Many thanks to Hanzík for the Czech translations!

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slightly geeky  slightly geeky

Case 29

Goldfish

When a novice joins the temple and claims to seek wisdom, they are advised to find Java master Bawan and ask him: “How did wily old Madame Jinyu become Abbess Over All Clans And Concerns?”

Master Bawan will then hit the novice on the backside with a shovel, and instruct them to return the following night and ask again. The following night the answer will be the same, and will conclude with the same order to return, until the novice is enlightened.

The annals tell us this:

When the Venerable Jinyu was a nun of but five and twenty years, she and a monk of equal age were approached by the abbot of their clan.

“The Emperor will be coming to inspect the new VAX mainframe, and to choose worthy members for various Royal Committees,” said the abbot. “Thus we wish His Excellency to be impressed with all facets of our temple. The koi ponds are lifeless and choked with weeds. Each of you must take one pond, clean it well, and ensure that new fish are present each morning for the Emperor’s amusement.”

The monk was given the North Pond. The stagnant green water was unsuitable for any living thing, so with a yoke and buckets the monk hauled every last drop away. Then he scrubbed the lichen from the stones, pulled the weeds, and brought bucket after bucket of clean water from the temple well. After a week the little pool was teeming with red and gold carp, bought from the markets with the monk’s own coins.

Meanwhile, the South Pond lay untouched, and young Jinyu was nowhere to be found.

With the Emperor’s visit fast approaching, the abbot sent for the nun. When Jinyu was brought before him, he boxed her ears. “If the Emperor loses confidence in our temple, our IT services contract may not be the only thing cut off prematurely.”

Jinyu bowed. “All will be as ordained, in two days’ time.”

The following day the abbot went to the North Pond, which now was flush with white and black carp—again, purchased by the monk from the markets in town. Yet the South Pond’s state was exactly as before. He found Jinyu resting under a cypress tree, and boxed her ears again.

Again Jinyu bowed. “All will be as ordained, tomorrow morning.”

The following day, the abbot went once more to the North Pond, which now was bursting with striped and spotted carp. Yet the South Pond’s state was worse than before: the lovely garden circling it had been dug up, and standing in the midst of the ruin was Jinyu and her shovel.

The abbot boxed Jinyu’s ears. “Account for yourself!” he demanded.

The nun said nothing, but turned her shovel in a clot of earth at the edge of the pond. Behind it was a trench that Jinyu had dug all the way to the river below the temple. With the clot gone, the stagnant water spilled out of the pond and vanished down the trench.

Then Jinyu turned her shovel at the other end of the pond, revealing a trench which carried down the waters of a mountain stream. The stream rushed into the pond and out the other side, cleaning the stones and sweeping away the dead weeds. In the dark water, flashes of red and gold could be seen.

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Thus was Jinyu chosen to head the Exalted Subcommittee on Automated Testing.

And if anyone would dispute this account, let him first seek out Java master Bawan, and ask the ritual question.