The Evil Monster's Treasures Emit Smoke,
Sand and Fire Wukong Steals the Golden Bells by Trickery
The story tells how Brother Monkey summoned up his divine prestige and rose up into the air on his magic light, wielding his iron cudgel. “Where are you from, evil monster?” he asked, shouting in the evil spirit's face. “And where are you going to wreak havoc?”
“I'm the vanguard warrior under the Great King Evil Star Matcher from Horndog Cave on Mount Unicorn,” shouted the demon at the top of his voice, “that's who I am. His Majesty has ordered me to fetch two ladies-in-waiting to serve Her Majesty the Golden Queen. Who are you and how dare you question me?”
“I'm Sun Wukong, the Great Sage Equaling Heaven,” Monkey replied. “I was passing through this country while escorting the Tang Priest to worship the Buddha in the Western Heaven. Now I know that your gang of monsters was oppressing the king I'm going to use my heroic powers to bring the country back to order and wipe out this evil. And now you've come along to throw your life away just when I didn't know where to find you.” When the monster heard this he foolishly thrust his spear at Monkey, who struck back at his face with the iron cudgel. They fought a splendid battle up in mid-air:
The cudgel was the sea-settler from the dragon's palace;
The spear was of iron tempered by mankind.
An ordinary weapon was no match for that of an immortal;
In a few clashes its magic powers all drained away.
The Great Sage was an immortal of the Supreme Ultimate;
The spirit was only an evil monster.
How could a demon approach a True One?
In the face of truth the evil would be destroyed.
One stirred up wind and dust to terrify a king;
The other trod on mist and cloud to blot out sun and moon.
When they dropped their guard to try for victory
Neither of them dared to show off.
The Heaven-equaling Great Sage was the abler fighter:
With a loud clash of his cudgel the spear was broken.
When his spear was quickly broken in two by Monkey's iron cudgel the evil spirit was in fear for his life, so he turned the wind right round and fled Westwards.
Instead of chasing him Monkey brought his cloud down to the entrance of the underground demon shelter. “Master,” he called, “you and His Majesty can come out now. The monster's run away.” Only then did the Tang Priest come out of the underground shelter, supporting the king. The sky was clear, and all traces of the evil spirit had disappeared.
The king went over to the table, filled a golden goblet from the wine bottle with his own hands, and presented it to Monkey with the words, “Holy monk, allow us to offer our provisional thanks.”
Monkey took the cup, but before he could reply an official came in from outside the Western gate of the palace to report, “The Western gate is on fire.”
As soon as he heard this Monkey threw the wine, cup and all, up into the air. The cup fell with a clang. This so alarmed the king that he bowed to Monkey with the words, “Forgive us, holy monk, forgive us. We have treated you shabbily. The proper thing would have been to ask you into the throne hall to bow to you in thanks. We only offered you the wine here because it was to hand. Did you not throw the goblet aside because you were offended, holy monk?”
“Nothing of the sort,” laughed Monkey, “nothing of the sort.”
A moment later another official came in to report, “There's been a miraculous fall of rain. No sooner had the Western gate caught fire than a heavy rainstorm put it out. The streets are running with water and it all smells of wine.”
“Your Majesty,” said Monkey with another smile, “you thought I'd taken offence when I tossed the cup aside, but you were wrong. When the evil spirit fled Westwards I didn't go after him, so he started that fire. I just used the goblet to put out the demon's fire and save the people outside the Western gate. It didn't mean anything else.”
The king, even more delighted than before, treated Monkey with still greater respect. He invited Sanzang and his three disciples to enter the throne hall with him, clearly intending to abdicate in their favour.
“Your Majesty,” said Brother Monkey with a smile, “the demon who was here just now said he was a vanguard warrior under the Evil Star Matcher who'd come here to fetch palace girls. Now he's gone back beaten he's bound to report that damned monster, who's certain to come here to fight me. I'm worried that if he comes here at the head of his hordes he'll alarm the common people and terrify Your Majesty. I'd like to go out to meet him, capture him in mid-air and bring back your queen. But I don't know the way. How far is it to his cave from here?”
