I will be posting updates as I complete them. Each chapter is quite long, so I will not be posting complete chapters at once. Please post comments in this thread. There is no need to put comments in a separate thread because the table of contents above will make each update easy to navigate to. So all discussion of this novel should go in this thread. I will post more information about the author, Yun Zhongyue, in a separate thread. I am reading this for the first time as I translate it, and will be translating quicker than I normally would so I can get it out faster. So there may be some mistakes here and there.
Quick Synopsis: This novel is one of Yun Zhongyue's most well-recieved. It was originally published in 1965, and is a good example of the author's style. One commenter even said that if you haven't read Song of the Exile, then you have not read Yun Zhongyue. The story concerns Cai Wenchang, a man who goes back and forth between being a xia and being a hoodlum. He gets in some trouble and has to go into exile (hence the title), and later comes back. There is also romance involved, with three different main female characters. I don't want to spoil the story so I won't say more, but I will note that Yun Zhongyue is known for using history in his novels, particularly the Ming dynasty, and he favors martial valor over romance. According to online fans, he is really good with fight scenes because he was a soldier himself. More on that stuff in the Yun Zhongyue thread.
The seventh lunar month, bright sun shining high in the sky. The beginning of autumn had come, the mountain areas seemingly cooler than the flatlands, the vegetation not yet taking on autumn's colors. This year autumn came early.
The sound of hoofbeats like thunder breaks the silence.
In the distant mountains the startling howl like that of a wolf.
Two strong horses galloping from the old path to the east, heading west, yellow dust curling up behind them as they pass.
Soon the sound dissipates and not long after, the horses slow. The two horses are chestnut, robust and strong, they follow the path around the river bend.
Suddenly, a long and loud cry reverberated through the clouds to the high heavens, like the nine heavenly dragons chanting.
The sound fell gently, and a loud and clear singing spread:
Iron fist like thunder, sword gleaming cold,
Across the Sword Sea, rushing Sabre Mountain.
Shouting among winds and clouds, a hero's spirit is brief;
When feelings are true and love is sincere, a couple's passion is long.
When the sound had faded another voice continued:
Who cares, the sun is setting , the flowers look like brocade;
Don't cling to love, in Jiangnan the scene is beautiful.
Fame and fortune are like the mordning dew,
A bride's dowry and your salary are like passing clouds.
The sea of people is boundless, and I drift along;
The rivers and lakes are vast, I alone revere it.
Then the two singers sang together, the lofty sentiments of before now given way to sorrowful lamentations:
To the far corners of the eath, my spirit drifts aimlessly like a dream.
I have had my fill of the hardships and grind of daily life.
My travels through the world are long and arduous.
Exiled from the sea of people, ah!, cold and grieved;
This hero is gone, ah! When can he return?
The singing dissipated and hoofbeats stopped. The horses shook their heads and flicked their tails, their forehoofs kicking up the dust.
On the horses were two middle-aged imposing men, wearing black turbans and black-cloth jackets, a sword hanging from their waists, on their arms a Hundred Treasure bag and saddle packs behind the saddle. One look and you'd know these were men of the rivers and lakes. They reined in their horses and stared ahead at a fifty or sixty zhang high cliff extending into the middle of the river, their faces solemn. The sound of the water from the edge of the precipice and falling over like faint thunder.
The man on the right flicked his reins, took a deep breath and said, “There ahead is Tiger Mountain. That cliff sticking out of the river was originally called Tiger Head Peak, also called Tiger Head Cliff. That's where Wulin-exiled Cai Wenchang and the Junshan White-clad Dragon Girl died. Look, see there on the top of the tiger's head, isn't that a big stone tablet pavilion? That's where their clothes are entombed and there is a spirit memorial tablet, set up by friends of the jianghu.”
The man on the left shook his head and smiled bitterly. He was a rare breed among the rivers and lakes, ai! They accomplished much in their travels through the jianghu, left a lot of achievements. Now later people cherish their memory. Ai! Life is very tentuous! Da Ge, that time you were there, do you really mean to say that of all the master pugilists from heaven and earth, good and bad, no one was able to recover their bodies?
Da Ge shook his head. “Dear brother, you can hear the sound of the water and know, there are rapids on the upper reaches of the river, and at the lower end is Black Dragon Pond. A fengshui master called those dangerous waters Tiger Pressed the Dragon's Veins. The natives call it Black Tiger Suppresses the Black Dragon. Black Dragon Pond's water flows toward the inner bend, it's suction is powerful, the water pounds against the cliff walls. Except for fish, anything that enters that water disappears without a trace, who would dare go into the dragon pond to retrieve the bodies?”
“The bodies never washed up somewhere?”
“Squeezed between the rocks, how could they emerge anywhere? Come on! We'll go pay our respects.”
