Romance of the Three Kingdoms
(三國演義)


Luo Guanzhong
(羅貫中)

Translated by C.H. Brewitt-Taylor

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Table of Contents

  1. Three Heroes Swear Brotherhood In The Peach Garden; One Victory Shatters The Rebels In Battlegrounds.
  2. Zhang Fei Whips The Government Officer; He Jin Plots To Kill The Eunuchs.
  3. In Wenming Garden, Dong Zhuo Denounces Ding Yuan; With Red Hare, Li Su Bribes Lu Bu.
  4. Deposition Of The Emperor: The Prince Of Chenliu Gets The Throne; Schemes Against Dong Zhuo: Cao Cao Presents A Sword.
  5. Cao Cao Appeals To The Powerful Lords; The Three Brothers Fight Against Lu Bu.
  6. Burning The Capital, Dong Zhuo Commits An Atrocity; Hiding The Imperial Hereditary Seal, Sun Jian Breaks Faith.
  7. Yuan Shao Fights Gongsun Zan At The River Pan; Sun Jian Attacks Liu Biao Across The Great River.
  8. Wang Yun Prepares The Chaining Scheme; Dong Zhuo Rages At Phoenix Pavilion.
  9. Lu Bu Kills Dong Zhuo For Wang Yun; Li Jue Attacks The Capital On Jia Xu’s Advice.
  10. Gathering Arms, Ma Teng Moves To Rescue The Emperor; Commanding A Force, Cao Cao Marches To Avenge His Father.
  11. Liu Bei Rescues Kong Rong At Beihai; Lu Bu Defeats Cao Cao Near Puyang.
  12. Tao Qian Thrice Offers Xuzhou To Liu Bei; Cao Cao Retakes Yanzhou From Lu Bu.
  13. Li Jue and Guo Si Duel In Changan; The Emperor Establishes Anyi The New Capital.
  14. Cao Cao Moves The Court To Xuchang; Lu Bu Leads A Night Raid Against Xuzhou.
  15. Taishi Ci Fights With The Young Overlord; Sun Ce Cuts Short The White Tiger King.
  16. In The Camp Gate, Lu Bu Shoots The Halberd; At River Yu, Cao Cao Suffers A Defeat.
  17. Yuan Shu Marches Out Seven Armies; Cao Cao And Three Generals Join Forces.
  18. Giving Counsels, Jia Xu Directs A Great Victory; Braving Battlefield, Xiahou Dun Loses An Eye.
  19. Cao Cao Makes Flood In Xiapi; Lu Bu Perishes At The White Gate Tower.
  20. Cao Cao Organizes A Hunting Expedition In Xutian; Dong Cheng Receives A Secret Command In The Palace.
  21. In A Plum Garden, Cao Cao Discusses Heroes; Using The Host’s Forces, Guan Yu Takes Xuzhou.
  22. Yuan Shao And Cao Cao Both Take The Field; Guan Yu And Zhang Fei Captures Two Generals.
  23. Mi Heng Slips His Garment And Rails At Traitors; Ji Ping Pledges To Kill The Prime Minister.
  24. Cao Cao Murdered The Consort Dong; Liu Bei Flees To Yuan Shao.
  25. Besieged In Tushan, Guan Yu Makes Three Conditions; Relieved At Baima, Cao Cao Beholds A Marvel.
  26. Yuan Shao Loses Another Leader; Guan Yu Abandons Rank And Wealth.
  27. The Man Of Beautiful Beard Rides On A Solitary Journey; Guan Yu Slays Six Generals Through Five Passes.
  28. Putting Cai Yang To Death, The Brothers’ Doubts Disappear; Meeting At Gucheng, Lord and Lieges Fortify Each Other.
  29. The Little Chief Of The South Slays Yu Ji; The Green Eyed Boy Lays Hold On The South Land.
  30. Shunning Advice, Yuan Shao Loses Leaders and Granaries; Using Strategy, Cao Cao Scores Victory At Guandu.
  31. Cao Cao Overcomes Yuan Shao In Cangting; Liu Bei Seeks Shelter With Liu Biao In Jingzhou.
  32. Jizhou Taken: Yuan Shang Strives; River Zhang Cut: Xun You Schemes.
  33. A Gallant Warrior, Cao Pi Marries Lady Zhen; An Expiring Star, Guo Jia Settles Liaodong.
  34. Behind The Screen, Lady Cai Overhears A Secret; Across The Tan Torrent, The Dilu Horse Carries Its Master.
  35. Liu Bei Meets A Recluse At Nanzhang; Shan Fu Sees A Noble Lord At Xinye.
  36. Shan Fu’s Strategy: Fankou Is Captured; Xu Shu’s Affection: Zhuge Liang Is Recommended.
  37. Sima Hui Recommends A Scholar To Liu Bei; Liu Bei Pays Three Visits To The Sleeping Dragon Ridge.
  38. Zhuge Liang Plans For The Three Kingdoms; Sun Quan Attacks Xiakou To Take Revenges.
  39. At Jingzhou, The Son Of Liu Biao Thrice Begs Advice; At Bowang Slope, The Directing Instructor Plans His First Battle.
  40. Lady Cai Renounces Jingzhou; Zhuge Liang Burns Xinye.
  41. Liu Bei Leads His People Over The River; Zhao Zilong Rescues The Child Lord At Dangyang.
  42. Screaming Zhang Fei Triumphs At Long Slope Bridge; Defeated Liu Bei Marches To Hanjin.
  43. Zhuge Liang Disputes With The Southern Scholars; Lu Su Denounces The Majority Opinion.
  44. Zhuge Liang Stirs Zhou Yu To Actions; Sun Quan Decides To Attack Cao Cao.
  45. At The Three Gorges, Cao Cao Loses Soldiers; In The Gathering Of Heroes, Jiang Gan Is Trapped.
  46. Using Strategy, Zhuge Liang Borrows Arrows; Joining A Ruse, Huang Gai Accepts Punishment.
  47. Kan Ze Presents A Treacherous Letter; Pang Tong Suggests Chaining The Ships.
  48. Banquet On The Great River, Cao Cao Sings A Song; Battle On Water, Northerners Fight With Chained Ships.
  49. On Seven-Star Altar, Zhuge Liang Sacrifices To The Winds; At Three Gorges, Zhou Yu Liberates The Fire.
  50. Zhuge Liang Foresees The Huarong Valley Episode; Guan Yu Lifts His Saber To Release Cao Cao.
  51. Cao Ren Withstands The South Land; Zhuge Liang Angers Zhou Yu.
  52. Zhuge Liang Negotiates With Lu Su; Zhao Zilong Captures Guiyang.
  53. Guan Yu Releases Huang Zhong; Sun Quan Fights With Zhang Liao.
  54. The Dowager Marchioness Sees Her Son-In-Law; The Imperial Uncle Takes A Worthy Consort.
  55. Liu Bei Rouses The Spirit Of Lady Sun; Zhuge Liang A Second Time Angers Zhou Yu.
  56. Cao Cao Feasts In The Bronze Bird Tower; Zhuge Liang Provokes Zhou Yu A Third Time.
  57. Sleeping Dragon Mourns In Chaisang; Young Phoenix Intervenes At Leiyang.
  58. Ma Chao Launches An Expedition For Revenge; Cao Cao Flees The Field In Disguise.
  59. Xu Chu Strips For A Fight With Ma Chao; Cao Cao Writes A Letter To Han Sui.
  60. Zhang Song Turns The Table On Yang Xiu; Pang Tong Proposes The Occupation Of Shu.
  61. In The River, Zhao Zilong Recovers Liu Shan; With One Letter, Sun Quan Repulses Cao Cao.
  62. The Taking Of River Fu Pass, Yang Huai and Gao Pei Perish; The Siege Of Luocheng, Huang Zhong and Wei Yan Rival.
  63. Zhuge Liang Mourns For Pang Tong; Zhang Fei Releases Yan Yan.
  64. Zhuge Liang Plans For The Capture Of Zhang Ren; Yang Fu Borrows Soldiers To Destroy Ma Chao.
  65. Ma Chao Battles At Jiameng Pass; Liu Bei Takes Over Yizhou.
  66. Armed With Sword, Guan Yu Goes To A Feast Alone; For The State, Empress Fu Offers Her Life.
  67. Cao Cao Conquers Hanzhong; Zhang Liao Terrorizes Xiaoyao.
  68. Gan Ning’s Hundred Horsemen Raid The Northern Camp; Zuo Ci’s Flung-Down Cup Fools Cao Cao.
  69. Guan Lu Sees Things In The Book Of Changes; Five Loyal Subjects Die For Their State.
  70. Zhang Fei Takes Wakou Pass With Tactics; Huang Zhong Captures Tiandang Mountain By Stratagem.
  71. At Opposite Hill, Huang Zhong Scores A Success; On The River Han, Zhao Zilong Conquers A Host.
  72. Zhuge Liang’s Wit Takes Hanzhong; Cao Cao’s Army Retires To The Ye Valley.
  73. Liu Bei Becomes The Prince Of Hanzhong; Guan Yu Marches To Attack Xiangyang.
  74. Pang De Takes His Coffin To The Field; Guan Yu Uses Water To Drown The Seven Armies.
  75. Guan Yu Has A Scraped-Bone Surgery; Lu Meng Crosses The River In White Robe.
  76. Xu Huang Fights At The River Mian; Guan Yu Retreats To Maicheng.
  77. Cao Cao Is Possessed At Luoyang; Guan Yu Manifests At The Jade Spring Mount.
  78. Treating A Headache, A Famous Physician Dies; Giving The Last Words, The Crafty Hero Departs.
  79. Brother Oppressing Brother: Cao Zhi Composes Poems; Nephew Harming Uncle: Liu Feng Receives Punishment.
  80. Cao Pi Deposes The Emperor, Taking Away The Fortunes of Han; Liu Bei Assumes The Throne, Continuing The Heritage.
  81. Eager For Vengeance, Zhang Fei Is Assassinated; Athirst Of Retribution, The First Ruler Goes To War.
  82. Sun Quan Submits To Wei, Receiving The Nine Dignities; The First Ruler Attacks Wu, Rewarding Six Armies.
  83. Fighting At Xiaoting, The First Ruler Captures An Enemy; Defending The Three Gorges, A Student Takes Supreme Command.
  84. Lu Xun Burns All Consecutive Camps; Zhuge Liang Plans The Eight-Array Maze.
  85. The First Ruler Confides His Son To A Guardian; The Prime Minister Calmly Settles Five Attacks.
  86. Using Words, Qin Mi Overcomes Zhang Wen; Setting Fire, Xu Sheng Defeats Cao Pi.
  87. Conquering The South Mang, The Prime Minister Marches The Army; Opposing Heaven Troops, The King Of The Mangs Is Captured.
  88. Crossing River Lu: The Mang King Is Bound The Second Time; Recognizing A Pretend Surrender: Meng Huo Is Captured The Third Time.
  89. The Lord of Wuxiang Uses The Fourth Ruse; The King of Mang Is Captured The Fifth Time.
  90. Chasing Off Wild Beasts, The Prime Minister Defeats The Mangs For The Sixth Time; Burning Rattan Armors, Zhuge Liang Captures Meng Huo The Seventh Time.
  91. Sacrificing At River Lu, The Prime Minister Marches Homeward; Attacking Wei, The Lord Of Wuxiang Presents A Memorial.
  92. Zhao Zilong Slays Five Generals; Zhuge Liang Takes Three Cities.
  93. Jiang Wei Goes Over To Zhuge Liang; Zhuge Liang Reviles Wang Lang.
  94. Zhuge Liang Defeats The Qiangs In A Snowstorm; Sima Yi Captures Meng Da By A Rapid March.
  95. Ma Su’s Disobedience Causes The Loss Of Jieting; Zhuge Liang’s Lute Repulses The Army Of Sima Yi.
  96. Shedding Tears, Zhuge Liang Puts Ma Su To Death; Cutting Hair, Zhou Fang Beguiles Cao Xiu.
  97. Sending A Second Memorial, Zhuge Liang Renews The Attack On Wei; Forging A Letter, Jiang Wei Defeats The Northern Army.
  98. Pursuing The Shu Army, Wang Shuang Meets His Death; Raiding Chencang, Zhuge Liang Scores A Victory.
  99. Zhuge Liang Defeats The Wei Army; Sima Yi Invades The West River Land.
  100. Raiding A Camp, The Shu Soldiers Defeat Cao Zhen; Contesting Array Battles, Zhuge Liang Shames Sima Yi.
  101. Going Out From Longshang, Zhuge Liang Dresses As A God; Dashing Toward Saber Pass, Zhang He Falls Into A Snare.
  102. Sima Yi Occupies The Banks Of River Wei; Zhuge Liang Constructs Mechanical Bullocks And Horses.
  103. In Gourd Valley, Sima Yi Is Trapped; In Wuzhang Hills, Zhuge Liang Invokes The Stars.
  104. A Falling Star: The Prime Minister Ascends To Heaven; A Wooden Statue: The Commander-In-Chief Is Terrified.
  105. The Lord of Wuxiang Leaves A Plan In The Silken Bag; The Ruler of Wei Removes The Bronze Statue With The Dew Bowl.
  106. Suffering Defeat, Gongsun Yuan Meets His Death; Pretending Illness, Sima Yi Deceives Cao Shuang.
  107. The Ruler of Wei Hands Over The Power To Sima Yi; Jiang Wei Is Defeated At Ox Head Hills.
  108. In The Snow, Ding Feng Wins A Victory; At A Banquet, Sun Jun Executes A Secret Plan.
  109. A Ruse Of A Han General: Sima Zhao Is Surrounded; Retribution For The House Of Wei: Cao Fang Is Dethroned.
  110. Riding Alone, Wen Yang Repulses A Brave Force; Following The River, Jiang Wei Defeats The Enemy.
  111. Deng Ai Outwits Jiang Wei; Zhuge Dan Battles Sima Zhao.
  112. Rescuing Shouchun, Yu Quan Dies Nobly; Attacking Changcheng, Jiang Wei Mobilizes.
  113. Ding Feng Makes A Plan To Slay Sun Chen; Jiang Wei Arrays A Battle To Defeat Deng Ai.
  114. Driving To The South Gate, Cao Mao Plunges Into Death; Abandoning Stores, Jiang Wei Defeats The Wei Army.
  115. Listening To Slander, The Latter Ruler Recalls His Army; Living In Farms, Jiang Wei Avoids Disaster.
  116. On Hanzhong Roads, Zhong Hui Divides The Army; In Dingjun Mountain, The Martial Lord Shows His Apparition.
  117. Deng Ai Gets Through The Yinping Mountains; Zhuge Zhan Falls In The Battlefield Of Mianzhu.
  118. Weeping At The Ancestral Temple, A Filial Prince Dies; Marching To The West River Land, Two Leaders Competes.
  119. The False Surrender: A Wit Scheme Becomes A Vain Plan; The Abdication: Later Seeds Learn From The Ancient.
  120. Recommending Du Yu, An Old General Offers New Plans; Capturing Of Sun Hao, Three Kingdoms Becomes One.

The Beginning Song

So sung:

O so vast, O so mighty,

The Great River rolls to sea,

Flowers do waves thrash,

Heroes do sands smash,

When all the dreams drain,

Same are loss and gain.

Green mountains remain,

Under pink sunsets,

Hoary fishers and woodcutters,

Along the banks, find calm water,

In autumn moon or in spring wind,

By the wine jars, fill porcelain.

Discuss talk and tale,

Only laugh and gale . . .

Chapter 1

Three Heroes Swear Brotherhood In The Peach Garden; One Victory Shatters The Rebels In Battlegrounds.

The world under heaven, after a long period of division, tends to unite; after a long period of union, tends to divide. This has been so since antiquity. When the rule of the Zhou Dynasty weakened, seven contending kingdoms sprang up, warring one with another until the kingdom of Qin prevailed and possessed the empire. But when Qin’s destiny had been fulfilled, arose two opposing kingdoms, Chu and Han, to fight for the mastery. And Han was the victor.

The rise of the fortunes of Han began when Liu Bang the Supreme Ancestor slew a white serpent to raise the banners of uprising, which only ended when the whole empire belonged to Han (BC 202). This magnificent heritage was handed down in successive Han emperors for two hundred years, till the rebellion of Wang Mang caused a disruption. But soon Liu Xiu the Latter Han Founder restored the empire, and Han emperors continued their rule for another two hundred years till the days of Emperor Xian, which were doomed to see the beginning of the empire’s division into three parts, known to history as The Three Kingdoms.

But the descent into misrule hastened in the reigns of the two predecessors of Emperor Xian —-Emperors Huan and Ling —-who sat in the dragon throne about the middle of the second century.

Emperor Huan paid no heed to the good people of his court, but gave his confidence to the Palace eunuchs. He lived and died, leaving the scepter to Emperor Ling, whose advisers were Regent Marshal Dou Wu and Imperial Guardian Chen Fan. Dou Wu and Chen Fan, disgusted with the abuses of the eunuchs in the affairs of the state, plotted the destruction for the power-abusing eunuchs. But Chief Eunuch Cao Jie was not to be disposed of easily. The plot leaked out, and the honest Dou Wu and Chen Fan were put to death, leaving the eunuchs stronger than before.

It fell upon the day of full moon of the fourth month, the second year, in the era of Established Calm (AD 168), that Emperor Ling went in state to the Hall of Virtue. As he drew near the throne, a rushing whirlwind arose in the corner of the hall and, lo! from the roof beams floated down a monstrous black serpent that coiled itself up on the very seat of majesty. The Emperor fell in a swoon. Those nearest him hastily raised and bore him to his palace, while the courtiers scattered and fled. The serpent disappeared.

But there followed a terrific tempest, thunder, hail, and torrents of rain, lasting till midnight and working havoc on all sides. Two years later the earth quaked in Capital Luoyang, while along the coast a huge tidal wave rushed in which, in its recoil, swept away all the dwellers by the sea. Another evil omen was recorded ten years later, when the reign title was changed to Radiant Harmony (AD 178): Certain hens suddenly crowed. At the new moon of the sixth month, a long wreath of murky cloud wound its way into the Hall of Virtue, while in the following month a rainbow was seen in the Dragon Chamber. Away from the capital, a part of the Yuan Mountains collapsed, leaving a mighty rift in the flank.

Such were some of various omens. Emperor Ling, greatly moved by these signs of the displeasure of Heaven, issued an edict asking his ministers for an explanation of the calamities and marvels.

Court Counselor Cai Yong replied bluntly: “Falling rainbows and changes of fowls’ sexes are brought about by the interference of empresses and eunuchs in state affairs.”

The Emperor read this memorial with deep sighs, and Chief Eunuch Cao Jie, from his place behind the throne, anxiously noted these signs of grief. An opportunity offering, Cao Jie informed his fellows, and a charge was trumped up against Cai Yong, who was driven from the court and forced to retire to his country house.

With this victory the eunuchs grew bolder. Ten of them, rivals in wickedness and associates in evil deeds, formed a powerful party known as the Ten Regular Attendants —-Zhang Rang, Zhao Zhong, Cheng Kuang, Duan Gui, Feng Xu, Guo Sheng, Hou Lan, Jian Shuo, Cao Jie, and Xia Yun.

One of them, Zhang Rang, won such influence that he became the Emperor’s most honored and trusted adviser. The Emperor even called him “Foster Father”. So the corrupt state administration went quickly from bad to worse, till the country was ripe for rebellion and buzzed with brigandage.

At this time in the county of Julu was a certain Zhang family, of whom three brothers bore the name of Zhang Jue, Zhang Ba, and Zhang Lian, respectively. The eldest Zhang Jue was an unclassed graduate, who devoted himself to medicine. One day, while culling simples in the woods, Zhang Jue met a venerable old gentleman with very bright, emerald eyes and fresh complexion, who walked with an oak-wood staff. The old man beckoned Zhang Jue into a cave and there gave him three volumes of The Book of Heaven.

“This book,” said the old gentleman, “is the Essential Arts of Peace. With the aid of these volumes, you can convert the world and rescue humankind. But you must be single-minded, or, rest assured, you will greatly suffer.”

With a humble obeisance, Zhang Jue took the book and asked the name of his benefactor.

“I am Saint Hermit of the Southern Land,” was the reply, as the old gentleman disappeared in thin air.

Zhang Jue studied the wonderful book eagerly and strove day and night to reduce its precepts to practice. Before long, he could summon the winds and command the rain, and he became known as the Mystic of the Way of Peace.

In the first month of the first year of Central Stability (AD 184), there was a terrible pestilence that ran throughout the land, whereupon Zhang Jue distributed charmed remedies to the afflicted. The godly medicines brought big successes, and soon he gained the tittle of the Wise and Worthy Master. He began to have a following of disciples whom he initiated into the mysteries and sent abroad throughout all the land. They, like their master, could write charms and recite formulas, and their fame increased his following.

Zhang Jue began to organize his disciples. He established thirty-six circuits, the larger with ten thousand or more members, the smaller with about half that number. Each circuit had its chief who took the military title of General. They talked wildly of the death of the blue heaven and the setting up of the golden one; they said a new cycle was beginning and would bring universal good fortune to all members; and they persuaded people to chalk the symbols for the first year of the new cycle on the main door of their dwellings.

With the growth of the number of his supporters grew also the ambition of Zhang Jue. The Wise and Worthy Master dreamed of empire. One of his partisans, Ma Yuanyi, was sent bearing gifts to gain the support of the eunuchs within the Palace.

To his brothers Zhang Jue said, “For schemes like ours always the most difficult part is to gain the popular favor. But that is already ours. Such an opportunity must not pass.”

And they began to prepare. Many yellow flags and banners were made, and a day was chosen for the uprising. Then Zhang Jue wrote letters to Feng Xu and sent them by one of his followers, Tang Zhou, who alas! betrayed his trust and reported the plot to the court. The Emperor summoned the trusty Regent Marshal He Jin and bade him look to the issue. Ma Yuanyi was at once taken and beheaded. Feng Xu and many others were cast into prison.

The plot having thus become known, the Zhang brothers were forced at once to take the field. They took up grandiose titles: Zhang Jue the Lord of Heaven, Zhang Ba the Lord of Earth, and Zhang Lian the Lord of Human. And in these names they put forth this manifesto:

“The good fortune of the Han is exhausted, and the Wise and Worthy Man has appeared. Discern the will of Heaven, O ye people, and walk in the way of righteousness, whereby alone ye may attain to peace.”

Support was not lacking. On every side people bound their heads with yellow scarves and joined the army of the rebel Zhang Jue, so that soon his strength was nearly half a million strong, and the official troops melted away at a whisper of his coming.

Regent Marshal and Imperial Guardian, He Jin, memorialized for general preparations against the Yellow Scarves, and an edict called upon everyone to fight against the rebels. In the meantime, three Imperial Commanders —-Lu Zhi, Huangfu Song, and Zhu Jun —-marched against them in three directions with veteran soldiers.

Meanwhile Zhang Jue led his army into Youzhou, the northeastern region of the empire. The Imperial Protector of Youzhou was Liu Yan, a scion of the Imperial House. Learning of the approach of the rebels, Liu Yan called in Commander Zhou Jing to consult over the position.

Zhou Jing said, “They are many and we few. We must enlist more troops to oppose them.”

Liu Yan agreed, and he put out notices calling for volunteers to serve against the rebels. One of these notices was posted up in the county of Zhuo, where lived one man of high spirit.

This man was no mere bookish scholar, nor found he any pleasure in study. But he was liberal and amiable, albeit a man of few words, hiding all feeling under a calm exterior. He had always cherished a yearning for high enterprise and had cultivated the friendship of humans of mark. He was tall of stature. His ears were long, the lobes touching his shoulders, and his hands hung down below his knees. His eyes were very big and prominent so that he could see backward past his ears. His complexion was as clear as jade, and he had rich red lips.

He was a descendant of Prince Sheng of Zhongshan whose father was the Emperor Jing (reigned BC 157-141), the fourth emperor of the Han Dynasty. His name was Liu Bei. Many years before, one of his forbears had been the governor of that very county, but had lost his rank for remissness in ceremonial offerings. However, that branch of the family had remained on in the place, gradually becoming poorer and poorer as the years rolled on. His father Liu Hong had been a scholar and a virtuous official but died young. The widow and orphan were left alone, and Liu Bei as a lad won a reputation for filial piety.

At this time the family had sunk deep in poverty, and Liu Bei gained his living by selling straw sandals and weaving grass mats. The family home was in a village near the chief city of Zhuo. Near the house stood a huge mulberry tree, and seen from afar its curved profile resembled the canopy of a wagon. Noting the luxuriance of its foliage, a soothsayer had predicted that one day a man of distinction would come forth from the family.

As a child, Liu Bei played with the other village children beneath this tree, and he would climb up into it, saying, “I am the Son of Heaven, and this is my chariot!” His uncle, Liu Yuanqi, recognized that Liu Bei was no ordinary boy and saw to it that the family did not come to actual want.

When Liu Bei was fifteen, his mother sent him traveling for his education. For a time he served Zheng Xuan and Lu Zhi as masters. And he became great friends with Gongsun Zan.

Liu Bei was twenty-eight when the outbreak of the Yellow Scarves called for soldiers. The sight of the notice saddened him, and he sighed as he read it.

Suddenly a rasping voice behind him cried, “Sir, why sigh if you do nothing to help your country?”

Turning quickly he saw standing there a man about his own height, with a bullet head like a leopard’s, large eyes, a swallow pointed chin, and whiskers like a tiger’s . He spoke in a loud bass voice and looked as irresistible as a dashing horse. At once Liu Bei saw he was no ordinary man and asked who he was.

“Zhang Fei is my name,” replied the stranger. “I live near here where I have a farm; and I am a wine seller and a butcher as well; and I like to become acquainted with worthy people. Your sighs as you read the notice drew me toward you.”

Liu Bei replied, “I am of the Imperial Family, Liu Bei is my name. And I wish I could destroy these Yellow Scarves and restore peace to the land, but alas! I am helpless.”

“I have the means,” said Zhang Fei. “Suppose you and I raised some troops and tried what we could do.”

This was happy news for Liu Bei, and the two betook themselves to the village inn to talk over the project. As they were drinking, a huge, tall fellow appeared pushing a hand-cart along the road. At the threshold he halted and entered the inn to rest awhile and he called for wine.

“And be quick!” added he. “For I am in haste to get into the town and offer myself for the army.”

Liu Bei looked over the newcomer, item by item, and he noted the man had a huge frame, a long beard, a vivid face like an apple, and deep red lips. He had eyes like a phoenix’s and fine bushy eyebrows like silkworms. His whole appearance was dignified and awe-inspiring. Presently, Liu Bei crossed over, sat down beside him and asked his name.

“I am Guan Yu,” replied he. “I am a native of the east side of the river, but I have been a fugitive on the waters for some five years, because I slew a ruffian who, since he was wealthy and powerful, was a bully. I have come to join the army here.”

Then Liu Bei told Guan Yu his own intentions, and all three went away to Zhang Fei’s farm where they could talk over the grand project.

Said Zhang Fei, “The peach trees in the orchard behind the house are just in full flower. Tomorrow we will institute a sacrifice there and solemnly declare our intention before Heaven and Earth, and we three will swear brotherhood and unity of aims and sentiments: Thus will we enter upon our great task.”

Both Liu Bei and Guan Yu gladly agreed.

All three being of one mind, next day they prepared the sacrifices, a black ox, a white horse, and wine for libation. Beneath the smoke of the incense burning on the altar, they bowed their heads and recited this oath:

“We three —-Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei —-though of different families, swear brotherhood, and promise mutual help to one end. We will rescue each other in difficulty; we will aid each other in danger. We swear to serve the state and save the people. We ask not the same day of birth, but we seek to die together. May Heaven, the all-ruling, and Earth, the all-producing, read our hearts. If we turn aside from righteousness or forget kindliness, may Heaven and Human smite us!”

They rose from their knees. The two others bowed before Liu Bei as their elder brother, and Zhang Fei was to be the youngest of the trio. This solemn ceremony performed, they slew other oxen and made a feast to which they invited the villagers. Three hundred joined them, and all feasted and drank deep in the Peach Garden.

The next day weapons were mustered. But there were no horses to ride. This was a real grief. But soon they were cheered by the arrival of two horse dealers with a drove of horses.

“Thus does Heaven help us!” said Liu Bei.

And the three brothers went forth to welcome the merchants. They were Zhang Shiping and Su Shuang from Zhongshan. They went northwards every year to buy horses. They were now on their way home because of the Yellow Scarves. The brothers invited them to the farm, where wine was served before them. Then Liu Bei told them of the plan to strive for tranquillity. Zhang Shiping and Su Shuang were glad and at once gave the brothers fifty good steeds, and beside, five hundred ounces of gold and silver and one thousand five hundred pounds of steel fit for the forging of weapons.

The brothers expressed their gratitude, and the merchants took their leave. Then blacksmiths were summoned to forge weapons. For Liu Bei they made a pair of ancient swords; for Guan Yu they fashioned a long-handled, curve blade called Green-Dragon Saber, which weighed a full one hundred pounds; and for Zhang Fei they created a ten-foot spear called Serpent Halberd. Each too had a helmet and full armor.

When weapons were ready, the troop, now five hundred strong, marched to Commander Zhou Jing, who presented them to Imperial Protector Liu Yan. When the ceremony of introduction was over, Liu Bei declared his ancestry, and Liu Yan at once accorded him the esteem due to a relation.

Before many days it was announced that the rebellion had actually broken out, and a Yellow Scarves chieftain, Cheng Yuanzhi, had invaded the region with a body of fifty thousand rebels. Liu Yan bade Zhou Jing and the three brothers to go out to oppose them with the five hundred troops. Liu Bei joyfully undertook to lead the van and marched to the foot of the Daxing Hills where they saw the rebels. The rebels wore their hair flying about their shoulders, and their foreheads were bound with yellow scarves.

When the two armies had been drawn up opposite each other, Liu Bei rode to the front, Guan Yu to his left, Zhang Fei to his right.

Flourishing his whip, Liu Bei began to hurl reproaches at the rebels, crying, “O malcontents! Why not dismount and be bound?”

Their leader Cheng Yuanzhi, full of rage, sent out one general, Deng Mao, to begin the battle. At once rode forward Zhang Fei, his serpent halberd poised to strike. One thrust and Deng Mao rolled off his horse, pierced through the heart. At this Cheng Yuanzhi himself whipped up his steed and rode forth with sword raised ready to slay Zhang Fei. But Guan Yu swung up his ponderous green-dragon saber and rode at Cheng Yuanzhi. At the sight, fear seized upon Cheng Yuanzhi, and before he could defend himself, the great saber fell, cutting him in halves.

Two heroes new to war’s alarms,

Ride boldly forth to try their arms.

Their doughty deeds three kingdoms tell,

And poets sing how these befell.

Their leader fallen, the rebels threw away their weapons and fled. The official soldiers dashed in among them. Many thousands surrendered and the victory was complete. Thus this part of the rebellion was broken up.

On their return, Liu Yan personally met them and distributed rewards. But the next day, letters came from Imperial Protector Gong Jing of Qingzhou Region saying that the rebels were laying siege to the chief city and it was near falling. Help was needed quickly.

“I will go,” said Liu Bei as soon as he heard the news.

And he set out at once with his own soldiers, reinforced by a body of five thousand under Zhou Jing. The rebels, seeing help coming, at once attacked most fiercely. The relieving force being comparatively small could not prevail and retired some ten miles, where they made a camp.

“They are many and we but few,” said Liu Bei to his brothers. “We can only beat them by superior strategy.”

So they prepared an ambush. Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, each with a goodly party, went behind the hills, right and left, and there hid. When the gongs beat they were to move out to support the main army.

These preparations made, the drums rolled noisily for Liu Bei to advance. The rebels also came forward. But Liu Bei suddenly retired. Thinking this was their chance, the rebels pressed forward and were led over the hills. Then suddenly the gongs sounded for the ambush. Guan Yu and Zhang Fei poured out from right and left as Liu Bei faced around to meet the rebels. Under three-side attack, the rebels lost heavily and fled to the walls of Qingzhou City. But Imperial Protector Gong Jing led out an armed body to attack them, and the rebels were entirely defeated and many slain. Qingzhou was no longer in danger.

Though fierce as tigers soldiers be,

Battles are won by strategy.

A hero comes; he gains renown,

Already destined for a crown.

After the celebrations in honor of victory were over, Commander Zhou Jing proposed to return to Youzhou.

But Liu Bei said, “We are informed that Imperial Commander Lu Zhi has been struggling with a horde of rebels led by Zhang Jue at Guangzong. Lu Zhi was once my teacher, and I want to go help him.”

So Liu Bei and Zhou Jing separated, and the three brothers with their troops made their way to Guangzong. They found Lu Zhi’s camp, were admitted to his presence, and declared the reason of their coming. The Commander received them with great joy, and they remained with him while he made his plans.

At that time Zhang Jue’s one hundred fifty thousand troops and Lu Zhi’s fifty thousand troops were facing each other. Neither had had any success.

Lu Zhi said to Liu Bei, “I am able to surround these rebels here. But the other two brothers, Zhang Ba and Zhang Lian, are strongly entrenched opposite Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun at Yingchuan. I will give you a thousand more troops, and with these you can go to find out what is happening, and we can then settle the moment for concerted attack.”

So Liu Bei set off and marched as quickly as possible to Yingchuan. At that time the imperial troops were attacking with success, and the rebels had retired upon Changshe. They had encamped among the thick grass.

Seeing this, Huangfu Song said to Zhu Jun, “The rebels are camping in the field. We can attack them by fire.”

So the Imperial Commanders bade every man cut a bundle of dry grass and laid an ambush. That night the wind blew a gale, and at the second watch they started a blaze. At the same time Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun’s troops attacked the rebels and set their camp on fire. The flames rose to the very heaven. The rebels were thrown into great confusion. There was no time to saddle horses or don armor: They fled in all directions.

The battle continued until dawn. Zhang Lian and Zhang Ba, with a group of flying rebels, found a way of escape. But suddenly a troop of soldiers with crimson banners appeared to oppose them. Their leader was a man of medium stature with small eyes and a long beard. He was Cao Cao, a Beijuo man, holding the rank of Cavalry Commander. His father was Cao Song, but he was not really a Cao. Cao Song had been born to the Xiahou family, but he had been brought up by Eunuch Cao Teng and had taken this family name.

As a young man Cao Cao had been fond of hunting and delighted in songs and dancing. He was resourceful and full of guile. An uncle, seeing the young fellow so unsteady, used to get angry with him and told his father of his misdeeds. His father remonstrated with him.

But Cao Cao made equal to the occasion. One day, seeing his uncle coming, he fell to the ground in a pretended fit. The uncle alarmed ran to tell his father, who came, and there was the youth in most perfect health.

“But your uncle said you were in a fit. Are you better?” said his father.

“I have never suffered from fits or any such illness,” said Cao Cao. “But I have lost my uncle’s affection, and he has deceived you.”

Thereafter, whatever the uncle might say of his faults, his father paid no heed. So the young man grew up licentious and uncontrolled.

A man of the time named Qiao Xuan said to Cao Cao, “Rebellion is at hand, and only a man of the greatest ability can succeed in restoring tranquillity. That man is yourself.”

And He Yong of Nanyang said of him, “The dynasty of Han is about to fall. He who can restore peace is this man and only he.”

Cao Cao went to inquire his future of a wise man of Runan named Xu Shao.

“What manner of man am I?” asked Cao Cao.

The seer made no reply, and again and again Cao Cao pressed the question.

Then Xu Shao replied, “In peace you are an able subject; in chaos you are a crafty hero!”

Cao Cao greatly rejoiced to hear this.

Cao Cao graduated at twenty and earned a reputation of piety and integrity. He began his career as Commanding Officer in a county within the Capital District. In the four gates of the city he guarded, he hung up clubs of various sorts, and he would punish any breach of the law whatever the rank of the offender. Now an uncle of Eunuch Jian Shuo was found one night in the streets with a sword and was arrested. In due course he was beaten. Thereafter no one dared to offend again, and Cao Cao’s name became heard. Soon he became a magistrate of Dunqiu.

At the outbreak of the Yellow Scarves, Cao Cao held the rank of General and was given command of five thousand horse and foot to help fight at Yingchuan. He just happened to fall in with the newly defeated rebels whom he cut to pieces. Thousands were slain and endless banners and drums and horses were captured, together with huge sums of money. However, Zhang Ba and Zhang Lian got away; and after an interview with Huangfu Song, Cao Cao went in pursuit of them.

Meanwhile Liu Bei and his brothers were hastening toward Yingchuan, when they heard the din of battle and saw flames rising high toward the sky. But they arrived too late for the fighting. They saw Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun to whom they told the intentions of Lu Zhi.

“The rebel power is quite broken here,” said the commanders, “but they will surely make for Guangzong to join Zhang Jue. You can do nothing better than hasten back.”

The three brothers thus retraced their steps. Half way along the road they met a party of soldiers escorting a prisoner in a cage-cart. When they drew near, they saw the prisoner was no other than Lu Zhi, the man they were going to help. Hastily dismounting, Liu Bei asked what had happened.

Lu Zhi explained, “I had surrounded the rebels and was on the point of smashing them, when Zhang Jue employed some of his supernatural powers and prevented my victory. The court sent down Eunuch Zhuo Feng to inquire into my failure, and that official demanded a bribe. I told him how hard pressed we were and asked him where, in the circumstances, I could find a gift for him. He went away in wrath and reported that I was hiding behind my ramparts and would not give battle and that I disheartened my army. So I was superseded by Dong Zhuo, and I have to go to the capital to answer the charge.”

This story put Zhang Fei into a rage. He was for slaying the escort and setting free Lu Zhi. But Liu Bei checked him.

“The government will take the due course,” said Liu Bei. “You must not act hastily!”

And the escort and the three brothers went two ways.

It was useless to continue on that road to Guangzong, so Guan Yu proposed to go back to Zhuo, and they retook the road. Two days later they heard the thunder of battle behind some hills. Hastening to the top, they beheld the government soldiers suffering great loss, and they saw the countryside was full of Yellow Scarves. On the rebels’ banners were the words Zhang Jue the Lord of Heaven written large.

“We will attack this Zhang Jue!” said Liu Bei to his brothers, and they galloped out to join in the battle.

Zhang Jue had worsted Dong Zhuo and was following up his advantage. He was in hot pursuit when the three brothers dashed into his army, threw his ranks into confusion, and drove him back fifteen miles. Then the brothers returned with the rescued general to his camp.

“What offices have you?” asked Dong Zhuo, when he had leisure to speak to the brothers.

“None,” replied they.

And Dong Zhuo treated them with disrespect. Liu Bei retired calmly, but Zhang Fei was furious.

“We have just rescued this menial in a bloody fight,” cried Zhang Fei, “and now he is rude to us! Nothing but his death can slake my anger.”

Zhang Fei stamped toward Dong Zhuo’s tent, holding firmly a sharp sword.

As it was in olden time so it is today,

The simple wight may merit well,

Officialdom holds sway;

Zhang Fei, the blunt and hasty,

Where can you find his peer?

But slaying the ungrateful would

Mean many deaths a year.

Dong Zhuo’s fate will be unrolled in later chapters.

Chapter 2

Zhang Fei Whips The Government Officer; He Jin Plots To Kill The Eunuchs.

Dong Zhuo was born in the far northwest at Lintao in the West Valley Land. As the Governor of Hedong, Dong Zhuo himself was arrogant and overbearing. But the day he had treated Liu Bei with contumely had been his last, had not Liu Bei and Guan Yu restrained their wrathful brother Zhang Fei.

“Remember he has the government commission,” said Liu Bei. “Who are we to judge and slay?”

“It is bitter to take orders from such a wretch. I would rather slay him! You may stay here if you wish to, but I will seek some other place,” said Zhang Fei.

“We three are one in life and in death; there is no parting for us. We will all go hence.”

So spoke Liu Bei, and his brother was satisfied. Wherefore all three set out and lost no time in traveling until they came to Zhu Jun, who received them well and accepted their aid in attacking Zhang Ba. At this time Cao Cao had joined himself to Huangfu Song, and they were trying to destroy Zhang Lian, and there was a great battle at Quyang.

Zhang Ba was commanding some eighty thousand troops. The rebel had led his army to a strong position in the rear of the hills. An attack being decided upon, Liu Bei was the van leader. On the rebel side a general of Zhang Ba, Gao Sheng, came out to offer battle. Liu Bei sent Zhang Fei to smite Gao Sheng. Out rode Zhang Fei at full speed, his spear ready set. After a few bouts Zhang Fei wounded Gao Sheng, who was unhorsed. At this Liu Bei signaled the main army to advance.

Then Zhang Ba, while still mounted, loosened his hair, grasped his sword, and uttered his incantations. Thereupon began the wind to howl and the thunder to roll, while a dense black cloud from the heavens settled upon the field. And therein seemed to be horsemen and footmen innumerable, who swept to attack the imperial troops. Fear came upon them, and Liu Bei led off his troops, but they were in disorder and returned defeated.

Zhu Jun and Liu Bei considered the matter.

“Zhang Ba uses magic,” said Zhu Jun. “Tomorrow, then, will I prepare counter magic in the shape of the blood of slaughtered swine and goats. This blood shall be sprinkled upon their hosts from the precipices above by soldiers in ambush. Thus shall we be able to break the power of their shamanic art.”

So it was done. Guan Yu and Zhang Fei took each a thousand troops and hid them on the high cliffs behind the hills, and they had a plentiful supply of the blood of swine and goats and all manners of filthy things. And so next day, when the rebels with fluttering banners and rolling drums came out to challenge, Liu Bei rode forth to meet them. At the same moment that the armies met, again Zhang Ba began his magic and again the elements began to struggle together. Sand flew in clouds, pebbles were swept along the ground, black masses of vapor filled the sky, and rolling masses of foot and horse descended from on high. Liu Bei turned, as before, to flee and the rebels rushed on. But as they pressed through the hills, the trumpets blared, and the hidden soldiers exploded bombs, threw down filth and spattered blood. The masses of soldiers and horses in the air fluttered to the earth as fragments of torn paper, the wind ceased to blow, the thunder subsided, the sand sank, and the pebbles lay still upon the ground.

Zhang Ba quickly saw his magic had been countered and turned to retire. Then he was attacked on the flanks by Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, and in rear by Liu Bei and Zhu Jun. The rebels were routed. Liu Bei, seeing from afar the banner of Zhang Ba The Lord of Earth, galloped toward it but only succeeded in wounding Zhang Ba with an arrow in the left arm. Wounded though he was, Zhang Ba got away into the city of Yangcheng, where he fortified himself and was besieged by Zhu Jun.

Scouts, sent out to get news of Huangfu Song, reported: “Commander Huangfu Song had been very successful, and Dong Zhuo had suffered many reverses. Therefore the court put Huangfu Song in the latter’s place. Zhang Jue had died before Huangfu Song’s arrival. Zhang Lian had added his brother’s army to his own, but no headway could be made against Huangfu Song, whose army gained seven successive victories. And Zhang Lian was slain at Quyang. Beside this, Zhang Jue’s coffin was exhumed, the corpse beheaded, and the head, after exposure, was sent to Capital Luoyang. The common crowd had surrendered. For these services Huangfu Song was promoted to General of the Flying Chariots and the Imperial Protector of Jizhou.

“Huangfu Song did not forget his friends. His first act after he had attained to power was to memorialize the Throne concerning the case of Lu Zhi, who was then restored to his former rank for his meritorious conduct. Cao Cao also received advancement for his services and is preparing to go to Jinan to his new post.”

Hearing these things Zhu Jun pressed harder yet upon Yangcheng, and the approaching break-up of the rebellion became evident. Then one of Zhang Ba’s officers, Yan Zheng, killed his leader and brought the head in token of submission. Thus rebellion in that part of the country was stamped out, and Zhu Jun made his report to the government.

However, the embers of the Yellow Scarves still smoldered. Three other rebels, Zhao Hong, Han Zhong, and Sun Zhong, gathered some thirty thousand rebels and began to murder and rob and burn, calling themselves the avengers of Master Zhang Jue.

The court commanded the successful Zhu Jun to lead his veteran and successful troops to destroy the rebels. He at once marched toward the city of Wancheng which the rebels were holding. When Zhu Jun arrived, Han Zhong went to oppose him. Zhu Jun sent Liu Bei and his brothers to attack the southwest corner of the city. Han Zhong at once led the best of his troops to defend the city. Meanwhile Zhu Jun himself led two thousand of armored horsemen to attack the opposite corner. The rebels, thinking the city being lost, abandoned the southwest and turned back into the city to help the defenders. Liu Bei pressed hotly in their rear, and they were utterly routed. They took refuge in the city which was then invested. When famine pressed upon the besieged, they sent a messenger to offer to surrender, but Zhu Jun refused the offer.

Said Liu Bei to Zhu Jun, “Seeing that the founder of the Han Dynasty, Liu Bang the Supreme Ancestor, could welcome the submissive and receive the favorable, why reject these?”

“The conditions are different,” replied Zhu Jun. “In those old days disorder was universal and the people had no fixed lord. Wherefore submission was welcomed and support rewarded to encourage people to come over. Now the empire is united, and the Yellow Scarves are the only malcontents. To receive their surrender is not to encourage the good. To allow brigands, when successful, is to give way to every license, and to let them surrender when they fail is to encourage brigandage. Your plan is not a good one.”

Liu Bei replied, “Not to let brigands surrender is well. But the city is surrounded as by an iron barrel. If the rebels’ request be refused, they will be desperate and fight to the death, and we can hardly withstand a myriad of such men. Moreover, in the city there are many times that number, all doomed to death. Let us withdraw from one corner and only attack the opposite. They will all assuredly flee and have no desire to fight. We shall take them.”

Zhu Jun saw that the advice was good and followed it. As predicted the rebels ran out, led by Han Zhong. The besiegers fell upon them as they fled, and Han Zhong was slain. The rebels scattered in all directions. But the other two rebel chieftains, Zhao Hong and Sun Zhong, came with large reinforcements, and as they appeared very strong, the imperial soldiers retired, and the new body of rebels reentered Wancheng.

Zhu Jun encamped three miles from the city and prepared to attack. Just then there arrived a body of horse and foot from the east. At the lead was one general with a broad open face, a body as an alert tiger’s, and a torso as a lofty bear’s . His name was Sun Jian. He was a native of Fuchun in the old state of Wu, a descendant of the famous Sun Zi the Strategist.

When he was seventeen, Sun Jian was with his father on the River Qiantang and saw a party of pirates, who had been plundering a merchant, dividing their booty on the river bank.

“We can capture these!” said he to his father.

So, gripping his sword, he ran boldly up the bank and cried out to this side and that as if he was calling his men to come on. This made the pirates believe the soldiers were on them and they fled, leaving their booty behind them. He actually killed one of the pirates. In this way be became known and was recommended for office.

Then, in collaboration with the local officials, he raised a band of one thousand and helped to quell the rebellion of one Xu Chang, who called himself the Sun Emperor and had ten thousand supporters. The rebel’s son Xu Hao was also slain with his father. For this Sun Jian was commended by Imperial Protector Zang Min in a memorial to the Throne, and he received further promotion to the post of magistrate of Yandu, then of Xuyi, and then of Xiapi.

When the Yellow Scarves rebellion began, Sun Jian gathered together the youths of his village, some of the merchant class, got a troop of one thousand five hundred of veteran soldiers and took the field. Now he had reached the fighting area.

Zhu Jun welcomed Sun Jian gladly and ordered him to attack the south gate of Wancheng. The north and the west gates were simultaneously attacked by Liu Bei and Zhu Jun, but the east gate was left free to give the rebels a chance of exit. Sun Jian was the first to mount the wall and cut down more than twenty rebels with his own sword. The rebels ran, but the leader Zhao Hong rode directly at Sun Jian with his spear ready to thrust. Sun Jian leaped down from the wall, snatched away the spear and with it knocked Zhao Hong from the horse. Then Sun Jian, mounting Zhao Hong’s horse, rode hither and thither, slaying as he went.

The rebels fled north. Meeting Liu Bei, they declined to fight and scattered. But Liu Bei drew his bow, fitted an arrow, and shot their leader Sun Zhong, who fell to the ground. The main army of Zhu Jun came up, and after tremendous slaughter, the rebels surrendered. Thus was peace brought to the ten counties about the Nanyang area.

Zhu Jun returned to Capital Luoyang, was promoted to the General of the Flying Cavalry, and received the governorship of Henan. He did not forget those who had helped him to win victory. Thus he reported the merits of Liu Bei and Sun Jian to the Throne.

Sun Jian, having influential friends and connections to support him, quickly got an appointment to a post of Commander of Changsha and went to assume the new office. But Liu Bei, in spite of Zhu Jun’s memorial, waited in vain for preferment, and the three brothers became very sad.

Walking along one day in the capital, Liu Bei met a court official, Zhang Jun, to whom he related his services and told his sorrows. Zhang Jun was much surprised at this neglect and one day at court spoke to the Emperor about it.

Said he, “The Yellow Scarves rebelled because the eunuchs sold offices and bartered ranks. There was employment only for their friends, punishment only for their enemies. This led to rebellion. Wherefore it would be well to slay the Ten Eunuchs and expose their heads and proclaim what had been done throughout the whole empire. Then reward the worthy. Thereby the land would be wholly tranquil.”

But the eunuchs fiercely opposed this and said Zhang Jun was insulting the Emperor, and the Emperor bade the guards thrust Zhang Jun out.

However, the eunuchs took counsel together and one said, “Surely someone who rendered some service against rebels resents being passed over.”

So they caused a list of unimportant people to be prepared for preferment by and by. Among them was Liu Bei, who received the post of magistrate of the county of Anxi, to which he proceeded without delay after disbanding his army and sending them home to their villages. He retained two dozens or so as escort.

The three brothers reached Anxi, and soon the administration of the county was so reformed and the rule so wise that in a month there was no law-breaking. The three brothers lived in harmony, eating at the same table and sleeping on the same couch. But when Liu Bei was in public sessions or in company of others, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei would stand in attendance, were it even a whole day.

Four months after their arrival, there came out a general order for the reduction of the number of military officers holding civil posts, and Liu Bei began to fear that he would be among those thrown out. In due course the inspecting official, Du Biao by name, arrived and was met at the boundary. But to the polite obeisance of Liu Bei, he made no return, save a wave of his whip as he sat on his horse. This made Guan Yu and Zhang Fei furious. But worse was to follow.

When the inspector had arrived at his lodging, he took his seat on the dais, leaving Liu Bei standing below. After a long time he addressed Liu Bei.

“Magistrate, what was your origin?”

Liu Bei replied, “I am descended from Prince Sheng of Zhongshan. Since my first fight with the Yellow Scarves rebels at Zhuo County, I have been in some thirty battles, wherein I gained some trifling merit. My reward was this office.”

“You lie about your descent, and your statement of services is false!” roared the inspector. “Now the court has ordered the reduction of your sort of low class and corrupt officials.”

Liu Bei muttered to himself and withdrew. On his return to the magistracy, he took council with his secretaries.

“This pompous attitude only means the inspector wants a bribe,” said they.

“I have never wronged the people to the value of a single coin: Then where is a bribe to come from?”

Next day the inspector had the minor officials before him and forced them to bear witness that their master had oppressed the people. Liu Bei time after time went to rebut this charge, but the doorkeepers drove him away and he could not enter.

Now Zhang Fei had been all day drowning his sorrow in wine and had drunk far too much. Calling for his horse he rode out past the lodging of the inspector, and at the gate saw a small crowd of white-haired people weeping bitterly. He asked why.

They said, “The inspector has compelled the underlings to bear false witness against our magistrate, with the desire to injure the virtuous Liu Bei. We came to beg mercy for him but are not permitted to enter. Moreover, we have been beaten by the doorkeepers.”

This provoked the irascible and half intoxicated Zhang Fei to fury. His eyes opened wide until they became circles; he ground his teeth; in a moment he was off his steed, had forced his way past the scared doorkeepers into the building, and was in the rear apartments. There he saw Imperial Inspector Du Biao sitting on high with the official underlings in bonds at his feet.

“Oppressor of the people, robber!” cried Zhang Fei. “Do you know me?”

But before the inspector could reply, Zhang Fei had had him by the hair and had dragged him down. Another moment he was outside and firmly lashed to the hitching post in front of the building. Then breaking off a switch from a willow tree, Zhang Fei gave his victim a severe thrashing, only staying his hand when the tenth switch was too short to strike with.

Liu Bei was sitting alone, communing with his sorrow, when he heard a shouting before his door. He asked what the matter was.

They told him, “General Zhang Fei had bound somebody to a post and was thrashing him!”

Hastily going outside, Liu Bei saw who the unhappy victim was and asked Zhang Fei the reason.

“If we do not beat this sort of wretch to death, what may we expect?” said Zhang Fei.

“Noble Sir, save me!” cried the inspector.

Now Liu Bei had always been kindly and gracious, wherefore he bade his brother release the officer and go his way.

Then Guan Yu came up, saying, “Brother, after your magnificent services you only got this petty post, and even here you have been insulted by this fellow. A thorn bush is no place for a phoenix. Let us slay this fellow, leave here, and go home till we can evolve a bigger scheme.”

Liu Bei contented himself with hanging the official seal about the inspector’s neck, saying, “If I hear that you injure the people, I will assuredly kill you. I now spare your life, and I return to you the seal. We are going.”

The inspector went to the Governor of Dingzhou and complained, and orders were issued for the arrest of the brothers, but they got away to Daizhou and sought refuge with Liu Hu, who sheltered them because of Liu Bei’s noble birth.

By this time the Ten Regular Attendants had everything in their hands, and they put to death all who did not stand in with them. From every officer who had helped to put down the rebels they demanded presents; and if these were not forthcoming, he was removed from office. Imperial Commanders Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun both fell victims to these intrigues and were deprived from offices, while on the other hand the eunuchs received the highest honors and rewards. Thirteen eunuchs were ennobled, including Zhao Zhong who was added to the rank of General of the Flying Cavalry. The government grew worse and worse, and everyone was irritated.

Rebellions broke out in Changsha led by Ou Xing, and in Yuyang led by Zhang Ju and Zhang Chun. Memorials were sent up in number as snow flakes in winter, but the Ten suppressed them all. One day the Emperor was at a feast in one of the gardens with the Ten, when Court Counselor Liu Tao suddenly appeared showing very great distress. The Emperor asked what the matter was.

“Sire, how can you be feasting with these when the empire is at the last gasp?” said Liu Tao.

“All is well,” said the Emperor. “Where is anything wrong?”

Said Liu Tao, “Robbers swarm on all sides and plunder the cities. And all is the fault of the Ten Eunuchs who sell offices and injure the people, oppress loyal officials and deceive their superiors. All virtuous ones have left the services and returned to their places. Misfortune is before our very eyes!”

At this the eunuchs pulled off their hats and threw themselves at their master’s feet.

“If Minister Liu Tao disapproves of us,” they said, “we are in danger. We pray that our lives be spared and we may go to our farms. We yield our property to help defray military expenses.”

And they wept bitterly.

The Emperor turned angrily to Liu Tao, saying, “You also have servants: Why can’t you bear with mine?”

And thereupon the Emperor called to the guards to eject Liu Tao and put him to death.

Liu Tao cried aloud, “My death matters nothing. The pity is that Han Dynasty, after four centuries of reign, is falling fast!”

The guards hustled him away and were just about to carry out the Emperor’s order when a minister stopped them, shouting, “Strike not! Wait till I have spoken with His Majesty.”

It was the Minister of the Interior, Chen Dan. He went in to the Emperor, to whom he said, “For what fault is Counselor Liu Tao to be put to death?”

“He has vilified my servants and has insulted me,” said the Emperor.

“All the empire would eat the flesh of the eunuchs if they could, and yet, Sire, you respect them as if they were your parents. They have no merit, but they are created nobles. Moreover, Feng Xu was in league with the Yellow Scarves. Unless Your Majesty looks to it, the state will crumble!”

“There was no proof against Feng Xu,” replied the Emperor. “About the Ten Eunuchs, are there none faithful among them?”

Chen Dan beat his forehead on the steps of the throne and did not desist from remonstrance. Then the Emperor grew angry and commanded his removal and imprisonment with Liu Tao. That night Liu Tao and Chen Dan were murdered.

Then the eunuchs sent a forged edict to Sun Jian making him Governor of Changsha, with orders to suppress the rebellion of Ou Xing. In less than two months Sun Jian reported the county all tranquil. For this he was created Lord of Wucheng.

Further, Liu Yu was made Imperial Protector of Youzhou to move against Yuyang and suppress Zhang Ju and Zhang Chun. Liu Hu of Daizhou recommended Liu Bei to Liu Yu. Liu Yu welcomed Liu Bei and gave him rank of Commander and sent him against the rebels. He fought with and worsted them and entirely broke their spirit. Zhang Chun was cruel, and his leaders turned against him. One of his officers then slew him and brought in his head, after which the others submitted. The other leader Zhang Ju saw that all was lost and killed himself.

Yuyang being now tranquil, Liu Bei’s services were reported to the Throne, and he received full pardon for the insult to the imperial inspector. He was made Deputy Magistrate of Xiami, then Commanding Officer of Gaotang. Then Gongsun Zan praised Liu Bei’s former services, and he was promoted to Magistrate of Pingyuan. This place was very prosperous, and Liu Bei recovered something of his old manner before the days of adversity. Liu Yu also received preferment and was promoted to Grand Commander.

In the summer of the six year of Central Stability (AD 189), Emperor Ling became seriously ill and summoned He Jin into the Palace to arrange for the future. He Jin had sprung from a humble family of butchers, but his sister had become a concubine of rank and borne a son to the Emperor, named Liu Bian. After this she became Empress He, and He Jin became the powerful Regent Marshal.

The Emperor had also greatly loved a beautiful girl, Lady Wang, who had borne him a son named Liu Xian. Empress He had poisoned Lady Wang from jealousy, and the baby had been given into the care of Empress Dong, who was the mother of Emperor Ling. Lady Dong was the wife of Liu Chang, Lord of Jiedu. As time went on and the Emperor Huan had no son of his own, he adopted the son of Liu Chang, who succeeded as the Emperor Ling. After his accession, Emperor Ling had taken his own mother into the Palace to live and had conferred upon her the title of Empress Dowager.

Empress Dong had always tried to persuade her son to name Liu Xian as the Heir Apparent, and in fact the Emperor greatly loved the boy and was disposed to do as his mother desired.

When his end was near, one of the eunuchs, Jian Shuo, said, “If Liu Xian is to succeed, He Jin must be killed to prevent any countermeasure.”

The Emperor saw this too. And he summoned He Jin to come to him.

But at the very gate of the Forbidden City, He Jin was warned of his danger by Commander Pan Yin who said, “This must be a trap of Jian Shuo to destroy you!”

He Jin rushed back to his quarters and called many of the ministers to his side, and they met to consider how to put the eunuchs to death.

At this assembly a man spoke against the plot, “The influence of the eunuchs dates back a century and a half, during the reigns of Emperors Chong and Zhi. It has spread like a noxious weed in all directions. How can we hope to destroy it? Above all keep this plot secret, or our whole clans will be exterminated.”

He Jin eyed down and saw General of Military Standards Cao Cao.

He Jin was very angry at this speech and cried, “What do inferiors like you know of the ways of government?”

And in the midst of the confusion Pan Yin came to say: “The Emperor is no more. The eunuchs have decided to keep the death a secret and forge a command to the Regent Marshal to come into the Palace to settle the succession. Meanwhile to prevent trouble they have inscribed the name of Prince Xian on the roll.”

And as Pan Yin finished speaking, the edict arrived summoning He Jin.

“The matter for the moment is to set up the rightful heir,” said Cao Cao. “We can deal with the traitors later.”

“Who dare to join me in supporting the rightful heir —-Prince Bian?” asked He Jin, the Regent Marshal.

At once one stood forward, crying, “Give me five thousand veterans, and we will break into the Palace, set up the true heir, slay the eunuchs, and sweep clean the government! Then peace will come to the empire.”

The energetic speaker was Yuan Shao, son of the former Minister of the Interior Yuan Feng and nephew of Imperial Guardian Yuan Wei. Yuan Shao then held the rank of Imperial Commander.

He Jin mustered five thousand royal guards. Yuan Shao put on complete armor and took command. He Jin, supported by He Yong, Xun You, Zheng Tai, and more than thirty other ministers and high-rank officials, went into the Palace. In the hall where lay the coffin of the late Emperor, they placed Liu Bian on the throne. After the ceremony was over and all had bowed before the new Emperor, Yuan Shao went in to arrest Eunuch Jian Shuo. Jian Shuo in terror fled into the Palace garden and hid among the shrubs, where he was discovered and murdered by Guo Sheng, one of the Ten Eunuchs. The guards under Jian Shuo’s command all surrendered.

Yuan Shao said, “Their gangs have broken. The most opportune moment is now to slay all the eunuchs!”

But Zhang Rang and the eunuchs of the Ten scented the danger and rushed to see Empress He.

They said, “The originator of the plan to injure your brother was Jian Shuo: Only he was concerned and no other. Now the Regent Marshal, on Yuan Shao’s advice, wishes to slay everyone of us. We implore your pity, O Your Majesty!”

“Fear not!” said Empress He, whose son had just become Emperor, “I will protect you.”

She sent for her brother, and said, “You and I are of lowly origin, and we owe our good fortune to the eunuchs. The misguided Jian Shuo is now dead, and need you really put all the others to death as Yuan Shao advises?”

And He Jin obeyed her wish. He explained to his party, saying, “The real offender, Jian Shuo, has met his fate, and his clan will be punished. But we need not exterminate the whole party nor injure his colleagues.”

“Slay them, root and branch,” cried Yuan Shao, “or they will ruin you!”

“I have decided,” said He Jin, coldly. “Say no more.”

Within a few days He Jin became Chair of the Secretariat, and his associates received high offices.

Now Empress Dong summoned the eunuch Zhang Rang and his party to a council.

Said she, “It was I who first brought forward the sister of He Jin. Today her son is on the throne, and all the officials are her friends, and her influence is enormous. What can we do?”

Zhang Rang replied, “Your Highness should administer the state from ‘behind the veil’; create the late Emperor’s son Liu Xian a prince; give your brother, the Imperial Uncle Dong Chong, a high rank, and place him over the army; and use us. That will do it.”

Empress Dong approved. Next day she held a court and issued an edict in the sense proposed. She made Liu Xian Prince of Chenliu and Dong Chong General of the Flying Cavalry, and she allowed the eunuchs again to participate state affairs.

When Empress He saw this, she prepared a banquet to which she invited her rival Empress Dong.

In the middle of the feast, when all were well warmed with wine, Empress He rose and offered a cup to her guest, saying, “It is not fitting that we two should meddle in state affairs. In the beginning of the Han Dynasty, when Empress Lu laid hands upon the government, all her clans were put to death. We ought to remain content, immured in our palaces, and leave state affairs to the state officials. That would be well for the country, and I trust you will act thus.”

But Empress Dong only got angry, saying, “You poisoned Lady Wang out of jealousy. Now, relying upon the fact that your son sits on the throne and that your brother is powerful, you speak these wild words. I will command that your brother be beheaded, and that can be done as easily as I turn my hand!”

Empress He in her turn became wroth and said, “I tried to persuade you with fair words. Why get so angry?”

“You low born daughter of a butcher, what do you know of offices?” cried Empress Dong.

And the quarrel waxed hot.

The eunuchs persuaded the ladies to retire. But in the night Empress He summoned her brother into the Palace and told him what had occurred. He went out and took counsel with the principal officers of state. Next morning a court was held and a memorial was presented, saying:

“Empress Dong, being the foster mother of Liu Xian, Prince of Chenliu, a regional prince —-only a collateral —-cannot properly occupy any part of the Palace. She is to be removed into her original fief of Hejian and is to depart immediately.”

And while they sent an escort to remove Empress Dong, a strong guard was placed about the Imperial Uncle Dong Chong’s dwelling. They took away his seal of office and he, knowing this was the end, killed himself in his private apartments. His dependents, who wailed his death, were driven off by the guards.

The eunuchs Zhang Rang and Duan Gui, having lost their patroness, sent large gifts to He Jin’s younger brother, He Miao, and his mother, Lady Wuyang, and thus got them to put in a good word to Empress He so as to gain her protection. And so they gained favor once more at court.

In the sixth month of that year, the secret emissaries of He Jin poisoned Empress Dong in her residence in the country. Her remains were brought to the capital and buried in Wen Tombs. He Jin feigned illness and did not attend the funeral.

Commander Yuan Shao went one day to see He Jin, saying, “The two eunuchs, Zhang Rang and Duan Gui, are spreading the report outside that you have caused the death of the late empress and is aiming at the throne. This is an excuse for you to destroy them. Do not spare them this time, or you will pay like Dou Wu and Chen Fan, who in the previous reign missed their chance because the secret had not been kept, and they paid by their own deaths. Now you and your brother have many commanders and officers behind, so that the destruction of the eunuchs can be but an ease. It is a heaven-sent opportunity. Delay no further!”

But He Jin replied, “Let me think it over.”

He Jin’s servants overheard the discussion and secretly informed the intended victims, who sent further gifts to the younger brother He Miao.

Corrupted by these, He Miao went in to speak with his sister Empress He and said, “The General is the chief support of the new Emperor, yet he is not gracious and merciful but thinks wholly of slaughter. If he slays the eunuchs without cause, it may bring about revolution.”

