I dwell amongst the green hills: You asked me why,
My soul at ease I smile without reply.
Peach petals swept along the stream,
To other lands beyond this mortal dream1.
“On this night at the fourth watch, vomit blood and die”,
He was greatly shaken and kept on muttering the incantation of the Golden Light while striking at the golden knot. Then he heard the Star Lord of Virtuous Fire shout,
“Who dares use this incantation to subdue us?”
With that, Pang Jian popped his head out of the offering table and peered. He saw nine Gods in strange forms sitting in two rows, too bewildering to behold. Quickly he knelt in their midst incanting incessantly and beating the golden knot. Then one Star Lord spoke,
“Pang Jian! Stop thy incantation! Mutter no more! Requesting a boon for longevity? Then plead with the fifth Star Lord.”
The fifth Star Lord spoke,
“We had accepted his offerings and also he is a loyal and honest person. Nary a sin had been committed in his name. Furthermore he was under the guidance of the Peach Fairy to vanquish that wandering demon2. We the Gods shall change his name and extend his longevity. This way let the virtuous beget their rewards!”
“Pang Jian! Come forth and kneel. We the Gods shall now change thy name: Henceforth ye shall be known as Patriarch Pang3. I shall now grant ye a hundred years of age. The Left and Right Adjutants4 shall grant ye fifty years and each Star Lord shall grant ye one hundred years, totaling 850 years! Every third and twenty seventh day of each month, ye shall undergo a bathing purification ritual and abstain from all meat. Finally ye must perform the rites to the Big Dipper in an earnest and deferential manner. Divulge not this celestial secret or else be prepared to incur the wrath of Heaven and bring disaster upon thee!”
Pang Jian kowtowed and said,
“This mortal Pang Jian most thankfully accepts my Lords’ graciousness in changing my name and prolonging my longevity. However this mortal thinks that living to such a great age is burdensome without good fortune or children to enjoy. Therefore I beg my most High Lords to bestow some riches so that I can live comfortably!”
All the Gods murmured and said,
“There is merit in thy words.”
One of the Star Lords took out a pill from his bosom and bade Pang Jiang to swallow it and said,
Then a second Star Lord took out a book and what was written in it no one knows. When he was done, all the Star Lords turned into a gentle breeze and left the temple. Pang Jian felt invigorated a hundred fold and was elated to no bounds. My dear readers, now this is what it is like to live more than eight hundred years: wedded to thirteen wives, enjoying great happiness and longevity in good health. This is really:
Difficult it is to live to a hundred.
“Pity! Always so loyal and honest. Now gone like a whisper!”
Lord Chou removed his golden cap, disheveled his hair6, held his sword in a Big Dipper stance and began to recite an incantation. Just as he was about to hook together Pang Jian’s three six superior and inferior souls so that they could be easily directed to a better place of reincarnation, Pang Jian woke up. On opening his eyes he stared in astonishment at Lord Chou who was now holding a sword in hand, his long hair in disarray, muttering a strange incantation in an imposing stance. In a whoosh Pang Jian jumped out of bed. Lord Chou was startled, wielding the sword menacingly and shouted,
“Malicious demon7-1! Cease all trouble-making on the urgent orders of Lao Tzu!”
“Milord, what are you doing?”
The great Lord recomposed himself and exclaimed,
“Pang Jian! Art thou a man or a ghost?”
Lord Chou bade the servant boy bring the light higher for a closer inspection and commented,
“This is strange! Really strange! Who taught you how to return to life? Quickly speak up!”
“How dare this slave mislead and try to deceive me! I shall coax him to my study and start the interrogation. I must find out who is behind all this in breaking my predictions!”
At this moment, Pang Jian dared not disobey and followed Lord Chou thinking to himself,
“He will interrogate me to no end. Even if I die, I will not utter the name of Miss Ren!”
On entering the study, Lord Chou sat down. He then tidied up his head knot and cap, put down his Big Dipper sword, and ordered the servant boy,
“Bring a few men here!”
Not long afterwards, a few men entered the study to whom Lord Chou commanded,
“Tie Pang Jian up!
The men dared not disobey and quickly bound Pang Jian in ropes.
Pang Jian screamed,
“Pang Jian is innocent!”
