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Chapter 69

The Heart's Master Prepares Medicine in the Night

The Monarch Discusses a Demon at the Banquet

The story tells how the Great Sage Sun went with the eunuchs in attendance on the king to the inner quarters of the palace and stood outside the doors of the royal bed-chamber. Handing the three golden threads to the eunuchs to take inside he gave them these instructions:

Tell the queens and consorts of the inner palace or the eunuchs in personal attendance to fasten these threads to His Majesty's left wrist at the inch, the bar and the cubit, then pass them out of the window to me. The eunuchs did as he said, asking the king to sit on his dragon bed while they fastened one end of the golden threads to the inch, the bar and the cubit and passed the other ends outside.

Monkey took these ends and first held the end of one between the thumb and the forefinger of his right hand and felt the pulse at the inch point. He held the next against his middle finger and felt the pulse at the bar, and then pressed his thumb against his third finger and felt the cubit pulse. Next he regulated his own breathing to examine the four functions, the five depressions, the seven exterior and eight interior symptoms, the nine tempers, the deep pulses within the floating ones and the floating ones within the deep ones. He thus determined the insufficiencies and excesses of the functioning of organs, then told the eunuchs to take the threads off the king's left wrist and fasten them to the same points on the right wrist. He felt the threads one by one with the fingers of his left hand.

With a shake he put the golden threads back on his body and shouted at the top of his voice, Your Majesty, the inch pulse on your left wrist is strong and tense, the bar pulse is sluggish and tardy, and the cubit is hollow and deep. On your right wrist the inch is floating and slippery, the bar is slow and knotted, and the cubit is frequent and firm. The left inch being strong and tense means that you have an internal emptiness and pains in the heart. The left bar being sluggish and tardy shows that you sweat and that your muscles feel numb. The hollowness and depth of the cubit suggest red urine and bloody stools. The floating, slippery inch pulse on the right wrist shows internal accumulations and blocked channels. The bar being slow and knotted is from indigestion and retained drinking. The frequency and wiriness of the cubit shows a chronic opposition of irritable fullness and empty coldness. My diagnosis of Your Majesty's ailment is that you are suffering from alarm and worry. The condition is the one known as the 'pair of birds parted.'

When the king heard this inside his chamber he was so delighted that his spirits revived and he shouted in reply, You have understood my illness through your fingers. That is indeed my trouble. Please go out and fetch some medicine.

Monkey walked slowly out of the inner palace, by when the eunuchs watching him had already given the news to everyone. When Monkey emerged a moment later the Tang Priest asked him how it had gone. I made a diagnosis from his pulses, Monkey said. I now have to prepare the medicine for his condition.

All the officials then came forward to ask, Holy monk, reverend sir, what is the 'pair of birds parted' condition of which you spoke just now?

It's when a cock bird and a hen who were flying together are suddenly separated by a violent storm, replied Monkey with a smile. The hen misses the cock and the cock misses the hen. Isn't that 'a pair of birds parted?' At this the officials all cried out over and over again in admiration. He really is a holy monk! He really is a divine doctor!

You have diagnosed the condition, said one of the fellows of the Royal College of Medicine, but what drugs will you use to treat it?

There's no need to stick to prescriptions, said Monkey. I'll choose the drugs when I see them.

According to the medical classic, There are 808 varieties of medicine and 404 varieties of sickness,' said the fellows of the Royal College of Medicine. How can it be right to use all the medicines when one person does not have all the ailments? You can't just choose your drugs on sight.

To this Monkey replied, The ancients said, 'In preparing medicines do not stick rigidly to the formulae; use them as appropriate.' That's why I've asked for the full range of pharmaceutical materials so that I can make adjustments as I need to.

The fellows of the Royal College could say no more to this, but went out through the palace gates and sent those of the college's staff who were on duty to tell all the pharmacies in the city, whether selling raw materials or prepared drugs, to send three pounds of each to Monkey.

This is no place for preparing medicine, said Monkey. All the medicines and a set of pharmacist's utensils must be sent to the Hostel of Meeting and handed over to my two fellow disciples. The fellows did as they were told. Three pounds of each of the 808 ingredients of medicine together with pharmacist's rollers, hand-mills, sieves, mortars, bowls, pestles and the like were all sent to the hostel, handed over and received.

