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Chapter 93

In the Almsgiver's Garden Antiquity and Causes Are Discussed

In the Court of India the King Meets the Monks

When thoughts arise there surely will be desire,

Longing is certain to lead one to disaster.

Why should intelligence distinguish the three ranks of nobility?

When conduct is complete it naturally returns to the primal sea.

Whether you become an immortal or a Buddha,

All must be arranged from within.

In absolute purity, with all dust removed,

All will be achieved and one will rise to heaven.

The story tells how when Sanzang and his disciples were nowhere to be seen at dawn the monks in the Clouds of Compassion Monastery all said, We couldn't keep them, we couldn't say goodbye to them, and we weren't able to ask them for anything. We've let those living Bodhisattvas slip clean away.

As they were talking, some of the great families from the Southern outskirts of the city came in with invitations, at which the monks clapped their hands in regret and said, We were caught off our guard last night: they all rode off by cloud. Everyone then kowtowed to heaven in gratitude. The news was spread to all the officials in the city, who told the great families to prepare the five kinds of sacrificial animal, flowers and fruit to offer to the shrines in thanksgiving.

The story tells how the Tang Priest and his three disciples fed on the wind and slept in the open, travelling uneventfully for the best part of a month. One day they suddenly saw a high mountain. Disciples, said the Tang Priest in fear, the ridge in front of us is very steep. You must be very careful.

As our journey has brought us so close to the land of the Buddha there will definitely be nothing evil here, said Monkey. Don't worry, Master.

Disciple, the Tang Priest replied, although we are not far from the Buddha's land the monks told us in the monastery the other and they didn't know how much further after that.

Have you forgotten the Heart Sutra that the Rook's Nest Hermit taught you again, Master? asked Monkey.

The Prajna-paramita Heart Sutra is constantly with me, like my habit and begging bowl, Sanzang replied. There has not been a day ever since the Rook's Nest Hermit taught it to me that I have not recited it. I have never forgotten it for a moment. I can even recite it backwards. How could I possibly forget it?

You can only recite it, Master, said Monkey. You never asked the hermit to explain it.

Ape! retorted Sanzang. How can you say I don't understand it? Do you understand it then?

Yes, Monkey replied, I do.

After that neither Sanzang nor Monkey made another sound. This had Pig falling about with laughter, while Friar Sand was hurting himself, he was so amused.

Nonsense, said Pig. We all started out in life as monsters. We're not Dhyana monks who've heard the sutras being explained or Buddhist priests who've been taught the dharma. He's pretending, just putting on an act. How can you say you understand? Well then, why aren't you saying anything? We're listening. Please explain.

Second brother, said Friar Sand, leave him be. Big brother's only talking big like that to keep the master going. What he knows about is how to use a cudgel. What does he know about explaining sutras?

Stop talking such nonsense, Wuneng and Wujing, said Sanzang. Wukong understands the wordless language. That is true explanation.

As master and disciples talked they did indeed cover a long distance, leaving the ridge behind them. They saw a big monastery beside the road. Wukong, said Sanzang. There's a monastery ahead. Just look at it.

It's neither too big nor too small,

But has green glazed tiles;

Neither too new nor too old,

And with a red wall.

Leaning canopies of azure pines can just be seen:

Who knows how many thousand years old they are?

Listen to the murmur of the waters in the channel,

Cut from the mountain untold dynasties ago.

Above the gates is written,

'Spread Gold Dhyana Monastery';

The tablet is inscribed,

'Ancient relic.'

Monkey saw that it was called the Spread Gold Dhyana Monastery, and Pig said so too. 'Spread Gold,' Sanzang wondered as he sat on his horse, 'Spread Gold'Can we be in the country of Sravasti?

This is very remarkable, Master, said Pig. In all the years I've been with you you've never known the way before, but you seem to know it now.

