Chapter 4 Sagacious Lu Puts Mount Wutai in an Uproar Squire Zhao Repairs Wenshu
Lu Da turned to see who was hustling him away. It was none other than Old Jin from the Weizhou tavern, the man he had rescued. The old fellow didn't stop pulling till they reached an isolated spot. Then he said:
“You're too rash, benefactor. That notice offers a thousand strings of cash for your capture. How could you stand there looking at it? If I hadn't spotted you, you might have been nabbed by the police. Your age, description and place of origin are all there.”
“To tell you the truth, when I went to the foot of the Zhuangyuan Bridge that day to see Zheng the butcher about your affair, I killed the churl with three blows of the fist, and had to flee. I've been knocking about for forty or fifty days now, and just happened to wander into this town. I thought you were returning to the Eastern Capital. What are you doing here?”
“After you saved me, benefactor, I found a cart. Originally I intended to go back to the Eastern Capital, but I was afraid that rogue would catch up and you wouldn't be around to rescue us. So I changed my mind and headed north. On the road I met an old neighbor from the capital who was coming here on business. He took me and my daughter along. He was good enough to find her a match. She's now the mistress of a wealthy man, Squire Zhao. The squire has provided her with a house. Thanks to you, benefactor, we now have plenty to eat and wear. My daughter has often spoken to the squire of your kindness. He is also fond of jousting. He's said many times he'd like to meet you, but that was never possible before. You must come and stay with us a few days. We can talk about what you should do next.”
Lu Da and Old Jin walked less man half a li when they came to the door of a house. The old man pushed aside the bamboo curtain and called:
“Daughter, our benefactor is here.”
The girl emerged, neatly made up and attractively dressed. She begged Lu Da to be seated in the center of the room. Then, as if offering votive candles, she kowtowed before him six times. “If you hadn't rescued us, benefactor,” she said, “we'd never possess what we have today.” She invited him upstairs to the parlor.
“Don't bother,” said Lu Da. “I must be going.”
“Now that you're here, benefactor, of course we can't let you leave,” said the old man. He took Lu Da's staff and bundles and ushered him up the stairs. To his daughter he said: “Keep our benefactor company. I'll arrange about dinner.”
“Don't go to a lot of trouble,” said Lu Da. “Anything will do.”
“Even if I gave my life I could never repay your benevolence,” said Old Jin. “A little simple food—it's not worth mentioning.”
The daughter sat with Lu Da while the old man went downstairs and directed the boy they had recently hired to tell the servant girl to get the kitchen fire started. Then Old Jin and the boy went out and bought fresh fish, a tender chicken, a goose, pickled fish and fresh fruit. He took these home, opened a jug of wine, prepared a few dishes, and carried them upstairs. There wine cups were placed on a table, and three sets of chopsticks. When the food and fruit were served, the servant girl came in with a silver wine kettle and heated the wine.
Father and daughter each filled Lu Da's cup in turn. Then Old Jin dropped to his knees and kowtowed. “Please, dear elder, don't do that,” said Lu Da. “You embarrass me terribly.”
“When we first came here, not long ago,” said the old man, “I wrote your name on a strip of red paper and pasted it on a wooden tablet. We burn a stick of incense before it every morning and evening, and my daughter and I kowtow before it. Now that you're here, why shouldn't we kowtow to you in person?”
“I'm touched by your devotion,” said Lu Da.
The three drank till almost nightfall. Suddenly they heard a commotion outside. Lu Da opened the window and looked. Some twenty to thirty men, all armed with staves, were gathered in front of the house. “Bring him down,” they were shouting. A gentleman on a horse cried: “Don't let the rascal get away!”
Lu Da realized that he was in danger. He snatched up a stool and started down the stairs. Old Jin, waving his hands, rushed down ahead of him, exclaiming: “Nobody move!” He ran over to the man on horseback and
said a few words. The mounted gentleman laughed. He ordered his band to disperse.
When the men had gone, the gentleman got off his horse and entered the house. Old Jin asked Lu Da to come down. The gentleman bowed as Lu Da descended the stairs.
“'Meeting a man of fame is better than just hearing his name.' Please accept my homage, righteous Major.” “Who is this gentleman?” Lu Da asked Old Jin. “We don't know each other. Why should he be so respectful?”
“This is Squire Zhao, my daughter's lord. Someone told him that a young man I had brought to his house was upstairs, drinking. So he got some of his vassals and came to fight. When I explained, he sent them away.”
“So that was it,” said Lu Da. “You could hardly blame him.”
