home | login | register | DMCA | contacts | help | donate |      


my bookshelf | genres | recommend | rating of books | rating of authors | reviews | new | | collections | | | add

Chapter 74

Li Changgeng Reports the Demons' Vicious Nature

The Novice Displays His Powers of Transformation

Emotions and desires are in origin all the same;

Both emotions and desires are completely natural.

Many a gentleman refines himself in the Buddhist faith;

When desire and emotions are forgotten, dhyana conies.

Don't be impatient; be firm of heart;

Be free of dust like the moon in the sky.

Make no mistake in your labors and your progress;

When your efforts are completed you will be an enlightened immortal.

The story tells how Sanzang and his disciples, having broken through the net of desires and escaped from the prison-house of the emotions, let the horse travel West. Before they had been going for very long the summer was over and the new coolness of early autumn was refreshing their bodies. What they saw was:

Driving rains sweeping away the last of the heat,

Alarming the leaf of the parasol tree.

At evening glow-worms flew by the sedge path

While crickets sang beneath the moon.

The golden mallows opened in the dew;

Red knotweed covered the sandbanks.

Rushes and willows were the first to lose their leaves

As cold cicadas sang in tune.

As Sanzang was travelling along a high mountain appeared in front of him. Its peak thrust up into the azure void, touching the stars and blocking out the sun. In his alarm the venerable elder said to Monkey, Look at that mountain in front of us. It's very high. I don't know whether the path will take us across.

What a thing to say, Master, said Monkey with a smile. As the old saying goes,

However high the mountain there will be a way across;

However deep the river there's always a ferryman.

There's no reason why we shouldn't get over it. Stop worrying and carry on. When Sanzang heard this his face broke out in smiles and he whipped his horse forward to climb straight up the high crag.

After a mile or two an old man appeared. His white hair was tangled and flying in the wind while his sparse whiskers were being blown about like silver threads. He wore a string of prayer-beads round his neck and held a dragon-headed walkingstick as he stood far away at the top of the slope shouting, Venerable gentleman travelling West, stop your worthy steed. Rein in. There is a band of demons on this mountain who have eaten all the people in the continent of Jambu. Go no further!

At this Sanzang turned pale with terror, and because the horse was not standing steadily and he himself was not well seated in the carved saddle he crashed to the ground and lay in the grass, moaning but unable to move.

Monkey went over to help him to his feet with the words, Don't be afraid, don't be afraid. I'm here.

Did you hear the old man up on the crag telling us that there's a band of demons on this mountain who have eaten everyone in the continent of Jambu? said Sanzang. Who'll dare go to ask him what this is really all about?

Sit there while I go and ask him, Monkey replied.

With your ugly face and coarse language I'm afraid you may shock him, said Sanzang, so you won't get the truth from him.

I'll make myself a bit better looking before questioning him, laughed Brother Monkey.

Do a change to show me, said Sanzang, and the splendid Great Sage made a spell with his fingers, shook himself, and turned into a very neat little monk, clear-eyed, fine-browed, round-headed and regular of features. He moved in a most refined way and said nothing vulgar when he opened his mouth.

Brushing his brocade tunic he stepped forward and said to the Tang Priest, Master, have I changed for the better?

Yes, said the delighted Sanzang.

Marvellous, said Pig, but the rest of us look shabby by comparison. Even if I rolled around for two or three years on end I couldn't make myself look as elegant as that.

The splendid Great Sage left them behind as he went straight up to the old man, bowed to him and said, Greetings, venerable sir. Seeing how young and cultivated he looked, the old man returned his greeting and stroked his head in an offhand way.

Little monk, the old man said with a smile, where have you come from?

We are from the Great Tang in the East, Monkey replied, going to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures. When we came here and heard you tell us that there are demons here my master was terrified. He sent me to ask you about them. What sort of evil spirits would dare go in for that sort of crime? I would trouble you, venerable sir, to tell me all the details so that I can put them in their place and send them on their way.

You're much too young, little monk, said the old man with a smile, to know what's good for you. Your remarks aren't helpful. Those evil spirits have tremendous magical powers. How can you have the nerve to talk of putting them in their place and sending them on their way?

From what you are saying, Monkey replied with a smile, you seem to be trying to protect them. You must be a relation of theirs, or else a neighbour or a friend. Why else would you be promoting their prestige and boosting their morale, and refusing to pour out everything you know about their background?

