Journey to the West                       Chapter 43                      Author: Wu Cheng'en

 

At the Black River a Monster Carries Off the Priest
The Dragon Prince of the West Captures an Alligator



The story tell how the Bodhisattva recited the spell several times before stopping. Only then did the evil spirit's agony cease. When he recovered, stood up and looked at himself he found that he had gold bands rounds his neck, hands and feet. They were painfully tight, and try as he would he could not move them at all. The treasures had already taken root in his flesh, and the more he rubbed them the more they hurt.

"There, there, little darling," mocked Monkey. "The Bodhisattva's put a lucky amulet ring round your neck to make sure you grow up safely."

This jibe infuriated the boy, who grabbed his spear once more and started lunging wildly at Monkey. Monkey nimbly avoided it and went behind the Bodhisattva, yelling, "Say the spell, say the spell."

The Bodhisattva moistened her willow sprig with sweet dew, and flicked the ambrosial liquid at him with a call of "Together!" The boy dropped his spear and put his hands together in front of his chest, unable to pull them apart. The "Guanyin twist" that some people still have today is what he had. Only when he could not pick up his spear because his hands were inseparably joined did the boy appreciate the deep mystery of the power of the Dharma. He could do no other than lower his head in a kowtow.

The Bodhisattva then recited another true spell and turned her vase over to take back the whole seaful of water. Not half a drop was left behind. "Wukong," she said to Monkey, "this demon has now surrendered. The only thing is that he still has some wild ideas. He will-only accept the Dharma after he has gone from here to Potaraka Island making a kowtow at every step of the journey. You must go straight back to the cave to rescue your master."

"As your disciple has put you to the trouble of this long journey," said Monkey with a kowtow, "I should see you some of your way back."

"No need," said the Bodhisattva. "I am worried for your master's life." Brother Monkey then kowtowed to take his leave of her joyfully. The evil spirit was now converted to the True Achievement by Guanyin, who became his fifty-third religious teacher.

The story now turns from how the Bodhisattva won a page boy through her wisdom to Friar Sand, who had long been sitting in the woods waiting for Monkey. When Monkey did not come back he tied the luggage on the back of the horse, and leading it by its bridle with one hand and holding his demon-quelling staff in the other he went out of the pine woods to take a look to the South. Seeing Monkey returning in a very good mood, Friar Sand went up to him and said, "Brother, why has it taken you so long to get back from asking the Bodhisattva to come? I've been half dead from worry."

"You must have been asleep and dreaming," said Monkey. "I've already brought her here and she has subdued the demon." Monkey then told him all about the Bodhisattva's Dharma power. "Let's go and rescue the master," said Friar Sand with delight.

The two of them then leapt across the ravine and rushed to the doors, where they tethered the horse. Then they charged in together, their weapons at the ready, and wiped out the devils. They let the leather bag down to release Pig, who thanked Monkey and asked, "Where's that evil spirit, brother? Just let me have a go at him with my rake; I want to get my own back."

"Let's find the master," said Monkey.

The three of them went right to the back of the cave, where they found their master tied up stark naked and weeping in the rear courtyard. Friar Sand untied him while Monkey fetched his clothes to dress him. The three of them then knelt before him and said, "Master, you have suffered terribly."

Sanzang thanked them and said, "Dear disciples, I have put you to great trouble. How was the demon subdued?" Monkey then told him how the Bodhisattva had been asked to come and had taken the boy as her page. (This is what people refer to nowadays when they talk about the page boy submitting to the Bodhisattva, and respecting her as his fifty-third teacher after visiting the Buddha on three occasions.)

Monkey told Friar Sand to collect all the valuables in the cave then find some rice to prepare a vegetarian meal for the master. The venerable elder owed his life entirely to the Great Sage Sun; and it was on the Handsome Monkey Spirit that he depended to fetch the scriptures. Master and disciples then left the cave. The horse was saddled up, and once they found the main trail they headed West with wholehearted determination.