The two horse took off ahead and soon reached the foot of the mountain. The mountain peak looked like a crouching tiger, about ten li in circumference, the tiger's head stretching from the northeast to the riverside. The tiger's tail wasn't too steep, horses could climb it. An old path extended to the foot of the mountain, bending toward the right, winding northeast crossing the tiger's tail before changing to the northwest.
Winding around the mountain to the northeast was a small path branched off, leading to the summit. This was the path leading to the stone memorial tablet. Since the tablet had been erected, the path looked like it had never fallen into disrepair.
The horses galloped up the mountain. The mountain ridge was an ancient forest extending to the tiger's head.
As the horses ambled through the woods, there suddenly came a violent sound from behind. A dozen horses flying towards them.
“Eh! Who dares be so impertinent to rush madly about near the stone memorial tablet?” Da Ge turned his head to look.
His younger brother smiled. “It's just some people from the jianghu come out of respect for Cai Wenchang, what's the big deal? And Cai Wenchang made a lot of enemies among the rivers and lakes, so it's nor surprising to see people not restraining themselves.”
The dozen horses had already reached them as they neared the edge of the forest. The two brothers turned. Their faces changed and they reined in their horses and pulled them off to the side of the road and watched bumbfounded as the twelve horses flew past them.
Among the dozen horses, the lead rider had arching eyebrows and tiger eyes, three tufts of black beard brushing his chest, a wide nose and forehead, and a complexion like old bronze. Even when not angry he still looked fierce. About fifty years old, well-built and strong. His clothes were black-green. Clearly a man of talent.
Behind his horse rode two women, the one on the right was a middle-aged faded beauty, a melon face, pretty as a painting, she carried with her an aura of beautiful nobility and elegance befitting a fair maiden, pretty to make you unable to think of anything else. If it were not for the dim smile at the corners of her eyes you would not be able to tell she was middle-aged.
The one on the left was beautiful, a young woman, about seventeen or eighteen by her looks, pretty to take your breath away and make your heart jump. her face was eighty percent like the other woman, her facial features looked like the gods put a lot of effort into arranging them so that any change to any part could not make her look better. Too bad though, her face was white to make people pity her. Her eyes, more white than black, lacked energy. She was clealy a pretty young girl just recently recovering from some illness. The young woman looked dignified, yet still carried with her an aura of grievance. Her whole body was white, white to dazzle you. Her torso under her cloak protruded where it should protrude, thin where it should be thin. If you added a little you'd think her fat, if you subtracted something she'd be thin, in a word, she was just right.
The other nine riders all wore black heavy muscular builds, tall with big fists, thick arms. From their saddles hung instruments of death.
The two brothers waited until they had gone a bit ahead, then Da-ge said with a sinking mood, “No! No! It's really too hard to believe, too hard to believe.”
Da-ge, who are those people? What's hard to believe?”
“Heavens! That's Dongting Junshan Four Seas Divine Dragon Xia Chengguang, and the girl in white is the White-clad Dragon Girl Xia Yuanjun. How...how is this possible?” He was tongue-tied and dumbfounded, just staring at the departing riders.
“Da-ge, Is it really the White-clad Dragon Girl? It can't be, it's probably her younger sister.”
“Four Seas Divine Dragon only has one daughter and only one son, everyone in the jianghu knows this, how can it be her sister? Let's go! 'When the water recedes the rocks show themselves.'”
On the cliff overlooking the river, a stone tablet pavilion, three zhang high, three zhang wide on all sides with stone pillars thick enough to wrap your arms around, a vast construction. In the center of the pavilion was a huge tablet two zhang high, sitting on a three-layered base, the whole thing intricately carved granite. On either side of the pavilion a hall with stone benches, stone tables, and stone balustrades. In front of the pavilion was a sacrificial platform holding a pair of stone cauldrons big enough for three people to wrap their arms around. Smoke drifted up from the cauldrons.
This place was a cliff with a bunch of rocks of grotesque shape, the wind off the river screamed, the sound of the water was like thunder. The summit was about a li wide, and within sprouted many small pine trees from the cracks and crevices of rock. The rest was scattered rock and weeds with wines and creepers growing haphazardly.
The cliff extended into the middle of the river, the pavilion was erected about a zhang from the edge, facing north, its back to the south. Below the southern face was a sudden fifty or sixty zhang drop into the rolling river.
Tiger Head Peak's northwest face was a slight-sloping hillside. Many sheep and cattle were put to pasture here, though originally this place was a no-man's land.
A group of street urchins were gathered inside the pavilion, and leaning on a right-side stone pillar wearing shabby clothes was an old man of about seventy. They were making merry when they heard the hoofbeats and then they turned to look.
