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Chapter 72

The Seven Emotions Confuse the Basic in Gossamer Cave

At Filth-Cleansing Spring Pig Forgets Himself

The story tells how Sanzang took his leave of the king of Purpuria, got everything ready, saddled the horse and headed Westwards. They crossed many a mountain and river. Before they realized it autumn and winter were over and spring's brightness and charm were back. Master and disciples were enjoying the scenery as their way led them across the greenery when they suddenly noticed a building amid trees. Sanzang dismounted and stood beside the main track.

Master, Brother Monkey asked, the road is easy and there is no evil about, so why have you stopped?

You aren't at all understanding, brother, Pig said. The master is feeling sleepy after being in the saddle for so long. You ought to let him come down and have a rest.

It's not that, Sanzang said. I can see a house over there. I was thinking of going there myself to beg for some food.

What a thing for the master to say, said Monkey with a smile. If you want some food I'll go and beg some for you. As the saying goes, 'Your teacher for a day is your father for the rest of your life.' It would be outrageous for me, your disciple, to sit here idly and let my master go begging.

There's no need to say that, Sanzang replied. Usually you three have to cross enormous distances as far as the eye can see to beg for our food. Today there's a house so close it's in shouting distance, so let me beg this time.

But, Master, you wouldn't know what to do, said Pig. As the saying goes, when three people go travelling it's the youngest who does the rough jobs. You're the senior one and we're all only disciples. As the old book says, 'When there is a job to be done the disciple does it.' Let me go.

Disciples, said Sanzang, the weather is good today. It's not at all like the times when you all have to go far away in wind and rain. Let me go to this house. Whether I get any food or not I shall soon be back and we shall be on our way.

Friar Sand, who was standing beside them, smiled and said, Stop arguing so much, brother. As the master has made his mind up you shouldn't disobey him. If you upset him he won't eat any of the food you are able to beg.

Pig accepted this suggestion and brought out the begging bowl and a change of hat and cassock for the master, who went straight to the farm building to look at it. It really was a fine place. He could see:

A high-rising stone bridge,

Ancient trees growing close together.

Where the stone bridge rose high

A babbling brook joined a long stream;

Amid close-growing ancient trees

Hidden birds sang sweetly on the distant hill.

Across the bridge were several thatched houses

As pure and elegant as an immortal's hermitage.

There was also a thatched hut

So pure and white it would put a Taoist temple to shame.

Before the hut could be seen four beauties

All busily embroidering phoenix designs.

As there were no males but only these four girls to be seen the reverend gentleman did not dare go inside, but slipped back under the tall trees and stood stock still. He could see that each of the girls

Were rock-hard in their ladylike propriety,

And happy as the spring in their orchid natures.

Red glows set off their tender cheeks;

Crimson make-up was spread on their lips.

Their moth brows were as fine as a crescent moon,

While their clouds of hair were piled up like cicada wings.

Had any of them stood among the flowers

Wandering bees would have taken them for blossoms.

He stood there for an hour. The silence was complete, unbroken by dog or cock. If I'm not even capable of begging us a meal my disciples will laugh at me, he thought. If the master can't beg a meal, what hope do his disciples have of ever getting to see the Buddha?

He did not know what to do, but it seemed wrong to stay there any longer, so he went back towards the bridge, only to notice a pavilion inside the compound of thatched cottages. In the pavilion three more girls were juggling a ball with their feet. Look at them. They were different from the other four:

Their turquoise sleeves are waving

And their embroidered skirts are swaying.

The waving turquoise sleeves

Cover their delicate jade bamboo-shoots of fingers,

The swaying embroidered skirts

Half show their tiny golden lotus feet.

Perfect are their faces and bodies,

Endless the movements of their slippered heels.

As they grab for the head they vary in height;

They pass the ball around most smoothly.

One turns around and kicks an over-the-wall flower,

Then does a backward somersault called crossing the sea.

After lightly taking a pass like a lump of clay

A single spear is hard pressed by a pair of sticks.

