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Chapter 53

The Dhyana Master Conceives after Eating a Meal

The Yellow-Wife Brings Waster to Remove a Devil Foetus

Eight hundred kinds of virtue must be cultivated,

Three thousand good deeds must be secretly performed.

Do not distinguish objects from self, or friend from foe:

That conforms with the teaching of the Western Heaven.

The rhinoceros demon feared no weapons;

No blame attached to the failure of water and fire.

Lord Lao Zi subdued him and took him to Heaven,

Turning the buffalo round with a smile.

The story goes on to tell who was calling by the wayside. The mountain god and local deity of Mount Jindou came out carrying a bowl of purple gold. Holy monk, they said, this bowl of rice was begged by the Great Sage Monkey from a pious household. You fell into the clutches of an evil demon because you would not heed good advice, putting the Great Sage to endless trouble before he was finally able to free you today. Please eat this food before continuing on your way, and do not be ungrateful for the Great Sage's respect and sense of duty.

I am very grateful to you, disciple, said Sanzang, and I cannot find words to express all my thanks. If I had realized before that I should not step out of the circle I would never have been in such danger of being killed.

I tell you frankly, Master, said Brother Monkey, that because you did not trust the ring I drew you ended up the victim of someone else's ring. It caused so much trouble and suffering. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!

What do you mean about another ring? Pig asked.

It was all your fault, you evil-tongued cretin, for getting the master into that terrible danger, said Monkey. I had to turn heaven and earth upside down to fetch heavenly soldiers, water, fire, and even the Buddha's cinnabar sand, all of which was caught by his gleaming white ring. It was only because the Buddha gave a hint to the arhats who told me where the demon had come from that I could fetch Lord Lao Zi to subdue him. He was a water-buffalo turned demon.

Good disciple, said Sanzang with infinite gratitude when he heard this, after this experience I shall definitely take your advice in future. The four of them then ate the steaming food. Why is this rice still hot after such a long time? Monkey asked. I heated it up myself when I knew that the Great Sage had succeeded, replied the local deity on his knees. The food was soon eaten, after which they put the bowl away and took their leave of the local deity and the mountain god. The master remounted and they crossed the high mountain. Their minds freed from worries, they returned to true perception; dining on the wind and sleeping in the dew they continued to the West. When they had been travelling for a long time it was once again early spring. They heard

The soft call of swallows,

The beauty of orioles.

The soft call of swallows tiring their fragrant voices;

The beauty of orioles and their frequent song.

The land is covered with flowers like brocade,

The emerald-green hills seem piled with cushions.

Fruit forms on the greengage trees on the ridge,

While an ancient cypress holds a cloud before the scar.

Pale is the misty light on the fertile plain;

Warm sands are bathed in the glow of sunset.

Orchards and trees now break into blossom;

Willows grow new shoots as the spring returns.

As they were walking along they came to a little river in which the water flowed cool, pure and deep. When he reined in his horse for a better look the Tang Priest could make out some of the roof of a thatched cottage under the green shade of willows. That must be a ferryman's house, said Monkey, pointing at the cottage. It looks likely enough, replied Sanzang, but I would not like to be too sure as I cannot see any boat.

Ferryman! yelled Pig at the top of his voice, putting the luggage down. Bring the boat over. After a number of these shouts a rowing boat came creaking out from under the willows and was soon near their bank. When they looked carefully this is what they saw:

Short oars dividing the waves,

Lightly skimming on the water.

The hull is painted in many colours,

Enclosing a full hold.

Iron chains are neatly coiled in the bows,

And bright is the tiller in the stern.

Although the skiff is only as light as a reed

It is the equal of an ocean-going vessel.

It may have no ivory mast or silken rigging,

But it does have cassia oars and a sternpost of pine.

Indeed this is no ship for mighty voyages,

Just a ferry fit to cross a single stream,

Coming and going between the river's banks,

Never leaving the ancient crossing place.

The boat was soon at the bank, This way to cross the river, called the boatman. Urging the horse forward for a closer look, Sanzang saw that the boatman looked like this:

A head wrapped in a toweling cloth,

Feet in black shoes of silk.

Many a patch on cotton-padded tunic and trousers,

And around the waist was a much-stitched cotton apron.

Horny skin on the hands, and muscles hard,

Eyes dim, a wrinkled brow, and an aged face.