“We once sent some of the horsemen and infantry of our night scouts to find out what was happening,” the king replied. “The return journey took them over fifty days. It's over a thousand miles away to the South.”
“Pig, Friar Sand,” said Monkey on learning this, “stay on guard here. I'm off.”
“Wait another day, holy monk,” said the king, grabbing hold of him. “Don't go till we have had some dried provisions prepared for you. We'll give you silver for the journey and a fast horse too.”
“You're talking as if I'd have to go slogging up mountains and over ridges, Your Majesty,” Monkey replied. “I tell you truthfully that I can do the return journey of a thousand miles each way before a cup of wine you've poured out has had time to get cold.”
“Holy monk,” the king replied, “I hope you won't take offence at our saying this, but your distinguished features are very much like those of an ape. How can you have such magical powers of travel?” To this Monkey replied:
“Although my body is the body of an ape,
When young I mastered the paths of life and death.
1 visited all the great teachers who taught me their Way
And trained myself by night and day beside the mountain.
I took heaven as my roof and the earth as my furnace
And used both kinds of drug to complete the sun and moon,
Taking from positive and negative, joining fire and water,
Until suddenly I-was aware of the Mystic Pass.
1 relied entirely on the Dipper for success in my movements,
Shifting my steps by relying on the handle of that constellation.
When the time is right I lower or increase the heat,
Taking out lead and adding mercury, watching them both.
By grouping the Five Elements transformations are made;
Through combining the Four Forms the seasons can be distinguished.
The two vital forces returned to the zodiac;
The three teachings met on the golden elixir road.
When understanding of the laws came to the four limbs
The original somersault was given divine assistance.
With a single bound I could cross the Taihang mountains;
At one go I could fly across the Cloud-touching Ford.
A thousand steep ridges are no bother to me,
Nor hundreds of rivers as great as the Yangtse.
Because my transformations are impossible to stop
I can cover sixty thousand miles in a single leap.
The king was both alarmed and delighted to hear this. He presented a cup of royal wine to Monkey with a chuckle and the words, “Holy monk, you have a long and tiring journey ahead of you. Won't you drink this wine to help you on your way?”
All the Great Sage had on his mind was going off to defeat the demon, he was not at all interested in drinking. “Put it down,” he said. “I'll drink it when I come back.” No sooner had the splendid Monkey said this than he disappeared with a whoosh. We will not describe the amazement of the king and his subjects.
Instead we tell how with a single leap Monkey was soon in sight of a tall mountain locked in mists. He brought his cloud down till he was standing on the summit. When he looked around he saw that it was a fine mountain:
Soaring to the heavens, occupying the earth,
Blocking out the sun and making clouds.
Where it soared to the heavens
The towering peak rose high;
In the earth it occupied
Its ranges spread afar.
What blocked the sun
Was the ridge dark with pines;
Where clouds were made
Was among the boulders glistening underneath the scar.
The dark pines
Were green throughout all seasons;
The glistening boulders
Would never change in many a thousand years.
Apes could often be heard howling in the night,
And evil pythons would often cross the deep ravines.
On the mountains birds sang sweetly
While the wild beasts roared.
Mountain roebuck and deer
Moved around in many a pair.
Mountain magpies and crows
Flew in dense flocks.
There was no end of mountain flowers in sight,
While mountain peaches and other fruit gleamed in season.
Steep it was, and the going impossible,
But this was still a place where evil immortals could live in retirement.
The Great Sage gazed with unbounded delight and was just about to look for the entrance to the cave when flames leapt out from a mountain hollow. In an instant the red fire blazed to the heavens, and from the flames there poured out evil smoke that was even more terrible than the fire. What splendid smoke! This is what could be seen:
The fire glared with a myriad golden lamps;
The flames leapt in a thousand crimson rainbows.
The smoke was not a stove chimney's smoke,
Nor the smoke of grass or wood,
But smoke of many colours,
Blue, red, white, black and yellow.
It blackened the columns outside the Southern Gate of Heaven,
Scorched the roofbeams in the Hall of Miraculous Mist.
