey to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven when bandits tried to rob him on a mountain in the land of Western Liang. He got angry with me when I killed a few of them and sent me away. I went to tell my troubles to the Bodhisattva in the Southern Ocean. I never imagined that this demon would have the effrontery to turn himself into my double, attack my master on the road, and steal our baggage. When my fellow-disciple Friar Sand went back to my mountain to fetch the baggage he found that the demon had created an imitation of the master to take to the Western Heaven and fetch the scriptures, so he rushed to the Southern Ocean to see the Bodhisattva Guanyin and found me there at her side. After he'd told his story the Bodhisattva sent me back to the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit with him to see what was going on. I found that this bastard had stolen my cave. We argued all the way to the Bodhisattva Guanyin's place, but she couldn't tell which of us was the real me. Then I fought with him up to Heaven, where none of the gods knew which of us was which, and after that went to see the master. When the master recited the Band-tightening Spell my double was in just as much pain as I was. That's why I've brought this chaos to the Underworld in the hope that Your Majesties will look up the Registers of Life and Death for me to find out about the False Sun the Novice's background so that I can catch his soul and end this confusion of there being two minds.” The demon then said the same thing.

The Lords of the Underworld called on the judges in charge of the records to go through them carefully from beginning to end. There was nobody under the name of False Sun the Novice. They checked through the registers of hairy beasts again, and found that under item 130 in the monkey section there was a record of how the Great Sage Sun had achieved the Way in his youth, made havoc in the Underworld and removed his name from the registers of death, so that from then on none of the monkeys were listed. When the judges had made their inspection they reported back to the palace.

Holding their tablets of office, the Lords of the Underworld said to Monkey, “Great Sage, there are no names in the records that can be checked. You will have to go back to the world of the living to be told apart.”

As they were saying this they heard the Bodhisattva King Ksitigarbha shout, “Wait, wait! I'll send Examiner to tell you apart.” Now Examiner was the name of an animal who lay under the Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha's sutra table. Just by lying there he could tell good from evil and wise from stupid among any of the snails, fish, hairy creatures, feathered creatures, insects, heavenly immortals, earthly immortals, divine immortals, human immortals and devil immortals in all the mountains, rivers and countries of the four great continents, in all cave heavens and in all blessed places. The animal lay on the ground in the courtyard of the Senluo Palace as Ksitigarbha instructed it.

A little later it raised its head and said to Ksitigarbha, “I've found the name of the demon, but I cannot say it to his face, nor can I help catch him.”

“What would happen if you identified him to his face?” Ksitigarbha asked.

“If I did,” Examiner replied, “I am afraid that the evil spirit would turn nasty, make disorder in the palace and destroy the peace of the Underworld.”

“Why won't you help capture him?” Ksitigarbha went on to ask, and Examiner replied, “The evil spirit's magic powers are no less than those of Sun Wukong. No matter how much dharma power the gods of the Underworld have, they would never be able to catch him.”

“In that case, how is the evil spirit to be got rid of?”

“Boundless is the Buddha's Dharma,” Examiner replied. Ksitigarbha was now enlightened. “As you two look the same and have the same magic powers,” he said to both Monkeys, “if you want to be told apart you will have to go to Sakyamuni Buddha in Thunder Monastery.”

“You're right,” they both replied together, “you've right. You and I'll go to the Western Heaven to be told apart by the Lord Buddha.” They then took their leave of Ksitigarbha and were seen out by the Ten Kings of the Underworld as they went up to the Turquoise Cloud Palace, after which devils were sent to close the entrance to the Underworld.

Watch the two Monkeys as they fly by cloud and mist to the Western Heaven. There is a poem about it that goes,

Troubles arise if one has two minds;

Doubts cloud everything from sea to sky.

One desires fine horses and the highest rank,

Craving for eminence at the royal court.

Fighting North and South without respite,

They parry to East and West with never a pause.

In dhyana the secret of mindlessness must be learned;

Nourish the babe in silence and form the holy foetus.

The two of them fought as they flew through the air, grabbing, tugging, pulling and snatching at each other, all the way to the outside of the Thunder Monastery on Vulture Peak in the Western Heaven. Even before they arrived the four Bodhisattvas, the eight vajrapanis, the five hundred arhats, the three thousand protectors, the nuns, monks, lay people and all the holy hosts were standing beneath the seven-precious lotus throne listening to the Tathagata expounding the Dharma. This is what he was explaining:

There is existence in non-existence, non-existence in non-non-existence. There is matter in non-matter, emptiness in non-emptiness. What exists is non-existent, and what does not exist is not non-existent. Non-matter is matter; non-emptiness is emptiness. Emptiness is emptiness and matter is matter. Matter is not permanent matter, matter is empty. Emptiness is not permanent emptiness, emptiness is matter. Know that emptiness is not empty and that matter is not matter. This is what is meant by insight and understanding the Wonderful Voice.

All the host kowtowed in submission. Amid the sound of chanting the Tathagata released a shower of heavenly petals, left his throne and said to them. “You are all of one mind. Watch the struggle of two minds coming here.”

They all raised their eyes to look and saw the two Monkeys come shouting and yelling to the holy Thunder Peak. The eight vajrapanis were so alarmed that they stepped forward to block their way and say, “Where do you two think you are going?”

“This evil spirit has turned himself into my double,” Monkey replied, “so I wish to go to the lotus throne to ask the Tathagata to tell that I am the real Sun Wukong and he is an impostor.”

As the vajrapanis could not stop them they yelled at each other right to the foot of the lotus throne, where they kowtowed and each of them said, “Your disciple has been escorting the Tang Priest here to fetch the true scriptures. Goodness only knows how much effort I've spent dealing with demons and capturing monsters along the way. Recently we were robbed by bandits, and I admit that I did twice kill some of them. The master was so angry with me that he sent me back and wouldn't let me come with him to worship your golden self. The only thing I could do was to go back to the Southern Ocean to tell my troubles to Guanyin. I never imagined that this evil spirit would make himself look and sound just like me, knock the master over, and steal our luggage. My brother Friar Sand went to my mountain looking for me and this monster talked a whole lot of fancy nonsense about having his own holy monk to go and fetch the scriptures. When Friar Sand got away and fled to the Southern Ocean to tell the whole story to Guanyin she sent us both back to my mountain. After that the two of us, the real me and the impostor side by side, fought our way to the Southern Ocean, Heaven, the Tang Priest and the Underworld, but nobody could tell which of us was which. That is why I've had the effrontery to come here to beg you in your infinite charity and mercy to identify me as the true Sun Wukong. Then I'll be able to escort the Tang Priest here to worship you in person and fetch the scriptures to take back to the East, so that the great teachings will be made known for ever.” Hearing the two of them saying the same things in the same voice, none of the host could tell them apart: only the Tathagata himself knew. He was just about to expose the impostor when a coloured cloud brought Guanyin from the South to see our Buddha.

“Noble Guanyin,” said our Buddha, putting his hands together in front of his chest, “can you tell the true Sun the Novice from the false one?”

“I could not tell them apart when they visited my island,” the Bodhisattva replied. “Since then they have been to Heaven and the Underworld, and still nobody could say which was which. That is why I have come to beg you, Tathagata, to identify the true Sun Wukong.”

To this the Buddha replied with a smile, “You all have very great dharma powers, but you can only scan everything that happens under the sky. You cannot know all the creatures and categories under the sky.” When the Bodhisattva asked what these categories were, the Buddha replied, “There are five kinds of immortal: heavenly, earthly, divine, human and demonic. There are five kinds of beast: snail, scaly, furry, feathered and insect. This wretch is not heavenly, earthly, divine, human or demonic. He is not a snail, or scaly, or furry, or feathered or an insect. Now there are also four kinds of ape that cause confusion and don't come under any of the ten categories.”

“May I ask what these four kinds of ape are?” the Bodhisattva asked.

“The first kind is the intelligent stone monkey,” the Buddha replied. “He can do all kinds of transformation, knows all about the seasons of Heaven and earthly advantages, and can move the stars and their constellations about. The second kind is the red-rumped mandril that knows all about the Yin and the Yang and human affairs, can go into or out of anywhere, and knows how to prolong its life and avoid death. The third kind is the magic-armed gibbon that can catch the sun or moon, shrink mountains, see what is auspicious and what is not, and fool around with heaven and earth. The fourth kind is the six-eared macaque which has wonderful hearing and perception. It knows about the past and the future and understands all creatures. These four kinds of ape do not come within any of the ten categories and are not listed among the creatures that live between heaven and earth. I can see that the false Sun Wukong is just such a six-eared macaque. Wherever he stands he can know what is happening hundreds of miles away and hear everything that is said. That is why he has such wonderful hearing, brilliant perception, and knowledge of the past, the future, and all beings; that is why he looks and sounds just like Wukong. He is a six-eared macaque.”

As soon as the macaque heard the Tathagata Buddha say who he really was, he started shaking with fear and took a great leap to get away. The Tathagata at once ordered his hosts to strike, and the macaque was immediately surrounded by the four Bodhisattvas, eight vajrapanis, five hundred arhats, three thousand protectors, and all the monks, nuns and lay people, as well as Guanyin and Moksa. The Great Sage Monkey rushed forward too.

“Don't hit him, Wukong,” said the Tathagata. “I shall capture him for you.” The macaque's fur stood on end as he realized that there would be no escape, so he shook himself and turned straight into a bee who started to fly straight up, only to fall down again as the Tathagata's golden begging bowl was clapped over him. The host all thought he had got away. “Stop talking,” said the Buddha with a smile. “The evil spirit has not escaped. He is under my bowl.” They all surged forward to see him in his true form of a six-eared macaque as the bowl was lifted.

The Great Sage could not restrain himself. Swinging his iron cudgel he killed the demon with a single blow to the head, and that is why this species is now extinct. It was more than the Tathagata could bear.

“This is terrible,” he said, “this is terrible.”

“You shouldn't be sorry for him,” said the Great Sage. “He wounded my master and stole our bundles. According to the law he should get his head cut off for wounding in the course of theft and daylight robbery.”

“Go back at once to escort the Tang Priest here to fetch the scriptures,” said the Tathagata.

The Great Sage kowtowed to him in thanks and said, “I wish to report to the Tathagata that my master definitely refuses to have me. The journey would be a lot of trouble for nothing. I beg you in your kindness, Tathagata, to say the Band-loosening Spell. Then I can take this gold band off and give it back to you, and you can let me return to lay life.”

“Stop those silly ideas and behave yourself,” said the Tathagata. “I shall send Guanyin to take you back to him. Of course he'll accept you. Protect him well, and when you succeed and reach ultimate bliss there will be a place on a lotus throne for you too.”

When the Bodhisattva Guanyin heard this she put her hands together to thank him for his mercy then took Wukong off by cloud followed by Moksa and the white parrot. They were soon back at the thatched cottage by the road. As soon as Friar Sand saw them he hurried out to ask the master to greet the Bodhisattva at the door.

“Tang Priest,” she said, “it was a six-eared macaque pretending to be Wukong who hit you the other day. Fortunately the Tathagata could tell who he was, and Wukong has now killed him. You must now take Wukong back. There are many demon obstacles on the way ahead and you must have his protection if you are to reach Vulture Peak, see the Buddha and fetch the scriptures, so stop being angry with him.”

“I shall respectfully obey,” Sanzang replied.

Just as he was kowtowing in thanks there was the roar of a whirlwind from the East carrying Pig with the two bundles on his back. Seeing the Bodhisattva the idiot kowtowed to her and said, “Your disciple left the master the other day and went back to the Water Curtain Cave on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit to look for this luggage. I found the imitation Tang Priest and imitation Pig and killed the pair of them. They were both monkeys. Then I went inside and found the bundles. Nothing's missing-I've checked them over. So I came straight back by wind. What happened to the two Monkeys?”

The Bodhisattva then told him how the Tathagata had told the two of them apart. The idiot was delighted and gave thanks at great length. Master and disciples then said farewell to the Bodhisattva, who went back to the sea. The four of them were now once more of a single will and a single mind; all grievances had been washed away and anger removed. They thanked their hosts in the thatched cottage, retied the luggage, saddled up the horse, and headed West. Indeed:

A separation on the journey muddled the Five Elements;

At the demon-subduing gathering enlightenment returned.

The spirit returned to the house of the mind and dhyana was calmed;

When the six perceptions were controlled the elixir was completed.

If you don't know how long it was till Sanzang saw the Buddha and asked for the scriptures after setting out again listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 59

Sanzang's Way Is Blocked at the Fiery Mountains

Monkey First Tries to Borrow the Plantain Fan

The many species are at root the same;

All flows into the boundless sea.

Every thought and worry is in vain;

All types and forms together blend.

When the achievement is complete

Great will be the full and shining dharma.

Do not allow your differences to divide:

Keep everything together.

Gather all into the elixir furnace,

Refine it till it is red as darkest gold.

Then in its brilliance and beauty

On dragons it may ride at will.

The story tells how Sanzang took back Brother Monkey as the Bodhisattva had instructed him and headed towards the Western Heaven, united in heart with Pig and Friar Sand. They were no longer in two minds, and the ape and the horse were firmly under control. Time shot by like an arrow; days and nights alternated with the speed of a shuttle. After the scorching heat of summer they were now in the frosts of late autumn. What they saw was:

The sparse clouds blown away by the wild West wind,

Cranes calling in the distant hills amid the frosty woods.

This is a chilly time

When mountain rivers seem longer than ever.

The swan returns through the Northern frontier passes;

Migrating birds go back to their Southern fields.

The traveler feels lonely on the road;

Monastic robes do not keep out the cold.

As master and disciples pressed ahead they began to feel hotter and hotter in the warm air. “It is autumn now, so why is it getting hotter again?” Sanzang asked, reining in his horse.

“Don't know,” said Pig. “There's a country in the West, Sihali, where the sun sets. People call it 'the end of the sky'. At about six o'clock every evening the king sends people on the city walls to band drums and blow bugles to cover the sound of the sea boiling. That's because when the fire of the sun falls into the Western Ocean there's a great seething noise like something burning being plunged into water. If they didn't cover the noise with their drums and bugles the shock would kill all the little children in the city. That's where I think we are-the place where the sun sets.” When the Great Sage heard this he could not help laughing.

“Don't talk such nonsense, you idiot. We're a long way from Sihali yet. The way our master keeps dithering and changing his mind we won't get there in three lifetimes, even if we go on from childhood to old age, then to childhood again, and then to another old age and a third childhood.”

“Tell me then, brother,” said Pig, “if this isn't where the sun sets why's it so scorching hot?”

“The seasons must be out of joint,” said Friar Sand. “I expect they're following summer rituals here although it's autumn.” Just as the three disciples were arguing they saw a farm by the side of the road. It had a red tiled roof, red brick walls, and red painted doors, windows and furniture. It was red everywhere.

“Wukong,” said Sanzang, dismounting, “go to that house and find out why it's so burning hot.”

The Great Sage put his gold-banded cudgel away, neatened his clothes, and swaggered along the road like a fine gentleman. When he reached the gate to have a look an old man suddenly appeared from inside. This is what he looked like:

He wore a robe of hemp-cloth,

Not quite brown or red,

A sunhat of woven bamboo,

In between black and green.

The knobby stick in his hand

Was neither crooked nor straight.

His long boots of leather

Were not new, but not yet old.

His face was the color of copper,

His beard bleached white like yarn.

Long eyebrows shaded his jade-blue eyes

And his smile showed golden teeth.

The old man had a shock when he looked up to see Monkey. “Where are you from, you freak?” he asked, steadying himself on his stick. “What are you doing at my gate?”

“Venerable patron,” replied Monkey with a bow, “don't be afraid. I'm no freak. My master and we three disciples have been sent by the Great Tang emperor in the East to fetch the scriptures from the West. As we've now reached your residence I have come to ask you why it's so boiling hot here and what this place is called.”

Only then did the old man stop feeling worried and reply with a smile, “Please don't take offence, reverend sir. My old eyes are rather dim and I failed to recognize your distinguished self.”

“There's no need to be so polite,” said Monkey. “Which road is your master on?” the old man asked.

“That's him, standing on the main road due South,” Monkey replied.

“Ask him over, ask him over,” the old man replied, to Monkey's pleasure. Monkey waved to them, and Sanzang came over with Pig and Friar Sand leading the white horse and carrying the luggage. They all bowed to the old man.

The old man was at the same time delighted by Sanzang's fine appearance and alarmed by Pig's and Friar Sand's remarkable ugliness. Inviting them in, he told the younger members of the family to bring tea and cook a meal. Hearing all this Sanzang rose to his feet to thank the old man and ask, “Could you tell me, sir, why it has turned so hot again although it is autumn now?”

“These are the Fiery Mountains,” the old man replied. “We don't have springs or autumns here. It's hot all the year round.”

“Where are the mountains?” Sanzang asked. “Do they block the way to the West?”

“It's impossible to get to the West,” the old man replied. “The mountains are about twenty miles from here. You have to cross them to get to the West, but they're over 250 miles of flame. Not a blade of grass can grow anywhere around. Even if you had a skull of bronze and a body of iron you would melt trying to cross them.” This answer made Sanzang turn pale with horror; he dared not to ask any more questions.

Just then a young man pushing a red barrow stopped by the gate, shouting, “Cakes! Cakes!” The Great Sage pulled out one of his hairs and turned it into a copper coin with which he bought a cake off the young man. The man accepted the money and without a worry he lifted the cover off his barrow to release a cloud of hot steam, took out a cake and passed it to Monkey. When Monkey took it in his hand it was as hot as a burning coal or a red-hot nail in a furnace.

Just look at him as he keeps tossing the cake from one hand to another shouting, “It's hot, it's hot, I can't eat it.”

“If you can't stand heat don't come here,” the young man replied. “It's always this hot here.”

“You don't understand at all, my lad,” said Monkey. “As the saying goes,

If it's never too cold and it's never too hot

The five kinds of grain will be harvested not.”

“If it's so hot here how do you get the flour to make your cakes?” To this the young man said,

“You ask me where we can obtain the flour for the pan:

Politely we request it from Immortal Iron Fan.”

“What can you tell me about this immortal?” Monkey asked.

“The immortal has a plantain fan,” the young man replied. “If you ask it to, the fan puts out the fire at the first wave, makes a wind blow at the second wave, and brings rain at the third wave. That is how we can sow and reap the crops to support ourselves. Without it nothing would be able to grow.”

On hearing this Monkey rushed back inside, gave the cakes to Sanzang, and said, “Don't worry, Master: Don't get upset about what's going to happen the year after next. East these cakes up and I'll tell you all about it.” Sanzang took the cakes and said to the old man, “Please have a cake, sir.”

“I could not possibly eat one of your cakes before we've offered you any of our tea and food,” the old man replied. “Sir,” Monkey replied, “there's no need to give us food or tea. But could you tell me where the Iron Fan Immortal lives?”

“What do you want to know about the immortal for?” the old man asked. “The cake-seller told me just now that the immortal has a plantain fan,” said Monkey. “If you borrow it the first wave puts the fire out, the second raises a wind and the third brings rain. That's why you're able to sow and reap the crops to support yourselves. I want to go to ask the immortal to come so we can put out the flames on the Fiery Mountains and cross them. And you'll be able to sow, reap and live in peace.”

“It's a nice idea,” said the old man, “but as you have no presents the immortal wouldn't come.”

“What sort of presents would be wanted?” Sanzang asked.

“Every ten years,” the old man replied, “we go to visit the immortal. We take four pigs and four sheep, all decorated with flowers and red ribbons, delicious fruit in season, chickens, geese and the best wine. We bathe ourselves and go very reverently to pay a respectful visit to the mountain and ask the immortal to leave the cave and come here to perform magic.”

“Where is this mountain?” Monkey asked. “What's it called? How far is it from here? I'm going there to ask for the fan.”

“It lies Southwest of here,” the old man said, “and it's called Mount Turquoise Cloud. When we believers go to worship at the magic mountain the journey takes us a month as it's about 485 miles altogether.”

“No problem,” said Monkey. “I can be there and back in no time.”

“Wait a minute,” said the old man. “Have something to eat and drink first, and we'll get some provisions ready for the journey. You'll need two people to go with you. Nobody lives along the way and there are many wolves and tigers. It'll take you many a day to get there. You must be serious about it.”

“No need,” said Monkey with a laugh, “no need. I'm off.” As soon as he had said that he disappeared.

“My lord!” the old man said in astonishment. “He's a god who can ride clouds.”

We shall say no more of how the family redoubled their offerings to the Tang Priest, but tell of Monkey, who arrived at Mount Turquoise Cloud in an instant, brought his auspicious light to a stop and started looking for the entrance to the cave. He heard the sound of an axe and saw a woodcutter felling a tree in the forest on the mountainside. Hurrying forward, Monkey heard him saying.

“I recognize the ancient woods amid the clouds;

The path is overgrown; the hillside steep.

From Western hills I see the morning rain;

Returning to the South the ford's too deep.”

Going closer to the woodman Monkey said, “Greetings, woodman.” Putting down his axe the woodcutter returned his courtesy and asked him where he was going. “May I ask if this is Mount Turquoise Cloud?” said Monkey.

“Yes,” the woodcutter replied.

“Where is the Iron Fan Immortal's Plantain Cave?” Monkey asked.

“There's a Plantain Cave here,” the woodcutter replied, “but no Iron Fan Immortal, only a Princess Iron Fan. She's also called Raksasi.”

“They say the immortal has a plantain fan that can put out the flames of the Fiery Mountains. Is that her?”

“Yes, yes,” the woodman said. “She's a sage and she has this treasure that puts out fire. Because she protects the people who live over yonder they call her the Iron Fan Immortal. We have no need of her here, so we just call her Raksasi. She's the wife of the Bull Demon King.”

Monkey went pale with shock at the news. “Another person who's got it in for me,” he thought. “When I subdued the Red Boy the other year he said this bitch was his mother. When I met the Red Boy's uncle at Childfree Cave on Mount Offspring Dissolved he refused me the water and wanted revenge. Now I'm up against his parents. How am I ever going to borrow the fan?”

Seeing Monkey deep in thought and sighing endlessly, the woodcutter said with a smile, “Venerable sir, you're a man of religion. You shouldn't have any worries. Just follow this path East and you'll be at the Plantain Cave within a couple of miles.”

“I'll be frank with you, woodcutter,” said Monkey. “I'm the senior disciple of the Tang Priest who has been sent by the Tang emperor in the East to go to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. The other year I had words with Raksasi's son Red Boy at the Fire-cloud Cave, and I'm afraid that Raksasi may refuse to let me have the fan because she's still nursing a grudge. That's why I'm worried.”

“A real man knows how to play it by ear,” the woodcutter replied. “Just ask for the fan. Forget about your old quarrel. I'm sure you'll be able to borrow it.”

Monkey made a respectful chant and said, “Thank you very much for your advice. I'm off.”

Brother Monkey then took his leave of the woodcutter and went straight to the mouth of the Plantain Cave. Both doors were tightly shut, and the scenery outside was magnificent. It was a splendid place. Indeed:

The rocks were the hones of the mountain,

And also the spirit of the earth.

Clouds at sunset held night rain,

And mosses lent the freshness of their green.

The towering peaks outdid those of Penglai;

The fragrant calm was like a magic island's.

Wild cranes were perching in the lofty pines

While warblers sang in the weeping willows.

This was indeed an ancient site,

The home of immortals for ten thousand years.

The resplendent phoenix sang in the parasol trees

While azure dragons hid in the running waters.

Vines hung over the winding paths,

And creepers covered the steps of stone.

Apes on the cliffs screeched to welcome the rising moon;

In tall trees birds sang for joy at the clear blue sky.

The groves of bamboo were as cool as if it had rained;

The flowers along the path were embroidered velvet.

At times a cloud of white would blow from a distant peak;

It had no single form as it drifted in the wind.

“Open up, Brother Bull,” Monkey shouted as he went up to the doors. They opened with a creak, and out came a young girl carrying a flower basket in her hand and hoe over her shoulder. Indeed:

Though clad in rags and dressed in no fine array,

Her face was full of spirit, her heart set on the Way.

Monkey went up to her with his hands together in front of his chest and said, “Would you kindly tell the princess that I'm a monk going to the West to fetch the scriptures. I'm here to beg the loan of her plantain fan as we can't get across the Fiery Mountains.”

“What monastery are you from,” the girl asked, “and what is your name? Please tell me so that I can announce you.”

“I'm from the East,” Monkey replied, “and my name is Sun Wukong.”

The girl went back into the cave, knelt to the princess, and said, “Your Highness, there's a monk from the East called Sun Wukong outside who would like to see you to ask for the loan of the plantain fan to cross the Fiery Mountains.” The name Sun Wukong was like a pinch of salt thrown into a flame, or oil poured on a fire. Her face went bright red and evil anger flared up in her heart.

“So that damned monkey's here at last,” she said with hatred. “Girl,” she shouted, “fetch me my armor and my weapons.” She then put on her armor, tied her pair of blue-tipped swords at her waist, fastened it all firmly, and went out. Monkey slipped over to the entrance to see what she looked like and this is what he saw:

A flowered kerchief tied around her head,

A cloud-patterned robe of quilted brocade.

A belt of two tiger sinews round her waist,

Revealing a skirt of embroidered silk.

Her shoes like phoenix beaks were but three inches long;

Her trousers in dragon-beard style were adorned with gold.

Brandishing her swords she gave out angry shouts;

She looked as lethal as the goddess of the moon.

“Where's Sun Wukong?” Raksasi shouted as she came out of her cave.

Monkey stepped forward, bowed, and replied, “Monkey offers his respectful greetings, sister-in-law.”

“I'm no sister-in-law of yours,” she shouted angrily, “and I'll have no greetings from you.”

“Your worthy husband the Bull Demon King was once my sworn brother,” Monkey replied. “There were seven of us altogether. As I learn that you are my brother Bull's good lady, of course I must call you sister-in-law.”

“Damned ape,” said Raksasi, “if you're my husband's sworn brother why did you have to do that terrible thing to our boy?”

“Who is your son?” Monkey asked, as if he did not know.

“He's the Red Boy, the Boy Sage King of the Fire-cloud Cave by Withered Pine Ravine on Mount Hao,” Raksasi replied. “You ruined him, and now you've come to our door to pay with your life. We've been longing to get our revenge on you but didn't know where to find you. You'll get no mercy from me.”

Putting on the broadest of smiles, Monkey replied, “You haven't gone into it thoroughly enough, sister-in-law. You've no reason to be so angry with me Your good son had captured my master and would have steamed or boiled him if the Bodhisattva hadn't taken the boy as his disciple and rescued my master. He's now the page Sudhana on the Bodhisattva's island and he's accepted the pursuit of the true reward from her. He is now beyond life and death and above filth and purity. He will live as long as heaven, earth, the sun and the moon. But far from thanking me for saving his life you're getting angry at me. That's wrong of you.”

“You smooth-tongued ape,” Raksasi snapped back. “My boy may be alive, but when is he ever going to come here? When am I going to see him again?”

“It'll be easy for you to see your son again,” Monkey replied, still smiling. “Just lend me the fan to put the fires out. When I've taken my master across the mountains I'll go to the Bodhisattava's place in the Southern Ocean and ask him to come here to see you and give your fan back. No problem. Then you'll be able to see that he's completely unharmed. If he'd been wounded at all you'd have had every right to be angry with me. But he's as handsome as ever. You ought to be thanking me.”

To this Raksasi's reply was: “Shut up, ape fiend! Stick your head out for me to hack with my sword. If you can stand the pain I'll lend you the plantain fan. If you can't you'll be going straight down to Hell to see King Yama.”

Monkey then clasped his hands together in front of him and replied with a smile, “Enough said, sister-in-law. I'll stretch my bald head out and you can take as many hacks as you like until you're exhausted. But you must lend me the fan.” With no more argument Raksasi swung both of her swords around and brought them down with loud thunks a dozen or more times on Monkey's head. He was not bothered at all. Raksasi was so frightened by this that she turned to run away.

“Where are you going, sister-in-law?” Monkey said. “Hurry up and lend me that fan.”

“My treasure isn't something to be lent out casually,” Raksasi replied.

“Well,” said Monkey, “if you refuse now you'll just have to try a taste of your brother-in-law's cudgel.”

The splendid Monkey King held on to her with one hand while pulling his cudgel out from his ear with the other. With one wave it became as thick as a ricebowl. Raksasi broke free from his grip and raised her swords to strike back at him. Monkey started swinging his cudgel to hit her with and the fight began in front of Mount Turquoise Cloud. All talk of kinship was forgotten and their minds full of hatred alone. It was a fine battle:

The woman had worked hard to make herself a monster;

She loathed the ape and would avenge her son.

Although Monkey was seething with fury,

He would have made concessions for his master's sake.

First he had asked to borrow the plantain fan,

Being patient and gentle, not fierce.

In ignorance Raksasi hacked with her sword,

While Monkey decided to speak of kinship.

Women should never fight with men,

For men are harder and can crush them.

Terrible was the gold-banded cudgel,

Fine were the movements of the blue frost-bladed sword,

With blows to face and head,

As both of them grimly refused to yield.

Blocking to left and right they used their martial skill;

Great was the cunning with which they stood or fell back.

Just when they both were beginning to enjoy themselves

The sun set in the Western sky before they noticed.

Raksasi made ghosts and deities feel small

With many a wave of her true magic fan.

Raksasi and Monkey fought it out till evening. As Monkey's cudgel struck so hard and his technique was so flawless she realized that she would never be able to beat him. She brought out her plantain fan and with a single wave blew Monkey right out of sight. There was no way he could stand his ground. With that she went back to her cave in triumph.