Monkey went back into the throne hall and asked his master to return to the hostel with him while he prepared the medicine. Sanzang was just getting up to go when the king sent a command from the inner quarters that the Master of the Law was to stay behind and spend the night in the Hall of Literary Splendor; the next morning, after taking the medicine and recovering from his illness, the king would reward them, inspect the passport and send them on their way. Sanzang was horrified.

Disciple, he said, he means to keep me here as a hostage. If he is cured he will be happy to send us on our way, but if the treatment fails my life is over. You must be very careful and pay full attention when preparing the medicine.

Don't worry, Master, Monkey said with a smile, Enjoy yourself here. I'm a superb doctor.

Taking his leave of Sanzang and of all the officials the splendid Great Sage went straight back to the hostel where Pig welcomed him with a grin. Brother, he said, I know what you're up to.

What? Monkey asked.

If fetching the scriptures doesn't come off you'll be left without any capital to start up a business. Pig replied. Now you've seen how prosperous this place is you're planning to open a chemist's shop here.

Don't talk nonsense, shouted Monkey. When I've cured the king I'll use my success to leave the court and be on our way. I'm not going to be running a chemist's.

Well, said Pig, if you're not opening a shop, why get three pounds of each of 808 different ingredients to treat one man? How much of it will you need? How many years will it take for him to finish the lot?

He'll never finish that much, Monkey replied. The fellows of their Royal College of Medicine are a load of idiots. The only reason why I sent for so many ingredients was to baffle them and stop them knowing which ones I'm going to use. Then they won't be able to find out what my miraculous prescription is.

As they were talking two of the hostel staff came in and fell to their knees before them to say, We beg the holy monks and reverend gentlemen to partake of their evening repast.

This morning you treated us rather differently, said Monkey, so why go on your knees to invite us now?

When you first came, my lords, the hostel orderlies replied, we were too blind to recognize your illustrious faces. Now we have heard how you are using your outstanding medical powers to treat our king. If His Majesty recovers his health he will share the kingdom with you, so we'll all be your subjects. So it's only proper for us to kowtow to you and to invite you politely to eat. On hearing this Monkey cheerfully took the place of honour while Pig and Friar Sand sat to his left and right.

As the vegetarian meal was served Friar Sand asked, Where's our master, brother?

The king's kept him as a hostage, Monkey replied. When the king's cured he'll regard us and send us on our way.

Is he being well looked after? Friar Sand continued.

His host's a king, Monkey replied, so of course he's in luxury. When I went there he had three senior ministers looking after him and he was invited into the Hall of Literary Splendor.

In that case, said Pig, the master's still doing much better than us. He's got ministers looking after him, and we've only got a couple of hostel orderlies to serve us. So I'm going to forget about him and eat a good meal. Thus the three of them enjoyed their meal at ease.

It was now late. Tidy the dishes away, Monkey said to the hostel orderlies, and fetch me plenty of oil and candles. The best time for us to make up the medicine will be in the quiet of the night.

The orderlies brought oil and candles as instructed and were then dismissed. In the still silence of the middle of the night Pig asked, Brother, what, medicines are we going to make? Let's get on with it. I need my shut-eye.

Get an ounce of rhubarb and grind it to a fine powder with a roller, said Brother Monkey.

Rhubarb has a bitter taste and a cold nature and isn't noxious, said Friar Sand. Its nature is deep, not superficial; it's an active medicine, not a defensive one. It removes stagnations and clears obstructions, settles disorder, and brings about peace, and they call it 'the general'. It's a cathartic drug. But perhaps it's wrong for someone in an empty, weakened state after a long illness.

There's something you don't know, brother, Monkey said. This drug helps phlegm, makes the vital forces travel smoothly, and calms the heat and cold that become congested in the stomach. Just leave me alone and fetch me an ounce of croton seeds. Shell them, peel them, hammer the poisonous oil out of them, then grind them to a fine powder with a roller.

Croton seed is acrid, hot by nature and poisonous, said Pig. It cuts away hard accumulations, deals with submerged cold in the lungs and bowels, and clears obstructions. It smooths the way for water and grain. It's a warrior for storming passes and gates. You must be very careful how you use it.

Brother, Monkey replied, what you don't understand is that this is a drug that destroys knots, opens the intestine and can cure swelling of the heart and dropsy. Hurry up and get it ready. And I'll want an adjuvant to back it up.

The two of them started work on grinding the two drugs to a fine powder. You'll need dozens more, brother, they said, so which'll they be?

