The Outlaws of the Marsh Chapter 7 The Tattooed Monk Uproots a Willow Tree

The Outlaws of the Marsh

Chapter 7  The Tattooed Monk Uproots a Willow Tree
Lin Chong Enters White Tiger Inner Sanctum by Mistake

Among the twenty to thirty knaves who lived outside Sour Date Gate, two were leaders. One was Rat Crossing the Street Zhang the Third. The other was Snake in the Grass Li the Fourth. These two were in the lead as the gang advanced. Sagacious naturally walked forward to meet them.
The gang halted at the edge of the ordure pit and chorused: "We've come to congratulate you on your new post."
"Since you're neighbors," said Sagacious, "come into the compound and sit a while."
Zhang and Li dropped to their knees respectfully. They hoped that the monk would approach to raise them courteously to their feet. Then they could go into action.
Noticing this, Sagacious grew suspicious. "This gang is a queer-looking lot, and they're not willing to come forward. Can they be planning to dump me?" he wondered. "The louts think they can pluck the tiger's whiskers. Well, I'll go to them, and show them how I use my hands and feet."
Sagacious strode up to the gang. Still kneeling, Zhang and Li cried: "We younger brothers have come especially to pay our respects," and each reached to grab one of the monk's legs.
But before they could even lay a finger on him, Sagacious lashed out with his right foot and kicked Li into the ordure pit. Zhang rose to flee, but a quick thrust of the monk's left leg and the two rascals were floundering in the foul mess together.
Startled, the rest of the gang gaped, then turned to run.
"Whoever moves goes into the pit," bellowed Sagacious.
The scoundrels froze, not daring to take a step.
Zhang and Li now raised their heads out of the ordure. The pit seemed bottomless, and they were covered with excrement. Maggots clung to their hair. Standing in the filth they wailed: "Reverend, forgive us!"
"Help those two dogs out, you oafs," Sagacious shouted to the gang, "and I'll forgive you all."
The rogues quickly hauled their leaders from the pit and helped them over to a gourd arbour. The two stank to high heaven.
Sagacious roared with laughter. "Fools! Go and wash off in the pond. Then I want to talk to all of you."
After the two gang leaders had cleansed themselves, some of their men removed their own clothing to give them a change of garments.
"Come into the compound," Sagacious ordered. "We're going to have a talk."
He sat down in the midst, pointed his finger at them and scoffed, "You ragamuffins! Did you think you could fool me? How could pricks like you ever hope to make sport of me?"
Zhang, Li and the whole gang dropped to their knees. "Our families have lived here for generations," they said, "supporting themselves by gambling and begging and robbing these vegetable fields. The monastery paid people several times to drive us away, but no one could handle us. Where are you from, Reverend? Such a terrific fellow! We've never seen you at the monastery before. From now on, we'll be happy to serve you." "I'm from Yanan Prefecture, west of the Pass. I used to be a major, under his excellency the garrison commander Old General Zhong. But because I killed many men, I took refuge in a monastery and became a monk. Before coming here, I was on Mount Wutai. My family name is Lu. On entering the Buddhist order I was given the name Sagacious. Even if surrounded by an army of thousands, I could hack my way out. What do you twenty or thirty amount to!"
The knaves loudly and respectfully voiced their agreement with these sentiments. They thanked the monk for his mercifulness and withdrew. Sagacious went into the house, put his things in order, then went to bed.
The next day, after talking the matter over, the rogues scraped some money together and bought ten bottles of wine. Leading a live pig, they called on Sagacious and invited him to join them in a feast. A table was laid in the overseer's compound. Sagacious sat at the head of the table, with the twenty to thirty rascals lining both sides. Everyone drank.
"Why are you spending so much money?" the monk asked.
"We're lucky," they replied. "Now that you are here you can be our master."
Sagacious was very pleased. Wine flowed freely and the party grew lively. There was singing and talking and applause and laughter. Just as the merriment was at its height, crows were heard cawing outside the gate.