You certainly know how to talk, monk, said the old man, nodding and smiling. I suppose you must have learned some magic arts while travelling with your master. Perhaps you know how to drive away and capture goblins, or have exorcised people's houses for them. But you've never come up against a really vicious monster.

What sort of vicious? Monkey said.

If those evil spirits send a letter to Vulture Mountain the five hundred arhats all come out to meet them, the old man said. If they send a note to the Heavenly Palace the Ten Bright Shiners all turn out to pay their respects. The dragons of the Four Oceans were their friends and they often meet the immortals of the Eight Caves. The Ten Kings of the Underworld call them brothers; the local gods and city gods are good friends of theirs.

When the Great Sage heard this he could not help bursting into loud guffaws. Stop talking, he said, grabbing hold of the old man, stop talking. Even if that demon is friends with all those young whippersnappers, my juniors, that's nothing really remarkable. If he knew I was coming he'd clear off the same night.

You're talking nonsense, little monk, the old man said. How can any of those sages be juniors and young whippersnappers to you?

To be truthful with you, Monkey replied with a grin, my people have lived for many generations in the Water Curtain Cave on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit in the land of Aolai. My name is Sun Wukong. In the old days I used to be an evil spirit too and did some great things. Once I fell asleep after drinking too much at a feast with the other demons and dreamed that two men came to drag me off to the World of Darkness. I got so angry that I wounded the demon judges with my gold-banded cudgel. The kings of the Underworld were terrified and I practically turned the Senluo Palace upside-down. The judges in charge of the case were so scared that they fetched some paper for the Ten Kings to sign. They promised to treat me as their senior if I let them off a beating.

Amitabha Buddha! exclaimed the old man when he heard this. If you talk big like that you won't be able to grow any older.

I'm old enough, fellow, said Monkey.

How old are you then? the old man asked. Guess, Monkey replied.

Six or seven, the old man said. I'm ten thousand times as old as that, laughed Monkey, I'll show you my old face, then you'll believe me.

How can you have another face? the old man asked.

This little monk has seventy-two faces, Monkey replied.

Not realizing that Monkey really had these powers the old man went on questioning him till Monkey rubbed his face and turned back into himself, with his protruding teeth, big mouth, red thighs and tigerskin kilt round his waist. As he stood there at the foot of the rocky scar, holding his gold-banded cudgel, he was the living image of a thunder god. The sight of him made the old man turn pale with terror and go so weak at the knees that he could not keep himself upright but collapsed to the ground. When he got to his feet again he lost his balance once more.

Old man, said the Great Sage, going up to him, don't get yourself so frightened over nothing. I may look evil but I'm good inside. Don't be afraid! You were kind enough just now to tell us that there are demons here. Could I trouble you to let me know how many of them there are? I'll thank you very much if you do. The old man trembled, unable to speak and acting as if deaf. He replied not a word.

Getting no answer from him, Monkey went back down the slope.

So you are back, Wukong, Sanzang said. What did you find out?

It's nothing, said Monkey with a smile, nothing. Even if there are one or two evil spirits on the way to the Western Heaven, the people here only worry so much about them because they're such cowards. No problem! I'm here!

Did you ask him what mountain this was and what cave, said Sanzang, how many monsters there are, and which is the way to Thunder Monastery?

Please excuse me if I speak frankly, Master, put in Pig. When it comes to transformations, trickery and deception, then four or five of us would be no match for Brother Monkey. But a whole parade of Monkeys couldn't touch me for honesty.

That's right, said the Tang Priest, that's right. You're honest.

Goodness knows why, said Pig, but he just rushed in without a second thought, asked a couple of questions, and came running back in an awful mess. I'm going to find out the truth.

Do be careful, Wuneng, said the Tang Priest.

The splendid idiot put his rake in his belt, straightened up his tunic, and swaggered straight up the slope to call to the old man, Respectful greetings, sir. The old man had finally managed to get back on his feet with the help of his stick after seeing that Monkey had gone, and was still shaking and about to depart when Pig suddenly appeared.

Sir, he said, more shocked than ever, whatever kind of nightmare am I in the middle of? The first monk was ugly enough, but at least he looked a little bit human. But this one's got a snout like a pestle, ears like rush fans, a face like iron plates, and a neck covered in bristles. It doesn't look at all human.