Squire Zhao invited Lu Da to the upper chamber. Old Jin reset the table, and once more prepared food and drink. Zhao ushered the major to the seat of honor. Lu Da refused.
“How could I presume?”
“A small mark of my respect. I have heard much of the major's heroism. What great good fortune that I could meet you today.”
“Though I'm just a crude fellow who's committed a capital offence, the squire doesn't scorn my lowliness and is willing to make my acquaintance. If there's any way I can be of service, you have only to speak.”
Squire Zhao was very pleased. He asked all about the fight with Zheng the butcher. They talked of this and that, discussed jousting with arms, and drank far into the night. Then every one retired.
The following morning Zhao said: “I'm afraid this place isn't very safe. Why not come and stay at my manor a while?”
“Where is it?” asked Lu Da.
“A little over ten li from here, near a village called Seven Treasures.” “All right.”
The squire sent a vassal to the manor to get a horse for Lu Da. The man returned with the beast before noon. Squire Zhao told the vassals to bring Lu Da's luggage and asked the major to mount. Lu Da said goodbye to Old Jin and his daughter, and set out with the squire.
The two rode side by side, chatting idly, until they came to Seven Treasures. Not long after, they reached the manor and dismounted. Squire Zhao led Lu Da by the hand into a hall, where they seated themselves as host and guest. The squire ordered that a sheep be slaughtered and wine be served.
That night, Lu Da slept in a guest−room. The next day he was again wined and dined. “You're much too good to me, Squire,” said the major. “How can I repay you?”
“'Within the four seas, all men are brothers,'“ quoted the squire. “Why mention repayment?”
But enough of minor matters. Lu Da stayed at the manor for six or seven days. He and the squire were chatting in the study one day when Old Jin hastily entered. He looked to see that no one else was around, then said to Lu Da: “You mustn't think me overly cautious, benefactor. But ever since the night the squire and his vassals raised such a row in the street because you were drinking upstairs, people have been suspicious. Word has spread that you were there. Yesterday three or four policemen were questioning the neighbors. I'm worried that they'll come here and arrest you. It would be awful if anything should happen to you, benefactor.”
“In that case,” said Lu Da, “I'd better be on my way.”
“Things might turn out badly if I kept you here, Major,” the squire admitted. “Yet if I don't I'll lose a lot of face. I have another idea. It's foolproof and will give you complete protection. But maybe you won't be willing.”
“I'm a man with a death penalty waiting for him. I'll do anything to find refuge.”
“That's fine. Where the Wenshu Buddha used to meditate on Mount Wutai, some thirty−odd li from here, a monastery was erected. They have nearly seven hundred monks. The abbot is my friend. My ancestors were patrons of the monastery and contributed to its upkeep. I have promised to sponsor a novice, and have bought a blank certificate, but have not yet found a suitable man, If you agree to join the Buddhist order, Major, I'll pay all expenses. Would you be willing to shave off your hair and become a monk?”
Lu Da thought to himself. “Who could I go to for protection if I were to leave here today? I'd better accept his offer.” Aloud he said: “I'll become a monk if you sponsor me, Squire. I rely entirely on your kindness.”
And so it was decided. That night, clothing, expense money and silks were prepared. Everyone rose early the next morning. Lu Da and the squire set out for Mount Wutai, accompanied by vassals carrying the gifts and luggage. They reached the foot of the mountain before mid−morning. Squire Zhao and Lu Da went up in sedan−chairs, sending a vassal on ahead to announce them.
At the monastery gate, they found the deacon and supervisor waiting to welcome them. They got out of their sedan−chairs and rested in a small pavilion while the abbot was notified. He soon emerged with his assistant and the elder. Squire Zhao and Lu Da hurried forward and bowed. The abbot placed the palms of his hands together before his chest in Buddhist greeting.
“It's good of you to travel this long distance, patron,” he said.
“There is a small matter I'd like to trouble you about,” said the squire. “Please come into the abbey and have some tea.”
Lu Da followed Squire Zhao to the hall. The abbot invited the squire to take the seat for guests. Lu Da sat down on a couch facing the abbot. The squire leaned over and whispered to him: “You're here to become a monk. How can you sit opposite the abbot?”
“I didn't know,” said Lu Da. He rose and stood beside Squire Zhao.
The elder, the prior, the abbot's assistant, the supervisor, the deacon, the reception monk, and the scribe arranged themselves in two rows, according to rank, on the east and west sides of the hall.
