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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Canton Number 1 Scholar - Chapter 4 - Mistaken For An Assassin

Copyright © 2011 - Jeff Loh. All rights reserved

Canton’s Number One Scholar

Chapter 4 – A Kid Mistaken For An Assassin

A few of the monks shouted,

“Hey Warty Lun, His Lord Inspector General is coming for prayers. Why are you still here? Be wary of being caught by soldiers. When this happens don’t blame us for not warning you!”

Ah Chui retorted,

“What’s this called Inspector General? Is it edible? He’s a human, I’m a human so why the need to avoid him? ”

The monks on seeing his recalcitrant ways did not have the energy to spar with him and went on with their own work. Whoa! Suddenly bang bang came the beating of ten gongs or so. With that the Inspector General arrived. Along with his toadies, counselors and advisors, the sedan chair surfed to the very doors of the temple. “Universal Illumination” and all the rest of the monks and priests all came out respectfully to welcome his Lordship with a few moments of observed silence1. All the imps fled hurriedly except for Ah Chui who had no time to do so. Barely did he hide himself under the altar just as the Inspector General came waltzing into the Mahavira Hall. The old abbot and a few on duty priests bade obeisance to his Lordship. His Lordship Wu earnestly clasped some joss sticks and offered incense to Buddha. Soon smoke began to waft and gongs went a beating in unison. His Lordship Wu knelt on the bulrush mat and like an onion head began bobbing up and down in prayers. Nothing more than just a prayer for harmonious rain2, peace in the country, general welfare for the people and such. During his bobbing of up and down, from the corner of his eye he suddenly espied a dark shadow squirming under the altar…

His lordship gave out a cry of “Ai yah” and a shudder came over him. He quickly got up and ran. Those in attendance and the guards were puzzled for a second and when they recovered they quickly surrounded the Inspector General in protection asking what the matter was. The Inspector General pointed at the foot of the altar and stammered,

“Quick, quick, quickly get… get the assassin…”

Everyone was shocked when they heard there was an assassin under the altar and exclaimed,

“Outrageous! Absolutely disgraceful!”

The guardsman quickly drew out their swords and congregated around the table and shouted,

“Don’t move, you brazen robber!”

With that one sword flipped up the covering of the altar and there it was -- there was someone lying in there. One brave guardsman tunneled himself under the altar and with his hand and made a grab for the person and pulled him out. People were aghast when what they saw was a little boy of eight or nine years of age. Whatever the case may be, tie him up first! One ferocious looking guardsman began tying up Ah Chui like a crab and shouted,

“You little thief with such a gall made of sand, daring to assassinate his Inspector General Lordship. I think you have lived too long!”

Poor Ah Chui, injustice with nowhere to complain and under the shoveling of the guard, he was brought before the Inspector General to await further orders. In the meantime, the General Inspector went ballistic and chided till the face of “Universal Illumination” looked like shit. Knowing how he had been wrong, he dared not utter a single word in his defence. All he could do was to offer profuse apologies. When the guardsman came up with Ah Chui, the General Inspector asked where the assassin was. The guardsmen pointed at Ah Chui and replied,

“This is the one!”

When the General Inspector took a look at Chui, there it was puny and small like dice, a big-headed strange looking creature. At once his Lordship was stunned and like his station, all he could do was to shout,

“You little thing, what’s your name? Where do you live? How dare you plan to assassinateme?”

Ah Chui showed no fear and told his name and explained,

“I was playing at the temple when his Lordship came for prayers. This nothingness was not able to avoid his Lordship and therefore was forced to hide under the altar. I dare not lie and I beg his Lordship for forgiveness.”

The Inspector General saw how young Ah Chui was and knew he was no assassin. At the same time after listening to his polite reply, much of his anger had dissipated into thin air and he asked,

“You little imp, have you an education before?”

Ah Chui replied,

“Although my family is poor, I studied hard.”