The twelve horses reined up in front of the altar and they all dismounted. Four Seas Divine Dragon held back the White-clad Dragon Girl who was too impatient to get into the pavilion.
The old man half-closed his eyed and turned to the children. “Kids, out! Out! You'll have to wait 'til next time to listen to this old man. Mind your livestock don't fall off the cliff. Go on! Go on!”
The children dispersed except for a few who sat around the old man, curiously watching the group that had just arrived.
On the front of the huge stone memorial tablet was carved two lines in Yan-style calligraphy: “Cai Wenchang. Xia Yuanjun.” Running parallel to these were four words: “Hat and Clothes Tomb”.
In the middle were three words: “Recall Spirit Tablet.”
On the back side was carved in densely-packed script several sections. The first section was the lyrics to the song mentioned earlier.
The second section was written: “Cai Jun (taboo) Wenchang, Shangzhou prefecture, Fine Horse Hut Cai Family Village native, born Great Ming Jiajing 15th year Autumn 9th month Gengwu day, died Jiajing 35th year 2nd month Jihai, aged years 20 and 1. Cai Jun lost both parents at an early age...”
The next section concered the White-clad Dragon Girl Xia Yuanjun's information, very simple. Then it mentions the burial information on Tiger Head Peak, but is not detailed.
The last section, in the corner, was carved in large characters: “Upright, and evil, a hero, and robber. Exiled to the back of beyond, freely strolled through the world of men. Right or wrong? Opinions differ. Enemies or friends? Survive in the heart.”
Judging by the tone of the inscriptions, the people who erected this memorial were men of the rivers and lakes, friends from the far corners of the earth, some perhaps enemies. At any rate, when the person has died, friendship and enmity all should be crossed out with a single stroke! The positions of these men of the rivers and lakes were not too high.
Four Seas Divine Dragon saw his beloved daughter's name on the tablet plain as day, how could be not be enraged? No wonder he stamped in fury. Custodian, let me check, I want to see what bastard put up this memorial.”
But his wife said: “Chengguang, don't get excited, suppress your anger first and calm down.”
“Nonsense! Is this not brazenly cursing our child?” Four Seas Divine Dragon roared in anger, his long beard shaking. He took two steps toward the tablet and shot his palm out from his sleeve, and with a mightly roar chopped at the tablet.
“Hold it! Dad,” the White-clad Dragon Girl cried out.
Four Seas Divine Dragon pulled his punch and let his huge palm slant down to the side, brushing past the memorial tablet, reined his palm in with a shout and turned and said, “Child, what is it?”
“I think you can leave the tablet as it is.”
“Cai Wenchang might still roam the world of men, leave it so he can destroy it.”
“What? You think he was sword-stabbed, fell into Black Dragon Pond and didn't die?”
“I was stabbed too, fell in Black Dragon Pond, but I didn't die.”
“That's not the same, you fell into Black Dragon Pond...”
“While I was dizzy, yet I still recall distinctly being violently pulled out from the midst of the whirlpool, when I woke up I fell asleep in a rock crevice, and when I woke up I was dead tired. Everyone was on the cliff watching the fight, no one was at the bottom, so who saved me and put me in the crevice? Except for him, there was no one else.” As she was talking energetically, her pallid face stained a red blush, and her lifeless eyes lit up with spirit.
“Child, you're talking in fairy tales.”
From the White-clad Dragon Girl's eyes suddenly hung two lines of tears. She beckoned the pavilion custodian to come up the steps, took a few joss sticks, and knelt at the alter, mumbling. Then as the incense fragrance mingled she said faintly, “When he fell off the cliff, and really stated his heartfelt wish, why didn't he say something earlier? I waited for his innermost feelings for too long, why didn't he say something earlier? He's gone, only his suffering he left for me to bear. I regret, but it's too late now. For the rest of this life I will struggle with this pain, until the day I step into the grave.” She looked up at her father and smiled bitterly: “Dad, your daughter doesn't have the nerve to think back to the aftermath of that day, I just hope it wasn't a real nightmare....”
“Child, the facts are all there.”
“I just have to use an illusio to comfort myself, deceive myself as well as others, fantasize that he still lives in this world, lives in my blessings. In reality, I fell and was saved, and the reason is too obscure. I wish that my fantasy and my inferences were true. Dad, your dauther's hope is not shattered...”
Just then the two brothers who were waiting quietly, Da-ge reached out to rouse the old man in shabby clothes and the kids.
Four Seas Divine Dragon raised his hand and shook his head: “Hero, no need to disturb them, lest people say us jianghu heroes bully and tyrannize the people.”
Da-ge drew back his hand and bowed in respect. “Your junior respects your command.”
