Use the translation feature to translate novels into different languages

The Deer and the Cauldron Chapter 46

Chapter 46
Thousand li sail and mast going outside the country, nine firmaments wind and rain going through the city.Looking up, Wei Xiaobao saw more than a dozen huge battleships, with their sails fully opened to ride the wind, sailing fast toward the island. Wei Xiaobao knew something was amiss; he pulled the string, but was unable to get the hook off, on the contrary, the hook went deeper into the back of his neck that it hurt. Immediately he moved his feet and dashed away, dragging the fishing pole behind him. He thought it must be that young fellow Zheng Keshuang coming with his troops to settle the debt. Settling debt was originally very good, but before the debtor dropped in, he sent several cannon blasts first in torrential rush, certainly it was not a good omen.

Before he even reached his house, Peng Canjiang [administrator/colonel] had already rushed over, flustered and exasperated. “Wei … Wei Jueye … things … things look bad, Taiwan warships have arrived,” he said.

“How do you know they are Taiwan’s warships?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

Peng Canjiang replied, “Lowly officer just … just now used the telescope [orig. ‘thousand li lens’] to took, the ship’s … stern … no, no, the ship’s bow is painted with a sun and a moon; that is Taiwan’s Zheng … rebel Zheng’s insignia. If one ship carries five hundred troops and generals, two ships one thousand, thirteen ships means seven or eight thousands …”

Wei Xiaobao took the telescope from his hand and looked at the incoming ships. When he counted, there were indeed thirteen big ships. Looking at the bow, he also vaguely saw the painting of a sun and a moon insignia. “Quickly lead the troops for defense, guard along the shore,” he barked his order, “When the enemy come ashore on skiffs, release the arrows!”

Peng Canjiang repeatedly complied and rushed away. Hearing the commotion, Su Quan and the others came out. They heard the incoming ships fired their cannon again, ‘Boom, boom boom!’

“Ah Ke Meizi,” the Princess said, “When you go to Taiwan, are you going to take Hutou along or not?”

Ah Ke stomped her feet in anger. “You … what joke are you playing?” she said.

Wei Xiaobao was even angrier; he cursed, “Let the Princess strap her stinky Shuangshuang go to Taiwan …”

“Hey,” Su Quan suddenly exclaimed, “When the shells fall into the sea, why isn’t there any splash of water?”

They heard ‘boom, boom’ again, twice, smoke came out of the cannon’s mouth, but nothing hit the shore, nothing hit the sea either. Wei Xiaobao was stumped, but then he burst out laughing, “Those are gun salute; they are not here to give us trouble.”

“Peaceful measures before using force!” the Princess said.

“Where is that girl Shuangshuang?” Wei Xiaobao angrily said, “Quickly come out, laozi is going to spank her butt.”

The Princess was upset, “Without rhyme or reason, why do you want to beat your daughter?” she said.

“Who told her to have such an annoying Niang [mother]?” Wei Xiaobao retorted. [Translator’s note: I know I might annoy some readers too, but I just want to show the different words for ‘mother’: muqin, mama, niang … there’s more, but I don’t remember on top of my head.]

The ships were getting near. From the telescope he saw clearly that the flag rising above the ship was unexpectedly the Great Qing’s Yellow Dragon banner; it was not Taiwan’s sun and moon flag at all. Wei Xiaobao was pleasantly surprised, he handed the telescope over to Su Quan and said, “You look, it’s really strange.”

Su Quan looked for a moment and then she smiled and said, “They are the Great Qing’s Navy, not Taiwan’s.”

Wei Xiaobao received the telescope back and looked again; he said with a laugh, “That’s right! They are definitely the Great Qing’s Navy. Aiya! What is it? It damn hurts!” Turning his head around, turned out Wei Hutou, who was carried in Ah Ke’s arms, was grabbing the fishing rod and pulled it hard; the fishhook was still attached to Wei Xiaobao’s neck, naturally when he pulled it Wei Xiaobao yelped in pain.

Stifling her laughter, hastily Ah Ke gently took the hook off. “I am sorry,” she said with a laugh, “Please don’t be angry.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Good son, still very young, yet already have Jiang Taigong’s[1] trick. Amazing!”

“Humph!” the Princess snorted, “Partial (biased) ghost!”

They saw Peng Canjiang ran back and called out, “Wei Jueye, the ships actually raised Great Qing’s flag, I am afraid it’s a trick.”

“That’s right!” Wei Xiaobao replied, “As soon as they send men on a skiff to come ashore, we’ll interrogate them clearly first and talk later.” Peng Canjiang received the order and left.

The Princess said, “It must be that kid Zheng Keshuang in disguise, raising the Great Qing’s flag. Obviously those are Taiwan’s ships!”

“Very good, very good!” Wei Xiaobao said, “Princess, lately you look so beautiful.”

The Princess was taken aback; hearing her husband’s praise, she could not help feeling happy. “I am still the same,” she said with a smile, “What do you mean ‘beautiful’?”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Your lips are red, your face white, your eyebrows curve like Chang’e [the lady in the moon in Chinese mythology] descending from the moon. When Zheng Keshuang sees you I am sure he will be very happy.”

“Pei!” the Princess spat.

Shortly afterwards, the ships arrived near the shore. They dropped anchor, and six or seven sailors rowed a skiff toward the shore. Peng Canjiang ordered his troops to bend their bows with the arrows aimed at the skiff. When the skiff was near, someone picked up a megaphone [lit. speech cylinder, I don’t know the ancient name of this contraption] and put it on his mouth. “Imperial edict arrives!” he called out, “Navy Tidu Shi Junmen [lit. ‘military gate’] delivering the decree to Wei Jueye.”

Wei Xiaobao was greatly delighted. “Damn it,” he swore, “What strange trick that fellow Shi Lang is playing? Why would he ride Taiwan’s ships to deliver a decree?”

Su Quan said, “I am guessing he came across Taiwan ships on the ocean, attacked them and was victorious, he seized the Taiwan’s ships away.”

“Must be that,” Wei Xiaobao agreed, “Quan Jiejie can prophesy with supernatural accuracy.”

The Princess was still not convinced, she whispered, “My guess is Shi Lang surrendered to Taiwan, Zheng Keshuang sent him off to deliver a fake imperial decree.”

Wei Xiaobao’s heart was happy, he did not bother to scold her; he pinched her bottom and slapped her before hurriedly went to the beach to receive the imperial decree.

The man in the skiff was indeed Shi Lang. He stood on the sandy beach and announced the imperial decree in loud voice. Turned out Kangxi sent Shi Lang to attack Taiwan. In the battle of Penghu [Pescadores Islands, Taiwan], the Zheng Navy suffered a crushing defeat. Shi Lang pursued the retreating enemy into Taiwan. The Ming Dynasty’s Yanping Jun Wang Zheng Keshuang surrendered without even a fight, and thus Taiwan became the Great Qing’s territory.

Kangxi evaluated everybody’s merit and bestowed reward accordingly. Based on the merit that in the past Shi Lang stayed in Beijing without doing anything, and it was Wei Xiaobao who sponsored and recommended him for service, Wei Xiaobao was promoted to be Second-class Marquis of Tong Chi, he was simultaneously bestowed the title Tai Zi Tai Bao [tutor to the crown prince]. His oldest son, Wei Hutou was promoted to be First-class Qing Che Du Wei [lit. light carriage military rank[2]].

Finished expressing his gratitude, Wei Xiaobao stood and stared blankly; it never occurred to him that finally Taiwan was pacified by Shi Lang.

Each time he and Zheng Keshuang met each other, they always hated each other, his Shifu Chen Jinnan was harmed by him, which drove his hatred deep to the bones; but Taiwan was subdued, it means not a cun of land was left of the Great Ming’s world. He could not help feeling depressed.

He was still very young, and never went to school, all those talks about Manchu and Han differences; he had never really cared about the animosity between countries and races. However, he had been with Tian Di Hui for a long time, usually when he attended their meeting, he heard the brothers talked about it a lot, automatically he developed the feeling that Manchu people occupying our Han people’s rivers and mountains was completely inappropriate. This moment as he heard that Shi Lang had captured Zheng Keshuang and brought him to Beijing, he did not feel happy at all. He also thought about his Shifu exhausting his heart and strength throughout his life, hoping to restore the Great Ming’s world; even if this great undertaking was unsuccessful, at least he wanted to preserve a piece of land belonging to the Great Ming overseas. Who would have thought that not long after his Shifu was murdered, Zheng Keshuang had already surrendered? If in the underworld Shifu knew about it, he would definitely weep bitter tears.

Wei Xiaobao recalled that the reason his Shifu was killed that day was because he had just had a hard fight with Shi Lang; his spirit was hard-pressed, his physique weary. Otherwise, Zheng Keshuang would not have been successful in plotting against him from his back. Looking at Shi Lang’s joyfully satisfied expression, he could not stop anger from rising in his chest. “Shi Daren has rendered great merit,” he said, “I am sure you are promoted to be a high-ranking official.”

Shi Lang smiled and said, “Because of His Majesty’s grace, lowly officer has been bestowed the title Third-class Marquis of Jing Hai [From Chapter 34: Shi Lang’s original title was ‘Jing Hai Jiang Jun’ (lit. the general who pacifies the ocean)].”

“Congratulations, congratulations!” Wei Xiaobao said, while in his heart he said, “Originally I was First-class Earl of Tong Chi; with one rank promotion I became Third-class Marquis of Tong Chi. The young Emperor promoted me two ranks in succession, turns out it is so that my rank will still be higher than Shi Lang, to avoid everybody became third-class marquis, which won’t feel very good.” But thinking about Shi Lang went to battle and pacified Taiwan, what an exciting view it was, while he was bored to death on this barren island. His jealousy grew into anger, he could not help hating Shi Lang even more that his teeth itched.

Shi Lang paid his respect, and then he said respectfully, “His Majesty summoned lowly officer and spoke warmly to me, he encouraged me a lot, and finally said, ‘Shi Lang, this time you render great merit, do you know who has been supporting you for promotion? Previously you stayed in Beijing, nobody paid you any attention; who has given you guarantee and recommendation?’ Lowly officer replied, ‘Reporting to Your Majesty, that would be Wei Jueye who guaranteed me and presented a memorial to the throne for my promotion, plus Your Majesty’s grace.’ His Majesty said, ‘You did not forget your origin; that’s good. I want you to promptly go to Tong Chi Island to announce imperial decree to Wei Xiaobao, with my grace his nobility rank will increase, he has the capacity to judge a person’s qualities and thus has rendered meritorious service for the imperial court.’ For this reason lowly officer rushed over here.”

Wei Xiaobao sighed. He thought, “Each and everyone of the people I recommended rendered meritorious service, only I alone am imprisoned on this uninhabited island without able to move a single step. The young Emperor repeatedly raises my official ranking and titular honors, while in fact even if I become the King of Tong Chi, what so amazing about it?” He said, “Shi Daren, you sailed on these Taiwan battleship to come here, and gave me quite a fright; I thought it was Taiwan’s Navy coming to attack us. Who would have thought that it was you showing off your military strength?”

Shi Lang hastily saluted and apologized. “I do not dare, I do not dare,” he said, “Lowly officer received the imperial edict, I was impatient to see Jueye, Taiwan’s battleships were made well, they are able to sail a lot faster; for this reason I rode Taiwan ships to hurry over here.”

“So Taiwan’s battleships can travel faster,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Because of the insignia of the sun and the moon on the ship I previously thought in my heart that perhaps Shi Daren wanted to set himself up as a king in Taiwan; I was quite worried.”

Shi Lang was shocked; he busily said, “Lowly officer is extremely muddleheaded, Daren’s direction is right. It was due to lowly officer’s negligence that I have not removed Taiwan battleships’ emblems.”

Actually, it was not because of his negligence, but because he had pacified Taiwan, he was extremely proud of himself; as he rode the captured Taiwan’s battleship north to Tianjin, and then south to Tong Chi Island, he intentionally did not remove the Taiwan insignia on the bow of the ships, so that people would see it and point fingers at it, and talk about the origin of the battleships. In short, it was to flaunt his outstanding military service. Unexpectedly Wei Xiaobao spoke up about his suspicion that Shi Lang wanted to set himself up to be King in Taiwan. It was indeed the biggest taboo for a court official; he could not stop cold sweats from covering his back, thinking that the young Emperor had always shown absolute special favor toward this youngster. Shi Lang went to a bloody battle to subdue Taiwan, this youngster comfortably lived on this island doing nothing, yet his meritorious service was still greater than Shi Lang’s. He was granted the title Second-class Marquis, while Shi Lang himself was only Third-class Marquis. If Wei Xiaobao returned to Beijing and spoke several sentences of complaint in front of the Emperor, Shi Lang would be in a very deep trouble.

With this fear in mind, Shi Lang’s high and mighty manner that he bore when he first went ashore subsided. He ordered several officers who came with him to step forward and pay their respect. Among these people was someone with whom Wei Xiaobao had already met, it was Lin Xingzhu, the Ditang School’s martial art expert who came with Chen Jinnan at Liuzhou. Wei Xiaobao was startled, “He was Taiwan’s high-ranking military officer,” he mused, “How did he become Shi Lang’s subordinate?” When Lin Xingzhu reported his own name and rank, Wei Xiaobao found out that he was a Dusi [Vice Brigade Commander/Major] in the Navy.

As Lin Xingzhu went ashore and saw Wei Xiaobao, he was also puzzled and doubtful, “He is Chen Junshi’s [military strategist] young disciple, how did he become imperial court’s high-ranking official? Even Shi Tidu is very respectful to him?”

Shi Lang pointed to Lin Xingzhu and another man called Hong Chao, a Navy Shoubei [captain], and said, “Lin Dusi and Hong Shoubei originally served in Taiwan’s military. Following Zheng Keshuang Jueye and Liu Gaoxuan Daren’s lead, they returned and surrender to the imperial court. These two gentlemen are very familiar with maritime matters, thus this time lowly officer brought them along and have them take care of Taiwan’s fleet.”

“Oh,” Wei Xiaobao muttered, “I see.” Looking at Lin Xingzhu and Hong Chao, he saw that both lowered their heads with ashamed expression on their faces.