A shining pearl is put on the Buddha's head

And held between the tips of their fingers.

Skillfully they hold the ball as a narrow brick,

Twisting their feet in the sleeping fish position.

Their backs held level, they squat with bended knee;

Turning their necks they kick their heels in the air.

They can make benches fly around;

Very stylish are the capes upon their shoulders.

Their trouser-legs are bound with tapes to let them move,

While their necklaces swing as they sway.

They kick the ball like the Yellow River flowing backwards.

Or goldfish purchased on the beach.

When you mistake one of them for the leader

Another one turns to carry the ball away.

They all hold their calves so trimly in the air,

Pointing their toes to catch the ball.

They raise their heels to spin straw sandals,

Planting them upside-down and picking them up in a turn.

As they step back their shoulder-capes spread out

Fastened only with a hook.

The peddler's basket comes down long and low,

Then they grab for the goal.

At the really magnificent footwork.

All the beauties shout with admiration.

The silken clothes of all are soaked in sweat;

Feeling tired and relaxed they ended their game.

The description could go on and on. There is another poem that tells more:

Kicking the ball in the April weather,

Beauties blown along by the magical wind.

Sweat stained their powdered faces like dew on a flower;

The dust on their moth eyebrows was mist hiding willows.

Their turquoise sleeves hanging low covered jade fingers;

Trailing embroidered skirts showed golden lotus feet.

After kicking the ball many times they were charmingly tired;

Their hair was disheveled and their topknots askew.

After watching for a long time Sanzang could only go to the bridge and call loudly, Bodhisattvas, fate brings me here as a poor monk to beg for the gift of some food. As soon as the women heard him they cheerfully put aside their needlework and balls to come out smiling and giggling through the gates to greet him.

Reverend sir, they said, we're sorry we didn't welcome you sooner. As you have come to our poor farm we couldn't possibly feed you on the path. Please come inside and sit down.

When Sanzang heard this he thought, Splendid, this is splendid. The West really is Buddha's land. If even these womenfolk are so diligent about feeding monks the men are bound to be pious followers of the Buddha.

Sanzang stepped forward to greet the women and followed them into the thatched cottages. As he passed the pavilion and looked he saw that on the other side of it there were no buildings. All that could be seen were:

Towering mountain-tops,

Distant ranges of the earth.

The towering mountain-tops touch the clouds;

The distant ranges of the earth lead to peaks in the ocean.

From the stone bridge by the gates

One looks on a stream that bends nine times;

The peach and plum trees in the orchard

Vie in abundance of blossom.

Creepers and vines hang from three or four trees;

The fragrance of orchids is spread by thousands of flowers.

From afar this retreat rivals Penglai's fairyland;

Seen from close to the mountain beats Tai and Hua.

This is truly a retreat for demon immortals,

An isolated house with no neighbors around.

One woman came forward to push the stone gates open and invite the Tang Priest to come in and sit down. All he could do was go inside. When he looked up he saw that the tables and seats were all of stone, and the atmosphere was oppressively cold. This alarmed the venerable elder, who thought, This is a thoroughly sinister place. I'm sure it's evil.

Please sit down, venerable elder, the women all said with simpering smiles. He had no choice but to sit down. A little later he found himself shuddering.

What monastery are you from, reverend sir? the women asked. For what purpose are you collecting alms? Are you repairing roads and bridges, founding monasteries, worshipping at pagodas, or having Buddha statues made and sutras printed? Won't you show us your donation book?

I am not a monk collecting donations, the venerable elder replied.

If you're not here to ask for charity then why are you here? the women asked. We have been sent by Great Tang in the East to the Thunder Monastery in the Western Heaven to fetch the scriptures, Sanzang replied. As our stomachs were empty when we happened to be passing this distinguished place I have come to beg a vegetarian meal from you in your kindness. After that we poor monks will be on our way again.

Splendid, splendid, the women all said. As the saying goes, monks from afar most love to read the scriptures. Sisters! We must treat them well. Let's give them some vegetarian food as quickly as we can.