One day when they had been travelling for over a month Sanzang heard the sound of a river. "Disciple," said Sanzang in great alarm, "what river is that?"

"You're much too much of a worrier, old Master," laughed Monkey "ever to become a priest. Why should you alone among the four of us hear water? Have you forgotten your Heart Sutra?"

"I was taught the fifty-four sentences and 270 words of that sutra on Pagoda Mountain by the Rook's Nest Hermit in person," replied Sanzang. "I learned them by ear and I constantly repeat them to myself. Which sentence of it have I forgotten?"

"Master," said Brother Monkey, "you've forgotten the sentence, 'There is no sight, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch and no mental process.' We men of religion should not look on beauty, hear music, smell sweet fragrances, or taste good flavors. We should not even notice whether we are hot or cold, and our minds should be free from delusion. This is the way to repel the Six Bandits that attack eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind. Because of your mission to fetch the scriptures you are constantly worrying. You are afraid of evil monsters because you cling to your body. When you ask for vegetarian food your tongue is moved. If you enjoy a pleasant aroma it stimulates your nose. Sounds startle your ears. By looking at things you fasten your eyes on them. If you will keep on inviting the Six Bandits in over and over again how can you ever expect to reach the Western Heaven and see the Buddha?"

At this Sanzang fell into deep and silent thought for a while, then said, "Disciple,

When many years ago from my emperor I was parted,
On endless days and nights of travelling I started.
In the mists upon the mountains my grass sandal were worn through;
Many ridges have I climbed in my rain-hat of bamboo.
How often have I sighed when the gibbons call at night?
I cannot bear to listen to birds chirping in the moonlight.
When will I achieve the three Samadhis, I implore,
And obtain the Tathagata's most wonderful Law?"

When he had heard this Monkey could not help clapping his hands and laughing aloud. "Master," he said, "you're suffering terribly from homesickness. If you really want to achieve the three Samadhis it isn't all difficult. As the saying goes, 'At the right time the achievement completes itself.'"

"Brother," said Pig, looking back to him, "if we keep on coming up against such terrible demons we'll never succeed in a thousand years."

"Brother Pig," said Friar Sand, "you're as coarse-tongued as I am. Stop irritating Monkey: he might lose his temper. Just keep on carrying your load and one day we'll finally succeed."

They walked on as they talked, and the horse's hoofs never rested until they came to a great black river stretching as far as the eye could see. When the four of them stood on the bank to take a close look they saw

Wave upon turbid wave,
Eddies and muddy whirls.
Wave upon turbid wave churns up the dark waters,
Eddies and muddy whirls looking like grease.
From close up it does not reflect the human image;
For far around not a tree can be seen.
Rolling ink,
Seething ash.
Bubbles that rise are charcoal;
The flying foam is like shoveled coal-dust.
Cattle and sheep will not drink,
Magpie and crow avoid it.
Cattle and sheep will not drink its blackness;
Magpie and crow avoid its vast expanse.
Only the reeds by the bank grow as they should,
While the flowers and grass by the sandbank flourish green.
The world is full of rivers and lakes,
And many are its streams and marshes and springs,
But of all the places that people have seen in life,
The Black River of the West is not among them.

"Disciples," asked Sanzang as he dismounted, "why is this river so dark and turbid?"

"Someone's washed out an indigo dyeing-vat in it," said Pig. "No," said Friar Sand, "somebody's been cleaning their inkstone in it."

"Stop making silly guesses, you two," said Monkey, "and let's work out how we're going to get the master across."

"I'd have no problem crossing that river," said Pig. "I could ride a cloud or swim and be over it before you'd had time to eat a meal."

"And I could be across in an instant on a cloud or by walking on the water," said Friar Sand. "It's easy enough for us," said Monkey, "but the problem is the master."

"Disciples," said Sanzang, "how wide is this river?"

"Three or four miles," said Pig.

"You three decide which of you will carry me across," said Sanzang.

"Pig can carry you," said Monkey.