Ever since Zheng Chenggong [Koxinga] established government on the Island, Taiwan has had trading relations with Japan, Lu Song, Siam, An Nan, and other places; it was very prosperous. Shi Lang pacified Taiwan, he obtained a lot of foreign treasures and rare objects, but he himself did not take any, he presented everything to the imperial court. Kangxi told him to take some as a gift to Wei Xiaobao. Other than that, Shi Lang also brought some gifts of his own, but mostly were Taiwan’s local products, such as bamboo trunk, grass woven mat, and so on, mostly coarse and plain items.

Seeing the gifts, Wei Xiaobao was getting more angry; he thought, “Zhang Dage, Zhao Er Ge, Wang San Ge, Sun Si Ge pacified Wu Sangui, they sent me such lucrative gifts; you, on the other hand, present me with these beggars’ rotten things. I wonder if you still have any regards toward me?”

That evening Wei Xiaobao held a banquet to entertain the guests; he had Shi Lang sat on the seat of honor. There were four high-ranking Navy officers, as well as Lin Xingzhu and Hong Chao, two people. After the wine made three rounds, Wei Xiaobao asked, “Lin Dusi, originally Taiwan’s Yanping Jun Wang was Zheng Jing, Zheng Wangye, how did it become that fellow Zheng Keshuang? I heard he is Zheng Wangye’s second son, according to reason, he should not be the Wangye, should he?”

“Yes,” Lin Xingzhu replied, “Reporting to Jueye, Zheng Wangye passed away on the twenty-eighth of the first month this year, leaving his order that the Da Gongzi [first/oldest young master] Keshang was to succeed the throne. Da Gongzi was brilliant and steadfast, Taiwan’s people and soldiers had always had high esteem on him. But Tai Furen [grand/great madame] Dong Guotai did not like him at all; she sent Feng Xifan to assassinate him. [Translator’s note: I am not sure if Dong Guotai was her name. ‘Guotai’ could also mean ‘madame of the country’.] After he was killed, the Er Gongzi [second young master] Keshuang took over the throne. Da Gongzi’s wife, Madame Chen went to see Dong Guotai, saying that Da Gongzi was innocent. Dong Guotai was very angry, she ordered her people to drive her away. Holding Da Gongzi’s body, Madame Chen cried for a moment, and then she hanged herself and died. That Madame Chen was Chen … Chen Junshi’s oldest daughter. In our hearts all the people in Taiwan were very dissatisfied over his matter.”

Hearing that his Shifu’s daughter was murdered, Wei Xiaobao remembered Shifu, his heart ached. Slapping the table, he cursed, “Damn it, that kid Zheng Keshuang is stupid and a muddle-head, what kind of fart Wangye can he be?”

“Yes,” Lin Xingzhu said, “Er Gongzi ascended the throne, he bestowed his father-in-law Feng Xifan the title Tidu [local commander], all government affairs were handled by him. This man is unfair, he is very selfish. Whenever someone had the guts to speak several sentences about fairness, he would kill those people. Thus the hundreds of civil and military officials dared to be angry but did not dare to speak up. Da Gongzi and Madame Chen’s ghosts frequently appeared, finally in the fourth month Dong Guotai was scared to death by the ghosts.”

“Delighted, delighted!” Wei Xiaobao said, “When this Dong Guotai arrived in the nether world, Guoxing Ye [Koxinga] won’t possible let her get away with it.”

“Nobody says otherwise,” Lin Xingzhu agreed, “Dong Guotai was scared to death by the ghosts, as soon as this matter was known, everybody was delighted. The entire Taiwan, from north to south, everybody released firecrackers for three days; they said it was to chase away the ghosts, but actually it was to celebrate this old revered grandmother’s death!”

“Interesting, interesting!” Wei Xiaobao repeatedly exclaimed.

Shi Lang said, “The ghost story is not necessarily true. Presumeably after murdering her oldest grandson and hounding his oldest granddaughter-in-law, Dong Guotai’s heart was disturbed. The elderly suspected there were ghosts in the dark, hence day and night she saw ghosts.”

“Evil spirits really exist,” Wei Xiaobao said seriously, “Especially the people who died of persecution or died because others wronged them. After they become ghosts, they would definitely seek revenge. Shi Daren, this time you pacified Taiwan, you killed a lot of people. I am sure there are not a few ghosts on these Taiwan’s battleships; it would be best if Shi Daren is careful.”

Shi Lang’s countenance slightly changed, but immediately he laughed and said, “Going into battle in a war, inevitably we will have to kill people. If all the enemy troops and generals who died in battle became ghosts who seek revenge, all military officers will not die a good death.”

Wei Xiaobao shook his head, “That is not necessarily the case,” he said, “Shi Daren was originally a great general under Taiwan’s Guoxing Ye’s command, you returned and excessively killed Taiwan’s troops and generals. The dead people’s wronged ghosts are naturally dissatisfied. This is clearly different from other generals.”

Shi Lang did not say anything, in his heart he was enraged. He was a Fujian’s Jinjiang [county] native, from among Taiwan’s Zheng Wang’s troops, eight out of ten were Fujian people; there were especially a lot of Minnan [south Fujian] people. After he pacified Taiwan, he had heard not a few rumors and hearsays, cursing him as a traitor to Han, as well as a traitor to Min [short name for Fujian]. There was even an anonymous literary work in the form of a poem scolding him and satirizing him. In the deepest part of his heart he was actually ashamed; only Wei Xiaobao was the first person who openly mocked him on his face.

Helpless against Wei Xiaobao, he vented his anger toward Lin Xingzhu. He glowered at him while saying in his heart, “As soon as we leave this island, laozi will deal with you really good.”

“Shi Daren,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Your luck is really good; if Chen Junshi was not murdered, he would have defended Zheng Keshang in Taiwan; Dong Guotai, Zheng Keshuang, and the others could not possibly seize the throne. With Chen Junshi in command, from top to bottom the troops and the people defended Taiwan wholeheartedly, you may not necessarily be able to succeed.”

Shi Lang was silent; he thought that his own ability was definitely far inferior to Chen Jinnan’s; if this person did not die, naturally the situation was substantially different.

Hong Chao suddenly interrupted, “Wei Jueye is right. All the people, troops and generals of Taiwan also said the same thing. Everybody hated Zheng Keshuang for murdering his loyal minister; he is the damaged Great Wall, indeed he is Guoxing Ye’s unworthy grandson.”

Shi Lang angrily said, “Hong Shoubei, since you have surrendered to the Great Qing, how could you dare to speak this kind of treason and heresy?”

Hong Chao hastily stood up and said, “Lowly officer is muddleheaded, Daren please forgive my offence.”

“Hong Laoxiong [old brother],” Wei Xiaobao said, “You are speaking honestly; even if His Majesty heard it with his own ears, he would not possibly blame you. Sit down and drink some wine.”

“Yes,” Hong Chao replied. Trembling with fear, he sat down. He picked up the winecup with both hands, but his hands were trembling so hard that more than half of the wine spilled out the cup.

Wei Xiaobao said, “Chen Junshi was murdered by Zheng Keshuang, everybody in Taiwan knew about it, didn’t they?”

“Yes,” Hong Chao replied, “When Zheng Keshuang returned to Taiwan, he … he said that Chen Junshi … was … was …” He cast a glance to Shi Lang, did not dare to continue.

Wei Xiaobao said, “As long as you are telling the truth, nobody will blame you.”

“Yes, yes,” Hong Chao said, “Zheng Keshuang and Feng Xifan, two people, along with several bodyguards were drifting on the sea in a skiff, they came across a fishing boat who rescued them and brought them back to Taiwan. Zheng Keshuang said that Chen Junshi was killed by General Shi. When Zheng Wangye heard about it, he wept bitterly for several days. Later on after Zheng Keshuang usurped the throne, he personally announced in public that he had killed Chen Junshi with his own hands; he even bragged that his martial art skill was so amazing. A lot of Chen Junshi’s subordinates did not want accept it; they inquired of him what crime has Chen Junshi committed. But they were all arrested by Feng Xifan and executed.”

Wei Xiaobao banged the wine cup in his hand heavily on the table. “F*ck his granny!” he cursed. Suddenly he roared in laughter and said, “Usually we swear at people’s granny, but this man’s granny is indeed rather not worthwhile. Only f*cking Zheng Keshuang’s granny is really ‘made by Heaven and arranged by Earth’, ‘ding three pays twenty four’ [don’t know what it is]; nothing is more fitting than this.”

When Shi Lang heard these few sentences, his heart was quite happy. Because he offended Zheng Chenggong his entire family was executed; it was all because of Dong Guotai’s provocation. He said, “What Wei Jueye said is very true, we can f*ck his granny. Guoxing Ye was a hero and a warrior, everything in him was good, only he took a wrong wife.”

Wei Xiaobao shook his head and said, “Other people can f*ck Zheng Keshuang’s granny, in this world only General Shi alone must not f*ck her. General Shi’s glory, riches and honor came from this old revered grandmother. Although your parents, wife and child were all murdered by her, in return you get Navy Tidu, Third-class Marquis of Jing Hai. You are better off doing this business deal.”

Immediately Shi Lang’s countenance turned deep red; in his heart he cursed, “Laozi wants to f*ck your, Wei Xiaobao’s, granny.” Supressing his anger, he picked up the winecup with both hands and took a big mouthful. But his breathing was adversed, as soon as the wine entered his throat, he suddenly broke into violent coughing.

Wei Xiaobao mused, “Looking at your face, in your heart naturally you want to f*ck my granny in a big way; too bad I don’t know who my dad is, I don’t know who my granny is even more. You want to f*ck my granny, you will definitely f*ck the wrong person. In your heart most likely you still want to be my laozi [old man], in that case my granny will be your ma. You want to f*ck my granny, won’t that mean you are at sixes and sevens with your own Niang, a complete confusion?” He looked at Shi Lang with an amused look.

A navy Fujiang [deputy general] surnamed Lu was also sitting on their table, he was afraid these two people would vent their feeling toward each other; he said, “Wei Jueye, this time Shi Junmen pacified Taiwan, the success was entirely due to his sweat and blood in disregarding everything. Shi Junmen received the imperial order, from the fourth of the sixth month he commanded more than six hundred warships, and more than sixty thousand sergeants on the expedition to Taiwan. On the ocean we went against the wind, and it took eleven days for us to reach Penghu. We fought Taiwan troops under the command of Liu Guoxuan in big battle, so fierce that the sky darkened and the earth black, the sun and the moon gave forth no more of its light, even Shi Junmen was very concerned …”

Wei Xiaobao noticed that both Lin Xingzhu and Hong Chao hung their heads with an angry look on their faces; he presumed these two were also fighting at the battle of Penghu, and he knew naturally in this battle Shi Lang was victorious, hence he did not want to hear Lu Fujiang telling him the story of Shi Lang’s proud past achievemens. He asked, “General Shi, that day when Guoxing Ye took Taiwan, he was also attacking from Penghu, wasn’t he?”

“Exactly,” Shi Lang replied.

Wei Xiaobao said, “At that time you were under Guoxing Ye’s command, I wonder how did the battle go?”

Shi Lang said, “The red-haired demons did not dispatch troops to defend Penghu.”

Wei Xiaobao asked Lin Xingzhu, “In those days Guoxing Ye crossed the ocean attacking east, I heard Lin Dage led cane-shield troops to chop the demons’ legs; I wonder how did you do that?”

Lin Xingzhu thought, “About the cane-shield troops chopping the demons’ legs, I have already told you the story. And now you are asking me again, naturally it is because you don’t want to listen to the stinking history about Shi Lang subduing Taiwan, but want to listen to Guoxing Ye and Chen Junshi’s heroic deeds instead. I must not talk about my own deeds too much, because if Shi Lang harbors a grudge in his heart, he would definitely deal with me. I’d better hold him up in good light.” Thereupon he said, “Twice has Shi Junmen attacked Taiwan, his meritorious service is indeed very big. In those days Guoxing Ye assembled all the generals to dicuss whether or not they should cross the ocean and attack to the east. A lot of generals said that Taiwan’s natural barrier is difficult to attack, the wind and waves on the sea is very big, red-haired demons’ guns were difficult to deal with; this mission is indeed dangerous. But Chen Junshi and General Shi made a supreme effort to endorse it, and in the end they set up great merits.” Hearing this, Shi Lang’s face showed a pleased expression.

Lin Xingzhu continued, “It was Yongli’s fifteenth year second month …”

Shi Lang said, “Lin Dusi, the former Ming’s era name must not be mentioned anymore; it was the Great Qing Shunzhi’s eighteenth year.”

“Yes, yes,” Lin Xingzhu said, “On the second month that year, Guoxing Ye moved his camp to Jinmen City. On the first day of the third month the entire force made a vow and offered sacrifice to the sea. For the first ten days afterwards, Guoxing Ye and Chen Junshi assembled the troops under their command into Right Martial Guards, Left and Right Tiger Guards, Valiant Cavalry Camp, Left Vanguard, Center Attacking Force, Rear Guard Camp, Front and Rear Communication Team, Auxilliary Destroyer Rear Camp, into the navy ships and gathered them at Liaoluo Bay to wait for the wind. At that time the troops’ hearts were anxious, a lot of people were afraid to go out to sea, Guoxing Ye and Chen Junshi, General Shi, separately went to the camps to encourage the hearts of the troops. We waited until noon of the twenty-third day before the sky was clear, the wind and the waves ceased to blow; thereupon the great force moved out. By the afternoon of the twenty-fourth we arrived at Penghu. But after we reached Penghu, the gale returned, the wind and the waves on the sea were growing, for several days we were unable to set sail. There was no food on all the islands of Penghu, there was food shortage in the troops, we had to live on eating sweet potatoes; the hearts of the troops started to panic. By the thirtieth, we simply could not wait anymore. Guoxing Ye gave his order to set off, regardless of big wind big waves, we must go into battle. That day in the middle of the night, after the first watch, Guoxing Ye’s central command’s warship flew the command banner and fired the cannon three times, the metal drums were sounded, the battleships raised their sails toward the east. At that time black clouds covered the whole sky, the great waves on the sea looked like small hills pouncing on the bow of the ships. Strong wind, heavy rain, everybody was soaked to the bones. Guoxing Ye stood on the bow, with a sword in his hand; he shouted, ‘Display utter loyalty to defend our country, not afraid of the wind and the waves!’ Tens of thousands troops echoed in chorus, ‘Display utter loyalty to defend our country, not afraid of the wind and the waves!’ The yelling was so loud that the sound of the gale and the billows were nearly drown.”

