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Chapter 84

The Indestructible Proteges of the Buddha Complete Enlightenment

The Dharma King Comes to the Truth Through His Own Nature

The story tells how Tang Sanzang kept his masculine essence intact and escaped from the terrible snare of mist and flowers. As he headed Westwards with Brother Monkey he did not notice that it was already summer: warm breezes were beginning to blow, and the early summer rain was falling. It was a beautiful sight:

Dark is the shade under tender green;

In the gentle breeze the swallows lead their young.

New lotus leaves are opening on the ponds;

Elegant bamboo is gradually reviving.

The fragrant plants join their blue to the sky;

Mountain flowers carpet all the ground.

Beside the stream the rushes are like swords;

The fiery pomegranate blossom makes the picture even more magnificent.

As the master and his three disciples traveled along enduring the heat they suddenly noticed two rows of tall willows, from under the shade of which an old woman emerged, leaning on a small boy. Don't go any further, monk, she called out. Stop your horse and go back East as soon as you can. The road West leads nowhere.

This gave Sanzang so bad a fright that he sprang off the horse, made a gesture of greeting and said, Venerable Bodhisattva, in the words of the ancients,

'The sea's breadth allows the fish to leap;

The sky's emptiness lets birds fly.'

How could there possibly be no way to the West? To this the old woman replied, pointing Westwards, If you go that way you will come to the capital of Dharmadestructia in a couple of miles. The king formed a hatred of Buddhism in an earlier existence, and in his present life he is punishing it without just cause. Two years ago he made a monstrous vow to kill ten thousand Buddhist monks. In that time he's killed 9,996 unknown monks in succession. He's just waiting for four famous monks to make up his ten thousand so that he will fulfil the vow. If you go into the city you will be throwing away your lives for nothing.

At the sound of this Sanzang was so terrified that he shivered and shook as he replied, Venerable Bodhisattva, I am deeply moved by your great kindness and infinitely grateful too. But, tell me, is there a suitable way I could take that does not go into the city?

There's no way round, the old woman replied with a laugh, no way round. The only way you'll get past it is if you can fly.

At this Pig started shooting his mouth off from where he stood beside them: Don't try to put us off. We can all fly.

Monkey's fiery eyes with their golden pupils really could distinguish good from evil, and he saw that the old woman and the little boy on whom she was leaning were in fact the Bodhisattva Guanyin and the page Sudhana. He hastily flung himself to the ground and began to kowtow, calling out, Bodhisattva, your disciple failed to welcome you. I'm sorry.

The Bodhisattva then rose slowly on her multicolored cloud, so startling the venerable elder that his legs gave way under him and he kowtowed as he knelt there for all he was worth. Pig and Friar Sand also fell to their knees in alarm and kowtowed to heaven. A moment later she was heading straight back to the Southern Sea amid auspicious clouds.

Monkey then got up and supported his master as he said, Get up please. The Bodhisattva's already gone back to her island.

Wukong, Sanzang said, if you knew she was the Bodhisattva why did you not say so before?

You ask too many questions, Monkey replied with a grin. When I started kowtowing wasn't that early enough?

It was lucky the Bodhisattva told us that Dharmadestructia, where they kill monks, is ahead of us, Pig and Friar Sand said to Monkey. Whatever are we to do?

Don't be afraid, idiot, Monkey replied. We've come to no harm from any of the vicious demons and evil monsters we've met already or in the tigers' dens and dragons' pools we've been in. This is just a country of ordinary people. What's there to be so scared of? The only thing is that we can't stay here. It's getting late in the day and some of the villagers are coming back from market in the town. It will be no good if they see we're monks and raise a hue and cry. We'd better take the master away from the main road to some quiet and secluded spot where we can discuss things. Sanzang accepted Monkey's suggestion and they slipped away from the main road to a hollow in the ground where they sat down.

Brother, said Monkey, you two look after the master while I turn myself into something and go into town to take a look around. I'll find a side road that we can get away along tonight.

Disciple, said Sanzang, don't take this lightly. The royal law is implacable. You must be careful.

Don't worry, said Monkey with a smile, don't worry. I can cope.

This said, the Great Sage leapt whistling up into the air. It was very strange:

No rope to hold on to above,

No pole to support him below.

