They heard Reverend Yideng continue, “I could not take it much longer; several times I wanted to just take the child and treat his injury, but I kept looking at that handkerchief wrapped around the child’s chest. The handkerchief with a pair of mandarin ducks embroidered on it, their necks intertwined with each other. The mandarin ducks had white heads, symbolizing they would grow old together. But why it was written, ‘It’s a pity not yet old but the hair on the head has turned white.’? As I turned my head I saw the hair on her temples had turned white, I broke in cold sweats. At that time my heart turned hard, I said, ‘Fine, go ahead and grow old together; just leave me lonely and cast away in this palace as an emperor! This is you and your lover’s child; why would I sacrifice my whole energy to revive him?’
She looked at me, her last glance. It was full of blame and hatred. Afterwards she had never looked at me anymore, but this one look I will not forget till the day I die. She coldly said, ‘Let me go, I want to hold my child!’ She was speaking with authority and determination; it was as if she was my master, made it difficult for me to disobey. Thereupon I unsealed her acupoints.
She held the child in her bosom. The child was so much in pain that he wanted to cry, but no sound came out of his tiny lips. His small face had turned purple; he looked at his mother as if asking her to help him. I was so hard-hearted; I did not have the least bit of compassion. I saw one by one her black hair had turned to ash grey, and from ash grey to white. I don’t know whether it really did happen, or it was my imagination playing tricks on me.
I heard her gently saying, ‘Child, Mama does not have the ability to save you, but Mama also can’t let you suffer. Child, have a peaceful rest. Sleep Child, sleep. Don’t wake up forever!’ I heard she sang a gentle lullaby. It was a very beautiful song. It went like this, ‘hmm, hmm …’ Listen!”
Everybody heard him say those words, but actually they did not hear the least bit of a song. They looked at each other in bewilderment.
“Shifu,” the scholar said, “You have talked long enough, you must be tired. Please take a rest.”
Reverend Yideng did not seem to hear, he kept talking, “The child’s face showed a faint happiness, but the pain made his whole body spasm. With a gentle voice she said, ‘My precious, my heart and my soul, sleep tight, then you won’t feel the pain anymore, not the least bit of pain!’ Suddenly ‘stab!’, her dagger went straight into the child’s heart.”
Huang Rong screamed in fright; she grabbed Guo Jing’s arm tightly. The rest of the listeners were also so shocked that their faces did not show any trace of blood.
Reverend Yideng was oblivious to his surroundings, he continued, “I was so shocked that I cried out and drew back several steps, almost tumbled down. My heart was in turmoil, I was totally at a loss. I saw her slowly stand up and in a low voice she said, ‘There will come a day, I will stab your heart with this dagger.’ She pointed her finger to the jade bracelet on her wrist and said, ‘You gave this to me the day I entered the palace. Just wait, the day I return this jade bracelet to you, will be the day my dagger will follow!’”
Speaking to this point Yideng spun the jade bracelet on his forefinger one time; he showed a faint smile and said, “This is the jade bracelet, I have waited several years for this. At last that day has come.”
“Uncle,” Huang Rong said, “She killed her own son, what did it have to do with you? You did not injure her child. Moreover, she had used poison trying to kill you; what enmity she had for you had been paid in full. I am going down the mountain to send her off, I won’t allow her to create any disturbance here …”
She had not finished her words when that young monk came rushing in. “Shifu,” he said, “Somebody delivered this at the foot of the mountain.” He held out both hands to present a small cloth bundle to his master.
Yideng took the bundle and unwrapped it. Everybody called out in alarm as one voice. Turned out inside that bundle was the ‘du dou’ made of the embroidered handkerchief. The silk had turned yellow of age, but the embroidered mandarin ducks were still bright as new. There was a knife hole in between the ducks; the edge of the hole was black from the bloodstain. Yideng stared blankly at the ‘du dou’, overwhelmed with grief. After a long time he finally said, “The weaving of mandarin ducks desiring to fly together right away, hey, desiring to fly together; in the end it was just a dream. She hugged her child’s lifeless body tightly, uttered a long laugh, and jumped over the window sill, flew out of the room and in the blink of an eye disappeared without any trace. I couldn’t drink, I couldn’t eat, and was miserable for three days and three nights. Finally I came to my senses. I bequeathed the throne to my eldest son and decided to tread the immortal path by becoming a monk.” He pointed at his four disciples and said, “They have followed me for a long time and did not want to leave me. Together we went out of the Dali city wall and lived at the ‘tian long si’ [celestial dragon temple]. For the first three years they took turns in helping my son to run the country. Later my son has understood the government affairs; the kingdom was at peace and nothing serious happened. So we went to the Big Snow Mountain to gather medicinal herbs. There Ouyang Feng injured my disciple and we moved to this place. We have never gone back to Dali ever since.
I was so hard-hearted that I was not willing to save that child’s life. Hereafter for the last ten years or so, day and night I have never had a peaceful rest. I always hoped to save many people to redeem my great sin. They did not know my miserable inner feeling, so they always tried to hinder me. Ay, even if I could save thousand people, ten thousand people, that child would still be dead. How else would I repay his life if not with my own? Everyday I have been waiting for Ying Gu, waiting for her to stab her dagger into my heart. I was afraid she might come here too late; I am already dead, then it would be difficult to redeem my sin. Good, finally she will be here. Why would she mix the poison into the Nine-flowered Jade Dew Pills? If I knew she would arrive soon after she poisoned me, I wouldn’t have wasted these past several hours trying to survive, also my martial brother would not need to waste his divine power to neutralize the poison.”