It burned so hard that
Wild beasts in their dens were cooked through, skins and all,
And the forest birds lost all their plumage.
At the mere sight of this appalling smoke he wondered
How the demon king could be captured in the mountain.
Just as the Great Sage was transfixed with terror a sandstorm burst out of the mountain. What magnificent sand! It blotted out the sun and the sky. Look:
Swirling masses of it filled the sky,
Dark and turbid as it covered the earth.
The fine grains blinded the people everywhere,
While bigger cinders filled the valleys like rolling sesame seeds.
Immortal boys collecting herbs lost their companions;
Woodmen gathering firewood could not find their way home.
Even if you were holding a bright-shining pearl
It still would have blown too hard for you to see.
Monkey had been so absorbed in enjoying the view that he did not notice the sand and cinders flying into his nose till it started tickling. Giving two great sneezes he stretched his hand out behind him, felt for two pebbles at the foot of a cliff and blocked his nostrils with them, then shook himself and turned into a fire-grabbing sparrowhawk that flew straight in among the flames and smoke, made a few swoops, and at once stopped the sand and cinders and put out the fires. He quickly turned back into himself, landed, and looked around again. This time he heard a banging and a clanging like a copper gong.
“I've come the wrong way,” he said to himself. “This is no den of demons. The gong sounds like an official messenger's gong. This must be the main road to some country, and that I must be an official messenger on his way to deliver some document. I'll go and question him.”
As Monkey went along what looked like a young demon appeared. He was holding a yellow flag, carrying a document on his back and beating a gong as he hurried along so fast he was almost flying. “So this is the so-and-so who was beating that gong,” Monkey said. “I wonder what document he's delivering. I'll ask him.”
The splendid Great Sage shook himself and turned into a grasshopper that lightly flew over and alighted on his document bag. Here Monkey could hear the evil spirit talking garrulously to himself as he beat the gong. “Our king is thoroughly vicious. Three years ago he took the Golden Queen from the Kingdom of Purpuria, but fate's been against him and he hasn't been able to get his hands on her. The poor palace ladies he took had to suffer on her behalf. He killed two of them who came, then the next four. He demanded them the year before last, last year and earlier this year. When he sent for two more this time he found his match. The vanguard warrior who went to demand the palace ladies was beaten by someone called Sun the Novice or whatever. He didn't get his palace girls. It made our king so angry he wants to wage a war on Purpuria. He's sent me with this declaration of war. Their king will be all right if he doesn't fight, but if he does fight it'll be a disaster for him. When our king uses his fire, smoke and sandstorms their king, ministers and common people will all die. Then we'll take over their city. Our king will be its monarch and we'll be his subjects. But even though we'll get official posts it goes against Heaven.”
Monkey was very pleased to hear this. “So there are even some decent evil spirits,” he thought. “That last remark-'it goes against Heaven'-was very good. I wonder what he meant when he said that fate has been against their king and he hasn't been able to get his hands on the Golden Queen. Let me ask him some questions.” With a whining buzz he flew away from the evil spirit to a point some miles ahead of him on the road, shook himself and turned into a Taoist boy:
He wore his hair in two bunches
And a robe of a hundred patches.
He beat on a fisherman's drum
As he sang some Taoist snatches.
As Monkey came round the slope towards the little devil he raised his hands in greeting and said, “Where are you going, sir? What official document is that you're delivering?”
The devil seemed to recognize him as he stopped beating his gong, returned his greeting and said with a titter, “Our king's sent me to Purpuria with a declaration of war.”
“Has that woman from Purpuria slept with the king yet?” Monkey asked, pressing on with his questioning.
“When he brought her here the other year,” the little devil replied, “an immortal gave the Golden Queen a magic robe as her wedding dress. As soon as she put it on she was covered from head to foot with spike. Our king didn't dare so much as caress her. Even the slightest touch makes his hand hurt. I don't know why it happened. So from that year till this he hasn't had her. When his vanguard fighter was sent this morning to demand two more palace ladies to serve her he was beaten. Our king was so angry he sent me with this declaration of war. He's going to fight him tomorrow.”