The Great Sage was thrown around in the air, unable to come down to earth or find any refuge. He was like a dead leaf in a whirlwind or a fallen blossom carried along by a torrent.

Only after a whole night's buffeting did he manage to land on a mountain the next morning and hold on hard to a rock by putting both arms round it. He needed a long time to calm himself and take a good look around before he realized that he was on Little Mount Sumeru.

“What a terrible woman,” he said to himself with a deep sigh. “How ever did she get me here? I remember coming here once to ask the Bodhisattva Lingji to subdue the Yellow Wind Monster and rescue my master. The Yellow Wind Ridge is over a thousand miles South of here, so as I've been blown back from the West I must have come thousands and thousands of miles. I'll go down and find out some more from the Bodhisattva Lingji before I go back.”

Just as he was making his mind up he heard a resounding gong, so he hurried down the mountain and straight to the dhyana monastery. The lay brother on the gate recognized Monkey and went in to announce, “The hairy-faced Great Sage who asked the Bodhisattva to subdue the Yellow Wind Monster some years back is here again.”

Realizing that this must be Sun Wukong, the Bodhisattva hurried down from his throne to greet him and lead him inside with the words, “Allow me to congratulate you. I suppose you have fetched the scriptures now.”

“It'll be a long time yet,” said Monkey, “a long time.”

“But why are you visiting my mountain if you have yet to reach the Thunder Monastery?” the Bodhisattva asked.

“Since in your great kindness you subdued the Yellow Wind Monster for me some years ago,” Monkey replied, “goodness only knows how much we've suffered on our journey. Now we are at the Fiery Mountains, but we can't cross them. When I asked the local people they told me about an Iron Fan Immortal who had an iron fan that could put the fires out. I went to visit the immortal, only to discover that she's the wife of the Bull Demon King and the Red Boy's mother. I told her that her son is now Guanyin Bodhisattva's page, but she has it in for me because she can't see him. She refused to lend me her fan and fought me. When she realized that my cudgel was too much for her she waved her fan and sent me hurling through the air till I landed here. That's why I've come blundering into your monastery to ask the way back. How far is it from here to the Fiery Mountains?”

“The woman is called Raksasi, or Princess Iron Fan,” replied Lingji with a smile. “That plantain fan of hers is a miraculous treasure formed by heaven and earth behind Mount Kunlun ever since primal chaos was first separated. This leaf is the very essence of the negative Yin principle, which is why it can put out fire. If she fans somebody with it he'll be blown 27,000 miles before that negative wind drops. But this mountain of mine is only some 17,000 miles from the Fiery Mountains. You must have stopped here because you have the power to delay clouds, Great Sage. No ordinary mortal would have been able to stop.”

“She's terrible,” said Monkey. “How ever is my master going to get across those mountains?”

“Don't worry, Great Sage,” Lingji replied. “The Tang Priest is fated to succeed on this journey with you.”

“How can you tell?” Monkey asked. “Many years age when the Tathagata gave me his instructions,” Lingji replied, “he presented me with a Wind-fixing Pill and a Flying Dragon Staff. The Flying Dragon Staff was used to subdue the Yellow Wind Monster, but I haven't yet tried out the Wind-fixing Pill and I'll give it to you today. It'll stop the fan from being able to move you. You'll just have to ask to get it and put the fire out with it. You'll have an instant success.”

Monkey bowed deeply and expressed profound thanks. The Bodhisattva then produced a brocade bag from his sleeve and took out of it the Wind-fixing Pill. This he gave to Monkey to sew up securely inside the lapel of his tunic. “I won't detain you here any longer,” Lingji said as he saw Monkey out through doors. “Head Northwest and that will get you to Raksasi's mountain.”

Taking his leave of Lingji Monkey rode his somersault cloud straight back to Mount Turquoise Cloud and was there in a moment. “Open up, open up!” he shouted, hammering on the doors with his iron cudgel. “Monkey's here to borrow the fan.”

This so alarmed the servant girl inside the doors that she ran back and reported, “Your Highness, he's here to borrow the fan again.” The news frightened Raksasi, who thought, “That damned monkey really has got some powers. If I fan anyone else with my treasure they go 27,000 miles before stopping. How can he be back so soon after being blown away? This time I'll fan him two or three times and he'll never be able to find his way back here.”

She sprang to her feet, tied all her armor firmly on, and went out of the cave with her swords in her hands shouting, “Sun the Novice, aren't you afraid of me? Why have you come back here to get yourself killed?”

“Don't be so stingy, sister-in-law,” said Monkey with a smile. “You've got to lend me it. I'll bring it back as soon as I've escorted the Tang Priest across the Fiery Mountains. I give you my word as a gentleman. I'm not the sort of low creature who borrows things but doesn't give them back.”

“Damned macaque,” Raksasi shouted back. “You're outrageous, and you understand nothing. I've got to avenge the loss of my son, so how could I possibly be prepared to lend you my fan? Clear off if you don't want a taste of my sword.” The Great Sage, not at all afraid, struck back at her hands with his iron cudgel, and the two of them fought six or seven rounds. By then Raksasi's arms were becoming too tired to wield the swords, while Brother Monkey was feeling strong and fighting well. Seeing that the balance of the fight was tilting against her, Raksasi took out the fan and fanned it once in Monkey's direction.

He stood unmoved, put his iron cudgel away, and said with a chuckle, “This time it's different. Fan as much as you like. If I move an inch I'm no man.” She fanned twice more and still he did not move. By now she was so alarmed that she put her pride and joy away at once, went straight back into the cave, and shut the doors firmly.

When Monkey saw this he used magic. He tore the lapel of his tunic open, put the Wind-fixing Pill in his mouth, shook himself, turned into the tiniest of insects, and squeezed in through the crack between the doors, where he saw Raksasi shouting, “I'm thirsty, I'm thirsty. Quick, bring me some tea.” The servant girl who attended her fetched a pot of the best tea and poured a large cup of it so noisily that the surface was frothy. Monkey was delighted. With a quiet buzz of his wings he flew under the froth. Raksasi was so parched that she drained the tea in two gulps.

Once inside her stomach Monkey reverted to his own form and shouted at the top of his voice, “Sister-in-law, lend me the fan.”

Raksasi went pale with shock. “Little ones,” she called to her underlings, “are the front doors shut?”

“Yes,” they all said.

“If the doors are shut then how can Sun the Novice be inside the cave and shouting?” she asked.

“He's shouting from inside you,” the servant girl replied.

“Where are you playing your conjuring tricks, Sun the Novice?” Raksasi asked.

“I've never been able to do conjuring tricks in all my life,” Monkey replied. “My magic and my powers are all real. I'm fooling around in your own in-sides, good sister-in-law. I've just seen your lungs and your liver. I know you're very hungry and thirsty, so I'll give you a bowlful to quench your thirst.” With that he stamped his foot, giving Raksasi an unbearable cramp in her stomach that left her sitting groaning on the floor. “Don't try to say no, sister-in-law,” Monkey then said. “I'm giving you a pastry in case you're hungry.” He butted upwards, causing such a violent heart pain that she could only roll around on the ground, her face sallow and her lips white from agony.

“Spare me, brother-in-law, spare me,” was all she could say.

Only then did Monkey stop hitting and kicking. “So you call me brother-in-law now, do you?” he said. “I'll spare your life for my brother Bull's sake. Get me the fan, and quick.”

“You shall have it, brother-in-law, you shall have it,” she said. “Come out and get it.”

“Fetch it and show it to me,” Monkey said. She told the servant girl to fetch a plantain fan and stand holding it beside her. Monkey poked his head up her throat to see it and said, “As I'm sparing your life, sister-in-law, I won't smash my way out under your ribs. I'll come out through your mouth. Open wide three times.” With that Raksasi opened her mouth and Monkey turned back into the tiny insect to fly out and alight on the fan. Not realizing what had happened Raksasi went on to open her mouth twice more.

“Come out, brother-in-law,” she said.

Monkey turned back into himself, took the fan and said, “Here I am. Thanks for the loan.” With that he strode forward while the underlings opened the doors to let him out of the cave.

The Great Sage then turned his cloud around and headed back East. A moment later he had landed the cloud and was standing by the red brick wall. Pig was very pleased indeed to see him. “Master,” he said, “Monkey's here! He's back!” Sanzang went out with the old man of the farm and Friar Sand to greet him, and they all went back inside.

Propping the fan against the wall, Monkey asked, “Tell me sir, is this the fan?”

“Yes, yes,” the old man said.

“This is a great achievement, disciple,” said Sanzang. “Fetching this treasure must have cost you a great deal of trouble.”

“No trouble at all,” said Monkey. “Do you know who that Iron Fan Immortal is? She's Raksasi, the wife of the Bull Demon King and the Red Boy's mother. Her other name is Princess Iron Fan. I found her outside her cave and asked to borrow the fan, but all she could talk of were her old grudges. She took a few cuts at me with her swords, but when I gave her a bit of a scare with the cudgel she fanned me with the fan and blew me all the way to Little Mount Sumeru. I was lucky enough to be able to see the Bodhisattva Lingji who gave me a tablet that stops winds and showed me the way back to Mount Turquoise Cloud. Then I saw Raksasi again, but this time her fan did not move me an inch, so she went back into her cave and I turned into a tiny insect to fly back in after her. When the damned woman-asked for some tea I slipped in under the froth at the top, got inside her, and started giving her a few punches and kicks. She couldn't take the pain. She kept saying, 'Spare me, brother-in-law, spare me.' As she agreed to lend me the fan I spared her life and took the fan. I'll give it back to her after we've crossed the Fiery Mountains.” When Sanzang heard this he was extremely grateful.

Master and disciples then took their leave of the old man and traveled about fifteen miles West. The heat was becoming unbearable. “The soles of my feet are being roasted,” Friar Sand complained.

“My trotters are getting burnt and it hurts,” said Pig. The horse was going much faster than usual too. The ground was so hot that they could not stop, but every step was painful.

“Please dismount, Master,” said Monkey, “and brothers, stay here while I use the fan to put the fire out. When the wind and the rain come the ground will be a lot cooler and we'll be able to get across the mountains.” He then raised the fan and fanned it hard once in the direction of the fire: tongues of flame rose above the mountains. He fanned again, and they were a hundred times as high. He fanned a third time, and now they were a couple of miles high and beginning to burn him. Monkey fled, but not before two patches of fur had been burnt away. He ran straight back to the Tang Priest and said, “Hurry back, hurry back, the flames are coming.”

The master remounted and headed back East with Pig and Friar Sand some seven miles before stopping and asking, “What happened, Wukong?”

“It's the wrong one,” Monkey said, flinging the fan down, “it's the wrong one. The damned woman fooled me.”

When Sanzang heard this he frowned and felt thoroughly depressed. “What are we to do?” he sobbed, the tears flowing freely down his cheeks.

“Brother,” said Pig, “why did you come back in such a mad rush and send us back here?”

“The first time I fanned there were flames,” Monkey replied, “the second time the fire got fiercer, and the third time the flames were a couple of miles high. If I hadn't run fast all my fur would have been burnt off.”

“But you're always telling us that you can't be hurt by thunder and lightning and that fire can't burn you,” said Pig with a laugh. “How come you're afraid of fire now?”

“Idiot,” said Monkey, “you don't understand anything. The other times I was ready: that's why I wasn't hurt. Today I didn't make any flame-avoiding spells or use magic to defend myself. That's why two patches of my fur were singed.”

“If the fire's so fierce and there's no other way to the West what are we going to do?” Friar Sand asked.

“We'll just have to find somewhere where there isn't any fire,” Pig replied.

“Which way will that be?” Sanzang asked.

“East, North or South: there's no fire those ways,” said Pig. “But which way are the scriptures?”

“Only in the West,” Pig replied.

“I only want to go where the scriptures are,” Sanzang said.

“We're well and truly struck,” said Friar Sand. “Where there are scriptures there's fire, and where there's no fire there are no scriptures.”

While master and disciples were talking this nonsense they heard someone call, “Don't get upset, Great Sage. Come and have some vegetarian food before you take your discussions any further.” The four of them looked round to see an old man wearing a cloak that floated in the wind and a hat the shape of a half moon. In his hand he held a dragon-headed stick, and on his legs were boots of iron. With him was a demon with the beak of an eagle and the cheeks of a fish carrying on his head a copper bowl full of steamed buns, millet cakes, cooked millet and rice.

The old man bowed to them on the road to the West and said, “I am the local god of the Fiery Mountains. As I know that you are escorting this holy monk, Great Sage, and can't go any further I have brought this meal as an offering.”

“Eating doesn't matter,” Monkey replied. “When are these fires going to be put out so that my master can cross the mountains?”

“If you want to put the fires out you must first ask Raksasi to lend you the plantain fan,” the local god said. Monkey went to the side of the path, picked the fan up, and said, “This is it, isn't it? The more I fan the flames the more fiercely they burn. Why?”

“Because it's not the real one,” said the local deity with a laugh when he looked at it. “She fooled you.”

“Then how am I to get the real one?” Monkey said.

The local god bowed again and had a slight smile on his face as he replied, “If you want to borrow the real plantain fan you will have to ask the Strongarm King.”

If you don't know all about the Strongarm King listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 60

The Bull Demon King Gives Up the Fight to Go to a Feast

Monkey Tries the Second Time to Borrow the Plantain Fan

“The Strongarm King is the Bull Demon King,” the local god explained.

“Did he set these mountains ablaze and pretend they were the Fiery Mountains?” Monkey asked.

“No, no,” the local god replied. “If you'll promise to forgive me for doing so, Great Sage, I'll speak frankly.”

“What's there to forgive?” Monkey said. “Speak frankly.”

“You started this fire, Great Sage,” the local god replied.

“That's nonsense,” said Monkey angrily. “I wasn't here. Do you take me for an arsonist?”

“You don't realize who I am,” the local god said. “These mountains haven't always been here. When you made havoc in Heaven five hundred years ago and were captured by the Illustrious Sage Erlang you were escorted to Lord Lao Zi, put in the Eight Trigrams Furnace and refined. When the furnace was opened you kicked it over, and some of its bricks that still had fire in them fell here as the Fiery Mountains. I used to be one of the Taoist boys who looked after the furnace in the Tushita Palace, but Lord Lao Zi was so angry with me for failing in my duty that he sent me down to be the local god here.”

“I was wondering why you were dressed like that,” said Pig forcefully, “you're a Taoist turned local god.”

“Tell me why I need to find the Strongarm King,” said Monkey, only half-convinced.

“He's Raksasi's husband,” the local god said. “He's abandoned her now and gone to live in the Cloud-touching Cave in Mount Thunder Piled. A fox king there who'd lived for ten thousand years died leaving an only daughter, Princess Jade, with property worth a million but nobody to manage it. Two years ago she visited the Bull Demon King and found out about his tremendous magical powers. She decided to give him her property if he'd come to live in her cave as her husband. So the Bull Demon King abandoned Raksasi and hasn't been back to see her for ages. If you can find him, Great Sage, and persuade him to come here you'll be able to borrow the real fan. First, you'll be able to blow the flames out to take your master across the mountains. Second, you'll put an end to this disastrous fire so that the land here can come back to life. And third, I'll be pardoned and allowed to go back to Heaven and return to live under Lord Lao Zi's command.”

“Where is Mount Thunder Piled, and how far is it from here?”

“Due South,” the local deity said, “and over a thousand miles.” Once he knew this Monkey told Friar Sand and Pig to look after the master and ordered the local god to stay with them. There was then a roaring like the wind as he disappeared.

In less than an hour he saw a high mountain that touched the sky. Bringing his cloud down he stood on the peak to look around, and this is what he saw:

Was it tall?

Its peak touched the azure sky.

Was it big?

Its roots went down to the Yellow Springs.

While the sun warmed the front of the mountain

The winds behind the ridge blew cold.

On the sun-warmed front of the mountain

The flowers and trees never knew what winter was;

In the cold winds behind the ridge

The ice and frost did not even melt in summer.

From a dragon pool a river flowed in gullies;

Flowers bloomed early by the tiger's cave in the crag.

The river split into a thousand jade streams;

The flowers bloomed together like brocade.

On the twisting ridge grew twisted trees;

Beside the knotted rocks were knotted pines.

Indeed there were

A high mountain,

Steep ridges,

Sheer precipices,

Fragrant flowers,

Fine fruit,

Red creepers,

Purple bamboo,

Green pines,

Turquoise willows.

It looked the same throughout the seasons;

Changeless forever, like a dragon.

After looking for a long time the Great Sage walked down from the towering peak to find his way through the mountain. Just when he was feeling bewildered a slender young woman came towards him holding a spray of fragrant orchid. The Great Sage slipped behind a grotesque rock and took a good look at her. This is what she was like:

A ravishing beauty to enchant a nation

Walking so slowly on her little lotus feet.

Her face was like Wang Qiang or the woman of Chu.

She was a talking flower,

Scented jade.

The hair was swept down from her coiffure like jade-blue crows;

The green of her eyes made one think of autumn floods.

Her silken skirt showed a glimpse of tiny feet;

From her turquoise sleeves came long and elegant wrists.

She would put anyone into the mood for love;

Red were her lips, and white her pearly teeth.

Her skin was as smooth and her brows as fine as the Jinjiang beauty;

She was more than a match for Wenjun or Xue Tao.

As the young woman slowly approached the rock the Great Sage bowed to her and said, “Where are you going, Bodhisattva?” Before he spoke she had not noticed him; but when she looked up and saw how hideous the Great Sage was she was petrified, unable to move forward or back.

All she could do was shiver and force herself to reply, “Where are you from? How dare you question me?”

“If I tell her about fetching the scriptures and borrowing the fan,” the Great Sage thought, “this damn woman might be some relation of the Bull Demon King's. I'd better pretend to be some kinsman of the Bull Demon King come to invite him to a banquet.”

When he would not answer her questions the woman turned angry and shouted, “Who are you and how dare you question me?”

“I'm from Mount Turquoise Cloud,” Monkey replied with a bow and a forced smile. “I don't know the way as it's my first time here. Could I ask you, Bodhisattva, if this is Mount Thunder Piled?”

“It is,” she replied.

“Where might I find the Cloud-touching Cave?” the Great Sage asked.

“What do you want to find it for?” the woman asked.

“I've been sent by Princess Iron Fan in the Plantain Cave on Mount Turquoise Cloud with an invitation for the Bull Demon King,” Monkey replied.

The moment the woman heard him speak of Princess Iron Fan sending an invitation to the Bull Demon King she flared into a rage and went crimson from ear to ear.

“She ought to know better, the low bitch. It's less than two years since the Bull Demon King came here, and goodness only knows how much jewelry, gold, silver, fine silk and brocade I've given her since then. I send her firewood every year and rice every month. She's doing nicely thank you. So what's the shameless hussy doing, sending him an invitation?”

When the Great Sage heard this and realized that she was Princess Jade he deliberately pulled out his iron cudgel and shouted at her, “You're a damned bitch, using your wealth to buy the Bull Demon King. You could only get him to marry you for your money. You ought to be thoroughly ashamed of yourself instead of being so insulting.”

At this all of her souls sent flying, and she fled trembling with terror, stumbling and tripping over her shoes, while the Great Sage ran after her, shouting and roaring. Once they were out from under the shade of the pines they were at the entrance to the Cloud-touching Cave. She ran inside and the doors slammed shut behind her. Only then did Monkey put his cudgel away and take a good look:

A thick forest,

Sheer precipices,

Luxuriance of creepers,

Fragrance of orchids.

The spring washed over jade and through bamboo;

Grotesque and cunning rocks held precious stones.

The distant peaks were wreathed in mists;

Sun and moon lit up the cloudy crags.

Dragons howled, tigers roared,

Cranes called and warblers sang.

Fresh and lovely was its elegant peace,

And the scenery was radiant with precious flowers.

It was a match for Tiantai's magic caves,

And finer than the Peng and Ying islands in the sea.

We will say nothing of how Brother Monkey admired the view but tell how the young woman, dripping with sweat after running and her heart beating wildly from terror, went straight to the study where the Bull Demon King was quietly perusing a book on cinnabar alchemy. She threw herself into his arms feeling thoroughly put out, scratched and tugged at his face and ears, and howled aloud.

“Don't upset yourself so, my lovely,” said the Bull Demon King, all smiles. “What do you want to tell me?”

She then began to prance and jump about in her fury as she said abusively, “You're killing me, damned monster.”

“What makes you say that?” he asked, all smiles.

“I brought you here to look after me and protect me because I'd lost my parents and people who'd been around all said that you were a tough guy,” she said. “But you're just another henpecked hack.”

The Bull Demon King took her in his arms and said, “How've I done you wrong, my lovely? Take your time and tell me about it. I'll make it up to you.”

“I was taking a stroll among the flowers outside the cave just now picking orchids,” she said, “When a monk with a face like a thunder god rushed up to me and started bowing. I was so scared I couldn't move. When I calmed down enough to ask him who he was he said he'd been sent by that Princess Iron Fan with an invitation for you. I was so angry I had something to say about that, and he started abusing me and chased me with his cudgel. He'd have just about killed me with it if I hadn't run so fast. So you see, bringing you here was a disaster. It's killing me.” At this the Bull Demon King apologized to her very earnestly. It took a long time and many tender attentions from his before she finally calmed down.

“I tell you the truth, my lovely,” the demon king said forcefully. “The Plantain Cave may be rather out of the way, but it's a place of purity and elegance. That wife of mine has had the highest moral principles since childhood, and she's also an immortal who has attained the Way. She runs her household very strictly. There's not even a page there. She couldn't possibly have sent a monk with a face like a thunder god. I wonder what evil fiend he is. He must have used her name to come and see me. I'm going out to have a look.”

The splendid demon king strode out of the study and into the hall to put on his armor and take his iron cudgel. “Who are you, and why are you behaving so outrageously?” he shouted as he went out through the doors. Monkey, who was watching from one side, saw that he now looked quite different from the way he had five hundred years earlier.

His wrought iron helmet shone like water or silver;

His golden armor was trimmed with silks and brocades.

The toes of his deerskin boots turned up; their soles were white.

The silken belt at his waist included three lion's tails.

His eyes were as bright as mirrors,

His brows as elegant as red rainbows,

His mouth like a bowl of blood,

His teeth a row of copper plates.

At his resounding roar the mountain gods took fright;

Evil ghosts were overawed by his majestic power.

His fame was known throughout the seas for raising chaos;

He was the Strongarm Demon King here in the West.

The Great Sage then tidied his clothes, stepped forward, chanted a deep “re-e-er” of respect, and asked, “Can you still recognize me, eldest brother?”

“Are you Sun Wukong, the Great Sage Equaling Heaven?” the Bull Demon King replied, returning his bow.

“Yes, yes,” said Monkey. “It's such a long time since last we met. I only got here to see you because I asked a woman some questions just now. I must congratulate you on how well everything is growing.”

“Cut that out,” the Bull Demon King shouted back. “I heard about you making havoc in Heaven and being crushed under the Five Elements Mountain by the Lord Buddha. Then you were released from your heavenly punishment to protect the Tang Priest on his way to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures in the Western Heaven. Why did you have to destroy my son, the Sage Boy Bullcalf? I'm very angry with you. Why are you here looking for me?”

“Please don't misjudge me, brother,” said the Great Sage with another bow. “Your good son captured my master and was going to eat him. I was no match for him. Luckily the Bodhisattva Guanyin rescued my master and converted your boy. He's now the page Sudhana. He's even taller than you. He lives in a temple of great bliss and enjoys eternal ease. There's nothing wrong with any of that, so why be angry with me?”

“Smooth-tongued macaque,” retorted the Bull Demon King. “Even if you can talk your way out of having ruined my son, what do you mean by upsetting my beloved concubine and chasing her up to my doors?”

“I made a polite inquiry of the lady because I could not find you,” Monkey replied. “I never realized she was your second wife, so when she was rude to me I acted rough. Please forgive me.”

“Very well then,” the Bull Demon King said. “I'll let you off this time for the sake of our old friendship.”

“I'm very grateful indeed for your immense kindness,” the Great Sage replied. “But there is one thing I'd like to trouble you with. I hope you'll be able to help me out.”

“You macaque,” the Bull Demon King shouted at him, “you think you can get away with anything! I spare your life, but instead of making yourself scarce you have to keep pestering me. What do you mean by helping out?”

“Let me be honest with you,” the Great Sage replied. “I'm stuck at the Fiery Mountains on my journey escorting the Tang Priest, and we're not getting anywhere. The local people told me that your good lady Raksasi has a plantain fan. I tried to borrow it. I went to visit my sister-in-law, but she refused to lend it me, which is why I've come to see you. I beg you, brother, in the greatness of your heart to come with me to sister-in-law's place and borrow the fan for me so that I can blow out the fires and get my master across the mountains. Then I'll return it right away.”

At this the Bull Demon King's heart blazed with wrath. “You told me you knew how to behave,” he said, noisily gnashing his teeth of steel. “I suppose all this was not just to borrow the fan. I'm certain my wife has refused to lend it you because you've mistreated her. So that's why you came to see me. On top of that you send my beloved concubine fleeing in terror. As the saying goes,

'Don't push around

Your best friend's wife,

Don't try to destroy

The joy of his life.'

You've been pushing my wife around and trying to destroy the concubine who's the joy of my life. It's an outrage. Take this!”

“If you want to hit me, brother, I'm not afraid,” said Monkey. “All I want is the treasure. I beg you to lend it me.”

“If you can last out three rounds with me,” the Bull Demon King said, “I'll make my wife lend it to you. And if you can't I'll kill you and have my revenge.”

“Good idea, brother,” Monkey replied. “I've been so lazy. I haven't been to see you for ages, and I don't know how your fighting powers now compare with the old days. Let's have a match with our cudgels.” The Bull Demon King was in no mood for further argument, and he hit at Monkey's head with his mace. Monkey hit back with his gold-banded cudgel. It was a splendid fight:

The gold-banded cudgel,

The rough iron mace,

Are no longer friends.

One said, “You destroyed my son, you macaque.”

The other, “Don't be angry: he has found the Way.”

“How could you be so stupid as to come to my door?”

“I am here to visit you with a special purpose.”

One wanted the fan to protect the Tang Priest;

The other was too mean to lend the plantain leaf.

Friendship was lost in the exchange of words;

In anger neither had any sense of brotherhood.

The Bull Demon King's mace moved like a dragon;

The Great Sage's cudgel sent gods and demons fleeing.

First they fought in front of the mountain,

Then they both rose on auspicious clouds.

They showed their great powers up in mid-air,

Doing wonderful movements in multi-coloured light.

The clash of their cudgels rocked the gates of Heaven;

They were too evenly matched for either to win.

The Great Sage and the Bull Demon King fought over a hundred rounds without either emerging as the victor. Just as they were becoming locked in their struggle a voice called from the peak, “King Bull, my king sends his respects and invites you to honour him with your presence at a banquet.”

At this the Bull Demon King blocked the gold-banded cudgel with his iron mace and called out, “You stay here, macaque. I'm going to a friend's house for a meal. I'll be back.” With that he landed his cloud and went straight back into the cave.

“My lovely,” he said to Princess Jade, “the man you saw with a face like a thunder god is the macaque Sun Wukong. A bout with my mace has sent him packing: he won't be back. Stop worrying and enjoy yourself. I'm going to a Mend's place for some drinks.” He then took off his helmet and armor, donned a duck-green jacket of cut velvet, went outside and mounted his water-averting golden-eyed beast. Telling his underlings to look after the palace he headed Northwest in clouds and mist.

While the Great Sage watched all this from the peak he thought, “I wonder who the friend is and where he's gone for his banquet. I'll follow him.” Splendid Monkey then shook himself and turned into a clear breeze to follow him. He soon reached a mountain, but the Bull Demon King was nowhere to be seen. The Great Sage turned back into himself and started to search the mountain. He found a deep pool of pure water beside which was inscribed in large letters on a tablet of stone

RAGGED ROCK MOUNTAIN

GREEN WAVE POOL

“Old Bull must have gone into the water,” Monkey thought, “and underwater spirits are lesser dragons, dragon or fish spirits, or else turtle, tortoise or terrapin spirits. I'd better go down and have a look.”

Making a hand-spell and saying the magic words the splendid Great Sage shook himself, turned into a medium-sized crab weighing thirty-six pounds, jumped into the water with a splash, and went straight down to the bottom of the pool. He saw an ornamental arch of delicate tracery to which was tethered a water-averting golden-eyed beast. On the other side of the arch there was no more water. Monkey crawled through and took a careful look. From one side he heard music, and this is what he saw:

Cowry gateways to a palace red,

Like nothing else in the world.

The roof tiles were of yellow gold,

The door pivots of whitest jade.

The screens were of tortoise-shell,

The balustrades of coral and of pearl.

Auspicious clouds glowed all around the throne,

From the sky above right down to the ground.

This was not the palace of Heaven or the sea,

Although it more than rivaled an island paradise.

A banquet for host and guests was set in the lofty hall,

Where all the official wore their hats with pearls.

Jade girls were told to bring ivory bowls,

Exquisite beauties to play fine music.

The great whale sang,

Giant crabs danced,

Turtles played pipes and drums,

While pearls shone over the goblets and boaras.

Birdlike script adorned the turquoise screens,

While shrimp-whisker curtains hung along the corridors.

From the eight notes mingled came wonderful music

Whose tones rose up to the clouds above.

Green-headed singsong girls stroked zithers of jasper

While red-eyed dragonflies played jade flutes.

Mandarin fish carried dried venison in on their heads,

While dragon girls had the wings of golden pheasants in their hair.

What they ate were

The rarest delicacies of the heavenly kitchen;

What they drank were

The finest vintages of the purple palace.