"It'd be hard," said Pig. "If I tried carrying him by cloud we wouldn't get three feet above the ground. As the saying goes, mortals are heavier than mountains. And if I tried to swim with him on my back we'd both drown."

As they were talking on the bank a man appeared upstream rowing a little boat. "Disciples," said Sanzang with delight, "here's a boat. Let's ask the boatman to take us across."

"Boatman," shouted Friar Sand, "ferry us over."

"This isn't a ferry," replied the man on the boat, "and I couldn't possibly ferry you over." "'Helpfulness first, in Heaven and earth,'" said Friar Sand. "You may not be a ferryman, but we don't keep coming to pester you. We are Buddhists from the East sent by the emperor to fetch the scriptures. If you could have a little consideration and ferry us over we'd show you our gratitude."

At this the boatman brought his craft over to the bank and said as he rested on his oars, "Masters, this boat's too small to take all of you over." When Sanzang took a closer look he saw that the boat was carved from a single log with only enough room for two hollowed out in the middle.

"What shall we do?" Sanzang asked. "This boat can take us over in two trips," said Friar Sand. At this Pig tried what he thought would be a clever way of saving himself some trouble and getting himself well in with the master. "Friar Sand," he said, "you and Brother Monkey look after the luggage and the horse while I take the master over first. Then the man can come back for the horse. Brother Monkey can jump over the river."

"Good idea," nodded Monkey.

While the idiot supported the Tang Priest, the boatman pushed off and rowed straight into the main stream. Once they reached the middle there was a great roar as huge waves blotted out the heavens, and a terrible storm blew up. What a wind!

The skies were filled with angry clouds;
Towering black waves were whipped up in the river.
The flying sand from the river's banks was blotting out the sun;
All around the trees went down with cries that rose to heaven.
The churned-up rivers and seas struck terror into dragons,
While trees and flowers perished in the dust.
The blows were like the crash of thunder;
The mighty gusts all roared like hungry tigers.
Crabs, fish and prawns lay down to pray to heaven,
While birds and beasts were driven from their nests.
Disaster struck all boatmen on the lakes;
No human life was safe upon the seas.
The fisherman by the stream could barely hold his spear;
The river boatman could not punt his ferry.
Houses collapsed as bricks and tiles flew;
In the universal terror Mount Tai was shaken.

This wind was the work of the boatman, who was in fact a monster from the Black River. Watch as the Tang Priest and Pig plunge into the waters, boat and all. They disappeared without a trace, and nobody knew where they had been carried off to.

On the river bank Friar Sand and Monkey were desperate. "What are we to do?" they said. "The master keeps running into disaster. Now he's in trouble here at the Black River after escaping from the last demon and having a peaceful stretch of his journey."

"Perhaps the boat capsized," said Friar Sand, "let's look for him further downstream."

"No," said Monkey, "it can't be that. If the boat had capsized Pig can swim and he'd certainly have saved the master and raised him above the water. I noticed there was something a bit wrong about the boatman just now, and I'm sure that he caused the wind and has taken the master down under the water."

"Why didn't you say so before?" asked Friar Sand. "Look after the horse and the luggage while I go to look for him in the water."

"But the water doesn't look right either," said Monkey. "I don't think you'll be able to."

"It's nothing compared to the water in my Shifting Sands River," said Friar Sand, "I can do it."

The splendid monk took off his tunic, tied strips of cloth round his wrists and feet, and plunged into the waves with a great splash as he whirled his demon-quelling staff. As he strode through the waters he heard voices, so he drew aside to steal a look. He saw a pavilion, over the doors of which was written large PALACE OF THE GOD OF THE BLACK RIVER IN THE HENGYANG VALLEY.

He could hear a monster saying to himself as he sat there, "It's been hard work getting him, but this priest is a holy man who has cultivated his conduct for ten lives. One piece of his flesh is enough to make you immortal. I've waited for him long enough, and now my ambition has been fulfilled."

Then he issued his orders: "Little ones, fetch the metal steamer at once, cook those two monks whole, then write an invitation and deliver it to my second uncle asking him over to eat them as a birthday feast."

