Repentance of the haughty dragon.
Original translation by Mojo Jojo
Huang Rong was on the point of cutting up the chicken when they heard a voice behind them:
“A third portion, I will take the tail portion!”
The two youngsters started: how had somebody been able to approach them without them realizing his being there? They turned and beheld a beggar, old, but forceful. The man had a rectangular face, a goatee beard, and vigorous but rather massive limbs. His clothes, frayed on all sides, were however very clean. He held with one hand a green cane, made from translucent bamboo like jade, and carried on his back a large red gourd. He looked so greedy and impatient, one had the impression that if his portion were not given, he was going to seize some by force! Before the two young people had time to answer, he had already sat down in front of them, without further ado. He took his water-bottle and opened it, and a heady alcoholic perfume spread itself in the air. He gluttonously swallowed several mouthfuls before tightening the water-bottle.
To Guo Jing:
” A drink, little urchin,” said he, “with you!”
Guo Jing found the man rather impolite, but sensed distinctly that he was no ordinary individual, so he did not dare to show disrespect:
” No, thank you,” he said courteously, ” I do not drink alcohol, but you doing so causes me no inconvenience.”
” And you, little girl,” asked the beggar of Huang Rong, ” Do you drink?”
Huang Rong shook her head. Suddenly, she saw that the hand which held the water-gourd had only four fingers: the index had been severed at the root. She started and thought of the conversation between the Taoists and the Odd Ones, whom she had overheard behind the window of the inn the other day, concerning the Divine Beggar with the nine fingers. “Would this be a stroke of luck,” she wondered, ” that we fall thus, by chance, on that Elder one? Let us try to probe him a little… ” The eyes of the beggar were fixed on the chicken held in his hand and he salivated with greediness. She could not stop secretly laughing.
He then cut out the bird into two and the tail portion was tended to him. Captivated, the beggar seized some and took a full bite. While devouring it, he did not cease praising:
” Delicious! Delicious! Even I, who am the ancestor of all the beggars, I could not improvise such a delicious “Beggar’s Chicken”!”
Huang Rong traced a smile and tended the other piece to him.
” But no,” protested the beggar, ” you have not eaten yet, you all!”
This attempt at manners was in vain, purely for form’s sake, as that did not prevent him from seizing what was offered to him: in a flash, there remained nothing any more but bones!
He tapped his belly then and exclaimed:
” Ah, my belly! My belly! Hasn’t it been a long time that you have been starved of such a good chicken?”
Huang Rong burst out laughing:
” By the greatest good chance, I prepared a “Beggar’s Chicken” and here it has entered the majestic belly of the ancestor of the beggars! It’s a true honor!”
The beggar burst out laughing:
“Little girl, you are quite brave!”
He withdrew from his pocket several gilded projectiles:
” Yesterday,” he explained, ” I saw several individuals brawling… The missiles which one of them launched shone like gold. I was the one who benefited from it, I took some of them. In fact, inside, it is cheap metal, but outside, to look good, it is genuine gold. Hold, little urchin, take them and have fun. Where necessary, you can draw some funds from them.”