The Bull Demon King was sitting in the seat of honour with three or four lesser dragon spirits on either side. Facing him was an ancient dragon, surrounded by dragon sons, dragon grandsons, dragon wives and dragon daughters. Just as they were feasting and drinking the Great Sage Sun marched straight in, to be spotted by the ancient dragon, who ordered, “Arrest that vagrant crab.” The dragon sons and grandsons fell upon him and seized him.

“Spare me, spare me,” said Monkey, suddenly reverting to human speech.

“Where are you from, crab vagrant?” the ancient dragon asked. “How dare you come into my hall and behave in this disgraceful way in front of my distinguished guests? Tell me this moment if you want to be spared the death penalty.” The splendid Great Sage then made up a pack of lies to tell him:

“Ever since coming to live in the lake

I've had to make my home in cliffs and caves.

Over the years I've learned to stretch myself out

So now I am known as the Sideways Man-at-arms.

Dragging my way through weeds and through mud,

I have never been taught correct social behavior.

If in my ignorance I have caused offence I beg

Your Majesty to show me mercy.”

When the spirits at the banquet heard this they all bowed to the ancient dragon and said, “This is the first time that the Sideways Man-at-arms has come to your palace of jasper, and he does not understand royal etiquette. We beg Your Excellency to spare him.”

The ancient dragon thanked the spirits and ordered, “Release the wretch. Put a beating on record against his name, and have him wait outside.” The Great Sage acknowledged his kindness then fled for his life till he reached the archway outside.

“That Bull Demon King is drinking for all he's worth in there,” he thought. “I'm not going to wait till the feast breaks up. And even if I did he still wouldn't lend me the fan. I'd do better to steal his golden-eyed beast and turn myself into a Bull Demon King. Then I can trick Raksasi into lending me the fan and I'll be able to escort my master across the mountains. That'll be best.”

The splendid Great Sage then reverted to his original form, untied the golden-eyed beast, leapt into the carved saddle, and rode straight up from the bottom of the water. Once out of the pool he made himself look like the Bull Demon King. Whipping on the beast he set his cloud moving and was soon at the mouth of the Plantain Cave in Mount Turquoise Cloud.

“Open up!” he shouted, and at the sound of his voice the two servant girls inside the gates opened them for him.

Taking him for the Bull Demon King they went in to report, “Madam, His Majesty's come home.” At the news Raksasi quickly neatened her hair and hurried out on her little lotus feet to meet him. Climbing out of the saddle the Great Sage led the golden-eyed beast inside. He was bold enough to try to deceive the beauty, whose mortal eyes failed to see who he really was as she led him inside, hand in hand. The maids were told to prepare places and bring tea, and as the master was back the whole household tried its hardest.

The Great Sage and Raksasi were soon talking. “My good lady,” said the false Bull Demon King, “it's been a long time.”

“I hope that everything has gone well for Your Majesty,” Raksasi replied, going on to ask, “What wind brings you back to your abandoned wife now that you have married your new darling?”

“There's no question of having abandoned you,” the Great Sage replied with a smile. “It's just that I've been away a long time since Princess Jade invited me to her place. I'm kept very busy with domestic matters to deal with and friends to attend to. I hear that so-and-so Sun Wukong is very near the Fiery Mountains with the Tang Priest, and I'm worried that he might come and ask you to lend him the fan. I can't forgive him for destroying our son, I want my revenge. If he turns up, just send someone to tell me. When I get him we can cut his body up into ten thousand pieces as revenge for what we have suffered.”

“You Majesty,” replied Raksasi, in tears at what he had just said, “as the saying goes, 'A man with no woman is risking his wealth; a woman with no husband is risking her health.' That macaque practically killed me.”

At this the Great Sage pretended to fly into a terrible rage. “When did that bloody monkey go?” he swore.

“He hasn't gone yet,” Raksasi replied. “He was here yesterday to borrow the fan, and as he'd destroyed our boy I put my armor on and went out to cut him to bits with my swords. But he endured the pain, called me his sister-in-law, and said that you and he were once sworn brothers.”

“He was my seventh sworn brother five hundred years ago,” the Great Sage replied.

“He said not a word when I swore at him,” Raksasi continued, “and didn't strike back when I cut him. Finally I blew him away with the fan. Goodness only knows where he got some wind-fixing magic from, but this morning he was back shouting outside the door again, and the fan wouldn't move him no matter how hard I waved it. When I swung my swords around and went for him with them he wasn't being polite any more. I was so scared of the force of his cudgel I came back in here and had the doors tightly shut. Somehow or other he managed to get right into my belly and it practically killed me. I had to call him brother-in-law and lend him the fan before he'd go.”

The Great Sage put on a great show of beating his chest and saying, “How terrible, how terrible. You did wrong, wife. You should never have given that treasure to the macaque.”

“Don't be angry, Your Majesty,” Raksasi replied. “I lent him a false fan and tricked him into going away.”

“Where's the real one?” the Great Sage asked.

“Don't worry,” she replied, “don't worry. It's safely put away.” She then told the serving girls to lay on wine and a feast to welcome him back. “Your Majesty,” she then said, offering him a goblet of wine, “please don't forget the wife of your youth in the joy of your new marriage. Won't you drink this cup of wine from home?” The Great Sage had no choice but to accept the goblet and smile as he raised it.

“You drink first, wife,” he said, “I've left you looking after the home by yourself, good lady, for too long, while I've been busy with my other property. Let this be a gesture of my gratitude.”

Raksasi took the goblet back, lifted it again, and handed it to the king with the words, “As the old saying goes: The wife is the equal, but the husband is the father who supports her. You don't need to thank me.” It was only after more such politeness that the two of them sat down and began drinking. Not wanting to break his vow to avoid meat, the Great Sage only ate some fruit while he talked to her.

After they had each had several cups Raksasi was feeling a little drunk and rather sexy. She started to press herself against the Great Sage, stroking and pinching him. Taking him by the hand, she whispered tender words to him; leaning her shoulder against him, she spoke quietly and submissively. They shared the same cup of wine, drinking a mouthful each at a time, and she fed him fruit. The Great Sage pretended to go along with this and smile. He had no choice but to lean against her. Indeed:

The hook to catch poetry,

The broom to sweep away sorrow,

The remover of all difficulties is wine.

The man, though virtuous, unbuttoned his lapel;

The woman forgot herself and began to laugh.

Her face had the complexion of a peach,

Her body swayed like a willow sapling.

Many a word came babbling from her mouth

As she pinched and nipped in her desire.

Sometimes she tugged at her hair,

Or waved her delicate fingers.

She often raised a foot

And twitched the sleeves of her clothes.

Her powdered neck sunk lower

And her fine waist started to wiggle.

She never stopped talking for a moment

As she opened gold buttons to half show her breasts.

In her cups she was like a landslide of jade,

And as she rubbed her bleary eyes she did not look at her best.

Watching her get drunk the Great Sage had kept his wits about him, and he tried to lead her on by saying, “Where have you put the real fan, wife? You must watch it very carefully all the time. I'm worried that Sun the Novice will trick it out of you with some of his many transformations.” At this Raksasi tittered, spat it out of her mouth, and handed it to the Great Sage. It was only the size of an apricot leaf.

“Here's the treasure,” she said.

The Great Sage took it but could not believe that it really was. “How could a tiny little thing like this blow a fire out?” he wondered. “It must be another fake.”

Seeing him looking at the treasure so deep in thought, Raksasi could not restrain herself from rubbing her powdered face against Monkey's and saying, “Put the treasure away and have another drink, darling. What are you looking so worried about?”

The Great Sage took the chance to slip in the question, “How could a little thing like this blow out 250 miles of fire?” She was now drunk enough to have no inhibitions about speaking the truth, so she told him how it was done: “Your Majesty, I expect you've been overdoing your pleasures day and night these last two years since you left me. That Princess Jade must have addled your brains if you can't even remember about your own treasure. You just have to pinch the seventh red silk thread with the thumb of your left hand and say, 'Huixuhexixichuihu.' Then it'll grow twelve feet long. It can do as many changes as you like. It could blow 250,000 miles of flame out with a single wave.”

The Great Sage committed all this very carefully to memory, put the fan in his mouth, rubbed his face and turned back into himself. “Raksasi!” he yelled at the top of his voice. “Have a careful look: I'm your brother-in-law. What a disgusting way you've been carrying on in with me, and for what a long time too. You're shameless, quite shameless.”

In her horror at realizing it was Sun Wukong she pushed the dining table over and fell into the dust, overcome with shame and screaming. “I'm so upset I could die, I could die.”

Not caring whether she was dead or alive, the Great Sage broke free and rushed straight out of the Plantain Cave. He was indeed not lusting after that female beauty, and glad to turn away with a smiling face. He sprang on his auspicious cloud that took him up to the top of the mountain, spat the fan out of his mouth, and tried the magic out. Pinching the seventh red tassel with the thumb of his left hand, he said “Huixuhexixichuihu,” and indeed it grew to be twelve feet long. On close examination he found it quite different from the false one he had borrowed before. It glittered with auspicious light and was surrounded by lucky vapors. Thirty-six threads of red silk formed a trellis pattern inside and out. But Brother Monkey had only asked how to make it grow and had not found out the spell for shrinking it. So he had to shoulder it as he went back by the way he had come.

When the Bull Demon King's feast with all the spirits at the bottom of the Green Wave Pool ended he went outside to find that the water-averting golden-eyed beast was missing. The ancient dragon king called the spirits together to ask them, “Which of you untied and stole the Bull Demon King's golden-eyed beast?” The spirits all knelt down and replied, “We wouldn't dare steal it. We were all waiting, singing or playing at the banquet. None of us was out here.”

“I am sure that none of you palace musicians would have dared to take it,” the ancient dragon said. “Have any strangers been here?”

“A crab spirit was here not long ago during the banquet, and he was a stranger.”

At this the Bull King suddenly realized what had happened. “Say no more,” he exclaimed. “When you sent your messenger with the invitation this morning there was a Sun Wukong there who'd come to ask to borrow my plantain fan as he couldn't get the Tang Priest he's escorting to fetch the scriptures across the Fiery Mountains. I refused. I was in the middle of a fight with him that neither of us was winning when I shook him off and came straight here to the banquet. That monkey's extremely quick and adaptable. I'm sure that the crab spirit was him here in disguise to do a bit of spying. He's stolen my beast to go and trick the plantain fan out of my wife.” This news made all the spirits shake with fright.

“Do you mean the Sun Wukong who made havoc in Heaven?” they asked.

“Yes,” the Bull Demon King replied. “If any of you gentlemen have any trouble on the road West keep your distance from him whatever you do.”

“But if all that's true, what about Your Majesty's steed?” the ancient dragon asked.

“No problem,” the Bull Demon King replied with a smile. “You gentlemen may all go home now while I go after him.”

With that he parted his way through the waters, sprang up from the bottom of the pool and rode a yellow cloud straight to the Plantain Cave on Mount Turquoise Cloud, where he heard Raksasi stamping her feet, beating her breast, howling and moaning. He pushed the doors open to see the water-averting golden-eyed beast tethered by them.

“Where did Sun Wukong go, wife?” the Bull Demon King said.

Seeing that the Bull Demon King was back, the serving girls all knelt down and said, “Are you home, Your Majesty?”

Raksasi grabbed hold of him, banged her head against his, and said abusively, “Damn and blast you, you careless fool. Why ever did you let that macaque steal the golden-eyed beast and turn himself into your double to come here and trick me?”

“Which way did the macaque go?” the Bull Demon King asked, grinding his teeth in fury. Beating her breast Raksasi continued to pour out abuse: “The damn monkey tricked me out of my treasure, turned back into himself, and went. I'm so angry I could die.”

“Do look after yourself, wife,” the Bull Demon King said, “and don't be so upset. When I've caught the macaque and taken the treasure off him I'll skin him, grind his bones to powder, and bring you his heart and liver. That'll make you feel better.” He then called for weapons.

“Your Majesty's weapons aren't here,” the serving girls replied.

“Then bring your mistress' weapons,” the Bull Demon King replied. The servants brought her pair of blue-tipped swords, and the Bull Demon King took off the duck-green velvet jacket he had worn to the banquet and tied the little waistcoat he wore next to his skin more tightly. He then strode out of the Plantain Cave, a sword in each hand, and headed straight for the Fiery Mountains in pursuit of Monkey. It was a case of

The man who forgot a kindness

Tricking a doting wife;

The fiery-tempered old demon

Meeting a mendicant monk.

If you don't know whether this journey was ill-fated or not, listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 61

Zhu Bajie Helps to Defeat a Demon King

Monkey's Third Attempt to Borrow the Fan

The story tells how the Bull Demon King caught up with the Great Sage Sun and saw him looking very cheerful as he went along with the plantain fan over his shoulder. “So the macaque has also tricked the art of using the fan out of her,” the demon king thought. “If I ask him for it back to his face he's bound to refuse, and if he fans me with it and sends me sixty thousand miles away that would be just what he wants. Now I know that the Tang Priest is sitting waiting by the main road. When I was an evil spirit in the old days I used to know his second disciple the Pig Spirit. I think I'll turn myself into a double of the Pig Spirit and play a trick back on him. That macaque will no doubt be so pleased with himself that he won't really be on his guard.” The splendid demon king could also do seventy-two transformations and his martial skills were on a par with those of the Great Sage: it was just that he was rather more clumsily built, was less quick and penetrating, and not so adaptable.

First he hid the swords then he said the words of the spell, turned himself into the exact likeness of Pig, went down, and met Monkey face to face. “I'm here, brother,” he called.

The Great Sage was indeed delighted. As the ancient saying goes, a cat that's won a fight is more pleased with himself than a tiger. Monkey was so confident of his powers that he did not bother to investigate why the new arrival was here, but seeing that he looked like Pig, called out, “Where are you going brother?”

The Bull Demon King made up an answer on the spot: “You'd been away for so long that the master wondered if the Bull Demon King's magic powers were too much for you and you couldn't get the treasure. So he sent me to meet you.”

“There was no need to worry,” said Monkey. “I've already got it.”

“How did you manage that?” the Bull Demon King asked.

“Old Bull and I fought over a hundred rounds without either of us getting the upper hand till he broke off the fight and went to the bottom of the Green Wave Pool in Ragged Rock Mountain for a banquet with a whole lot of lesser dragons and dragons. I tailed-him there, turned into a crab, stole the water-averting golden-eyed beast, made myself look like him, and went to the Plantain Cave to trick Raksasi, She as good as married me on the spot and I conned it out of her.”

“You had to go to a lot of trouble, brother,” the Bull Demon King replied. “Can I hold the fan?” Not realizing that this Pig was an impostor, or even considering the possibility, the Great Sage Sun handed him the fan.

Now the Bull Demon King knew the secret of making the fan shrink or grow, and as soon as he had the fan in his hands he made a spell with them that nobody could see, shrunk it back to the size of an apricot leaf, and reverted to his true form. “Bloody macaque,” he swore, “do you know who I am now?” As soon as he saw this Monkey regretted making so terrible a mistake.

With a cry of anguish he stamped his feet and yelled, “Aagh! After all these years I've been hunting wild geese a gosling has pecked out my eye!” He was now leaping around in a thunderous fury, and he took a crack at the Bull Demon King's head with his iron cudgel. The demon king then fanned him with the fan, not realizing that the Great Sage had inadvertently swallowed the wind-fixing pill he had in his mouth when he turned himself into a tiny insect to go into Raksasi's stomach. This had made all his entrails, his skin and his bones so solid and firm that no matter how hard the Bull Demon King fanned he could not move him. This alarmed the Bull Demon King, who put the treasure in his mouth and fought back, swinging a sword in each hand. The two of them fought a splendid battle up in mid-air:

The Great Sage Equaling Heaven,

The Bull Demon King of evil,

All for the sake of a plantain-leaf fan.

When they met each showed his powers;

The careless Great Sage got the fan by a trick,

But allowed the Bull King to take it back.

One mercilessly raised the golden cudgel,

The other wielded with skill his blue-tipped swords.

The mighty Great Sage belched out coloured mists

While the evil Bull King breathed brilliant lights.

Well matched in courage,

Both of them wicked,

They gnashed and ground their teeth in terrible wrath.

Heaven and earth were darkened by the dust they kicked up;

Gods and ghosts alike hid from the flying stones.

“How dare you try to turn a trick against me!”

“I'll get you for what my wife promised you!”

Coarse was their language and fierce were their tempers.

“For tricking my wife you deserve to die.”

“When I sue you the sentence will surely be death.”

The cunning Great Sage Equaling Heaven,

The murderous Strongarm Demon King:

Both of them only wanting to fight,

Neither of them willing to pause and discuss.

Equal the effort of swords and of cudgel;

Had either relaxed he'd have gone straight to Hell.

The story now tells not of those two locked in their struggle but of the Tang Priest sitting by the road and finding the heat unbearable. He was also very anxious and thirsty.

“May I ask you,” he said to the local deity, “what that Bull Demon King's powers are like?”

“He has very great magic,” the local god replied, “and his dharma powers are unlimited. He and the Great Sage Sun are well matched.”

“Wukong is a very good traveler,” Sanzang replied. “He can normally go six or seven hundred miles and back in an instant. Why has he been away all day? I'm sure he must be fighting the Bull Demon King.” With that he called for Pig and Friar Sand and asked, “Which of you will go to meet your elder brother? If he is up against an enemy you will have to help him in the fight, get the fan, and come back. I am very impatient to cross these mountains and continue along our way.”

“It's getting late,” Pig replied, “and I'd like to go to meet him. The only thing is that I don't know the way to Mount Thunder Piled.”

“But I do,” the local god said. “Tell the Curtain-lifting General to keep your master company while you and I go there.”

Sanzang was delighted. “I am most grateful to you for going to such trouble,” he said, “and I shall thank you again when you have succeeded.”

Pig then summoned up his spirits, tightened the belt round his black brocade tunic, and took his rake in his hands as he rose up on his cloud with the local god and headed due East. As they were going along they heard great shouts and were buffeted by strong winds. Stopping his cloud for a good look he saw that it was all caused by Monkey and the Bull Demon King fighting.

“Why don't you join in, Marshal Tian Peng?” the local deity asked. “What are you waiting for?”

At that the idiot brandished his rake and said with a great shout, “Brother, I'm coming.”

“Idiot,” said Monkey bitterly, “you've ruined things for me.”

“But the master told me to come to meet you,” Pig protested. “He asked the local god to guide me as I don't know the way. That's why I'm a bit late. How can you say I've ruined things for you?”

“I'm not angry with you for being late,” Monkey replied. “It's this damned bull who's a thorough disgrace. I'd got the fan off Raksasi, but he turned himself into your double and came to meet me. I was so pleased to see you that I passed him the fan. He turned back into himself and we've been fighting it out ever since. That's why I said you'd ruined things for me.”

This news put Pig into a flaming temper. Raising his rake he shouted abuse to the Bull Demon King's face: “I'll get you, you pox-ridden bag of blood! I'll get you for pretending to be me, your own ancestor, to trick my brother and stir up trouble between us.”

Watch as he starts lashing out wildly with the rake. The Bull Demon King, who had been fighting Monkey all day, was tiring, and he also realized that he would never be able to withstand the onslaught of Pig's rake, so he fled in defeat. But his way was blocked by a force of spirit soldiers led by the local god of the Fiery Mountains.

“Wait, Strongarm King,” the local deity said. “All the gods and heavens are protecting Tang Sanzang on his journey West to fetch the scriptures. The Three Worlds all know about him, and the Ten Directions are supporting him. Please lend him your plantain fan to blow out the flames so that he can cross the mountains without danger or disaster. Otherwise Heaven will hold you criminally responsible and you're bound to be executed.”

“You haven't looked into the rights and wrongs of this at all,” King Demon Bull replied. “That damned ape has done one evil thing after another: he's stolen my son, bullied my concubine, and defrauded my wife. I wish I could swallow him whole and turn him into shit to feed to the dogs. I'll never lend him my treasure.”

Before the words were all out of his mouth Pig had caught up with him and was saying abusively, “I'll get you, you poxy bull. The fan or your life!” The Bull Demon King had to turn round to fight Pig off with his swords while the Great Sage Monkey wielded his cudgel to help him. It was a fine fight they had there:

A boar turned spirit,

A bull become monster.

A monkey who had robbed Heaven and found the Way.

Dharma-nature can always overcome what has been created;

Earth must be used to combine with the prime cause.

Pointed and sharp were the nine teeth of the rake;

Flexible and keen were the two sword blades.

The movements of the iron cudgel dominated the fray;

The local god formed the cinnabar head.

The three of them struggled to overcome,

Each of them scheming to give play to his powers.

Metal money is best at making the bull draw the plough;

If the boar goes in the oven, wood is finished.

Unless the heart is in it the Way cannot be completed;

To keep the spirit controlled the monkey must be tied up.

Amid wild shouts and desperate pleas

The three types of weapon whistled through the air.

There was no kindness in the blows of rake and sword;

The gold-banded cudgel rose for good reason.

Their fight put out the stars and dimmed the moon;

The sky was filled with a cold, dark dreary fog.

The demon king fought hard and courageously for mastery, falling back all the while. When the dawn came after a whole night of battle there was still no victor, and in front of them now was the entrance to the Cloud-touching Cave on Mount Thunder Piled. The ear-splitting noise that the three of them, the local god and the spirit soldiers were making alarmed Princess Jade, who sent her serving girls to see who was causing the din.

The little demons on the doors came in to report, “It's our master. He's fighting the man with a face like a thunder god, another monk with a long snout and big ears, and the local god of the Fiery Mountains and his men.” The moment Princess Jade heard this she ordered the senior and junior officers of the guard to take their swords and spears and help their lord.

“Good to see you,” said the Bull Demon King with delight, “good to see you.” All the demons rushed wildly into the attack. It was more than Pig could cope with and he fled in defeat, trailing his rake behind him. The Great Sage sprang aloft out of the multiple encirclement on a somersault cloud; the spirit soldiers broke and ran. Old Bull led his host of demons back to the cave in victory and the doors were shut tightly behind them.

“He's tough, damn him,” said Monkey. “He started fighting me at about four yesterday afternoon and we were nowhere near a result when you two came along to help last night. He fought for half a day and a whole night without showing any sign of tiring. And that bunch of little devils who came out just now were a rough lot too. Now he's shut the doors of his cave and won't come out. What are we to do?”

“It was about ten yesterday morning when you left the master, brother,” Pig said, “so why was it four in the afternoon when you started fighting him? What were you doing for the six hours in between?”

“I reached this mountain soon after I left you,” Monkey replied, “and saw a woman. When I questioned her she turned out to be his favorite concubine Princess Jade. I gave her a bit of a fright with my cudgel, so she fled into the cave and sent her Bull Demon King out. He and I swapped a few insults then started fighting. We'd been at it for a couple of hours when someone came to invite him to a banquet. I tailed him to the bottom of the Green Wave Pool on Ragged Rock Mountain and turned into a crab to do a little spying. Then I stole his water-averting golden-eyed beast and changed myself into the Bull Demon King's double to go back to the Plantain Cave on Mount Turquoise Cloud, where I conned Raksasi into giving me the fan. I went outside to try the magic spell out on the fan and made it grow, but I didn't know how to make it shrink again. As I was walking along with it on my shoulder he turned himself into your spitting image and tricked it back off me again. That's how I wasted six hours.”

“As the saying goes,” Pig replied, “it's just like a boatful of beancurd sinking: it came out of the wet and it disappeared into the wet. Easy come, easy go, But how are we going to take our master across the mountains if we're having so hard a time getting the fan? We'll just have to go back and make a bloody detour.”

“Don't get impatient, Great Sage,” the local god said, “and don't try to be lazy, Marshal Tian Peng. If you make a detour that will mean leaving the straight and narrow: you'll never cultivate your conduct that way. As the old saying goes, 'In walking never take a short cut.' You mustn't talk about detours. Your master is waiting by the main road, desperate for your success.”

“Yes, yes,” said Monkey, his resolve stiffened, “don't talk nonsense, idiot. The local deity is right. As for that Bull Demon King, we'll have to”

Straggle for mastery,

Use our powers,

Until we can make the whole earth change.

Since coming to the West he has never met a rival:

The Bull King was originally the mind-ape transformed.

Only today do the sources flow:

We must hold out till we borrow the fan.

Put out the flames in the cool of the dawn,

Smash through obstinate emptiness to visit the Buddha.

When all is fulfilled we will rise to heavenly bliss,

And all go to the assembly under the Dragon-flower Tree.”

These words braced Pig's spirits too, and eagerly he said,

“Yes, yes, yes!

Go, go, go!

Never mind what the Bull King's powers are,

Wood grows in the nor'nor'west and is matched with a pig;

The bull-calf will be led back to the earth.

Metal was born in West sou'west and was an ape,

Without any conflict or conquest and full of peace.

We must use the plantain leaf as if it were water

To put out the flames and bring harmony.

Hard work by night and day with never a rest

Will lead us to success and the Ullambana feast.”

The two of them led the local deity and his spirit soldiers forward, then battered the doors of the Cloud-touching Cave to pieces with the rake and the cudgel. This so terrified the guard commanders that they rushed inside to report, “Your Majesty, Sun Wukong's brought his troops here and has smashed down our front doors.”

The Bull Demon King was just then telling Princess Jade what had happened and feeling thoroughly fed up with Monkey. The news of the front doors being smashed made him beside himself with fury, so he put his armor on immediately and went outside with his iron mace in his hands shouting abusively, “Damned macaque! You must think you're a very big shot indeed, coming here to play the hooligan and smash down my front door.”

“Old skinflint,” retorted Pig, going forward, “who do you think you are, trying to put other people in their place? Don't move! Take this!”

“Idiot!” the Bull Demon King replied. “Chaff-guzzler! You're not worth bothering with. Tell that monkey to come here.”

“You don't know what's good for you, cud-chewer,” called Monkey. “Yesterday you were still my sworn brother, but today we're enemies. Watch this carefully!” The Bull Demon King met their onslaught with spirit, and the ensuing fight was even finer than the one before. The three heroes were locked in a melee. What a battle!

Rake and iron cudgel showing their might,

Leading the spirit soldiers to attack the ancient beast.

The beast displayed his terrible strength when fighting alone,

Reviving his powers that rivaled those of Heaven.

The rake hit hard,

The mace struck,

The iron cudgel showed its heroic powers.

The three weapons rang against each other,

Blocking and parrying, never giving way.

One said he was the champion,

Another claimed, “I am the best.”

The earth soldiers who were watching could hardly tell them apart.

As wood and earth were locked in combat.

“Why won't you lend us the plantain fan?”

“You had the effrontery to mistreat my wife,

To ruin my son and terrify my concubine.

I haven't punished you for all of that yet,

And now you harass us and beat down my doors.”

“Be on your guard against the As-You-Will cudgel:

A touch of it will tear your skin open.”

“Mind you avoid the teeth of my rake:

One blow, and nine wounds all gush blood.”

The Bull Monster fearlessly gave play to his might,

Wielding his mace with skill and with cunning.

Their movements turned the rain clouds upside-down,

As each of them snorted out his mists and winds.

This was indeed a battle to the death,

As they fought it out together with hatred in their hearts.

Taking new stances,

Offering openings high and low,

They attacked and they parried with never a mistake.

The two brother disciples were united in their efforts;

The solitary mace showed its might alone.

They battled from dawn till eight in the morning

Till the Bull Demon had to abandon the fight.

With death in their hearts and no thought of survival the three of them fought another hundred or so rounds till Pig took advantage of Monkey's miraculous powers to put all his brute strength into a rain of blows from his rake that were more than the Bull Demon King could withstand. He turned and fled defeated back to his cave, only to find the entrance blocked by the local god and his spirit troops.

“Where do you think you're going, Strongarm King?” the local god shouted. “We're here.” As he could not get into his cave the Bull Demon King fled, only to be pursued by Pig and Monkey. In his panic the Bull Demon King tore off his helmet and armor, threw away his mace, shook himself, turned into a swan and flew away. Monkey looked around and said with a grin, “Pig, Old Bull's gone.”

The idiot had not the faintest idea of what had happened and neither had the local god as they looked all around and aimlessly searched Mount Thunder Piled. “Isn't that him flying up there?” said Monkey, pointing.

“It's a swan,” Pig replied.

“Yes,” said Monkey, “it's what Old Bull turned himself into.”

“So what are we going to do about it?” the local god asked.

“You two charge in there, wipe all the demons out without quarter and tear down his den,” Monkey replied. “That will cut off his retreat while I go and match transformations with him.” We shall say no more of Pig and the local god smashing their way into the cave as they had been instructed.

Putting away his gold-banded cudgel and saying the words of a spell while making the necessary hand movements, Monkey shook himself and turned into a vulture who soared up into the clouds with his wings beating noisily, then swooped down on the swan, seizing its neck and gouging at its eyes. Realizing that this was Sun Wukong transformed the Bull Demon King braced himself and turned into a golden eagle who gouged, back at the vulture. Then Monkey turned into a black phoenix to chase the eagle, only to be recognized by the Bull King, who turned into a white crane and flew off South with a loud call. Monkey stopped, braced his feathers, and turned into a red phoenix, who called loudly too. At the sight of the phoenix, the king of all the birds whom no bird dared treat with disrespect, the white crane swooped down beside the precipice with a beat of his wings, shook himself, and turned into a river-deer grazing in a timid, stupid way at the foot of the cliff. Monkey spotted him, came swooping down too, and turned into a hungry tiger that came running after the river-deer, swishing his tail hungrily. The demon king had to move fast as he transformed himself into a huge leopard with spots like golden coins who turned to savage the hungry tiger. Seeing this, Monkey faced the wind, shook himself, and turned into a golden-eyed lion with a voice like thunder, a brazen head and an iron brow. He spun round to devour the leopard, at which the Bull Demon King immediately became a giant bear that ran after the lion. Monkey then rolled himself up and became an elephant with tusks shaped like bamboo shoots, and a trunk like a python that he stretched out to wrap round the bear.

