Sunday, October 16, 2005

Don't Read While You Eat: Part XI

It seemed that Second Sister and Little Fish could do anything they like. Sometimes they stayed in the kitchen with the green-eyed, scar-faced woman. Here they helped prepare the food for the hundreds of monks staying at the Temple. Often they joined in a Martial Arts practice. Little Fish learned several moves of Tai Chi Chuan, which he would practice for hours on end in one of the innumerable courtyard that punctuated the temple buildings. Second Sister took advantage of the scrolls in the Temple buildings, though she was only allowed in with Xing Ren and then only at certain times. Life seemed to have settled after a couple or three weeks. One day they were in the kitchen and Ma Huang, for that was the green-eyed woman’s name, had just stepped out to gather a few things from the kitchen garden. Little Fish glanced furtively around and whispered to Second Sister, “Have you noticed we are never alone?” And she realized this was true.
“What so you think is going on?” she whispered to the beet she was cutting.
“Come with me to practice in the North Courtyard just before dinner”.
Second Sister had always found Little Fish’s obsession with the slow moving and, in her opinion, boring Tai Chi worthy of ignoring, but this time she nodded just as Ma Huang returned with an armful of greens. That afternoon the two children arrived at the North Courtyard and Little Fish showed Second Sister the opening moves of the Tai Chi set. A monk had certainly followed them albeit from afar. After an hour another monk took the first monk’s place. Second Sister wondered how she could have failed to notice the monkish tails….

The dinner bell rang and Little Fish made off to the dining hall, Second Sister following. The monk on their case passed them, satisfied of their destination. However Little Fish circled around and they returned to the courtyard, this time unobserved.
“Watch, quickly we haven’t much time.” He settled himself, breathed and moved into a stance called Single Whip. Second Sister gasped as his foremost hand disappeared.
“So” intoned Little Fish as he retrieved his hand from invisibility, “we have to go to dinner not or they’ll come looking.”

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