Soon after He Jin entered and told her of his design to put the eunuchs to death.

She argued with him, “Those officials look after palace affairs and are old servants. To kill the old servants just after the death of their master would appear disrespectful to the dynasty’s ancestral temple.”

And as He Jin was of a vacillating mind, he murmured assent and left her.

“What about it?” said Yuan Shao on meeting him.

“She will not consent. What can be done?”

“Call up an army and slay them. It is imperative. Never mind her consent!”

“That is an excellent plan,” said He Jin. And he sent orders all round to march soldiers to the capital.

But Secretary Chen Lin objected, “Nay! Do not act without due consideration. The proverb says ‘To cover the eyes and snatch at swallows is to fool oneself.’ If in so small a matter you cannot attain your wish, what of great affairs? Now by virtue of the emperor and with the army under your hand, you are like prancing tiger and soaring dragon: You may do as you please. To use such enormous powers against the eunuchs would bring victory as easily as lighting up a furnace to burn a hair. You only need to act promptly: Use your powers and smite at once, and all the empire will be with you. But to summon forces to the capital, to gather many bold warlords into one spot, each with different schemes, is to turn our weapons against our own person, to place ourselves in the power of another. Nothing but failure can come of it, and havoc will ensue.”

“The view of a mere book-worm,” said He Jin with a smile.

Then one of those about He Jin suddenly clapped his hands, laughing, “Solving this issue is as easy as turning over one’s hand! Why so much talk?”

The speaker was Cao Cao.

Wouldst thou withdraw wicked people from thy prince’s side,

Then seek counsel of the wise people of the state.

What Cao Cao said will be disclosed in later chapters.

Chapter 3

In Wenming Garden, Dong Zhuo Denounces Ding Yuan; With Red Hare, Li Su Bribes Lu Bu.

What Cao Cao said was this: “The eunuch evil is of very old standing, but the real cause of the present trouble is in the improper influence allowed them by the emperors and the misplaced favoritism they have enjoyed. But a gaoler would be ample force to employ against this kind of evil, and getting rid of the main culprits is quite enough. Why increase confusion by summoning troops from the regions? Any desire to slay all of them will speedily become known, and the plan will fail.”

“Then, Cao Cao, you have some scheme of your own to further,” said He Jin with a sneer.

Cao Cao left the meeting, proclaiming, “The one who throws the world into chaos is He Jin!”

Then He Jin sent swift, secret letters far and wide to several bases.

It must be recalled that Dong Zhuo had failed in his attempt to destroy the Yellow Scarves rebellion. He would have been punished if he had not bribed the Ten Eunuchs heavily for their protection. Later, through connections in the capital, he obtained rapid promotions from General to General of the Front Army, to Lord of Aoxiang, to Imperial Protector in the western region of Xizhou and Commander of an army of two hundred thousand troops. But Dong Zhuo was treacherous and disloyal at heart. So when he received the summons to the capital, he rejoiced greatly and lost no time in obeying it. He left a son-in-law, Imperial Commander Niu Fu, to look after the affairs of Xizhou and set out for Luoyang. Dong Zhuo took with him a huge army and four generals —-Li Jue, Guo Si, Zhang Ji, and Fan Chou.

Dong Zhuo’s adviser and son-in-law, Li Ru, said, “Though a formal summons has come, there are many obscurities in it. It would be well to send up a memorial stating plainly our aims and intentions. Then we can proceed.”

So Dong Zhuo composed something like this:

“Thy servant knows that the continual rebellions owe their origin to Zhang Rang and the Regular Attendants of the Inner Bureau, who act counter to all recognized precepts. Now to stop the ebullition of a pot the best way is to withdraw the fire; to cut out an abscess, though painful, is better than to nourish the evil. I have dared undertake a military advance on the capital, with thy permission, and now pray that Zhang Rang and the other eunuchs be removed for the happiness of the dynasty and of the empire.”

He Jin read this memorial and showed it to his partisans.

Then said Minister Zheng Tai, “A fierce wild beast: If he comes, his prey will be humans!”

He Jin replied, “You are too timorous: You are unequal to great schemes.”

But Lu Zhi also said, “Long have I known this man. In appearance innocent, he is a very wolf at heart. Let him in, and calamity enters with him. Stop him, do not let him come, and thus will you avoid upheaval.”

He Jin was obstinate, and both Zheng Tai and Lu Zhi gave up their posts and retired, as did more than half the ministers of state, while He Jin sent a warm welcome to Dong Zhuo, who soon camped at Shengchi Lake and stationed there without further action.

Zhang Rang and the eunuchs knew this move was directed against them and said, “This is He Jin’s plot. If we do not strike first, our whole clans shall be exterminated.”

So they hid a band of fifty armed ruffians at the Gate of Grand Virtue in the Palace of Happiness, where the Empress lived, then they went in to see her.

They said, “The General, feigning to act under command, has called up armies to the capital to destroy us. We pray you, Your Majesty, pity and save us!”

“Go to the General and confess your faults,” said the Empress.

“If we did, then should we be cut to mincemeat! Rather summon the General into your presence and command him to cease. If he will not, then we pray but die in your presence.”

Empress He issued the requisite command.

He Jin was just going to her when Secretary Chen Lin advised him not to enter, saying, “The eunuchs are certainly behind the order and mean your harm.”

But He Jin could only see the command of the Empress and was oblivious to all else. Said he, “Clearly, this is an edict from the Empress. What harm?”

“Our plot is no longer a secret,” said Yuan Shao. “Still you may go if you are ready to fight your way in.”

“Get the eunuchs out first!” said Cao Cao.

“Silly children!” said He Jin. “What can they do against the man who holds the forces of the empire in his palm?”

Yuan Shao said, “If you will go, then we will come as a guard, just as a precaution.”

Whereupon both Yuan Shao and Cao Cao chose five hundred best men under their command, at whose head they placed Yuan Shu, a brother of Yuan Shao. Yuan Shu, clad in mail, drew up his troops outside the Forbidden City’s entrance, while Yuan Shao and Cao Cao, holding swords, went as escort.

When He Jin neared the Palace of Happiness, the officers from the Inner Bureau said, “The orders are to admit the Regent Marshal and none other.”

So the escort was detained outside. He Jin went in proudly. At the Gate of Grand Virtue, he was met by Zhang Rang and Duan Gui, and their followers quickly closed in around him. He Jin began to feel alarmed.

Then Zhang Rang in a harsh voice began to revile him: “What crime had Empress Dong committed that she should have been put to death? And when the Mother of the Country was buried, who feigned sickness and did not attend? We raised you and your paltry, huckstering family to all the dignity and wealth you have, and this is your gratitude! You would slay us. You call us sordid and dirty: Who is the cleaner?”

He Jin was panic stricken and looked about for a way to escape, but all gates had been shut. The eunuchs closed him in, and then the assassins appeared and cut He Jin into halves.

Closing the days of the Hans, and the years of their rule were near spent,

Stupid and tactless was He Jin, yet stood he highest in office,

Many were they who advised him, but he was deaf as he heard not,

Wherefore fell he a victim under the swords of the eunuchs.

So He Jin died. Yuan Shao and Cao Cao waited long. By and by, impatient at the delay, they called through the gate, “Thy carriage awaits, O General!”

For reply the head of He Jin was flung over the wall. A decree was proclaimed:

“He Jin has contemplated treachery and therefore has been slain! It pardons his adherents.”

Yuan Shao shouted, “The eunuchs have slain the High Minister. Let those who will slay this wicked party come and help me!”

Then one of He Jin’s generals, Wu Kuang, set fire to the gate. Yuan Shu at the head of his guards burst in and fell to slaying the eunuchs without regard to age or rank. Yuan Shao and Cao Cao broke into the inner part of the Palace. Four of the eunuchs —-Zhao Zhong, Cheng Kuang, Xia Yun, and Guo Sheng —-fled to the Blue Flower Lodge where they were hacked to pieces. Fire raged, destroying the buildings.

Four of the Ten Regular Attendants —-Zhang Rang, Duan Gui, Cao Jie, and Hou Lan —-led by Zhang Rang carried off the Empress, Emperor Bian, and Prince Xian of Chenliu toward the North Palace.

Lu Zhi, since he had resigned office, was at home, but hearing of the revolution in the Palace he donned his armor, took his spear, and prepared to fight.

He saw Eunuch Duan Gui hurrying the Empress along and called out, “You rebel, how dare you abduct the Empress?”

The eunuch fled. The Empress leaped out of a window and was taken to a place of safety.

General Wu Kuang burst into one of the inner halls where he found He Miao, sword in hand.

“You also were in the plot to slay your own brother,” cried Wu Kuang. “You shall die with the others!”

“Let us kill the plotter against his elder brother!” cried many.

He Miao looked around: His enemies hemmed him in on every side. He was hacked to pieces.

Yuan Shu bade his soldiers scatter and seek out all the families of the eunuchs, sparing none. In that slaughter many beardless men were killed in error.

Cao Cao set himself to extinguish the fires. He then begged Empress He to undertake the direction of affairs, and soldiers were sent to pursue Zhang Rang and rescue the young Emperor and the young Prince of Chenliu.

Meanwhile, Zhang Rang and Duan Gui had hustled away the Emperor and the Prince. They burst through the smoke and fire and traveled without stopping till they reached the Beimang Hills. It was then the third watch. They heard a great shouting behind them and saw soldiers in pursuit. Their leader, Min Gong, a commander in Henan, was shouting, “Traitors, stop, stop!”

Zhang Rang, seeing that he was lost, jumped into the river, where he was drowned.

The two boys ignorant of the meaning of all this confusion and terrified out of their senses, dared not utter a cry. They crept in among the rank grass on the river bank and hid. The soldiers scattered in all directions but failed to find them. So they remained till the fourth watch, shivering with cold from the drenching dew and very hungry. They lay down in the thick grass and wept in each other’s arms, silently, lest anyone should discover them.

“This is no a place to stay in,” said Prince Xian. “We must find some way out.”

So the two children knotted their clothes together and managed to crawl up the bank. They were in a thicket of thorn bushes, and it was quite dark. They could not see any path. They were in despair when, all at once, millions of fireflies sprang up all about them and circled in the air in front of the Emperor.

“God is helping us,” said Prince Xian.

They followed whither the fireflies led and gradually got into a road. They walked till their feet were too sore to go further, when, seeing a heap of straw near the road, they crept to it and lay down.

This heap of straw was close to a farm house. In the night, as the farmer was sleeping, he saw in a vision two bright red suns drop behind his dwelling. Alarmed by the portent, he hastily dressed and went forth to look about him. Then he saw a bright light shooting up from a heap of straw. He hastened thither and then saw two youths lying behind it.

“To what household do you belong, young gentlemen?” asked the farmer.

The Emperor was too frightened to reply, but his companion said, “He is the Emperor. There was a revolution in the Forbidden City, and we ran away. I am his brother, Prince of Chenliu.”

The farmer bowed again and again and said, “My name is Cui Yi. My brother Cui Lie is the former Minister of the Interior. My brother was disgusted with the behavior of the eunuchs and so resigned and hid away here.”

The two lads were taken into the farm, and their host on his knees served them with refreshment.

It has been said that Min Gong had gone in pursuit of Eunuch Duan Gui. By and by Min Gong overtook Duan Gui and cried, “Where is the Emperor?”

“He disappeared! I do not know where he is!”

Min Gong slew Duan Gui and hung the bleeding head on his horse’s neck. Then he sent his troops searching in all directions, and he rode off by himself on the same quest. Presently he came to the farm. Cui Yi, seeing what hung on his horse’s neck, questioned him and, satisfied with his story, led him to the Emperor. The meeting was affecting. All were moved to tears.

“The state cannot be without its ruler,” said Min Gong. “I pray Your Majesty return to the city.”

At the farm they had but one sorry nag and this they saddled for the Emperor. The young Prince was taken on Min Gong’s charger. And thus they left the farm. Not beyond one mile from the farm, they fell in with other officials and several hundred guards and soldiers made up an imposing cavalcade. In the cavalcade were Wang Yun, Minister of the Interior; Yang Biao, Grand Commander; Chunyu Qiong, Commander of the Left Army; Zhao Meng, Commander of the Right Army; Bao Xin, Commander of the Rear Army; and Yuan Shao, Commander of the Center Army. Tears were shed freely as the ministers met their Emperor.

A man was sent on in front to the capital there to expose the head of Eunuch Duan Gui.

As soon as they could, they placed the Emperor on a better steed and the young Prince had a horse to himself. Thus the Emperor returned to Luoyang, and so it happened after all as the street children’s ditty ran:

Though the emperor doesn’t rule, though the prince no office fills,

Yet a brilliant cavalcade comes along from Beimang Hills.

The cavalcade had not proceeded far when they saw coming towards them a large body of soldiers with fluttering banners hiding the sun and raising a huge cloud of dust. The officials turned pale, and the Emperor was greatly alarmed. Yuan Shao rode out in advance.

“Who are you?” said Yuan Shao.

From under the shade of an embroidered banner rode out a leader, saying, “Do you have the Emperor?”

The Emperor was too panic stricken to respond, but the Prince of Chenliu rode to the front and cried, “Who are you?”

“Dong Zhuo, Imperial Protector of Xizhou Region.”

“Have you come to protect the Chariot or to steal it?” said Prince Xian.

“I have come to protect,” said Dong Zhuo.

“If that is so, the Emperor is here: Why do you not dismount?”

Dong Zhuo hastily dismounted and made obeisance on the left of the road. Then Prince Xian spoke graciously to him. From first to last the Prince had carried himself most perfectly so that Dong Zhuo in his heart admired his behavior, and then arose the first desire to set aside the Emperor in favor of the Prince of Chenliu.

They reached the Palace the same day, and there was an affecting interview with Empress He.

But when they had restored order in the Palace, the Imperial Hereditary Seal, the special seal of the Emperor, was missing.

Dong Zhuo camped without the walls, but every day he was to be seen in the streets with an escort of mailed soldiers so that the common people were in a state of constant trepidation. He also went in and out of the Palace careless of all the rules of propriety.

Commander of the Rear Army Bao Xin spoke of Dong Zhuo’s behavior to Yuan Shao, saying, “This man harbors some evil design and should be removed.”

“Nothing can be done till the government is more settled,” said Yuan Shao.

Then Bao Xin saw Minister of the Interior Wang Yun and asked what he thought.

“Let us talk it over,” was the reply.

Bao Xin said no more but he left the capital and retired to the Taishan Mountains.

Dong Zhuo induced the soldiers of the two brothers He Jin and He Miao to join his command, and privately spoke to his adviser Li Ru about deposing the Emperor in favor of the Prince of Chenliu.

“The government is really without a head. There can be no better time than this to carry out your plan. Delay will spoil all. Tomorrow assemble the officials in the Wenming Garden and address them on the subject. Put all opponents to death, and your prestige is settled.”

So spoke Li Ru, and the words pleased Dong Zhuo mightily.

So the next day Dong Zhuo spread a feast and invited many guests. As all the officers went in terror of him, no one dared be absent. Dong Zhuo himself rode up to the garden last of all and took his place with his sword girded on. When the wine had gone round several times, Dong Zhuo stopped the service and the music and began to speak.

“I have something to say. Listen quietly all of you!”

All turned towards him.

“The emperor is lord of all. If he lacks dignity and behaves in an unseemly manner, he is no fitting inheritor of the ancestral prerogatives. He who is now on the throne is a weakling, inferior to the Prince of Chenliu in intelligence and love of learning. The Prince is in every way fitted for the throne. I desire to depose the Emperor and set up the Prince in his place. What think you?”

The assembly listened in perfect silence, none daring at first to utter a word of dissent. But one dared; for suddenly a guest stood up in his place, smote the table and cried.

“No! No! Who are you that you dare utter such bold words? The Emperor is son of the late Emperor and has done no wrong. Why then should he be deposed? Are you a rebel?”

The speaker was Ding Yuan, Imperial Protector of Bingzhou.

Dong Zhuo glared at Ding Yuan, roaring, “There is life for those who are with me, death for those against!”

Dong Zhuo drew his sword and made for the objector. But the watchful Li Ru had noticed standing behind Ding Yuan a particularly dangerous looking henchman of his, who was now handling his halberd threateningly, and whose eyes were blazing with anger.

So Li Ru hastily interposed, saying, “But this is the banquet chamber, and state affairs should be left outside. The matters can be fully discussed tomorrow.”

His fellow guests persuaded Ding Yuan to leave, and after his departure Dong Zhuo said, “Is what I said just and reasonable?”

“You are mistaken, Illustrious Sir,” said Lu Zhi. “Of old Emperor Tai Jia of the Shang Dynasty was unenlightened. Wherefore the sage Minister Yi Yin immured him in the Tong Palace till he reformed. Later the Prince of Changyi ascended the throne, and in twenty-seven days he committed more than three thousand categorical faults. Wherefore Regent Marshal Huo Guang declared in the ancestral temple that the Prince of Changyi was deposed. Our present Emperor is young, but he is intelligent, benevolent, and wise. He has not committed a single fault. You, Sir, are an imperial protector of a frontier region and not a metropolitan official and have had no experience in state administration. Neither have you the pure intentions of Yi Yin and Huo Guang which qualified their actions. The Teacher said: ‘Only with Yi Yin’s purpose can one act like Yi Yin. Otherwise, such a deed is treason.’”

Dong Zhuo angrily drew his sword to slay the bold Lu Zhi, but two other officials remonstrated.

“Minister Lu Zhi is the cynosure of the whole country, and his violent death would stir the hearts of all people!” said Court Counselors Cai Yong and Peng Bo.

Dong Zhuo then stayed his hand.

Then said Wang Yun, “A great question like the deposition and substitution of emperors is not one to be decided after a wine party. Let it be put off till another time.”

So the guests dispersed. Dong Zhuo stood at the gate with drawn sword watching them depart. Standing thus, Dong Zhuo noticed a spearman galloping to and fro on a fiery steed and asked Li Ru who that was.

“That is Lu Bu, the adopted son of Ding Yuan. You must keep out of his way, my lord.”

Dong Zhuo went inside the gate so that he could not be seen. But next day they reported to him that Ding Yuan had come out of the city with a small army and was challenging to a battle. Dong Zhuo, with his army, went forth to accept the challenge. And the two armies were drawn up in proper array.

Lu Bu was a conspicuous figure in the forefront. His hair was arranged under a handsome headdress of gold, and he had donned a embroidered thousand-flower fighting robe, a pheasant-tailed helmet, and breast plate, and round his waist was a gleaming jade belt with a lion’s head clasp. With spear set he rode close behind his master Ding Yuan.

Ding Yuan, riding forth, pointing his finger at Dong Zhuo, began to revile him.

“Unhappy indeed was this state when the eunuchs became so powerful that the people were as if trodden into the mire under their feet. Now you, devoid of the least merit, dare to talk of deposing the rightful emperor and setting up another. This is to desire rebellion and no less!”

Dong Zhuo could not reply for Lu Bu, eager for the fight, rode straight at him. Dong Zhuo fled and Ding Yuan’s army came on. The battle went in Ding Yuan’s favor, and the beaten troops retired ten miles and made another camp. Here Dong Zhuo called his officers to a council.

“This Lu Bu is a marvel,” said Dong Zhuo. “If he were only on my side, I would defy the whole world!”

At this a man advanced saying, “Be content, O my lord! I am a fellow villager of his and know him well: He is valorous, but not crafty; he will let go principles, when he sees advantages. With this little, blarneying tongue of mine, I can persuade him to put up his hands and come over to your side.”

Dong Zhuo was delighted and gazed admiringly at the speaker. It was Li Su, a general in the Imperial Tiger Army.

“What arguments will you use with him?” asked Dong Zhuo.

“You have a fine horse, Red Hare, one of the best ever bred. I must have this steed, and gold and pearls to win his heart. Then will I go and persuade him. He will certainly abandon Ding Yuan’s service for yours.”

“What think you?” said Dong Zhuo to his adviser Li Ru.

“One cannot grudge a horse to win an empire,” was the reply.

So they gave Li Su what he demanded —-a thousand ounces of gold, ten strings of beautiful pearls, a jeweled belt, and Red Hare —-and these accompanied Li Su on his visit to his fellow villager.

Li Su reached the camp and said to the guard, “Please tell General Lu Bu that a very old friend has come to visit him.”

He was admitted forthwith.

“Worthy brother, have you been well since we last met?” greeted Li Su while bowing.

“How long it is since we last saw each other!” replied Lu Bu, bowing in return. “And where are you now?”

“I am a general in the Imperial Tiger Army. When I learned you were a strong supporter of the Throne, I could not say how I rejoiced. I have come now to present to you a really fine horse, a three-hundred-mile-a-day horse, one that crosses rivers and goes up mountains as if they were the level plain. Its name is Red Hare. It will be a fitting aid to your valor.”

Lu Bu bade his guards lead out the horse. It was of a uniform color like glowing-sun red —-not a hair of another color. It measured ten spans from head to tail and from hoof to neck eight spans. When it neighed, the sound filled the empyrean and shook the ocean.

Mark ye the steed swift and tireless, see the dust, spurned by his hoofs, rising in clouds,

Now it swims the river, anon climbs the hill, rending the purple mist asunder,

Scornful it breaks the rein, shakes from its head the jeweled bridle,

It is as a fiery dragon descending from the highest heaven.

Lu Bu was delighted with the horse and said, “What return can I hope to make for such a creature?”

“What return can I hope for? I came to you out of a sense of what is right,” replied Li Su.

Wine was brought in and they drank.

“We have seen very little of each other, but I am constantly meeting your honorable father,” said Li Su.

“You are drunk,” said Lu Bu. “My father has been dead for years.”

“Not so; I spoke of Ding Yuan, the man of the day.”

Lu Bu started. “Yes, I am with him, but only because I can do no better.”

“Sir, your talent is higher than the heavens, deeper than the seas. Who in all the world does not bow before your name? Fame and riches and honors are yours for the taking. And you say you can do no better than remain a subordinate!”

“If I could only find a master to serve,” said Lu Bu.

“The clever bird chooses the branch whereon to perch; the wise servant selects the master to serve. Seize the chance when it comes, for repentance ever comes too late.”

“Now you are in the government. Who think you is really the bravest of all?”, asked Lu Bu.

“I despise the whole lot except Dong Zhuo. He is one who respects wisdom and reveres scholarship; he is discriminating in his rewards and punishments. Surely he is destined to be a really great man.”

Lu Bu said, “I wish that I could serve him, but there is no way, I fear.”

Then Li Su produced his pearls and gold and the jeweled belt and laid them out before his host.

“What is this? What does it mean?” said Lu Bu.

“Send away the attendants,” requested Li Su. And he went on, “Dong Zhuo has long respected your bravery and sent these by my hand. Red Hare was also from him.”

“But, if he loves me like this, what can I do in return?”

Li Su said, “If a stupid fellow like me can be a general in the Imperial Tiger Army, it is impossible to say what honors await you.”

“I am sorry I can offer him no service worth mentioning.”

Li Su said, “There is one service you can do, and an extremely easy one to perform; but you would not render that.”

Lu Bu pondered long in silence, then he said, “I might slay Ding Yuan and bring over his soldiers to Dong Zhuo’s side. What think you of that?”

“If you would do that, there could be no greater service. But such a thing must be done quickly.”

And Lu Bu promised his friend that he would do the deed and come over on the morrow.

So Li Su took his leave. That very night, at the second watch, Lu Bu entered, sword in hand, into his master’s tent. He found Ding Yuan reading by the light of a solitary candle.

Seeing who came in, Ding Yuan said, “My son, what is afoot?”

“I am a bold hero,” said Lu Bu. “Do not think I am willing to be a son of yours!”

“Why this change, Lu Bu?”

As a reply Lu Bu made one cut, and Ding Yuan’s head fell to the earth.

Then Lu Bu called the attendants and said, “He was an unjust man, and I have slain him. Let those who back me stay. The others may depart.”

Most ran away. Next day, with the head of the murdered man as his gift, Lu Bu betook himself to Li Su, who led him to Dong Zhuo. Dong Zhuo received him with a warm welcome and had wine set before him.

“Your coming is welcome as the gentle dew to the parched grass,” said Dong Zhuo.

Lu Bu made Dong Zhuo seat himself and then made an obeisance, saying, “Pray let me bow to you as my adopted father!”

Dong Zhuo gave his newly won ally gold armor and silken robes and spread the feast of welcome. They then separated.

Thence Dong Zhuo’s power and influence increased rapidly. He gave the lordship of Hu (an ancient state) and the rank Commander of the Left Army to his brother Dong Min. He appointed Lu Bu Lord of Luoyang, Commander of Capital District, and Cavalry Commander. Dong Zhuo made himself Minister of Works, Grand Commander, and Commander of the Front Army.

The adviser Li Ru never ceased from urging him to carry out the design of deposing the young Emperor.

The now all-powerful Dong Zhuo prepared a banquet in the capital at which all the officers of state were guests. He also bade Lu Bu post a company of armed men right and left ready for action. The feast began and several courses were served with nothing to distinguish that banquet from any other.

Then suddenly the host arose and drew his sword, saying, “He who is above us being weak and irresolute is unfit for the duties of his high place. Wherefore I, as of old did Yi Yin and Huo Guang, will set aside this Emperor giving him the title of Prince of Hongnong, and I will place on the throne the present Prince of Chenliu. And those who do not support me will suffer death.”

Fear seized them in its grip and they were silent, all but Yuan Shao who said, “The Emperor was innocent of any fault, and to set him aside in favor of a commoner was rebellion and nothing else!”

“The empire is in my hands!” cried Dong Zhuo. “When I choose to do this thing, who will dare to say nay? Think you my sword lacks an edge?”

“If your sword is sharp, mine is never blunt!” said Yuan Shao as his sword flashed out of the sheath.

The two men stood face to face amid the feasters.

When Ding Yuan by treacherous murder died,

The loss was great to Yuan Shao’s side.

The fate of Yuan Shao will be disclosed in later chapters.

Chapter 4

Deposition Of The Emperor: The Prince Of Chenliu Gets The Throne; Schemes Against Dong Zhuo: Cao Cao Presents A Sword.

Dong Zhuo was on the point of slaying Yuan Shao, but Li Ru checked him, saying, “You must not kill rashly while the business hangs in the balance.”

Yuan Shao, his sword still unsheathed, left the assembly. He hung up the seals of his office at the east gate and went to Jizhou Region.

Dong Zhuo said to Imperial Guardian Yuan Wei, “Your nephew behaved improperly, but I pardon him for your sake. What think you of my scheme?”

“What you think is right,” was the reply.

“If anyone opposes the great scheme, he will be dealt with by military law!” said Dong Zhuo.

The ministers, thoroughly dreaded, promised obedience, and the feast came to an end.

Dong Zhuo asked Counselor Zhou Bi and Commander Wu Qiong what they thought of the flight of Yuan Shao.

Zhou Bi said, “He left in a state of great anger. In such a state of excitement much harm may ensue to the present state of affairs, especially as the Yuan family have been noted for their high offices for four generations, and their proteges and dependents are everywhere. If they assemble bold people and call up their clients, all the valiant warriors will be in arms, and the whole Shandong Mountains will be lost. You had better pardon Yuan Shao and give him a post. He will be glad at being forgiven and will do no harm.”

Wu Qiong said, “Yuan Shao is fond of scheming, but he fails in decision and so is not to be feared. But it would be well to give him rank and thus win popular favor.”

Dong Zhuo followed this advice, and within that day sent a messenger to offer Yuan Shao the governorship of Bohai.

On the first day of the ninth month, the Emperor was invited to proceed to the Hall of Virtue where was a great assembly of officials.

There Dong Zhuo, sword in hand, faced the gathering and said, “The Emperor is a weakling unequal to the burden of ruling this land. Now listen ye to the document I have prepared!”

And Li Ru read as follows:

“The dutiful Emperor Ling too soon left his people. The emperor is the cynosure of all the people of this land. Upon the present Emperor Bian, Heaven has conferred but small gifts: In dignity and deportment he is deficient, and in mourning he is remiss. Only the most complete virtue can grace imperial dignity. Empress He has trained him improperly, and the whole state administration has fallen into confusion. Empress Dong died suddenly and no one knew why. The doctrine of the three bonds —-Heaven, Earth, and Human —-and the continuity of Heaven and Earth interdependence have both been injured.

“But Liu Xian, Prince of Chenliu, is sage and virtuous beside being of handsome exterior. He conforms to all the rules of propriety: His mourning is sincere, and his speech is always correct. Eulogies of him fill the empire. He is well fitted for the great duty of consolidating the rule of Han.

“Now therefore the Emperor is deposed and created Prince of Hongnong, and Empress He retires from the administration.

“I pray the Prince of Chenliu to accept the throne in conformity with the decrees of Heaven and Earth, the desires of people, and the fulfillment of the hopes of humankind.”

This having been read, Dong Zhuo bade the officials lead the Emperor down from the throne, remove his seal, and cause him to kneel facing the north, styling himself faithful servant of the Throne and requesting commands. Moreover Dong Zhuo bade Empress He strip off her royal dress of ceremony and await the imperial command. Both victims of this oppression wept bitterly, and every minister present was deeply affected.

One minister put his discontent into words, crying, “The false Dong Zhuo is the author of this insult, which I will risk my life to wipe away!”

And with this he rushed at Dong Zhuo threatening with his ivory baton of office.

It was Chair of the Secretariat Ding Guan. Dong Zhuo had Ding Guan removed and summarily put to death. Before his death, Ding Guan ceased not to rail at the oppressor, nor was he frightened at death.

The rebel Dong Zhuo conceived the foul design

To thrust the King aside and wrong his line.

With folded arms the courtiers stood, save one

Ding Guan, who dared to cry that wrong was done.

Then the emperor designate, Prince of Chenliu, went to the upper part of the hall to receive congratulations. After this the former Emperor —-now Prince of Hongnong —-, his mother, and the Imperial Consort, Lady Tang, were removed to the Palace of Forever Calm. The entrance gates were locked against all comers.

It was pitiful! There was the young emperor, after reigning less than half a year, deposed and another put in his place. The new Emperor was Liu Xian, the second son of the late Emperor Ling. He was nine years of age, five years younger than his deposed brother. The new reign-style was changed to Inauguration of Tranquillity, the first year (AD 190).

Becoming the Prime Minister, Dong Zhuo was most powerful and arrogant. When he bowed before the throne, he did not declare his name. In going to court he did not hasten. Booted and armed he entered the reception halls. He amassed a wealth exceeding any other’s .

His adviser, Li Ru, impressed upon Dong Zhuo constantly to employ people of reputation so that he should gain public esteem. Therefore, Dong Zhuo restored many offices of those who had been victims of the eunuchs. For those who had died, he gave ranks and positions to their progeny. When they told him Cai Yong was a man of talent, Dong Zhuo summoned him. But Cai Yong would not go. Dong Zhuo sent a message to him that if he did not come, he and his whole clan should be exterminated. Then Cai Yong gave in and appeared. Dong Zhuo was very gracious to him and promoted him thrice in a month. Cai Yong became Court Counselor. Such was the generosity of the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile the deposed ruler, his mother, and his consort were immured in the Palace of Forever Calm and found their daily supplies gradually diminishing. The deposed Emperor wept incessantly. One day a pair of swallows gliding to and fro moved him to verse:

“Spring and the green of the tender grass,

Flushes with joy as the swallows pass;

The wayfarers pause by the rippling stream,

And their eyes will new born gladness gleam;

With lingering gaze the roofs I see

Of the Palace that one time sheltered me.

But those whom I sheltered in all righteousness,

Let’s not stay in silence when the days pass useless?”

The messenger, sent by Dong Zhuo from time to time to the palace for news of the prisoners, got hold of this poem and showed it to his master.

“So he shows his resentment by writing poems, eh! A fair excuse to put them all out of the way,” said Dong Zhuo.

Li Ru was sent with ten men into the palace to consummate the deed. The three were in one of the upper rooms when Li Ru arrived. The Emperor shuddered when the maid announced the visitor’s name.

Presently Li Ru entered and offered a cup of poisoned wine to the Emperor. The Emperor asked what this meant.

“Spring is the season of blending and harmonious interchange, and the Prime Minister sends a wine cup of longevity,” said Li Ru.

“If it be the wine of longevity, you may share it too,” said Empress He.

Then Li Ru became brutally frank.

“You will not drink?” asked he.

He called the men with daggers and cords and bade the Emperor look at them.

“The cup, or these?” said he.

Then said Lady Tang, “Let the handmaid drink in place of her lord. Spare the mother and her son, I pray!”

“And who may you be to die for a prince?” said Li Ru.

Then he presented the cup to the Empress once more and bade her drink.

She railed against her brother, the feckless He Jin, the author of all this trouble. She would not drink.

Next Li Ru approached the Emperor.

“Let me say farewell to my mother,” begged he, and he did so in these lines:

“The heaven and earth are changed,

Alas! the sun and the moon leave their courses,

I, once the center of all eyes, am driven to the farthest confines,

Oppressed by an arrogant minister my life nears its end,

Everything fails me and vain are my falling tears.”

Lady Tang sang:

“Heaven is to be rent asunder, Earth to fall away,

I, handmaid of an emperor, would grieve if I followed him not.

We have come to the parting of ways, the quick and the dead walk not together;

Alas! I am left alone with the grief in my heart.”

When they had sung these lines, they fell weeping into each others’ arms.

“The Prime Minister is awaiting my report,” said Li Ru, “and you delay too long. Think you that there is any hope of succor?”

The Empress broke into another fit of railing, “The rebel forces us to death, mother and son, and Heaven has abandoned us. But you, the tool of his crime, will assuredly perish!”

Thereupon Li Ru grew more angry, laid hands on the Empress and threw her out of the window. Then he bade the soldiers strangle Lady Tang and forced the lad to swallow the wine of death.

Li Ru reported the achievement to his master who bade them bury the victims without the city. After this Dong Zhuo’s behavior was more atrocious than before. He spent his nights in the Palace, defiled the imperial concubines there, and even slept on the Dragon Couch.

Once he led his soldiers out of the city to Yangcheng when the villagers, men and women, were assembled from all sides for the annual spring festival. His troops surrounded the place and plundered it. They took away booty by the cart loads, and women prisoners and more than one thousand severed heads. The procession returned to Capital Luoyang and published a story that they had obtained a great victory over some rebels. They burned the heads beneath the walls, and the women and jewelry were shared out among the soldiers.

A general named Wu Fu was disgusted at this ferocity and sought a chance to slay Dong Zhuo. Wu Fu constantly wore a breastplate underneath his court dress and carried in conceal a sharp dagger. One day when Dong Zhuo came to court, Wu Fu met him on the steps and tried to stab him. But Dong Zhuo was a very powerful man and held Wu Fu off till Lu Bu came to his help. Lu Bu struck down the assailant.

“Who told you to rebel?” said Dong Zhuo.

Wu Fu glared at him and cried, “You are not my prince, I am not your minister: Where is the rebellion? Your crimes fill the heavens, and every person would slay you. I am sorry I cannot tear you asunder with chariots to appease the wrath of the world!”

Dong Zhuo bade the guards take him out and hack him to pieces. Wu Fu only ceased railing as he ceased to live.

That loyal servant of the latter days of Han.

His valor was high as the heavens, in all ages unequaled;

In the court itself would he slay the rebel, great is his fame!

Throughout all time will people call him a hero.

Thereafter Dong Zhuo always went well guarded.

At Bohai, Yuan Shao heard of Dong Zhuo’s misuse of power and sent a secret letter to Minister of the Interior Wang Yun:

“That rebel Dong Zhuo outrages Heaven and has deposed his ruler. Common people dare not speak of him: That is understandable. Yet you suffer his aggressions as if you knew naught of them. How then are you a dutiful and loyal minister? I have assembled an army and desire to sweep clean the royal habitation, but I dare not lightly begin the task. If you are willing, then find an opportunity to plot against this man. If you would use force, I am at your command.”

The letter arrived but Wang Yun could see no chance to plot against Dong Zhuo.

One day while among the throng in attendance, mostly people of long service, Wang Yun said to his colleagues, “This is my birthday, I pray you come to a little party in my humble cot this evening.”

“We certainly will,” they cried, “and wish you long life.”

That night the tables were spread in an inner room, and his friends gathered there. When the wine had made a few rounds, the host suddenly covered his face and began to weep.

The guests were aghast.

“Sir, on your birthday too, why do you weep?” said they.

“It is not my birthday,” replied Wang Yun. “But I wished to call you together, and I feared lest Dong Zhuo should suspect, so I made that the excuse. This man insults the Emperor and does as he wishes so that the imperial prerogatives are in imminent peril. I think of the days when our illustrious founder destroyed the Qin, annihilated Chu, and obtained the empire. Who could have foreseen this day when that Dong Zhuo has subjugated all to his will? That is why I weep.”

Then they all wept with him.

Seated among the guests, however, was Cao Cao, who did not join in the weeping but clapped his hands and laughed aloud.

“If all the officers of the government weep till dawn, and from dawn weep till dark, will that slay Dong Zhuo?” said Cao Cao.

Wang Yun turned on him angrily.

“Your forbears ate the bounty of the Hans. Do you feel no gratitude? You can laugh?”

“I laughed at the absurdity of an assembly like this being unable to compass the death of one man. Foolish and incapable as I am, I will cut off his head and hang it at the gate as an offering to the people.”

Wang Yun left his seat and went over to Cao Cao.

“These later days,” Cao Cao continued, “I have bowed my head to Dong Zhuo with the sole desire of finding a chance to destroy him. Now he begins to trust me, and so I can approach him sometimes. You have a sword with seven precious jewels which I would borrow, and I will go into his palace and kill him. I care not if I die for it.”

“What good fortune for the world that this is so!” said Wang Yun.

With this Wang Yun himself poured out a goblet for Cao Cao who drained it and swore an oath. After this the treasured sword was brought out and given to Cao Cao who hid it under his dress. He finished his wine, took leave of the guests, and left the hall. Before long the others dispersed.

The next day Cao Cao, with this short sword girded on, came to the palace of the Prime Minister.

“Where is the Prime Minister?” asked he.

“In the small guest room,” replied the attendants.

So Cao Cao went in and found his host seated on a couch. Lu Bu was at his side.

“Why so late, Cao Cao?” said Dong Zhuo.

“My horse is out of condition and slow,” replied Cao Cao.

Dong Zhuo turned to his henchman Lu Bu.

“Some good horses have come in from the west. You go and pick out a good one as a present for him.”

And Lu Bu left.

“This traitor is doomed!” thought Cao Cao. He ought to have struck then, but Cao Cao knew Dong Zhuo was very powerful, and he was afraid to act. He wanted to make sure of his blow.

Now Dong Zhuo’s corpulence was such that he could not remain long sitting, so he rolled over couch and lay face inwards.

“Now is the time,” thought the assassin, and he gripped the good sword firmly.

But just as Cao Cao was going to strike, Dong Zhuo happened to look up and in a mirror he saw the reflection of Cao Cao behind him with a sword in the hand.

“What are you doing, Cao Cao?” said Dong Zhuo turning suddenly. And at that moment Lu Bu came along leading a horse.

Cao Cao in a flurry dropped on his knees and said, “I have a precious sword here which I wish to present to Your Benevolence.”

Dong Zhuo took it. It was a fine blade, over a foot in length, inlaid with the seven precious signs and very keen —-a fine sword in very truth. Dong Zhuo handed the weapon to Lu Bu while Cao Cao took off the sheath which he also gave to Lu Bu.

Then they went out to look at the horse. Cao Cao was profuse in his thanks and said he would like to try the horse. So Dong Zhuo bade the guards bring saddle and bridle. Cao Cao led the creature outside, leapt into the saddle, laid on his whip vigorously, and galloped away eastward.

Lu Bu said, “Just as I was coming up, it seemed to me as if that fellow was going to stab you, only a sudden panic seized him and he presented the weapon instead.”

“I suspected him too!” said Dong Zhuo.

Just then Li Ru came in and they told him.

“Cao Cao has no family here in the capital but lodges quite alone and not far away,” said Li Ru. “Send for him. If he comes forthwith, the sword was meant as a gift. But if he makes any excuses, he had bad intentions. And you can arrest him.”

They sent four prison warders to call Cao Cao.

They were absent a long time and then came back, saying, “Cao Cao had not returned to his lodging but rode in hot haste out of the eastern gate. To the gate commander’s questions he replied that he was on a special message for the Prime Minister. He went off at full speed.”

“His conscience pricked him and so he fled. There is no doubt that he meant assassination!” said Li Ru.

“And I trusted him so well!” said Dong Zhuo in a rage.

“There must be a conspiracy afoot. When we catch him, we shall know all about it,” said Li Ru.

Letters and pictures of the fugitive Cao Cao were sent everywhere with orders to catch him. A large reward in money was offered and a patent of nobility, while those who sheltered him would be held to share his guilt.

Cao Cao traveled in hot haste toward Qiao, his home county. On the road at Zhongmou, he was recognized by the guards at the gate and made prisoner. They took him to the Magistrate. Cao Cao declared he was a merchant, named Huang Fu. The Magistrate scanned his face most closely and remained in deep thought.

Presently the Magistrate said, “When I was at the capital seeking a post, I knew you as Cao Cao. Why do you try to conceal your identity?”

The Magistrate ordered Cao Cao to the prison till the morrow when he could send Cao Cao to the capital and claim the reward. He gave the soldiers wine and food as a reward.

About midnight the Magistrate sent a trusty servant to bring the prisoner into his private rooms for interrogation.

“They say the Prime Minister treated you well. Why did you try to harm him?” said Magistrate.

“How can swallows and sparrows understand the flight of the crane and the wild goose? I am your prisoner and to be sent to the capital for a reward. Why so many questions?”

The Magistrate sent away the attendants and turning to the prisoner said, “Do not despise me. I am no mere hireling; only I have not yet found the lord to serve.”

Said Cao Cao, “My ancestors enjoyed the bounty of Han, and should I differ from a bird or a beast if I did not desire to repay them with gratitude? I have bowed the knee to Dong Zhuo that thereby I might find an opportunity against him, and so remove this evil from the state. I have failed for this time. Such is the will of Heaven.”

“And where are you going?”

“Home to my county. Thence I shall issue a summons calling all the bold people to come with forces to kill the tyrant. This is my desire.”

Thereupon the Magistrate himself loosened the bonds of the prisoner, led him to the upper seat, and bowed, saying, “I am called Chen Gong. My aged mother and family are in the east county of Dongjun. I am deeply affected by your loyalty and uprightness, and I will abandon my office and follow you!”

Cao Cao was delighted with this turn of affairs. Chen Gong at once collected some money for the expenses of their journey and gave Cao Cao a different dress. Then each took a sword and rode away toward Qiao.

Three days later at eventide they reached Chenggao. Cao Cao pointed with his whip to a hamlet deep in the woods and said, “There lives my uncle, Lu Boshe, a sworn-brother of my father. Suppose we go and ask news of my family and seek shelter for the night?”

“Excellent!” said his companion Chen Gong, and they rode over, dismounted at the farm gate and entered.

Lu Boshe greeted them and said to Cao Cao, “I hear the government has sent stringent orders on all sides to arrest you. Your father has gone into hiding to Chenliu. How has this all come about?”

Cao Cao told him and said, “Had it not been for this man here with me, I should have been already hacked to pieces.”

Lu Boshe bowed low to Chen Gong, saying, “You are the salvation of the Cao family. But be at ease and rest, I will find you a bed in my humble cottage.”

Lu Boshe then rose and went into the inner chamber where he stayed a long time. When he came out, he said, “There is no good wine in the house. I am going over to the village to get some for you.”

And he hastily mounted his donkey and rode away. The two travelers sat a long time. Suddenly they heard at the back of the house the sound of sharpening a knife.

Cao Cao said to Chen Gong, “He is not my real uncle. I am beginning to doubt the meaning of his going off. Let us listen.”

So they silently stepped out into a straw hut at the back.

Presently someone said, “Bind before killing, eh?”

“As I thought,” said Cao Cao. “Now unless we strike first, we shall be taken!”

Suddenly Cao Cao and Chen Gong dashed in, sword in hand, and slew the whole household male and female, in all eight persons.

After this they searched the house. In the kitchen they found a pig bound ready to kill.

“You were too suspicious,” said Chen Gong, “and we have slain honest folks!”

Cao Cao and Chen Gong at once mounted and rode away. Soon they met their host Lu Boshe coming home, and over the saddle in front of him they saw two vessels of wine. In his hands he carried fruits and vegetables.

“Why are you going, Sirs?” Lu Boshe called to them.

“Wanted people dare not linger,” said Cao Cao.

“But I have bidden them kill a pig! Why do you refuse my poor hospitality? I pray you ride back with me.”

Cao Cao paid no heed, urging his horse forward. But he suddenly drew his sword and rode back after Lu Boshe.

“Who is that coming along?” called Cao Cao.

Lu Boshe turned and looked back, and Cao Cao at the same instant cut Lu Boshe down.

Chen Gong was frightened.

“We were wrong enough before,” cried Chen Gong. “What now is this?”

“When he got home and saw his family killed, think you he would bear it patiently? If he had raised an alarm and followed us, we should have been killed.”

“To kill deliberately is very wrong,” said Chen Gong.

“Rather we let down the world than the world let us down!” was the reply.

Chen Gong only thought. They rode on some distance by moonlight and presently knocked up an inn for shelter. Having first fed their horses, Cao Cao was soon asleep, but Chen Gong lay thinking.

“I took him for a true man and left all to follow him, but he is as cruel as a wolf. If I spare him, he will do more harm later,” thought Chen Gong.

And Chen Gong rose intending to kill his companion.

In his heart lie cruelty and venom, he is no true man;

In nought does he differ from his enemy Dong Zhuo.

The further fortunes of Cao Cao will be told in later chapters.

Chapter 5

Cao Cao Appeals To The Powerful Lords; The Three Brothers Fight Against Lu Bu.

At the close of the last chapter, Chen Gong was about to slay Cao Cao. But Chen Gong reflected, “I joined him to do righteous things. Now if I killed him, I would only do unrighteousness, and the people would condemn me. I rather leave in silence.”

Rising from his bed before the sunrise, Chen Gong mounted his horse and rode away eastward to his home county of Dongjun.

Cao Cao awoke with the day and missed his companion. Thought he, “Chen Gong thinks me brutal because of a couple of egoistic phrases I used, and so he has gone. I ought to push on too and not linger here.”

So Cao Cao traveled as quickly as possible toward Qiao. When he saw his father, he related what had happened and said he wanted to dispose of all the family property and enlist soldiers with the money.

“Our possessions are but small,” said his father, “and not enough to do anything with. However, there is a graduate here, one Wei Hong, careless of wealth but careful of virtue, whose family is very rich. With his help we might hope for success.”

A feast was prepared, and Wei Hong was invited.

Cao Cao made him a speech: “The Hans have lost their lordship, and Dong Zhuo is really a tyrant. He flouts his prince and is cruel to the people, who gnash their teeth with rage. I would restore the Hans, but my means are insufficient. Sir, I appeal to your loyalty and public spirit.”

Wei Hong replied, “I have long desired this but, so far, have not found a person fit to undertake the task. Since you, Cao Cao, have so noble a desire, I willingly devote all my property to the cause.”

This was joyful news, and the call to arms was forthwith prepared and sent far and near. So they established a corps of volunteers and set up a large white recruiting banner with the words Loyalty and Honor inscribed thereon. The response was rapid, and volunteers came in like rain drops in number.

One day came a certain Yue Jing from Yangping and another Li Dian from Julu. These two were appointed to Cao Cao’s personal staff. Another was one Xiahou Dun from Qiao. He was descended from Xiahou Ying of old. Xiahou Dun had been trained from his early boyhood to use the spear and the club. When only fourteen he had been attached to a certain master-in-arms. One day one person spoke disrespectfully of his master, and Xiahou Dun killed that person. For this deed, however, he had to flee and had been an exile for some time. Now he came to offer his services, accompanied by his cousin Xiahou Yuan. Each brought a thousand trained soldiers. Really these two were brothers of Cao Cao by birth, since Cao Cao’s father was originally of the Xiahou family, and had only been adopted into the Cao family.

A few days later came Cao Cao’s two cousins, Cao Ren and Cao Hong, each with one thousand followers. These two were accomplished horsemen and trained in the use of arms.

Then drill began, and Wei Hong spent his treasure freely in buying clothing, armor, flags, and banners. From all sides poured in gifts of grain.

When Yuan Shao received Cao Cao’s call to arms, he collected all those under his command to the number of thirty thousand. Then he marched from Bohai to Qiao to take the oath to Cao Cao. Next a manifesto was issued:

“Cao Cao and his associates, moved by a sense of duty, now make this proclamation. Dong Zhuo defies Heaven and Earth. He is destroying the state and injuring his prince. He pollutes the Palace and oppresses the people. He is vicious and cruel. His crimes are heaped up. Now we have received a secret command to call up soldiers, and we are pledged to cleanse the empire and destroy the evil-doers. We will raise a volunteer army and exert all our efforts to maintain the dynasty and succor the people. Respond to this, O Nobles, by mustering your soldiers.”

Many from every side answered the summons as the following list shows:

1. Governor of Nanyang —-Yuan Shu
2. Imperial Protector of Jizhou Region —-Han Fu
3. Imperial Protector of Yuzhou Region —-Kong Zhou
4. Imperial Protector of Yanzhou Region —-Liu Dai
5. Governor of Henei —-Wang Kuang
6. Governor of Chenliu —-Zhang Miao
7. Governor of Dongjun —-Qiao Mao
8. Governor of Shanyang —-Yuan Yi
9. Lord of Jibei —-Bao Xin
10. Governor of Beihai —-Kong Rong
11. Governor of Guangling —-Zhang Chao
12. Imperial Protector of Xuzhou Region —-Tao Qian
13. Governor of Xiliang —-Ma Teng
14. Governor of Beiping —-Gongsun Zan
15. Governor of Shangdang —-Zhang Yang
16. Governor of Changsha —-Sun Jian
17. Governor of Bohai —-Yuan Shao

These contingents varied in size, from ten thousand to thirty thousand, but each was complete in itself with its officers, civil and military, and battle-leaders. They were heading for Capital Luoyang.

The Governor of Beiping, Gongsun Zan, while on his way with his force of fifteen thousand, passed through the county of Pingyuan. There he saw among the mulberry trees a yellow flag under which marched a small company. When they drew nearer, he saw the leader was Liu Bei.

“Good brother, what do you here?” asked Gongsun Zan.

“You were kind to me once, and on your recommendation I was made the magistrate of this county. I heard you were passing through and came to salute you. May I pray you, my elder brother, enter into the city and rest your steed?”

“Who are these two?” said Gongsun Zan, pointing to Liu Bei’s brothers.

“These are Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, my sworn brothers.”

“Were they fighting with you against the Yellow Scarves?” asked Gongsun Zan.

“All my success was due to their efforts,” said Liu Bei.

“And what offices do they fill?”

“Guan Yu is a mounted archer; Zhang Fei is a foot archer.”

“Thus are able people buried!” said Gongsun Zan, sighing. Then he continued. “All the highest in the land are now going to destroy the rebellious Dong Zhuo. My brother, you would do better to abandon this petty place and join us in restoring the House of Han. Why not?”

“I should like to go,” said Liu Bei.

“If you had let me kill him that other time, you would not have this trouble today,” said Zhang Fei to Liu Bei and Guan Yu.

“Since things are so, let us pack and go,” said Guan Yu.

So without more ado, the three brothers, with a few horsemen, joined Gongsun Zan and marched with him to join the great army.

One after another the feudal lords came up and encamped. Their camps extended over seventy miles and more. When all had arrived, Cao Cao, as the head, prepared sacrificial bullocks and horses and called all the lords to a great assembly to decide upon their plan of attack.

Then spoke the Governor of Henei, Wang Kuang, “We have been moved by a noble sense of right to assemble here. Now must we first choose a chief and bind ourselves to obedience.”

Then said Cao Cao, “For four generations the highest offices of state have been filled by members of the Yuan family, and their clients and supporters are everywhere. As a descendant of ancient ministers of Han, Yuan Shao is a suitable man to be our chief lord.”

Yuan Shao again and again declined this honor. But they all said, “It must be he! There is no other!”

And then he agreed.

So the next day a three-story altar was built, and they planted about it the banners of all parties in five directions of space. And they set up white yaks’ tails and golden axes and emblems of military authority and the seals of leadership round about.

All being ready, the chief lord was invited to ascend the altar. Clad in ceremonial robes and girded with a sword, Yuan Shao reverently ascended. There he burned incense, made obeisance and recited the oath:

“The House of Han has fallen upon evil days, the bands of imperial authority are loosened. The rebel minister, Dong Zhuo, takes advantage of the discord to work evil, and calamity falls upon honorable families. Cruelty overwhelms simple folks. We, Yuan Shao and his confederates, fearing for the safety of the imperial prerogatives, have assembled military forces to rescue the state. We now pledge ourselves to exert our whole strength and act in concord to the utmost limit of our powers. There must be no disconcerted or selfish action. Should any depart from this pledge, may he lose his life and leave no posterity. Almighty Heaven and Universal Earth and the enlightened spirits of our forebears, be ye our witnesses!”

The reading finished, Yuan Shao smeared the blood of the sacrifice upon his lips and upon the lips of those who shared the pledge. All were deeply affected by the ceremony and many shed tears.

This done, the chief lord was supported down from the high place and led to his tent, where he took the highest place and the others arranged themselves according to rank and age. Here wine was served.

Presently Cao Cao said, “It behooves us all to obey the chief we have this day set up, and support the state. There must be no feeling of rivalry or superiority based upon numbers.”

Yuan Shao replied, “Unworthy as I am, yet as elected chief I must impartially reward merit and punish offenses. Let each see to it that he obeys the national laws and the army precepts. These must not be broken.”

“Only thy commands are to be obeyed!” cried all.

Then Yuan Shao said, “My brother, Yuan Shu, is appointed Chief of the Commissariat. He must see to it that the whole camp is well supplied. But the need of the moment is a van leader who shall go to River Si Pass and provoke a battle. The other forces must take up strategic positions in support.”

Then the Governor of Changsha, Sun Jian, offered himself for this service.

“You are valiant and fierce, and equal to this service!” said Yuan Shao.

The force under Sun Jian set out and presently came to River Si Pass. The guard there sent a swift rider to the capital to announce to the Prime Minister the urgency of the situation.

Ever since Dong Zhuo had secured his position, he had given himself up to luxury without stint. When the urgent news reached Adviser Li Ru, he at once went to his master, who much alarmed called a great council.

Lu Bu stood forth and said, “Do not fear, my father. I look upon all the lords beyond the Pass as so much stubble. And with the warriors of our fierce army, I will put everyone of them to death and hang their heads at the gates of the capital!”

“With your aid I can sleep secure!” said Dong Zhuo.

But someone behind Lu Bu broke in upon his speech, saying, “An ox-cleaver to kill a chicken! There is no need for the General to go: I will cut off their heads as easily as I would take a thing out of my pocket!”

Dong Zhuo looked up and his eyes rested on a stalwart man of fierce mien, lithe and supple as a beast. He had round head like a leopard and shoulders like an ape’s . His name was Hua Xiong of Guanxi. Dong Zhuo rejoiced at Hua Xiong’s bold words and at once appointed him Commander of the Valiant Cavalry and gave him fifty thousand of horse and foot. Hua Xiong and three other generals —-Li Su, Hu Zhen, and Zhao Cen —-hastily moved toward River Si Pass.

Among the feudal lords, Bao Xin, the Lord of Jibei, was jealous lest the chosen Van Leader Sun Jian should win too great honors. Wherefore Bao Xin endeavored to meet the foe first, and so he secretly dispatched his brother, Bao Zhong, with three thousand by a bye road. As soon as this small force reached the Pass, they offered battle.

Fast reacting, Hua Xiong at the head of five hundred armored horsemen swept down from the Pass, crying, “Flee not, rebel!”

But Bao Zhong was afraid and turned back. Hua Xiong came on, his arm rose, the sword fell, and Bao Zhong was cut down from his horse. Most of Bao Zhong’s company were captured. Bao Zhong’s head was sent to the Prime Minister’s palace. Hua Xiong was promoted to Commander-in-Chief.

Sun Jian presently approached the Pass. He had four generals: Cheng Pu of Tuyin whose weapon was an iron-spined lance with snake-headed blade; Huang Gai of Lingling who wielded an iron whip; Han Dang of Lingzhi using a heavy saber; and Zu Mao of Wujun who fought with a pair of swords.

Commander Sun Jian wore a helmet of fine silver wrapped round with a purple turban. He carried across his body his sword of ancient ingot iron and rode a dappled horse with flowing mane.

Sun Jian advanced to the Pass and hailed the defenders, crying, “Helpers of a villain! Be quick to surrender!”

Hua Xiong bade Hu Zhen lead five thousand out against Sun Jian. Cheng Pu with the snaky lance rode out from Sun Jian’s side and engaged. After a very few bouts, Cheng Pu killed Hu Zhen on the spot by a thrust through the throat. Then Sun Jian gave the signal for the main army to advance. But from the Pass, Hua Xiong’s troops rained down showers of stones, which proved too much for the assailants, and they retired into camp at Liangdong. Sun Jian sent the report of victory to Yuan Shao.

Sun Jian also sent an urgent message for supplies to the commissary.

But a counselor said to the Controller Yuan Shu, “This Sun Jian is a very tiger in the east. Should he take the capital and destroy Dong Zhuo, we should have a tiger in place of a wolf. Do not send him grain. Starve his troops, and that will decide the fate of that army.”

And Yuan Shu gave ears to the detractor and sent no grain or forage. Soon Sun Jian’s hungry soldiers showed their disaffection by indiscipline, and the spies bore the news to the defenders of the Pass.

Li Su made a plot with Hua Xiong, saying, “We will launch tonight a speedy attack against Sun Jian in front and rear so that we can capture him.”

Hua Xiong agreed and prepared for the attack. So the soldiers of the attacking force were told off and given a full meal. At dark they left the Pass and crept by secret paths to the rear of Sun Jian’s camp. The moon was bright and the wind cool. They arrived about midnight and the drums beat an immediate attack. Sun Jian hastily donned his fighting gear and rode out. He ran straight into Hua Xiong and the two warriors engaged. But before they had exchanged many passes, Li Su’s army came up from behind and set fire to whatever would burn.

Sun Jian’s army were thrown into confusion and fled in disorder. A melee ensued, and soon only Zu Mao was left at Sun Jian’s side. These two broke through the Pass and fled. Hua Xiong coming in hot pursuit, Sun Jian took his bow and let fly two arrows in quick succession, but both missed. He fitted a third arrow to the string, but drew the bow so fiercely that it snapped. He cast the bow to the earth and set off at full gallop.

Then spoke Zu Mao, “My lord’s purple turban is a mark that the rebels will too easily recognize. Give it to me, and I will wear it!”

So Sun Jian exchanged his silver helmet with the turban for his general’s headpiece, and the two men parted, riding different ways. The pursuers looking only for the purple turban went after its wearer, and Sun Jian escaped along a by-road.

Zu Mao, hotly pursued, then tore off the headdress which he hung on the post of a half-burned house as he passed and dashed into the thick woods. Hua Xiong’s troops seeing the purple turban standing motionless dared not approach, but they surrounded it on every side and shot at it with arrows. Presently they discovered the trick, went up and seized it.

This was the moment that Zu Mao awaited. At once he rushed forth, his two swords whirling about, and dashed at the leader. But Hua Xiong was too quick. With a loud yell, Hua Xiong slashed at Zu Mao and cut him down the horse. Hua Xiong and Li Su continued the slaughter till the day broke, and they led their troops back to the Pass.

Cheng Pu, Huang Gai, and Han Dang in time found their chief and the soldiers gathered. Sun Jian was much grieved at the loss of Zu Mao.

When news of the disaster reached Yuan Shao, he was greatly chagrined and called all the lords to a council. They assembled and Gongsun Zan was the last to arrive.

When all were seated in the tent Yuan Shao said, “The brother of General Bao Xin, disobeying the rules we made for our guidance, rashly went to attack the enemy: He was slain and with him many of our soldiers. Now Sun Jian has been defeated. Thus our fighting spirit has suffered and what is to be done?”

Everyone was silent. Lifting his eyes, Yuan Shao looked round from one to another till he came to Gongsun Zan, and then he remarked three men who stood behind Gongsun Zan’s seat. They were of striking appearance as they stood there, all three smiling cynically.

“Who are those men behind you?” said Yuan Shao.

Gongsun Zan told Liu Bei to come forward, and said, “This is Liu Bei, Magistrate of Pingyuan and a brother of mine who shared my humble cottage when we were students.”

“It must be the Liu Bei who broke up the Yellow Scarves rebellion,” said Cao Cao.

“It is he,” said Gongsun Zan, and he ordered Liu Bei to make his obeisance to the assembly, to whom Liu Bei then related his services and his origin, all in full detail.

“Since he is of the Han line, he should be seated,” said Yuan Shao, and he bade Liu Bei sit.

Liu Bei modestly thanked him, declining.

Said Yuan Shao, “This consideration is not for your fame and office. I respect you as a scion of the imperial family.”

So Liu Bei took his seat in the lowest place of the long line of lords. And his two brothers with folded arms took their stations behind him.

Even as they were at this meeting came in a scout to say that Hua Xiong with a company of mail-clad horsemen was coming down from the Pass. They were flaunting Sun Jian’s captured purple turban on the end of a bamboo pole. The enemy was soon hurling insults at those within the stockade and challenging them to fight.

“Who dares go out to give battle?” said Yuan Shao.

“I will go,” said Yu She, a renown general of Yuan Shu, stepping forward.

So Yu She went, and almost immediately one came back to say that Yu She had fallen in the third bout of Hua Xiong.

Fear began to lay its cold hand on the assembly.

Then Imperial Protector Han Fu said, “I have a brave warrior among my army. Pan Feng is his name, and he could slay this Hua Xiong.”

So Pan Feng was ordered out to meet the foe. With his great battle-ax in his hand, Pan Feng mounted and rode forth. But soon came the direful tidings that General Pan Feng too had fallen. The faces of the gathering paled at this.

“What a pity my two able generals, Yan Liang and Wen Chou, are not here! Then should we have someone who would not fear this Hua Xiong,” said Yuan Shao.

He had not finished when from the lower end a voice tolled, “I will go, take Hua Xiong’s head, and lay it before you here!”

All turned to look at the speaker. He was tall and had a long beard. His eyes were those of a phoenix and his eyebrows thick and bushy like silkworms. His face was a swarthy red and his voice deep as the sound of a great bell.

“Who is he?” asked Yuan Shao.

Gongsun Zan told them it was Guan Yu, brother of Liu Bei.

“And what is he?” asked Yuan Shao.

“He is in the train of Liu Bei as a mounted archer.”

“What! An insult to us all!” roared Yuan Shu from his place. “Have we no leader? How dare an archer speak thus before us? Let us beat him forth!”

But Cao Cao intervened. “Peace, O Yuan Shu! Since this man speaks great words, he is certainly valiant. Let him try. If he fails, then we may reproach him.”

“Hua Xiong will laugh at us if we send a mere archer to fight him,” said Yuan Shao.

“This man looks no common person. And how can the enemy know he is but a bowman?” said Cao Cao.

“If I fail, then can you take my head,” spoke Guan Yu.

Cao Cao bade them heat some wine and offered a cup to Guan Yu as he went out.

“Pour it out,” said Guan Yu. “I shall return in a little space.”

Guan Yu went with his weapon in his hand and vaulted into the saddle. Those in the tent heard the fierce roll of the drums and then a mighty sound as if skies were falling and earth rising, hills trembling and mountains tearing asunder. And they were sore afraid. And while they were listening with ears intent, lo! the gentle tinkle of horse bells, and Guan Yu returned, throwing at their feet the head of the slain leader, their enemy Hua Xiong.

The wine was still warm!

This doughty deed has been celebrated in verse:

The power of the man stands first in all the world,

At the gate of the camp was heard the rolling of the battle drums;

Then Guan Yu set aside the wine cup till he should have displayed his valor,

And the wine was still warm when Hua Xiong had been slain.

Cao Cao was greatly excited at this success.

But Zhang Fei’s voice was heard, shouting, “My brother has slain Hua Xiong. What are we waiting for? Why not break through the Pass and seize Dong Zhuo? Could there have been a better time?”

Again arose the angry voice of Yuan Shu, “We high officials are too meek and yielding. Here is the petty follower of a small magistrate daring to flaunt his prowess before us! Expel him from the tent, I say.”

But again Cao Cao interposed, “Shall we consider the station of him who has done a great service?”

“If you hold a mere magistrate in such honor, then I simply withdraw,” said Yuan Shu.

“Is a word enough to defeat a grand enterprise?” said Cao Cao.

Then he told Gongsun Zan to lead the three brothers back to their own camp, and the other chiefs then dispersed. That night Cao Cao secretly sent presents of meat and wine to soothe the three after this adventure.

When Hua Xiong’s troops straggled back and told the story of defeat and death, Li Ru was greatly distressed. He wrote urgent letters to his master who called in his trusted advisers to a council.

Li Ru summed up the situation, saying, “We have lost our best leader, and the rebel power has thereby become very great. Yuan Shao is at the head of this confederacy, and his uncle, Yuan Wei, is holder of the office of Imperial Guardianship. If those in the capital combine with those in the country, we may suffer. Therefore we must remove them. So I request you, Sir Prime Minister, to place yourself at the head of your army and break this confederation.”

