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Chapter 54

The Buddha-Nature Traveling West Enters Womankind

The Mind-Ape Makes a Plan to Escape from the Beauties

When Sanzang and his disciples left the cottage they headed West, and about a dozen miles later they entered the country of Western Liang. Wukong, said the Tang Priest on his horse, there is a city not far ahead, and I can hear a great hubbub of voices from the marketplace. You must all be very, very careful and on your best behavior. Do not make nonsense of the teachings of our Buddhist faith by running wild or becoming infatuated. The three disciples were determined to obey his instructions.

Before the Tang Priest had finished speaking they reached the street leading in from the Eastern gate. Everyone they saw was wearing a skirt and a woman's jacket, a powdered face and oiled hair. All the people, young and old, were women. When those buying and selling in the street saw the four of them coming they started to applaud, laugh and say with smiles all over their faces, Men, men! Sanzang was so alarmed that he reined in his horse, unable to go any further forward. In a moment the streets were packed and the air was ringing with happy voices.

I'm a gelded pig, a gelded pig! yelled Pig in a panic.

Stop that nonsense, idiot, said Monkey. Just show them your face the way it used to be. Pig then shook his head a couple of times, stuck up his ears shaped like reed fans, twisted his bristly, dropping snout and give a roar that made all the women collapse with fright. There is a poem to prove it that goes,

The monk came to Western Liang on his way to the Buddha;

The streets were a feminine world where males were not seen.

Peasants, scholars and artisans, merchants and fisherfolk,

Woodcutters, tillers and stock-raisers-all were women.

The beauties poured into the streets to welcome the men;

Young women come in crowds to hail the handsome groom.

If Wuneng had not made full use of his hideous face,

The pilgrims could not have withstood a siege by the ladies.

The women were then all so frightened that they dared not approach.

Clutching their hands, stooping, shaking their heads, chewing at their fingers, trembling and shaking they blocked the streets to look at the Tang Priest. The Great Sage Monkey also pulled a hideous face to clear a way for them, helped by grimaces from Friar Sand. Leading the horse, pig stuck out his snout and was flapping his ears. As they moved forward they saw that the buildings along the city streets were well-built and the shop fronts imposing. There were grocers and corn-chandlers, bars and teahouses, multi-storied shops where everything was sold, towers and fine mansions with well-draped windows.

Master and disciples turned one corner to come up against a female official standing in the street and shouting. Envoys from afar, you may not enter the city gates without permission. Please go to the government post station and register your names so that I can report them to Her Majesty. When they have been examined you will be allowed to proceed. Hearing this, Sanzang dismounted and saw that the words MALE-WELCOMING POST STATION were written on a board across the door of the official building.

Wukong, said the venerable elder, what the village people told us was true. There really is a Male-welcoming Post Station.

Brother Pig, chuckled Friar Sand, you'd better look in the Pregnancy-revealing Spring to see if you have a double reflection.

Stop trying to make a fool of me, said Pig. I aborted after drinking the water from Miscarriage Spring. What would I need to look for?

Watch your words, Wuneng, watch your words, said Sanzang, turning back to give Pig his instructions before going forward and greeting the official.

She led them into the main hall of the post station, where they sat down and tea was sent for. Here too the staff all had their hair in bunches and wore skirts. There were many smiles as the tea was brought. A little later, when it had been drunk, the official gave a slight bow as she sat there and asked, On what business have you emissaries come?

We are envoys sent to the Western Heaven by the Great Tang emperor in the East to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures, Monkey replied. My master Tang Sanzang is the Tang emperor's younger brother. I am Sun Wukong, his senior disciple, and these two are my fellows, Zhu Wuneng, Pig, and Sha Wujing, Friar Sand. If you count the horse there are five of us altogether. We are carrying a passport with us that we beg to have inspected so that we may be allowed to continue on our way.

When the woman official had finished writing all this down she dropped to her knees to kowtow to them and said, Forgive me, my lords. I am only the superintendent of the Male-welcoming Post Station and I did not realize that you were gentlemen from a superior country who deserved to be met at a great distance from here. She rose to her feet and ordered the staff to provide them with food and drink. Please make yourselves comfortable, my lords, while I go into the city to report to our queen. Then your document will be dealt with and you will be seen on your way West with rich presents. Sanzang was happy to sit there.