The Bull Demon King chuckled and switched back into his own original shape as a great white bull with a craggy head and flashing eyes. Each of his horns was like an iron pagoda, and his teeth were rows of sharp swords. He was about ten thousand feet long from head to tail and stood eight thousand feet high at the shoulder.

“What are you going to do to me now, damned macaque?” he shouted to Brother Monkey at the top of his voice; at which Monkey too reverted to his own form, pulled out his gold-banded cudgel, bowed forward and shouted “Grow!” He then grew to be a hundred thousand feet tall with a head like Mount Taishan, eyes like the sun and moon, a mouth like a pool of blood and teeth like doors. He raised his iron cudgel and struck at the Bull Demon King's head; and the Bull Demon King hardened his head and charged Monkey with his horns. This was a ridge-rocking, mountain-shaking, heaven-scaring, earth-frightening battle, and there is a poem to prove it that goes:

The Way grows by one foot, the demon by ten thousand;

The cunning mind-ape puts him down by force.

If the Fiery Mountains' flames are to be put out,

The precious fan must blow them cool.

The yellow-wife is determined to protect the primal ancient;

The mother of wood is set on wiping out the demons.

When the Five Elements are harmonized they return to the true achievement;

Evil and dirt are refined away as they travel to the West.

The two of them gave such a great display of their magic powers as they fought on the mountain that they alarmed all the deities, the Gold-headed Protector, the Six Jias, the Six Dings and the Eighteen Guardians of the Faith, who were passing through the air, came to surround the demon king. He was not in the least afraid as he butted to East and West with his straight, shining, iron horns, and lashed to North and South with his strong and hairy tail. Sun Wukong stood up to him head on while all the other gods surrounded him till in his despair the Bull Demon King rolled on the ground, turned back into his usual form, and headed for the Plantain Cave. Monkey too put away his magical form and joined in the chase with all the gods, but once in the cave the demon king shut the doors fast. The gods then threw a watertight encirclement around Mount Turquoise Cloud. Just when they were all about to storm the doors they heard the shouts of Pig arriving with the local god and his spirit soldiers.

“How are things in the Cloud-touching Cave?” Monkey asked, greeting him.

“I finished off Old Bull's woman with one blow from my rake,” grinned Pig, “and when I stripped her I found she was a jade-faced fox spirit. Her demons were all donkeys, mules, bulls, badgers, foxes, raccoon dogs, river-deer, goats, tigers, elk, deer and things like that. We killed the lot of them and burnt down all the buildings in the cave. The local god tells me he's got another woman who lives here, so we've come here to wipe her out too.”

“You've done well, brother,” said Monkey. “Congratulations. I tried competing with Old Bull in transformations, but I couldn't beat him. He turned into a simply enormous white bull, and I made myself as big as heaven and earth. We were just battling it out when all the gods came down and surrounded him. After a long time he turned back into himself and went into the cave.”

“Is this Plantain Cave?” Pig asked.

“Yes yes,” Monkey replied, “Raksasi's in here.”

“Then why don't we storm the place and wipe the lot of them out to get the fan?” said Pig, his blood still up. “Are we going to let the two of them live to be any older and wiser and love each other with tender passion?”

The splendid idiot then summoned up his strength to bring his rake down on the doors so hard that doors, rock-face and all collapsed with a mighty rumble. The serving girls rushed inside to report, “Your Majesty, someone's smashed the doors in and we don't know who he is.” The Bull Demon King himself had just run panting in and was still telling Raksasi about his fight with Monkey for the fan when he heard this report, which made him very angry indeed.

At once he spat out the fan and gave it to Raksasi, who took it in her hands and said tearfully, “Your Majesty, give the macaque the fan if he'll call his troops off.”

“Wife,” the Bull Demon King replied, “it may only be a little thing in itself, but I hate and loathe him. Wait here while I have it out with him again.” Once more the demon put on his armor, chose another pair of swords, and went out to find Pig smashing the doors down with his rake. Without a word Old Bull raised his swords and cut at Pig's head. Pig parried with his rake and fell back a few paces till he was outside the doors, where Monkey swung his cudgel at the Bull Demon King's head. The Bull Monster then mounted a storm wind and sprang away from the cave to fight Monkey once more on Mount Turquoise Cloud. All the gods surrounded him, while the local god's soldiers joined in the fray from either side. It was a splendid fight:

Mists obscured the world,

Fog shrouded heaven and earth.

A whistling evil wind sent sand and pebbles rolling;

Towering wrath had the ocean's waves breaking.

With a newly-sharpened pair of swords,

And a body encased in armor once more,

His hatred was deeper than the sea,

And loathing made his fury greater than ever.

In his pursuit of glory the Great Sage Equaling Heaven

No longer regarded the other as an old friend.

Pig was using his might to obtain the fan

While the gods and protectors tried to capture the Bull.

Neither of the Bull King's hands could rest

As he blocked to left and right with heavenly skill.

Birds folded their wings, unable to fly past;

Fish stopped leaping and sank to the bottom.

Ghosts wept, gods howled; the earth and sky were dark;

Dragons and tigers were terrified and the sun was dimmed.

The Bull Demon King fought over fifty rounds for all he was worth till he abandoned the field and fled North, unable to hold out any longer. He was soon blocked by the Vajrapani Bofa from the Hidden Demon Cave on Mount Wutai whose magical powers were very extensive. “Bull Monster,” he shouted, “Where are you going? I have been commanded by the Lord Sakyamuni Buddha to spread out heaven-and-earth nets and arrest you here.”

As he spoke the Great Sage, Pig and all the gods caught up. In his desperation the demon king turned and fled South only to find his way blocked by the Vajrapani Shenzhi of the Cave of Cool Purity on Mount Emei, who shouted, “I am here on the Buddha's orders to take you.”

The Bull Demon King was now so terrified and exhausted that he turned and fled East, only to be blocked by the Vairocana monk, the Vajrapani Dali of Mo'er Cave on Mount Sumeru, who shouted, “Where are you going, Old Bull? I am on a secret mission from the Tathagata to catch you.”

The Bull Demon King withdrew in terror once more, this time to the West, where he came up against the imperishable king, the Vajrapani Yongzhu from the Golden Brightness Ridge on Mount Kunlun, shouting, “Where are you going, damn you? I have been personally instructed by the venerable Buddha of the Thunder Monastery in the Western Heaven to cut off your escape this way. Nobody will let you pass.”

The Old Bull was now trembling with fear, but it was too late for regrets. On all sides he was surrounded by the Buddha's troops and heavenly generals. It really was as if he were caught in a high net from which there was no escape. In his despair he heard Monkey coming after him at the head of his forces, so he sprang on his cloud and went up.

At just that moment Heavenly King Li the Pagoda-carrier was encamped in the sky with Prince Nezha, the Fish-bellied Yaksa and the Mighty Miracle God.

“Not so fast,” he shouted, “not so fast. I am here on the mandate of the Jade Emperor to exterminate you.” In his extremity the Bull Demon King shook himself, turned back into the giant white bull, and tried to gore the Heavenly King with his iron horns, while the Heavenly King hacked at him with his sword. Soon Brother Monkey arrived.

“Great Sage,” Prince Nezha shouted at the top of his voice, “I can't greet you properly as I'm in armor. Yesterday my father and I went to see the Tathagata Buddha, who sent a note to the Jade Emperor. It said that the Tang Priest was held up by the Fiery Mountains and that you couldn't subdue the Bull Demon King, Great Sage. The Jade Emperor then ordered my father to bring his forces here to help.”

“But this damned creature's magical powers are tremendous,” Monkey replied, “and he's turned himself into this. What are we going to do about him?”

“Have no doubts,” replied Nezha with a smile. “Watch me catch him.”

The prince then shouted, “Change!” gave himself three heads and six arms, and took a flying leap upon the Bull Demon King's back. With one swing of his demon-beheading sword he had the bull's head off before he even realized he had done it. The Heavenly King threw down his sword and went to meet Monkey. But another head grew out from the Bull Demon King's throat, its mouth breathing black vapors and its eyes flashing golden light. Nezha cut again, but as the head fell a new one appeared. Nezha's sword cut a dozen heads off and a dozen new heads immediately grew again. Nezha then hung his fire-wheel on the bull's horns, blew on the magic fire, and made it blaze so fiercely that the Bull Demon King bellowed in desperate pain, shaking his head and tail and trying for all he was worth to escape.

Just when he was about to do another transformation and get away his true image was fixed in Heavenly King Li's demon-revealing mirror. Now he could make no more changes and he had no way of escape.

He could only call out, “Spare my life! I wish to be converted to the Buddhist faith.”

“If you value your life, hand the fan over at once,” said Nezha. “My wife is looking after it,” the Bull Demon King replied.

Hearing this reply, Nezha undid his demon-binding rope and slipped it round his neck, then took him by the nose, ran the rope through it, and led him along by hand. Monkey meanwhile gathered together the four vajrapanis, the Six Dings, the Six Jias, the Guardians of the Faith, Heavenly King Li, the Mighty Miracle God, Pig, the local god and the spirit soldiers to crowd around the white bull and lead him back to the entrance to the Plantain Cave.

“Wife,” Old Bull called, “bring the fan out and save my life.” As soon as she heard this Raksasi took off her jewelry and bright-coloured clothing, dressed her hair like a Taoist nun and put on a white silk habit like a Buddhist one.

She came out through the doors carrying the twelve-foot fan with both hands, and at the sight of the vajrapanis, the gods, the Heavenly King and Nezha she fell to her knees in terror, kowtowing in worship and saying, “I beg you Bodhisattvas to spare my husband and me. I present the fan to my brother-in-law Monkey for him to win his glory with.” Monkey went forward, took the fan, and rode back East by auspicious cloud with the others.

Sanzang and Friar Sand had been waiting a very long time, sometimes sitting and sometimes standing, for Monkey to come back. They were extremely anxious by the time the sky was suddenly filled with auspicious clouds and the earth was lit up by blessed light as all the gods came whistling through the air towards them. “Wujing,” said the venerable elder in terror, “whose divine soldiers are coming from over there?”

“Master,” said Friar Sand, who could recognize them, “it's the four vajrapanis, the Golden-headed Protector, the Six Jias, the Six Dings, the Guardians of the Faith and all the other passing gods. The one leading the bull is Prince Nezha, and there's Heavenly King Li the Pagoda-carrier holding a mirror. My eldest brother is carrying the plantain fan, and that's second brother and the local god behind him. The others are all escort troops.”

Hearing this, Sanzang put on his Vairocana mitre and his cassock then went with Friar Sand to welcome the gods and thank them with these words: “What merits do I, your disciple, have that I put all you holy ones to the trouble of coming down to earth?”

To this the four vajrapanis replied, “Congratulations, holy monk. The great task has now been achieved. We were sent to help you on the Buddha's orders. You must now continue your self-cultivation and not slacken for a moment.” Sanzang replied amid kowtows that he accepted their commands.

The Great Sage Sun took the fan close to the Fiery Mountains, waved it as hard as he could, and put the flames out. Their glare disappeared. He waved the fan again and the rustle of a cool breeze could be heard; and at the third wave the sky was overcast with cloud and a fine rain began to fall. There is a poem that bears witness to this:

For hundreds of miles the mountains of fire

Lit heaven and earth with notorious flames.

When fire roasts the five passions the elixir cannot be made.

When flame burns the three passes the Way is not pure.

To borrow the plantain fan and bring down rain,

Heavenly gods had to help with their spiritual power.

When the bull is led to the Buddha it must stop being evil;

When water and fire are allied the nature is calm.

Having been relieved of his cares Sanzang stopped worrying. All the hosts then reverently thanked the vajrapanis, who all returned to their mountains, and the Six Dings and Six Jias went back into the sky to give their protection. The deities who had been passing by all went on their way; and the Heavenly King and Nezha led the bull back to hand him over to the Buddha. This left only the local mountain god waiting there with Raksasi under his guard.

“Why aren't you on your way, Raksasi?” Monkey asked. “What are you standing there waiting for?”

“I beg you in your mercy, Great Sage,” she replied, “to give me back the fan.”

“You've got a cheek, damned bitch,” roared Pig. “We've spared your life and that should be enough for you. What do you want the fan for? When we've crossed the mountains we'll be able to sell it for food. Do you think we're going to give it to you after all the trouble and effort we've been to? It's raining, so be off home with you.”

She bowed again and said, “But the Great Sage promised to give it back when he'd put the fire out. I'm very sorry about all that has happened. It was only because I was feeling so upset that I put you to all that trouble. We too have learned to live like human beings. The only thing is that we had not been converted to the pursuit of the true achievement. Now our true bodies have turned to the West, and we will not dare do anything wicked again. I beg you to return the fan so that I can reform and cultivate myself.”

“Great Sage,” said the local deity, “let us make full use of this woman's knowledge of the art of extinguishing fire to put these fires out for good, and give her back her fan. Then I will be able to live here in peace, help the people who live here, and be given offerings of blood and food. This would truly be a great kindness to me.”

“I heard the local people saying that when the fan puts the flames out in these mountains they can only gather one harvest before they start burning again,” said Monkey. “How are we going to be able to put them out forever?”

“All you have to do to put the flames out forever,” said Raksasi, “is wave the fan forty-nine times. Then they'll never burn again.”

Now that Brother Monkey knew this he took the fan and fanned the mountains with it forty-nine times as hard as he possibly could, whereupon heavy rain began to pour down. The fan really was a treasure: where there were flames it rained, and where there were not the sky was clear. By standing where there no flames master and disciples avoided getting wet. After spending the night sitting there they got the horse and luggage ready the next morning and returned the fan to Raksasi.

“If I don't give it back to you,” Monkey said, “people might say I don't keep my word. Take the fan with you, go back to your mountain and don't make any more trouble. As you've achieved human form I'll spare your life.” Taking the fan from him Raksasi said the words of the spell, pinched the thread so that it shrank back to the size of an apricot leaf and put it in her mouth. She then thanked them all and prepared to cultivate her conduct as a hermit. Later she too achieved the true reward and her name was made eternally famous through the scriptures. Raksasi and the local god expressed their deep gratitude to the four sages and escorted them along their way. As Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand escorted Sanzang along his way their bodies felt cool and the ground under their feet was pleasantly damp. This was indeed a case of

With the help of trigrams Kan and Li the primal is compounded;

When fire and water are balanced the Great Way is completed.

If you don't know how many years it was till they returned to the East, listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 62

Cleansed and with a Washed Heart He Sweeps the Pagoda

The Devils Are Captured and Converted; the Body Is Cultivated

Through all the hours it must never be forgotten:

When success is won all time will be put away.

For five years and sixty thousand miles

Do not let the holy water dry up,

Do not allow the fire to flag.

When water and fire are in balance no harm will arise;

The Five Elements are joined as if with hooks.

Ying and Yang in harmony climb the cloud tower,

Riding the phoenix to the purple palace,

And flying on the crane to magical Yingzhou.

This lyric is set to the tune Lin jiang xian. It tells how Tang Sanzang and his disciples with the help of water and fire cooled their natures and borrowed the fan that was pure Yin to blow out the flames on the distant mountains. It took them many days to cover the 250 miles as they made their way West feeling relaxed and free of care. It was now the time when late autumn was becoming early winter, and this is what they saw:

The petals of wild chrysanthemums wilting,

The tender new blossom of the plum.

In all the villages crops are gathered in;

Delicious broth is everywhere enjoyed.

As the trees are stripped of leaves distant forests can be seen;

Ravines are thickly frosted and the quiet valleys pure.

In response to the cold season

The silkworms are put away to hibernate.

In pure Yin and Yang

The moon rules over the primal ocean;

Where water is at the full

Shun's sun shines with merciful brightness.

Earth vapors sink,

Sky vapors rise.

The rainbow is no more to be seen,

While slowly ice forms over the pond.

Flowers fall from the creepers on the cliff,

While bamboo and pine show still greener in the cold.

When the four of them had traveled a lot further they approached a walled and moated city. Reining in the horse the Tang Priest spoke to his disciples: “Wukong, what sort of place is that with all those tall and magnificent buildings?” Monkey looked and saw that the city was like this:

A wall of bronze, shaped like a dragon,

And in the form of a crouching tiger,

From all directions fine carriages approach

And many a wheel has smoothed the roads to it.

Amazing beasts are carved on the balustrades of marble;

Statues of great men stand on pedestals of gold.

This is indeed a blessed capital,

A true metropolis.

Its vast domains are firmly held;

The dynasty has flourished for a thousand years.

To the monarch's goodness the barbarians submit;

Here is the holy gathering from islands and from sea.

Before the palace steps is purity;

Peace reigns on the highways.

The bars are full of noise and song;

Bliss is found in the houses of pleasure.

Outside the palace grow trees of eternal spring

Where phoenixes sing their greetings to the dawn.

“Master,” said Monkey, “that city is a royal capital.”

“The world is full of prefectural cities and county seats,” laughed Pig. “What makes you so sure that this is a royal capital?”

“You don't seem to realize that royal capitals are different from prefectural cities and county towns,” Monkey replied. “Just look. It's got over ten gates and the wall must measure twenty or thirty miles around. Those towers are so high they disappear into the clouds. How could anything except a royal capital be as grand as that?”

“You're right, brother,” said Friar Sand, “it is a royal city. But what's it called?”

“How can I tell?” Monkey replied. “There aren't any signs or banners. We'll have to go into it and ask.”

The venerable elder whipped on his horse and was soon at a gate, where he dismounted to cross the bridge and go in to look. They saw the six main streets and the three markets, where commerce was flourishing, as well as the imposing clothes of the noble and great. Then as they were walking along they saw a dozen or so Buddhist monks in chains and cangues, heavy boards locked round their necks, begging from door to door. They were dressed in rags.

“The fox mourns for the death of the hare,” sighed Sanzang. “All things are sorry for their own kind. Go and ask them, Wukong, why they are being punished like that.”

Doing as he had been told, Monkey asked, “What monastery are you from, monks? Why are you in cangues and chains?”

“My lord,” said the monks, all falling to their knees, “we are from the Golden Light Monastery and we have been wronged.”

“Where is the Golden Light Monastery?” Monkey asked.

“Just round the corner,” they replied.

Monkey led them to the Tang Priest and asked them, “How have you been wronged? Tell me.”

“We don't know where you're from, but you look a little familiar to us, my lords,” the monks replied. “We don't dare talk here. Please come to our poor monastery where we can tell you our woes.”

“Very well,” said the venerable elder, “we shall go to their monastery and ask them all the details.” They went with them to the monastery gate, over which was a board on which was written in letters of gold

NATION-PROTECTING GOLDEN LIGHT MONASTERY

FOUNDED BY ROYAL COMMAND

When master and disciples went inside to look around this is what they saw:

Cold were the lamps in the ancient hall;

Wind blew the leaves along deserted cloisters.

A thousand-foot pagoda touched the clouds;

Pine trees grew to nourish the nature.

Fallen blooms carpeted the unvisited grounds;

Spiders span cobwebs all over the eaves.

The drum-stand was empty,

The bell hung in vain,

And the frescoes could barely be seen through the dust.

Still was the pulpit where no priest could be seen,

Silent the dhyana hall except for the birds.

The desolation made one long to sigh;

Its dreariness caused great pain.

Although an incense burner stood before the Buddha

All was cold ash, withered flowers and desolation.

All this made Sanzang miserable, and he could not help his tears flowing. The monks in their cangues and chains pushed open the doors of the main Buddha-hall and invited him to step inside and worship the Buddha. Sanzang entered, offered the incense of his heart and said the recitation three times. Then he turned round again to see six or seven young monks locked to the pillars outside the abbot's lodgings. It was more than he could bear.

When he entered the abbot's lodgings and all the monks came to kowtow to him they asked, “You reverend gentlemen look rather different. Are you from Great Tang in the East?”

“You must have second sight,” Monkey said with a laugh. “We are indeed, but how could you tell?”

“We don't have second sight, my lords,” the monks replied. “It's just that because we're so distressed at the injustice we've suffered and because there's nowhere else we can turn, we have been calling on heaven and earth for days on end. Some heavenly deity must have been moved by us because last night we all had the same dream. We were told that a holy monk was coming from Great Tang in the East who would save our lives and right our wrongs. We knew who you were today because you looked rather unusual.”

This pleased Sanzang greatly. “What country is this, and what injustice have you suffered?” he asked.

“My lord,” said the monks on their knees, “this country is called Jisai, and it's one of the biggest in the West. In the old days the foreign states all around used to send tribute: Yuetuo in the South, Gaochang to the North, Western Liang in the East, and Benbo to the West. Every year they used to offer fine jade, bright pearls, beautiful women and magnificent horses. We never had to resort to arms or send expeditions against them: they naturally acknowledged us as their suzerain.”

“If they did that your king must understand the Way and your civil and military officials be wise and good,” Sanzang said.

“My lord,” the monks replied to Sanzang's question, “our country's civil officials are not wise, our generals are not good, and our monarch does not understand the Way. Auspicious clouds used to gather round the pagoda of our monastery and mists of good omen rose high above it. The glow above it at night could once be seen from thousands of miles away; the coloured vapors were admired by the countries all around. That was why this was a divinely-appointed capital to which all the foreigners sent tribute. But three years ago at midnight on the first day of the first month of autumn it rained blood. The next morning everyone was terrified and miserable. All the ministers submitted a memorial to the throne: they didn't understand why heaven was so angry with us. Taoists were asked to perform purifications and Buddhist monks to recite sutras as an offering to heaven and earth. Goodness only knows why, but our golden pagoda has been contaminated, and for the last two years no foreign countries have sent tribute. Our king wanted to send armies to punish them, but the officials said that the reason why foreign countries weren't sending tribute was that the auspicious clouds and mists of good omen had disappeared, and this was because we monks had stolen the treasure from the pagoda in our monastery. The stupid king did not investigate, and those corrupt officials had all us monks arrested. We have been beaten and tortured in every possible way. There used to be three generations of us monks in this monastery, but the two older generations both died off because they couldn't take the beating and torture. Now we've been arrested and made to wear these cangues and chains. Your Honour, we could never be so wicked as to steal the treasure from the pagoda. We implore you to take pity on your fellows and in your great mercy and compassion make wide use of your dharma powers and save our lives.”

At this Sanzang nodded and said with a sigh, “This is an obscure business that will be hard to sort out. The court is ruling badly, and you are suffering a calamity. If it was the rain of blood that contaminated your pagoda why did you not report the fact to your king at the time? Instead you let yourselves in for this calamity.”

“We are only common mortals, your lordship, and had no way-of telling what heaven had in mind. Besides, our elders didn't understand. What could we be expected to do about it?”

“What's the time, Wukong?” Sanzang asked.

“About four in the afternoon,” Monkey replied.

“I would like to see the king to present our passport,” Sanzang said, “but I cannot solve these monks' problem and report on it to His Majesty. When I left Chang'an I made a vow in the Famen Monastery that on my journey West I would burn incense at every temple I passed, worship the Buddha in every monastery I came across, and sweep every pagoda I saw. Today I have met these monks who have been wronged on account of their pagoda. Will you get me a new broom while I take a bath? I shall then go up to sweep it and find out what has contaminated it and why it does not gleam any longer. Once I have found out the truth it will be much easier to report on it in person to the king and rescue them from their misery.”

As soon as the monks in cangues and chains heard this they hurried to the kitchen to fetch a big vegetable chopper that they handed to Pig.

“Take this chopper, your lordship,” they said, “and cut through the iron locks holding the young monks to the pillars so that they can prepare you some food and tea and wait on your master while he eats and bathes. Meanwhile we shall go out on the streets again to beg for a new broom for your master to sweep the pagoda with.”

“There's no problem about opening locks,” laughed Pig. “We don't need knives or axes. Just ask the hairy-faced gentleman: he's been opening locks for years.” Monkey then stepped forward and used lock-opening magic: one touch and the locks all fell open. The young monks all ran into the kitchen to clean up the cooking pots and stove and prepare the meal. When Sanzang and his disciples had eaten and it was gradually getting dark the monks in cangues and chains came in with two brooms to Sanzang's great delight.

As they were talking a young monk came in to light the lamp and invite Sanzang to take his bath. By now the sky was bright with the moon and the stars, and from the look-out towers the watches of the night were being beaten out on the drum. It was indeed the time when

Cold breezes blow around the walls,

And lamps are lit in every house.

Along the streets all the doors are shut;

The gates of the three markets are all closed.

The fishing boat is sheltered under the trees;

The ploughing ox is let off its rope.

The woodman gives his axe a rest,

While the schoolboy can be heard reciting his lessons.

When Sanzang had bathed he put on a narrow-sleeved tunic, tightened the belt around his waist, put on a pair of boots, and took the new brooms. “You sleep here while I sweep the pagoda,” he said to the monks.

“The pagoda was contaminated by the rain of blood,” Monkey said, “and it hasn't shone for many a long day. There may be evil things living up there. If you go up by yourself on this cold and windy night I'm worried that something might go wrong. Why don't I go with you?”

“Very good idea,” Sanzang replied, and each carrying a broom they first went up into the main Buddha hall, where Sanzang lit the glazed lamp, burned incense, and bowed to the Buddha saying, “Your disciple Chen Xuanzang has been sent by the Great Tang in the East to worship out Tathagata Buddha on Vulture Peak and fetch the scriptures. I have now reached the Golden Light Monastery in the kingdom of Jisai, where the monks tell me that their pagoda has been contaminated and that they have been unjustly punished because the king suspects them of having stolen the treasure. Your disciple is now going devoutly to sweep the tower in the hope that my Buddha in his great responsiveness will reveal the cause of the contamination and spare these folk from injustice.”

When he had prayed he and Brother Monkey opened the door of the pagoda and began to sweep it from the ground upwards. That pagoda

Towered to the stars,

Thrust up into space.

It was called the glazed tile pagoda,

The golden sarira spire.

The stairway spiraled like the inside of a cave;

The door seemed to be the door of a coop.

The gleam of the vase reached the moon at the horizon;

The sea breeze carried the sound of its bells.

Look at the eaves and corbel brackets,

The finial in the clouds.

The eaves and corbel brackets

Were of masonry through which the scented breezes blew.

The finial in the clouds

Had mist dragons coiling around the pagoda.

The view stretched out for hundreds of miles;

To climb it was to climb to the heavens.

At the doors of every story were set glazed lamps,

But full of dust, not light.

All around under the eaves ran marble balustrades,

Covered with filth and insects.

Inside the tower,

By the Buddha statues,

Incense no longer burned.

Outside the windows,

In front of the divine face,

Cobwebs covered all.

The incense-burners were full of mouse-droppings,

The lamps untouched by oil.

Because the treasure had been spirited away

Many a monk had died for nothing.

Sanzang was determined to sweep out the pagoda

And restore to it the beauty that it had before.

When he had swept one story the Tang Priest went on to sweep the next, and so he continued till he reached the seventh story. By now it was the second watch of the night and he was beginning to feel exhausted.

“You're tired,” Monkey said. “Sit here and let me sweep it for you.”

“How many stories does it have?” Sanzang asked.

“About thirteen I suppose,” Monkey replied. Overcoming his weariness the Tang Priest said, “I must sweep it myself to fulfil the vow.” By the time he had swept another three stories his back and his legs were aching. At the tenth he collapsed and said, “Sweep the last three floors for me, Wukong.”

Monkey summoned up his energy, went to the eleventh floor, and a moment later up to the twelfth. As he was sweeping there he heard voices from in the roof. “That's odd,” he thought, “Very odd indeed. It's the third watch. They can't be people talking up there as late as this. I'm sure it's evil spirits. Let's have a look.”

The splendid Monkey King put his broom quietly under his arm, tucked up his clothes, slipped out through the door, and stepped on a cloud to take a better look. Sitting in the middle of the thirteenth story were two evil spirits with a dish of food, a bowl, and a jug of wine. They were playing the finger-guessing game and drinking.

Monkey used his magic powers to get rid of the broom and bring out his gold-banded cudgel, with which he barricaded the entrance to the pagoda and shouted, “So you're the ones who stole the pagoda's treasure, you monsters.” The two of them jumped up in their panic, grabbed the jug and bowl, and flung them at him. Monkey deflected them with his iron cudgel and said, “I won't kill you because I need you to give evidence.”

He just used his cudgel to force them to talk. The devils were pinned against the wall, unable to struggle or even move. All they could do was to repeat, “Spare us, spare us. It was nothing to do with us. The thief isn't here.”

Monkey used holding magic to carry them single-handed down to the tenth story, where he said, “Master, I've got the thieves.”

This news woke up Sanzang, who had been dozing, with a start of pleasure. “Where did you catch them?” he asked.

Dragging the demons over and forcing them to kneel to his master Monkey replied, “They were drinking and playing finger-guessing up in the roof. When I heard the din they were making I shot up by cloud to the roof and blocked their escape. I wasn't rough with them because I was worried that a single blow would kill them and we'd have nobody to give evidence. That's why I brought them here nice and gently. You can take statements from them, Master, and find out where they're from and where the stolen treasure has been hidden.”