1. A few moments of absolute silence is observed whenever a dignitary comes a calling.

2. Gentle rain for the crops is utmost importance in an agricultural society of China.

3. There are many ways of crab tying to prevent the crab from crawling and preventing a nip from the claws. However I could not find a photo of the way I see using a bulrush straw to tie up the pincers and legs and with a handle to carry at the same time.


Original Text



“癩倫, 巡撫大人來拜神, 你重2唔走乎? 顧住被的兵捉住你, 到個陣咪話唔通知也.”


“乜野3叫做巡撫, 食唔食得的? 佢又係人, 我有係人, 駛4乜避佢乎?”

和尚見佢唔聽話, 亦冇佢咁好氣, 自己做自己的事, 俄5, 忽然聞砰砰聲十下頭鑼鼓响, 巡撫大人在一班師爺長隨簇擁之下, 已乘轎來到西禪寺, 寺中普照老和尚及各僧, 一齊敬謹迎接, 一時肅靜迥避, 與亞敍同來之細路, 早已走夾唔抖6, 亞敘走避不及, 惟有匿在神枱底下, 亞敍甫在神枱下藏身, 而巡撫吳大人已步入大雄寳殿, 當由老和尚普照及一班職事僧人, 為之贊禮, 吳大人十分虔誠, 親手向三寶佛爺座前上香, 一時香烟繚繞, 鐘鼓齊鳴, 吳大人就跪在蒲團之上, 叩如搗蒜, 口中如祈願, 無非風調雨順, 國泰民安之類, 不期正在叩頭之際, 眼光無意一觸神枱底, 突見有一黑影一團, 蠕蠕而動, 咤呀一聲, 當堂發茅一樣, 起身便跑, 在傍各僚屬長隨衛士之流, 一時莫明其妙, 連忙團團圍住巡撫大人, 問是何事, 巡撫大人指指神枱底, 口震震曰:

“快快快! 拿拿刺客….”

眾人一聞枱底有刺客, 大吃一驚, 曰:


眾衛士立即拔刀在手, 一擁至神枱底前, 大喝:


一刀挑開顧綉枱圍布, 向內一望, 果然有人匿伏在此, 一個衛士奮勇鑽入枱底, 一隻手就將此人執了出來, 眾人一睇, 我挑! 原來係一兒年約八九歲的細路仔, 但冇理佢, 紥起佢先, 個班衛士, 如狼似虎, 便將亞敍扮蟹, 大駡曰:

“你個小賊, 亦算沙胆, 居然敢行刺巡撫大人, 嫌命長都唔定矣!”

亞敘有寃無路訴, 就在眾衛士拉拉扯扯之下, 押到會客廳巡撫大人面前發落, 此時巡撫大人正在大燒枱砲, 駡得普照滿面屁, 普照明知冤枉, 但哪敢分辯, 只有連聲認錯, 旣然押到倫文敘來, 巡撫便問刺客何在? 眾衛士指指倫文敍曰:


巡撫睇睇倫文敍,蝦, 原來係個一粒色咁大的細路, 頭大如斗, 形容古怪, 當堂為之愕然, 照例喝問曰:

“你這小子, 何姓何名, 何方人氏, 胆敢企圖行刺本官?”

亞敍從容不廹, 便將自己姓名禀上, 并謂頃間在西禪寺玩耍因大人來參神, 小子廻避不及, 迫得匿在神枱底, 實不敢妄作胡為, 請求大人原量. 巡撫見亞敍小小年紀, 早知不是歹人, 又見佢應對得體, 不禁將頃間怒氣, 消去大半, 又問曰:

“你這小子, 讀過書未?”


“小子雖然家窮, 却努力讀書之至.”

Cantonese Notes

1. A rascal; something insignificant.

2. Same as 總, still, yet.

3. See Chapter 1 Cantonese Notes #6.

4. The actual meaning is to “to drive” but here its function is like 使 to cause.

5. Just a sound effect like “Wah!”

6. 走夾唔抖–flee/run away so fast that there is no time to rest i.e. Hurriedly. The more common word used is 唞 (to rest)

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