No, Sanzang replied, I have often read in the scriptures about the Buddha being in the Jetavana garden in the city of Sravasti. The Venerable Almsgiver Sudatta tried to buy it from the prince as a place to ask the Buddha to preach in. The prince refused to sell the garden, and said he would only part with it if it were covered with gold. When the Venerable Almsgiver heard this he had gold bricks made with which he covered the whole garden to buy it. Then he invited the Buddha to preach on the dharma. I am sure that the name Spread Gold Monastery must refer to that story.

We're in luck, said Pig with a smile, If that story's true we can find ourselves one of those bricks as a present to give people. Everybody laughed, after which Sanzang dismounted.

As they went in through the monastery gates they saw people carrying loads with shoulder-poles or on their backs, pushing carts, or sitting in loaded carts. Others were sleeping or talking. The sight of the master, who was so handsome, and his three hideous disciples rather frightened them, so they drew back to make way.

Worried that his disciples would provoke trouble, Sanzang kept saying, Behave yourselves! Behave yourselves! They were all very restrained. As they went round the Vajra Hall a Dhyana monk of most unworldly appearance came out to meet them:

A face like a shining full moon,

A body like a bodhi tree.

The wind blew through the sleeve round his staff,

As his sandals trod the stony path.

When Sanzang extended a monastic greeting to him the monk returned his courtesy and asked, Where are you from, teacher?

I am Chen Xuanzang, Sanzang replied, sent to the Western Heaven at the command of the Great Tang emperor in the East to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures. As my journey brings me here I am paying you this hasty visit to request a night's shelter before continuing on my way tomorrow.

This monastery of ours is one that receives people from all quarters, the monk replied. Everyone is welcome to visit, and we would be especially happy to provide for so holy a monk from the East as your reverend self. Sanzang thanked him and called to his three disciples to come with him as they crossed the cloister and refectory and went to the abbot's lodgings. When they had exchanged courtesies they sat down as befits host and guests. Monkey and the other two sat down as well, their hands at their sides.

The story tells how, on learning that monks from Great Tang in the East who were going to fetch the scriptures had arrived, all in the monastery, young and old alike, whether permanent inmates, itinerant monks, elders or novices came to see them. After tea had been drunk a vegetarian meal was brought in. While Sanzang was still saying the grace before the meal Pig in his impatience had already grabbed and wolfed down steamed buns, vegetarian dishes and soup noodles. In the crowded abbot's lodgings those who knew better were admiring Sanzang's majestic bearing, while those who enjoyed fun watched Pig eat.

When Friar Sand cast his eyes around and saw what was happening he gave Pig a discreet pinch and muttered, Behave yourself!

At this Pig started a desperate howl of, All this 'behave yourself, behave yourself!' I'm starving!

You don't understand, brother, Friar Sand replied with a smile. When it comes to the belly, all the well-behaved people in the world are exactly the same as we two. Only then did Pig stop eating. After Sanzang had said the grace for the end of the meal the attendants cleared the tables and Sanzang expressed his thanks.

When the monks asked about why they had come from the East, Sanzang's conversation turned to ancient sites and he asked them about the name Spread Gold Monastery.

This used to be the Monastery of the Venerable Almsgiver in the country of Sravasti, the monks answered. It was also known as the Jetavana and its name was changed to its present one after the Venerable Almsgiver covered the ground with gold bricks, in those days the Venerable Almsgiver used to live in the country of Sravasti, and our monastery was his Jetavana, which is why it was renamed the Almsgiver's Spread Gold Monastery. The site of the Jetavana is at the back of the monastery. Whenever there has been a torrential rainstorm in recent years, small pieces of gold and silver have been washed out, and some people are lucky enough to pick them up.

So the story is a true one, said Sanzang, going on to ask, Why did I see so many travelling merchants with horses, mules, carts and carrying-poles resting here when I came in through the gates of your monastery?