Four Seas Divine Dragon took a step down the steps and nodded. “Would you two mind telling me your honorable names?”
“Your juniors are Nanjing Zhao wen and Zhao Wu,” Da-ge courteously replied.
“Oh! So you are the Zhao Family Gulley Zhao Family twin xia brothers. Pleased to meet you, pleased to meet you. You two are...”
“We're came from Xi'an on a direct route to come here to pay our respects.”
As they exchanged courtesies, the White-clad Dragon Girl went toward the river of the pavilion by the cliff edge. Strange rocks in a disordered mess, weeds knee-high, the wind on the river howling, the water below gurgling. She stood at the edge and looked down, really hair-raising, timid people couldn't even speak of looking down there, or even approach the edge.
After a while, the dozen riders mounted up and descended the mountain. The Zhao Family Twin Xias also burned incense and paper money, and once this was finished, they too mounted up and left.
The old man in shabby clothes by the pillar was snoring like he didn't have a care in the world.
But at the sound of hoofbeats, his eyes opened a few times, flashing a strange radiance.
The hoofbeats now distant, the old man sunk back into sleep. The children gathered again and sat around the old man. A boy of about twelve went up and grabbed the old man's jacket and shook him. “Hey, grandpa, wake up, wake up...”
The old man opened his eyes. “Settle down, settle down, you little monkeys, go on! Go on! I want to sleep.”
“No, you have to tell us the story of Wenchang.”
The old man waved his hand and said languidly, “Wen-ge lived here, died here, don't tell me you didn't listen to your uncles tell you about it. Ask me, what a joke.”
The kid curled his lips and said, “My dad said Wen-ge was the cause of our village's ruin, he's a degenerate, hooligan, a scoundrel, don't mention him, don't ask about him. Whoever asks about him will get smacked in the mouth!” When he said “smacked in the mouth”, he waves his hand imitating the gesture.
The old man laughed until he was crying, then said: “Since he brought ruin, was a degenerate, a hooligan, a scoundrel, why are you asking me about him?”
“But some people want to erect a silver tablet for Wenchang to make Fine Horse Village even more illustrious. Look, every day people comed from miles around to burn incense, I just don't believe Wenchang was a bad egg.”
The old man sat up with great effort and patted the boy's head. “That's right, Wenchang was a bad egg.”
“I say he wasn't.”
The old man reached for his wine gourd and took a few pulls and laughed. “You all want to hear Wenchang's story?”
“I want to hear.”
“Tell it, grandpa.”
The old man sat bobbing his head in a satisfied manner. “All right, listen up, every day after the sun has peaked you all come here. Grandpa will speak for a couple hours, in a few days I should be able to tell it all. Remember, you mustn't go home and tell your parents or your uncles, all right?”
“All right,” the little devils all shouted.
The old man's eyes suddenly flashed like lightning, looking around in all directions. He inhaled so that the muscles in his face couldn't help but tremble, the light in his eyes frequently changing.
“A long, long time ago...” The old man casually began to tell his story.
From Huguang to Shaanxi, in the past you had to start from Henan Nanyang prefecture, pasty Funiu Mountain and then on through Fushui Pass and into Shaanxi. Eighty years ago, after suppressing the Jingli refugees, Yunyang prefecture was set up, and going via the Han river mountain area caused trade routes to open up and provided a new way to enter Shaanxi without going around through Henan, you could just go up the Han river.
But if you wanted to get to the capital of Shaanxi, Xi'an, taking the Han river was pretty far, instead you just through Xichuan county in Henan to enter Shaanxi, or go up the Dan river to Xi'an. These routes were much closer.
The road from Henan to Shaanxi, at Fushui Pass, go through Shangnan, Wu Pass, Fine Horse Village post station, nonstop to Shangzhou. From Shangzhou to Xi'an, the whole mountain area was under the jurisdiction of Xi'an prefecture.
That area in the past had been a restricted area, but after it was opened, it gradually flourished, and in recent years, that old road has become the most important passageway for traveling merchants, comparable more or less to Tong Pass.
The old road goes through Wu Pass heading westward ninety li you come to postal relay station, Fine Horse Village post station. About forty li from the station the road merges with the Dan river. If you go through this water passageway, you don't have to go through Wu Pass.
The Dan river, at its first river basin, is very precipitous, with a strong current, it passes throug innumerable gorges and dangerous rapids, so only boats of 50 dan and under can pass through, so it's not used much.
About twenty li from Fine Horse Village are two dangerous shoals, called Shadow Rock Shoal, and the other is called Small Shadow Rock Shoal. Going up the shoal ten or so li is the not so famous Tiger Head Peak Black Dragon Pond.
Two or three li up the west side of Tiger Mountain range is a small mountain village called Cai Family Village. The village has a population of about a hundred households, all surnamed Cai. From Cai Family Village to Fine Horse Village is not more than twenty li.