“So is the king in a bad mood?” Monkey asked.
“Yes, he's in a bad mood back there,” said the little devil. “You ought to go and sing him some Taoist songs to cheer him-up.” The splendid Monkey put his arms in his sleeves, ready to go, while the evil spirit went on his way beating his gong as before. Monkey then turned murderous. He brought out his cudgel, turned round and hit the little devil on the back of his head. The unfortunate demon's head was smashed to a pulp. The blood gushed out as his skin split open and his neck was broken. He was dead. Monkey then put his cudgel away and said to himself with regret.
“I was in too much of a hurry. I never asked him his name. Too bad.” He took the declaration of war from the body and put it in his sleeve. Then he hid the yellow flag and the gong in the undergrowth by the path and was dragging the body by its ankles to throw it down the ravine when he heard something clinking. An ivory tablet inlaid with gold could be seen at the demon's waist. The writing on it read:
This is our trusted subordinate Gocome. He is of short stature and has a spotty and unbearded face. This tablet is to be kept permanently at his waist. Anyone without this tablet is an impostor.
“So the wretch was called Gocome. But after being hit by this cudgel of mine he's gone and won't be coming back.” He then undid the ivory tablet, fastened it at his own waist, and was just about to throw the body down when he remembered the terrible fire and smoke and decided he could not bring himself to look for the cave palace. He raised the cudgel, rammed it into the demon's chest, lifted him up into the air and went straight back to Purpuria to announce his first success. Watch him as he goes whistling back to that country.
Pig was in front of the throne room guarding the king and his master when suddenly he turned round to see Monkey carrying the demon through the air. “Hey,” he complained, “that was an easy piece of work. If I'd known you were going to get him I'd have done it and got the credit.” Before he had finished speaking Monkey brought the cloud down and threw the demon at the foot of the steps.
Pig ran over and struck the body with his rake, “I'll take the credit for that,” he said.
“You? The credit?” Monkey replied.
“Don't try to rob me of it,” Pig said, “I've got proof. Can't you see the nine holes I made in him with my rake?”
“See if he's got a head,” said Monkey.
“So he doesn't have a head,” Pig replied. “Now I know why he never moved when I hit him.”
“Where's the master?” Monkey asked.
“Talking to the king in the throne hall,” said Pig.
“Go and ask him to come out,” said Monkey, and Pig hurried up into the hall.
At Pig's nod Sanzang rose to his feet and came out at once to see Monkey, who thrust the declaration of war into his sleeve with the words, “Look after this, Master, and don't let the king see it.”
Before the words were all out of his mouth the king too came out of the hall to greet Monkey and say, “You're back, holy monk, venerable sir. How did the capture of the demon go?”
“Isn't that a demon at the foot of the steps?” Monkey asked, pointing. “I killed him.”
“True,” said the king, “it is the body of an evil spirit, but it isn't the Evil Star Matcher. We have twice seen the Evil Star Matcher with our own eyes. He is eighteen feet tall and nine feet across the shoulders. His face shines like gold and his voice is like thunder. He's not a miserable little wretch like that.”
“You Majesty is right,” Monkey replied, “this isn't him. It's just a little messenger devil I happened to meet. I killed him and brought him back as a trophy.”
“Splendid,” said the king, who was very pleased indeed, “splendid. This is the first success. We have often sent people out to find out what is happening but they never discover anything. Then you just have to go out, holy monk, to bring one straight back. You really do have divine powers.”
“Fetch some warm wine,” he ordered, “and give it to the reverend gentlemen.”
“Never mind about the wine,” said Monkey. “I want to ask Your Majesty whether the Golden Queen left any keepsakes when she went. If so, give me some.” The word “keepsakes” cut the king to the heart. He could not help sobbing aloud with tears pouring down as he replied:
“When we were enjoying the festival that year
The Evil Star Matcher gave a mighty shout,
He took our wife to be his bandit queen;
To save the land we had to send her out.