The demons were still shivering and shaking and saying, “Spare us!” Then they made this true statement. “We were sent by the Infinitely Sage Dragon King of the Green Wave Pool on the Ragged Rock Mountain. His name's Benborba and mine is Baborben. He's catfish spirit and I'm a snakehead fish spirit. Our Infinitely Sage Ancient Dragon has a daughter called the Infinitely Sage Princess. She is as lovely as flowers or the moon and brilliant as well. The Ancient Dragon got a husband for her who would live in the palace. He has tremendous magic powers and he's called Prince Ninehead. He came here the other year with the dragon king to demonstrate his powers by making a blood rain that contaminated the pagoda and stealing the precious sarira relic of the Buddha. The princess then went up to the Daluo Heaven and stole the Queen Mother's nine-lobed magic fungus plant from in front of the Hall of Miraculous Mist. We keep it at the bottom of the pool, and it shines day and night with golden light and a coloured glow. Recently we've heard that Sun Wukong is on his way to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. They say his powers are enormous, and that all along the way he has been looking out for wrongs to right. That's why we keep getting sent here to patrol and stop him when the comes. If that Sun Wukong turns up we're ready for him.”

At this Monkey gave a mocking laugh. “What an evil beast,” he said. “He's unspeakable. No wonder he invited the Bull Demon King to his place for a banquet the other day. He's been extending his contacts among all these damned demons because he's up to no good.”

Before he had finished speaking Pig and two or three of the young monks came up the steps from the bottom of the pagoda with lanterns.

“Master,” Pig said, “why don't you go to bed now that you've swept the pagoda instead of staying here talking?”

“You've come at just the right moment, brother,” said Monkey. “The pagoda's treasure was stolen by the Infinitely Sage Ancient Dragon. He sent these two little devils I've just captured to patrol the pagoda and keep their ears open for news of us.”

“What are they called, and what sort of spirits are they?” Pig asked.

“They've just confessed everything,” Monkey replied. “This one's called Benborba and he's a catfish spirit, and that one's Baborben and he's a snakehead fish spirit.” Pig then lifted his rake to strike them.

“If they're evil spirits and they've already confessed,” he said, “what are we waiting for? Let's kill them.”

“No,” said Monkey, “you don't understand. Keep them alive so that they can tell it all to the king and lead us to catch the thieves and get the treasure back.” The splendid idiot then put his rake down again. He and Monkey each carried one of them down the stairs.

“Spare us,” the demons kept pleading.

“I'd like to turn you two fish into soup for those monks who've been mistreated so unjustly,” muttered Pig.

The two or three young monks, who were thoroughly delighted, led the venerable elder down the pagoda stairs with their lanterns. One of them ran ahead to tell the other monks.

“Good news,” he shouted, “good news! Our troubles are over. The reverend gentlemen have caught the evil spirits who stole the treasure.”

“Fetch chains,” Monkey said, “run them through their shoulder-bones, and lock them up here. Watch over them while we get some sleep. We'll decide what to do next tomorrow.” The monks then kept a very close watch on the demons while Sanzang and his disciples slept.

Before they knew it it was dawn. “Wukong and I will go to court to present the passport,” Sanzang said, and he put on his brocade cassock and Vairocana mitre. When he was dressed in his majestic vestments he strode forward, accompanied by Monkey, who had tightened his tigerskin kilt and straightened up his tunic and was carrying the passport.

“Why aren't you taking those two demons with you?” Pig asked.

“We'll submit a memorial to the throne first,” Monkey replied, “then I expect the king will send men for them.” They then went to the palace gates, seeing no end of red birds and golden dragons adorning the deep red gateways of the pure capital.

At the Gate of Eastern Splendor Sanzang bowed to the officer in charge and said, “May I trouble Your Honour to report that a monk sent from Great Tang in the East to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven begs an audience with His Majesty to present his passport?”

The gate officer did indeed make this report, going to the steps of the throne to say, “There are two Buddhist monks with strange faces and strange clothes outside who say they have been sent by the Tang court in the East of the Southern Continent of Jambu to go to the West to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures. They request an audience with Your Majesty in order to present their passport.” The king then sent for them.

As the Tang Priest took him into the palace all the civilian and military officials were alarmed at the sight of Monkey. Some called him the monkey monk, and others the thunder-god monk; they were all too terrified to look at him for very long. The Tang Priest bowed to the king with a dance and a loud chant of obeisance, while the Great Sage stood leaning to one side with his arms crossed, not moving.

The venerable elder then submitted this memorial: “I am a priest who has been sent by the Great Tang in the East of the Southern Continent of Jambu to worship the Buddha and fetch the true scriptures in Thunder Monastery in the land of India in the West. As my route lies across your distinguished country I would not dare cross without authorization, and I beg you to verify the passport I have with me and allow me to proceed.”

The king was very pleased to hear all this, so he summoned the holy priest from Tang to the throne hall, where an embroidered stool was set for him to sit on. Sanzang went into the hall by himself and handed over the passport before gratefully accepting the courtesy stool.

When the king read the passport through he was delighted. “It appears that when your Great Tang emperor was ill he could choose an eminent monk who would not flinch from a long journey to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures. But all the monks in our country want to do is to steal, thus destroying the country and ruining their sovereign.”

When Sanzang heard this he put his hands together and replied, “How can you be so sure they are destroying the country and ruining their sovereign?”

“This country of ours is the leading one in the Western Regions. The foreign states all around always used to send tribute because of the golden pagoda in the Golden Light Monastery in this capital. A multicolored glow used to shine from the pagoda right up to the sky. But recently the pagoda's treasure has been stolen by the wicked monks in the monastery, and for three years now there has been no coloured glow and no tribute from the foreigners. It is all extremely upsetting for us.”

“Your Majesty,” said Sanzang, smiling as he put his hands together in front of his chest, “a little mistake can lead to a great disaster. Soon after entering the gates of your heavenly capital yesterday I saw a dozen or so monks in cangues. When I asked them why they told me that they were from the Golden Light Monastery and were the victims of injustice. On close investigation in the monastery I found that it was no fault of the monks there. When I swept the pagoda in the middle of the night I captured the thieving devils who had stolen the treasure.”

“Where are they?” asked the delighted king.

“My disciples have them locked up in the Golden Light Monastery,” Sanzang replied.

The king ordered royal guards to be sent at once to the Golden Light Monastery to fetch the thieving devils so that he could interrogate them himself. “Your Majesty, I think it would be best if my disciple went with the guards.”

“Where is he?” the king asked.

“Standing by the steps of the throne,” Sanzang replied.

The king was shocked by what he saw. “How can your disciple be so ugly when you, reverend sir, are so handsome?” he asked.

When he heard this the Great Sage Sun shouted at the top of his voice, “Your Majesty, you should no more judge people by their faces than you'd measure the sea with a bucket. Good looks would never have captured the thieving devils.”

This calmed the king's alarm, and he said, “You are right, holy monk. We do not know how to select men of talent here. The ones who catch the thieves and recover the treasure are best.” He then ordered his aides to have a carriage prepared and told the royal guards to look after the holy monk as he went to fetch the thieving devils. The aides had a large palanquin with a yellow canopy got ready in which eight guardsmen carried Monkey with eight more as escorts who shouted to clear the way to the Golden Light Monastery. By now the whole city had heard the news; everyone came out to see the holy monk and the thieving devils.

Hearing the shouts Pig and Friar Sand, imagining that the king must have sent some of his officials, hurried out to meet them, only to see Monkey riding in the palanquin. “Now you're yourself again, brother,” laughed Pig.

“What do you mean?” Monkey asked, putting his hand on Pig to steady himself as he stepped out of the chair.

“There you are, being carried by eight men in a carrying chair under a royal yellow canopy,” said Pig. “Isn't that the way the Handsome Monkey King should travel? That's why I said you're yourself again.”

“Stop joking,” said Monkey, who then had the two devils brought for him to escort to the king.

“Won't you take me along too?” Friar Sand asked.

“You stay here and look after the luggage and the horse,” Monkey replied.

“My lords,” said the monks in cangues and chains, “why don't you all go to see His Majesty? We can look after your things here.”

“In that case we'll all go to report to the king,” said Monkey, “and then have you released.” With Pig manhandling one devil and Friar Sand the other, Monkey got back into the palanquin, and led the devils to the court.

They were soon at the steps of the throne hall, where the king was told that the devils had arrived. He came down from his dragon throne to examine them with the Tang Priest and his civil and military officials. One of the devils had bulging cheeks, black scales, a pointed mouth and sharp teeth. The other had slimy skin, a fat belly, a big mouth and long whiskers. Although they had legs and could walk it was obvious that they had only assumed a certain appearance of humanity through transformation.

“Where are you from, you thieving devils, you evil spirits?” the king asked. “How long have you been preying on this country? Which year did you steal our treasure? How many of you bandits are there? What are your names? I want it all, and I want the truth.” The two devils fell to their knees before him, and although blood was gushing from their necks they did not feel the pain. This was what they had to say:

“Three years ago, on the first day of the seventh month, the Infinitely Sage Dragon King brought a crowd of his relations to live in the Southeast corner of this country, in the Green Wave Pool on Ragged Rock Mountain about forty miles from here. He has an extremely attractive daughter for whom he found a husband to live in our palace, Prince Ninehead. His magic powers are unbeatable. He knew that you had a rare treasure in your tower, so he plotted with the dragon king to steal it. First he made it rain blood and then he stole the Buddha relic. Now it lights up the dragon palace, which is as bright as day even in the darkest night. Then the princess used her powers to sneak up and steal the Queen Mother's magic fungus to keep the treasure warm in the pool. We two aren't the bandit chiefs. We're just private soldiers sent here by the dragon king who were captured last night. This is the truth.”

“As you have made this confession,” the king said, “why don't you tell me your names?”

“I am Benborba,” one of them replied, “and he is Baborben. I am a catfish monster and he is a snakehead monster.”

The king then told the royal guards to keep them safely behind bars and ordered, “Release all the monks of the Golden Light Monastery from their cangues and chains, and have the Office of Foreign Affairs prepare a banquet in the Unicom Hall to congratulate the holy monks on their great achievements in catching the thieves. We shall now invite them to capture the ringleaders.”

The Office of Foreign Affairs then laid on a double banquet of both meat and vegetarian food, for which the king invited Sanzang and his disciples to take their places in the Unicorn Hall.

“May I ask your title, holy monk?” he said to Sanzang, who replied, his hands together, “My lay surname is Chen, and my Buddhist name Xuanzang. My emperor granted me the surname Tang and the title Sanzang.”

“What are your disciple's titles?” the king asked.

“They do not have titles,” Sanzang replied. “The senior one is called Sun Wukong, the second one Zhu Wuneng, and the third Sha Wujing. These were the names the Bodhisattva Guanyin of the Southern Sea gave them. When they became my disciples I called Wukong Sun the Novice, Wuneng Bajie and Wujing Friar Sand.”

The king then asked Sanzang to take the place of honour while Monkey sat at his left and Pig and Friar Sand at his right. Their banquet was all vegetarian: fruit, vegetables, tea and rice. In front of them was a table of meat dishes at which sat the king, and below him were a hundred or more tables set with meat dishes for all the civil and military officials. The officials all thanked the king for his kindness, and the disciples sat down with the permission of their master. When all were seated the king raised his goblet, and though Sanzang would not drink his three disciples all drank to the success of the banquet. Woodwinds and strings then began to sound as the court musicians performed.

Just watch Pig as he eats for all he is worth, gobbling his food down whole like a tiger or a wolf and emptying the table. Soon more soup and food was brought, only to disappear in the same way. Every time servants brought more wine he drained the cup, never refusing. The feast went on till after midday before it broke up.

When Sanzang expressed his thanks for the sumptuous banquet the king wanted to keep him longer. “It was just a gesture to thank you holy monks for catching the demons.” He then ordered the Office of Foreign Affairs to move the banquet to the Jianzhang Palace so that he could discuss with the holy monks how the ringleaders were to be captured and the treasure brought back to the pagoda.

“If we are to capture the thieves and recover the treasure,” Sanzang said, “another banquet won't be needed. We shall take our leave of Your Majesty now and set off to catch the demons.”

But the king insisted on taking them to the Jianzhang Palace for another banquet. “Which of you holy monks will lead the force that is to capture the monsters?” he asked, raising his goblet.

“Send my senior disciple Sun Wukong,” Sanzang replied. The Great Sage raised his clasped hands and bowed in acknowledgement.

“If the venerable Sun is going how big a force of cavalry and foot will he need,” the king asked, “and when will he be setting out?”

At this Pig could not restrain himself from shouting, “We won't need any soldiers, and we don't care when we go. With a good meal and a few drinks inside us he and I can go and catch them right now, just by laying our hands on them.”

“Bajie,” said Sanzang with delight, “you're getting very keen.”

“Very well then,” said Monkey. “Friar Sand, you guard the master while we two go.”

“Even if you two venerable elders don't need troops,” the king said, “surely you need weapons.”

“We don't need your weapons,” laughed Pig. “We carry our own.” On hearing this the king fetched two huge goblets and drank a toast to them on their journey.

“We won't have any more to drink,” said Monkey. “But we'd like the royal guards to bring those little demons to us. We need them as guides.” The king gave the order and they were brought out at once. Then Monkey and Pig, each firmly grasping a demon, rode the wind and used carrying magic to take them off to the Southeast. Indeed:

Only when king and court saw the magical clouds

Did they realize that the four of them were truly holy monks.

If you don't know how the capture went and what they found, listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 63

Two Monks Wipe out the Demons in the Dragon Palace

The Sages Destroy Evil and Recover the Treasure

The story tells how the king of Jisai and his officials high and low watched as the Great Sage Monkey and Pig disappeared by wind and cloud, carrying the two demons with them. Then all of them bowed in homage to heaven, saying, “Their fame is well founded. Only today can we really believe that such immortals and living Buddhas exist.” As Monkey and Pig vanished into the distance the king bowed again to thank Sanzang and Friar Sand.

“Our mortal eyes were only able to see that your illustrious disciples had the power to capture thieving devils. We never realized that you were superior immortals with the power to ride on winds and clouds.”

“I do not have any dharma powers,” Sanzang replied. “On my journey I have depended very much on my three disciples.”

“I tell you the truth, Your Majesty,” said Friar Sand. “My senior fellow-disciple is the Great Sage Equaling Heaven who has been converted. He once made havoc in Heaven, and none of the hundred thousand heavenly troops was a match for his gold-banded cudgel. He had the Supreme Lord Lao Zi and the Jade Emperor both scared. My next senior fellow-disciple is Marshal Tian Peng, now a faithful Buddhist. He once commanded 80,000 sailors on the River of Heaven. I'm the only one of us with no magic powers: I was the Curtain-lifting General before I took my vows. We're useless at everything except capturing demons and monsters, arresting thieves and runaways, subduing tigers and dragons, and kicking the sky into a well. And we know a thing or two about stirring up the sea and turning rivers upside-down. Oh yes, and then there's riding clouds and mists, summoning wind and rain, moving the stars around in the sky, carrying mountains, and chasing the moon: but those are just extras.” All this made the king treat them with very great respect Indeed:

Inviting Sanzang to take the place of honour, he kept addressing him as “Buddha” and referring to Friar Sand and the others as bodhisattvas. All the civil and military officials were delighted, and the citizens of the country kowtowed to them.

The story switches to the Great Sage Monkey and Pig riding their storm wind to the Green Wave Pool on the Ragged Rock Mountain, where they stopped their clouds.

Blowing a magic breath on his gold-banded cudgel Wukong told it to change and turned it into a monk's knife with which he cut an ear off the snakehead and the lower lip of the catfish, then threw the two demons into the water with a shout of, “Tell the Infinitely Sage Dragon King that Lord Sun, the Great Sage Equaling Heaven, is here. If he wants me to spare the lives of him and his family he'd better hand over the treasure from the pagoda of the Golden Light Monastery in Jisai at once. If there's even the hint of a 'no' from him I'll give this pool such a stirring that there'll be no water left in it and then exterminate his whole family.”

Having been given this order the two little devils fled for their lives in great pain, jumping into the water, chains, ropes and all, to the alarm of the various turtle, alligator, shrimp, crab and fish spirits, who crowded round them to ask, “Why are you roped and chained?”

Once of them shook his head and waved his tail with his hand over his ear; the other stamped and beat his chest as he covered his mouth. There was much shouting and commotion as they both went to the dragon king's palace to report, “Disaster, Your Majesty.”

The Infinitely Sage Dragon King was drinking with his son-in-law Prince Ninehead when the two of them arrived. “What disaster?” the dragon king asked, putting down his cup.

“We were on sentry duty last night,” they reported, “when the Tang Priest and Sun the Novice captured us as they were sweeping the pagoda. We were chained up and taken to see the king this morning. Then Sun the Novice and Pig dragged us here. One of us had an ear cut off and the other a lip. Then they threw us into the water to come to ask for the treasure from the top of the pagoda.” They then told the whole story in great detail. The news about Sun the Novice, the Great Sage Equaling Heaven, gave the ancient dragon such a fright that his souls left his body and were scattered beyond the sky.

“Son-in-law,” he said to the prince, shivering and shaking, “anyone else would have been easy enough to deal with; but if it's him it's terrible.”

“Relax, father-in-law,” the prince replied. “I've been studying the martial arts since childhood and made friends with quite a few of the world's heroes. He's nothing to be scared of. After three rounds with me I guarantee the wretch will surrender with his head hanging so low he won't even dare look you in the face.”

The splendid demon jumped to his feet, put on his armor, took the weapon he used, a crescent-bladed halberd, walked out of the palace, parted the waters, and when he reached the surface called out, “What's all this about a 'Great Sage Equaling Heaven'? Come and give yourself up at once.” Standing on the bank, Pig and Monkey saw how the evil spirit was dressed:

A silver helmet on his head,

Outshone the whitest snow;

The suit of armor that he wore

Was higher than autumn frost.

Over it was a battle-robe of brocade,

With dragons, cloud-patterns and pearls;

The rhinoceros-patterned belt at his waist

Was like a python wrapped in gold.

He held a crescent halberd

That flew and flashed like lightning;

The pigskin boots on his feet

Moved as smoothly as water or waves.

From a distance he seemed to have only one face and head,

But seen from close to there were faces all around him:

Eyes in front and eyes behind

That could see in all directions;

Mouths to the left and mouths to the right,

Nine of them, all talking.

One shout from him would make the sky shake

Like the call of the crane resounding through the stars.

As nobody answered he shouted again, “Which of you is the Great Sage Equaling Heaven?”

Touching the golden band round his head and fingering his iron cudgel, Monkey replied, “I am.”

“Where do you live?” the demon asked. “Where are you from? What brought you to Jisai to look after the king's pagoda? Why did you have the effrontery to capture and mutilate two of our officers? And why are you here demanding battle now?”

“Thieving devil,” replied Monkey abusively, “it's obvious you don't know who I am. Come a little closer and I'll tell you:

My people come from the Mount of Flowers and Fruit,

From the Water Curtain Cave in the middle of the sea.

Since childhood I have made my body indestructible;

The Jade Emperor created me Heaven-equaling Sage.

When I made havoc in the Dipper and Bull Palace

All the gods of Heaven were not enough to beat me.

The Buddha then was asked to use his great and subtle powers;

His infinite wisdom went beyond the mortal world.

When I matched my powers with his and made my somersaults

His hand turned to a mountain and crushed me underneath.

There I was kept for full five hundred years,

And only was released when converted by Guanyin

Because Sanzang was going to the Western Heaven

To seek the Buddha's words at distant Vulture Peak.

She freed me then to escort the holy monk,

To clear up all the monsters and purify my conduct.

Our journey led to Jisai in the regions of the West

Where there monkish generations have been cruelly mistreated.

When in our mercy we asked them what had happened

We learned that the pagoda no longer shone with light.

My master swept it clean to find out the reason.

In the deep silence of the night's third watch,

We captured the demons and extracted their confessions:

They said you were the thief who had stolen the great treasure,

Conspiring to be a robber with the ancient dragon king

And the princess who is also known as Infinitely Sage.

Your rain of blood washed out the pagoda's magic light

And you brought the treasure back to use it here yourselves.

The confession that they made was true in every detail,

And we have come here now on His Majesty's own orders.

That is why we looked for you and challenge you to battle:

Never will you need to ask my name again.

Give the king back his treasure this instant

If you want to save the lives of all members of your family.

Should you in your folly try to make resistance

Your pool will be dried out and your palace smashed to ruins.”

When the prince heard all this he replied with a touch of a mocking smile, “If you're monks going to fetch the scriptures you shouldn't be trumping up charges where it's none of your business. So what if I stole their treasure? You're going to fetch your Buddhist scriptures and it's nothing to do with you. Why are you here looking for a fight?”

“Thieving devil,” said Monkey, “you've got no idea of right and wrong. The king's done us no favours. We don't drink his kingdom's waters or eat its grain. We were under no obligation to do thing for him. But you have stolen his treasure, contaminated his pagoda, and brought years of misery to the monks in the Golden Light Monastery. They are our fellow believers, so of course we'll make an effort for them and right their wrong.”

“So it looks as though you want a fight,” said the prince. “As the saying goes, the warrior avoids unnecessary combat; but once I start there'll be no mercy, you'll be dead in next to no time, and that will be the end of going to fetch the scriptures.”

“Bloody thieving devil,” Monkey cursed back, “you must think you're quite a fighter, talking big like that. Come here and take this!” The prince was not flustered in the least as he blocked the cudgel with his crescent-bladed halberd. A fine battle ensued on the Ragged Rock Mountain.

Because the monster stole the treasure the pagoda was dark;

Monkey went to catch the demons for the sake of the king;

The little devils fled for their lives back into the water;

The ancient dragon took counsel in his terror.

Prince Ninehead showed his might

As he went out in armor to exercise his powers.

The angry Great Sage Equaling Heaven

Raised his gold-banded cudgel that was very hard Indeed:

In the monster's mine heads were eighteen eyes

Shining bright as they looked in all directions.

Monkey's iron arms were immensely strong

And auspicious lights glowed all around.

The halberd was like a new moon's crescent,

The cudgel like flying frost.

“Why don't you give up trying to right wrongs?”

“You were wrong to steal the pagoda's treasure.

Behave yourself, damned devil,

And give me back the treasure if you want to live.”

Cudgel and halberd fought for mastery:

Neither emerged as victor in the fight.

The two of them fought hard for over thirty rounds without either of them emerging as winner. Pig, who was standing on the mountain admiring the sweetness and beauty of their fight, raised his rake and brought down on the evil spirit from behind, Now the monster's nine heads all had eyes in them, and he could see Pig coming behind him very clearly, so he now used the butt-end of his halberd to block the rake while holding off the cudgel with the blade. He resisted for another six or seven rounds until he could hold out no longer against the weapons that were swinging at him from before and behind, when he rolled away and leapt up into the sky in his true form as a nine-headed bird. He looked thoroughly repulsive: the sight of him was enough to kill one with horror:

His body all covered in feathers and down,

His girth was some twelve feet measured around,

And he was as long as an old crocodile.

His two feet were as sharp as book-shaped blades,

And his nine heads were all set in a circle.

When he opened his wings he could fly superbly:

Not even the roc could match his great strength.

His voice could resound to the edge of the sky,

With an echo even louder than the call of the crane.

Bright flashed golden light from his many pairs of eyes;

His pride far outstripped that of ordinary birds.

The sight alarmed Pig, who said, “Brother, I've never seen anything as ugly in all my days. What sort of blood could that monstrous bird have been born of?”

“There's nothing like him,” Monkey replied, “nothing. I'm going up to kill him.” The splendid Great Sage then leapt up on his cloud into mid-air, where he struck at the monster's head with his cudgel. The monster now displayed the power of his body as he swooped down, his wings outspread, then turned with a roaring noise to come low over the mountain and shoot out from his waist another head with a mouth open wide like a bowl of blood. His beak gripped Pig's bristles at the first attempt, then he dragged Pig to the pool and pulled him in.

Once back outside the dragon palace he turned himself back into what he had been before, threw Pig to the ground, and said, “Where are you, little ones?”

Thereupon the mackerel, trout, carp, mandarin fish, hard and soft-shelled tortoises, and alligators, who were all armored demons, rushed forward with a shout of, “Here!”

“Take this monk and tie him up for me,” said the prince. “This will be revenge for our patrolling sentries.” Shouting and pushing, the spirits carried Pig inside, to the delight of the ancient dragon king, who came out to meet the prince with the words, “Congratulations, son-in-law. How did you catch him?” The prince then told him the whole story, after which the ancient dragon ordered a celebratory banquet, which we need not describe.

Instead the story tells how Monkey thought in terror after the evil spirit had captured Pig, “This monster is terrible. But if I go back to the court to see the master the king will probably laugh at me. But if I challenge him to battle again how will I deal with him single-handed? Besides, I'm not used to coping in water. I'll just have to turn myself into something to get inside and see what the evil spirit has done with Pig. If it's possible I'll sneak him out of there to help me.”

The splendid Great Sage then made magic with his fingers, shook himself, turned into a crab again, and plunged into the water till he was outside the archway again. He knew the way from when he had come here the previous time and stolen the Bull King's water-averting golden-eyed beast. When he reached the gateway to the palace he walked in sideways to see the ancient dragon king, the nine-headed monster and their whole family drinking together to celebrate. Not daring to go too close. Monkey crawled under the eaves of the Eastern verandah, where several shrimp and crab spirits were fooling around and amusing themselves. He listened to them for a while then said, imitating their way of talking, “Is the long-snouted monk the prince brought here dead or alive?”

“He's alive,” the spirits all replied, “and tied up. Can't you see him groaning under the Western verandah over there?”

Monkey then crawled quietly over to the Western verandah, where he did indeed find Pig tied to a column and groaning. “Can you recognize me, Pig?” he asked. Pig knew who it was from Monkey's voice.

“This is terrible, brother,” he said. “The monster got me.” Looking all around to make sure there was nobody there Monkey cut through the ropes with his claws and told Pig to go. “What am I to do, brother?” Pig said. “He's got my rake.”

“Do you know where he put it?” Monkey asked.

“I think he must have taken it into the main hall of the palace,” Pig replied.

“Wait for me under the arch,” said Monkey, and Pig slipped quietly out to save his skin. Monkey climbed up on the roof of the main hall, from where he saw the intense glow of Pig's rake down on the left, made himself invisible, and sneaked it out of the palace. Once under the archway he called, “Pig, take your weapon.”

“You go on ahead, brother,” said Pig, now reunited with his rake. “I'm going to attack that palace. If I win I'll capture the whole family of them, and if I lose you'll be waiting by the bank to rescue me.” Monkey, who was delighted at the suggestion, urged him to be careful. “I'm not scared of him,” Pig replied. “I know a thing or two when it comes to water.” Monkey then left him and came up through the water.

Pig meanwhile tightened the belt round his black tunic, grasped his rake with both hands, and charged in with a great war-cry that sent all the members of the watery tribe rushing into the palace and shouting, “Disaster! The long-snouted monk has broken free from his bonds and is charging back in.” The ancient dragon king, the nine-headed monster and the rest of the family were caught off their guard, and all they could do was jump to their feet and flee for cover. The idiot, not fearing for his life, charged into the hall, laying about him with his rake as he went. He smashed everything: doors, tables, chairs, wine-cups and all else too. There is a poem to prove it that goes:

When the mother of wood was taken by the water monster

The mind-ape did not flinch from a difficult rescue.

One used his secret skills to open the locks;

The other one showed his might in hatred and wrath.

The prince fled, taking his princess to safety;

Not a sound was heard from the shivering dragon.

The palace's crimson windows and doors were all smashed;

The dragon's descendants were all scared out of their wits.

Pig smashed the tortoise-shell screens to powder and the coral trees to fragments.

When the nine-headed monster had hidden his princess safely inside he grabbed his crescent-bladed halberd and went for Pig in the front of the living quarters of the palace, shouting, “Bloody idiot! Swine! How dare you terrorize my family?”

“Thieving devil,” retorted Pig. “How dared you capture me? This was none of my fight till you brought me into it. Give the treasure back at once for me to take back to the king and that'll be that. Otherwise every last member of your family will be killed.” The demon was in no mood for kindness: he ground his teeth and started fighting Pig. Only then did the ancient dragon calm down enough to lead his dragon sons and grandsons to surround and attack Pig with their spears and swords. Seeing that things were going badly for him Pig feinted and fled, followed by the ancient dragon and his host. A moment later he shot up through the water and they all surfaced at the top of the pool.

Monkey, who had been waiting on the bank, suddenly saw them coming out of the water after Pig, so he put one foot on a cloud and brought out his iron cudgel with a shout of, “Stay where you are.” His first blow smashed the ancient dragon king to pulp. It was a terrible sight: his corpse and the scales that had come off it floated on the surface of the pool, which turned red with his gore. His sons and grandsons all fled for their lives in terror, while Prince Ninehead took the body back to the underwater palace.

Brother Monkey and Pig did not pursue them but went back to the bank to discuss what had happened. “I've knocked a bit of the stuffing out of him,” said Pig. “I went charging in with my rake and smashed everything to smithereens. They were all scared witless. I was just fighting the prince when the ancient dragon king went for me. Thanks for killing him. Now those bastards have gone back they'll be too busy with mourning and the funeral to come out again. Besides it's getting late now. What are we going to do?”

“Never mind about it being late,” replied Monkey. “This is our chance. Get back down there and attack again. You must get the treasure so that we can go back to court.” The idiot was feeling lazy so he made all sorts of excuses to get out of going down again, but Monkey insisted: “Don't worry so, brother. Just draw him out again as you did just now and I'll kill him.”

As the two of them were talking they heard the roar of a mighty wind as dark and gloomy clouds came from the East, heading South. When Monkey took a closer look he saw that it was the Illustrious Sage Erlang with the Six Brothers of Plum Hill. They had falcons and hounds and were carrying foxes, hares, water-deer and deer that they had killed. All of them had bows and crossbows at their waists and were carrying sharp swords as they arrived on their wind and clouds.