The superintendent neatened her clothes and went straight into the city to the Tower of Five Phoenixes at the palace entrance, where she said to the gate officer, I am the superintendent of the Male-welcoming Post Station and I would like an audience with Her Majesty on a certain matter. The gate officer reported this to the queen at once, at which the superintendent was summoned straight to the throne hall to be asked what it was she had come to say.

Your humble subject, she replied, has received in her post station Tang Sanzang the younger brother of the Tang emperor in the East. He has three disciples called Sun Wukong, Zhu Wuneng and Sha Wujing and a horse, making five of them altogether. They wish to go to the Western Heaven to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures. I have come especially to submit a memorial to Your Majesty asking whether they may be allowed to submit their passport for approval and proceed on their way.

The queen was delighted at his report, and she said to her civil officials, We dreamed last night of a gold screen shining with colours and a jade mirror full of light. They must have been good omens of what has happened today.

The women officials crowded round the steps of the throne and said with kowtows, Your Majesty, how can you tell that they were good omens for today?

This man from the East, the queen replied, is the younger brother of the Tang emperor. Since primal chaos was first cleared we have never seen a man in our country under all the queens who have reigned here. The fortunate arrival of the Tang emperor's younger brother must be a gift from Heaven. I have decided to use our country's wealth to persuade the emperor's brother to become king with me as his queen. Then we can unite the male and the female and produce sons and grandsons to pass the throne on to. So weren't they good omens? The joyful women officials all performed dances of obeisance.

Your Majesty's idea of passing the throne on to future generations in an excellent one, the superintendent of the post station further submitted, but the three hideous disciples of the emperor's younger brother are not at all attractive.

What does the emperor's brother look like, the queen asked, and how are the disciples so unattractive?

The emperor's brother has a handsome face and an impressive bearing, the superintendent replied. He really does look like a man from a great country ruled by a heaven-sent dynasty, a son of China in the Southern Jambu continent. But the three disciples look thoroughly vicious with faces like demons.

In that case, said the queen, give presents to his disciples, return their passport, and send them on their way to the Western Heaven. Keep only the emperor's brother here. Is there any reason why we should not?

To this the officials bowed low and replied, Your Majesty's ideas are completely right and your subjects will respectfully implement them. The only difficulty is that we have no matchmaker to arrange the marriage. As the old saying goes

Marriage and mating depend on red leaves;

A matchmaker ties the threads between husband and wife.

From what you suggest, the queen replied, the royal tutor should be invited to be matchmaker, and the superintendent of the Male-welcoming Post Station will be the mistress of ceremonies. Go to the post station and ask for the consent of the emperor's younger brother. When he has agreed we shall go out of the city in our carriage to greet him. The tutor and the superintendent left the palace to carry out their instructions.

Sanzang and his disciples were just enjoying a vegetarian meal in the hall of the post station when someone was heard outside announcing the arrival of the queen's tutor and the superintendent.

Why is the queen's tutor here? Sanzang asked.

Perhaps it's an invitation from the queen, said Pig. It's either that or a proposal of marriage, said Brother Monkey.

But if she tries to force me to marry her and refuses to let us go what am I to do, Wukong? Sanzang asked.

Just agree, Master, said Monkey. I'll find a way to cope.

Before, they had finished their conversation the two women officials entered and bowed low to the venerable elder, who returned their courtesies and said, I am a humble monk. What wonderful powers do I have that you should bow to me thus?

The queen's tutor was discreetly delighted with his noble bearing, thinking, Our country will indeed be very fortunate if this man is to become our queen's husband. When the two officials had finished bowing they stood on either side of Sanzang and said, Imperial brother, many, many congratulations.

I am a monk, Sanzang replied, so what good fortune is there to congratulate me on?

Bowing again, the queen's tutor said, This is Womanland of Western Liang, and no man has ever come here before. As Your Excellency the emperor's brother has graced us with your presence I am here on the orders of Her Majesty the queen to propose marriage.

Good gracious! said Sanzang. I have come to your distinguished country with no children apart from my three boorish disciples. Which of them is it that Her Majesty wishes to marry?

I have just been to the palace to report, the superintendent of the post station said, and our queen was very, very happy. She said that last night she had an auspicious dream in which a golden screen shone with many colours, and a jade mirror was full of light. When she learned that Your Excellency the emperor's brother was a man from the great land of Tang she decided to offer you all the wealth of our country to persuade you to stay here as her husband and sit on the throne. Her Majesty would become queen consort. The royal tutor was commissioned to act as matchmaker and I was made mistress of ceremonies. We are here to ask for your hand. At this Sanzang bowed his head in silence.

