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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 59 | Journey to the West (vol. 2) | Chapter 61