As the story goes, Wen Dianzhi burst into the shop togethor with his deputy, only to see the bonze they had sought coming down the stairs. Inspector Wen pointed his iron rod and ordered the other arrestor to seize the monk, who simply raised one finger upon seeing all those present closing in on him. And in one bizarre instant the shop owner at his counter, his naughty little professor of a son and all the patrons of the shop changed into identical monks! Even Wen Dianzhi and his deputy had become bonzes.
All of those present just looked dumbstruck at each other. Of course the police were at a loss as to which they should apprehend! The shop was thrown into an uproar and several customers left, and then suddenly as Wen Dianzhi looked on the owner, his family and remaining patrons all changed back to their original selves, but the bonze they had sought was nowhere to be seen! Wen then deputised those present and ordered them all to split up and head after him, and he sent runners to each of the gates to alert the guards there.
Wen Dianzhi then returned directly to the District Yamen, where the Governor was just in the midst of his afternoon session trying a case. The arrestor stepped into the chamber and saluted.
"How did you make out arresting that sorcerer monk as I ordered?" asked Grand Dragon Governor Bao.
"Soon after I received your excellency's orders and the warrant for the monk," reported Wen, "I saw an ordinary Daoist by the name of Du Qisheng performing magic in front of the National Shrine Temple. He beheaded his son with one blow of his knife, but a monk on the top floor of a noodle shop across the street harvested the boy's soul and thus prevented the magician from re-attaching the head. Du Qisheng then became agitated and picked a gourd from a magic vine he'd just planted. He cut the bottom half of it off and and at that very moment upstairs in the noodle shop that bonze's head rolled! But he got right down on the floorboards on all fours, felt round for the severed head and put it right back on, and just then down in the street the boy's head could at last be re-attached as well! Well, your servants witnessed all of these bizarre doings and ordered everyone present to seize him, but the monk just pointed a finger and all the people in the shop, even my assitant and I, were changed into bonzes at once! This threw us off his track. Excellency! This sort of sorcerer is really difficult to catch. I await your further orders, sir!"
"Why," replied Grand Dragon Bao, "I'm the chief of Kaifeng District! I'm afraid that I'll be accused at the Imperial Court if a sorcerer like that remains at large in the city and causes any more incidents." He then called the sign carvers in and had them engrave offical notice boards to be posted at each gate and in the An Tang Monastery and other temples, offering a reward of a thousand strings of cash for the capture of that Pellet Bonze. And it stated that should a monk of unclear origins come to call and be allowed to take refuge, without being turned in, the chain of neighbors to the right would be collectively responsible. As a result of this notice the capital city began boiling over with stories.
Now as it happened a greengrocer by the name of Li Erge lived at the time with his wife in their shop in the heart of the capital. He had just recovered from a serious illness and had no capital left. One day he went out to borrow two or three hundred coppers for travelling expenses so that he could visit some old friends for help. He returned with empty pockets, feeling all sullen and depressed.
"Erge!" said his wife. "How did you make out with the money?"
"I'll tell you, I couldn't borrow a cent. The city is in an uproar and none of the merchants can do any business. Yesterday a monk was eating upstairs in a noodle shop when suddenly his head rolled off just like that! He got down down on the floor to grope for it, grabbed it by the ears and put it right back on his neck like before. The police saw the weird thing happen and ran at once to arrest him, but with a wave of his finger the monk changed them and everyone else in the shop into identical copies of himself! And now Kaifeng District has posted a reward of a thousand strings of coin for information leading to the capture of that bonze. He's called the Pellet Bonze 'Dan', and a few days ago he cheated Flawless Commander Wang out of three thousand strings of cash."
"Erge!" replied his wife, skeptically. "Is this story for real?"
"I've just just seen the official proclamations with my own eyes!" he gasped. "How can you sit here and call me a liar?"
"Erge! You and I have got nothing left to eat or drink. If that monk were to be arrested and you claimed the reward, we could use it to start up our business again. Wouldn't it be wonderful?"