“Pig,” said Monkey, “here come my seven-sage-sworn brothers. Let's stop them and ask them to help us in this fight. This will really stack the odds in our favour.”

“If they're your sworn brothers they owe you that,” said Pig.

“The only trouble is that the eldest of them, the Illustrious Sage, once made me surrender, so I feel too embarrassed to face him,” said Monkey. “I'd like you to go up, stop the clouds and say, 'Wait a moment please, True Lord. The Great Sage Equaling Heaven would like to pay his respects.' I'm sure he'll stop then. I can only face him after he's landed.”

The idiot then shot up on his cloud to the top of the mountain to stop Erlang. “True Lord,” he shouted at the top of his voice, “could you slow down for a moment? The Great Sage Equaling Heaven would like to see you.” On hearing this Lord Erlang ordered the six brothers to stop and exchanged polite salutations with Pig.

“Where is the Great Sage Equaling Heaven?” he asked.

“Awaiting your summons at the foot of the mountain,” Pig replied.

“Brothers,” said Erlang, “go and ask him up at once.”

The six brothers Kang, Zhang, Yao, Li, Guo and Zhi all came out of their camps and said, “Great Sage, our eldest brother has sent us with an invitation for you.”

Monkey went forward, paid his respects to them, then accompanied them to the top of the mountain, where Lord Erlang received him, took him by the hand and returned his courtesies.

“Great Sage,” he said, “allow me to congratulate you on being rescued from your terrible sufferings and being converted to the Buddhist faith. Soon you will have succeeded and will be sitting on your lotus throne.”

“I don't deserve your congratulations,” Monkey replied. “I am under enormous obligations that I've hardly begun to repay. I've been rescued and am heading West, but it's too soon to say whether we'll succeed. As we agreed to rescue some monks from disaster in the kingdom of Jisai we are here to capture a demon and demand the return of a treasure. Seeing that you are passing this way, eldest brother, I wonder if I could persuade you to stay and help us. May I ask where you have come from and whether you'd be willing to help?”

“I'm just on my way home from a hunting trip with my brothers because I had nothing to do,” Erlang replied. “I'm grateful to you, Great Sage, for asking me to stay out of consideration for our old friendship. Of course I'll help subdue a demon if that is what you wish. What kind of demons are there here?”

“Have you forgotten?” the six brothers asked. “This is the Ragged Rock Mountain, and below it is the Green Wave Pool, the Infinitely Sage Dragon's palace.”

“The Infinitely Sage Ancient Dragon is no trouble-maker,” said Erlang with astonishment. “How could he have robbed the pagoda?”

“Recently he's had a son-in-law living with him,” Monkey replied, “a nine-headed monster turned spirit. He plotted it all with his father-in-law. They made it rain blood on Jisai then stole the sacred Buddha relic from the top of the pagoda in the Golden Light Monastery. The king in his ignorance had the monks arrested and tortured. I captured two of their underlings in the pagoda who'd been sent out on patrol when my master in his mercy swept it out one night, and they confessed everything in the palace this morning. When the king asked our master to capture these monsters we two were sent here. In the first fight the nine-headed monster grew another head that shot out from his waist and carried Pig off. I had to transform myself to go into the water and rescue him. Then there was another big fight in which I killed the ancient dragon king. The swine have recovered the body and are now in mourning. We two were just discussing how to draw them into battle again when we saw you arriving. That's why I have had the effrontery to ask to see you.”

“As you've killed the ancient dragon king you'll have to hit them so hard that the monster won't know what to do,” Erlang replied. “Then you can clean up the whole den of them.”

“Yes,” said Pig, “but it's late now.”

“There's a soldier's saying that you should never put off an attack,” Erlang replied. “It doesn't matter that it's late.”

“Don't be so impatient brother,” said Kang, Yao, Quo and Zhi. “The demon's family is here, so we don't think he'll run away. Brother Monkey is a distinguished guest, and Iron-haired Pig has been converted too. We have wine and good food in our camp. Why don't we tell the little ones to light the stove and set out a banquet here? It would be a way of congratulating them and a chance to talk at the same time. After a good night's feasting there'll be plenty of time for the battle tomorrow.”

Erlang was very pleased with the suggestion: “An excellent idea, brothers.” The underlings were then ordered to set out the banquet.

“We couldn't possibly refuse you gentlemen's generous invitation,” Monkey replied. “But now we're monks we may only eat vegetarian food. We can't eat meat.”

“We have vegetarian food in plenty,” Erlang replied, “and monastic wine too.” All the brothers then drank and talked of the old days under the light of the moon and the stars; when the sky was their canopy and the earth their mats.

How true it is that the night is long in loneliness and short in pleasure. Soon the East started to become light and Pig, feeling very cheerful and energetic after a few drinks, said, “It's getting light. I'm going down to challenge them to battle.”

“Be careful, Marshal,” said Erlang. “Just lure him out for my brothers and me to deal with.”

“I understand,” grinned Pig, “I understand.” Watch as he tucks up his clothes, grabs his rake, makes water-dividing magic, jumps in, goes straight to the archway, and charges into the palace with a great war-cry.

The dragon sons were wearing the hempen clothes of mourning as they watched and wept over the dragon's body while the dragon grandsons and the prince were preparing the coffin at the back. Then in came Pig, roaring abuse at them. He landed a terrible blow from his rake that made nine holes in a dragon son's head. The dragon's widow fled inside in terror with the rest of them.

“The long-snouted monk's killed my son now,” she howled, and on hearing this the prince led the dragon grandsons out to fight, wielding his crescent-bladed halberd. Pig raised his rake to parry the halberd and fought a fighting retreat till he jumped out of the water. The Great Sage Equaling Heaven and the seven sworn brothers all leapt into the fray, thrusting furiously with sword and spear. One of the dragon grandsons was chopped up into mincemeat.

Seeing that things were going badly the prince rolled in front of the mountain, turned back into himself, spread his wings, and started circling around. Erlang then took his golden bow, fixed a silver pellet to it pulled it to its full extent, and fired it in the air. The monster pulled in its wings and swooped down to bite Erlang with the head that shot out from its waist. Erlang's slim dog leapt up, barked, and bit off the head, which dripped blood. The monster fled for his life in great pain, heading straight back for the Northern Sea. Pig wanted to go after him but Monkey stopped him.

“Don't chase him,” he said. “Never corner a defeated enemy. Now the dog's bitten that head off I'm sure he'll be more dead than alive. I'm going to turn myself into his double. I want you to part the waters and chase me in there to find the princess and trick the treasure out of her.”

“You don't have to chase him if you don't want to,” said Erlang and his six sages, “but by letting a creature like that stay alive you are only creating trouble for the future.” The nine-headed gory monsters that are still found today are its descendants.

Pig did as he was told and parted a way through the waters for Monkey, looking just like the monster, to flee with himself in noisy pursuit. They soon reached the dragon palace, where Princess Infinitely Sage asked, “Why are you in such a state, prince?”

“Pig beat me,” Monkey replied, “and chased me in here. I'm no match for him. Hide the treasures somewhere safe.”

Not realizing in her alarm that he was an impostor, she fetched a golden casket from the rear palace that she gave to Monkey with the words: “This is the Buddha relic.” Then she fetched a white jade box that she gave to Monkey saying, “This is the nine-lobed magic fungus. Hide the treasures away where they'll be safe while I fight two or three rounds with him to cover you. When the treasures are safe come and join in the fight.”

Monkey then tucked the treasures into his clothes, rubbed his face, and turned back into himself. “Have a good look, princess,” he said. “Am I really your husband?” As the princess made a desperate grab for the boxes Pig ran up and knocked her to the floor with a blow on the shoulder from his rake.

The ancient dragon's widow was fleeing as Pig grabbed her and raised his rake to smash her. “Stop!” said Monkey. “Don't kill her! Keep her alive for when we go back to announce our victory at court.” Pig then lifted her up out of the water while Monkey followed him to the bank with the two boxes.

“Thanks to your power and prestige, elder brother, we have recovered the treasures and wiped out the thieving devils,” said Monkey.

“That was no credit of ours,” said Erlang. “In the first place the king's good fortune equaled heaven, and in the second you worthy brothers showed your boundless powers.”

The brothers then all said, “As you have now succeeded, Brother Monkey, we shall take our leave of you.” Monkey expressed his thanks profusely and tried to persuade them to go to see the king. None of them agreed, and they led their forces back to Guankou.

Monkey carried the boxes and Pig dragged the dragon wife back to the city in next to no time, travelling by cloud and mist. The liberated monks of the Golden Light Monastery were waiting for them outside the city, and when they saw the two of them suddenly alight from the clouds, they went up and kowtowed, ushering them into the city. The king was then sitting in the main hall of the palace talking with the Tang Priest.

A monk came ahead and took his courage in his hands to go in through the palace gates and report, “Your Majesty, Lords Monkey and Pig are back with one of the thieves and the treasures.” The moment he heard this news the king hurried down from the throne hall to welcome them with the Tang Priest and Friar Sand. He was full of expressions of gratitude for their amazing achievement and he ordered a thanksgiving banquet.

“We don't need any drinks now,” said Sanzang. “We can only feast when my disciples have returned the treasure to the pagoda.” He then asked Monkey why it was that they were only back then as they had left the day before, Monkey then told him all about the battle with the prince, the death of the dragon king, meeting the True Lord Erlang, the defeat of the evil monsters and how he had got the treasures through trickery and transformation. Sanzang, the king and all the civil and military officials were delighted.

“Can the dragon wife talk in human speech?” the king then asked.

“Of course she knows human speech,” Pig replied. “She was married to a dragon and had a lot of dragon sons and grandsons.”

“In that case,” said the king, “she'd better tell us the whole story of their crimes.”

“I don't know anything about the theft of the Buddha relic,” she said. “That was all done by that husband of mine, the dragon who's a ghost now, and our son-in-law the nine-headed monster. They knew that the light from your pagoda came from the Buddha relic that they stole under cover of the blood rain.”

When asked how the magic fungus was stolen she answered, “My daughter the Infinitely Sage Princess sneaked into the Daluo Heaven and stole the Queen Mother's nine-lobed magic fungus from in front of the Hall of Miraculous Mist. The magic vapors of the fungus have nourished the relic, which will now be indestructible and shine for tens of thousands of years. Even if it's buried or put in a field it will give out thousands of beams of coloured light and auspicious vapors the moment it's brushed. You have now taken it back and killed my husband, all my sons, my son-in-law and my daughter. Please spare my life.”

“There'll be no mercy for you,” Pig replied.

“There's no such thing as a family that's all criminal,” said Monkey. “I'll spare your life on one condition: you look after the pagoda for me for ever.”

“A poor life is better than a good death,” the dragon wife replied. “Spare my life and I'll do whatever you want.” Monkey sent for an iron chain that was fetched by one of the aides.

He put it through the dragon wife's collarbone and said to Friar Sand, “Please ask the king to come and watch the treasures being put back in the pagoda.”

The king then had his carriage prepared and left the court hand-in-hand with Sanzang, accompanied by the civil and military officials. He went to the Golden Light Monastery and climbed the pagoda, where the relic was placed in a precious vase on the thirteenth floor just under the roof. The dragon wife was chained to the central column of the pagoda. Spells were then said to summon the local deities and city gods of the capital and the Guardians of the monastery, who were ordered to bring the dragon wife food and drink once every three days to keep her alive. If she tried any tricks they were to execute her on the spot. The gods all secretly accepted their orders. Brother Monkey used the magic fungus to sweep out the thirteen stories of the pagoda one by one, then put it in the vase to look after the relic. Then and only then did the pagoda shine anew with coloured light and an auspicious glow that could be seen from all directions and admired by the countries all around.

When they came down out of the pagoda the king thanked them with the words, “If you, venerable Buddha, and your three Bodhisattvas had not come here this matter would never have been cleared up.”

“Your Majesty,” Monkey said, “Golden Light is not a good name as it's not something permanent. Gold can melt and light is only shining vapor. As we monks have gone to some trouble on your behalf we would like to change the name to Subdued Dragon Monastery. This will ensure that you live for ever.” The king ordered that the name be changed and a new board hung up that read.

NATION-PROTECTING

SUBDUED DRAGON MONASTERY

FOUNDED BY ROYAL COMMAND

He then commanded that a banquet be laid on and sent for painters to paint portraits of the four of them. Their names were recorded in the Tower of Five Phoenixes. The king then had his carriage brought out to see the Tang Priest and his disciples on their way. He tried to give them gold and jewels, but they firmly refused to accept anything. Indeed:

Evil had been wiped out;

Now calmness once more reigned.

Sunshine had been brought back,

The pagoda's light regained.

If you don't know what happened on the journey ahead listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 64

Wuneng Works Hard on Thorn Ridge

Sanzang Talks of Poetry in the Wood Immortals' Hermitage

The story has been told how the king of Jisai thanked Tang Sanzang and his three disciples for capturing the demons and pressed on them gold and jade, none of which they would accept. The king therefore told his aides to have made for each of them two suits of clothing like those they were wearing, two pairs of socks, two pairs of shoes and two belts. They were also provided with dry rations, and their passport was duly examined and returned. They were seen out of the city by a procession of carriages, the civil and military officials, the common people of the city and the monks of the Subdued Dragon Monastery. There was also loud music. After six or seven miles they took their leave of the king, to be accompanied for a further six or seven miles by everyone else. Then all the others turned back except the monks of the Subdued Dragon Monastery, who were still with them after twenty miles. Some of the monks wanted to accompany them to the Western Heaven and the others wanted to cultivate their conduct and wait on them.

Seeing that none of them was willing to turn back Monkey decided to use his powers. He pulled out thirty or forty of his hairs, blew on them with magic breath, shouted, “Change!” and turned them into ferocious striped tigers that leapt roaring about on the path ahead. Only then were the monks scared into going back. The Great Sage then led the master as he whipped his horse forward and they were soon far away.

At this the monks began to weep aloud, shouting, “Kind and honorable sirs, fate must be against us since you won't take us with you.”

Let us tell not of the wailing monks but of how the master and his three disciples headed along the main path West for a while before Monkey took his hairs back. Once again the seasons were changing, and it was now the end of winter and the beginning of spring, neither hot nor cold. As they were making their way along without a care they saw a long ridge in front of them over which the road led. Sanzang reined in his horse to look. He saw that the ridge was overgrown with brambles and creepers. Although the line of the path could be made out there were brambles and thorns all over it. “How are we going to manage that path, disciples?” he asked.

“No problem,” Monkey replied.

“But, disciple, the path is covered with thorns. We could only manage it by crawling on our bellies like snakes or insects. Your backs will be bent with walking, and I'll never be able to ride the horse.”

“There's nothing to worry about, Master,” Pig replied. “I'll clear the thorns away with my rake. It'll be just like gathering up kindling for the fire. Never mind about riding your horse-I promise we could even get up there in a carrying-chair.”

“You are very strong,” the Tang Priest replied, “but it is a long way and it will be hard. I don't know where you'll find the energy to do that distance: goodness only knows how far it is.”

“There's no need to guess,” said Monkey. “I'll go and have a look.” When he jumped up into the air he saw it stretching away endlessly. Indeed:

Vast was its size;

It was covered in mist and rain.

Soft was the carpet of grass on the path;

The mountain was covered in brilliant green.

New leaves were sprouting in dense abundance,

Fragrant creepers climbed all around.

When seen from afar no end was in sight;

From close to it seemed a mass of verdant cloud,

Luxuriant, mysterious and green.

The winds soughed everywhere

As the ridge shone bright in the sunshine.

There was pine and cypress and bamboo,

Many a plum and willow, and mulberry too.

Climbing figs coiled round ancient trees,

While creepers entwined the weeping poplars,

All twisted together like a frame,

Woven together in a bed.

Here the flowers made living brocade;

Far spread the scent of boundless blossom.

Everyone's life has brambles and thorns.

But none are as tall as those in the West.

Having looked for a long time, Monkey brought his cloud down and said, “Master, it's a very long way.”

“How far?” Sanzang asked.

“I can't see any end to it,” Monkey replied. “There must be at least three hundred miles of it.”

“That's terrible,” said Sanzang.

“Don't be miserable, Master,” said Friar Sand with a laugh. “We know how to burn undergrowth. Set fire to it with a torch and all the thorns will be burned away. Then we'll be able to cross.”

“Don't talk nonsense,” Pig replied. “You can only clear the ground that way in November or later when the grass has withered and there are dead trees. The fire won't take otherwise. It'd never burn now, when everything's growing.”

“Even if it did burn it would be terrifying,” said Monkey.

“Then how are we to get across?” Sanzang asked.

“You'll just have to depend on me,” said Pig with a grin.

The splendid idiot made a spell with his hands and said the words of it, leaned forward, and said, “Grow!” He grew two hundred feet tall, then waved the rake and shouted. “Change!” It became three hundred feet long. Then he strode forward and wielded the rake two-handed to clear the undergrowth from both sides of the path. “Come with me, Master,” he said. Sanzang was delighted to whip the horse along and follow close behind while Friar Sand carried the luggage and Monkey used his cudgel to help clear the way. They did not let their hands rest for a moment all day long, and they had covered over thirty miles when near nightfall they came to an empty stretch of ground where a stone tablet stood in the middle of the path.

On the tablet the words THORN RIDGE were written large, and under them two lines of smaller writing read, “Two hundred and fifty miles of rampant thorns; few travelers have ever taken this road.”

When Pig saw this he said with a laugh, “Let me add a couple more lines to that: 'Pig has always been good at removing thorns; he's cleared the roads right to the West.'“ Sanzang then dismounted in a very good mood.

“Disciples,” he said, “I've put you to a lot of trouble. Let's stop here for the night and carry on at first light tomorrow.”

“Don't stop now, Master,” said Pig with a smile. “It's a clear sky and we're in the mood. It's all right if we carry on all bloody night.” The venerable elder had to accept his suggestion.

While Pig was working so hard in the lead all four of them pressed ahead without stopping for the night and another day until it was evening once more. In front-of them the trees and undergrowth were densely tangled and the wind could be heard rustling in the bamboos and soughing in the pines. Luckily they came to another patch of empty land where there stood an old temple outside whose gates pine and cypress formed a solid green shade, while peach and plum trees rivaled each other in beauty. Sanzang then dismounted and went with his three disciples to examine it. This is what they saw:

Before the cliff an ancient shrine stood by a cold stream;

Desolation hung all around the hill.

White cranes in the thickets made the moon seem brighter;

The green moss on the steps had been there for years.

The rustle of green bamboo seemed like human speech;

The remaining calls of the birds seemed expressions of grief.

Dogs and hens never came, and few human souls;

Wild flowers and plants grew all over the wall.

“This place strikes me as very sinister,” said Monkey. “Let's not stay here long.”

“You're being overcautious, brother,” remarked Friar Sand. “As this is deserted and I don't think there are any monsters, wild beasts or fiends, there's nothing to be afraid of.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than there was a gust of sinister wind and an old man emerged from the temple gateway. He wore a turban, a pale-coloured gown and grass sandals, and he held a crooked stick. He was accompanied by a devil servant with a blue face, terrible fangs, red whiskers and a red body who was carrying on his head a tray of cakes.

“Great Sage,” said the old man as they both knelt down, “I am the local god of Thorn Ridge. As I knew you were coming but had nothing better to offer you I have prepared this tray of steamed cakes for your master. Do all have some. As there are no other houses for hundreds of miles I hope you will accept a few to stave off the pangs of hunger.”

This was just what Pig wanted to hear: he went up and was just stretching out his hands to take a cake when Monkey, who had been taking a long, hard look at all this, shouted, “Stop! He's evil! Behave yourself!” He was now addressing the local god.

“You're no local god, trying to fool me like that. Take this!”

Seeing the ferocity of his attack, the local god turned round and transformed himself into a howling gust of negative wind that carried the venerable elder flying off through the air. Nobody knew where he had been taken. The Great Sage was desperate because he did not know where to look for the master, while Pig and Friar Sand stared at each other, pale with shock. Even the white horse was whinnying with fright. The three brother disciples and the horse were in utter confusion. They looked all around as far as they could see but without finding him.

We will not describe their search but tell how the old man and his devil servant carried Sanzang to a stone house that was wreathed in mist and gently set him down. Holding him by the hand and supporting him the old man said, “Don't be afraid, holy monk. We aren't bad people. I am the Eighteenth Lord of Thorn Ridge. I have asked you here on this cool, clear moonlit night to talk about poetry and pass the time in friendship.” Only then did Sanzang calm down. When he took a careful look around this is what he saw:

From where the banks of cloud set out

Stood a pure house for immortals, a place

To purify the self and refine elixir,

To plant groves of bamboo and grow one's flowers.

Cranes often came to the emerald cliff,

And frogs called in the pool's blue waters.

This was a match for the cinnabar furnace on Mount Tiantai,

And made one think of the sunsets at Mount Huashan.

Forget the vain effort of ploughing the clouds and fishing for the moon;

Here there is admirable privacy and ease.

Sit here for long enough and your mind becomes sea-vast;

The rising moon can be half seen through the gauzy curtains.

As Sanzang was looking around and noticing how brightly the moon and the stars were shining he heard the sound of voices saying, “The Eighteenth Lord has brought the holy monk here.” Sanzang looked up and saw three old men. The nearest one was white-haired and distinguished; the second one's temples had a green gloss and he was full of vigor; and the third had a pure heart and blue-black hair.

Their faces and clothes were all different, and they all came to bow to Sanzang, who returned their courtesy, saying, “I have done nothing to deserve this great affection you are showing for me.”

To this the Eighteenth Lord replied with a smile, “We have long heard, holy monk, of how you have found the Way and we've long been waiting for the good fortune of meeting you that we have enjoyed today. I hope that you will not be grudge the pearls of your wisdom, but will make yourself comfortable, sit and talk. Then we may learn about the true Dhyana teachings.”

“May I ask the titles of the immortals?” Sanzang asked with a bow.

“The one with white hair,” the Eighteenth Lord replied, “is known as the Lone Upright Lord; the one with green temples is Master Emptiness; and the one with a pure heart is the Ancient Cloud-toucher. My title is Energy.”

“How old are you four venerable gentlemen?” Sanzang asked. To this the Lone Upright Lord replied,

“I am already a thousand years old;

I touch the sky and my leaves are always spring.

Elegant are my fragrant branches

Shaped like dragons and snakes;

My shadow is broken into many parts;

My body is covered in snow.

Since childhood I have stood firm and endured;

Now I am happy to cultivate the True.

The birds and phoenixes that perch are not mere mortal ones;

I am free and far from the dust of the normal world.”

Master Emptiness spoke next with a smile:

“I've borne wind and frost for a thousand years,

Strong in my tall body and the vigor of my limbs.

In the still of the night comes the sound of raindrops,

And the shade spreads like a cloud in autumn sunlight.

My gnarled roots have the secret of eternal life;

I have been given the art of never aging.

Storks stay here and dragons, not common creatures:

I am green and full of life, as in immortals' land.”

Then the Ancient Cloud-toucher said with a smile,

“Over a thousand autumns have I passed in emptiness;

Lofty is the view that grows ever purer.

Here there is no commotion, but eternal cool and calm;

I am full of spirit and have seen much frost and snow.

The seven worthies come to talk about the Way;

I sing and drink with my friends, the six men of leisure.

Lightly beating the jade and the gold

My nature is one with heaven; I roam with immortals.”

Then Energy, the Eighteenth Lord, smiled as he said,

“My age is also over a thousand,

I am hoary, pure and natural.

Rain and dew give admirable vigor;

I borrow the creative power of heaven and earth.

Alone I flourish in ravines of wind and mist,

Relaxed and at my ease through all four seasons.

Under my green shade immortals stay

For chess and music and books on the Way.”

“All four of you immortals have lived to most advanced ages.” Sanzang said, “and the old gentleman Energy is over a thousand. You are ancient, you have found the Way, you are elegant and you are pure. Are you not the Four Brilliant Ones of Han times?”

“You flatter us too much,” said the four old men. “We're not the Four Brilliant Ones: we're the four from deep in the mountains. May we ask, worthy monk, what your illustrious age is?” Sanzang put his hands together and replied,

“Forty years ago I left my mother's womb,

Fated to disaster since before my birth.

Escaping with my life I floated in the waves

Until I reached Jinshan where I renewed my body.

I nourished my nature and studied the sutras,

Sincere in worship of the Buddha, not wasting time.

Now that His Majesty has sent me to the West,

I am deeply honoured by you ancient immortals.”

The four ancients then praised him, saying, “Holy monk, you have followed the Buddha's teaching since you left your mother's womb. By cultivating your conduct from childhood you have become a lofty monk who has found the Way. We are very happy to see you and would like to ask you to teach us. Could you possibly tell us the rudiments of the Dhyana dharma? It would be a great comfort to us.” When the venerable elder heard this he was not at all alarmed, and this is what he said to them:

“Dhyana is silence; the dharma is that which saves. Silent salvation can only come through enlightenment. Enlightenment is washing the mind and cleansing it of care, casting off the vulgar and leaving worldly dust. Human life is hard to obtain; it is hard to be born in the central lands; and the true dharma is hard to find. There is no greater good fortune than to have all three. The wonderful Way of perfect virtue is subtle and imperceptible. Only with it can the six sense-organs and the six forms of consciousness be swept away. Wisdom is this: there is no death and no life, no excess and no deficiency, emptiness and matter are all included, holy and secular both dismissed. It has mastered the tools of the Taoist faith and is aware of the methods of Sakyamuni. It casts the net of phenomena and smashes nirvana. Perception within perception is needed, enlightenment within enlightenment, then a dot of sacred light will protect everything. Light the raging fire to illuminate the Saha realm; it alone is revealed throughout the dharma world. Being utterly subtle it is firmer than ever: who crosses the pass of mystery through verbal persuasion? From the beginning I cultivated the Dhyana of great awareness: I was fated and determined to attain enlightenment.”

The four elders listened with cocked ears and were filled with boundless joy. Each of them kowtowed and was converted to the truth, saying with bows of gratitude, “Holy monk, you are the very root of the enlightenment to be found through Dhyana meditation.”

The Ancient Cloud-toucher said, “Dhyana may be silence, and the dharma may well save, but it is necessary for the nature to be settled and the mind sincere. If one is a true immortal of great awareness one has to sit in the Way of no-life. Our mysteries are very different.”

“The Way is not fixed; its form and function are one. How is yours different?” Sanzang asked. To this the Ancient Cloud-toucher replied with a smile:

“We have been firm from birth: our forms and functions are different from yours. We were born in response to heaven and earth and grew through the rain and the dew. Proudly we laugh at wind and frost; we wear out the days and nights. Not one leaf withers, and all our branches are full of firm resolve. What I say has no emptiness about it, but you cling to your Sanskrit. The Way was China's in the first place and only later looked for more evidence in the West. You are wearing out your straw sandals for nothing: you don't know what you are looking for. You are like a stone lion cutting out its own heart, or a fox salivating so hard it digests the marrow of its own bones. If in your meditation you forget your roots you will pursue the Buddha's reward in vain. Your words are as tangled as the brambles on our Thorn Ridge and as confused as the creepers. How can we accept a gentleman such as you? How can one like you be approved and taught? You must reexamine your present state and find a life of freedom in stillness. Only then can you learn to raise water in a bottomless basket, and make the rootless iron-tree flower. On the peak of the Miraculous Treasure my feet stand firm; I return to the assembly at Longhua.

When Sanzang heard this he kowtowed in thanks, and the Eighteenth Lord and the Lone Upright Lord helped him back to his feet, Master Emptiness said with a chuckle, “Cloud-toucher's remarks revealed things a little too clearly. Please get up, holy monk: you don't have to believe every word of it. We didn't intend to use the light of the moon for serious discussions. We should chant poems, feel free, and let ourselves relax.”

“If we're going to recite poems,” said Cloud-toucher with a smile, pointing towards the stone house, “why don't we go into the hermitage and drink some tea?”

Sanzang answered with a bow and went over to look at the hermitage, above which was written in large letters TREE IMMORTALS' HERMITAGE. They all then went inside and decided where to sit, whereupon the red devil servant appeared with a tray of China-root cakes and five bowls of fragrant tea. The four old men urged Sanzang to eat some cakes, but he was too suspicious to do so, and would not take any till the four old men had all eaten some: only then did he eat a couple. After they had drunk some tea it was cleared away. Sanzang then stole a careful look around and saw that everything was of a delicate and intricate beauty in the moonlight:

Where waters flowed beside the rocks,

And fragrant scents from the flowers curled,

The scene was one of cultured peace,

Free from the dust of a lower world.

Sanzang took great pleasure in gazing on this sight: he felt happy, relaxed and exhilarated. He found himself saying a line of poetry: “The dhyana heart revolves in moonlike purity.”

The couplet was completed by Energy, who said with a smile: “Poetic inspiration is fresher than the sky.”

To this Lone Upright added: “By grafting on each line embroidery grows.”

Then Emptiness said: “Pearls come when naturally the writing flows.”

Cloud-toucher continued: “The glory is now over: Six Dynasties disappear. The Songs are redivided to make distinctions clear.”

“I shouldn't have let those silly words slip out just now,” said Sanzang, “I was only rambling. Really, I am a beginner trying to show off in front of experts. Having heard you immortals talk in that fresh and free-ranging way I now know that you old gentlemen are true poets.”

“Don't waste time in idle chat,” said Energy. “A monk should take things through to the end. You started the verse, so why don't you finish it? Please do so at once.”

“I can't,” Sanzang replied. “It would be much better if you completed it for me, Eighteenth Lord.”