But the voice was a melodious as an oriole's song;

At a closer look she was clearly an old woman.

Do you do the ferrying? asked Monkey, approaching the boat.

Yes, the woman replied.

Why isn't the ferryman here? Monkey asked. Why has he left it to his wife to pole the boat?

The woman smiled and said nothing as she put the gangplank into position. Friar Sand carried the luggage aboard while Monkey helped the master on then followed himself. Pig led the horse on, after which the plank was stowed. The woman pushed off and quickly rowed them across the river.

When they were on the Western bank Sanzang told Friar Sang to open one of the bundles and take out some coins to give her. The ferry woman did not argue about the amount, but moored the boat by its painter to a stake beside the water and went back into her cottage chuckling.

As he was thirsty and the water was so clear Sanzang said to Pig, Get the bowl and fetch me some water to drink. Pig did as he was told and handed the water to his master, who drank only about a third of it, leaving two-thirds for the idiot to snatch and down in a single draft before helping the master back on his horse.

Master and disciples had been going less than an hour on the road West when Sanzang started to groan, My stomach's hurting.

I've got the bellyache too, said Pig, who was behind him.

It must be because you drank cold water, said Friar Sand, only to be interrupted by groans of It's agony! from his master and Pig. The two of them were in unbearable pain and their abdomens were gradually swelling. When they felt with their hands there was something like a lump of flesh and blood moving and jerking around incessantly. Sanzang was feeling very unsteady when he noticed two bundles of straw hanging from the top of a tree in a village by the road.

That's good, Master, said Monkey. There's a wineshop there. I'll go and beg you some hot water and find out if anyone sells medicine there and will let you have some medicine to ease your pain.

Sanzang was very pleased with the suggestion, so he whipped the white horse forward and was soon at the gates of the village, where he dismounted. An old woman was sitting on a bundle of straw outside the gates twisting hempen thread. Monkey went up to her, put his hands together in front of his chest in greeting, and said, We monks have come from the Great Tang in the East. My master is the Tang Emperor's younger brother, and he has a stomachache because he drank some water from a river.

Which river did you drink from? asked the old woman, laughing aloud.

From the clear river to the East of here, replied Monkey.

What a laugh, chuckled the old woman, what a laugh! Come inside and I'll explain.

Monkey supported Sanzang while Friar Sand helped pig into the thatched cottage where they sat down. The two of them were groaning in agony from their protruding bellies, their faces sallow and their foreheads creased with frowns. Please boil some water for my master, missus, said Monkey. He must have it, and I'll be very grateful.

Instead of doing this she went into the back of the house, still chuckling, and called, Come and see, come and see! There was a slap of sandals inside as two or three middle-aged women came out to stare at Sanzang with grins across their faces. This made Monkey so angry that he shouted and bared his teeth at them, sending them all scurrying and stumbling inside in terror.

Monkey went after them, grabbed the old woman, and said, Boil some water this minute and I'll spare your life.

My lord, said the old woman, hot water won't be any use. I can't do anything to help those two with their bellyaches. If you let me go I'll tell you all about it. When Monkey released her she continued, This is the Womanland of Western Liang. All of us in this country are female, and there isn't a man among us, which is why we were so pleased to see you. It's terrible that the reverend father has drank from that river, which is called the Motherhood River. There is a Male-welcoming Post Station outside our capital with a Pregnancy-revealing Spring. In this country we only dare drink of the river's water when we reach the age of twenty. After drinking it we feel the stomach pains of pregnancy. Three days later we go to the Pregnancy-revealing Spring at the Male-welcoming Post Station. If we see a double reflection in the waters we give birth to a child. Because your master has drunk from the Motherhood River he's pregnant. He's going to have a baby soon. What will a hot drink do to help that?

Sanzang went pale with shock at the news.

What am I to do, disciple? he asked.

I'm going to have a child, but I'm a man, said Pig, writhing around in his agony. Where will the child come out? How am I to give birth to it?

As the old saying goes, a melon falls when it's ripe, replied Monkey with a laugh. When the time comes a hole will open under your ribs for it to be born through.

This conversation made Pig shake with fear, and the pain was more than he could bear. I can't take any more, he said, I can't take any more. I'm dying, I'm dying.

Stop fidgeting, brother, said Friar Sand with a grin, stop fidgeting or else you'll get the umbilical cord in a twist and be ill before the birth.