"Nonsense!" scoffed Li. "The Governor wasn't born yesterday and he doesn't suffer fools lightly!"
"I'm sure you'd be able to claim the reward!" she insisted.
"How can you tell me to go and claim that thousand strings of cash?"
"Erge! I tell you, you don't have to go a hundred and eighty thousand li to find out where that monk is staying. Here's just nearby now!"
"In the house next door!" answered his wife.
"How can you be sure it was him that you saw?"
"It's been three months since he moved in next door, and I've never seen him reciting sutras with anybody or going out to beg alms. Every day he sleeps until after breakfast and then he goes out, and he always comes staggering back drunk before sunset. Anyway, two weeks ago I had cramps in my belly from eating something uncooked and when I went out back there was an awful smell coming from the alleyway. When I was cominmg back from the toilet I passed by his open door, and even though it was mid-morning there seemed to be a lantern flickering in there. I wondered why he needed a lamp at that time of day, and when I stood on my toes to peek through the break in the wall I saw flames bursting from his entire body. And then he extended his head and it touched the roofbeam! Well I was horrified. I didn't dare hang around any longer and came right back home. That monk has got to be a sorcerer!"
"Is this for real?" asked Erge incredulously.
"Since when have I ever told you a fib?"
"Then keep it quiet! We don't want this information leaking out!" And having so ordered his wife, he left home and went directly to the neighbourhood officials but didn't dare go inside. He just paced outside the gate until a policeman spotted him.
"Li Er!" shouted the man. "What's bothering you that you just keep walking back and forth like that?
"To tell the truth, my wife and I have got a secret matter to discuss, and I've come to see an inspector!"
"Wait here while I go in and report this," said the policeman. "Then you'll be able to come in."
No sooner had Wen Dianzhi returned to his office than than that policeman rushed in to report the visitor.
"Inspector! The greengrocer Li Erge is pacing back and forth outside, and when I asked his business he stated that he had a secret matter to discuss with you."
Tell him to come in!" directed Wen. The policeman then led Li into the hall and saluted.
Wen Dianzhi looked on without returning the greeting. "Li Erge!" he chuckled, "What brings you to see me?"
"Inspector!" began Li. "I've been ill recently and unable to look after my daily business, and these last few days I've just been idle all the time. When I was out the other day I spotted a proclamation board and remembered the part about a thousand strings of cash as a reward for arrest of a sorcerer bonze, and when I got home I told my wife about it. She then told me that the monk living next door was the sorcerer!"
Now, Wen Dianzhi didn't dare let any great emotion show on his face, and just laughed lightly as he spoke. "Li Erge! Let's go over this carefully! What exactly did you and your wife see him doing?"
The grocer then told the entire story that he had heard from his wife.
"We must follow up on this!" said Wen. "Go write up an official complaint!"
Li then asked the policeman for help preparing his draft. A sheet of paper, brush and ink were provided and after writing it in his own hand he went right back in and handed over the fresh document.
"Is this monk over by your shop right now?" asked the inspector.
He goes out every morning and returns at sunset."
"Have a seat right here while I have someone go and fetch a bit of wine for you," said Wen. In a little while the wine was bought over and he was permitted to drink. Then Wen Dianzhi and another officer told Li to guide them over to the tearoom just left of his shop. Once there, they posted him as a lookout while they sat and waited. Now, it was just before sunset, and before long the monk could be seen weaving drunkly along, stumbling and bumping his way back. Li Erge rushed into the tearoom.
"Inspector!" he shouted, "The monk is here!"
As luck would have it the bonze had passed right in front of the tearoom. Wen Dianzhi then pointed toward the figure outside. "Arrest that sorcerer monk!" he commanded his subordinate. All of the onlookers gasped in surprise, as if they were witnessing a black hawk diving after a purple swallow or a fierce tiger devouring an ewe and her lamb. And here is a poem:
"May we be worthy of this great honour!" said Wen Dianzhi. "When he hears about our progress on this case, his excellancy Grand Dragon Bao will finally be at ease."