You must be in a very bad mood to run me down like that, old man, laughed Pig. Is that how you see me? Ugly I may be, but if you can bear to look at me for a while you'll find I get quite handsome.

Only when the old man heard Pig using human speech did he address him by asking, Where are you from?

I'm the Tang Priest's second disciple, Pig replied, and my Buddhist names are Wuneng or Bajie. The one who came and asked you questions just now was Sun Wukong the Novice, the senior disciple. My master has sent me to pay my respects to you because he's angry with Sun Wukong for offending you and not finding out the truth. Could you please tell me, sir, what mountain this is, what caves there are on it, what demons live in them, and which is the main route West?

Are you honest? the old man asked.

I've never been false in all my life, Pig replied. You mustn't talk a whole lot of fancy nonsense like the other monk just now, said the old man.

I'm not like him, Pig replied.

Leaning on his stick, the old man said to Pig, This is Lion Ridge, and it is 250 miles around. In it there is a Lion Cave where there are three demon chieftains.

You're worrying over nothing, old man, said Pig, spitting. Why go to all that trouble just to tell us about three demons?

Aren't you afraid? the old man said.

To tell you the truth, Pig replied, my elder brother'll kill one with one swing of his cudgel, I'll kill another with one bash from my rake, and the other disciple will kill the third one with his demon-quelling staff. And with the three of them dead our master will be able to cross the ridge. No problem!

You don't know the whole story, monk, said the old man with a smile. Those three demon chiefs have the most tremendous magic powers. As for the little demons under their command, there are five thousand on the Southern end of the ridge, five thousand on the Northern end, ten thousand on the road East, ten thousand on the road West, four or five thousand patrollers, and another ten thousand on the gates. Then there are any number who work in the kitchen and gather firewood. There must be 47,000 or 48,000 altogether. They all have names and carry passes, and all they do is eat people.

On learning this the idiot ran back, shivering and shaking. As soon as he was near the Tang Priest he put down his rake and started shitting instead of reporting back. What are you squatting there for instead of making your report? shouted Monkey when he saw the idiot.

Because I'm shit scared, Pig replied. No time to talk now. The sooner we all run for our lives the better.

Stupid fool, said Monkey. I wasn't frightened when I questioned him, so why should you be in such a witless panic?

What is the situation? Sanzang asked.

The old man says that this is Lion Mountain, Pig replied, and that there's Lion Cave in it. There are three chief demons there, and they have 48,000 little devils under them. All they do is eat people. So if we step on their mountain we'll just be serving ourselves up as a meal to them. Let's forget about it. On hearing this Sanzang shivered, his hairs standing on end.

What are we to do, Wukong? he asked.

Don't worry, Master, said Monkey. It can't be anything much. There are bound to be a few evil spirits here. It's just that the people here are such cowards that they exaggerate about how many demons there are and how powerful they are. They get themselves into a funk. I can cope.

You're talking nonsense, brother, said Pig. I'm not like you. What I found out was the truth. I wasn't making any of it up. The hills and valleys are all crawling with demons. How are we going to move ahead?

You're talking like an idiot, said Monkey with a grin. Don't scare yourself over nothing. Even if the hills and valleys were crawling with demons I'd only need half a night to wipe them all out with my cudgel.

You're shameless, said Pig, quite shameless. Stop talking so big. It would take seven or eight days just to call the roll. How could you wipe them all out?

Tell me how you'd do it, laughed Monkey.

However you grabbed them, tied them up, or fixed them where they are with fixing magic you'd never be able to do it so fast, said Pig.

I wouldn't need to grab them or tie them up, said Monkey. I'll give my cudgel a tug at both ends, say 'Grow!,' and make it over four hundred feet long. Then I'll wave it, say 'Thicken!,' and make it eighty feet around. I'll roll it down the Southern slope and that'll kill five thousand of them. I'll roll it down the Northern slope and kill another five thousand. Then I'll roll it along the ridge from East to West, and even if there are forty or fifty thousand of them I'll squash them all to a bloody pulp.

Brother, said Pig, if you kill them that way, like rolling out dough for noodles, you could do it in four hours.