The idiot's panic was now worse than ever as with tears in his eyes he held on to Monkey and said, Brother, ask the old lady where there are midwives with a gentle touch and send for some. The pains are coming very close to each other now. They must be labor pains. It'll be very soon now.

If they're labor pains, brother, you'd better stop writhing about if you don't want your waters to break, said Friar Sand, still grinning.

My good lady, groaned Sanzang, are there any doctors round here? Send one of my disciples to buy some medicine that will make me abort.

Medicine won't be any use, said the old woman. There's a Miscarriage Spring in Childfree Cave in Mount Offspring Dissolved on the road due South from here. To end your pregnancy you must drink the water of that spring. But the spring water cannot be had now as a Taoist called the As-you-will Immortal came here the other year and changed the Childfree Cave to the Hermitage of Immortals. He's hoarding the waters of Miscarriage Spring, which he won't give away. Anyone who wants water must take him rich gifts. You have to offer mutton, wine and fruit, and be very reverent indeed before you can get a bowl of the water from him. You travelling monks couldn't possibly afford to do all that, so you'll just have to let fate take its course and have the babies when your time comes. Monkey, who was very pleased to learn all this, then asked how far it was to Mount Offspring Dissolved. Ten miles, the old woman replied.

Fine, said Monkey. You can stop worrying, Master. I'll go and get you some of the water.

Look after the master properly, said the splendid Great Sage in his parting instructions to Friar Sand, and if the people here try to bully him use your old trick of pulling a face to scare them till I get back with the water.

Friar Sand was preparing to do as he was told when the old woman came out with a big earthenware bowl that she gave to Monkey. Take this and fetch as much as you can, she said, so that we can keep some for emergencies.

Monkey left the thatched cottage with the bowl in his hands and was off on his cloud, at which the old woman bowed to the sky and said, That monk can ride on clouds, my lord. Then she went inside and called the other women out to kowtow to the Tang Priest. They started calling him arhat and Bodhisattva, boiled water and prepared a meal to offer him.

Monkey's somersault cloud soon brought him within sight of a mountain that blocked his cloud, so he brought it down to gaze at the superb mountain. He saw

A brocade of subtle blossoms,

Wild flowers spreading a green carpet,

Streams running into each other,

Brooks and clouds both at their ease.

Dense grow the creepers in many a valley,

And trees are packed close on a distant ridge.

While songbirds call wild geese fly over,

Deer drink, and gibbons climb.

The green line of peaks stands like a screen;

The blue rock face is shaped like a topknot.

It is hard to reach it across the drifting sands;

None could tire of watching the waterfall.

Taoist boys roam in search of herbs;

Foresters return with loads of firewood.

It is a worthy rival to Mount Tiantai,

And better than the threefold Huashan summit.

As the Great Sage was looking at the mountain he saw a farmhouse on its Northern slope from where the barking of dogs could be heard. The Great Sage went straight down the mountainside to the farm, which was indeed a splendid place:

A bridge across a lively stream,

A cottage sheltered by the hill,

Dogs barking by the broken fence,

A recluse who comes and goes at will.

Monkey was soon at the gate, where he saw an old Taoist sitting on a green cushion. Putting down the earthenware bowl, Monkey went forward to greet him. The Taoist returned his greeting with a bow from where he sat and asked, Where have you come from? What business brings you here to this hermitage?

I have been sent by the emperor of the Great Tang in the East to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven, Brother Monkey replied. My master's belly is unbearably painful and swollen because he drank some of the water of the Motherhood River. When we asked the local people they said it was because he is pregnant, and that there is no cure for this apart from the Miscarriage Spring in Childfree Cave in Mount Offspring Dissolved. So I have come especially to pay my respects to the As-you-will Immortal and beg him for some of the spring water with which to save my master. Could you be so kind as to show me the way?

This was Childfree Cave, said the Taoist with a smile, but now it's called the Hermitage of Immortals. I am none other than the senior disciple of my master the As-you-will Immortal. Tell me your name and I will announce you.

I am the senior disciple of the Patriarch Tang Sanzang, said Monkey politely, and my name is Sun Wukong.

Where are your presents, your wine and your offerings? the Taoist asked.

I'm only a passing itinerant monk, said Monkey, so I haven't been able to arrange them.

Fool! said the Taoist with a laugh. My master controls the spring and never gives any thing away for nothing. You'd better go and fetch your offerings if you want me to announce you, or else go away and forget about it.