Lord Chou stared at Pang Jian in anger and thundered,
Pang Jian quickly knelt down and pled,
Lord Chou did not wait for Pang Jian to finish his words and gave a great shout,
“Milord! You beat Pang Jian unfairly! Your predictions came out wrong – why blame others?”
“Pang Jian, if you don’t confess, then you’ll be committing the crime of lying to your master!”
When he finished threatening, Lord Chou came bearing down his sword in menacing ferocity and was about to cut Pang Jian into two. On opening his eyes widely Pang Jian was so frightened that all his souls almost left his body and he shrieked,
“Milord, spare my life! I confess.”
Lord Chou replied venomously,
“Hesitate any longer and you shall be cut into two!
Pang Jian blurted quickly,
“It’s Shi Tsung Fu’s neighbour! Miss Ren Peach Blossom, daughter of Ren Tai Kung! She instructed me to go to the Temple of Three Officials last night on the third watch and wait for the Gods of the Big Dipper to beg for longevity. Hence I was able to survive and live. ”
On hearing the confession, Lord Chou ordered Pang Jian untied,
“Pang Jian! Why didn’t you say so earlier?”
Pang Jian apologized7,
“Lady Peach Blossom told me numerous times not to disclose her identify for the fear that my Lordship would become enraged and be vengeful. Shi Tsung Fu was also saved by her.”
Lord Chou bellowed and thundered on hearing the words,
“Vile woman, I can overlook you invalidating my predictions but how dare you bid both mother and son to insult me! I swear I will never let you go!”
Pang Jian quickly kowtowed to Lord Chou and pleaded,
“Milord please harbour not such trivial vengeance! If you do, Pang Jian will be dragged in as well. Milord! Please have pity on those two aged ones who have only one young daughter.”
Lord Chou asked,
“How old is this female?”
“Only sixteen, came Pang Jian’s reply.
Peach Blossom descended to earth not long after Lord Chou so how could their ages differ so much? An astute reader may ask. Here’s the author’s explanation: An hour in heaven is equivalent to a few autumns on earth. Lord Chou’s descent to earth is at most one or two hours earlier, hence resulting in a difference of a few decades. Let’s not discuss this but return to Lord Chou. After the truth was extracted from Pang Jian, Lord Chou rewarded him with ten taels of silver to heal his wounds. Pang Jian thanked his lord who then admonished,
“Do not go informing the Ren family of this. If I ever find out that you have, your punishment will be even more severe!”
Pang Jian nodded in promise and replied,
“I dare not, I dare not!”
With that he left the room and headed back to his own.
Lord Chou thought to himself,
“Such tender age and with such great powers this Ren Peach Blossom has. I don’t believe this. Why don’t I verify if indeed the Star Lords of the Big Dipper descended last night?”
On pressing his fingers in calculation, fear grew in his heart upon verification,
“Wow! This Peach Blossom’s abilities are indeed great. If the city of Morning Song has her, I’m afraid there’s no place for me to stand.”
Thinking here and there, Lord Chou became moody. He paced up and down in his pavilion and suddenly thought of something,
“Why don’t I do this and this… Only then will this hatred dissipate from my mind!”
With such a plan hatched, he called a servant named Hsu Cheng and instructed him,
“Go and fetch me an official matchmaker.”
Hsu Cheng followed his master’s orders and went to get the matchmaker.
What dastardly plan was formed to harm Peach Blossom? Please read the next chapter to find out.
1. This poem was composed by the great T’ang poet Li Po entitled, “Question and Answer In the Mountains”.
The translation is not mine and I do not remember where it came from. However it is so beautiful that I jotted it down during a flight to Los Angeles eons ago.
The unadulterated translation is:
You asked why I dwell in the green hills,
I smile without reply as my heart is at ease.
Peach blossoms sailed quietly on flowing waters,
To another land not of this mortal realm.
There are some discrepancies presented in the book.
山中問答 (Question and Answer in the Mountains)
Book version Original version
餘 is a variant form of 余 meaning I.
2. Referring to Lord Chou’s earlier days as in the form of a Buddhist knife on Mt. Wandering Demons.
3. Patriarch Pang is a well known figure of immense longevity in Chinese tales. However most sources about him differ from this story. Whatever is the case, it has no bearing on the story. Some sources claimed that he did not really live that long of 850 years because during the Shang Dynasty, when the story took place, a year meant a cycle of 60 days. So therefore he lived for 850 cycles, just short of 140 years in a 365-day year reckoning (850 * 60) / 365 which seems more plausible.