The men then all took a length of rope and tied that monk up just like a dumpling; for his part the prisoner was drunkenly snoring away. Wen Dianzhi went ahead back to the District Office and reported the good news to the Governer General.
"The sorcerer monk has been apprehended!" he announced. "He's still very drunk and doesn't know what's going on, so we're holding him over at headquarters before bringing him here. We await your orders, excellancy!"
Grand Dragon Bao listened carefully and ordered that the prisoner be assigned guards, and that special vigilance be excercised when transporting him. Arrestor Wen took his leave of the governor and went straight to his office in the constabulary headquarters to see the bonze, who had still not awakened; he dutifully ordered the the officers there to guard the prisoner carefully.
The bonze awoke in great discomfort at around midnight from his drunken sleep. The brightness of the lamps and candles seemed like daylight to his eyes, and policemen were standing on either side of him. "Where am I?" he asked.
"Police headquarters," answered one of the guards.
"I'm a monk. What crime am I accused of that you've brought me in here all tied up like this?"
Now, the guards had been informed that their prisoner was a sorcerer and they didn't wish to offend him.
"Priest!" said one of the older, wiser men. "Don't blame us. We are only doing our jobs. We've all got families at home depending on us and we don't want any needless trouble. You are here because your neighbor, the grocer Li Erge said you'd been living nextdoor without begging alms or meeting others in prayer, and that you were getting drunk every day. He said that your origins were unclear, too, and that's why we were ordered to arrrest you."
"I've been enjoying the patronage of a high official's home! It's none of my neighbor's business!"
"Well, we can't do anything about it now, your holiness. Wait until dawn when you'll be brought before the Governor, together with your accuser Li.
At the stroke of the fifth watch, seven in the morning, Wen Dianzhi came over and ordered all the officers to form up around the prisoner and transport him to the district yamen, where he was to wait in the governor's hall. Shortly after they arrived his excellency the governor general came in and took his seat, with his entire staff present before him. After the opening salutes he read over Li's official complaint, then eyed the accused angrily.
"I suppose you consider yourself a holy man, you so-called monk!" he began. "How dare you forget your vows and cheat a man out of money?" He then ordered a penal carpenter to come forth and fit the prisoner in a full length cangue. Next he called upon two strong jailers.
"First, I want you to give this monk one hundred lashes of the rod, and then we'll continue interrogating him!" directed Governor Bao.
The warders saluted, but before they could whip him even two or three times a shriek went up from all those present.
"Order in the court!" shouted a sergeant-at-arms.
The governor was astonished to see that the monk had vanished from the cangue, and in his place there was only a straw broom, loosely bound with rope.
"Can such a thing as a sorcerer monk really be?" asked Governor Bao, incredulously. "One moment I have him placed in the cangue, and the next second he somehow changes into a broom?"
Just as he was speaking a scream was heard outside. "What's going on?" asked the horrified governor.
"Your excellancy!" gasped one of the bailiffs, running in. "There's a holy man running wild and laughing outside, shouting "What a fine Grand Dragon Bao, let's see him try and take me now!"
"Why, that brazen punk!" snarled the governor. "How dare he be so impudent!" He then ordered all of those present to go after the bonze. "Whoever captures him this time gets the customary reward of a thousand strings of cash!" he promised.
"The police now poured out of the yamen in hot pursuit of the sorcerer bonze, who ducked into a marketplace upon seeing them closing in on him. There he adjusted his garments in a leisurely fashion while toying with his pursuers. When they ran, he ran, and when they slowed down and stopped so did he, until they froze in exhaustion. By that time they had arrived in front of the National Temple Shrine, where they spotted the monk on the Yan'an Bridge. Off they went again, but seeing them once more chasing him he rushed right into the Mountain Gate of the Temple.