Wei Xiaobao said to Shi Lang, “At that time naturally General Shi also shouted like that?”

Shi Lang replied, “That time lowly officer received the order to defend Xiamen, I did not go to Taiwan.”

“I see,” Wei Xiaobao said, “What a pity, what a pity!”

Lu Fujiang said, “When Zheng Wangye arrived at Penghu, he did not encounter strong wind and big waves, but Shi Junmen’s bloody battle; now that was ‘startling the heart moving the soul’. Liu Guoxuan assembled the Navy at Penghu’s Niu Xin [ox heart] Bay, Ji Long [chickeen coop] Islet, and built earthen rampart for twenty li along the coast, each section of the rampart was reinforced with a cannon. When the Great Qing Navy arrived, the cannon on the shore were fired simultaneously; there were also rockets, mortars, it was desperately serious …”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Lu Fujiang, I’ll say your gut is more or less the same as mine.”

“I do not dare,” Lu Fujiang said, “How can lowly officer be compared to Jueye?”

“You can’t be compared with me?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

“Naturally I can’t,” Lu Fujiang replied.

“That’s strange,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I always thought I am as meek as a mouse; it’s considered very disappointing. Turns out you are even more useless than I am, ha ha … that’s strange, that’s strange.” Lu Fujiang face swollen red; he did not dare to make any noise.

Wei Xiaobao asked Lin Xingzhu, “After Guoxing Ye took the troops to sea, and then what happened?”

Lin Xingzhu said, “The battleships sailed in the gale and big waves for four hours; by the third watch of the night [11pm – 1am] suddenly the breeze was still, the waves were quiet, the black cloud dissipated. A moment later, the wind turned into tail wind instead; the joyous cry of the troops thundered, everybody said Laotian [God/Heaven] was blessing them, the victory was guaranteed. Early morning on the first day of the following month, the battleships finally reached outside Lu Er Men [deer ear gate]. Using the bamboo pole to gauge the water, unexpectedly it was high sand shallow water; there was no way we could sail forward. Guoxing Ye was very anxious, he set up an incense burner table, to pray to the Heaven. Not too long afterwards, suddenly the tide arose, all battleships overflowed into the Lu Er Men. The red-haired troops on the shore opened fire to bombard us. Over there the red-haired demons had built two cities, one was called ‘re lan zhe cheng’ [Fort Zeelandia], the other was called ‘pu luo min zhe cheng’[3] …”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “The devils’ place names are so weird; what ‘re lai che’ [hot covering], ‘leng lai che’ [cold covering], ‘na mo bo luo mi duo Guanshiyin Pu zhe’ [namo paramita Guanyin Bodhisattva]?”

Lin Xingzhu smiled and continued his story, “At that time Guoxing Ye used the telescope to look, he saw the red-haired demons’ main force had two big warships, two battle cruisers, plus several hundreds small battleships and small boats. Thereupon he passed on an order, sending the Front Communication Team’s Commander Chen Ze to lead a fleet of ships to land on Lu Er Men Island, to guard North Shanwei to prevent other red-haired fleet from giving their assistance.

He sent Huang Zhao to lead five hundred Xian Shou [lit. shining metal hand] men, with twenty cannon, divided into three teams, to be stationed at the tail of Yi Kun Shen in formation, to block the enemy from moving southward. He sent lowly officer with five hundred Teng Pai Shou [rattan shield hand] men, from behind the demons’ port going around the left of Kun Shen to intercept and kill. He also sent Xiao Gongchen to lead twenty fast-ships; as soon as they saw the red-haired fleet passing the seven Kun Shen [Translator’s note: I thought it was a place name, but am not sure. 鲲身 Any help?] to attack, they were to pretend that they were going to land to besiege the city, and to make a lot of loud noise to give the impression that they succeeded in pinning down the enemy. In the meantime, various generals received orders to set off separately, while the cannon on the ships also returned fire. On the other side Chen Junshi led the Navy to surround and strike the red-haired demons’ main battleships.

Battle cry ensued; the surface of the sea was filled with gun smoke and flames. After fighting for more than two hours, there was a loud explosion; one of the red-haired demons’ main battleships was sunk by our troops. It was only later that I found out that it was the ‘bei ke de ya’ [not sure, Becker or Baker something?], the red-haired demons’ Navy elite ship. The other ship, Maria, suffered serious damage; it escaped eastwards toward the ocean and its whereabouts was unknown. Two red-haired demons’ ships also retreated. At that time the brothers under Chen Ze’s command encountered red-haired demon troops, they all strived to be the first to fight; although the red-haired demons’ firearms were formidable, seeing our troops rushed in and killed the enemy courageously, they were so scared that they lost the will to fight, and retreated back into the city. Our troops landed at Chikan [Fort Provintia], and stormed toward ‘pu luo min zhe cheng’.”

(Author’s note: When Zheng Chenggong attacked Taiwan, from Penghu he landed in the vicinity of modern day Tainan. At that time the Holland’s massive military force was also stationed in Tainan region.)

Wei Xiaobao poured a cup of wine and handed it over to Lin Xingzhu with both hand. “Lin Dage,” he said, “You fought well. I toast you a cup.”

Lin Xingzhu stood up to receive it; he expressed his thanks, and after drinking it up he continued, “After our troops landed at Provintia, local Chinese people swarmed out to welcome us, a lot of people were so happy that they cried. They said, ‘This time our liberator has finally arrived.’ Wei Jueye, Guoxing Ye’s esteemed father, Zheng Taishi [imperial tutor] was originally doing business without capital on the ocean, Taiwan was his, the Senior’s lair. Later on the Senior brought his subordinate brothers back to the Central Plains. Hence Taiwan was separately occupied by Holland demons and Spain demons; Holland demons in the south, Spain demons in the north. Two demons fought each other, the Spain demons were defeated, and entire Taiwan fell under Holland demons’ grip. Our Chinese people on the island were mistreated and killed to death by the Holland’s red-haired demons. There was a brother, former subordinate of Zheng Taishi, called Guo Huaiyi; he was a warrior. He remained on the island and did not leave. Seeing Chinese people were bullied very badly by the red-haired demons, he assembled the brothers in secret, notified Chinese people everywhere that on the fifteenth of the eight month, the Mid-Autumn Festival, they were to move together to kill all the red-haired demons on the island. Unexpectedly there was a traitor, called Puzai, who went as far as to inform the red-haired demons …”

Wei Xiaobao slapped the table and cursed, “His granny, Chinese people’s affair was spoiled by a traitor.”

“That’s right,” Lin Xingzhu said, “When Guo Huaiyi Dage saw that Puzai ran away, he knew the situation had turned worse. Immediately he led more than sixteen-thousand Chinese to attack ‘pu luo min zhe cheng’, destroying and setting the red-haired demons’ government buildings and shops on fire. The red-haired demons deployed a large army to counterattack, their guns were formidable. Our Chinese people, other than several fiery-dragon spears, were only using broadswords, iron spears, hoes, wooden sticks, and similar types of weapons. In Provintia they fought for fifteen days straight. Guo Huaiyi Dage was unfortunate and was killed by the red-haired demon’s gun …”

“Aiya, that’s bad,” Wei Xiaobao exclaimed.

“It was,” Lin Xingzhu said, “Guo Huaiyi Dage died, the snake was without a head; the Chinese people were defeated and driven out of the city. On the bank of the Great Lake the bloody battle continued for seven days and seven nights. The number of Chinese people killed on the bank of Great Lake totalled more than four thousand; women and girls also rather die than submit, more than five hundred of them were killed. The rest were captured by the red-haired demons, women were forced to be barracks’ prostitute, the men were either pulled to death by five horses running separate directions, or branded to slow death by branding irons …”

Wei Xiaobao was enraged; he cried out, “Red-haired demons are this cruel, they are more vicious than the Great Qing troops’ massacre of our people in Yangzhou!”

Shi Lang and Lu Fujiang looked at each other in dismay; they could only smile wryly. They both thought, “The way this youngster talk is really without any regard of the gravity of things.”

Lin Xingzhu said, “It was Yongli’s sixth year, the eighth month …”

Hong Chao bent his fingers and counted, “Yongli’s sixth year, that is the Great Qing Shunzhi’s seventh … eighth … ninth … Shunzhi’s ninth year.”

“Is that right?” Lin Xingzhu said, “Anyway, ever since that great massacre, the Chinese people of Taiwan and the red-haired demons cannot exist together. As soon as there is the tiniest reason, the red-haired demons would kill Chinese people randomly. Therefore, when they saw Guoxing Ye’s main forces, it was as if the Emperor Bodhisattva Savior has arrived. Men, women, young and old, everybody shared with us their grievance. That very evening, the red-haired demon governor knew defeat was imminent; he took his anger out on the Chinese people, he killed the Chinese who lived in Kun Shen; no matter young or old, he gathered them together and killed altogether more than five hundred people. The next day Guoxing Ye dispatched the troops to attack ‘pu luo min zhe cheng’. Chen Junshi came up with a strategy, we trained the rattan shield troops to roll around on the ground to chop the demon troops’ leg; and thus ‘pu luo min zhe cheng’ fell.”

“That is Laoxiong’s great merit,” Wei Xiaobao said.

“It was all due to Chen Junshi’s brilliant scheme,” Lin Xingzhu replied, “Lowly officer did not have any merit.” He continued, “Immediately afterwards Guoxing Ye deployed the troops to attack Fort Zeelandia, where the red-haired demon governor was stationed. The artillery barrage from the top of the city wall was very fierce, our troops suffered heavy casualties. But General Ma Xin and General Liu Guoxuan courageously attacked Yi Kun Shen. Seeing too many brothers died, Guoxing Ye built earthen rampart outside the city, surrounding Fort Zeelandia all around, and installed cannon on the rampart, pounding the city walls with artillery barrage. Before long our second Navy’s Left Attacking Force, Front Attacking Force, Wisdom Force, Valiant Troops, Amphibious Force, Palace Hall Troops, all ships have also arrived; our power rose up. While dispatching the troops to clear up the wild area for farming, Guoxing Ye also intensified the besieging of the city. Besieged until the fifth month, suddenly the red-haired demons’ reinforcement from Batavia arrived. The red-haired demons from the city came out to attack. There were big battles on land and sea, our troops dauntlessly rushed in and killed the enemy, the sea water was dyed red with blood.”

Wei Xiaobao slapped the table and exclaimed, “Fierce, fierce!” Turning to Shi Lang he said, “Too bad at that time General Shi was in Xiamen; otherwise, you could keep up with these several big battles, and killed several hundreds of those damn red-haired demons, and then you can really be considered a hero.” Shi Lang stayed silent.

Wei Xiaobao asked Hong Chao, “Hong Dage, at that time which group were you in?”

Hong Chao replied, “At that time lowly officer was under Liu Guoxuan, General Liu’s command; along with Chen Ze, General Chen’s navy we besieged the red-haired demons’ reinforcement, in a big battle at the North Shanwei region. The red-haired demons’ warships were huge, their guns very sharp; when the bullets from our firearms reached the red-haired demons’ big warship, they all bounced back from the armor plating, we could not harm the ship. Seeing we could not withstand the enemy, the Front Communication Team’s Lin Jinshen, General Lin personally led two-hundred-men suicide team, with their bodies covered in gunpowder they braved death by jumping into the red-haired demons’ big warship to damage and explode the cannon on the ship. Seeing us attacking violently with no fear of death at all, the red-haired demons’ were thrown into confusion. We killed a red-haired demon commander, captured two battleships, and utterly routed the red-haired demons’ navy. On land Chen Junshi led the troops in great battle also seized total victory. Later on seven red-haired demons’ lead bullets were dug out from Chen Junshi’s body.”

“Hey,” Wei Xiaobao said, “My Shifu did not die under the red-haired demons’ guns; he died under his granny Zheng Keshuang, that kid’s sword. General Shi, real men kill foreign devils, now that is amazing. Chinese people kill Chinese people, even if he killed a lot, he cannot be considered a hero. Do you agree?”

“Humph,” Shi Lang snorted, but did not say anything.

Lin Xingzhu said, “The red-haired demons suffered defeat after defeat, they wanted to burn our troops’ provision, but each time Chen Junshi always saw through their plan, they were never able to steal our chicken or nibble our grain. The red-haired demon governor was trapped in an isolated city, he had his hands bound and was unable to do anything about it. He sent people across the sea to contact the Great Qing’s Fujian and Zhejiang Zongdu [governor-general] Li Lutai, to ask him to send troops and rescued them. That Li Daren was an interesting fellow; he sent a letter asking the red-haired demons to come to Fujian first to crush Guoxing Ye’s garrisons in Jinmen and Xiamen regions, and then the Great Qing troops would come to Taiwan and launch converging attack from inside and outside. At that time the red-haired demons were powerless to defend themselves; they were like a turtle shrinking its head inside Fort Zeelandia, how could they send troops to Jinmen, Xiamen?”

Wei Xiaobao said, “The red-haired demons speak like a fart; all along they didn’t want to attack Jinmen, Xiamen, did they? When Great Qing speak, we always keep our words; didn’t we eventually send troops to attack Taiwan? We’re only twenty, thirty years late; it’s not a big deal! When General Shi led the troops to attack Taiwan, I wonder if there were red-haired demons with whom you coordinate inside and outside offensives.”

Shi Lang could not endure patiently anymore; he stood up abruptly and said, “Wei Jueye, Xiongdi and you are ministers of the same palace hall, both of us are Great Qing officials; why do you always speak cold words and make sarcastic comments, always mocking Xiongdi?”

“Eh? That’s strange,” Wei Xiaobao exclaimed in surprise, “When did I ever mock General Shi? General Shi did not have any illicit relations with foreign country, that’s great. But if you do have an illicit relations with foreign country, I’ll say there’s still time. General Shi holds massive military power in your hands, red-haired demons, Spaniard demons, Portuguese demons, Luocha demons, will be very happy to make friends with you.”