Dong Zhuo agreed and at once ordered his two generals, Li Jue and Guo Si, to take five hundred troops and surround the residence of Imperial Guardian Yuan Wei, slay every soul regardless of age, and hang the head of Yuan Wei outside the gate as trophy. And Dong Zhuo commanded two hundred thousand troops to advance in two armies. The first fifty thousand were under Li Jue and Guo Si, and they were to hold River Si Pass. They should not necessarily fight. The other one hundred fifty thousand under Dong Zhuo himself went to Tiger Trap Pass. His counselors and commanders —-Li Ru, Lu Bu, Fan Chou, Zhang Ji, and others —-marched with the main army.

Tiger Trap Pass is fifteen miles from Capital Luoyang. As soon as they arrived, Dong Zhuo bade Lu Bu take thirty thousand soldiers and make a strong stockade on the outside of the Pass. The main body with Dong Zhuo would occupy the Pass.

News of this movement reaching the confederate lords. Yuan Shao summoned a council.

Said Cao Cao, “The occupation of the Pass would cut our armies in two; therefore, we must oppose Dong Zhuo’s army on the way.”

So eight of the commanders —-Wang Kuang, Qiao Mao, Bao Xin, Yuan Yi, Kong Rong, Zhang Yang, Tao Qian, and Gongsun Zan —-were ordered to go in the direction of the Tiger Trap Pass to oppose their enemy. Cao Cao and his troops moved among them as reserve to render help where needed.

Of the eight, Wang Kuang, the Governor of Henei, was the first to arrive, and Lu Bu went to give battle with three thousand armored horsemen. When Wang Kuang had ordered his army, horse and foot, in battle array, he took his station under the great banner and looked over at his foe.

Lu Bu was a conspicuous figure in front of the line. On his head was a triple curved headdress of ruddy gold with pheasant tails. He wore a warring velvet-red robe of Xichuan silk embroidered with thousand flowers, which was overlapped by golden mail adorned with a gaping animal’s head, joined by rings at the sides and girt to his waist with a belt fastened by a beautiful lion-head clasp. His bow and arrows were slung on his shoulders, and he carried a long heavy trident halberd. He was seated on his snorting steed Red Hare. Indeed Lu Bu was the man among humans, as Red Hare was the horse among horses.

“Who dares go out to fight him?” asked Wang Kuang turning to those behind him.

In response a valiant general from Henei named Fang Yue spurred to the front, his spear set ready for battle. Lu Bu and Fang Yue met: Before the fifth bout Fang Yue fell under a thrust of the trident halberd, and Lu Bu dashed forward. Wang Kuang’s troops could not stand and scattered in all directions. Lu Bu went to and fro slaying all he met. He was irresistible.

Luckily, two other troops led by Qiao Mao and Yuan Yi came up and rescued the wounded Wang Kuang, and Lu Bu pulled back. The three, having lost many troops, withdrew ten miles and made a stockade. And before long the remaining five commanders came up and joined them. They held a council and agreed Lu Bu was a hero no one could match.

And while they sat there anxious and uncertain, it was announced that Lu Bu had returned to challenge them. They mounted their horses and placed themselves at the heads of eight forces, each body in its station on the high ground. Around them was the opposing army in formation, commanded by Lu Bu, innumerable horse and foot, with splendid embroidered banners waving in the breeze.

They attacked Lu Bu. Mu Shun, a general of Governor Zhang Yang, rode out with his spear set, but soon fell at the first encounter with Lu Bu. This frightened the others. Then galloped forth Wu Anguo, a general under Governor Kong Rong. Wu Anguo raised his iron mace ready at his rival. Lu Bu whirling his halberd and urging on his steed came to meet Wu Anguo. The two fought, well matched for ten bouts, when a blow from the trident halberd broke Wu Anguo’s wrist. Letting his mace fall to the ground he fled. Then all eight of the lords led forth their armies to his rescue, and Lu Bu retired to his line.

The fighting then ceased, and after their return to camp another council met.

Cao Cao said, “No one can stand against the prowess of Lu Bu. Let us call up all the lords and evolve some good plan. If only Lu Bu were taken, Dong Zhuo could easily be killed.”

While the council was in progress again came Lu Bu to challenge them, and again the commanders moved out against him. This time Gongsun Zan, flourishing his spear, went to meet the enemy. After a very few bouts Gongsun Zan turned and fled; Lu Bu following at the topmost speed of Red Hare. Red Hare was a three-hundred-mile-a-day horse, swift as the wind. The lords watched Red Hare gained rapidly upon the flying horseman, and Lu Bu’s halberd was poised ready to strike Gongsun Zan just behind the heart. Just then dashed in a third rider with round glaring eyes and a bristling mustache, and armed with a ten-foot serpent halberd.

“Stay, O twice bastard!” roared he, “I, Zhang Fei of Yan, await you!”

Seeing this opponent, Lu Bu left the pursuit of Gongsun Zan and engaged the new adversary. Zhang Fei was elated, and he rode forth with all his energies. They two were worthily matched, and they exchanged half a hundred bouts with no advantage to either side. Then Guan Yu, impatient, rode out with his huge and weighty green-dragon saber and attacked Lu Bu on the other flank. The three steeds formed a triangle and their riders battered away at each other for thirty bouts, yet still Lu Bu stood firm.

Then Liu Bei rode out to his brothers’ aid, his double swords raised ready to strike. The steed with the flowing mane was urged in at an angle, and now Lu Bu had to contend with three surrounding warriors at whom he struck one after another, and they at him, the flashing of the warriors’ weapons looking like the revolving lamps suspended at the new year. And the warriors of the eight armies gazed rapt with amazement at such a battle.

But Lu Bu’s guard began to weaken and fatigue seized him. Looking hard in the face of Liu Bei, Lu Bu feigned a fierce thrust thus making Liu Bei suddenly draw back. Then, lowering his halberd, Lu Bu dashed through the angle thus opened and got away.

But was it likely they would allow him to escape? They whipped their steeds and followed hard. The soldiers of the eight armies cracked their throats with thunderous cheers and all dashed forward, pressing after Lu Bu as he made for the shelter of the Tiger Trap Pass. And first among his pursuers were the three brothers.

An ancient poet has told of this famous fight in these lines:

The fateful day of Han came in the reigns of Huan and Ling,

Their glory declined as the sun sinks at the close of day.

Dong Zhuo, infamous minister of state, pulled down the youthful Bian.

It is true the new Xian was a weakling, too timid for his times.

Then Cao Cao proclaimed abroad these wicked deeds,

And the great lords, moved with anger, assembled their forces.

In council met they and chose as their oath-chief Yuan Shao,

Pledged themselves to maintain the ruling house and tranquillity.

Of the warriors of that time matchless Lu Bu was the boldest.

His valor and prowess are sung by all within the four seas.

He clothed his body in silver armor like the scales of a dragon,

On his head was a golden headdress with pheasant tails,

About his waist a shaggy belt, the clasp, two wild beasts’ heads with gripping jaws,

His flowing, embroidered robe fluttered about his form,

His swift courser bounded over the plain, a mighty wind following,

His terrible trident halberd flashed in the sunlight, bright as a placid lake.

Who dared face him as he rode forth to challenge?

The bowels of the confederate lords were torn with fear and their hearts trembled.

Then leaped forth Zhang Fei, the valiant warrior of the north,

Gripped in his mighty hand the long serpent halberd,

His mustache bristled with anger, standing stiff like wire.

His round eyes glared, lightning flashes darted from them.

Neither quailed in the fight, but the issue was undecided.

Guan Yu stood out in front, his soul vexed within him,

His green-dragon saber shone white as frost in the sunlight,

His bright colored fighting robe fluttered like butterfly wings,

Demons and angels shrieked at the thunder of his horse hoofs,

In his eyes was fierce anger, a fire to be quenched only in blood.

Next Liu Bei joined the battle, gripping his twin sword blades,

The heavens themselves trembled at the majesty of his wrath.

These three closely beset Lu Bu and long drawn out was the battle,

Always he warded their blows, never faltering a moment.

The noise of their shouting rose to the sky, and the earth reechoed it,

The heat of battle ranged to the frozen pole star.

Worn out, feeling his strength fast ebbing, Lu Bu thought to flee,

He glanced at the hills around and thither would fly for shelter,

Then, reversing his halberd and lowering its lofty point,

Hastily he fled, loosing himself from the battle;

With head low bent, he gave the rein to his courser,

Turned his face away and fled to Tiger Trap Pass.

The three brothers maintained the pursuit to the Pass. Looking up they saw an immense umbrella of black gauze fluttering in the west wind.

“Certainly there is Dong Zhuo,” cried Zhang Fei. “What is the use of pursuing Lu Bu? Better far seize the chiefest rebel and so pluck up the evil by the roots!”

And he whipped up his steed toward the Pass.

To quell rebellion seize the leader if you can;

If you need a wondrous service then first find a wondrous man.

The following chapters will unfold the result of the battle.

Chapter 6

Burning The Capital, Dong Zhuo Commits An Atrocity; Hiding The Imperial Hereditary Seal, Sun Jian Breaks Faith.

Zhang Fei rode hard up to the Pass, but the defenders sent down stones and arrows like rain so that he could not enter, and he returned. The eight lords all joined in felicitations to the three brothers for their services, and the story of victory was sent to Yuan Shao, who ordered Sun Jian to make an immediate advance.

Thereupon Sun Jian with two trusty generals, Cheng Pu and Huang Gai, went over to the camp of Yuan Shu.

Tracing figures on the ground with his staff, Sun Jian said, “Dong Zhuo and I had no personal quarrel. Yet now I have thrown myself into the battle regardless of consequences, exposed my person to the risk of wounds and fought bloody battles to their bitter end. And why? That I might be the means of ridding my country of a rebel and —-for the private advantage of your family. Yet you, heeding the slanderous tongue of certain counselor, formerly withheld the supplies absolutely necessary to me, and so I suffered defeat. How can you explain, General?”

Yuan Shu, confused and frightened, had no word to reply. He ordered the death of the slanderer to placate Sun Jian.

Then suddenly they told Sun Jian, “Some officer has come riding down from the Pass to see you, General. He is in the camp.”

Sun Jian therefore took his leave and returned to his own camp, where he found the visitor was Li Jue, one of the much trusted commanders of Dong Zhuo.

“Wherefore come you?” said Sun Jian.

Li Jue replied, “You are the one person for whom my master has respect and admiration, and he sends me to arrange a matrimonial alliance between the two families. He wishes that his daughter may become the wife of your son.”

“What! Dong Zhuo, that rebel and renegade, that subverter of the Throne! I wish I could destroy his nine generations as a thank-offering to the empire! Think you I would be willing to have an alliance with such a family? I will not slay you as I ought, but go, and go quickly! Yield the Pass and I may spare your lives. If you delay, I will grind your bones to powder and make mincemeat of your flesh!”

Li Jue threw his arms over his head and ran out. He returned to his master and told him what a rude reception he had met with. Dong Zhuo asked his adviser Li Ru how to reply to this.

Li Ru said, “Lu Bu’s late defeat had somewhat blunted the edge of our army’s desire for battle. It would be well to return to the capital and remove the Emperor to Changan, as the street children had been lately singing:

“A Han on the west, a Han on the east.

The deer (emperor) in Changan shall worry least.”

Li Ru continued, “If you think out this couplet, it applies to the present juncture. Half the first line refers to the founder of the dynasty, Liu Bang the Supreme Ancestor, who became ruler in the western city of Changan, which was the capital during twelve reigns. The other half corresponds to Liu Xiu the Latter Han Founder who ruled from Luoyang, the eastern capital during twelve latter reigns. The revolution of the heavens brings us back to this starting moment. Thus if you remove to Changan, there will be no need for anxiety.”

Dong Zhuo was exceedingly pleased and said, “Had you not spoken thus, I should not have understood!”

Then taking Lu Bu with him, Dong Zhuo started at once for Capital Luoyang.

Here he called all the officials to a great council in the Palace and addressed them, “After two centuries of rule here, the royal fortune has been exhausted, and I perceive that the aura of rule has migrated to Changan, whither I now desire to move the court. All you had better pack up for the journey.”

Yang Biao, Minister of the Interior, said, “I pray you reflect. The Land Within the Passes is all destruction. There is no reason to renounce the ancestral temples and abandon the imperial tombs here. I fear the people will be alarmed. It is easy to alarm them but difficult to pacify them.”

“Do you oppose the state plans?” said Dong Zhuo angrily.

Another official, Grand Commander Huang Wan, supported his colleague, “In the era of Recommencement (AD 23-25), Fan Chong of the Red Eyebrows rebels burned Changan to the ground and reduced the place to broken tiles. The inhabitants scattered all but a few. It is wrong to abandon these palaces here for a wasteland.”

Dong Zhuo replied, “The East of the Passes is full of sedition, and all the empire is in rebellion. The city of Changan is protected by the Yaohan Mountains and the Hangu Pass. Moreover, it is near Longyou, whence can be easily brought timber, stone, brick, and building materials. In a month or so palaces can be erected. So an end to your wild words!”

Yet Minister of Works Xun Shuang raised another protest against disturbing the people, but Dong Zhuo overbore him also.

“How can I stop to consider a few common people when my scheme affects the empire?” said Dong Zhuo.

That day the three objectors —-Yang Biao, Huang Wan, and Xun Shuang —-were removed from their offices and reduced to the rank of commoners.

As Dong Zhuo went out to get into his coach, he met two other officers who made obeisance. They were the Chair of the Secretariat, Zhou Bi, and the Commander of the City Gates, Wu Qiong. Dong Zhuo stopped and asked them what they wanted.

Said Zhou Bi, “We venture to try to dissuade you from moving the capital to Changan.”

Dong Zhuo replied, “You two persuaded me to give Yuan Shao office. Now he has already turned traitor, and you are of the same party!”

And without more ado he bade his guards take both outside the city and put them to death. The command to remove to the new capital immediately was issued.

Speaking to Dong Zhuo, Li Ru pointed out, “We are short of money and food, and the rich people of Luoyang could be easily plundered. This is a good occasion to link them to the rebels and to confiscate their properties.”

Dong Zhuo sent five thousand troops out to plunder and slay. They captured many thousand wealthy householders and, having stuck flags on their heads saying they were Traitors and Rebels, drove them out of the city and put them to death. Their properties were all seized.

The task of driving forth the inhabitants, some millions, was given to two of Dong Zhuo’s commanders, Li Jue and Guo Si. The people were sent off in bands, each band between two parties of soldiers, who drove them torward Changan. Enormous numbers fell by the road side and died in the ditches, and the escort plundered the fugitives and defiled the women. A wail of sorrow arose to the very sky.

Dong Zhuo’s final orders as he left Capital Luoyang were to burn the whole city: Houses, palaces, temples, and everything were devoured by the flames. The capital became but a patch of scorched earth.

Dong Zhuo sent Lu Bu to desecrate the tombs of the emperors and their consorts for the jewels therein, and the common soldiers took the occasion to dig up the graves of officials and plunder the cemeteries of the wealthy. The spoil of the city, gold and silver, pearls and silks, and beautiful ornaments, filled several thousand carts. With these and the persons of the Emperor and his household, Dong Zhuo moved off to the new capital in the first year of Inauguration of Tranquillity (AD 190).

Luoyang being thus abandoned, the general of Dong Zhuo at River Si Pass, Zhao Cen, evacuated that post of vantage, which Sun Jian at once occupied. Liu Bei and his brothers took Tiger Trap Pass and the confederate lords advanced.

Sun Jian hastened to the late capital which was still in flames. When he arrived, dense smoke hung all over it and spread for miles around. No living thing, not a fowl, or a dog, or a human being, remained. Sun Jian told off his soldiers to extinguish the fires and set out camping places for the confederate lords.

Cao Cao went to see Yuan Shao and said, “Dong Zhuo has gone west. We ought to follow and attack his rear without loss of time. Why do you remain inactive?”

“All our colleagues are worn out, and there is nothing to be gained by attack,” said Yuan Shao.

Cao Cao said, “This moment was most propitious in the utter confusion that reigned —-palaces burned, the Emperor abducted, the whole world upset, and no one knowing whither to turn. The villain will soon be ended, and a single blow could exterminate Dong Zhuo. Why not pursue?”

But all the confederate lords seemed of one mind, and that mind was to postpone action. So they did nothing.

“Those unworthy people cannot discuss worthy thing!” cried Cao Cao.

Then, he and his six generals —-Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan, Cao Ren, Cao Hong, Li Dian, and Yue Jing —-and ten thousand troops started in pursuit.

The road to the new capital led through Yingyang. When Dong Zhuo reached it, Governor Xu Rong went to welcome the cavalcade.

Li Ru said, “As there is some danger of pursuit, it would be well to order the Governor of this place to lay an ambush outside the city. He is to let the pursuers pass and be ready to cut off their retreat, when our army beats them off. That will teach any others not to follow.”

Then Dong Zhuo ordered Lu Bu to command the rear guard. Very soon they saw Cao Cao coming up, and Lu Bu laughed at his colleague’s foresight. He set out his troops in fighting order.

Cao Cao rode forward, crying, “Rebels, abductors, drovers of the people, where are you going?”

Lu Bu replied, “Treacherous simpleton, what mad words are these?”

Then from Cao Cao army rode forth Xiahou Dun with his spear set, and Lu Bu and Xiahou Dun engaged. The combat had hardly begun when Li Ru with a cohort came in from the left. Cao Cao bade Xiahou Yuan meet this onslaught. However, on the other side appeared Guo Si and his company. Cao Cao sent Cao Ren against Guo Si. The onrush on three sides was too much to withstand, and Lu Bu’s army was overwhelming, so Xiahou Dun had to retire to the main line. Thereupon Lu Bu’s armored troops attacked and completed the defeat. The beaten army of Cao Cao turned toward Yingyang.

They got as far as the foot of a hill in the evening about the second watch, and the moon made it as light as day. Here they halted to reform. Just as they were burying the boilers to prepare a meal, there arose a great noise of shouting on all sides and out came the troops of Governor Xu Rong from the ambush fresh to attack.

Cao Cao, thrown into a flurry, mounted and fled. He ran right in the way of the waiting Xu Rong. Then he dashed off in another direction, but Xu Rong shot an arrow after him which struck him in the shoulder. The arrow still in the wound, Cao Cao fled for his life. As he went over the hill, two soldiers lying in wait among the grass suddenly dashed out and wounded his horse, which fell and rolled over. And as he slipped from the saddle, he was seized and made prisoner.

Just then a horseman came, riding at full speed and whirling his sword up, cut down both the captors, and rescued Cao Cao. It was Cao Hong.

Cao Cao said, “I am doomed, good brother. Go and save yourself!”

“My lord, mount my horse quickly! I will go afoot,” said Cao Hong.

“If those wretches come up, what then?” said Cao Cao.

“The world can do without Cao Hong, but not without you, my lord!”

“If I live, I shall owe you my life,” said Cao Cao.

So he mounted. Cao Hong tore off his own breastplate, gripped his sword, and went on foot after the horse. Thus they proceeded till the fourth watch when they saw before them a broad stream, and behind they still heard the shouts of pursuers drawing nearer and nearer.

“This is my fate,” said Cao Cao. “I am really doomed!”

Cao Hong helped Cao Cao down from his horse. Then taking off his fighting robe and helmet, Cao Hong took the wounded man on his back and waded into the stream. When they reached the further side, the pursuers had already gained the bank whence they shot arrows.

Cao Cao all wet pushed on. Dawn was near. They went on another ten miles and then sat down to rest under a precipice. Suddenly loud shouting was heard and a party of horse appeared. It was Governor Xu Rong who had forded the river higher up. Just at this moment Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan, with several dozens men, came along.

“Hurt not my lord!” cried Xiahou Dun to Xu Rong, who at once rushed at him.

But the combat was short. Xu Rong speedily fell under a spear thrust of Xiahou Dun, and his troops were driven off. Before long Cao Cao’s other generals arrived. Sadness and joy mingled in the greetings. They gathered together the few hundreds of soldiers left and then returned to Luoyang.

When the confederate lords entered Luoyang, Sun Jian, after extinguishing the fires, camped within the walls, his own tent being set up near the Dynastic Temple. His people cleared away the debris and closed the rifted tombs. The gates were barred. On the site of the Dynastic Temple he put up a mat shed containing three apartments, and here he begged the lords to meet and replace the sacred tablets, with solemn sacrifices and prayers.

This ceremony over, the others left and Sun Jian returned to his camp. That night the stars and moon vied with each other in brightness. As Sun Jian sat in the open air looking up at the heavens, he noticed a mist spreading over the stars of the Constellation Draco.

“The Emperor’s star is dulled,” said Sun Jian with a sigh. “No wonder a rebellious minister disturbs the state, the people sit in dust and ashes, and the capital is a waste.”

And his tears began to fall.

Then a soldier pointing to the south said, “There is a beam of colored light rising from a well!”

Sun Jian bade his people light torches and descend into the well. Soon they brought up the corpse of a woman, not in the least decayed although it had been there many days. She was dressed in Palace clothing and from her neck hung an embroidered bag. Opening this a red box was found, with a golden lock, and when the box was opened, they saw a jade seal, square in shape, four inches each way. On it were delicately engraved five dragons intertwined. One corner had been broken off and repaired with gold. There were eight characters in the seal style of engraving which interpreted read:

I have received the command from Heaven: May my time be always long and prosperous.

Sun Jian showed this to his adviser, General Cheng Pu, who at once recognized it as the Imperial Hereditary Seal of the Emperor.

Cheng Pu said, “This seal has a history. In olden days Bian He saw a phoenix sitting on a certain stone at the foot of the Jing Mountains. He offered the stone at court. The King of Chu split open the stone and found a piece of jade. In the twenty-sixth year of Qin Dynasty (BC 221), a jade cutter made a seal from it, and Li Si, the First Emperor’s Prime Minister, engraved the characters. Two years later, while the First Emperor was sailing in Dongting Lake, a terrific storm arrived. The Emperor threw the seal to the water as a propitiatory offering, and the storm immediately ceased. Ten years later again, when the First Emperor was making a progress and had reached Huaying, an old man by the road side handed a seal to one of the attendants saying, ‘This is now restored to the ancestral dragon!’ and had then disappeared. Thus the jewel returned to Qin.

“The next year the First Emperor died. Later Zi Ying, the last Emperor of Qin and grandson of the First Emperor, presented the seal to Liu Bang the Supreme Ancestor, the founder of Han Dynasty. Two hundred years later, in Wang Mang’s rebellion, the Emperor’s mother, Lady Yuan, struck two of the rebels, Wang Xun and Su Xian, with the seal and broke off a corner, which was repaired with gold. Liu Xiu the Latter Han Founder got possession of it at Yiyang, and it has been regularly bequeathed hereafter.

“I heard this treasured seal had been lost during the trouble in the Palace when the Ten Regular Attendants hurried off the Emperor. It was missed on His Majesty’s return. Now my lord has it and certainly will come to the imperial dignity. But you must not remain here in the north. Quickly go home to the south of the Great River, where you can lay plans for the accomplishment of the great design.”

“Your words exactly accord with my thoughts,” said Sun Jian. “Tomorrow I will make an excuse that I am unwell and get away.”

The soldiers were told to keep the discovery a secret. But one among them was a compatriot of the elected chief of the confederacy —-Yuan Shao. He thought this might be of great advantage to him, so he stole away out of the camp and betrayed his master. He went to Yuan Shao’s camp, informed the secret, and received a liberal reward. Yuan Shao kept the informant in his own camp.

Next morning Sun Jian came to take leave, saying, “I am rather unwell and wish to return to Changsha.”

Yuan Shao laughed, saying, “I know what you are suffering from: It is called the Imperial Hereditary Seal!”

This was a shock to Sun Jian, and he paled but said, “Whence these words?”

Yuan Shao said, “The armies were raised for the good of the state and to relieve it from oppression. The seal is state property; and since you have got hold of it, you should publicly hand it over to me as chief. When Dong Zhuo has been slain, it must go back to the government. What do you mean by concealing it and going away?”

“How could the seal get into my hands?” said Sun Jian.

“Where is the article out of the well near the Hall of Paragons?”

“I have it not: Why harass me thus?”

“Quickly produce it, or it will be the worst for you!”

Sun Jian pointing toward the heavens as an oath said, “If I have this jewel and am hiding it myself, may my end be unhappy and my death violent!”

The lords all said, “After an oath like this, we think he cannot have it.”

Then Yuan Shao called out his informant.

“When you pulled that thing out of the well, was this man there?” asked he of Sun Jian.

Sun Jian’s anger burst forth, and he sprang forward to kill the man.

Yuan Shao also drew his sword, saying, “You touch that soldier and it is an insult to me!”

Behind Sun Jian, Generals Cheng Pu, Huang Gai, and Han Dang stepped forth; behind Yuan Shao, Generals Yan Liang and Wen Chou were ready to act. In a moment on all sides swords flew from their scabbards. But the confusion was stayed by the efforts of the others, and Sun Jian left the assembly. Soon he broke up his camp and marched to his own place.

Yuan Shao was not satisfied. He wrote to Jingzhou Region and sent the letter by a trusty hand to tell Imperial Protector Liu Biao to stop Sun Jian and take away the seal.

Just after this came the news of the defeat and misfortune of Cao Cao, and when he was coming home, Yuan Shao sent out to welcome him and conduct him into camp. They also prepared a feast to console him.

During the feast Cao Cao said sadly, “My object was for the public good, and all you gentlemen nobly supported me. My plan was to get Yuan Shao with his Henei troops to approach Mengching; and my force at Qiao to keep Chenggao; while the others of you to hold Suanzao, to close the passes of Huanyuan and Daigu, and to take possession of the granaries, to control the points of vantage, and thus to secure the Capital District. I planned for Yuan Shu with his Nanyang army to occupy the counties of Danshi and Xilin and go into Wu Pass to help the three support areas. All were to fortify their positions and not to fight. Advantage lay in a diverse military coalition that could show the empire a possibility of dealing with the rebellion. We could have convinced the people to side with us against Dong Zhuo. Victory would have been ours at once. But then came delays and doubts and inaction, and the confidence of the people was lost, and I am ashamed.”

No reply was possible and the guests dispersed. Cao Cao saw that the others mistrusted him, and in his heart knew that nothing could be accomplished. So he led off his force to Yanzhou Region.

Then Gongsun Zan said to Liu Bei, “This Yuan Shao is an incapable, and things will turns chaotic. We had better go too.”

So he broke camp and went north. At Pingyuan he left Liu Bei in command and went to strengthen his own position and refresh his troops.

The Imperial Protector of Yanzhou, Liu Dai, wished to borrow grain of the Governor of Dongjun, Qiao Mao. Being denied, Liu Dai attacked the camp, killed Qiao Mao and took over all his army. Yuan Shao seeing the confederacy breaking up also marched away and went east.

On the way home, Sun Jian was passing through Jingzhou Region. The Imperial Protector of Jingzhou, Liu Biao, was a scion of the imperial house and a native of Shanyang. As a young man he had made friends with many famous people, and he and his companions were called the Eight Wise Ones. The other seven were:

.1. Chen Xiang from Runan
.2. Fan Pang from Runan
.3. Kong Yu from Luting
.4. Fan Kang from Bohai
.5. Tan Fu from Shanyang
.6. Zhang Jian from Shanyang
.7. Cen Zhi from Nanyang

Liu Biao was friends with all these. He had three famous persons who helped him in the government of his region. They were Kuai Liang and Kuai Yue from Yanping, and Cai Mao from Xiangyang.

When Yuan Shao’s letter detailing the fault of Sun Jian arrived, Liu Biao ordered Kuai Yue and Cai Mao with ten thousand soldiers to bar the way. When Sun Jian drew near, the force was arranged in fighting order and the leaders were in the front.

“Why are you thus barring the road with armed troops?” asked Sun Jian.

“Why do you, a servant of Han, secrete the Emperor’s special seal? Leave it with me at once and you go free,” said Kuai Yue.

Sun Jian angrily ordered out General Huang Gai. On the other side Cai Mao rode forth with his sword set to strike. But after a few bouts Huang Gai dealt Cai Mao a blow with the iron whip on the armor just over the heart. Cai Mao turned his steed and fled, and Sun Jian got through with a sudden rush.

However, there arose the sound of gongs and drums on the hills behind, and there was Liu Biao in person with a large army.

Sun Jian rode straight up to him and bowing low spoke, “Why did you, on the faith of a letter from Yuan Shao, try to coerce the chief of a neighboring region?”

“You have concealed the state jewel, and I want you to restore it,” was Liu Biao’s reply.

“If I have this thing, may I die a violent death!”

“If you want me to believe you, let me search your baggage.”

“What force have you that you dare come to flout me thus?”

And only Liu Biao’s prompt retirement prevented a battle. Sun Jian proceeded on his way. But from the rear of the second hill an ambush suddenly discovered itself, and Kuai Yue and Cai Mao were still pursuing. Sun Jian seemed entirely hemmed in.

What does a man to hold the state jewel for,

If its possession lead to strife?

How Sun Jian got clear of the difficulty will presently be told.

Chapter 7

Yuan Shao Fights Gongsun Zan At The River Pan; Sun Jian Attacks Liu Biao Across The Great River.

At the close of the last chapter Sun Jian was surrounded. However, aided by Cheng Pu, Huang Gai, and Han Dang, he eventually fought his way through, though with the loss of more than half his troops. Sun Jian returned to the South Land, the territories southeast of the Great River. Henceforward Sun Jian and Liu Biao were open enemies.

Yuan Shao was in Henei. Being short of supplies, he sent to borrow from the Imperial Protector of Jizhou, Han Fu, whence he obtained the wherewithal to support his army.

Then one of Yuan Shao’s advisers, Peng Ji, said to him, “You are really the strongest power here about. Why then depend upon another for food? Jizhou Region is rich and wide. Why not seize it?”

“I have no good plan,” replied Yuan Shao.

“You could secretly send a letter to Gongsun Zan, asking him to attack, promising him your support. Imperial Protector Han Fu of Jizhou, being incapable, must ask you to take over his region, and you will get it without lifting a finger.”

So the letter was sent. When Gongsun Zan saw therein the proposal to make a joint attack and divide the territory, he agreed to give his help. In the meantime Yuan Shao had sent to warn Han Fu of Gongsun Zan’s threat. Han Fu sought advice from Counselors Xun Chang and Xin Ping.

Xun Chang said, “Governor Gongsun Zan of Beiping is commanding a huge and strong army. If he came to attack us, we could not stand against him, especially if he had the help of Liu Bei and his brothers. At present, Yuan Shao is bolder than most, and he has many able and famous leaders under him. You cannot do better than ask him to assist in administering this region. Yuan Shao will certainly treat you with generosity, and you need have no fear from Gongsun Zan.”

Han Fu agreed and sent a message to Yuan Shao by the hand of Guan Chun.

But Commander Geng Wu remonstrated with his master, saying, “Yuan Shao is a needy man with a hungry army and as dependent on us for existence as an infant in the arms of its mother. Stop the flow of milk and the infant dies. Why should you hand the region over to him? It is nothing less than letting a tiger into the sheepfold!”

Han Fu replied, “I am one of the clients of the Yuan family, and I know the abilities of Yuan Shao, which is far better than mine! Why are you all so jealous? The ancients counseled yielding to the sage.”

Geng Wu sighed, “Jizhou is lost!”

When the news got abroad, more than thirty officers of Jizhou left their employment and the city. However, Geng Wu and Guan Chun hid in the suburbs to await the arrival of Yuan Shao.

They had not long to wait. Some days later, Yuan Shao with his soldiers came, and Geng Wu and Guan Chun tried to assassinate him with knives. This attempt failed. Yuan Shao’s generals, Yan Liang and Wen Chou, beheaded Geng Wu and Guan Chun instantly. Thus both of them died, and the object of their hatred entered Jizhou City.

Yuan Shao’s first act was to confer on Han Fu a high sounding title —-General Who Demonstrates Grand and Vigor Courage in Arms —-, but the administration was entrusted to four of Yuan Shao’s confidants —-Tian Feng, Ju Shou, Xu You, and Peng Ji —-who speedily deprived the Imperial Protector of all power. Full of chagrin, Han Fu soon abandoned all, even his family, and rode alone to take refuge with the Governor of Chenliu, Zhang Miao.

Hearing of Yuan Shao’s invasion, Gongsun Zan sent his brother, Gongsun Yue, to see the usurper and demand his share of the region.

“I want to see your elder brother himself. He and I have things to discuss,” said Yuan Shao.

Thus Gongsun Yue was sent back. But after traveling some fifteen miles on the homeward road, Gongsun Yue saw a group of soldiers appear.

“We are guards of Prime Minister Dong Zhuo!” cried the soldiers.

Instantly, Gongsun Yue was killed by a flight of arrows. Those of Gongsun Yue’s followers who escaped carried the news to their late master’s brother.

Gongsun Zan was very angry and said, “Yuan Shao prevailed on me to attack, and now he has taken possession! Also he pretends the murderers of my brother were not his people! Shall I not avenge my brother’s injury?”

Gongsun Zan brought up all his force to the attack. Learning the movement, Yuan Shao sent out his army, and they met at River Pan. They halted on opposite sides of the river, over which was a bridge.

Gongsun Zan took his station on the bridge and cried to his enemy, “Renegade, how dared you mislead me?”

Yuan Shao rode to the other end of the bridge and, pointing at Gongsun Zan, replied, “Han Fu yielded place to me because he was unequal to the rule! What concern is it of yours?”

Gongsun Zan replied, “Formerly you were regarded as loyal and public spirited, and we chose you chief of the confederacy. Now your deeds prove you cruel and base and wolf-hearted in behavior! How can you look the world in the face?”

“Who will capture him?” cried Yuan Shao in a rage.

At once Wen Chou rode out with his spear set. Gongsun Zan rode down the bridge to the enemy’s side, where the two engaged. Ten bouts showed Gongsun Zan the terrible power of Wen Chou, and so he drew off. The enemy came on. Gongsun Zan took refuge within his formation, but Wen Chou cut his way in and rode this way and that, slaying right and left. The four best of Gongsun Zan’s generals offered joint battle, but one fell under the first stroke of the doughty warrior, and the other three fled. Wen Chou followed, clearing through to the rear of the army. Gongsun Zan made for the mountains.

Wen Chou forced his horse to its utmost pace, crying hoarsely, “Down! Dismount and surrender!”

Gongsun Zan fled for life. His bow and quiver dropped from his shoulders, his helmet fell off, and his hair streamed straight behind him as he rode in and out between the sloping hills. Then his steed stumbled and he was thrown, rolling over and over to the foot of the slope.

Wen Chou was now very near and poising his spear for the thrust. Then suddenly came out from the shelter of a grassy mound on the left a general of youthful mien, but sitting his steed bravely and holding a sturdy spear. He rode directly at Wen Chou, and Gongsun Zan crawled up the slope to look on.

The new warrior was of middle height with bushy eyebrows and large eyes, a broad face and a heavy jowl, a youth of commanding presence. The two exchanged some fifty bouts and yet neither had the advantage. Then Gongsun Zan’s rescue force came along, and Wen Chou turned and rode away. The warrior did not pursue.

Gongsun Zan hurried down the hill and asked the young fellow who he was.

He bowed low and replied, “My name is Zhao Zilong from Changshan. I first served Yuan Shao; but when I saw that he was disloyal to his prince and careless of the welfare of the people, I left him and I was on my way to offer service to you. This meeting in this place is most unexpected.”

Gongsun Zan was very pleased, and the two went together to the camp, where they at once busied themselves with preparations for a new battle.

Next day Gongsun Zan prepared for fight by dividing his army into two wings. He had five thousand cavalry in the center, all mounted on white horses. Gongsun Zan had formerly seen service against the northern frontier tribes, the Qiang Peoples, where he always placed his white horses in the van of his army, and thus he had won the sobriquet of General Who Commands White Horses. The tribes held him so much in fear that they always fled as soon as the white horses, their sacred creatures, appeared.

On Yuan Shao’s side Yan Liang and Wen Chou were Leaders of the Van. Each had one thousand of archers and crossbowmen. They were set out half on either side, those on the left to shoot at Gongsun Zan’s right and those on the right to shoot at his left. In the center was Qu Yi with eight hundred bowmen and ten thousand of foot and horse. Yuan Shao took command of the reserve force in the rear.

In this fight Gongsun Zan employed his new adherent Zhao Zilong for the first time and, as Gongsun Zan did not feel assured of Zhao Zilong’s good faith, put him in command of a company at the rear. The Van Leader was Yan Guang, and Gongsun Zan himself commanded the center. He took his place on horseback on the bridge beside an enormous red standard on which was displayed the words Commanding General in gold embroidery.

From sunrise to noon the drums rolled for the attack, but Yuan Shao’s army made no move. Qu Yi made his bowmen hide under their shields. They heard the roar of explosions, the whistling of arrows, and the rattle of the drums, as Yan Guang approached from the other side, but Qu Yi and his men lay closer than ever and never stirred. They waited till Yan Guang had got close on them and then, as the sound of a bomb rent the air, the whole eight hundred men let fly their arrows in a cloud. Yan Guang was quite taken aback and would have retired, but Qu Yi rode furiously toward him, whirled up his sword and cut him down.

So Gongsun Zan’s army lost that battle. The two wings that should have come to the rescue were kept back by the bowmen under Yan Liang and Wen Chou. Yuan Shao’s troops advanced right up to the bridge. Then Qu Yi rode forward, slew the standard bearer, and hacked through the staff of the embroidered banner. Seeing this, Gongsun Zan turned his steed and galloped away.

Qu Yi followed. But just as he caught up the fugitive, there came prancing forth Zhao Zilong, who rode directly at him with spear ready to strike. After a few bouts Qu Yi was laid in the dust. Then Zhao Zilong attacked the soldiers and turned the tide. Plunging forward on this side, dashing in on that, he went through as if there were no antagonists and, seeing this, Gongsun Zan turned and came again into the fight. The final victory was on his side.

From the scouts sent to find out how the battle went, Yuan Shao heard the good news of Qu Yi’s success in slaying the standard bearer, capturing the flag, and his pursuit. So Yuan Shao took no further care but rode out with Tian Feng and a few guards to look on at the enemy and enjoy his victory.

“Ha ha!” Yuan Shao laughed. “Gongsun Zan is an incapable!”

But even as Yuan Shao spoke, he saw in front the redoubtable Zhao Zilong. His guards hastened to prepare their bows, but before they could shoot, Zhao Zilong was in their midst, and men were falling before him wherever he went. The others fled. Gongsun Zan’s army then gathered round and hemmed in Yuan Shao.

Tian Feng then said to his master, “Sir, take refuge in this empty building here!”

But Yuan Shao dashed his helmet to the ground, crying, “The brave person rather faces death in the battle than seeks safety behind a wall!”

This bold speech gave new courage to his soldiers who now fought fiercely and with such success that Zhao Zilong could nowhere force his way in. Yuan Shao was soon reinforced by the arrival of his main body and Yan Liang, and the two armies pressed forward. Zhao Zilong could only just get Gongsun Zan safe out of the press. Then they fought their way back to the bridge. But Yuan Shao’s troops still came on and fought their way across the bridge, forcing multitudes of their adversaries into the water, where many were drowned.

Yuan Shao was leading in person and his troops still advanced. But not more than two miles, for soon a great shouting was heard behind some hills, whence suddenly burst out a body of troops led by Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei.

At Pingyuan they had heard of the struggle between their protector and his enemy, Yuan Shao, and had at once set out to help. Now the three riders, each with his peculiar weapon, flew straight at Yuan Shao, who was so frightened that his soul seemed to leave his body and fly beyond the confines of heaven.

His sword fell from his hand and he fled for his life. He was chased across the bridge when Gongsun Zan called in his army, and they returned to camp.

After the usual greetings Gongsun Zan said, “If you had not come to our help, we should have been in very bad case.”

Liu Bei and Zhao Zilong were made acquainted with each other, and a warm affection sprang up from the very first so that they were always together.

Yuan Shao had lost that battle, and Gongsun Zan would not risk another. They strengthened their defenses, and the armies lay inactive for over a month. In the meantime news of the fighting had reached Capital Changan, and Dong Zhuo was told.

His adviser, Li Ru, went to see his master and said, “The two active leaders of today are Yuan Shao and Gongsun Zan, who are at grips at River Pan. Pretend you have an imperial command to make peace between them, and both will support you out of gratitude for your intervention.”

“Good!” said Dong Zhuo.

So he sent Imperial Guardian Ma Midi and Court Administrator Zhao Qi on the mission. When these men were arriving at the North of Yellow River, Yuan Shao sent out to welcome them thirty miles from his headquarters and received the imperial command with the greatest respect. Then the two officers went to Gongsun Zan and made known their errand. Gongsun Zan sent letters to his adversary proposing friendship. The two emissaries returned to report their task accomplished. Gongsun Zan drew off his army. He also sent up a memorial eulogizing Liu Bei, who was raised to the rank of Governor of Pingyuan.

The farewell between Liu Bei and Zhao Zilong was affecting. They held each other’s hands a long time, their eyes streaming with tears, and could not tear themselves apart.

Zhao Zilong said with a sob, “I used to think Gongsun Zan a true hero, but I see now that he is no different from Yuan Shao. They are both alike.”

“But you are now in his service. We shall surely meet again,” said Liu Bei.

Both men wept freely as they separated.

Now Yuan Shu in Nanyang, hearing that his brother had come into Jizhou, sent to beg a thousand horses. The request was refused and enmity sprang up between the brothers. Yuan Shu also sent to Jingzhou to borrow grain, which Imperial Protector Liu Biao would not send. In his resentment, Yuan Shu wrote to Sun Jian, Governor of Changsha, trying to get him to attack Liu Biao. The letter ran like this:

“When Liu Biao stopped you on your way home, it was at the instigation of my brother. Now the same two have planned to fall upon your territories in the South Land, wherefore you should at once strike at Liu Biao. I will capture my brother for you and both resentments will be appeased. You will get Jingzhou, and I shall have Jizhou.”

“I cannot bear Liu Biao,” said Sun Jian as he finished reading this letter. “He certainly did bar my way home, and I may wait many years for my revenge if I let slip this chance!”

He called a council.

“You may not trust Yuan Shu. He is very deceitful,” said Cheng Pu.

“I want revenge on my own part. What care I for his help?” said Sun Jian.

He dispatched Huang Gai to prepare a river fleet, arm and provision them. Big warships were to take horses on board. The force soon set out.

News of these preparations came to Liu Biao, and he hastily summoned his advisers and commanders.

Kuai Liang told him to be free from anxiety, and said, “Put General Huang Zu at the head of the Jiangxia army to make the first attack and you, Sir, support him with the forces from Xiangyang. Let Sun Jian come riding the rivers and straddling the lakes: What strength will he have left after arriving here?”

So Liu Biao bade Huang Zu prepare to march, and a great army was assembled.

Here it may be said that Sun Jian had four sons, all the issue of his wife who was of the Wu family. Their names in order were Sun Ce, Sun Quan, Sun Yi, and Sun Kuang. Sun Jian had a second wife who was the sister of his first wife. And the second wife bore him a son and a daughter, the former called Sun Lang, the latter Sun Ren. Sun Jian had also adopted a son from a Yu family and named him Sun Hu. And he had a younger brother named Sun Jing.

As Sun Jian was leaving on this expedition, his brother Sun Jing with all his six sons stood in front of his steed and dissuaded him, saying, “Dong Zhuo is the real ruler of the state, for the Emperor is a weakling. The whole country is in rebellion, everyone is scrambling for territory. Our area is comparatively peaceful, and it is wrong to begin a war merely for the sake of a little resentment. I pray you, brother, think before you start.”

Sun Jian replied, “Brother, say no more. I desire to make my strength felt throughout the empire, and shall I not avenge my injuries?”

“Then Father, if you must go, let me accompany you,” said the eldest son Sun Ce.

This request was granted, and father and son embarked to go to ravage the city of Fankou.

Now Huang Zu had placed archers and crossbowmen along the river bank. When the ships approached, a flight of arrows met them. Sun Jian ordered his troops to remain under cover in the ships, which then sailed to and fro, drawing the fire for three days. Several times the ships pretended to land, and this drew showers of arrows from the bank. At last the arrows of the defenders were all shot away and Sun Jian, who collected them, found he had many myriads. Then with a fair wind Sun Jian’s troops shot them back to the enemy. Those on the bank were thrown into great disorder and retired. The army then landed. Two divisions led by Cheng Pu and Huang Gai set out for Huang Zu’s camp along different roads, and between them marched Han Dang. Under this triple attack Huang Zu was worsted. He left Fankou and hastened to Dengcheng.

Leaving the ships under the command of Huang Gai, Sun Jian led the pursuing force. Huang Zu came out of his city and drew up for battle in the open country. When Sun Jian had disposed his army, he rode out to the standard. Sun Ce, clad in armor, placed himself beside his father.

Huang Zu rode out with two generals —-Zhang Hui from Jiangxia and Chen Sheng from Xiangyang.

Flourishing his whip, Huang Zu abused his enemy, “You swarm of rebels from the south! Why do you invade the land of a scion of the ruling house?”

Zhang Hui challenged to combat, and Han Dang went out to accept. The two champions fought thirty bouts, and then Chen Sheng, seeing his fellow general becoming exhausted, rode to his aid. Sun Jian saw Chen Sheng coming, laid aside his spear, reached for his bow, and shot an arrow wounding Chen Sheng in the face. He fell from his horse. Panic seized upon Zhang Hui at the fall of his comrade, and he could no longer defend himself. Then Han Dang with a slash of his sword clove Zhang Hui’s skull in twain.

Both having fallen, Cheng Pu galloped up to make prisoner of Huang Zu, who threw off his helmet, slipped from his steed, and mingled for safety among his troops. Sun Jian led on the attack and drove the enemy to the Han River where he ordered Huang Gai to move the fleet upriver and moor there.

Huang Zu led his defeated troops back and told Liu Biao, saying, “Sun Jian was too strong for my army!”

Kuai Liang was called in to advise, and he said, “Our newly defeated soldiers have no heart for fighting now. Therefore we must fortify our position, while we seek help from Yuan Shao. Then we can extricate ourselves.”

“A stupid move!” said Cai Mao. “The enemy is at the city gates: Shall we fold our hands and wait to be slain? Give me troops and I will go out and fight to the finish!”

So Cai Mao was placed in command of ten thousand troops and went out to the Xian Hills where he drew up his battle line. Sun Jian led the invaders, now flushed with success.

When Cai Mao approached, Sun Jian looked at him and said, “He is brother-in-law to Liu Biao. Who will capture him?”

Cheng Pu set his iron-spined lance and rode out. After a few bouts Cai Mao turned and fled. Sun Jian’s army rode in and slaughtered till corpses filled the countryside, and Cai Mao rushed back and took refuge in Xiangyang.

Kuai Liang said, “Cai Mao ought to be put to death by military law! This defeat was due to his obstinacy.”

But Liu Biao was unwilling to punish the brother of his newly wedded wife.

Sun Jian surrounded Xiangyang and assailed the walls daily. One day a fierce gale sprang up, and the pole bearing his standard was broken.

“Very inauspicious!” said Han Dang. “We ought to go back.”

Sun Jian said, “I have won every battle and the city is on the point of falling. Shall I return because the wind felled a flagstaff?”

He flouted the advice and attacked the walls still more vigorously.

Within the city the defenders had seen an omen.

Kuai Liang told Liu Biao, “Last night I saw that a great star fall into the sky corresponding to Sun Jian’s territory. I calculated that it inferred the fall of Sun Jian.”

Then Kuai Liang advised Liu Biao to seek help from Yuan Shao as quickly as possible.

So Liu Biao wrote. Then he asked who would undertake to fight his way through the blockade with the letter. One Lu Gong, a warrior of great strength, offered himself for this service.

Kuai Liang said, “If you undertake this service, listen to my advice. You will have five hundred soldiers: Choose good bowmen. Dash through the enemy’s formation and make for Xian Hills. You will be pursued; but send a hundred soldiers up the hill to prepare large stones, and place a hundred archers in ambush in the woods. These are not to flee from the pursuers but to beguile them along devious ways round to the place where the boulders have been prepared. There stones will be rolled down and arrows shot. If you succeed, fire off a series of bombs as a signal, and the armies in the city will come out to help. If you are not pursued, get away as fast as possible. Tonight will be suitable as there is very little moon. Start at dusk.”

Lu Gong having received these directions, prepared his force to carry them out. As soon as day began to close in, he went quietly out at the east gate.

Sun Jian was in his tent when he heard shouting, and a soldier came to report: “There was a group of horsemen going out from the city!”

Sun Jian at once mounted and rode out with thirty horsemen to discover the cause. Lu Gong’s troops had already hidden themselves in the thick woods. Sun Jian rode ahead of his escort, and soon he found himself alone and close to the enemy. He called out to them to halt. Lu Gong at once turned back and came as if to fight. But they had only exchanged a single pass when Lu Gong again fled, taking the road among the hills. Sun Jian followed but soon lost sight of his foe.

Sun Jian turned up the hill. Then the gongs clanged and down the hills fell showers of stones, while from among the trees the arrows flew in clouds. Sun Jian was hit by several arrows and a huge stone crushed in his head. Both he and his steed were killed. Sun Jian was only thirty-seven years old at his death.

His escort was overpowered and every man of them slain. Then Lu Gong let off a series of bombs, the sign of success, as agreed. At this signal Huang Zu, Kuai Yue, and Cai Mao led three armies out of the city and fell upon the South Land troops, throwing them into the utmost confusion.

When Huang Gai heard the sound of battle, he led up the troops from the ships. He met Huang Zu and took Huang Zu prisoner after a brief fight.

Cheng Pu set out to bear the sad news to Sun Ce. While he was seeking a way out, he came across Lu Gong. Cheng Pu at once put his horse at full speed and engaged Lu Gong. After a few bouts Lu Gong went down under a spear thrust. The battle became chaotic and continued till daylight broke, when each drew off his army. Liu Biao withdrew into the city.

When Sun Ce returned to the river, he heard that his father had perished in the fight, and his body had been carried within the enemy’s walls. He uttered a great cry, and the army joined him with wailing and tears.

“How can I return home leaving my father’s corpse with them?” cried Sun Ce.

Huang Gai said, “We have Huang Zu as our prisoner. Let one enter the city and discuss peace, giving up our prisoner for our lord’s body.”

He had barely finished speaking when an officer in the army, Huan Ji, offered himself as messenger, saying, “I am an old friend of Liu Biao. I volunteer to take the mission.”

Sun Ce agreed. So Huan Ji went and peace was discussed.

Liu Biao told Huan Ji, saying, “The body is already laid in a coffin and ready to be delivered as soon as Huang Zu returned. Let us both cease fighting and never again invade each other’s territories.”

Huan Ji thanked him and took his leave.

But as Huan Ji went down the steps, Kuai Liang suddenly broke in, saying, “No, no! Let me speak and I will see to it that not a single enemy can survive. I pray you first put this man to death and then to employ my means.”

Pursuing his enemy, Sun Jian dies;

On a peaceful mission, Huan Ji is threatened.

The fate of the ambassador will be disclosed in a later chapter.

Chapter 8

Wang Yun Prepares The Chaining Scheme; Dong Zhuo Rages At Phoenix Pavilion.

This is what Kuai Liang said, “Sun Jian is now gone, and his children are but youths. Seize this moment of weakness to break into the South Land, and it is yours in one beat of the drum. If you return the corpse and make peace, you give them time to grow powerful, and evil will ensue to Jingzhou.”

“How can I leave Huang Zu in their hands?” said Liu Biao.

“Why not sacrifice this blundering warrior for a region?”

“But he is my dear friend, and to abandon him is wrong.”

So Huan Ji was allowed to return to his own side with the understanding that Sun Jian’s dead body should be given in exchange. Sun Ce freed his prisoner, brought away his father’s coffin, and the fighting ceased. Sun Jian was interred in the plains of Que. When the ceremonies were over, Sun Ce led his army home again.

In Changsha, one of the territories south of the Great River, Sun Ce set himself to the task of ruling well. Being humble and generous, he invited to his side humans of wisdom and valor and so bore himself that all the best and bravest of the country gathered about him.

Meanwhile, Dong Zhuo at Capital Changan, when he heard of the death of the turbulent Sun Jian, said, “An evil that pressed hard upon my heart has been removed!”

He asked what children Sun Jian had left, and when they told him the eldest was but seventeen, he dismissed all anxiety from his thoughts.

From this time forward his arrogance and domineering spirit waxed worse and worse. He styled himself “Imperial Rector”, a name full of honor, and in all his behavior aped imperial state. He created his younger brother, Dong Min, Lord of Huazhou and made him Commander of the Left Army. A nephew, Dong Huang, was made Court Counselor and placed in command of the Palace Guard, and everyone of his clan, young or old, was ennobled. Eighty miles from the capital Dong Zhuo laid out a city called Meiwo, an exact replica of Changan, with its palaces, granaries, treasuries, and magazines, and employed a quarter of a million people to build it. Here he accumulated supplies sufficient for twenty years. He selected eight hundred of the most beautiful maidens and sent them to dwell in his new city. The stores of wealth in every form were incalculable. All his family and retainers found quarters in this city.

Dong Zhuo visited his city at intervals of a month or so, and every visit was like an imperial progress, with booths by the roadside to refresh the officials and courtiers who attended him to the northwest Royal Gate and saw him start.

On one occasion Dong Zhuo spread a great feast for all those assembled to witness his departure; and while it was in progress, there arrived a large number of rebels from the north who had voluntarily surrendered. Dong Zhuo had them brought before him as he sat at table and meted out to them wanton cruelties. The hands of this one were lopped off, the feet of that; one had his eyes gouged out; another lost his tongue. Some were boiled to death. Shrieks of agony arose to the very heavens, and the courtiers were faint with terror. But the author of the misery ate and drank, chatted and smiled as if nothing was going on.

Another day Dong Zhuo was presiding at a great gathering of officials who were seated in two long rows. After the wine had gone up and down several times, Lu Bu entered and whispered a few words in his master’s ear.

Dong Zhuo smiled and said, “He was always so. Take Minister of Works Zhang Wan outside!”

The others all turned pale. In a little time a serving man brought the head of their fellow guest on a red dish and showed it to their host. They nearly died with fright.

“Do not fear,” said Dong Zhuo smiling. “Minister Zhang Wan was in league with Yuan Shu to assassinate me. A letter he wrote fell by mistake into the hands of my son, so I have had him put to death. You gentlemen, who have no reason, need have no fear.”

The officials hastened to disperse. One of them, Minister of the Interior Wang Yun, who had witnessed all this, returned to his palace very pensive and much distressed. The same evening, a bright moonlight night, he took his staff and went strolling in his private garden. Standing near one of the creeper trellises, he gazed up at the sky and the tears rolled down his cheeks. Suddenly he heard a rustle in the Peony Pavilion and someone sighing deeply. Stealthily creeping near, he saw there one of the household singing girls named Diao Chan.

This maiden had been brought up in his palace, where she had been taught to sing and dance. At twenty-one, she was a pretty and clever girl whom Wang Yun regarded more as a daughter than a dependant.

After listening for some time, Wang Yun suddenly called out, “What mischief are you up to there, you naughty girl?”

The maiden dropped on her knees in terror, saying, “Would thy unworthy handmaid dare to do anything wrong?”

“Then what are you sighing about out here in the darkness?”

“May thy handmaid speak from the bottom of her heart?”

“Tell me the whole truth. Do not conceal anything.”

And the girl said, “Thy handmaid has been the recipient of bountiful kindness. She has been taught to sing and dance and been treated so kindly that were she torn in pieces for her lord’s sake, it would not repay a thousandth part. She has noticed lately that her lord’s brows have been knit in distress and knows it is on account of the state troubles. But she has not dared to ask. This evening he seemed sadder than ever, and she was miserable on her lord’s account. But she did not know she would be seen. Could she be of any use, she would not shrink from a myriad deaths.”

A sudden idea came to Wang Yun, and he stuck the ground with his staff. And he said, “Who would think that the fate of Han lay in your palm? Come with me!”

The girl followed him into the house. There he dismissed all the waiting attendants, placed Diao Chan on a chair, and bowed before her. She was frightened and threw herself on the ground, asking in terror what it all meant.

Said Wang Yun, “You can sympathize with the people of Han!”

And the fount of his tears opened afresh.

“My lord, as thy handmaid said just now, use her in any way: Thy handmaid will never shrink,” said the girl.

Wang Yun knelt, saying, “The people are on the brink of destruction, the prince and his officers are in jeopardy, and you, you are the only savior. That wretch Dong Zhuo wants to depose the Emperor, and not a person among us can find means to stop him. Now he has a son, a bold warrior it is true, but both father and son have a weakness for beauty, and I am going to use what I may call the ‘chaining plan’. I shall first propose you in marriage to Lu Bu and then, after you are betrothed, I shall present you to Dong Zhuo, and you will take every opportunity to force them asunder and turn sway their countenances from each other, cause the son to kill his adopted father and so put an end to the great evil. Thus you may restore the altars of the land that it may live again. All this lies within your power: Will you do it?”

“Thy handmaid has promised not to recoil from death itself. You may use my poor self in any way, and I must do my best.”

“But if this gets abroad then we are all lost!”

“Fear not,” said she. “If thy handmaid does not show gratitude, may she perish beneath a myriad swords!”

“Thank you, thank you!” said Wang Yun.

Then Wang Yun took from the family treasury many pearls and bade a cunning jeweler make therewith a fine golden headdress, which was sent as a present to Lu Bu. He was delighted and came to thank the donor. When Lu Bu arrived, he was met at the gate by Wang Yun himself and within found a table full of dainties for his delectation. He was conducted into a private apartment and placed in the seat of honor.

Lu Bu said, “I am but a simple officer in the palace of a minister. You are an exalted officer of state. Why am I treated thus?”

“Because in the whole land there is no hero your equal. Poor I bow not to an officer’s rank; poor I bow to his ability.”

This gratified Lu Bu mightily, and his host continued to praise and flatter and ply him with wine and to talk of the virtues of the Prime Minister and his henchman.

Lu Bu laughed and drank huge goblets.

Presently most of the attendants were sent away, only a few kept to press the guest to drink.

When the guest was very mellow, Wang Yun suddenly said, “Let her come in!”

Soon appeared two attendants, dressed in white, leading between them the exquisite and fascinating Diao Chan.

“Who is this?” said Lu Bu startled into sobriety.

“This is my little girl, Diao Chan. You will not be annoyed at my familiarity, will you? But you have been so very friendly, I thought you would like to see her.”

Wang Yun bade Diao Chan present a goblet of wine, and her eyes met those of the warrior.

Wang Yun feigning intoxication said, “My child begs you, General, to take a cup or two. We all depend upon you, all our house.”

Lu Bu begged Diao Chan to sit down. She pretended to wish to retire.

Her master pressed her to remain, saying, “The General is a dear friend. You may stay.”

So she took a seat modestly near her master.

Lu Bu kept his gaze fixed upon the maid, while he swallowed cup after cup of wine.

“I should like to present her to you as a handmaid: Would you accept?” said Wang Yun.

The guest started up.

“If that is so, you may rely upon my abject gratitude,” said Lu Bu.

“We will choose a propitious day ere long and send her to the palace.”

Lu Bu was overjoyed. He could not keep his eyes off Diao Chan, and loving glances flashed from her liquid eyes.

However the time came for the guest to leave, and Wang Yun said, “I would ask you to remain the night, but the Prime Minister might suspect something.”

Lu Bu thanked him again and again and departed.

Some few days later when Wang Yun was at court and Lu Bu was absent, Wang Yun bowed low before Dong Zhuo and said, “I wish that you would deign to come to dine at my lowly cottage: Could your noble thought bend that way?”

“Should you invite me, I would certainly hasten,” was the reply.

Wang Yun thanked him. Then Wang Yun went home and prepared in the reception hall a feast in which figured every delicacy from land and sea. Beautiful embroideries surrounded the chief seat in the center, and elegant curtains were hung within and without. At noon next day, when Dong Zhuo arrived, Wang Yun met him at the gate in full court costume. Wang Yun stood by while Dong Zhuo stepped out of his chariot, and Dong Zhuo and a host of one hundred armed guards crowded into the hall. Dong Zhuo took his seat at the top, his suite fell into two lines right and left, while Wang Yun stood humbly at the lower end. Dong Zhuo bade his people conduct Wang Yun to a place beside himself.

Said Wang Yun, “The great Prime Minister’s abundant virtue is as the high mountains. Neither the ancient sages —-Yi Yin and the Duke of Zhou —-could attain thereto.”

Dong Zhuo smiled. They bore in the dishes and the wine, and the music began. Wang Yun plied his guest with assiduous flattery and studied deference. When it grew late and the wine had done its work, Dong Zhuo was invited to the inner chamber. So he sent away his guards and went.

Here the host raised a goblet and drank to his guest, saying, “From my youth up I have understood something of astrology and have been studying the aspect of the heavens. I read that the days of Han are numbered, and that the great Prime Minister’s merits command the regard of all the world, as when King Shun succeeded King Yao, and King Yu continued the work of King Shun, all by the strength of their own merits, conforming to the mind of Heaven and the desire of people.”

“How dare I expect this?” said Dong Zhuo.

“From the days of old, those who walk in the way have replaced those who deviate therefrom; those who lack virtue have fallen before those who possess it. Can one escape fate?”

“If indeed the decree of Heaven devolves on me, you shall be held the first in merit!” said Dong Zhuo.

Wang Yun bowed. Then lights were brought in and all the attendants were dismissed, save the serving maids to hand the wine. So the evening went on.

Presently Wang Yun said, “The music of these everyday musicians is too commonplace for your ear, but there happens to be in the house a little maid that might please you.”

“Excellent!” said the guest.

Then a curtain was lowered. The shrill tones of reed instruments rang through the room, and presently some attendants led forward Diao Chan, who then danced on the outside of the curtain.

A poem praises her:

For a palace this maiden was born,

So timid, so graceful, so slender,

Like a tiny bird flitting at morn

Over the dew-laden lily buds tender.

Were this exquisite maid only mine,

For never a mansion I’d pine.

Another poem runs thus:

The music falls, the dancer comes, a swallow gliding in,

A dainty little damsel, soft as silk;

Her beauty captivates the guest yet saddens him within,

For he must soon depart and leave her there.

She smiles; no gold could buy that smile, no other smiled so,

No need to deck her form with jewels rare.

But when the dance is over and coy glances come and go,

Then who shall be the chosen of the fair?

The dance ended. Dong Zhuo bade them lead the maiden in, and she came, bowing low as she approached him. He was much taken with her beauty and modest grace.

“Who is she?” said Dong Zhuo.

“A singing girl. Her name is Diao Chan.”

“Then can she sing?”

The master bade her sing, and she did so to the accompaniment of castanets. There is a measure describing her youthful beauty:

You stand, a dainty maiden,

Your cherry lips so bright,

Your teeth so pearly white,

Your fragrant breath love-laden;

Yet is your tongue a sword;

Cold death is the reward

Of loving thee, O maiden!

Dong Zhuo was delighted and praised her warmly. She was told to present a goblet of wine to the guest which he took from her hands and then asked her age.

She replied, “Thy unworthy handmaid is twenty-one.”

“A perfect fairy!” said Dong Zhuo.

Then Wang Yun rose and said, “If the Prime Minister would not mind, I should like to offer him this little maid.”

“How could I be grateful enough for such a kindness!”

“She would be most fortunate if she could be your servant,” said Wang Yun.

Dong Zhuo thanked his host warmly.

Then the orders were given to prepare a closed carriage and convey Diao Chan to the Prime Minister’s palace.

Soon after Dong Zhuo took his leave, and Wang Yun accompanied him the whole way.

After he had taken leave, Wang Yun mounted to ride homeward. Half way he met two lines of guards with red lamps who were escorting Lu Bu who was on horseback and armed with his trident halberd.

Seeing Wang Yun, Lu Bu at once reined in, stopped, seized him by the sleeve, and said angrily, “You promised Diao Chan to me, and now you have given her to the Prime Minister: What foolery is this?”

Wang Yun checked him, saying, “This is no place to talk. I pray you come to my house.”

So they went together, and Wang Yun led Lu Bu into a private room.

After the usual exchange of polite greetings, Wang Yun said, “Why do you find fault with me, General?”

“Somebody told me that you had sent Diao Chan to the Prime Minister’s palace in a covered carriage: What does it mean?”

“Of course you do not understand. Yesterday when I was at court, the Prime Minister told me he had something to talk to me about in my own house. So naturally I prepared for his coming, and while we were at dinner he said, ‘I have heard something of a girl named Diao Chan whom you have promised to my son Lu Bu. I thought it was mere rumor so I wanted to ask if it was true. Beside I should like to see her.’ I could not say no, so she came in and made her bow to the lord of lords. Then he said that it was a lucky day and he would take her away with him and betroth her to you. Just think, Sir: When the Prime Minister had come himself, could I stop him?”

“You were not so very wrong,” said Lu Bu. “But for a time I had misunderstood you. I owe you an apology.”

“The girl has a small trousseau, which I will send as soon as she has gone over to your dwelling.”

Lu Bu thanked him and went away. Next day he went into the palace to find out the truth, but could hear nothing. Then he made his way into the private quarters and questioned the maids. Presently one told him that the Imperial Rector had brought home a new bedfellow the night before and was not up yet. Lu Bu was very angry. Next he crept round behind his master’s sleeping apartment.