Zhao's vassals left the sedan−chairs in a suitable place and carried into the hall several boxes which they laid before the abbot.
“Why have you brought gifts again?” asked the abbot. “You've already made so many donations.” “Only a few small things,” replied Squire Zhao. “They don't merit any thanks.”
Some lay brothers and novices took them away.
Squire Zhao stood up. “I have something to ask of you, Great Abbot. It has long been my desire to sponsor a new member for this monastery. Although I have had the certificate ready for some time, until today I have not been able to do so. This cousin here is named Lu. He formerly was a military officer, but because of many difficulties he wants to have done with mundane affairs and become a monk. I earnestly hope Your Eminence will exercise mercy and compassion and, as a favor to me, accept this man into your order. I will pay all expenses. I shall be very happy if you consent.”
“Gladly,” said the abbot. “This will add lustre to our monastery. Please have some tea.”
A novice served tea. After all had drunk, he removed the cups. The abbot consulted with the elder and the prior on the ceremony for receiving Lu Da into the order, then instructed the supervisor and deacon to prepare a vegetarian meal.
“That man hasn't the makings of a monk,” the elder said to the other monks, privately. “See what fierce eyes he has!”
“Get them out of here a while,” they requested the Receiver of Guests. “We want to talk to the abbot.”
The reception monk invited Squire Zhao and Lu Da to rest in the visitors' hostel. They departed, and the elder and the others approached the abbot.
“That new applicant is a savage−looking brute,” they said. “If we accept him, he's sure to cause trouble.”
“He's cousin of Squire Zhao, our patron. How can we refuse? Hold your doubts while I look into the matter.” The abbot lit a stick of incense and sat cross−legged on a couch. Muttering an incantation, he went into a trance. By the time the incense was consumed, he returned.
“You can go ahead with the ordination,” said the abbot. “This man represents a star in Heaven. His heart is honest. Even though his appearance is savage and his life has been troubled, he will eventually become purified and attain sainthood. None of you is his equal. Mark my words. Let no one dissent.”
“The abbot is only covering up his faults,” the elder said to the others. “But we'll have to do as he says. We can only advise. If he won't listen, that's up to him.”
Squire Zhao and the others were invited to dine in the abbey. When they had finished, the supervisor presented a list of what Lu Da would need as a monk—special shoes, clothing, hat, cape and kneeling cushion. The squire gave some silver and asked that the monastery buy the necessary materials and make them up.
A day or two later all was ready. The abbot selected a propitious day and hour, and ordered that the bells be rung and the drums beaten. Everyone assembled in the preaching hall. Draped in their capes, nearly six hundred monks placed the palms of their hands together in an obeisance to the abbot sitting on his dais, then
separated into two groups. Squire Zhao, bearing gifts of silver ingots and fine cloth and carrying a stick of incense, approached the dais and bowed.
The purpose of the ceremony was announced. A novice led Lu Da to the abbot's dais. The prior told him to remove his hat, divided his hair into nine parts and knotted them. The barber shaved them all off. He reached with his razor for Lu Da's beard.
“Leave me that, at least,” the major exclaimed. The monks couldn't repress their laughter.
“Hear me,” the abbot said sternly from his dais. “Leave not a single blade of grass, let the six roots of desire be torn out. All must be shaven clean away, lest they manifest themselves again,” he intoned. “Off with it,” he ordered.
The barber quickly finished the job. Presenting the certificate to the abbot, the elder requested him to select a name by which Lu Da should be know in the Buddhist order.
“A spark from the soul is worth more than a thousand pieces of gold,” the abbot chanted. “Our Buddhist Way is great and wide. Let him be called Sagacious.”
The scribe filled out the certificate and handed it to Sagacious Lu. At the abbot's direction he was given his monk's garments and told to put them on. Then he was led to the dais. The abbot placed his hand on Lu's head and instructed him in the rules of conduct.
“Take refuge in Buddha, the Law and the Monastic Order. These are the three refuges. Do not kill, steal, fornicate, drink or lie. These are the five precepts.”
Lu Da didn't know he was supposed to answer “I shall” to each of the first three and “I shall not” to each of the last five.
“I'll remember,” he said.
Squire Zhao invited all present into the assembly hall where he burned incense and offered a vegetarian feast to the Buddhist gods. He gave gifts to every member of the monastery staff, high or low. The deacon introduced Sagacious to various members of the monastery, then conducted him to the rear building where the monks meditated. Nothing further happened that night.