Shi Lang shivered in his heart, “Not good!” he mused, “If this little demon made an accusation in front of His Majesty, framing me of having illicit relations with foreign country, my entire life would be destroyed in his hands.” Just now his temper flared, he spoke rudely; he could not help feeling remorse. Hastily he forced a laugh and said, “Xiongdi has drank several cups too much, and has offended quite a bit, Wei Jueye please forgive me.”

When Wei Xiaobao saw that he was angry, originally he was rather scared, but then he saw that Shi Lang changed his attitude and offered an apology, he knew that Shi Lang was afraid of him. Thereupon he laughed and said, “If General Shi seriously wants to establish yourself as a king in Taiwan, it would be better for you to kill Xiongdi first to silence me, so that I would not report it to His Majesty. But if you are just making a loud of noise and throwing a fit, although Xiongdi’s gut is small, I am not afraid.”

Shi Lang’s countenance turned deathly pale. Leaving his seat he bowed deeply with cupped fist and said, “Wei Jueye, a person of great moral stature does not remember the offenses committed by one of low moral stature; lowly officer was preposterous, I am willing to accept punishment. But establishing myself as a king in Taiwan or having illicit relations with foreign country, lowly officer absolutely never has this intention. Lowly officer single-mindedly exerting myself for His Majesty, following his order with loyalty, definitely not double-minded.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Please sit down, please sit down. We will wait and see.” Turning his head toward Lin Xingzhu he said, “Your story is more interesting than Mr. Storyteller. This episode, Guoxing Ye fought a bloody battle in Taiwan, the red-haired demons pissed in their pants in terror. And then what happened?”

“By that time,” Lin Xingzhu continued, “The news that Guoxing Ye led a large army to attack Taiwan had reached the inland. Huang Wu, Huang Daren immediately submitted a proposal to the imperial court, he submitted what was called ‘Five Plans to Fortify Defenses and Raze the Fields in Pacifying the Ocean’.”

“Who is that Huang Wu?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

Lin Xingzhu cast a glance toward Shi Lang, he coughed several times, but did not immediately reply. Shi Lang said, “This Huang Daren was originally also a subordinate of Guoxing Ye, his rank was a Zongbing [regional commander]. After he submitted to the imperial court, his political career took off smoothly. By the time of his death, his title was First-class Duke of Hai Deng [hai – ocean, deng – settling of liquid; maybe a place’s name.].”

“Hey,” Wei Xiaobao exclaimed, “Turns out he was also a trai …” in the end he forcibly swallowed the last syllable ‘tor’.

Shi Lang’s countenance turned red; he mused, “You curse me as a traitor, I’ll say you are a fake Manchu; we are no better or worse than the other.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “What kind of clever scheme did this Huang Wu use to pat His Majesty’s bottom that in a short while he was bestowed the title Duke? His skill is really not small! This trick we may want to polish and refine, and try to emulate.”

“This Huang Wu,” Lin Xingzhu said, “In those days Guoxing Ye sent him to guard Hai Deng, but he surrendered Hai Deng to the imperial court. The officers and soldiers who were unwilling to surrender, he killed them all. At that time the imperial court was at a loss on how to deal with Guoxing Ye, suddenly there was this general in command of the troops from the other side who wanted to surrender along with the entire city; naturally the imperial court was overjoyed. Hence the reason he received such a preferential treatment.”

“So that’s how it is,” Wei Xiaobao said, “What plan did he propose?”

Lin Xingzhu sighed and said, “This Huang Daren really did a lot of harm to the common people. His ‘Five Plans to Pacify the Ocean’, number one was to move all common people from the coastal area inland, so that those Jinmen, Xiamen, as well as Taiwan, would not get any material assistance. Number two was to burn down all ships and boats in the coast; henceforth not a cun of wood was allowed to go out to sea. Number three was to kill Guoxing Ye’s father, Zheng Taishi. Number four was to excavate the tomb of Guoxing Ye’s ancestors, to damage his fengshui [geomancy]. Number five was to relocate the officers and men, former subordinates of Guoxing Ye who had surrendered inland to open up land for farming in various provinces, to avoid future misfortune.”

“Hey,” Wei Xiaobao said, “This fellow’s plans are indeed very malicious.”

“Aren’t they?” Lin Xingzhu said, “At that time Emperor Shunzhi had just passed away, His Majesty had just ascended the throne, his age was young, Oboi arrogated all powers. That treacherous bandit Oboi saw Huang Wu’s ‘Five Plans to Pacify the Ocean’ and agreed that it made a lot of sense, he issued an order from Liaodong all the way to Zhili, Jiangsi, Zhejiang, Fujian, as well as Guangdong, nobody was allowed to live within thirty li from the coast, all vessels were to be burned down. In those days common people lived in the coastal area by the thousands and tens of thousands, none was not forced out from their homes and wandering about, a lot of them did not survive.”

Shi Lang spoke up, “Huang Wu’s scheme went indeed a bit too far. It was not until the current ruler took office, Wei Daren took down Oboi, that the sea ban was lifted. But the common people in seven coastal provinces have already suffered harmful effects. At that time the imperial court issued strict order, common people who violated the ban were arrested and immediately beheaded. A lot of people could not survive, they went to the seaside to catch fish; I don’t know how many were killed. At that time Zheng Taishi was also killed. Oboi sent the Minister of War Shangshu Sunahai on a special mission to Quanzhou’s [prefecture] Nan An Xian [South An County] in Fujian to dig out Zheng family’s ancestral tomb.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Oboi claimed to be a warrior, but he committed such a senseless act; if he really have skills, he should challenge Guoxing Ye with real swords, real spears. By relocating the coastal population inland, isn’t it clear that he was afraid? His Majesty cherishes common people, if Huang Wu’s plans were presented to His Majesty, he would definitely have his head chopped.”

“Exactly,” Shi Lang said, “Huang Wu died early, it could be considered his luck.”

Lin Xingzhu said, “When the news of Zheng Taishi’s death reached Taiwan, Guoxing Ye was afraid it might shake the troops’ heart, so he said it was a lie and that they must not be gullible. But according to his personal guards, Guoxing Ye often cried bitterly in the middle of the night. Guoxing Ye also confided with Chen Junshi and several other generals that Huang Wu’s plot was indeed sinister. Fortunately they had gone on a punitive expedition to the east to Taiwan; otherwise, tens of thousands soldiers could not have a foothold in Jinmen and Xiamen. By then we have held our siege for a long time, several times the red-haired troops wanted to break the siege, each time they were beaten back into the city. Hence Guoxing Ye issued an order that before the New Year we must attack and bring Fort Zeelandia down.” Turning toward Hong Chao he said, “We attacked on the twenty-third of the eleventh month, didn’t we?”

“Yes,” Hong Chao replied, “That day the wind was strong, with heavy rain. Our troops fired the cannon from all the earthen ramparts at the same time, damaging the corner of the city wall, the fortifications on the east and west of the city were also broken. The red-haired demons desperately rushed out, but after several hundreds of them died, they were driven back into the city. Thereupon the red-haired governor raised a white flag to surrender. At that time the Chinese people in Taiwan wanted to take revenge by killing the red-haired demons clean. Guoxing Ye enlightened the people that our China is a country with etiquette, the enemy surrendered must not be killed. He allowed the red-haired governor to write a letter of surrender with fourteen sections before he led the ruined army, defeated generals boarded the ships and left Taiwan to flee to Batavia. The red-haired demons occupied Taiwan since the Ming Dynasty’s Tian Qi’s fourth year, for a total of 38 years, until that year, the Yongli’s fifteenth year … which was the Great Qing’s Shunzhi’s eighteenth year, eleventh month, twenty-ninth day, when Taiwan returned to be China’s territory.”

Lin Xingzhu said, “Guoxing Ye issued a military order not to kill the surrendering red-haired troops, but Chinese people were unbearably angry; they continuously spat on them and threw rocks at them. Little children even made up a song to mock them. The red-haired troops with broken hands broken feet, hanging their heads dispiritedly; they did not dare to utter even a single word of demon language. After their battleship set off, they lowered their flag, and fired a gun salute, saying that it was to show their humble respect to Guoxing Ye for his kindness of not killing them.”

“Good!” Wei Xiaobao said, “We, Chinese, have a really great power and prestige. The red-haired demons’ cannon were that formidable, to conquer Taiwan was really not easy, really not easy!”

Hong Chao said, “Guoxing Ye changed the name Fort Zeelandia to Anping Zhen [lit. safe and peaceful, zhen – small town], he changed ‘pu luo min zhe cheng’ into Chengtian Fu [lit. supporting heaven, fu – prefecture]; henceforth both have always been Taiwan’s strategic town.”

Lu Fujiang interjected, “When Shi Junmen took over Taiwan, the path he took was the old path taken by Guoxing Ye in the past; he went in from Lu Er Men …”

Wei Xiaobao waved his hand to stop him; he yawned big and said, “Chinese defeating the red-haired demons and driving them out to see, that is an immensely enjoyable story. Our people defeating our people, it’s approximately no more than that. General Shi, we have drank quite a bit of wine, let’s adjourn now.”

Shi Lang stood up and said, “Yes, thank you very much Jueye for the dinner, lowly officer takes my leave.”

Wei Xiaobao went back to the inner hall and told his wives how he stopped Shi Lang from talking; in short he prevented him from boasting about his outstanding military service in taking over Taiwan. His six wives found the story amusing, only Ah Ke remained silent. She thought that if she was married to Zheng Keshuang, she would have been captured and taken prisoner together with him; brought to Beijing, as a concubine of a vanquished nation, it would be difficult to escape humiliation. That day when she saw Zheng Keshuang left Tong Chi Island on a skiff, she did not care about his life or death. This moment as she heard that his country perished and he surrendered to the enemy, she did not have the slightest concern. Recalling the past events, she was amazed that she was actually crazy about his elegant manner and his appearance, knowing full well that this man was someone without any backbone, a spoiled son of rich parents without any future prospects. She realized that it was as if she was blind by being deeply attached to him. This moment as she thought back, she was still feeling deeply ashamed.

The Princess said, “Huangdi Gege was too generous to him, that fellow Zheng Keshuang surrendered, unexpectedly he bestowed him a first-class duke title, his nobility rank is above Xiaobao’s. It really upsets me.”

Wei Xiaobao waved his hand, “Not a big deal, not a big deal. Guoxing Ye was a great hero, His Majesty was looking at Guoxing Ye’s face that he bestowed his offspring the title of first-class duke. Based on Zheng Keshuang’s own ability, at most he would only be bestowed the title first-class caterpillar.”

At noon the next day, Wei Xiaobao singled out Lin Xingzhu and Hong Chao, two people for a small banquet; he asked them about Shi Lang taking over Taiwan.

Turned out the Qing troops and Taiwan troops were engaged in bloody battle for several days at Penghu Islands’ Niu Xin Bay and Ji Long islet. The first day Shi Lang lost, afterwards Qing’s Navy reinforcement arrived, the battle raged again. Taiwan’s vessels were burned and suffered heavy defeat, the number of casualties among the officers and soldiers reaching more than ten thousand men, the battleships were either sunk or burned, the total damage reaching more than three hundred boats. Liu Guoxuan led the defeated army back into Taiwan.

Shi Lang led the Navy to attack Taiwan. Lu Er Men had shallow water, battleships could not enter; they dropped anchor on the ocean for twelve days, with no strategy left to try. Suddenly thick fog filled the sky, the tide swelled, Qing warships swarmed in. In Taiwan, everybody from top to bottom was greatly alarmed; they all said, “In the past because of the tide rose in Lu Er Men Guoxing Ye was able to enter Taiwan; and now Lu Er Men’s tide rises again, the natural barrier is lost, this is the Will of Heaven that made it so, fighting again is useless.”

When Zheng Keshuang was informed that the boats of Qing troops had entered Lu Er Men, he was already thrown into panic mode, when Feng Xifan advised him to surrender, naturally he readily agreed. It’s just that he was afraid Shi Lang would avenge his personal enmity and would make things difficult for Zheng Clan’s offspring that he was greatly hesitant. Immediately Liu Guoxuan sent a letter to Shi Lang, saying that they were willing to surrender, but Guoxing Ye’s descendants must be saved from harm, or else the entire Taiwan population, military and civilian alike, would recall fondly Guoxing Ye’s kindness and righteousness, and would rather fight to the last man. Shi Lang immediately replied, guaranteeing that he would not bother about the old grievance, otherwise, let Heaven and men abandon him, and let his descendants be cut-off from the earth. Thereupon Zheng Keshuang, Feng Xifan and Liu Guoxuan led Taiwan’s civil and military officials to surrender. The Ming Dynasty’s imperial clan Prince Ningjing Zhu Shugui committed suicide to die for his country, his five concubines were buried alive as sacrifice together with their husband, and thus the Ming family was cut short.

Wei Xiaobao thought, “This Ming Dynasty Emperor’s descendants committed suicide to die for his country, five of his wives followed him in death. If I, Wei Xiaobao, commit suicide, I wonder from my seven wives, how many would want to accompany me? I am sure Shuang’er would, the Princess would surely apologize for not accompanying me. As for the other five, most likely they would throw dice to decide who would die and who would live. When Fang Yi throw the dice, she would definitely cheat, calling me, the dead person, a ‘cattle’.”

Lin Xingzhu continued, saying that after Shi Lang led the troops to land, he indeed kept his words, he did not give the Zheng Clan offspring any trouble. He even personally went to Zheng Chenggong’s Yan Ping Jun Wang ancestral shrine to offer sacrifice and cried bitterly for a moment.

Hong Chao said, “During the sacrifice he read a memorial in which there were some sentences like this: ‘From Tong’an [district, Xiamen, Fujian] Hou [marquis] entered Taiwan, only then did Taiwan soil have inhabitant. Overtaking the bestowed confidence to open land and initiate the cliff boundary, who would dare to do it? Today by the authority of the Son of Heaven Lang leads military power, subduing this land, did not decline to wipe out the country and punish the guilty, for the reason of loyalty to the imperial court as well as to fulfill the duty to avenge father and brother. Alone Lang rose through the ranks, with Ci Xing[4] was as delighted as fish meet water, there was not the slightest bit of resentment, but it led to great violation. Lang and Ci Xing had enmity and hatred, but my feeling is still like minister and his master. The poor scholar in the midst of reed, justice will not be done. Righteousness and personal kindness, henceforth it is over.’ These several sentences were on everyone’s lips for a period of time.”

