Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Shao Min turned her head and saw that a white-robed monk had come to stand beside her without her realizing it. He was handsome and wore a genial look. He looked like a sunshine on a cold winter day, warm and elegant.
“Uh… That…” Shao Min felt a little embarrassed. To speak badly behind someone’s back and then be heard by the person in question was ultimately not a very nice situation. However, Shao Min quickly reacted. The monk was so young, so it was unlikely he was the abbot. He was most likely an acolyte, so what was she afraid of? Furthermore, looking at how fair and clean he was, it was unlikely he was a mean person. Hence, she mustered her courage and shouted, “So what if he heard me? Did I say anything wrong? Monk, tell me, wasn’t it a sin to transplant this bodhi tree to the north?”
In his heart, Fangzheng smiled ruefully. This sure was a fierce woman! However, Fangzheng also understood that she was different from Lin Tai and the rest. She was not there to deliberately find trouble with him. Her intentions were good. What bad person would be bothered with such matters? Therefore, Fangzheng was not angry at all.
Although Zhao Gang had just debated Shao Min, that was an internal matter among themselves. Now that the monk was there, he naturally stood on Shao Min’s side as a show of cohesion. Zhao Gang hurriedly smoothed things over by saying, “Venerable One, sorry. My friend’s mouth moves faster than her brain. She doesn’t mean it. Don’t take it to heart.”
“Hehe, not take it to heart? If he doesn’t take it to heart, he will freeze a bodhi tree to death today, and freeze to death even more in the future!” Shao Min yelled.
Xue Zong spoke too. “Zhao Gang, there’s no need for us to falter when we are on the side of justice. This is the fault of the monastery, so what’s there to be afraid of?” Xue Zong, who had been silent all this while, stood forward to show his strong support for Shao Min.
Zhao Gang smiled bitterly in exasperation. He pulled the couple to the side and whispered, “Sir Xue and Madam Shao, this is a rural mountain. Can you rein in your temper? Since you know this monastery isn’t good, shouldn’t you be more careful? If we anger these monks and get a beating, so be it, but if we were to be killed and buried, that would be terrible.”
With that said, Xue Zong fell silent. What Zhao Gang said was not realistic since they were in a Buddhistic land. No matter how evil the monks were, it was unlikely they would commit murder. However, it was better to be safe than sorry when outside, so he was still a little worried.
Zhao Gang had kept his voice low, but Fangzheng heard him clearly. His disciples also heard him as they pursed their lips and secretly giggled. When Fangzheng turned his head, his disciples scattered, leaving by the back door into the bamboo forest, where they erupted into laughter.
“Wahahaha, Master is too terrifying!”
“Finally, someone has recognized Master for who he is. Haha!”
“Ahem. Patrons, This Penniless Monk has no interest in murder,” Fangzheng hurriedly said, feeling that he would be called a psychotic murderer if he allowed the trio to continue speculating.
“Uh… You actually heard us from that far? You really are a demonic monk,” said Shao Min.
Fangzheng: “…” He realized that he seemed stuck with the title of demonic monk.
“Venerable One, please don’t mind her. My friend’s mind has a screw loose.” Zhao Gang hurriedly laughed it off.
“You are the one with the screw loose! Have you been reading too many novels!? Murder, and burying? Bury my ass!” Shao Min ignored Zhao Gang’s attempts at holding her back as she went straight in front of Fangzheng. “I admit that what I said wasn’t nice and that it’s not good to speak ill of someone behind their back. But since you are here, let me settle this with you face-to-face!”
Fangzheng nodded. He was quite interested in knowing how the woman would argue with him.
However, Shao Min suddenly stopped speaking. All she did was size up Fangzheng and shake her head. She said with a look of contempt, “Forget it. What’s the point of talking to an acolyte like you? Call your abbot out. I want to settle this with him face-to-face. How can you destroy such a precious tree. It’s too much!”
“That’s right. Let’s speak to the abbot.” From Zhao Gang’s point of view, someone who could be abbot usually had a better character. At the very least, they would not go to blows upon disagreement. It was indeed pointless discussing this with a mere acolyte.
Xue Zong had the same idea. It was best to discuss matters with the abbot. The acolyte in front of them could not make any decisions anyway.
Fangzheng was long accustomed to being doubted. Therefore, he pressed his palms together and said, “Amitabha. Patrons, This Penniless Monk is One Finger Monastery’s abbot. This Penniless Monk’s Dharma name is Fangzheng.”
The moment that was said, Xue Zong and Zhao Gang were dumbfounded. The monk in front of them was One Finger Monastery’s abbot? How was that possible? How old was the monk? Was he even twenty? How could there be such a young abbot?
“What?” Shao Min’s eyes stared like a pair burning lightbulbs as she wore a look of disbelief. Such a young monk could be abbot? How was this possible? Although the monastery wasn’t huge, something small can still contain the essentials. It was not in such an abject state that a young monk had to be made abbot, right? Shao Min knew very well that a monastery was a special place. A monastery was a place for cultivation. Typically, if one’s cultivation was lacking, it was impossible to become abbot. If there were such a case, it would definitely be under extraordinary circumstances. Could this have been done through a back door? Was this perhaps a fake monastery?
Shao Min looked at the monk in front of her, but he did not look like someone bad no matter how she looked at him. Could it be that he was too young and had been fooled by others? Perhaps he didn’t know that bodhi trees would die if planted in the north? That was probably the reason.
With this in mind, Shao Min began feeling pity for Fangzheng. She said with a sigh, “Abbot Fangzheng, do you know what tree this is?”
Fangzheng nodded. “A bodhi tree.”
“Since you know it’s a bodhi tree, why do you dare plant it here? Aren’t you afraid it will freeze to death?” Shao Min asked furiously.
Xue Zong added his thoughts. “Abbot, perhaps you might not be aware. The reason why the bodhi tree is still alive is because the weather is still warm. Once winter comes, it will immediately freeze to death. A hundred-year-old tree isn’t easy to come by. It’d be a pity if it died from the cold. If possible, I’m willing to pay for it to be transplanted back to the south. This would be a meritorious deed too.”
With that said, Fangzheng could not help but think highly of Xue Zong. Although he wasn’t as good-looking or as handsome as he was, his character was flawless. Fangzheng was reminded of Lin Tai. Why was their difference in character so great when they were both wealthy?
However, Fangzheng felt exasperated. Certain things really could not be explained well. The bodhi tree was indeed exceptional. Usually when people asked Fangzheng about the tree, he would just smile without a word. People who knew One Finger Monastery would naturally explain the bodhi tree to others, saving him from having to give additional explanations.
But today, there was no one on the mountain. Having these three warmhearted people come to his monastery, Fangzheng was a little lost as to what to say. Explain? It wasn’t easily explained. But if he didn’t, the warmhearted chick would probably not let this matter go.
With this in mind, all Fangzheng could say was, “Patrons, you worry too much. This tree is different from other bodhi trees. It’s not afraid of the harsh winter.”
“Pfft!” Shao Min burst out into laughter. “Monk, a monk shouldn’t lie. Aren’t you lying way too naturally? People not in the know would be duped by you because of your appearance. From the looks of it, you are a lying expert! Do you think I do not know anything about trees? Although I’m not a botanist, I basically know about and have seen all the plant species in China. This is a hundred-year-old bodhi tree, nothing else!”
“Abbot Fangzheng, your lying skills sure suck. They’re even worse than mine. Can a bodhi tree not be afraid of the cold?”