Book 2 Chapter 3 – Acting Without Thinking
When Du Fuwei pursued outside the restaurant, he saw all the lanterns along this shady street were still shining brightly. It was only then did he realize that this was the red-light district; most of the brothels in this town were concentrated here, the sound of people and carriages still lingered in the air.
Without thinking he dashed into a side alley, jumped onto the roof, focused his eyes and ears, and tried to listen with all his might, while at the same time unleashed his lightness skill to fly over houses and jumped over the roof. In just a short period of time he had already been around several streets in a big circle. But he still did not see the two little demons, neither did he hear hurried footsteps of people running away.
With Du Fuwei’s ability, he still suffered a big headache.
He had already made a prompt decision of leaving the enemy and running out to pursue, yet he was still too late to intercept these two boys. He knew the boys were exceedingly smart, they must have hidden someplace nearby. Unless he could search every place within a hundred zhang radius, he could forget about ever finding them.
While running around, he could not stop cursing his own stupidity; if from the beginning he controlled them by sealing their acupoints, without any care whether he would hurt them or not, all these maddening things would not have happened.
Could it be that he had lost his mind that he made such a gross miscalculation? It was really unlike his usual style of always make thorough planning on everything.
He sighed, and then jumped back to the ground to carry out his search operation.
Meanwhile, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling, two boys had just stepped into a low-grade brothel more than ten buildings away.
Naturally it was Kou Zhong’s crafty idea. Because common sense dictates that they would run as far away as possible. But if they do that, Du Fuwei only had to grab any passerby and asked, and he would immediately know the direction these two boys were running madly. Besides, Fu Junchuo once told them that martial art masters are also experts in following a trail. Therefore, they deliberately did the opposite. They looked for the most crowded place nearby, and mingled among the crowd. Naturally it led them into this ‘Piao Xiang [floating fragrance]’ Courtyard.
But their clothes and down-and-out appearance gave the people no reason to compliment them. Upon entering the gate, they were immediately intercepted by four bouncers who looked like they were also the bodyguards of somebody important. “We are full!” one of them shouted, “Please go someplace else.”
Kou Zhong giggled and put his hand into his pocket. It was only then did he recall that in his anxiety to rescue Xu Ziling and thought that he would not return alive, he had generously donated all his silver to Susu. Thereupon he hurriedly slapped Xu Ziling’s arm.
Having known each other so well, naturally Xu Ziling understood what the slap means. He took out a few pieces of silver and stuffed it into one the men’s hand, while saying with a laugh, “Our father and all our five uncles are government officials in Yangzhou. This time we came with our [paternal] uncle to do some shopping here. Serve us well, and you will be heavily rewarded.”
Looking at the silver in his hand, the man smiled and said, “Shaoye [young master] please follow Xiaoren [little/lowly one, referring to self].”
Greatly delighted, the two boys stepped into the hall. The procuress, who dressed like an old demon, stepped out to meet them. As soon as the two boys saw her, they sucked in a mouthful of air; thinking that just by looking at this old procuress, they knew that compared to the ‘Zui Feng Lou’ [drunken wind balcony; actually, lou means multi-story building], this brothel was several levels below. But this time escaping with their lives was a more pressing matter, so they could not be bothered by it.
When the procuress saw them, she immediately frowned as well. Not because the smell of their mother’s milk had not dried yet, because she had seen a lot of patrons even younger than they were, but because it was the very first time that she saw customers that looked like they have not taken a bath in a year, with their unkempt hair and filthy face.
The procuress stared mercilessly at the bouncer and without any trace of politeness said, “Ah Yuan, whats going on here?”
Grinning, Xu Ziling offered her some silver. Who would have thought that the procuress did not even cast him a glance? “Rules are rules,” she said in disdain, “Didn’t you see the sign at the main entrance, ‘No proper attire, no service’? If you want our Piao Xiang Courtyard girls to entertain you, go home, take a bath and change your clothes; then you can come back!”
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling thought: wasn’t her request the same as asking for their life? Giggling, Kou Zhong said, “The reason we came here other than to spend money is exactly to find a place to take a bath and change our clothes.”
Puzzled, the procuress asked, “You don’t have even half a bundle, where will the change of clothes come from?”
Kou Zhong calmly turned to Xu Ziling and said, “Xiongdi, please give this Dage a lot of money so that he can buy two sets of clothes for us.”