We had no time for talk or parting words,
Nor could I see her off along her way.
She left no keepsake and no perfume bag;
We would be lonely here until today.”
“Your Majesty is here,” Monkey said, “so why upset yourself?” If the queen didn't leave any keepsake there must be some things in the palace that she's specially fond of. Give me one of them.”
“What do you want it for?” the king asked.
“That demon king's magic powers are quite something,” said Monkey, “and from what I've seen of his fire, smoke and sand he'll be really hard to capture. Even if I do capture him the queen might refuse to come back here with a stranger like me. I must have some favorite thing of hers so that she'll trust me and let me bring her back. That's why I want it.”
“There is a pair of gold bracelets in her dressing room in the Sunlight Palace that she used to wear,” the king replied. “She only took them off that day as it was the Dragonboat Festival and she was going to wear multicolored threads instead. She was very fond of those bracelets. They have been put away in her dressing table. We have not been able to bear the sight of them since she left us: seeing them is like seeing her lovely face, and it makes us feel even more ill than ever.”
“Say no more,” Monkey replied, “and have the bracelets brought here. If you can bring yourself to part with them, give me both. If you can't I'll take just one.” The king ordered the Jade Queen to fetch them, which she did, handing them to the king.
At the sight of them he called out, “My beloved and tender-hearted queen,” several times, then handed them to Monkey, who took them and put them on his arm.
The splendid Great Sage could not stay to drink the celebratory wine, but whistled back to Mount Unicorn on his somersault cloud. Now he had no interest in the view as he headed straight for the cave palace. While he was walking along he heard noisy shouts so he stopped to take a careful look around. About five hundred of the soldiers of all ranks guarding the entrance to Horndog Cave were
Drawn up in massed array,
In close order.
Drawn up in massed array they held their weapons
Gleaming in the sun.
In close order they unfurled their banners
That fluttered in the breeze.
Tiger and bear generals did transformations;
Leopard and tiger-cat marshals were full of spirit.
Fiercely savage were the wolves;
The elephants were mighty and imposing.
Crafty hares and water-deer swung sword and halberd;
Great snakes and pythons carried cutlass and bow.
Orangutans that understood human speech
Controlled the formations and gathered intelligence.
When Monkey saw this he ventured no closer but went straight back the way he had come. Do you know why? Not because he was afraid of them. He went back to where he had killed the little devil, recovered the yellow flag and the gong, made a hand spell, thought of what he wanted to become, faced the wind, shook himself and turned into the likeness of Gocome. Then he started hitting the gong as he strode straight back towards Horndog Cave.
He was going to look at the layout of the cave when he heard an orangutan say, “You're back, Gocome.”
“Yes,” Monkey had to reply.
“Hurry up,” the orangutan said. “Our king is waiting in the Flaying Pavilion to hear what you have to report.” As soon as he heard this Monkey hurried straight in through the main gate beating his gong and looking around. He saw that rooms and halls had been carved out of the beetling crag. On either side bloomed rare and precious flowers, while all around stood ancient cypresses and tall pines. Before he realized it he was through the inner gate, and suddenly looking up he saw a pavilion made light by the eight windows in it. In the pavilion was a splendid chair inlaid with gold on which a demon king was sitting upright. He was a truly terrifying sight. This is what he looked like:
A shimmering red glow rose from the top of his head;
A mighty and murderous air burst from his chest.
Sharp were the fangs that protruded from his mouth;
Red smoke rose from the scorched hair at his temples.
The bristles of his moustache were like embedded arrows;
His body was covered with hair like brushed-up felt.
Eyes bulged like bells to rival the Evil Star:
Hands held an iron mace like Mahadeva.
When Monkey saw the evil spirit he acted towards him in an offhand way, showing no trace of respect, but looking away and keeping on hitting his gong. “So you're back, are you?” said the demon king. Monkey did not reply.
“Gocome,” the demon king asked again, “you're back, are you?” Still Monkey did not reply. The demon king then went over to him, grabbed him and said, “Why are you still beating your gong now you're back home? And why don't you answer when I ask you a question?”
