[Notes by LKG]
This story is part of the The Monkey King unit. Story source: "The Ape Sun Wu Kung" in The Chinese Fairy Book, ed. by R. Wilhelm and translated by Frederick H. Martens (1921).
Finally the Dragon-Queen and her daughter came out, and said to the Dragon-King: “This saint is an unpleasant customer with whom to deal. The great iron bar is still lying here in our sea, and not so long ago it shone with a red glow, which is probably a sign it is time for it to be taken away.”
Said the Dragon-King: “But that is the rod which the Great Yu used when he ordered the waters and determined the depth of the seas and rivers. It cannot be taken away.”
The Dragon-Queen replied: “Just let him see it! What he then does with it is no concern of ours.”
So the Dragon-King led Sun Wu Kung to the measuring rod. The golden radiance that came from it could be seen some distance off. It was an enormous iron bar, with golden clamps on either side.
Sun Wu Kung raised it with the exertion of all his strength and then said: “It is too heavy, and ought to be somewhat shorter and thinner!”
No sooner had he said this than the iron rod grew less. He tried it again, and then he noticed that it grew larger or smaller at command. It could be made to shrink to the size of a pin. Sun Wu Kung was overjoyed and beat about in the sea with the rod, which he had let grow large again, till the waves spurted mountain-high and the dragon-castle rocked on its foundations. The Dragon-King trembled with fright, and all his tortoises, fishes and crabs drew in their heads.
Sun Wu Kung laughed, and said: “Many thanks for the handsome present!”
Then he continued: “Now I have a weapon, it is true, but as yet I have no armor. Rather than hunt up two or three other households, I think you will be willing to provide me with a suit of mail.”
The Dragon-King told him that he had no armor to give him.
Then the ape said: “I will not leave until you have obtained one for me.” And once more he began to swing his rod.
“Do not harm me!” said the terrified Dragon-King, “I will ask my brothers.”
And he had them beat the iron drum and strike the golden gong, and in a moment’s time all the Dragon-King’s brothers came from all the other seas. The Dragon-King talked to them in private and said: “This is a terrible fellow, and we must not rouse his anger! First he took the rod with the golden clamps from me, and now he also insists on having a suit of armor. The best thing to do would be to satisfy him at once and complain of him to the Lord of the Heavens later.”
So the brothers brought a magic suit of golden mail, magic boots and a magic helmet.
Then Sun Wu Kung thanked them and returned to his cave. Radiantly he greeted his children, who had come to meet him, and showed them the rod with the golden clamps. They all crowded up and wished to pick it up from the ground, if only a single time, but it was just as though a dragon-fly had attempted to overthrow a stone column, or an ant were trying to carry a great mountain. It would not move a hair’s breadth.
Then the apes opened their mouths and stuck out their tongues, and said: “Father, how is it possible for you to carry that heavy thing?”
So he told them the secret of the rod and showed them its effects. Then he set his empire in order and appointed the four baboons field-marshals, and the seven beast-spirits, the ox-spirit, the dragon-spirit, the bird-spirit, the lion-spirit and the rest also joined him.
Next: The Nether World