By this time Diao Chan had risen and was dressing her hair at the window. Looking out she saw a long shadow fall across the little lake. She recognized the headdress, and peeping around she saw it was indeed no other than Lu Bu. Thereupon she contracted her eyebrows, simulating the deepest grief, and with her dainty handkerchief she wiped her eyes again and again. Lu Bu stood watching her a long time.

Soon after he went in to give morning greeting. Dong Zhuo was sitting in the reception room.

Seeing his henchman, Dong Zhuo asked, “Is there anything new?”

“Nothing,” was the reply.

Lu Bu waited while Dong Zhuo took his morning meal. As he stood beside his master, he glanced over at the curtain and saw a woman there behind the screen showing a half face from time to time and throwing amorous glances at him. He felt it was his beloved, and his thoughts flew to her. Presently Dong Zhuo noticed his expression and began to feel suspicious.

“If there is nothing, you may go,” said Dong Zhuo.

Lu Bu sulkily withdrew.

Dong Zhuo now thought of nothing but his new mistress and for more than a month neglected all affairs, devoting himself entirely to pleasure. Once he was a little indisposed, and Diao Chan was constantly at his side, never even undressing to show her solicitude. She gratified his every whim. Dong Zhuo grew more and more fond of her.

One day Lu Bu went to inquire after his father’s health. Dong Zhuo was asleep, and Diao Chan was sitting at the head of his couch. Leaning forward she gazed at the visitor, with one hand pointed to her heart, the other at Dong Zhuo asleep, and her tears fell. Lu Bu felt heartbroken. Dong Zhuo drowsily opened his eyes; and seeing his son’s gaze fixed on something behind him, he turned over and saw who it was.

He angrily rebuked his son, saying, “Dare you make love to my beauty?”

He told the servants to turn Lu Bu out, shouting, “Never let him enter here again!”

Lu Bu went off home very wrath. Meeting Li Ru, he told Li Ru the cause of his anger.

The adviser hastened to see his master and said, “Sir, you aspire to be ruler of the empire. Why then for a small fault do you blame the General? If he turns against you, it is all over.”

“Then what can I do?” said Dong Zhuo.

“Recall him tomorrow; treat him well; overwhelm him with gifts and fair words; and all will be well.”

So Dong Zhuo did so. He sent for Lu Bu and was very gracious and said, “I was irritable and hasty yesterday owing to my illness and I wronged you, I know. Forgive me.”

He gave Lu Bu three hundred ounces of gold and twenty rolls of brocade. And so the quarrel was made up. But though Lu Bu’s body was with his adopted father Dong Zhuo, his heart was with his promised bride Diao Chan.

Dong Zhuo having quite recovered went to court again, and Lu Bu followed him as usual. One day, seeing Dong Zhuo deep in conversation with the Emperor, Lu Bu, armed as he was, went out of the Palace and rode off to his chief’s residence. He tied up his steed at the entrance and, halberd in hand, went to the private apartment to seek his love. He found Diao Chan, and she told him to go out into the garden where she would join him soon. He went, taking his halberd with him, and he leaned against the rail of the Phoenix Pavilion to wait for Diao Chan.

After a long time she appeared, swaying gracefully as she made her way under the drooping willows and parting the flowers as she passed. She was exquisite, a perfect fairy from the Palace of the Moon.

Tears were in her eyes as she came up and said, “Though I am not the Minister’s real daughter, yet he treated me as his own child. The desire of my life was fulfilled when he plighted me to you. But oh! to think of the wickedness of the Prime Minister, stealing my poor self as he did. I suffered so much. I longed to die, only that I had not told you the real truth. So I lived on, bearing my shame as best as I could. Now that I have seen you, I can end it all. My poor sullied body is no longer fit to serve a hero. I can die before your eyes and so prove how true I am!”

Thus speaking she seized the curving rail and started into the lily pond. Lu Bu caught her in his strong arms and wept as he held her close.

“I knew it: I always knew your heart!” he sobbed. “Only we never had a chance to speak.”

She threw her arms about Lu Bu.

“If I cannot be your wife in this life, I will in the ages to come,” she whispered.

“If I do not marry you in this life, I am no hero,” said he.

“Every day is a year long. O pity me! Rescue me! My lord!”

“I have only stolen away for a brief moment, and I am afraid that old rebel will suspect something, so I must not stay too long,” said Lu Bu.

Diao Chan clung to his robe, saying, “If you fear the old thief so much, I shall never see another sunrise!”

Lu Bu stopped.

“Give me a little time to think,” said he.

And he picked up his halberd to go.

“In the deep seclusion of the harem, I heard the stories of your prowess. You were the one man who excelled all others. Little did I think that you of all heroes would rest content under the dominion of another.”

And tears rained again!

A wave of shame flooded his face. Leaning his halberd against the railing, he turned and clasped the girl to his breast, soothing her with fond words. The lovers held each other close, swaying to and fro with emotion. They could not bring themselves to say farewell.

In the meantime Dong Zhuo missed his henchman, and doubt filled his heart. Hastily taking leave of the Emperor, he mounted his chariot and returned to his palace. There at the gate stood Lu Bu’s well known steed Red Hare, riderless. Dong Zhuo questioned the doorkeepers, and they told him the general was within. He sent away his attendants and went alone to the private apartments. Lu Bu was not there. He called Diao Chan, but there was no reply. He asked where she was, and the waiting maids told him she was in the garden among the flowers.

So Dong Zhuo went into the garden, and there he saw the lovers in the pavilion in most tender talk. Lu Bu’s trident halberd was leaning on the railing beside him.

A howl of rage escaped Dong Zhuo and startled the lovers. Lu Bu turned, saw who it was, and ran away. Dong Zhuo caught up the halberd and ran in pursuit. But Lu Bu was fleet of foot while his master was very stout. Seeing no hope of catching the runaway, Dong Zhuo hurled the halberd. Lu Bu fended it off and it fell to the ground. Dong Zhuo picked it up and ran on. But by this time Lu Bu was far ahead. Just as Dong Zhuo was running out at the garden gate, he dashed full tilt against another man running in, and down he went.

Surged up his wrath within him as the billows heavenward leap.

Crashed his unwieldy body to earth in a shapeless heap.

We shall presently see who the other runner was.

Chapter 9

Lu Bu Kills Dong Zhuo For Wang Yun; Li Jue Attacks The Capital On Jia Xu’s Advice.

The person who collided with the irate Dong Zhuo was his most trusty adviser Li Ru. Li Ru had not fallen in spite of the shock and at once scrambled to help Dong Zhuo to regain his feet and led him inside to the library, where they sat down.

“What were you coming about?” said Dong Zhuo.

“Happening to be passing your gates, I heard that you had gone into your private garden to look for your adopted son. Then came Lu Bu running and crying out that you wanted to kill him, and I was coming in as fast as I could to intercede for him when I accidentally collided with you. I am very sorry! I deserve death.”

“The wretch! How could I bear to see him toying with my fair one? I will be the death of his yet!”

“Your Graciousness is making a mistake. It is the ‘plucked tassel’ story over again. But if you remember the banquet of old time where all guests were to tear the tassels of their hats. In that banquet, King Zhuang of Chu made no fuss about the liberties taken with his queen, although the hat-tassel in her hand betrayed the culprit Jiang Xiong. His restraint stood him good stead, for the same Jiang Xiong saved his life when he was hemmed in by the soldiers of Qin. After all Diao Chan is only a handmaid, but Lu Bu is your trustiest friend and most dreaded commander. If you took this chance of making the girl over to him, your kindness would win his undying gratitude. I beg you, Sir, to think over it well.”

Dong Zhuo hesitated a long time. He sat murmuring to himself. Presently he said, “What you say is right. I must think over it.”

Li Ru felt satisfied. He took leave of his master and went away. Dong Zhuo went to his private rooms and called Diao Chan.

“What were you doing there with Lu Bu?” said he.

She began to weep, saying, “Thy handmaid was in the garden among the flowers, when he rushed in on me. I was frightened and ran away. He asked why I ran away from a son of the family and pursued me right to the Phoenix Pavilion, where you saw us. He had that halberd in his hand all the time. I felt he was a vicious man and would force me to his will, so I tried to throw myself into the lily pond, but he caught me in his arms and held me so that I was helpless. Luckily just at that moment you came and saved my life!”

“Suppose I send you to him,” said Dong Zhuo.

Stunned, she wailed profusely, “What have thy handmaid done? My honor of serving Your Highness could not bear to be given to a mere underling! Never! I would rather die!”

And with this she snatched down a dagger hanging on the wall to kill herself.

Dong Zhuo plucked it from her hand and, throwing his arms about her, and cried, “I was only joking!”

She lay back on his breast hiding her face and sobbing bitterly.

“This is the doing of that Li Ru,” said she. “He is much too thick with Lu Bu. He suggested that, I know. Little he cares for the Imperial Rector’s reputation or my life. Oh! I could eat him alive!”

“Do you think I could bear to lose you?” said Dong Zhuo.

“Though you love me yet I must not stay here. That Lu Bu will try to ruin me if I do. I fear him!”

“We will go to Meiwo tomorrow, you and I, and we will be happy together and have no cares.”

She dried her tears and thanked him. Next day Li Ru came again to persuade Dong Zhuo to send the damsel to Lu Bu.

“This is a propitious day,” said Li Ru.

“He and I standing in the relation of father and son. I cannot very well do that,” said Dong Zhuo. “But I will say no more about his fault. You may tell him so and soothe him as well as you can.”

“You are not being beguiled by the woman, are you?” said Li Ru.

Dong Zhuo colored, saying, “Would you like to give your wife to some body else? Do not talk about this any further. It would be better not to!”

Li Ru left the chamber. When he got outside, he cast his eyes up to heaven, saying, “We are dead people —-slain by the hand of this girl!”

When a scholar of history reached this episode he wrote a verse or two:

Just introduce a woman,

Conspiracies succeed;

Of soldiers, or their weapons,

There really is no need.

They fought their bloody battles,

And doughty deeds were done;

But in a garden summer house

The victory was won.

The order was given to journey to Meiwo, and the whole body of officers assembled to add luster to the start. Diao Chan, from her carriage, saw Lu Bu among the crowd. She at once dropped her eyes and assumed an appearance of deepest melancholy. After the cavalcade started and when her carriage had almost disappeared in the distance, the disappointed lover reined in his steed on a mount whence he could watch the dust that rose around it. Unutterable sadness filled his heart.

Suddenly a voice said, “Why do you not accompany the Prime Minister, General, instead of standing here and sighing?”

It was Wang Yun.

“I have been confined to the house by illness these few days,” continued he, “so I have not seen you. But I had to struggle out today to see the Prime Minister set off. This meeting is most fortunate. But why were you sighing?”

“Just on account of that daughter of yours,” said Lu Bu.

Feigning great astonishment, Wang Yun said, “So long a time and yet not given to you!”

“The old ruffian has fallen in love with her himself!”

“Surely this cannot be true.”

Lu Bu related the whole story while Wang Yun listened, silent, but stamping on the ground as with irritation and perplexity.

After a long time Wang Yun said, “I did not think he was such a beast!”

Taking Lu Bu by the hand, Wang Yun said, “Come to my house, and we will talk it over.”

So they went away together to the house and retired to a secret room. After some refreshments, Lu Bu told the whole story of the episode in Phoenix Pavilion just as it happened.

Wang Yun said, “He seems to have corrupted my little girl and has stolen your wife. He will be an object of shame and ridicule to the whole world. And those who do not laugh at him will laugh at you and me. Alas! I am old and powerless and can do nothing. More pitied than blamed! But you, General, you are a warrior, the greatest hero in the world. Yet you have been put to this shame and exposed to this contempt!”

A wave of fierce wrath rolled up in Lu Bu. Banging the table he shouted and roared.

His host ostentatiously tried to calm him, saying, “I forgot myself. I should not have spoken like that. Do not be so angry, I pray!”

“I will kill the wretch, I swear it! In no other way can I wash away my shame.”

“No, no! Do not say such a thing,” said Wang Yun, putting his hand over the other’s mouth. “You will bring trouble on poor me and my family!”

“When one is born great, one cannot be patient for long under another person’s domination!” said Lu Bu.

“It needs someone greater than the Prime Minister to limit the scope of such talents as yours.”

Lu Bu said, “I would not mind killing the old wretch were it not for the relation in which we stand. I fear to provoke the hostile criticism of posterity.”

Wang Yun shook his head, saying, “Your name is Lu Bu; his is Dong Zhuo. Where was the paternal feeling when he threw the halberd at you?”

“I would have been misled, had you not said that!” said Lu Bu hotly.

Wang Yun saw the effect of his words and continued, “It would be a loyal deed to restore the House of Han, and history would hand down your name to posterity perpetually fragrant. If you lend your aid to Dong Zhuo, you will be a traitor and your name will be tainted through all ages.”

Lu Bu rose from his place and bowed to Wang Yun.

“I have decided,” said he. “You need not fear, Sir.”

“But yet you may fail and bring upon yourself misfortune,” said Wang Yun.

Lu Bu drew his dagger, pricking his arm, and swearing by the blood that flowed.

Wang Yun fell on his knees and thanked him.

“Then the Han sacrifices will not be cut off, and you will be their savior. But this must remain a secret, and I will tell you how the plot shall be worked out.”

Lu Bu took leave with great emotion.

Wang Yun took into his confidence two colleagues, Court Administrator Shisun Rui and Imperial Commander Huang Wan.

Shisun Rui said, “The moment is favorable. The Emperor has just recovered from his illness, and we can dispatch an able talker to Meiwo to persuade Dong Zhuo to come here to discuss affairs. Meanwhile we will obtain a secret decree as authority for Lu Bu to lay an ambush just inside the Palace gates to kill Dong Zhuo as he enters. This is the best plan to adopt.”

“But who would dare to go?” said Huang Wan.

“Li Su, General of the Imperial Tiger Army, would go. He belongs to the same region as Lu Bu and is very angry with the Prime Minister for not advancing him. His going would assure us the plan would be completed.”

“Good,” said Wang Yun. “Let us see what Lu Bu thinks of it.”

When Lu Bu was consulted, he told them that this Li Su’s persuasion had led him to kill Ding Yuan, his former benefactor.

“If Li Su refuses this mission, I will kill him,” said Lu Bu.

So they sent for Li Su.

When Li Su arrived, Lu Bu said, “Formerly you talked me into killing Ding Yuan and going over to Dong Zhuo. Now we find Dong Zhuo means evil for the Emperor and is an oppressor of the people. His iniquities are many, and he is hated by gods and humans. You go to Meiwo, say you have a command from the Emperor to summon the Prime Minister to the Palace. He will come, and he will be put to death. You will have the credit of being loyal and restoring the Hans. Will you undertake this?”

“I also wish to slay him,” was the reply. “But I could not find anyone to assist me. How can I hesitate? Your intervention is directly from Heaven!”

And Li Su snapped an arrow in twain as register of his oath.

“If this succeeds, what glorious rank will be yours!” said Wang Yun.

Next day Li Su, with a small escort, set out for Meiwo and announced himself as bearer of a decree. He was conducted into Dong Zhuo’s presence. After he had made his obeisance, Dong Zhuo asked what the decree was.

“His Majesty has recovered and wishes his ministers to meet him in the Palace to consider the question of his abdication in your favor. That is what this summons means.”

“What does Wang Yun think of the scheme?”

“Wang Yun has already begun the construction of the Terrace of Abdication and only awaits my lord’s arrival.”

“Last night I dreamed a dragon coiled round my body,” said Dong Zhuo greatly pleased, “and now I get this happy tidings! I must not neglect the opportunity.”

So Dong Zhuo gave instructions to his four trusted generals for the safekeeping of his city. Li Jue, Guo Si, Fan Chou, and Zhang Ji were to guard Meiwo with three thousand troops of the Flying Bear Army. Then Dong Zhuo announced his intention of starting on the morrow.

“When I am Emperor, you shall be Commander of Capital District,” said he.

“Your minister thanks you,” said Li Su.

Dong Zhuo went to bid farewell to his ninety-year-old mother.

“Whither are you going, my son?” asked she.

“I go to receive the abdication of Han; soon you will be the Empress Dowager!”

“I have been feeling nervous and creepy these few days. It is a bad sign.”

“Anyone about to become the Mother of the State must have premonitions,” said her son.

He left her with these words.

Just before starting, he said to Diao Chan, “When I am Emperor, you shall be Lady of the Palace.”

She bowed low thanking him, but she knew and inwardly rejoiced.

Dong Zhuo went out, mounted his carriage, and began his journey to Capital Changan with an imposing escort. Less than ten miles the wheel of his carriage broke. He left it and mounted a horse. Another ten miles the horse snorted and neighed, threw up his head and snapped the reins.

Dong Zhuo turned to Li Su and asked what these things portended.

“It means that you are going to receive the abdication of the Hans, which is to renew all things: To mount the jeweled chariot and sit in the golden saddle.”

And Dong Zhuo was pleased and convinced with this answer. During the second day’s journey a violent gale sprang up, and the sky became covered with a thick mist.

“What does this mean?” said Dong Zhuo.

The wily Li Su had an interpretation for this also, saying, “You are ascending to the place of the dragon: There must be bright light and lurid vapor to dignify your majestic approach.”

Dong Zhuo had no more doubts. He presently arrived and found many officials waiting without the city gate to receive him, all but Li Ru who was ill and unable to leave his chamber. He entered and proceeded to his own palace, where Lu Bu came to congratulate him.

“When I sit on the throne, you shall command the whole armies of the empire, horse and foot,” said Dong Zhuo.

That night Dong Zhuo slept in the midst of his escort. In the suburbs that evening some children at play were singing a little ditty, and the words drifted into the bedchamber on the wind.

“The grass in the meadow looks fresh now and green,

Yet wait but ten days, not a blade will be seen.”

The song sounded ominous, but Li Su was again prepared with a happy interpretation: “It only means that the Lius are about to disappear, and the Dongs to be exalted!”

Next morning at the first streak of dawn, Dong Zhuo prepared for his appearance at court. On the way he saw a Daoist, dressed in a black robe and wearing a white turban, who carried in his hand a tall staff with a long strip of white cloth attached. At each end of the cloth was drawn a mouth.

“What is the meaning of this?” said Dong Zhuo.

“He is a madman,” said Li Su, and he told the guards to drive the fellow away.

Dong Zhuo went in and found all the officials in court dress lining the road. Li Su walked beside his carriage, a sword in his hand. When Li Su reached the north gate of the Forbidden City, he found the soldiers of Dong Zhuo drawn up outside and only the pushers of the Palace carriage, a twenty or so, were allowed to proceed further.

When Dong Zhuo arrived near the Reception Hall, he saw that Wang Yun and all the other officials standing at the door were armed.

“Why are they all armed?” said Dong Zhuo to Li Su.

Li Su was silent as he helped push the carriage forward swiftly to the entrance.

Suddenly Wang Yun shouted, “The rebel is here! Where are the executioners?”

At this call sprang from both sides soldiers armed with halberds and spears who attacked Dong Zhuo. But the breastplate he usually wore protected him, and spears could not penetrate it.

He sank down in the carriage, wounded in the arms, calling loudly for his son, “Where is Lu Bu?”

“Here, and with a decree to deal with a rebel!” said Lu Bu, as he appeared in front of his “father”.

Thereupon he thrust his trident halberd through the victim’s throat. Then Li Su hacked off the head and held it up.

Lu Bu, his left hand holding his halberd, thrust his right hand into his bosom whence he drew the decree, crying, “The decree was to slay the rebel Dong Zhuo —-no other!”

The whole assembly shouted, “Wan shui! Live forever! O Emperor!”

A sympathetic poet has written a few lines in pity:

Await the time, O noble, and be king,

Or failing, reap the solace riches bring;

Heaven never is partial, but severely just,

Meiwo stood strong, yet now it lies in dust.

The lust of blood awakened, Lu Bu urged further slaughter, crying, “Li Ru has been the main initiator for Dong Zhuo in many crimes! Who shall go and kill him?”

Li Su volunteered to go in search of him. But just then a shouting was heard at the gates, and it was told them that a household servant had brought Li Ru in bonds. Wang Yun ordered his immediate execution in the market place.

Dong Zhuo’s head was exposed in a crowded thoroughfare (AD 192). He was very fat, and the guards made torches by sticking splints into the body, spilling the corpse’s grease over the ground. The passers-by pelted the head and spurned the body with their feet.

Wang Yun ordered a force of fifty thousand under Lu Bu, Huangfu Song, and Li Su to destroy Meiwo. Learning the news of their master, Li Jue, Guo Si, Fan Chou, and Zhang Ji fled west swiftly through the night with their Flying Bear Army to Liangzhou Region.

When arriving Meiwo, Lu Bu’s first deed was to take Diao Chan into his charge. Then they slew every member of the Dong family, sparing none, not even Dong Zhuo’s aged mother. The heads of Dong Zhuo’s brother Dong Min and his nephew Dong Huang were publicly displayed in the market place. In Meiwo were hidden many young ladies of good families. These were set free. All properties were confiscated. The wealth was enormous —-several hundred thousand ounces of gold, millions of silver coins, pearls, gems, silks, velvets, furs, grain stores.

When they returned to report success, Wang Yun rewarded and feasted the soldiers. Banquets were held in the Ministry Hall to which all the officials were invited. They drank and congratulated each other. While the feasting was in progress it was announced that someone had come and was wailing over Dong Zhuo’s corpse exposed in the market place.

“Dong Zhuo has been put to death,” said Wang Yun, angrily. “Every body is glad to be rid of him, and yet one is found to lament over him. Who is this?”

So Wang Yun gave orders to arrest the mourner and bring him in. Soon he was brought in, and when they saw him all were startled. For he was no other than Court Counselor Cai Yong.

Wang Yun spoke to Cai Yong angrily, “Dong Zhuo has been put to death as a rebel, and all the land rejoices. You, a Han minister, instead of rejoicing, weep for him. Why?”

Cai Yong confessed his fault, saying, “I am without talent, yet know what is right. I am not the man who turns my back on the dynasty and toward Dong Zhuo. Yet once I experienced his kindness, and I could not help mourning for him. I know my fault is grave, but I pray you regard the reasons. If you will leave my head and only cut off my feet, you may use me to continue the History of Han, whereby I may have the good fortune to be allowed to expiate my fault.”

All were sorry for Cai Yong, for he was a man of great talents, and they begged that he might be spared.

The Imperial Guardian, Ma Midi, secretly interceded for him, saying, “Cai Yong is famous as a scholar, and he can write glorious history, and it is inadvisable to put to death a man renowned for rectitude without consideration.”

But in vain, for the High Minister was now strong and obdurate.

Wang Yun said, “Centuries ago, Emperor Wu spared Sima Qian and employed him on the annals, with the result that many slanderous stories have been handed down to us. This is a trying period of great perplexity, and we dare not let a specious fellow like this wield his pen in criticism of those about the court of a youthful prince and abuse us as he will.”

Remonstrance and appeal being vain, Ma Midi retired.

But he said to his colleagues, “Is Wang Yun then careless of the future? Worthy people are the mainstay of the state; laws are the canons of action. To destroy the mainstay and nullify the laws is to hasten destruction!”

As was just said Wang Yun was obdurate. Cai Yong whose offense was an expression of gratitude was thrown into prison and there strangled. The people of that day wept for Cai Yong, for they refused to see any offense in what he had done, and death was a harsh punishment.

Dong Zhuo, the dictator,

Tyrannized the state,

Fell and his sole mourner

Shared his direful fate.

Zhuge Liang in seclusion

Was content to dream,

Felt his worth and never

Helped a traitor’s scheme.

Those generals —-Li Jue, Guo Si, Fan Chou, and Zhang Ji —-whom Dong Zhuo had left to guard Meiwo fled when their master was slain and went west into the county of Shanxi in Liangzhou Region. Thence they sent in a memorial entreating amnesty. But Wang Yun would not hear of it.

“Four of them were the chief instruments of Dong Zhuo’s aggressions. Now though a general amnesty were proclaimed, these men should be excluded from its benefit,” said Wang Yun.

The messenger returned and told the four there was no hope of pardon and they could only flee.

Then their adviser, Jia Xu, said, “If we throw away our arms and flee singly, then we shall fall easy victims to any village magistrate who may seize us. Rather let us cajole the people of Shanxi to throw in their lot with us and make a sudden onslaught on the capital and so avenge Dong Zhuo. If we succeed, we control the court and the empire. There will be enough time to run away if we fail.”

The plan was adopted, and they spread abroad the story that Wang Yun intended to massacre the region.

Having thus thrown the people into a state of terror, they went a step farther and said, “There is no advantage in dying for nothing. Revolt and join us!”

So they cajoled the people into joining them and gathered a host equal to one hundred thousand. This horde was divided into four parts, and they all set out to raid Capital Changan. On the way they fell in with a son-in-law of their late chief, Imperial Commander Niu Fu, who marched five thousand troops from Xiliang. Niu Fu had set out to avenge his father-in-law, and he became the Van Leader of the horde.

As the Liangzhou troops advanced, the news came to Wang Yun, and he consulted Lu Bu.

“They are a lot of rats!” said Lu Bu. “Never mind how many there are of them. Be not in the least anxious!”

So Lu Bu and Li Su went to oppose them. The latter was in advance and met Niu Fu. They fought. Niu Fu was outmatched and retired after suffering a slaughter. But unexpectedly Niu Fu returned in a night attack, found Li Su quite unprepared and drove Li Su’s force some ten miles, slaying many.

Li Su reported the defeat, and Lu Bu raged at him, saying, “You have sullied my reputation as a warrior and destroyed our fighting spirit!”

And Lu Bu put Li Su to death, exposing his head at the camp gate.

Next day Lu Bu advanced his own force and engaged Niu Fu. He overwhelmed Niu Fu and drove him off. That night Niu Fu called in his most trusted man, Hu Chier, to advise him.

Hu Chier said, “Lu Bu is too doughty a fighter for us to hope to overcome him. Our case is hopeless. Our best course is to desert these four generals, secrete their valuables, and leave the army with just a few of our followers.”

The plan of Hu Chier was adopted, and the two traitors and some others that very night packed up and made their way out of camp. They were only half a dozen. They came to a river and, while crossing, Hu Chier, tempted by the lust of wealth, slew his companion. Then he went to offer the head of Niu Fu to Lu Bu. Lu Bu inquired into the matter, and when a follower told him the truth, he put the double traitor Hu Chier to death.

Then Lu Bu advanced against the rebels and fell in with Li Jue’s force. Without giving them time to form in battle, Lu Bu attacked. Horses curvetting and spears set, the army dashed in irresistibly, and Li Jue, making no stand, fell back a long way. Li Jue took up a position under a hill fifteen miles away and thence sent to call his fellows to council.

Li Jue said, “Lu Bu though brave in battle is no strategist and so not really formidable. I will lead my troops to hold the mouth of the gorge, and every day I will incite him to attack; and when he comes toward me, General Guo Si can smite his rear, after the manner of Peng Yue when he fought against Chu. While thus I am alternating attack and retreat, Generals Fan Chou and Zhang Ji will march off in different directions toward Changan. Such an attack at two points must end both Wang Yun and Lu Bu.”

They set themselves to carry out this scheme. As soon as Lu Bu reached the hills, a force of Li Jue came out to attack him. Lu Bu made an angry dash toward the enemy who retired up the hills, whence they shot arrows and hurled stones like rain. Lu Bu’s troops halted. At this moment the report came that the rear was being attacked and there appeared Guo Si. At once Lu Bu wheeled toward the new enemy, but immediately the rolling drums gave the signal to retire, and Lu Bu could not come to blows with them. As he called in his army, the gongs clanged on the other side and his former opponent Li Jue came to attack his front. But before Lu Bu could join battle, his rear was again assaulted by Guo Si, who in his turn drew off immediately.

Thus Lu Bu was baited till his bosom was near bursting with rage. The same tactics continued for several days. He could neither strike his enemies nor escape them. His troops had no rest.

In the midst of these distracting maneuver, a messenger rode up in hot haste to report: “The capital is in imminent danger from a double attack of Fan Chou and Zhang Ji!”

Lu Bu at once ordered a march to save the capital, which became a rout when both his opponents Li Jue and Guo Si came in pursuit. His loss was heavy.

He soon reached Changan and found the rebels there in enormous numbers and the city quite surrounded. Lu Bu’s attack had but little effect, and as his temper became more savage under defeat, many of his soldiers went over to the rebels. He fell into deep melancholy.

Then a remnant of Dong Zhuo’s adherents still in the city, led by Li Meng and Wang Fang, began to lend aid to the attackers; and a few days later they secretly opened the city gate and the besiegers poured in. Lu Bu exerted himself to the utmost but could not stem the tide. At the head of some hundred horse, he dashed over to the Black Lock Gate and called out to Wang Yun, who was on the other side.

“The case is desperate now. Ride with me to a place of safety!”

Wang Yun replied, “If I am gifted with the spirit of the state, I shall succeed in restoring the tranquillity which I desire. But if I have it not, then I offer my body as a sacrifice. I will not quail before dangers. Send my thanks to the noble supporters beyond the Pass for their efforts, and bid them remember their country!”

Lu Bu urged Wang Yun again and again, but Wang Yun would not leave. Soon flames started up all over the city, and Lu Bu had to leave, abandoning his family to their fate. He fled to seek refuge with Yuan Shu.

Li Jue, Guo Si, and his fellow leaders gave full license to their ruffians, who robbed and murdered their fill. Many high officers perished. Ministers Chong Fu, Lu Kui, and Zhou Huan, Imperial Commanders Cui Lie and Wang Qin all died in the fighting.

In time the rebels penetrated to the inner part of the Palace, and the courtiers begged the Emperor to proceed to the Gate of Pervading Peace to try to quell the rioting.

At sight of the yellow umbrella, Li Jue and Fan Chou checked their armies, and they all shouted, “Wan shui! Long life! O Emperor!”

The Emperor stood by the tower and addressed them, “Nobles, what means it that you enter the capital in this unruly manner and without my summons?”

The two leaders looked up and said, “Dong Zhuo, Your Majesty’s Prime Minister, has been slain by Wang Yun, and we are here to avenge him. We are no rebels, Sire. Let us only have Wang Yun, and we draw off our troops.”

Wang Yun was actually among the courtiers and at the Emperor’s side.

Hearing this demand, Wang Yun said, “The plan was made for the benefit of the Throne. But as this evil has grown therefrom, Your Majesty will not grudge losing me. I have brought about evil, and I will go down to these rebels.”

The Emperor was torn with sorrow and wavered. But the faithful minister leaped from the wall, crying, “Wang Yun is here!”

The two leaders drew their swords, crying, “For what crime was our master slain?”

“His crimes filled the heavens and covered the earth: No tongue can tell them. The day he died was a day of rejoicing in the whole city as you well know,” said Wang Yun.

“And if he was guilty of some crime, what had we done not to be forgiven?”

“Seditious rebels, why bandy words? I am ready to die.”

And Wang Yun was slain at the foot of the tower.

Moved by the people’s sufferings,

Vexed at his prince’s grief,

Wang Yun compassed the traitor’s death,

That they might find relief.

Everyone knows him a hero,

Leal to the state always:

Living he guarded the princely towers,

His soul keeps guard today.

Having done the loyal minister to death at the Emperor’s feet, they proceeded to exterminate also his whole family. Everyone mourned.

Then said the ruffians to each other, “Having gone so far, what could be better than to make away with the Emperor and complete our scheme?”

The traitor condoned his crime,

Rebellion ought to cease;

But his licentious followers

Disturb the empire’s peace.

The fate of the Emperor will be disclosed in the next chapter.

Chapter 10

Gathering Arms, Ma Teng Moves To Rescue The Emperor; Commanding A Force, Cao Cao Marches To Avenge His Father.

In the last chapter the two arch rebels, Li Jue and Guo Si, proposed to murder Emperor Xian, but their followers Zhang Ji and Fan Chou opposed this.

“No. The people will not approve of his death now. Restore him to power, and get the leaguers inside Changan’s control. Remove his supporters, and then we can compass his death. And the empire shall be in our hands.”

So they ceased the attack.

The Emperor again spoke from the tower, saying, “Why do you still remain? You have slain Wang Yun: Now withdraw these soldiers.”

Then Li Jue and Guo Si replied, “Your servants desire rank rewards for their good service to the dynasty.”

“And what ranks, Sirs?”

All four wrote their wishes and handed them up to the Emperor who had no choice but to accede to the request, and they were created:

Li Jue was appointed General of the Flying Chariots, Lord of Chiyang, Commander of Capital District, Court Administrator, and granted Military Insignia.

Guo Si was appointed General of the Rear Army, Lord of Meiyang, Court Administrator, and granted Military Insignia.

Fan Chou was appointed General of the Right Army and Lord of Wanian.

Zhang Ji was appointed General of the Flying Cavalry and Lord of Pingyan.

Li Meng and Wang Fang, for opening the city gates, were appointed Imperial Commanders.

After receiving ranks of nobility, Li Jue and Guo Si thanked the Emperor, and went away to camp at Xunung, the suburb of Changan. Other rebel leaders also were gratified with ranks. And once more the capital was free of troops.

Dong Zhuo’s followers, having so far succeeded, did not forget their late leader. They sought his corpse for burial, but only a few fragments were discoverable. Then they had sculptors engrave a statue of fragrant wood in his likeness, laid that out in proper form, and instituted a noble’s sacrifices and prayers. The remains were dressed in the robes of a prince, laid in a princely coffin for burial. They selected Meiwo for his tomb and having found an auspicious day conveyed the coffin thither.

But a terrific thunder storm came on at the time of inhumation, and the ground was flooded. The coffin was rived asunder, and the poor remains knocked out by thunders. A second time they buried the coffin, but a similar thing happened in the night. And yet a third time in another place but the earth rejected the remains. Meanwhile the thunder-fire had entirely consumed them. So it may be said justly that Heaven was exceedingly angry with Dong Zhuo.

So now Li Jue and Guo Si wielded the real power of the scepter, and they were hard upon the people. They also removed the attendants from the Palace and replaced them by their own creatures, who maintained a most perfect watch over every movement of the Emperor so that he was greatly hampered and embarrassed. All appointments and demotions were made by the two rebels. For the sake of popularity they especially summoned the veteran general Zhu Jun to court, made him Court Administrator and associated him with the government.

One day came a report that the Governor of Xiliang, Ma Teng, and the Imperial Protector of Bingzhou, Han Sui, with one hundred thousand troops, were rapidly approaching the capital with the intention of attacking the rebels in the name of the Emperor.

Now these leaders from the west had laid careful plans. Ma Teng and Han Sui had sent trusty friends to the capital to find out who would support them. They had conspired with three officials —-Court Counselors Ma Yu and Chong Shao, and Imperial Commander Liu Fan —-to be their inside allies and plot against the rebels. These three obtained from the Throne two secret edicts conferring the ranks of Commander Who Conquers the West on Ma Teng and Commander Who Guards the West on Han Sui. With these powers the two commanders joined forces and began their march.

The four leaders of the party in power —-Li Jue, Guo Si, Fan Chou, and Zhang Ji —-held a consultation with their generals as to how to meet the attack.

Adviser Jia Xu said, “Since the attackers are coming from a distance, our plan is to fortify and wait till shortage of food shall work for us. In a hundred days their supplies will be consumed, and they must retire. We can pursue, and we shall capture them.”

Li Meng and Wang Fang rose and said, “This plan is bad. Give us ten thousand troops, and we will put an end to both of them and offer their heads before your ensign!”

“To fight forthwith means defeat,” said Jia Xu.

Li Meng and Wang Fang cried with one voice, “If we fail, we are willing to lose our heads! But if we win, then your head is forfeit.”

Jia Xu then suggested to Li Jue and Guo Si, saying, “Seventy miles west of the capital stand the Zhouzhi Hills. The passes are narrow and difficult. Send Generals Zhang Ji and Fan Chou to occupy this point of vantage and fortify themselves so that they may support Li Meng and Wang Fang.”

Li Jue and Guo Si accepted this advice. They told off fifteen thousand horse and foot, and Li Meng and Wang Fang left in high spirit. They made a camp ninety miles from Changan.

The force from the west arrived. Ma Teng and Han Sui led out their troops to the attack. They found their opponents Li Meng and Wang Fang in battle array.

Ma Teng and Han Sui rode to the front side by side. Pointing to the rebel leaders, the commanders abused them, crying, “Those are traitors! Who will capture them?”

Hardly were the words spoken when there came out a youth general with a clear, white complexion as jade, eyes like shooting stars, lithe of body and strong of limb. He was armed with a long spear and bestrode an excellent steed. This young leader was Ma Chao, son of Ma Teng, then seventeen years of age.

Though young he was a supreme valiance. Wang Fang, despising him on account of his youth, galloped forth to fight him. Before they had exchanged many passes Wang Fang was disabled and fell to a thrust of Ma Chao’s spear. The victor turned to retire into the formation, but Li Meng rode after Ma Chao to avenge his fallen colleague.

Ma Chao did not see Li Meng, but his father called out: “You are followed!”

Hardly had Ma Teng spoken when he saw that the pursuer was a prisoner seated on his son’s steed. Now Ma Chao had known he was followed, but pretended not to see, waiting till his enemy should have come close and lifted his spear to strike. Then Ma Chao suddenly wheeled about. The spear thrust met only empty air; and as the horses passed, Ma Chao’s powerful arm shot out and pulled Li Meng from the saddle. Thus Li Meng and Wang Fang’s soldiers were left leaderless and fled in all directions. The army of Ma Teng and Han Sui dashed in pursuit, and a complete victory was scored. They pressed into one of the passes and made a camp. Then they decapitated Li Meng and exposed his head.

When Li Jue and Guo Si heard that both the boastful generals had fallen under the hand of one young leader, they knew that Jia Xu had given good advice and was gifted with clear prescience. So they valued his plans the more highly and decided to act on the defensive. They refused all challenges to combat.

Surely enough after a couple of months the supplies of the Xiliang force were all exhausted and the leaders began to consider retreat.

Just at this juncture a household servant of Ma Yu’s family betrayed his master and told of the conspiracy of the three court officials to assist the attackers. The two chiefs Li Jue and Guo Si in revenge seized the three conspirators —-Ma Yu, Chong Shao, and Liu Fan —-, with every member of their households, and beheaded them in the market place. The heads of the three were exposed at the front gate of the capital.

Being short of food and hearing of the destruction of their three adherents in the city, the only course for Ma Teng and Han Sui was to retreat. At once Zhang Ji went in pursuit of Ma Teng, and Fan Chou followed Han Sui. The retreating army under Ma Teng was beaten, and only by Ma Chao’s desperate efforts were the pursuers driven off.

Fan Chou pursued the other army. When he had come close, Han Sui rode boldly up and addressed him, saying, “You and I, Sir, are fellow villagers. Why then behave so unfriendly?”

Fan Chou replied, “I must obey the commands of my chief.”

“I am here for the service of the state. Why do you press me so hard?” said Han Sui.

At this Fan Chou turned his horse, called in his troops, and left Han Sui in peace. Unwittingly a nephew of Li Jue had been a witness of this scene; and when he saw the enemy allowed to go free, he returned and told his uncle. Angry that his enemy had escaped, Li Jue would have sent an army to wreak vengeance on his general.

But his adviser Jia Xu again came in, saying, “The people are yet unsettled: It is dangerous to provoke another war. Instead, invite Fan Chou to a banquet and, while the feast was in progress, executing him for dereliction of duty.”

This seemed good to Li Jue, so the banquet was prepared. Zhang Ji and Fan Chou accepted their invitations and went cheerfully.

Toward the latter part of the entertainment a sudden change came over their host Li Jue, and he suddenly asked Fan Chou, “Why have you been intriguing with Han Sui? You are turning traitor, eh?”

The unhappy guest was taken aback. Before he could frame his words to reply, he saw the assassins rush out with swords and axes. In a moment all was over, and Fan Chou’s head lay beneath the table.

Scared beyond measure, his fellow-guest Zhang Ji groveled on the floor.

“Fan Chou was a traitor,” said the host, raising Zhang Ji by the arm, “and he has his deserts. You are my friend and need not fear.”

Li Jue gave Zhang Ji command of Fan Chou’s army with which Zhang Ji returned to his headquarters garrison in Hongnong.

No one of the leaders among the leaguers dared attempt an attack on the party newly risen from Dong Zhuo’s disaffection, while on the other hand Jia Xu never ceased to urge his masters to exert themselves for the welfare of the people and thus to tempt wise people to join them. And by these means the government began to prosper, and the court to reassert its authority.

However, a new trouble arose in the shape of a resurgence of Yellow Scarves in Qingzhou. They came, under numerous chieftains, in the number of hundreds of thousand and plundered any place they reached.

Court Administrator Zhu Jun said he knew of one who could destroy this sedition, and when asked who was the man he proposed, Zhu Jun said, “You want to destroy this horde of rebels: You will fail unless you get the service of Cao Cao.”

“And where is he?” asked Li Jue.

“He is Governor of Dongjun. He has a large army, and you have only to order him to act. The rising will be broken.”

A messenger went post haste with a command for Cao Cao and Bao Xin, Lord of Jibei, to act together in quelling the rebellion. As soon as Cao Cao received the court command, he arranged with his colleagues first to attack the rebels at Shouyang. Bao Xin made a dash right into their midst and inflicting damage wherever he could, but he was killed in battlefield. Cao Cao pursued the rebels as they fled to Jibei. Ten thousand surrendered. Then Cao Cao put his former enemies in the van. When his army reached any place, many more surrendered and joined him. After one hundred days, he had won over three hundred thousand troops and more than one million ordinary folks.

Of these new adherents the strongest and boldest were made the Qingzhou Army, and the others were sent home to their fields. In consequence of these successes Cao Cao’s prestige and fame became very great and increased daily. He reported his success to Capital Changan and was rewarded with the title of General Who Guards the East.

Liu Dai then submitted; he and his officials sent to Dongjun and invited Cao Cao to take over Yanzhou.

At his new headquarters, Cao Cao welcomed wise counselors and bold warriors, and many gathered around him. Two clever persons, uncle and nephew, came at the same time, both from Yingchuan, named Xun Yu and Xun You. The uncle had once been in the service of Yuan Shao.

Cao Cao rejoiced when he had won the elder Xun to his side, saying, “Xun Yu is my Zhang Liang!”

He made Xun Yu a Field Commander. The nephew Xun You was famed for his ability and had been in the court service when it was in Luoyang, but he had abandoned that career in the Inner Bureau and retired to his village. Cao Cao made him a Military Instructor.

Xun Yu said to Cao Cao, “There is a certain wise person of Yanzhou somewhere, but I do not know in whose service he is.”

“Who is he?”

“Cheng Yu. He belongs to the eastern part of Yanzhou.”

“Yes, I have heard of him,” said Cao Cao.

So a messenger was sent to his native place to inquire. Cheng Yu was away in the hills engaged in study. Cao Cao sent the messenger to the hills, and Cheng Yu came at the invitation.

“I shall prove unworthy of your recommendation,” said Cheng Yu to his friend Xun Yu, “for I am rough and ignorant. But have you forgotten a fellow villager of yours, Guo Jia? He is really able. Why not spread the net to catch him?”

“I had nearly forgotten!” said Xun Yu suddenly.

So he told Cao Cao of this man, who was at once invited.

Guo Jia, discussing the world at large with Cao Cao, recommended Liu Ye from Henan, who was a descendant of Liu Xiu the Founder of Latter Han. When Liu Ye had arrived, he was the means of inviting two more: Man Chong from Shanyang and Lu Qian from Wucheng, who were already known to Cao Cao by reputation. These two brought to their new master’s notice the name of Mao Jie from Chenliu, who also came and was given office. Then a famous leader, with his troop of some hundreds, arrived to offer service. This was Yu Jin of Taishan, an expert horseman and archer, and skilled beyond his fellows in every form of military exercise. He was made an Army Inspector.

Then another day Xiahou Dun brought a fellow to present to Cao Cao.

“Who is he?” asked Cao Cao.

“He is from Chenliu and is named Dian Wei. He is the boldest of the bold, the strongest of the strong. He was one of Zhang Miao’s people, but quarreled with his tent companions and killed some dozens of them with his fists. Then he fled to the mountains where I found him. I was out shooting and saw him follow a tiger across a stream. I persuaded him to join my troop, and I recommend him.”

“I see he is no ordinary man,” said Cao Cao. “He is fine and straight and looks very powerful and bold.”

“He is! He killed a man once to avenge a friend and carried his head through the whole market place. Hundreds saw him, but dared not come near. The weapon he uses now is a couple of spears, each weighs a hundred and twenty pounds, and he vaults into the saddle with these under his arm.”

Cao Cao bade the man give proof of his skill. So Dian Wei galloped to and fro carrying the spears. Then he saw away among the tents a huge banner swaying dangerously with the force of the wind and on the point of falling. A crowd of soldiers were vainly struggling to keep it steady. Down he leaped, shouted to the men to clear out and held the staff quite steady with one hand, keeping it perfectly upright in spite of the strong wind.

“This is old E Lai again!” said Cao Cao.

He gave Dian Wei a post of Commander of the Headquarters Guards and besides made Dian Wei presents of an embroidered robe he was wearing and a swift steed with a handsome saddle.

Cao Cao encouraged able people to assist him, and he had advisers on the civil side and valiant generals in the army. He became famous throughout the East of the Passes.

Now Cao Cao’s father, Cao Song, was living at Langye, whither he had gone as a hidden place free from the turmoil of the partisan struggles. Cao Cao wished to be united with him. As a dutiful son, Cao Cao sent the Governor of Taishan, Ying Shao, to escort his father to Yanzhou. Old Cao Song read the letter with joy, and the family prepared to move. They were some forty in all, with a train of a hundred servants and many carts.

Their road led through Xuzhou Region where the Imperial Protector, Tao Qian, was a sincere and upright man who had long wished to get on good terms with Cao Cao but, hitherto, had found no means of effecting a bond of union. Hearing that Cao Cao’s family was passing through his region, Tao Qian went to welcome them, treated them with great cordiality, feasting and entertaining them for two days; and when they left, he escorted them to his boundary. Further he sent with them General Zhang Kai with a special escort of five hundred.

The whole party reached the county of Huafei. It was the end of summer, just turning into autumn, and at this place they were stopped by a tremendous storm of rain. The only shelter was an old temple and thither they went. The family occupied the main rooms and the escort the two side wings. The men of the escort were drenched, angry, and discontented.

Then Zhang Kai called some of his petty officers to a secret spot and said, “We are old Yellow Scarves and only submitted to Tao Qian because there was no other choice. We have never got much out of it. Now here is the Cao family with no end of gear, and we can be rich very easily. We will make a sudden onslaught tonight at the third watch and slay the whole lot. Then we shall have plenty of treasure, and we will get away to the mountains.”

They all agreed. The storm continued into the night; and as Cao Song sat waiting anxiously for signs of clearing, he suddenly heard a hubbub at the west end of the temple. His brother, Cao De, drawing his sword, went out to see what it was about, and Cao De was at once cut down. Cao Song seized one of the concubines by the hand, rushed with her through the passage toward the back of the temple so that they might escape. But the lady was stout and could not get through the narrow doors, so the two hid in one of the small outhouses at the side. However, they were seen and slain.

The unhappy Governor Ying Shao fled for his life to Yuan Shao. The murderers fled into the South of River Huai with their plunder after having set fire to the old temple.

Cao Cao, whom the ages praise,

Slew his hosts on his former flight;

Nemesis never turns aside,

Murdered too his family died.

Some of the escort escaped and took the evil tidings to Cao Cao. When he heard it he fell to the earth with a great cry. They raised him.

With set teeth he muttered, “Tao Qian’s people have slain my father: No longer can the same sky cover us! I will sweep Xuzhou off the face of the earth. Only thus can I satisfy my vengeance.”

Cao Cao left one small army of thirty thousand under Xun Yu and Cheng Yu to guard the east headquarters and the three counties of Juancheng, Fanxia, and Dongjun. Then he set forth with all the remainder to destroy Xuzhou and avenge his father. Xiahou Dun, Yu Jin, and Dian Wei were Van Leaders with Cao Cao’s orders to slaughter all the inhabitants of each captured city.

Now the Governor of Jiujiang, Bian Rang, was a close friend of Tao Qian. Hearing Xuzhou was threatened, Bian Rang set out with five thousand troops to his friend’s aid. Angered by this move, Cao Cao sent Xiahou Dun to stop and kill Bian Rang while still on the march.

At this time Chen Gong was in office in Dongjun, and he was also on friendly terms with Tao Qian. Hearing of Cao Cao’s design to destroy the whole population, Chen Gong came in haste to see his former companion. Cao Cao, knowing Chen Gong’s errand, put him off at first and would not see him. But then Cao Cao could not forget the kindness he had formerly received from Chen Gong, and presently the visitor was called to his tent.

Chen Gong said, “They say you go to avenge your father’s death on Xuzhou, to destroy its people. I have come to say a word. Imperial Protector Tao Qian is humane and a good man. He is not looking out for his own advantage, careless of the means and of others. Your worthy father met his unhappy death at the hands of Zhang Kai. Tao Qian is guiltless. Still more innocent are the people, and to slay them would be an evil. I pray you think over it.”

Cao Cao retorted angrily, “You once abandoned me, and now you have the impudence to come to see me! Tao Qian slew my whole family, and I will tear his heart out in revenge. I swear it! You may speak for your friend and say what you will. I shall be as if I heard not.”

Intercession had failed. Chen Gong sighed and took his leave.

He said, “Alas! I cannot go to Tao Qian and look upon his face.”

So Chen Gong rode off to the county of Chenliu to give service to Governor Zhang Miao.

Cao Cao’s army of revenge laid waste whatever place it passed through, slaying the people and desecrating their cemeteries (AD 193).

When Tao Qian heard the terrible tidings, he looked up to heaven, saying, “I must be guilty of some fault before Heaven to have brought this evil upon my people!”

He called together his officials to consult.

One of them, Cao Bao, said, “Now the enemy is upon us: We cannot sit and await death with folded hands. I for one will help you to make a fight.”

Tao Qian reluctantly sent the army out. From a distance he saw Cao Cao’s army spread abroad like frost and rushed far and wide like snow. In their midst was a large white flag and on both sides was written Vengeance.

When he had ranged his troops, Cao Cao rode out dressed in mourning white and abused Tao Qian.

But Tao Qian advanced, and from beneath his ensign he bowed low and said, “I wished to make friends with you, Illustrious Sir, and so I sent Zhang Kai to escort your family. I knew not that his rebel heart was still unchanged. The fault does not lie at my door as you must see.”

“You old wretch! You killed my father, and now you dare mumble this nonsense!” said Cao Cao.

And he asked who would go out and seize Tao Qian.

Xiahou Dun undertook this service and rode out. Tao Qian fled to the inner portion of his array; and as Xiahou Dun came on, Cao Bao went to meet him. But just as the two horses met, a hurricane burst over the spot, and the flying dust and pebbles threw both sides into the utmost confusion. Both drew off.

Tao Qian retired into the city and called his officers to council.

“The force against us is too strong,” said he. “I will give myself up as a prisoner and let him wreak his vengeance on me. I may save the people.”

But a voice was heard saying, “You have long ruled here, and the people love you. Strong as the enemy are, they are not necessarily able to break down our walls, especially when defended by you and your people. I have a scheme to suggest that I think will make Cao Cao die in a place where he will not find burial.”

These bold words startled the assembly, and they eagerly asked what the scheme was.

Making overtures for friendship, Tao Qian encountered deadly hate.

But, where danger seemed most threatening, he discovered safety’s gate.

The next chapter will disclose who the speaker was.

Chapter 11

Liu Bei Rescues Kong Rong At Beihai; Lu Bu Defeats Cao Cao Near Puyang.

It was one Mi Zhu who said he knew how to defeat Cao Cao utterly. Mi Zhu came of a wealthy family of merchants in Donghai and trading in Luoyang. One day traveling homeward from that city in a carriage, he met an exquisitely beautiful lady trudging along the road, who asked him to let her ride. He stopped and yielded his place to her. She invited him to share the seat with her. He mounted, but sat rigidly upright, never even glancing in her direction. They traveled thus for some miles when she thanked him and alighted.

Just as she left she said, “I am the Goddess of Fire from the Southern Land. I am on my way to execute a decree of the Supreme God to burn your dwelling, but your extreme courtesy has so deeply touched me that I now warn you. Hasten homeward, remove your valuables, for I must arrive tonight.”

Thereupon she disappeared. Mi Zhu hastily finished his journey and, as soon as he arrived, moved everything out of his house. Sure enough that night a fire started in the kitchen and involved the whole house. After this he devoted his wealth to relieving the poor and comforting the afflicted. Tao Qian gave him the magistracy office he then held.

The plan Mi Zhu proposed was this: “I will go to Beihai and beg Governor Kong Rong to help. Another should go to Qingzhou on a similar mission to get the help from Imperial Protector Tian Kai. If the armies of these two places march on Cao Cao, he will certainly retire.”

Tao Qian accepted the plan and wrote two letters. He asked for a volunteer to go to Qingzhou, and a certain Chen Deng of Guangling offered himself and, after he had left, Mi Zhu was formally entrusted with the mission to the north. Meanwhile Tao Qian and his generals would hold the city as they could.

Kong Rong was a native of Qufu in the old state of Lu. He was one of the twentieth generation in descent from the great Teacher Confucius (Kong Fuzi). Kong Rong had been noted as a very intelligent lad, somewhat precocious. When ten years old he had gone to see Li Ying, the Governor of Henan, but the doorkeeper demurred to letting him in.

But when Kong Rong said, “I am Minister Li Ying’s intimate friend,” he was admitted.

Li Ying asked Kong Rong what relations had existed between their families that might justify the term intimate.

The boy replied, “Of old my ancestor Confucius questioned your ancestor, the Daoist sage Laozi, concerning ceremonies. So our families have known each other for many generations.”

Li Ying was astonished at the boy’s ready wit.

Presently High Minister Chen Wei visited, to whom Li Ying told the story of his youthful guest. “He is a wonder, this boy,” said Li Ying, pointing to Kong Rong.

Chen Wei replied, “It does not follow that a clever boy grows up into a clever man.”

The lad took him up at once, saying, “By what you say, Sir, you were certainly one of the clever boys.”

The Minister and the Governor all laughed, saying, “The boy is going to be a noble vessel.”

Thus from boyhood Kong Rong was famous. As a man he rose to be an Imperial Commander and was sent as Governor to Beihai, where he was renowned for hospitality. He used to quote the lines:

“Let the rooms be full of friends,

And the cups be full of wine.

That is what I like.”

After six years at Beihai the people were devoted to him. The day that Mi Zhu arrived, Kong Rong was, as usual, seated among his guests, and the messenger was ushered in without delay. In reply to a question about the reason of the visit, Mi Zhu presented Tao Qian’s letter which said that Cao Cao was pressing on Xuzhou City and the Imperial Protector prayed for help.

Then said Kong Rong, “Your master and I are good friends, and your presence here constrains me to go to his aid. However, I have no quarrel with Cao Cao either, so I will first write to him to try to make peace. If he refuses my offer, then I must set the army in motion.”

“Cao Cao will not listen to proposals of peace: He is too certain of his strength,” said Mi Zhu.

Kong Rong wrote his letter and also gave orders to muster his troops. Just at this moment happened another rising of the Yellow Scarves, ten thousand of them, and the ruffians began to rob and murder at Beihai. It was necessary to deal with them first, and Kong Rong led his army outside the city.

The rebel leader, Guan Hai, rode out to the front, saying, “I know this county is fruitful and can well spare ten thousand carts of grain. Give me that and we retire; refuse, and we will batter down the city walls and destroy every soul!”

Kong Rong shouted back, “I am a servant of the great Hans, entrusted with the safety of their land. Think you I will feed rebels?”

Guan Hai whipped his steed, whirled his sword around his head, and rode forward. Zong Bao, one of Kong Rong’s generals, set his spear and rode out to give battle, but after a very few bouts Zong Bao was cut down. Soon the soldiers fell into panic and rushed pell-mell into the city for protection. The rebels then laid siege to the city on all sides. Kong Rong was very down-hearted; and Mi Zhu, who now saw no hope for the success of his mission, was grieved beyond words.

The sight from the city wall was exceeding sad, for the rebels were there in enormous numbers. One day standing on the wall, Kong Rong saw afar a man armed with a spear riding hard in among the Yellow Scarves and scattering them before him like chaff before the wind.

Before long the man had reached the foot of the wall and called out, “Open the gate!”

But the defenders would not open to an unknown man, and in the delay a crowd of rebels gathered round the rider along the edge of the moat. Suddenly wheeling about, the warrior dashed in among them and bowled over a dozen at which the others fell back. At this Kong Rong ordered the wardens to open the gates and let the stranger enter. As soon as he was inside, he dismounted, laid aside his spear, ascended the wall, and made humble obeisance to the Governor.

“My name is Taishi Ci, and I am from the county of Laihuang. I only returned home yesterday from the north to see my mother, and then I heard that your city was in danger from a rebel attack. My mother said you had been very kind to her and told me I should try to help. So I set out all alone, and here I am.”

This was cheering. Kong Rong already knew Taishi Ci by reputation as a valiant fighting man, although they two had never met. The son being far away from his home, Kong Rong had taken his mother, who dwelt a few miles from the city, under his especial protection and saw that she did not suffer from want. This had won the old lady’s heart and she had sent her son to show her gratitude.

Kong Rong showed his appreciation by treating his guest with the greatest respect, making him presents of clothing and armor, saddles and horses.

Presently said Taishi Ci, “Give me a thousand soldiers, and I will go out and drive off these fellows.”

“You are a bold warrior, but they are very numerous. It is a serious matter to go out among them,” said Kong Rong.

“My mother sent me because of your goodness to her. How shall I be able to look her in the face if I do not raise the siege? I would prefer to conquer or perish.”

“I have heard Liu Bei is one of the heroes in the world. If we could get his help, there would be no doubt of the result. But there is no one to send.”

“I will go as soon as I have received your letter!”

So Kong Rong wrote letters and gave them to his helper.

Taishi Ci put on his armor, mounted his steed, attached his bow and quiver to his girdle, took his spear in his hand, tied his packed haversack firmly to his saddle bow, and rode out at the city gate. He went quite alone.

Along the moat a large party of the besiegers were gathered, and they came to intercept the solitary rider. But Taishi Ci dashed in among them and cut down several and so finally fought his way through.

Guan Hai, hearing that a rider had left the city, guessed what his errand would be and followed Taishi Ci with a party of horsemen. Guan Hai spread them out so that the messenger rider was entirely surrounded. Then Taishi Ci laid aside his spear, took his bow, adjusted his arrows one by one and shot all round him. And as a rider fell from his steed with every twang of Taishi Ci’s bowstring, the pursuers dared not close in.

Thus he got clear away and rode in hot haste to Liu Bei. Taishi Ci reached Pingyuan, and after greeting his host in proper form he told how Kong Rong was surrounded and had sent him for help. Then he presented the letter which Liu Bei read.

“And who are you?” asked Liu Bei.

“I am Taishi Ci, a fellow from Laihuang. I am not related by ties of kin to Kong Rong, nor even by ties of neighborhood, but I am by the bonds of sentiment and I share his sorrows and misfortunes. The Yellow Scarves have invested his city, and he is distressed with none to turn to, and destruction is very near. You are known as humane, righteous, and eager to help the distressed. Therefore at his command I have braved all dangers and fought my way through his enemies to pray you save him.”

Liu Bei smiled and sighed, saying, “And does he know there is a Liu Bei in this world?”

So Liu Bei, together with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, told off three thousand troops and set out to help raise the siege. When the rebel leader Guan Hai saw these new forces arriving, he led out his army to fight them, thinking he could easily dispose of so small a force.

The brothers and Taishi Ci with them sat on their horses in the forefront of their array. Guan Hai hastened forward. Taishi Ci was ready to fight, but Guan Yu had opened the combat. He rode forth and the two steeds met. The soldiers set up a great noise. After a few bouts Guan Yu’s green-dragon saber rose and fell, and with the stroke fell the rebel leader.

This was the signal for Zhang Fei and Taishi Ci to take a share, and they advanced side by side. With their spears ready they dashed in, and Liu Bei urged forward his force. The besieged Governor saw his doughty rescuers laying low the rebels as tigers among a flock of sheep. None could withstand them, and he then sent out his own troops to join in the battle so that the rebels were between two armies. The rebels’ force was completely broken and many troops surrendered, while the remainder scattered in all directions.

The victors were welcomed into the city, and as soon as possible a banquet was prepared in their honor. Mi Zhu was presented to Liu Bei. Mi Zhu related the story of the murder of Cao Song by Zhang Kai, Cao Cao’s vengeful attack on Xuzhou, and his coming to beg for assistance.

Liu Bei said, “Imperial Protector Tao Qian is a kindly man of high character, and it is a pity that he should suffer this wrong for no fault of his own.”

“You are a scion of the imperial family,” said Governor Kong Rong, “and this Cao Cao is injuring the people, a strong man abusing his strength. Why not go with me to rescue the sufferers?”

“I dare not refuse, but my force is weak and I must act cautiously,” said Liu Bei.

“Though my desire to help arises from an old friendship, yet it is a righteous act as well. I do not think your heart is not inclined toward the right,” said Kong Rong.

Liu Bei said, “This being so, you go first and give me time to see Gongsun Zan from whom I may borrow more troops and horses. I will come anon.”

“You surely will not break your promise?” said the Governor.

“What manner of man think you that I am?” said Liu Bei. “The Sage said, ‘Death is common to all; the person without truth cannot maintain the self.’ Whether I get the troops or not, certainly I shall come myself.”

So the plan was agreed to. Mi Zhu set out to return forthwith while Kong Rong prepared for his expedition.

Taishi Ci took his leave, saying, “My mother bade me come to your aid, and now happily you are safe. Letters have come from my fellow townsman, Liu Yao, Imperial Protector of Yangzhou, calling me thither and I must go. I will see you again.”

Kong Rong pressed rewards upon Taishi Ci, but he would accept nothing and departed.

When his mother saw him, she was pleased at his success, saying, “I rejoice that you have been able to prove your gratitude!”

After this he departed for Yangzhou.

Liu Bei went away to his friend Gongsun Zan and laid before Gongsun Zan his design to help Xuzhou.

“Cao Cao and you are not enemies. Why do you spend yourself for the sake of another?” said Gongsun Zan.

“I have promised,” Liu Bei replied, “and dare not break faith.”

“I will lend you two thousand horse and foot,” said Gongsun Zan.

“Also, I wish to have the services of Zhao Zilong,” said Liu Bei.

Gongsun Zan agreed to this also. They marched away, Liu Bei’s own troops being in the front, and Zhao Zilong, with the borrowed troops, being in rear.

In due course Mi Zhu returned saying that Kong Rong had also obtained the services of Liu Bei. The other messenger, Chen Deng, came back and reported that Tian Kai would also bring help. Then was Tao Qian’s heart set at ease.

But both the leaders, though they had promised aid, greatly dreaded their antagonist and camped among the hills at a great distance, fearful of coming too close to Cao Cao’s quarters. Cao Cao knew of their coming and divided his army into parts to meet them, so postponing the attack on the city itself.

Presently Liu Bei came up and went to see Kong Rong, who said, “The enemy is very powerful, and Cao Cao handles his army skillfully. We must be cautious. Let us make most careful observations before we strike a blow.”

“What I fear is famine in the city,” said Liu Bei. “They cannot hold out very long. I will put my troops with yours under your command, while I with Zhang Fei make a dash through to see Tao Qian and consult with him.”

Kong Rong approved of this, so he and Tian Kai took up positions on the ox-horn formation, with Guan Yu and Zhao Zilong on either side to support them.

When Liu Bei and Zhang Fei leading one thousand troops made their dash to get through Cao Cao’s army, they got as far as the flank of his camp when there arose a great beating of drums, and horse and foot rolled out like billows on the ocean. The leader was Yu Jin.

Yu Jin checked his steed and called out, “You mad men from somewhere, where are you going?”

Zhang Fei heard Yu Jin but deigned no reply. He only rode straight to attack the speaker. After they had fought a few bouts, Liu Bei waved his double swords as signal for his troops to come on, and they drove Yu Jin before them. Zhang Fei led the pursuit and in this way they reached the city wall.

From the city wall, the besieged saw a huge banner embroidered in white Liu Bei of Pingyuan, and the Imperial Protector bade them open the gate for the rescuers to enter. Liu Bei was made very welcome, conducted to the residency, and a banquet prepared in his honor. The soldiers also were feasted.

Tao Qian was delighted with Liu Bei, admiring his high-spirited appearance and clear speech. Tao Qian bade Mi Zhu offer Liu Bei the seal and insignia of the protectorship office. But Liu Bei shrank back startled.

“What does this mean?” said Liu Bei.

Tao Qian said, “There is trouble on every side, and the kingly rule is no longer maintained. You, Sir, are a member of the family and eminently fitted to support them and their prerogatives. I am verging on senility, and I wish to retire in your favor. I pray you not to decline, and I will report my action to the court.”

Liu Bei started up from his seat and bowed before his host, saying, “Scion of the family I may be, but my merit is small and my virtue meager. I doubt my fitness even for my present post, and only a feeling of doing right sent me to your assistance. To hear such speech makes me doubt. Surely you think I came with greed in my heart. May God help me no more if I cherished such a thought!”

