Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
After a while, Master Hong and Grandpa Cai came out from inside the house.
Grandpa Cai had an old brown monk’s robe over his white coat, still with his belly open, with just a bowl of water in his hand.
“Come here, children, come here.” He raised his hand and greeted the two children with a smile.
Lu Rong wrapped his arm around Shen Jize’s waist and didn’t move, nor was he allowed to pass, so Shen Jize could only half-hug, half-push him toward Master Hong.
“Grandpa.” Lu Rong again panicked and scurried to hide behind Grandpa Cai.
He didn’t want this man to exorcise him… What if he turned into a deer? Would Grandpa drive him away and would his brother not be good to him anymore? With the thought of that scene, he couldn’t control his shaking.
Master Hong gave a violent shout, his face sank and his eyes opened angrily then roared. Shen Jize flinched, Lu Rong even tightened his arms around Grandpa Cai, head buried in his waist.
“Master, master. Don’t scare the child.” Grandpa Cai felt some heartache. Grandpa Cai instantly retracted his grim expression and explained with a harmonious face. “It’s okay old brother, I’m driving away evil things first. I didn’t even take the stick, only drank.”
Master Hong’s left hand cupped the water, his right hand splashed the water and flicked it at Shen Jize, then lowered his eyes, as his mouth chanted. When he went to flick the water to Lu Rong, the boy circled around Grandpa Cai and his mouth screamed shrilly.
“Don’t be afraid, my child. Isn’t this to drive away evil spirits? The master will just sprinkle some water on you, it doesn’t hurt.” Grandpa Cai, whose sweatshirt was wrinkled out of shape, hastened to reassure his boy.
Lu Rong continued to circle around Grandpa Cai, clutching his sweatshirt with white knuckles, a face that had lost its color and eyes full of fear, like some kind of frightened little animal.
Shen Jize couldn’t hold back any longer and rushed forward to block Master Hong, “Don’t sprinkle water on him, he’s scared. Don’t sprinkle water on him.”
Grandpa Cai also became anxious when he saw Lu Rong’s appearance, and said repeatedly, “My child will not run away, no more.”
Master Hong held the bowl, his face full of oil and sweat was full of helplessness, “Don’t be afraid, child, this water was just scooped out of the water tank.” After saying that, he raised it to his mouth and gulped two mouthfuls.
Grandpa Cai was stunned and thought, When you took my eggs, didn’t you say this was some kind of Buddha saliva?
Lu Rong hid behind Grandpa Cai, keeping one eye on Master Hong, watching him drink half of the bowl in one gulp before he stopped screaming, but his eyes were still wary, not allowing him to approach.
Grandpa Cai wrung his waist and wiped the sweat off his forehead with his palm, “Master, my child is really scared. Don’t spill water on him.”
Master Hong said, “Then won’t the rest of this Buddha’s saliva go to waste?”
“If it’s a waste, it’s a waste.” Grandpa Cai saw that Lu Rong’s face had not yet improved and was so distressed that his tone wasn’t very nice.
Master Hong, however, did not comment, only stood still. Grandpa Cai had been a village head for many years, so he had seen almost everything. He knew how these things went, so he said, “The water won’t be sprinkled, but the eggs and peanuts are the sincerity of the child, or should be left to the gods and Buddhas.”
Master Hong was instantly satisfied and walked to the front of the chicken pen with the remaining half bowl of water and poured it into the bowl of water in the food trough. The chickens were obviously thirsty even in this sweltering summer heat, and all stretched out their heads to peck at the water and drink.
He put the empty bowl under his armpit, paced back slowly, and when the two children weren’t looking, he slapped each of them on the head, “Clear your ears, clear your eyes, and leave no filth behind.”
Shen Jize was coldly tapped, and hurriedly looked at Lu Rong, afraid that he would be scared again. Seeing that he only stiffened for a moment and didn’t overreact, he was relieved.
“Okay, child, it’s okay.” Master Hong took off that monk’s robe again and rolled it into a ball to wipe the sweat from his forehead, “This weather… it’s so hot when you move around.”
Grandpa Cai asked Lu Rong in a low voice, “Hey, how are you doing? Loosen your grip on grandpa a little.”
Only then did Lu Rong release his grip on Grandpa Cai’s shirt and said in a mosquito-like whisper, “Grandpa, I’m fine.”
Shen Jize came over and took him aside. Seeing that the child’s head was covered with sweat, he fanned him with his hat, “What are you afraid of? It’s just a little water, it’s cool and comfortable.”
Lu Rong pursed his lips, his face was aggrieved.
“Okay, okay, not saying anything, not saying anything.” Shen Jize continued to fan him.
“Elder Brother Cai, the angelica I planted in my backyard doesn’t seem to be growing well. Would you help me take a look?” Master Hong asked Grandpa Cai with a conciliatory smile.
Grandpa Cai had been leading the village in growing medicinal herbs, and although he was not too comfortable with Master Hong scaring Lu Rong into crying, he said, “Let’s go and take a look.”
By the time the two of them went through the house to the backyard, Lu Rong had finally recovered his spirit, and there was a kind of celebration after the robbery.
Shen Jize had the heart to cheer him up, so he said, “Rong Rong, brother will show you around the courtyard, there may be something interesting.”
Lu Rong didn’t really want to move, but his lips only opened and closed and he was led by Shen Jize through the courtyard.