Others are all like their parents,

But the weight of his bones was low.

As he stood in the clouds looking down he saw that the city was full of the most happy and auspicious atmosphere. What a splendid place, Monkey said. Why are they trying to destroy the Dharma here? He looked around for a while, and in the gathering dusk he saw:

Bright lights at the crossroads,

Incense and bells in the ninefold hall.

The seven brightest stars shone in the blue heavens,

And the travelers stopped moving in all eight directions.

From the army barracks

The painted bugle could just be heard;

In the drum tower

The copper water-clock began to drip.

All around the evening mists were dense;

Cold fog was thick in the markets.

Two by two the couples went to their beds

As the bright moon's disk was rising in the East.

If I went down into the streets to look for our way with a face like this, he thought, anyone I saw would be sure I was a monk. I'd better change. He made a spell with his hands, said the magic words, shook himself and turned into a moth, the sort that flies into the lantern:

A tiny body, a pair of delicate wings,

Who puts out the lamp and flies into the candle when seeking the light.

Formed by changing its own original body,

It makes its magic response in grass that's decaying.

Loving the burning light of the candle's flame,

Endlessly flying around it with never a pause,

The purple-clad moth with its scented wings drives off the fireflies;

What it likes best is the windless calm of the night.

Watch him as he flutters and flies straight to the main streets and the markets, keeping close to the eaves and the corners of the buildings he passes. As he was flying along he noticed an angled row of houses on a corner with a lantern hanging above each doorway.

They must be celebrating the Lantern Festival here, he thought. Why else is that line of lighted lanterns there? Stiffening his wings and flying up for a closer look, he saw that on a square lantern outside the middle house was written, Accommodation for Commercial Travelers, with Wang the Second's Inn beneath it. Only then did Monkey realize that this was an inn. Stretching his head forward for a closer look he saw eight or nine men inside who had all eaten their supper, taken off their clothes and hats, washed their hands and feet and gone to bed.

The master will get through, Monkey thought with secret delight. How did he know that? Because he was having a wicked idea: he would wait till they were all asleep, then steal their clothes and hats so that he and his companions could go into the city dressed as laymen.

Oh dear! This was one of those things that don't turn out as you want them to. While Monkey was still thinking about his plan Wang the Second went up to the merchants and said, Please be vigilant, gentlemen. We have villains here as well as decent people. You must all be careful about your clothes and luggage.

As you can imagine, the travelling merchants were all very vigilant, and the innkeeper's advice made them more cautious than ever. So they all got out of bed and said, You're quite right, host. We travelers have a hard time. We're always worried that if there's some emergency when we're asleep we may not wake up; and if things go wrong we're in a mess. You'd better take all our clothes, hats and bags and look after them for us inside. Tomorrow morning you can give them back to us when we get up.

Wang the Second then took all the clothes he could find into his own room. Monkey anxiously spread his wings, flew in there and landed on the hat stand, from where he saw Wang the Second take the lantern down from the door, lower the blinds, and shut the door and window. Only then did he go into his bedroom, undress and lie down.

Now Wang the Second had a wife and two children who were crying and making a noise, in no hurry to sleep. Wang's wife then started mending a torn piece of clothing, so that she too was still awake. If I have to wait till that woman stops working and goes to sleep, thought Monkey, I'll be keeping the master waiting too. He then started worrying that if he left it till much later the city gates would be shut, so he lost patience and flew down into the flame of the lamp. It was indeed a case of

He was ready to die when he dived at the blaze,

And with brows scarred by fire to live out his days.

Having extinguished the lamp he shook himself and turned into a rat who gave a couple of squeaks, jumped down, grabbed hats and clothes and went outside. Old man, the woman said with alarm, this is terrible. A rat's turned into a spirit.

When Monkey heard this he used another trick, blocking the doorway and yelling at the top of his voice, That woman's talking nonsense, Wang the Second. Ignore her. I'm not a rat turned spirit. As a decent man I don't do underhanded things. I'm the Great Sage Equaling Heaven come down to earth to protect the Tang Priest while he goes to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven. I've come to borrow these clothes as a disguise for my master because your king is so wicked. I'll bring them back soon when we're out of the city.