The next day, Squire Zhao decided to leave. He said goodbye to the abbot, who tried in vain to keep him. After breakfast, all the monks went with him as far as the monastery gate. Squire Zhao placed his palms together and said, “Abbot, teachers, be compassionate. My young cousin Lu is a crude, direct fellow. If he forgets his manners or says anything offensive or breaks any rules, please forgive him, as a favor to me.”
“Don't worry, Squire,” said the abbot. “I shall teach him gradually to recite the prayers and scriptures, perform services, and practise meditation.”
“In the days to come I will show my gratitude,” promised the squire. He called Lu over to a pine tree and spoke to him in a low voice: “Your life must be different from now on, brother. Be restrained in all things, under no circumstances be proud. Otherwise, it will be hard for us to see each other again. Take good care of
yourself. I'll send you warm clothing from time to time.” “No need to tell me, brother,” said Lu. “I'll behave.”
The squire took his leave of the abbot and the monks, got into his sedan−chair and set off down the mountain for home. His vassals followed, carrying the other, now empty, sedan−chair and boxes. The abbot and the monks returned to the monastery.
When Lu got back to the meditation room, he threw himself down on his bed and went to sleep. The monks meditating on either side shook him into wakefulness.
“You can't do that,” they said. “Now that you're a monk, you're supposed to learn how to sit and meditate.” “If I want to sleep, what's it to you?” Lu demanded.
“Evil!” exclaimed the monks.
“What's this talk about eels? It's turtles I like to eat.” “Oh, bitter!”
“There's nothing bitter about them Turtle belly is fat and sweet. They make very good eating.” The monks gave up. They let him sleep.
The next day they wanted to complain to the abbot. But the elder advised against it. He said: “The abbot is only covering up his faults when he says he will attain sainthood and that none of us is his equal. But there's nothing we can do about it. Just don't bother with him.”
The monks went back. Since no one reprimanded him, Sagacious sprawled out on his bed every night and slept snoring thunderously. When he had to relieve himself he made a terrible racket getting up. He pissed and crapped behind one of the halls. His filth was all over the place.
The abbot's assistant reported the matter. “That Lu has no manners. He's not in the least like a man who's left the material world. How can we keep a fellow like that in the monastery?”
“Nonsense,” retorted the abbot. “Don't forget our donor's request. Sagacious will change later on.” No one dared argue.
And so, Sagacious Lu remained in the monastery on Mount Wutai. Before he knew it, four or five months had passed. It was early winter and Lu's mind, which had been quiescent for a long time, began to stir. One clear day he put on his black cloth cassock, fastened his raven−dark girdle, changed into monk's shoes, and strode from the monastery.
Halfway down the mountain he halted to rest in a pavilion. He sat down on a low “goose neck” bench and said to himself with a curse: “In the old days I had good meat and drink every day. But now that I'm a monk I'm shrivelling up from starvation. Squire Zhao hasn't sent me anything to eat for a long time. My mouth is absolutely tasteless. If only I could get some wine.”
He saw in the distance a man carrying two covered buckets on a shoulder−pole. A ladle in his hand, the man trudged up the slope singing this song:
Before Mount Nine Li an old battlefield lies, There cowherds find ancient spears and knives,
As a breeze stirs the waters of the Wu River broad, We recall Lady Yu's farewell to her lord.
Lu watched him approach. The man entered the pavilion and put down his load. “Hey, fellow, what have you got in those buckets?” Lu asked.
“How much a bucket?”
“Are you serious, monk, or are you just kidding?” “Why should I kid you?”
“This wine is for the monastery's cooks, janitors, sedan−chair carriers, caretakers, and field laborers—no one else. The abbot has warned me that if I sell to a monk he'll take back the money and house the monastery loaned me for my winery. I don't dare sell you any of this.”
“You really won't?” “Not if you kill me!”
“I won't kill you, but I will buy some of your wine.”
The man didn't like the look of things. He picked up his carrying−pole and started to walk away. Lu dashed out of the pavilion after him, seized the pole with both hands, and kicked the fellow in the groin. The man clapped both hands to his injured parts and dropped to a squatting position. He couldn't straighten up for some time.
Sagacious Lu carried both buckets to the pavilion. He picked the ladle off the ground, removed the covers, and began drinking. Before long, one of the buckets was empty.
“Come around to the monastery tomorrow and I'll pay you,” he said.
The man had just recovered from his pain. If the abbot found out, it would mean an end to his livelihood. How could he seek payment from Lu at the monastery? Swallowing his anger, he separated the remaining wine into two half−buckets. Then he shouldered the load, took the ladle and flew down the mountain.