Some of the men piously clacked their teeth and they intoned together: "Red lips rise to the sky, white tongue enters the earth."
"What are you making such a blasted racket about?" demanded Sagacious.
The vagabonds replied: "When crows caw, it means there's going to be a quarrel."
"Rot!" said the monk.
One of the lay brothers who tilled the monastery's fields laughed and said, "In the willow tree beside the wall there's a new crow's nest. The birds caw from dawn to dusk."
"Let's get a ladder and destroy the nest," said some.
"I'll do it," volunteered several of the others.
Feeling his wine, Sagacious went out with the crowd to take a look. Sure enough, there was a crow's nest in the willow tree.
"Get a ladder and tear the nest down," said the men. "Then our ears can have a little peace and quiet."
"I'll climb up and do the job," boasted Li, "and I don't need any ladder."
Sagacious looked the situation over, walked up to the tree and removed his cassock. He bent and grasped the lower part of the trunk with his right hand, while his left hand seized it higher up, then gave a tremendous wrench—and pulled the tree from the ground, roots and all!
The knaves dropped to their knees, crying: "The master is no ordinary mortal! He's truly one of the Lohans! If he didn't have ten million catties of strength, how could he have uprooted that tree?"
"It was nothing at all," Lu said. "One of these days I'll show you how to handle weapons."
That night the vagabonds departed. But they came again the next day, and every day thereafter, bringing meat and wine to feast Sagacious, for they positively worshipped him. They begged the monk to demonstrate his skill with weapons.
After several days of this, Sagacious thought to himself: "These fellows have been treating me day after day. I ought to give them a banquet in return." He sent a few lay brothers into the city to buy several platters of fruit and five or six buckets of wine, and he killed a pig and slaughtered a sheep. It was then the end of the third lunar month.
"The weather's getting warm," said Sagacious. He had mats spread beneath the green ash tree and invited the rascals to sit around and feast outdoors.
Wine was served in large bowls and meat in big chunks. When everyone had eaten his fill, the fruit was brought out and more wine. Soon the feasters were thoroughly sated.
"The past few days you've demonstrated your strength, master," said the rogues, "but you still haven't shown us your skill with weapons. It would be fine it you could give us a performance."
"All right," said Sagacious. He went into the house and brought out his solid iron Buddhist staff, five feet long from end to end and weighing sixty-two catties.
His audience was amazed. "Only a man with the strength of a water buffalo in his arms could handle such a weapon," they cried.
Sagacious took up the staff and flourished it effortlessly, making it whistle through the air. The vagabonds cheered and applauded.
Just as the monk was warming up, a gentleman appeared at a gap in the compound wall. "Truly remarkable," he commended. Sagacious stopped his exercise and turned to see who had spoken.
The gentleman wore a black muslin cap with its two corners gathered together; a pair of interlinked circlets of white jade held the knot of hair at the back of his head. He was dressed in a green officer's robe of flowered silk, bound at the waist by a girdle made of double strips of beaver and fastened by a silver clasp shaped like a tortoise back. His feet were shod in square-toed black boots. In his hand he carried a folding Chengdu fan. About thirty-five years old, he had a head like a panther, round eyes, a chin sharp as a swallow's beak, whiskers like a tiger and was very tall.
"Indeed remarkable," he said. "What excellent skill."
"If he approves, it certainly must be good," said the vagabonds.
"Who is that officer?" queried Sagacious.
"An arms instructor of the Mighty Imperial Guards. His name is Lin Chong."
"Invite him in. I'd like to meet him."
Hearing this, the arms instructor leaped in through the gap in the wall. The two men greeted each other and sat down beneath the ash tree.
"Where are you from, brother monk?" asked Lin. "What is your name?"
"I'm Lu Da, from west of the Pass. Because I killed many men, I had to become a monk. In my youth, I spent some time in the Eastern Capital. I know your honorable father, Major Lin."