Once Wang the Second heard this he scrambled out of bed and started groping around the floor in the dark. He was in such a rush that when he got hold of his trousers he thought they were his shirt: there was no way he could put them on no matter how he tried.

By now the Great Sage had used lifting magic to escape on his cloud, which he turned round to go straight back to the hollow by the road. Sanzang was looking out for him fixedly by the bright light of the moon and the stars, and as soon as he saw Monkey approaching he called out, Can we get through the capital of Dharmadestructia, disciple?

Coming up and laying the clothes down in front of him, Monkey replied, Master, you won't get through Dharmadestructia as a monk.

Brother, said Pig, who do you think you're making things hard for? It's easy to stop being a monk. All you have to do is stop shaving your head for six months and let your hair grow.

We can't wait six months, Monkey replied. We're going to turn into laymen right now.

But that's a completely ridiculous thing to say, said a shocked Pig. We're all monks now, and if we turned into laymen straight away we wouldn't be able to wear hats. Even if we could pull them tight enough at the edges we've got no hair to tie the string at the top to.

Stop fooling about, Sanzang shouted, and be serious. What do you really have in mind?

I've had a good look at this city, Master, Monkey replied, and although the king is a wicked one who kills monks he is a true son of heaven. There is an auspicious glow and a happy atmosphere above the city. I know my way round the streets now, and I can understand and talk the local language. I've just borrowed these hats and clothes from an inn for us to dress ourselves up as laymen in. We'll go into the city, put up for the night, get up at the fourth watch and ask the innkeeper to fix us some vegetarian food. At the fifth watch we'll go out through the gate and head West along the main road. If we meet anyone who tries to stop us we can talk our way out of it. I'll tell him we were sent by the ruler of their suzerain state. The king of Dharmadestructia won't dare hold us up. He'll let us go on our way.

Our big brother has arranged things very well, said Friar Sand. Let's do as he suggests.

The venerable elder did indeed have no option but to take off his monastic tunic and hat and put on a layman's clothing and headwear. Friar Sand changed too, but Pig's head was too big for him to be able to wear a hat. Monkey fetched needle and thread, tore two hats open and sewed them into a single one. Then he put the hat on Pig's head and found a garment big enough for him to wear. Finally he dressed himself and said, Gentlemen, we must ban the words 'master' and 'disciples' on this journey.

What else can we call each other? Pig asked. We must talk like people who address each other as brothers, Monkey replied. The master can call himself Tang the Eldest. You can be Hogg the Third, and Friar Sand can be Sand the Fourth. I'll be Sun the Second. But when we are in the inn none of you must say anything. Leave all the talking to me. When they ask what line of business we're in I'll say we're horse dealers. I'll pretend that the white horse is a sample and that there are ten of us altogether, of whom we four have come ahead to book rooms at an inn and sell this horse. The innkeeper will be bound to treat us well then. We'll be properly looked after, and before we leave I'll find a piece of broken tile and turn it into silver to pay him with. Then we'll be able to go on our way. Although he was not happy about it the Tang Priest had to go along with this.

The four of them hurried to the city, leading the horse and carrying the luggage. As this was a very peaceful place the city gates were still open although it was already night. They went straight into the city, and as they passed the gateway of Wang the Second's inn they could hear shouting inside.

People were yelling, My hat's disappeared! and My clothes have gone! Pretending he did not know what this was all about, Monkey took them to an inn further along on the other side of the road. This inn was still showing its lantern, so Monkey went up to the gateway and called, Do you have a vacant room for us, innkeeper?

Yes, yes, a woman answered from inside. Please come upstairs, gentlemen. Before she had finished speaking a man came out to take the horse. Monkey handed him the horse to take inside. He then led the master into the building in the shadow of the lamp. Upstairs there were tables and chairs conveniently arranged, and when the window was opened they all sat down in the clear moonlight.

When someone came with a lighted lamp Monkey blocked the doorway, blew it out and said, No need for a lamp on a bright night like this.

No sooner had the man with the lamp gone down than a maid came up with four bowls of tea. Monkey took the bowls from her, only for her to be followed by a woman who looked to be about fifty-six or fifty-seven coming up the stairs.

Standing beside Monkey she asked, Where are you gentlemen from? What fine goods do you have?