“What was he rambling about?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

“The poor scholar in the midst of reed was Wu Zixu,” Hong Chao replied, “In the past Wu Zixu wiped out the State of Chu, he dug Chu’s King Ping’s body from the grave and lashed the corpse three hundred times to avenge the enmity of him killing Wu Zixu’s father and brother. Shi Lang was saying that he definitely won’t do such thing.”

“Humph,” Wei Xiaobao said with a cold laugh, “Does he dare? Although Guoxing Ye is dead, Shi Lang is still extremely afraid of him. He defeated the Zheng Family’s family estate, he is afraid Guoxing Ye’s brave spirit would find him and give him trouble, thereupon he went to Guoxing Ye’s ancestral shrine to kowtow and plea for leniency. This man is very treacherous, you must not fall into his trick.” Lin and Hong, two people, voiced their agreement.

“The story of Wu Zixu,” Wei Xiaobao continued, “I have watched a play about him. Wu Zixu closed himself up, in one night the hair on his head turned white from fright, right?”

“Yes, yes,” Hong Chao replied, “Jueye’s memory is very good.”

Wei Xiaobao had not heard stories for a long time, thereupon he asked about Wu Zixu’s story from the beginning to end. By coincidence this Hong Chao was a Xiuxai [a person who has passed the county level imperial exam]; although he had not passed a university entrance exam, he had quite a bit of ink in his belly; thereupon he narrated the story in details [lit. count by fives and tens].

Wei Xiaobao listened with keen interest and with pleasure; he said, “In this barren island I am truly bored to death, fortunately two gentlemen came to tell stories to relieve my boredom. It would be best if you two stay several days longer, there is no hurry to leave.”

Lin Xingzhu said, “We are surrendered enemy generals from Taiwan, while we were talking yesterday we have offended General Shi. If General Shi wanted to deal with us, it will be as easy as pinching an ant dead. All he needs is a carelessly spoken word with rebellious intent, then he will charge us with conspiracy against the law, immediately behead us first and submit report later. Even if after chopping our heads he did not submit any report, nobody would investigate. Wei Daren, please speak to General Shi on our behalf, tell him that you want us to stay here to serve you.”

Wei Xiaobao was greatly delighted. “Hong Dage, what do you have in mind?” he asked.

Hong Chao said, “Last night lowly officer and Lin Dage talked it over, if Wei Daren cannot save our lives, the two of us undoubtedly will die without burial site.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “If the two of you want to follow me, you must listen to what I say.”

Lin and Hong, two people bowed together and said, “No matter what Wei Daren tells us to do, lowly officer will follow obediently.”

Wei Xiaobao was extremely delighted; he thought, “With these two good helpers, I have a way of leaving this ghost place.”

Kangxi sent Peng Canjiang with his troops to guard Tong Chi Island with strict imperial order in advance that they must not let Wei Xiaobao and his family to leave the island even for one step. Peng Canjiang’s brain was not too bright; he did not have any special skill either. But toward the Emperor’s imperial edict, even if his head was chopped seventeen, eighteen times, he would not dare to violate the least bit. Kangxi wanted him to guard closely, he would guard closely. If Wei Xiaobao wanted to take his life, it would be as easy as lifting his hand; but even if he wiped these 501 soldiers guarding him clean, without a boat, in the end he could not leave the island. Hong and Ling, two people were veteran generals of the Navy; certainly they had skill in handling ships and navigating the ocean.

That evening he held another banquet for Shi Lang. This time he only invited Lin Xingzhu and Hong Chao, two people to accompany them. After some chitchat, Wei Xiaobao said, “General Shi, are you going to stay here for one or two months?”

“Actually, lowly officer was thinking of staying a few days, to hear Daren’s instruction more often,” Shi Lang replied, “But Taiwan has just started to be put in order, it can’t be left too long. I am thinking of taking my leave from Daren tomorrow.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “You said you wanted to stay here with me for a few days to hear my instruction more often. Are you serious, or did you just say that to make me happy?”

“Naturally I am one-hundred percent serious,” Shi Lang replied, “Lowly officer said it from the bottom of my heart. That year lowly officer followed Daren, the troops were stationed on Tong Chi Island, while we were bombarding Shen Long Island. Every day I had the pleasure of hearing Daren giving instructions, drinking wine, gambling, chatting and laughing with Daren; that kind of days, I had a great fun.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “If you could have that kind of days, will you be happy?”

“Naturally I will,” Shi Lang replied, “Someday His Majesty will send Daren on an important mission with heavy responsibility involving national military, lowly officer still want to follow Daren.”

Wei Xiaobao nodded. “It’s very easy,” he said, “You want to follow me, you want to hear me and joke with me, it’s not difficult at all. Tomorrow all of us will go to Taiwan together.”

Shi Lang was shocked. He stood up and said with a trembling voice, “This … this … this matter is not on His Majesty’s imperial edict; lowly officer does not dare to receive order. Please … please Daren forgive me.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “It’s not that I want to go to Taiwan to do anything, it’s just that I heard your story, it is so exciting. Guoxing Ye opened up new land in Tainan and Taipei, developing a new and colorful world, I want to see it with my own eyes. When we get to Taiwan, aren’t you going to hear my instruction more often? You said it so yourself. It’s just that I think you conduct yourself very well, plus you have followed me in the past; we are old boss, old subordinate, our friendship is more than ordinary, so I thought hard to find a way to grant your wish. I am going to Taiwan to play for a month or two, and then I’ll come back here. The gods do not know, the ghosts do not perceive; if you don’t say anything, I don’t say anything, there is no way His Majesty will find out.”

Shi Lang’s expression looked very awkward. He bowed and said, “Wei Daren, this matter is really difficult to do. Whatever Daren commands, lowly officer will obey faithfully, but if His Majesty put the blame on me, it would be a great inconvenience. If lowly officer does not submit a memorial to the Emperor, it would be a great crime of deceiving one’s lord; lowly officer absolutely will not dare to do it.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Please sit down, please sit down. General Shi, since you are unwilling, it’s a trivial matter, no need to be mentioned anymore.”

Shi Lang felt as if a heavy burden had just removed from him; he repeatedly said ‘yes’, and sat back on the banquet table.

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Speaking about great crime of deceiving one’s lord, let me be honest with you: I have deceived His Majesty several times. It’s just that His Majesty is magnanimous; when he found out later, he only swore at me several times, but never made a big deal out of it.”

“Yes, yes,” Shi Lang said, “Everybody says that His Majesty treated Wei Daren with deep kindness and profound benevolence; it is indeed very different. A ruler and his minister hit it off like this, it is unprecedented in history. But a small general, an external minister without any good fortune like lowly officer, I absolutely will not dare to follow Wei Daren’s example.”

Wei Xiaobao smiled and said, “General Shi speaks as if you are very timid, while in my opinion, your guts in the contrary are very big. I heard that after General Shi attacked Taiwan, you wrote a memorial and presented it as a memorial to Guoxing Ye; is there such thing?”

Shi Lang said, “Reporting to Daren, the three characters ‘Guoxing Ye’ are not supposed to be mentioned. Presently the national surname is Aisin Gioro [reminder: ‘Guoxing Ye’ means ‘Lord of the Imperial Surname’]. When we are talking about Zheng Chenggong, if we want to be a bit polite, we may say ‘Former Ming’s Ci Xing’ [see Note 2 above]. As a result, lowly officer’s memorial only mentioned ‘Ci Xing’, two characters; I definitely am not bold enough to violate the taboo.”

He presumed that since he was unwilling to take Wei Xiaobao to Taiwan, this little demon would be bound to look for bones in the egg, determined to find a setback for Shi Lang. The three-character ‘Guoxing Ye’ was the name the people were accustomed to, but Zheng Chenggong was bestowed the surname Zhu by the Ming Dynasty, his national surname was Ming Dynasty’s national surname, not Qing Dynasty’s national surname. If Wei Xiaobao insisted to make a big deal of these three characters in the memorial, saying that Shi Lang keep in his mind constantly that the national surname was Zhu, and reporting it to the imperial court, this matter maybe big or maybe small, but it could also grow into a disaster. Thereupon he seized the initiative to offer an explanation first.

Actually, Wei Xiaobao did not have the slightest knowledge; he failed to grasp the crucial point of what Shi Lang was saying. After Shi Lang argued, Wei Xiaobao was able to find something to grab on instead. “General Shi,” he said, “You have once received rank and emolument of nobility from the Ming Dynasty, it’s no wonder that the surname bestowed by the previous dynasty was constantly in your mind. If you are really loyal to our Great Qing, you should have called Zheng Chenggong ‘Nixing’ [rebel surname], ‘Weixing’ [bogus surname], ‘Feixing’ [bandit surname], ‘Gouxing’ [dog surname].”

Shi Lang lowered his head in silence. Although in his heart he 120% disapproved, he felt it was inappropriate to debate over this matter with Wei Xiaobao. By calling Zheng Chenggong ‘Ci Xing’, indeed it was an indication that he had not forgotten the previous dynasty’s idea.

Wei Xiaobao said, “General Shi’s memorial must be written very well, I wonder if it is alright for you to recite it to me?”

Shi Lang only knew how to lead the troops and go to war, how could he write a eulogy? This funeral oration was written by a secretary, one of his aides and advisors. This secretary was quite talented, the memorial was written with such passion and rich in imagery, the meaning behind it sincere. Shi Lang had heard not a few people praised it, he was very proud, thereupon he had memorized quite a bit of sentences from it to show off in front of other people. Immediately he said, “Lowly officer invented several sentences of crazy nonsense; I will only make Wei Daren laugh at me.” Thereupon he recited several important passages from the memorial.

Finished listening to the section ‘Alone Lang rose through the ranks, with Ci Xing was as delighted as fish meet water, there was not the slightest bit of resentment, but it led to great violation. Lang and Ci Xing had enmity and hatred, but my feeling is still like minister and his master. The poor scholar in the midst of reed, justice will not be done. Righteousness and personal kindness, henceforth it is over.’  Wei Xiaobao nodded and praised, “Good essay, good essay. This memorial, let’s forget the fact that even if my head is chopped I will never be able to write one, even if someone wrote it for me and had me memorize it, I won’t be able to remember it in ten days or eight days. General Shi is well-versed in both civil and military affairs; your memory is very good. My admiration, my admiration.”

Shi Lang’s face blushed slightly; he said in his heart, “You know perfectly well that I can’t write something like that, someone else wrote it, I simply memorized it well and recited it back. You ridicule me like this, no need for me to talk to you too much.”

Wei Xiaobao asked, “About that ‘The poor scholar in the midst of reed, justice will not be done’, what does that mean? My learning is very disappointing, I don’t understand it.”

Shi Lang said, “’The poor scholar in the midst of reed’ was referring to Wu Zixu. In the past from the State of Chu he ran away to the State of Wu. When he reached the river bank, an elderly fisherman took him cross the river, and left to get him some rice to eat. Wu Zixu was afraid the pursuing troops would catch him; he hid in the cluster of reeds on the river bank. The elderly fisherman returned; seeing someone was hiding in the reeds, he called out, ‘You in the reeds, you in the reeds, aren’t you the poor scholar?’ Afterwards Wu Zixu led Wu troops to attack and defeat the State of Chu. He dug the King Ping of Chu’s corpse from the grave and whipped the corpse three hundred times to avenge the enmity of him killing Wu Zixu’s father and brother. Ci Xing … Zheng Chenggong has killed my father, brother, wife and child, Taiwan people were afraid after I broke Taiwan, I would also dig the grave to exact revenge. In this memorial lowly officer was saying that this kind of matter I resolved not to do. Zheng Chenggong’s spirit in heaven may rest in peace, Taiwan troops and people also have nothing to worry about.”

“I see,” Wei Xiaobao said, “General Shi is comparing yourself to Wu Zixu.”

“Wu Zixu was a great hero, great warrior,” Shi Lang said, “How can lowly officer dare to be compared to him? It’s just that Wu Zixu’s entire family ran into misfortune, he alone escaped. In the end he returned with the troops and avenged this big enmity. This part is similar to what lowly officer has gone through. That’s all.”

Wei Xiaobao nodded; he said, “I wish that General Shi’s outcome in the future will be greatly different from Wu Zixu, otherwise it will be really not good.”

Shi Lang immediately remembered that Wu Zixu rendered great merit in the State of Wu, but in the end he was killed by the King of Wu. He could not stop his countenance from changing greatly; his hand that was holding the wine cup was also trembling.

Wei Xiaobao shook his head and said, “I heard Wu Zixu rendered great merit, he became conceited, and was very disrespectful toward the King of Wu. General Shi, you compared yourself to Wu Zixu, it was really inappropriate. I am sure that the memorial of yours has already relayed to Beijing, His Majesty also has seen it. If you have nobody help you to explain it to His Majesty, I think, hey, hey, ay, too bad, too bad, I am afraid a great meritorious service will be thrown into running water …”

Shi Lang hastily said, “Daren please understand, lowly officer said that I am not Wu Zixu, I do not dare to say that I want to be Wu Zixu. This … this matter is entirely … entirely different.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “Your memorial has spread everywhere, General Shi compared himself to Wu Zixu, everybody in the world knows that.”

Shi Lang stood up, his voice trembling, “His Majesty is an enlightened sage, his benevolence is like a mountain, he will save his subject with merit from harm. Lowly officer is serving a good master; compared to Wu Zixu, my good fortune is a lot better.”

“What you said is true,” Wei Xiaobao said, “I am not too clear on Wu Zixu’s motive in the end, why he harbored evil intention. But I have seen the play, when the King of Wu was going to kill him, Wu Zixu said, ‘Dig my eyes and embed them on the city gate, let me see the Yue troops breaching the city and the demise of the State of Wu.’ Afterwards I think the State of Wu was indeed wiped out. General Shi is adept in pen and sword, I am sure you know the story, is that true?”