This was too much for Friar Sand's temper. He beat on the doors with his staff, yelling abusively, "Damned monsters, give me back my master the Tang Priest and my brother Pig this minute!" This gave the demons inside the doors such a fright that they ran in to report, "Disaster!"

"What disaster?" the old monster asked.

"There's a very sinister-looking monk outside beating at the outer doors and yelling for them."

At this the monster sent for his armor, which the little demons brought in. When it was all properly tied on he went outside, holding his flail of steel pieces joined together by bamboo-shaped links. He was a vicious sight.

Round eyes gleamed fiery red in a square-cut face;
His blood-red lips were curled round an enormous mouth.
The whiskers of his beard were strands of wire;
The matted hair at his temples was cinnabar red.
He looked like the sinister Year Lord in his might,
With the angry face of furious thunder god.
The iron armor he wore was burnished with flowers,
And many a jewel was set in his golden helm.
Holding the flail of bamboo-shaped steel in his hand,
He stirred up a gale around him as he walked.
At birth he had been a creature of the waters,
But he left his native stream and turned to evil.
If you would like to know the true name of this spirit,
He used to be called the Little Alligator.

"Who's that beating at my doors?" the demon roared.

"I'll get you, you ignorant damned devil," said Friar Sand. "Deceitful monster, disguising a yourself as a boatman and rowing over to snatch my master. Give him back at once and I'll spare your life." The demon roared with laughter at this.

"Monk, you're throwing your life away," said the monster. "Your master's mine now, and I'm going to steam him for a feast. Come here and see if you can beat me. If you can hold out for three rounds I'll give you your master back; but if you can't I'll cook you with him and you can forget all about going to the Western Heaven."

Friar Sand was now in a towering rage, and he swung at the monster's head with his staff, which the monster parried with his flail. The pair of them had a fine underwater battle:

The demon-quelling staff and the bamboo-link flail;
Two angry contenders fighting for mastery.
The millennial monster of the Black River,
And a former immortal from the Hall of Miraculous Mist.
One was greedy for Sanzang's flesh,
The other longed to save the Tang Priest's life.
As they fought beneath the waters
There was no way they both could succeed.
Frightened shrimps and fishes shook their heads and hid;
Crabs and turtles withdrew into their shells.
Then with a roll of drums the water palace demons
Joined in the fight and yelled before the gates.
The splendid monk, the true Friar Sand,
Stood all alone and let them see his might.
As they plunged through the waves no victor emerged;
Flail and staff were evenly matched.
All this was because the Tang Priest wanted
To visit the Buddha and fetch the scriptures.

When they had fought thirty rounds without result Friar Sand thought, "This monster is as good a fighter as I am. I'm not going to be able to beat him. I'll have to lure him out for Monkey to kill." Friar Sand then pretended to drop his guard and took to his heels trailing his staff behind him.

But instead of chasing him the evil monster said, "Off you go then. I won't fight you any more. I'm going to write invitations for my guests."

Friar Sand emerged from the waves snorting with fury. "Brother," he said when he saw Monkey, "that monster's outrageous."

"You were down a long time," said Monkey. "Is there an evil spirit? Did you find the master?"

"There's a pavilion down there," said Friar Sand, "with 'Palace of the God of the Black River in the Hengyang Valley' written over it. I hid there and listened to him talking. He told his underlings to wash the metal steamer ready to cook the master and Brother Pig and sent them to invite his uncle for a birthday feast. It made me so angry that I started beating at his doors. The monster came out with his flail of pieces of bamboo-shaped steel and fought me for ages. We must have gone thirty rounds without either of us coming out on top. I pretended to be beaten to lure him out here so that you could help me, but he was too clever to come after me. He went back in to write invitations, so I came out."

"What sort of evil being is he?" Monkey asked.

"He looks a bit like a big soft-shelled turtle," said Friar Sand. "If he's not one of those he's an alligator."

"I wonder who his uncle is," said Monkey.