Lu sat in the pavilion a long time. The wine had gone to his head. He left the pavilion, sat down beneath a pine tree and again rested for quite a spell. The wine was taking increasing effect. He pulled his arms out of his cassock and tied the empty sleeves around his waist. His tattooed back bare, he strode up the mountain, swinging his arms.
The monastery gate−keepers had been watching him from afar. They came forward when he approached and barred his way with their split bamboo staves.
“You're supposed to be a disciple of Buddha,” they barked. “How dare you come here in this besotted condition? You must be blind. Haven't you seen the notice? Any monk who breaks the rules and drinks gets forty blows of the split bamboo and is expelled from the monastery. Any gate−keeper who lets a drunken man enter gets ten blows. Go back down the mountain, quickly, if you want to save yourself a beating.”
In the first place, Lu was a new monk, in the second, his temper hadn't changed. Glaring, he shouted: “Mother−screwing thieves! So you want to beat me? I'll smash you!”
The situation looked bad. One of the gate−keepers sped back inside and reported to the supervisor, while the other tried to keep Sagacious out with his staff. Lu flipped it aside and gave him a staggering slap in the face. As the man struggled to recover, Lu followed with a punch that knocked him groaning to the ground.
“I'll let you off this time, varlet,” said Sagacious. He walked unsteadily into the monastery.
The supervisor had summoned the caretakers, cooks, janitors and sedan−chair carriers—nearly thirty men. Now, armed with staves, they poured out of the western cloister and rushed to meet Lu. The ex−major strode towards them with a thunderous roar. They didn't know he had been an army officer. He sprang at them so fiercely they fled in confusion into the sutra hall and closed the latticed door. Sagacious charged up the steps. With one punch and one kick he smashed the door open. The trapped men raised their staves and came out fighting.
The abbot, who had been notified by the supervisor, hurried to the scene with four or five attendants. “Sagacious,” he shouted, “I forbid you to misbehave.”
Lu was drunk, but he recognized the abbot. He cast aside his staff, advanced and greeted him.
“I had a couple of bowls of wine, but I did nothing to provoke these fellows,” said Sagacious. “They came with a gang and attacked me.”
“If you have any respect for me,” said the abbot, “you'll go to your quarters at once and sleep it off. We'll talk about this tomorrow.”
“It's only my respect for you that stops me from lambasting those scabby donkeys!”
The abbot told his assistant to help Lu to the monks' hall. He collapsed on his bed and slept, snoring loudly.
A crowd of monks surrounded the abbot. “We told you so,” they said. “Now you see what's happened? How can we keep a wildcat like that in our monastery? He upsets our pure way of life.”
“It's true he's a bit unruly,” the abbot admitted, “but he'll become a saint later on. At present, we can do nothing. We must forgive him, for the sake of our donor, Squire Zhao. I'll give him good lecture tomorrow, and that will be the end of it.”
The monks laughed coldly. “Our abbot isn't very bright,” they said among themselves. All retired to their respective abodes.
The next morning the abbot sent his assistant to the monks' quarters to summon Sagacious Lu. He was still asleep. The assistant waited while he got up and put on his cassock. Suddenly, Lu dashed out, barefoot. The surprised assistant followed. He found Lu pissing behind the temple. The assistant couldn't help laughing. He waited till Lu had finished, then said:
“The abbot wants to see you.”
Lu went with him to the cleric's room.
“Although you originally were a military man,” said the abbot, “I ordained you because of Squire Zhao's sponsorship. I instructed you: Do not kill, steal, fornicate, drink or lie. These are the five precepts by which all monks are bound. First of all, no monk is allowed to drink. But yesterday evening you came back drunk and beat up the gate−keepers, broke the vermilion latticed door of the surra hall and drove out the cooks and janitors, shouting and yelling all the while. How could you behave so disgracefully?”
Lu knelt before him. “I'll never do such things again.”
“You're a monk now,” the abbot continued. “How could you violate our rule against drinking and upset our pure way of life? If it weren't for the sake of your sponsor Squire Zhao I'd expel you from the monastery. Don't you ever act like that again.”
Lu placed his palms together. “I wouldn't dare,” he asserted fervently.
The abbot ordered breakfast for him and, with many kindly words, exhorted him to reform. He gave Lu a cassock of fine cloth and a pair of monk's shoes, and told him to return to his quarters.
Topers should never drink their fill. “Wine can spur action, or ruin everything,” as the old saying goes. If drinking makes the timid brave, what does it do to the bold and impetuous?