Master, said Friar Sand with a laugh, as my elder brother has such divine powers we've got nothing to fear. Please mount up so that we can be on our way. Having heard them discussing Monkey's powers Sanzang could not but mount with an easy heart and be on his way.

As they traveled along the old man disappeared. He must have been an evil spirit himself, said Friar Sand, deliberately coming to frighten us with cunning and intimidation.

Take it easy, said Monkey. I'm going to take a look. The splendid Great Sage leapt up to a high peak but saw no trace of the old man when he looked around. Then he suddenly turned back to see a shimmering coloured glow in the sky, shot up on his cloud to look, and saw that it was the Great White Planet. Walking over and grabbing hold of him, Monkey kept addressing him by his personal name: Li Changgeng! Li Changgeng! You rascal! If you had something to say you should have said it to my face. Why did you pretend to be an old man of the woods and make a fool of me?

The planet hastened to pay him his respects and said, Great Sage, I beg you to forgive me for being late in reporting to you. Those demon chiefs really have tremendous magical abilities and their powers are colossal. With your skill in transformations and your cunning you may just be able to get over, but if you slight them it will be very hard.

I'm very grateful, Monkey thanked him, very grateful. If I really can't get across this ridge I hope that you'll go up to Heaven and put in a word with the Jade Emperor so he'll lend me some heavenly soldiers to help me.

Yes, yes, yes, said the Great White Planet. Just give the word and you can have a hundred thousand heavenly troops if you want them.

The Great Sage then took his leave of the planet and brought his cloud down to see Sanzang and say, The old man we saw just now was actually the Great White Planet come to bring us a message.

Disciple, said Sanzang, putting his hands together in front of his chest, catch up with him quick and ask him where there's another path we could make a detour by.

There's no other way round, Monkey replied. This mountain is 250 miles across, and goodness knows how much longer it would be to go all the way around it. How ever could we? At this Sanzang could not restrain himself from weeping.

Disciple, he said, if it's going to be as hard as this how are we going to worship the Buddha?

Don't cry, Monkey said, don't cry. If you cry you're a louse. I'm sure he's exaggerating. All we have to do is be careful. As they say, forewarned is forearmed. Dismount and sit here for now.

What do you want to talk about now? Pig asked.

Nothing, replied Monkey. You stay here and look after the master carefully while Friar Sand keeps a close eye on the baggage and the horse. I'm going up the ridge to scout around. I'll find out how many demons there are in the area, capture one, ask him all the details, and get him to write out a list with all of their names. I'll check out every single one of them, old or young, and tell them to shut the gates of the cave and not block our way. Then I can ask the master to cross the mountain peacefully and quietly. That'll show people my powers.

Be careful, said Friar Sand, do be careful!

No need to tell me, Brother Monkey replied with a smile. On this trip I'd force the Eastern Ocean to make way for me, and I'd smash my way in even if it were a mountain of silver cased in iron.

The splendid Great Sage went whistling straight up to the peak by his somersault cloud. Holding on to the vines and creepers, he surveyed the mountain only to find it silent and deserted. I was wrong, he said involuntarily, I was wrong. I shouldn't have let that old Great White Planet go. He was just trying to scare me. There aren't any evil spirits here. If there were they'd be out leaping around in the wind, thrusting with their spears and staves, or practicing their fighting skills. Why isn't there a single one?

As he was wondering about this there was a ringing of a bell and a banging of clappers. He turned round at once to see a little devil boy with a banner on which was written BY ORDER over his shoulder, a bell at his waist and clappers in his hands that he was sounding. He was coming from the North and heading South. A close look revealed that he was about twelve feet tall.

He must be a runner, thought Monkey, grinning to himself, delivering messages and reports. I'll take a listen to what he's talking about. The splendid Great Sage made a spell with his hands, said the magic words, shook himself and turned into a fly who landed lightly on the devil's hat and tilted his head for a good listen.

This is what the little devil was saying to himself as he headed along the main road, sounding his clappers and ringing his bell: All we mountain patrollers must be careful and be on our guard against Sun the Novice. He can even turn into a fly! Monkey was quietly amazed to hear this. That so-and-so must have seen me before. How else could he know my name and know that I can turn into a fly? Now the little devil had not in fact seen him before. The demon chief had for some reason given him these instructions that he was reciting blindly. Monkey, who did not know this, thought that the devil must have seen him and was on the point of bringing the cudgel out to hit him with when he stopped.