Before the words were out of his mouth an old man emerged from a bend in the river, knelt at a great distance from them, and said, "The God of the Black River kowtows to the Great Sage."

"Weren't you the evil spirit who rowed the boat?" said Monkey. "Trying to fool us again, are you?"

The old man wept and kowtowed as he replied, "I'm no monster, Great Sage. I'm the real god of this river. The evil spirit came here from the Western Ocean on a flood tide during the fifth month last year. He fought me, and as I'm so old I was no match for him, so he seized my Palace of the God of the Black River in the Hengyang Valley, and killed many of my watery tribe. I had to go to the sea to bring a case against him. But the Dragon King of the Western Sea is his uncle, so of course he threw my case out and told me to turn my palace over to the monster. I tried submitting a protest to Heaven, but I was too humble a river god to obtain an audience with the Jade Emperor. Now that you are here, Great Sage, I've come to pay my respects and submit to you. I beg you to avenge me."

"From what you say the Dragon King of the Western Sea is in the wrong too," said Brother Monkey. "Now that the monster has captured my master and my fellow-disciple, announced that he's going to steam them and invited his uncle, I've got to capture him. It's a good thing you came to tell me. Very well then, river god, you keep an eye on things with Friar Sand here while I go to the sea to arrest that dragon and make him capture the monster."

"I'm very grateful, Great Sage," said the river god.

Monkey went by somersault cloud straight to the Western Ocean, where he landed, made water-repelling magic with his hands, and parted the waves. He saw a black fish spirit who was carrying a golden invitation box shoot upstream like an arrow. Monkey met him head-on and smashed his skull open with a single blow of his iron cudgel, sending the poor spirit's brains flying and splitting his cheeks apart, and with a loud noise it emerged from the water. Monkey opened the box and found in it an invitation that read:

Your Excellency Second Uncle Ao,

Your nephew Tuo Jie bows in greeting and is deeply grateful for your kind regards. Today I have captured two priests from the East who are great rarities. Not daring to consume them myself, and remembering that your birthday is imminent, I have arranged a simple banquet to wish you eternal life. I beg that you honour me with your illustrious presence.

"That fellow has given me all the evidence I need for my case," chuckled Monkey, tucking the invitation in his sleeve and carrying on his way. By then a yaksha patrolling the sea had noticed Monkey and rushed straight back to the crystal palace to report to the dragon king, "Lord Monkey, the Great Sage Equaling Heaven, is here."

The dragon king Ao Shun led his watery tribe from the palace to welcome Monkey: "Great Sage, won't you come into my humble palace for a while and take a cup of tea?"

"I've never had a single cup of your tea," said Monkey, "but you've drunk my wine before now."

To this the dragon king replied with a smile, "Great Sage, you have always been a faithful follower of the Buddha and have never touched meat or alcohol. You've never invited me to drinks."

"You may never have been over for drinks, but you're already in trouble for being a boozer," said Monkey.

"How am I in trouble?" asked Ao Shun with horror. Monkey produced the invitation and handed it to the dragon king.

At the sight of this the dragon king was scared out of his wits. He fell to his knees in panic, kowtowed and said, "Forgive me, Great Sage. That awful boy is my younger sister's ninth son. My brother-in-law, her husband, sent the wrong amount of wind and cut down on the rain. A heavenly edict was sent to the human prime minister Wei Zheng, who beheaded him in a dream. I brought my sister here because she had nowhere else to live and bring the boy up. Two years ago a disease killed her, and as the boy was then homeless I sent him to nourish his nature and cultivate the truth in the Black River. I never imagined he'd commit such terrible sins, and now I'll send people to arrest him."

"How many fine sons did your sister have?" asked Monkey. "Are they all monsters?"

