Bofu smiled and said, “I’ll try to. You’ll get a share of what I catch, Ziheng, so hope that I get lucky!”
Bofu left his home with Gongjin and his bodyguards and walked to the
barracks stables: he was greeted by smiles and respectful bows at every stage
of the journey.
“You promise that you’ll stick to the plan…?” Gongjin said.
“Yes!” Bofu replied.
“And you promise that you’ll let us keep up…?” Bofu’s chief bodyguard - his distant cousin Sun Hè - asked bluntly.
“…We’ll see,” Bofu replied.
“Aiee… he’s unbelievable,” Sun Hè said to his colleague Song Qian. “We have to get ourselves fast horses or he’ll be off on his own again.”
Bofu entered the stables and slapped the chief stable-keeper’s arm, saying, “Hey, Old Yin! Is he ready to go?”
‘Old Yin’ laughed and said, “Of course, Lord Sun!”
“Then let’s not waste any more time!” Bofu said.
“Can you not give us those nags you gave us last time, Yin?” Sun Hè implored. “We want to be able to keep up with him!”
Bofu grinned and looked at Old Yin, who said, “I shall do my best.”
Bofu led his bodyguards and Gongjin out of Qu’e City and onto the path
that led to the hunting grounds: once again, Bofu was greeted by smiles, bows
and calls by people of every age, class and profession.
“Perhaps he doesn’t need us: the most that anyone might want to do is invite him to dinner,” Sun Hè joked.
Bofu was grinning as he kept his horse at a steady trot; once he felt that he had fooled his guards for long enough, he urged his horse to a gallop and shouted, “Race you!”
“AAAAAGH! Stop! Come back! I’ll give up being a ‘Sun’ and go back to being ‘Yu Hè’ if you keep doing this to me!” Sun Hè cried.
“We have to catch up!” Song
Qian urged. “Everyone hurry!”
Gongjin laughed, stirred his horse and sped after Bofu, who was cackling maniacally and whooping with excitement. People were forced to move out of Bofu’s way as he sped toward them, but most just laughed and waved him off: to some, it seemed that the Sun clan were Jiangdong, and Jiangdong was the Sun clan.
Hours later, Bofu led Gongjin and his exhausted bodyguards back to the
city: they had caught a lot of game, and spirits were generally high.
“We’ll let some of the men have some meat,” Bofu said as he travelled. “Is there anyone I promised some meat to that I didn’t already keep my promise…?”
“…Were we supposed to keep a list…?” Sun Hè asked.
Bofu laughed at the notion.
“…Do you think that you can stick to the plan now…?” Gongjin asked knowingly.
“Yeah,” Bofu replied. “It’ll hurt, pretending to be a toady… especially after Yuan Shu… but yeah.”