This mountain is called Mount Hundredfoot, the monks replied. We used to live in peace and prosperity here, but with the cyclic progression of the natural forces a number of centipede spirits have for some inexplicable reason appeared. They attack people on the roads and though nobody gets killed people don't dare to travel. At the foot of the mountain there's a Cock-crow Pass that people only dare to cross after cock-crow. As all these strangers arrived late they are worried that it would not be safe and are putting up here tonight. They'll set out at cock-crow. As master and disciples were talking a vegetarian meal was brought in that they ate.

Sanzang and Monkey were strolling in the light of the rising half moon when a lay brother came to announce, Our ancient master would like to meet the gentlemen from China.

Sanzang at once turned to see an ancient monk holding a bamboo cane who came forward to greet him and ask, Are you the teacher come from China?

You do me too great an honour, Sanzang replied, returning his greeting. The old monk was full of admiration for him, asking how old he was.

I have wasted forty-five years, Sanzang replied. May I ask how old you are?

Just one sixty-year cycle older than you, teacher, the other answered.

Then you're a hundred and five this year, Brother Monkey said. How old do you think I am?

Teacher, the old monk replied, your appearance seems so ancient and your spirit so pure that I could not tell in a hurry, especially by moonlight with my poor eyes. After talking for a while they walked to the back cloister for a look round.

Where is the site of the Almsgiver's Garden that you mentioned just now? Sanzang asked.

Outside the back gate, the other replied. On the order being given for the back gate to be opened immediately, all that could be seen was the ruined base of a stone wall. Putting his hands together, Sanzang sighed and said,

I think of the benefactor Sudatta

Who gave his treasures to help the needy

The fame of Jetavana long endures;

Where is he now with the enlightened arhat?

After a leisurely stroll enjoying the moonlight they sat down for a while on a terrace, where they heard the sound of sobbing. As Sanzang listened with a still heart he could hear that the weeper was grieving because her parents did not know of her suffering. This moved him to sorrow, and he found himself in tears as he turned to the monks and asked, Who is it being so sad, and where? On hearing this question the ancient monk sent all the others away to prepare tea, and when nobody else was around he kowtowed to the Tang Priest and Brother Monkey.

Venerable abbot, said Sanzang, helping him to his feet again, why do you pay me this courtesy?

As I am over a hundred, the ancient monk replied, I do know a little of the ways of the world; and in between periods of meditation and stillness I have seen some things. I know a certain amount about you, my lord, and your disciples, and you are not like other people. The only teachers here who would be able to analyze this most painful business are you.

Tell me what it's all about, said Monkey.

A year ago today, the ancient monk replied, I was concentrating my mind on the nature of the moon when I suddenly heard a gust of wind and the sound of someone grieving. I got out of bed, went into the Jetavana and saw a beautiful girl there. 'Whose daughter are you?' I asked her. 'Why are you here?' 'I am a princess, the daughter of the king of India,' the girl replied. 'The wind blew me here when I was looking at the flowers by moonlight.' I locked her up in an empty room that I bricked up like a prison cell, just leaving a gap in the door big enough to pass a bowl through. That day I told the other monks that she was an evil spirit I had captured. But as we monks are compassionate I couldn't kill her, and every day she is given two meals of simple food and drink to keep her alive. The girl is clever enough to understand what I mean, and to prevent herself from being sullied by the other monks she has pretended to be deranged and slept in her own piss and shit. During the day she talks nonsense or just sits there in silence, but in the still of the night she cries because she misses her parents. I've been into the city several times to make enquiries about the princesses, but not a single one is missing. So I have put her under stronger locks, and I am even more determined not to let her go. Now that you have come here, teacher, I beg you to go to the capital and use your dharma powers to find out the truth. You will thus be able both to rescue the good and display your magical powers.

When Sanzang and Monkey heard this they noted it very carefully. As they were talking two junior monks came in to invite them to take tea and go to bed, so they went back inside.

Back in the abbot's lodgings Pig and Friar Sand were grumbling, We'll have to be on our way at cock-crow tomorrow, so why aren't you in bed yet?

What's that you're saying, idiot? Monkey asked.