"Nine," the dragon king replied. "The other eight have turned out well. The eldest is the Little Yellow Dragon, and he lives in the Huai River. The second is the Little Black Dragon who lives in the River Ji. The third is the Blue-backed Dragon who occupies the Yangtse. The Red-whiskered Dragon is the fourth son, and he holds the Yellow River. The fifth is the Vain-effort Dragon who looks after the bell for the Lord Buddha. Guardian Dragon is the sixth, and he sits guarding the roof of the Heavenly Palace. Respectful Dragon is the seventh; he holds up the winged column at the Jade Emperor's court. The eighth is Clam Dragon who lives with my eldest brother on Mount Tai. The youngest, Alligator Dragon, has had no particular duties since he is still young. He was only sent to the Black River to nourish his nature last year. He hasn't yet won himself any fame or been transferred and given a job elsewhere. I never expected that he would disobey me by offending you, Great Sage."

When Monkey heard this he laughed and said, "How many husbands has your sister had?"

"Only one," Ao Shun replied, "the Dragon King of the Jing River. After his execution she lived here as a widow until she died of an illness the year before last."

"How could one husband and one wife have had so many little bastards?" Monkey asked.

"It's as the saying goes, there are nine kinds of dragons born, and each one is different," Ao Shun replied.

"I lost my patience just now," said Monkey. "With this invitation as evidence I was going to submit a complaint to the Heavenly Court and charge you with conspiring with a monster to kidnap. But from what you tell me the wretch refused to follow your advice, so I'll let you off this time, partly out of respect for your elder brother and partly because that wretch is too young to know any better. Besides, you didn't know what was happening. But you must send someone at once to arrest him and rescue my master. Then we'll decide what to do."

Ao Shun then told his son Mo'ang, "Take five hundred of our strongest prawn and fish soldiers to arrest and charge Alligator immediately. At the same time arrange a banquet as an apology to the Great Sage."

"There's no need to worry so, Your Majesty," said Monkey. "I've already told you I'll let you off, so why bother with the banquet? But I would like to go with your son as my master has been wronged and my fellow-disciples are waiting for me."

The dragon king tried hard to make him stay, but without success. Then a dragon maiden came in with tea, a cup of which Monkey drank standing up before taking his leave of the old dragon and leaving the Western Sea with Mo'ang and his troops. Soon they were back at the Black River, where Monkey said, "Catch the demon, Your Royal Highness, while I wait on the bank."

"Don't worry, Great Sage," said Mo'ang. "I'll arrest him show him to you, Great Sage, to sentence and punish, and return your master to you. Only then will I take him back to the ocean and see my father."

Monkey took leave of him cheerfully, recited the water-repelling spell and made it with his hands, sprang out of the waves, and made straight for the East bank, where Friar Sand and the river god said, "When you went it was by air, so why have you come back from under the water?" Monkey told them all about how he had killed the fish spirit, taken the invitation, charged the dragon king, and brought soldiers back with the dragon prince. Friar Sand was very pleased, and they all stood on the bank waiting.

Prince Mo'ang sent a herald to the gates of the underwater palace to announce to the evil spirit, "Prince Mo'ang, son of the Old Dragon King of the Western Sea, is here." This news aroused the suspicions of the evil spirit as he sat inside.

"I sent a black fish spirit with an invitation to my uncle some time ago," he thought, "and I haven't had any answer yet. Why is my cousin here instead?"

As he was thinking, a little demon came in from a river patrol to report, "Your Majesty, there's a detachment of troops camped in the river West of the palace. Their banner says 'Young Marshal Mo'ang, Crown Prince and Son of the Dragon King of the Western Sea.'"

"That cousin of mine is outrageous," said the monster. "Presumably my uncle couldn't come and sent him to the feast instead, but he didn't have to bring an army with him. Hmm. There must be something up."

"Little ones," he said, "get my armor and my steel flail ready in case things turn rough while I go out to greet him and see what's happening." On hearing the orders all the devils rubbed their hands and got ready.