Xu Ziling reluctantly took out a quarter of all the silver in his possession and handed it to the man. The man and the procuress immediately broke into smiles.
After the man left, still with a big smile on her face, the procuress accepted Xu Ziling’s tip and said respectfully, “Shaoye please follow Nujia [female slave, referring to self].”
When the two boys heard her, whose face was covered in heavy rouge, whose bloody mouth wide open like a sacrificial bowl, saying the two words ‘nujia’, the hair on their entire body stood on its end; they looked at each other and smiled bitterly.
Just as they were about to step forward, a chirpy oriole-like voice came from behind, “Chen Daniang [aunt, father’s older brother’s wife]! Which auntie are these two Gongzi looking for?”
All three of them turned around in surprise. They saw a beautiful, lively girl stood behind them. Behind the girl stood a quiet maid and two bodyguards. The girl stared coyly and smiled flirtatiously at the two boys; her posture was extremely provocative in a loose way.
The girl had a fair skin, youthful and tender, her figure shapely, her face elegant, dazzling and beautiful. Even in Yangzhou, which was well-known for its prostitutes, this kind of youthful glow, which was without ‘broken flower, withered willow’ feel at all, was extremely rare.
The two boys stared blankly at her, while that Auntie Chen immediately stepped forward to greet her, beaming with joy. “Turns out it’s Qingqing, my obedient daughter,” she cooed, “Lu Daye has been waiting for you the whole night.”
Qingqing looked at Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling up and down several times. “Pfft!” she giggled and said, “The sky has just turned dark, how could they wait for me the whole night? But if they still want to continue waiting, they will wait the whole night.” She spoke while walking over toward the two boys, and circled around them in great interest.
“Is this the first time you two boys come to this place?” she asked, “Just now Nujia saw you outside, but I was inside the carriage, so you did not see me.”
Auntie Chen put on her best smiling face; she came over with a forced laugh, “The two Gongzi are here to visit the bathhouse. Why don’t my Qingqing be a good girl and greet Lu Daye, huh?”
Qingqing let out a tender snort and said, “Tonight your Miss only want to accompany these two Gongzi.” Reaching out to grab the two boys’ arms, she said, “Come! Follow me!”
She turned to her maid and ordered her to get some bath supplies, leaving the procuress stood in the hall while staring blankly at her.
The two boys exchanged glances, they were both very excited with their luck that has just flown in; they thought that if their virginity was destroyed by this kind of woman, it was certainly worth it.
However, they had just left the hall, the smiling expression on Qingqing’s face immediately vanished without a trace. Pushing the two boys through a long corridor, they arrived at the bathhouse; turns out it was a hot spring bath.
Qingqing pushed the two boys in and coldly said, “Go take a bath!”
The two boys were still stunned when the maid arrived with bath towel and other bathing supplies. Qingqing took one set and pushed it into Xu Ziling’s hands. With a wooden expression she said, “Take your time! No need to hurry!” And then she turned around and left. She even closed the door.
While the two boys were still staring blankly at the closed door, they heard Qingqing’s nervous voice outside, “Has Huang Gongzi arrived?” And then they heard the sound of footsteps going farther and farther away.
They suddenly realized that they were being used by this girl. Kou Zhong angrily threw the towel and everything else on the floor.
The two boys looked at each other, and then almost simultaneously they doubled up in laughter; they laughed so hard that they were nearly out of breath, with tears flowing down their face.
 I feel that I need to explain this ‘young master’ term more. Shao means ‘younger’ or ‘lesser’, while Ye means ‘master’, as in ‘master-servant’ or ‘superior-subordinate’ relationship (Laoye, old master, Daye, big master, Shaoye, young master]. The other term is Gongzi, which is a polite term to refer to young men in general. I figure it is similar to ‘Master’ in old English literature, like Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, where Scrooge addressed Bob Cratchit’s son as ‘Master’. Example would be last chapter, where Shen Naitang addressed Liang Shunming as ‘Gongzi’.
Chapter 3, Part 2
SzFong, Anh, Jaya, HPC, Weed, you are most welcome. Here is the end of chapter 3.
Half a day later the two boys happily immersed themselves in the tepid water, washing away the dirt, getting rid of the disgrace. Kou Zhong said with a laugh, “We must have violated Peach Blossom Fiend tonight; first we were tripped by that unruly girl that we tumbled down, then this unruly woman is using us as a bridge. With all these bad luck, the only consolation is that we recover our freedom and preserve our little lives.”