Lin Chong was very pleased, and adopted Sagacious as his sworn brother on the spot.
"What brings you here today, Arms Instructor?" asked Sagacious.
"My wife and I just arrived at the Temple of the Sacred Mountain next door to burn incense. Hearing the cheers of your audience, I looked over and was intrigued by your performance. I told my wife and her maidservant, Jin Er, to burn the incense without me, that I would wait for them by the gap in the wall. I didn't think I would actually have the honor to meet you, brother."
"When I first came here I didn't know anybody," said Sagacious. "Then I became acquainted with these brothers and we gather together every day. Today, you have thought well enough of me to make me your sworn brother. That makes me very happy." He ordered the lay brothers to bring more wine.
Just as they were finishing their third round, the maidservant Jin Er, agitated and red in the face, rushed up to
the gap in the wall and cried: "Hurry, master! Our lady is having trouble with a man in the temple!"
"Where?" Lin Chong demanded hastily.
"As we were coming down the stairs of the Five Peaks Pavilion, a low fellow suddenly blocked her way. He won't let her pass."
Lin Chong quickly took his leave of Sagacious. "I'll see you again, brother. Forgive me!" He leaped through the gap in the wall and raced with Jin Er back to the temple.
When he reached the Five Peaks Pavilion he saw several idlers carrying crossbows, blowpipes and limed sticks gathered below the stair railing. They were watching a young man who was standing on the stairway with his back to them, blocking the path of Lin Chong's wife.
"Let's go upstairs," the young man was urging her. "I want to talk to you."
Blushing, the lady said, "What right do you have to make sport of a respectable woman in times of peace and order!"
Lin pushed forward, seized the young man by the shoulder and spun him around. "I'll teach you to insult a good man's wife," he shouted, raising his fist. Then he recognized Young Master Gao, adopted son of Marshal Gao Qiu, commander of the Imperial Guards.
When Gao Qiu first rose to high office he had no son to help him run his numerous affairs. And so he adopted the son of his uncle, Gao the Third. Since the boy was not only his cousin but now also his foster son, Marshal Gao loved him to excess.
The young scoundrel made full use of his foster father's influence in the Eastern Capital. His favorite pastime was despoiling other men's wives. Fearful of his powerful connections, none of the husbands dared speak out against him. He became known as the "King of Lechers."
When Liu Chong saw that he was Young Master Gao, the strength left his arms.
"This has nothing to do with you, Lin Chong," said Gao. "Who asked you to interfere!" He didn't realize that the lady was Lin Chong's wife. Had he known, the thing would never have happened. Seeing Lin Chong's hesitancy, he spoke boldly.
The commotion drew a crowd of idlers. "Don't be angry, Arms Instructor," one said. "The young master didn't recognize her. It was all a mistake."
Lin Chong's rage hadn't fully abated, and he glared at the rake with burning eyes. Some of the crowd soothed Lin Chong while others persuaded Gao to leave the temple grounds, get on his horse and depart.
Lin Chong was turning to go with his wife and Jin Er, the maidservant, when Sagacious, iron staff in hand, came charging into the temple compound with huge strides, leading his twenty to thirty vagabonds.
"Where are you going, brother?" asked Lin Chong.
"I've come to help you fight," said Sagacious.
"The man turned out to be the son of our Marshal Gao. He hadn't recognized my wife and behaved discourteously. I was going to give the lout a good drubbing, but then I thought it would make the marshal lose too much face," Lin Chong explained. "You know the old saying, 'Fear not officials—except those who officiate over you!' After all, I'm on his payroll. I decided to let the young rascal off this time."
"You many be afraid of the marshal, but he doesn't scare me a bit," shouted Sagacious. "If I ever run into that young whelp of his I'll give him three hundred licks of my iron staff."