“It is a poor old man’s real sentiment,” said Tao Qian.

Time after time Tao Qian renewed his offer to entrust the region of Xuzhou to Liu Bei, but Liu Bei kept refusing.

In the midst of this came Mi Zhu, saying, “The enemies had reached the wall, and something must be done to drive them off. The present matter could await a more tranquil time.”

Said Liu Bei, “I ought to write to Cao Cao to press him to raise the siege. If he refuses, we will attack forthwith.”

Orders were sent to the camps outside to remain quiescent till the letter could reach Cao Cao.

It happened that Cao Cao was holding a council when a messenger with a war letter was announced. The letter was brought in and handed to him and, when he had opened and looked at it, he found it was from Liu Bei.

This is the letter, very nearly:

“Since meeting you outside the pass, fate has assigned us to different quarters of the world, and I have not been able to pay my respects to you. Touching the death of your noble father, it was owing to the vicious nature of Zhang Kai and due to no fault of Tao Qian. Now while the remnant of the Yellow Scarves is disturbing the lands, and Dong Zhuo’s partisans have the upper hand in the capital, I wish that you, Illustrious Sir, would regard the critical position of the court rather than your personal grievances, and so divert your forces from the attack on Xuzhou to the rescue of the state. Such would be for the happiness of this city and the whole empire.”

Cao Cao gave vent to a torrent of abuse: “Who is this Liu Bei that he dares write and exhort me? Beside, he means to be satirical.”

Cao Cao issued orders to put the bearer of the letter to death and to press on the siege.

But Guo Jia remonstrated, saying, “Liu Bei has come from afar to help Tao Qian, and he is trying the effect of politeness before resorting to arms. I pray you, my lord, reply with fair words that his heart may be lulled with a feeling of safety. Then attack with vigor and the city will fall.”

Cao Cao found this advice good, so he spared the messenger, telling him to wait to carry back his reply.

While this was going on, a horseman came with news of misfortune: “Lu Bu has invaded Yanzhou, now holding Puyang. The three counties left —-Juancheng, Fanxia, and Dongjun —-are under severe attacks!”

When Li Jue and Guo Si, the two partisans of Dong Zhuo, succeeded in their attack on the capital, Lu Bu had fled to Yuan Shu. However, Yuan Shu looked askance at him for his instability and refused to receive him. Then Lu Bu went to try Yuan Shao, who was a brother of Yuan Shu. Yuan Shao accepted the warrior and made use of him in an attack upon Zhang Yan in Changshan. But Lu Bu’s success filled him with pride, and his arrogant demeanor so annoyed the other commanders that Yuan Shao was on the point of putting him to death. To escape this Lu Bu had gone away to Zhang Yang, Governor of Shangdang, who accepted his services.

About this time Pang Shu, who had been hiding and protecting Lu Bu’s family in Changan since his disappearance, restored them to him. This deed angered Li Jue and Guo Si so that they put Pang Shu to death and wrote to Lu Bu’s protector to serve him the same. To escape this Lu Bu once again had to flee and this time joined himself to Zhang Miao, the Governor of Chenliu.

Lu Bu arrived just as Zhang Miao’s brother, Zhang Chao, was introducing Chen Gong.

Chen Gong said to Zhang Miao, “The rupture of the empire has begun, and warlords are seizing what they can. It is strange that you, with all the advantages of population and provisions you enjoy, do not strike for independence. Cao Cao has gone on an expedition against the east, leaving his own territory defenseless. Lu Bu is one of the warriors of the day. If you and he together attacked and got Yanzhou, you could then proceed to the dominion.”

Zhang Miao was pleased and resolved to try. He ordered an attack, and soon Lu Bu was in possession of Yanzhou and its neighborhood, all but three small counties of Juancheng, Fanxia, and Dongjun, which were vigorously and desperately defended by Xun Yu and Cheng Yu in concert. Cao Cao’s cousin, Cao Ren, had fought many battles but was repeatedly defeated, and the messenger with the evil tidings had come from him asking prompt help.

Cao Cao was greatly disturbed by this and said, “If my own region be lost, I have no home to return to! I must do something at once.”

“The best thing would be to become friends with Liu Bei at any cost and return to Yanzhou,” said Guo Jia.

Then Cao Cao wrote to Liu Bei, gave the letter to the waiting messenger and broke camp. The news that the enemy had left was very gratifying to Tao Qian, who then invited his various defenders into Xuzhou City and prepared banquets and feasts in token of his gratitude.

At one of these, when the feasting was over, he proceeded with his wish of retirement in favor of Liu Bei.

Placing Liu Bei in the seat of highest honor, Tao Qian bowed before him and then addressed the assembly, “I am old and feeble, and my two sons lack the ability to hold so important an office as this. The noble Liu Bei is a descendant of the imperial house. He is of lofty virtue and great talent. Let him then take over the rule of this region, and only too willingly I shall retire to have leisure to nurse my health.”

Liu Bei replied, “I came at the request of Governor Kong Rong, because it was the right thing to do. Xuzhou is saved; but if I take it, surely the world will say I am a wicked man.”

Mi Zhu said, “You may not refuse. The House of Han is falling, their realm is crumbling, and now is the time for doughty deeds and signal services. This is a fertile region, well populated and rich, and you are the man to rule over it.”

“But I cannot accept,” said Liu Bei.

“Imperial Protector Tao Qian is a great sufferer,” said Chen Deng, “and cannot see to matters. You may not decline, Sir.”

Said Liu Bei, “Yuan Shu belongs to a family of rulers, who have held the highest offices of state four times in three generations. The multitude people respects him. Why not invite him to this task?”

“Because Yuan Shu is a drying skeleton in a dark tomb: Not worth talking about. This opportunity is a gift from Heaven, and you will never cease to regret its loss,” said Kong Rong.

So spoke Kong Rong, but still Liu Bei obstinately refused.

Tao Qian besought him with tears, saying, “I shall die if you leave me, and there will be none to close my eyes.”

“Brother, you should accept the offer thus made,” said Guan Yu.

“Why so much fuss?” said Zhang Fei. “We have not taken the place. It is he who wishes to give it to you.”

“You all persuade me to do what is wrong,” said Liu Bei.

Seeing he could not persuade Liu Bei, Tao Qian then said, “As you are set in determination, perhaps you will consent to encamp at Xiaopei. It is only a little town, but thence you can keep watch and ward over the region.”

They all with one voice prayed Liu Bei to consent, so he gave in. The feast of victory being now ended, the time came to say farewell. When Zhao Zilong took his leave, Liu Bei held his hands alternately while dashing away the falling tears. Kong Rong and Tian Kai went home to their own places.

When Liu Bei and his brothers took up their abode in Xiaopei, they first repaired the defenses, and then they put out proclamations in order to calm the inhabitants.

In the meantime Cao Cao had marched toward his own region (AD 194).

Cao Ren met and told him, “Lu Bu is very powerful, and he has Chen Gong as Adviser. Yanzhou is as good as lost, with the exception of three counties which Xun Yu and Cheng Yu are vigorously defending together.”

Cao Cao said, “I own that Lu Bu is a bold fighter but nothing more: He has no craft. So we need not fear him seriously.”

Then he gave orders to make a strong camp till they could think out some victorious plan.

Lu Bu, knowing of Cao Cao’s return, called two of his subordinate generals, Xue Lan and Li Fang, to him and assigned to them the task of holding the city of Yanzhou, saying, “I have long waited for opportunity to employ your skill. Now I give you ten thousand soldiers, and you are to hold the city while I go forth to attack Cao Cao.”

They accepted.

But Chen Gong, the strategist, came in hastily, saying, “General, you are going away. Whither?”

“I am going to camp my troops at Puyang, to establish an ox-horn vantage.”

“You are making a mistake,” said Chen Gong. “The two you have chosen to defend this city are unequal to the task. For this expedition remember that about sixty miles due south, on the treacherous road to the Taishan Mountains, is a very advantageous position where you should place your best men in ambush. Cao Cao will hasten homeward by double marches when he hears what has happened. If you strike when half his troops have gone past this point, you may seize him.”

Said Lu Bu, “I am going to occupy Puyang and see what develops. How can you guess my big plan?”

So Lu Bu left Xue Lan in command at Yanzhou and went away.

Now when Cao Cao approached the dangerous part of the road near the Taishan Mountains, Guo Jia warned him, saying, “Do not advance hastily, my lord. There is doubtless an ambush.”

But Cao Cao laughed, saying, “We know all Lu Bu’s dispositions. Xue Lan is keeping the city, while Lu Bu is massing his troops at Puyang. Do you think Lu Bu has laid an ambush? I shall tell Cao Ren to besiege Yanzhou, and I shall go to Puyang.”

In Puyang, when Chen Gong heard of the enemy’s approach, he spoke, saying, “The enemy will be fatigued with long marches, so attack quickly before they have time to recover.”

Lu Bu replied, “I, a single horseman, am afraid of none. I come and go as I will. Think you I fear this Cao Cao? Let him settle his camp; I will take him after that.”

Now Cao Cao neared Puyang, and he made a camp. The next day he led out his commanders, and they arrayed their armies in open country. Cao Cao took up his station on horseback between the two standards, watching while his opponents arrived and formed up in a circular area.

Lu Bu was in front, followed by eight of his generals, all strong men: Zhang Liao of Mayi, backed by Hao Meng, Cao Xing, and Cheng Lian; Zang Ba of Huaying, backed by Wei Xu, Song Xian, and Hou Cheng. They led an army of fifty thousand in total.

The drums began their thunderous roll, and Cao Cao, pointing to his opponent, said, “You and I had no quarrel, why then did you invade my land?”

“The cities of Han are the possession of all. What is your special claim?” said Lu Bu.

So saying, Lu Bu ordered Zang Ba to ride forth and challenge. From Cao Cao’s side the challenge was accepted by Yue Jing. The two steeds approached each other; two spears were lifted both together, and they exchanged near thirty blows with no advantage to either. Then Xiahou Dun rode out to help his colleague and, in reply, out went Zhang Liao from Lu Bu’s side. And they four fought.

Then fierce anger seized upon Lu Bu. Setting his trident halberd, he urged his Red Hare forward to where the fight was waging. Seeing him approach, Xiahou Dun and Yue Jing both fled, but Lu Bu pressed on after them, and Cao Cao’s army lost the day. Retiring ten miles, they made a new camp. Lu Bu called in and mustered his troops.

The day having gone against him, Cao Cao called a council, and Yu Jin said, “From the hill tops today I saw a camp of our enemies on the west of Puyang. They were but few men therein, and tonight after today’s victory, it will not be defended. Let us attack; and if we can take the camp, we shall strike fear into the heart of Lu Bu. This is our best plan.”

Cao Cao thought so too. He and six of his generals —-Cao Hong, Li Dian, Mao Jie, Lu Qian, Yu Jin, and Dian Wei —-and twenty thousand horse and foot left that night by a secret road for the camp.

In his camp Lu Bu was rejoicing for that day’s victory, when Chen Gong reminded him, saying, “The western camp is importance point, and it might be attacked.”

But Lu Bu replied, “The enemy will not dare approach after today’s defeat.”

“Cao Cao is a very able commander,” replied Chen Gong. “You must keep a good lookout for him lest he attack our weak spot.”

So arrangements were made for defense. Generals Gao Shun, Wei Xu, and Hou Cheng were ordered to march there.

At dusk Cao Cao reached the camp and began an immediate attack on all four sides. The defenders could not hold him off. They ran in all directions, and the camp was captured. Near the fourth watch, when the defending party came, Cao Cao sallied forth to meet them and met Gao Shun. Another battle then began and waged till dawn. About that time a rolling of drums was heard in the west, and they told Cao Cao that Lu Bu himself was at hand. Thereupon Cao Cao abandoned the attack and fled.

Gao Shun, Wei Xu, and Hou Cheng pursued him, while Lu Bu blocked his escape route. Cao Cao’s two generals, Yu Jin and Yue Jing, attacked Lu Bu’s troops but could not break them. Cao Cao went away north. But from behind some hills came out Zhang Liao and Zang Ba to attack. Lu Qian and Cao Hong were sent to stop the attackers, but Lu Qian and Cao Hong were both defeated. Cao Cao sought safety in the west. Here again his retreat was met by Lu Bu’s four generals, Hao Meng, Cao Xing, Cheng Lian, and Song Xian.

The fight became desperate. Cao Cao dashed at the enemy’s array. The din was terrible. Arrows fell like pelting rain upon them, and they could make no headway.

Cao Cao was desperate and cried out in fear, “Who can save me?”

Then from the crush dashed out Dian Wei with his double spears, crying, “Fear not, my lord!”

Dian Wei leapt from his steed, put aside his double spears, and laid hold of a handful of battle-axes. Turning to his followers he said, “When the ruffians are at ten paces, call out to me.”

Then he set off with mighty strides, plunging forward, careless of the flying arrows. Lu Bu’s horsemen followed, and when they got near, Dian Wei’s followers shouted, “Ten paces!”

“Five, then call!” shouted back Dian Wei, and went on.

Presently, “Five paces!”

Then Dian Wei spun round and flung the battle-axes. With every fling a man fell from the saddle and never a battle-ax missed.

Having thus slain ten or so the remainder fled, and Dian Wei quickly remounted his steed, set his twin spears and rushed again into the fight with a vigor that none could withstand. One by one his opponents yielded, and he was able to lead Cao Cao safely out of the press of battle. Cao Cao and his commanders went to their camp.

But as evening fell, the noise of pursuit fell on their ears, and soon appeared Lu Bu himself.

“Cao Cao, you rebel, do not flee!” shouted Lu Bu as he approached with his halberd ready for a thrust.

All stopped and looked in each others’ faces: The soldiers were weary, their steeds spent. Fear smote them, and they looked around for some place of refuge.

You may lead your lord safely out of the press,

But what if the enemy follow?

We cannot say here what Cao Cao’s fate was, but the next chapter will relate.

Chapter 12

Tao Qian Thrice Offers Xuzhou To Liu Bei; Cao Cao Retakes Yanzhou From Lu Bu.

The last chapter closed with Cao Cao in great danger. However, help came. Xiahou Dun with a body of soldiers found his chief, checked the pursuit, and fought with Lu Bu till dusk. Rain fell in torrents swamping everything; and as the daylight waned, they drew off and Cao Cao reached camp. He rewarded Dian Wei generously and advanced him in rank.

When Lu Bu reached his camp, he called in his adviser Chen Gong. Then Chen Gong proposed a new stratagem.

He said, “In Puyang there is a rich, leading family, Tian by name, who number thousands, enough to populate a whole county in themselves. Make one of these people go to Cao Cao’s camp with a pretended secret letter about your ferocity, and the hatred of the people, and their desire to be rid of you. And spread the news that only Gao Shun is left to guard the city, and they would help anyone who would come to save them. Thus our enemy Cao Cao will be inveigled into the city, and we will destroy him either by fire or ambush. His skill may be equal to encompassing the universe, but he will not escape.”

Lu Bu thought this trick might be tried, and they arranged for the Tian family letter to be sent.

Coming soon after the defeat, when Cao Cao felt uncertain what step to take next, the secret letter was read with joy:

“Lu Bu has marched to Liyang. The city’s defense is weak: You must attack immediately, and we will render interior help. Follow the sign of a white flag with the word Rectitude written thereon.”

“Heaven is going to give me Puyang!” said Cao Cao joyfully.

So he rewarded the messenger very liberally and began to prepare for the expedition.

Then came Liu Ye, saying, “Lu Bu is no strategist, but Chen Gong is full of guile. I fear treachery in this letter, and you must be careful. If you will go, then enter with only one third your army, leaving the others outside the city as a reserve.”

Cao Cao agreed to take this precaution. He went to Puyang, which he found gay with fluttering flags. Looking carefully he saw among them, at the west gate, the white flag with the looked-for inscription. His heart rejoiced.

That day, just about noon, the city gates opened, and two bodies of soldiers appeared as if to fight. Gao Shun was the Front Commander, and Hou Cheng the Rear Commander. Cao Cao told off his general, Dian Wei, to oppose them. Neither body, however, came on to full engagement but fell back into the city. By this move Dian Wei and his troops had been drawn close up to the drawbridge. From within the city several soldiers were seen taking any chance of confusion to escape and come outside.

To Cao Cao they said, “We are clients of the Tian family,” and they gave him secret letters stating:

“The signal will be given about the first watch setting by beating a gong. That will be the time to attack. The gates will be opened.”

So Cao Cao ordered Xiahou Dun to march to the left and Cao Hong to the right. Cao Cao led the main army —-together with Xiahou Yuan, Li Dian, and Yue Jing —-into the city.

Li Dian pressed upon his master the precaution, saying, “My lord should stay outside the city. Let us go in first.”

But Cao Cao bade him be silent, saying, “If I do not go, who will advance?”

And so at the first watch Cao Cao led the way. The moon had not yet arisen. As he drew near the west gate, they heard a crackling sound, then a loud shouting, and then torches moved hither and thither. Next the gates were thrown wide open, and Cao Cao, whipping up his steed, galloped in.

But when he reached the state residence, he noticed the streets were quite deserted, and then he knew he had been tricked. Wheeling round his horse, he shouted to his followers to retire. This was the signal for another move. An explosion of a signal bomb was heard close at hand, and it was echoed from every side in a deafening roar. Gongs and drums beat all around with a roar like rivers rushing backward to their source, and the ocean boiling up from its depths. From two sides east and west came bodies of soldiers eager to attack, led by Lu Bu’s generals Zhang Liao and Zang Ba.

Cao Cao dashed off toward the north only to find his way barred by Hao Meng and Cao Xing. Cao Cao tried for the south gate, but met enemies led by Gao Shun and Hou Cheng. Cao Cao’s trusty commander Dian Wei, with fierce eyes and gritting teeth, at last burst through and got out, with the enemy close after him.

But when Dian Wei reached the drawbridge, he glanced behind him and missed his master. Immediately Dian Wei turned back and cut an alley inside. Just within he met Li Dian.

“Where is our lord?” cried Dian Wei.

“I am looking for him!” said Li Dian.

“Quick! Get help from outside,” shouted Dian Wei. “I will seek him!”

So Li Dian hastened for aid, and Dian Wei slashed his way in, looking on every side for Cao Cao. He was not to be found. Dashing out of the city, Dian Wei ran up against Yue Jing, who asked where their lord was.

“I have entered the city twice in search of him, but cannot find him!” said Dian Wei.

“Let us go in together.” said Yue Jing.

They rode up to the gate. But the noise of bombs and the pouring fire from the gate tower frightened Yue Jing’s horse so that it refused to pass. Wherefore Dian Wei alone went in, butting through the smoke and dashing through the flames. But he got in and searched on every side.

When Cao Cao saw his sturdy protector Dian Wei cut his way out and disappear leaving him surrounded, he again made an attempt to reach the north gate. On the way, sharply silhouetted against the glow, he saw the figure of Lu Bu coming toward him with his trident halberd ready to kill. Cao Cao covered his face with his hand, whipped up his steed and galloped past.

But Lu Bu came galloping up behind him and tapping him on the helmet with the halberd cried, “Where is Cao Cao?”

Cao Cao turned and, pointing to a dun horse well ahead, cried, “There: On that dun! That is he!”

Hearing this Lu Bu left pursuing Cao Cao to gallop after the rider of the dun.

Thus relieved Cao Cao set off for the east gate. Then he fell in with Dian Wei, who took him under his protection and fought through the press, leaving a trail of death behind till they reached the gate. Here the fire was raging fiercely, and burning beams were falling on all sides. The earth element seemed to have interchanged with the fire element. Dian Wei warded off the burning pieces of wood with his lance and rode into the smoke making a way for his lord. Just as they were passing through the gate a flaming beam fell from the gate tower. Cao Cao just warded it off with his arm, but it struck his steed on the quarters and knocked the steed down. Cao Cao’s hand and arm were badly burned and his hair and beard singed. Dian Wei turned back to his rescue. Luckily Xiahou Yuan came along just then, and the two raised Cao Cao and set him on Xiahou Yuan’s horse. And thus they got him out of the burning city. But they had to go through heavy fighting till daybreak.

Cao Cao returned to his camp. His officers crowded about his tent, anxious for news of his health. He soon recovered and laughed when he thought of his escape.

“I blundered into that fool’s trap, but I will have my revenge,” said he.

“Let us have a new plan soon,” said Guo Jia.

“I will turn his trick to my own use. I will spread the false report that I was burned in the fire, and that I died at the fifth watch. He will come to attack as soon as the news gets abroad, and I will have an ambush ready for him in Maling Hills. I will get him this time.”

“Really a fine stratagem!” said Guo Jia.

So the soldiers were put into mourning, and the report went everywhere that Cao Cao was dead. And soon Lu Bu heard it, and he assembled his army at once to make a surprise attack, taking the road by the Maling Hills to his enemy’s camp.

As he was passing the hills, he heard the drums beating for an advance, and the ambushing soldiers leapt out all round him. Only by desperate fighting did he get out of the melee and with a sadly diminished force returned to his camp at Puyang. There he strengthened the fortifications and could not be tempted forth to battle.

This year locusts suddenly appeared, and they consumed every green blade. There was a famine, and in the northeast grain rose to fifty strings of copper coins a cart. People even took to cannibalism. Cao Cao’s army suffered from want, and he marched them to Juancheng. Lu Bu took his troops to Shanyang. Perforce therefore the fighting ceased.

In Xuzhou. Imperial Protector Tao Qian, over sixty years of age, suddenly fell seriously ill, and he summoned his confident, Mi Zhu, to his chamber to make arrangements for the future.

As to the situation the adviser said, “Cao Cao abandoned his attack on this place because of his enemy’s seizure of Yanzhou; and now they are both keeping the peace solely because of the famine. But Cao Cao will surely renew the attack in the spring. When Liu Bei refused to allow you to vacate office in his favor, you were in full vigor. Now you are ill and weak, and you can make this a reason for retirement. He will not refuse again.”

So a message was sent to the little garrison town Xiaopei calling Liu Bei to a counsel on military affairs. This brought him with his brothers and a slender escort. He was at once called in to the sick man’s chamber. Quickly disposing of the inquiries about his health, Tao Qian soon came to the real object of his call for Liu Bei.

“Sir, I asked you to come for the sole reason that I am dangerously ill and likely to die at any time. I look to you, Illustrious Sir, to consider the Hans and their empire as more important than anything else, and so to take over the symbols of office of this region, the commission and the seal, that I may close my eyes in peace.”

“You have two sons, why not depute them to relieve you?” said Liu Bei.

“Both lack the requisite talents. I trust you will instruct them after I have gone, but do not let them have the guidance of affairs.”

“But I am unequal to so great a charge.”

“I will recommend to you one who could assist you. He is Sun Qian from Beihai who could be appointed to some post.”

Turning to Mi Zhu, Tao Qian said, “The noble Liu Bei here is the most prominent man of the time, and you should serve him well.”

Still would Liu Bei have put from him such a post, but just then the Imperial Protector, pointing to his heart to indicate his sincerity, passed away.

When the ceremonial wailing of the officials was over, the insignia of office were brought to Liu Bei. But he would have none of them. The following days the inhabitants of the town and country around crowded into the state residence, bowing and with tears, calling upon Liu Bei to receive the charge.

“If you do not, we cannot live in peace!” said they.

To these requests his brothers added their persuasion, till at length he consented to assume the administrative duties. He forthwith appointed Sun Qian and Mi Zhu as his Advisers, and Chen Deng his Secretary. He moved his army from Xiaopei to Xuzhou City, and he put forth proclamations to reassure the people.

He also attended to the burial ceremonies; he and all his army dressing in mourning. After the fullest sacrifices and ceremonies, a burial place for the late Imperial Protector was found close to the source of the Yellow River. The dead man’s testament was forwarded to court.

The news of the events in Xuzhou duly reached the ears of Cao Cao, then in Juancheng.

Said he, angrily, “I have missed my revenge. This Liu Bei has simply stepped into command of the region without expending half an arrow: He sat still and attained his desire. But I will put him to death and then dig up Tao Qian’s corpse in revenge for the death of my noble father!”

Orders were issued for the army to prepare for a new campaign against Xuzhou.

But Adviser Xun Yu remonstrated with Cao Cao, saying, “The Supreme Ancestor secured the Land Within the Passes and his illustrious successor on the throne, Liu Xiu, took Henei. They both first consolidated their position whereby they could command the entire empire. Their whole progress was from success to success. Hence they accomplished their great designs in spite of difficulties.

“Illustrious Sir, your Land Within the Passes and your Henei are Yanzhou and the Yellow River, which you had first, and which is of the utmost strategic point of the empire. If you undertake this expedition against Xuzhou leaving many troops here for defense, you will not accomplish your design; if you leave too few, Lu Bu will fall upon us. And finally if you lose this and fail to gain Xuzhou, whither will you retire? That region is not vacant. Although Tao Qian has gone, Liu Bei holds it; and since the people support him, they will fight to the death for him. To abandon this place for that is to exchange the great for the small, to barter the trunk for the branches, to leave safety and run into danger. I would implore you to reflect well.”

Cao Cao replied, “It is not a good plan to keep soldiers idle here during such scarcity.”

“If that is so, it would be more advantageous to attack the eastern counties of Chencheng, Yingchuan, and Runan, and feed your army on their supplies. The remnants of the Yellow Scarves, He Yi and Huang Shao, are there with stores and treasures of all kinds that they have amassed by plundering wherever they could. Rebels of their stamp are easily broken. Break them, and you can feed your army with their grain. Moreover, both the court and the common people will join in blessing you.”

This new design appealed strongly to Cao Cao, and he quickly began his preparations to carry it out. He left Xiahou Dun and Cao Ren to guard Juancheng, while his main body, under his own command, marched to seize Chencheng. This done they went to Runan and Yingchuan.

Now when the Yellow Scarves leaders, He Yi and Huang Shao, knew that Cao Cao was approaching. They came out in a great body to oppose him. They met at Goat Hill. Though the rebels were numerous, they were a poor lot, a mere pack of beasts without organization and lacking discipline. Cao Cao ordered his strong archers and vigorous crossbowmen to keep them in check.

Dian Wei was sent out to challenge. The rebel leaders chose a Second-in-Command champion for their side, who rode out and was vanquished in the third bout. Then Cao Cao’s army pushed forward, and they made a camp at Goat Hill.

The following day the rebel Huang Shao himself led forth his army and made his battle array along a circle. A leader advanced on foot to offer combat. He wore a yellow turban on his head and a green robe. His weapon was an iron mace.

He shouted, “I am He Man, the devil who shoots across the sky. Who dare fight with me?”

Cao Hong uttered a great shout and jumped from the saddle to accept the challenge. Sword in hand he advanced on foot and the two engaged in fierce combat in the face of both armies. They exchanged some fifty blows, neither gaining the advantage. Then Cao Hong feigned defeat and ran away. He Man went after him. Just as he closed, Cao Hong tried a feint and then suddenly wheeling about, wounded his adversary. Another slash, and He Man lay dead.

At once Li Dian dashed forward into the midst of the Yellow Scarves and laid hands on the rebel chief Huang Shao whom he carried off captive. Cao Cao’s troops then set on and scattered the rebels. The spoil of treasure and food was immense.

The other rebel leader, He Yi, fled with a few hundred horsemen toward Gepei Hills. But while on their road thither there suddenly appeared a force led by a certain swashbuckler. This bravo was a well-built man, thickset and stout. With a waist ten spans in girth. He used a long sword.

He barred the way of retreat. He Yi set his spear and rode toward him. But at the first encounter the bravo caught He Yi under his arm and bore He Yi off a prisoner. All the rebels were terror-stricken, dropped from their horses and allowed themselves to be bound. Then the victor drove them like cattle into an enclosure with high banks.

Presently Dian Wei, still pursuing the rebels, reached Gepei Hills. The swashbuckler went out to meet him.

“Are you also a Yellow Scarves rebel?” said Dian Wei.

“I have some hundreds of them prisoners in an enclosure here.”

“Why not bring them out?” said Dian Wei.

“I will if you win this sword from my hand.”

This annoyed Dian Wei who attacked him. They engaged and the combat lasted for two long hours and then was still undecided. Both rested a while. The swashbuckler was the first to recover and renewed the challenge. They fought till dusk and then, as their horses were quite spent, the combat was once more suspended.

In the meantime some of Dian Wei’s men had run off to tell the story of this wondrous fight to Cao Cao who hastened in amazement, followed by many officers to watch it and see the result.

Next day the unknown warrior rode out again, and Cao Cao saw him. In Cao Cao’s heart he rejoiced to see such a doughty hero and desired to gain his services. So Cao Cao bade Dian Wei feign defeat.

Dian Wei rode out in answer to the challenge, and some thirty bouts were fought. Then Dian Wei turned and fled toward his own side. The bravo followed and came quite close. But a flight of arrows drove him away.

Cao Cao hastily drew off his men for one and a half miles and then secretly sent a certain number to dig a pitfall and sent troops armed with hooks to lie in ambush.

The following day Dian Wei was sent out with one hundred horse. His adversary nothing loath came to meet Dian Wei.

“Why does the defeated leader venture forth again?” cried he laughing.

The swashbuckler spurred forward to join battle, but Dian Wei, after a faint show of fighting, turned his horse and rode away. His adversary intent upon capture, took no care, and he and his horse all blundered into the pitfall. The hookmen took him captive, bound him, and carried him before Cao Cao.

As soon as he saw the prisoner, Cao Cao advanced from his tent, sent away the soldiers, and with his own hands loosened the leader’s bonds. Then he brought out clothing and dressed him, bade him be seated and asked who he was and whence he came.

“I am named Xu Chu. I am from Qiao. When the rebellion broke out, my relatives and I, numbered some hundreds, built a stronghold within a rampart for protection. One day the robbers came, but I had stones ready for them. I told my relatives to keep on bringing them up to me and I threw them, hitting somebody every time I threw. This drove off the robbers. Another day they came, and we were short of grain. So I agreed with them to an exchange of plow oxen against grain. They delivered the grain and were driving away the oxen when the beasts took fright and tore off to their pens. I seized two of oxen by the tail, one with each hand, and hauled them backwards a hundred or so paces. The robbers were so amazed that they thought no more about oxen but went their way. So they never troubled us again.”

“I have heard of your mighty exploits,” said Cao Cao. “Will you join my army?”

“That is my strongest desire,” said Xu Chu.

So Xu Chu called up his clan, some hundreds in all, and they formally submitted to Cao Cao. Xu Chu received the rank of General and got ample rewards. The two rebel leaders, He Yi and Huang Shao, were executed. Runan and Yingchuan were now perfectly pacified.

Cao Cao withdrew his army and went back to Juancheng.

Xiahou Dun and Cao Ren came out to welcome him, and they told him, “Scouts report that Yanzhou City has been left defenseless. Lu Bu’s generals, Xue Lan and Li Fang, have given up all its garrison to plundering the surrounding country. We must act without loss of time. With our soldiers fresh from victory, the city will fall at a tap of the drum.”

So Cao Cao marched the army straight to the city. An attack was quite unexpected but the two leaders, Xue Lan and Li Fang, hurried out their few soldiers to fight.

Xu Chu, the latest recruit, said, “I wish to capture these two and make them an introductory gift!”

The task was given him, and he rode forth. Li Fang with his halberd advanced to meet Xu Chu. The combat was brief as Li Fang fell in the second bout. His colleague Xue Lan retired with his troops. But he found the drawbridge had been seized by Li Dian, so that he could not get shelter within the city. Xue Lan led his men toward Juye. But Lu Qian pursued and killed him with an arrow. His soldiers scattered to the four directions. And thus Yanzhou was recaptured.

Next Cheng Yu proposed an expedition to take Puyang. Cao Cao marched his army out in perfect order. The Van Leaders were Dian Wei and Xu Chu; Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan led the left wing; Li Dian and Yue Jing led the right wing; Yu Jin and Lu Qian guarded the rear. Cao Cao himself commanded the center.

When they approached Puyang, Lu Bu wished to go out in person and alone to attack, but his adviser Chen Gong protested, saying, “General, you should not go out until the arrival of the other officers.”

“Whom do I fear?” said Lu Bu.

So he threw caution to the winds and went out of the city. He met his foes and began to revile them. The redoubtable Xu Chu went to fight with him, but after twenty bouts neither combatant was any the worse.

“He is not the sort that one man can overcome,” said Cao Cao.

And he sent Dian Wei to attack Lu Bu from another direction. Lu Bu stood the double onslaught. Soon after the flank commanders joined in —-Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan attacking the left; Li Dian and Yue Jing surrounding the right. Lu Bu had six opponents. These proved really too many for him so he turned his horse and rode back to the city.

But when the members of the Tian family saw him coming back beaten, they raised the drawbridge.

Lu Bu shouted, “Open the gates! Let me in!”

But the Tians said, “We have gone over to Cao Cao!”

This was hard to hear and the beaten man abused them roundly before he left. Chen Gong got away through the east gate taking with him the general’s family.

Thus Puyang came into Cao Cao’s hands, and for their present services the Tian family were pardoned their previous fault.

However, Liu Ye said, “Lu Bu is a savage beast. If let alive, he will be a great danger. Hunt him down!”

Liu Ye was ordered to keep Puyang. Wherefore Cao Cao determined to follow Lu Bu to Dingtao whither he had gone for refuge.

Lu Bu, Zhang Miao, and Zhang Chao were assembled in the city. Gao Shun and other generals were out foraging. Cao Cao army arrived but did not attack for many days, and presently he withdrew fifteen miles and made a stockade. It was the time of harvest, and he set his soldiers to cut the wheat for food. The spies reported this to Lu Bu who came over to see. But when he saw that Cao Cao’s stockade lay near a thick wood, he feared an ambush and retired. Cao Cao heard that Lu Bu had come and gone and guessed the reason.

“He fears an ambush in the wood,” said Cao Cao. “We will set up flags there and deceive him. There is a long embankment near the camp, but behind it there is no water. There we will lay an ambush to fall upon Lu Bu when he comes to burn the wood.”

So Cao Cao hid all his soldiers behind the embankment except half a hundred drummers, and he got together many peasants to loiter within the stockade as though it was not empty.

Lu Bu rode back and told Chen Gong what he had seen.

“This Cao Cao is very crafty and full of wiles,” said the adviser. “Do not act.”

“I will use fire this time and burn out his ambush,” said Lu Bu.

Next morning Lu Bu rode out, and there he saw flags flying everywhere in the wood. He ordered his troops forward to set fire on all sides. But to his surprise no one rushed out to make for the stockade. Still he heard the beating of drums and doubt filled his mind. Suddenly he saw a party of soldiers move out from the shelter of the stockade. He galloped over to see what it meant.

Then the signal-bombs exploded: Out rushed the troops and all their leaders dashed forward. Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan, Xu Chu, Dian Wei, Li Dian, and Yue Jing all attacked at once. Lu Bu was at a loss and fled into the open country. One of his generals, Cheng Lian, was killed by an arrow of Yue Jing. Two thirds of his troops were lost, and the beaten remainder went to tell Chen Gong what had come to pass.

“We had better leave,” said Chen Gong. “An empty city cannot be held.”

So Chen Gong and Gao Shun, taking their chief’s family with them, abandoned Dingtao. When Cao Cao’s soldiers got into the city, they met with no resistance. Zhang Chao committed suicide by burning himself. Zhang Miao fled to Yuan Shu.

Thus the whole northeast fell under the power of Cao Cao. He immediately tranquilized the people and rebuilt the cities and their defenses (AD 195).

Lu Bu in his retreat fell in with his generals, and Chen Gong also rejoined him, so that he was by no means broken.

“I have but a small army,” said Lu Bu, “but still enough to break Cao Cao!”

And so he retook the backward road. Indeed:

Thus does fortune alternate, victory and defeat,

The happy conqueror today, tomorrow must retreat?

What was the fate of Lu Bu will appear later.

Chapter 13

Li Jue and Guo Si Duel In Changan; The Emperor Establishes Anyi The New Capital.

The last chapter told of the defeat of Lu Bu, and his gathering the remnant of his army at Dingtao. When all his generals had joined him, he began to feel strong enough to try conclusions with Cao Cao once again.

Said Chen Gong, who was opposed to this course, “Cao Cao is too strong right now. Seek some place where we can rest a time before trying.”

“Suppose I went to Yuan Shao,” said Lu Bu.

“Send first to make inquiries.”

Lu Bu agreed.

The news of the fighting between Cao Cao and Lu Bu had reached Jizhou, and one of Yuan Shao’s advisers, Shen Pei, warned him, saying, “Lu Bu is a savage beast. If he gets possession of Yanzhou, he will certainly attempt to add this region to it. For your own safety you should help to crush him.”

Wherefore Yuan Shao sent Yan Liang with fifty thousand troops to destroy Lu Bu. The spies heard this and at once told Lu Bu, who was greatly disturbed and called in Chen Gong.

“Go over to Liu Bei, who has lately succeeded to Xuzhou,” said Chen Gong.

Hence Lu Bu went thither.

Hearing this, Liu Bei said, “Lu Bu is a hero, and we will receive him with honor.”

But Mi Zhu was strongly against receiving him, saying, “He was a cruel, bloodthirsty beast!”

But Liu Bei replied, “How would misfortune have been averted from Xuzhou, if he had not attacked Yanzhou? He cannot have bad intention, now that he comes seeking an asylum.”

“Brother, your heart is really too good. Although it may be as you say, yet it would be well to prepare,” said Zhang Fei.

Liu Bei with a great following met Lu Bu ten miles outside the city gates, and the two chiefs rode in side by side. They proceeded to the residence and there, after the elaborate ceremonies of reception were over, they sat down to converse.

Said Lu Bu, “After Minister of the Interiror Wang Yun and I plotted to slay Dong Zhuo and my misfortune in the Li Jue and Guo Si’s sedition, I drifted about from one place to another, and none of the nobles in the East of Huashan Mountains seemed willing to receive me. When Cao Cao with wicked ambition invaded this region and you, Sir, came to its rescue, I aided you by attacking Yanzhou and thus diverting a portion of his force. I did not think then that I should be the victim of a vile plot and lose my leaders and my soldiers. But now if you will, I offer myself to you that we may together accomplish great designs.”

Liu Bei replied, “When the late Imperial Protector Tao Qian died, there was no one to administer Xuzhou, and so I assumed that task for a time. Now since you are here, General, it is most suitable that I step down in your favor.”

Whereupon Liu Bei took the insignia and the seal of authority and handed them to Lu Bu. Lu Bu was on the point of accepting them, when he saw Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, who stood behind Liu Bei, glaring at him with angry eyes.

So Lu Bu put on a smile and said, “I may be something of a fighting man, but I could not rule a great region like this.”

Liu Bei repeated his offer.

But Chen Gong said, “The strong guest does not oppress his host. You need not fear, my lord!”

Then Liu Bei desisted. Banquets were held and dwelling places prepared for the guest and his retinue.

As soon as convenient, Lu Bu returned the feast. Liu Bei went with his two brothers. Half through the banquet Lu Bu requested Liu Bei to retire to one of the inner private rooms, whither Guan Yu and Zhang Fei followed him. There Lu Bu bade his wife and daughter bow as to their benefactor. Here also Liu Bei showed excessive modesty.

Lu Bu said, “Good younger brother, you need not be so very modest.”

Zhang Fei heard what Lu Bu said, and his eyes glared, shouting, “What sort of a man are you that dares call our brother ‘younger brother’? He is one of the ruling family —-a jade leaf on a golden branch. Come out, and I will fight you three hundred bouts for the insult!”

Liu Bei hastily checked the impulsive one, and Guan Yu persuaded him to go away.

Then Liu Bei apologized, saying, “My poor brother talks wildly after he has been drinking. I hope you will not blame him.”

Lu Bu nodded, but said nothing. Soon after the guests departed. But as the host escorted Liu Bei to his carriage, he saw Zhang Fei galloping up armed as for a fray.

“Lu Bu, you and I will fight that duel of three hundred bouts!” shouted Zhang Fei.

Liu Bei bade Guan Yu check him. Next day Lu Bu came to take leave of his host.

“You, O Lord, kindly received me, but I fear your brothers and I cannot agree. So I will seek some other asylum.”

“General, if you go, the blame is mine. My rude brother has offended and must eventually apologize. In the meantime what think you of a temporary sojourn at the town where I was encamped for some time, Xiaopei? The place is small and mean, but it is near, and I will see to it that you are supplied with all you need.”

Lu Bu thanked him and accepted this offer. He led his troops there and took up residence. After he had gone, Liu Bei reproved Zhang Fei for what he did, and Zhang Fei did not again refer to the matter.

That Cao Cao had subdued the region around Shandong Mountains has been stated before. He memorialized the Throne and was rewarded with the title of General Who Exhibits Firm Virtue and Lord of Feiting.

At this time Li Jue and Guo Si were commanding the court. Li Jue had made himself Regent Marshal, and his colleague Guo Si styled himself Grand Commander. Their conduct was abominable but no one dared to criticize them.

Imperial Guardian Yang Biao and Minister Zhu Jun privately talked with Emperor Xian and said, “Cao Cao has over two hundred thousand troops and many capable advisers and leaders. It would be well for the empire if he would lend his support to the imperial family and help to rid the government of this evil party.”

His Majesty wept, “I am weary of the insults and contempt of these wretches and should be very glad to have them removed.”

“I have thought of a plan to estrange Li Jue and Guo Si and so make them destroy each other. Then Cao Cao could come and cleanse the court,” said Yang Biao.

“How will you manage it?” asked the Emperor.

“Guo Si’s wife, Lady Qiong, is very jealous, and we can take advantage of her weakness to bring about a quarrel.”

So Yang Biao received instruction to act, with a secret edict to support him.

So Yang Biao’s wife, Lady Kai, made an excuse to visit Lady Qiong at her palace and, in the course of conversation, said “There is talk of secret liaison between the General, your husband, and the wife of Minister Li Jue. It is a great secret, but if Minister Li Jue knew it, he might try to harm your husband. I think you ought to have very little to do with that family.”

Lady Qiong was surprised but said, “I have wondered why he has been sleeping away from home lately, but I did not think there was anything shameful connected with it. I should never have known if you had not spoken. I must put a stop to it.”

By and by, when Lady Kai took her leave, Lady Qiong thanked her warmly for the information she had given.

Some days passed, and Guo Si was going over to the dwelling of Li Jue to a dinner.

Lady Qiong did not wish him to go and she said, “This Li Jue is very deep, and one cannot fathom his designs. You two are not of equal rank, and if he made away with you, what would become of your poor handmaid?”

Guo Si paid no attention, and his wife could not prevail on him to stay at home. Late in the afternoon some presents arrived from Li Jue’s palace, and Lady Qiong secretly put poison into the delicacies before she set them before her lord.

Guo Si was going to taste at once but she said, “It is unwise to consume things that come from outside. Let us try on a dog first.”

They did, and the dog died. This incident made Guo Si doubt the kindly intentions of his colleague.

One day, at the close of business at court, Li Jue invited Guo Si to his palace. After Guo Si arrived home in the evening, rather the worse for too much wine, he was seized with a colic. His wife said she suspected poison and hastily administered an emetic, which relieved the pain.

Guo Si began to feel angry, saying, “We did everything together and helped each other always. Now he wants to injure me! If I do not get in the first blow, I shall suffer some injury.”

So Guo Si began to prepare his guards for any sudden emergency.

This was told to Li Jue, and he in turn grew angry, saying, “So Guo Si is doing so and so!”

Then Li Jue got his guards under way and came to attack Guo Si. Both houses had ten thousand, and the quarrel became so serious that they fought a pitched battle under the city walls. When that was over both sides turned to plunder the people.

Then a nephew of Li Jue, Li Xian, suddenly surrounded the Palace, put the Emperor and Empress in two carriages, and assigned Jia Xu and Zuo Ling to carry them off. The Palace attendants were made to follow on foot. As they went out of the rear gate, they met Guo Si’s army who began to shoot at the cavalcade with arrows. They killed many attendants before Li Jue’s army came up and forced them to retire.

The carriages got out of the Palace and eventually reached Li Jue’s camp, while Guo Si’s soldiers plundered the Palace and carried off all the women left there to their camp. Then the Palace was set on fire.

As soon as Guo Si heard of the whereabouts of the Emperor, he came over to attack the camp of Li Jue. The Emperor between these two opposing factions was greatly alarmed. Indeed:

Slowly the Hans had declined but renewed their vigor with Liu Xiu,

Twelve were the rulers before him, followed him also twelve others.

Foolish were two of the latest, dangers surrounded the altars,

These were degenerate days, with authority given to eunuchs.

Then did He Jin the simple, the inept, who commanded the army,

Warriors call to the capital, wishing to drive out the vermin;

Though they drove out the leopards, tigers and wolves quickly entered.

All kinds of evil were wrought by a low class creature from Xizhou.

Wang Yun, honest of heart, beguiled this wretch with a woman,

Much desired of his henchman, thus sowing seeds of dissension.

Strife resulted, and peace no longer dwelt in the empire.

No one suspected that Li Jue and Guo Si would continue the evil,

Much to the sorrow of the Middle Kingdom; yet they stove for a trifle.

Famine stalked in the Palace, grief for the clashing of weapons;

Why did the warlords strive? Why was the land thus partitioned?

They had turned aside from the way appointed of Heaven.

Kings must ponder these things; heavy the burden lies on them,

Chiefest in all the realm theirs is no common appointment,

Should the King falter or fail, calamities fall on the multitude people,

The empire is drenched with their blood, grisly ruin surrounds them.

Steeped in sorrow and sad, read you the ancient records;

Long is the tale of years; the tale of sorrow is longer.

Wherefore one who would rule, chiefly must exercise forethought.

This and a keen-edged blade, these must suffice to maintain one.

Guo Si’s army arrived, and Li Jue went out to give battle. Guo Si’s troops had no success and retired. Then Li Jue removed the imperial captives to Meiwo with his nephew Li Xian as gaoler. Supplies were reduced, and famine showed itself on the faces of the eunuchs. The Emperor sent to Li Jue to request five carts of rice and five sets of bullock bones for his attendants.

Li Jue angrily replied, “The court gets food morning and evening. Why do they ask for more?”

He sent putrid meat and rotten grain.

The Emperor was very vexed at the new insult, uttering, “How dare the rebels do that to me?”

Court Counselor Yang Qi advised patience, saying, “Li Jue is a base creature but, under the present circumstances, Your Majesty must put up with it. You may not provoke him.”

The Emperor bowed and was silent, but the tears fell on his garments.

Suddenly someone came in with the tidings: “A force of cavalry, their sabers glittering in the sun, are approaching to rescue the Chariot!”

Then they heard the gongs beat and the roll of the drums. The Emperor sent to find out who it was. But it was Guo Si, and the sadness fell again.

Presently arose a great din. For Li Jue had gone out to do battle with Guo Si, whom he abused by name.

“I treated you well, and why did you try to kill me?” said Li Jue.

“You are a rebel, why should I not slay you?” cried Guo Si.

“You call me rebel when I am guarding the Emperor?”

“You have abducted him: Do you call that guarding?”

“Why so many words? Let us forgo a battle and settle the matter in single combat, the winner to take the Emperor and go.”

The two generals fought in front of their armies, but neither could prevail over the other.

Then they saw Yang Biao come riding up to them, crying, “Rest a while, O Commanders! For I have invited a party of officers to arrange a peace.”

Wherefore the two leaders retired to their camps. Soon Yang Biao, Zhu Jun, and sixty other officials came up and went to Guo Si’s camp. They were all thrown into confinement.

“We came with good intentions,” they moaned, “and we are treated like this!”

“Li Jue has run off with the Emperor; I have to have the officers,” said Guo Si.

“What does it mean? One has the Emperor, the other his officers. What do you want?” said Yang Biao.

Guo Si lost patience and drew his sword, but General Yang Mi persuaded him not to slay the speaker. Then Guo Si released Yang Biao and Zhu Jun but kept the others in the camp.

“Here we are —-two officers of the Throne —-, and we cannot help our lord. We have been born in vain!” said Yang Biao to Zhu Jun.

Throwing their arms about each other, they wept and fell swooning to the earth. Zhu Jun went home, fell seriously ill and died.

Thereafter the two adversaries fought every day for nearly three months, each losing many soldiers.

Now Li Jue was irreligious and practiced magic. He often called witches to beat drums and summon spirits, even when in camp. Jia Xu used to remonstrate with him, but quite uselessly.

Yang Qi said to the Emperor, “That Jia Xu, although a friend of Li Jue, never seems to have lost the sense of loyalty to Your Majesty.”

Soon after Jia Xu himself arrived.

The Emperor sent away his attendants and said to Jia Xu, weeping the while, “Can you not pity the Hans and help me?”

Jia Xu prostrated himself, saying, “That is my dearest wish. But, Sire, say no more: Let thy servant work out a plan.”

The Emperor dried his tears, and soon Li Jue came in. He wore a sword by his side and strode straight up to the Emperor, whose face became the color of clay.

Then Li Jue spoke, “Guo Si has failed in his duty and imprisoned the court officers. He wished to slay Your Majesty, and you would have been captured but for me.”

The Emperor joined his hands together in salute and thanked Li Jue. Li Jue went away.

Before long Huangfu Li entered. The Emperor, knowing him as a man of persuasive tongue and that he came from the same county as Li Jue, bade him go to both factions to try to arrange peace.

Huangfu Li accepted the mission and first went to Guo Si, who said, “I would release the officers if Li Jue would restore the Emperor to full liberty.”

Huangfu Li then went to the other side.

To Li Jue he said, “Since I am a Xiliang man, the Emperor and the officers have selected me to make peace between you and your adversary. Guo Si has consented to cease the quarrel. Will you agree to peace?”

“I overthrew Lu Bu, have upheld the government for four years, and have many great services to my credit as all the world knows. That other fellow, that horse-thief, has dared to seize the officers of state and to set himself up against me. I have sworn to slay him. Look around you. Do you not think my army large enough to break him?”

“It does not follow,” said Huangfu Li. “In ancient days in Youqiong, Hou Yi, proud of and confident in his archer’s skill, gave no thought to others and governed alone, and he so perished. Lately you yourself have seen the powerful Dong Zhuo betrayed by Lu Bu, who had received many benefits at his hands. In no time Dong Zhuo’s head was hanging over the gate. So you see mere force is not enough to ensure safety. Now you are a general, with the axes and whips and all the symbols of rank and high office; your descendants and all your clan occupy distinguished positions. You must confess that the state has rewarded you liberally. True, Guo Si has seized the officers of state, but you have done the same to the ‘Most Revered’. Who is worse than the other?”

Li Jue angrily drew his sword and shouted, “Did the Son of Heaven send you to mock and shame me?”

But his commander, Yang Feng, checked him.

“Guo Si is still alive,” said Yang Feng, “and to slay the imperial messenger would be giving him a popular excuse to raise an army against you. And all the nobles would join him.”

Jia Xu also persuaded Li Jue, and gradually his wrath cooled down. Huangfu Li was urged to go away.

But Huangfu Li would not be satisfied with failure. As he went out of the camp, he cried loudly, “Li Jue will not obey the Emperor’s command. He will kill his prince to set up himself!”

Counselor Hu Miao tried to shut Huangfu Li’s mouth, saying, “Do not utter such words. You will only bring hurt upon yourself!”

But Huangfu Li shrieked at him also, saying, “You also are an officer of state, and yet you even back up the rebel. When the prince is put to shame, the minister dies. That is our code. If it be my lot to suffer death at the hands of Li Jue, so be it!”

And Huangfu Li maintained a torrent of abuse. The Emperor heard of the incident, called in Huangfu Li and sent him away to his own country Xiliang.

Now more than half Li Jue’s troops were from Xiliang, and he had also the assistance of the Qiangs, the northern tribespeople beyond the border. When Huangfu Li spread that Li Jue was a rebel and so were those who helped him, and that there would be a day of heavy reckoning, those stories disturbed the soldiers.

Li Jue sent one of his officers, General Wang Chan of the Tiger Army, to arrest Huangfu Li. But Wang Chan had a sense of right and esteemed Huangfu Li as an honorable man. Instead of carrying out the orders, Wang Chan returned to say Huangfu Li could not be found.

Meanwhile Jia Xu tried to work on the feelings of the tribespeople.

He said to them, “The Son of Heaven knows you are loyal to him and have bravely fought and suffered. He has issued a secret command for you to go home, and then he will reward you.”

The tribesmen had a grievance against Li Jue for not paying them, so they listened readily to the insidious persuasions of Jia Xu and deserted.

Then Jia Xu advised the Emperor, “Li Jue is covetous in nature. He is deserted and enfeebled. A high office should be granted to him to lead him astray.”

So the Emperor officially appointed Li Jue Regent Marshal. This delighted him greatly, and he ascribed his promotion to the potency of his wise witches’ prayers and incantations. He rewarded those people most liberally.

But his army was forgotten. Wherefore his commander, Yang Feng, was angry.

Yang Feng said to General Song Guo, “We have taken all the risks and exposed ourselves to stones and arrows in his service, yet instead of giving us any reward he ascribes all the credit to those witches of his.”

“Let us put him out of the way and rescue the Emperor,” said Song Guo.

“You explode a bomb within as signal, and I will attack from outside.”

So the two agreed to act together that very night in the second watch. But they had been overheard, and the eavesdropper told Li Jue. Song Guo was seized and put to death. That night Yang Feng waited outside for the signal and while waiting, out came Li Jue himself. Then a melee began, which lasted till the fourth watch. But Yang Feng got away and fled to Xian.

But from this time Li Jue’s army began to fall away, and he felt more than ever the losses caused by Guo Si’s frequent attacks. Then came news that Zhang Ji, at the head of a large army, was coming down from Shanxi to make peace between the two factions. Zhang Ji vowed he would attack the one who was recalcitrant. Li Jue tried to gain favor by hastening to send to tell Zhang Ji he was ready to make peace. So did Guo Si.

So the strife of the rival factions ended at last, and Zhang Ji memorialized asking the Emperor to go to Hongnong near Luoyang.

The Emperor was delighted, saying, “I have longed to go back to the east.”

Zhang Ji was rewarded with the title of Commander of the Flying Cavalry and was highly honored. Zhang Ji saw to it that the Emperor and the court had good supplies of necessaries. Guo Si set free all his captive officers, and Li Jue prepared transport for the court to move to the east. Li Jue told off companies of his Royal Guard to escort the cavalcade.

The progress had been without incident as far as Xinfeng. Near Baling Bridge the west wind of autumn came on to blow with great violence, but soon above the howling of the gale was heard the trampling of a force of several hundred. They stopped at a bridge and barred the way.

“Who comes?” cried a voice.

“The Imperial Chariot is passing, and who dares stop it?” said Court Counselor Yang Qi, riding forward.

Two generals of the barring party advanced to Yang Qi, saying, “General Guo Si has ordered us to guard the bridge and stop all spies. You say the Emperor is here: We must see him, and then we will let you pass.”

So the pearl curtain was raised, and the Emperor said, “I, the Emperor, am here. Why do you not retire to let me pass, gentlemen?”

They all shouted, “Wan shui! Long Life! Long Life!” and fell away to allow the cortege through.

But when they reported what they had done, Guo Si was very angry, saying, “I meant to outwit Zhang Ji, seize the Emperor, and hold him in Meiwo. Why have you let him get away?”

He put the two officers to death, set out to pursue the cavalcade, and overtook it just at the county of Huaying.

The noise of a great shouting arose behind the travelers, and a loud voice commanded, “Stop the train!”

The Emperor burst into tears.

“Out of the wolf’s den into the tiger’s mouth!” said he.

No one knew what to do: They were all too frightened. But when the rebel army was just upon them, they heard the beating of drums and from behind some hills came into the open a cohort of more than one thousand soldiers preceded by a great flag bearing the name Han General Yang Feng.

Having defeated by Li Jue, Yang Feng fled to the foothills of Xian; and he came up to offer his services as soon as he heard the Emperor’s journey. Seeing it was necessary to fight now, he drew up his line of battle.

Guo Si’s general, Cui Yong, rode out and began a volley of abuse.

Yang Feng turned and said, “Where is Xu Huang?”

In response out came a valiant warrior gripping a heavy battle-ax. He galloped up on his fleet bay, making directly for Cui Yong, whom he felled at the first blow. At this the whole force dashed forward and routed Guo Si. The defeated army went back some seven miles.

Yang Feng rode forward to see the Emperor, who graciously said, “It is a great service you have rendered: You have saved my life.”

Yang Feng bowed and thanked him, and the Emperor asked to see the actual slayer of the rebel leader. So Xu Huang was led to the chariot, where he bowed and was presented as Xu Huang of Hedong.

The Emperor recognized the achievement of the warrior.

Then the cavalcade went forward, Yang Feng acting as escort as far as the city of Huaying, the halting place for the night. The commander of the place, Duan Wei, supplied them with clothing and food. And the Emperor passed the night in Yang Feng’s camp.

Next day Guo Si, having mustered his troops, appeared in front of the camp, and Xu Huang rode out to engage. But Guo Si threw his army out so that they entirely surrounded the camp, and the Emperor was in the middle. The position was very critical, when help appeared in the person of a galloping general from the southeast, and the rebels fell away at his assault. Then Xu Huang smote them and so scored a victory.

When they had time to see their helper, they found him to be Dong Cheng, the uncle of the Emperor or the “State Uncle”. The Emperor wept as he related his sorrows and dangers.

Said Dong Cheng, “Be of good courage, Sire. General Yang Feng and I have pledged ourselves to kill both the rebels Li Jue and Guo Si and so purify the world.”

The Emperor bade them travel east as soon as possible, and so they went on night and day till they reached their destination Hongnong.

Guo Si led his defeated army back. Meeting Li Jue, he told Li Jue of the rescue of the Emperor and whither they was going.

“If they reach the Huashan Mountains and get settled in the east, they will send out proclamations to the whole country, calling up the nobles to attack us, and we and our whole clans will be in danger,” said Guo Si.

“Zhang Ji is holding Changan, and we must be careful. There is nothing to prevent a joint attack on Hongnong, when we can kill the Emperor and divide the empire between us,” said Li Jue.

Guo Si found this a suitable scheme, so their armies came together again in one place and united in plundering the countryside. As they proceeded to Hongnong, they left destruction behind them.

Yang Feng and Dong Cheng heard of the rebels’ approach when they were yet a long way off, so Yang Feng and Dong Cheng turned back and decided to meet them at Dongjian.

Li Jue and Guo Si had previously made their plan. Since the loyal troops were few as compared with their own horde, they would overwhelm the loyal troops like a flood. So when the day of battle came, they poured out covering the hills and filling the plains. Yang Feng and Dong Cheng devoted themselves solely to the protection of the Emperor and Empress. The officials, the attendants, the archives and records, and all the paraphernalia of the court were left to care for themselves. The rebels ravaged Hongnong, but the two protectors got the Emperor safely away into Shanbei.

When the rebel generals showed signs of pursuit, Yang Feng and Dong Cheng had to play a double-edged sword. They sent to offer to discuss terms of peace with Li Jue and Guo Si; at the same time they sent a secret edict to enlist help from the leaders of the White Wave rebels —-Han Xian, Li Yue, and Hu Cai. The White Wave was a branch of the Yellow Scarves, and Li Yue was actually a brigand and had ravaged throughout the woods and hills. But the need for help was so desperate.

These three, being promised pardon for their faults and crimes and a grant of official rank, naturally responded to the call, and thus the loyal side was strengthened so that Hongnong was recaptured. But meanwhile Li Jue and Guo Si laid waste whatever place they reached, slaying the aged and weakly, forcing the strong to join their ranks. When going into a fight they forced these people-soldiers to the front, and they called them the “Dare-to-Die” soldiers.

Li Jue and Guo Si’s force was overwhelming. When Li Yue, the White Wave leader, approached with his army, Guo Si bade his soldiers scatter clothing and valuables along the road. The late robbers could not resist the temptation, so a scramble began. Then Guo Si’s soldiers fell upon the disordered ranks and did much damage. Yang Feng and Dong Cheng had to take the Emperor away to the north.

Li Jue and Guo Si pursued.

Li Yue said, “The danger is grave. I pray Your Majesty mount a horse and go in advance!”

The Emperor replied, “I cannot bear to abandon my officers.”

They wept and struggled on as best they could. The White Wave leader Hu Cai was killed in one attack.

The enemy came very near, and the Emperor left his carriage and went on foot. Yang Feng and Dong Cheng escorted him to the bank of the Yellow River. Li Yue sought a boat to ferry him to the other side. The weather was very cold, and the Emperor and Empress cuddled up close to each other shivering. They reached the river but the banks were too high, and they could not get down into the boat.

So Yang Feng proposed, “Fasten together the horses’ bridles and lower down His Majesty slung by the waist.”

However, the Empress’ brother, Fu De, said, “I found some ten rolls of plain silk from dead soldiers, and we can use them instead.”

And they rolled up the two imperial personages in the silk, and thus they lowered them down near the boat. Then Li Yue took up his position in the prow leaning on his sword. Fu De carried the Empress on his back into the boat.

The boat was too small to carry everybody, and those unable to get on board clung to the cable, but Li Yue cut them down, and they fell into the water. They ferried over the Emperor and then sent back the boat for the others. There was a great scramble to get on board, and they had to chop off the fingers and hands of those who persisted in clinging to the boat. The lamentation rose to the heavens.

When they mustered on the farther bank, many were missing, only a dozen of the Emperor’s suite were left. Yang Feng found a bullock cart and transported the Emperor and Empress to Dayang. They had no food and at night sought shelter in a poor, tile-roofed house. Some old country folks offered them boiled millet, but it was too coarse to be swallowed.

Next day the Emperor conferred titles on those who had protected him. Li Yue was made General Who Conquers the North, and Han Xian was appointed General Who Conquers the East.

The flight continued. Soon two officers of rank came up with the cortege, and they bowed before His Majesty with many tears. They were Imperial Guardian Yang Biao and Court Administrator Han Rong. The Emperor and Empress lifted up their voices and wept with them.

Said Han Rong to his colleague, “The rebels have confidence in my words. You stay as guard of the Emperor, and I will take my life in my hands and try to bring about peace.”

After Han Rong had gone, the Emperor rested for a time in Yang Feng’s camp. But Yang Biao requested the Emperor to head for Anyi and make the capital there. When the train reached the town, they found it containing not a single lofty building, and the court lived in grass huts devoid even of doors. They surrounded these with a fence of thorns as a protection, and within this the Emperor held counsel with his ministers. The soldiers camped round the fence.

Now Li Yue and his fellow ruffians showed their true colors. They wielded the powers of the Emperor as they wished, and officials who offended them were beaten or abused even in the presence of the Emperor. They purposely provided thick wine and coarse food for the Emperor’s consumption. He struggled to swallow what they sent. Li Yue and Han Xian joined in recommending to the Throne the names of convicts, common soldiers, sorcerers, leeches, and such people who thus obtained official ranks. There were more than two hundred of such people. As seals could not be engraved, pieces of wood were hammered into some sort of a shape. Court affairs had never degraded to such a low point.

Now Han Rong went to see Li Jue and Guo Si. After listening to his vigorous persuasions, the two rebel generals agreed to set free the officials and Palace people.

A famine occurred that same year and people were reduced to eating grass from the roadside. Starving, they wandered hither and thither. But food and clothing were sent to the Emperor from the Governor of Henei, Zhang Yang, and the Governor of Hedong, Wang Yi, and the court began to enjoy a little repose.

Dong Cheng and Yang Feng sent laborers to restore the palaces in Luoyang with the intention of moving the court thither. Li Yue was opposed to this.

Dong Cheng argued, “Luoyang is the original capital as opposed to the paltry town of Anyi. Removal would be but reasonable.”

Li Yue wound up by saying, “You may get the court to remove, but I shall remain here.”

But when the consent of the Emperor had been given and a start made by Dong Cheng and Yang Feng, Li Yue secretly sent to arrange with Li Jue and Guo Si to capture the Emperor. However, this plot leaked out, and the escort so arranged as to prevent such a thing, and they pressed on to the pass at Gu Hills as rapidly as possible. Li Yue heard this and, without waiting for his rebel colleagues to join him, set out to act alone.

About the fourth watch, just as the cavalcade was passing Gu Hills, a voice was heard shouting, “Stop those carriages! Li Jue and Guo Si are here!”

This frightened the Emperor greatly, and his terror increased when he saw the whole mountain side suddenly light up. Indeed:

The rebel party, erstwhile split in twain,

To work their wicked will now join three again.

How the Son of Heaven escaped this peril will be told in the next chapter.

Chapter 14

Cao Cao Moves The Court To Xuchang; Lu Bu Leads A Night Raid Against Xuzhou.

The last chapter closed with the arrival of Li Yue who shouted out falsely that the army was that of the two arch rebels Li Jue and Guo Si come to capture the imperial cavalcade.

But Yang Feng recognized the voice of Li Yue and said, “This is only the cohort of Li Yue!”

He bade Xu Huang go out to fight him. Xu Huang went and in the first bout the traitor fell. The White Wave rebels scattered.

The travelers got safely through Gu Pass. Here the Governor of Henei, Zhang Yang, supplied them plentifully with food and other necessaries and escorted the Emperor to Zhidao. For his timely help, the Emperor conferred upon Zhang Yang the rank of a Regent General. Yang Feng moved his army to the northeast of Luoyang and camped at Yewang.