Xu Ziling shook his head as he said with a laugh, “Judging from the Ol’ Du’s foot strength, right now he must be a hundred li away. And when he still cannot find us, he would think that our qinggong [lightness skill] is more formidable than his. Ah! Not right!”
The two boys’ countenance changed. They both realized that if Du Fuwei could not catch up with them, he would come back to search for them here.
‘Knock! Knock!’ Suddenly there was a knock on the door.
The two boys immediately slid down underwater.
“Gongzi! The clothes are here!”
Greatly delighted, the two boys jumped out of the pool, opened the door, took the clothes, hurriedly put them on, and then slipped out the door and walked back toward the rear courtyard.
From all around the courtyard their ears were assaulted by the sound of music and singing, the clamor of people laughing and talking, plus the hooting of people playing finger-guessing game and betting on drinks; it was certainly very noisy and lively. Unfortunately the two boys felt as if they lived in a big cold earth where there was no prospect of life; they were not the least bit affected by the gaiety of the world around them.
Yet they were still unaware that Du Fuwei has just stepped into the main gate of this pleasure house.
The two boys dodged to the left and slipped to the right, finally they reached the rear courtyard. But as soon as they looked around, their hearts sank, because the entire backyard was surrounded by solid, impenetrable tall wall [orig. not one drop can trickle through], more than two zhang high. The only way out was via an iron gate; to them, it was tantamount to a big prison where ‘the heavens was the only way out’.
Kou Zhong threw himself toward the iron gate. But when he felt the lock with his hand, he was shaken, “My mother!” he exclaimed, “Who sawed the padlock?”
Xu Ziling was greatly delighted. “Who cares?” he said, “Let’s go!”
Kou Zhong carelessly tossed the broken padlock and then he forced the door open. Two boys slipped out and reclosed the gate.
While they were still thinking which direction to take, they heard hoof beats. A horse-drawn carriage came out from the shadow across the street. The man driving the carriage called out, “Qingqing! Get in the carriage!”
The two boys were stunned. And then it suddenly dawned on them that Qingqing was going to elope with her sweetheart.
In the meantime the man driving the carriage had seen clearly that they were not Qingqing and her maid; surprised, he halted the carriage.
Kou Zhong waved at him and laughed. Then he and Xu Ziling slipped away into a small lane on the opposite side. But they were only taking two steps when he suddenly stopped, pulled Xu Ziling along, and whispered, “I have a great idea!”
“Under the carriage!” Xu Ziling excitedly replied.
The two boys slapped their hands together and then turned around and hurry back.
The iron gate was opening again, Qingqing and her maid, who by this time have worn men’s clothing, darted out the door and into the carriage.
That ‘Huang Gongzi’ lightly tapped the horsewhip onto the horse’s buttocks, the carriage started moving, and very soon it started accelerating.
Right this moment Du Fuwei had just flown over the wall overlooking the rear courtyard; he saw the carriage moving away. Immediately he exerted his true qi, and jumped into the air. Like a shooting star he flew toward the carriage, and landed about ten zhang behind it. Right away he ran after the carriage.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling saw Du Fuwei’s frightening long legs were getting nearer and nearer; they were so scared that they did not dare to breathe.
Du Fuwei increased his speed and flew toward the window. Focusing his eyes, he looked through the carriage screen and into the dark cabin. As soon as he saw that they were not Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling, he somersaulted and jumped onto the roof of a nearby building to scan the surrounding for fear that the two boys have run far away.
By the time the two boys were breathing a sigh of relief, the carriage had just passed the big board above the city gate, and galloped onward on the official road.
The carriage stopped. Qingqing got out of the carriage door, and sat on the driver seat next to that ‘Huang Gongzi’. Next, the two boys heard kissing sound.
Under the carriage, the two boys were greatly envious.
After half a day, ‘Huang Gongzi’ said, “Do you have it?”
Immensely proud of herself, Qingqing replied, “Of course. I earned these pearls, jewels and money, naturally I am taking everything away.”
Under the carriage, Kou Zhong whispered in Xu Ziling’s ear, “Turns out he is just a dirty old man who swindles money and sex; shall we take a bit of advantage [orig. lead away a goat in passing]?”
Xu Ziling shook his head resolutely. “I don’t want this kind of ‘butchering-meat’ money,” he said, “Don’t forget Niang’s expectation on us.”