“That's very nice of you, I must say!” commented Energy. “You started the verse so you can't refuse to finish it. It's wrong to be so stingy with your pearls.” Sanzang then had no choice but to add a final couplet:

“Waiting for the tea lying pillowed in the breeze,

Spring is in the voice now that the heart's at ease.”

“I like 'Spring is in the voice now that the heart's at ease,'“ said the Eighteenth Lord.

To this Lone Upright replied, “Energy, you have a deep understanding of poetry, and spend all your time savoring its delights. Why don't you compose another poem for us?”

The Eighteenth Lord generously did not refuse. “Very well then,” he replied, “let's make up chain couplets. Each person has to start his couplet with the last word of the couplet before. I'll lead off:

Without spring's glory there would be no winter's death;

Clouds come and mists depart as if existing not.”

“Let me tack another couple more lines on,” Master Emptiness said.

“Not any breath of wind to rock the spreading shade;

Visitors enjoy the Wealth and Long Life picture.”

Cloud-toucher now joined in with his couplet:

“Picture it like the strong old man of the Western hills,

Pure as the hermit of the South, the heartless man.”

Lone Upright added his two lines:

“The man is a roof-beam as he has side-leaves

To build the office of the censorate.”

When Sanzang heard all this he could only sigh and say, “Indeed, your superb poems have a noble spirit that rises up to the heavens. Despite my lack of talent I would like to add a couplet to that.”

“Holy monk,” said Lone Upright, “you are one who has found the Way and a man of great cultivation. You need not add another couplet. Instead you can give us a whole verse so that we can try as best we can to match the rhyme pattern.” Sanzang had no choice but to recite the following regulated verse with a smile:

“Travelling West with my staff to visit the Dharma King

I seek the wonderful scriptures to spread them far and wide.

The golden magic fungus blesses the poetry circle;

Under the trees is the scent of a thousand flowers.

One must go higher from the top of a hundred-foot pole,

Leaving one's traces in ten regions' worlds.

Cultivate the jade image and majestic body:

Before the gate of bliss is the monastery.”

When the four old men had heard this they were full of high praise for it. “Although I'm stupid and untalented,” the Eighteenth Lord said, “I'll take my courage in both hands and try to match your rhymes:

Vigorous and proud, I smile as king of the trees:

Not ever the tree of heaven can match my fame.

A dragon and snake shadow for a thousand feet in the mountains;

The spring has flowed for a thousand years with its amber fragrance.

My spirit is at one with heaven and earth:

I gladly cover my traces in the wind and rain.

Now I am old I regret having no immortal bones

And rely on China-root alone to maintain my years.”

“That poem started off heroically, and the next couplet had some strength,” said the Lone Upright Lord. “But the last line was too modest. Admirable! Most admirable! Let me try rhyming one too:

“I happily give a perch in the frost to the king of the birds;

My talent is displayed before the Hall of Four Perfections.

The pearly tassels of heavy dew obscure the green carpet;

In the light breeze stone teeth crush chilly fragrance.

A delicate voice intones in the corridor at night;

Pale autumn shadows are put away in the ancient hall.

I used to be offered for long life at the New Year;

In old age I stand proudly on the mountain.”

“What a fine poem, what a fine poem,” said Master Emptiness. “Truly, the moon was working together with heaven to write it. How could such a clumsy fool as I am hope to match its rhymes? But I must try to patch a few lines together: I don't want to waste this chance:”

“The timber of roofbeams is close to kings;

Its fame is spread in the Palace of Great Purity.

The sunlit hall seems filled with azure blue;

Green fragrance always pervades the dark wall.

Strong, cold and ancient in my beauty,

My roots go down to the Underworld's nine springs.

My spreading shade gives cover like cold clouds.

I don't compete in prettiness with flowers.”

“You three gentlemen's poems,” said Cloud-toucher, “are elegant and pure, like a whole sackful of embroidery and brocades being opened out. Although I have neither strength nor talent you three gentlemen have removed the block for me. If you insist I'll put a few lines of doggerel together. I hope they won't make you laugh:

In the bamboo grove I delight wise kings;

A hundred acres of me by the Wei brings fame.

My green skin is naturally marked by the tears of the Xiang Goddess;

My scaly shoots pass on the scent of history.

My leaves will never change their color in frost;

The beauty of my misty twigs can never be concealed.

Few have understood me since the death of Wang Huizhi;

Since ancient times I have been known through brush and ink.

“You venerable immortals have all composed poems like phoenixes breathing out pearls,” Sanzang said. “There is nothing I can add. I am deeply moved by the great favour you have shown me. But it is late now and I do not know where my three disciples are waiting for me. I cannot stay any longer, and I must start finding my way back. I am profoundly grateful for your boundless love. Could you show me my way back?”

“Don't be so worried, holy monk,” replied the four ancients, laughing. “An encounter like this is rare in a thousand years. The sky is fresh and clear, and the moon makes the night as bright as day. Relax and sit here for a little longer. At dawn we shall see you across the ridge. You will certainly meet your distinguished disciples.”

As they were talking in came two serving maids in blue, each carrying a lantern of crimson silk. Behind them followed a fairy who was holding a sprig of apricot blossom as she greeted them with a smile. What did the fairy look like?

Her hair had the green of jade,

Her face was pinker than rouge.

Her starry eyes were full of light and color;

Her elegant eyebrows were like moth antennae.

She wore a red skirt with plum-blossom designs;

And a light jacket of gray shot with red.

Her curved shoes were shaped like phoenix beaks,

And her silk stockings were marked with mud.

This witch was as lovely as the woman on Tiantai,

No less a beauty than the Zhou king's concubine.

“To what do we owe the pleasure of your visit, Apricot Fairy?” the old man asked as they bowed to her.

Returning their bows she replied, “I hear that you have a distinguished guest here and are exchanging poems with him. May I meet him?”

“Here he is,” said the Eighteenth Lord, pointing him out. “You don't need to ask.” Sanzang bowed to her but dared say nothing.

“Bring in the tea at once,” she said. Two more serving girls in yellow, carried in a red lacquer tray on which were six fine porcelain tea-bowls with rare fruits in them and spoons lying across the top, as well as a copper-inlaid iron teapot in which was hot and fragrant tea. When the tea had been poured the woman showed glimpses of finger as delicate as spring onion shoots as she presented the porcelain bowls of it first to Sanzang and then to the four ancients. The last cup she kept for herself.

Only when Master Emptiness invited the Apricot Fairy to sit down did she do so. After they had drunk the tea she leant forward and said, “As you ancient immortals have been having so delightful an evening could you tell me some of the choicest lines you've composed?”

“Our stuff was just vulgar rubbish,” Cloud-toucher replied. “But this holy monk's verses were truly superb examples of high Tang poetry.”

“Please let me hear them if you will,” the fairy said, whereupon the four ancients recited Sanzang's two poems and his exposition of the Dhyana dharma. The woman, whose face was all smiles, then said, “I'm completely untalented and shouldn't really be making a fool of myself like this, but hearing this wonderful lines is an opportunity too good to waste. Could I cobble together a verse in the second rhyme pattern?” She then recited these lines:

The Han Emperor Wu first made my name;

In Zhou times Confucius taught under my shade.

Dong Feng loved me so much he planted a wood of me;

Sun Chu once offered my jelly in sacrifice.

Soft is my pink and rain-fed beauty;

The misty green is shown and yet concealed.

When over-ripe I have a touch of sourness;

Each year I fall beside the fields of wheat.”

When the four ancients heard the poem they were all full of admiration for it. “How elegant it is,” they said, “and how free of worldly dust. At the same time the lines have something of the awakening of spring in them. 'Soft is my pink and rain-fed beauty.' That's good. 'Soft is my pink and rain-fed beauty.'”

“You're too kind-it quite alarms me,” she replied. “The holy monk's lines that I heard just now were like brocade from the heart or embroidery in words. Could you be generous with your pearls and teach me one of those verses?” The Tang Priest dared not reply.

The woman was evidently falling for him and moving closer and closer, pressing herself against him and whispering to him, “Noble guest, let's make the most of this wonderful night for love. What are we waiting for? Life is short.”

“The Apricot Fairy admires you completely, holy monk,” said the Eighteenth Lord. “You must feel something for her. If you don't find her adorable you have very poor taste.”

“The holy monk is a famous gentleman who has found the Way,” said the Lone Upright Lord, “and he wouldn't possibly act in a way that was at all improper. It would be quite wrong of us to do things like that. To ruin his reputation and honour would be a very mean thing to do. If the Apricot Fairy is willing Cloud-toucher and the Eighteenth Lord can act as matchmakers while Master Emptiness and I act as the guarantors of the wedding. It would be excellent if they married.”

Hearing this Sanzang turned pale with horror, jumped to his feet and shouted at the top of his voice, “You're all monsters, trying to lead me astray like that. There was nothing wrong with talking about the mysteries of the Way with well-honed arguments, but it's disgraceful of you to try to ruin a monk like me by using a woman as a bait.” Seeing how angry Sanzang was they all bit their fingers in fear and said nothing more.

But the red devil servant exploded with thunderous fury, “You don't know how honoured you're being, monk. What's wrong with my sister? She's beautiful and charming. Her needlework aside, her gift for poetry alone would make her more than a match for you. What do you mean, trying to turn her down? You're making a terrible mistake. The Lone Upright Lord's idea was quite right. If you're not prepared to sleep with her on the quiet I'll marry the two of you properly.”

Sanzang went paler still with shock. None of their arguments, however outrageous, had the slightest impact on him. “We've been talking to you very nicely, monk,” the devil servant said, “but you don't pay the slightest attention. If we lose our tempers and start our rough, country way of doing things we'll drag you off and see to it that you can never be a monk any longer or ever marry a wife. After that your life will be pointless.”

The venerable elder's heart remained as hard as metal or stone and he obdurately refused to do as they asked, wondering all the time where his disciples were looking for him. At the thought his tears flowed unquenchably. Smiling and sitting down next to him the woman produced a silk handkerchief from her emerald sleeve with which she wiped away his tears.

“Don't be so upset, noble guest,” She said. “You and I are going to taste the pleasures of love.” Sanzang jumped up and shouted at her to go away and would have left at once if they had not held him there by force. The row went on till daybreak.

Suddenly Sanzang heard a call of, “Master! Master! We can hear you. Where are you?” Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand had been searching everywhere all night, leading the white horse and carrying the baggage. They had gone through all the thorns and brambles without a moment's rest and by now had reached the Western side of the 250-mile-wide cloud-capped Thorn Ridge, This was the shout they gave when they heard Sanzang's angry yells. Sanzang broke free, rushed outside, and called, “Wukong, I'm here. Help! Help!” The four ancients, the devil servant, the woman and her maids all disappeared in a flash.

A moment later Pig and Friar Sand were there too. “How ever did you get here, Master?” they asked.

“Disciples,” said Sanzang, clinging to Monkey, “I have put you to a lot of trouble. I was carried here by the old man who appeared last night and said he was a local deity bringing us vegetarian food-the one you shouted at and were going to hit. He held my hand and helped me inside that door there, where I saw three old men who had come to meet me. They kept calling me 'holy monk' and talked in a very pure and elegant way. They were marvellous poets, and I matched some verses with them. Then at about midnight a beautiful woman came with lanterns to see me and made up a poem herself. She kept calling me 'noble guest'. She liked the look of me so much she wanted to sleep with me. That brought me to my senses. When I refused they offered to be matchmakers and guarantors, and to marry us. I swore not to agree and was just shouting at them and trying to get away when to my surprise you turned up. Although they were still dragging at my clothes they suddenly disappeared. It must have been because it was dawn and because they were frightened of you too.”

“Did you ask them their names when you were talking about poetry?”

Monkey asked. “Yes,” Sanzang replied, “I asked them their titles. The oldest was Energy, the Eighteenth Lord; the next oldest was the Lone Upright Lord; the third was Master Emptiness; and the fourth the Ancient Cloud-toucher. They called the woman Apricot Fairy.”

“Where are they?” Pig asked, “where've they gone?”

“Where they have gone I don't know,” Sanzang replied, “but where we talked about poetry was near here.”

When the three disciples searched with their master they found a rock-face on which were carved the words “Tree Immortals' Hermitage.”

“This is it,” said Sanzang, and on looking carefully Brother Monkey saw a big juniper, an old cypress, an old pine and an old bamboo. Behind the bamboo was a red maple. When he took another look by the rock-face he saw an old apricot tree, two winter-flowering plums, and two osman-thuses.

“Did you see the evil spirits?” Monkey asked.

“No,” said Pig.

“It's just because you don't realize that those trees have become spirits,” said Monkey.

“How can you tell that the spirits were trees?” Pig asked.

“The Eighteenth lord is the pine,” Monkey replied, “the Lone Upright Lord the cypress, Master Emptiness the juniper and the Ancient Cloud-toucher the bamboo. The maple there was the red devil and the Apricot Fairy that apricot tree.”

When Pig heard this he ruthlessly hit with his rake and rooted with his snout to knock the plum, osmanthus, apricot and maple trees over, and as he did blood flowed from their roots. “Wuneng,” said Sanzang, going up to him to check him, “don't harm any more of them. Although they have become spirits they did me no harm. Let's be on our way again.”

“Don't be sorry for them, Master,” said Monkey. “They'll do people a great deal of harm if we let them develop into big monsters.” With that the idiot let fly with his rake and knocked pine, cypress, juniper ad bamboo all to the ground. Only then did he invite his master to remount and carry along the main route to the West.

If you don't know what happened as they pressed ahead, listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 65

A Demon Creates a False Thunder Peak

All Four Pilgrims Meet with Disaster

The cause and effect this time revealed

Should make one do what's good and shun the evil.

Once a thought is born

The Intelligence is aware of it.

And lets it become action.

Why strive to learn stupidity or skill?

Both are medicines for heartlessness.

Do what is right while you are still alive;

Do not just drift.

Recognize the root and the source,

Escape from the trunk and the husk.

If seeking long life you must grasp this.

Watch clearly at every moment,

Refine your thoughts.

Go through the three passes, fill up the black sea;

The good will surely ride on the phoenix and crane.

Then your gloom will change to compassion

As you ascend to absolute bliss.

Tang Sanzang's thoughts were so pure that not only did the heavenly gods protect him: even the vegetable spirits had taken him along a part of his journey for a night of elegant conversation, thereby saving him from having to go through the thorns and brambles. Nor were there any more creepers to entangle them. As the four of them carried on West for another long period winter ended and spring returned.

All things begin to flower,

The handle of the Dipper returns to the East.

Everywhere the grass is green,

As are the leaves of willows on the bank.

The ridge covered in peach blossom is red brocade;

The mist over the stream is a translucent gauze.

Frequent wind and rain,

Unbounded feeling.

Flowers open their hearts to the sun,

Swallows carry off the delicate moss.

Wang Wei should have painted the beauty of the mountains;

The birdsong is as persuasive as Su Qin's golden tongue.

Though no one sees these fragrant cushions of flowers

The butterflies and singing bees adore them.

Master and disciples made their way across the flowers and the grass ambling along with the horse until they made out in the distance a mountain so high that it touched the sky. Pointing at it with his riding crop Sanzang said, “I wonder how high that mountain is, Wukong. It touches the heavens and pierces the firmament.”

“Isn't there some ancient poem that says, 'Heaven alone is supreme: no mountain can equal its height?'“ Monkey replied. “However high a mountain is it can't possibly join up with the sky.”

“Then why's Mount Kunlun called the pillar of heaven?” Pig asked.

“Evidently you don't know that part of the sky has always been missing in the Northwest,” Brother Monkey replied. “As Kunlun's in the Northwest corner it plugs that hole in the sky. That's why it's called the pillar of heaven.”

“Brother,” said Friar Sand with a smile, “stop telling him all that. He'll brag about it to make himself superior. We'll know how high the mountain is when we've climbed it.”

The idiot started chasing Friar Sand and brawling with him in a playful way, and the master's horse galloped as if on wings. They were soon at the foot of a precipice up which they made their way painfully slowly. This is what the mountain was like:

The wind rustling in the woods,

Water gushing along the beds of ravines.

Crows and sparrows cannot fly across it;

Even gods and immortals find it hard.

Scars and gullies endlessly twisting;

Clouds of dust blowing where no one can go;

Rocks in strange and fascinating shapes.

Clouds like vast expanses of water,

While elsewhere birds sing in the trees.

Deer carry magic fungus in their mouths.

Apes pick peaches.

Foxes and raccoon dogs spring around on the cliffs,

Large and small deer play on the ridge.

Then comes the spine-chilling roar of a tiger,

And the way is blocked by leopards and wolves.

Sanzang was terrified by what he saw, but Monkey's powers were enormous. With his gold-banded cudgel and a mighty roar he sent the wolves, tigers, leopards and other wild beasts running then cleared the way for the master to reach the top of the mountain. Once they were over the summit ridge and had started going down the gentle Western slope they saw divine light and coloured clouds over some imposing buildings from which came the muffled sounds of bells and stone chimes.

“Look and see what that place is, disciples,” said Sanzang. Monkey raised his head, shaded his eyes with his hands, and on careful examination saw that it was a fine place:

Magnificent architecture,

A famous monastery.

The valley of emptiness is full of the earth's vibrations;

Heavenly fragrance pervades the stillness.

Rain in the bluish pines obscures the buildings;

Mist around the green bamboo protects the preaching hall.

Through coloured clouds one can make out the dragon palace;

The infinite worlds are seen in shimmering light.

Red balustrades and doors of marble,

Painted and carved beams.

Incense fills the hall in which the scriptures are taught;

The moon hangs over the window where the mysteries are passed on.

Birds sing in red trees,

Cranes drink from a spring in the rocks.

The flowers as fine as those of the Jetavana;

All the doors open on the brilliance of Sravasti.

Beside the towering buildings the gates face crags;

Slow is the rhythm of the bell and chime.

A light breeze blows into open windows,

And under the rolled-up curtains is a smoky haze.

Among the monks emotions are all calm;

Peace reigns in the absence of worldliness.

A land of immortals unsullied by earth's dust,

This splendid monastery of the pure land.

When he had taken a good look at it Monkey went back to report, “It's a monastery, Master, but for some reason there's something evil about the auspicious dhyana atmosphere. The place looks like the Thunder Monastery but the distance to here is wrong. Whatever we do we mustn't go rushing inside. If we do we may run into something nasty.”

“But if it looks like the Thunder Monastery this must surely be the Vulture Peak,” said the Tang Priest. “Don't try to frustrate my sincerest wish and put off what I've come for.”

“But it isn't vulture peak,” said Monkey. “I've been there several times and this isn't the way.”

“Even if it isn't there must be good people living here,” said Pig.

“Don't be so suspicious,” said Friar Sand. “The road goes straight past the gate, so we can find out at a glance,”

“You're right,” said Monkey.

Whipping on the horse, the venerable elder arrived at the monastery gate, above which the words THUNDER MONASTERY were written.

This came as such a surprise to him that he fell to the ground from the horse, saying abusively, “Wretched macaque! You'll be the death of me. Here we are at the Thunder Monastery and you're still trying to trick me.”

“Don't be angry, Master,” said Monkey with a forced smile. “Take another look. There are three words over the gate. Why did you only read two of them out, then get angry with me?” Still shaking, the master climbed to his feet again for another look and saw that there were in fact three words written there: LESSER THUNDER MONASTERY.

“Even if it is the Lesser Thunder Monastery,” Sanzang said, “there must be a Buddha in here. The three thousand Buddhas of whom the scriptures speak can't all live in the same place, just as the Bodhisattva Guanyin lives in the Southern Sea, Samantabhadra lives on Mount Emei and Manjusri on Mount Wutai. I wonder which Buddha's holy seat this is. As the saying has it,

Wherever there's a Buddha there are scriptures;

Everywhere you go you'll find some treasures.

Let's go in.”

“No, we mustn't,” said Monkey. “This place looks thoroughly sinister. Don't blame me if this leads to disaster.”

“Even if there is not Buddha here there's bound to be a statue of a Buddha, and I am under a vow to worship every Buddha statue I pass,” Sanzang replied. “I won't blame you.” He then told Pig to get out his cassock, put on his mitre, neatened his clothes up and strode forward.

As he did so a voice from inside the gate called out, “Tang Priest, you've come from the East to worship our Buddha, so why are you still being so casual about it?” Sanzang at once started kowtowing, as did Pig while Friar Sand knelt. The Great Sage hung back, holding the horse and looking after the luggage. Once they were inside the inner gates they reached the Buddha Hall, outside of which were drawn up the five hundred arhats, the three thousand protectors, the four vajrapanis, the eight Bodhisattvas, nuns, lay people, and countless holy monks and lay brothers. Everywhere was the scent of flowers and auspicious vapors. The venerable elder, Pig and Friar Sand were all so overwhelmed that they kowtowed at every step until they reached the hall. Monkey alone did not bow.

“Sun Wukong,” came a shrill shout from the throne, “why don't you kowtow when you see the Buddha?” Nobody realized that Monkey had spotted as he took a careful look around that this was all false.

Letting go of the horse and putting down the luggage he shouted as he brandished his cudgel, “Evil beasts! What a nerve! How dare you try to ruin the Buddha's good name by pretending to be him! Stay where you are!” He raised his cudgel in both hands and was just about to strike when a pair of bronze cymbals came out of the sky to join together with a mighty crash, enclosing him completely from head to toe. Pig and Friar Sand grabbed desperately for their rake and staff, only to be so closely surrounded by the arhats, protectors, holy monks and lay brothers that they could not move. They and Sanzang too were all captured and roped up tightly.

Now the Buddha on the lotus throne was a demon king and all the arhats and others his little devils. They now put off their Buddha disguises, so that they looked once more like the evil creatures they really were, and carried the three of them round to the back to be kept under guard while Monkey was sealed inside the cymbals, never to be released. The cymbals were then set on a pedestal, and here he was to be turned to pus and blood within three days and nights, after which the other three were to be steamed in an iron steamer and eaten. Indeed:

The green-eyed macaque saw that it was false;

The dhyana monk worshipped the appearance of the Buddha.

The yellow-wife blindly joined in the prostration,

While the mother of wood foolishly agreed.

The monsters used force to oppress the true nature;

Evilly the demon king mistreated the holy man.

The demon king was greater than the narrow Way;

By taking the wrong course they threw away their lives.

Having locked the Tang Priest and his two disciples away and tied the horse up at the back they put Sanzang's cassock and mitre back into the luggage and stored that away too. They then put everything under a close guard.

Inside the cymbals Monkey found it pitch black and so hot that he was soon pouring with sweat. Push and shove though he might, there was no way he could get out, and when in desperation he hit out wildly all around with his iron cudgel he could not move the cymbals by even a fraction of an inch. Then he made a hand-spell that made him ten thousand feet tall; the cymbals grew with him. There was not a crack anywhere through which a chink of light could get in. He made another hand-spell to make himself smaller and shrank till he was as tiny as a mustard-seed. The cymbals shrank with him, and still there was no hole.

He blew a magic breath on the iron cudgel, said, “Change!” and made it into a flagpole with which to prop the cymbals up. Then he pulled two of the longer hairs from the back of his head, blew on them, said, “Change!” and turned them into a five-part drill with a plum-blossom shaped bit which he turned a thousand times or more. There was a rasping noise but the drill made no impression.

By now he was feeling desperate, so he made another handspell and recited the words, “Om ram peaceful dharma world; eternal keen purity of the heavenly unity.”

This compelled the Five Protectors, the Six Dings, the Six Jias and the Eighteen Guardians of the Faith to gather round the cymbals and say, “Great Sage, we are all protecting your master and keeping the demons from harming him, so why do you call us here?”

“If he dies it serves him right for ignoring my advice,” Monkey replied. “You lot had better find some magic to get these cymbals open at once and have me out of here so I can decide what to do. It's completely dark in here, I'm feeling very hot, and it's so stuffy it'll kill me.” The gods all tried to lift the cymbals, but as before it was impossible to move them by even a fraction of an inch.

“Great Sage,” said the Gold-headed Protector, “goodness only knows what kind of treasure this is, but they're all of a piece from top to bottom. We gods aren't strong enough to move them.”

“And I've lost count of the number of my magic powers I've used here without being able to move them either,” said Monkey. When the Protector heard this he told the Six Dings to look after Monkey and the Six Jias to watch over the cymbals while the guardians kept their eyes on what was happening all around.

He then set off on his beam of auspicious light and a moment later shot in through the Southern Gate of Heaven, where he did not wait to be summoned but rushed straight to the steps of the Hall of Miraculous Brightness to prostrate himself before the Jade Emperor and report, “My sovereign, I am one of the Protectors of the Four Quarters and the Centre. The Great Sage Equaling Heaven who is escorting the Tang Priest on the journey to fetch the scriptures has now reached a mountain with a monastery called the Lesser Thunder Monastery on it. The Tang Priest went in to worship under the illusion that he had reached Vulture Peak, but it turned out that the whole thing was a decoy to trap them. The Great Sage is caught inside a pair of cymbals and can't go anywhere. He's gradually dying. That is what I have come to report.” At once the Jade Emperor ordered that the Twenty-eight Constellations be sent to rescue them and defeat the demons.

Not daring to delay for a moment, the constellations went out through the gate of Heaven with the Protector and were soon inside the monastery. It was now the second of the night's five watches, and all the demons, senior and junior, had gone to sleep after the feast their king had given them to celebrate the Tang priest's capture. Doing nothing to disturb them, the constellations went to the cymbals and reported, “Great Sage, we're the Twenty-eight Constellations. The Jade Emperor has sent us here to rescue you.” The news made Monkey very happy. “Smash them open with your weapons and get me out of here.”

“We don't dare to,” the constellations replied. “This is pure gold and if we hit it the noise would wake the devils up and it would be impossible to rescue you. We'll have to try to work it open with our weapons. The moment you see a chink of light in there, out you come.”

“Yes,” said Monkey. They used their spears, swords, sabers and battle-axes to try to lever, prise, lift, and force it open, but despite all their efforts the third watch came and still they had failed to make the slightest impression on them. It was as if the cymbals had been cast as a single whole. Not a chink of light could Monkey see from inside, no matter how hard he looked and crawled and rolled all around.

Then the Metal Dragon of the constellation Gullet said, “Don't get impatient, Great Sage. This must be an As-You-Will treasure and I'm sure it can be changed. You feel where the cymbals join from the inside. Once I get my horn between them you can turn yourself into something and get out where I've loosened them.” Monkey followed this suggestion and felt frantically around inside. Meanwhile the constellation made himself so small that his horn was no bigger than the point of a needle. He pushed hard with it where the two cymbals joined, and by exerting tremendous pressure he managed to penetrate inside.

He then gave himself a magic body by saying, “Grow! Grow! Grow!” The horn became as thick as a rice-bowl, but the cymbals were more like creatures of skin and flesh than objects cast from metal: they kept their close bite on the Metal Dragon of Gullet's horn, and not a crack appeared anywhere around.

“It's no use,” said Monkey, feeling the constellation's horn, “it's not at all loose anywhere around it. There's nothing for it: you'll have to bear the pain and pull me out.” The splendid Great Sage then changed his gold-banded cudgel into a steel gimlet, bored a hole in the tip of the horn, made himself the size of a mustard seed, crawled into the hole, squatted there, and shouted, “Pull it out.” Only through stupendous efforts did the constellation manage to pull his horn out, which left him so weak and exhausted that he collapsed.

Monkey then crawled out of the hole in the horn again, resumed his own appearance, raised his cudgel and smashed the cymbals apart with a tremendous noise like a copper mountain collapsing. The Buddhist instruments now lay shattered into thousands of fragments of gold. This gave the Twenty-eight Constellations a terrible fright and made the Protectors' hair stand on end. All the devils woke up, and as the demon king was shocked out of his sleep he jumped up, pulled on his clothes and had the drums beaten to muster all the demons with their weapons. By now it was nearly dawn and they all gathered round the throne. On seeing Monkey and the constellations standing in a ring round the fragments of the golden cymbals the demon king went pale from shock and ordered his underlings to shut the front gates and not let them escape.

As soon as Monkey heard this he led the Twenty-eight Constellations to spring up on their clouds till they were above the ninth heaven, while the demon king had the fragments of gold tidied away and drew his devilish forces up outside the monastery gates.

In his anger the king had no choice but to put on his armor, take his short and flexible wolf's-tooth spiked mace and come out of his camp shouting, “Sun the Novice! A real man doesn't run away from a fight. Come back and fight three rounds with me.” This was more than Monkey could stand, and he landed his cloud at the head of his starry host to see what the evil spirit looked like.

This is what he saw:

Matted hair

Held in place by a thin gold band;

Eyes flashing

Under a pair of frowning yellow brows;

A pear-shaped nose

With flaring nostrils;

A square-cut mouth

With sharp-pointed teeth.

He wore a coat of chain-mail

Tied with a tasseled raw silk sash;

On his feet were a pair of oxhide boots

And he carried a wolf's-tooth mace.

He looked both like a wild beast and at the same time not;

His face was human and yet not human.

“What kind of monster do you think you are?” shouted Monkey as he brandished his cudgel. “How can you have the effrontery to pose as a Buddha, occupy a mountain and create a false Lesser Thunder Monastery?”

“The only reason you've got the nerve to come rampaging around my magic mountain must be that you don't know my name,” the monster said. “This is the Lesser Western Heaven, and Heaven has given me these fine buildings because I have cultivated my conduct and gained the true achievement. I am called the Yellow-browed Buddha, though in their ignorance the people around here call me King Yellow Brow or Lord Yellow Brow. I've known about your journey to the West for a very long time now and I have some magic powers, which was why I could create those illusions to lure your master in so that you and I could have a trial of strength. If you can beat me I'll spare your master and his disciples and allow you to fulfil your true achievement. But if you can't I'll kill the lot of you and go myself to see the Tathagata Buddha, fetch the scriptures and take them to China.”