Shi Lang could not help feeling a slight chill from his back penetrated straight to his bones. Initially he only thought that after rendering great merit Wu Zixu was killed by the King of Wu, this matter was not clear in history books, he was already feeling uneasy, but he did not expect that at the death’s door Wu Zixu was uttering those words. His memorial said, ‘The poor scholar in the midst of reed, justice will not be done.’ Although he did not do what Wu Zixu did, but the fact that he was comparing himself to Wu Zixu was very clear in other people’s eyes and ears. His memorial mentioned Wu Zixu, it only referred to ‘whipping the corpse to take revenge’, who would have thought that Wei Xiaobao could pull the ‘cursing the demise of the nation’ matter up? If other people charged him with this kind of grave accusation, the disaster would be truly unspeakable.

What Wei Xiaobao had said, if it was conveyed to the Emperor’s ears, even if the Emperor was an enlightened sage and would not charge him with the guilt, in his heart he must not be too happy. Shi Lang was sure that he could forget the prospect of any future promotion. If, like Wei Xiaobao, the Emperor’s trusted aides also add oil to the fire, incite disharmony by saying that in his heart Shi Lang was harboring the thought of blaming and ridiculing the imperial court for killing minister who has given outstanding service, the head on top of his neck would really be difficult to protect.

In that instant his thoughts were surging like the tide, he had a thousand regrets, ten thousand regrets, he really thought he should not offer sacrifice to Zheng Chenggong, he should not order the secretary to write this eulogy to such an extent as to have this freak elf little demon grabbed the ‘foot of the pain’. He stood silently with a blank expression on his face, not knowing what to say to defend himself.

Wei Xiaobao said, “General Shi, when His Majesty personally took over the government, what was the first major issue he dealt with?”

“Killing the treacherous official Oboi,” Shi Lang replied.

“That’s right,” Wei Xiaobao said, “While admittedly Oboi was a treacherous court official, he was the appointed high-ranking minister who look after the government. During the besieging of towns and breaking the enemy, he rendered enormous merit to our Great Qing. His Majesty once said, ‘I killed Oboi, perhaps someone would say that I do not empathize with minister who has given outstanding service, they would say something bird something bow.’ What did he say? I can’t remember it.”

Shi Lang said, “It’s ‘the birds are gone, the bow is put away’.”

“Right,” Wei Xiaobao said, “Even you said the same thing …”

“No, no,” Shi Lang busily said, “I did not talk about His Majesty, it was the idiom.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “You did say that idiom to describe His Majesty killing Oboi.”

Shi Lang anxiously said, “Daren asked me what that idiom is, lowly officer only answered Daren’s question; I absolutely do not dare … do not dare to slander or speak ill of His Majesty.”

Wei Xiaobao fixed his gaze at him, he could see the panic in Shi Lang’s heart.

Since the ancient times, when any feudal official thought that their merit was great but the reward was meager, the emperor would definitely hate it. The official did not need to speak up, as long as in their hearts they were ‘harboring the thought of blaming or complaining’, four characters [‘xin cun yuan wang’], it would mean immediate beheading.

While his heart was shaken, Shi Lang was lured by Wei Xiaobao to say the four-character ‘the birds are gone, the bow is put away’ [niao jin gong cang]. Immediately he knew things went bad, but he had said it, there was no way he could take it back. Besides, other than Wei Xiaobao, there were Lin Xingzhu and Hong Chao on the side, there was no way he could deny it.

Wei Xiaobao said, “General Shi did say ‘the birds are gone, the bow is put away’; whether those words are to slander or speak ill of His Majesty, I don’t know. In the imperial court, there are many learned Da Xue Shi, Shangshu, and Hanlin [see Chapter 37] ministers; there is no harm in us asking them to judge. However, my days of serving His Majesty are not a few, I seem to remember His Majesty loves people calling him ‘niao sheng yu tang’ [raw bird fish soup, see Chapter 14], but he does not like people calling him ‘niao jin gong cang’. Both idioms have the word ‘bird’, but I am afraid the two are substantially different. One is good bird, the other is evil bird; don’t you think?”

Shi Lang was shocked and angered at the same time; he thought since things have come to this, he’d better go through to the end. You frame me like this, I might as well kill all three of you, to get rid of the root of future trouble. Entertaining this thought in his mind, he could not stop his eyes from exposing ominous glint.

Wei Xiaobao could see the sinister expression suddenly appeared on Shi Lang’s face; he could not prevent his heart from shivering. Forcing a laughed, he said, “Once General Shi spoke the words, dead horse cannot chase it. Right now there are two roads you can take. The first is: immediately kill me along with Lin and Hong, two people, kill all my wives and children, and then lead your troops to Taiwan, immediately set yourself as the king. It’s just that the troops you have right now are the Great Qing’s officers and men, they may not necessarily be willing to follow you in rebellion, while Taiwan’s military and civilians may not necessarily submit to you.”

In his heart Shi Lang was pondering about the same thing, but as soon as Wei Xiaobao hit the nail on the head, he forced himself to restrain his ferocity. Busily he said, “Lowly officer does not have that thought at all, Daren must not be overly suspicious and add heavy criminal accusation on lowly officer. But I wonder what the second road that Daren was talking about is? Would Daren show favor by giving me directions?”

Hearing the softening of the way Shi Lang spoke, Wei Xiaobao’s heart was relieved. With his toes on the ground he leaned forward and said, “The second road is: only by allowing Xiongdi and Lin and Hong, two gentlemen, to help you will you get out of trouble. Just now when General Shi mentioned the word ‘bird’, it was a respectful eulogy to His Majesty as the ‘raw bird fish soup’, which is very good. Someday when Xiongdi sees His Majesty, I will definitely say that General Shi is loyal in working for His Majesty, that you keep in mind constantly the vast and mighty imperial kindness, that while we were chatting, you often mentioned Wu Zixu’s forgetting favor and violating justice, that since the King of Wu dispatched an army to help him to avenge the enmity of his father’s murder, later on no matter what mission he was sent for, even if it was to enter the fire he ought to enter the fire, if it was to enter the water, he should have entered the water; how could he complain and harbor resentment in his heart? If General Shi were to become Wu Zixu, not only you would defend King of Wu’s rivers and mountains for ten thousand upon ten thousand years, not only you would save Xi Shi, this kind of beauty, you could even snatch Dong Shi, Nan Shi, Bei Shi, Zhong Shi, the whole bunch, and presented them to the King of Wu[5]. What Wu Zixu constantly had in his mind was only himself, while what General Shi constantly has in your mind is exactly our Great Qing’s enlightened sage the Son of Heaven. Good intention will have good reward, His Majesty bestows reward based on evaluation of merit, naturally General Shi will also have Duke and Marquis titles for ten thousand generations.”

Hearing this, Shi Lang was elated; hastily he bowed deeply with cupped fist and said, “If Daren really speaks those kind words in front of His Majesty, lowly officer will never dare to forget Daren’s benevolence forever.”

Wei Xiaobao stood up to return the propriety and said with a smile, “These words are a kind act that costs nothing; if my mood is good, I will definitely submit the memorial to His Majesty.”

Shi Lang thought, “If I don’t let you come to Taiwan, how can you, this kid, have a good mood?” Sitting back on his chair he said, “Taiwan has just been pacified, the hearts of the people are still in doubt. Lowly officer was just thinking of sending a memorial to explain everything to His Majesty, asking him to send a senior and revered high official to go on his behalf to declare the Holy Sage’s virtuous intention and reassure the hearts of the common people. Naturally Wei daren is the most appropriate high official. Lowly officer will immediately pay my respect and present the memorial, asking His Majesty to issue an imperial edict, to appoint Daren to go first and appease Taiwan.”

Wei Xiaobao shook his head, “You pay your respect and submit memorial to the Emperor in Beijing, once you left, several months will pass, I am afraid the idle gossip that is going to enter His Majesty’s ears, if not a thousand sentences, it will be at least eight hundred sentences. This kind of matter cannot be delayed even for a moment. It would be best if General Shi asked a high official, one of His Majesty’s trusted aides to go to Taiwan and investigate thoroughly. Only then will you demonstrate that you did not have any intention to set up yourself as a king in Taiwan. The rumor outside is that you even have a title picked, something called ‘Great Ming Taiwan King of Jing Hai’; is that right?”

Hearing the seven characters ‘da ming tai wan jing hai wang’, Shi Lang could not help jumping in fright. He thought you lived in an uninhabited island, yet you heard rumor like that? Certainly it is something you randomly blurt out. But if this rumor reached Beijing, surely the imperial court would rather believe it than dismissing it, and then Shi Lang would die without a burial site. Thereupon he hastily said, “That rumor, Daren absolutely must not believe it.”

“Right,” Wei Xiaobao said indifferently, “You and I have known each other for a long time, naturally I did not believe it. But General Shi pacified Taiwan, you killed a lot of people, I am sure you made a lot of enemies. If your enemies want to slander you, I’ll say not much you can do about it; it would be hard for you to plead your innocence. There is a common saying, ‘in the imperial court, everybody is a government official’. I wonder if there is a high or senior official in the imperial court who would be willing to disregard his body, family, even his life, and with all his strength defend General Shi.”

There was another shock in Shi Lang’s heart; he did not have any powerful support in the imperial court. Or else he would not have stayed in Beijing lying idle for a long time in the past. He went around everywhere trying to curry favor, yet there was no path or door he could take. Indeed the only one who could get him somewhere was only the gentleman in front of him right now, the Wei Daren. Therefore, clenching his teeth, he said, “Daren’s directions, lowly officer cannot thank you enough. Since this matter is urgent, lowly officer will be so bold as to ask Daren to leave for Taiwan tomorrow to investigate and ascertain the truth.”

Wei Xiaobao was greatly delighted, but he thought that since now you are asking me, there is no harm in playing hard to get. He said, “Based on our, two brothers’ friendship, clearing up injustice on behalf of General Shi, even if I have to exhaust myself, it is nothing. It’s just that I have lived on this island for a long time, if I go out to sea I am afraid I will become seasick. Besides, I have my wives and children who are by my side every day, I would hate to be separated from them.”

Shi Lang silently cursed in his belly, “I don’t know how many times you have gone out to sea, I have never seen you dizzy in any damn boat!” Forcing a laugh he said, “Naturally Daren’s madams, young master and young lady may accompany you for a visit. Lowly officer will select the biggest ship for Daren to ride. These days there are no storms on the sea at all, Daren may set your heart at ease.”

Wei Xiaobao frowned and said, “In that case, Xiongdi has no choice but to brave the difficulty and take a trip with General Shi.” Shi Lang repeatedly expressed his thanks.

The next day Wei Xiaobao took his seven wives, his two sons Hutou and Tongchui, and his daughter Shuangshuang to board Shi Lang’s flagship. Peng Canjiang tried to stop them, Shi Lang immediately give his order to have him tied on a tree. The ships weighed their anchors and sailed away.

Looking at Tong Chi Island, on which he resided for several years, Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “The banker has left the Island, this place cannot be called Tong Chi Island anymore. Han Guangwu had Yan Ziling who loved to fish. Every enlightened sage the Son of Heaven must have loyal minister who loves to fish. His Majesty sent me here to fish, it’s only right if we change the name.”

“Absolutely,” Shi Lang said, “What does Daren think, what name will be best?”

Wei Xiaobao thought for a moment before answering, “One time His Majesty sent someone to deliver an imperial decree, saying that King Wen of Zhou had Jiang Taigong who loved to fish, let’s call this island ‘Diaoyu Dao’ [diaoyu – fishing (with line and hook), dao – island].”

Shi Lang clapped and praised, “The name Daren gives, nothing is better than that. On one hand it is a eulogy, comparing His Majesty with King Wen of Zhou and Han Guangwu; on the other hand it will appear that Daren is an expert in pen and sword just like Jiang Taigong, also like Yan Ziling who was pure, honest, and elegant. Right, right, from now on we are going to call this island Diaoyu Island.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “It’s just that my title the Marquis of Tong Chi should be changed to Marquis of Diaoyu. Someday when official rank is promoted and my nobility is advancing, I will be called Duke of Diaoyu [‘diaoyu gong’, ‘gong’ can also be used as a term of respect to address older men]; it doesn’t sound too good.”

Shi Lang laughed and said, “Elderly fisherman has great benefit, enjoying great, great harvest; it will sound very good.”

Wei Xiaobao nodded and said, “His Majesty conferred to me the title Earl of Tong Chi, Marquis of Tong Chi, I thought it sounded nice, but my several wives were not too happy. Someday I will submit a memorial asking His Majesty to change my title to Marquis of Diaoyu, perhaps everybody will be happy.”

In his tummy Shi Lang was amused; he thought, “What Earl of Tong Chi, Marquis of Tong Chi? His Majesty was just making fun of you, he treated you as a court jester, there was no meaning of respect. Even if you change it to Marquis of Diaoyu, what’s so nice about it?” But with his mouth he said, “There was an old story about a fisherman, a woodcutter, a farmer and a scholar; the fisherman ranked number one, the scholar was number four. The titles Duke of Diaoyu, King of Diaoyu, are more respectable than Hanlin’s Zhuangyuan[6].” [Translator’s note: perhaps I am reading too much into it, but I could have sworn that he was referring to Reverend Yideng’s four disciples.]

Whether in succeeding generations this Diaoyu Island became Diaoyutai Islands [Senkaku Islands, between Taiwan and Okinawa], it is a pity that this fact cannot be verified by historical records. If we could try to find historical remains of Wei Xiaobao on the island, we would know that during Kangxi’s early years, probably there were already our fellow countrymen who dwelled in that place for a long time, probably the five hundred troops who were stationed over there.

One particular day, Wei Xiaobao, riding on Shi Lang’s flagship, arrived in Taiwan; they came ashore at Anping Prefecture. Along the way Lin Xingzhu and Hong Chao showed how in those days Zheng Chenggong led the troops, how he routed the red-haired troops. Wei Xiaobao listened with keen interest and pleasure. Since Shi Lang had agreed to take him to Taiwan, he no longer ridiculed him in his talks.

In the General Mansion Shi Lang prepared a large banquet, showing Wei Xiaobao grand hospitality. During the feast, suddenly he received a report that an imperial decree has just arrived from Beijing. Shi Lang hurriedly went out to receive the decree. When he returned, he carried a strange expression on his face.

“Wei Daren,” he said, “The imperial edict says we must give up defending Taiwan. This is really bad.”

