This is the second part of a translation of the story 景陽岡武松打虎 (‘Wu Song Fights a Tiger on Jingyang Mountain’) from chapter 22 of 水滸傳 (‘Water Margin’), a 14th Century vernacular text that’s now one of the Four Classic Novels.
At this, Wu Song picked up his staff and, taking large strides, headed for Jingyang Mountain alone.
After walking for about four or five miles, he came to the foot of the mountain;
he saw a large tree with its bark scraped off in a white patch, on which were written two rows of characters.
Wu Song knew a few characters, and raised his head to read:
“Recently there has been a tiger attacking people on Jingyang Mountain,
so travelers and merchants should meet between 9am and 11am to form groups and cross the mountain; please don’t mistakenly go alone.”
Wu Song read this and laughed, saying:
“It’s that treacherous inn owner, frightening travelers into staying at that bloody inn of his.
But that shit doesn’t scare me!”
He hefted up his staff and then continued up the mountain.
By then it was already late afternoon, and the red sun was wearily dropping past the mountain.
厭 here means ‘weary’.
Thanks to his enthusiastic drinking, Wu Song thought only of moving forward up the mountain.
Before he got halfway, he saw a dilapidated mountain god shine.
He walked up to the front of the shrine, and saw an official notice pasted on its door.
Wu Song stopped to read it; on it was written:
Yanggu County notice:
Due to the tiger attacking people on Jingyang Mountain recently,
hunters from every village have been merged to go and catch it, but have failed to do so.
If there are travelers, merchants and so on, they should gather between 9am and 11am, form a group and cross the mountain together;
At other times, or if you are traveling alone, it is not permitted to cross the mountain, due to the risk of being killed.
All should be aware.
Official notice, Year: … Month: … Day: …
Only when Wu Song had read the notice did he know that there was a tiger after all;
he wanted to turn around and go back to that inn, but thought:
“If I go back I will definitely be laughed at for being unmanly; it’s too hard to go back.”
He kept thinking for a while, and then said aloud:
“What am I scared of? All I need to worry about is going onwards!”
As Wu Song was walking, it wasn’t long before the wine bubbled up;
he lifted his hat onto his back, and clutched his staff by his ribs and went up the mountain step by step;
He looked behind at the colour of the sun, which was gradually descending.
It was October weather, with short days and long nights that came quickly.
Wu Song said to himself:
“What tiger! People are just frightening themselves, and don’t dare to go up the mountain.”
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