Happy Heroes 33 Print
Friday, 11 July 2008 20:07

Chapter 32 – The Gold and the Lesson

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People who are tall and burly always appear to have a particularly imposing manner. Even though he was already in his fifties, he still stood there with his back very straight and his eyes sparkling with light. His beard, although not too long, was still very thick and black. The clothes he wore, naturally, had been tailored so they fit him perfectly, and the materials they were made of were magnificent and expensive. Even if you did not know that he was Commander Jin, you would definitely not mistake him for a nobody.

Guo DaLu had figured out in one glance that he was Commander Jin. At the moment Mei RuNan had fled into the house, he had been standing beneath the peach tree in front of his room, admiring the new blossoms and quietly reciting poetry. This Commander Jin appeared to be a refined and cultured man.

When Mei RuNan saw him, her eyes suddenly seemed to fill with tears and she lunged forward, throwing her entire body into his arms. She whispered something to him. Guo DaLu could not hear any of her words but he could see fury flood Commander Jin’s face. “Is that him?” Commander Jin barked. Mei RuNan’s head was nodding nonstop as her tears flowed relentlessly.


Guo DaLu could only watch, feeling amused and in awe of her at the same time. “All women seem to be born with the ability to act.” As he looked again, he saw Commander Jin’s enraged expression intensify.

Glaring fiercely at Guo DaLu, he bellowed, “You dare to run away?”

“I am not running away,” Guo DaLu answered. “Am I not standing here nicely?”

“Good, good… you are good!” Commander Jin snapped. He was so angry that he was unable to speak.

Guo DaLu: “You got it right this time. I have always been good.”

Commander Jin let out a loud roar. “Old man [laofu; referring to himself] is going to be maddened to death!”

Guo DaLu: “That’s good. Maddening one to death means there’s one less out there.”

Commander Jin’s eyes were rolling up into his head so that the whites showed. He looked as if he was going to pass out at any time from anger. Fortunately, Mei RuNan had rushed over just in time to support him. At some point, she had also retrieved a massive, sparkling gold bow from within the house along with a heavy-looking pouch made of muntjac skin.

As Commander Jin took ahold of the great bow, his entire bearing immediately seemed to transform, becoming filled with energy and even more imposing. He even seemed to suddenly grow much younger. Guo DaLu had originally intended to provoke him, but now he dared not be careless. A famous martial arts master with a famous weapon in hand. If you dared to be careless in front of him, you were basically giving your life away.

He heard Commander Jin give a loud yell. “Catch!” The instant this word was shouted out, the whole sky was filled with dancing rays of golden light. Like a torrential rainstorm that carried with it a fierce gale, the lights shot towards Guo DaLu. Sure enough, Commander Jin’s Godly Pellets in Rapid Succession were not fun to play with.

 

Fortunately, Guo DaLu was prepared. Though Commander Jin’s pellets came soaring rapidly, he also caught them just as quickly. If gold came falling down from the sky, no one would be too slow in catching it. Plus, he truly did have some real kung fu abilities.

Mei RuNan was standing off to the side watching. She suddenly called out, “The gluttonous pig is the first to be slaughtered.”

It was not certain whether Guo DaLu had not heard her or had not understood what she was trying to say. He had two very large sacks on him. As the nets in his hand filled up with his catch, he would empty them into those sacks. Commander Jin’s Pellets in Rapid Succession fired twenty-one at a time in a single round of attacks. After every round, however, he needed to pause for a moment to take a breath. This gave Guo DaLu the opportunity to take the golden pellets in the nets and shove them into his sacks.



But no matter how large a sack may be, it will never be like the extravagant desires of humans – it will never be bottomless.



When Guo DaLu left, his sacks were nearly overflowing with golden pellets. He had waited until the bags were full before he made his escape while Commander Jin was catching his breath. Of course, he had wanted to use the fastest speed possible to leave that place, but for some reason, his motions were not as fast as they had been previously. He was lucky that Commander Jin’s body size was so large and his age was not young either. Even if he gave chase, he would not necessarily be able to catch up.

Guo DaLu seemed to recall that there had been a well near the corner of the wall where he had jumped down. It turned out his memory was actually not bad, and surprisingly, his vision had not gone blurry from the brilliant gold light so he was able to quickly locate that well. Yan Qi, naturally, was waiting for him outside.

“There is no ‘and then’ after that. As long as you are able to catch his Pellets in Rapid Succession, you will immediately become a little wealthy man.” A wealthy man would not need to worry about facing the expressions on his loaners’ faces.