It is said that Cai Family Village had been moved from Henan, but you'd have to check the clan genealogy to see if it's true or not; in any case, it's not important, no need to check.
If we go back twenty years, that would be the 15th year of the Great Ming Jiajing reign period.
Worms breed in decaying matter, and that's no lie.
Within the court, the emperor was caught up in Daoist practices, and the Daoist priest Shao Yuangu sent people who would stop at nothing to find for the emperor rare longevity elixirs, sending the whole world into chaos. Because the emperor wanted the live forever, the Daoist fed sheep ginseng, then killed the sheep to feed to the dogs, then killed the dogs to make medicine to give to the emperor, absolutely absurd!
The court officials were led by Yan Song, clearly a treacherous official, that goes withiut saying.
And the border areas? Awful. To the southeast, those Wokou dwarf pirates were like a raging fire, making so that the people had no means to make a living, and many became destitute and homeless.
The Manchus again attacked, and attacked, and attacked again; beacon fires spread ten-thousand li, and blood flowed in the rivers.
Yet day after day the emperor sought immortality, and massacred severl high officials who urged him to give up his superstitions.
The Great Ming dynasty was tottering, beyond cure.
All over the country taxes were heavy, penalties and punishments were severe. Government officials were lazy. Everyone turned a blind eye and held their hands out to the common people.
At Cai Family Village, in the 15th year, 9th month, the 7th day, a future desperado fell crying to the ground.
It was the Cai Family Village head's second branch younger brother Cai Chong'an's son, christened Wenchang. Four four generations the senior of Cai Family Village naming order was Chong, Wen, Shang, Wu. Because he was Chong'an's son, so his name was Wen, generation name given was Chang. His child pet name was fitting, they called him Little Tiger.
Little Tiger was truly infirm. He could not speak before the age of three, and he could not cry. This was Cai Chong'an's very lifeblood, so he burned with anxiety. He feared the child would turn out to be mute, or worse yet, that he was the White Tiger Star reborn. It was said that if the White Tiger Star opened its mouth, whoever he called would be cursed with bad luck. The person called would definitely die. The common people believe in the supernatural, and this superstition was widespread.
What a coindidence, on the 13th day after the child's third birthday he called, not only “mama”, but he also called “dad”.
Not half a month later Fine Horse Village suffered an epidemic. It spread to the east through Nanyang in Henan, to the west to Shangzhou, killing hundreds of people. For the four or five hundred people in Cai Family Village, it was like an ill wind blowing through, blowing down a hundred or so of the old and young, including Chong'an and his wife. Hand in hand they went down together to the netherworld.
Little Tiger from an early age was like a young tiger, he safely weathered the epidemic and grew more robust by the day.
Many people from Cai Family Village fled the town when the epidemic rolled in, and three years not more than a third came back. Because of all this, Cai Family Village declined. The fields north of the village were left untended and left to go to waste.
The village head, as he was the chief, could leave the village. But Heaven has eyes, and the village chief along with his wife and their only son Wenhua, made it through the epidemic.
As for Wenchang, not only did he have nothing to rejoice over, his life of misery was just beginning. The village head and his wife did not blame Heaven, but instead blamed Little Tiger for the calamity that had befallen the village. The White Tiger Star had opened its mouth, and not only killed its father and mother by calling their names, but also destroyed a hundred or more villagers, the worst disaster in the village's history. How could such a thing be tolerated?
The field of Little Tiger's household no one plowed, in the house no one lived. Instead he passed his day with his father's elder brother, would there be any happy days to come?
More than this, the old and young of the village, the simpletons, because of the White Tiger Star moniker given him by the village head and his wife, looked upon Litter Tiger as a nail in their eye. Fortunately Little Tiger was still young, otherwise he would long since have been order by the ancestral temple elder to be buried alive.
Little Tiger thus survived in this enviroment, grew up in the midst of bitter enmity.
When he was six he began herding cattle for his uncle, even though the cattle were twice as tall as him.
At eight he harvested wheat in the fields, making him endure unbearable suffering.
He ate only leftovers, causing his bones to be thin as firewood, yet his body remained stronger and sharper than other people's, no sickness, no pain. Beaten with a rod, boxed in the ears, he didn't care.
He was forbidden to play with the other youngsters in the village, but outside the village, out in the countryside, especially Tiger Mountain, the children have no enmity or grudges, and they were enthusiastic about playing with Little Tiger; he was mischievous and fearless, he would brave all kinds of situations, He caught birds and tamed dogs. Amazingly, he became the group's leader.
So it was he grew up in this abnormal environment.
