Chapter 16 Unexpected Benefit
Zhang Jiaohua felt relieved upon noticing that the water buffalo hadn’t gone to a far off tree to scratch its itch. He continued to pick up the firewood. His little bamboo basket couldn’t carry a lot of firewood, so he had only picked pine cones specifically. Mother had said that pine cones are best to burn, and picking up one basket of pine cones was enough for one day’s cooking.
Earlier, Zhang Jiaohua and Jinhu et al, used to go cattle herding together, with each one picking on their own. At the time of returning home, each person’s basket would be full of pinecones. Now Zhang Jiaohua and those five were all picking pine cones for putting in one basket. Not even a moment later, it was already packed full. With the pinecones having been gathered, Zhang Jiaohua didn’t have anything else to do.
“Doesn’t matter, I will just do hopscotch. Master had said that next time if I were to jump wrongly again, he would hit my palm.” Zhang Jiaohua didn’t realise that every time in the dream he was unable to control his own body. Even if he were to memorise the Song of Skypacers to point of familiarity, it wouldn’t be of any use.
However, Zhang Jiaohua was completely immersed into recalling the scenes from his dreams. That dream was so unexpectedly realistic, that he could remember all the details clearly and distinctly.
“Master had said that the positioning of this square matrix is extremely important. It required the use of a compass for calibration. However, while going out I didn’t bring along a compass with me, really unfortunate.” Zhang Jiaohua scratched his head. Suddenly his eyes lit up, “Without a compass, I could still use the sun to identify the positions, ah. Master once said, that the Sun and Moon could be used to calculate the directions. I can give it a try as an experiment.”
When good luck arrives, the wits are sharpened. Zhang Jiaohua perhaps really had a talent in this field and relying on the bit of experience from what Old Daoist Priest had said, he had unexpectedly finished calculating counting on his fingers. After a while, he had reckoned the general directions for the most part. In accordance with his calculations, he began arranging the various positions.
The lines that he drew on the ground were scrawly and crooked, but it was still quite close to the field matrix that the Old Daoist Priest had drawn in the dream.
“The North Pole Central Palace is the Purple Wei Palace, the North Pole Five stars in its midst. The throne of the Heavenly Emperor is the second pearl, the third star the abode of the concubine’s son. The first is styled the heir-apparent, the fourth is the Queen’s palace, the fifth the sky pivot. Right and left are four stars, the Four Aides. The Sky One and the Great One are before the Gate road…..the four Sky Directors lie dark within the bushel, the aide stars nearing the Mizar deep. Bright are the seven stars of the Northern Bushel, the first of its lordly rulers is called the Pure Pivot, its second and third are the Revolving One and Moving Power, Its fourth is named the Scale, the fifth the Weight, Opener of Brightness and Brilliant Scintillator are sixth and seventh.” Zhang Jiaohua jumping on the bare ground beneath a pine tree. He didn’t notice in the slightest that the trees in all four directions were moving without any wind. From the atmosphere it seemed as if nothingness was converging at that place. [TLNote: For further information refer Pg. 251 of The Hall of Light by William Edward Soothill; Also, the Northern Constellation, called in Chinese “the Bushel” and in Western countries “Ursa Major,”]
Jinhu et al, who were all surrounding Zhang Jiaohua and hopping about, finally, in a panicked manner turned into strands of azure smoke, and drilled into the little bell tied to Zhang Jiaohua’s hand. That bell had seemingly turned into a vortex, that had sucked in each and every one of them.
A pheasant jumped out from the nearby bushes, it ignorantly entered the matrix drawn by Zhang Jiaohua, the originally agile pheasant all of a sudden could stand only unsteadily. As if the ground was shaking incessantly. The pheasant walked back and forth within the matrix, but could only go round and round within the matrix, eventually, it fainted out of dizziness and fell down in the matrix.
At this time, Zhang Jiaohua finished the Song of the Skypacers, and his footsteps came to a halt. His condition was exceptionally good. In the entire process, he hadn’t actually made any mistake, and his movements were also exceptionally conjoined. After stopping, Zhang Jiaohua noticed the fat pheasant lying near his feet.