While three of the women kept him company, talking about such matters as primary and secondary causation, the other four went into the kitchen, where they tucked up their clothes, rolled up their sleeves, fanned the fire and scrubbed the cooking pots. Do you know what it was they prepared? They were frying in human fat, and what they cooked was human flesh, stewed into black paste as if it were wheat gluten, and human brain cut out to fry like pieces of beancurd.

Then they placed the two dishes on a stone table and said to Sanzang, Do eat. We were too rushed to prepare anything good, so please make do with this. It'll stave off the pangs of hunger. There will be some more dishes to follow.

As soon as Sanzang used his nose and smelled the stench of flesh he would not eat, but bowed with his hands together be; re his chest and said, Bodhisattvas, I have been a vegetarian since birth.

But this is vegetarian food, reverend sir, the women all replied with smiles.

Amitabha Buddha! exclaimed Sanzang. If as a monk I ate vegetarian food like that I would never have any hope of seeing the Buddha or fetching the surras.

Reverend sir, the women said, as a monk you shouldn't be so choosy about what you're given.

I never could be, Sanzang said, I never could be. I am under the orders of the Great Tang emperor to harm not even the tiniest life, to save all I see suffering, to put all the food-grain I am given into my mouth with my fingers, and to cover my body with the threads of silk that come my way. I would never dare pick and choose among my benefactors' gifts.

Even if you're not picking and choosing, the women replied with smiles, you do seem to have come here to complain. Please eat some of the food and don't mind if it's a little coarse and flavorless.

It's not that I don't want to eat it, Sanzang said, it's that I'm afraid I'd be breaking my vows. I hope that you Bodhisattvas will remember that setting living beings free is better than keeping them with you and let me go on my way.

As Sanzang struggled to get out the women blocked the gateway and refused to let him go. Business bringing itself to our door! they all said. You've no more chance of getting away from here than of covering up a fart with your hands. Where do you think you're going?

They were all quite skilled in the martial arts and quick movers too, and after they had grabbed Sanzang they dragged him like a sheep and threw him to the ground. Then they all held him down, tied him up, and suspended him from the rafters. There is a special name for the way they hung him up there: The Immortal Shows the Way. One hand was strung up by a rope so that it pointed forward. The other hand was fastened to his waist by another rope that was also holding him aloft, and his legs were both held up by a third rope behind him. The three ropes had him suspended from a beam with his back on top and his belly pointing down.

As Sanzang endured the agony and held back his tears he thought with bitter regret, How evil my destiny is. I thought I was coming to beg for a vegetarian meal from good people. I never imagined I'd be falling into the fiery pit. Disciples! Rescue me as soon as you can if I am ever to see you again. If you don't get here within four hours I shall be dead.

Despite his misery Sanzang kept a careful eye on the women. When they had him tied up securely and hanging there they started to remove their clothes. This alarmed the venerable elder, who thought, They must be taking their clothes off because they are going to beat me. Perhaps they are going to eat me too. The women only unbuttoned their gauze blouses, exposing their stomachs. Then each of them produced a silken rope about as thick as a duck egg from her navel. These they made move like bursting jade or flying silver as they fastened the gates of the farm.

We leave them and go back to Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand, who were all still waiting by the main road. While the other two were pasturing the horse and looking after the baggage Monkey was amusing himself by leaping from tree to tree and climbing around the branches as he picked leaves and looked for fruit. Suddenly he turned round and saw a sheet of light.

This so alarmed him that he jumped out of the tree with a shout of, This is terrible! Terrible! The master's luck is out. He pointed as he continued, Look at the farm. What do you think? When Pig and Friar Sand both looked they saw a sheet of something like snow but brighter and like silver but shinier.

That's done it, said Pig, that's done it. The master's run into evil spirits. We'd better go and rescue him straight away.

Stop yelling, brother, said Monkey. Neither of you can see just what's there. Wait while I go and take a look.