People will do more as a favour than on the emperor's command, Monkey replied. Go and tell him my name and he's bound to do me this favour. He might even give me the whole spring.

The Taoist went in to report all this to the immortal, who was playing his qin zither, and waited till he had finished before saying, Master, there's a Buddhist monk outside who says he's Sun Wukong, the senior disciple of Tang Sanzang. He is asking for some of the water of the Miscarriage Spring to save his master with. Had the immortal not been told this the matter would have ended there, but at the name of Sun Wukong anger surged up from his heart and evil grew from his gall. He sprang to his feet, stepped down from the low table on which he was playing the qin, changed from his informal clothes into his Taoist robes, and rushed out through the gates of his hermitage with his As-You-Will hook in his hands. Where is Sun Wukong? he shouted, and Monkey turned to see that he looked like this:

On his head was a star-crown of many colours,

And his magic robe was red with threads of gold.

The cloud-shoes on his feet were thickly embroidered;

The jade belt at his waist was delicately worked.

His wave-treading hosiery was of brocade,

And glimpses showed of a silk velvet underskirt.

He held a golden As-You-Will hook,

Long-handled with a base shaped like a dragon.

Bright were his phoenix eyes, and lotus-like his brows;

Steel-sharp were his teeth, and his lips bright crimson.

He looked more evil still than Marshal Wen

Although he wore a different kind of dress.

When Monkey saw him he put his hands together and said, My name, sir, is Sun Wukong.

Are you really Sun Wukong, said the Taoist master with a smile, or are you just pretending to be?

What a thing to ask, sir! As the saying goes, a gentleman never changes his name whether he's travelling or staying at home. I am indeed Sun Wukong. Why should I want to pretend?

Do you know who I am? the Taoist master asked.

I've been converted to the Buddhist faith and follow Buddhist teachings, Monkey said. I've grown distant from the friends of my child hood on this long journey and I haven't visited any. I'm afraid I don't quite recognize you. I only know your name because the people in the village West of Motherhood River told me that you are the As-you-will Immortal.

You're busy on your journey, and I am busy cultivating my true arts, the Taoist replied, so why have you come to see me?

Because my master is pregnant and has a belly ache after mistakenly drinking water from the Motherhood River, said Monkey. I've come to your immortal abode to beg you for a bowl of water from the Miscarriage Spring with which to deliver him from his agony.

Is your master Tang Sanzang? asked the Taoist with an angry glare.

Yes, yes, said Brother Monkey.

Did you ever meet the Boy Sage King? asked the Taoist, gnashing his teeth with hatred.

That was the title of the demon Red Boy in the Fire-cloud Cave by Withered Pine Ravine on Mount Hao, Monkey replied. Why are you asking about him, immortal?

He is my nephew, the immortal replied. I am the brother of the Bull Demon King. He wrote me a letter telling me how Sun Wukong, the vicious senior disciple of Tang Sanzang, destroyed the boy. It was my great regret that I had no way of taking revenge on you here, but now you've come to my door begging for water.

You are mistaken, sir, said Monkey, putting on a smile. Your respected elder brother used to be a friend of mine, and we were two of seven sworn brothers in my youth. The only reason I did not come to pay my respects earlier was because I did not know your address. Your good nephew has done very well. He's now serving the Bodhisattva Guanyin as the page Sudhana. He's much better off than the rest of us, so why be so angry with me?

Damned ape! shouted the Taoist master. How dare you argue like that? Is my nephew better off as a slave than he was when he enjoyed the delights of being a king? Learn to behave yourself, and try a taste of my hook.

Monkey parried with his iron cudgel and said, Don't talk about fighting. Give me some of the spring water instead.

Vicious ape, the Taoist master said again, you don't know whether you want to live or die. If you can hold out against me for three rounds I'll give you your water, but if you can't I shall avenge my nephew by cutting you up and stewing you in soy sauce.

I'll get you, you impudent and evil creature, replied the Great Sage. If you want a fight try my cudgel. The Taoist master blocked it with his hook, and the two of them fought a fine battle by the Hermitage of Immortals.

The holy monk conceived after drinking from a river,

So Monkey went to call on the As-you-will Immortal,

Not knowing that the Taoist was in fact a monster,

Who had used his powers to seize the Miscarriage Spring.