Lin Chong saw that Sagacious was drunk and he said: "You're quite right, of course, brother. It was only because everybody urged me that I let him go."
"The next time you have any trouble, just call me and I'll take care of it!"
The knaves supported the tipsy Sagacious under the arms. "Let's go back, Reverend," they said. "You can deal with young Gao later."
Iron staff in hand, Sagacious said politely to Lin Chong's lady: "Your pardon, sister-in-law. Please don't laugh at me." And to Lin Chong he said: "Until tomorrow, brother." Then he and the vagabonds departed.
Lin Chong, his wife and Jin Er returned home. The arms instructor was angry and depressed.
As for Young Master Gao, when he had drifted into the temple leading his band of idle cronies and met Lin Chong's wife, he had become sorely enamored. After Lin Chong drove him off, he returned unhappily to the marshal's residence.
A few days later, his ne'er-do-well friends called. But they found him so fretful and irritable that they went away.
One of these idlers was an attendant named Fu An, better known as Dried Pecker Head. He suspected what was troubling Young Master Gao," and later went alone to the residence. The young rake was sitting abstracted in the study.
Fu An drew near and said: "You've been rather pale lately, Young Master. You seldom smile. Something must be bothering you."
"How do you know?"
"I'm just guessing."
"Can you guess what it is?"
"Lin Chong's wife. How's that for a guess?"
The Young Master laughed. "Not bad. The problem is I don't know how to get her."
"Nothing to it. You're afraid to provoke Lin Chong because he's a big powerful fellow. But you needn't worry. He's under the marshal's command and is being well provided for. Would he dare to offend? The least that could happen to him is exile, the worst is death. Now I've got a little scheme that will put his wife right into you hands."
"I've met many beautiful women. Why should I love only her? My heart is bewitched, I'm not happy. If you have a scheme that will work, I'll reward you generously."
"One of your trusted men, Captain Lu Qian, is Lin Chong's best friend. Tomorrow, prepare a feast in a quiet nook upstairs in Lu Qian's house. Have Lu invite Lin out for some drinking. Let Lu take him to a secluded room on the upper floor of the Fan Pavilion Tavern. I'll go to Lin's wife and say: 'Your husband has been drinking in Lu Qian's house and has been stricken by a sudden illness. He's collapsed. You'd better hurry and look after him.' Then I'll bring her over to Lu's place, where you'll be waiting. Women are as changeable as water. When she sees what a handsome romantic sort you are, Young Master, and you deluge her with sweet words, she won't be able to resist. What do you think of my plan?"
"Excellent," Gao applauded. "Have Captain Lu Qian summoned here tonight."
It so happened that Lu Qian lived only one street away from the Gao residence. He agreed to the scheme immediately. He felt he had no alternative. As long as it would please the Young Master, he was willing to forget his friendship with the arms instructor.
To get back to Lin Chong. For several days he had been brooding at home. One morning he heard someone shouting at his front door: "Is the arms instructor in?"
Lin Chong went to the door, and there was Lu Qian.
"What brings you here, Brother Lu?" Lin asked quickly.
"I'm concerned about you. Why haven't I seen you on the streets these past few days, brother?"
"My mind is troubled. I don't feel like going out."
"Come and have a few cups with me and forget about your trouble."
"First sit a while and have some tea."
After the two finished their tea, they rose.
"Sister-in-law," Lu Qian called to Lin Chong's wife who was in the next room, "I'm taking Brother Lin over to my place for a few cups of wine."
The lady hurried to the door curtain and pushed it aside. "Don't let him drink too much, brother," she admonished. "Send him home early."
The two men strolled down the street. "Let's not go to my house, brother," Lu Qian said. "We can have our drinks in the Fan Pavilion."
They went to the tavern. They selected a small room and ordered two bottles of good wine and some tidbits to go with it. For a time they chatted idly. Lin Chong sighed.
"What's wrong, brother?" asked Lu Qian.