We're from the North, Monkey replied, and we've got a few poor horses to sell.

You're very young to be a horse dealer, the woman said.

This gentleman is Tang the Eldest, Monkey explained, this is Hogg the Third, and this is Sand the fourth. I'm Sun the Second, an apprentice.

But your surnames are all different, said the woman with a smile. Yes, Monkey replied, our surnames are different but we all live together. There are ten of us brothers altogether, and we four have come ahead to fix our board and lodging. The other six have found a place outside the city to stay tonight. It would have been awkward for them to come into the city as they've got a herd of horses. They'll come in tomorrow morning when we've fixed some accommodation. We won't go home till we've sold the horses.

How many horses are there in your herd? the woman asked.

Over a hundred of all ages, Monkey replied. They're all like that one of ours, except that they come in different colours.

Mr. Sun, the woman said with a laugh, you really know how to travel. You should have come straight here: no other inn would be able to put you up. We have a big courtyard well supplied with troughs and tethering posts and plenty of fodder too. We could feed several hundred horses here. There's just one thing I should mention. I've been keeping this inn for many years and it's quite well known. My late husband was called Zhao, but I'm afraid he died long ago, so this is now called Widow Zhao's Inn. We have three classes of entertainment for our guests. Let's get sordid money matters out of the way, then we can be more civilized later. The first thing is to discuss the tariffs and agree on one so that we know where we stand when it's time to settle the accounts.

Quite right, Monkey replied. What are your three classes of entertainment? As the saying goes,

Your tariffs may be low, your tariffs may be dear,

But treat us all the same, who come from far or near.

What do your tariffs involve? Could you explain them to me?

We have first, second and third-class tariffs, the old woman replied. The first class is a banquet with five kinds of fruit and five different dishes. The tables are set with confectionery lions and immortals fighting. Two gentlemen share a table, and there are young ladies to sing to them and sleep with them. It costs half an ounce of silver per head, the price of the room included.

I'd agree to that, Monkey replied. Where we come from half an ounce wouldn't even pay for a girl.

For the second-class tariff, the woman continued, you all eat from the same dishes of food and we provide fruit and warm wine that you help yourselves to in your drinking games. No young ladies are provided and it costs one fifth of an ounce of silver each.

I'd agree to that too, Monkey replied. What about the third class?

I wouldn't like to discuss it with such distinguished gentlemen as yourselves, she replied.

No harm in telling us about it, Monkey replied, so that we can choose what suits us best.

Nobody waits on you in the third class, she said, and we provide a big pot of rice for you to eat from as you will. When you're full there's straw for you to spread out on the ground and sleep on where it suits you. At dawn you give us a few coppers for the rice and I can assure you we won't argue about how much.

We're in luck, said Pig, we're in luck. That's the sort of deal I like. I'll eat my fill from the cauldron then have a bloody good sleep in front of the stove.

What nonsense, brother, said Monkey. We've earned an ounce or two of silver on our travels. Give us the first-class treatment.

Make some good tea, the woman said with great delight, and tell the kitchen to get the food ready quickly. She then went downstairs calling out, Kill chickens and geese and boil up some pickled meat for them to have with their rice.

Then she shouted, Kill a pig and a sheep. What can't be eaten today can be served tomorrow. Get some good wine. Use the best white rice, and make some pancakes with white flour.

When Sanzang heard all this from upstairs he said, Whatever shall we do, Sun the Second? They're going to slaughter chickens, geese, a pig and a sheep. If they bring us all these we won't be able to eat them as we're all vegetarians.

I've got an idea, said Monkey, and he stamped in the doorway and called out, Mrs. Zhao, come up here.

What instructions do you have for me, sir, she asked.

Don't kill any living creatures today. We're eating vegetarian food today, Monkey replied.

Are you gentlemen permanent vegetarians, or just vegetarians for this month? asked the woman in surprise.

Neither, replied Monkey. We're vegetarians on gengshen days. Today's one, so we have to eat meatless food. But after the third watch tonight it'll be a xinyou day and the restrictions won't apply. Kill them tomorrow. Lay on some vegetarian food today, and make it first-class.