When he met Monkey old hatreds were revived:

They were locked in struggle and neither would yield.

As they talked on he became ever angrier,

Evilly determined to have his revenge.

One came for water to save his master's life,

Which the other would not give for his nephew's sake.

More lethal than a scorpion was the as-out-will hook,

While the gold-banded cudgel struck like a dragon,

The cudgel kept thrusting savagely at the chest,

While the hook made subtle cuts to the legs.

Grievous were the wounds where the cudgel fell,

And the hook rose from the shoulders to strike at the head.

The cudgel swung round the waist

Like a hawk after a sparrow;

The hook struck thrice at the head

Like a mantis catching a cicada.

They came and went as they struggled for mastery,

The ebb and flow of battle taking them forward and back.

There was nothing to choose between cudgel and hook;

Neither contender emerged as the victor.

After the Taoist master had fought over ten rounds with the Great Sage but was no match for him Monkey struck at the head with more ferocity than ever, his cudgel's blows falling like a stream of shooting stars. Completely exhausted, the Taoist master fled down the mountainside trailing his As-You-Will hook behind him.

Instead of pursuing him Monkey went to the hermitage in search of water, only to find that the other Taoist had already fastened the gates. Holding the earthenware bowl in his hands he went straight up to the gates, kicked through them with all his strength, and rushed in. The Taoist disciple was crouching behind the well's railings. The Great Sage shouted at him, raised his cudgel, and was about to kill him when the Taoist fled into the back. Monkey had just fetched a bucket and was on the point of filling it with spring water from the well when the master came up behind him, caught his feet with the hook, and sent him sprawling on the ground. The Great Sage pulled himself to his feet and started hitting back with his cudgel. The Taoist master swerved aside and said, wielding the hook, We'll see if you can steal the water from my well.

Come here, shouted Monkey, come here. I'll get you, you evil creature, and I'll beat you to death. The Taoist master did not go for Monkey but just stood guard over the well, preventing him from drawing any water, Seeing that he was not moving, Monkey whirled his cudgel round and round with his left hand and in his right took the bucket, which he sent noisily down the well on the rope. The Taoist master came back to the attack with his hook. Monkey, unable to hold him off one-handed, was tripped round his legs again and sent sprawling, dropping the bucket and rope down the well.

What a way to behave, remarked the Great Sage, getting back on his feet and taking his cudgel in both hands to lash wildly back. Once again the Taoist master fled, unable to face him. The Great Sage still wanted to draw some water but now he had no bucket and was also worried that he might be tripped by the hook again. I'd better get someone to help me, he thought.

The splendid Great Sage turned his cloud round, went straight back to the cottage door, and shouted, Friar Sand. When Sanzang and Pig, who were groaning and moaning in agony, heard his shout they said with relief, Friar Sand, Wukong's back.

Friar Sand opened the door as quickly as he could, asking, Have you got the water, brother?

When Monkey came in and told them what had happened Sanzang said with tears in his eyes, What are we to do, disciple?

I've come to take Brother Sand back to the hermitage with me, Monkey replied. He'll fetch the water to save you while I fight that damned Taoist.

If both you healthy ones go and abandon us invalids who will look after us? Sanzang asked.

Don't worry, venerable arhat, said the old woman who was standing beside them. You won't need your disciples. We can look after you. We were very kind to you when you first came, and now that we have seen how that Bodhisattva can travel by cloud we know that you are arhats and Bodhisattvas. We could never possibly harm you.

You women, snorted Monkey, you wouldn't dare hurt anyone.

You don't know your luck, my lord, the old woman replied with a smile. If you'd gone to any other house you'd never have come out in one piece.

What do you mean? Pig groaned.

All of us in this family are getting on, the old woman replied, and desire doesn't bother us any more, which is why we didn't harm you. If you'd gone to another household with women of different ages the younger ones would never have let you go. They'd have forced you to sleep with them, and if you'd refused they'd have murdered you and cut all the flesh off your bodies to put in perfume bags.

In that case I'd have been safe, said Pig. The others smell lovely, just right for a perfume bag, but I'm a stinking boar and any flesh cut off me would stink too. I'd come to no harm.

Stop boasting, said Brother Monkey with a smile, and save your strength for the delivery.

Fetch the water as soon as you can. Don't waste any time, the old woman said.