"You don't know what's happened. I have talents but no intelligent superior to recognize them. I serve under little men from whom I have to take a lot of dirty nonsense."
"There are several arms instructors in the Imperial Guards, but none can compare with you. The marshal regards you very highly. Who would dare to molest you?"
Lin Chong told Lu Qian about his encounter with Young Master Gao a few days before.
"The Young Master didn't realize she was your wife," Lu Qian said soothingly. "It's not serious. Forget it. Let's drink."
Lin Chong downed eight or nine cups. Soon he had to relieve himself. He got up and said, "I have to wash my hands." He went down the stairs, left the tavern, and attended to his business in a small lane to the east. As he was coming out, he met Jin Er.
"I've been looking all over for you, master," said the maidservant. "So you're here!"
"What's up?" asked Lin Chong hastily.
"You had only been gone a little while when a man come rushing over to our house and said to the mistress, 'I'm a neighbor of Captain Lu. While drinking with him, me arms instructor suddenly gasped for breath and fell to the floor. You'd better go and look after him.' Our lady begged Dame Wang next door to take care of our house, then she and I hurried with the man to a place one street past the marshal's residence. When we got upstairs we saw a table laden with food and drink, but mere was no sign of you, master.
"As we turned to leave, that young fellow who pestered the mistress at the temple the other day came out and leered: 'Stay a while, lady. Your true husband is here!' I flew down the stairs. Our mistress was screaming for help. I couldn't find you anywhere. Finally I met Doctor Zhang, the medicine vendor, and he told me: 'I just saw the arms instructor and another man going into the tavern.' so I hurried over here. Master, go quickly!"
Shocked, Lin Chong without waiting for Jin Er, ran at triple speed to Lu Qian's house and raced up the stairs. The door was locked. He could hear his lady exclaiming: "In times of peace and order how dare you hold a good man's wife prisoner!" Young Master Gao was entreating: "Have pity on me, mistress. Even a woman of iron and stone shouldn't be so cold-hearted!"
"Wife, open the door," thundered Lin Chong.
Hearing her husband's voice, Mistress Lin rushed to comply. The terrified Young Master Gao pushed open a window, climbed out and fled along the top of a wall. He was gone before Lin Chong entered the room.
"Did that dog violate you?" demanded the arms instructor.
"No," replied his wife.
In a fury, Lin Chong smashed Lu Qian's furniture to bits, then led his wife down the stairs. As they came out of the house, frightened neighbors on both sides of the street hastily shut their doors tight. Jin Er was waiting for them outside. The three of them went home together.
Lin Chong armed himself with a sharp knife and sped directly to the tavern in search of Lu Qian. But his treacherous friend was gone. Lin Chong went to Lu Qian's house and waited outside the door all night. But Lu Qian did not return. Finally the arms instructor went home.
"He didn't harm me. Don't do anything foolish," his wife urged.
"Who would have thought that Lu Qian is such a scoundrel," fumed Lin Chong. "Calling me 'brother' while plotting against me all the time. Even if I can't catch that Young Master I won't let Lu Qian off!'"
His wife pleaded desperately with him to remain at home.
Meanwhile, Lu Qian hid in the marshal's residence, afraid to return to his own house. For three successive days, the arms instructor waited for him outside the residence gate, but the traitor didn't dare show himself. Lin Chong's appearance was so menacing, no one had the courage to question him.
On the fourth day since they parted, Sagacious came to Lin Chong's home. "Where have you been keeping yourself these past few days, Arms Instructor?" the monk asked.
"I've been too busy to call on you, brother," replied Lin Chong apologetically. "Since you've honored me with a visit to my humble home, I ought to offer you a few cups of wine. But we don't have anything decent to drink in the house. Why not go out for a stroll together and have a cup or two in the market place?"
"Excellent," said Sagacious.
They went out and drank together all day and arranged to meet again on the morrow. Thereafter, Lin drank with Sagacious every day. In time, he gradually set the other matter aside.