Capital Luoyang was presently entered. Within the walls all was destruction. The palaces and halls had been burned, the streets were overgrown with grass and brambles and obstructed by heaps of ruins. The palaces and courts were represented by broken roofs and toppling walls. A small “palace” however was soon built, and therein the officers of court presented their congratulations, standing in the open air among thorn bushes and brambles. The reign style was changed from Prosperous Stability to Rebuilt Tranquillity, the first year (AD 196).

The year was grievous with famine. The Luoyang people, even reduced in numbers as they were to a few hundred families, had not enough to eat and they prowled about stripping the bark off trees and grubbing up the roots of plants to satisfy their starving hunger. Officers of the government of all but the highest ranks went out into the country to gather fuel. Many people were crushed by the falling walls of burned houses. At no time during the decadence of Han did misery press harder than at this period.

A poem written in pity for the sufferings of that time says:

Mortally wounded, the white serpent poured forth its life blood at Mangdang Hills;

Blood-red pennons of war waved then in every quarter,

Chieftain with chieftain strove and raided each other’s borders,

Midst the turmoil and strife the Kingship even was threatened.

Wickedness stalks in a country when the King is a weakling,

Brigandage always is rife, when a dynasty’s failing,

Had one a heart of iron, wholly devoid of feeling,

Yet would one surely grieve at the sight of such desolation.

Imperial Guardian Yang Biao memorialized the Throne, saying, “The decree issued to me some time ago has never been acted upon. Now Cao Cao is very strong in the Shandong Mountains, and it would be well to associate him in the government that he might support the ruling house.”

The Emperor replied, “There was no need to refer to the matter again. Send a messenger when you will.”

So the decree went forth and a messenger bore it into the Shandong Mountains. Now when Cao Cao had heard that the court had returned to Capital Luoyang, he called together his advisers to consult.

Xun Yu laid the matter before Cao Cao and the council thus: “Eight hundred years ago, Duke Wen of Jin supported Prince Xiang of the declining Zhou Dynasty, and all the feudal lords backed Duke Wen. The Founder of the Hans, Liu Bang, won the popular favor by wearing mourning for Emperor Yi of Chu. Now Emperor Xian has been a fugitive on the dusty roads. To take the lead in offering an army to restore him to honor is to have an unrivaled opportunity to win universal regard. But you must act quickly, or someone will get in before you!”

Cao Cao understood and at once prepared his army to move. Just at this moment an imperial messenger was announced with the very command Cao Cao wanted, and Cao Cao immediately set out.

At Luoyang everything was desolate. The walls had fallen, and there were no means of rebuilding them, while rumors and reports of the coming of Li Jue and Guo Si kept up a state of constant anxiety.

The frightened Emperor spoke with Yang Feng, saying, “What can be done? There is no answer from the East of Huashan, and our enemies are near!”

Then Yang Feng and Han Xian said, “We, your ministers, will fight to the death for you!”

But Dong Cheng said, “The fortifications are weak and our military resources small, so that we cannot hope for victory, and what does defeat mean? I see nothing better to propose than a move into the East of Huashan Mountains.”

The Emperor agreed to this, and the journey began without further preparation. There being few horses, the officers of the court had to march afoot. Hardly a bowshot outside the gate they saw a thick cloud of dust out of which came all the clash and clamor of an advancing army. The Emperor and his Consort were dumb with fear. Then appeared a horseman; he was the messenger returning from the East of Huashan Mountains.

He rode up to the chariot, made an obeisance, and said, “General Cao Cao, as commanded, is coming with all the military force of the East of Huashan; but hearing that Li Jue and Guo Si had again approached the capital, he has sent Xiahou Dun in advance. With Xiahou Dun are ten capable leaders and fifty thousand cavalry. They will guard Your Majesty.”

All fear was swept away. Soon after Xiahou Dun and his staff arrived. Xiahou Dun, Xu Chu, and Dian Wei were presented to the Emperor, who graciously addressed them. Then one came to say a large army was approaching from the east, and at the Emperor’s command Xiahou Dun went to ascertain who these were. He soon returned saying they were Cao Cao’s infantry.

In a short time Cao Hong, Li Dian, and Yue Jing came to the imperial chariot and their names having been duly communicated.

Cao Hong said, “When my brother, Cao Cao, heard of the approach of the rebels, he feared that the advance guard he had sent might be too weak, so he sent me to march quickly for reinforcement.”

“General Cao Cao is indeed a trusty servant!” said the Emperor.

Orders were given to advance, Cao Hong leading the escort. By and by scouts came to say that the rebels were coming up very quickly. The Emperor bade Xiahou Dun divide his force into two parts to oppose them. Xiahou Dun and Cao Hong’s armies threw out two wings with cavalry in front and foot behind. They attacked with vigor and beat off Li Jue and Guo Si’s cohorts with a severe loss of ten thousand. Then Xiahou Dun and Cao Hong begged the Emperor to return to Luoyang, and Xiahou Dun guarded the city.

Next day Cao Cao came with his great army, and having got them duly camped he went into the city to audience. He knelt at the foot of the steps, but was called up hither to stand beside the Emperor and be thanked.

Cao Cao replied, “Having been the recipient of great bounty, thy servant owes the state much gratitude. The measure of evil of the two rebels is full, but I have two hundred thousand of good soldiers to oppose them, and those soldiers are fully equal to securing the safety of Your Majesty and the Throne. The preservation of the state sacrifice is the matter of real moment.”

High honors were conferred on Cao Cao. He was appointed Commander of Capital District, Minister of War, and granted Military Insignia.

The two rebels, Li Jue and Guo Si, wished to attack Cao Cao’s army while fatigued from its long march.

But their adviser, Jia Xu, opposed this, saying, “There was no hope of victory. He has both strong soldiers and brave leaders. Submission may bring us amnesty.”

Li Jue was angry at the suggestion, crying, “Do you wish to dishearten the army?”

And he drew his sword on Jia Xu. But the other officers interceded and saved the adviser. That same night Jia Xu stole out of the camp and, quite alone, took his way home to his native village.

Soon the rebels decided to offer battle. In reply, Cao Cao sent out Xu Chu, Cao Ren, and Dian Wei with three hundred horse. These three leaders dashed into the rebels army but quickly retired. This maneuver was repeated, and again repeated before the real battle array was formed.

Then Li Xian and Li Bie, nephews of Li Jue, rode out. At once from Cao Cao’s side dashed out Xu Chu and cut down Li Xian. Li Bie was so startled that he fell out of the saddle. He too was slain. The victor Xu Chu rode back to his own side with the two heads.

When Xu Chu offered them to the chief, Cao Cao patted him on the back, crying, “You are really my Fan Kuai!”

Next a general move forward was made, Xiahou Dun and Cao Hong leading the two wings and Cao Cao in the center. They advanced to the roll of the drum. The rebels fell back before them and presently fled. They pursued, Cao Cao himself leading, sword in hand. The slaughter went on till night. Ten thousands were killed and many more surrendered. Li Jue and Guo Si went west, flying in panic like dogs from a falling house. Having no place of refuge they took to the hills and hid among the brushwood.

Cao Cao’s army returned and camped again near the capital.

Then Yang Feng and Han Xian said one to another, “This Cao Cao has done a great service, and he will be the man in power. There will be no place for us.”

So they represented to the Emperor that they wished to pursue the rebels, and under this excuse withdrew their army and camped at Daliang.

One day the Emperor sent to summon Cao Cao to audience. The messenger was called in. Cao Cao noticed that the messenger looked remarkably well and could not understand it seeing that everyone else looked hungry and famine stricken.

So Cao Cao said, “You look plump and well, Sir, how do you manage it?”

“Only this: I have lived meager for thirty years.”

Cao Cao nodded, “What office do you hold?”

“I am a graduate recommended for filial piety and honesty. I had offices under Yuan Shao and Zhang Yang, but came here when the Emperor returned. Now I am one of the secretaries. I am a native of Dingtao, and my name is Dong Zhao.”

Cao Cao got up from his place and crossed over, saying, “I have heard of you. How happy I am to meet you!”

Then wine was brought into the tent, and Xun Yu was called in and introduced. While they were talking, a man came in to report that a party was moving eastward. Cao Cao ordered to find out whose people these were, but Dong Zhao knew at once.

“They are old leaders under the rebels, Yang Feng and the White Wave General Han Xian. They are running off because you have come, Illustrious Sir!”

“Do they mistrust me?” said Cao Cao.

“They are not worthy of your attention. They are a poor lot.”

“What of this departure of Li Jue and Guo Si?”

“Tigers without claws, birds without wings —-they will not escape you very long. They are not worth thinking about.”

Cao Cao saw that he and his guest had much in common, so he began to talk of affairs of state.

Said Dong Zhao, “You, Illustrious Sir, with your noble army have swept away rebellion and have become the mainstay of the Throne, an achievement worthy of the ancient Five Protectors. But the officials will look at it in very different ways and not all favorably to you. I think you would not be wise to remain here, and I advise a change of capital to Xuchang. However, it must be remembered that the restoration of the capital has been published far and wide and the attention of all the people is concentrated on Luoyang, hoping for a period of rest and tranquillity. Another move will displease many. However, the performance of extraordinary deed may mean the acquisition of extraordinary merit. It is for you to decide.”

“Exactly my own inclination!” said Cao Cao, seizing his guest’s hand. “But are there not dangers? Yang Feng at Daliang and the court officials!”

“That is easily managed. Write to Yang Feng and set his mind at rest. Then say to the high officials plainly that there is no food in the capital here, and so you are going to another place where there is, and where there is no danger of scarcity. When they hear it, they will approve.”

Cao Cao had now decided; and as his guest took leave, Cao Cao seized his hands once more, saying, “I shall need your advice in future affairs.”

Dong Zhao thanked and left. Thereafter Cao Cao and his advisers secretly discussed the change of capital.

Now Court Counselor Wang Li, who was an astrologer, said to Liu Cai, Royal Clan Recorder, “I have been studying the stars. Since last spring Venus has been nearing the Guard star in the neighborhood of the Measure, and the Cowherd (the Great Bear and Vega) crossing the River of Heaven. Mars has been retrograding and came into conjunction with Venus in the Gate of Heaven, so that metal (Venus) and fire (Mars) are mingled. Thence must emerge a new ruler. The aura of the Hans is exhausted, and the ancient states of Jin and Wei must increase.”

A secret memorial was presented to the Emperor, saying:

“The Mandate of Heaven has its course, and the five elements —-metal, wood, water, fire, and earth —-are out of proportion. Earth attacking fire is Wei attacking Han, and the successor to the empire of Han is in Wei.”

Cao Cao heard of these sayings and memorials and sent a man to the astrologer to say, “Your loyalty is well known, but the ways of Heaven are past finding out. The less said the better.”

Then Cao Cao discussed with Xun Yu.

The adviser expounded the meaning thus: “The virtue of Han was fire; your element is earth. Xuchang is under the influence of earth, and so your fortune depends on getting there. Fire can overcome earth, as earth can multiply wood. Dong Zhao and Wang Li agree, and you have only to hide your time.”

So Cao Cao made up his mind.

Next day at court he said, “Luoyang is deserted and cannot be restored, nor can it be supplied easily with food. Xuchang is a noble city, resourceful and close to Luyang, which is a grain basin. It is everything that a capital should be. I venture to request that the court move thither.”

The Emperor dared not oppose and the officials were too overawed to have any independent opinion, so they chose a day to set out. Cao Cao commanded the escort, and the officials all followed. When they had traveled a few stages, they saw before them a high mound and from behind this there arose the beating of drums.

Then Yang Feng and Han Xian came out and barred the way. In front of all stood Xu Huang, who shouted, “Cao Cao is stealing away the Emperor!”

Cao Cao rode out and took a good look at this man. He seemed a fine fellow; and in his secret soul Cao Cao greatly admired him, although he was an enemy. Then Cao Cao ordered Xu Chu to go and fight Xu Huang. The combat was battle-ax against broadsword, and the two men fought more than half a hundred bouts without advantage to either side. Cao Cao then beat the gongs and drew off his troops.

In the camp a council was called. Cao Cao said, “The two rebels themselves need not be discussed; but Xu Huang is a fine general, and I was unwilling to use any great force against him. I want to win him over to our side.”

Then stepped out Man Chong, replying, “Do not let that trouble you. I will have a word with him. I shall disguise myself as a soldier this evening and steal over to the enemy’s camp to talk to him. I shall incline his heart toward you.”

That night Man Chong, duly disguised, got over to the other side and made his way to the tent of Xu Huang, who sat there by the light of a candle. Xu Huang was still wearing his coat of mail.

Suddenly Man Chong ran out in front and saluted, saying, “You have been well since we parted, old friend?”

Xu Huang jumped up in surprise, gazed into the face of the speaker a long time, and presently said, “What! You are Man Chong of Shanyang? What are you doing here?”

“I am an officer in General Cao Cao’s army. Seeing my old friend out in front of the army today, I wanted to say a word to him. So I took the risk of stealing in this evening, and here I am.”

Xu Huang invited Man Chong in, and they sat down.

Then said Man Chong, “There are very few as bold as you on earth. Why then do you serve such as your present chiefs, Yang Feng and Han Xian? My master is the most prominent man in the world —-a man who delights in wise people and appreciates soldiers as everyone knows. Your valor today won his entire admiration, and so he took care that the attack was not vigorous enough to sacrifice you. Now he has sent me to invite you to join him. Will you not leave darkness for light and help him in his magnificent task?”

Xu Huang sat a long time pondering over the offer.

Then he said, with a sigh, “I know my masters are doomed to failure, but I have followed their fortunes a long time and do not like to leave them.”

“But you know the prudent bird selects its tree, and the wise servant chooses his master. When one meets a worthy master and lets him go, one is very reckless.”

“I am willing to do what you say,” said Xu Huang, rising.

“Why not put these two to death as an introductory gift?” said Man Chong.

“It is very wrong for a servant to slay his master. I will not do that.”

“True. You are really a good man.”

Then Xu Huang, taking only a few horsemen of his own men with him, left that night and deserted to Cao Cao. Soon someone took the news to Yang Feng, who at the head of a thousand strong horsemen, set out to capture the deserter.

As they drew close, Yang Feng called out, “Betrayer! Stop there!”

But Yang Feng fell into an ambush. Suddenly the whole mountain side was lit up with torches and out sprang Cao Cao’s troops, he himself being in command.

“I have been waiting here a long time. Do not run away!” cried Cao Cao.

Yang Feng was completely surprised and tried to draw off, but was quickly surrounded. Then Han Xian came to his rescue, and a confused battle began. Yang Feng succeeded in escaping, while Cao Cao kept up the attack on the two disordered armies. A great number of the rebels gave in, and the leaders found they had too few men left to maintain their independence, so they betook themselves to Yuan Shu.

When Cao Cao returned to camp, the newly surrendered general was presented and well received. Then again the cavalcade set out for the new capital. In due time they reached Xuchang, and they built palaces and halls, an ancestral temple and an altar, terraces and public offices. The walls were repaired, storehouses built and all put in order.

Then came the rewards for Cao Cao’s adherents and others. Dong Cheng and thirteen others were raised to rank of lordship. All good service was rewarded; certain others again, who deserved it, were punished, all according to Cao Cao’s sole decision.

Cao Cao made himself Prime Minister, Regent Marshal, and Lord of Wuping. Xun Yu was made Imperial Counselor and Chair of the Secretariat; Xun You, Minister of War; Guo Jia, Minister of Rites and Religion; Liu Ye, Minister of Works; Mao Jie, Minister of Agriculture, and together with Ren Jun, they were put over the supervision of military farms and stores. Cheng Yu was appointed Lord of Dongping; Dong Zhao, Magistrate of Luoyang; Man Chong, Magistrate of Xuchang. Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan, Cao Ren, Cao Hong, Lu Qian, Li Dian, Yue Jing, Yu Jin, and Xu Huang were made Commanders; Xu Chu and Dian Wei, Commanders of Capital District. All good service received full recognition.

Cao Cao was then the one man of the court. All memorials went first to him and were then submitted to the Throne.

When state matters were in order, Cao Cao gave a great banquet in his private quarters to all his advisers, and affairs outside the capital were the subject of discussion.

Then Cao Cao said, “Liu Bei has his army at Xuzhou, and he carries on the administration of the region. Lu Bu fled to Liu Bei when defeated, and Liu Bei gave Lu Bu Xiaopei to live in. If these two agreed to join forces and attack, my position would be most serious. What precautions can be taken?”

Then rose Xu Chu, saying, “Give me fifty thousand of picked soldiers, and I will give the Prime Minister both their heads!”

Xun Yu said, “O Leader, you are brave, but we must consider the present circumstance. We cannot start a sudden war just as the capital has been changed. However, there is a certain ruse known as ‘Rival Tigers and One Prey’. Liu Bei has no decree authorizing him to govern the region. You, Sir Prime Minister, can procure one for him, and when sending it, and so conferring upon him the right in addition to his might, you can enclose a private note telling him to get rid of Lu Bu. If he does, then he will have lost a vigorous warrior from his side, and he could be dealt with as occasions serve. Should he fail, then Lu Bu will slay him. This is the ‘Rival Tigers and One Prey’ ruse: They wrangle and bite each other.”

Cao Cao agreed that this was a good plan, so he memorialized for the formal appointment, which he sent to Liu Bei. Liu Bei was created General Who Conquers the East, Lord of Yicheng, and Imperial Protector of Xuzhou as well. At the same time a private note was enclosed.

In Xuzhou, when Liu Bei heard of the change of capital, he began to prepare a congratulatory address. In the midst of this an imperial messenger was announced and was met which all ceremony outside the gate. When the epistle had been reverently received, a banquet was prepared for the messenger.

The messenger said, “This decree was obtained for you by Prime Minister Cao Cao.”

Liu Bei thanked him. Then the messenger drew forth his secret letter.

After reading it, Liu Bei said, “This matter can be easily arranged.”

The banquet over and the messenger conducted to his lodging to seek repose. Liu Bei, before going to rest, called in his councilors to consider the letter.

“There need be no compunction about putting him to death,” said Zhang Fei. “Lu Bu is a bad man.”

“But he came to me for protection in his weakness: How can I put him to death? That would be immoral,” said Liu Bei.

“If he was a good man, it would be difficult,” replied Zhang Fei.

Liu Bei would not consent.

Next day, when Lu Bu came to offer congratulations, he was received as usual. He said, “I have come to felicitate you on the receipt of the imperial bounty.”

Liu Bei thanked him in due form. But then he saw Zhang Fei draw his sword and come up the hall as if to slay Lu Bu. Liu Bei hastily interfered and stopped Zhang Fei.

Lu Bu was surprised and said, “Why do you wish to slay me, Zhang Fei?”

“Cao Cao says you are immoral and tells my brother to kill you,” shouted Zhang Fei.

Liu Bei shouted again and again to Zhang Fei to go away, and he led Lu Bu into the private apartments out of the way. Then he told Lu Bu the whole story and showed him the secret letter.

Lu Bu wept as he finished reading, “This is that miscreant’s scheme for sowing discord between us.”

“Be not anxious, elder brother,” said Liu Bei. “I pledge myself not to be guilty of such an infamous crime.”

Lu Bu again and again expressed his gratitude, and Liu Bei kept him for a time. They remained talking and drinking wine till late.

Asked Guan Yu and Zhang Fei later, “Why not kill him?”

Liu Bei said, “Because Cao Cao fears that Lu Bu and I may attack him, he is trying to separate us and get us to swallow each other, while he steps in and takes the advantage. Is there any other reason?”

Guan Yu nodded assent, but Zhang Fei said, “I want to get him out of the way, lest he would trouble us later.”

“That is not what a noble man should do,” said his elder brother.

Soon the messenger was dismissed and returned to the capital with a the reply from Liu Bei. The letter only said the instruction would take time to plan and implement. But the messenger, when he saw Cao Cao, told him the story of Liu Bei’s pledge to Lu Bu.

Then said Cao Cao, “The plan has failed. What next?”

Xun Yu replied, “I have another trick called ‘Tiger against Wolf’ in which the tiger is made to gobble up the wolf.”

“Let us hear it,” said Cao Cao.

“Send to Yuan Shu to say that Liu Bei has sent up a secret memorial to the Throne that he wishes to subdue the southern regions around the Huai River. Yuan Shu will be angry and attack him. Then you will order Liu Bei to dispose of Yuan Shu and so set them destroying each other. Lu Bu will certainly think that is his chance and turn traitor. This is the ‘Tiger against Wolf’ trick.”

Cao Cao thought this good and sent the messenger and also sent a false edict to Liu Bei. When this came, the messenger was received with all the ceremonies, and the edict ordered the capture of Yuan Shu. After the departure of the bearer, Liu Bei called Mi Zhu who pronounced it a ruse.

“It may be,” said Liu Bei, “but the royal command is not to be disobeyed.”

So the army was prepared and the day fixed.

Sun Qian said, “A trusty man must be left on guard of the city.”

And Liu Bei asked which of his brothers would undertake this task.

“I will guard the city,” said Guan Yu.

“I am constantly in need of your advice, so how can we part?” said Liu Bei.

“I will guard the city,” said Zhang Fei.

“You will fail,” said Liu Bei. “After one of your drinking bouts, you will get savage and flog the soldiers. Beside you are rash and will not listen to anyone’s advice. I shall be uneasy all the time.”

“Henceforth I will drink no more wine, I will not beat the soldiers, and I will always listen to advice,” said Zhang Fei.

“I fear the mouth does not correspond to the heart,” said Mi Zhu.

“I have followed my elder brother these many years and never broken faith. Why should you be contemptuous?” said Zhang Fei.

Liu Bei said, “Though you say this, I do not feel quite satisfied. I will order Adviser Chen Deng to help you and keep you sober. Then you will not make any mistake.”

Chen Deng was willing to undertake this duty, and the final orders were given. The army of thirty thousand, horse and foot, left Xuzhou and marched toward Nanyang.

When Yuan Shu heard that a memorial had been presented proposing to take possession of his territories, he broke out into abuse of Liu Bei.

“You weaver of mats! You plaiter of straw shoes! You have been smart enough to get possession of a large region and elbow your way into the ranks of the nobles. I was just going to attack you, and now you dare to scheme against me! How I detest you!”

So Yuan Shu at once gave orders to prepare an army of one hundred thousand, under Ji Ling, to attack Xuzhou. The two armies met at Xuyi, where Liu Bei was encamped in a plain with hills behind and a stream on his flank, for his army was small.

Ji Ling was a native of the East of Huashan Mountains. He used a very heavy three-edged sword.

After he had made his camp, he rode out and began abusing his opponents, shouting, “Liu Bei, you rustic bumpkin, how dare you invade this land?”

“I have a decree ordering me to destroy the Governor who behaves improperly. If you oppose, you will be assuredly punished,” replied Liu Bei.

Ji Ling angrily rode out brandishing his weapon.

But Guan Yu cried, “Fool, do not attempt to fight!”

And Guan Yu rode out to meet him. Then they two fought and after thirty bouts neither had an advantage. Then Ji Ling cried out for a rest. So Guan Yu turned his horse away, rode back to his own array and waited for Ji Ling.

When the moment came to renew the combat, Ji Ling sent out one of his officers, Xun Zheng, to take his place.

But Guan Yu said, “Tell Ji Ling to come. I must settle with him who shall be tiger and who shall be deer!”

“You —-a reputationless leader and unworthy to fight with our general!” replied Xun Zheng.

This reply angered Guan Yu, who made just one attack on Xun Zheng and brought him to the ground. At this success Liu Bei urged on the army, and Ji Ling’s troops were defeated.

They retired to the mouth of River Huaiyin and declined all challenges. However, many of their troops were sent into Liu Bei’s camp for harassment, and many of them were slain. The two armies thus stood facing each other.

In Xuzhou, after Liu Bei had started on his expedition, Zhang Fei placed his colleague and helper, Chen Deng, in charge of the administration of the region, keeping military affairs under his own supervision. After thinking over the matter or some time, he gave a banquet to all the military officers.

When they were all seated, he made a speech: “Before my brother left, he bade me keep clear of the wine cup for fear of accidents. Now, gentlemen, you may drink deep today. But from tomorrow wine is forbidden, for we must keep the city safe. So take your fill.”

And with this he and all his guests rose to drink together.

The wine bearer came to Cao Bao who declined it, saying, “I never drink as I am forbidden by religion.”

“What! A fighting man does not drink wine!” said the host. “I want you to take just one cup.”

Cao Bao was afraid to offend, so he drank.

Now Zhang Fei drank huge goblets with all his guests on every hand and so swallowed a huge quantity of liquor. He became quite intoxicated. Yet he would drink more and insisted on a cup with every guest. It came to the turn of Cao Bao who declined.

“Really, I cannot drink,” said Cao Bao.

“You drank just now: Why refuse this time?”

Zhang Fei pressed him, but still Cao Bao resisted.

Then Zhang Fei in his drunken madness lost control of his temper and said, “If you disobey the orders of your general, you shall be beaten one hundred strokes!”

And he called in his guards.

Here Chen Deng interfered, saying, “Do you remember the strict injunctions of your brother before he left?”

“You civilians attend to your civil business and leave us alone,” said Zhang Fei.

The only way of escape for the guest was to beg remission, and Cao Bao did so, saying, “Sir, if you saw my son-in-law’s face, you would pardon me.”

“Who is your son-in-law?”

“Lu Bu.”

“I did not mean to have you really beaten; but if you think to frighten me with Lu Bu, I will! I will beat you as if I were beating him!” said Zhang Fei.

The guests interposed to beg him off, but their drunken host was obdurate, and the unhappy guest received fifty blows. Then at the earnest prayers of the others the remainder of the punishment was remitted.

The banquet came to an end, and the beaten Cao Bao went away burning with resentment. That night he sent a letter to Xiaopei relating the insults he had received from Zhang Fei. The letter told Lu Bu of Liu Bei’s absence and proposed that a sudden raid should be made that very night before Zhang Fei had recovered from his drunken fit. Lu Bu at once summoned Chen Gong and told him.

“Xiaopei is only a place to occupy temporarily,” said Chen Gong. “If you can seize Xuzhou, do so. It is a good chance.”

Lu Bu got ready at once and soon on the way with five hundred cavalrymen, ordering Chen Gong and Gao Shun to follow him with the main body.

Xiaopei being only about fifteen miles away, Lu Bu was under the walls at the fourth watch. It was clear moonlight. No one on the ramparts saw him.

Lu Bu came up close to the wall and called out, “Liu Bei’s secret messenger has arrived!”

The guards on the wall were Cao Bao’s people, and they called him. Cao Bao came, and when he saw who was there, he ordered the gates to be opened. Lu Bu gave the secret signal, and the soldiers entered shouting.

Zhang Fei was in his apartment sleeping off the fumes of wine. His servants hastened to arouse him and told him an enemy had got the gates open.

They said, “Lu Bu got in, and there is fighting in the city!”

Zhang Fei savagely got into his armor and laid hold of his mighty serpent halberd. But as he was mounting his horse at the gate, the attacking soldiers came up. He rushed at them but being still half intoxicated made but a poor fight. Lu Bu knowing Zhang Fei’s prowess did not press him hard, and Zhang Fei made his way, with eighteen leading guards of Yan, to the east gate, and there went out, leaving Liu Bei’s family to their fate.

Cao Bao, seeing Zhang Fei had but a very small force and was still half drunk as well, came in pursuit. Zhang Fei saw who it was and was mad with rage. He galloped toward Cao Bao and drove him off after a few passes. He followed Cao Bao to the moat and wounded him in the back. Cao Bao’s frightened steed carried its master into the moat, and he was drowned.

Once well outside the city Zhang Fei collected his troops, and they rode off toward the south direction.

Lu Bu having surprised the city set himself to restore order. He put guards over the residence of Liu Bei so that no one should disturb the family.

Zhang Fei with his few followers went to his brother’s camp at Xuyi and told his story of treachery and surprise. All were greatly distressed.

“Success is not worth rejoicing; failure is not worth grieving,” said Liu Bei with a sigh.

“Where are our sisters?” asked Guan Yu.

“They shared the fate of the city.”

Liu Bei nodded his head and was silent.

Guan Yu with an effort controlled his reproaches and said, “What did you say when you promised to guard the city, and what orders did our brother give you? Now the city is lost and therewith our sisters-in-law. Have you done well?”

Zhang Fei was overwhelmed by remorse. He drew his sword to kill himself.

He raised the cup in pledge,

None might say nay;

Remorseful, drew the sword,

Himself to slay.

Zhang Fei’s fate will be told in the next chapter.

Chapter 15

Taishi Ci Fights With The Young Overlord; Sun Ce Cuts Short The White Tiger King.

In the last chapter it was recorded that Zhang Fei was about to end his life with his own weapon in Xuyi.

But Liu Bei rushed forward and caught Zhang Fei in his arms, snatched away the sword, and threw it on the earth.

Liu Bei said, “The ancient had a saying: ‘Brothers are as hands and feet; wives and children are as clothing. You may mend your torn dress, but who can reattach a lost limb?’ We three, by the Oath of the Peach Garden, swore to seek the same death day. The city is lost, it is true, and my wives and little ones, but I could not bear that we should die ere our course be run. Beside, Xuzhou was not really ours, and Lu Bu will not harm my family but will rather seek to preserve them. You made a mistake, worthy brother, but is it the one deserving of death?”

And Liu Bei wept. His brothers were much affected, and their tears fell in sympathy.

As soon as the news of Lu Bu’s successful seizure of his protector’s region reached Yuan Shu, Yuan Shu sent promises of valuable presents to Lu Bu to induce him to join in a further attack on Liu Bei. The presents are said to have been fifty thousand carts of grain, five hundred horses, ten thousand ounces of gold and silver, and a thousand rolls of colored silk.

Lu Bu swallowed the bait and ordered Gao Shun to lead forth fifty thousand troops. But Liu Bei heard of the threatened attack, so he made inclement weather an excuse to moved his few soldiers out of Xuyi for Guangling, before the attacking force came up.

However, Gao Shun demanded the promised reward through Ji Ling, who put Gao Shun off, saying, “My lord has gone away. I will settle this as soon as I can see him and get his decision.”

With this answer Gao Shun returned to Lu Bu, who could not decide what to do.

Then came a letter from Yuan Shu:

“Although Gao Shun had gone to attack Liu Bei, yet Liu Bei had not been destroyed, and no reward could be given till he was actually taken.”

Lu Bu railed at what he called the breach of faith and was inclined to attack Yuan Shu himself.

However, his adviser, Chen Gong, opposed this course, saying, “You should not. Yuan Shu is in possession of Shouchun and has a large army, well supplied. You are no match for him. Rather ask Liu Bei to take up his quarters at Xiaopei as one of your wings and, when the time comes, let him lead the attack, both south and north. Then Yuan Shu and Yuan Shao will fall before you, and you will be very powerful.”

Finding this advice good, Lu Bu sent letters to Liu Bei asking him to return.

After the flight of Liu Bei, Yuan Shu attacked Guangling and reduced Liu Bei’s force by half. When the messenger from Lu Bu came, Liu Bei read the letter. He was quite content with the offer, but his brothers were not inclined to trust Lu Bu.

“Such a dishonorable man must have a motive,” said Guan Yu and Zhang Fei.

“Since he treats me kindly, I cannot but trust him,” replied Liu Bei.

So Liu Bei went back to Xuzhou. Lu Bu, fearing that Liu Bei might doubt his sincerity, restored Liu Bei’s family; and when Lady Gan and Lady Mi saw their lord, they told him that they had been kindly treated and guarded by soldiers against any intrusion, and provisions had never been wanting.

“I knew he would not harm my family,” said Liu Bei to Guan Yu and Zhang Fei.

However, Zhang Fei was not pleased and would not accompany his brothers into the city when they went to express their thanks. He went to escort the two ladies to Xiaopei.

At the interview Lu Bu said, “I did not wish to take the city, but your brother behaved very badly, drinking and flogging the soldiers, and I came to guard it lest some evil should befall.”

“But I had long wished to yield it to you,” said Liu Bei.

Thereupon Lu Bu wished to retire in favor of Liu Bei who, however, would not hear of it. Liu Bei returned and took up his quarters in Xiaopei, but his two brothers would not take the situation kindly and were very discontented.

Said Liu Bei, “One must bow to one’s lot. It is the will of Heaven, and one cannot struggle against fate.”

Lu Bu sent presents of food and stuffs, and peace reigned between the two houses.

In Shouchun, Yuan Shu prepared a great banquet for his soldiers when it was announced that Sun Ce had subdued Lu Gang, the Governor of Lujiang. Yuan Shu summoned the victor, who made obeisance at the foot of the hall of audience. Yuan Shu, sitting in state, asked for details of the campaign and then invited Sun Ce to the banquet.

After the unhappy death of his father Sun Jian, Sun Ce had returned to the lower region of the Great River, where he had devoted himself to peaceful ends, inviting to his side good people and able scholars. Afterwards, when a quarrel broke out between his mother’s brother, Governor Wu Jing of Dangyang, and the late Imperial Protector of Xuzhou, Tao Qian, Sun Ce removed his mother with all the family to Que, he himself taking service under Yuan Shu, who admired and loved him greatly.

“If I had a son like Sun Ce,” said Yuan Shu, “I should die without regret.”

Yuan Shu appointed Sun Ce Commander and sent him on various expeditions, all of which were successful. After this banquet to celebrate the victory over Lu Gang, Sun Ce returned to his camp very bitter over the arrogant and patronizing airs of his patron. Instead of retiring to his tent, Sun Ce walked up and down by the light of the moon.

“Here am I, a mere nobody, and yet my father was such a hero!”

And he cried out and wept in spite of himself.

Then suddenly appeared one who said, laughing loudly, “What is this, Sun Ce? While your noble father enjoyed the light of the sun, he made free use of me. If his son has any difficulty to resolve, why does he not refer it to me also instead of weeping here alone?”

Looking at the speaker Sun Ce saw it was Zhu Zhi, a native of Dangyang, who had been in Sun Jian’s service. Sun Ce then ceased weeping, and they two sat down.

“I was weeping from regret at being unable to continue my father’s work,” said Sun Ce.

“Why stay here bound to the service of a master? The Governor of Dangyang is in distress. Why not get command of an army under the pretense of an expedition to relieve Wu Jing? Escape the shadow of Yuan Shu and take control of Dangyang, then you can accomplish great things.”

While these two were talking, another man suddenly entered, saying, “I know what you two are planning, Noble Sirs. Under my hand is a band of one hundred bold fellows ready to help Sun Ce in whatever he wishes to do.”

The speaker was one of Yuan Shu’s advisers named Lu Fan, from Runan. They three then sat and discussed schemes.

“The one fear is that Yuan Shu will refuse to give you the troops,” said Lu Fan.

“I still have the Imperial Hereditary Seal that my father left me: That should be good security.”

“Yuan Shu earnestly desires that jewel,” said Zhu Zhi. “He will certainly lend you troops on that pledge.”

The three talked over their plans, gradually settling the details. Not many days after Sun Ce obtained an interview with his patron.

Assuming the appearance of deep grief Sun Ce said, “I have been unable to avenge my father. Now the Imperial Protector of Yangzhou, Liu Yao, is opposing my mother’s brother, and my mother and her family are in danger in Que. Wherefore I would borrow a few thousands of fighting men to rescue them. As perhaps, Illustrious Sir, you may lack confidence in me, I am willing to deposit the Imperial Hereditary Seal, left me by my late father, as a pledge.”

“Let me see it if you have it,” said Yuan Shu. “I do not want the jewel really, but you may as well leave it with me. I will lend you three thousand troops and five hundred horses. Return as soon as peace can be made. As your rank is hardly sufficient for such powers, I will memorialize to obtain for you higher rank with the title of General Who Exterminates Brigands, and you can soon start.”

Sun Ce thanked his patron most humbly and soon put the army in motion, taking with him his two new advisers and his father’s generals —-Zhu Zhi, Lu Fan, Cheng Pu, Huang Gai, Han Dang, and others.

When Sun Ce reached Linyang, he saw a body of troops in front of him, at their head a dashing leader of handsome and refined mien. As soon as this commander saw Sun Ce, he dismounted and made obeisance. It was Zhou Yu from Shucheng.

When Sun Jian was opposing the tyrant Dong Zhuo, he moved his family to Shucheng where the Zhou family had lived. And as Zhou Yu and Sun Ce were of the same age all but two months, they became exceedingly good friends and sworn brothers, Sun Ce being the elder in virtue of his two months’ seniority. Zhou Yu was on his way to visit Sun Ce’s uncle, Governor Wu Jing of Dangyang, when the happy meeting took place.

Naturally Sun Ce confided his projects and inmost ideas to his friend, who at once said, “I shall put my whole life and energy to serve you to reach that grand goal.”

“Now that you have come, the design is as good as accomplished,” said Sun Ce.

Zhou Yu was introduced to Zhu Zhi and Lu Fan.

Zhou Yu said, “Do you know of the two Zhangs of Guangling? They would be most useful people in working out your schemes.”

“Who are they, the two Zhangs?” said Sun Ce.

“They are men of transcendent genius who are living near here for the sake of tranquillity in these turbulent times. Their names are Zhang Zhao and Zhang Hong. Why not invite them to help you, brother?”

Sun Ce lost no time in sending letters and gifts, but they both declined. Then he visited them in person, was greatly pleased with their speech and by dint of large gifts and much persuasion, got them to promise to join him. Sun Ce appointed them both Counselors and Generals.

The plan of the attack upon Yangzhou Region was the next matter for discussion. The Imperial Protector, Liu Yao, was of Donglai, a scion of the imperial family and brother of the Imperial Protector of Yanzhou, Liu Dai. Liu Yao had long ruled in Yangzhou and headquartered in Shouchun. But Yuan Shu had forced him to flee to the southeast of the Great River. He retired to Que and now was battling with Wu Jing in Linyang.

Hearing of the meditated attack on him, Liu Yao summoned his generals to take counsel.

Said General Zhang Ying, “I will take an army and entrench at Niuzhu. No army can get past that, whatever its strength.”

Zhang Ying was interrupted by another who shouted, “And let me lead the van!”

All eyes turned to this man. It was Taishi Ci who, after helping Kong Rong raise the siege of Beihai, had come to serve Liu Yao.

Hearing him offer to undertake the hazardous post of van leader, Liu Yao said, “But you are still young and not yet equal to such a charge. Rather stay by my side and await my orders.”

Taishi Ci withdrew in disappointment.

Soon Zhang Ying led his army to Niuzhu, where the stores of grain located. When Sun Ce approached, Zhang Ying went to meet him, and the two armies faced each other above the Bullock Rapid. Zhang Ying roundly abused his opponent, and Huang Gai rode out to attack him. But before the combat had proceeded far, there arose an alarm of fire in Zhang Ying’s camp. Zhang Ying turned back, and then Sun Ce advanced in full force, compelling the enemy to abandon their possession. The defeated general fled to the hills.

Now the incendiaries who had brought about this result were two, named Jiang Qin from Shouchun and Zhou Tai from Jiujiang, who in these turbulent times had got together a band of kindred spirits and lived by plundering the country along the Great River. They knew Sun Ce by reputation as a man who treated able people very liberally and wished to join him. So they came with their band, three hundred strong, and helped him in this way as an introduction. Sun Ce welcomed them and gave the leaders rank. After taking possession of the stores of all kinds abandoned by the runaways, and enlisting four thousand of those who surrendered into his own ranks, Sun Ce moved forward to attack Shenting.

After his defeat Zhang Ying returned to his master and told his misfortune. Liu Yao was going to punish his failure by death, but listened to his advisers, who asked for mercy for the unfortunate man, and sent him to command the garrison in Lingling. Liu Yao himself set out to meet the invaders. He camped south of the Sacred Hills. Sun Ce camped on the opposite side of the hills.

Sun Ce inquired the natives, “Is there a temple of Liu Xiu the Founder of Latter Han in the vicinity?”

They said, “There is a temple to the south on the summit of the hills.”

“I dreamed last night that Liu Xiu called me, so I will go and pray there,” said Sun Ce.

But Counselor Zhang Zhao advised, “My lord, you should not go as the enemy is on the other side, and you may fall into an ambush.”

“The spirit will help me: What need I fear?”

So Sun Ce put on his armor, took his spear and mounted, taking with him twelve of his commanders as an escort. They rode up the hills, dismounted, burned incense, and they all bowed in the shrine.

Then Sun Ce knelt and made a vow, saying, “If I, Sun Ce, succeed in my task and restore the authority of my late father, then will I restore this temple and order sacrifices at the four seasons.”

When they had remounted, Sun Ce said, “I am going to ride along the ridge and reconnoiter the enemy’s position.”

His commanders begged him to refrain, but he was obstinate, and they rode there together, noting the villages below.

A soldier of the other side going along a bye road quickly reported the presence of horsemen on the ridge, and Liu Yao said, “It is certainly Sun Ce trying to inveigle us to battle. But do not go out.”

Taishi Ci jumped up, saying, “What better chance to capture him?”

So, without orders he armed himself and rode through the camp, crying, “If there be any valiant men among you, follow me!”

No one moved save a low-ranking commander who said, “He is a brave man, and I will go with him.”

So he also went. The others only laughed at the pair.

Now having seen all he wished, Sun Ce thought it time to return and wheeled round his horse. But when he was going over the summit, someone shouted, “Stay, Sun Ce!”

Sun Ce turned. Two horsemen were coming at full speed down the next hill. Sun Ce halted and drew up his little escort right and left, he himself with his spear ready.

“Which is Sun Ce?” shouted Taishi Ci.

“Who are you?” was the reply.

“I, Taishi Ci of Laihuang, come to take him prisoner!”

“Then I am he!” said Sun Ce, laughing. “Come both of you together. I am not afraid of you. If I were, I should not be Sun Ce!”

“You and all your crowd come on, and I will not blench!” cried Taishi Ci putting his horse at a gallop and setting his spear.

Sun Ce braced himself for the shock, and the battle began. Fifty bouts were fought and still neither combatant had the advantage. Sun Ce’s commanders whispered to each other their admiration and amazement. Taishi Ci saw that the spearmanship of his opponent showed no weak point whereby he could gain the advantage, so he decided to resort to guile. Feigning defeat he would lead Sun Ce to pursue. Taishi Ci however did not retire along the road by which he had come, but took a path leading around the hill instead of over it.

His antagonist followed, shouting, “He who retreats is no worthy soldier!”

But Taishi Ci thought within himself, “He has twelve others at his back and I only one. If I capture him, the others will retake him. I will inveigle him into some secret spot and then try.”

So flying and fighting by turns he led Sun Ce, an eager pursuer, down to the plain. Here Taishi Ci suddenly wheeled about and attacked. Again they exchanged half a hundred bouts, without result. Then Sun Ce made a fierce thrust, which his opponent evaded by gripping the spear under his arm, while he himself did the same with his opponent’s spear. Neither was wounded but each exerting his utmost strength to pull the other out of the saddle, and they both came to the ground.

Their steeds galloped off they knew not whither, while the two men, each dropping his spear, began a hand to hand struggle. Soon their fighting robes were in tatters. Sun Ce gripped the short lance that Taishi Ci carried at his back, while Taishi Ci tore off Sun Ce’s helmet. Sun Ce tried to stab with the short lance but Taishi Ci fended off the blow with the helmet as a shield.

Then arose a great shouting. Liu Yao had come up with a thousand soldiers. Sun Ce seemed now in sore straits. His twelve followers came up, and each combatant let go his hold. Taishi Ci quickly found another steed, seized a spear, and mounted. Sun Ce, whose horse had been caught by Cheng Pu, also mounted, and a confused battle began between the handful of men on one side and a whole thousand troops on the other. It swayed and drifted down the hill side. However, soon Zhou Yu leading his troops came to the rescue, and as evening drew on a tempest put an end to the fight. Both sides drew off and returned to camp.

Next day Sun Ce led his army to the front of Liu Yao’s camp, and the challenge was accepted. The armies were drawn up.

Sun Ce hung the short lance he had seized from Taishi Ci at the end of his spear, waved it in front of the line of battle, and ordered his soldiers to shout, “If the owner of this had not fled, he would have been stabbed to death!”

On the other side they hung out Sun Ce’s helmet, and the soldiers shouted back, “Sun Ce’s head is here already!”

Both sides thus yelled defiance at each other, one side boasting, the other bragging. Then Taishi Ci rode out challenging Sun Ce to a duel to the death, and Sun Ce would have accepted.

But Cheng Pu said, “My lord should not trouble himself. I will take him.”

And Cheng Pu rode forth.

“You are no antagonist for me,” said Taishi Ci. “Tell your master to come out!”

This incensed Cheng Pu, who rode at his opponent, and they two fought thirty bouts. The duel was stopped by the gongs of Liu Yao.

“Why did you sound the retreat?” said Taishi Ci. “I was just going to capture the wretch.”

“Because I have just heard that Que has been captured. Zhou Yu led a surprise force thither, and Chen Wu was in league with him to betray the city. We have no home now. I will hasten to Moling to get the help of Xue Li and Ze Rong to retake the city.”

The army retired, Taishi Ci with it, without being pursued.

On the other side Zhang Zhao said to Sun Ce, “Zhou Yu’s attack is the cause of this move; they are in no mood to fight. A night raid on their camp would finish them.”

The army was divided into five divisions for the night surprise and hastened toward the camp where they scored a victory. Their opponents scattered in all directions. Taishi Ci alone made a determined stand, and as he could not withstand a whole army, he fled with ten horsemen to Jingxian.

Now Sun Ce acquired a new adherent in the person of Chen Wu. He was a fighter of seven-span height, sallow of complexion and red eye, an odd looking man. But Sun Ce held him in high esteem, appointed him Commander, and put him in the van of the attack on Xue Li. As Van Leader, Chen Wu and a dozen horsemen made a dash into the enemy’s formation, where they slew half a hundred men. So Xue Li would not fight but remained within his defenses.

When Sun Ce was attacking the city, a spy came in with the news that Liu Yao and Ze Rong had gone to attack Niuzhu, which made Sun Ce move thither in haste. His two opponents were ready for battle.

“I am here!” said Sun Ce, “You had better give in!”

A general came out from behind Liu Yao to accept the challenge. It was Yu Mi. But in the third bout Sun Ce made him prisoner and carried him off to the other side. Seeing his colleague thus captured, Fan Neng rode out to the rescue and got quite close. But just as he was going to thrust, all Sun Ce’s soldiers shouted, “There is a man behind you going to strike secretly!”

At this Sun Ce turned and shouted so thunderously loud that Fan Neng fell out of his saddle from mere fright. He split his skull and died. When Sun Ce reached his standard, he threw his prisoner to the ground. And Yu Mi was also dead, crushed to death between the arm and the body of his captor. So in a few moments Sun Ce had disposed of two enemies, one crushed to death and one frightened to death. Thereafter Sun Ce was called the Young Overlord.

Liu Yao had a defeat. The greater portion of his force surrendered, and the number of those slain exceeded ten thousand. Liu Yao himself fled to Yuzhang and sought safety with Liu Biao, Imperial Protector of Jingzhou.

An attack on Moling was the next move. As soon as Sun Ce arrived at the moat, he summoned Commander Xue Li to surrender. Someone let fly a furtive arrow from the wall which wounded Sun Ce in the left thigh so severely that he fell from his steed. Hastily his officers picked up their wounded chief and returned to the camp where the arrow was pulled out and the wound dressed with the medicines suitable for injuries by metals.

By Sun Ce’s command the story was spread abroad that the hurt had been fatal, and all the soldiers set up cries of lamentation. The camp was broken up. Xue Li, Zhang Ying, and Chen Heng made a night sortie but fell into a carefully prepared ambush.

Presently Sun Ce himself appeared on horseback, shouting: “Sun Ce is here still!”

His sudden appearance created such a panic that the soldiers dropped their weapons and fell on their faces. Sun Ce gave orders not to kill them. But their leaders fell: Zhang Ying from Chen Wu’s spear thrust as he turned to run away; Chen Heng was killed by Jiang Qin’s arrow; and Commander Xue Li was slain in the turbulence. Thus Sun Ce got possession of Moling. Having calmed the people, he sent his soldiers away to Jingxian, where Taishi Ci was in command.

Taishi Ci had assembled two thousand recruits in addition to his own troops for the purpose of avenging his master. Sun Ce and Zhou Yu on the other hand consulted how to capture him alive.

Zhou Yu planned, “Attack the city on three sides, leaving the east gate free for flight. Some distance off an ambush shall be prepared, when Taishi Ci, his men fatigued and horses spent, shall fall an easy victim.”

The latest recruits under Taishi Ci’s banner were mostly hillmen and unaccustomed to discipline. Beside, the walls of the city were pitiably low. One night Sun Ce ordered Chen Wu to strip off his long dress, leave his arms save a dagger, clamber up the ramparts, and set fire to the city. Seeing the flames spreading, Taishi Ci made for the east gate and, as soon as he got outside, Sun Ce followed in pursuit. The pursuit was maintained for some fifteen miles when the pursuers stopped.

Taishi Ci went on as long as possible, finally halting to rest in a spot surrounded by reeds. Suddenly a tremendous shouting arose. Taishi Ci was just starting when tripping ropes arose all round, his horse was thrown and he found himself a prisoner.

Taishi Ci was taken back to camp. As soon as Sun Ce heard the news, he himself rode out to order the guards to leave the prisoner, whose bonds he loosened with his own hands. Then he took off his own embroidered robe and put it on the captive. They entered the camp together.

“I knew you were a real hero,” said Sun Ce. “That worm Liu Yao had no use for such as you, and so he got beaten.”

Taishi Ci, overcome by this kindness and good treatment, then formally surrendered.

Sun Ce seized his hand and said, laughing, “If you had taken me at that fight we had near the shrine, would you have killed me?”

“Who can say?” said Taishi Ci smiling.

Sun Ce laughed also and they entered his tent, where Taishi Ci was placed in the seat of honor at a banquet.

Taishi Ci said, “Can you trust me so far as to let me go to muster as many as I can of the soldiers of my late master? Under the smart of this defeat they will turn against him, and they would be a great help to you.”

“Exactly what I most desire. I will make an agreement with you that at midday tomorrow you will return.”

Taishi Ci agreed and went off. All the generals said he would never return.

“He is trustworthy and will not break his word,” said the chief.

None of the officers believed he would come back. But the next day they set up a bamboo rod in the gate of the camp, and just as the shadow marked noon Taishi Ci returned, bringing with him about a thousand troops. Sun Ce was pleased, and his officers had to confess that he had rightly judged his man.

Sun Ce thus marched his army to the South Land, and his enemies fled or surrendered before his force. He had now several legions and the southeast of the Great River was his. He improved the conditions of the people and maintained order so that his adherents and supporters daily increased. He was called Sun Ce the Bright.

When Sun Ce’s army approached, the people used to flee in terror; but when it had arrived and they saw that no one was permitted to loot and not the least attempt was made on their houses, they rejoiced and presented the soldiers with oxen and wine, for which they were in turn duly rewarded. Gladness filled the country side. The soldiers who had followed Liu Yao were kindly treated. Those who wished to join Sun Ce’s army did so; those who preferred not to be soldiers were sent home with presents. And thus Sun Ce won the respect and praise of everyone and became very powerful.

Sun Ce then settled his mother and the remainder of the family in Que, setting his brother, Sun Quan, and Zhou Tai over the city of Xuancheng. Then he headed an expedition to the south to reduce Wujun.

At that time there was a certain Yan Baihu, or the White Tiger, who styled himself King of East Wu and ruled over Wujun. His armies stationed at Wucheng and Jiaxing. Hearing of Sun Ce’s approach, Yan Baihu sent his brother, Yan Yu, with an army against Sun Ce, and they met at Maple Bridge.

Yan Yu, sword in hand, took his stand on the bridge, and this was reported to Sun Ce, who prepared to accept the challenge.

Zhang Hong tried to dissuade him, saying, “For as much as my lord’s fate is bound up with that of the army, he should not risk a conflict with a mere robber. I wish that you should remember your own value.”

“Your words, O Wise One, are as gold and precious stones, but I fear that my soldiers will not carry out my commands unless I myself share their dangers.”

However, Sun Ce sent forth Han Dang to take up the challenge. Just as Han Dang reached the bridge, Jiang Qin and Chen Wu, who had dropped down the river in a small boat, passed under the bridge. Though the arrows fell in clouds on the bank, the two men rushed up and fiercely attacked Yan Yu as he stood on the bridge. Yan Yu fled and Han Dang went in pursuit. But Yan Yu smote up to the west gate of the city into which he entered.

Sun Ce laid siege to Wujun both by land and water. For three days no one came out to offer battle. Then at the head of his army, Sun Ce came to the west gate and summoned the warden. An officer of inconsiderable rank came out and stood with one hand resting on a beam while with the other he gave point to his abuse of those below. Quickly Taishi Ci’s hands sought his bow and an arrow was on the string.

“See me hit that fellow’s hand,” said he, turning to his companions.

Even as the sound of his voice died away, the bowstring twanged, the arrow sped and lodged in the beam, firmly pinning thereto the officer’s hand. Both sides, those on the wall and those below it, marveled and acclaimed at such marksmanship.

The wounded man was taken away.

When Yan Baihu the White Tiger heard of the exploit, he said, “How can we hope to withstand an army with such leaders as this in it?”

And his thoughts turned toward a peace. He sent his brother Yan Yu out to see Sun Ce, who received him civilly, invited him into the tent, and set wine before him.

“And what does your brother propose?” said Sun Ce.

“He is willing to share this region with you,” was the reply.

“The rat! How dare he put himself on a level with me?” cried Sun Ce.

Sun Ce commanded to put the messenger to death. Yan Yu started up and drew his sword; but out flew Sun Ce’s blade, and the unhappy messenger fell to the ground. His head was hacked off and sent into the city to his brother.

This had its effect. Yan Baihu saw resistance was hopeless, so he abandoned Wujun and fled. Sun Ce pressed the attack. Huang Gai captured Jiaxing, and Taishi Ci took Wucheng. Several other southern cities were fallen. The territory was quickly subdued. Yan Baihu rushed off toward Yuhang in the east, plundering on all sides, till a band of villagers under the leadership of one Ling Cao checked his career of robbery there. Yan Baihu then fled toward Kuaiji.

Ling Cao and his son then went to meet Sun Ce, who took them into his service, and appointed them Commanders as a reward for their service, and the joint forces crossed the Great River.

The White Tiger, Yan Baihu, gathered his scattered forces and took up a position at Western Ford, but Cheng Pu attacked him there and scattered the defenders, chasing them as far as Kuaiji. The Governor of the place, Wang Lang, was on Yan Baihu’s side and inclined to support him actively.

But, when Wang Lang proposed this, one of his officers stood forth, saying, “No! No! Sun Ce as a leader is humane and upright, while the White Tiger is a savage ruffian. Rather capture him and offer his person as a peace offering to Sun Ce.”

The Governor turned angrily toward the speaker, who was an official named Yu Fan from Kuaiji, and bade him be silent. Yu Fan withdrew sighing deeply. And the Governor went to the help of the White Tiger with whom he joined forces at Shanyin.

Sun Ce came up. When both sides were arrayed, Sun Ce rode out and addressed Wang Lang, saying, “Mine is an army of good soldiers, and my aim is to restore peace to this region, but you give your support to a rebel!”

Wang Lang replied, “Your greed is insatiable. Having got possession of Wujun, you want also my territory. I shall revenge for the Yans!”

This response greatly angered Sun Ce. Just as battle was to be joined, Taishi Ci advanced and Wang Lang came toward him waving a sword. Before they had exchanged many passes, Zhou Xin dashed out to help Wang Lang. Thereupon Huang Gai rode out to make the sides more equal. These latter two were just engaging when the drums rolled on both sides, and a general battle began.

Suddenly confusion was caused in the rear of Wang Lang’s army by the sudden onslaught of a small army. Wang Lang galloped off to see the attackers were Zhou Yu and Cheng Pu. Then an attack was made on his flank, so that he was in a hopeless position, and he and Yan Baihu and Zhou Xin, fighting desperately to cut an alley out, only just managed to reach the shelter of the city. The drawbridges were raised, the gates closed, and preparations made to sustain a siege.

Sun Ce followed right up to the walls and then divided his troops so as to attack all four gates. Seeing that the city was being fiercely attacked, Wang Lang was for making a sortie, but Yan Baihu opposed this as hopeless against so strong a force outside.

“We can only strengthen our position and remain behind the shelter of the ramparts until hunger forces the besiegers to retire,” said Yan Baihu.

Wang Lang agreed, and the siege went on. For several days a vigorous attack was maintained, but with little success.

In a council, Sun Jing, who was the uncle of Sun Ce, said, “Since they are holding the city with such resolution, it will be difficult to dislodge them. But the bulk of their supplies is stored at Chadu, distant only some ten miles. Our best plan is to seize this place, thus attacking where the enemy is unprepared, and doing what they do not expect.”

Sun Ce approved, saying, “My uncle’s plan is admirable and will crush the rebels.”

So he issued orders to kindle watch fires at all the gates, and leave the flags standing to maintain the appearance of soldiers in position while the expedition went south.

Zhou Yu came to utter a warning, “When you, my lord, go away, the besieged will surely come out and follow you. We might prepare a surprise for them.”

Sun Ce replied, “My preparations are complete, and the city will be captured tonight.”

So the army set out. Wang Lang heard that the besiegers had gone, and he went up to the tower to reconnoiter. He saw the fires blazing, the smoke rising, and the pennons fluttering in the breeze as usual and hesitated.

Zhou Xin said, “He has gone and this is only a strategy. Let us go out and smite them.”

Yan Baihu said, “If he has gone, it is to attack Chadu. Let us pursue.”

“The place is our base of supply,” said Wang Lang, “and must be defended. You two lead the way, and I will follow with reserves.”

So Yan Baihu and Zhou Xin went forth with five thousand soldiers and drew near their enemy about the first watch, at seven miles from the city. The road led through dense forest. Then suddenly the drums beat and lighted torches sprang up on all sides. Yan Baihu was frightened, turned his horse and started to retreat. At once a leader appeared in front in whom, by the glare of the torches, he recognized Sun Ce. Zhou Xin made a rush at him but fell under Sun Ce’s spear. The men surrendered. However, Yan Baihu managed to cut his way out and fled to Yuhang.

Wang Lang soon heard of the loss and, not daring to return to the city, fled in all haste to the coastal regions. And so Sun Ce got possession of the city of Kuaiji.

Having restored order, a few days later a man came bringing the head of the White Tiger as an offering to Sun Ce. This man was a native of the county. He was of eight-span height, with a square face and wide mouth. He was named Dong Xi. Sun Ce appointed him Commander. After this, peace reigned in all the southeast. Sun Ce placed his uncle Sun Jing in command of the city and made Zhu Zhi Governor of Wujun. Then Sun Ce returned to his own place, south of the Great River.

While Sun Ce was absent, a band of brigands suddenly attacked Xuancheng, left in the care of his brother Sun Quan and the leader Zhou Tai. As the onslaught was made on all sides at once, and in the night, the brigands got the upper hand. Zhou Tai took the youth in his arms and mounted a horse; but when the robbers came on with swords to attack him, he dismounted, and though without mail, met the robbers on foot and slew them as they came up. Then came a horseman armed with a spear, but Zhou Tai laid hold of his spear and pulled him to the earth. Next Zhou Tai mounted the robber’s horse, and thrusting this way and that with the spear fought his way out. So Sun Quan was preserved, but his savior had received more than a dozen wounds. However, the bandits went away.

These wounds being due to metal would not heal but swelled enormously, and the brave soldier’s life hung in the balance. Sun Ce returned and was deeply grieved.

Then Dong Xi said, “Once in an engagement with some coastal pirates, I received many spear wounds, but a certain wise man named Yu Fan recommended a surgeon who cured me in half a month.”

“Surely this must be Yu Fan of Kuaiji,” replied Sun Ce. “That is he; he is so called.”

“Yes, truly a wise man. I would employ him.”

So Sun Ce sent two officers to invite Yu Fan, and he came at once. He was treated in most friendly fashion and appointed an official forthwith. Then the question of treating the wounded man was brought up.

“The surgeon is one Hua Tuo from Qiao, who has perfectly marvelous medicine skill. I will get him to come,” said Yu Fan.

Shortly the famous Hua Tuo arrived, a man with the complexion of a youth and a snowy beard. He looked more like a saint who had passed the gates of this life. He was treated very warmly and taken to see the sick general’s wounds.

“The case is not difficult,” said the surgeon.

And he prepared certain drugs that healed the wounds within a month. Sun Ce suitably acknowledged his care and skill, and he was allowed to leave with rich rewards.

Next Sun Ce attacked the brigands and destroyed them, so restoring complete tranquillity to the South Land. After this he set garrisons at all the strategic points in the old state of Wu, and this done, memorialized what he had achieved to the Throne. He came to an understanding with Cao Cao and sent letters to Yuan Shu demanding the return of the Imperial Hereditary Seal he had left in pledge.

But Yuan Shu, secretly cherishing the most ambitious designs, wrote excuses and did not return the state jewel. In his own place Yuan Shu hastily summoned about thirty of his officers to a council. Among them were Adviser Yang Dajiang and Generals Zhang Xun, Ji Ling, Qiao Rui, Lei Bo, and Chen Lan.

Yuan Shu said, “Sun Ce borrowed an army from me and set out on an expedition which has made him master of the South Land. Now he says nothing of repayment but demands the token of his pledge. Truly he is a boor, and what steps can I take to destroy him?”

Yang Dajiang replied, “You cannot do any thing against him, for he is too strongly placed, the Great River as the shield. You must first remove Liu Bei in revenge for having attacked you without cause, and then you may think about Sun Ce. I have a scheme to put the former into your hands in a very short time.”

Yuan Shu went not to destroy the tiger, but instead

Against a dragon forth his army led.

The means Yang Dajiang employed will be made plain in the next chapter.

Chapter 16

In The Camp Gate, Lu Bu Shoots The Halberd; At River Yu, Cao Cao Suffers A Defeat.

Adviser Yang Dajiang knew how to remove Liu Bei.

“What is your plan of attack on Liu Bei?” said Yuan Shu.

Yang Dajiang replied, “Though Liu Bei, now camped at Xiaopei, could easily be taken, yet Lu Bu is strongly posted at the chief city near. And I think Lu Bu would help Liu Bei if it was only for the grudge he bears against you for not having given him the gold and studs, grain and horses you promised. First of all you should send Lu Bu a present whereby to engage his affections and keep him quiet while you deal with Liu Bei. You can see to Lu Bu after this is done, and Xuzhou is yours.”

Thereupon two hundred thousand carts of millet was sent, with letters, by the hand of Han Yin. The gift pleased Lu Bu greatly, and he treated the messenger with great cordiality. Feeling sure of no trouble from that quarter, Yuan Shu told off one hundred thousand troops against Xiaopei. The army was led by Ji Ling as commanding general, and Lei Bo and Chen Lan as generals.

When Liu Bei heard these things he called his officers to take counsel. Zhang Fei was for open war forthwith.

But Sun Qian said, “Our resources were too small; therefore, we must lay the position before Lu Bu and ask help.”

“Do you think that fellow will do anything?” said Zhang Fei cynically.

Liu Bei decided in favor of Sun Qian’s proposal and wrote as follows:

“Humbly I venture to remind you that I am here by your orders and enjoy repose as the result of your kindness, extensive as the heavens. Now Yuan Shu, moved by a desire for revenge, is sending a force against this place, and its destruction is imminent unless you intervene to save it. I trust you will send an army quickly to protect the town, and our happiness will be inexpressible.”

Receiving this Lu Bu called in Chen Gong to whom he said, “I have just received gifts from Yuan Shu and a letter, with the intent of restraining me from helping Liu Bei. Now comes a letter from Liu Bei asking help. It seems to me that Liu Bei where he is can do me no harm; but if Yuan Shu overcomes Liu Bei and comes to an understanding with the leaders around the Huashan Mountains, then the power of the north is so much nearer, and I should be unable to resist the attacks of so many leaders and should never sleep secure. I will aid Liu Bei: That is the better course for me.”

Now Yuan Shu’s force sent against Xiaopei went thither as quickly as possible, and soon the country to the southeast fluttered with pennons by day and blazed with watch fires by night, while the rolling of the drums reverberated from heaven to earth.

The five thousand troops at Liu Bei’s disposal were led out of the city and arranged to make a brave show, but it was good news to him to hear that Lu Bu had arrived and was quite near. Lu Bu camped only half a mile away to the southwest. When Yuan Shu’s general, Ji Ling, heard of his arrival, he wrote letters reproaching Lu Bu for his treachery. Lu Bu smiled as he read them.

“I know how to make both of them love me,” said Lu Bu.

So he sent invitations to both Liu Bei and Ji Ling to come to a banquet.

Liu Bei was for accepting the invitation and going, but his brothers dissuaded him, saying, “There is some treachery in his heart.”

“I have treated him too well for him to do me any harm,” said Liu Bei.

So he mounted and rode away, the two brothers following. They came to the camp.

The host said, “Now by a special effort I have got you out of danger. I hope you will not forget that when you come into your own.”

Liu Bei thanked him heartily and was invited to take a seat. Guan Yu and Zhang Fei took up their usual place as guards.

But when Ji Ling was announced, Liu Bei felt a spasm of fear and got up to go away.

“You two are invited for the particular purpose of a discussion,” said the host. “Do not take it amiss.”

Liu Bei, being quite ignorant of his intentions, was very uneasy. Presently his fellow guest entered. Seeing Liu Bei in the tent, and in the seat of honor, Ji Ling was puzzled, hesitated and tried to withdraw. But the attendants prevented this and Lu Bu, advancing, laid hold of him and drew him into the tent as if he had been a child.