For three or four months after his drunken riot Lu didn't venture to leave the monastery. Then one day the weather suddenly turned warm. It was the second lunar month. Lu came out of his quarters, strolled through the monastery gate and stood gazing in admiration at the beauty of Mount Wutai. From the foot of the mountain the breeze brought the sound of the clanging of metal. Sagacious returned to his quarters, got some silver and put it inside his cassock near his chest. Then he ambled down the slope.
He passed through an archway inscribed with the words: “Wutai, a Blessed Place.” Before him he saw a market town of six or seven hundred families. Meat, vegetables, wine and flour were on sale.
“What am I waiting for?” Lu said to himself. “If I had known there was a place like this, instead of snatching that fellow's bucket I would have come down and bought my own wine. I've been holding back so long that it hurts. Let's see what sort of food they have on sale here.”
Again he heard the clang of metal.
Next to a building with the sign “Father and Son Inn” was an ironsmith's shop. The sound was coming from there. Lu walked over. There men were beating iron.
“Got any good steel, master smith?” he asked the eldest of them.
The man was a little frightened at the sight of Lu's face, with newly sprouted bristles sticking out wildly all over. He ceased his hammering and said: “Please have a seat, Reverend. What kind of work do you want done?”
“I need a Buddhist staff and a monk's knife. Do you have any first−rate metal?”
“I do indeed. How heavy a staff and knife do you want? We'll make them according to your requirements.” “The staff should be a hundred catties.”
“Much too heavy,” the smith laughed. “I could make it for you, but you'd never be able to wield it. Even Guan Gong's halberd wasn't more than eighty−one catties!”
“I'm every bit as good as Guan Gong,” Sagacious burst out impatiently. “He was only a man, too.” “I mean well, Reverend. Even forty−five catties would be very heavy.”
“You say Guan Gong's halberd was eighty−one catties? Make me a staff of that weight, then.”
“Too thick, Reverend. It would look ugly, and be clumsy to use. Take my advice, let me make you a sixty−two catty Buddhist staff of burnished metal. Of course, if it's too heavy, don't blame me. For the knife, as I said, we don't need any specifications. I'll use the best steel.”
“How much for the two?”
“We don't bargain. You can have them at rock−bottom—five ounces of silver for both.” “It's a deal. If you do a good job, I'll give you more.”
The smith accepted the silver. “We'll start right away.”
“I have some small change here. Come out and have a bowl of wine with me.” “Excuse me, Reverend. I must get on with my work. I can't keep you company.”
Sagacious Lu left the ironsmith's. Before he had gone thirty paces, he saw a wine shop banner sticking out from the eaves of a house. He raised the hanging door screen, entered the shop, sat down, and pounded on the table.
“Bring wine,” he shouted.
The proprietor came up to him. “Forgive me, Reverend. My shop and investment money all are borrowed from the monastery. The abbot has a rule for us tavern keepers. If any of us sells wine to a monk, he takes back the money and drives us out of our premises. Don't hold it against me.
“All I want is a little wine. I won't say I bought it here.” “Impossible. Please try some place else. I'm sorry.”
Lu rose to his feet. “If another place serves me, I'll have something to say to you later!”
He left the wine shop and walked on. Soon he saw another wine flag suspended over a doorway. He went in, sat down and called:
“Wine, host. Be quick.”
“How can you be so ignorant, Reverend?” the tavern keeper demanded. “You must know the abbot's rules. Do you want to ruin me?”
Sagacious insisted on being served, but the tavern keeper was adamant. Lu had no choice but to leave. He went to four or five more wine shops. All refused to serve him.
“If I don't think of something, I'll never get any wine,” he said to himself. At the far end of the market−place he saw amid blossoming apricot trees a small house from which a bundle of broom straw was hanging. He came closer and found it was a little wine shop. Lu went in and sat down by the window.
“Host,” he called, “bring wine for a wandering monk.”
The rustic owner came over and scrutinized him. “Where are you from, Reverend?” “I'm a travelling monk who's just passing through. I want some wine.”
“If you're from the Mount Wutai monastery, I'm not allowed to sell you any.” “I'm not. Now bring on the wine.”
Lu's appearance and manner of speaking struck the rustic owner as odd. “How much do you want?” “Never mind about that. Just keep bringing it by the bowlful.”
Lu consumed ten big bowls of wine. “Have you any meat?” he asked. “I want a platter.” “I had some beef earlier in the day,” said the proprietor, “but it's all sold out.”