For more info see,
4. 左輔右弼 – Left and Right adjutants, originally the name of attendants to the emperor or to the crown prince. Later it became assistants to someone important or just helpers.
In the Chinese Parthenon of Gods, they are two of the 6 lucky stars and are the attendants to the Star Lord of the Big Dipper. In the Yin-Yang Five Element theory of Taoists, Left Adjutant belongs to the Yin-Earth position whereas the Right Adjutant belongs to the Yin-Water. For more info see
5. Also known as Seven Star Sword (七星劍). Most probably a sword with the pattern of the Big Dipper etched on the blade.
6. Chinese males wear their hair long. The hair is then tied up as a head knot. A cap is worn if one belongs to the scholar class. Otherwise a piece of cloth may be used as a tying knot. A Taoist priest uses a kind of large pin. Of course Buddhists monks don’t have hair. The shaven head was a sign of leaving one’s family and all its worldly desires.
In the Confucian classic of Filial Piety, it states that “The body, skin and hair come from parents, filial piety begins in not harming them.” 孝經: “身體髮膚，受之父母，不敢毀傷，孝之始也. In other words don’t cut your hair! Or defile yourself.
This style continued until the Ch’ing Dynasty forced the Chinese to shave their foreheads and grow a queue as a sign of subservience. The exception to the law was with Taoist priests. The Manchus wore this hairstyle as a sign of respect and honour of the horse (the way they tie their horses’ tails) on which their backs the empire was won. In the beginning of the dynasty there was a popular saying, “Leave the hair but not the head” (留髮不留頭) as defiance to the Manchu government but when the dynasty ended, it was ironic that people refused to cut their queues!
However, shaving beards, moustaches, etc was not considered unfilial because one was not born with them – facial hair grew at puberty.
7-1. See footnote 1 in chapter 7
7. The subordinate must apologize to their superiors regardless if they were at fault or not. Superiors are never wrong and subordinates should be grateful and thankful for the lesson learnt. This is the core of Confucianism – the relationship between the superior and inferior. This is defined as the relationship between the king and its subjects, the father and his children, and the master and his slaves.
周公走至階下，問他道：“你快快說出實話，不但不責治你，孤還要重重賞你。孤看你滿面紅光，又添壽限，必遇奇人傳授你換骨脫胎之法，你可細細說來！”彭剪聞言，心中吃驚道：“好利害也！不但占卦靈準，就是看相也準了。我今沒有推卻，只不言語，看他怎樣盤詰罷。”即便兩目緊閉，口亦不開。周公一見，心中大怒，即抽身回了大堂，取了天罡劍在手，奔至彭剪跟前，大喝：“彭剪！你若不說出，就有欺主之罪！”說罷，兇惡狠狠，就要舉劍砍下來了。彭剪睜目一看，唬得魂不附體，大叫：“公爺饒命！待我說就是了。”周公狠說：“少若遲延，孤就一劍分為兩段！”彭剪忙道： “是石宗輔左鄰任太公之女任桃花，教我昨晚三更至三官廟，等候北斗星君來求壽，故此得活的。”周公聞言，便叫人放了彭剪，即回中堂坐下，開言呼：“彭剪！何不早說？”彭剪謝罪，又言：“桃花小姐再三叮囑，教我不要對公爺說知，恐防公爺生怒，記仇於他。就是石宗輔，也是他教的。”周公聞言，不由得不大怒道。 “好陰人！破孤的八卦倒也罷了，又教石姓母子來羞辱於孤，我誓不與他幹休！”彭剪聽了，忙叩頭道：“公爺休要記小人之仇！若是記仇，就是彭剪連累他的。公爺！可憐他父母單生一女，年紀又幼小。”周公道：“這陰人多大年紀？”彭剪道：“今年才得一十六歲。”做書的又說明：桃花女與周公先後下凡，何以周公若大年紀？只因天上一刻，人間數秋，周公下凡多了桃花女一、二時辰，故此大了數十歲。 閒話休講。且說周公見彭剪說出了真情，便賞他十兩銀子，去調養傷痕。彭剪謝了賞，周公又吩咐他：“不許到任家去說破，若是去說破，孤若知道了，罪上加罪！”彭剪諾諾連聲道：“不敢，不敢！”自回房中去了。