Suddenly, another shadow leaped in, and when his left foot reached the stage, he staggered like he was going to fall down.
Tong Dahai was reckless, but not wicked. He shouted, “Watch out!” and immediately moved forward to hold the man. It turned out that the man was only pretending. He wanted to show off in front of all the valiant people. He quickly grabbed the giant’s hand, and pushed with the ‘The Heavenly King Falling Down’ move [dao die jin gang]. Tong Dahai’s body was thrown to the ground. The audience looked at that neatly dressed, long eye-browed handsome young man, who was none other than Wu Xiuwen, Guo Jing’s disciple.
Guo Jing – who sat on the front row, was irritated with Wu Xiuwen’s behavior; his countenance changed. And he was not alone. But before he could do anything, shouts were heard from east and west of the stage: “Good martial arts! Let me accept a lesson or two from you!” “What did you do?” “You repaid kindness with rudeness.” Three men had jumped on stage.
At that time, Wu Xiuwen could be regarded as a first class fighter among the younger generation. Not only had he received tutelage from Guo Jing and Huang Rong, but also the Solitary Yang Finger from his own father and martial uncles. Seeing three men on stage, he was delighted. “Let me beat them once and for all,” he thought.
He didn’t want those three to take turns fighting him, so without saying anything he attacked all three of them. Those three had just landed their feet on the stage, and were attacked before they could get a firm footing. No wonder they wavered and could not defend themselves. Xiuwen didn’t give them a chance. Quick as a flash his fists flew around so that those three felt like they were under a heavy rain of fists. They tried to retaliate, but ended up hitting each other. The audience was surprised and impressed. “Guo Da Xia is really a hero without peer,” they thought, “his disciple is so fierce.”
Those three counter-attacked again and again, but still could not get out from under Wu Xiuwen’s fists.
Wanyan Ping saw her husband had the upper hand and could not help but feel so proud.
“Of course those three dummies are not Brother Xiuwen’s match,” said Guo Fu. “Why did he go on stage and waste his energy for nothing? When someone with a really high skill shows up later, wouldn’t it be difficult for him to beat them?”
Wanyan Ping was gentle by nature; she only smiled and ignored Guo Fu. Yelu Yan, on the other hand, was more straightforward. She was the sister of Yelu Qi, thus the sister-in-law of Guo Fu. Hearing Guo Fu’s remark –she understood very well what it meant- she could not hold her peace any longer. “This situation actually fits you very well,” she snickered. “Young Wu beats several people, and when somebody beats him, Dunru will go next and beat some more. And finally my brother will go and beat the rest of the competitors. Then Sister-in-law can be Mrs. Clan Chief with little effort.”
Guo Fu blushed. “There are so many valiant people here, and they all want to be Clan Chief,” she said with embarrassment in her voice, “how could you say ‘with little effort?”
“Actually, my brother does not even have to go on stage,” Yelu Yan continued.
“Why so?” Guo Fu was curious.
“Didn’t you hear Elder Liang?” her sister-in-law asked. “When the Beggar Clan Mount Jun Summit was held, Mistress was only in her teens. Wielding only a bamboo stick she subdued everybody and became the Clan leader. They say ‘the apple fell not far from the tree’; Sister-in-law, I think you’d better go on stage. I believe you have a better chance than my brother to be the Beggar Clan Chief.”
“Such a sharp tongue! You dare to mock me! Good!” Guo Fu shouted, attacking her sister-in-law’s armpit. Yelu Yan leaped backward. “Clan Chief! Help!” she called out, laughing hard. “Mrs. Clan Chief wants to kill me!”
By this time Guo Fu, Xiuwen and Dunru were already over thirty years of age, and Yelu Yan and Wanyan Ping had children. But they still liked to fool around like kids.
In the meantime, Huang Rong – who sat next to Guo Jing, was always alert. She kept looking around the field, to see if any strangers had sneaked in. She had instructed several Beggar Clan members to guard the area and report to her immediately if they saw anything out of ordinary. She was still worried that Shenying Shitay, Han Wugou, Zhang Yimang and the others would show up and create a disruption. But till the end of eighth hour entering the ninth hour [i.e. around 3-4 o’clock in the afternoon] everything was still under control.
“Why would those weirdoes gather in Xiangyang?” she asked herself. “Something should have been happening by now. It’s beyond me that they would come over just to wish Xiang’er a happy birthday.” She lowered her head and sighed. Her intelligence could not penetrate this mystery.
Another time she lifted her head and watched the match on the stage. Xiuwen had defeated two competitors, and looked like the third would not hold him much longer. “Today the valiant people of the world are competing for the Clan Chief position,” she thought, “I wonder who will hold this prestigious position?”
Of course the same question had been hovering in everybody’s mind.
Except … in the Chinese peony pavilion [shao yao ting] behind the Guo’s Family Mansion, there was somebody who did not show the slightest interest in what was happening on the field. She sat alone daydreaming, with many questions in her heart. “That day I gave him one golden needle and specifically asked him to see me today. Today is my sixteenth birthday. That day, he gave me his promise. Why doesn’t he show up?”
She was sitting on a porch, leaning against a doorpost. The sun slowly crept to the west. “It’s already afternoon. Even if he comes, we will meet for only half a day at most,” she said softly to herself.
She looked at the flowerbeds, while her little fingers held the last golden needle. She sighed and with an almost inaudible voice said again, “I can ask him one last favor … ah…! I think he has already forgotten me. He doesn’t even remember his promise for today. What other favor I could ask?” Another moment later she had another thought, “It’s impossible. He wouldn’t forget his promise. He is a chivalrous hero (Da Xia) of the world, and he must always keep his word. Just wait … he’ll be here.” With this thought, her face turned pink and the fingers that hold the golden needle were shaking a little bit.
She sighed again. One thought kept coming back. “Even though he is a chivalrous hero, and he always keeps his word, I am only a young girl,” she thought, heart beating faster. “If he made a promise to Father, he would not fail to keep his word. But to me, I am only the ‘Young Eastern Heretic’ (Xiao Dong Xia) Guo Xiang. What am I worth in his eyes? Only a young girl! It’s very possible that when he remembered his promise, he would only laugh and said: Ah! Don’t bother!”
While Guo Xiang was busy thinking in the Chinese peony pavilion, Huang Rong, on the field, could not keep her second daughter off her mind. “According to Brother Jing, there were only two persons in this whole wide world who had the internal energy high enough to help Fu’er and Xiang’er back at the Yang Tai Fu temple,” she thought. “If not the Benevolent Master Hong Qigong, then it must be Brother Jing himself. The fact is, the Benevolent Master had passed away, and Brother Jing didn’t do it. Who could it be that invited those strange characters to wish Xiang’er a happy birthday? Old Urchin Zhou Botong loves to fool around, but even he could not make this meticulous plan. Reverend Yideng? Not likely; he is a monk. Western Poison Ouyang Feng and Monk Ci’en Qiu Qianren both have passed away. Could it be … Father?”