Sagacious caught a whiff of the fragrance of cooking meat. He went into the yard and found a dog boiling in an earthenware pot by the compound wall.
“You've got dog meat,” he said. “Why won't you sell me any?” “I thought as a monk you wouldn't eat it, so I didn't ask.”
“I've plenty of money here.” Lu pulled out some silver and handed it over. “Bring me half.”
The proprietor cut off half the dog carcass and placed it on the table with a small dish of garlic sauce. Lu tore into it delightedly with both hands. At the same time he consumed another ten bowls of wine. He found the wine very agreeable and kept calling for more. The shop owner was dumbfounded.
“That's enough, monk,” he urged.
Lu glared at him. “I'm paying for what I drink. Who's asking you to interfere?” “How much more do you want?”
“Bring me another bucketful.”
The host had no choice but to comply. Before long, Sagacious had downed this, too. A dog's leg that he hadn't finished he put inside his cassock.
“Hold on to the extra silver,” he said as he was leaving. “I'll be back for more tomorrow.”
The frightened proprietor could only helplessly gape. He watched as Lu headed towards Mount Wutai.
Halfway up the slope, Lu sat down in the pavilion and rested. The wine began to take effect. Leaping up, he cried: “I haven't had a good workout in a long time, I'm getting stiff and creaky in the joints. What I need is a little exercise.”
Lu came out of the pavilion. He gripped the end of each sleeve in the opposite hand and swung his arms vigorously up and down, left and right, with increasing force. One arm accidentally struck against a post of the pavilion. There was loud crack as the post snapped. Half the pavilion collapsed.
Two gate−keepers heard the noise and climbed to a high vantage point for a look. They saw Lu staggering up the slope.
“Woe,” they exclaimed. “That brute is soused again!”
They closed the gate and barred it. Peering through a crack, they watched Lu advance. When he found the gate locked, he drummed on it with his fists. But the gate−keepers didn't dare let him in.
Lu pounded a while, in vain. Suddenly he noticed a Buddhist guardian idol on the left side of the gate.
“Hey, you big worthless fellow,” Lu shouted. “Instead of helping me knock on the gate, you raise your fist and try to scare me! I'm not afraid of you!”
He jumped on the pedestal and ripped up the railing as easily as pulling scallions. Grabbing a broken post, he flailed it against the idol's leg, bringing down a shower of gilt and plaster.
“Woe,” cried the gate−keepers. They ran to inform the abbot.
Lu paused, then turned and observed the guardian idol on the right.
“How dare you open your big mouth and laugh at me?” he yelled. He leaped on the pedestal and struck the idol's leg two hard blows. The figure toppled to the ground with a thunderous crash.
Lu laughed uproariously, holding the broken post in his hand.
When the gate−keepers notified the abbot he merely said: “Don't provoke him. Go back to your gate.”
At that moment, the elder, the supervisor, the deacon, and other responsible monks entered the hall. “That wildcat is very drunk,” they said. “He's wrecked the mid−slope pavilion and the guardian idols at the gate. How can we put up with this?”
“Since ancient times it's been known that 'Even a king shuns a drunkard.' All the more necessary for me to avoid them,” replied the abbot. “If he's broken idols, we'll ask his sponsor Squire Zhao to make us new ones. Zhao can repair the pavilion too. Let Sagacious do as he wishes.”
“Those guardian idols are the lords of the gate,” the monks protested. “You can't change them around just like that.”
“Never mind the gate idols,” retorted the abbot. “Even if they were the idols of the leading Buddhas themselves that were destroyed, there'd be nothing we could do about it. Stay out of his way. Didn't you see how savage he was the other day?”
“What a muddle−headed abbot,” the monks muttered as they left the hall. “Don't open that gate,” they instructed the gate−keepers. “Just stand inside and listen.”
“If you mother−screwing scabby donkeys don't let me in,” bellowed Sagacious, “I'll set fire to this stinking monastery and burn it down!”
“Remove the bar and let the beast in,” the monks hastily called to the gate−keepers. “If we don't, he's really liable to do it!”
The gate−keepers tiptoed up to the gate, pulled the bolt, then flew back and hid themselves. The other monks scattered.
Lu pushed hard against the gate with both hands. Unexpectedly, it gave way, and he stumbled in and fell flat on his face. He crawled to his feet, rubbed his head, and hurried to his quarters.