This made the woman happier than ever. Don't slaughter anything, she said, hurrying downstairs, don't slaughter anything. Fetch some tree-ear fungus, Fujian bamboo shoots, beancurd and wheat gluten. Pick some green vegetables in the garden, make vermicelli soup, steam some brad rolls, boil more white rice and make some scented tea.

Now the cooks were experts because they cooked every day, so that everything was ready in an instant to be set out upstairs. They also had some confectioneries of lions and immortals that were already made for the four travelers to eat their fill of.

When the question was asked, Would you like some mild wine? Brother Monkey replied, Eldest Brother Tang won't have any, but the rest of us will have a few cups. The widow then fetched a jug of warm wine.

When drinks had been poured out for the three of them they heard the sound of banging against wooden boards. Has some furniture fallen over downstairs, missus? Monkey asked.

No, the woman replied, It's some retainers from my farm who arrived late this evening with rent rice. We let them sleep downstairs. As we were short-staffed when you gentlemen arrived I told them to take the sedan-chairs to the brothel to fetch some young ladies to keep you company. They must have hit the underneath of the floorboards with the chair-poles.

You mentioned that before, Monkey said. But don't send for them now. Today's a fast day, and besides, our brothers aren't here yet. They'll be here tomorrow for sure. Then we can all send for some call-girls and have a good time in your excellent establishment before we sell our horses and go.

What good men, the woman said, what good men. That way you'll all stay friends and you won't waste your energy. Then she ordered that the sedan-chairs be brought back in as the whores were not to be fetched. The four of them finished their wine and food, the utensils were cleared away, and the meal was over.

Where are we going to sleep? Sanzang whispered in Monkey's ear.

Upstairs, Monkey replied.

Too dangerous, Sanzang replied. We have all had so hard a journey that we may well fall fast asleep. If any of the inn people come in to tidy up and our hats have rolled off they will see our bald heads, realize that we are monks, and raise a hue and cry. That would be a disaster.

You're right, said Monkey, going out to stamp his foot again.

What instructions do you have this time, Mr. Sun? the woman asked, coming upstairs once more.

Where are we to sleep? Monkey asked.

Upstairs is best, she replied. There are no mosquitoes and there's a South wind. Open the windows wide and you'll sleep beautifully.

We won't be able to, said Monkey. Our Mr. Hogg the Third has a touch of gout, Mr. Sand the Fourth has some rheumatism in his shoulder, Brother Tang can only sleep in the dark, and I don't like the light myself. So this is no place for us to sleep.

As the woman went downstairs, leaning on the banisters and sighing, her daughter, who was carrying a child in her arms, came up to her and said, Mother, as the saying goes, 'Be stuck on a sandbank for ten days, then said past nine sandbanks in one.' It's too hot now to be doing much business, but once autumn begins we'll have more than we can handle. What are you sighing like that for?

It's not because business is slack, daughter, the older woman replied. I was just going to close the inn up this evening when four horse dealers came and took a room. They wanted the first-class tariff. I was hoping to make a little silver out of them, and I'm sighing because we won't earn much: they're fasting.

As they've already eaten they can't very well go to another inn, the daughter replied. And we'll be able to make money out of them when we serve them meat and wine tomorrow.

They're all poorly, the older woman replied, and want somewhere dark to sleep because they don't like drafts or light. All the rooms in the inn have got missing tiles, so where am I going to find somewhere dark for them? It'd be best to write off the cost of the meal and tell them to stay somewhere else.

But we do have somewhere dark in the house, mother, her daughter replied, where there's no draft and no light. It'll do splendidly.

Where? the older woman asked.

The big trunk that father had made when he was still alive, the daughter replied. It's four feet wide, seven feet long and three feet high, and big enough for seven people to sleep in. Tell them to sleep in the trunk.

I don't know whether it'll do, said the older woman. I'll ask them. Mr. Sun, if you won't have our poky little room there's nowhere darker here than our big trunk. It'll keep out light and drafts. So why don't you sleep in the trunk?

Splendid, Monkey replied. She then told several of the retainers to carry the trunk out and open the lid, while inviting her guests to come downstairs. Monkey led the master and Friar Sand carried the luggage as they went to the trunk, following in the lantern's shadow. The reckless Pig was the first to climb inside. Friar Sand lifted the luggage in then helped the Tang Priest in before getting in himself.