I remember Pig being told, he thought, when he questioned the planet that there were three demon chieftains and 47,000 or 48,000 junior devils like this one. Even if there were tens of thousands more juniors like this it would be no problem. But I wonder how great the three leaders' powers are. I'll question him first. There'll be time to deal with them later.

Splendid Great Sage! Do you know how he questioned the demon? He jumped off the devil's hat and landed on a tree top, letting the junior devil go several paces ahead. Then Monkey turned round and did a quick transformation into another junior devil, sounding clappers, ringing a bell and carrying a flag over his shoulder just like the real one. He was also dressed identically. The only difference was that he was a few inches taller.

He was muttering the same things as the other as he caught him up, shouting, Hey, you walking ahead, wait for me.

Turning round, the junior devil asked, Where have you come from?

You're a nice bloke, Monkey said with a smile, not even recognizing one of your own people.

You're not one of ours, said the demon.

What do you mean? Monkey asked. Take a look and see if you can recognize me.

I've never seen you before, the demon said. I don't know you.

It's not surprising you don't know me, said Monkey. I work in the kitchens. We've rarely met.

You don't, said the demon, shaking his head, you don't. None of the brothers who do the cooking has got a pointy face like yours.

I must have made my face too pointy when I did the transformation, thought Monkey, so he rubbed it with his hands and said, It isn't pointy. Indeed it was not.

But it was pointy just now, the little devil said. How did you stop it being pointy just by rubbing it? You're a very shady character. I don't have the faintest idea who you are. You're not one of us. I've never met you. Very suspicious. Our kings run the household very strictly. The kitchen staff only work in the kitchen and the mountain patrols keep to patrolling the mountain. How could you possibly be a cook and a patroller?

There's something you don't know, said Monkey, improvising a clever answer. I was promoted to patrolling because the kings saw how well I'd worked in the kitchens.

Very well then, said the little devil. We patrollers are divided into ten companies of forty each, which makes four hundred in all. We're all known by our ages, appearances, names and descriptions. Because Their Majesties want to keep the organization neat and roll-calls convenient they've given us all passes. Have you got one? Monkey, who had seen what the devil looked like and heard what he had said, had been able to turn himself into the devil's double. But not having seen the devil's pass he was not carrying one himself. Instead of saying that he did not have one the splendid Great Sage claimed that he had.

Of course I've got one, he said. But it's a new one that's only just been issued to me. Show me yours.

Not realizing what Monkey was up to, the little devil lifted his clothes to reveal a gold-lacquered pass with a silken cord through it fastened next to his skin that he lifted out to show Monkey. Monkey saw that on the back of it were the words Demon-suppresser, while on the front was handwritten Junior Wind-piercer.

Goes without saying, Brother Monkey thought, all the ones in mountain patrols have 'Wind' at the end of their names. Put your clothes down now, he said, and come over here while I show you my pass. With that he turned away, put a hand down to pull a little hair from the tip of his tail, rubbed it between his fingers, called Change! and turned it into another gold-lacquered pass on a green silken cord on which were handwritten the words Senior Wind-piercer.

With his liking for taking things to extremes and his gift of finding the right thing to say, Monkey remarked, There's something you don't know. When Their Majesties promoted me to patrolling for doing so well in the kitchen they gave me a new pass as a Senior Patroller and put me in charge of you forty lads in this company.

At this the demon at once gave a na-a-aw of respect and said, Sir, I didn't recognize you as you've only just been appointed. Please forgive me if anything I said offended you.

I'm not angry with you, said Monkey, returning his courtesy. There's just one thing. I want some money from you all to mark our first meeting: five ounces of silver each.

Please be patient, sir, the little devil replied. When I get back to the Southern end of the ridge to meet the rest of our company we'll all give it to your together.

In that case I'm coming with you, said Monkey, and he followed behind as the demon led the way.

After a mile or two a writing-brush peak was seen. Why was it called a writing-brush peak? Because on the top of the mountain there was a pinnacle about forty or fifty feet high that looked just like a writing brush standing upright on a brush stand.

Going up to it Monkey lifted his tail, jumped to the top of the pinnacle, sat down and called, Come here, all of you.

The young Wind-piercers all bowed low beneath him and said, We're at your service, sir.