To the west of the village there was a mountain, not too tall, and on one side was Shadow Rock Village, with a population of a hundred of so households. There were three surnames here: Zhang, Wang, and Jia. The village head was surnamed Zhang, given name Liangzuo. The three surnames it was said all originated in Henan, but twenty or thirty years before the Cai family, so the fertile lands on the west side right up to Fine Horse Village all belonged to Shadow Rock Village.
In Fine Horse Village Zhang Liangsuo set up an iron shop, an oil business, and a mill. All in all he was half-farmer, half-businessman. Although he was not permitted to wear silks and satins, but he wore what he liked anyway. In a village so far from the seat of government, where even the local authorities were lax regarding county matters, why would they go looking for trouble?
In Shadow Rock Village they set up a school where they taught the wild little monkeys how to read. All the students were thirteen years old or younger, the older kids went to Shangzhou to go to school. Those who failed the examinations went back home and hired a private tutor, or went straight to the fields to tend the crops.
The teacher at the school was not from the area. It was said he came from Kaifeng prefecture, a poor scholar down on his luck, a guy who had to drink a lot of his own ink water. His surname was Shang, given name Lan. He had an effeminate build, his eyes weren't great, he was about sixty years old, so it wasn't odd that he had bad eyes. But he was accomplished, when he saw you he squinted his eyes at you, all the villagers liked him. No one even bothered to go check his family background.
Shadow Rock Village also lost a lot of people that time of the epidemic, but Village Chief Zhang didn't blame Heaven and he didn't blame others, he just worked hard to restore the village, giving out money and effort to support the families. Not only did the school not close, he even added a place for military training, and he went to a lot of expense to go to Shaolin to invite two learned and virtuous monks and settled them in at Hongqi Temple, which became the site of the martial arts training building. The temple was close, in between the school and the private school.
For years relations between Shadow Rock Village and Cai Family Village had been good, but while Shadow Rock village prospered, Cai Family Village declined, and could not afford to hire teachers and didn't want to anyway, but they discussed it with Village Chief Zhang, and the kids were allowed to go to their schools.
Henceforth, the Cai Family Village kids would go to Shadow Rock Village in the morning, then come back at noon, and in the afternoons they were free.
Only Litte Tiger was dismissed by the private school, so he started to feel alone. At eight years old, the golden age of childhood, yet he had already lost his childlike innocence, he was more mature than the other kids. Growing up so miserably, maturing faster was the natural outcome.
He was tall, but too thin, he looked malnourished, but his bones were stronger than the other kids'. It is said that none of the villagers ever saw him smile. Such a hidden icy resentful and surly expression made the village elders disgusted.
People are strange animals, things that are unpleasant to the eye, the more you like at them, the more unpleasant they look. He was such a thing in the village. But he felt the same about the village elders. In his heart he couldn't understand why he was unable obtain the villagers' affection or sympathy. As time went on, even if someone showed him affection or sympathy, he didn't need it anymore, and he didn't want it. He locked his spirit away in the forbidden garden of his heart, he no longer accepted anyone's affection or sympathy.
Autumn arrived, the vegetation began to wither, the morning thick with frost. To those who have clothes this is no big deal, but for him who had only a single ripped unlined garment, it was hard to feel comfortable. One morning, old man Zhao went to the dilapidated west wing of the courtyard, a padded jacket draped over his shoulders, breath smoking white fog, and rapped on the door and yelled, “Lazy worm, you're still not up? You want a beating? Go to the southern warehouse and put up the wheat.”
Old hired-hand Zhao was a vagrant of Fine Horse Village. At the beginning of every winter he would get a job planting wheat, and at the end of summer and beginning of fall he would harvest the wheat and then go back to Fine Horse Village and stay there a couple weeks before returning to the village. He had been at Cai Family Village for four years. This fellow was not good people. At any rate he didn't treat Wenchang like a person. He was rude to him and mean.
Little Wenchang had to leave his broken nest. His one article of clothing he wore throughout the year. He had worn it two years, which normally wouldn't be so bad, but he was the god of wealth for the fabric stores, as he wore out his clothes extra quick. His clothes were already a third ripped up.
He pulled open the door and a burst of cold wind hit him head-on and he shivered. The house was big enough, few people lived there. No one lived in the east and west compounds. Two rooms in the outer wing of the western compound only he lived in, so how could it not be cold?
Uncle Zhao, you go on ahead. I'll be right there,” he said, taking a step outside.
“It's almost light, hurry up. Ai!, why don't you put on more clothes?”
More clothes? Shivering in the cold, he said grumpily, “I'm happy, what is it to you?”
Old Zhao muttered in surprise, and scolded him: “You dog biting Lu Dongbin [meaning someone who mistakes someone's good intentions and turns against him], you can't recognize a person's good heart...”
