The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox
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2008 compilation of three of Barry Hughart's novels: Bridge of Birds, The Story of the Stone, and Eight Skilled Gentlemen.
also said to induce pure thoughts, and the toad looked like he could use some. I politely picked up and moved a couple of codgers so Master Li and I could sit down flanking the toad. “Goo-goo-goo?” said the codgers. “Goo-goo-goo,” I replied. The toad’s pale bulging eyes slowly moved toward Master Li. “I didn’t do it,” he said. “Ten witnesses,” said Master Li. “Liars. You can’t prove a thing.” The toad turned back to his dangling fish hook. His mouth was set stubbornly, and I doubted that
softly. “A beautiful flawed flower named Purple Pearl who was placed in the path of a flawed stone, and the stone brought dew and raindrops to wash the evil from the flower, and the flower fell in love and vowed to repay its debt by shedding every tear in its body. It might take centuries, or even millennia for the time to be right for a flower to be reborn, but the greatest virtue of stone is patience.” Moon Boy’s eyes were wide and wondering. Master Li picked up the stone, pieces still pressed
crawling between stacks of packing cases, and Yen Shih and I followed him to the back wall. He changed position several times, scanning the ceiling and angles of the walls to judge the acoustics, and then he whispered to us to gather pebbles and take positions where we could throw them through deep shadows back through the tunnel entrance. At his signal the puppeteer and I pitched pebbles, and the rattling sound made the men jerk their heads up and turn their eyes toward the tunnel. Master Li
waiting for the gate to open so we could go in and be killed in a ghastly manner by Li the Cat. It was not a pleasant period. Pain is bearable because there’s a limit to it. The body takes only so much and then goes into shock, but I had plenty of time to think about clever eunuchs and their little games and I didn’t think I could take it if he had me sewn up in a sack with the mangled remains of Yu Lan. Master Li, as usual, kept his own counsel. It was quite impossible to tell from his face
The wisest man in the world lifted a finger to his lips and blew. The light was blacked out by a dense cloud, and wind howled, and we were scooped up and sent flying into the air, whirling around and around inside a black funnel that was thick with dirt and broken branches and small screaming animals. The cyclone whirled down the mountainside, and I tried to shield Li Kao’s frail body with my own as branches buffeted me and shrieking wind deafened me. Down and down and around and around, and then