Go to bed, Pig replied. Why are you admiring the blooming scenery this late? At this the ancient monk left them, and the Tang Priest went to bed.

Sweet dreams of flowers in the moonlit silence;

Warm breezes coming through the window gauze.

As water drips in the clepsydra to fill three sections,

The Milky Way shines on the splendors of the palace.

They had not slept long that night when they heard the cocks crowing. The traders in front of the monastery all got up noisily and prepared their breakfast by lamplight. The venerable elder woke up Pig and Friar Sand to bridle the horse and pack up, while Monkey called for lamps to be lit. The monks of the monastery, who were up already, set out tea, soup and snacks, and waited on them. Pig ate a plate of steamed buns with delight then took the luggage and the horse outside while Sanzang and Brother Monkey took their leave of all the monks.

Please don't forget about that very tragic business, said the ancient monk.

I'll give it all my attention, Monkey replied, all my attention. Once I'm in the city I'll be able to find out the truth from what I hear and see. They traders noisily set off together. By the last watch of the night they were through Cockcrow Pass, and by ten in the morning the walls of the city were in sight. It was indeed a powerful city as strong as an iron cauldron, the heavenly capital of a divine region. The city

Was a crouching tiger or a coiled dragon on high ground,

Colorful with its phoenix towers and unicorn halls.

The waters of the royal moat encircled it like a belt;

In his mountainside paradise were many a monument.

The morning sun lit up banners by the high-way;

The spring wind carried the sound of pipes and drums across the bridges.

The wise king was dressed in robes and crown,

The crops were abundant and the splendor manifest.

That day they reached the streets of the Eastern market, where the traders all put up at inns. As Sanzang and his disciples were walking in the city they came to a government hostel and went inside. The hostel manager went to report to the hostel superintendent that there were four strange-looking monks outside who had arrived with a white horse. On being told about the horse the superintendent realized that they must be on an official mission, so he went out to welcome them.

I have been sent by the Tang court in the East to the Great Thunder Monastery on Vulture Peak to see the Buddha and seek the scriptures, Sanzang replied with a bow. I have a passport to present at court for inspection. I would be grateful if I could spend the night in Your Excellency's distinguished hostel. I will be on my way when my business has been done.

This hostel has been established to entertain envoys and travelers, the superintendent replied, returning his bow, so it is only right that we should entertain you. Please come in, please come in.

A delighted Sanzang invited his disciples to come in to meet the superintendent, who was quietly appalled by their hideous faces. He did not know whether they were men or demons, so he trembled as he saw to tea and a vegetarian meal for them. Noticing his fright, Sanzang said, Don't be afraid, Your Excellency. My three disciples look hideous, but they are good at heart. As the saying goes, the faces are ugly but the men are kind. There's nothing to be afraid of about them.

The hostel superintendent's worries were eased when he heard this. Where is your Tang court, Teacher of the Nation?

In the land of China in the continent of Jambu, Sanzang replied.

When did you leave home? was the next question.

In the thirteenth year of Zhenguan, fourteen years ago, Sanzang replied. I had to cross thousands of rivers and mountains-it was very hard-to arrive here.

You are a holy monk, the hostel superintendent said.

How old is your exalted dynasty? Sanzang asked.

This is the great land of India, the superintendent replied, and the dynasty has endured for over five hundred years since our High Ancestor. Our reigning sovereign, who is a lover of landscapes and flowers, is known as the Happy Emperor. His reign-period is called Jingyan and is now in its twenty-eighth year.

I would like to have an audience with His Majesty today to have the passport inspected and returned, said Sanzang. When does he hold court?

Splendid, the superintendent said, absolutely splendid. Today is the twentieth birthday of Her Royal Highness, the king's daughter. A decorated tower has been built at the crossroads, where the princess is going to throw down an embroidered ball to let heaven decide who her husband it to be. Today is a very lively one, and I believe that His Majesty will not yet have finished his morning audience. This would be a good time to go if you wish to have your passport inspected and returned. Sanzang was just about to set happily off when the meal was brought in, so he ate it with the superintendent, Monkey and the other two.