The courtyard wasn’t large, and a separate house on the side took up most of it. The house was ancient in shape, surrounded by high flying eaves, and from the open door of the house Shen Jize could see the Bodhisattva inside.
Not just one, but four sitting in rows behind an offering table. He became interested in the Bodhisattva and led Lu Rong inside, “There’s a Bodhisattva statue in that room. Let’s go and have a look.”
Lu Rong knew from a very young age that he was different from normal people, and subconsciously shied away from such things that exorcise demons and remove them. When he followed Grandpa Cai to the temple for blessings and incense during the New Year, he would never enter and would only stand under the ancient tree.
Demons should have demon self-consciousness, even if it was a good demon like Deer Wukong, he also had to avoid all the risks that may expose him. He was also a little tired, so only slightly struggled, but didn’t break free, just let it go.
Crossing the high threshold, he had just moved into the house to feel the cold attack, blocking the heat outside the house, so that people’s pores were stretched, as the summer heat dissipated.
The four idols were sitting on the platform behind the offering table, and the outer layer of paint was old and mottled, revealing the clay tires below. All four had the same hand resting on their legs, and you couldn’t see any difference between them.
The craftsmen may be one of the former villagers nearby, usually a masonry or something, so the idols looked rough and perfunctory. In the middle, there was a small hole in the eyes, left empty, then filled with a black bean. The master had probably used dried black beans close to the bridge of the nose, so now it looked like a cock-eye.
The one on the far side was wrapped in red cloth, only its face was exposed, but the paint on the face was obviously newer than the other three.
Shen Jize looked carefully for a while, and then said seriously to Lu Rong, “Look more. Remember it in your heart, these can be essay materials.”
Lu Rong came in with his head down, and only looked at his shoes. He listened to what Shen Jize said before he reluctantly looked up and said, “I finished reading. It’s all in my mind. Let’s go out.”
Shen Jize was greedy for the cold air and didn’t want to go out. He took Lu Rong’s hand as his mouth coaxed, “Look at the wall, there are paintings, frescoes.”
There was light falling on the ground through the window at the back of the house, and it also reflected the earthen wall on the left, which was covered with light black marks.
Lu Rong was also curious. He no longer insisted on going out, and went closer to see the wall. The painting on the wall looked like a child had drawn with a black charcoal pencil in a haphazard way. Some places had a pattern, while some places were a random mass of lines.
Trying to identify the pile of messy lines, Lu Rong thought he saw three odd-shaped things hugging each other.
“This is a dog… Look, it has four legs.” Shen Jize said, pointing to one of the diminutive masses, “with two tree branches stuck on its head.”
Lu Rong stared in the direction of his finger and thought it didn’t look much like a dog, and that those weren’t tree branches on its head, but an antler. He used to love watching the animal world, because sometimes he could see a wild deer on the prairie, so he knew that an adult deer’s antlers weren’t as short as his, but thick and strong, and forked.
They looked so majestic, with shiny fur and antlers that could effortlessly pierce the belly of any beast and pick it up high, like poking a stick of tanghulu. Deer legs were tough and strong, and they could do a lot with their hooves and a large lion could be kicked away. It was complete prairie domination!
…But the truth was:
“Night is falling, the vast and ancient prairie, and the battle for life… This is the tenth wild deer this lion has captured since spring… The fawn, still eating leaves, is dragged up the tree by the orangutan… The doe made a sharp stop and turned to escape, and a leopard came charging back out…”
This made Lu Rong so frustrated that he stopped watching Animal World at the back, preferring to change the channel to watch commercials. But the dog painted on the wall might be a deer, which he didn’t say out loud.
He usually didn’t like to mention deer, since it was purely what he was most concerned about and what he deliberately wouldn’t mention, even if what was spoken was actually quite normal.
“These three dogs huddled together in a fight… No, no, not three dogs, another one like a horse and one like a lion… Look there is a snake here.” Shen Jize was still looking closely at the mural, pointing out the explanation. Finally, unable to identify it, he said with a sigh of relief, “It’s too ugly to tell what it is.”
Lu Rong also looked at the mural, looking at the so-called three hugging dogs, and a snake on their heads. The snake was painted like a rotten hemp rope, with a few dots underneath, and when he looked closer, it looked like claws.
“What kind of snake has claws? Rong Rong, have you ever seen one?” Shen Jize frowned and asked.
Before Lu Rong could answer, a voice rang out behind him, “That’s the three gods we worship here at the Temple of the Three Gods.”
The two turned their heads and saw Master Hong standing behind them at some point, smiling and looking at the wall.
“Quickly worship, worship, worship the gods when you enter the Buddha Hall.” Grandpa Cai, who was standing at the door, also entered the room and knelt on a dirty tatami mat.
Shen Jize and Lu Rong dawdled over to him, knelt on the mat next to him, and followed his example of worship.
Master Hong stood next to them and introduced, “This is the idol of the three gods, and the one you see painted on the wall is the real body of the three gods.”
When the two children got up after paying their respects, Shen Jize couldn’t help but point at the eyes of the statue in front of him and ask, “Master Hong, are those black beans in its eyes?”
Master Hong slapped his hand down and turned to the statue and bowed, “Children don’t know what they’re saying. My apologies, unequalled Gods of Three.” He turned his head to explain, “That is a black stone from Mount Qiuwu, used to dot the eyes of the idol.”
Shen Jize: …You’ve fooled the three gods and now you want to fool me?