“Do you wish to slay me?” asked Ji Ling.

“Not at all,” replied Lu Bu.

“Then you are going to slay Long-Ears?”

“No, not that.”

“Then what does it mean?”

“Liu Bei and I are brothers. Now, General, you are besieging him, and so I have come to the rescue.”

“Then slay me,” said Ji Ling.

“There would be no sense in that. All my life I have disliked fighting and quarrels, but have loved making peace. And now I want to settle the quarrel between you two.”

“May I ask how you think of doing so?”

“I have a means and one approved of Heaven itself.”

Then Lu Bu drew Ji Ling within the tent and led him up to Liu Bei. The two men faced each other, full of mutual suspicion, but their host placed himself between them and they took their seats, Liu Bei on the right hand of the host.

The banquet began. After a number of courses almost in silence, Lu Bu spoke, saying, “I wish you two gentlemen to listen to me and put an end to your strife.”

Liu Bei made no reply, but Ji Ling said, “I have come with an army of one hundred thousand at the express bidding of my master to take Liu Bei. How can I cease the strife? I must fight.”

“What!” exclaimed Zhang Fei drawing his sword. “Few as we are, we regard you no more than a lot of children. What are you compared with a million Yellow Scarves? You dare hurt our brother!”

Guan Yu urged him to be silent, saying, “Let us see what General Lu Bu has to say first. After that there will be time to go to our tents and fight.”

“I beg you both to come to an understanding. I cannot let you fight,” said Lu Bu.

Now on one side Ji Ling was discontented and angry; on the other Zhang Fei was dying for a fight; and neither of the two chiefly concerned would signify assent.

Then suddenly the host turned to his attendants, saying, “Bring my trident halberd!”

They did so, and he sat there gripping that graceful but effective weapon in his right hand. Both guests felt very ill at ease and turned pale.

Lu Bu went on, saying, “I have tried to persuade you to make peace, for that is the command of the Most High. It shall be put to the test.”

He then bade his servants take the halberd outside beyond the gate and set it up.

Then speaking to his two guests, he said, “That gate is one hundred and fifty paces distant. If I can hit that left branch of the halberd-head with an arrow, you will both withdraw your armies. If I miss, you can go away and prepare for immediate battle. I shall stand against either of you who does not abide by what I say.”

Ji Ling thought to himself, “That small mark at that distance! How could anyone hit it?”

So he assented, thinking he would have plenty of fighting after his host had missed the mark. Of course Liu Bei was willing.

They all sat down again and wine was served. When this had been drunk, the host called for his bow and arrows. Liu Bei silently prayed that Lu Bu would hit the mark.

Lu Bu turned back his sleeves, carefully fitted an arrow to the string and pulled the bow to its utmost stretch. A slight exclamation escaped him as the bow curved like the harvest moon sailing through the sky. “Twang!” went the bowstring, and the arrow sped like a falling star. And it struck the slender tongue of the halberd head full and square. A roar of acclamation from all sides greeted the exploit.

The multitude people often hail their praise:

O Lu Bu was a wonderful archer,

And the arrow he shot sped straight;

By hitting the mark he saved his friend

That day at his camp gate.

Hou Yi, the archer of ancient days,

Brought down each mocking sun,

And the apes that gibbered to fright Yang Youji

Were slain by him, one by one.

But we sing of Lu Bu that drew the bow,

And his feathered shaft that flew;

For one hundred thousand soldiers could doff their mails

When he hit the mark so true.

Lu Bu laughed loud at the success of his shot.

Dropping his bow he seized his guests by the hands, saying, “The command of Heaven indeed! And now you cease from fighting!”

He ordered the soldier attendants to pour out great goblets of wine and each drank. Liu Bei in his inmost heart felt rather lucky; his fellow guest sat silent, nodding his head.

Presently Ji Ling said, “I cannot disobey your command, General, but let me depart. What will my master say and will he believe me?”

“I will write a letter and confirm it,” said Lu Bu.

After a few more rounds of the wine, Ji Ling asked that he might have the letter and after that departed.

When the brothers took their leave, Lu Bu again reminded Liu Bei, saying, “Do not forget I have delivered you today!”

Liu Bei thanked him and departed. Next day the leaders broke camps, and the soldiers were gone.

When Ji Ling had got back to the South of River Huai and told the story of the feat of archery and the peace making that followed, and had presented the letter, his lord was very wroth.

“Lu Bu repays me for all my grain with this bit of play acting!” cried Yuan Shu. “He has saved Liu Bei, but I will lead a large army myself and settle both Liu Bei and him.”

“Be careful, my lord,” said Ji Ling. “Lu Bu is braver and stronger than most leaders and has a wide territory. He and Liu Bei together make a powerful combination, not easy to break. But there is another course. I have found out that his wife, Lady Yan, has a daughter just of marriageable age; and as you have a son, you could arrange a marriage alliance with Lu Bu. If his daughter wedded your son, Lu Bu would certainly slay your enemy for you. This is called ‘Relative-above-Stranger’ plan.”

This scheme appealed to Yuan Shu, who soon set about its accomplishment. He sent presents by the hand of Han Yin, who was to discuss the question.

When Han Yin saw Lu Bu, he said, “My master has an immense respect for you, Illustrious Sir, and he desires to ensure perpetual alliance between the two families by a marriage, an alliance such as existed between the ancient states of Qin and Jin.”

Lu Bu was well disposed toward the scheme, but went in to consult his wife. Now Lu Bu had two wives and one concubine. He first married a lady of the Yan family, and she was the legal wife. Then he took Diao Chan as a concubine. And while he was living at Xiaopei, he had married a secondary wife, a daughter of Cao Bao. Lady Cao had died quite young leaving no issue. Neither had Diao Chan borne any children. So that Lu Bu had but one child, this daughter, of whom he was dotingly fond.

When he broached the subject, his wife said, “The Yuans have dominated the regions around the River Huai these many years. They have a large army and are very prosperous. One day a Yuan will become emperor, and our daughter may hope to be an empress. But how many sons has Yuan Shu?”

“Only this one.”

“Then we should accept the offer. Even if our daughter does not become Empress, Xuzhou has a new ally.”

Lu Bu decided to accept and so treated the messenger with extreme generosity. Han Yin went back with a favorable answer. The wedding gifts were then prepared ready for Han Yin to take to the bride’s family. They were received and banquets and merry-making filled all the time.

Next day Chen Gong went to see the messenger in his lodging, and when the usual ceremonies and greetings had been exchanged, the two men sat down to talk.

When the servants had been sent out of earshot, Chen Gong said, “Who originated this scheme by which Yuan Shu and Lu Bu are to become connections by this marriage so that Liu Bei’s head may fall?”

Han Yin was terrified. “I pray you not to let it get abroad,” said he.

“I certainly shall keep it secret. But if there be any delay, some other person will find it out and that spells failure,” said Chen Gong.

“What would best be done?”

“I will see Lu Bu and get him to send the girl immediately so that the marriage may be concluded quickly.”

“If it happened thus, my master would indeed hold you in high respect.”

With this Chen Gong took his leave and sought an interview with Lu Bu.

“I hear your daughter is to be married to Yuan Shu’s son. That is capital, but no one knows when.”

“That has yet to be considered,” said Lu Bu.

“There were certain fixed rules as to the period between sending presents and consummation of the marriage: Emperors, a year; nobles, half a year; high officers, three months; and common people, one month.”

Lu Bu replied, “As to Yuan Shu, Heaven has already put into his hands the Imperial Hereditary Seal, and he will surely arrive at the dignity one day. So, I should think the imperial rule would apply.”

“No, it will not.”

“The nobles’ rule, then?”

“No, nor that.”

“The high officers’?”

“Not even that.”

Lu Bu laughed, saying, “Then you mean me to go by the rule for common people.”

“Nor that either.”

“Then what do you mean?”

Chen Gong said, “In the midst of the present troubles, when there is great rivalry among the nobles, do you not see that the others will be exceedingly jealous of your marriage alliance with such a high family as the Yuans? Suppose you postpone the choice of the day, most likely when your fine morning arrives, the wedding party will fall into an ambush on the road and the bride be carried off. Then what could be done? My opinion is that you would have done better to refuse. But since you have consented, then carry out the plan at once before the lords hear of it, and so send the girl over without delay to Shouchun. You can hire a lodging there till you have selected the wedding day, and the odds are greatly against any failure.”

“What you say is quite to the point,” replied Lu Bu.

He went into the private apartments to see his wife and told her the bride elect would set out immediately and the trousseau was to be prepared as far as it could be. On his side he chose some good horses and had a wedding carriage got ready. The escort consisted of Han Yin and two of Lu Bu’s generals, Song Xian and Wei Xu. The procession went out of the city to the sound of music.

Now at this time Chen Gui, father of Chen Deng, was placidly waiting till the evening of his life passed into night. Hearing this burst of music he inquired the occasion, and the servants told him.

“They are working on the ‘Relative-above-Stranger’ device, then,” said Chen Gui. “Liu Bei is in danger.”

Thereupon in spite of his many infirmities, he went to see Lu Bu.

“Noble Sir, what brings you here?” asked Lu Bu.

“I heard you were dead, and I came to mourn,” quavered the old man.

“Who said that?” exclaimed his host.

“Once upon a time you received grand presents from Yuan Shu that you might slay Liu Bei, but you got out by that clever shot at your halberd. Now they suddenly seek a marriage alliance thinking to get hold of your daughter as a pledge. The next move will be an attack on Xiaopei and, that gone, where are you? Whatever they ask in future, grain or troops or anything else, and you yield, will bring your own end nearer, and make you hated all round. If you refuse, then you are false to the duties of a relative, and that will be an excuse to attack you openly. Beside this Yuan Shu intends to call himself emperor, which would be rebellion, and you would be of the rebel’s family: Something abominable, which the multitude people would not suffer.”

Lu Bu was much disturbed to hear this.

“I have been misled by Chen Gong!” cried he.

So he hurriedly sent Zhang Liao to bring the wedding party, which had been ten miles away, back to the city. When they had come, Lu Bu threw Han Yin into prison and sent a reply to Yuan Shu saying curtly that the girl’s trousseau was not ready and she could not be married till it was.

Chen Gui wanted Han Yin to be sent to Capital Xuchang. But Lu Bu was hesitating what course to adopt, when he heard that Liu Bei was enlisting soldiers and buying horses for no apparent reason.

“He is simply doing his duty. There is nothing to be surprised at,” said Lu Bu at first.

Then came two officers, Song Xian and Wei Xu, saying, “As you ordered us, we went into the Huashan Mountains to purchase horses. We had got three hundred when, on our way back, on the borders of Xiaopei some robbers stole half of them. We hear that the real robbers were Zhang Fei and his soldiers, who took on the guise of brigands.”

Lu Bu was very angry at this and began to prepare an expedition against Xiaopei. When Liu Bei heard that an attack threatened, he led out his army to oppose it, and the two armies were arrayed.

Liu Bei rode to the front and said, “Elder brother, why have you brought an army against me?”

Lu Bu began abusing him, saying, “That shot of mine at the Archery Feast saved you from grave danger. Why then did you steal my horses?”

“I wanted horses and I sent out to buy them. Should I dare to take yours?” said Liu Bei.

“You stole a hundred and fifty in the person of your brother Zhang Fei. You only used another man’s hand.”

Thereupon Zhang Fei, with his spear set, rode out, saying, “Yes! I stole your good horses, and what more do you expect?”

Lu Bu replied, “You goggled-eyed thief! You are always treating me with contempt!”

“Yes! I took your horses and you get angry. You did not say any thing when you stole my brother’s Xuzhou!”

Lu Bu rode forward to give battle, and Zhang Fei advanced. A reckless fight began, and the two warriors kept it up for a hundred bouts without a decisive stroke. Then Liu Bei, fearing some accident to his brother, hastily beat the gongs as a signal to retire and led his army into the city. Lu Bu then invested it.

Liu Bei called his brother and chided him as the cause of all this misfortune.

“Where are the horses?” said Liu Bei.

“In some of the temples and courts,” replied Zhang Fei.

Liu Bei sent a messenger out to speak softly and offer to restore the stolen horses if hostilities were to cease. Lu Bu was disposed to agree but Chen Gong opposed.

“You will suffer by and by if you do not remove this Liu Bei.”

Under Chen Gong’s influence the request for peace was rejected, and the attackers on the city pressed harder.

Liu Bei called Mi Zhu and Sun Qian to him to ask advice.

Said Sun Qian, “The one person that Cao Cao detests is Lu Bu. Let us then abandon the city and take refuge with Cao Cao, from whom we may borrow troops to destroy him.”

“If we try to get away, who will lead the van?”

“I will do my best,” said Zhang Fei.

So Zhang Fei led the way; Guan Yu was rearguard; and in the center was Liu Bei with the non-fighting portion. The cavalcade started and went out at the north gate under the bright moon. They met opposition from Song Xian and Wei Xu’s men, but the soldiers were driven off by Zhang Fei, and the besieging force was passed without difficulty. Zhang Liao pursued, but was held off by Guan Yu’s rearguard. It seemed Lu Bu was not dissatisfied at the flight, for he took no personal trouble to prevent it. He made formal entry into the city, settled local affairs, and appointed Gao Shun as Governor.

Liu Bei approached Xuchang and encamped outside the city, whence he sent Sun Qian to see Cao Cao and relate the events that brought him there.

Cao Cao was very friendly and said, “Liu Bei is as my brother.”

Then Cao Cao invited Liu Bei to enter the city.

Leaving his brothers at the camp, Liu Bei, with Sun Qian and Mi Zhu, went to Cao Cao, who received him with the greatest respect. The story of Lu Bu’s perfidy was again related.

“He has no sense of right,” said Cao Cao. “You and I, my brother, will attack him together.”

Liu Bei was very grateful. A banquet was then prepared, and it was late evening before the visitor left for his own camp.

Xun Yu then had an interview with his master and said, “If you are not on your guard, Liu Bei will be your undoing. You ought to destroy him. He is too much of a hero.”

Cao Cao made no reply and his adviser retired.

Presently Guo Jia came, and Cao Cao said, “I have been advised to kill Liu Bei: What of such a scheme?”

“A bad scheme,” said Guo Jia. “You are the popular champion, pledged to relieve the people from oppression, and only by truth and rectitude can you secure the support of the noble-minded. Your only fear is lest they stay away. Now Liu Bei is a clear hero. He has come to you for help and protection, and to put him to death would be to alienate all good people and put fear into the hearts of all the able advisers. Hampered by these difficulties, where will you find those whose help you need? To remove the dangers represented by one man and thereby injure yourself in the eyes of all humankind is a sure means of destruction. These conditions need careful consideration.”

“What you say exactly fits in with what I think,” said Cao Cao, greatly pleased with these remarks.

His next step was to memorialize the Emperor to give Liu Bei the imperial protectorship of Yuzhou.

Again Cheng Yu said, “Liu Bei is certain to rise to the top. He will never remain in a subordinate position. You had better remove him.”

Cao Cao answered, “Now is just the time to make use of good people. I will not forfeit the regard of the world for the sake of removing one individual. Guo Jia and I both see this in the same light.”

Wherefore Cao Cao rejected all persuasion to work against Liu Bei but sent him three thousand soldiers and ten thousand carts of grain, and set him on his way to Yuzhou. Liu Bei was to march to Xiaopei, occupy it, call together his former soldiers, and attack Lu Bu.

When Liu Bei reached Yuzhou, he sent to inform Cao Cao, who prepared to march an army to subjugate Lu Bu. But just then hasty news came that Zhang Ji, who had gone to the attack of Nanyang, had been wounded by a stray arrow and had died. His nephew, Zhang Xiu, had succeeded to the command of his army; and with Jia Xu as strategist, Zhang Xiu had joined Liu Biao and camped at Wancheng. They intended to attack the capital and get possession of the Emperor’s person.

Cao Cao was placed in a quandary. He would go to attack this combination, but he feared lest Lu Bu would attack the capital if he left it. So he sought the advice of Xun Yu.

Said the Adviser, “Lu Bu has no notion of a policy. He is led astray by any little advantage that presents itself to his eyes. All you need do is to obtain promotion for him, giving him some additional title, and tell him to make peace with Liu Bei, and he will do it. Lu Bu is no threat then.”

“Good,” said Cao Cao.

And he acted upon the hint and sent an Imperial Legate, Wang Ze, to Xuzhou with the official announcement and a letter urging peace, while he went on with preparations to meet the other danger from Zhang Xiu.

When ready Cao Cao marched out with one hundred fifty thousand troops in three divisions. Xiahou Dun was the Van Leader, and they went to River Yu and camped there.

Jia Xu succeeded in persuading Zhang Xiu of the hopelessness of resistance.

“You would do well to surrender, since Cao Cao’s army is too large for you to oppose,” said Jia Xu.

Seeing the truth of this, Zhang Xiu sent his adviser to propose sub mission. Cao Cao was greatly pleased with the messenger, admiring his ready and fluent repartee, and tried to win him to his service.

“I was formerly with Li Jue and was guilty with him. Now I am with Zhang Xiu who esteems my advice, and I should not like to abandon him,” said Jia Xu.

Jia Xu left and next day conducted his master into Cao Cao’s presence. Cao Cao was very generous. Then he entered Wancheng with a small force, the greater part of the army being put in camp outside where the lines extended some three miles. Great banquets were given every day by Zhang Xiu, and Cao Cao was always being entertained.

One day, when Cao Cao returned to his quarters in a more than usual merry mood, he asked the attendants, “Are there singing girls in the city?”

His nephew, Cao Amin, heard the question and said, “Peeping through one of the partitions last evening, I saw a perfectly beautiful woman in one of the courts. They told me she was the wife of Zhang Ji, Zhang Xiu’s uncle. She is very lovely.”

Cao Cao, inflamed by the description given him of the beauty, told his nephew to go and bring her to visit him. Cao Amin did so, supported by an armed escort, and very soon the woman stood before Cao Cao.

She was a beauty indeed, and Cao Cao asked her name.

She replied, “Thy handmaid was wife to Zhang Ji; I was born of the Zhou family.”

“Do you know who I am?”

“I have known the Prime Minister by reputation a long time. I am happy to see him and be permitted to bow before him,” said she.

“It was for your sake that I allowed Zhang Xiu to submit; otherwise I would have slain him and cut him off root and branch,” said Cao Cao.

“Indeed, then, I owe my very life to you; I am very grateful,” said she.

“To see you is a glimpse of paradise, but there is one thing I should like better. I hope, this night, we can share the same pillow together, and tomorrow go with me to the capital where we can enjoy all the luxuries of life. What do you say to that, my lady?”

She could but thank him.

“But Zhang Xiu will greatly wonder at my prolonged absence, and gossips will begin to talk,” said she.

“If you like, you can leave the city tomorrow.”

She did so; but instead of going at once to the capital, she stayed with him among the tents, where Dian Wei was appointed as a special guard over her apartments. Cao Cao was the only person whom she saw, and he passed the days in idle dalliance with the lady, quite content to let time flow by.

But people told Zhang Xiu what had gone amiss, and he was angry at the shame brought upon the family.

He confided his trouble to Jia Xu who said, “Keep this secret, wait till he appears again to carry on business, and then do so and so.”

A plan was arranged quite secretly.

Next day Zhang Xiu went into Cao Cao’s tent, saying, “Since the surrendered troops are deserting in great number, it would be well to camp them in the center of your camp to prevent this.”

Cao Cao gave the permission, and Zhang Xiu moved and placed his army in four camps.

But Dian Wei, the especial guard of Cao Cao’s tent, was a man to be feared, being both brave and powerful. It was hard to know how to attack him. So counsel was taken with Hu Juer, the commander of one camp and a man of enormous strength and activity. He could carry a burden of six hundred pounds and two hundred miles in a day. Hu Juer proposed a plan.

He said, “The fearsome thing about Dian Wei is his double halberds. But get him to come to a party and make him quite drunk before you send him back. I will mingle among his escort and so get into his tent and steal away his weapons. One needs not fear him then.”

So the necessary arms were prepared and orders given in the various camps. This done Zhang Xiu gave a banquet, and the intended victim was invited and plied vigorously with wine so that he was quite intoxicated when he left. And, as arranged, Hu Juer mingled with his escort and made away with his weapons.

That night, when Cao Cao was at supper with Lady Zhou, he heard the voices of men and neighing of horses and sent out to ask what it meant. They told him it was the night patrol going the rounds, and he was satisfied.

Near the second watch of the night again was heard some noise in the rear of his tent, and one of the fodder carts was reported to be burning.

“One of the soldiers has dropped a spark; there is nothing to be alarmed at,” said Cao Cao.

But very soon the fire spread on all sides and became alarming. Cao Cao called Dian Wei. But he, usually so alert, was lying down quite intoxicated.

However, the beating of gongs and rolling of drums mingling with his dreams awoke Dian Wei, and he jumped up. His trusty halberds had disappeared. The enemy was near. He hastily snatched up an infantryman’s sword and rushed out. At the gate he saw a crowd of spearmen just bursting in. Dian Wei rushed at them slashing all around him, and twenty or more fell beneath his blows. The others drew back. But the spears stood around him like reeds on the river bank. Being totally without mail, he was soon wounded in several places. He fought desperately till his sword snapped and was no longer of any use. Throwing it aside he seized a couple of soldiers and with their bodies as weapons felled ten of his opponents. The others dared not approach, but they shot arrows at him. These fell thick as rain, but he still maintained the gate against the assailants.

However, the mutineers got in by the rear of the camp, and they wounded Dian Wei in the back with spear thrusts. Uttering a loud cry he fell. The blood gushed from the wound in torrents, and he died. Even after he was dead not a man dared to come in by the main gate.

Cao Cao, relying on Dian Wei to hold the main gate, had fled in haste by the rear gate. Cao Amin accompanied him on foot. Then Cao Cao was wounded by an arrow in the arm, and three arrows struck his horse. However, fortunately, the horse was a fine Dawan beast full of spirit and, in spite of its wounds, it bore its master swiftly and well as far as the bank of River Yu.

Here some of the pursuers came up, and Cao Amin was hacked to pieces. Cao Cao dashed into the river and reached the further side, but there an arrow struck his steed in the eye and it fell. Cao Cao’s eldest son, Cao Ang, dismounted and yielded his horse to his father, who galloped on. Cao Ang was killed by arrows, but Cao Cao himself got away. Soon after he met several of his officers who had rallied a few troops.

The soldiers of Qingzhou under Xiahou Dun seized the occasion to plunder the people. Yu Jin took his army, fell upon them, and slew many. Thus he protected and appeased the people. The plunderers, meeting Cao Cao on the road, knelt down howling and said Yu Jin had mutinied and attacked them. Cao Cao was surprised, and he gave order to Xiahou Dun, Xu Chu, Li Dian, and Yue Jing to attack Yu Jin.

Now when Yu Jin saw his master and a great company approaching, he at once stopped the attack and set his troops to make a camp.

An officer asked him, “The Qingzhou soldiers say you have turned traitor. Why do you not explain now that the Prime Minister has arrived? Why first make a camp?”

Yu Jin replied, “Our enemies are coming up in our rear and are very close. It is necessary to prepare for defense or we shall not withstand them. Explanation is a small matter, but defense is very important.”

Soon after the camp was finished, Zhang Xiu fell upon them. Yu Jin himself rode out to face them. Zhang Xiu drew back. The other generals of Yu Jin, seeing he advance thus boldly, also attacked, and Zhang Xiu was overcome. They pursued him a great distance until his force was almost annihilated. With the miserable remnant he finally fled to Liu Biao.

Cao Cao’s army reformed, and the commanders mustered. Then Yu Jin went to see his master and told him of the conduct of the Qingzhou soldiers and their looting and why he had attacked them.

“Why did you not tell me before you made the camp?”

Yu Jin related what had occurred.

Said Cao Cao, “When the first thought of a leader in the time of greatest stress is to maintain order and to strengthen his defenses, giving no thought to slander but shouldering his burdens bravely, and when he thereby turns a defeat into a victory, who, even of the ancient leaders, can excel Yu Jin?”

Cao Cao rewarded Yu Jin with a golden armor and the lordship of Yishou. But Cao Cao reprimanded Xiahou Dun for the lack of discipline among his soldiers.

Sacrifices in honor of the dead warrior Dian Wei were instituted. Cao Cao himself led the wailing and paid due honors.

Turning to his officers he said, “I have lost my first born son, but I grieve not so heavily for him as for Dian Wei. I weep for him!”

All were sad at the loss of this general. Then orders were issued to return to the capital.

When Imperial Legate Wang Ze, bearing the imperial decree, reached Xuzhou, he was met by Lu Bu, who conducted him into the residence where the decree was read. It conferred Lu Bu the title General Who Pacifies the East, and a special seal accompanied the mandate. The private mediating letter was also handed over and the messenger detailed the high appreciation in which Lu Bu was held by the Chief Minister of State. Lu Bu was greatly pleased.

Next came news that a messenger from Yuan Shu had arrived.

When he had been introduced, he said, “My master’s project of declaring himself emperor is advancing. He has already built a Palace and will speedily choose Empress and concubines and would come to the South of River Huai. He is looking forward to receiving the fiancee of the Heir Apparent.”

“Has the rebel gone so far?” cried Lu Bu in a rage.

He put the messenger to death and Han Yin into the cage. He drafted a memorial of thanks and sent it to the capital, at the same time sending, too, Han Yin, the unfortunate agent who had arranged the marriage alliance. He also replied to Cao Cao’s private meditating letter asking to be confirmed in his protectorship of Xuzhou. The letter was sent by the hand of Chen Deng.

Cao Cao was pleased to hear of the rupture of the marriage arrangement between the houses of Yuans and Lus, and forthwith put Han Yin to death in the market place.

However, Chen Deng secretly told Cao Cao, saying, “Lu Bu is cruel, stupid, and facile. The longer he remains, the worse.”

“I know Lu Bu quite well,” replied Cao Cao. “He is a wolf with a savage heart, and it will be hard to feed him for long. If it had not been for you and your father, I should not have known all the circumstances and you must help me to get rid of him.”

“Anything the Prime Minister wishes to do shall have my assistance,” was the reply.

As a reward Cao Cao obtained an annually grant of two thousand carts of grain for Chen Gui and the governorship of Guangling for Chen Deng, who then took his leave.

As he was saying farewell, Cao Cao took him by the hand, saying, “I shall depend upon you in the eastern affairs.”

Chen Deng nodded acquiescence. Then he returned to Lu Bu, who asked him how the visit was.

Chen Deng told him, “My father received a generous annuity, and I was made Governor of Guangling.”

Lu Bu enraged, saying, “You did not ask Xuzhou for me, but you got something for yourself. Your father advised me to help Cao Cao by breaking off the marriage, and now I get nothing at all of what I asked, while you and your father get everything. I have been victimized by your father.”

He threatened Chen Deng with his sword.

Chen Deng only laughed, saying, “O General, how unwary you are!”

“I, unwary?”

“When I saw Cao Cao, I said that to keep you going was like feeding a tiger. The tiger must be kept fully fed or he would eat humans. But Cao Cao laughed and replied, ‘No, not that. One must treat the Commander like a falcon. Not feed it till the foxes and hares are done. Hungry, the bird is of use; full fed it flies away.’ I asked who were the quarry. He replied, ‘Yuan Shu of the South of River Huai, Sun Ce of the South Land, Yuan Shao of Jizhou, Liu Biao of Jingzhou, Liu Zhang of Yizhou, and Zhang Lu of Hanzhong; these are the foxes and hares.’”

Lu Bu threw aside his sword and laughed, saying, “Yes, he understands me!”

But just about that time came news of the advance of Yuan Shu on Xuzhou, and that frightened Lu Bu.

When discord rose between Qin and Jin,

They were attacked by Yue and Wu,

And when a promised bride never came,

An army marched to enforce the claim.

How all this fell out will be shown in the next chapter.

Chapter 17

Yuan Shu Marches Out Seven Armies; Cao Cao And Three Generals Join Forces.

The south of River Huai was very fruitful, and Yuan Shu, as governor of such a large territory, was very influential. He was not a little puffed up. The possession of the Imperial Hereditary Seal, pledged by Sun Ce, added to his pride. And he seriously thought of assuming the full style.

As a preliminary he assembled all his officers and addressed them thus: “The Supreme Ancestor, the Founder of Han Dynasty, was only a very minor official, and yet he became ruler of the empire. The dynasty has endured four centuries, and its measure of fortune has run out. It no longer possesses authority; the cauldron is on the point of boiling over. My family has held the highest offices of state for four generations and is universally respected. Wherefore I wish, in response to the will of Heaven and the desire of the people, to assume the Imperial Dignity. What think ye of the proposal, my officers?”

Secretary Yan Xiang rose in opposition at once, saying, “You may not do this. King Wen, the Ancestor of the Zhou, was of distinguished virtue and held many offices. Till the last years of Shang Dynasty, he had two thirds of the empire. Still he served and was loyal to the ruling house. Your house is honorable, but it is not so glorious as that of Zhou. The Hans may be reduced, but they are not so abominably cruel as those of the Shang Dynasty that they are to be overthrown. Indeed this should not be done.”

Yuan Shu did not hear this with pleasure.

Said he, “We Yuans came from the Chen family, the same ancestry with King Shun. By the rule of interpreting the signs of fate, the day has come when earth (Chen) receives fire (Liu). Beside there is an oracle saying, ‘One who replaces the Hans must wade through deep mire.’ My name means ‘the high road.’ It fits exactly. Further than this, I possess the Imperial Hereditary Seal and must become lord of all, or I turn from Heaven’s own way. Finally, I have made up my mind, so if anyone says too much, that person will simply suffer death.”

Yuan Shu arrogated himself the insignia of royalty and assigned Second Glory the reign title. He set up officials with titles only given by an emperor, and rode in a chariot decorated with the dragon and phoenix, and offered sacrifices after the manner of an emperor in the north and south suburbs. Also he appointed the daughter of Feng Fang his Empress and his son Heir Apparent, and he pressed for the early wedding of Lu Bu’s daughter with his son so that the Palace entourage might be complete.

But when Yuan Shu heard of the fate of his marriage ambassador, Han Yin, who was sent to the capital and was executed, Yuan Shu was very angry and began at once to plan for revenge. He made Zhang Xun his Grand Commander and gave Zhang Xun the command of more than two hundred thousand soldiers with the instruction to invade Xuzhou. The army consisted of seven divisions under seven commanders: Zhang Xun led the Center Army; Qiao Rui, the First Left Army; Lei Bo, the Second Left Army; Han Xian, the Third Left Army; Chen Ji, First Right Army; Chen Lan, Second Right Army; and Yang Feng, the Third Right Army. Each commander was instructed to make a certain town his objective.

The Imperial Protector of Yangzhou, Jin Shang, was ordered to superintend the commissariat, but he declined the office. And so Yuan Shu put Jin Shang to death. Ji Ling was in command of the reserves to help wherever he was required. Yuan Shu led thirty thousand troops, and he appointed three generals, Li Deng, Liang Gang, and Yue Jiu, to go up and down and coordinate the grand march.

Lu Bu found out from his scouts that his own Xuzhou City was the objective of Zhang Xun; the other towns to be first attacked being Xiaopei, Yidu, Langye, Jieshi, Xiapi, and Junshan. The invading armies were marching twenty miles a day, and plundering the countryside as they advanced.

Lu Bu summoned his advisers to a council to which came Chen Gong, Chen Deng, and Chen Gui.

When all had assembled, Chen Gong said, “This misfortune that has come to us is due to the two Chens, who fawned upon the central government in order to obtain ranks and appointments. Now remove the evil by putting these two to death and sending their heads to Yuan Shu. Then he will retire and leave us in peace.”

Lu Bu acquiesced and had the two arrested.

But the son, Chen Deng, only laughed, saying, “What is this anxiety about? These seven armies are no more to me than so many heaps of rotting straw. They are not worth thinking about.”

“If you can show us how to overcome them, I will spare your life,” said Lu Bu.

“General, if you will listen to poor me, the region will be perfectly safe.”

“Let us hear what you have to say.”

“Yuan Shu’s troops are numerous but they are only a flock of crows; they are not an army under a leader. There is no mutual confidence. I can keep them at bay with the ordinary guards of the place and could overcome them by some unsuspected stratagem. If I should fail, I have another plan by which I can not only protect the region but capture our enemy.”

“Let us have it.”

Chen Deng said, “Han Xian and Yang Feng, two of the leaders of our enemies, are old servants of the Han Dynasty who fled from fear of Cao Cao and, being homeless, sought refuge with Yuan Shu. He despises them, and they are dissatisfied with his service. A little letter from the court will secure their help as our allies, and with Liu Bei to help us on the outside, we can certainly overcome Yuan Shu.”

“You shall take the letters yourself,” said Lu Bu.

Chen Deng agreed, and a memorial detailing his intentions was sent to the capital, letters to Yuzhou to Liu Bei, and finally Chen Deng was sent, with a small escort, to wait for Han Xian on the road to Xiapi.

When Han Xian’s army had halted and pitched camp, Chen Deng went to see Han Xian who said, “What are you here for? You belong to Lu Bu.”

“I am an official of the court of the great Hans. Why do you call me a Lu Bu’s man? If you, General, hitherto a minister of state, now serve a traitor, you will nullify the grand services you rendered in protecting the Emperor in the flight from Changan. Beside, the suspicious Yuan Shu will assuredly do you some harm, and you will regret not having taken this opportunity to work against him.”

Han Xian sighed, saying, “I would return to my allegiance if there should be any opportunity.”

Thereupon Chen Deng gave him Lu Bu’s letter asking for cooperation.

Han Xian read it and said, “Yes, I know. You may return to your master and say General Yang Feng and I will turn our weapons and smite Yuan Shu. Look out for a signal flare, and let your master come to our aid.”

As soon as Chen Deng had got back and reported his success, Lu Bu divided his troops into five divisions, each of ten thousand, and sent them to five threatened towns to meet his enemies. Gao Shun led one army to Xiaopei against Qiao Rui; Chen Gong to Yidu against Chen Ji; Zhang Liao and Zang Ba to Langye against Lei Bo; Song Xian and Wei Xu to Jieshi against Chen Lan. Lu Bu himself led against the main body under Zhang Xun, leaving a small guard in Xuzhou City.

Lu Bu camped ten miles from the walls. When the enemy came up, Zhang Xun thought Lu Bu too strong to attack with the force he had, so he retired seven miles to await reinforcements.

That night, in the second watch, Han Xian and Yang Feng arrived, and soon the flare was lighted as arranged. Lu Bu’s troops were admitted to the camp and caused great confusion. Then Lu Bu gave a full attack, and Zhang Xun was routed and fled. Lu Bu pursued till daylight, when he fell in with one of the other bodies led by Ji Ling. Both sides faced each other; but at the very beginning of the engagement Yang Feng and Han Xian also attacked, and Ji Ling was forced to fly.

Lu Bu went in pursuit but soon another force came out from the rear of some hills. These looked very imposing. As the ranks opened Lu Bu saw a leader’s guard with flags bearing dragons and phoenixes and representations of the sun and moon, the stars in the four groups of the Great Bear Constellation, the five directions of the Earth, golden gourds, silver axes, yellow halberds, white yaks’ tails, all imperial emblems. And beneath a yellow silken parasol sat Yuan Shu on horseback, clad in silver mail with a sword handle showing at each wrist.

Standing out in front of the array, Yuan Shu railed at his opponent calling him traitor and bastard. Lu Bu said nothing but rode forward ready for battle, and Li Deng, one of Yuan Shu’s leaders, advanced to take the challenge. They met, but at the third bout, Li Deng was wounded in the hand, whereupon his spear fell to the ground, and he fled. Lu Bu waved on the advance, and his men prevailed. The other side fled, leaving much spoil, clothing, mail, and horses.

Yuan Shu’s defeated troops had not gone far when a strong army, led by Guan Yu, appeared barring his way.

“Traitor! Why have they not slain you?” cried Guan Yu.

Whereat Yuan Shu fled in great trepidation, and his army melted into fugitives in all directions. The new army fell upon them with great slaughter. Yuan Shu and the remnant of his army retreated into the below regions of River Huai.

Victory being now secure, Lu Bu, in company with Guan Yu, Yang Feng, and Han Xian returned to Xuzhou, where there were banquets and feasting and rewards for the soldiers and generals of five divisions. These over, Guan Yu took his leave and returned to Yuzhou, while Han Xian was appointed Governor of Yidu, and Yang Feng Governor of Langye.

There had been a question of keeping these two in Xuzhou City, but Chen Gui opposed it, saying, “Let them hold those places in Huashan Mountains, which will be all yours within a year.”

So Han Xian and Yang Feng were sent to these two cities in the meantime to await orders.

“Why not retain them here?” asked Chen Deng secretly of his father. “They would be a basis for our conspiracy against Lu Bu.”

“But if they helped him, on the other hand, we should lengthen the tiger’s claws and teeth,” said Chen Gui.

So Chen Deng could only approve of his father’s precautions.

Yuan Shu returned home burning to avenge his defeat, so he sent to the South Land to ask a loan of troops from Sun Ce.

But Sun Ce said, “On the strength of holding the State Seal, he secretly calls himself emperor and rebels against the Hans. I would rather punish such a renegade than help him.”

So Sun Ce rejected. The letter refusing help added to Yuan Shu’s anger.

“What next from this callow youth?” cried Yuan Shu. “I will smite him before I deal with the others.”

But his adviser, Yang Dajiang, dissuaded him from this course.

Having refused help to his powerful rival, Sun Ce thought it wise to take measures for his own safety. So he stationed an army at Jiangkou. Soon after came a messenger from Cao Cao bearing Sun Ce’s appointment as Governor of Kuaiji with orders to raise an army and reduce Yuan Shu.

Sun Ce was inclined to carry out these orders, but he called a council at which Zhang Zhao opposed this course.

Said he, “Although recently defeated, Yuan Shu has large army and ample supplies. He is not to be attacked lightly. You had better write to Cao Cao persuading him to attack the South of River Huai and we will be auxiliaries. Between the two armies, Yuan Shu must certainly be defeated. If by the remotest chance we lose, we have Cao Cao to come to our rescue.”

This plan was adopted, and a messenger was sent to lay it before Cao Cao. In the meantime, after the defeat at River Yu, Cao Cao had reached Xuchang where his first thought was to institute sacrifices to his beloved lost leader, Dian Wei. He conferred rank upon his son Dian Man and took him into his own palace to be cared for.

Presently arrived Sun Ce’s messenger with letters, and next came a report that Yuan Shu, being short of food, had made a raid on Chenliu. Cao Cao thought the moment opportune, so he issued orders for the south expedition, leaving Cao Ren to hold the capital. The army marched, horse and foot, one hundred seventy thousand, with commissariat wagons of food to the number of over a thousand. Messages were sent to summon Sun Ce, Liu Bei, and Lu Bu.

Liu Bei was the first to welcome the grand army at his Yuzhou borders, and he was called in to the Prime Minister’s tent. After the usual salutations, two human heads were produced by Liu Bei.

“Whose are these?” asked Cao Cao in surprise.

“The heads of Han Xian and Yang Feng.”

“Why did this happen?”

“They were sent to control Yidu and Langye, but they allowed their soldiers to plunder the people. Bitter complaints arose, so I invited them to a banquet and my brothers dispatched them when I gave the signal by dropping a cup. Their armies gave in at once. Now I have to apologize for my fault.”

“You have removed an evil, which is a grand service: Why talk of a fault?”

And Cao Cao praised Liu Bei’s action.

When the joint army reached Lu Bu’s Xuzhou borders, he came to meet it. Cao Cao spoke graciously to him and conferred upon him the title of General of the Left Army, promising him an official seal as soon as he returned to the capital. Lu Bu was very pleased.

Then the three armies were made into one force, Cao Cao being in the center, Lu Bu to the left wing, and Liu Bei to the right wing. Xiahou Dun and Yu Jin were Leaders of the Van.

On Yuan Shu’s side, General Qiao Rui with fifty thousand troops was appointed Van Leader. The armies met on the confines of the city of Shouchun. Qiao Rui and Xiahou Dun rode out and opened battle. But Qiao Rui fell in the third bout, and his troops fled into the city.

Then came news that Sun Ce’s fleet was near and would attack on the west. The other three land corps took each one face —-Cao Cao on the north, Lu Bu on the east, and Liu Bei on the south. The city of Shouchun was in a parlous state.

At this juncture Yuan Shu summoned his officers.

Yang Dajiang explained the case, “Shouchun has suffered from drought for several years, and the people are on the verge of famine. Sending an army would add to the distress and anger the people, and victory would be uncertain. I advise not to send any more soldiers there, but to hold on till the besiegers are conquered by lack of supplies. Meanwhile, Your Highness, with regiment of guards, will move over to the other side of River Huai, which is quite ready, and we shall also escape the enemy’s ferocity.”

So due arrangements was made. One hundred thousand troops under Li Deng, Yue Jiu, Liang Gang, and Chen Ji were appointed to guard Shouchun. Then a general move was made to the other side of the River Huai. Not only the remained army went over, but all the accumulated wealth of the Yuan family, gold and silver, jewels and precious stones, were moved also.

Cao Cao’s army of one hundred seventy thousand needed daily a considerable quantity of food; and as the country around had been famine-stricken for several years, nothing could be got there. So he tried to hasten the military operations and capture the city. On the other hand, the defenders knew the value of delay and simply held on. After a month’s vigorous siege, the fall of Shouchun seemed as far off as it was at first, and supplies were very short. Letters were sent to Sun Ce who sent a hundred thousand carts of grain. When the usual distribution became impossible, the Chief of the Commissariat, Ren Jun, and the Controller of the Granaries, Wang Hou, presented a statement asking what was to be done.

“Serve out with a smaller measure,” said Cao Cao. “That will save us for a time.”

“But if the soldiers murmur, what then?”

“I shall have another device.”

As ordered the controller issued grain in a short measure. Cao Cao sent secretly to find out how the army took this; and when he found that complaints were general and the soldiers were saying that the Prime Minister was fooling them, he sent a secret summons to the controller.

When Wang Hou came, Cao Cao said, “I want to ask you to lend me something to pacify the soldiers with. You must not refuse.”

“What does the Prime Minister wish?”

“I want the loan of your head to expose to the soldiery.”

“But I have done nothing wrong!” exclaimed the unhappy man.

“I know that, but if I do not put you to death, there will be a mutiny. After you are gone, your wife and children shall be my care. So you need not grieve on their account.”

Wang Hou was about to remonstrate further, but Cao Cao gave a signal. The executioners hustled Wang Hou out, and he was beheaded. His head was exposed on a tall pole, and a notice said:

“In accordance with military law, Wang Hou had been put to death for peculation and the use of a short measure in issuing grain.”

This appeased the discontent. Next followed a general order threatening death to all commanders if the city was not taken within three days. Cao Cao in person went up to the very walls to superintend the work of filling up the moat. The defenders kept up constant showers of stones and arrows. Two inferior officers, who left their stations in fear, were slain by Cao Cao himself. Thereafter he went on foot to work with his soldiers and to see that work went on continuously and no one dared be a laggard. Thus encouraged, the army became invincible, and no defense could withstand their onslaught. In a very short time the walls were scaled, the gates battered in, and the besiegers were in possession. The officers of the garrison —-Li Deng, Yue Jiu, Liang Gang, and Chen Ji —-were captured alive and were executed in the market place. All the paraphernalia of imperial state were burned, and the whole city wrecked.

When the question of crossing the river in pursuit of Yuan Shu came up, Xun Yu opposed it, saying, “The country has suffered from short crops for years, and we should be unable to get grain. An advance would weary the army, harm the people, and possibly end in disaster. I advise a return to the capital to wait there till the spring wheat shall have been harvested and we have plenty of food.”

Cao Cao hesitated.

Before he had made up his mind, there came an urgent message: “Zhang Xiu, with the support of Liu Biao, was ravaging the country all round. There were rebellions in Nanyang and Jiangling, and Cao Hong could not cope with it. Cao Hong had been worsted already in several engagements and was in sore straits.”

Cao Cao at once wrote to Sun Ce to command the Great River so as to prevent any move on the part of Liu Biao, while he prepared his army to go to deal with Zhang Xiu. Before marching Cao Cao directed Liu Bei to station at Xiaopei, as he and Lu Bu being as brothers might help each other.

When Lu Bu had left for Xuzhou, Cao Cao said secretly to Liu Bei, “I am leaving you at Xiaopei to dig a ‘pitfall for the tiger.’ You will only take advice from Chen Deng and Chen Gui, and there can be no mishap. You will find so-and-so your ally when needed.”

So Cao Cao marched to Xuchang where he heard that Duan Wei had slain Li Jue and Wu Xi killed Guo Si, and they presented the heads of these two. Beside the whole clan of Li Jue, more than two hundred, had been arrested and brought to the capital. They were all put to death at various gates and their heads exposed as warning. The people cheered the end of those two rebels.

In the Emperor’s palace a large number of officials were assembled at a peace banquet. The Emperor rewarded the two successful leaders, Duan Wei with the title of General Who Destroys Rebellion and Wu Xi General Who Wrecks Villainy, and sent to guard Changan. They came to audience to express their gratitude and marched away.

Then Cao Cao sent in a memorial that Zhang Xiu was in rebellion, and an army must be sent against him. The Emperor in person arranged the chariot and escorted Cao Cao out of the city when he went to take command of the expedition. It was the summer, the fourth month of the third year of Rebuilt Tranquillity (AD 198). Xun Yu was in chief military command in Xuchang.

The army marched away. In the course of the march they passed through a wheat region, and the grain was ready for harvesting but the peasants had fled for fear, and the corn was uncut. Cao Cao sent proclamations to all villages and towns:

“I am sent on the expedition by command of the Emperor to capture a rebel and save the people. I cannot avoid moving in the harvest season; but if anyone trample down the corn, he shall be put to death. Military law is strict without exception, and the people need fear no damage.”

The people were very pleased and lined the road, wishing success to the expedition. When the soldiers passed wheat fields, they dismounted and pushed aside the stalks so that none were trampled down.

One day, when Cao Cao was riding through the fields, a dove suddenly got up, startling the horse so that it swerved into the standing grain, and a large patch was trampled down. Cao Cao at once called the Provost Marshal and bade him decree the sentence for the crime of trampling down corn.

“How can I deal with your crime?” asked the Provost Marshal.

“I made the rule, and I have broken it. Can I otherwise satisfy public opinion?”

Cao Cao laid hold of the sword by his side and made to take his own life. All hastened to prevent him.

Guo Jia said, “In ancient days, the days of the Spring and Autumn history, the laws were not applied to those of the most important. You are the supreme leader of a mighty army and must not wound yourself.”

Cao Cao pondered for a long time. At last he said, “Since there exists the reason just quoted, I may perhaps escape the death penalty.”

Then with his sword he cut off his hair and threw it on the ground, saying, “I cut off the hair as touching the head.”

Then he sent messengers to exhibit the hair throughout the whole army, saying, “The Prime Minister, having trodden down some corn, ought to have lost his head by the terms of the order; now here is his hair cut off as an attack on the head.”

This deed was a stimulus to discipline all through the army so that not a person dared be disobedient. A poet wrote:

A myriad soldiers march along and all are brave and bold,

And their myriad inclinations by one leader are controlled.

That crafty leader shore his locks when forfeit was his head,

O full of guile were thou, Cao Cao, as everyone has said.

On the first news of the approach of Cao Cao with an army, Zhang Xiu wrote to Liu Biao for help. Then Zhang Xiu led out his troops, with his two generals, Lei Xu and Zhang Xian.

When the array was complete Zhang Xiu took his station in front and pointing at Cao Cao railed at him, saying, “O false and pretended supporter of benevolence and justice! O shameless one! You are just a beast of the forest, and absolutely devoid of humanity.”

This annoyed Cao Cao who sent out Xu Chu against the insulter. Zhang Xian came to meet him and fell in the third bout. Thence Zhang Xiu’s troops fled and were pursued to the very walls of Nanyang, only managing to get within just before the pursuit came up. The city was then closely besieged.

Seeing the moat was so wide and deep that approach to the wall would be difficult, Cao Cao’s commanders began to fill up the ditch with earth. Then with sand bags, brushwood, and bundles of grass they built a great mound near the wall and on this erected steps so that they could look over into the city.

Cao Cao rode round the city closely inspecting the defenses. Three days later he issued an order to make a mound of earth and brushwood at the northwest corner, as he would mount the walls at that point. He was observed from within the city by Jia Xu.

Jia Xu went to Zhang Xiu and said, “I know what Cao Cao intends, and I can defeat him by a countermove.”

Even amongst the very foremost

There is one who leads the way;

Someone sees through your devices,

Be as crafty as ye may.

What the counter-move was will be told in the next chapter.

Chapter 18

Giving Counsels, Jia Xu Directs A Great Victory; Braving Battlefield, Xiahou Dun Loses An Eye.

Jia Xu, as he had guessed the enemy’s intention, had also devised a countermove. So he went to his chief and said, “I saw Cao Cao very carefully reconnoitering round about the city. He certainly noticed that the southeast corner of the wall had been lately restored with mud bricks of a different kind, and that the fencing barrier is badly out of repair. He will try to effect an entrance there. Wherefore he is making a feint attack at the opposite point. He is piling up straw and making ostentatious preparations whereby to cajole us into withdrawing from the real point of attack to defend the northwest. His troops will scale the walls in the darkness and try to enter at the southeast.”

“Supposing your surmise correct, what do you advise?” asked Zhang Xiu.

“The countermove is plain. You issue an order for our best and bravest soldiers to fill their bellies, to take only the lightest outfit and conceal themselves in the houses near the southeast corner. Then disguise the townspeople as soldiers and send them to pretend to defend the northwest. Tonight we will let the enemy climb up the walls and enter the city and, once they are fairly within, give the signal and the concealed soldiers will rush out upon them. We may even capture Cao Cao himself.”

The stratagem was decided upon.

Soon the scouts told Cao Cao: “The defenders of the city have moved to the northwest where noisy preparations for defense are going on. The opposite corner is left undefended.”

“They have fallen into my trap!” said Cao Cao gleefully.

He ordered his troops to prepare shovels and hooks and all the gear needed for scaling walls, and all day they kept up the attack on the northwest angle.

But at the second watch they dispatched the veterans to the opposite corner, where they climbed the wall, broke up the fencing barrier, and got into the city apparently without disturbing any of the guards. There was no sign of life anywhere as they entered. But just as they were leaving the wall, suddenly a bomb exploded and they found themselves in an ambush. They turned to retire, but Zhang Xiu immediately fell on the rear and began a slaughter. Cao Cao’s troops were totally defeated and fled out of the gate into the country. Zhang Xiu kept up the pursuit till daybreak, when he retired into the city again.

Cao Cao then rallied his army and mustered his soldiers. He had lost fifty thousand and much baggage, while two of his generals, Lu Qian and Yu Jin were wounded.

Cao Cao being thus worsted, Jia Xu advised Zhang Xiu to write off to Liu Biao to cut off Cao Cao’s retreat so that he might be utterly destroyed.

Liu Biao was preparing an army for this purpose, when a scout came to say that Sun Ce had encamped in the river at Hukou.

Kuai Liang said, “This move of Sun Ce in the river is part of Cao Cao’s strategy, and there will be never-ending regret if Cao Cao is allowed to escape. An immediate expedition is necessary.”

Wherefore Liu Biao moved out with his army to Anzhong to block Cao Cao, leaving Huang Zu to hold Jingzhou’s points of vantage. Zhang Xiu, having been informed of the movement of Liu Biao, went with Jia Xu to smite Cao Cao on the rear.

In the meantime Cao Cao’s army, marching very leisurely, had arrived at Xiangyang.

Walking one day beside River Yu, he suddenly uttered a great cry, and when his officers asked the reason thereof, he replied, “I remembered that here, only a year ago, I lost my great general: Dian Wei. Is that not a reason to grieve?”

Thereupon Cao Cao gave orders to halt, while he should make a great sacrifice and mourn for his lost leader. At the ceremony he himself burned incense and wailed and prostrated himself. The army was much affected by his devotion. After the sacrifices to the lost hero, he sacrificed to the names of his nephew Cao Amin and his eldest son Cao Ang, both of whom had died at the same time. He also sacrificed to his lost soldiers and even to his Dawan steed which had been killed by an arrow.

Next day Xun Yu wrote to tell Cao Cao that Liu Biao had gone to help Zhang Xiu and was camped at Anzhong, thereby cutting his road of retreat.

Cao Cao replied to the letter, saying, “I have been marching only a short distance each day and of course knew of the pursuit. But my plans are laid and, as I am near Anzhong, my enemy will be broken. You need not have any fears.”

Then Cao Cao hastened his march till he came near where Liu Biao had taken position. Zhang Xiu still shortened the distance. Cao Cao ordered his men during the night to open a secret way through a pass, where he laid an ambush.

With the first light of dawn Liu Biao and Zhang Xiu met. As Cao Cao’s force looked small, they thought he had retired so they boldly advanced into the pass to smite him. Then the ambush was opened, and both the attackers’ forces were cut up. The fighting ended; Cao Cao’s soldiers went outside the pass and encamped.

The two leaders on the other side restored order among their beaten troops and then held a conference.

“How could we have foreseen such a wicked ruse?” said Liu Biao.

“Let us try again,” said Zhang Xiu.

Wherefore they joined forces at Anzhong.

But Xun Yu discovered through his spies that Yuan Shao was preparing an attack on Capital Xuchang, so he at once wrote to Cao Cao who, much disturbed by this news, set out homeward right away. When Zhang Xiu heard this through his scouts, he wished to follow the retreating army.

Jia Xu opposed it and said, “It will lead to a defeat.”

However, Liu Biao said, “It is wrong to lose such a chance.”

And so finally pursuit was decided upon. They had not marched more than four miles before they came upon Cao Cao’s rearguard, who fought with great vigor and bravery so that the pursuers were beaten off and went home discomfited.

Zhang Xiu said to Jia Xu, “This defeat comes from my not following your advice.”

“Now set your army in order and pursue,” said Jia Xu.

“But we have just suffered defeat!” cried both leaders. “Do you now counsel pursuit?”

“Yes, and the result will be a great victory if you go now. I will venture my head on that,” said Jia Xu.

Zhang Xiu had confidence, but Liu Biao was afraid and would not accompany him. So one army only started in pursuit.

However, this was enough. Cao Cao’s rear-guard was thoroughly routed and abandoned their wagons and their baggage in their hasty flight. Zhang Xiu pursued, but suddenly a troop came out from the shelter of some hills and checked him. Fearful to try further, he hastened back to Anzhong.

The other general, Liu Biao, asked the adviser to explain his apparent inconsistency, saying, “When our veteran and brave soldiers were going to pursue those who retreated, you said our men would lose the day; and when defeated men pursued the victors, you foretold victory. You were right in both cases, but we wish you would enlighten us.”

“It is easy to explain. You, Generals, although skilled leaders, are not a match for our enemy. Though Cao Cao had lost a battle, he had able generals to keep the rear and guard against pursuit. Our soldiers are good, but not a match for them. That is how I knew. For as much as Cao Cao’s hurried retreat was due to trouble in the capital, and he had beaten off our attack, I knew he would retire at his utmost speed and not take his usual precautions. I ventured to take advantage of his laxity.”

Liu Biao and Zhang Xiu could not but affirm his complete understanding of the conditions. On the advice of Jia Xu then Liu Biao returned to Jingzhou, while Zhang Xiu took up his position at Xiangyang so that each strengthened the other as the lips protect the teeth from cold.

When Cao Cao, during his retreat, heard that his army was being pursued, he hastily turned back to support the rearguard. Then he saw the pursuing army draw off.

The soldiers of the beaten rearguard said, “Had it not been for the troops that came out of the hills, we should all have been lost.”

“What troops?” asked Cao Cao in surprise.

The leader of the troops then advanced, slung his spear and, dismounting, made a low obeisance. He was Li Tong, Imperial Commander, from Jiangxia.

Cao Cao asked him why he had come.

Li Tong replied, “I was in command at Runan when I heard of the struggle going on, so I came to lend you any help I could.”

To show his gratitude, Cao Cao conferred upon Li Tong the title Lord Who Renders High Services, and confirmed him in his command as the defense of Runan against Liu Biao and Zhang Xiu. Then Li Tong expressed his thanks and took his leave.

On his return to the capital, Cao Cao presented a memorial on the good services rendered by Sun Ce, and the Emperor made him Lord of Wu with the title General Who Destroys Rebels. The messenger bearing the decree bore also the order to repress Liu Biao.

Cao Cao went to his palace and there received the ceremonial calls of congratulation. These finished, Xun Yu asked, saying, “You, Sir, marched very leisurely to Anzhong: How came it that you felt certain of victory?”

Cao Cao replied, “My soldiers, who retire and find their retreat cut off, fight vigorously and desperately. I retired slowly to entice the enemy into following whereby I could do as I wished with them. Basing my movements on these considerations I felt secure.”

Xun Yu bowed his head in admiration.

When Guo Jia entered, Cao Cao said, “Why so late, Sir?”

The visitor drew a letter from his sleeve, saying to his master, “Yuan Shao sends this expressing he desires to send an army to attack Gongsun Zan and wishes you to lend provisions and troops.”

“I heard Yuan Shao was going to attack Xuchang. I suppose my return has made him change his intention,” said Cao Cao.

Then he opened the letter and read it. It was couched in very arrogant terms.

“Yuan Shao is so exceedingly rude that I will attack him,” said Cao Cao. “Only I think I am not quite strong enough. What should be done?”

Guo Jia said, “My lord, you know well who lost, and why, in the conflict between Liu Bang, the Supreme Ancestor, and Xiang Yu, his rival. The former won only by superior wisdom. Xiang Yu was the stronger, but in the end he was overcome. Your rival has ten weak points whereas you have ten strong ones, and, though his army is large, it is not terrible.”

Then Guo Jia continued, “Yuan Shao is overmuch devoted to ceremony and deportment; while you are sympathetic and natural; this is an excellence in conduct. He is antagonistic and drives; you are conciliatory and lead; so you have the advantage of popular approval. For many years the government has been lax, and he makes it more so; you strive vigorously after efficiency; this is the excellence of able administration. He is outwardly liberal but grudging at heart, and too given to nepotism; you appear exacting, but you understand and use people after their ability; this is the advantage of correct appreciation. He is a visionary but lacking in decision; you are a man of prompt decision and direct action; this is an advantage in policy. He loves to gather about him people of renown; you treat people as you find them regardless of their reputation; this is where you excel in moral virtue. He is compassionate to those at hand, but careless about those out of sight; your care is all-embracing; this is where you excel in humanity. He lends a ready ear to calumny and is misled; you may be flooded with evil counsel, but you preserve independence; this is where you excel in perspicacity. His sense of right and wrong is confused; your appreciation is accurate and clear; this is where you excel in administrative capacity. He loves the make-believe force, but is ignorant of military essentials; you would overcome with far inferior numbers as you possess military genius; this is where you excel in war. With your ten superiorities, you will have no difficulty in overcoming Yuan Shao.”

“How can I be worth as much as you say?” said Cao Cao, smiling.

“What Guo Jia has said about the ten points in your favor agrees exactly with what I think,” said Xun Yu. “Yuan Shao’s army is not formidable in spite of its size.”

“The real and dangerous enemy is Lu Bu,” said Guo Jia. “When Yuan Shao has gone north to destroy Gongsun Zan, we ought to sweep away Lu Bu and so clear away our danger from that side; for if this is not done, our attack on Yuan Shao will be the signal for an attempt on the capital. That would be most serious.”

Cao Cao saw things in the same light as his advisers and began to discuss plans for an attack on Lu Bu. Xun Yu was of opinion that they should first secure the fidelity and aid of Liu Bei. So letters were written, and they waited his assurance before moving a soldier. Then, in order to reassure Yuan Shao, his emissary was treated with great kindness, and a memorial presented to the Emperor asking extra honors for him. Yuan Shao was made Imperial Protector of the four northern regions —-Jizhou, Qingzhou, Youzhou, and Bingzhou. With all this a private letter was written by Cao Cao urging upon him to attack Gongsun Zan and promising assistance. So Yuan Shao’s army started.

In the meantime the two Chen Deng and Chen Gui were playing their game. At every feast and gathering in Xuzhou, they uttered the most fulsome praises of Lu Bu. Chen Gong was greatly displeased and took an opportunity to talk about them to his master.

“They flatter you to your face, but what is in their hearts? You ought to be most carefully on your guard.”

“Hold your tongue!” was the angry reply. “You are simply slandering them without the slightest excuse. You want to harm good people.”

“No ears for loyal words,” said Chen Gong, as he went away sad at heart, “and we shall suffer.”

He thought seriously of abandoning Lu Bu, but that would be too painful a wrench. Beside he feared people would laugh at him.

So the days passed sorrowfully for him. One day, with a few horsemen, he rode out to the country near Xiaopei to hunt. On the high road he saw a messenger galloping along in hot haste and began to wonder what it might mean. He left the hunt, rode across country, and intercepted the rider.

“Where are you from? Who sent you?” asked Chen Gong.

The messenger made no reply for he knew to what party his captors belonged. But they searched him and found a letter, the secret reply to Cao Cao’s letter from Liu Bei. The messenger and the letter were both taken straight to Lu Bu.

Lu Bu questioned the man, who said, “The Prime Minister sent me to bear a letter to Imperial Protector Liu Bei. I was now taking back the reply. I know nothing more, and I am ignorant of the contents of the letters.”

So Lu Bu tore it open and read:

“I have received your commands concerning the destruction of Lu Bu, and dare I for a moment venture to disregard them? But my force is weak and I must act with extreme circumspection. If you move your main body, then I will hasten forward, and in the meantime my army shall be got ready and weapons prepared. I await your command.”

Lu Bu was really alarmed.

“The wretches!” cried he. “To dare to act thus!”

The unhappy messenger was put to death and countermoves planned. Chen Gong and Zang Ba went to enlist the help of the Taishan Mountains bandits —-Sun Guan, Wu Dun, Yin Li, and Chang Xi —-so that they would take Yanzhou in the East of Huashan Mountains. Gao Shun and Zhang Liao went to attack Liu Bei in Xiaopei. Song Xian and Wei Xu went west to attack Runan and Yingchuan. And Lu Bu took command of a large body of troops ready to afford help wherever needed.

The departure of the army under Gao Shun against Xiaopei was reported to Liu Bei, who assembled his officers at a council.

Sun Qian advised sending a message to the capital to inform Cao Cao of their danger. In response to the chief’s call, Jian Yong, a fellow townsman of Liu Bei, offered to take the message. Up to that moment Jian Yong had served as a secretary. So a letter was written, and Jian Yong set out at once on his journey.

Then preparations were made for defense: Liu Bei commanding at the south gate; Sun Qian at the north gate; Guan Yu at the west gate; and Zhang Fei at the east gate. Mi Zhu and his brother Mi Fang commanded the family guard in the center.

The two Mis were put in command of the house guard because they were Liu Bei’s brothers-in-law; Liu Bei had taken a sister of Mi Zhu as a second wife. Hence they were suitable men to guard the family.

In due course Gao Shun came to the south gate. Liu Bei ascended the tower and said, “I have no quarrel with your master, why do you come here with an army?”

“You have plotted with Cao Cao to injure my master as we know now: Why should I not bind you?”

So saying Gao Shun gave the signal to attack. But Liu Bei did not go out to repulse Gao Shun; he only kept the gate fast closed.

Soon after, Zhang Liao led an attack on the west gate, then kept by Guan Yu, who addressed Zhang Liao from the wall.

“You are too good a man to waste yourself on rebels,” said Guan Yu.

Zhang Liao hung his head and made no reply. Guan Yu knew that Zhang Liao had a sound heart and high principles and said no more, as he was unwilling to wound Zhang Liao. Nor did he go out to attack.

Zhang Liao then drew off and proceeded to the east gate, and Zhang Fei went out to give battle. Soon it was told Guan Yu, who came over quickly. He saw Zhang Fei going out, but Zhang Liao was already withdrawing. Zhang Fei wished to pursue, but his brother held him back.

“He is afraid and so has gone away. It would be best to pursue,” said Zhang Fei.

“No,” said Guan Yu. “As a warrior he is not inferior to either of us, but I have spoken a few straight words, and he has sunk deep. He is repentant and that is why he will not meet us.”

So Zhang Fei understood, and the gates were shut and orders given for careful defense. When Jian Yong, Liu Bei’s messenger, reached the capital, he saw Cao Cao and told him what had happened. The advisers were called to discuss a plan.

Cao Cao said, “I wish to attack Lu Bu. I fear not Yuan Shao, but Liu Biao and Zhang Xiu may attack me in the rear.”

Xun You, the nephew of Xun Yu, replied, “Both these latter have been too recently defeated to do anything so rash. But Lu Bu is a bold fighting man, and if he joined forces with Yuan Shu and they set themselves to conquer River Huai and River Si, the problem would he difficult.”

Then spoke Guo Jia, “Let us take advantage of the moment before they have fully made up their mind. Smite before they are fully prepared.”

And Cao Cao did so. An army of fifty thousand were sent in advance with four commanders —-Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan, Lu Qian, and Li Dian. Cao Cao commanded the Center Army, which marched by divisions, and Jian Yong brought up the rear.