“You talk too much, evil spirit,” said Monkey with a laugh. “If you want a trial of strength try this from my cudgel.” With great pleasure the demon king parried it and a fine fight ensued:

A pair of cudgels,

Each quite different.

To start with what they looked like,

One was a short and flexible Buddha weapon,

The other was hard from the stores of the sea.

Both of them could be changed at will,

And today they met in a struggle for mastery.

The soft wolf's-tooth mace was adorned with brocade,

The hard gold-banded cudgel had dragon patterns.

They could both be admirably big or small,

Any length you liked and always just right.

Monkey and monster were evenly matched:

This fight between them was the real thing.

The monkey tamed by faith was now the mind-ape;

The evil monster had offended Heaven with deception.

In his anger and loathing neither showed mercy;

Both had their ways of being savagely vicious.

One struck to the head, never easing the pressure;

The other hit at the face and could not be fought off.

The sun went dark behind the clouds they made;

They breathed out mists that hid the towering crags.

Cudgel met cudgel as the rivals fought,

Both forgetting life and death for the Tang priest's sake.

The two of them fought fifty rounds without either emerging as victor. By the monastery gate there was much beating of drums and gongs as the evil spirits shouted their war-cries and waved their flags. Facing them were the heavenly soldiers of the Twenty-eight Constellations and the holy hosts of the Five Protectors, who were all armed and shouting as they surrounded the demon king. The demons outside the monastery gate were too frightened to beat their drums, and their hands were shaking so badly that they could not strike their gongs.

The old demon king was not at all afraid. He held all the enemy troops at bay with his mace in one hand while with the other he undid an old white cotton pouch that was round his waist as a sash; this he threw into the air. With a loud swish it caught the Great Sage Monkey, the Twenty-eight Constellations and the Protectors of the Four Quarters and the Centre; he then slung them over his shoulder and carried them back inside. All the little demons returned in triumph. The demon king told his underlings to fetch forty or fifty hempen ropes, opened the bag, and took his prisoners out one at a time to be tied up, Each of them felt that his bones had turned soft. Their muscles were numb and their skin hung loosely on them. Once tied up they were all carried out to the back and flung on the ground indiscriminately. The demon king then ordered a banquet and the devils drank from dawn till dusk before it broke up and they all went off to sleep.

In the middle of the night, as the Great Sage Monkey lay there tied up with all the gods, he heard the sound of weeping. Listening more carefully he recognized the voice of Sanzang, who was saying as he sobbed, “Wukong,”

“I wish I had heeded the warning you gave:

From this disaster we could have steered clear.

While you're being tortured in cymbals of gold,

Nobody knows I'm a prisoner here.”

“Bitter the fate that afflicts us all four;

All our achievements have now come to naught.

How can we be saved from this awful impasse

To go to the West and then home as we ought?”

When Monkey heard this he felt sorry for his master. “Although ignoring my advice was what caused this disaster,” he thought, “at least you're remembering me in your troubles. I'd better save them all and let them get away while it's night, the demons are all asleep and nobody's on guard.”

The splendid Great Sage used escaping magic to make himself so small that he slipped out of his bonds, went up to the Tang Priest and said, “Master.”

“Why are you here?” Sanzang asked, recognizing his voice. Monkey told him very quietly what had happened, to his great delight.

“Please rescue me as soon as you can,” Sanzang said. “From now on I'll do whatever you say and not be so stubborn.”

Only then did Monkey start moving, first releasing the master, Pig and Friar Sand, then the Twenty-eight Constellations; and the Protectors of the Four Quarters and the Centre, all of whom he untied one by one. Next he brought the horse over and told his master to carry on ahead as quickly as possible. Once they were outside Monkey realized that he did not know where the luggage was and went back to look for it.

“You seem to think that things matter more than people,” said the Metal Dragon of Gullet. “It ought to be enough that we've rescued your master. Why do you want to look for the luggage?”

“Of course people are important,” Monkey said, “but things are even more important. In the luggage there's our passport, the brocade cassock and the golden begging bowl. They're all great treasures of the Buddhist faith, and we must have them.”

“You go back and look for them, brother,” said Pig, “while we start out. We'll wait for you later.” Watch how the stars crowd round the Tang Priest and all use their magic powers at once to take him out of the enclosure with a breath of wind as they hurry along the main road down the slope till they reach level ground and rest.

At about the third watch the Great Sage Monkey crept slowly and stealthily back inside to find gate inside gate all very tightly closed. When he climbed up to the upper story of a building to take a look he saw that the windows were all fastened too. He was on the point of going down again but dared not move for fear of the window-frames making a noise. He therefore made a hand-spell, shook himself and turned into a mouse immortal, or what is more commonly known as a bat. Do you know what he looked like?

His head was pointed like a rat's,

His eyes like a rat's did spark.

He emerged at twilight on his wings,

To sleep by day in the dark.

He hid away among the tiles;

The mosquitoes he caught were his food.

Bright moonlit nights he liked the best;

At flying he really was good.

He found his way in under the rafters through an open-ended tile then flew over doors till he got to the middle of the building. Here he noticed a faintly glimmering beam of light coming from under a second-floor window. It was not like the light of a lantern or candle, the glow of burning incense, a beam of evening sunlight or a flash of lightning. He went closer to the window, his heart in his mouth with excitement, and looked inside to see that the glow was coming from the luggage. The evil spirit had taken the cassock off the Tang Priest, but instead of folding it up he had thrust it untidily back into the bundles. The reason why the cassock glowed was because it was a Buddha treasure itself, with As-You-Will pearls, mani pearls, red cornelian, purple coral, sarira Buddha-relics and night-shining pearls on it. He was very pleased when he saw these things and turned back into himself to pick them up, put the carrying pole on his shoulder, and take them downstairs without stopping to adjust the ropes to balance the loads.

Unfortunately the load at one end slipped off and landed with a loud crash on the floorboards. Alas!

This noise woke up the old demon king sleeping downstairs, and he leapt out of bed with a cry of “Intruders! Intruders!” At this all the big and little demons got up too, lit lamps, and started searching all around, all shouting loudly the while, “The Tang Priest's escaped!” someone came in to report, to be followed by another saying, “Sun the Novice and all the rest of them have got away.” The old demon then ordered strict security on all the gates. As soon as Monkey heard this he abandoned the luggage, somersaulted out through the windows and fled before they could catch him.

No matter how hard they looked, the evil spirits could not find the Tang Priest and the rest of them. By now the day was beginning to dawn, so the demon king seized his mace and led his hosts in hot pursuit. They found the camp of the Twenty-eight Constellations and the Five Protectors surrounded by mists and cloud at the foot of the mountain. “Where do you think you're going?” the demon king shouted. “I'm here.”

“Brothers,” called the Wooden Lesser Dragon of the Constellation Horn in alarm, “the monsters are here.” The Metal Dragon of the Gullet, the Earth Bat of the Woman, the Sun Hare of the Chamber, the Moon Fox of the Heart, the Fire Tiger of the Tail, the Water Leopard of the Winnower, the Wooden Unicorn of the Dipper, the Metal Bull of the Ox, the Earth Raccoon-dog of the Base, the Sun Rat of the Barrens, the Moon Swallow of the Roof, the Fire Pig of the House, the Water Beast of the Wall, the Wooden Wolf of the Strider, the Metal Dog of the Harvester, the Earth Boar of the Stomach, the Sun Cock of the Pleiades, the Moon Crow of the Net, the Fire Monkey of the Turtle, the Water Ape of Orion, the Wooden Hyena of the Well, the Metal Goat of the Ghosts, the Earth River Deer of the Willow, the Sun Horse of the Seven Stars, the Moon Deer of the Spread Net, the Fire Snake-of the Wing, and the Water Worm of the Axletree, at the head of the Golden-headed Protector, the Silver-headed Protector, the Six Dings, the Six Jias, the Guardians of the Faith, Pig and Friar Sand-they did not take the Tang Priest or the white dragon horse-all rushed forward with their weapons. At the sight of them the demon king laughed a contemptuous laugh, whistled, and called up four or five thousand evil spirits, each of whom was powerful and strong. A bitter fight then followed on the Western slopes of the mountain, and a fine battle it was too:

The evil demon king had tricked the true nature:

The gentle true nature was no match for him.

With so many plots it was hard to escape from pain;

When so much cunning was used there could be no peace.

All the heavens offered their protection,

And hosts of sages helped to wage the fight.

The mother of wood suffers for showing mercy.

Determination moves the yellow-wife.

The bitter fight shook heaven and earth;

Both sides spread their nets in the struggle.

On one side the waving of banners and warcries,

On the other the beating of drums and gongs.

A cold sea of light from massed sabers and spears,

And a murderous look of the swords and the halberds.

The demon troops were cruel and tough;

The heavenly soldiers were no match for them.

Dreary clouds blocked out the sun and moon;

Spine-chilling mists lay over the landscape.

Hard and bitter was the fight,

And all because Sanzang wanted to visit the Buddha.

The evil spirit now felt more ferocious than ever as he led his hosts into the attack. Just when the issue was hanging in the balance there could be heard an angry roar from Monkey of, “I'm here.”

“What about the luggage!” Pig asked as he greeted him.

“I barely got away with my life,” Monkey replied, “so what are you asking about the luggage for?”

“Stop talking, you two,” said Friar Sand, who was wielding his staff. “Hurry up and fight the evil spirits.” The Constellations, Protectors, Dings, Jias and all the other gods had been surrounded and bunched together by the demons in the wild melee, while the demon king attacked the three of them with his mace. Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand held the enemy off by striking and swinging with their cudgel, staff and rake. The earth and sky were now plunged into darkness, and still there was no victor. They fought on till the sun set in the Western hills and the moon rose over the Eastern islands.

Seeing how late it now was, the demon whistled and told all the fiends to be specially careful while he produced his treasure once more. Monkey could see clearly as he undid the pouch and took it in his hands.

“This is bad,” said Monkey. “Let's get out of here.” And with that he somersaulted straight up to the ninth heaven, not concerning himself with Pig, Friar Sand and the heavenly hosts, who failed to take his hint and were left behind to be caught in the bag again. Monkey alone escaped. The demon king then called off his forces and took them back inside the monastery, where once more he sent for ropes and tied them up again. The Tang Priest, Pig and Friar Sand were hung up from a high beam and the white horse was tethered at the back. The gods, who were also bound, were carried down into a cellar that was then covered and sealed. We will not go into how the devils then packed everything away once more.

When Monkey saved his life by springing up into the clouds and saw the devil soldiers returning, not waving their banners, he knew that his side must have been made prisoner once more. As he landed his auspicious light on the Eastern summit

He ground his teeth in hatred of the demon;

The tears flowed free as Monkey missed his master.

Then in despair he turned his face to heaven

And groaned aloud at Sanzang's new disaster.

“Master,” he called, “in whatever past world did you lay down so many difficulties for yourself that you meet evil spirits at every turn? There's no end to your troubles. What are we to do?” He sighed alone up there for a long time before calming himself down and working out what to do.

“I wonder what sort of pouch it is the devil has that can hold so many things inside!” he thought. “Now it's got the gods, the heavenly generals and a lot of other people too. I'll have to ask Heaven to help me, but I fear the Jade Emperor will be angry about what has happened. Now I remember there's a True Martial God of the North, the Heavenly Honoured Demon Suppressor, who now lives on Mount Wudang in the Southern Continent of Jambu. I'll go and ask him to rescue my master.” Indeed:

With the Way still uncompleted ape and horse were scattered;

When the mind was masterless the Five Elements lacked life.

If you don't know what happened on this journey listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 66

All the Gods Meet a Vicious Foe

Maitreya Binds the Evil Monster

The story tells how the Great Sage Sun, finding himself at his wit's end, somersaulted by auspicious cloud straight to Mount Wudang in the Southern Continent of Jambu to ask the Heavenly Honoured Demon Suppressor to save Sanzang, Pig, Friar Sand, the heavenly soldiers and all the rest of them. He flew non-stop and was soon in sight of the patriarch's immortal domain. As he brought his cloud gently down to land and took a good look around this is what he saw:

The great fortress of the Southeast,

A divine pillar of the central heaven.

Lotus Pinnacle soared in its majesty,

Purple-covered Ridge rose to a great height.

The nine rivers ended here, far from Jing and Yang;

A hundred mountains touch the stars in Wing and Axletree.

Above was the precious cave of Emptiness,

And the spirit tower of Zhu and Lu.

In the thirty-six palaces golden chimes rang,

As thousands of worshippers offered their incense.

Here the emperors of antiquity patrolled and worshipped,

Officials held jade tablets inscribed in gold.

Blue birds flew over lofty towers;

Under the canopies red gowns were worn.

The place was set on a mountain that towered over the cosmos,

An immortal domain suffused with emptiness.

Some plum trees were just in blossom,

And the hillside was covered in a blaze of color from the flowers.

Dragons hid at the bottom of ravines

While tigers lurked on the precipices.

The pheasants seemed to be talking;

Tame deer came up to people.

White cranes perched in cloud-topped junipers;

Green and red phoenixes sang to the sun.

Jade-pure, it resembles a land of immortals;

The compassion of the golden gateway rules the age.

The True Martial Lord had been born after King Purejoy and his wife Queen Victoria had dreamed one night that she conceived by swallowing the light of the sun. After fourteen months of pregnancy she had given birth in the royal palace on the first day of the third month of the year jiachen, the first of the reign period of Kaihuang. The prince

Was brave from his boyhood,

Grew into perception.

Did not take the throne,

But practised religion.

His parents could not stop him.

He gave up the palace

For mysteries and trance

Here in the mountains.

When all was completed

He could fly by broad daylight.

The Jade Emperor named him

The True Martial Lord.

He responds to dark emptiness,

Joining with tortoise and snake.

In all quarters of the compass

Is his excellence proclaimed.

He penetrates all mysteries,

Achieves every glory.

From beginning to end

He exterminates demons.

While admiring the splendid view the Great Sage Sun was soon through the first, second and third gates to his heaven. When he arrived outside the Palace of Great Peace he saw five hundred spirit officers standing crowded together in the auspicious light and atmosphere. They stepped forward to ask, “Who is it who has come?”

“I am Sun Wukong, the Great Sage Equaling Heaven,” Monkey replied, “and I would like to see the Teacher.” The spirit officers reported this at once to the patriarch, who came from his throne hall to welcome Monkey into the palace hall.

After paying his respects Monkey said, “I have a request to trouble you with.”

“What?”

“I am in trouble escorting the Tang priest on his journey to seek scriptures in the Western Heaven,” Monkey replied. “There is an evil monster who lives in the Lesser Thunder Monastery on a mountain called the Lesser Western Heaven in the Western Continent of Cattle-gift. When my master went in through the monastery gates and saw all the arhats, protectors, monks and priests line up there he thought that the Buddha was a real one, threw himself to the ground and started kowtowing to him. Then they caught him. Because I was too careless I let him trap me inside a pair of golden cymbals that were joined tight together without the slightest crack between them, just as if they were clamped together. Very luckily for me the Gold-headed Protector requested the Jade Emperor to send the Twenty-eight Constellations to come down to earth that very night. They couldn't prise the cymbals apart, but the Metal Dragon of the Gullet managed to push his horn between the cymbals and bring me out, thank goodness. Then I smashed the cymbals, which woke up the monster. When he came after us he caught us all-me, the Twenty-eight Constellations and the Five Protectors-and tied us all up with rope. I got out that night and rescued the constellations, the Tang Priest and the rest of them. Later I woke the old demon up again while I was looking for our things and he went after the heavenly soldiers to fight them again. When he took his pouch off to use it this time I recognized it and got away, but all the rest of them were caught. As I'm at my wit's end I've come to pay my respects to you, Teacher, and ask your help.”

“In the old days,” said the patriarch, “I garrisoned the North. My position was that of True Martial God, and I wiped out evil spirits all over the world on the orders of the Jade Emperor. Later I rode barefoot and with my hair loose on the leaping snake and the divine tortoise, and led the five thunder generals, young giant dragons, lions, ferocious beasts and vicious dragons to put an end to the black demonic atmosphere in the Northeast. That was when I was acting under the orders of the Original Heavenly Honoured One. Now I live in tranquility and ease on Mount Wudang in the Hall of Great Peace. The mountains and seas have long been at peace, and heaven and earth are very calm. In our Southern Continent of Jambu and the Northern Continent of Kuru all evil monsters have been exterminated and wicked demons are seen no more. I am very grateful that you've come to see me, Great Sage: the only trouble is that in the absence of instructions from Heaven I can't fight on my own authority alone. If I sent all my gods the Jade Emperor might well take offence; but if I turned your request down flat, Great Sage, I'd be showing a lack of finer feeling. I'm sure that even if there are evil creatures on that road West they cannot be really terrible. So I'll send General Tortoise, General Snake, and five magic dragons to help you. I guarantee that they will capture the evil spirit and rescue your master.”

Monkey then bowed in thanks to the patriarch and went with Tortoise, Snake and the magic dragons, all carrying the finest and sharpest of weapons, back to the West. Before long they were back at the Lesser Thunder Monastery, where they landed their clouds and went straight to the gate to challenge them to battle.

Meanwhile King Yellow Brow had called all his demonic hosts together before the main hall of the monastery to say to them, “Sun the Novice hasn't been here for the last couple of days. I wonder where he's gone for reinforcements.”

Before the words were out of his mouth a little devil came from the main gates to report, “Sun the Novice is here with some dragon, snake and tortoise officers. They're demanding battle outside the main gates.”

“How ever did that monkey get them?” the demon king asked. “Where are they from?”

With that he put on his armor and went out through the main gate, shouting, “Which dragon gods are you? How dare you invade my immortal domain?”

Looking majestic and summoning up their spirits, the five dragons and Generals Tortoise and Snake shouted, “Damned monster! We're five dragon gods, and Generals Tortoise and Snake who stand before the Heavenly Honoured Demon Suppressor, the Patriarch of the Indiffirentiated Unity, from the Palace of Great Peace on Mount Wudang. We are here at the invitation of the Great Sage Equaling Heaven and on the authority of the Heavenly Honoured One to arrest you. Hand over the Tang Priest, the constellations and all the rest of them and your life will be spared, you evil spirit. Otherwise we'll hack the bodies of every one of you devils on this mountain into little pieces, and burn all your buildings to ashes.”

When the demon heard this he was furious. “Animals!” he retorted. “How dare you talk like that? What sort of powers do you think you have? Stay where you are, and take this!” The five dragons turned their clouds over to make rain while the two generals raised dust and sand as they all charged into the attack with their spears, sabers, swords and halberds. Monkey followed them into action wielding his iron cudgel. It was a fine fight.

The evil demon used his might;

Monkey went for help.

When the evil demon used his might

He occupied the monastery and created Buddha images.

When Monkey went for help

He traveled far to a precious land to borrow the dragons.

Tortoise and Snake created water and fire;

The evil spirits took to arms.

The five dragons went to the West as instructed,

While Monkey hung behind for his master's sake.

Sword and halberd flashed like coloured lightning;

The spears and sabers gleamed like rainbows.

The wolf-toothed mace

Was powerful, short and flexible;

The gold-banded cudgel

Could change at its owner's will.

There were crashes like firecrackers,

And the rhythmic clang of metal being struck.

The monster was attacked by fire and water,

And weapons crowded close around the spirits.

The cries of battle frightened wolves and tigers;

The din disturbed both gods and devils.

Just when the battle was still unresolved

The evil spirit fetched out his treasure again.

When Monkey had been leading the five dragons and two generals in fight against the demon king for an hour the demon took off his pouch and held it in his hand. “Watch out, gentlemen,” exclaimed Monkey in horror. Not realizing what was happening, they all stopped attacking with their weapons and surged forward. There was a loud swish as the demon king threw his pouch into the air. Abandoning the five dragons and the two generals to be wrapped up in the pouch, the Great Sage Monkey escaped by somersaulting up above the ninth heaven. The evil spirits returned in triumph once more, tied them up too, took them down into the pit and put the lid on it.

Monkey landed his cloud and lay sprawled out under the peak, listless and dispirited. “That demon is a terror,” he thought with bitter regret, and without realizing what was happening he shut his eyes as if he were going to sleep.

Just then there came a call: “Great Sage, don't go to sleep. Get up and rescue them as soon as you can. Your master's life is in great danger.” At once Monkey opened his eyes again and sprang to his feet to see that it was the Duty God of the Day.

“You wretched little god,” Monkey shouted, “you were so greedy for your blood and sacrifices over there that you haven't reported for duty for days. Why are you coming to disturb me now? Put out your foot. I'm going to hit you a couple of times to cheer myself up. I'm feeling low.”

The Duty God hastily bowed and said, “Great Sage, you are one of the happy immortals in the human world. How could you possibly be feeling low? We've been here for a long time on the Bodhisattva's orders to keep secret guard over the Tang Priest. We and the local gods have never left him for a moment, which is why we can't pay our respects to you often enough. You can't hold that against me.”

“If you're guarding him,” Monkey replied, “tell me where the evil spirit has imprisoned the constellations, the protectors, the guardians, my master and the rest of them. What are they suffering?”

“Your master and your fellow-disciples have been hung up in the cloister outside the main hall,” the Duty God replied. “The constellations are all in agony in a pit. For the last couple of days I've had no news of you, Great Sage, but I've just seen that the evil spirits have captured the divine dragons, Tortoise and Snake and put them in the pit too. It was only then that we realized you must have fetched some reinforcements, Great Sage, which is why we came specially to look for you. Whatever you do you must rescue them at once, Great Sage, no matter how tired you are.”

Hearing this, Monkey said to the duty god, the tears streaming down his face, “I'm too ashamed to go up to Heaven, and I haven't the nerve to go to the sea. I'm afraid of asking for the Bodhisattva's help and too miserable to look the Buddha in the face. The ones who were captured just now were the True Martial God's Tortoise, Snake and five dragons and their forces. There's nowhere else I can turn for help. What am I to do?”

The Duty God smiled as he replied, “Relax, Great Sage, I've thought of some elite troops who are bound to be able to subdue these demons. You went to Wudang just now that was in the Southern Jambu Continent. The troops I have in mind come from the same continent, from Bincheng on Mound Xuyi. It's what's now called Sizhou. There's a Great Sage Bodhisattva King Teacher there who has enormous magical powers. He has a disciple called Little Prince Zhang and four divine generals: the other year they subdued the Water Mother Goddess. You should go there yourself to ask him. If he in his kindness is willing to help you're bound to be able to catch the demon and save the master.”

The news delighted Monkey, who said, “You look after the master and don't let him come to any harm while I go off to ask his help.”

Monkey then set off on his somersault and left that demon-infested place to go straight to Mount Xuyi. He was soon there, and when he looked around he saw that it was a fine place.

The Yangtse was not far to the South,

To the North it faced the Huai River.

To the East it led to the islands in the sea,

To the West it was connected with Fengfou.

On the mountain-top was a lofty temple

While springs gushed forth from its sides.

Grotesquely-shaped rocks towered high;

Lofty pines were elegantly angular.

There was always fresh fruit in season,

And every kind of flower opened in the sun.

People moved around like armies of ants

While boats came from far and wide like flights of geese.

On it there stood

The Auspicious Crag Temple,

The Palace of the Eastern Peak,

The Shrine of the Five Illustrious Ones,

The Tortoise Mountain Monastery.

Rhythmic bells and incense smoke rose to the heavens.

There were also

The Crystal Spring,

The Valley of Five Stupas,

The Terrace of Eight Immortals,

The Apricot Orchard.

The colours of the mountain and trees lit up Bincheng.

Boundless were the stretches of cloud,

While hidden birds still sang when they were tired.

Never mind mounts Tai, Song, Heng or Hua;

Here was the beauty of an earthly paradise.

The Great Sage enjoyed the view enormously as he crossed the Huai River, entered the city of Bincheng, and arrived at the gates of the Great Sage's Dhyana Monastery. Over the majestic halls and colorful cloisters there towered a pagoda. Indeed:

It rose ten thousand feet through clouds to the sky;

The golden vase penetrated the heavens above.

The light from it filled the universe;

No shadows were cast on its windows.

Heavenly music was heard when the wind rang the bells;

The sun shone on roof-dragons facing the Buddha-hall.

Birds constantly came here to sing their complaints;

Endlessly beautiful was the view of the Huai River.

Monkey looked at it all as he went in to the inner gates, where the Bodhisattva King Teacher, who was expecting him, had come out to meet him with Little Prince Zhang. After they had greeted each other and exchanged polite remarks Monkey said, “I'm escorting the Tang Priest to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. We have come to the Lesser Thunder Monastery where there's a Yellow-browed Demon who's pretending to be a Buddha. Not realizing he was an impostor, my master kowtowed to him and was captured. Then I was caught inside a pair of golden cymbals until, thank goodness, the constellations who had been sent down from heaven rescued me. I smashed the cymbals, but when we fought him again he wrapped the heavenly gods, the protectors, the guardians, my master and my fellow-disciples up in a cloth bag. As I have nowhere else to turn, Bodhisattva, I've come to call on you and ask you to give play to your great strength. Use the magic powers with which you put down the Water Mother and saved the common people to go with me to rescue my master. Then he can take the scriptures back to China to be transmitted forever, praise the wisdom of our Buddha and make the prajna-paramita better known.”

“What you ask today is indeed for the greater glory of our Buddha,” said King Teacher, “and I really ought to go myself. But it's early summer now, just the time when the Huai River floods. The Great Sage Water Ape I subdued recently gets active when there's water, and I'm worried that he'd take advantage of my absence to make so much trouble that no divine powers could bring him back under control. I'll send my disciple with four generals to help you force the demon into submission.”

Monkey thanked him then headed back by cloud with the four generals and Little Prince Zhang to the Lesser Western Heaven, where they went straight to the Lesser Thunder Monastery. Here Little Prince Zhang brandished his paper-white spear and the four generals swung their superb swords as they shouted abuse to challenge the demons to battle.

When the little devils ran inside to report this, the demon king led his devils out once more, had his drums beaten and replied, “Who've you persuaded to come this time?”

Before the words were all out of his mouth Little Prince Zhang at the head of the four generals shouted, “Damned evil spirit! Do you have no eyes in your head? Don't you recognize who we are?”

“Whose underlings are you?” the demon king said. “How dare you help him?”

“I am the disciple of the Great Sage of Sizhou, the Bodhisattva King Teacher, and I'm here on his orders with four divine generals to capture you,” the prince replied.

“What sort of martial arts do you have,” replied the demon king with a sneer, “that give you the nerve to be so insulting?”

“As you want to know about my martial powers,” the prince replied, “let me tell you:

My people come from the Flowing Sands River,

Where my father used to be king of Sandland.

I was a weak and sickly child,

Born under a bad influence and an unlucky star.

Long had I admired my master's immortal powers,

When in a chance meeting he taught me the secret.

Half a pill of elixir cured my sickness;

I abandoned my throne to cultivate my conduct.

Once I knew bow to live as long as heaven;

My face became youthful and will remain so forever.

I have been to the assemblies under the dragon-flower tree,

And ridden by cloud to the Buddha's hall.

Seizing the fogs and winds I subdued the watery tribe;

I defended the mountain by subduing dragons and tigers.

The dutiful people raised a lofty pagoda

To calm the seas through the glow of its relics.

My paper-white spear can capture all demons;

Evil spirits are caught in the gray sleeve of my coat.

Now peace and joy reign in the city of Bincheng,

And all the world praises Little Zhang's fame.”

When the demon king heard this he replied with a touch of a mocking smile, “Prince, when you abandoned your throne to follow the Bodhisattva King Teacher what sort of arts of immortality did you learn? All you're good for is capturing water monsters in the Huai River. You shouldn't have believed all the nonsense Sun the Novice talked and have come across all those mountains and rivers to offer your life. We'll soon find out whether you're immortal or not.”

When Little Zhang heard this he was very angry and thrust straight for the demon's face with his spear. The four generals all rushed into the attack together and so did the Great Sage Monkey, wielding his iron cudgel. The splendid evil spirit was not afraid in the least as he blocked, parried and struck back with his short and flexible wolf-tooth mace. It was a fine battle:

The little prince with his paper-white spear,

Made stronger by the four generals' swords,

Wukong using his gold-banded cudgel,

With one heart they surrounded the demon king.

Truly his magical powers were great

As without a trace of fear he resisted their attacks.

The wolf-tooth mace was a Buddha weapon

Preserving him from wounds by swords or spear.

Wile howled the wind

Through the turbid swirl of evil vapors.

One used his skill for love of mortal things;

The other's heart was set on the Buddha and the scriptures.

They charged and they raged,

Shrouding sun, moon and stars in cloud,

Each of them evil and vicious in anger.

For long the Three Vehicles could not assert dominance:

Bitter and well-matched was the battle of rival skills.

After the fight had been going on for a long time and was still inconclusive the evil spirit undid his pouch and Monkey once more shouted, “Look out, gentlemen.” The prince and his followers did not realize what he was telling them to look out for, so with a swish the demon king had them caught in his pouch. Only Monkey escaped in time. We will not describe how once more the demon king returned in triumph, sent for ropes, and had them tied up and put into the pit under lock and lid.

When Monkey leapt up into the sky and saw the demon leading his troops back and fastening the gates he brought his auspicious light down to land and stood on the Western slope of the mountain. “Master!” he wept aloud in his misery,

“Since being converted and becoming a monk

I've been grateful to Guanyin for ending my woes.

In escorting you West to seek the great Way

I have helped you towards the Buddha's own temple.

Who would have thought when the going looked easy

That we'd be attacked by so mighty a monster.

None of my tricks or devices succeed;