Do you have a well-bucket on a rope I could borrow? Monkey asked. The old woman went out to the back and brought in a bucket on a rope as well as a spare coil of rope that she handed to Friar Sand. Take both ropes in case the well is so deep you need them, she said.

Friar Sand took the bucket and the ropes, left the cottage with Monkey, and flew off on the same cloud. It took them less than an hour to reach Mount Offspring Dissolved, where they landed directly outside the gates of the hermitage. Take the bucket and the ropes, Monkey told Friar Sand, and hide over there. Let me challenge him to battle. When the fight's going good and strong sneak in, fetch the water, and take it back. Friar Sand accepted his orders.

Brandishing his iron cudgel the Great Sage Sun went up to the gates and shouted, Open up! Open up!

When the gate-keeper saw him he hurried inside to report, Master, Sun Wukong's here again. The Taoist master was furiously angry.

That evil ape is utterly impossible. I've long heard of his powers and now I know what they really are. That cudgel of his is unbeatable.

Master, said the other Taoist, his powers may be great, but you're as good as he is. You are a match for him.

He beat me the last two times, said the master.

Yes, said the other, but that was just because he went for you with such fury. You tripped him up with your hook twice when he was trying to draw water, so that leveled the score, didn't it? He had to run away. If he's back now it must be because he's had to. I expect Sanzang's been complaining too much as his pregnancy's so far advanced. I'm sure that he's feeling resentful of his master. You're absolutely bound to win this time, master.

This pleased the Taoist immortal and made him feel very cheerful as he went out through the doors. His face was wreathed in smiles, his manner imposing, and his hook in his hands. Wicked ape, what are you back here for? he shouted.

Just to fetch some water, Monkey replied.

It's my well, said the immortal, and even if you were a king or a minister you'd still have to made me presents and offer mutton and wine before I gave you any. On top of that you're my enemy. How dare you come here empty-handed expecting water?

Do you refuse to give me any? Monkey asked.

Yes, said the immortal, I won't.

Vicious and evil beast, Monkey yelled, if you won't give me the water, take this! He dropped his guard to strike hard with his cudgel at the immortal's head. The immortal dodged the blow and struck back with his hook. It was an even finer combat than the previous one.

The gold-banded cudgel,

The As-You-Will hook,

And two fighters filled with hatred and anger.

The flying sand and stones darkened earth and sky;

The clouds of dust and dirt made sun and moon seem sad.

The Great Sage was fetching water to save his master;

That the evil immortal refused for his nephew's sake.

Both sides fought with equal vigor

In their battle that allowed no rest.

They struggled for victory with tight-clenched jaws,

Gritting their teeth as they strove to win.

With growing skill

And ever-greater vigor

They breathed out clouds to frighten gods and ghosts.

Noisily rang the clash of their weapons

As their battle cries shook the mountains and hills.

They were a whirlwind wrecking a forest,

A pair of murderous fighting bulls.

As the battle went on the Great Sage felt happier

And the Taoist immortal had ever more energy.

Each was determined to carry on the fight;

Neither would give up till the issue was resolved.

The two of them leapt around in their fight from the gates of the hermitage to the mountain slope. It was a long and bitter struggle.

When Friar Sand rushed in through the gates with the bucket in his hand the Taoist disciple blocked his way and asked, Who do you think you are, coming to steal our water? Friar Sand put down his bucket and ropes, brought out his demon-quelling staff, and struck at the Taoist's head by way of an answer. Because the Taoist could not move out of the way fast enough the blow broke his arm and he fell to the ground, straggling to escape.

I was going to kill you, you evil beast, roared Friar Sand, but seeing as you're human I feel sorry for you and I'll let you go. Now let me get my water. The Taoist crawled to the back of the hermitage thanking heaven and earth for his escape. Friar Sand then filled his bucket with water from the well, went out through the gates, rose up on his cloud, and called to Monkey, I've got the water, brother. Spare him now, spare him.

Hearing this, Monkey held the hook at bay with his cudgel and said, Listen to what I have to say. I was going to wipe all of you out, but you've broken no laws and your brother the Bull Demon King is a friend of mine. The first time I came you tripped me up with your hook a couple of times and I couldn't get the water. I lured you out to fight me so that my fellow disciple could get some water. If I'd used my full powers I'd have killed several of you, never mind just one As-you-will Immortal. But it's better to spare life than to take it, so I'll let you live a few more years. Never ever try extortion on anyone who comes here for the water again.