That's all, Monkey replied.

But you've got three pounds of each of 808 different medicinal ingredients, Pig said. If all you're going to use is two ounces you've been making a fool of these people.

Monkey then produced a patterned porcelain dish and said, Stop talking, brothers. Take this dish and fill it half full with soot scraped from a cooking pot.

Whatever for? Pig asked.

I need it for the medicine, Monkey replied. I never heard of soot from a cooking pot being used in medicine, said Friar Sand.

It's called 'frost on the flowers,' said Monkey, and it helps treat all kinds of illness. Didn't you know that? The idiot then scraped off half a dishful and ground it up to a fine powder.

Monkey then handed him another dish and said, Now fetch me half a dishful of our horse's piss.

What for? Pig asked.

To make the medicine up into pills with. Monkey replied.

Brother, said Friar Sand with a smile, this is no joking matter. Horse piss stinks. You can't use it in medicine. I've only seen vinegar paste, old rice paste, refined honey and clean water used for making pills. Who ever heard of horse piss used to make pills? It's got a terrible stink. Anyone with a weak spleen would throw up at the first sniff. If he goes on and takes the rhubarb and croton seeds he'll be vomiting at one end and having the runs at the other. That'll be no joke.

You don't know the inside story, said Monkey. That horse of ours is no ordinary horse. He used to be a dragon in the Western Ocean. If he'll give us some of his piss it'll cure any illness you could have. My only worry is that he might refuse. When Pig heard this he went and stood beside the horse, who was lying down asleep. The idiot kicked the horse till he got to his feet then pressed himself against the horse's stomach for a very long time but without seeing any sign of piss. He ran back to Monkey to say, Brother, never mind about treating the king. Hurry up and cure the horse. He's done for: he's dried right up. There's no way we're going to get a drop of piss out of him.

I'll go with you, smiled Monkey.

I'll come and have a look too, said Friar Sand.

When the three of them reached the horse he started to jump about and shout in human language at the top of his voice, How can you be so ignorant, brother? I used to be a flying dragon in the Western Ocean. The Bodhisattva Guanyin saved me after I'd offended against the Heavenly Code. She sawed off my horns, removed my scales and turned me into a horse to carry the master to the Western Heaven to fetch the scriptures. This way I'll be able to redeem my crimes. If I pissed into any river I was crossing the fish in the water would drink it and turn into dragons. The grass on any mountain we were going over that got a taste of it would become magic fungus for immortal boys to gather and give themselves eternal life. So of course I can't casually drop it in a vulgar, worldly place like this.

Watch your words, brother, said Monkey. This is the city of a Western king, not some vulgar, worldly place. You wouldn't be casually dropping it here. As the saying goes, many hands make light work. We've got to cure the king. When we do we'll all be covered in glory. If we fail I'm afraid we won't be able to leave this country with any credit.

Wait a moment, the horse finally said. Look at him as he springs forward then squats back on his haunches, grinds his teeth noisily and only with the greatest strain manages to squeeze out a few drops before standing up again.

What a deadbeat, said Pig. You could give us a few more even if they were drops of gold.

Seeing that the dish was now about a third full Monkey said, That'll do, that'll do. Take it away. Only then did Friar Sand feel cheerful.

The three of them then returned to the main hall, mixed the piss with the ingredients that had already been prepared, and rolled the mixture into three large round balls. They're too big, brothers, said Monkey.

They're only walnut-sized, Pig replied. That wouldn't be enough for a single mouthful if I were taking them. The three disciples then put the pills into a large box and went to bed fully dressed.

It was soon dawn, and despite his sickness the king held court, asking the Tang Priest to come to see him and sending all his officials straight to the Hostel of Meeting to pay their respects to the holy monk, the Venerable Sun, and fetch the medicine.

When the officials reached the hostel they prostrated themselves before Brother Monkey with the words, His Majesty has sent us to pay our respects and fetch the miraculous medicine. Monkey told Pig to fetch the box, which he opened and handed to the officials.

What is this medicine called? they asked. We would like to be able to inform His Majesty when we see him.

It's called Black Gold Elixir, Monkey replied, at which Pig and Friar Sand had to hide their grins as they thought, of course they're black gold-they were made with soot scraped off cooking pots.

What should be taken with the pills to guide them on their way? the officials asked.

There are two kinds of guide that can be taken with them, Monkey replied. One's easily got hold of. That is a decoction of six ingredients to be taken as a hot potion.