“Why is that?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

Shi Lang replied, “The imperial edict ordered lowly officer to make any preparation necessary to leave Taiwan. Entire Taiwan, military personnel and civilian alike, everybody has to move inland, not a single family, a single mouth is allowed to stay. Lowly officer asked the envoy minister who brought the decree, turns out there was a proposal by the cabinet ministers in the imperial court: Taiwan is a separate area overseas, easy to become robbers’ abyss and marsh [meeting place of fish and beast, i.e. breeding ground of crime], not easy for the imperial court to control. If they sent large army to defend, it will cost a lot of money for soldier’s pay and provision. Consequently, they decided they don’t want it.”

Wei Xiaobao pondered this matter silently for half a day. He asked, “General Shi, do you know the real intention of those high-ranking senior ministers of the imperial court?”

Shi Lang was startled, “Could it be … could it be that the talk about Wu Zixu has reached Beijing?” he asked in a trembling voice.

Wei Xiaobao smiled and said, “There’s a common saying: ‘Good deeds do not go beyond the door, evil deeds spread a thousand miles.’ The imperial court is worried that General really wanted to be some ‘Great Ming Taiwan King of Jing Hai’; that’s certainly is a possibility.”

“What … what should we do?” Shi Lang asked, “Taiwan’s common people numbers several tens of thousands people, they have lived here in peace and worked happily for decades; these bunch of people are sent inland, what are they supposed to do to pass their days? If they are forced to migrate, definitely there will be huge changes. Besides, as soon as the Great Qing’s officers and men leave, the red-haired troops will immediately take it over. We, the Chinese, worked hard in establishing the foundation, now we present it with both hands to the red-haired demons, how can the people be willing to do that?”

Wei Xiaobao hesitated for half a day. “This matter,” he started, “I believe it’s not completely irreversible. His Majesty is most compassionate toward common people, General must plead on behalf of common people, you never know, maybe His Majesty will grant your request.”

Shi Lang was somewhat comforted. He said, “But if there are already rumors and hearsays in the imperial court, and lowly officer plead with His Majesty like that, it would appear that I am unwilling to leave Taiwan, then I will appear … appear not to have enough loyalty.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “This time you must immediately go to Beijing, explain in person the hows and whys to His Majesty. Since you are in Beijing, if there is any rumor that says that you intend to establish yourself as king in Taiwan, naturally nobody will believe anymore.”

Shi Lang slapped his thigh and said, “Right, right! Daren’s advice is very true, lowly officer will leave tomorrow.” Suddenly he was struck by an inspiration, “Taiwan’s civil and military official business, I will have to ask Daren to temporarily manage. There is no one His Majesty trusts more than Daren, only if Daren presides over Taiwan will no one in the imperial court dare to utter half a sentence of gossip.”

Wei Xiaobao was greatly delighted; he thought he could satisfy his craving of holding a government post, it would feel really great. He laughed and said, “You did not receive imperial edict, on your own initiative you hand over the power over military forces to me; if His Majesty blames you, then what?”

When Shi Lang heard it, he was greatly hesitant. He pondered, “He is Chen Jinnan’s disciple, an accomplice of Tian Di Hui rebels. Although His Majesty dotes on him, over the years he was exiled on Tong Chi Island, without giving him any political power or mission to do. If he has this power over the troops and horses, and joins hands with Tian Di Hui and rises in rebellion, I … I will commit capital offense.” But then he had a second thought, “I only need to bring the entire Navy fleet with me, he will not dare to budge. If he brazenly takes any rash action, if he has the impertinence to revolt, the Navy will return and immediately pacify him.” Thereupon he laughed and said, “If I hand over the power over the troops and horses to other people, maybe His Majesty will blame me, but if I hand it over to Daren, of course all taboos are off.”

Presently the banquet ended prematurely. That very night Shi Lang issued an order to have all high-ranking civil and military officials to pay their respect to Wei Xiaobao, giving him the full authority to conduct all government affairs as he saw fit. He also requested the secretary to put together a memorial to the throne on Wei Xiaobao’s behalf, stating that he was concerned over the national affairs, and had come to Taiwan with a specific purpose in mind to temporarily take control of the situation, so that the imperial court would have no reason to be concerned, and asked for forgiveness for the crime of acting without permission. He also said that the common people of Taiwan have live peacefully over there for a long time, that ‘your servant’ the minister has seen Taiwan with his own eyes, it appeared that moving the people was not suitable.

By the time everything was settled, it was already morning the next day. Shi Lang wanted to depart immediately. Wei Xiaobao asked, “There is one big thing, have you prepared it?”

“I wonder which big thing?” Shi Lang asked.

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Something to spend!”

“Something to spend?” Shi Lang did not understand.

“That’s right!” Wei Xiaobao replied, “This time you pacified Taiwan, your merit is not small. Those high-ranking ministers of the imperial court, how much gift are you going to give to each one?”

Shi Lang was taken aback, he said, “This is all because of the Son of Heaven’s powerful benevolence, it was because the officers and soldiers were following the order that we succeeded in pacifying Taiwan. Those high-ranking ministers of the imperial court did not spend any effort.”

Wei Xiaobao shook his head. “Ay, Old Shi, you are so proud of yourself, your old shortcoming flares out again. You pacified Taiwan, everybody thinks that you hogged the mountain of gold and the mountain of silver you found here and made a fortune. The officers in the imperial court, which one would not be jealous of you?”

Shi Lang anxiously said, “Daren please understand, if for personal gain Shi Lang helped himself to even one tael of Taiwan’s money, this time I go to Beijing, let His Majesty hack me to pieces, let me be executed by lingering death.”

Wei Xiaobao said, “You yourself want to be an honest and upright official, but you can’t expect everybody to follow you to be an honest and upright official. The more you are honest, the more people will find it easier to slander you; they will say that in Taiwan you bought the heart of the people, with the intention of going against the law. So, this time you go to Beijing empty-handed without bringing anything?”

Shi Lang said, “I’ll bring some local products of Taiwan, such as wood carvings, bamboo basket, straw mats, leather suitcases …”

Wei Xiaobao burst into loud laughter. At first Shi Lang was flushed with anger, but suddenly he saw the light; in the end he resolved to make up for the previous mistakes. Immediately he bowed deeply with cupped fist toward Wei Xiaobao and said, “Thank you Daren for giving me directions. Lowly officer nearly rush into big disaster this time.”

Wei Xiaobao assembled the civil and military officials, he said, “This time General Shi is going to Beijing to plead on behalf of the common people; if he does not succeed, everybody will be destitute and homeless. This mission will cost money, could it be that General Shi has to cover the cost alone? Gentlemen, brothers, let’s everybody hurry to raise money, let’s share the pleading cost together!”

When Shi Lang took the official position, he did it with honesty; all the time he was in Taiwan, he had never taken gold and silver from the people. This moment Wei Xiaobao took over his duty, the first order of business was to raise the ‘pleading cost’.

As soon as the people of Taiwan heard the news about moving inland, they already panicked. When they learned that Shi Lang was following Wei Xiaobao’s advice to go to Beijing to plead for the people so that they would not have to move, everybody was most willing to contribute to this ‘pleading cost’. Fortunately there was no lack of riches and honor among the people of Taiwan; in just half a day they had raised more than three-hundred thousand taels of silver. Wei Xiaobao ordered the treasurer to advance more than six-hundred thousand taels, bringing the total to more than one million taels. He instructed Shi Lang on to whom he had to give more, to whom there would not be any harm if he gave less. Shi Lang could not thank him enough. It was not until the first watch of the night [7 to 9pm] that evening that he finally set sail.

The next morning Wei Xiaobao held a general assembly; he addressed the officials, “General Shi left for Beijing last night. After calculating the ‘pleading cost’ back and forth, we are still short by more than one million taels. In consideration to the entire people of Taiwan, Xiongdi has no choice but to scrape my personal savings over the year, also my seven wives’ pearls and jewels, and managed to collect one million taels, which I handed to General Shi to be brought away and used for this mission. Ay, taking an official post in Taiwan is really not easy. Xiongdi is just taking the office temporarily, the first day I already suffer one million taels deficit. This time I lose my family fortune, and am completely wiped out.”

The prefectural magistrate of Taiwan bowed and said, “Daren cherishes common people, you are being a father and a mother to the people, you are indeed the benefactor of ten thousand families. Other than the six-hundred thousand taels advance payment from the public treasury that we have to pay back, naturally the entire people of Taiwan will return Wei Daren’s one million taels with thanks.”

Wei Xiaobao nodded and said, “Each one of you must also contribute some money, everybody has worked with ‘both sleeves flowing in the breeze’ [i.e. unsoiled by corrupt practice] or something like that, I am not clear about it. Those with high official post should contribute ten thousand taels, those with lower official post’s contribution may vary from several thousand taels to several hundred taels. Everybody work as one, no matter how you look at it, in the end it is for the common people. This advance funds, naturally the locals will have to pay back. We, as father and mother officials of the people, should not extract interest from the people; everybody will have to suffer a bit of loss, as long as we can get our capital back, then that’s it. This is called, ‘loving the common people as our own children’.”

The officials were greatly delighted; they all expressed their gratitude, thinking that this Wei Daren was very considerate toward the feeling of the masses, and was willing to spend his own wealth for them; he was indeed a good superior.

The first day Wei Xiaobao took office, he had already scraped one million taels. Hereafter profits pouring in from all sides; his endless ingenuity need not be explained in details.

Several days later, Wei Xiaobao instructed his subordinate to prepare an offering, he wanted to go to Zheng Chenggong’s ancestral hall to offer scrifice; he wanted to see what did this Guoxing Ye, whose fame shook the world, really look like.

Arriving at the shrine, he looked up to see, and saw the statue of Zheng Chenggong sitting on a chair. His face was oval, his upper lip, his lower lip, as well as his lower jaw, were covered in short black beard; his ears were very big, but his eyes were very small. His eyebrows curved, he looked rather like a benevolent man; there was no bold and powerful, heroic air on him. Wei Xiaobao was quite disappointed. He asked the officials who were coming with him, “Did Guoxing Ye really look like this?”

Lin Xingzhu replied, “This statue looks quite like Guoxing Ye. Guoxing Ye was born as a scholar; although he was a big hero and great warrior, he had a very elegant appearance.”

“I see,” Wei Xiaobao said. He saw that on either side of the statue there was smaller statue; a women on the left and a man on the right. He asked, “And who are those two?”

“The woman was Dong Taifei [grand concubine], the man was the heir Wangye,” Lin Xingzhu explained.

“What do you mean heir Wangye?” Wei Xiaobao asked.

“He was the young master of Guoxing Ye,” Lin Xingzhu replied, “Who succeeded him as the Wangye.”

Wei Xiaobao nodded. “Ah, it’s Zheng Jing,” he said, “He looked a bit similar to that kid Zheng Keshuang. Where is my Shifu Chen Junshi’s statue?”

“Chen Junshi did not have any statue,” Lin Xingzhu replied.

Wei Xiaobao said, “This Dong Taifei was very bad, quickly pull her down. Don’t delay, get someone to make a statue in Chen Junshi’s image and put it here to accompany Guoxing Ye.” Lin Xingzhu was greatly delighted; he personally climbed onto the idol platform, and took the Dong Taifei’s image down.

Wei Xiaobao kneeled down in front of Guoxing Ye’s image and kowtowed several times. “Guoxing Ye,” he said, “You are a hero, a warrior. I am kowtowing to you, I assume you will receive it. This old revered granny spoiled your great undertaking, yet she accompanies you every day, you must be angry. I am helping you driving her out, and let my Shifu Chen Junshi come to accompany you.” Thinking about his Shifu’s tragic death, he could not help shedding some tears.

The entire population of Taiwan hated Dong Taifei to the bones, while they loved Chen Yonghua for stationing soldiers, developing farms and running schools, for always promoting what was useful and getting rid of what was harmful, plus for loving the people. Common people referred him as ‘Taiwan’s Zhuge Liang’. When Zheng Keshuang took over the country, nobody dared to speak any malicious word against Dong Taifei, nobody dared to say any words of praise of Chen Yonghua.

This moment Wei Xiaobao issued the order ‘remove Dong install Chen’, the people were very happy. They also heard that he kowtowed and shed tears in front of Guoxing Ye’s image, all the people were even more grateful. Although this Wei Daren’s demand of money was, quite frankly, rather serious, first of all, he was Chen Junshi’s disciple, Taiwan’s military personel and civilians alike inevitably were fond of him. Secondly, Shi Lang led the Qing troops to take over Taiwan, he wiped out the last remaining rivers and mountains of the Great Ming overseas. For these reasons, although ‘Shi was just and honest, Wei was corrupt’, contrary to expectation, the common people felt that this Wei Daren was affable; they would rather have him guarding Taiwan and thought that it would be best if Shi Lang never returned forever.

However, things turn out contrary to the way they wished; after more than a month, Shi Lang, leading the Navy, came back to Taiwan. Wei Xiaobao waited on the shore to welcome him. He saw a high ranking officer wearing the attire of a one-pin rank high official accompanied Shi Lang as he disembarked from the boat. The high-ranking officer was still walking on the gangplank, he already called out loudly, “Wei Xiongdi, how are you? You made your Gege miss you very much.” Turned out he was Songgotu.

Wei Xiaobao was overjoyed; he scrambled forward. Two people pulled each other’s hand while they both were still on the gangplank, and both roared in laughter.

Songgotu said with a laugh, “Xiongdi, congratuations, congratulations! His Majesty issued an imperial edict, you are to go to Beijing.”

In his heart Wei Xiaobao was both delighted and worried; he thought, “If I wanted to go to Beijing, I would have gone long time ago. The young Emperor is so obstinate, he can’t possibly yield to me. I won’t agree to attack Tian Di Hui, he won’t want to see my face.”

Shi Lang chuckled and said, “The Emperor’s benevolence is vast and mighty, it is indeed unspeakable. His Majesty has agreed to withdraw the decree of moving Taiwan people inland.”

For the past month or so, day and night all Taiwan military-civilian were anxious, afraid that the Emperor would insist on evacuating Taiwan. Everybody said that the Emperor’s mouth was ‘golden mouth’; whatever he said, he would not renege. As soon as Shi Lang spoke those words, the government officials on the shore heard it, they could not help but cheer loudly. They broke into loud cry together, “Long live, long live, long, long live!” The news spread like wildfire, sound of cheering rose up everywhere, followed by ‘pi pi pa pa’ noise of firecrackers. The atmosphere was much more lively than the New Year celebration.