By now it was past midday, and Sanzang said, I had better be going.

I'll escort you, Master, said Brother Monkey. Me too, said Pig.

No, don't, brother, put in Friar Sand. Your face is nothing much to look at, so there's no point in your going to look impressive outside the palace gates. Best let our big brother go,

Wujing is right, Sanzang commented. The idiot is coarse and stupid. Wukong is more clever and subtle. The idiot thrust his snout out and said, Apart from you, Master, there's not much to choose between our three faces.

Sanzang then put on his cassock. Monkey took the passport case had accompanied him. In the streets everyone-gentleman, peasant; artisan, trader, scholar, pen-pusher, dim-wit, or common man-was exclaiming, Let's go and see the embroidered ball being thrown.

Sanzang stood beside the road and said to Monkey, People, clothes, buildings, language and speech here are all the same as in our Great Tang. I remember that my late mother married after throwing an embroidered ball to make the match she was destined for, and they have that custom here too.

What about us going to take a look too? asked Monkey.

No, no, Sanzang replied. We are not wearing the right clothes for the occasion. We might arouse suspicion.

Master, said Monkey, you've forgotten what the ancient monk in the Spread Gold Monastery told us. We could find out whether she is genuine or not while we're taking a good look at the decorated tower. With all this bustle and activity the king is bound to be going to hear the princess's good news. He won't bother with court business. Let's go. On hearing this Sanzang did indeed go with Monkey. All kinds of people were there to watch the throwing of the embroidered ball. Oh dear! Little did they know that by going they were like a fisherman casting his hook and line and catching himself trouble.

The story now explains that two years earlier the king of India had taken his queen, consorts and daughter into the royal garden to enjoy a moonlit night because he so loved landscapes and flowers. This had provoked an evil spirit, who had carried the princess off and turned herself into the girl's double. When she learned that the Tang Priest was coming at this time, day, month and year the evil spirit had used the wealth of the kingdom to build the decorated tower in the hope of winning him as her mate and absorbing his true masculine primal essence to make herself a superior immortal of the Great Monad.

At the third mark of the noonday hour, when Sanzang and Monkey had joined in the crowd and were approaching the tower, the princess lit some incense and prayed to heaven and earth. She was surrounded by five or six dozen exquisitely made-up beauties who were attending her and holding her embroidered ball for her. The tower had many windows on all sides. As the princess looked around she saw the Tang Priest approaching, so she took the embroidered ball and threw it with her own hands at the Tang Priest's head. It knocked his Vairocana mitre askew, giving him such a start that he immediately reached with both hands to steady the ball, which rolled down his sleeve.

At once there were great shouts from everyone on the tower of, She's hit a monk! She's hit a monk!

Oh dear! All the travelling merchants at the crossroads pushed and shouted as they rushed to grab the embroidered ball, to be met by Monkey with a shout and bared teeth as he bent forward then grew to the majestic height of thirty feet. The hideous face he made gave them all such a fright that they collapsed and crawled about, not daring to come closer. A moment later they had all scattered and Monkey resumed his true form.

The maids, palace beauties and senior and junior eunuchs who had been in the tower all camp up to the Tang Priest, kowtowed to him and said, Your Highness, we beg you to come to the palace to be congratulated. Sanzang was quick to return their greetings and help them all back to their feet.

He then turned back to grumble at Monkey, Ape! You've been trying to make a fool of me again.

It was your head the embroidered ball landed on, Monkey replied with a laugh, and your sleeve it rolled into. Nothing to do with me, so what are you moaning at me for?

What are we going to do? Sanzang asked.

Stop worrying, Master, Monkey said. While you go to the palace to see the king I'll go back to the hostel to tell Pig and Friar Sand to wait. If the princess doesn't want you, that'll be that. You submit the passport and we can be on our way. If the princess insists on marriage you must say to the king, 'Please send for my disciples so that I can take my leave of them.' When we three are summoned to court I'll be able to tell whether the princess is real or an impostor. This is the trick called 'subduing a demon through marriage.' The Tang Priest had nothing to say as Monkey turned away and went back to the hostel.