“Leave your good intentions here to say hellow to Big Yellow.” Big Yellow, that was the family's best hunting dog, Wenchang's most beloved companion.
Old Zhao couldn't take it, he stepped closer and said, “You son of a bitch, you...”
“Shut your stinking mouth!” Little Wenchang shouted.
Old Zhao couldn't take it, he raised his hand to box Wenchang's ears. “You want to die!”
Whap! He smacked Wenchang in the back of the head. Wenchang wasn't going to allow that, in fact he was already countering, colliding with the old man like a wild bull.
An eight year old kid fighting with an adult peasant, just close your eyes and you can imagine the outcome. This time, when he got smacked in the back of the head, everything went black and Wenchang fell down in the yard and rolled twice. Old Zhao laughed, “Ha ha! You were probably already cold, just wanted to work up a sweat.....Ai!....Oh!”
Little Wenchang was disoriented, but he a stone in his hand. He scrabbled to his feet and threw it. Amazingly, it hit old man Zhao in the stomach with a thwack and the old man doubled over.
Little Wenchang didn't stop there, he really did feel cold, he needed to move about some, so he ran around old Zhao, kicked him in his ass, then turned tail and ran.
The old man fell over, but quickly got up and yelled, “You little rabbit egg, when I catch you I'll flay you alive.”
Little Wenchang ran to the side door, around to the rear compound and on toward the southern storehouse. Between the compound and the storehouse was a stable and firewood room. He was too in a rush, running and looking back at the same time, so he didn't see his Uncle Cai Suiming when he ran into him by the stable.
Cai Suiming cried out and fell backward, turning over the bucket of well water in his hand and making himself look like a chicken dropped in soup.
Wenchang also fell, and when he saw he had collided with his unlce, he panicked and got up quickly and took off running.
That's right, on that cold morning he ran himself into a fever, so that his forehead was sweating, warming his body like it was spring.
He didn't dare go back home, he just ran on to the foot of Hu Mountain. The vegetation there was withered, the ground covered in a thick layer of frost. He found a cave and ran inside and began to think. He knew that if he went back home it would be hard to avoid a severe beating. He untied his jacket, revealing a bunch of welts. Red, purple, dark green, new and old, he had them all. He heaved a deep sigh and said to himself, “If you can wait, just wait. When I get home tonight I'll definitely meet with the rod, so why not play a bit outside for the day?”
Play, the sky at daybreak, a nip in the air, how can he play in that. Inside the cave he laid down and slept.
When he woke up he was starving, what to do? In the north there's not much to each during autumn, so the only option is to go steal something in the village.
He furtively made his way toward the village. It wasn't far, but when he reached the village he saw some elders and turned around, not wanting to enter. But his hunger burned like fire, really hard to endure. Normally stealing a chicken was easiest, a simple chunk of cobblestone would solve the problem, and if he got one from a cage it wouldn't make any noise, but today approaching the village would not be easy, no chance to use his talent.
He said to himself: “Can I stand not eating for a whole day? No way!”
In the grass to the right suddenly came the sound of a bleeting sheep. He turned his head and saw it was his distant uncle's flock. About eighty to a hundred head, plus some fat lambs.
This uncle was his sworn enemy, always gave him trouble. If the family lost a couple chickens, the blame would always be foisted on his head. Actually, he only took one, the other one a weasal probably ran off with, but he was held accountable for both of them, so irritating!
“I've never stolen a sheep before, let's give it a try,” he thought.
He concealed himself in the grass and creeped toward the flock, but they weren't afraid of men, much less a kid. He grabbed hold of one's tail but the sheep paid him nom mind. It weighed about seventy jin or more, heavier than himself. He said bitterly, “I'd really like a sheepskin jacket! Too bad I don't have one, but uncle raises two-hundred or more head of sheep, and never runs out of lambskin gowns.”
He got close to an stroked a ten-jin lamb, so cute! So kind and genial. It's white and soft wool was warm.
He pressed down on the lamb and snarled in a low voice: “I want to eat you, why don't you resist? Why don't you resist?”
“Baa baa!” the lamb cried gently. it kicked its feet lightly, but it didn't have much strength.
He grabbed its leg and tossed it over a zhang away and said depressingly: “To hell with it! Damn sheep, so weak and pitiful.”
But after all, it was a sheep, what did he expect? Perhaps it was because of his nature to rebel, but he didn't have the characteristics to bully the weak, he couldn't go after a little lamb that didn't figt back at all. Dejected, he left the flock.
He said to himself: “Looks like I'll be hungry today, and he turned and went down the mountain.
He hadn't gone far when he heard a rustle and saw a ten-jin or so grey hare come out of the thick grass and with one jump leaped eight or so feet away.
