Many thanks to Hanzík for the Czech translations!
At precisely 7:07 on the first clear morning of the first week of spring, the old scribe Qi awoke to a knocking on his door. An abbess waited outside, flanked by two heavily-armed guards in black and white robes.
Said the abbess: “We have read your account of the burning of Zjing's bridge, and we judge it to be a deliberate lie from beginning to end. The annals are sacrosanct: by falsifying them, you have forfeited your own head.”
The scribe replied: “What was written, was, and is.”
Said the abbess: “Yet the bridge stands undamaged, and all parties refute your account. As proof of your willful deceit I offer these printouts of the various versions of the page in question, obtained from your own repository.”
The scribe said nothing.
Said the abbess: “The first version contains only the text of an email. The sender suggests that you author a case wherein a stubborn monk is corrected by finding himself halfway across an impassible bridge.”
The scribe nodded and replied: “One point oh.”
Said the abbess: “The next version gives an elaborate account of master Suku and the monk Landhwa. Here, Suku corrects the monk by unfastening the planks on her side of bridge, much as the email suggests.”
The scribe nodded again and replied: “One point one.”
Said the abbess: “A later version changes the monk to Wangohan. Here, Suku releases a basket of trained cobras on the bridge to slither towards the hapless monk. This one is my favorite, for its elegant use of snakes throughout.”
The scribe bowed and replied: “One point four.”
Said the abbess: “The final version has master Suku reduce the bridge to ashes. A most obvious falsehood.”
The scribe replied: “One point six.”
Said the abbess: “Can you speak a word which will convince me to let you keep your head?”
The scribe said nothing, but calmly sat at his desk and took up his keyboard. Behind him, the guards unsheathed their swords.
At precisely 7:07 on the first clear morning of the first week of spring, the old scribe Qi awoke to the chattering of a magpie in the tree outside his window. Through the branches, the cold, charred remains of Zjing’s bridge could be seen.
Said the scribe to the magpie: “One point six point one.”
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