A true man does not throw away his chance, the queen's tutor said. There is nothing unusual about a man being asked to marry a woman and live in her house, but rarely does it happen that one is offered the wealth of a state to do so. I beg the emperor's brother to assent quickly so that I may report back to Her Majesty. The venerable elder seemed to have been struck dumb.

Pig, who was standing beside them, put his hands to his snout and called, Tutor, please report back to Her Majesty that my master is an arhat who has long cultivated the Way. He's not interested in your country's wealth or in Her Majesty's great beauty. Hurry up and return our passport and send him on his way to the West. You can keep me here to be her husband. What about it? The suggestion made the tutor tremble. She was speechless with shock.

You may be a man, the superintendent said, but you are much too ugly for Her Majesty.

You don't understand, said pig. Thick willow twigs make dustpans and fine ones make funnels. There's a use for everything. There's not a man in all the world who's really ugly.

Idiot, said Monkey, stop that nonsense. Let our master decide. If he agrees the wedding is on, and if he doesn't it's off. Don't waste the matchmaker's time.

Wukong, said Sanzang, you decide.

If you ask me, Monkey replied, you'd be very well off here. As the old saying goes,

A thousand miles can't keep apart

A couple that's fated to wed:

Their lives and destinies are tied

By a long and invisible thread.

Where else will you find a place that offers you this much?

Disciple, said Sanzang, if we stay here out of a love for wealth and status who will go to the Western Heaven to fetch the scriptures? Would that not be a terrible thing to do to our Great Tang emperor?

Your Excellency, the royal tutor replied, I must tell you the truth. Our queen only intends to marry you, the emperor's brother. Your three disciples will be invited to the wedding banquet, given presents, have their passport returned, and be allowed to go on their journey to the Western Heaven to fetch the scriptures.

What the royal tutor says is right, replied Monkey. We three mustn't make difficulties. We'll let our master stay here as the queen's husband. Hurry up and return us our travel document so that we can be on our way West. We will pay our respects to Her Majesty on our way back with the scriptures, and ask for some money for the journey back to the Great Tang.

The royal tutor and the superintendent both bowed to Monkey and said, We are very grateful to you, sir, for your helpfulness.

Tutor, said Pig, don't just talk about feeding us. Now that we've agreed, get your mistress to lay on a banquet so that we can all drink a cup of betrothal wine. What about it?

Yes, yes, said the tutor, a banquet will be provided. The superintendent and the tutor returned in great delight to report back to the queen.

Sanzang meanwhile grabbed Monkey and started abusing him. You're trying to kill me, you ape. How could you say things like that? Making me stay here to be her husband while you go to the Western Heaven to worship the Buddha! I'd die before I agreed to do that.

Don't worry, Master, said Monkey. Of course I know your nature. But faced with people like that in a place like this I had to play them at their own game.

What do you mean by playing them at their own game? Sanzang asked.

If you had been obstinate and refused her she would not have returned our travel paper or let us continue on our way, Monkey replied. If she had turned vicious and called on all her underlings to slice your flesh off to make perfume bags or whatever we'd never have earned a good reward. We'd have had to use our magic powers for subduing and killing demons. You know how hard we hit and how murderous our weapons are. Once we got going we'd have wiped out everyone in the whole country. But they're people, not demons, even if they are blocking our way. And all along this journey you've been good and merciful-you haven't killed a single soul. How could you bear to kill so many innocent people? That really would be evil.

Wukong, replied Sanzang, that is a very fine argument. But I'm afraid that when the queen takes me into her palace she will want me to perform my conjugal duties. I could not possibly lose my primal masculinity and ruin my conduct as a Buddhist monk, or let my true seed escape and destroy my status in the faith.