“All right, where do you think you'r running off to?” he called joyously, and bounded after it.
A kid catching a rabbit, that's just dreaming, even some hunting dogs couldn't do it. Strange, A skinny unhealthy looking kid, but not only did he run faster than most people, but he could also run down most dogs. Maybe all the beatings he had received had given him a lot of experience running away. Or perhaps all the times since he was younger, chasing rabbit with his hunting dog Big Yellow had turned him into a fleet-footed runner. In a word, he was pretty confident in his ability to catch rabbits.
He pursued, he and the rabbit locked in a life and death competition, chased it down to the foot of the mountain where the grass grew thicker. The rabbit was slowing down, but it headed toward a hole and dug inside.
Little Wenchang was dejected seeing the rabbit slip into the hole to save itself. Unwilling to give up, he looked around carefully, scanning the area around the hole, the his face lit up. “Great! This hole is not very deep.”
He used a clump of dirt to block up the hole and found two sticks and took off his belt to tie one end to make a wooden tongs, then used dry grass to stuff down the hole, leaving only a small opening. From his pocket he retrieved a flint and steel and made up some kindling, and while striking the flint said: “I don't have patience to wait, so I'll use this fire to smoke you out.”
Fortunately there was another whole on the slope which allowed for ventilation, so as the grass burned, the fire burned down into the hole. The rabbit in the hole had been curled up hiding, but when the smoke got thick, it thought to escape out of the other hole, but the hole was small, and it struggled to squeeze itself through.
The hole was only big enough for the rabbit to stick its head through, and just as it did, Little Wenchang was outside waiting for it and spotted it, and he took the two sticks and clamped them around the rabbit's neck.
“Ha ha! You didn't prepare three holes, you deserve to die!”
If the ten-jin rabbit flew into a rage, even a hunting dog might be scared, they could bite its leg pretty fierce when cornered. But clamped between the two sticks it was helpless. Little Wenchang pulled it from the hole and grabbed it, and used all his strength. In only a short moment the rabbit stopped struggling. He dragged the rabbit to the riverbank, and at the upper reaches of Black Dragon Pond, cleaned and skinned and cooked it.
At home he never ate his fill, his appetite was great and there were no leftovers to fill him up. Stealing chickens and catching wild animals was his source of food. He carried a small knife on his person and a set of tools for survival. That set included flint and steel, and a tinderbox. Heavens! At such a young age he already had the ability to survive on his own, just mentioning it is enough to make you worry.
In any case one must survive. When a belly is famished day in and day out, anything will do, anything to stave off the hunger and keep going, don't worry about whether in the days to come he would become a king or a bandit.
Since no one seems to be interested in this translation, I'm just going to post it to spcnet from now on. I just put up a new update there, so if you're interested in reading this novel, you can go read it there.
siuyiu: @all i know the spamming is out of control--i've emailed our admin. hope she replies soon! meanwhile, for those who are able, click on the spam threads and in the "settings", see if you can click "report this". that should at least alert the server.
Jun 7, 2016 23:50:29 GMT
reinafu: Hello, all, I see that there are 141 members on this forum, but we seem to be only 4 or 5 who regularly post ?!! Where are you all ?!! Don't be shy and begin to post, it's a cool forum here and we need much more discussions, informations, cool pictures !!!
Aug 4, 2018 11:26:16 GMT
siuyiu: @caiyi yes, we've heard the sad news. yenchin started a thread. and thanks for the late wishes.
Oct 31, 2018 22:26:32 GMT
caiyi: siuyiu. Oh. I tried to search for any tread about the news but didn't find. So, I put at Shoutbox. I didn't look at the right section.
Nov 1, 2018 1:20:24 GMT
Admin: hi guys! I'm adding a new section on the forum. Since so many of good ancient costume series appear in the market, like Nirvana in Fire, etc. A bit touch of wuxia, but not really wuxia. Some are historical fictions with a touch of wuxia,
Nov 28, 2018 9:14:58 GMT
Admin: hope you all enjoy it
Nov 28, 2018 9:15:06 GMT
chefying: Happy Winter Solstice to all celebrating.
Dec 22, 2018 8:54:14 GMT
Admin: Merry Christmas everyone!!
Dec 24, 2018 6:06:30 GMT
reinafu: Merry Christmas to all members and their families !
Dec 24, 2018 20:42:10 GMT
siuyiu: Merry Christmas @all! May the Boards be even busier in the new year!
Dec 24, 2018 22:10:42 GMT
reinafu: Happy New Year to all members and their families !
Jan 1, 2019 11:12:35 GMT
Admin: happy new year all members and their families!
Jan 2, 2019 2:34:11 GMT
siuyiu: @all happy new year!
Jan 2, 2019 5:18:11 GMT