Do you know why Their Majesties appointed me? Monkey asked.

No, they replied.

Their Majesties want to eat the Tang Priest, said Monkey, but they're worried about Sun the Novice's tremendous magic powers. They've heard that he can do transformations and are worried that he might turn himself into a young Wind-piercer and come along the path here to find out what's going on. That's why they're made me Senior Wind-piercer to check up on you and find out if there are any impostors among you.

We're all genuine, sir, the junior Wind-piercers all replied at once.

If you're all genuine do you know what powers His Senior Majesty has? Monkey asked.

Yes, one of the young Wind-piercers said.

In that case, said Monkey, tell me about them at once. If what you say matches what I know, you're genuine. If it's at all wrong you're impostors, and I'll take you to Their Majesties for punishment.

Seeing him sitting up on high, playing wise and cunning as he shouted at them, the young devils had nothing for it but to tell him the truth. His Majesty has vast magical abilities and enormous powers, one of the young devils replied. He once devoured a hundred thousand heavenly warriors in a single mouthful.

You're an impostor, Monkey spat out when he heard this.

Sir, Your Honour, said the young devil in panic, I'm real. How can you call me an impostor?

If you're genuine why did you talk such nonsense? Monkey replied. No matter how big he is His Majesty couldn't have swallowed a hundred thousand heavenly soldiers in a single mouthful.

This is something you don't know about, sir, the young devil replied. His Majesty can do transformations. He can make himself tall enough to hold up the sky or as small as a cabbage seed. Some years ago when the Queen Mother invited all the immortals to a peach banquet she didn't send him an invitation, so His Majesty wanted to fight Heaven. The Jade Emperor sent a hundred thousand heavenly soldiers to subdue His Majesty, gave himself a magical body and opened his mouth that was as big as a city gate. He made as if to swallow hard, which frightened the heavenly soldiers so much that they dared not give battle, and the Southern Gate of Heaven was shut. That's how he could have swallowed a hundred thousand heavenly soldiers at a single mouthful.

Monkey grinned to himself and thought, Frankly, I've done that too. What powers does His Second Majesty have? he asked.

His Second Majesty is thirty feet tall with brows like sleeping silkworms, phoenix eyes, a voice like a beautiful woman, tusks like carrying-poles and a nose like a dragon. If he's in a fight he only needs to wrinkle his nose for his enemy to be scared witless even if he's covered in bronze and iron.

Evil spirits who get people with their noses are easy enough to catch, said Monkey, who then asked, and what powers does His Third Majesty have?

He's no monster from the mortal world, the young devil replied. His name is Ten Thousand Miles of Cloud Roc. When he moves he rolls up the wind and shifts the waves, shaking the North as he heads for the South. He carries a treasure about with him called the Male and Female Vital Principles Jar. Anyone who's put in that jar is turned liquid in a few moments.

That news gave Monkey something to worry about. I'm not scared of the monsters, he thought, but I'll have to watch out for his jar. Then he said aloud, Your account of Their Majesties' powers isn't bad-it fits exactly with what I know. But which of them wants to eat the Tang Priest?

Don't you know, sir? said the young Wind-piercer.

As if I didn't know better than you! shouted Monkey. I was told to come and question you because they're worried that you don't know all the details.

Our Senior King and Second King have long lived in Lion Cave on Lion Mountain, the young devil replied, but the Third King doesn't live here. He used to live over a hundred miles to the West of here in the capital of a country called Leonia. Five hundred years ago he ate the king of the country, his civil and military officials, and everybody else in the city, young and old, male and female. So he seized their country, and now all the people there are evil monsters. I don't know which year it was in which he heard that the Tang court has sent a priest to the Western Heaven to fetch the scriptures. They say this priest is a good man who has cultivated his conduct for ten incarnations, and anyone who eats a piece of his flesh will live for ever and never grow old. But the Third King is worried about the priest's disciple Sun the Novice who's a real terror, so he's come to swear brotherhood with our two kings, all three are now working together to catch the Tang Priest.

Damn this thoroughly ill-behaved monster, thought Brother Monkey with great fury. I'm protecting the Tang Priest while he works for the true achievement. How dare they plot to eat my man? With a snort of fury he ground his steel teeth and brandished his iron cudgel as he leapt down from the high pinnacle and smashed the poor young devil's head into a lump of meat. When he saw what he had done Monkey felt sorry.