As you have agreed to the marriage she is bound to treat you as king and come out in her carriage to fetch you, Monkey replied. You must on no account refuse. Take your seat in the phoenix and dragon carriage, enter the throne hall, and sit on the throne facing South as monarch. Tell the queen to fetch her royal seals and write an invitation summoning us to court. Stamp our travel permit with the official seal and ask her to sign it herself and return it to us. Have a banquet laid on as a celebration for yourself and the queen and to say farewell to us too. When the banquet is over have the carriage got ready and tell her that when you have seen us three out of the city you will be coming back to sleep with her. This will put the queen and her subjects into such a good mood that they won't try to keep us any more, let alone have any evil intentions towards us. When you have escorted us out of the city, get out of the carriage. Tell Friar Sand to stay with you and help you mount the white horse while I use some immobilizing magic to stop the queen and her subjects from moving. Then we can carry on West along the main road, and when we've been travelling for a day and a night I'll say a spell to undo the magic and revive them so that they can go back into the city. This way none of them will be killed and you won't have to harm your essential spirit. This is what they call a plan to 'slip through the net with a false marriage.' It works both ways, doesn't it?

These words sobered Sanzang up and woke him from his dream. He forgot his worries and thanked Monkey profusely: I am profoundly grateful to you, good disciple, for your brilliant suggestion. Now that the four of them had agreed on a plan we shall leave them discussing it.

The queen's tutor and the post station superintendent went straight through the gates of the palace to the steps of the throne without waiting to be summoned. Your Majesty's auspicious dream was completely justified, they announced. You two will be as happy together as fish and water.

When the queen heard their report she lifted the pearl curtain, came down from her dragon throne, and gave a smile that opened her cherry lips and showed her silvery teeth as she asked in her charming voice, What did the emperor's brother say when you spoke to him?

When we reached the post station and had bowed to the emperor's brother, the queen's tutor replied, we told him of the proposal of marriage. He tried to decline it, but fortunately his senior disciple agreed on his behalf. He would like his master to marry Your Majesty and sit on the throne as king. He asked that you should first return their passport and send the three disciples on their way West. When they come back with the scriptures they will pay their respects to their master and Your Majesty and ask for some money for their journey back to Great Tang.

What did the emperor's brother say to that? the queen asked with a smile.

He did not speak, the tutor replied, but he is willing to marry Your Majesty. The only thing is that his second disciple wants a betrothal feast first.

When the queen heard this she ordered the office that dealt with foreign relations to lay on a banquet. She also had the state carriage prepared to take her out of the city to welcome her lord and husband. The female officials obediently swept the palace clean and laid on a banquet in the hall. Those who were setting out the banquet moved as fast as fire, and those who were preparing the chariot did so with the speed of shooting stars. Western Liang was a country of women, but its state carriage was no less splendid than a Chinese one:

Six dragons snorting out coloured clouds,

A pair of phoenixes full of good omen.

The six dragons supported the carriage as it came out,

The pair of phoenixes were riding upon it.

Fragrant were the perfumes,

Dense the clouds of auspicious vapor.

Officials with goldfish-shaped pendants of jade now crowded around;

The women were all drawn up with their hair full of ornaments.

Mandarin-duck fans gave shade to the carriage,

While curtains of jade and pearl did shelter the queen.

Beautifully sounded the songs to the panpipes

While strings and woodwinds all played in harmony.

A surge of joy soared up to the heavens;

Boundless bliss poured out from the heart.

The triple silken canopy shook the sky;

Brilliant banners cast their light on the throne steps.

Never before had the marriage cup here been drunk;

Today the queen would be taking a husband.

The carriage soon left the city and reached the Male-welcoming Post Station. At once the queen's arrival was announced to Sanzang and his disciples, who straightened up their clothes and came out to meet the queen's carriage. The queen raised the curtain and came out. Which of these gentlemen is the Tang emperor's brother? she asked.

The gentleman in front of the post station who is wearing a long gown, the tutor replied. The queen took a very careful look at him with her phoenix eyes, her moth-eyebrows raised. He was indeed an exceptional sight. Look at him:

A noble manner,

Distinguished features.

White teeth as if made of silver,

A square-cut mouth with lips of red.

The top of the head flat, the forehead broad and ample;

Fine eyes, a clear brow, and a long jaw.

His ears had the round lobes of a great man;

His body was that of one with no ordinary talent.

A handsome, intelligent and gallant gentleman;

The ideal consort for the graceful queen.

As the queen was gazing at him with delight and admiration she felt a great surge of desire and passion. Opening her cherry lips she said, Younger brother of the Great Tang emperor, won't you ride in my royal carriage? This made Sanzang blush from ear to ear. He was too embarrassed to look up at her.