"He's caught in a trap!" shouted Wen Dianzhi. "We've got him now, for better or worse!" He then ordered half of his men to cover the temple gates while the other half split up and stormed into the two main halls after their quarry. Before long the abbot of the shrine could be seen coming out to speak with Arrestor Wen.
"Inspector!" he pleaded, "This is a site of worship for the Imperial Court Clan! On what account have you sent in so many armed men? It's quite a fright for us!"
"I've been ordered by the governor to arrest arrest a sorcerer monk and we chased him into your temple, reverend," explained Wen. "Now, if you aren't hiding him, do your duty and turn him over at once!"
"Our temple has one hundred and ten monks in residence, and all have got official permits. We know tham all and if an unauthorised man tried to attach himself we wouldn't dare allow him to stay overnight. If you're so sure he's in there, how come your men haven't found him yet? Why are you talking to me instead instead of him?"
"That monk cheated flawless Commander Wang out of three thousand strings of cash and then caused a number of disturbances all over the district. If you don't turn him over and I report this to the governor, your temple will will be involved as an accesory."
The abbot was seized with fright at the thought. "Inspector!" he gasped, "All of our bonzes are learned men and none are sorcerers! If you don't believe me let's call them out for you to inspect one by one."
"That's fine!" said Wen.
The abbot then rang the temple bell to call forth an assembly of all one hundred and ten monks, and then called Wen Dianzhi over to question them. He and the other officers found them all to be innocent. "Your holiness," said Wen. "If I could only go into the temple myself I'm sure I'd be able to find him somehow. Can't I have a look?"
"Very well, I'll lead the way and you may conduct your search in my company."
And so they went in and searched from the monks' quarters to the kitchen and then to the privy and storage rooms and found nothing. Then as they turned to enter the great worship hall they cast their eyes upon a great sculpture of the six immortals all in a line like a mountain range. Three of their heads were like mighty bluish-green summits and the six shoulders were like lesser peaks of the range; each was holding one of six treasures. Arrestor Wen was puzzled.
"Why is there only a sculpture of Prince Nezha in here instead of the usual great Buddha?" he asked.
"Prince Nezha is a strong force in the improvement of human beings," answered the abbot.
Then, just as Wen Dianzhi and his men were gazing up at the vastness of the ceiling and at the lineup of Prince Nezha and his followers, they were startled by a voice from above.
"Wen Dianzhi!" somebody was shouting. "Governor Bao ordered you to bring me in. Now you see me...how come you can't take me?"
They turned to look, and it seemed to be coming from the direction of Nezha and the colourful line of figures, around ten feet tall and each bearing different things under their arms. Suddenly the centremost head of the three in the middle opened its mouth and bared four long fangs dripping with blood. "Wen Dianzhi!" it growled. "Come and get me!"
The men all gasped in horror. They wanted to seize Prince Nezha but knew that they couldn't arrest a piece of sculpture.
"Well, aren't you sending anybody to arrest me?" taunted the figure once more. The police couldn't believe their eyes and ears.
"Could this statue have come to life just to harrass people?" they asked. "We ought to report this to Governor Bao, and maybe he'll order us to smash it and stop its mischief!"
"Inspector!" pleaded the abbot. "Please consider. Who has ever heard of a talking statue? It's got to be the work of that sorcerer, certainly not something to destroy a holy treasure over. So much work went into its creation! To destroy it would result in a tremendous loss to future generations."
"So what can we do to end his sorcery and put a stop to future troubles?"
A group of conscientious bonzes then stepped forth and joined hands facing the statue. "Longtian Sanbao!" they prayed in unison, ""Protect the faith and drive away all traces of sorcery, lest your holy statue be destroyed!"
Immediately following the prayer they could hear laughing and gleefully clapping hands. "Inspector!" went the voice, "Here I am! Where has all your strength gone?"