When the alligator came out he saw a whole force of sea soldiers camped there on the right:

Embroidered sashes and flying banners,
Coloured halberds brighter than the dawn,
Fine swords coldly gleaming,
Spears with many a handsome tassel,
Bows drawn back like the moon,
Arrows like teeth of wolves,
Dazzling broadswords,
Grit-hard maces.
There were whales, turtles, and clams,
Crabs, tortoises, fish and prawns,
All drawn up by size,
Their weapons as dense-packed as a field of hemp.
Unless ordered by a superior officer
None would dare advance upon them.

When the alligator demon saw them he went straight to the gates of their camp and shouted at the top of his voice, "Cousin, I'm waiting for you here with an invitation."

A conch patrolling the camp went straight to the commander's tent to report, "Your Royal Highness, Alligator Dragon is outside with an invitation."

The prince felt the helmet on his head, tightened the jeweled belt round his waist, picked up a three-edged mace, and hurried out of the camp. "What invitation do you have for me?" he asked.

Alligator Dragon bowed and replied, "This morning I sent your father an invitation. No doubt he did not think it worth coming and sent you instead. But why did you have to bring an army with you? Why have you encamped here armed to the teeth?"

"What did you invite my father to?" the crown prince asked.

"Since I have been living here as a result of his kindness I have not seen his illustrious countenance for a long time or done my duty by him," the alligator replied. "Yesterday I caught a priest from the East who has, they say, cultivated his conduct for ten lives in succession. If you eat his body you can live much longer. I wanted to invite uncle to have a look at the priest before I cook him in the steamer as a birthday treat."

"Complete and utter fool," yelled the crown prince. "Do you know who that priest is?"

"He's a priest from the Tang who's going to fetch scriptures from the Western Heaven," the demon replied.

"All you know is that he's a Tang priest," said the crown prince. "What you don't realize is what powerful disciples he has."

"He's got one long-snouted one called Pig who I've captured already and I'm going to steam with the Tang Priest," the alligator demon replied. "There's another disciple called Friar Sand, a dusky fellow with a sinister face who fights with the quarterstaff. He came to my gates yesterday demanding his master. I came out at the head of my river troops and it didn't take me long to see him off with my steel flail. I don't see what's so powerful about him."

"You still haven't got the message," the dragon prince replied. "His senior disciple is the Golden Immortal of the Supreme Ultimate, the Great Sage Equaling Heaven who made havoc in Heaven five hundred years ago. He's now escorting the Tang Priest on his way to worship the Buddha and fetch the scriptures in the Western Heaven. He was converted by the compassionate and merciful Bodhisattva Guanyin of Potaraka, who changed his name to Sun Wukong the Novice. Why ever did you have to bring this catastrophe on yourself? He came across a messenger of yours in our ocean, took the invitation, and went straight into our crystal palace to make things very awkward for my father and myself. He has us on a charge of conspiring with evil spirits to kidnap. You'd better bring the Tang Priest and Pig straight to the bank, hand them back to the Great Sage Monkey, and join me in making apologies to him if you want to keep alive. If you even hint at a 'no' you can forget about remaining here in one piece."

This threw the alligator monster into a terrible rage. "My own cousin taking their side!" he exclaimed. "You'd have me hand the Tang Priest over, but nothing comes that easy in this world. Just because you're scared of him it doesn't mean that I am. If he's really got such powers and he has the guts to go three rounds with me in front of my palace gates I'll give him his master back. If he's no match for me I'll capture him too and cook him with the others. And this time there'll be no guests or relations; I'll fasten the doors, my little ones will sing and dance for me, and I'll sit in the place of honour and have a fine old time bloody well eating them myself."

"Damned devil," the crown prince swore back at him, "you're a disgrace. Even if you're not going to regard the Great Sage Monkey as a worthy foe will you dare to fight me?"