Pig, who was standing beside him, put his hands to his snout and devoured the queen with his eyes. She was a slim beauty:

Brows like green willow,

Flesh like mutton fat,

Cheeks set off with plum blossom,

Hair like the plumage of a golden phoenix.

The autumn waves of her eyes were full of charm;

Like bamboo shoot in spring was her graceful posture.

Red tassels floated with elegance over her temples,

Pearls and kingfisher feathers adorned her high-piled hair.

Why talk now of the Princess Zhaojun's beauty?

This queen is lovelier than the legendary Xi Shi.

As her willow waist gently bends gold pendants tinkle;

Her lotus feet move lightly with her limbs of jade.

The Lady of the Moon could not compare with her;

No heavenly fairy could be her match.

Her exquisite palace clothes were not those of a mere mortal;

She was the Queen Mother of the West come to the Jade Pool.

Seeing how beautiful she was the idiot could not help drooling. His heart pounded and his limbs went weak; he melted like a snow lion next to a bonfire.

When the queen came closer to Sanzang she took hold of him and said in a most beguiling voice, Dear emperor's brother, won't you come into my dragon coach, ride back with me to the throne hall and marry me? The venerable elder trembled, feeling unsteady on his feet. It was as if he were drunk or stupefied.

Don't be so shy and modest, Master, urged monkey, who was standing beside him. Please get into the carriage with your future wife. Have our passport returned to us as soon as possible so that we can continue on our journey to fetch the scriptures. Sanzang could not bring himself to reply as he put his hand on Monkey, unable to hold back his tears.

Don't be so upset, Master, Monkey said. Here's your chance to enjoy wealth and honour, so make the most of it. Sanzang had no choice but to do as Monkey bade him. Wiping his tears away he forced himself to smile as he stepped forward to

Hold the queen's white hand

Sitting in the dragon carriage.

The queen was in raptures at the prospect of a husband;

The elder in his terror wanted only to worship the Buddha.

One longed to embrace her man in the candle-lit bedroom;

The other wanted to see the

World-honoured on Vulture Peak.

The queen was sincere,

The holy monk was pretending.

The queen in her sincerity

Hoped that they would grow old in harmony together.

The holy monk pretending

Controlled his tender feeling to nourish his primal spirit.

One was so happy to see her husband

She wished they could be man and wife in broad daylight.

The other was afraid of woman's beauty,

Longing to escape her clutches and climb to the Thunder Monastery.

The two ascended the carriage together,

But the Tang Priest's intentions were far away.

When the civil and military officers saw their mistress enter the royal coach with the venerable Sanzang sitting beside her their faces were all wreathed in smiles. The procession turned around and went back into the city. Monkey told Friar Sand to carry the luggage while he led the horse as they followed behind the coach. Pig rushed wildly ahead, and when he reached the Tower of Five Phoenixes he started shouting, This is very fine and splendid, but it won't do, it won't do at all. We've got to have some wedding drinks to toast the groom.

He so alarmed the women officials carrying ceremonial insignia who were leading the procession that they all went back to the queen's carriage to report, Your Majesty, the one with big ears and a long snout is making a row in front of the Tower of Five Phoenixes and demanding wedding drinks.

On hearing this the queen leant her fragrant shoulder against Sanzang, pressed her peach-blossom cheek against his, and opened her sandalwood-scented mouth to murmur in her seductive voice, Dear emperor's brother, is the one with big ears and a long snout one of your distinguished disciples?

He is my second disciple, Sanzang replied. He has an enormous appetite, and he has spent all his life trying to get good things to eat. We must lay on some food and drink for him before we can get on with things. The queen then asked anxiously if the office dealing with foreign relation had yet prepared the banquet.

It is ready, the women officials reported. It is set out on the Eastern hall and includes both meat and vegetarian dishes.

Why both sorts? the queen asked.

Your subjects thought that the Tang emperor's brother and his distinguished disciples might be vegetarians, the officials replied. That was why we had both sorts of food provided.

Dear emperor's brother, said the queen with another little laugh of pleasure as she rubbed herself against Sanzang's fragrant cheek, do you eat meat or vegetarian food?

I eat vegetarian food, Sanzang replied, but I have never given up wine. We must have a few cups of light wine for my second disciple to drink.

