The farmer could not hold his patience any longer, he shouted, “Just shut up and don’t talk nonsense, will you?”
“What he said was wrong, I must refute it,” Huang Rong was adamant.
To the fisherman, the woodcutter, the farmer and the scholar, Reverend Yideng was not only their lord, but also their teacher. It never occurred to them to talk back, let alone refuting his words. They regarded him with utmost reverence; now hearing Huang Rong’s unrestrained mouth they were shocked and angry at the same time.
Reverend Yideng actually did not seem to mind; he continued his narration, “As Zhou Shixiong heard me, he shook his head. I became angry, I said, ‘If you love her, why don’t you want her? If you don’t love her, why did you do what you did? My Dali is a small country, but do you think you can just drop in and throw an insult like this?’ Zhou Shixiong was silent for half a day. Suddenly he bent his knees and kowtowed to me several times; he said, ‘Emperor Duan, I am guilty. If you want to kill me, just do it, I won’t dare to hit you back.’ I was taken aback, I have never expected him to say such thing; I was at a loss momentarily. Finally I said, ‘How can I kill you?’ He said, ‘Then I am leaving!’ He took out an embroidered handkerchief from his bosom, handed it over to Concubine Liu and said, ‘I give it back to you.’ Concubine Liu smiled sadly, she did not take the handkerchief. Zhou Shixiong let the handkerchief go and it fell near my feet. Zhou Shixiong did not say anything else; he turned around and stormed out of the palace. It has been more than a dozen years and I haven’t heard anything about him ever since. Wang Zhenren apologized to me over and over again; and then he also left. I heard he passed away that autumn. Wang Zhenren was a brave and heroic man, there was nobody can be compared to him. Ay …”
“Wang Zhenren’s martial art skill might be higher than yours,” Huang Rong said, “But speaking of bravery and heroic spirit, I think he did not necessarily exceed Uncle. He had accepted seven disciples and they are all just average, there is nothing special about them. Anyway, what happened to the embroidered handkerchief?”
The four disciples were annoyed that Huang Rong cared so much about trivial things like handkerchief or clothes; but they heard their master said, “I saw Concubine Liu was staring blankly, like her soul had left her. I was very angry; I picked up the handkerchief only to see a couple of embroidered mandarin ducks playing on the water. (Sigh), it was Concubine Liu’s gift to her lover. I laughed coldly. I then saw next to the pair of mandarin ducks there was a line of poem …”
Huang Rong’s heart was stirred, she hastily asked, “Was it, ‘Four weaving machines, the weaving of mandarin ducks desiring to fly together right away’?”
With a stern voice the farmer shouted, “Even we do not know it, how did you know? Always talk nonsense and disturb the story!” Who would have thought that Reverend Yideng sighed and said, “It was indeed that poem; you knew it?” At his words the four disciples looked at each other in astonishment.
Guo Jing sprang up and called out, “I remember now! That day on the Peach Blossom Island Zhou Dage [Big Brother Zhou] was bitten by a venomous viper; he was delirious and he muttered this poem. It was, it was … Four weaving machines, a pair on mandarin ducks, and some head turned white. Rong’er, how did it go? I can’t remember it anymore.”
With a low voice Huang Rong recited, “Four weaving machines, the weaving of mandarin ducks desires to fly together right away. It’s a pity not yet old but the hair on the head has turned white. When the green spring grass ripples in the deepest of dawn’s cold; standing face to face taking a bath wearing red clothes.”
“Exactly!” Guo Jing slapped his thigh, “Zhou Dage once advised me against good-looking women; he said he had seen one and as a result he offended a good friend and provoked his Shige [elder martial brother] to anger. He also said don’t ever let her touch your acupoints, otherwise you’ll be covered with germs. Rong’er, he even urged me not to be good to you.”
“Pei!” Huang Rong angrily spat, “Old Urchin! Next time I see him I am going to twist his ears!” Suddenly she giggled and said, “That day in Lin’an prefecture I teased him that he wasn’t able to find a wife; the Old Urchin sulked for half a day. Turned out it was because of this matter.”
“When I heard Ying Gu recited this poem I thought I have heard it somewhere, but tried as I might, I could not remember where I heard it. Uh, Rong’er, how come Ying Gu also knew this poem?” Guo Jing said.
Huang sighed, “Ay, it’s because Ying Gu is that Concubine Liu.”
Among the four disciples, the scholar was the only one who had already guessed 50, 60%; the other three were extremely astonished, they turned toward their master at once. Yideng spoke in a low voice, “Miss is really smart; truly worthy to be Yao Xiong’s [Brother Yao] daughter. Concubine Liu’s first name was ‘Ying’. That day I tossed the handkerchief to her, afterwards I no longer called for her. In my depression I neglected the affairs of the country; I trained martial art every day …”
Huang Rong interrupted him again, “Uncle, do you know that you loved her very much in your heart? If you did not, you would not be so unhappy.”
The four disciples was shocked at her audacity, “Miss!” angrily they called out in one voice.
“What?” Huang Rong said, “Did I say something wrong? Uncle, tell me, was I wrong?”
Yideng gloomily said, “Hereafter in more than half a year I have never called for Concubine Liu, but in my sleep I often dreamt of being with her. One evening I dreamt about her, at midnight I woke up; I could not hold my patience much longer and made up my mind to pay her a visit. I did not let the palace guards or the eunuchs know about my intention, quietly I went to her quarters, I wanted to know what she was doing. As I arrived on top of her roof I heard a child was crying inside. (Sigh), outside the frost was thick and the wind was cold. I stood in shock for half a night and did not get down until it was dawn. Afterwards I caught a very serious illness.”
Huang Rong thought how he was revered as the emperor, yet in the middle of the night roaming around the palace roof to visit his own concubine; it was truly unusual. The four disciples also recalled their master’s sickness. It was not only very bad, but also took a long time to recover. All this time they wondered: with his profound martial art cold wind would not easily make him sick; even if he was sick, he should not take that long to recover. Only now did they know that it was more of a crushed spirit than a physical illness that he did not use his own internal strength to battle the sickness.