A bit nervous, Qingqing said, “Can’t we move a bit faster? Those underlings of Xie Laoda have fast horses.”
The carriage suddenly turned from the official road and continued galloping on the open plain.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling were holding on tight with their hands and feet on the axles. As the carriage traveled along a bumpy field, they were shaken and tossed around so hard that they could not hold on anymore.
Qingqing suddenly asked in horror, “Where are you going?”
‘Huang Gongzi’ replied, “I don’t know why the carriage is particularly slow today. Let us hide in the forest ahead for a while, and then after the pursuing party passed by, we can continue our journey.”
Qingqing did not understand. “Didn’t we prepare a boat ahead? Aren’t we going to board the boat and sail to Poyang? How can we change our plan so easily?”
By this time the carriage had pulled into the forest. That ‘Huang Gongzi’ had Qingqing lighted two wind lanterns. After galloping along a short stretch of road, he stopped the carriage.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling could not hold on anymore, they let go and fell onto the grassy ground underneath the carriage.
Huang Gongzi’s ‘hey hey’ wanton laughter was heard from above. “Come!” he said lecherously, “We nothing to do anyway; let’s get intimate inside the carriage.”
Qingqing angrily responded, “Presently others are frightened and nervous, how can I have the mood? Besides, Xi’er is inside.”
“What are you afraid of?” Huang Gongzi replied, “Sooner or later Xi’er will be mine too!”
From the front, the two people entered the carriage.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling were crawling to stand up. They were about to leave when suddenly from inside the carriage they heard the rustling noise of people struggling, followed by Xi’er’s shrieking, “Let go of my Miss!”
The two boys were startled; they did not expect that not only this Huang Gongzi wanted to swindle money and sex, he also wanted to commit murder. Quickly they sprang up and open the carriage door by force, and just in time to see Huang Gongzi was strangling Qingqing’s throat, while Xi’er has been pushed down by him into the corner.
Kou Zhong rushed inside and punched Huang Gongzi’s back. Huang Gongzi howled in pain and thus his hand loosened.
Xu Ziling grabbed the bun of his hair, with some supernatural power that he did not know he had, he pulled Huang Gongzi’s entire body and threw him outside the carriage without too much trouble.
This man obviously did not know martial art, being punched and kicked by the two boys, he was unable to crawl back up for half a day. “Hero, please spare my life!” he said in quivering voice.
Qingqing stroked her throat while coughing incessantly. With a choked voice she called out, “Stop hitting him!”
The two boys were taken aback. “Don’t you know he wanted to take your money as well as your life?” Kou Zhong asked.
Qingqing nodded. She hastily walked over to give Huang Gongzi’s handsome face several fierce kicks. Finally she sat slumped on the ground dejectedly and angrily shouted, “Get lost!”
Blood had already filled Huang Gongzi’s face; hearing her, it was as if he had just received the Emperor’s pardon. Rolling and crawling he entered the forest, away from the reach of the lantern lights.
By this time the pretty maid Xi’er was helping Qingqing up. Four people, eight eyes met, nobody knew what to say.
Qingqing’s erect breasts rose and fell continuously. Staring at the two boys, her countenance turned ugly as she said, “It’s you!”
Stunned, Kou Zhong said, “Is that how you treat your benefactors who have just saved your life?”
Qingqing stomped her foot, “Even if I am killed, it’s none of your, two little demons’ business.”
Xi’er could not put up with it any longer, she shook Qingqing’s arm and said, “Miss! They are good people!”
Qingqing’s eyes were brimming with tears, yet she was still throwing tantrums, “I don’t care!” she said, “Get lost!”
The two boys felt really awkward. Xu Ziling still gave her earnest and well-meaning advice, “If you know how to ride a horse, just untie the horse pulling the carriage, then you can go a bit faster.”
Throwing his arm around Kou Zhong’s shoulder, with the other arm he waved, and then walked away.
Qingqing threw herself on the ground, crying, “I don’t want those two little demons despise me! I am so angry I want to die!”
Xi’er was still looking at the direction the two boys went. The dark and dense forest seemed to extend far away endlessly. In her heart she mused that after taking a bath, those two boys actually looked better-looking than that Huang Gongzi; no wonder her Miss, who has always been strong-willed and eager to win at everything, did not wish for them to see her falling into misfortune like this.
 Peach Blossom Fiend: I am not too clear about this; it has something to do with astrology, used to describe bad love entanglement.