Before he had finished speaking the queen's tutor said to the queen, If it pleases Your Majesty, will you come to the Eastern hall for the banquet? Today is an auspicious day, and at a lucky hour tonight you may marry the emperor's brother. Tomorrow a new ecliptic begins, and I beg that the emperor's younger brother will enter the throne hall tomorrow to take his throne facing South as monarch and inaugurate a new reign.

The queen was delighted by this suggestion. Descending from the coach hand-in-hand with Sanzang she went in through the palace's main gate. This is what they saw and heard:

Magic music wafting down from a gallery,

As the turquoise carriage came within the palace.

The phoenix gates stood wide open amid gentle light;

The harem in all its splendor was not closed.

Incense smoke curled aloft in the unicorn hall;

Shadows were moving behind the peacock screen.

The buildings were magnificent as those of a mighty state;

The jade halls and golden horses were even more splendid.

When they reached the Eastern hall the harmonious sounds of panpipes and singing could be heard and two rows of powdered beauties seen. In the middle of the hall two sumptuous banquets were set out; a vegetarian one to the left and a meat one on the right. Below were two rows of individual places. The queen folded back her sleeves, took a jade goblet with her ten delicate fingers, and led Sanzang to the feast. Monkey went up to her and said, We are all vegetarians, so would you ask my master to sit at the vegetarian feast to the left while three places are set below him for us three disciples?

Yes, that's right, said the queen's tutor. Master and disciples are like father and sons. It would be wrong to seat them side by side. The women officials quickly rearranged the seating, and the queen gave goblets to each of them as she led them to their places. Monkey gave the Tang Priest a look to remind him to return her courtesies, at which he came down from his seat with a jade goblet in his hand and led the queen to her place. The civil and military officials all kowtowed to the queen in gratitude and took their seats in order of precedence on either side. Only then did the music cease and the toasts begin.

Pig did not worry about anything as he relaxed his belly and ate for all he was worth. He did not care whether it was jadeflake rice, steamed buns, sweet cakes, mushrooms, gill fungus, bamboo shoots, tree-ear fungus, day lilies, agar, laver, turnips, taro, devilpepper, yams or sealwort: he wolfed the whole lot down together. Then he drank some six or seven goblets of wine and shouted, Fill it up, bring me another. I want a big goblet. Give me a few more drinks, then we can all go off and do what we've got to do.

What is there so important that makes us have to leave this fine banquet? Friar Sand asked.

There's an old saying, replied the idiot with a grin, 'that each man should stick to his trade. Some of us are getting married now, and others of us have to be on our way to fetch the scriptures. We mustn't ruin everything for the sake of a few more drinks. We want our passport returned as soon as possible. As they say, 'The warriors stay on their horses, all of them pressing ahead.' When the queen heard this she sent for big cups, and the officials in attendance quickly fetched some parrot-shaped goblets, cormorant ladles, golden baskets, silver beakers, glass chargers, crystal dishes, immortals' bowls and amber goblets. Ambrosial liquor was now served out and everybody drank of it.

Sanzang then bowed, rose to his feet, put his hands together in front of his chest and said to the queen, Your Majesty, I am very grateful for this sumptuous banquet. We have had enough now. Could you now go to the throne hall and return the passport so that I may see the three of them off from the city tomorrow morning? Doing as he asked, the queen led Sanzang by the hand as they ended the banquet and climbed the steps to the throne hall, where she invited the Tang Priest to sit on the throne.

No, he said, it would be wrong. As Your Majesty's tutor said, a new ecliptic begins tomorrow: only then will I dare to take the throne. Today the passport must be stamped so that they can be sent on their way.

The queen accepted his suggestions, sat on the dragon throne again, had a gilt chair placed to the left of it for Sanzang to sit on, and told the disciples to bring the passport. The Great Sage asked Friar Sand to open the cloth wrapper and take it out, then offered it with both hands to the queen, who examined it carefully. At the top were nine stamps from the Great Tang emperor's seals, and underneath were the seals of the countries of Elephantia, Wuji and Tarrycart. When she had looked at them the queen said with a delightful, tinkling smile in her voice, Is your surname Chen, emperor's brother?

My lay surname was Chen, he replied, and my religious name is Xuanzang. It was when the Tang emperor in his wisdom and mercy took me as his younger brother that he granted me the surname Tang.

Why do your illustrious disciples' names not appear on the passport? the queen asked.

My three stupid disciples are not men of Tang. Sanzang replied.

But if they are not from Tang why have they come here with you? the queen asked again.