What six ingredients? the officials asked.

A fart from a flying crow, Monkey replied, piss from a carp in a fast-flowing stream, some of the face-powder used by the Queen Mother of the West, soot from elixir refined in Lord Lao's furnace, three pieces of a worn-out head cloth of the Jade Emperor's, and five whiskers from a trapped dragon's beard. A decoction of those six ingredients taken with the pills would clear up your king's illness straight away.

When the officials heard this they replied, Those are things that are not to be found in this world, so please tell us what the other guide is.

The pills should be taken with rootless water, said Monkey.

That's very easily got hold of, smiled the officials.

How can you be so sure? Monkey asked.

We have a saying here, the officials replied, that if you need rootless water you take a bowl or a dish to a well or a stream, fill it with water, and hurry back with it. Don't spill a drop, don't look behind you, and give it to the patient to take with the medicine.

But well water and stream water both have roots, Monkey said. The rootless water I'm talking about has to fall from the sky and be drunk before it touches the ground. Only then can it be called rootless.

That's easily got too, the officials said. The medicine shouldn't be taken till the next cloudy, wet day.

The officials then kowtowed to thank Monkey and took the medicine back with them to present to the king, who delightedly ordered his attendants to bring it to him.

What are these pills? he asked when he saw them.

The holy monk says they are Black Gold Elixir and have to be taken with rootless water, the officials replied. The king then sent some of his palace women to fetch rootless water.

The holy monk says that rootless water can't be got from wells or streams, the officials said. It has to be water that has come down from the sky and not yet touched the ground. The king then ordered his aides to issue a decree inviting magicians to summon rain. The officials then issued a proclamation as the king had ordered.

Back in the hall of the Hostel of Meeting Brother Monkey said to Pig, He must be given some rain now so he can take his medicine. This is very urgent. How are we going to get some? I reckon he's a very virtuous and worthy king, so why don't we help him get a little rainwater to take his medicine with?

But how are we going to help him get some rootless water? Pig asked.

Stand on my left and be my Sustainer Star, Monkey said to him, then told Friar Sand, stand on my right as my Straightener Star while I help him to get some rootless water.

The splendid Great Sage then paced out a magic pattern and said the words of a spell. Soon a dark cloud appeared to their East that came closer till it was over their heads. Great Sage, called a voice from it, Ao Guang, the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea, is here to call on you.

I wouldn't have troubled you if it hadn't been important, Monkey said. Could I ask you to help by giving the king here some rootless water to take his medicine with?

When you summoned me, Great Sage, the dragon king replied, you said nothing about water. I have only come by myself. I haven't brought any rain-making equipment, to say nothing of wind, clouds, thunder and lightning. So how can I make it rain?

There'll be no call for wind, clouds, thunder or lightning this time, Monkey said, and we don't need much rain either. We just need enough water for someone to take his medicine with.

In that case I'll do a couple of sneezes and spit out some saliva, the dragon king said. That ought to be enough for him to take his medicine.

Terrific, said Monkey, delighted. Don't waste a moment. Do it as soon as you can.

The ancient old dragon gradually brought his dark cloud down till it was just over the palace, though he kept himself entirely concealed. He spat out a mouthful of saliva that turned into timely rain, whereupon all the officials at court exclaimed, Ten million congratulations, Your Majesty. Heaven is sending down timely rain.

The king then ordered, Take vessels out to hold the rain. All officials, whether inside or outside the palace and irrespective of their rank, must gather this sacred water to save our life. Just watch as all the civil and military officials as well as the consorts, concubines, three thousand beauties, and eight hundred charming ladies-in-waiting of the three harems and the six compounds of the inner palace all stood there holding cups, dishes, bowls and plates to catch the timely rain. Up in the sky the ancient dragon so controlled his saliva that all of it fell within the palace. After about two hours the dragon king took his leave of the Great Sage and went back to the sea. When the officials gathered all the cups, dishes, bowls and plates together they found that some had caught one or two drops of water, some three to five, and some none at all. When it was all put together there were a little over three dishes full of it, and this was all presented to the king. Indeed:

The throne hall was filled with exquisite fragrance;

Fine scents were wafting round the Son of Heaven's court.

