“Do you want to accept it now?” asked the System.
“Wait a moment.” There were still many people around him. Fangzheng did not wish for a book to appear out of thin air.
Huang Xinghua and Huang Zhenhua were stunned when they saw Fangzheng walk out the ward. They were completely confounded by what Fangzheng had done inside the ward. He just stood there the entire time! Was he sick in the head?
Fangzheng pressed his palms together at the quartet, “Amitabha. Patrons, This Penniless Monk shall bid you farewell.”
Huang Zhenhua was eager for the mysterious person to leave immediately. It was the same with Huang Xinghua. After they exchanged a few words of pleasantries, Fangzheng left with Red Boy.
It was already late in the night when they returned to One Finger Monastery. That night, Lone Wolf, Monkey, and Squirrel suffered insomnia en masse. They sat in the yard, looking up at the rooftop, looking disconsolate.
On the roof, a child dressed in a dudou was looking up into the sky as he sang at the top of his lungs, “Nine, one, eight! Nine, one eight”
“Did Fourth Junior Brother go mad?”
“Fourth Junior Brother was such a strong person, but he became like this after going out with Master once. Should we still follow in the future?”
“I’m a little worried”
“Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if we don’t go when our junior brother has gone out?”
“That’s better than going mad”
Fangzheng ignored Red Boy’s crazy wailing. At that moment, he was already sound asleep like a dead pig. By simultaneously putting many people in a dream without being in the monastery was extraordinarily draining. His head was heavy and the moment he hit the bed, he fell asleep. In his dream, Fangzheng seemed to hear someone singing ‘My Home is by the Songhua River.’ He felt as though he saw Chen Dashan and Liu Fangfang.
The next day, the first thing Fangzheng did was to ask the System.
“System, where’s my scripture book? Quickly give it to me. I have never touched a complete copy of a scripture book!” said Fangzheng anxiously.
The next moment, a thick yellow scripture book landed in Fangzheng’s hand. Fangzheng weighed it in his hand and it was indeed quite heavy. On the cover, there were the words ‘Diamond Sutra’ written with great flair using the Dragon Buddha Epithet!
Just the three words emanated a light Buddhist charm. It made his mood a lot better from one glance. He slowly flipped the book open as it faintly gave off a typical book fragrance. Fangzheng sniffed at it covetously. All this while, he had been yearning for a few scripture books that he could call his own. Now that his wish had been fulfilled, he could only feel delighted!
“Thus have I heard at one time. The Buddha dwelled at Anathapindika’s garden in Jeta Grove in the city of Shravasti, together with a large gathering of 1250 monks and bodhisattva-mahasattvas. Early in the morning, when the meal time came, the Buddha put on his robe and, holding his bowl, entered the great city of Shravasti where he begged for food. Having finished begging from door to door, he came back to his own seat in the garden and took his meal. When this was done, he put away his robe and bowl, washed his feet, spread his seat and sat down”
Fangzheng recited silently and unknowingly, he finished reading the book. When he looked up, he heard incessant groaning sounds. He unwillingly put down the Buddhist scripture and stretched his back before leaving to prepare breakfast.
As the number one kitchen monk, Red Boy had already prepared the fire. Monkey and Squirrel had joined forces in sweeping clean the temple hall. Monkey was now sweeping the yard.
After having breakfast, Fangzheng suddenly realized that he had less to do now that he had these disciples.
At that moment, a child wearing a red dudou flashed past him.
Fangzheng suddenly thought of something as he shouted, “Jingxin.”
Red Boy, who was carrying water buckets, turned his head and asked, “Master, what’s up?”
Fangzheng smiled. “Didn’t we talk about hairstyling the last time?”
Red Boy immediately scooted off the moment he heard that as he rushed out the monastery. Far off, he shouted, “Master, you remember wrongly. We didn’t, absolutely not!”