The evil and foolish immortal moved and tried to hook Monkey once more, but Monkey avoided the hook, rushed at him, and shouted, Don't move! The helpless immortal fell head first to the ground and was unable to get up. The Great Sage picked up his As-You-Will hook, snapped it in two, then broke the two pieces into four, and threw them to the ground. Damned beast, he said, are you going to try any more nonsense? The trembling immortal had to bear his humiliation in silence, and the laughing Great Sage rose up on his cloud. There is a poem that testifies to this. It goes:

When true lead is melted it yields a true liquid;

If the true liquid is mixed right, true mercury hardens.

True mercury and true lead have no feminine quality;

Magic cinnabar and herbs are the elixir of immortality.

When a child is recklessly formed and a pregnancy results

The mother of earth succeeds without any effort.

Heresy is pushed over and orthodoxy honoured;

The heart's lord succeeds and returns in smiles.

The Great Sage set off his cloud and caught up with Friar Sand. They were very pleased to be returning with the magical water as they brought their cloud down at the cottage to find Pig leaning against the door and groaning with his big belly sticking out. Idiot, said Monkey, stealing up on him, when did you get yourself pregnant?

Stop teasing me, said the idiot in desperation.

Did you fetch the water? Monkey was going to keep the joke up but Friar Sand then arrived to report with a smile, Here's the water.

Despite his agony Sanzang managed to lean forward in a kind of bow as he said, Disciples, I'm very grateful to you. The old woman was pleased too, and the whole household came in to bow and say, Bodhisattvas, this is wonderful, wonderful. She fetched a drinking bowl of decorated porcelain, half filled it with the water, and handed it to Sanzang with the words, Venerable sir, please drink it very slowly. One mouthful will be enough to end the pregnancy.

I won't need a bowl, said Pig. I'll drink the lot, bucket, rope and all.

Venerable sir, the woman said, don't give me such a terrible fright. If you drank the whole bucketful it would dissolve all your insides. This gave the idiot such a fright that he behaved himself and drank only half a bowlful too.

Within less time than it takes to eat a meal the two of them were in agony: their intestines felt as if they were being wrung out and gave several loud rumbles. After that the idiot could contain himself no longer; he emptied his bowels and his bladder. The Tang Priest, also unable to contain himself, wanted to go to the lavatory.

Master, said Brother Monkey, you mustn't go anywhere you might be in a draft, If you catch a cold you may get milk fever. The woman then brought in two latrine buckets for the pair of them. When they had both used them several times the pain stopped and their stomachs gradually started to resume their normal size as the extra flesh and blood in them was dissolved.

The woman then cooked them some plain rice porridge to settle their stomachs. Lady, said Pig, my stomach's very strong, and it doesn't need settling. Boil me some water for a bath before I eat my porridge.

You mustn't have a bath, brother, said Friar Sand. Washing in he first month after childbirth can make you ill.

That wasn't childbirth, said Pig, just a miscarriage: nothing to worry about. I want a bath to clean up. The woman then boiled some water for them to wash their hands and feet. The Tang Priest could only manage two bowls of porridge while Pig downed a dozen or so and still wanted more.

Idiot, said Monkey with a laugh, don't eat so much. It wouldn't look pretty at all if you got a big belly like a sandbag.

No problem, said pig, no problem. I'm not a sow, so I don't need to worry about that. The women then went out to cook him some more rice.

Will you give me the rest of the water? the old woman asked the Tang Priest.

Have you had enough of the water? Monkey asked.

My stomach's stopped hurting, said Pig, and I'm sure the pregnancy's completely finished. As I'm fine now I don't need any more.

As they're both better now we'll give you the water, said Monkey. The woman thanked him and buried the water in a glazed jar behind the house.

That jar of water will be enough to pay for my coffin, she told the rest of her family, who were all delighted. A vegetarian meal was prepared, tables and chairs were set out, and the monks dined. They took their time over the meal then retired for the night.

The next morning they thanked the old woman and her family and left the cottage. Sanzang mounted the horse, Friar Sand shouldered the luggage, the Great Sage Monkey led the way, and Pig held the bridle. This had been a case of

Rinsing away the evil and leaving the body pure,

Dissolving the mortal foetus to restore the natural self.

If you don't know what else happened in that country listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 52 | Journey to the West (vol. 2) | Chapter 54