“Heh heh, there would be chicken leg to eat in the evening.” Zhang Jiaohua picked up the pheasant joyfully and then looked for some sogon grass to weave into a grass rope, to tie up the wings and both feet of the pheasant together. This was so that even if the pheasant woke up, it wouldn’t be able to run away.
“Jinhu, Fugui, Xiaoshuan, Gouwa, Mancang, where are all of you?” Zhang Jiaohua suddenly discovered that he could no longer see his little friends. Earlier, they would always be by his side, and not far away. However, now those five had all disappeared simultaneously. Being unable to see Jinhu et al, Zhang Jiaohua became somewhat afraid. The more he thought the more scared he became. As if the forest had become gloomy all of a sudden. The breeze blew, the various branches and leaves in the forests made all kinds of noises. To Zhang Jiaohua’s ears, it all sounded like a macabre dance.
Zhang Jiaohua hastily tied up the pheasant onto the bamboo basket, and then carrying it on his back again, ran back to the pine tree. Only running out into the Sun, and feeling the warmth of sunshine made him feel somewhat better.
Zhang Jiaohua’s water buffalo had already run quite far away. Zhang Jiaohua after looking for a while finally managed to locate the water buffalo in a sweet potato area nearby. However, at the same time as Zhang Jiaohua reached in front of his water buffalo, along came the mute’s father Zhang Benrui.
“Jiaohua, what are you herding? Your cattle has been here for quite some time, but I didn’t see even a shadow of yours. If it were to have eaten even a single sweet potato vine, I would have absolutely demanded compensation.” Zhang Benrui looked at Zhang Jiaohua angrily.
“Uncle Benrui. Has my buffalo eaten your sweet potato vine?” Zhang Jiaohua wasn’t timid against those adults who were older than him.
“That’s right, it didn’t. Luckily I came quickly, otherwise how much of this would have been eaten, afraid that nearly half could also have been possible.” Zhang Benrui gawked somewhat before saying in a self-righteous manner.
“My buffalo remained so far from your sweet potato vines. What could it have eaten? Moreover, my water buffalo is very intelligent, it absolutely wouldn’t eat these things now. Let alone stealing, even if you gave it sweet potato vines to eat, it wouldn’t necessarily have a bite.” Zhang Jiaohua was worried from the beginning that if the buffalo had eaten other’s things, then it would definitely have been trouble.
Zhang Benrui became extremely angry, “Good Good Good, later don’t let me see your water buffalo stealing my things, otherwise, I will kill your water buffalo and eat its meat.”
“Then you might as well do that, I would also get some meat to eat.” Zhang Jiaohua wasn’t afraid of Zhang Benrui’s threats.
By the time, Zhang Jiaohua returned to the village driving the buffalo whilst bearing the bamboo basket, Liu Qiaoye had already come out to receive him. Seeing her son dripping with sweat, Liu Qiaoye had a sour feeling in her nose.
“Mother, we’ll have meat to eat. I have caught a fat pheasant.” Zhang Jiaohua seeing Mother come over, immediately began taking the credit in front of her mother.
Zhang Youping was even later than Zhang Jiaohua in coming home. In the matters of work, Zhang Qianlong was very stingy. By entertaining the helpers from the fellow villagers to two meals a day, he would think of any means possible to make the villagers do labour until it got dark. Although other people had various notions, but they too didn’t speak anything out loud. Zhang Youping was obstructed by face even more. During the time of construction of his house, many people from the village had helped. Now it was time for him to help others, naturally, it wouldn’t be good for him to find excuses.
Liu Qiaoye complained to her late-coming husband, “You are too honest, working for someone else until this time. During the construction of our house, the workers used to disperse much earlier. You should see other people’s attitudes, no matter how much one wishes the work wouldn’t get finished within one day. I saw groups of helpers leave quite early, how come you remained till late?”
“This man, Qianlong, you don’t know him.” Zhang Youping was also very dissatisfied.