The Legend of the Condor Heroes – Chapter 13

As the three of them crossed the front yard and entered the guest hall, they heard the fisherman call out behind a screen, “ Please come in.”

Lu Guanying said, “ My father is unable to walk and thus has to receive you in his East study room.”

The three of them went by the screen and saw that the door of the study was open; the fisherman was sitting on a couch, inside. However, he was no longer dressed as a fisherman, but as an elderly scholar. He held a white goose feather fan in his hand and was fanning himself cheerfully. Guo Jing and Huang Rong entered and sat, but Lu Guanying didn’t dare sit and stood at a side. Huang Rong saw that the study was filled with shelves of literary classics and poetry collections. The tables were decorated with precious ornaments, such as jade antiques and a black inked painting hung on the wall. The painting depicted a middle-aged scholar who was posing with a sword stance in the backyard, under the moonlight. But the scholar had a lonely expression on his face. On the upper left corner of the painting was a poem.

‘ The night is silent without any chirping from the birds.
It is already late in the night when I fall into deep sleep.
I awake only to carry on alone, there is no one but the bright moon out there. A hundred pieces gain recognition and success.
The aging hills and withering branches block my path.
There are so many things buried within me but no one is willing to listen, to whom can I confide in my problems?’

Huang Rong recognized this poem as one written by Yue Fei, entitled ‘Little Strong Hill’, which was taught to her by her father. She saw the signature at the bottom which read ‘ The crippled person of Five Lake is seriously ill’ and realized that the ‘Crippled person of Five Lake’ must be the term for the owner of this manor. The strokes of the words were however, written in a harsh and forceful manner, and seemed like it was tearing through the paper.

Master Lu saw that Huang Rong was concentrating on the painting and asked, “ Brother, how do you find my painting? Would you care to give me some pointers?”

Huang Rong answered, “ I will express my thoughts then, but I hope Master Lu does not get offended.”

Master Lu said, “ Please go on.”

Huang Rong said, “ The poem in the painting is Yue Fei’s ‘Little Strong Hill’, which he wrote in his Wu Mu collections. The words depict a distressed and depressed mood. However there are specific meanings to them. General Yue was a courageous soul and fought hard for his country and people. The phrase, ‘A hundred pieces for recognition and success’ in the poem is probably to show his humble being. At that time, many court officials were corrupted and were on the side of the Jins. Yue Fei was a strong official but a pity no one was willing to listen to him. This was probably why he wrote the phrase, ‘There are so many things buried within me but no one is willing to listen, to whom can I confide in my problems?’ The phrase depicts a despondent Yue Fei, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that he wanted to oppose the court. However when master here wrote this poem, you were in an agitated and aggressive mood and thus asserted much force in your brush strokes; it seems as if you wanted to fight it out with your sworn enemy and thus, your intentions and mood do not tie in at all with Yue Fei’s at the time when he worked on his Wu Mu collections. Forgive me for my ignorance but from what I know, if one strives to over achieve or over express in literary and art works, the true and pure intentions will be lost and the work will be unable to achieve its brilliance.

When Master Lu heard what Huang Rong said, he gave a long sigh. He wore a miserable expression and was silent. Huang Rong saw his unusual response and thought, “ I’m afraid I have been too direct in my words and offended him. But it’s exactly what father taught me when he explained this poem.”

She said, “ Humble one here has been too ignorant and spouted nonsense. Please forgive me Master Lu.”

Master Lu recovered a little and then wore a delighted expression on his face. He asked happily, “ Brother Huang, please don’t say that. You are the first person who can actually read my feelings, what a great confidant you are. As for the over use of expression, it is one of my worse habits. I thank brother here for your pointers.”

He turned to his son and said, “ Hurry and ask the servants to prepare the banquet.”

Guo Jing and Huang Rong hurriedly conveyed their thanks and said, “ Please do not bother.” But Lu Guanying had already disappeared from the room.

Master Lu said, “ Brother here is wise and knowledgeable, you must have mastered a high level of literary classics and your father must be a brilliant teacher. I wonder what is his honorable name?”

Huang Rong answered, “ Humble one here knows nothing much and thus does not deserve all those praises. My father leaves in isolation and does not have any students, his name is thus not well known.”

Master Lu sighed, “ What a pity it is, not being able to meet such talent.”

After the banquet, they returned to the study for a chat. Master Lu said, “ The scenery outside is one of the best, why don’t both of you reside in one of the houses in the manor and enjoy the sight? Furthermore, it’s getting late and it is time for both to rest.”

Guo Jing and Huang Rong stood up and bid their farewells. Huang Rong was about to leave the room when she looked up sharply and saw that eight pieces of iron strips were fixed above the study’s lintel. The iron strips were arranged to form the eight trigrams, but it was not as neat as the usual arrangement. The iron strips were arranged in a rather sloppy and messy way. Huang Rong’s heart skipped a beat but she remained silent and expressionless and followed Guo Jing to the guest room.

The guest room was decorated in an elegant way, the two beds faced each other and the pillow and sheets were clean.

A servant served them some fragrant tea and said, “ If sir or miss needs anything, just ring the bell beside the bed and I will come. Please be reminded never to leave the room.” With that, he left the room and gently closed the door behind him.

Huang Rong asked in a low voice, “ What do you find peculiar about this place? Why do they ask us not to leave the room?”

Guo Jing said, “ The manor is huge and the pathways lead out to all directions. Maybe they’re afraid that we will get lost?”

Huang Rong gave a little laugh, “ The manor has an unusual architecture. What kind of person do you think Master Lu is?”

Guo Jing said, “ Maybe a retired official?”

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