Huang Rong noticed that this song was lamenting the rise and decline of human race, carrying a profound meaning; she secretly applauded the singer. She saw the singer came out from behind the rainbow; his left hand carried a bundle of firewood, while his right hand holding an axe; turned out he was a woodcutter.
Huang Rong recalled Ying Gu’s note that read, ‘Anyone seeking medical help is a taboo to him, if you mention your intention, before you reach his residence you will be stopped by the vicious hands of a fisherman, a woodcutter, a farmer and a scholar.’ At that time she was not clear what ‘a fisherman, a woodcutter, a farmer and a scholar’ meant, but now she realized the man catching ‘jin wawa’ was the fisherman, and now she saw the woodcutter. Then the fisherman, the woodcutter, the farmer and the scholar must be Emperor Duan’s disciples or trusted aides. She could not help feeling anxious, “It was really not easy to go through that fisherman. This woodcutter’s song was not vulgar, looks like he is not easy to deal with. I wonder what kind of people are the farmer and the scholar?”
In the meantime the woodcutter continues to sing, “On the Tianjin bridge, leaning against the railing looking afar, the air of the royalty has withered and fallen. Amidst the dark green trees and the vast water, from the cloud platform the resurgence is nowhere to be seen. From eternity, in a cycle of life, everything perished. Merit, won’t last forever! Name, also won’t last forever!”
He slowly walked near and looked toward Jing and Rong, two people’s direction; but it was as if he did not see them, he simply drew his axe and started chopping wood on the hillside.
Huang Rong noticed this man’s face was grand and heroic, his appearance like that of a tiger’s. The way he lifted his hand or took a step carried an impressive power like that of an army general. If he wasn’t wearing coarse clothes and chopping woods in this secluded mountain, he surely gave an impression as the general who is in charge of a large army. Huang Rong’s heart was stirred, “Shifu said that the Southern Emperor, Emperor Duan is actually an emperor of Dali in Yunnan; could it be that this woodcutter was actually his general? Only why did his song carry a desperate and mournful sentiment?” she thought.
The woodcutter continued singing, “Mountain peaks stand as if they are gathered together, the billows roll as if they were angry. The mountains and rivers in and around the road to Tongguan; looking to the west, hearts full of doubts. Grieving Qin and Han dynasties, their palaces have turned into dust. Flourished, common people suffered; perished, common people suffered!”
Listening the last two lines, Huang Rong remembered her father often said, ‘What is emperor or general? All are criminals harming common people. Toppling dynasty, changing surname; in the end the common people suffered!’ She was unable to restrain from shouting her praise, “Good song!”
The woodcutter turned his head, inserting the axe back to his waist he asked, “Good? What’s good about it?”
Huang Rong was about to answer, but then she thought, “He loves to sing, why don’t I sing the ‘hillside sheep’ to answer him?” Thereupon she smiled slightly, lowered her head and sang, “Green mountains waiting for each other, white clouds love each other; not even dreaming of purple robe and golden belt. One thatched hut among the blooming wild flower; why worry over who flourished and who perished? Sufficient is a humble pathway and a single ladle. Poor, spirit does not change; success, the will does not change!”
She had concluded that this woodcutter must be the general who followed the Southern Emperor to this secluded place; formerly he must be in charge of the whole army, one who once held a prominent place in the kingdom. Accordingly the song she sang was a praise to his merit and name, to the one who lived contentedly in a wild mountain forest. Actually, even though she was witty and intelligent, by all means she was not a scholar who in a short time was able to compose a good song like the one she had just sung. When she was on the Peach Blossom Island she heard her father sang this song; only she changed several characters to emphasis this woodcutter’s former days of riches and honor and place great importance on his meritorious achievements. It was a pity she was suffering an injury that her internal energy was not as strong and her voice was rather weak. As the saying goes, ‘qian chuan wan chuan, ma pi bu chuan!’ [lit. thousand times bore through, ten thousand times bore through; horse’s fart does not bore through – meaning “Anything gets through me except horse fart” (Courtesy of Sunnysnow)] This song had made the woodcutter very pleased when he heard it. He had noticed that Jing and Rong, two people were riding on the iron boat and using the iron oars to paddle along the river; surely it must be the fisherman down the mountain who lend the boat to them. He did not have any suspicion, and without asking too many questions he simply pointed to a hillside and said, “Go up that way!”
They saw a long rattan about the size of a human’s arm hanging along the hillside going up to the peak. Jing and Rong, two people looked up above to see half of the peak was hidden in the cloud, it was unclear how high the peak was.
When Huang Rong and the woodcutter were singing songs, Guo Jing did not understand even half a word of what they were talking about. As the woodcutter let them go and directed them to go up, he still did not know the reason; but fearing the woodcutter might change his mind, without saying anything he carried Huang Rong on his back, grabbed the long rattan with both of his hands, and with a heave started climbing up.
His arms alternately pulled and they crawled up fast. Just in a short moment they had climbed about a dozen of ‘zhang’s; indistinctly they could still hear the woodcutter singing something like, “ … in the past people struggled, but where are they now? Victory, they all turned into dust! Defeat, they all turned into dust!”
Crouching on Guo Jing’s back Huang Rong laughed and said, “Jing Gege, according to what he said, we don’t need to seek medical help.”
Guo Jing was baffled, “What?” he asked.
“In any case everybody will die; if I am healed, I will turn into dust! If I am not healed, I will still turn into dust!” Huang Rong said.
“Pei!” Guo Jing spat, “Don’t listen to him.”
Huang Rong softly sang, “Alive, you carry me on your back! Dead, you carry me on your back!”
Along with Huang Rong’s playful song, two people had entered the cloud; all they saw was a vast expanse of whiteness everywhere they looked. It was still summer, the weather was hot, but actually they felt the chill in the air. Huang Rong sighed, “Right in front of our eyes are countless marvels; even if my injury cannot be healed, our trip here will not be in vain.”