He pushed aside the door curtain and plunged into the meditation room. The monks, who were sitting cross−legged on their pallets, looked up, startled. They immediately lowered their heads. On reaching his own pallet, Sagacious noisily vomited. The stench was frightful. “Virtue be praised,” cried the monks, holding their noses.
Lu clambered onto his pallet and opened his cassock and girdle, ripping them in the process. The dog's leg dropped to the floor. “Good,” said Sagacious. “I was just getting hungry:” He picked it up and began to eat.
The monks hid their faces behind their sleeves. Those nearest him stayed as far out of his way as possible. Lu tore off a piece of dog meat and offered it to the monk on his left.
“Try it,” he recommended.
The man pressed his sleeve ends tightly against his lips.
“Don't you want any?” asked Lu. He shoved the meat at the man on his right. The fellow tried to slip off his pallet and escape, but Sagacious seized him by the ear and crammed the meat into his mouth.
Four or five monks on the opposite side of the room jumped up and hurried over. They pleaded with Lu to desist. He flung aside his dog's haunch and drummed his knuckles on their shaven pates. The whole meditation room was thrown into an uproar. Monks got their cassocks and bowls from the closets and quickly left. There was a general exodus. The elder couldn't stop them.
Cheerfully, Sagacious fought his way out. Most of the monks fled to the cloisters. This time the supervisor and deacon didn't notify the abbot, but summoned all the monks on duty, including every caretaker, cook, janitor and sedan−chair carrier they could muster—nearly two hundred men in all. These bound their heads with bandannas, armed themselves with clubs and staves, and marched on the monks' hall.
Lu let out a roar when he saw them. Not having any weapon he ran into the meditation room, knocked over the altar table in the front of the idol of Buddha, tore off two of the table legs, and charged out again.
He came at the attackers so fiercely that they hastily retreated to the cloisters. Sagacious advanced, flourishing his table legs. His adversaries closed in on him from both sides. Lu was furious. He feinted east and struck west, he feinted south and thumped north. Only those furthest away escaped his cudgels.
Right to the door or the preaching hall the battle raged. Then the voice of the abbot rang out: “Sagacious, stop that fighting! You, too, you monks!”
The attackers had suffered, several dozen injured. They were glad to fall back when the abbot appeared. Lu threw down his table legs.
“Abbot, help me,” he cried. By now he was eight−tenths sober.
“Sagacious, you're giving me too much trouble,” said the cleric. “The last time you got drunk and raised a rumpus I wrote your sponsor Squire Zhao about it and he sent a letter of apology. Now you've disgraced yourself again, upset our pure way of life, wrecked the pavilion and damaged two idols. All this we can overlook. But you drove the monks from the meditation room, and that's a major crime. Wenshu Buddha meditated where out monastery stands today. For centuries these hallowed grounds have known only tranquillity and the fragrance of incense. It's no place for a dirty fellow like you. The next few days, you stay with me in the abbot's hall. I'll arrange for you to be transferred elsewhere.”
The former major went with the abbot to his residence. The cleric told the supervisor to send the monks back to their meditations. Those who had been injured were to go and rest. Sagacious spent the night in the abbot's hall.
The next morning the abbot consulted with the elder. They decided to give Lu some money and send him on. But first it was necessary to notify Squire Zhao. The abbot wrote a letter and dispatched it to his manor with two messengers, who were instructed to wait for his reply.
Zhao was quite upset by the abbot's missive. In his answer he hailed the cleric respectfully and said: “I will pay for the repair of the broken gate guardians and the pavilion, Lu must go wherever the abbot sends him.”
The abbot then directed his assistant to prepare a black cloth cassock, a pair of monk's shoes, and ten ounces of silver, and to summon Lu.
“Sagacious,” said the abbot, “the last time you got drunk and made a disturbance in the monks' hall, you didn't know any better. This time you got drunk again, broke the guardian idols, wrecked the pavilion, and caused a riot in the hall of meditation. That's a serious crime. You've also injured many of our monks. Our monastery is a peaceful place. Your conduct is very bad. As a courtesy to Squire Zhao I'm giving you a letter of introduction to another place where you can stay. It's impossible for us to keep you here. Last night I had a vision and composed a four−phrase prophecy to guide your destiny.”
“Where do you want me to go, teacher?” asked Lu. “Please tell me the prophecy.”
The abbot pointed at Sagacious Lu and spoke. He told him where to go, with this result: Laughing and wielding his staff, Lu fought scores of heroes. Angrily stabbing with his sword, he struck down unfilial sons and treacherous officials.
What, exactly, did the abbot say to Sagacious Lu? Read our next chapter if you would know.