The king then dismissed the Master of the Law and had the Black Gold Elixir and the timely rain carried into the inner quarters, where he took the first pill with the first dish of timely rain, then the second pill with the second dish. In three efforts he finished all three pills and all three dishfuls. Soon afterwards there was a noise from his stomach like the endless turning of a windlass. He sent for his chamber pot and evacuated four or five times before taking some rice porridge and collapsing on his dragon bed. When two of his consorts inspected the chamber pot they saw it contained huge amounts of feces and mucus, and amid it all a ball of glutinous rice.

The root of the disorder has come out, the consorts reported, going over to the royal bed. The king was very pleased to hear this and ate some rice. A little later his chest felt eased and his natural forces and blood were in harmonious balance once more. He was full of vigor and the strength came back to his legs, so he rose from his bed, dressed in his court clothes and went into the throne hall, where he greeted the Tang Priest by prostrating himself. The venerable elder returned this courtesy as quickly as he could.

When this had been done the king helped Sanzang to his feet with his own hands and told his courtiers, Write a note at once sending our personal and respectful greetings and have an official go to invite the three illustrious disciples of the Master of the Law to come here. Meanwhile the Eastern hall of the palace is to be opened up and the department of foreign relations is to arrange a banquet of thanksgiving. Having been given these commands the officials carried them out. The scribes wrote out the note and the caterers prepared the meal. A state is indeed strong enough to overturn a mountain, and everything was done in an instant.

When Pig saw the officials come to deliver the note he was beside himself with delight. Brother, he said, it really must be miracle medicine. From the way they're coming to thank you you must have pulled it off.

You've got it all wrong, brother, said Friar Sand. As the saying goes, 'One man's good fortune affects his whole household.' We two made up the pills, so we take a share of the credit. So just enjoy yourself and stop talking. Hey! Just look at the three brothers as they all happily go straight to the palace, where all the officials received them and led them to the Eastern hall.

Here they saw the Tang Priest with the king and his ministers and the banquet all set out ready. Brother Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand all chanted a na-a-aw of respect to their master, after which the officials all came in. In the best place there were set out four tables of vegetarian food. It was the sort of banquet at which there are ten times as many dishes as you can eat. In front of these tables was one of meat dishes, and on this too you could see ten dishes of rare delicacies while you ate one. To either side four or five hundred more single tables were most neatly set out.

As the ancients had it:

A hundred rare delicacies,

A thousand goblets of fine wine,

Rich cream and yogurt,

Fat, red meat like brocade.

Precious and many-coloured decorations,

Heavy fragrances of fruit.

Huge sugar dragons coil round sweet lions and immortals:

Ingots of cake draw furnaces escorted by phoenixes.

For meat there was pork and mutton, goose, chicken, duck and fish;

For vegetables, bamboo shoots, beansprouts, fungus and button mushrooms.

Delicious noodles in soup,

Translucent creamy sweets,

Succulent millet,

Fresh wild rice congee,

Pungent, tasty soup with rice noodles,

Dishes in which sweetness vied with beauty.

Monarch and subjects raised their cups as the diners took their seats;

Officials seated by rank slowly passed the jugs.

Holding a cup in his hand the king first seated the Tang Priest, who said, As a monk I may not drink liquor.

This is alcohol-free wine, the king said. Could you not drink one cup of this, Master of the Law?

But wine is the first prohibition for us monks, said Sanzang. The king felt awkward.

If you may not drink, Master of the Law, how can I congratulate you?

My three badly-behaved disciples will drink on my behalf, Sanzang replied. The king then happily passed the golden goblet to Monkey, who took it, made a courteous gesture to the assembly, and downed a cupful. Seeing how cheerfully he downed it the king offered him another cup. Monkey did not decline it but drank again.

Have a third goblet, said the king with a smile, and Monkey accepted and drank for a third time. The king then ordered that the cup be refilled and said, Have another to make it four for the four seasons.

Pig, who was standing beside Monkey, had to put up with the saliva gurgling inside him as the wine would not come his way; and now that the king was pressing Monkey so hard to drink he started to shout, Your Majesty, that medicine you took owes something to me. Those pills include horse- When Monkey heard this he was terrified that the idiot was going to give the game away, so he handed Pig the cup. Pig took the cup, drank and stopped talking.

Holy monk, said the king, just now you said there was horse in the pills. What sort of horse?

This brother of mine has a very loose tongue, said Monkey, cutting in. We've got a really good formula that has been tried and tested, and he wants to give it away. The pills Your Majesty took this morning included not horse but Aristolochia.