"A tough guy is afraid of nobody," the demon replied. He then called for his armor, at which a host of little devils came forward with his armor and his steel flail. The two of them were now glaring at each other and each wanted to play the hero. The orders were given, the drums rolled, and a fight ensued that was much harder than the one with Friar Sand. What could be seen were:

Dazzling banners,
Gleaming halberds.
The encampment was quickly broken up,
While the gates of the palace were opened wide.
Prince Mo'ang wielded his golden mace;
That alligator parried with his flail.
Fierce were the river soldiers as the cannon roared;
Wild were the ocean warriors as the gong was beaten.
Shrimp fought with shrimp,
And crab with crab.
Whales and giant turtles swallowed red carp;
Bream and carp set mollusks running.
The shark and mullet put the mackerel to flight;
The mussels all panicked when oysters captured clams.
The swordfish barbs were hard as iron rods;
The barracudas needles were sharper than spears.
Sturgeons chased the white eel;
Perch and herring seized the back pomfret.
The river was full of battling demons,
While both side's dragon warriors contended.
The long melee stirred up the waves,
And Crown Prince Mo'ang was better than a vajrapani,
As he roared and struck at the head with his mace,
Capturing the alligator who caused the trouble.

The prince pretended to drop his guard with his three-bladed mace. Not realizing that this was a trick, the evil spirit rushed him, whereupon the crown prince skillfully first struck him a blow with the mace on the right arm that made him stumble, caught up with him, then struck at his feet and set him sprawling.

The ocean soldiers rushed up, seized Alligator, tied both hands behind his back, put an iron chain through his collar bone, hauled him up on the bank, and took him to Monkey, where the prince reported, "Great Sage, I have arrested the alligator demon and am handing him over to you for judgement."

"You disobedient wretch," said Monkey when he and Friar Sand saw the demon, "your uncle sent you to live here, build up your nature, and look after yourself. Once you had made your name he was going to transfer you to duties somewhere else. Why did you have to seize the river god's home and become a bully? Why did you use deception to capture my master and my brother? I was going to hit you, but this cudgel of mine hits so hard that a mere touch of it would finish you off. Where have you put my master?"

"Great Sage," replied the demon, kowtowing ceaselessly, "this humble alligator had never heard of your mighty name. But now I have been arrested by my cousin for my disobedience to him and for my flagrant offences against right. I am endlessly grateful to you, Great Sage, for sparing my life. Your master is still tied up in the water palace. If you would take off the chain and untie my hands I will return to the river and bring him back to you."

"Great Sage," said Prince Mo'ang who was standing beside them, "he is a vicious and deceitful beast. If you were to release him he might have evil ideas."

"I know where his place is," said Friar Sand. "I'll find the master."

He and the river god then leapt into the river and went straight to the doors of the water palace, which were wide open and not guarded by a single soldier. Inside the pavilion they saw the Tang Priest and Pig tied up stark naked. Friar Sand quickly untied the master while the river god released Pig. Next they each carried one up to the surface of the water and then to the bank.

Seeing the evil spirit roped and in chains there Pig raised his rake to strike him and said abusively, "Evil beast, take this from me."

Monkey held him back, saying, "Spare his life, brother, out of consideration for Ao Shun and his son."

Mo'ang then bowed and said, "Great Sage, I must not stay here any longer. As I have rescued your master I shall now take this wretch to see my father. You have spared him the death penalty, but my father will not let him off other kinds of punishment. When he has been sentenced he will be sent back to apologize to you again."

"Very well then," said Monkey, "take him away. Give my respects to your father and tell him that I'll be back to thank him in person another time." The prince then plunged into the water with his prisoner and took his ocean troops straight back to be Western Sea.

The God of the Black River then thanked Brother Monkey for the recovery of his water palace. "Disciple," said the Tang Priest, "we're still on the Eastern bank. How are we going to get across this river?"

"Don't worry about that, my lord," said the river god. "Please mount your horse and I will lead you across the river." The master then rode his horse while Pig led it, Friar Sand carried the luggage, and Monkey supported Sanzang. The river god did water-stopping magic to hold the waters back. In an instant a broad road opened up where the waters had withdrawn; master and disciples crossed to the West bank, climbed it, thanked the river god, and continued on their way. Indeed:

To visit the West the priest they did save;
When the river was crossed there was never a wave.


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If you don't know how they visited the Buddha and obtained the scriptures, listen to the explanation in the next installment.