Where's our horse? Monkey asked.

Tied up eating hay in the stables at the back, replied the servant who was attending them.

Bring it here, said Monkey, and bring the trough too. Tether the animal next to the trunk. Only then did he get inside himself and call out, Shut the lid, Mrs. Zhao, fasten the hasp and padlock it. And look it over for us. Glue paper wherever it lets in the light. Open it again early tomorrow morning.

You're very particular, the widow said. After that the doors were fastened and everyone went to bed.

The story switches to the four of them in the chest. Poor things! They were wearing hats, the weather was very hot and it was airless and stuffy. They took off their hats and clothes, and fanned themselves with their monastic hats for lack of fans. They were all crowded in next to each other and did not fall asleep till the second watch. Monkey, however, wanted to make trouble, so he stayed awake. He put his hand out and gave Pig a pinch on the leg.

The idiot pulled his leg in and mumbled, Go to sleep. We've had a hard day. What do you want to fool around pinching people's hands and feet for?

We started by laying out five thousand ounces of silver, said Monkey aloud, deliberately making mischief, and we sold those horses the other day for three thousand. We've got four thousand in the two bags, and we'll sell this herd of horses for another three thousand. That means we'll have doubled our capital. That's not bad. Pig, who was sleepy, did not bother to reply.

Now the floor staff, the water-carriers and the kitchen porters were in league with bandits. After hearing Brother Monkey talking about all the money they had, several of them slipped off to fetch twenty or more armed bandits to come with torches to rob the four horse traders. As they charger in through the gates they gave Widow Zhao and her daughter such a fright that shivering and shaking they fastened the doors of their room and let the robbers take whatever they wanted outside. Now the bandits were not after the inn's property but were looking for the guests. When they went upstairs and found no sign of them there, they lit their torches and held them out while they looked all around. All they could see was a large trunk in the courtyard, to the bottom of which was tethered a white horse. The lid was tightly locked and could not be prized open.

Travelling merchants all know what they're about, the bandits said. This trunk looks so strong that it's bound to be full of purses, valuables and silk. Let's steal the horse, take the trunk out of town, open it up and share out what's inside. That would be the best thing, wouldn't it? The bandits then found some rope with which they lifted the box and carried it off, swinging and swaying.

Brother, said Pig, woken up by this, go to sleep. Why are you rocking us?

Shut up, Monkey replied. Nobody's rocking us.

Sanzang and Friar Sand had been abruptly awoken too, and they asked, Who's carrying us?

Keep quiet, said Monkey, keep quiet. Let them carry us. If they carry us to the Western Heaven we'll be saved the trouble of walking.

But the successful bandits were not heading West. Instead they headed towards the East of the city, killing the soldiers on the city gate, opening it and letting themselves out. This caused a sensation in the streets and the markets, where the watchmen of all the shops reported it to the commander-in-chief of the city garrison and the East city commissioner. As this was their responsibility the commander-in-chief and the East city commissioner mustered a force of infantry, cavalry and bowmen that left the city in pursuit of the bandits. Seeing that resistance to so powerful a government force would have been pointless, the bandits abandoned the trunk and the white horse, scattered into the undergrowth and disappeared. The government troops did not catch even half a robber: all they captured was the trunk and the white horse, with which they returned in triumph. The commander-in-chief examined the horse in the light of the lamps and saw that it was a fine one:

Threads of silver grew in his mane;

In his tail hung strands of jade.

Forget about Eight Chargers and dragon steeds;

This was steadier than the great Sushuang;

Its bones alone would have sold for a thousand ounces of silver;

It could gallop after the wind for three thousand miles.

When it climbed a mountain it merged into the clouds;

As it neighed at the moon it was as white as snow.

It was truly a dragon from an ocean island,

A unicorn of Jade in the human world.

The commander-in-chief rode the white horse instead of his own steed as he led his men back into the city. The trunk was carried to his headquarters, where he and the East city commissioner sealed it with strips of paper on which they wrote and set a guard over it till morning, when they would submit a memorial to the king and request a decision on what to do with it. After that the other troops were dismissed.