Do be careful, brother, said Friar Sand.

I can cope, Monkey replied.

The splendid Great Sage tightened his tigerskin kilt, pulled out his gold-banded cudgel and took a few strides forward to see that the silken ropes had formed something like a web with thousands of strands. When he felt it with his hands it was somewhat soft and sticky. Not knowing what it was, Monkey raised his cudgel and said, Never mind thousands of strands. This cudgel could break through tens of thousands of them.

He was just about to strike when he stopped to think, If they were hard I could certainly smash them, but then soft ones would only be knocked flat, and if I alarm the demons and get caught myself that would be a disaster. I'd better make some enquiries before I do any hitting.

Who do you think he asked? He made a spell with his hands, said the words of it and sent for an old local god, who ran round and round in his shrine just as if turning a mill. Old man, his wife asked, what are you rushing round and round for? You must be having a fit.

You don't understand, the local god replied. There's a Great Sage Equaling Heaven here. I didn't go to meet him. But he's sending for me.

Go and see him then, his wife replied, and that'll be that. Why charge round and round in here?

But if I go and see him that cudgel of his hits very hard, the local deity said. He doesn't care what you're like-he just hits you.

He won't possibly hit you when he sees how old you are, his wife replied.

He's been cadging free drinks all his life, the local god said, and he really loves hitting old people.

After talking for a while with his wife the local god had no choice but to go outside and kneel shivering and shaking by the roadside, calling out, Great Sage, the local deity kowtows to you.

Get up, Brother Monkey replied, and stop pretending to be so keen. I'm not going to hit you. I'm just passing through. Tell me where this is.

Which way have you come, Great Sage? the local deity asked.

I've come from the East and I'm heading West, said Monkey.

Which mountain have you reached on your journey from the East? the local deity asked.

That ridge there, Monkey replied. Our baggage and the horse are there, aren't they?

That is Gossamer Ridge, the local deity replied. Under the ridge there's a cave called Gossamer Cave where seven evil spirits live.

Male or female ones? Monkey asked.

She-devils, the local deity replied.

How powerful is their magic? Monkey asked.

I'm much too weak and insignificant to know that, the local god replied. All I can tell you is that a mile due South of here there is a natural hot spring called the Filth-cleansing Spring, the local god said, where the Seven Fairies from on high used to bathe. When the seven evil spirits settled here and took over the Filth-cleansing Spring the good spirits didn't try to fight them for it. They let the spirits have it for nothing. I reckon that if even good spirits from Heaven don't dare offend them the evil spirits must have tremendous powers.

What have they taken the spring over for? Monkey asked.

Ever since taking the bathing pool over the monsters have been coming to bathe there three times a day, the local god replied. It's already after eleven. They'll be along at noon.

Go back now, local god, Monkey said when he heard all this, and wait while I capture them. The old local god kowtowed to him and went back to his shrine all of a tremble.

The Great Sage then gave a solo display of his magical powers, shaking himself, turning into a fly, and landing on the tip of a blade of grass to wait beside the path. A little later he heard a rustling, hissing sound like that of silkworms eating leaves or an ocean tide coming in. In the time it takes to drink half a cup of tea the silken ropes had all gone, and the farm looked just the same as it had before. Then there was a creaking noise as the wicker gate opened and the seven women came out laughing and talking noisily. Monkey watched carefully from where he was hiding and saw them talking and laughing as they held each other by the hand and walked shoulder to shoulder across the bridge. They were real beauties:

Compare them with jade and they were more fragrant;

They were like flowers but able to talk.

Their willowy brows were like distant hills;

Sandalwood-scented mouths were bursting cherries.

Hair ornaments were of jade;

Golden lotus feet darted out under crimson skirts.

They were like the moon goddess come down to earth,

Immortal girls descending to the world.

No wonder the master wanted to come begging for food, thought Monkey with a laugh, with all these lovelies here. If these seven beauties have captured him he won't be enough for a single meal for them. They couldn't make him last a couple of days. And if they take it in turns to have their way with him they'll kill him straight off. I'd better go and listen to what they're plotting.