As Guo DaLu caressed the gold pellets in his bags, he could not stop a giggle from escaping his lips. He raised his head to take a quick look at the top of the wall. Taking a couple of steps back, he spread his arms out and, using “Sparrow Pierces the Clouds,” he jumped up with all his might. He had used this same move to propel himself onto the wall the last time, so of course he was very confident he could do the same now.

But for some reason, something was not right this time. He had put even more force into this jump now than the one previous, yet even at the peak of his jump, there was at least six or seven feet between him and the top of the wall. His head narrowly missed smashing into the wall, and he almost really did crack it open. Although he avoided splitting his head open, he still ended up falling flat on his back.

“What just happened?” Could it be that his lightness kung fu had suddenly deteriorated? Guo DaLu rubbed his head, all the while thinking that this was creepy, and he could not understand it. And so, if he could not understand, then he would just have to try again. The result was still the same: once more, he nearly put a hole in his skull, and he ended up flat on his back yet again.

All of a sudden, he noticed that, as he was leaping upward, the sacks at his waist seemed to have a pair of hands inside them that were yanking him back down. Of course, the sacks did not have hands inside, only gold pellets. Guo DaLu had finally figured out what was going on. One gold pellet was approximately four liang [1 liang = 50 grams]; forty gold pellets were ten jin [1 jin = 0.5 kg]. Anyone who suddenly gained an extra twenty, thirty jin on his body would find his lightness kung fu greatly reduced. If he had just caught a couple less rounds of attacks a moment ago, he may have already jumped over the wall by now and met up with Yan Qi.

But none of this mattered. There would always be a way to get around this complication. The grass along the edge of the wall was thick and tall. “If I hide these gold pellets in the grass and leaves, no one will ever know.” Who would ever consider that someone would toss gold that he had successfully secured into his hands into a bunch of grass? Guo DaLu snickered again before immediately untying the two bags from his waist and hiding them in the thick grass. And then, he jumped up onto the wall.

He really admired himself. He felt he did things with decisiveness, much creativity, and lots of boldness. If it had been anyone else, right then, they would still be at the foot of the wall racking their brains and maybe Commander Jin would have already caught up to them. It would be bizarre if someone with such creativity like him did not make it rich in the future.

Yan Qi was waiting for him outside. In one breath, Guo DaLu recounted to him the entire event, and then, unable to restrain a grin he asked, “Are you in admiration of me?”

“It is a little too early to be in admiration of you,” Yan Qi told him.

Guo DaLu: “Too early?”

Yan Qi: “The gold pellets are still in someone else’s house right now.”

Guo DaLu laughed. “That’s simple. Isn’t there a long coil of rope on Sour Plum Soup’s saddle?”

Yan Qi nodded. He had seen it there a little while ago also.

Guo DaLu: “So I am going to go back in there now and I will fasten those two sacks onto the rope. You will be on this side of the wall and will heave them out. What do you say? Simple?”

Yan Qi: “Simple.”

Beaming, Guo DaLu said, “A person only needs creativity and then, no matter how difficult a situation may be, it will turn into something very simple.”

Yan Qi could not help letting out a little giggle. “And so you have always been in admiration of yourself.”

Guo DaLu: “I have no choice but to admire myself.”

Mei RuNan’s horse was tied to a tree in front of them, and as expected, there really was a coil of rope on the saddle. Guo DaLu waited on the outside of the wall for a long while. Hearing no activity on the inside, he finally jumped back in. Sure enough, those two sacks had not moved from where he had hidden them. He was extremely pleased with his own judgment. He watched as, from the outside, Yan Qi pulled the two bags up onto the top of the wall, then from there down to the other side. He then heard Yan Qi call in a low voice, “I have caught them. Hurry and come out.”

Only then could Guo DaLu relax. The great task had been successfully accomplished. As he imagined himself going to pay off his debts and how those creditors would fawn over him, he could not hold back a grin that originated from within his heart. And so, he leapt easily up onto the wall. This really was an example of “in a happy occasion, a person is filled with vigor.”

Yan Qi was already standing beneath the tree by the entrance to the lane, waiting for him beside the horse. As he walked over, Sour Plum Soup also came running out from the front door. Guo DaLu could not help asking, “Where is Commander Jin?”

Pursing her lips, she giggled, “He was nearly maddened to death by you. He has gone back to his room to lie down now.”

Guo DaLu: “Are you not worried that he will get suspicious with you sneaking out right now?”

Mei RuNan: “No worries. After I split the loot, I still have plenty of time.” With a charming smile, she added, “It is a good thing that he has so much money he will not be able to spend it all, so it cannot really be considered a crime if we share a little portion for us to spend.”