What class of medicine is Aristolochia? the king asked. What conditions can it cure?

One of the fellows of the Royal College of Medicine who was standing beside the king said, Your Majesty,

Aristolochia is bitter, cold and free of poison,

Ends shortness of breath and cures phlegm well,

Circulates the energy, removes blood infections,

Fills emptiness, soothes coughs and eases the heart.

It was the right thing to use, the right thing to use, the king said. The Venerable Pig must have another cup. The idiot said nothing more, but downed three goblets. The king then gave three cupfuls to Friar Sand, who drank them. Everyone then sat down.

When they all had been feasting and drinking for a long time the king raised a large goblet once more and handed it to Monkey. Please sit down, Your Majesty, Monkey said. I've been drinking hard in every round. I'd never refuse.

Holy monk, the king said, we are under a profound debt of gratitude to you that we will never be able to repay. Please drain this great goblet: we have something to say to you.

Say what you will first, Monkey replied, I'll drink after.

We suffered from that melancholia for years on end, the king said, and one dose of your miraculous pills cured it.

When I saw Your Majesty yesterday I realized you were suffering from melancholia, Monkey said, but I don't know what's getting you down.

There's an old saying that a family doesn't talk about its dirt to strangers, the king replied. As you are our benefactor, holy monk, we shall tell you, but please don't laugh.

I'd never dare, Monkey said. Please speak freely.

How many countries did you holy monks come through on your way here from the East? the king asked.

Five or six, Monkey replied.

What titles do the queens of the other kings have? the king went on to ask.

They're called the queens of the Main Palace, East Palace and West Palace, Monkey replied.

We don't use titles like that, the king said. We call the principal queen the Queen of the Sacred Golden Palace, the Eastern queen the Queen of the Sacred Jade Palace and the Western queen the Queen of the Sacred Silver Palace. But now only the Jade and Silver Queen are here.

Why isn't the Golden Queen in the palace? Monkey asked.

She has been gone for three whole years, the king replied in tears.

Where did she go? Monkey asked.

At the Dragon-boat Festival three years ago, the king said, we were in the Pomegranate Pavilion of the palace gardens with our queens and consorts, unwrapping rice dumplings, putting artemisia out, drinking calamus and realgar wine and watching the dragon boats race when all of a sudden there was a gust of wind. An evil spirit appeared in mid-air. He said he was the Evil Star Matcher who lives in the Horndog Cave on Mount Unicorn and was short of a wife. Seeing how beautiful and charming our Golden Queen is he wanted her for his wife and insisted we should hand her over at once. If we did not do so by the time he had asked three times he was going to eat us up first, then our officials and all the commoners living in the city. We were so concerned over the fate of our country and our people that there was no alternative: the Golden Queen had to be pushed outside the pavilion to be carried noisily off by the evil spirit. All this gave us such a fright that the rice dumpling we were eating turned solid inside us. On top of that we have been unable to sleep for worrying, which is why we were ill for three years. Since taking you holy monks' miraculous pills we have evacuated our bowels three times, and the accumulations from three years ago have all been passed. That is why our body now feels light and strong and our spirit is restored to what it was. Our life has today been given to us by you holy monks; this is a gift more weighty than Mount Tai.

When Brother Monkey heard this he was very happy indeed and he downed the huge goblet of wine in two gulps. Your Majesty, he said with a smile to the king, so that's what caused your shock and your depression. Today you've been lucky: you met me and you were cured. But I don't know whether you want the Golden Queen back in the palace.

To this the king answered with tears, We have been longing for her night and day, but nobody has ever been able to catch the evil spirit. Of course we want her back in our country.

What if I go to deal with that evil creature for you? said Monkey.

The king fell to his knees and replied, If you can rescue our queen we will gladly take our three queens and nine consorts away from the capital and go to live as commoners, leaving the whole kingdom to be yours to reign over, holy monk.

When Pig, who was sitting beside them, heard all this being said and such great honors being done he could not help bursting into noisy laughter.

This king's got no sense of what's proper, he chortled. Fancy giving up his kingdom and going on his knees to a monk for the sake of his old woman.

Monkey hurried forward to help the king back on his feet and ask, Your Majesty, has the evil spirit been back since he got the Golden Queen?