As to Young Master Gao, after he received that fright in Lu Qian's house and had to flee over the wall, he became ill and took to his bed. He didn't dare say anything to the marshal about what had happened. Lu Qian and Fu An called on the Young Master at the residence. They found him pale and in low spirits.
"Why are you so unhappy, Young Master?" asked Lu Qian.
"I won't try to fool you two," Gao replied. "Now that I've failed in both attempts to get Lin's wife, and had that awful scare in addition, I feel worse than ever. If I pass out of this world in three months or half a year, you needn't be surprised."
"Be of good cheer," the sycophants urged. "Unless she suddenly hangs herself, we guarantee to get you that woman, come what may." At that moment the old chamberlain entered to see how the Young Master was faring. Lu Qian and Fu An withdrew and held a private consultation.
"There's only one way..." they agreed. After the chamberlain had concluded his call and emerged, they invited him to a quiet corner.
"There's only one way the Young Master can get well," they said. "We must let the marshal know and have him order the death of Lin Chong. Then the Young Master will be able to get Lin's wife and he'll recover. Otherwise, he's sure to die."
"That's easy," replied the old chamberlain. "I'll inform the marshal this evening."
"We already have a plan," said the two. "We only await word from you."
That night, the old chamberlain saw the marshal. "I've discovered what's wrong with the Young Master," he said. "It's Lin Chong's wife."
"When did he ever see the woman?" asked Gao Qiu.
"On the twenty-eighth of last month, at the Temple of the Sacred Mountain. Today is a little over a month," said the old chamberlain, and he told the marshal what Lu Qian had in mind.
"H'mm, Lin Chong's wife, eh? The question is how to put Lin Chong out of me way," mused the marshal.
"Let me think. I can't let my son lose his life just for the sake of Lin Chong."
"Lu Qian and Fu an have a plan."
"So? Bring them in here and we'll talk it over." The old chamberlain summoned Lu Qian and Fu An into the marshal's hall. They hailed Gao respectfully.
"Do you two have a plan that can cure my son's ailment? If so, I'll raise you both in rank."
Lu Qian stepped forward. "Gracious lord, it can be done only thus and thus and thus    "
"Very well," said the marshal. "You may take action tomorrow." Of this we need say no more.
To get back to Lin Chong. He drank every day with Sagacious Lu and finally forgot about the matter.
One day, as the two friends were nearing a lane, they saw a big fellow standing on a corner, a cap with gathered ends on his bead and dressed in an old military robe. He was holding a fine sword in his hand, with a tuft of grass tied to it indicating that it was for sale.
"No one recognizes its value," he was muttering. "What a pity for my precious sword!"
Lin Chong paid no attention and continued walking and chatting with Sagacious. The man trailed behind them, saying: "A splendid sword. It's shame no one appreciates it!"
Lin Chong and Sagacious were still engrossed in their conversation. The man followed them.
"A big city like the Eastern Capital and not a single person knows the worth of military weapons," he cried.
At this, Lin Chong looked around. The fellow whipped the sword out of its sheath. It gleamed dazzlingly in the sun.
Lin Chong was fated for trouble. He said abruptly: "Let me see it."
The fellow handed him the sword. Lin Chong took the weapon and he and Sagacious examined it.
Astonished, the arms instructor exclaimed: "An excellent blade! How much do you want for it?"
"The price is three thousand strings of cash, but I'll take two."
"It's well worth two thousand, but you won't find anyone who'll give that much. If you're willing to accept one thousand, I'll buy it from you."
"I need money quickly. If you really want the sword I'll knock off five hundred and let you have it for fifteen hundred."
"A thousand is the best I can do."
The fellow sighed. "It's selling gold at the price of iron. All right, all right, but not one copper less."
"Come home with me and I'll give you the money," said Lin Chong. He turned to Sagacious, "Wait for me in the teahouse, brother. I'll join you soon."