Yan Qi suddenly piped up, “We had an agreement. It would be a 30/70 split, right?”

Mei RuNan: “Absolutely right.”

Yan Qi: “Good. You take the seventy. We only want thirty.”

Mei RuNanwas silent for a moment in surprise. Guo DaLu, though, nearly jumped into the air as he exclaimed, “What?! You want to give her the seventy percent?”

In a casual tone, Yan Qi replied, “If she wants one hundred percent, then I will give it all to her.”

Guo DaLu: “You… are you suffering from heat stroke? Do you feel a little woozy?”

Yan Qi: “The one with the muddled head is you, not me.” He tossed the two sacks unexpectedly over to him. Guo DaLu had not been paying attention and was not able to catch them on time. The pellets inside the sacks spilled out all over the ground. Not gold pellets. Iron pellets. Guo DaLu stared at those shiny black pellets rolling all around, his eyes seeming to bulge out from their sockets. Yan Qi’s voice was still nonchalant as he asked, “So now you should know who has the muddled head.”

“But I… I had seen without a doubt that those were gold pellets just a moment ago,” Guo DaLu stuttered.

Letting out a sigh, Yan Qi remarked, “It seems that this guy not only has a muddled head but poor eyesight also.”

Guo DaLu stood motionless for a long while in astonishment before finally grabbing one of the bags and giving it a shake. He suddenly saw a sparkly gold pellet roll out. Only one real golden pellet. Mei RuNan picked it up and looked it over. All of a sudden, she cried, “Look. There are words engraved on it.”

Guo DaLu: “What sort of words?”

There was a very peculiar expression on Mei RuNan’s face as she stared at the pellet. After a long time had passed, she finally heaved a lengthy sigh and, with a forced smile, told him, “You should look for yourself.”



There was only a single row of characters etched on that gold pellet: “If a person is too greedy, then even the gold that has come into his hands will turn to waste.”

The gluttonous pig is always the first to be slaughtered. As he thought of these words from Mei RuNan and stared at the sentence engraved on the pellet, the look on Guo DaLu’s face was as if he had eaten three jin of mouldy lotus. Yan Qi looked at him, then looked over at Mei RuNan. Smiling bitterly, he commented, “Commander Jin must have known right from the start what our purpose in coming was.”

Mei RuNan: “Mm.”

Yan Qi: “In addition, he must have also seen through to the fact that you were helping us deceive him.”

Mei RuNan: “Yet he pretended to be oblivious because…” She paused a moment before continuing, “Because he has always been a very generous and ‘dalu’ person. Even if he knew that we were trying to scam a little of his money for our own use, he did not mind. But unfortunately…” She cast a glance over at Guo DaLu and did not carry on further.

Guo DaLu, though, finished off her thought for her. “Unfortunately, I was too greedy, as if I would not be satisfied until I had taken away all of his golden pellets.”

Mei RuNan: “That cannot really be blamed on you.”

Guo DaLu: “If you don’t blame me, then who else would you blame?”

Mei RuNan: “Every person has weaknesses. Regardless of who it may be, a person cannot avoid having instances of greediness at some point in time.”

Yan Qi: “Besides, your greed was not for yourself. If you had not been doing it for your friends, you would not have racked up all those debts.”

Guo DaLu let out a sudden chuckle. “Really, you do not need to console me. I am not feeling upset.”

Mei RuNan: “Oh?”

Guo DaLu: “All that gold may have turned into scrap iron, but this trip of mine was not completely without gain.”

Mei RuNan forced out a laugh. “True. You at least still have the one gold pellet that was left.”

Guo DaLu: “What I gained is not that one pellet.”

Mei RuNan: “What is it then?”

Guo DaLu: “A very good lesson.” He gazed down at the characters etched on that gold pellet and, in a slow tone, explained, “To me, perhaps this lesson has much more value than all the gold in the world put together.”

Mei RuNan stared intently at him. A long while passed before a pretty smile touched her face. “I now finally understand why somebody likes you so much. It is because you really are a very lovable person.”

Guo DaLu: “You only just realized that?”

Mei RuNan: “Mm.”

Grinning widely, Guo DaLu said, “I knew that a long time ago.”

“Unfortunately, though, there is something that you do not know,” Yan Qi interrupted unexpectedly.

Guo DaLu: “What is that?”

Yan Qi: “In the eyes of those people you owe money to, the only time you are lovable is when you go to pay off your debts. Do you know what they will do to you if you have no money for them?”

