Fighting contest to find a suitor.
Original translation by Strunf
The Six Freaks of the Jiangnan and Guo Jing took the southeastern direction. The journey promised to be long: many days passed before they even left the steppe.
That day, they were not very far from Kalgan anymore. It was the first time that Guo Jing landed his feet on the Chinese soil, all was new for him, and he was full of enthusiasm. He loosened the bridle of his horse, that ran so quickly that the wind whistled to the ears of the young man and the landscape changed so quickly before his amazed eyes. The little red horse galloped without interruption till the Black River, then Guo Jing stopped in a hostel by the road, in order to wait for his masters.
Seeing that, after this long race, the horse had sweated a lot, Guo Jing had mercy of him and took a handkerchief to wipe it. He was stunned then to see, on the handkerchief traces of blood! Passing the hand on the neck, he withdrew it covered of blood. He almost burst into tears, blaming himself for not stopping his horse and take care of it. He was therefore the responsible of its loss! He embraced the horse, making him one thousand caresses, however the animal seemed to be very healthy, without appearing to suffer from anything.
Impatient to see his Third Shifu, so he may give some care to the horse, he didn’t stop stretching the neck toward the road to see him as soon as possible. Suddenly, he heard a warbling tolling of bells: four camels of a snow white color arrived at full speed on the road, each brought by an individual clothed in white. Guo Jing had grown in the desert, but he had never seen any as beautiful camels and could not stop himself from looking fixedly at them. Aged of about twenty years, the “cameleers” had all one face of fine lines and attractive, of a beauty that one rarely could see in Mongolia. They got down with agility of their settings to enter in the hostel. Guo Jing could not leave them of the eyes.
One of the cameleers, embarrassed by the fixity of this look, blushed and lowered the head. Another, on the other hand, got in anger, “Little stun! What do you have to look like that?”
Guo Jing, taken on the fact, diverted the head with embarrassment. The newcomers whispered in a low voice and one heard them to laugh.
“Congratulations!” seemed to say one among them. “You really hit that little stun!”
Guo Jing understood that one ridiculed him and felt all ashamed. The red to the cheeks, he wondered if he had to remain or leave, when Han Baoju arrived on his stallion “Pursuit of wind”. The young man hastened to tell to his Shifu of his misadventure.
“How is this possible?” wondered Han Baoju.
He approached the horse, caressed it, examined its hand attentively, and exploded to laugh.
“It is not blood,” he says, “it is sweat!”
“Sweat?” stammers Guo Jing, speechless. “Red sweat?”
“My small Jing, it is a horse to the sweat of blood, a rare beast and of an inestimable value!”
Guo Jing was in heaven to learn that his setting was not wounded.
“Third Shifu,” did he asked, “how sweat can it look like blood?”
“I heard about it from my deceased Shifu, that it existed in the kingdom of Ferghana (central AsiaValley, shared today between Uzbekistan, the Kirghizstan and Taczhikistan.), in the Territories of the west, celestial horses, whose sweat was red as blood. Its gallop looked like he was going to fly, and it could browse more one thousand li per day. But it was a legend, no one ever saw one, and I didn’t believe myself in it too much. However, here is that this legendary animal let himself be tamed by you!”
In the meantime, the other Freaks had also arrived. All took place in the hostel and ordered to eat. Zhu Cong, whose learning was incomparable, said while nodding the head:
“It is effectively an anecdote consigned in the Historic Memorials and in the dynastic history of the Hans, that The emperor Han Wudi, having heard to speak of the horse to the sweat of blood, had sent an emissary in kingdom of Ferghana with a full size statue of the animal, all gold, and had asked to have one of it. However, the king of Ferghana refused.”
“How did the emperor react?” asked for Han Xiaoying. “Did he give up on the horse?”
Installed on another table, the cameleers in blank, also stretched the ear to listen the history. At that moment, one heard to ring some bells and four other individuals, also clothed of white, entered and sat down with their mates.
“Of course no,” says Zhu Cong. “He entered in a terrifying anger and invaded Ferghana. To the term of a long and terrifying war, during which the kingdom was annihilated, he finally captured one of the famous horses, but at what price!”
All exclaimed on the madness of the men and continued to eat the meal that they had ordered.
The eight cameleers had listened to history attentively, throwing looks of desire on the attached outside red horse, and didn’t quit to whisper in a low voice. Ke Zhen’e, whose hearing was especially fine, heard them distinctly, although the tables were relatively distant from each other.
“If one wants to go for it,” said one of them, “we need to do it right away. If he rides his horse again, we won’t be able to catch him up!”
“There is too many people here,” retorted another. “And he has some mates…”
“If they dare to interfere,” said a third, “we only have to kill them all!”
“How can these eight individuals appear as cruel?” wondered Ke Zhen’e, but he didn’t let anything of it to appear and continued to swallow his dough’s greedily.
“We are going to offer this precious horse to the young Master,” said one of them. “Mounted on such beast, his arrival in the Yanjing will be a lot more spectacular! No one will be talked as much as him, not even conceited persons like ‘the immortal of the Ginseng’, or the ‘Virtuous Supreme Lingzhi’!”
Ke Zhen’e had heard to speak already of the “Virtuous Supreme Lingzhi”, that was an eminent personality of the esoteric school of Tibet, known in the whole Southwest for his so-called technique “Stamp of a big hand.” On the other hand, he didn’t know anything about the “Immortal of the Ginseng.”
“These last days,” said another, “we met on the road a lot of outlaws, these are all of the men of Peng Lianhu, called ‘Butcher of the one thousand Hands.’ They are probably going to the appointment in Yanjing. If they fall on this precious horse, do you believe that we will get another chance to get it?”
Ke Zhen’e froze: he knew that Peng Lianhu was a dangerous strip chief who raged in the region of the Hubei and Shanxi. He had many henchmen under his orders and acted with cruelty. He had killed so many people that he had received the nickname of “Butcher of the one thousand Hands.” “Why,” did he wonder, “all this sinister outlaws are to meet in the capital? And from where did these eight women came?”
These women, continued to plot to low voice, deciding to lie a ambush on the road, outside of the township, in order to seize the horse of Guo Jing. Then they chattered, talking of cloths and other business, of the kind: “It is you that the young Master prefers”, or “The young Master must be thinking about you now”, etc. Ke Zhen’e raised the eyebrows, angry, but he could not close his ears and he heard all in spite of him.