Fangzheng looked at Red Boy’s back and shook his head helplessly, “Why is this child so protective of his hair? Isn’t a bald head good? At least it’s convenient when it comes to washing one’s head!”
Fangzheng walked into the temple hall while holding the Diamond Sutra. He sat in front of the large wooden fish and began striking it. Fangzheng calmed his mind as he began to study the Diamond Sutra. Every read gave him new insights. He felt his mind turn ethereal as he expanded his knowledge. He felt a lot more comfortable.
As new days passed, Fangzheng’s days became more relaxed. He recited scriptures, walked the wolf, feeling carefree as can be. But soon, that carefree feeling would be gone.
“Master, something bad happened.” Red Boy placed two empty buckets in front of Fangzheng.
“Why isn’t there water?”
Red Boy looked up into the sky. “I have no idea either. Perhaps it’s been too long since there was rain. The spring source no longer produces water. What do we do?”
Fangzheng knitted his brows tightly. The spring source by Mt. One Finger’s mountainside had water all year round and had never once dried. Why was there no water this year?
Fangzheng said, “I’ll take a look.”
With that said, Fangzheng rushed to the mountainside. The spring at the mountainside was Fangzheng’s main source of water. It was no trivial matter if it dried up. If he wanted to fetch water elsewhere, he would probably have to go down to the foot of the mountain. However, Fangzheng was not worried about that. Instead, the drying up of the spring source signaled something terrifying! He looked up into the sky where the sun hung high. The sun was rising higher in the sky every day, turning hotter by the day. The clear skies were without clouds. He did not notice it before but now, Fangzheng realized that the recent days were somewhat abnormal! Upon doing a quick count, it had been a month since it rained!
Fangzheng rushed straight for Wang Yougui’s house. The moment he entered, he caught a whiff of watermelon fragrance.
“Fangzheng, why are you here? You came just in time. Quick, have some watermelon!” Wang Yougui had his arms bare, and he was sitting cross-legged on a brick bed. There was a plate of watermelon on the table and sitting across him was Tan Juguo. Tan Juguo had one leg beneath the brick bed. He had a huge smoke pipe in his hand as he was sucking at it. Near the window sat Yang Ping. He was slumped over the table, writing something. Beside him was a calculator.
Upon seeing Fangzheng come, everyone looked up and came over before greeting him.
Fangzheng pressed his palms together, “Amitabha. Patrons, This Penniless Monk is here because of something.”
“There’s no rush. Have some watermelon. Quick, have a seat,” invited Tan Juguo.
Fangzheng did not stand on ceremony and immediately went onto the brick bed, sitting beside Yang Ping.
“Abbot Fangzheng, what happened up on your mountain?” asked Yang Ping out of curiosity.
“Sigh, This Penniless Monk’s One Finger Spring has dried up,” said Fangzheng in distress.
“What?!” Tan Juguo exclaimed as the smoke pipe in his hand fell onto the table.
Wang Yougui asked solemnly, “Really? When did this happen?
“This Penniless Monk isn’t sure when it exactly happened. It was discovered when This Penniless Monk went down the mountain to fetch water. Patrons, why are all of you so agitated?”
Wang Yougui said with a wry smile, “Recently, a few of our motor pumps have not been able to draw any water. We originally thought that it was a minor problem, but who knew that even One Finger Spring that has water all year round would no longer produce water. It looks like something serious has happened.”
Fangzheng was taken aback. “Water can’t be drawn from the wells even with the motor pumps?”
“That’s right. It began yesterday. It started only with Dog Song’s well. We originally believed that the machinery had broken, and we tinkered with it for quite long. Following that, nothing could be drawn from Sun Qiancheng’s well either and so on. Furthermore, water from the well in Chen Jin’s family land which Sun Qiancheng is contracted to take care of cannot be drawn either. It became worse today. Many families are unable to draw any water. I’m guessing that the water table has dried up,” Wang Yougui’s brows were tightly knit together as he said worriedly.