The grin had disappeared off of Guo DaLu’s face long ago by now. With a pained expression, he shook his head. “Nope.” He only knew for sure that, no matter how good the lesson may be, it still could not be used to pay any debts.

Blinking, Mei RuNan asked them, “You owe people a lot of money?”

Yan Qi: “Mm hm.”

Mei RuNan: “How much do you owe?”

Yan Qi gave a light sigh. “Not much. Just ten thousand liang or so.”

Mei RuNan looked as if she had sucked in a lungful of cold air. She stood there motionless for a long time before announcing abruptly, “Uncle Jin must still be waiting to scold me. I cannot dawdle any longer. See you later.” Before she finished saying this, she had already hopped up onto the horse.

As Guo DaLu watched her gallop off with a hurrying slap to the horse, he could not help heaving a long sigh. “Why is it that once people hear that you are in debt, they will immediately flee?” he grumbled.

Yan Qi pondered this for a moment before answering, “Because she wants to help you learn a very good lesson too.”

Guo DaLu: “What sort of lesson?”

Yan Qi: “If a person wants to live a happy life, it would be best if he is not deep in debt.”

Slowly, Guo DaLu nodded his head in agreement. He added, “If you want your friends to like you, it would also be best if you are not deep in debt.”



This truly is a good lesson and deserves to be taken to heart by everyone. But what if it was for your friends that you are deep in debts?

“I think it would be better if you lay low and sneak away to some other place to hide for a few days,” Yan Qi suggested.

Guo DaLu opened his eyes wide and glowered at him. “You want me to run away?”

Yan Qi: “You promised people that you would pay off everything in two days. How can you go back emptyhanded?”

Guo DaLu: “Do you think I would do something that was so disgraceful?”

Yan Qi: “But you have a bunch of debts.”

Guo DaLu: “Owing debts is one thing; running away is a completely different matter. Debts can be repaid at some point in time, but if you run away from your debts, then you are not even worthy to be a human being.”

Yan Qi eyes fixed intently on him as he smiled alluringly and said, “You truly are a human being.”

“And furthermore, a very lovable one. Just a little poor, that’s all,” Guo DaLu chuckled.

This was a matter of principle. If a person wants to honour his own principles, then at times, things may not be very easy. However, if you are able to stand by your principles in any sort of circumstance, then you will discover that, not only will you always have peace of mind when you are alive, but even when you die, your eyes will close in peace. So long as a person is able to have peace of mind in life and in death, then what consequence is it whether he is poor or not? Of course, if someone is able to be a little wealthier, that is not a bad thing either.



“Are you rich or poor?” This question is not important. The truly important question is, “Are you worthy to be a human being?”



Wealthy Manor always looked the same. Regardless of how you looked at it, you would not be able to see any hint of wealthiness. This morning, though, there seemed to be something different about it. There were four mules stopped in front of the manor today along with several smartly-dressed servants resting in the shade of the trees outside the front door.

Yan Qi had spotted them from a distance and he could not help giving a little sigh. With a cynical smile, he commented, “So it seems your loaners are already inside waiting for you.”

Guo DaLu: “Mm.”

Yan Qi: “How are you planning on getting rid of them?”

Guo DaLu: “There is only one thing I can do.”

Yan Qi: “What is that?”

Guo DaLu: “Tell them the truth.” Rays of light from the newly risen sun shone upon him. His face was forthright and honest and looked as if it was also emitting a certain sort of radiance. He carried on, “I plan on being very frank and telling them that, even though I do not have any money to pay them now, I will think of ways and I will pay them back in the future…. This may not be a great plan, but I really cannot think of anything else.”

Yan Qi’s eyes were fixed on him. “Of course you cannot think of anything else,” he said with a slight smile, “because that is the best possible plan. There is not a better plan in this world.”



There were a total of six creditors. Six creditors stood in the courtyard, waiting.

Once Guo DaLu stepped inside, he immediately said in a loud voice, “Sirs, my sincerest apologies. Although I do not have money to pay you at the moment, I…”

He did not have a chance to finish before someone cut him off. A shopkeeper who was surnamed Qian jumped in and asked, “Does Guo Daye [“sir” or “mister”; used often to address a patron] think we are here to demand payments?”

Guo DaLu was taken aback. “That is not what you are here for?”

Shopkeeper Qian beamed, “We were afraid that the supplies here were insufficient so we purposely hurried here to bring more to Daye.”

“But… but I owe all of you money,” Guo DaLu replied hesitantly.

Another shopowner whose surname was Zhang rushed in to answer first. “Your debts have all been paid off by someone already.”