The splendid Great Sage flew over with a high-pitched buzz and landed on the topknot of the woman who was walking in front. When she was over the bridge the women behind her caught up with her and called out, Sister, let's have a bath before we steam the fat monk and eat him up.

These monsters aren't at all economical, Monkey smiled to himself. They'd save a lot of firewood if they boiled him. Why steam him instead? The women walked South, picking flowers and throwing grass at each other, and were soon at the bathing pool, where a very magnificent wall and gateway appeared, with fragrant flowers, among them a bed of orchids, growing all around. One of the women behind him stepped forward and with a whistling sound pushed the double gates open, revealing the pond of naturally hot water inside. As for this water,

When heaven and earth were first separated

There were ten suns in the sky

Till Yi, the fine archer,

Shot nine of the sun-crows down to the earth,

Leaving only one golden crow star,

The true fire of the sun.

The nine hot springs in heaven and earth

Are the other nine crows transformed.

These nine hot springs are

Cool Fragrance Spring,

Mountain-companions Spring

Warm Spring,

Donghe Spring,

Mount Huang Spring,

Xiao'an Spring,

Guangfen Spring,

Hot Water Spring,

And this Filth-cleansing Spring.

There is a poem about it that goes:

The same vital force runs in all four seasons;

Spring continues throughout the autumn.

The scalding water bubbles like a cauldron;

The snow-white waves are boiling hot.

If the waters are spread they help the crops to grow;

Left where they are they wash worldly dust away.

Little bubbles spread out like pearls,

Rolling ones rise like pieces of jade.

It is rich and smooth although not wine,

Clear, calm and naturally warm.

The whole place thrives on its air of good omen:

It brings good fortune and the natural truth.

When the beauties wash their flesh is smooth as ice;

As dirt is soaked away their jade-like bodies are made new.

The bathing pool was about fifty feet across, a hundred feet long and four feet deep. The water was pure and translucent, and from the bottom of it came up bubbles like rolling pearls or floating jade. In the four sides of the pool there were six or seven pipes through which the water flowed out, keeping warm even when it reached fields up to a mile away. Beside the pool was a three-roomed pavilion, next to the back wall of which stood an eight-legged bench. At each end of the pavilion was a clothes stand painted in coloured lacquers. All this secretly delighted Monkey, who flew straight to one of the stands and landed on it.

When the women saw how clear and warm the water was they wanted to bathe in it, so they all took their clothes off and hung them on the stands before going into the pool together. This is what Monkey saw:

They undid the buttons on their clothes,

Loosened the knots in their gauzy sashes.

Silvery white were their creamy breasts,

Snowy their bodies that looked like jade.

Their arms and elbows were cool as ice,

And scented shoulders more lovely than if powdered.

Soft and supple the skin on their stomachs,

Glistening and clean their backs.

Their knees and wrists were rounded and soft;

Only three inches long were their golden lotus feet.

And as for what lay in between,

They showed a glimpse of the cave of pleasure.

The women all jumped into the water and enjoyed themselves as they frolicked in the waves. If I wanted to hit them, Monkey thought, I'd only need to stir the water with my cudgel. It would be like pouring boiling water on a nest of mice: I could kill the lot of them. What a pity. If I hit them I'd kill them, but it wouldn't do my reputation any good. As they say, a real man doesn't fight women. It'd be hopeless if a man like me killed these girls. If I'm not going to hit them I'll have to make things difficult for them so that they can't move. The splendid Great Sage made a spell with his hands, said the words of it, shook himself and turned into a hungry eagle.

His feathers were like frost or snow,

His eyes like bright stars.

When evil foxes saw him their souls were scared out of them;

And crafty hares were struck with terror.

His steely claws were sharp as spear-points;

His air was both majestic and ferocious.

He used his talons to seize his food,

And was ready to catch his flying prey himself.