“What do you mean by your 'Why? Why? Why?'“ Monkey replied.
“I told you I didn't want to go but you insisted. When I got there I saw huge numbers of foot soldiers and cavalry drawn up in order of battle. As soon as I was spotted they shouted, 'Seize the demon! Seize the demon!' They pushed and shoved and dragged and carried me into the city, where I saw their king. He told them to cut my head off, but luckily his two groups of advisers said that in international conflicts envoys should not be executed, so I was spared. They took the declaration of war, marched me out of the city, gave me thirty strokes in front of their army, and let me come back here to report. Before long they'll be here to fight you.”
“In other words,” the monster said, “you had a bad time. I don't blame you for refusing to answer when I asked you those questions.”
“It wasn't that,” said Monkey. “The reason I didn't answer was because of the pain.”
“How strong are their forces?” the demon king asked.
“I was reeling from shock and too badly frightened by the beating to be able to count them,” Monkey replied. “All I could see were masses of weapons drawn up there:
Bows and arrows, spears and sabers, suits of armor,
Dagger-axes, halberds, swords and tasseled banners.
Pikes, partisans, helmets,
Axes, round shields, and iron caltrops.
Steel forks, cannons and casques.
They were wearing tall boots, hats and quilted jackets,
And carrying cudgels, small pellet-bows and maces of bronze.”
“That's neither here nor there,” laughed the demon king when he heard this. “Weapons like that can be finished off in a single blaze. Go and tell the Golden Queen all about it and ask her not to upset herself. Ever since she heard me lose my temper this morning and decide to go to war she's been crying her eyes out. Tell her that their army is so fierce and brave that they're bound to beat us. That'll calm her down for a while.”
This delighted Monkey, who thought, “Just what I want.” Watch him as he goes the way he knows, through the side door and across the hall. Inside there were tall buildings: it was not like outside. He went straight to the women's quarters at the back, where he saw from a distance a handsome and decorated doorway. That was where the Golden Queen lived. When he went to see her there were two groups of fox and deer spirits dressed like beautiful women to wait on her. The queen sat in the middle with her fragrant cheeks in her hands and tears pouring from both of her eyes. Indeed, she had
A beautiful face so soft and charming,
A bewitching countenance so fair.
But her raven-black hair was uncombed
And piled untidily on her head;
She did not want to dress up
And wore no hair ornaments or rings.
Her face was unpowdered,
And she wore no rouge.
Her hair was not oiled
But all in a tangle.
She pouted her cherry lips,
Ground her silver teeth,
Frowned with her brows like moth antennae,
And let her eyes sparkle with tears.
All her heart
Was filled with memories of Purpuria's king;
All the time
She longed to escape from the net that held her.
Ill-fated have been many lovely ladies
Left in their wordless grief to face the Eastern wind.
Monkey went up to her and greeted her with a “Hello.”
“You impudent boorish freak,” said the queen. “I remember how when I was living in splendor with my king in Purpuria even the king's tutor and the prime minister had to prostrate themselves in the dust when they met me: they would never have dared look me in the face. How dare you say 'Hello' to me, you lout? Where are you from, you coarse beast?”
“Please don't be angry, ma'am,” the serving women said. “He's one of His Majesty's most trusted lieutenants. His name is Gocome. He was the one who was sent with the declaration of war this morning.”
At this the queen controlled her temper and asked, “Did you go inside Purpuria when you delivered the declaration?”
“I took it straight to the capital and right into the throne hall,” said Monkey. “I saw the king himself and got an answer from him.”
“What did the king say when you saw him?” the queen asked.
“I have already told His Majesty here what he said about war and about the dispositions of their forces,” Monkey replied. “But there was also a private message from the king, who misses you, ma'am. There's something private I have come to report to you, but with all these attendants around this is no place to talk.”