The venerable elder was hustled by the palace beauties and the rest of them to the foot of the tower, from where the princess came down to support him with her jade hand as they both entered the royal carriage. The retinue formed a procession to return to the palace gates.

The eunuch gate-officer at once reported to the king, Your Majesty, Her Royal Highness the princess is outside the Meridional Gate, holding a monk's arm and waiting to be summoned. I expect she hit him with her embroidered ball.

The king was most displeased to hear this, and wanted to have the monk driven away, but as he did not know what the princess had in mind he restrained his feelings and summoned them in. The princess and the Tang Priest came in to stand beneath the throne hall. Indeed:

Man and future wife both hailed the king aloud;

Good and ill together with deep respect kowtowed.

When this ceremonial had been performed they were called into the throne hall, where the king began by asking, Where are you from, monk? Did our daughter hit you with her ball?

The Tang Priest prostrated himself to reply, I have been sent by the emperor of Great Tang in the continent of Jambu to the Western Heaven to worship the Buddha and seek the scriptures in the Great Thunder Monastery. As I carry a passport for this long journey I was coming to present it for inspection at Your Majesty's dawn audience when I passed a decorated tower at a crossroads, never imagining that Her Royal Highness the princess would throw an embroidered ball that would hit me on the head. As I am a monk and belong to a different faith I could not possibly marry your exquisite daughter, so I beg you to spare me the death penalty and return the passport. Then I can be on my way and soon reach Vulture Peak, see the Buddha, ask for the scriptures and return to my own country, where Your Majesty's divine mercy will be for ever recorded.

So you are a holy monk from the East, the king replied. Indeed, 'a thread can draw together a fated match across a thousand miles.' Our princess has reached the age of nineteen and is still unmarried, and as the hour, day, month and year are all now auspicious a decorated tower was set up for her to choose a good husband by throwing the ball from it. You just happened to be hit by it, and although this does not please us we would like to know the princess's views.

Your Majesty my father, the princess replied, kowtowing, as the saying goes, 'Marry a cockerel and follow a cockerel; marry a dog and follow a dog.' I swore a vow beforehand, made the ball and told heaven, earth and the gods that heaven would choose as my husband the man my ball hit. As the ball hit the holy monk today this must have been fated ever since an earlier incarnation, which is why we met today. I would never dare to change my mind. I ask you to take him as your son-in-law.

Only then was the king happy, and he commanded the chief royal astrologer to choose a day. While organizing the trousseau the king issued proclamations to the world. When Sanzang heard this, so far from thanking the king for his kindness, he pleaded, Forgive me, forgive me.

You're most unreasonable, monk, the king replied. We offer you a nation's wealth to be our son-in-law. Why won't you stay here and enjoy yourself? All you can think about is fetching the scriptures. If you go on refusing we will have the palace guards take you out and behead you.

The venerable elder was so frightened by this that his soul left his body as he kowtowed, trembling, and submitted, I am grateful for Your Majesty's heavenly grace, but there are four of us monks travelling West. I have three disciples outside. If I am now to be taken as your son-in-law I beg you to summon them inside as I have not yet taken my leave of them. Then you can return the passport and let them go at once, so that they will not fail in the purpose of their journey to the West.

The king approved this request, asking, Where are your disciples?

In the government hostel for foreigners, Sanzang replied, and officers were at once sent to fetch the holy monk's disciples to receive the passport and be on their way, leaving the holy monk there to be the princess's husband. The venerable elder could only rise to his feet and stand in attendance.

For the Great Elixir not to leak away the Triple Completeness is needed;

Blame an evil fate if the ascetic way is hard.

The Way is in the sage traditions; cultivation depends on the self;

Goodness is accumulated by people, but blessings come from Heaven.