He could fly high and low across the chilly sky,

Swooping through clouds and on his quarry at will.

With a whoosh of his wings he flew towards them, stretched his sharp talons to seize all seven sets of clothes that were hung on the stands and flew straight back to the ridge with them. Here he reverted to his own form to see Pig and Friar Sand.

Just look at the idiot as he comes up to Brother Monkey and says with a grin, The master must have been taken to a pawnbroker's.

How can you tell? asked Friar Sand.

Can't you see all those clothes our brother's grabbed? Pig replied.

These are the evil spirits' clothes, said Monkey, putting them down.

How on earth did you get so many? Pig asked.

There are seven outfits, said Monkey.

How did you strip them so easily, and strip them naked at that? Pig asked.

I didn't have to strip them, said Monkey. This place is called Gossamer Ridge, and the farm is called Gossamer Gave. The seven she-devils who live there captured the master, hung him up in their cave and all went off to bathe in the Filth-cleansing Spring. It's a natural hot spring. Their plan was to have a bath then steam the master and eat him. I went there with them and watched them undress and get into the water. I wanted to hit them, but I was worried it would contaminate my cudgel and ruin my reputation so I didn't. I just turned myself into a hungry eagle and grabbed their clothes in my talons. Now they're all squatting in the water, too embarrassed to come out. Let's rescue the master and be on our way as quickly as we can.

Brother, grinned Pig, you always leave something undone. You could see that they were evil spirits, so why didn't you kill them first then rescue the master? Even if they're too embarrassed to come out now they'll certainly come out after nightfall. They're bound to have enough old clothes at home to be able to put on an outfit each and come after us. Even if they don't come after us they live here permanently and we'll have to come this way back after we've fetched the scriptures. As the saying goes, it's better to get into debt on a journey than to get into a fight. When they stop us and make a row they'll really have it in for us.

So what do you suggest? Monkey asked.

If you ask me we should kill the demons then rescue the master, said Pig. That's what's called cutting down weeds and digging them out by the roots.

I'm not going to hit them, Monkey replied. If you want them hit go and do it yourself.

Pig then summoned up his spirits and in high delight rushed straight there, his rake held aloft. As he suddenly pushed the gates open and looked inside he saw the seven women squatting in the water and wildly cursing the eagle.

Feathery beast, they were saying, cat-headed monster. What the hell can we do now you've carried our clothes off?

Pig could not help laughing as he said to them, Bodhisattvas, carry on with your bath. Do you mind if I join you?

You monk, you're disgrace, the devils retorted angrily as they saw him. We're laywomen and you're a man of religion. As the ancient book has it, 'From the age of seven boys and girls do not share the same mat.' You mustn't possibly bathe in the same pool as us.

But the weather's so scorching hot I've got no choice, said Pig. You'll have to make the best of it and let me take a wash. What do you have to show off all that book-learning about sharing mats for?

With further argument the idiot dropped his rake, stripped off his cotton tunic and jumped in with a splash, to the fury of the demons who all rushed at him to hit him. Little did they realize how expert Pig was in the water. Once in the pool he shook himself and turned into a catfish spirit. The demons then tried to grab him but even when they caught him they could not get a firm grip. If they grabbed to the East he suddenly shot Westwards, and if they tried to grab him to the West he went East. The funny thing was that he kept wriggling around their crotches. The water was about chest-high, and after swimming around at the surface and then at the bottom of the pool for a while he had covered all of it and was panting and exhausted.

Only then did Pig jump out, turn back into himself, put his tunic back on, pick up his rake and shout, Who am I then? You thought I was a catfish spirit!

At the sight of him the demons all trembled with fright and said to Pig, When you came here first you were a monk, then you turned into a catfish in the water and we couldn't catch you. Now you've dressed like that. Where have you come from? You must tell us your name.