When the queen heard this she dismissed her foxes and deer. Brother Monkey shut the door of the palace, rubbed his face, and turned back into himself. “Don't be afraid of me,” he said to her. “I'm a monk sent by the Great Tang in the East to see the Buddha and fetch the scriptures at the Thunder Monastery in India. My master is Tang Sanzang, the younger brother of the Tang Emperor. I'm Sun Wukong, his senior disciple. When we were in your capital to present our passport for approval I saw a notice calling for doctors that your king and his ministers had posted. Then I used my medical skills to cure the illness he had contracted from missing you. When we were drinking at the banquet he gave to thank me he told me that you had been carried off by the evil spirit. As I can subdue dragons and tigers I was specially invited to capture the demon, rescue you and take you back to your country. I was the one who defeated the vanguard and killed the little devil. When I saw from outside the gates how ferocious the demon king was I turned myself into Gocome's double and came here to bring you a message.”
The queen said nothing when she heard this. Then Monkey produced the bracelets and presented them to her with both hands.
“If you don't believe me, just look; where did these come from?” he asked.
As soon as she saw them the queen burst into tears, came down from where she was sitting, bowed to him in thanks and said, “Reverend sir, if you really can save me and get me back to court I will remember my deep debt of gratitude to you even when I'm old and toothless.”
“Let me ask you something,” said Monkey. “What treasure does he use to produce that fire, smoke and sand?”
“It's no treasure,” the queen said, “just three golden bells. As soon as he shakes the first one three thousand feet of burning flames shoot out. When he shakes the second one a three-thousand-foot column of smoke gushes out to kipper people. And when he shakes it the third time a blinding three-thousand-foot sandstorm blows up. The fire and smoke are nothing much, but the sand is lethal. If it gets up your nostrils it can kill you.”
“It's terrible,” Monkey said, “terrible. I've experienced it and I had to sneeze a couple of times. I wonder where he keeps the bells.”
“He never puts them down,” the queen replied. “He keeps them at his waist whether he's going somewhere, staying at home, sitting down or sleeping. They are always with him.”
“If you still care for Purpuria and want to see your king again you must forget about your distress and grief for the moment,” said Monkey. “Make yourself look attractive and happy. Talk to him like a loving wife and get him to give you the bells to look after. When I've stolen them and defeated the monster I'll take you back to be reunited with your royal husband so that you can live in peace together.”
The queen did as Monkey said while he turned himself back into the demon king's trusted lieutenant, opened the doors again and called the serving women back in. “Go to the pavilion at the front, Gocome,” the queen said, “and ask His Majesty to come here as I've something to say to him.”
The splendid Monkey assented and went to the Flaying Pavilion, where he said to the evil spirit, “Your Majesty, Her Majesty would like to see you.”
“All she usually does is curse me, so why is she sending for me now?” the demon king happily asked. “When she asked me about the king of Purpuria I told her, 'He doesn't want you any more: he's got a new queen now.' When she heard that Her Majesty stopped missing him. That's why she sent me out with this invitation.”
“You're very able,” the demon king said, “and when we've destroyed Purpuria I'll make you my high chancellor in personal attendance.”
Monkey thanked the demon king for his kindness and hurried to the door of the living quarters at the back, where the queen greeted him with happy smiles and her hands on his arms. The king stepped back with an awkward noise.
“Don't,” he said, “don't. I'm very grateful for this sign of your affection, ma'am, but I don't dare stand next to you in case it hurts my hand.”
“Sit down, Your Majesty,” the queen said. “I have something to say to you.”
“There's no objection to you speaking,” the demon king replied. “I'm very much obliged to Your Majesty for condescending to love me,” she said. “For three years now you have not shared my pillow although we were fated from our earlier lives to be married. I never expected that Your Majesty would treat me as a stranger instead of your wife. I remember that when I was queen of Purpuria the king gave all the valuable tribute from foreign countries to the queen to look after when he had seen it. But you have no treasures here. The servants wear marten hides and feed on blood. I have seen no fine silks, brocades, gold or pearls here. All the covers and blankets are of skins and felt. Or perhaps you do have some treasures that you won't let me see or look after because you regard me as a stranger. They say you have three bells. I think they must be treasures. Why do you always keep them with you, even when you're travelling or sitting down? There's no reason why you shouldn't give them to me to look after. I can give them to you when you need them. That would be one way of being a wife to you and it would show that we trust each other in our hearts. The only reason why you don't do this must because you regard me as an outsider.”