Songgotu announced the imperial decree, Kangxi was giving Wei Xiaobao quite encouragement and exhortation, ordering him to go to Beijing as soon as possible because he had another appointment for him. After Wei Xiaobao finished expressing his gratitude, the two of them went to the inner hall for a private discussion.

Xiongdi,” Songgotu said, “This time your face is indeed not small, afraid that you still have apprehensions, His Majesty ordered me to personally deliver the imperial edict in haste. Do you know what mission His Majesty is going to send you to?”

Wei Xiaobao shook his head, “His Majesty’s divine intention, wonderful consideration, we as his servants will never be able to guess.”

Songgotu leaned forward and whispered in Wei Xiaobao’s ear, “Attack Luocha demons!”

Wei Xiaobao was startled; but then he sprang up and cried out, “Wonderful!”

Songgotu said, “His Majesty said that as soon as you find out, you must be very happy. Sure enough, he was right. Xiongdi, ever since Shunzhi’s years, Luocha demons have been occupying our Heilongjiang region, and they run amock over there. The late Emperor and His Majesty are magnanimous, they refuse to be bothered about it. Who would have thought that Luocha demons won a cun [inch], they wanted a chi [foot], they took more and more of our land. Liaodong is the place where our Great Qing has our root, how can we let the demons threaten it? Right now the three border defense rebels and Taiwan’s Zheng Clan have all been pacified, there’s no problem in the world, thereupon His Majesty decided to use military force against the Luocha.”

Wei Xiaobao had stayed on Tong Chi Island doing nothing for several years, he was so bored that he felt like while playing Pai Jiu he repeatedly grabbed ten pairs of ‘departing ten’. At this time as he heard the news, he was so happy that he grinned from ear to ear.

Songgotu said, “In order to keep the peace, His Majesty has issued several imperial edicts to the Luocha Country’s Great Khan, but all along they never respond. Afterwards Holland’s envoy minister communicated the information that although Luocha country is big, it is actually a country of barbarians, in the entire country there is not a single person who understand Chinese characters. His Majesty’s imperial decrees that they received were just a completely unfathomable mystery to them, thereupon without any better option they decided not to respond. However, all along Luocha troops come to the east to occupy our land in endless stream. His Majesty said, our China pays particular attention to benevolence and righteousness, we can’t simply punish the barbarians without telling them first. We need to tell them their error first, and give them the opportunity to repent and change quickly and completely. If after the imperial edict they are still stiffnecked and refuse to accept the enlightenment, only then would we have to kill them. Among the ministers of the imperial court, only Wei Xiongdi, one person is proficient in Luocha language.”

(Book note: During the China-Russia negotiation, it was a known fact that neither party understood the other’s language and script. The history records that Russian Tsar delivered letter to Kangxi, saying, ‘In the former times the Emperor bestowed a letter, our humble country did not understand the content, hence we did not go through it.’)

Wei Xiaobao thought, “Turns out it was because I understand Luocha demons’ language that the young Emperor surrenders to me.” He could not help dancing and gesticulating for joy, feeling very proud of himself.

Songgotu laughed and said, “Xiongdi is proficient in Luocha language, admittedly it is amazing; but there is one great skill that nobody can reach up to you. We heard that Luocha Country’s Queen Regent is the Great Khan’s Jiejie, this Queen is Xiongdi’s good old friend; is that right?”

Wei Xiaobao roared in laughter and said, “Luocha women’s whole body is covered in golden hair. This Queen Regent Sophia’s appearance is not bad, but when you caress her skin, it felt very rough.”

Songgotu laughed and said, “His Majesty wants Xiongdi to set out on a mission immediately and make an effort to brave the difficulty again, to caress her skin once again.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed while shaking his head. “I have no appetite, I have no appetite,” he said.

Songgotu said, “Xiongdi caresses her, two countries will be good friends, from now on we can avoid the calamity of blade and troops; this is a wonderful merit of bringing peace and stability to our country.”

Wei Xiaobao laughed and said, “Turns out His Majesty did not send me to lead the troops to war, but he wants to unleash my ‘shiba mo shengong’ [eighteen-touch divine skill; ‘mo’ can mean touch/caress/feel (with hand) or grope]. Ha ha …!” And then he started singing, “One touch, two touches, touching the side of Luocha Country Queen’s hair. The Queen’s hair is like gold, Suo Dage [reminder: Songgotu in Chinese is Suo E’tu] and Wei Xiaobao have all the money to spend!” The two of them roared in laughter.

Wei Xiaobao asked about the details of Luocha Country invading and occupying Heilongjiang, Songgotu told him everything he knew. Turned out during the reign of Emperor Wanli of the Ming Dynasty [1573-1619] Luocha people determined to invade east. (Book note: Luocha was Russia. The Draft History of the Qing Dynasty, commentaries by Lang Tan, et al. recorded, ‘Russia was called Luocha, with different interpretation to the ears, slow and fast.’ The slow reading was Russia [Eluosi], the fast reading was Luocha. According to Russian original pronounciation, Luocha was closer.)

One after another, Tomsk, Yeniseysk, Yakutsk, Okhotsk and the others in Siberia built fortification. In Shunzhi’s sixth year, Luocha people built fortification in Mount Luding, and called it Albazin (in China it was referred to as Yakesa [Jaxa]), while at the same time spreading to the east, robbing and plundering along the way.

In Shunzhi’s ninth year, Manchurian Qing’s Liaoning Guta [district] Commander Ba Hai leading 2,000 troops routed Luocha troops at the bank of Heilongjiang [river]. Later on at the mouth of Songhua River, Manchurian Qing’s Commander in Ming Anda [county, Suihua, Heilongjiang] courageously fought Luocha troops and inflicted heavy damage. The Luocha troops withdrew to the west and built fortification in Nerchisk, while dispatching an envoy to Moscow to beg for assistance. Along the way the envoy spread rumors, saying that in Heilongjiang region gold and silver were everywhere, oxen and horses in large numbers, the houses of the people were inlaid with gold. The Luocha people dreamed of vast wealth, the troops marched to the east, robbing and plundering along the way, devastating the common people. Cossack cavalry was especially bloody and cruel.

Manchurian Qing’s Liaoning Guta Commander Sha’erhuda, Liaoning Guta General Bahai led the troops to met the enemy, during Shunzhi’s sixteenth and seventeenth year they scored several victories, killing the Luocha troops’ commanders and generals, killing and beheading more than half Cossack cavalry. For this reason Luocha people did not dare to come to the bank of Heilongjiang anymore.

During Kangxi’s early years, Luocha military and civilian marched to the east in large scale again, they made Yakesa their base of operations. After Kangxi grew older, he knew Luocha people had enormous ambition, hence he took more rigorous action in defense, by stationing Jilin Navy at Heilongjiang to guard the area. Luocha troops also received continuous reinforcements, and built Yakesa’s city wall to make it completely secured, while at the same time setting up stations along the major road all the way back to Luocha Country’s headquarters, determined to engulf the vast land of Heilongjiang region.

At that time Kangxi was focusing all his resources to deal with Wu Sangui; he could not afford to divide his forces to defend against Luocha Country’s invasion. It was only after the three border defenses were pacified and the Zheng Clan of Taiwan surrendered, that he had no fear of trouble from the rear, did he finally turn his attention to deal with Luocha Country. He remembered Wei Xiaobao had been to Moscow; not only he was familiar with the nation’s situation, he also had a rather unusual relationship with the Queen Regent who held the power over Luocha Country, since he had offered her advice to escape from the trap and helped her seizing power, and was bestowed nobility title by her. It was a very powerful chess piece Kangxi had in his hand; why not use it? As soon as Kangxi learned that Wei Xiaobao had gone to Taiwan, he sent Songgotu to announce the summons.

Wei Xiaobao took his wives and children, and had his servants carried the ‘pleading wealth’ he had gained in Taiwan, ‘both sleeves in the golden breeze’, went onboard the ship to sail north. Before departure he asked Shi Lang for original Taiwan’s high-ranking officers to come with him to assist him in the incoming mission: Lin Xingzhu, Hong Chao, as well as five hundred rattan-shield troops. Shi Lang knew that this time Wei Xiaobao went to the Capital, he would be put in an important position, while in order to maintain his position, Shi Lang himself needed somebody powerful in the imperial court to back him up; naturally he did not raise any objection, on the contrary, he sent off Wei Xiaobao and Songgotu with some serious gifts.

Taiwan people knew that in the imperial court’s withdrawal of the decree to abandon Taiwan and move them inland, this Wei Daren had rendered a very big meritorious service; everybody was grateful. Tens of thousand people sent him off with countless umbrellas, ‘protecting the people’ banners, and so on. When Wei Xiaobao was about to get on the boat, two elderly men took off his boots and held it high above their heads, saying that it was something left behind to consider. Originally this ‘shedding of boots’ ceremony was only performed on upright and honorable local official that the common people loved and respected. Wei Xiaobao was a ‘corrupt official’, unexpectedly he also enjoyed this rare honor; not only it was unprecedented; perhaps it would never happen again in the future. The crackling of firecrackers to send him off did not need to be mentioned.

Book note: According to the historical records, when the Qing court determined to abandon Taiwan, the decision had been made; but because Shi Lang contended strongly, the Da Xueshi Li Lei mediated for him. It was only then did the court decide establish local government  and set up garrison. At that time it seemed like a trivial matter, but it had significant effects toward the later generations. If at that time Shi Lang did not contend strongly, the Qing court abandoned Taiwan as soon as they pacified the Zheng Clan and moved the entire Taiwan military personel and civilians inland, the Dutch was bound to come back, henceforth Taiwan would not be part of China’s territory. For this reason, although some people pointed their fingers to Shi Lang as a traitor to China, with regard to the Chinese people, he strenously opposed the proposal to abandon Taiwan, keeping this wide expanse of land as China’s territory, his meritorious service can be considered enormous. Shi Lang also submitted a memorial to the Emperor to lower Taiwan’s land tax. Based on his proposal, Kangxi gave the common people of Taiwan quite some benefits.

Shi Lang’s second son Shi Shilun was also an uncorrupted government official; whenever the commoners had any dispute with the ‘red silk member of the gentry’, Shi Shilun always took the common people’s side. For this reason among the people he was called ‘Shi Qingtian’ [Blue Sky Shi, i.e. upright and honorable official]; he was also the leading character of the later generations’ book ‘Shi Gong’an’ [‘gong an’ means judge’s desk/complex legal case].

Shi Lang’s sixth son Shi Shibiao became the Tidu [local commander] of Fujian Navy. In Kangxi’s sixtieth year he was stationed in Taiwan; it was known in history as ‘The thirteenth day of the eighth month, the disaster of strange wind and violent rain caught them unprepared, a lot of soldiers and civilians died. All through the night Shibiao stood outside. Because of this he fell ill. In the ninth month, he died on the line of duty. Imperial decree was issued as lamentation and expression of sympathy, bestowing him the title of Taizi Taibao’ [Tutor to the crown prince]. In the middle of the hurricane that attacked Taiwan this man stayed outside overnight to direct the relieve effort, until he fell ill and died; he could be considered a good officer who loved the people.

Our country historians have always had prejudice against Manchurian-Han relations; they always attacked Shi Lang’s takeover of Taiwan as his fault, calling him ‘a traitor (to Han)’. When our book was first written, it was also based on the same general impressions. Contemporary historians, however, persevere to rally the Chinese people to have a unified notion, giving Shi Lang’s contribution in integrating Taiwan a considerable praise.

In commemorating this national hero, the author has visited Shi Lang’s native place of Quanzhou [Fujian] on a tour, witnessing how the locals erected Shi Lang’s statue by the sea, and built a ‘Qing Hai Hou [marquis of ocean pacifier] Temple’; therefore, our book’s original views of negating Shi Lang is hereby slightly revised.

[1] Lü Shang, ancestral name Jiang (姜), clan name Lü (呂), given name Shang (尚), and style name Ziya (子牙). Also known by various titles including Jiang Tai Gong (Grand Duke Jiang), Tai Gong Wang, and Shang Fu (Father Shang). The last ruler of the Shang dynasty, King Zhou of Shang (16th – 11th century BC) was a tyrannical and debauched slave owner who spent his days carousing with his favorite concubine Daji and mercilessly executing or punishing upright officials and all others who objected to his ways. After faithfully serving the Shang court for approximately twenty years, Jiang came to find King Zhou insufferable, and feigned madness in order to escape court life and the ruler’s power. Jiang was an expert in military affairs and hoped that someday someone would call on him to help overthrow the king. Jiang disappeared, only to resurface in the Zhou countryside at the apocryphal age of seventy-two, when he was recruited by King Wen of Zhou and became instrumental in Zhou affairs. It is said that, while in exile, he continued to wait placidly, fishing in a tributary of the Wei River (near today’s Xi’an) using a barbless hook or even no hook at all, on the theory that the fish would come to him of their own volition when they were ready. (Wikipedia)

[2] Chief Commandant of Light Chariots was the sixth in order of precedence out of nine grades of the peerage awarded for valour, achievement and distinction. It was divided into three subclasses. It was equivalent to a third rank position in the nine ranks system. It was also the rough equivalent to a Knight Grand Cross of a chivalric order. (Courtesy of Ace High)

[3] pu luo min zhe cheng [普罗民遮城] is currently called ‘chi kan lou’ [赤崁楼 – Chihkan Tower], a tourist attraction. It was built by the Dutch and known as Provintia then. It was used as gunpowder storage at the time of Koxinga. (Courtesy of Chowbeng)

[4] Ci Xing – bestowed surname (emperor conferring favor on ethnic group). Guoxing Ye itself means ‘Lord of the Imperial Surname’.

[5] Xi Shi was a famous beauty given by King Gou Jian of Yue as concubine to King of Wu as part of a successful plan to destroy Wu. The character ‘Xi’ of Xi Shi means ‘west’. Subsequently, ‘Dong’, ‘Nan’, ‘Bei’ and ‘Zhong’ are ‘east’, ‘south’, ‘north’ and ‘middle’, respectively.

[6] Hanlin’s Zhuangyuan refers to the top scorer in the examination administered by Hanlin Imperial Academy.

Post a Comment