In the fifth month of the year before last, the king said, he carried off the Golden Queen. In the tenth month he came back to demand a couple of ladies in waiting to serve her, and we presented him with a couple. In the third month of last year he came to demand another couple, and two more in the seventh month. Then in the second month of this year it was a fourth pair. We do not know when he will be back again.

If he comes that often you must be terrified of him, Monkey replied.

Because he has come so frequently we are afraid of him and of his murderous intentions, said the king. In the fourth month last year we ordered the building of a demon shelter, so that whenever we hear the wind and know that he's coming we can shelter there with our two queens and nine consorts.

Would Your Majesty mind taking me to see the shelter? Monkey asked, and the king led Monkey by his left hand from the table. All the officials rose to their feet.

Brother, protested Pig, you're very unreasonable. Why leave this royal wine and break up the banquet to go looking at something?

Hearing this and realizing that Pig was worried for his stomach the king told his attendants to have two tables of vegetarian food brought along so that Pig could go on being wined outside the demon shelter. Only then did the idiot stop making a fuss and join in with his master and Friar Sand saying, Let's break up the banquet.

As a column of civil and military officials led the way the king and Monkey went arm-in-arm through the living quarters of the palace to the back of the royal gardens, but there were no great buildings to be seen.

Where's the demon shelter? Monkey asked, and before the words were out of his mouth two eunuchs levered open a square flagstone with red lacquered crowbars.

Here it is, said the king. Twenty feet or more below us a large underground palace hall has been excavated. In it there are four great vats of purified oil in which lights burn night and day. When we hear the wind we take shelter here and the flagstone is put on again from outside.

So the evil spirit doesn't want to kill you, said Monkey with a smile. If he did this would give you no protection. Just as he was speaking there came the roaring of a wind from due South that made the dust fly.

In their alarm all the officials complained, That monk has the mouth of an oracle. The moment he mentions the evil spirit it turns up. The panic-stricken monarch abandoned Monkey and scuttled into his underground shelter. The Tang Priest went with him, and all the officials fled for cover.

Pig and Friar Sand wanted to hide too, but Monkey grabbed one of them with each hand and said, Don't be afraid, brothers. You and I are going to identify him and see what sort of evil spirit he is.

Nonsense, said Pig. What do we want to identify him for? The officials have all hidden and the king's shut himself away. Why don't we clear off? What kind of hero are you trying to be? But struggle though he might the idiot could not break free. When Monkey had been holding on to him for some time an evil spirit suddenly appeared in mid-air. Just see what it looked like:

A loathsome great body nine feet tall,

Round eyes flashing like lamps of gold.

Two huge ears sticking out as if they were round fans,

Four steel fangs like very long nails.

Red hair curled at his temples; his brows were as flames;

His nose was a hanging trough; his nostrils flared.

His whiskers were strands of cinnabar thread,

And jutting cheekbones shaped his green face.

On red-muscled arms were hands of indigo blue,

And ten sharp claws grasped a spear.

A leopardskin kilt was tied round his waist.

Bare feet and tangled hair completed his fiendish looks.

Friar Sand, asked Monkey when he saw the evil spirit, can you recognize him?

I don't know who he is, Friar Sand replied. I've never seen him before.

Pig, Monkey next asked, do you know?

I've never had a cup or a drink with him, Pig replied. He's no friend or neighbour of mine. How could I know?

He reminds me of the sallow-faced golden-eyed gate keeper ghost under the Equal of Heaven of the Eastern Peak.

No he isn't, no he isn't, said Pig.

How do you know he isn't? Monkey asked.

Because ghosts are spirits of the dark and the underworld, Pig replied. They only come out at night, between five and midnight. It's only ten in the morning, and no ghost would ever dare come out now. And even if it was a devil it'd never ride a cloud. Ghosts that stir up winds make whirlwinds, not gales. Perhaps he's the Evil Star Matcher.

You're not such an idiot after all, said Monkey. That sounds sensible, so you two look after the master while I go to ask him his name. That'll help me rescue the Golden Queen and bring her back to the palace for the king.

Go if you must, Pig replied, but don't tell him anything about us. Monkey did not deign to answer, but leapt straight up on his magic light. Goodness!

To settle the nation he started by curing the king;

To preserve the Way love and hatred had to go.

If you don't know who won the battle that followed when Monkey rose up into the sky or how the evil monster was captured and the Golden Queen rescued listen to the explanation in the next chapter.

Chapter 68 | Journey to the West (vol. 2) | Chapter 70