Do not give play to the six sense-organs and their many desires;

Open up the single nature, original and primary.

When there are no attachments or thoughts, purity comes of itself;

Strive for liberation and achieve transcendence.

We will say no more of how officers were sent to the hostel to fetch Sanzang's three disciples.

Instead the story tells how Monkey, after taking his leave of Sanzang at the foot of the decorated tower, went happily back to the hostel, laughing aloud as he walked. Why are you laughing so cheerfully, brother, Pig and Friar Sand asked as they greeted him, and why's the master disappeared?

The master has found happiness, Monkey replied. What happiness? Pig asked. He hasn't reached the end of the journey, he hasn't seen the Buddha and he hasn't fetched the scriptures.

The master and I only got as far as the foot of a decorated tower at the crossroads, Brother Monkey replied. Just then the king's daughter hit the master with an embroidered ball, so he was hustled by palace beauties, pretty girls and eunuchs to the front of the tower, where he climbed into a carriage to go to the palace with the princess. He's been invited to become the king's son-in-law. Isn't that something to be cheerful about?

When Pig heard this he stamped, beat his chest and said, If I'd known beforehand, I'd have gone too. It was all Friar Sand's fault for making trouble. I'd have run straight to the foot of the decorated tower, the embroidered ball would have hit me first time, and the princess would have taken me for her husband. That would have been marvellous, terrific. I'm handsome and good-looking: I'd have been just the man. We'd all have been in luck and have had a good time. It'd have been real fun.

Friar Sand went up to Pig, rubbed his face and said, Shameless, you're shameless! That's a handsome mug, I must say. You're like the man who bought an old donkey for three-tenths of an ounce of silver and boasted that he'd be able to ride it. If she'd hit you first time she wouldn't have wanted to wait till tonight before burning spells to get rid of you. Do you think she'd have let trouble like you into the palace?

You're being very disagreeable, you blacky, Pig replied. Ugly I may be, but I've got class. As the old saying goes, 'When skin and flesh are coarse, the bones may yet be strong: everyone is good at something.'

Stop talking nonsense, idiot, Monkey retorted, and pack the baggage. I expect the master will get anxious and send for us, so we must be ready to go to protect him at court.

You're wrong again, brother, said Pig. If the master's become the king's son-in-law and gone to take his pleasure with the king's daughter, he won't be climbing any more mountains, or tramping along the road, or running into demons and monsters. So what'll he want you to protect him from? He's old enough to know what happens under the bedcovers. He won't need you to hold him up.

Monkey grabbed Pig by the ear, swung his fist, and said abusively, You're as dirty-minded as ever, you cretin! How dare you talk such nonsense!

While they were in the middle of their quarrel the hostel superintendent came to report, His Majesty has sent an official here with a request for you three holy monks to present yourselves.

What's he really asking us to go for?

The senior holy monk had the good fortune to be hit by the princess's golden ball and be taken as her husband, the superintendent replied, which is why the official has come with invitations for you.

Where is the official? Monkey asked. Send him in.

The official then bowed in greeting to Monkey, after which he did not dare look straight at Monkey as he muttered to himself, Is it a ghost? a monster? a thunder god? a yaksha?

Why are you mumbling instead of saying whatever you have to say, official? Monkey asked.

Trembling with terror, the official raised the royal edict with both hands as his words came tumbling out in confusion: Her Royal Highness-invitation-meet her new relations-Her Royal Highness-meet her relations-invitation

We've got no torture equipment here and we're not going to beat you, Pig said, so don't be frightened and take your time telling us.

Do you think he's scared you're going to beat him? Monkey said. What he's scared of is your ugly mug. Get the carrying-pole load packed up at once. We're taking the horse and going to court to see the master and talk things over. Indeed:

One you meet on a narrow path is hard to avoid;

Determination can turn love to hatred.

If you do not know what was said when they met the king, listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 92 | Journey to the West (vol. 3) | Chapter 94