Oh dear, he thought, he meant well, telling me all about the house. Why did I finish him off all of a sudden like that? Oh well! Oh well! That's that. The splendid Great Sage had been forced to do this because his master's way ahead had been blocked. He took the little devil's pass off him, tied it round his own waist, put the By order" flag over his shoulder, hung the bell from his waist and sounded the clappers with his hand. Then he made a hand-spell into the wind, said a spell, shook himself, turned into the exact likeness of the junior Wind-piercer, and went straight back the way he had come, looking for the cave to find out about the three demon chieftains. Indeed:

The Handsome Monkey King had a thousand transformations

And the true power of magic to make ten thousand changes.

Monkey was rushing deep into the mountains along the way he had come when suddenly he heard shouts and whinnies. As he looked up he saw tens of thousands of little devils drawn up outside the entrance to the Lion Cave with their spears, sabers, swords, halberds, flags and banners. Monkey was delighted.

Li Changgeng, the planet, was telling the truth, he thought. He wasn't lying at all. The devils were drawn up in a systematic way, each 250 forming a company, so that from the forty standards in many colours that were dancing in the wind he could tell that there were ten thousand infantry and cavalry there.

If I go into the cave disguised as a junior Wind-piercer and one of the demon chiefs questions me about my mountain patrol, Monkey thought, I'll have to make up answers on the spur of the moment. The moment I say anything at all wrong he'll realize who I am and I won't be able to get away. That army on the gates would stop me and I'd never get out. If I'm going to catch the demon kings I'll have to get rid of the devils on the gates first.

Do you know how he was going to do that? The old demons have never seen me, he thought, they've only heard of my reputation. I'll talk big and scare them with my fame and prestige. If it's true that all living beings in the middle land are destined to have the scriptures brought to them, then all I need do is talk like a hero and scare those monsters on the gate away. But if they're not destined to have the scriptures brought to them I'll never get rid of the spirits from the gates of this cave in the West even if I talk till lotus flowers appear. Thus he thought about his plans, his mind questioning his mouth and his mouth questioning his mind, as he sounded the clappers and rang the bell.

Before he could rush in through the entrance to Lion Cave he was stopped by the junior devils of the forward camp, who said, You're back, young Wind-piercer. Monkey said nothing but kept going with his head down.

When he reached the second encampment more young devils grabbed hold of him and said, You're back, young Wind-piercer.

Yes, Monkey replied. On your patrol this morning did you meet a Sun the Novice? they asked.

I did, Monkey replied. He was polishing his pole.

What's he like? the terrified devils asked. What sort of pole was he polishing?

He was squatting beside a stream, Monkey replied. He looked like one of those gods that clear the way. If he'd stood up I'm sure he'd have been hundreds of feet tall, and the iron cudgel he was holding was a huge bar as thick as a rice-bowl. He'd put a handful of water on a rocky scar and was polishing the cudgel on it muttering, 'Pole, it's ages since I got you out to show your magic powers: This time you can kill all the demons for me, even if there are a hundred thousand of them. Then I'll kill the three demon chiefs as a sacrificial offering to you.' He's going to polish it till it shines then start by killing the ten thousand of you on the gates.

On hearing this the little devils were all terror-struck and their souls all scattered in panic. Gentlemen, Monkey continued, that Tang Priest has only got a few pounds of flesh on him. We won't get a share. So why should we have to carry the can for them? We'd do much better to scatter.

You're right, the demons said. Let's all run for our lives. If they had been civilized soldiers they would have stayed and fought to the death, but as they were all really wolves, tigers and leopards, running beasts and flying birds, they all disappeared with a great whoosh. Indeed, it wasn't as if the Great Sage Sun had merely talked big: it was like the time when Xiang Yu's army of eight thousand soldiers disappeared, surrounded by foes who were former comrades.

Splendid, said monkey to himself with self-congratulation, the old devils are as good as dead now. If this lot run away at the sound of me they'll never dare look me in the face. I'll use the same story when I go in there. If I said anything different and one or two of the young devils had got inside and heard me that would give the game away. Watch him as he carefully approaches the ancient cave and boldly goes deep inside.

If you don't know what of good or ill was to come from the demon chieftains listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 73 | Journey to the West (vol. 2) | Chapter 75