Bloody demons, you really don't know who I am, said Pig. I'm a disciple of the Venerable Tang Priest, who has been sent from Tang in the East to fetch the scriptures. My title is Marshal Tian Peng and I'm called Zhu Wuneng, or Pig. You've hung my master up in your cave and you're planning to steam him and eat him. Is my master just a meal for you to cook? Stretch your heads out at once. I'm going to smash you all with my rake and wipe the lot of you out.

At this the demons were scared out of their wits. They fell to their knees in the water, kowtowed to him and said, Please be kind, reverend sir. We were blind and we captured your master by mistake. Although we did hang him up we haven't tortured him. We beg you in your compassion to spare our lives. We'll gladly give you some money for the journey and send your master on his way to the Western Heaven.

Cut that talk out, said Pig, waving his hands. It's quite right what they say: 'Once you've been tricked by a confectioner you won't believe sweet-talkers again.' I'm going to hit you with my rake, then we can all go our separate ways.

The idiot was thoroughly rough and crude and wanted to show off his powers. He was unmoved by their fragrant feminine beauty. Raising his rake he charged them, lashing out wildly without caring what he was doing. The demons acted desperately. Forgetting about their modesty they cared only about saving their lives as covering their private parts with their hands they jumped out of the water and ran into the pavilion. Standing there they used magic to make thick silken ropes come out of their navels, filling the sky with a huge silken canopy under which Pig was caught. When the idiot looked up he could not see the sun in the heavens. He tried to run outside, but he could not lift his feet, which were tangled in silken ropes that covered the ground. When he tried to move his feet he tripped and staggered. He tried going left, but his head crashed to the ground, then tried going right and came a cropper. So he turned round as quickly as he could and kissed the dirt, got himself back on his feet, and collapsed head first once more. Goodness only knows how many times he stumbled and fell till his whole body was numb, his feet sore, his head aching and his eyes blurred. He could no longer even crawl, but lay groaning on the floor. Then the demons tied him up. They neither beat him up nor wounded him, but sprang outside to rush back to their cave, leaving the silken canopy to blot out the daylight.

When they reached the stone bridge they stopped and said the words of a spell. In an instant the silk canopy had been put away, and they all rushed stark naked into the cave, covering their private parts with their hands as they ran giggling past the Tang Priest.

Once inside their bedrooms carved out of the rock they put on old clothes and went straight to the back door of the cave, where they stood and called, Where are you, children?

Now each she-devil had a child, not one that she had borne, but an adopted child who had taken her as a mother. They were called Bee, Hornet, Cockroach, Spanish-fly, Grasshopper, Wax-insect and Dragonfly, for such they were. The evil spirits had spread their nets across the sky, caught these seven insects and been on the point of eating them. But as the old saying goes, Birds have bird language and beasts have beast language.

The insects had pleaded for their lives and volunteered to take the spirits as their own mothers. Ever since then they had gathered blossoms in the spring and summer flowers for the evil spirits, and as soon as they heard the shouts they appeared and asked, What orders do you have for us, mothers?

Sons, the demons replied, this morning we made a mistake and provoked the monk from Tang. His disciples trapped us in the pool and disgraced us. We were almost killed. You must do your utmost. Go outside and drive them away. When you've beaten them come to your uncle's to meet us. The she-devils then fled for their lives and went to the home of their teacher's senior disciple, where their wicked tongues were to give rise to more disasters, but of that we shall not now speak. Watch while the insects rub their fists in their hands and go out to confront their enemies.

Pig, meanwhile, whose head was spinning after falling over so often, looked up and suddenly saw that the silken canopy and ropes had all disappeared. Groping around he picked himself up, and despite his pain he made his way back the way he had come. As soon as he saw Monkey he grabbed him and said, Brother, is my head bulging? Is my face all blue?

What happened to you? Monkey asked.

Those damned creatures caught me under a silken net and tripped me up goodness knows how many times with silk ropes, Pig replied. My waist was twisted, my back felt broken and I couldn't move an inch. Then the silk canopy and the ropes all disappeared, so I could escape and come back.