The story now tells how the venerable Tang Priest was grumbling at Monkey inside the chest. Ape, he said, you've killed me this time. If I had been arrested outside and taken to the king of Dharmadestructia I might well have been able to put up a good argument in my defense. But now I am here, locked in this trunk. I have been carried off by bandits and recaptured by the army. When we are shown to the king tomorrow we will be all ready for him to put to the sword and make up his ten thousand.

There are people outside! exclaimed Monkey. If they open the trunk and take you out you'll either be tied up or hung up. If you don't want to be tied or strung up you'd better show a little patience. When we're taken to see this deluded king tomorrow I'll definitely be able to talk my way out of things. I guarantee that not one hair of yours will be harmed. So stop worrying and go back to sleep.

In the third watch Monkey used one of his magic powers. Slipping his cudgel out he blew on it with a magic breath, called Change! and turned it into a triple auger with which he drilled two or three holes near the bottom of the chest, forming a single larger hole. He put the auger away, shook himself, turned into an ant and crawled out. Then he turned back into himself and rode his cloud straight to the palace gates. The king was fast asleep at the time, so Monkey used his Great All powerful Body-dividing Magic.

Plucking all the hairs out of his left arm he blew on them with a magic breath, called Change! and turned them into little Monkeys. Then he pulled all the hairs out from his right arm, blew on them with a magic breath, called Change! and turned them into sleep-insects. Next he recited the magic word Om and told the local deity of the place to take the little Monkeys to distribute them throughout the palace to all the officials in every office and department of government. Each holder of official rank was given a sleep-insect to ensure that he or she would sleep soundly and not get up. Monkey then took his gold-banded cudgel in his hands, squeezed it, waved it, called, Change, treasure! and turned it into over a thousand razors of the sort used for shaving the head. Taking one himself, he told all the little monkeys to take one each and shave the heads of everyone in the inner quarters of the palace and in all the government departments and offices. This was indeed a case of:

When the Dharma king would destroy it the Dharma is infinite;

The Dharma runs through heaven and earth, opening the Great Way.

The origins of ten thousand Dharmas all come down to one;

The features of the Three Vehicles are basically the same.

He bored through the trunk to find out the news,

Distributed his golden hairs to smash delusion,

Determined to bring the Dharma king to the true achievement,

To the eternal emptiness of what is not born and dies not.

That night the head-shaving was completed, so Monkey said another spell to dismiss the local deity, shook himself to bring all the hairs back to his arms, then touched all the razors to turn them back into their true form as the gold-banded cudgel, which he made much smaller and hid in his ear again. Finally he reverted to being an ant, crawled back into the trunk, and went on guarding the Tang Priest in his time of danger.

When the palace ladies in the inner quarters got up to wash and do their hair before dawn the next morning they all found that their hair had gone. The same had happened to all the eunuchs, senior and junior, who moved around the palace. They all crowded to the outside of the royal bedchamber, where they played music to wake the king up, all holding back their tears but not daring to speak. Before long the queen in the palace woke up to find her hair gone too. When she hurried with lanterns to the dragon bed she found a monk sleeping in the brocade quilt, at which she could restrain her tongue no longer, thus awakening the king.

When the king suddenly opened his eyes wide and saw the queen's bald head he got straight out of bed and said, Why are you like that, my queen?

You're the same, Your Majesty, she replied. The king then rubbed his head, which gave him such a fright that the three souls in his body groaned, and his seven spirits flew off into the air.

What has happened to me? he exclaimed.

Just when he was in this panicky state the royal consorts, the palace ladies and the eunuchs young and old all fell to their knees, their heads shaved bald, and said, Lord, we have all been turned into monks.

At the sight of them the king wept. We think this must be because of all the monks we have killed, he said. He then gave these orders: None of you are to say anything about the loss of our hair as, if you do, the civil and military officials may slander our country and say that it has been badly governed. Let us now hold court in the throne hall.

Now all the officials high and low in all the departments and offices of government went to court to pay their respects before dawn. As it turned out, all these men had lost their hair in the night too, and they all submitted memorials reporting the fact. All that could be heard was:

The whip of silence sounding three times at the royal audience;

As all report that their heads have now been shaved.

If you do not know what happened to the booty in the trunk that the commander-in-chief had recaptured and whether the Tang Priest and his three disciples were to live or die, listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 83 | Journey to the West (vol. 3) | Chapter 85