As such, One Finger Village became especially busy after spring. Each family had a severe lack of manpower so Fangzheng could not bring himself to get Dog Song to deliver the hoe to him.
Yet this was the season that children liked the most. They could play in the delightful weather. When exhausted from running, they could go to any end of a field where there was a well to draw water from. They could then drink a mouthful of sweet, uncontaminated underground water. It refreshed their entire bodies, right into their hearts… The main reason they enjoyed the spring stemmed from not being supervised by their busy parents. They could let loose and have a blast.
Parents had no other choice. They could only allow the children, many of which had not reached the age for kindergarten, to run around freely since they could not bear to pay for daycare.
Lone Wolf and Monkey were surrounded by a group of children once they reached the foot of the mountain. The two animals understood the characteristics of the brats so they thought nothing of them. They found Dog Song’s house as Monkey held the hoe. Lone Wolf followed as they quickly proceeded to return up the mountain. However, when they passed the village entrance, Monkey turned his head and saw two unfamiliar women. They were squatting there, chatting with a young girl. It appeared like quite a happy conversation but it was unknown what the contents of the conversation was. Monkey thought nothing of it as he went up the mountain with Lone Wolf. When they passed by the construction workers, Liu Tao and company looked curiously at the hoe-wielding Monkey and Lone Wolf. None of them had the time to entertain to really ponder such a thing, they were far too busy.
Fangzheng used his free time to tidy up the temple hall and sweep the yard.
When he saw the hoe, he took it from Monkey and made Lone Wolf carry a basket. The human and three animals headed straight for the bamboo forest that had just grown moments ago!
Fangzheng swung his upper arm as he struck down at a bamboo shoot that had just poked out of the soil with the hoe. With Fangzheng’s immense strength, the hoe sank straight into the ground, and with a mighty yank, a bamboo shoot wrapped in a purple outer skin was pulled out. Fangzheng threw the hoe away and picked up the bamboo shoot that was about the size of a human’s forearm. He removed the outer skin and inside was tender, green bamboo shoot flesh. It appeared crystalline green under the sunlight and was a little translucent. He plucked off a portion of it and put it into his mouth. It was crisp, tasty, and filled with the unique fragrance of bamboo. It tasted excellent!
“Gulp!” As Fangzheng lost himself in his enjoyment, he heard the sound of swallowed saliva. Standing on Fangzheng’s shoulder was Squirrel who was yanking his ear. Filled with wonder, his head was stretched out as he looked at the bamboo shoot in Fangzheng’s hand. He then looked at Fangzheng before swallowing mouthfuls of saliva.
Fangzheng was amused seeing the little fellow’s eager appetite. He plucked off a tiny piece of bamboo shoot and stuffed it into Squirrel’s hands. Then, he split off another three portions, sharing it among Monkey, Lone Wolf and himself. With that, the four sat down and began eating.
This was the first time the four were eating bamboo. The unique fragrance left the three animals entranced. The massive bamboo shoot was finished by the four in no time flat. When they exchanged looks, they realized that their appetites were not satiated!
Fangzheng stood up again, swung the hoe and continued digging for bamboo shoots.
After having eaten one, the curiosity lessened. Even if he yearned to eat more, Fangzheng could bear it. The hoe struck down again and again, digging up one bamboo shoot at a time. Monkey followed him, picking up the bamboo shoots and throwing them into the basket Lone Wolf held. Squirrel ran in front, flailing his arms to beckon Fangzheng wherever there was a suitably sized bamboo shoot.
The four cooperated and with the Frost Bamboo having just sprouted, there was Frost Bamboo everywhere. In less than twenty minutes, the basket was filled. Lone Wolf, despite being large in size, found it quite demanding on him to carry the heavy basket. But just the thought of the delicious food he was carrying gave him a surge in strength.
Returning to One Finger Monastery with a bunch of bamboo shoots and placing them in the kitchen, Fangzheng began cooking. Just as he opened the wok lid, he heard hurried footsteps coming from outside.
Following that, Fangzheng heard a person shout, “Fangzheng! Are you there? Fangzheng are you there?!”
Fangzheng ran over and saw Sun Qiancheng.
Fangzheng was puzzled. Why would Sun Qiancheng run up instead of watching his farm? On close inspection Sun Qiancheng’s face was flushed red. His breathing was heavy, the man was panicking.
Fangzheng smoothed out his face. “Patron Sun, what’s the matter?”
Sun Qiancheng did not seem to see Fangzheng as he swept his gaze everywhere as though he was looking for something. He looked gripped by anxiety! Sun Qiancheng said, “Abbot Fangzheng, have you seen Mengmeng?”
“Mengmeng? She didn’t come here.” Fangzheng recalled the adorable girl that was equipped with copious amounts of ordinance during the Sown Street Fires on the fifteen day of the new year. His heart could not help but skip a bit. Could something bad have happened? Fangzheng looked at Sun Qiancheng with his Heavenly Eye but saw nothing. When he observed with his Wisdom Eye, he found him immersed in bad luck. He was suffering from terrible luck! Fangzheng thought, “Since the Heavenly Eye can’t see anything the danger is not to him personally. Since my Wisdom Eye can see bad luck, it probably means that someone close to him is in trouble!” Fangzheng frowned, anxiously tapping a finger. Mengmeng was an adorable girl. He did not wish anything bad to happen to her.
“Mengmeng isn’t here?” Sun Qiancheng pressed, unwilling to give up despite having heard the monk’s words. His filled with disappointment. He had a pleaful look as though he was imploring Fangzheng to tell him that Mengmeng was in the monastery.
Fangzheng sighed. “Mengmeng really isn’t here. Don’t worry. Patron Sun, why don’t you recount what exactly happened? Perhaps This Penniless Monk can help you.”
Sun Qiancheng did not answer instead he turned around and ran off down the mountain.
Fangzheng did become angry seeing Sun Qiancheng’s back. Sun Qiancheng was barely holding it together, he was truly worried about his daughter. If not, he would not have mindlessly run up the mountain just to ask Fangzheng where she was. He could have simply inquired over the phone. Thinking of how Mengmeng might be in trouble, Fangzheng gave Wang Yougui a call.
“What? Something happened to Mengmeng?” Wang Yougui exclaimed loudly when he heard Fangzheng’s recount.
“Patron, you were unaware?”
“How… how would I know? I’m watching the water pump! I’ll return to the village to find out more.” Wang Yougui hung up. He got onto his motorcycle and drove straight for the village.
Fangzheng frowned, more anxious now he realized that even Wang Yougui wasn’t aware of the situation. He planned on descending the mountain to help look for Mengmeng. Lone Wolf, Monkey and Squirrel followed.
Fangzheng frowned, agitated. “This Penniless Monk is going down the mountain to rescue someone. Stay on the mountain and don’t run around.”
“Abbot, we heard what you said. That young patron had given us firecrackers, allowing us to teach those brats a lesson. Now that the young patron is in trouble, we can’t just sit by and do nothing!” Squirrel stood on Lone Wolf’s head, waving his claws as he exclaimed.
Lone Wolf nodded causing Squirrel to faceplant, losing his imposing stance.