The police all looked up to see the renegade monk right there. "Seize him!" they shouted as they surged forward, but they could get no closer than ten paces to him no matter how they tried. Out of the temple and into the busy street he lead them, where business was ruined for the day as tables collapsed and stalls were knocked over. More and more folks saw what what was happening and began running around in panic as the monk was chased out of the city wall, past the official mansion and finally to the city limit, the River Bian. There he paused and looked down into the waters.
"No need for you to chase me any longer!" he shouted. "I'm going home now!" He then leapt into the river with a great splash and disappeared into its depths.
"Everything's worked out allright after all!" agreed the police. "He's saved us a lot of work by drowning himself. But who knows where this wild river will carry his corpse?"
All Wen Dianzhi could do was report to the governor, who cut short official business to receive him.. Wen saluted and told him the entire story of the monk's pursuit.
"That character was unbearable!" replied Governor Bao. "I simply couldn't deal with him. Well, it's all over now that he's drowned himeslf!"
Suddenly they heard a woman shouting downstairs. "What's the problem?" asked the governor himself, calling down to her.
"Your excellancy!" cried the woman. "My husband Li Er turned in that sorcerer monk, but instead of being rewarded he's been held. I don't care about the reward money but I want my husband back. Please, excellancy, I beg you, order him to be freed!"
The governor looked at Wen. "Li Er's accusation bore fuit so he should receive the reward. Why is he being held?"
"He hasn't exactly been arrested, excellancy," replied Wen. "He's been wined and dined from morning till night as our guest over at headquarters while we await your orders."
The governor then asked that he be brought over, and Wen Dianzhi went to summon him at once.
"As the posted signs all promised," said Governor Bao to Li Er, "you are to get one thousand strings of cash as a reward!" Now, at that time in Kaifeng one string of coppers was worth an ounce of silver, and so for a poor merchant like Li to receive a thousand strings was no small thing. Husband and wife together were presented with the reward money right there in the governor's office. They thanked him and quickly left the yamen for the bare shop where they lived. And here is a poem:
Since ancient times it's always been the same old story with money. When you've got none you're finished, and when you're loaded with it you're got everyone trying to help you.
Li Er picked out a vacant shop across from the National Shrine Temple and opened a big fruit market. He and his wife were finally well dressed, well nourished and prosperous. One fine winter day just past noon he set some chestnuts atop a charcoal fire and arranged a few glasses of wine. Husband and wife were sitting cozily in front of the fire about to drink when suddenly they spotted a man coming into the shop.
"Li Er!" he called. "I'm here to buy some of your fine fruit."
The couple were shocked speechless to see that it was the very same monk that they had informed on.
Now, a quick witted couple would have bowed and offered him some food and drink or whatever, and at worst he would have taken it and been on his way. Even if he were after something else, you or I would probably come up with some clever words to get him to leave as soon as possible. Li Er and his wife, alas, had no such sophistication.
"You sorcerer!" they shouted. "They said you drowned yourself in the River Bian while the police were after you. Have you come here looking to stir up trouble? If you know what's good for you, you'll get out of here and fast! Hang around any longer and I'll just shout and have the militia here in a flash to take you away. Don't blame me when they turn you over to the officials!"
"You caused me such trouble!" said the monk darkly. "I was held for a long time. You denounced me to the authorities but I ultimately helped you receive that thousand strings of cash to get you back on your feet again. Now that I'm here you should be thanking me, instead of showing such a terrible face and threatening to have me arrested. Why, you ungrateful bastard! I'll give you something to think about!"
He then pointed with one finger and shouted "Live!", and that blazing charcoal in front of Li Er flew right up into his face. The grocer screamed and fell suddenly to the floor. His wife hurried to his side; propping him up, she saw that his face was burnt and covered with blisters from the charcoal and chestnuts. The monk, meanwhile, had disappeared. Li was in unbearable agony from his burns, and if he were still poor he would be able to do nothing. But as he now had money he was able to summon a physician. Ointments and dressings were to applied for three days and nights, and his wife carried out the treatment without fail.
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