My senior disciple, Sanzang answered, was originally from the country of Aolai in the Eastern Continent of Superior Body. My second disciple is from Gao Village in Stubet in the Western Continent of Cattle-gift. My third disciple is from the Flowing Sands River. They were all punished for offences against the laws of Heaven until the Bodhisattva Guanyin delivered them from their sufferings. Since then they have been converted to the faith and have volunteered to escort me on my journey to fetch the scriptures from the Western Heaven to redeem their past crimes. I won each of them during the journey, which is why their religious names have not been entered on the passport.

Would you like me to add their names to it? said the queen.

If that is Your Majesty's pleasure, Sanzang replied. The queen then sent for brush and inkstone, and when she had rubbed the ink-stick on the stone to produce a thick and fragrant ink with which she filled the hairs of her writing brush she wrote the names of the three disciples-Sun Wukong, Zhu Wuneng and Sha Wujing-at the bottom of the passport. Then she stamped it fair and square with her royal seal, wrote her signature, and handed it down to Monkey, who told Friar Sand to wrap it up again carefully.

The queen then presented them with a dish of small pieces of gold and silver, came down from her throne and said to Monkey, You three must take this to help with the costs of your journey and go to the Western Heaven as quickly as you can. When you come back with the scriptures we shall richly reward you again.

We are men of religion, said Brother Monkey, and we do not accept gold and silver. There will be places along the way for us to beg food from. Seeing that they were not going to accept it the queen had ten bolts of damask and brocade brought out that she gave to Monkey with the words, You are in such a hurry that we do not have time for this to be made up. Please take this to have some clothes made on the journey to keep you warm.

We monks may not wear damask or brocade, Monkey said. We are only allowed to cover ourselves with cotton cloth. Seeing that he would not accept the silk either, the queen ordered that three pints of rice be brought out to provide them with a meal on their journey. The moment Pig heard the word rice he took it and put it with the bundles of luggage. Brother, Monkey said to him, the luggage is very heavy now. Will you be able to carry the rice as well?

You wouldn't know that rice is best eaten the same day it's cooked, Pig replied. One meal and it'll be finished. He then put his hands together in thanks.

May I trouble Your Majesty to come with me while I escort my disciples out of the city? Sanzang asked. When I have given them some parting instructions about their journey West I shall come back to enjoy perpetual glory with Your Majesty. Only when I am freed from these cares and worries will we be able to join together like a pair of phoenixes. Not realizing that this was a trick, the queen sent for her coach and climbed into it, leaning her fragrant shoulder against Sanzang as they rode Westwards out of the city. Bowls has been filled with clean water and fine incense put in all the burners. This was because the people were seeing their queen in her carriage and also because they were seeing a man, the emperor's younger brother. All of them, young and old alike, were women with powdered and lovely faces, and green-black hair piled high in cloud coiffures. The coach was soon out of the town and outside the Western gate.

Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand, joined in a common cause, neatened up their clothes and went to meet the carriage. There is no need to escort us a long way, Your Majesty. We shall take our leave of you here.

Sanzang stepped down from the royal carriage, raised his hands together to the queen, and said, Please go back now, Your Majesty, and allow me to fetch the scriptures. When the queen heard this her face went pale with shock. She grabbed hold of the Tang Priest and said, Dear emperor's brother, I have offered you the wealth of my realm to become my husband. Tomorrow you are going to take the throne as monarch, and I am going to be your consort. We have already eaten the wedding feast. How can you go back on your word now?

This was too much for Pig, who went wild. Thrusting his snout about and waving his ears he rushed to the royal coach shouting. What would monks like us want to marry a powdered skeleton like you for? Let my master go! This rough and violent behavior so frightened the queen that her souls all went flying and she collapsed in the coach. Friar Sand pulled Sanzang out of the crowd and helped him mount the horse. Just then a woman shot forward from the roadside shouting, Don't go, Tang emperor's brother. You and I are going to make love.

You ignorant, wicked creature, Friar Sand shouted at her, striking at her head with his staff. The woman then made a whirlwind that carried the Tang Priest off with a great roar. He had disappeared without shadow or trace. Indeed

He escaped from the net of beauties

To encounter a lecherous ogress.

If you don't know whether the woman was a human being or a monster, or whether the master lived or died, then listen to the explanation in the next installment.

Chapter 53 | Journey to the West (vol. 2) | Chapter 55