Forget about it, said Friar Sand when he saw him, forget about it. You asked for trouble. I'm sure the demons have all gone back to the cave to harm the master. We must go and rescue him straight away.

When Monkey heard this he set out at once as fast as he could and rushed back to the farm while Pig led the horse. Here the seven little devils could be seen standing on the bridge, blocking their way and saying, Not so fast, not so fast. We're here.

What a joke! said Pig when he saw them. They're just a bunch of kids. They're only two foot five or six, well under three foot, and they can only weigh eight or nine pounds, not even ten.

Who are you? he shouted.

We're the sons of the seven immortal ladies, the little devils replied. You've insulted our mothers, and now you've got the effrontery to attack us, you ignorant fools. Stay where you are, and watch out. The splendid monsters then launched a wild onslaught on Pig, who was in a flaming temper after falling over so often. Seeing how tiny the insects were he lifted his rake to strike furious blows at them.

When the little devils saw how ferocious the idiot was they all reverted to their original forms, flew into the air and shouted, Change! In an instant each of them became ten, each ten became a hundred, each hundred became a thousand, and each thousand became ten thousand. Every one became a countless number. This is what could be seen:

The sky was full of wax-flies,

Dragonflies danced all over the land.

Bees and hornets went for the head,

Cockroaches jobbed at the eyes.

Spanish-flies bit before and behind,

While grasshoppers stung above and below.

His face was black and crawling with insects:

Even devils or deities would have been scared by their speed.

Brother, said Pig in alarm, you can say what you like about it being easy to fetch the scriptures, but on this road to the West even the insects give you a bad time.

Don't be afraid, brother, said Monkey. Go for them.

But they're flying into my head and my face and all over my body, replied Pig. They're at least ten layers deep and all stinging me. How can I go for them?

No problem, said Monkey, no problem. I know a trick.

Whatever it is, brother, said Friar Sand, use it right now. His shaven head has swollen up with those bites in no time at all. The splendid Great Sage pulled out a handful of hairs, chewed them into little bits and blew them out, telling them to turn to golden eagles, falcons, hawks, white eagles, vultures, ospreys and sparrowhawks. Brother, said Pig, what's that jargon about goldens and all that?

Something you don't know about, Monkey replied. Golden eagles, falcons, hawks, white eagles, vultures, ospreys and sparrowhawks are the seven birds of prey that my hairs turned into. That's because the she-devils' children are insects. Because the birds were so good at catching insects they got one every time they opened their beaks, grabbed at them with their claws or struck them with their wings. They wiped all the insects out in an instant, leaving no trace of them in the sky. The ground was piled over a foot deep with their bodies.

Only then could the three brothers charge across the bridge and into the cave, where they found their master hanging groaning and sobbing in mid-air. Master, said Pig, going up to him, are you hanging around here for fun? I don't know how many times I've had to fall over on your account.

Untie the master before we take this conversation any further, said Friar Sand. Brother Monkey then snapped the ropes and set the master free, asking, Where did the evil spirits go?

All seven of them ran stark naked through to the back, the Tang Priest replied. They were calling for their sons.

After them, brothers! said Monkey. Follow me!

The three of them, each holding his weapon, went searching in the back garden, but no sign of them could be found. They looked for them without success under all the peach and plum trees. They've gone, said Pig, they've gone.

We can stop looking for them, said Friar Sand. I'm going to help the master away from here. The three brothers then went back to the front, where they asked the Tang Priest to mount up. You two help the master along the way, said Pig. I'm going to smash these buildings to the ground with my rake. Then they'll have nowhere to live when they come back.

Smashing the place would be too much effort, said Monkey. The best way to cut off their roots would be to find some firewood. The splendid idiot then gathered some dead pine, broken-off bamboo, dried-out willow and withered creepers that he set alight. The roaring blaze destroyed everything. Only then did master and disciples feel easy enough to be on their way.

If you don't know what of good or evil the demons were to do to them, listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 71 | Journey to the West (vol. 2) | Chapter 73