At this the demon king burst into loud laughter, then bowed to her and said, “Ma'am, you're justified in your complaint. Here are the treasures, and today I'm giving them to you to look after.” He undid his clothing to bring them out. Monkey watched with unwavering eyes as the monster pulled two or three layers of clothing aside to bring out the three bells that he carried next to his skin.
Putting cotton-wool in to muffle them he wrapped them up in a piece of leopard skin and handed them to the queen with the words, “They're nothing, but please look after them very carefully. Whatever you do don't shake them.”
“I understand,” the queen replied as she accepted them. “I shall keep them on my dressing table and nobody will move them at all.” Then she gave these orders: “My little ones, lay on a banquet. His Majesty and I are going to have a few drinks to celebrate our happy union.” At once the serving women brought in fruit, vegetables and the flesh of water deer, raccoon-dogs, deer and hare and poured out coconut toddy that they offered them. The queen made herself so bewitchingly attractive that she swept the evil spirit off his feet.
Monkey meanwhile went to fetch the bells. Feeling and groping, he found his way to the dressing-table, gently took the three bells, crept out through the doors of the inner quarters and left the cave palace. When he reached the Flaying Pavilion there was nobody about, so he opened the leopard-skin wrapper to have a look. One of the bells was as big as a teacup and the other two the size of fists. With reckless folly he tore the cottonwool apart. There was a loud clang and smoke, fire and sand came gushing out. Desperately Monkey tried to stop them but could do nothing. The pavilion was by now ablaze, sending the evil spirits on the gates all crowding in alarm inside the inner quarters.
“Put the fire out,” said the demon king, who was badly rattled. As he rushed out to look he saw that Gocome had taken the golden bells, went up to him and shouted, “Dirty slave! Why did you steal my precious golden bells? What sort of nonsense are you up to? Arrest him!” The tiger and bear generals, the leopard and tiger-cat marshals, the elephants, gray wolves, cunning water deer, crafty hares, long snakes, great pythons, orangutans and all the other troops on the gates rushed him in a crowd.
Monkey was thrown into panic. Dropping the golden bells he turned back into himself, pulled out his gold-banded As-You-Will cudgel, went and charged at them, going through his cudgel routines and lashing out wildly. The demon king took his treasures back and ordered, “Shut the main gates.” At this some of the demons shut the gates and others went into battle. Unable to get away, Monkey put his cudgel away, shook himself and turned into a silly fly that attached itself to a spot on the stone wall which was not burning. None of the demons could find him. “Your Majesty,” they reported, “the thief's got away, the thief's got away.”
“Did he get out through the gates?” the demon king asked.
“The front gates are firmly locked and bolted,” the demons replied. “He can't have got out through them.”
“Make a careful search,” said the demon king, and while some of them fetched water to douse the fire the others made a close search but found no trace of him.
“What sort of thief is he?” the demon king asked with fury. “He's got a hell of a nerve, turning himself into Gocome's double, coming in here to report back to me, then staying with me till he found a chance to steal my treasures. It's luck he didn't take them out, if he'd taken them over the mountain top and there had been a heavenly wind it would have been a disaster.”
“Your Majesty's good fortune is divine,” said the tiger general, stepping forward. “It was because our luck has not yet run out that he was discovered.”
Then the bear marshal came forward to say, “Your Majesty, the thief was none other than the Sun Wukong who beat our vanguard warrior. I think he must have run into Gocome when he was on his way, killed him, taken his yellow flag, gong and ivory tablet, and turned into his double to come here and deceive Your Majesty.”
“Yes, yes,” the demon king replied, “you're clearly right. Little ones,” he ordered, “make another careful search and be on your guard. Whatever you do, don't open the gates and let him out.” It is rightly said that
By being too clever one becomes a fool;
What was once a joke can turn out to be real.
If you don't know how Brother Monkey got out through the demons' gates, listen to the explanation in the next installment.