"No," said the monk, "I must go back. I'll see you tomorrow."
After taking leave of Sagacious, Lin Chong brought the sword-seller to his home, counted out the purchase price in silver and gave it to him.
"Where did you get this blade?" the arms instructor asked.
"It was handed down to me from my ancestors. Because my family became impoverished I had no choice. I had to sell it."
"What's the name of your family?"
"If I were to tell you, I'd die of shame."
Lin Chong asked no more. The fellow took the money and departed.
Lin Chong turned the sword this way and that. "Truly a beautiful weapon. Marshal Gao is supposed to have a fine sword but he won't show it to anyone. Though I've asked to see it several times, he's never been willing to bring it out. Today I've bought a fine sword too. One of these days I'll compare blades with him."
The arms instructor didn't let the sword out of his hand all evening. Late that night he finally hung it on the wall, but he was up before daybreak and took the blade down again to admire it.
Some time before noon two lieutenants came to his gate and cried: "Arms Instructor Lin, an order from the marshal. He's heard that you've bought a fine sword and wants you to bring it to compare with his. The marshal is waiting for you in the residence."
"Who is the big-mouthed gossip that reported the news so fast?" wondered Lin Chong.
The lieutenants waited while Lin Chong got dressed. He took his sword and accompanied them.
On the way he said: "I haven't seen you at the residence before."
"We've only recently been transferred," they replied.
Soon they arrived at the residence. In the reception room, Lin Chong halted.
"The marshal is waiting in the rear hall," said the lieutenants.
Lin Chong went with them around a screen wall into the rear hall. But there was still no sign of the marshal, and Lin Chong halted once more.
"The marshal is awaiting the arms instructor in the rearmost court. He directed us to bring you there," said the lieutenants.
Lin followed them through two or three more gateways until they came to a courtyard lined on all sides by green railings.
The lieutenants led him to the entrance of a large hall and said: "Please wait out here, Arms Instructor, while we report to the marshal. We won't be long."
Lin Chong stood before the eaves of a porch while the two lieutenants went inside. A time long enough to drink a cup of tea passed, but they did not return. Growing suspicious, the arms instructor pushed aside a hanging awning, poked his head in and looked. There, above the door, was a placard with four words written in green: "White Tiger Inner Sanctum."
"This is where the highest military affairs are discussed," thought Lin Chong, startled. "How dare I go in there!"
He turned hastily. Behind him he heard the tread of boots, the steps ringing sharply. Another man had entered the courtyard. The arms instructor recognized him. It was none other than Marshal Gao. Lin Chong proffered his sword with both hands, and greeted him respectfully.
"Lin Chong," the marshal barked. "I didn't summon you. How dare you force your way into the White Tiger Inner Sanctum! Don't you know the law? And carrying a weapon! You must have come to kill me! People told me that you were seen waiting outside the Residence two or three day ago with a knife in your hand. Your intentions are surely evil!"
Bowing, Lin Chong replied, "Benevolent lord, two of your lieutenants brought me here saying you wanted to compare your sword with mine."
"Where are they?" cried the marshal.
"They just went into the hall, sir."
"Lies! Lies! No lieutenants would dare enter my official halls. Ho, guards! Seize this lout!"
Before the order had left the marshal's mouth, from the buildings flanking the sides of the courtyard over thirty stalwarts came rushing out and knocked Lin Chong to the ground.
"As an arms instructor of the Imperial Guards, you must know the law," the marshal raged. "Why also would you enter the Inner Sanctum with a sharp sword in your hand if not to murder me?"
He ordered his men to take Lin Chong away. Could Lin Chong survive?
And because of this there was a great tumult on the Central Plains and a wild disturbance on the waters. Peasants had to wear army designations on their backs. Military pennants fluttered on fishing boats.
Did Lin Chong live or die? Read our next chapter if you would know.


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