Smiling apologetically, Shopkeeper Qian told him, “That really was just a small sum.”

Stunned, Guo DaLu stood there for a long while. At last, he could not help wondering, “Who paid all of it for me?”

“To be honest, we do not know either,” Shopkeeper Zhang answered with a chuckle.

Even more puzzled by this, Guo DaLu asked, “How is it that even you do not know?”

Shopkeeper Qian: “When I arose out of my bed this morning, I saw several piles of money on the table outside…”

Guo DaLu could not help interrupting to ask, “Several piles? How can money be talked about as piles?”

Shopkeeper Qian: “Because not all the money there was the same. Some bore the seals of Jinan while others had the seal of the capital city, and they were sorted into separate piles. However, beneath each pile was a slip of paper that wrote very clearly that it was to pay off Guo Daye’s debts.”

Shopkeeper Zhang: “It must be friends of Guo Daye who knew that Guo Daye has been a little tight on cash lately, and so they specially brought some money here. They were scared, though, that Daye would not accept it, so then they sent it straight to my humble little establishment.”

Shopkeeper Qian smiled ruefully. “Guo Daye’s friends must all be good men of jianghu who are loyal and value brotherhood. We may be small businesses, but we are not petty people who are swayed by self-gain.”

Shopkeeper Zhang gave another apologetic smile as he explained, “So that is why we rushed over here first thing this morning.” Of course they needed to rush there right away. Having encountered personages of jianghu who could go in and out of their houses whenever they pleased, how could they dare to not butter up to them? Plus, there was lots of money that they could get out of it.

Guo DaLu was bewildered and unable to make sense of any of it. Even Yan Qi’s voice was astounded as he asked, “How many piles of money in total were there that you accepted?”

Shopkeeper Qian: “Three piles altogether. Not only was there enough to pay off all the bills, there was some left over too.”

Shopkeeper Zhang: “So, whatever Guo Daye may need for the next two months, please just feel free to come take it from my little shop.”

Shopkeeper Qian smiled. “But now, we do not dare trouble you any longer. We shall give our farewells.”

Each one of them then bowed respectfully and withdrew out of the manor. Even after they had stepped past the front door, they were still sighing and whispering amongst themselves. “I did not imagine that Guo Daye would have so many good friends.”

“Obviously, that is because Guo Daye is always a loyal friend himself.”

“Making friends has always been about loyalty and brotherhood in exchange for loyalty and brotherhood. A friend like Guo Daye, I, too, would be willing to befriend him.”

Only after everyone had left was Guo DaLu able to breathe out a long breath. “Am I really a very loyal friend?”

Yan Qi batted his eyes at him and, with a grin, answered, “It seems like it. Otherwise, why would someone pay your debts for you?”

Guo DaLu: “So it turns out that not everyone will flee when they hear that you owe a bunch of money.”

Yan Qi: “Very true.”

Guo DaLu sighed, “But where did these very loyal friends of mine suddenly come from?”

Yan Qi: “You cannot think of any?”

Guo DaLu: “Even if you split open my head, I wouldn’t be able to think of any.”

Yan Qi: “Then there is no need to think.”

Guo DaLu: “Why?”

Yan Qi: “Because what those people said makes sense: making friends has always been about loyalty and brotherhood in exchange for loyalty and brotherhood. They paid your debts today, naturally, because you did something for them in the past that a good friend would do.”

The smile on Guo DaLu’s face was cynical. “But why is it that I still cannot think of who it may be?”

Yan Qi: “There are many possibilities. For example, Red Ant, Madam Wei, Mei RuJia, or even those bandits that had deceived you. If any of them knew that you were being pressured for money to the point that you were ready to throw yourself into the river, they possibly could have secretly paid the debts for you.” He suddenly added, “Even Commander Jin and Sour Plum Soup are possibilities.”

Guo DaLu: “Why?”

“Because you are a very good friend,” Yan Qi told him in a charming voice, “and a very lovable person.”

Laughing, Guo DaLu mumbled to himself, “Perhaps it really was them. I did not think they would still remember me…”

His laughter was filled with happiness and gratitude. He was grateful but not because they helped him to pay off his debts – he was grateful for their friendship.

As long as friendship is present in this world, there will forever be light. Look! The sun was shining upon the earth at that very moment. Everywhere was sparkling with a golden light, as if Heaven had specially cast a slice of gold down for the people who knew to treasure friendship.

This has always been a world of gold. There is only one thing that matters: do you know how to discern what is genuine gold, what is truly worth treasuring?



End of Chapter 32