Soon the scouts informed Gao Shun. He sent flying messengers to Lu Bu, who detached two hundred horse with Hou Cheng, Cao Xing, and He Meng to assist him. Gao Shun posted this reinforcement and his army about ten miles from Xiaopei to meet Cao Cao’s army. Lu Bu and the main army also followed close.

When Liu Bei saw the enemy retiring from the city, he knew Cao Cao’s army was close at hand. So, making arrangements for guarding the city within, he and his two brothers marched their troops out of the city and made a camp, that they might be ready to assist.

Now the division of Cao Cao’s army under Xiahou Dun, having marched out in advance, first came into touch with Gao Shun. Xiahou Dun at once rode out with spear set and offered a challenge. It was accepted and the two leaders fought half a hundred bouts. Then Gao Shun began to weaken and had to turn back. He rode round to the rear of his array. Xiahou Dun was not the man to quail, so he followed right into the enemy’s country. Then Cao Xing, one of Lu Bu’s generals, secretly strung his bow, fitted an arrow and, when Xiahou Dun had come quite near, shot at him. The arrow hit Xiahou Dun full in the left eye. He shrieked, and putting up his head, pulled out the arrow and with it the eye.

“Essence of my father, blood of my mother, I cannot throw this away!” cried Xiahou Dun, and he put the eye into his mouth and swallowed it.

Then resuming his firm grip of his spear, Xiahou Dun went after this new enemy. There was no escape for Cao Xing. He was overtaken and fell with a fatal spear wound full in the face. Both sides were stricken dumb with amazement.

Having thus slain the man who had wounded him, Xiahou Dun rode back toward his own side. Gao Shun went in pursuit and, waving on his army, attacked so vigorously that he won the day. Xiahou Yuan defended for his elder brother as they fled. Lu Qian and Li Dian led various divisions back to Jibei and made a camp.

Gao Shun, having scored this victory, returned to attack Liu Bei; and as Lu Bu opportunely arrived with Zhang Liao, these three arranged their forces so that each attacked one of the brothers.

Dauntless was Xiahou Dun, that warrior bold,

His courage had been proved of old;

But smitten sore one hapless day,

He might not in the battle stay.

The fate of Liu Bei will be told in the next chapter.

Chapter 19

Cao Cao Makes Flood In Xiapi; Lu Bu Perishes At The White Gate Tower.

As was stated before, Gao Shun and Zhang Liao together went to smite Guan Yu, while Lu Bu attacked Zhang Fei. Both brothers went out to give battle, while Liu Bei force was held in reserve. But then Lu Bu suddenly attacked both Guan Yu and Zhang Fei from the rear, and the brothers were forced to flee. Liu Bei with a few score of horsemen rushed back to Xiaopei. As he approached the gate with Lu Bu pressing him close, he shouted to the soldiers on the wall to lower the drawbridge. Lu Bu was so close behind that the archers on the wall feared to shoot lest they should wound their lord, and so Lu Bu got into the gate. The gate guards could not force him back so they scattered in all directions. Lu Bu led his force into the city.

Liu Bei saw the position was too desperate for him to reach his residence, and he must abandon all his family. So he hastened through the city and left by the west gate out at which he and his scanty following fled for very life.

When Lu Bu reached the residence, he was met by Mi Zhu who said, “The hero does not destroy a person’s family. Your rival for the empire is Cao Cao, and my master, always mindful of the good turn you did him at the Archery Feast, would not be ungrateful. But he could not help going to Cao Cao, and I think you will pity him.”

Lu Bu replied, “We two are old friends. How could I bear to harm his wives and children?”

Whereupon he sent the family to Xuzhou with Mi Zhu to take care of them. Next Lu Bu led his army into Huashan Mountains to Yanzhou, leaving Gao Shun and Zhang Liao to guard Xiaopei.

During these troubles Sun Qian had also fled out of the city. Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, each with a handful of soldiers, had got away to the hills. As Liu Bei with his few horsemen was making the best of their way from the scene of his defeat, he heard someone coming up behind him. When he got closer the person proved to be Sun Qian.

“Alas! I know not the fate of my brothers, whether they be alive or dead, and my wife and children are lost to me! What can I do?” said Liu Bei.

Sun Qian replied, “I see nothing better than getting away to Cao Cao, whence we may be able to plan our future moves.”

Liu Bei had no better plan to propose, and the two men directed their way to Xuchang, choosing by-roads rather than highways. When their small supplies ran out, they entered a village to beg. But when the people of any place heard that Liu Bei of Yuzhou was the man who needed help, they vied with each other in offering all that was required.

One day they sought shelter at a house whence a youth came out and made a low obeisance. They asked his name and he gave it as Liu An, of a well known family of hunters. Hearing who the visitor was, the hunter wished to lay before him a dish of game, but though he sought for a long time, nothing could be found for the table. So Liu An came home, killed his wife and prepared a portion for his guest.

While eating Liu Bei asked, “What flesh is it?”

Liu An told him: “Wolf.”

Liu Bei knew no better and ate his fill. Next day at daylight, just as Liu Bei was leaving, he went to the stables in the rear to get his horse and passing through the kitchen; he saw the dead body of a woman lying on the table. The flesh of one arm had been cut away. Quite startled he asked what this meant, and then he knew what he had eaten the night before. He was deeply sorry at this proof of his host’s regard and the tears rained down as he mounted his steed at the gate.

“I wish I could go with you,” said Liu An, “but as my mother still lives, I cannot go so far from home.”

Liu Bei thanked him and went his way. The party took the road by Liangcheng, and as they were going out, they saw not far off a thick cloud of dust. When the troop came nearer, they found the troops were of Cao Cao’s army, and with them they traveled to the main camp where they found Cao Cao himself. Cao Cao shed tears at the sad story of Liu Bei’s distress, the loss of the city, his brothers and wives and children. When Liu Bei told him of the hunter who had sacrificed his wife to feed them, Cao Cao sent the hunter a present of a hundred ounces of silver as a reward.

The march then was continued to Jibei, where Xiahou Yuan welcomed them. They heard that his brother Xiahou Dun was still ill from the wound he had received in the eye. Cao Cao went to the sick man’s bedside to see him and had him removed to Xuchang for skilled treatment.

Presently scouts, sent out particularly for tidings of Lu Bu, returned, saying, “Lu Bu has allied himself with the bandits in the east, and they are attacking Yanzhou.”

At this Cao Cao dispatched Cao Ren with three thousand soldiers to take Xiaopei, while he, in conjunction with Liu Bei, moved against Lu Bu.

They went east. As they reached the Mangdang Hills near Xiao Pass, they met the a band of thirty thousand Taishan Mountains brigands barring their road. The chieftains of the bandits were Sun Guan, Wu Dun, Yin Li, and Chang Xi who rode out with their spears set. However, Xu Chu plunged into the battle and easily beat them back and chased them right up to the pass.

The scouts told Lu Bu, who was then in Xuzhou, whither he had gone to start an expedition to save Xiaopei. He left the protection of Xuzhou to Chen Gui and set out with Chen Deng.

As Chen Deng was starting, Chen Gui said to him, “Remember the words of Cao Cao, that the business of the east is in our hands. Now is our moment, for Lu Bu is about to suffer defeat.”

“Father, I can look after the outside. But when Lu Bu returns beaten, you must arrange with Mi Zhu to keep him out of the city. I shall find a means of escape,” said Chen Deng.

“His family is here, and he has many friends. How about them?”

“I also have a scheme to settle them.”

Then Chen Deng went to see Lu Bu, to whom he said, “Xuzhou is surrounded, and this city will be fiercely attacked. We ought to provide for possible retreat, and I advise storing grain and money in Xiapi. We could retreat there if the day went adversely. Why not see about this in good time?”

“Your words are indeed wise. I will also send my wives and little ones thither,” said Lu Bu.

The family left under escort of Wei Xu and Song Xian, and with them was sent much grain and treasures and coins.

And then the soldiers marched to the relief of the pass. About half way there Chen Deng said, “Let me go first to reconnoiter so that you, my lord, may advance with confidence.”

Thus Chen Deng parted company with his chief and preceded him to the pass where he was received by Chen Gong.

Chen Deng said, “The General greatly wonders why you do not advance. He is going to inquire into it.”

“The enemy is in great force, and we cannot be too careful,” said Chen Gong. “We are holding the pass, and you should persuade our master to take steps to guard Xiaopei.”

Chen Deng said, “Your words are true.”

That evening he went up to the heights from which he could see Cao Cao’s army, which was quite close to the pass. Then he wrote three notes, tied them to arrows, and shot them into Cao Cao’s camp.

Next day he left and hastened back to Lu Bu and said, “Those bandits are about to give up the pass to the enemy, but I have left Chen Gong to hold it. You had better make an attack tonight and hold him.”

“Had it not been for you, the pass would have been lost,” said Lu Bu.

Then he sent Chen Deng back to arrange a fire signal with Chen Gong for simultaneous action.

So Chen Deng returned to Chen Gong to whom he said, “Cao Cao’s troops have found a secret way through the pass, and I fear Xuzhou is already lost. You ought to go back at once.”

At this the pass was abandoned, and Chen Gong began to retreat. Then Chen Deng gave the prearranged signal.

Lu Bu saw the fire and advanced in the darkness to the relief of the pass. Presently he met Chen Gong’s army; and as neither recognized the other in the darkness, a fierce battle ensued. Nor was the trick discovered till daylight came.

While these things were going on, Cao Cao had noted the signal and advanced as fast as possible. The bandits, who alone remained to hold the pass, were easily driven out and scattered in all directions.

When daylight came and the trick was discovered, Lu Bu and Chen Gong set off together for Xuzhou. But when they arrived and summoned the gate, instead of opening the doors, the guards on the wall saluted them with a thick flight of arrows.

At the same time Mi Zhu appeared on the defense tower and shouted, “You stole our master’s city, and now we are going to give it back to him. You will not enter here again!”

“Where is Chen Gui?” cried Lu Bu, angrily.

“We have slain him!” was the reply.

“Where is Chen Deng?” said Lu Bu turning to Chen Gong.

“Do you still hold to your delusion, General, that you ask where this specious rogue is?”

Lu Bu bade them search through all the ranks, but Chen Deng was not to be found. Then they decided to go to Xiaopei. But ere they had got half way there, suddenly appeared the troops under the command of Gao Shun and Zhang Liao.

They said, “Chen Deng came to us saying you, General, was surrounded and wanted help, so we came at once.”

“Another trick of that false rogue!” said Lu Bu. “Surely he shall die for this.”

They went with all speed to Xiaopei, only to see as they drew near, the ensigns of the enemy displayed all along the walls, for the city had been taken by Cao Ren.

While Lu Bu stood at the foot of the rampart reviling the traitor, Chen Deng himself appeared on the wall and pointing to Lu Bu cried, “Did you think that I, a minister of the dynasty, would serve a rebel like you?”

Lu Bu in his wrath was about to make a desperate attack, but suddenly a great noise was heard, and an army came up behind him. It was led by no other than Zhang Fei. Gao Shun went to engage him, but he had no chance of success. Lu Bu then joined in the fray. Then another army appeared, and the leader this time was Cao Cao himself, and his army rushed to the attack. Seeing that he had no hope of victory, Lu Bu went away toward the east, with Cao Cao in pursuit. Lu Bu’s army marched till they were worn out.

Then appeared a new force under Guan Yu. Holding his sword ready to strike, Guan Yu called out, “Do not flee, O Lu Bu! Guan Yu is waiting for you.”

Lu Bu joined battle. He was flurried and scarcely knew what was happening. And soon Zhang Fei came up once more. By desperate efforts Lu Bu and his troops cut an alley through the press and got free. After this they started for Xiapi as fast as they could travel, and Hou Cheng helped to keep the pursuers at bay and welcomed them into the city.

So the two brothers, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, were together again after their separation. Both shed tears of joy as they told each other what they had seen and suffered.

“I was on the Haizhou Road when I heard of you,” said Guan Yu. “I lost no time in starting.”

“And I had been camped in the Mangdang Hills for a long time. It is happiness to be together again.”

So they talked. Then they marched off together to find their elder brother, and made their salutations with tears. In Liu Bei’s heart, sadness and joy intermingled. Next they were presented to Cao Cao, and with him they went into the captured Xuzhou City.

Mi Zhu soon came with the welcome news of the safety of the family. And Chen Gui and Chen Deng came to present their salutations. A grand banquet was prepared for the officers at which Cao Cao presided as host, and Chen Gui and Liu Bei occupied the seats of honor to his right and left. At the close of the banquet, Cao Cao paid the two Chens the highest compliments on their success and rewarded them with the revenues of ten counties beside giving the son the title of General Who Quells the Waves.

Cao Cao was very pleased with his success and at once began to scheme for the taking of Xiapi, the sole place now left to Lu Bu, where he had taken refuge.

Cheng Yu said the course was inadvisable.

“If Lu Bu be pressed too hard, he may get clear by a desperate effort and throw himself into the arms of our especial enemy, Yuan Shu. These two as allies would be difficult to overcome. Rather send a capable man to guard the South of River Huai, one able to secure you against Lu Bu on one hand and to hold Yuan Shu on the other. Moreover the bandits are in Huashan Mountains and still our enemies. They must be watched.”

Cao Cao replied, “I can keep the whole of Huashan Mountains, and I will request Liu Bei to take the south.”

“Could I dare withstand your command?” said Liu Bei.

So forthwith Liu Bei, leaving Mi Zhu and Jian Yong at Xuzhou, went south, taking in his train Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, and Sun Qian. And Cao Cao led his army to Xiapi.

Lu Bu felt very secure in his refuge. He had good store of grain, and he had the protection of River Si, so he sat quiet, satisfied that he could maintain his defense. So he allowed Cao Cao’s army to approach without molestation.

“You ought to attack Cao Cao’s army as they come up, before they have time to make camps and defenses. They will only have a fatigued army to oppose to your fresh troops, and you will certainly defeat them.”

So said Chen Gong, but Lu Bu replied, “I have suffered too many defeats lately to take any risk. Wait till they actually attack, and you will see them floating away on the waters.”

So Lu Bu neglected the confidant’s advice and waited till the enemy had settled into their camp. This done, the attackers advanced against the city. From the foot of the wall, Cao Cao called to Lu Bu to listen while he spoke. Lu Bu ascended to the wall where he stood.

Cao Cao addressed him, saying, “When I heard that your family and that of Yuan Shu were likely to be united by marriage, I sent an army against you. Yuan Shu was guilty of treason, while you had to your credit on the destruction of Dong Zhuo. For what reason have you sacrificed all your merits to throw in your lot with a rebel? It will be over late to regret when this city shall have fallen. But if you surrender and help me to support the ruling house, you shall not lose your rank.”

Lu Bu replied, “If the Prime Minister will retire, we may be able to discuss the matter.”

But Chen Gong, standing near his master, began to rail at Cao Cao for a rebel and shot an arrow that struck his plumed helmet.

“My oath, but I will slay you at least!” cried Cao Cao, pointing his finger at Chen Gong.

Then the attack on the walls began.

“They have come from far and cannot maintain this for long,” said Chen Gong. “General, go out with your horse and foot and take up a position outside, leaving me to maintain the defense with the remainder of our troops. If he engages you, I will come out and strike at his rear ranks; if he attacks the city, you can come to our aid. In ten days their stores will fail, and we can beat them off. This will place them between the ox-horns.”

“The advice seems good,” said Lu Bu.

Lu Bu went back to his palace and prepared his weapons. As it was the depth of winter, he made his army take plenty of wadded clothing to keep them warm. Lady Yan, his wife, heard of it and came to ask whither he was going. He told her of Chen Gong’s plan.

She said, “My lord, you are leaving an undamaged city, abandoning your wife and little ones, and going with a paltry force. Should any untoward event happen, will your handmaid and her lord ever meet again?”

Lu Bu hesitated and for three days made no move.

Then Chen Gong came to see him again and said, “The enemy are all round the city; and unless you go out soon, you will be quite hemmed in.”

“I am thinking it would be better to maintain a stubborn defense,” said Lu Bu.

“Our enemies are short of food and have sent for supplies to Xuchang. These will soon arrive, and you should go out with some veterans and intercept the convoy. That loss would be a heavy blow.”

Lu Bu agreed and went in to tell his wife the new plan.

She wept saying, “If you go, do you think Chen Gong and others equal to the defense of the city? Should anything go wrong, you would be very sorry. You abandoned me at Changan, and it was only through the fortunate kindness of Pang Shu that I was hidden from our enemies and rejoined you. Who would have thought you would leave me again? But go, go your way as far as you wish, and do not mind your wife.”

And she wept bitterly.

Lu Bu very sadly went to take leave of Diao Chan who said, “You are my lord and my life. You must not be careless and ride out alone.”

“You need not fear. With my mighty trident halberd and Red Hare, who dare come near me?”

He went out. But when he met Chen Gong, he said, “That story about supplies for Cao Cao is all false, one of his many ruses. I am not going to stir.”

Chen Gong sighed. He felt all was lost.

“We shall die, and no one shall know our burial place,” said he.

Thereupon Lu Bu remained in his own quarters with his ladies, drinking freely to dissipate his sorrows.

Two of his advisers, Xu Si and Wang Kai, went in and proposed, “Yuan Shu in the South of River Huai is very powerful. Why not write to him to renew the marriage alliance? Yuan Shu can hardly refuse to rescue the affianced bride of his son.”

So Lu Bu wrote and bade these two take the letter.

Xu Si said, “You ought to send a strong escort with us to force a way through.”

So Lu Bu told off one thousand troops and two of his generals, Zhang Liao and He Meng, to conduct his messenger beyond the pass. They started that same night at the second watch, Zhang Liao leading and He Meng bringing up the rear. They got out of the city, crept past Liu Bei’s camp, and got beyond the danger zone. Then half the escort went on, and Zhang Liao led the remainder back toward the city. At the pass he found Guan Yu waiting. However, at that moment Gao Shun came to his help, and they all returned and reentered the gates.

The two messengers presently reached Shouchun, saw Yuan Shu, and presented the letter.

“How is this?” said Yuan Shu. “Formerly he slew my messenger and repudiated the marriage. Now he sends to ask for it.”

“It is all due to the vile plans of that monster Cao Cao. If pray you, Illustrious Sir, consider it carefully,” replied Xu Si.

“But if your master was not hemmed in by his enemy and in imminent danger, he would never have thought of renewing this proposal of marriage.”

The messengers said, “You may decide not to help him, but the teeth are cold when the lips are gone. It will not make for your happiness and comfort.”

Said Yuan Shu, “Lu Bu is unreliable. Tell him that I will send soldiers after the girl has arrived here.”

This was final, and the two messengers took leave and headed back to Xiapi.

When the party reached Liu Bei’s camp, Xu Si decided, “We must wait the night falls, and Wang Kai and I will try to get through in the darkness. The escort of He Meng remaining behind to protect our rear.”

They tried that very night, and the two messengers crept across without discovery. But the escort found themselves faced by Zhang Fei. He Meng tried to fight but was captured in the very first bout, and the five hundred troops of his half company were either killed or they fled.

The prisoner was taken to Liu Bei, who forwarded him to the main camp. There he told the story of the marriage and the scheme to save the city. Cao Cao was angry and ordered the execution of He Meng at the main gate.

Then Cao Cao sent orders to each camp to exercise the greatest diligence with threats of rigorous punishment of the officers of any corps that permitted any communication between the besieged and the outer world.

Every soldier felt mightily afraid.

Liu Bei returned to camp and cautioned his brothers, saying, “We are in the most important place with regard to the South of River Huai, and you must be very careful not to allow any breach of this command.”

Zhang Fei was inclined to grumble, saying, “We have just captured one of the enemy’s leaders, and there is no word of praise or reward for us: Nothing but new orders and threats. What do you make of that?”

“You are wrong to complain,” said Liu Bei. “These are orders of the Commander-in-Chief, and what would happen were there no orders? Do not disobey them, brother.”

They promised obedience and withdrew. In the meantime Xu Si and Wang Kai had got back to Lu Bu and told him what Yuan Shu had said, that if the girl came the soldiers should go.

“But how can she be sent?” said Lu Bu.

Xu Si said, “That is the difficulty. He Meng’s capture means that Cao Cao knows the whole plan of getting help from the South of River Huai. I do not see how anyone but you yourself could hope to get through the close siege.”

“Suppose we tried, today?” said Lu Bu.

“This is an ill-omened day. You must not try today. Tomorrow is a very lucky day, especially in the evening, for any military action.”

Then Lu Bu ordered Zhang Liao and Gao Shun, “Get ready three thousand troops for the venture, and prepare a light carriage. I will lead the first seventy miles, thence you can escort the bride-elect the remainder of the way to her new home.”

Next evening toward the second watch, Lu Bu wrapped up his daughter in soft wadded garments, bound her about with a mailed coat, and took her on his back. Then with his mighty trident halberd in hand, he mounted Red Hare and rode at the head of the cavalcade out of the city gate. Zhang Liao and Gao Shun followed.

In this order they approached Liu Bei’s camp. The drums at once beat the alarm, and Guan Yu and Zhang Fei barred the way.

“Stop!” they shouted.

Lu Bu had no desire to fight; all he wished was to get through, so he made for a side road. Liu Bei came in pursuit and the two parties engaged. Brave as he might be, Lu Bu was almost helpless now that he was hampered by a girl on his shoulders, whom he was desperately anxious to preserve from hurt. Beside other parties came up all shouting and attacking, and he had no alternative but to give up his project and return into the city of Xiapi. He reached his palace very sad at heart. The besiegers returned to camp well pleased that no one had got beyond their lines.

Lu Bu found consolation in the wine cup. The siege had gone on for two months, and still the city stood. Then they heard that Zhang Yang, Governor of Henei, had been inclined to come to the help of Lu Bu. But one of his subordinates, Yang Chou, had assassinated him and was bringing his head as an offering to Cao Cao, when Yang Chou had also been slain by Kui Gu, one of the Governor’s adherents. Kui Gu had then led the force to Daicheng.

In the camp of the besiegers, there now arose much murmuring. Cao Cao sent Shi Huan to intercept and kill Kui Gu.

Then he called a counsel, saying, “Though Zhang Yang, who meant to hurt us, is happily no more, yet we are threatened on the north by Yuan Shao, and on the west Liu Biao and Zhang Xiu are a menace. Here we meet with no success against the city of Xiapi. We are for leaving Lu Bu to his fate and returning home. What do you think?”

Among them Xun You fought against the idea, saying, “You must not act like this. Lu Bu has lost much, and his spirit is broken. The spirit of the leader expresses that of his army; and when the leader fails, his soldiers do not fight. Chen Gong is clever, but nothing is done. Lu Bu broken, Chen Gong without decision, it only needs a sharp attack, and we shall succeed.”

“I have a plan to propose,” said Guo Jia, “a plan to overcome the city at once. It is better than two hundred thousand troops.”

“I suppose you mean drowning the city by River Si and River Yi,” said Xun Yu.

“That is it,” said Guo Jia, smiling.

Cao Cao accepted the suggestion with joy and set his troops to cut the banks of River Yi and River Si, and moved his army to the high ground whence they watched the drowning out of Xiapi. Only the east gate remained clear of water.

The besieged soldiers hastened to their leader.

Lu Bu said, “Why should I fear? My good horse can go as well through the water as over the land.”

And he again returned to the wine cup for consolation, drinking deeply with his wife and concubine.

The continual drinking bouts told at last, and Lu Bu began to look dissipated. Seeing himself in a mirror one day, he was startled at the change and said to himself, “I am injuring myself with wine. No more from this day forward!”

He then issued an order that no one should drink wine under penalty of death.

Now one of his generals, Hou Cheng, lost fifteen horses, stolen by one of his subordinates, Hou Cao, who intended to resell them to Liu Bei. Hou Cheng found out where the horses were, went out after them, and recovered them after killing Hou Cao. And Hou Cheng’s colleagues congratulated him on his success. To celebrate the occasion, Hou Cheng brewed a few barrels of wine to be drunk at the feast.

But thinking his chief might find him in fault, Hou Cheng sent the bottles of wine to Lu Bu’s palace with a petition explaining, “By your virtue of warlike renown, I have recovered my horses; and as my comrades come with their congratulations, I brew some bottles of wine, first to offer Your Lordship and second to ask your permission to have a little wine at the feast.”

Lu Bu took it very angrily, saying, “When I have forbidden all wine, you brew some and begin to give feasts: You are simply defying me!”

Whereupon he ordered the officer to instant execution. However, Song Xian, Wei Xu, and other officers came in and interceded, and after a time Lu Bu softened.

“You ought to lose your head for this disobedience. But for the sake of your colleagues, the punishment shall be reduced to a hundred strokes.”

They tried to beg him off this, but only succeeded in reducing the number of blows to one half.

When the sentence had been carried out and Hou Cheng was permitted to return home, his colleagues came sadly to console him.

“Had it not been for you, I should have been put to death,” said Hou Cheng.

Song Xian replied, “All Lu Bu cares for is his family. There is no pity for anyone else. We are no more than the weeds by the roadside.”

Wei Xu said, “The city is besieged; the water is drowning us out. There will not be much more of this, for we may die any day.”

“He is a beast, with neither a sense of humanity nor of right. Let us leave him,” said Song Xian.

“He is not worth fighting for. The best we could do would be to seize him and hand him over to Cao Cao,” said Wei Xu.

“I was punished because I got my horses back again, yet all he trusts in is his own Red Hare. If you two will betray the gate and seize Lu Bu, I will steal the horse and go out to Cao Cao’s camp.”

They settled how to carry out the plot, and that very night Hou Cheng sneaked into the stables and got Red Hare away. He hastened to the east gate which was opened to let him through. The guard made a pretense of pursuing him but only a pretense.

Hou Cheng reached the besiegers’ camp, presented the horse and told Cao Cao what had been arranged. They would show a white flag and open the gates to his army. Hearing this Cao Cao had a few notifications written out, which were attached to arrows and shot over the walls. This is one of them:

“Regent Marshal Cao Cao has received a command from the Emperor to destroy Lu Bu. Those who interfere with the operations of his grand army, whatever their rank, shall be put to death in the gate on the day that the city shall be captured. Should anyone capture Lu Bu or bring his head, he shall be well rewarded. Let all take note of this.”

Next day at daylight a tremendous hubbub was heard without the city and Lu Bu, halberd in hand, hasted to the wall to see what it meant. As he went from gate to gate inspecting the defenses and guards, he censured Wei Xu for letting Hou Cheng escape and get away with his horse. Lu Bu threatened to punish Wei Xu. But just then the besiegers began a fierce attack as the white flag had just appeared, and Lu Bu had to turn all his energies to defense. The assault lasted till noon, when the attacking force drew off for a time.

Lu Bu was taking a rest in the tower and fell asleep in his chair. Song Xian sent away Lu Bu’s attendants. When they had gone, he stole Lu Bu’s weapon, the trident halberd in which he trusted. Then Song Xian and Wei Xu fell upon Lu Bu together and before he was well awake had bound him with cords, trussing him so that he could not move. Lu Bu shouted for his guards, but they were driven off by the two traitor generals and could not come near. Then a white flag was shown, and the besiegers again approached the city.

The traitors shouted out, “Lu Bu has been captured alive!”

But Xiahou Yuan could hardly believe it till they threw down the famous halberd. The gates were flung open, and the enemy entered the city. Gao Shun and Zhang Liao, who were at the opposite gate, were surrounded and cut off by the water and helpless. They were captured. Chen Gong made a dash to the south gate but was also taken by Xu Huang. Presently Cao Cao entered and at once gave orders to turn the streams back into their usual courses. He put out proclamations to sooth the people.

Cao Cao and Liu Bei, with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei behind, seated themselves side by side in the White Gate Tower. The captives were brought before them. Lu Bu looked a pitiable object. Although a very tall man, he was tied up in a veritable ball.

“The bonds are very tight,” cried he, “I beseech you to loosen them!”

“Binding a tiger must bind tight, of course,” replied Cao Cao.

Seeing Hou Cheng, Song Xian, and Wei Xu standing there looking pleased at their success, Lu Bu said, “I treated you all well enough: How could you turn against me?”

Said Song Xian, “You listened to the words of your women, but rejected the advice of your generals. Was not that mean?”

Lu Bu was silent. Then Gao Shun was brought forward.

“What have you to say?” asked Cao Cao.

Gao Shun sulkily held his tongue. He was ordered out to execution.

Next Chen Gong was led in.

“I hope you have been well since we last saw each other, Chen Gong?” said Cao Cao.

“Your ways were crooked, and so I left you,” said Chen Gong.

“You say I was crooked; and what of your serving Lu Bu?”

“Though he was a fool, he did not resemble you in deceit and wickedness.”

“You say you are able enough and clever, but what about your position today?”

Turning toward Lu Bu, Chen Gong said, “This man would not follow my advice. Had he done so, he would not now be a captive.”

“What think you ought to be done about this day’s work?” said Cao Cao.

“There is death for me today, and that is the end!” said Chen Gong undauntedly.

“Very well for you; but what of your mother and wife and children?”

“It is said that one who rules with due regard to filial piety does not harm a person’s family; one who would show benevolence does not cut off the sacrifices at a person’s tomb. My mother and wife and children are in your hands. But since I am your prisoner, I pray you slay me quickly and not to try to harrow my feelings.”

Cao Cao’s heart still leaned toward mercy, but Chen Gong turned and walked away, repulsing the attendants who would stop him. Cao Cao rose from his place and walked with Chen Gong, the tears falling from his eyes. Chen Gong never looked at him.

Turning to his guards Cao Cao said, “Let his mother and family be taken to Xuchang and looked after immediately. Any postponement will be punished!”

The condemned man heard him but uttered no word. He stretched out his neck for the blow. Tears sprang to the eyes of all present. His remains were honorably coffined and buried in Xuchang.

A poem pitying Chen Gong’s fate says:

Neither hope of life nor fear of death moved him.

How brave was he, a hero indeed!

But his lord heeded not his words,

Wherefore in vain possessed he great talents.

Nevertheless, in that he stood by his master.

To parting with wife and mother,

He merits our pity and profound respect.

Who would resemble Chen Gong

That day he died at the White Gate Tower?

While Cao Cao sadly escorted Chen Gong on the way to death, Lu Bu appealed to Liu Bei, “Noble Sir, you sit there an honored guest while poor I lie bound at your feet. Will you not utter one word to alleviate my lot?”

Liu Bei nodded.

As Cao Cao returned to his place, Lu Bu called out, “Your only trouble, Illustrious Sir, is myself, and I am on your side now. You take the lead, I will help you, and together the world is at our feet.”

“What do you think?” said Cao Cao turning to Liu Bei.

“You are willing to forget the episodes of Ding Yuan and Dong Zhuo?”

“Truly the lout is not to be trusted!” said Lu Bu, looking at Liu Bei.

“Strangle and expose!” ordered Cao Cao.

As he was led away, Lu Bu turned once more to Liu Bei, “You long-eared lout, you forget now the service I rendered you that day at my camp gate, when my arrow hit the mark!”

Just then someone shouted, “Lu Bu, O fool! Death is but death, and why are you scared at it?”

Everyone turned to look: The guards were hustling Zhang Liao to the place of judgment. Cao Cao ordered Lu Bu’s execution.

A poet has written upon the death of Lu Bu:

The flood spreads wide, the city drowns,

Its lord is captive. Nought avails

His courser’s speed or halberd’s thrust.

The tiger erstwhile fierce, now whines

For mercy. Cao Cao had meted him

Full well, a falcon flown at will

And hungry kept. Poor fool! He let

Chen Gong’s advice be overborne

By harem tattle; vainly now

He rails against the Long-Ears’ faith.

And another poem says:

Round is the hungry tiger, eater of men, for whom is no pity,

Since the blood of his victims is fresh and not yet dry.

Liu Bei spoke no word in favor of Lu Bu,

To whom even a father’s life was not sacred.

It was recorded earlier that the executioners were hustling Zhang Liao forward.

Pointing to him from above, Cao Cao said, “He has a familiar face.”

“You were not likely to forget me: You saw me before in Puyang,” said Zhang Liao.

“O, so you remember me, eh?”

“Yes. More is the pity.”

“Pity for what?”

“That the fire that day was not fierce enough to burn you up, rebel that you are!”

Cao Cao began to get angry.

“How dare you insult me?” cried he and lifted his sword to kill the bold speaker.

The undaunted Zhang Liao never changed color, but stretched out his neck for the blow. Then a man behind Cao Cao caught his arm, and in front of him another dropped on his knees, saying, “O Prime Minister, I pray thee stay thy hand!”

Lu Bu whining was not spared,

Railing Zhang Liao far better fared.

Who was it that saved Zhang Liao? The next chapter will show.

Chapter 20

Cao Cao Organizes A Hunting Expedition In Xutian; Dong Cheng Receives A Secret Command In The Palace.

The last chapter said that Cao Cao was checked in his angry attack upon Zhang Liao. They were Liu Bei who held his arm and Guan Yu who knelt before him.

“A man as generous-hearted as he is should be saved,” said Liu Bei.

Guan Yu said, “I know him well as loyal and righteous. I will vouch for him with my own life!”

Cao Cao threw aside his sword and smiled.

“I also know Zhang Liao to be loyal and good. I was just testing him,” said he.

Cao Cao loosed the prisoner’s bonds with his own hands, had a change of dress brought in, and clothed him therewith. Then he was led to a seat of honor. This kindly treatment sank deep into Zhang Liao’s heart, and he hastened to declare formally that he yielded. And then he was given the rank of Imperial Commander and the title of Lordship.

Zhang Liao was sent on a mission to win over the bandit leader Zang Ba, who hearing what had happened, came forthwith and gave in his submission. He was graciously received, and his former colleagues —-Sun Guan, Wu Dun, and Yin Li —-also yielded, with the exception of Chang Xi, who remained obdurate. All these former enemies who came over were kindly treated and given posts of responsibility wherein they might prove the reality of their conversion. Lu Bu’s family were sent to the capital.

After the soldiers had been rewarded with feasting, the camp was broken up and the army moved away to Xuchang. Passing through Xuzhou the people lined the roads and burned incense in honor of the victors. They also petitioned that Liu Bei should be their protector.

Cao Cao replied, “Liu Bei has rendered great services. You must wait till he has been received in audience and obtained his reward. After that he shall be sent here.”

The people bowed low to the ground to express their thanks. Che Zhou, General of the Flying Cavalry, was given command of Xuzhou for the moment.

After the army had arrived at the capital, rewards were granted to all the officers who had been in the expedition. Liu Bei was retained in the capital, lodging in an annex to the Prime Minister’s palace.

Next day a court was held, and Cao Cao memorialized the services of Liu Bei who was presented to Emperor Xian. Dressed in court robes, Liu Bei bowed at the lower end of the audience arena. The Emperor called him to the Hall and asked his ancestry.

Liu Bei replied, “Thy servant is the son of Liu Hong, grandson of Liu Xiong, who was a direct descendant of Prince Sheng of Zhongshan, who was the son of His Majesty the Emperor Jing (reigned BC 157-141).”

The Emperor bade them bring forth the Books of the Genealogies, and therefrom a secretary read:

“Liu Jing the Filial Emperor begot fourteen sons of whom the seventh was Liu Sheng, Prince of Zhongshan. Sheng begot Liu Zhen, Lord of Luchang. Zhen begot Liu Ang, Lord of Pei. Ang begot Liu Lu, Lord of Zhang. Lu begot Liu Lian, Lord of Yishui. Lian begot Liu Ying, Lord of Qinyang. Ying begot Liu Jian, Lord of Anguo. Jian begot Liu Ai, Lord of Guangling. Ai begot Liu Xia, Lord of Jiaoshui. Xia begot Liu Shu, Lord of Zuyi. Shu begot Liu Yi, Lord of Qiyang. Yi begot Liu Bi, Lord of Yuanze. Bi begot Liu Da, Lord of Yingchuan. Da begot Liu Buyi, Lord of Fengling. Buyi begot Liu Hui, Lord of Jichuan. Hui begot Liu Xiong, Governor of Zhuo. Xiong begot Liu Hong, who held no office or rank; and Liu Bei is his son.”

The Emperor compared this with the registers of the Imperial House and found by them that Liu Bei was his uncle by descent. The Emperor seemed greatly pleased and requested Liu Bei to go into one of the side chambers where he might perform the ceremonial obeisance prescribed for a nephew to his uncle. In his heart he rejoiced to have this heroic warrior uncle as a powerful supporter against Cao Cao who really held all the power in his own hands. The Emperor knew himself to be a mere puppet. He conferred upon his uncle the rank of General of the Left Army and the title of Lord of Yicheng.

When the banquet was concluded, Liu Bei thanked the Emperor and went out of the Palace. And from this time he was very generally styled the “Imperial Uncle.”

When Cao Cao returned to his palace, Xun Yu and his fellow advisers went in to see him.

Xun Yu said, “It is no advantage to you, Illustrious Sir, that the Emperor recognizes Liu Bei as an uncle.”

“Liu Bei may be recognized as uncle, but he is under my orders since I control the decrees of the Throne. He will be all the more ready to obey. Beside I will keep him here under the pretense of having him near his sovereign, and he will be entirely in my hands. I have nothing to fear. The man I fear is Yang Biao, who is a relative of the two Yuan brothers. Should Yang Biao conspire with them, he is an enemy within and might do much harm. He will have to be removed.”

Hence Cao Cao sent a secret emissary to say that Imperial Guardian Yang Biao was intriguing with Yuan Shu, and on this charge Yang Biao was arrested and imprisoned. And his death would have been compassed had his enemy dared.

But just then the Governor of Beihai, Kong Rong, was at the capital, and he remonstrated with Cao Cao, saying, “Yang Biao comes from a family famed for virtue for at least four generations. You cannot trump up so foolish a charge as that against him.”

“It is the wish of His Majesty!” retorted Cao Cao.

“If the child Emperor Cheng of Zhou Dynasty had put Duke Chao to death, could the people have believed Duke Zhou, the Regent Marshal, had nothing to do with it?”

So Cao Cao had to relinquish the attempt, but he took away Yang Biao’s offices and banished him to his family estate in the country.

Court Counselor Zhao Yan, an opponent of the Prime Minister, sent up a memorial impeaching Cao Cao for having removed a minister of state from office without a decree. Cao Cao’s reply to this was the arrest of Zhao Yan and his execution, a bold stroke which terrified the bulk of officers and reduced them to silence.

Cheng Yu advised Cao Cao to assume a more definite position. He said, “Illustrious Sir, your prestige grows daily. Why not seize the opportunity to take the position of Chief of the Feudatory Princes?”

“There are still too many supporters of the court,” was the reply. “I must be careful. I am going to propose a royal hunt to try to find out the best line to follow.”

This expedition being decided upon they got together fleet horses, famous falcons, and pedigree hounds, and prepared bows and arrows in readiness. They mustered a strong force of guards outside the city.

When the Prime Minister proposed the hunting expedition, the Emperor said he feared it was an improper thing to do.

Cao Cao replied, “In ancient times rulers made four expeditions yearly at each of the four seasons in order to show their strength. They were called Sou, Miao, Xien, and Shou, in the order of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Now that the whole country is in confusion, it would be wise to inaugurate a hunt in order to train the army. I am sure Your Majesty will approve.”

So the Emperor with the full paraphernalia for an imperial hunt joined the expedition. He rode a saddled horse, carried an inlaid bow, and his quiver was filled with gold-tipped arrows. His chariot followed behind. Liu Bei and his brothers were in the imperial train, each with his bow and quiver. Each party member wore a breastplate under the outer robe and held his especial weapon, while their escort followed them. Cao Cao rode a dun horse called “Flying-Lightning,” and the army was one hundred thousand strong.

The hunt took place in Xutian, and the legions spread out as guards round the hunting arena which extended over some one hundred square miles. Cao Cao rode even with the Emperor, the horses’ heads alternating in the lead. The imperial attendants immediately following were all in Cao Cao’s confidence. The other officers, civil and military, lagged behind, for they dared not press forward into the midst of Cao Cao’s partisans.

One day the Emperor was riding toward the hunting grounds and noticed his newly found uncle respectfully standing by the roadside.

“I should like to see my uncle display his hunting skill,” said the Emperor.

Liu Bei mounted his steed at once. Just then a hare started from its form. Liu Bei shot and hit it with the first arrow.

The Emperor, much struck by this display, rode away over a slope. Suddenly a deer broke out of the thicket. He shot three arrows at it but all missed.

“You try,” said the Emperor turning to Cao Cao.

“Lend me Your Majesty’s bow,” Cao Cao replied.

Taking the inlaid bow and the golden-tipped arrows, Cao Cao pulled the bow and hit the deer in the shoulder at the first shot. It fell in the grass and could not run.

Now the crowd of officers seeing the golden-barbed arrow sticking in the wound concluded at once that the shot was the Emperor’s, so they rushed up and shouted “Wan shui! O Son of Heaven! Live forever!”

Cao Cao rode out pushing past the Emperor and acknowledged the congratulations.

They all turned pale. Guan Yu, who was behind Liu Bei, was especially angry. The silkworm eyebrows stood up fiercely, and the red phoenix eyes glared as, sword in hand, he rode hastily forth to cut down the audacious Prime Minister for his impertinence.

However, Liu Bei hastily waved him back and shot at him a meaning glance so that Guan Yu stopped and made no further move.

Liu Bei bowing toward Cao Cao said, “Most sincere felicitations! A truly supernatural shot, such as few have achieved!”

“It is only the enormous good fortune of the Son of Heaven!” said Cao Cao with a smile.

Then he turned his steed and felicitated the Emperor. But he did not return the bow; he hung it over his own shoulder instead.

The hunt finished with banqueting; and when the entertainments were over, they returned to the capital, all glad of some repose after the expedition.

Guan Yu was still angry of the Prime Minister’s breach of decorum.

One day Guan Yu said to Liu Bei, “Brother, why did you prevent me from killing that rebel and so ridding the world of a scoundrel? He insults the Emperor and ignores everybody else.”

“When you throw stones at a rat, beware of the vase,” quoted Liu Bei. “Cao Cao was only a horse’s head away from Our Lord, and in the midst of a crowd of his partisans. In that momentary burst of anger, if you had struck and failed, and harm had come to the Emperor, what an awful crime would have been laid to us!”

“If we do not rid the world of him today, a worse evil will come of it,” said Guan Yu.

“But be discreet, my brother. Such matters cannot be lightly discussed.”

The Emperor sadly returned to his palace. With tears in his eyes, he related what had occurred in the hunt to his consort, Empress Fu.

“Alas for me!” said he. “From the first days of my accession, one vicious minister has succeeded another. I was the victim of Dong Zhuo’s evil machinations. Then followed the rebellion of Li Jue and Guo Si. You and I had to bear sorrows such as no others have borne. Then came this Cao Cao as one who would maintain the imperial dignity, but he has seized upon all real authority and does as he wishes. He works continually for his own glorification, and I never see him but my back pricks. These last few days in the hunting field, he went in front of me and acknowledged the cheers of the crowd. He is so extremely rude that I feel sure he has sinister designs against me. Alas, my wife, we know not when our end may come!”

“In a whole court full of nobles, who have eaten the bread of Han, is there not one who will save his country?” said she.

Thus spoke the Empress, and at the same moment there stepped in a man who said, “Grieve not, O Imperial Pair! I can find a savior for the country.”

It was none other than the father of the Empress, Fu Wan.

“Have you heard of Cao Cao’s wanton and perverse behavior?” said the Emperor, drying his eyes.

“You mean the deer shooting? Who did not see that, indeed? But the whole court is full of his clan or his creatures. With the exception of the relatives of your Consort, there is not one loyal enough to deal with a rebel. I have no authority and can do nothing, but there is General Dong Cheng, the State Uncle, who could do it.”

“Could Uncle Dong Cheng come in to consult about this? I know he has had much experience of state troubles.”

Fu Wan replied, “Everyone of your attendants is a partisan of Cao Cao, and this sort of thing must be kept most profoundly secret or the consequence will be most serious.”

“Then what can be done?” said the Emperor.

“The only plan I can think of is to send gifts of a robe and a jade girdle to Dong Cheng, and in the lining of the girdle hide a secret edict authorizing him to take certain steps. When he gets home and has read the edict, he can elaborate plans as quickly as possible, and neither the spirits above nor the demons below will know anything about them.”

The Emperor approved, and Fu Wan went out. The Emperor then with his own hand drew up a decree, writing it with blood drawn by biting his finger. He gave the document to Empress Fu to sew into the purple lining of the girdle. When all was done, he put on the robe and girded it with the girdle. Next he bade one of the attendants summon State Uncle Dong Cheng to the Palace.

Dong Cheng came; and after the ceremonies were finished, the Emperor said, “A few nights ago I was talking with the Empress of the terrible days of the rebellion, and we thought of your good services then, therefore we have called you in to reward you.”

The minister bowed his head in thanks. Then the Emperor led Dong Cheng out of the Reception Hall to the Temple of Ancestors, and they went to the gallery of Worthy Ministers, where the Emperor burned incense and performed the usual ceremonies. After this they went to see the portraits, and among them was one of the founder of the dynasty, Liu Bang the Supreme Ancestor.

“Whence sprang our great ancestor, and how did he begin his great achievement?” said the Emperor.

“Your Majesty is pleased to joke with thy servant,” said Dong Cheng, rather startled at the question. “Who does not know the deeds of the Sacred Ancestor? He began life as a minor official in Sishang. There gripping his sword, he slew a white serpent, the beginning of his struggle for the right. Speedily he mastered the empire: In three years had destroyed Qin and, in five, also Chu. Thus he set up a dynasty that shall endure forever!”

“Such heroic forefathers! Such weakling descendants! How sad it is!” said the Emperor.

Pointing to the portraits right and left, he continued, “Are not these two Zhang Liang, Lord of Liu, and Xiao He, Lord of Cuo?”

“Certainly. The Supreme Ancestor was greatly assisted by these two.”

The Emperor glanced right and left. His attendants were rather far away. Then he whispered to Dong Cheng, “You, like these two, must stand by me.”

“My poor services are of no worth. I do not compare with those men,” said the Uncle.

“I remember that you saved me at the western capital, Changan. I have never forgotten, and I could never reward you properly.”

Then pointing to his own robe, the Emperor continued, “You must wear this robe of mine, girded with my own girdle, and it will be as though you are always near your Emperor.”

Dong Cheng bowed his gratitude while the Emperor, taking off the robe, presented it to his faithful minister. At the same time he whispered, “Examine it closely when you get home, and help your Emperor carry out his intention.”

Dong Cheng understood. He put on the robe and the girdle, took leave and left the chamber.

The news of the audience for Dong Cheng had been taken to the Prime Minister, who at once went to the Palace and arrived as Dong Cheng was passing out at the Donghua Gate. They met face to face, and Dong Cheng could in nowise avoid him. Dong Cheng went to the side of the road and made his obeisance.

“Where are you from, State Uncle?” asked Cao Cao.

“His Majesty summoned me into the Palace and has given me this robe and beautiful girdle.”

“Why did he give you these?”

“He had not forgotten that I saved his life in the old days.”

“Take it off and let me see it.”

Dong Cheng who knew that a secret decree was hidden away somewhere in the garments was afraid Cao Cao would notice a breach somewhere in the material, so he hesitated and did not obey. But Cao Cao called his guards, and they took off the girdle. Then Cao Cao looked it over carefully.

“It certainly is a very handsome girdle,” said he. “Now take off the robe and let me look at that.”

Dong Cheng’s heart was melting with fear, but he dared not disobey. So he handed over the robe. Cao Cao took it and held it up against the sun with his own hand and minutely examined every part of it.

When he had done this, he put it on, girded it with the girdle and turning to his attendants said, “How is it for length?”

“Beautiful!” they chorused.

Turning to Dong Cheng, he said, “Will you give these to me?”

“My Prince’s presents to me I dare not give to another. Let me give you another robe in its stead,” said Dong Cheng.

“Is there not some intrigue connected with these presents? I am sure there is,” said Cao Cao.

“How could I dare?” said Dong Cheng, trembling. “If you are so set upon it, then I must give it up.”

“How could I take away what our Prince has given you? It was all a joke,” said the Prime Minister.

Cao Cao returned both robe and girdle, and their owner made the best of his way home. When night came and he was alone in his library, he took out the robe and looked over every inch of it most carefully. He found nothing.

“He gave me a robe and a girdle and bade me look at them carefully. That means there is something to be looked for but I can find no trace of it. What does it mean?” he soliloquized.

Then he lifted the girdle and examined that. The jade plates were carved into the semblance of small dragons interlaced among flowers. The lining was of purple silk. All was sewn together most carefully and neatly, and he could find nothing out of the common. He was puzzled. He laid the belt on the table. Presently he picked it up and looked at it again. He spent long hours over it but in vain. He leaned over on the small table, his head resting on his hands and was almost asleep, when a candle snuff fell down upon the girdle and burned a hole in the lining. He hastily shook it off, but the mischief was done: A small hole had been burned in the silken lining, and through this there appeared something white with blood red marks. He hastily ripped it open and drew out the decree written by the hand of the Emperor himself in characters of blood. It read:

“Of human relationships, that between parents and children stands first. Of the various social ties that between prince and minister stands highest. Today Cao Cao, the wicked, is a real tyrant, treating even his Prince with indignity. With the support of his faction and his army, he has destroyed the principles of government. By conferring rewards and inflicting punishments, he has reduced the Emperor to a nonentity. I have grieved over this day and night. I have feared the empire would be ruined.

“You are a high minister of state and my own relative. You must recall the difficulties of the Great Founder’s early days and draw together the loyal and right-minded to destroy this evil faction and restore the prerogatives of the Throne. Such a deed would be indeed an extreme joy to the spirits of my ancestors.

“This decree, written in blood drawn from my own veins, is confided to a noble who is to be most careful not to fail in executing his Emperor’s design.

“Given in the era of Rebuilt Tranquillity, fourth year and the third month of spring.” (AD 199)

So ran the decree, and Dong Cheng read it with streaming eyes. There was no sleep for him that night. Early in the morning he returned to his library and reread it. No plan suggested itself. He laid the decree down on the table and sought in the depths of his mind for some scheme to destroy Cao Cao, but could not decide upon any. And he fell asleep leaning over his table.

It happened that Minister Wang Zifu, with whom Dong Cheng was on terms of great intimacy, came to visit him and, as usual, walked into the house unannounced and went straight to the library. His host did not wake, and Wang Zifu noticed, hardly hidden by his sleeve, the Emperor’s writing.

Wondering what this might be, Wang Zifu drew it out, read it, and put it in his own sleeve.

Then he called out loud, “Uncle Dong Cheng, are you not well? Why are you asleep at this time of day?”

Dong Cheng started up and at once missed the decree. He was aghast; he almost fell to the ground.

“So you want to make away with Cao Cao? I shall have to tell him,” said Wang Zifu.

“Then, brother, that is the end of the Hans,” said his host, with tears.

“I was joking,” said Wang Zifu. “My forefathers also served the Hans and ate of their bounty. Am I devoid of loyalty? I would help you, brother, as far as lies in my power.”

“It is well for the country that you think like this,” said Dong Cheng.

“But we ought to have a more private place than this to talk over such plans and pledge ourselves to sacrifice all in the cause of Han.”

Dong Cheng began to feel very satisfied. He produced a roll of white silk and wrote his own name at the top and signed it, and Wang Zifu followed suit.

Then the visitor said, “General Wu Zilan is one of my best friends. He ought to be allowed to come in.”

Dong Cheng replied, “Of all the officials of the court, Commander Chong Ji and Court Counselor Wu Shi are my best friends. Certainly they would back me up.”

So the discussion proceeded. Presently a servant announced no other than these very two men Dong Cheng just mentioned.

“This is providential,” said Dong Cheng, and he told Wang Zifu to hide behind a screen.

The two guests were led into the library, and after the exchange of the ordinary civilities and a cup of tea, Chong Ji referred to the incident at the hunt and the shooting of the stag.

“Were you not angry at that?” said Chong Ji.

Dong Cheng answered, “Though we be angry, what can we do?”

Wu Shi struck in, saying, “I would slay this fellow, I swear, but I cannot get anyone to back me up.”

“One should perish for one’s country; one should not mind,” said Chong Ji.

At this moment Wang Zifu appeared from behind the screen, saying, “You two want to kill Cao Cao! I shall have to let him know this. And Uncle Dong Cheng is my witness.”

“A loyal minister does not mind death. If we are killed, we will be Han ghosts, which is better than being sycophants of a traitor,” said Chong Ji, angrily.

Dong Cheng said, “We were just saying we wanted to see you two on this matter. Wang Zifu is only joking.”

Then he drew forth the decree and showed it to the two newcomers, who also wept as they read it. They were asked to add their names to the silk roll.

Wang Zifu said, “Wait here a few moments till I get Wu Zilan to come.”

He left the room and very soon returned with his friend, who also wrote his name in the presence of all the others.

After this they went into one of the inner chambers to drink success to the new plot. While there, a new visitor, Ma Teng, Governor of Xiliang, was announced.

“Say I am indisposed,” said the host, “and cannot receive visitors.”

The doorkeeper took the message, whereat Ma Teng angrily said, “Last night at the Donghua Gate, I saw him come out in robe and girdle. How can he pretend illness today? I am not come from mere idleness, why does he refuse to see me?”

The doorkeeper went in again and told his master what the visitor had said and that he was very angry. Then Dong Cheng rose, excused himself saying he would soon return, and went to receive Ma Teng.

After the visitor had saluted and they were both seated, Ma Teng said, “I have just come from a farewell audience and wished to bid you good bye. Why did you want to put me off?”

“My poor body was taken suddenly ill. That is why I was not waiting to welcome you,” said Dong Cheng.

“You do not look as if you were ill. Your face wears the very bloom of health,” said Ma Teng bluntly.

His host could say no more and was silent. The visitor shook out his sleeves and rose to depart.

He sighed deeply as he walked down the steps, saying to himself, “Not one of them is any good. There is no one to save the country.”

This speech sank deeply into Dong Cheng’s heart. He stopped his guest, saying, “Who is no good to save the country? Whom do you mean?”

“That incident at the hunt the other day, the shooting of the stag, filled my breast with anger. But if you, a near relative of the Emperor, can pass your time in wine and idle dalliance without a thought of doing away with rebellion, where can anyone be found who will save the dynasty?”

However, Dong Cheng doubts were not set at rest. Pretending great surprise, he replied, “The Prime Minister is of high rank and has the confidence of the court. Why then do you utter such things?”

“So you find that wretch Cao Cao a good man, eh?”

“Pray speak lower: There are eyes and ears very near us.”

“The sort of people who covet life and fear death are not those to discuss any great undertaking.”

So saying, Ma Teng rose to go sway. By this time his host’s doubts were set at rest. He felt that Ma Teng was loyal.

So Dong Cheng said, “Do not be angry any more. I will show you something.”

Whereupon he invited Ma Teng to go into the room where the others were seated and then showed him the decree. As Ma Teng read it, his hair stood on end; he ground his teeth and bit his lips till the blood came.

“When you move, remember the whole force of my army is ready to help,” said Ma Teng.

Dong Cheng introduced him to the other conspirators, and then the pledge was produced, and Ma Teng was told to sign his name. He did so, at the same time smearing the blood as a sign of the oath and saying, “I swear to die rather than betray this pledge!”

Pointing to the five he said, “We require ten for this business, and we can accomplish our design.”

“We cannot get many true and loyal people. One of the wrong sort will spoil all,” said Dong Cheng.

Ma Teng told them to bring in the list of officials. He read on till he came to the name Liu, of the imperial clan, when clapping his hands he cried, “Why not consult him?”

“Whom?” cried they altogether.

Ma Teng very slowly and deliberately spoke his name.

To a very trusty servant comes an Emperor’s decree,

And a scion of the ruling house can prove his loyalty.

If the readers turns to the next chapter, they will see whom Ma Teng talked about.

Chapter 21

In A Plum Garden, Cao Cao Discusses Heroes; Using The Host’s Forces, Guan Yu Takes Xuzhou.

“Who is it?” was the question on the lips of the conspirators.

Ma Teng’s reply was, “The Imperial Protector of Yuzhou, Liu Bei. He is here and we will ask him to help.”

“Though he is an uncle of the Emperor, he is at present a partisan of our enemy, and he will not join,” said Dong Cheng.

“But I saw something at the hunt,” said Ma Teng. “When Cao Cao advanced to acknowledge the congratulations due to the Emperor, Liu Bei’s sworn brother Guan Yu was behind him, and grasped his sword as if to cut down Cao Cao. However, Liu Bei signed to him to hold his hand and Guan Yu did. Liu Bei would willingly destroy Cao Cao, only he thinks Cao Cao’s teeth and claws are too many. You must ask Liu Bei, and he will surely consent.”

Here Wu Shi urged caution, saying, “Do not go too fast. Let us consider the thing most carefully.”

They dispersed. Next day after dark Dong Cheng went to Liu Bei’s lodging taking with him the decree. As soon as Dong Cheng was announced, Liu Bei came to greet him and led him into a private room where they could talk freely. The two younger brothers were there as well.

“It must be something unusually important that has brought Uncle Dong Cheng here tonight,” said Liu Bei.

“If I had ridden forth by daylight, Cao Cao might have suspected something, so I came by night.”

Wine was brought in, and while they were drinking, Dong Cheng said, “Why did you check your brother the other day at the hunt, when he was going to attack Cao Cao?”

Liu Bei was startled and said, “How did you know?”

“Nobody noticed but I saw.”

Liu Bei could not prevaricate and said, “It was the presumption of the man that made my brother so angry. Guan Yu could not help it.”

The visitor covered his face and wept.

“Ah,” said he, “if all the court ministers were like Guan Yu, there would be no sighs for lack of tranquillity.”

Now Liu Bei felt that possibly Cao Cao had sent his visitor to try him, so he cautiously replied, “Where are the sighs for lack of tranquillity while Cao Cao is at the head of affairs?”

Dong Cheng changed color and rose from his seat.

“You, Sir, are a relative of His Majesty, and so I showed you my inmost feelings. Why did you mislead me?”

But Liu Bei said, “Because I feared you might be misleading me, and I wanted to find out.”

At this Dong Cheng drew out the decree he had received and showed it. His host was deeply moved. Then Dong Cheng produced the pledge. There were only six names to it, and these were Dong Cheng, Wang Zifu, Chong Ji, Wu Shi, Wu Zilan, and Ma Teng.

“Since you have a decree like this, I cannot but do my share,” said Liu Bei, and at Dong Cheng’s request he added his name and signature to the others and handed it back.

“Now let us but get three more, which will make ten, and we shall be ready to act.”

“But you must move with great caution and not let this get abroad,” said Liu Bei.

The two remained talking till an early hour in the morning when the visitor left.

Now in order to put Cao Cao quite off the scent that any plot against him was in progress, Liu Bei began to devote himself to gardening, planting vegetables, and watering them with his own hands. Guan Yu and Zhang Fei ventured to remonstrate with him for taking to such an occupation when great matters needed attention.

“The reason for this you may not know,” replied he.

And they said no more.

One day when the two brothers were absent, and Liu Bei was busy in his garden, two generals of Cao Cao, Xu Chu and Zhang Liao, with an escort came from Cao Cao, saying, “The command of the Prime Minister is that you come at once.”

“What important affair is afoot?” asked Liu Bei nervously.

“We know nothing. We were ordered to come and request your presence.”

All he could do was to follow.

When Liu Bei arrived, Cao Cao met him and laughingly said, “That is a big business you have in hand at home.”

This remark made Liu Bei turn the color of clay. Cao Cao took him by the hand and led him straight to the private garden, saying, “The growth of vegetables that you are trying to learn is very difficult.”

Liu Bei breathed again. He said, “That is hardly a business. It is only a solace.”

Cao Cao said, “I happened to notice the green plums on the trees today, and suddenly my thoughts went back to a year ago when we were thrashing Zhang Xiu. We were marching through a parched county, and everyone was suffering from thirst. Suddenly I lifted my whip, and pointing at something in the distance I said, ‘Look at those fruitful plum trees in the forest ahead.’ The soldiers heard it, and it made their mouths water. Seeing the plums kindles my appreciation. I owe something to the plums, and we will repay it today. I ordered the servants to heat some wine very hot and sent to invite you to share it.”

Liu Bei was quite composed by this time and no longer suspected any sinister design. He went with his host to a small spring pavilion in a plum garden, where the wine cups were already laid out and green plums filled the dishes. They sat down to a confidential talk and free enjoyment of their wine.

As they drank, the weather gradually changed, clouds gathering and threatening rain. The servants pointed out a mass of cloud that looked like a dragon hung in the sky. Both host and guest leaned over the balcony looking at it.

“Do you understand the evolution of dragons?” asked Cao Cao of the guest.

“Not in detail.”

“A dragon can assume any size, can rise in glory or hide from sight. Bulky, it generates clouds and evolves mist; attenuated, it can scarcely hide a mustard stalk or conceal a shadow. Mounting, it can soar to the empyrean; subsiding, it lurks in the uttermost depths of the ocean. This is the midspring season, and the dragon chooses this moment for its transformations like a person realizing his own desires and overrunning the world. The dragon among animals compares with the hero among people. You, General, have traveled all lakes and rivers. You must know who are the heroes of the present day, and I wish you would say who they are.”

“I am just a common dullard. How can I know such things?”

“Do not be so modest,” said Cao Cao.

“Thanks to your kindly protection I have a post at court. But as to heroes I really do not know who they are.”

“You may not have looked upon their faces, but you must have heard their names.”

“Yuan Shu of the South of River Huai, with his strong army and abundant resources: Is he one?” asked Liu Bei.

His host laughed, “A rotting skeleton in a graveyard. I shall put him out of the way shortly.”

“Well, Yuan Shao then. The highest offices of state have been held in his family for four generations, and his clients are many in the empire. He is firmly posted in Jizhou, and he commands the services of many able people. Surely he is one.”

“A bully, but a coward. He is fond of grandiose schemes, but is devoid of decision. He makes for great things but grudges the necessary sacrifice. He loses sight of everything else in view of a little present advantage. He is not one.”

“There is Liu Biao of Jingzhou. He is renowned as a man of perfection, whose fame has spread on all sides. Surely he is a hero.”

“He is a mere semblance, a man of vain reputation. No, not he.”

“Sun Ce is a sturdy sort, the chief of all in the South Land. Is he a hero?”

“He has profited by the reputation of his father Sun Jian. Sun Ce is not a real hero.”

“What of Liu Zhang of Yizhou?”

“Though he is of the reigning family, he is nothing more than a watch dog. How could you make a hero of him?”

“What about Zhang Xiu, Zhang Lu, Han Sui, and all those leaders?”

Cao Cao clapped his hands and laughed very loudly, saying, “Paltry people like them are not worth mentioning.”

“With these exceptions I really know none.”

“Now heroes are the ones who cherish lofty designs in their bosoms and have plans to achieve them. They have all-embracing schemes, and the whole world is at their mercy.”

“Who is such a person?” said Liu Bei.

Cao Cao pointed his finger first at his guest and then at himself, saying, “The only heroes in the world are you and I.”

Liu Bei gasped, and the spoon and chopsticks rattled to the floor. Now just at that moment the storm burst with a tremendous peal of thunder and rush of rain.

Liu Bei stooped down to recover the fallen articles, saying, “What a shock! And it was quite close.”

“What! Are you afraid of thunder?” said Cao Cao.

Liu Bei replied, “The Sage One paled at a sudden peal of thunder or fierce gust of wind. Why should one not fear?”

Thus he glossed over the real fact, that it was the words he had heard that had so startled him.

Constrained to lodge in a tiger’s lair,

He played a waiting part,

But when Cao Cao talked of breaking humans,

Then terror gripped his heart.

But he cleverly used the thunder peal

As excuse for turning pale;

O quick to seize occasions thus!

He surely must prevail.

The shower had passed, and there appeared two men rushing through the garden, both armed. In spite of the attendants, they forced their way to the pavilion where sat the two friends. They were Guan Yu and Zhang Fei.

The two brothers had been outside the city at archery practice when Cao Cao’s invitation had come so peremptorily. On their return they heard that two officers had arrived and led away Liu Bei to the Prime Minister. They hastened to his palace and were told their brother was with his host in the grounds, and they feared something had happened. So they rushed in.

Now when they saw their brother quietly talking with Cao Cao and enjoying a cup of wine, they took up their usual places and meekly stood waiting.

“Why did you come?” said Cao Cao.

“We heard that you, Sir, had invited our brother to a wine party, and we came to amuse you with a little sword play,” said they.

“This is not a Hongmen Banquet,” replied Cao Cao. “What use have we for Xiang Chang and Xiang Ba of old?”

Liu Bei smiled. The host ordered wine to be served to the two “Fan Kuais” to allay their anxiety and, soon after, the three took their leave and returned homeward.

“We were nearly frightened to death,” said Guan Yu.

The story of the dropped chopsticks was told. The two asked what their brother intended by his actions.

“My learning gardening was to convince Cao Cao of my perfect simplicity and the absence of any ambition. But when he suddenly pointed to me as one of the heroes, I was startled, for I thought he had some suspicions. Happily the thunder at that moment supplied the excuse I wanted.”

“Really you are very clever,” said they.

Next day Cao Cao again invited Liu Bei and while the two were drinking, Man Chong, who had been dispatched to find out what Yuan Shao was doing, came to present his report.

Man Chong said, “Gongsun Zan has been completely defeated by Yuan Shao.”

“Do you know the details? I should like to know how,” interrupted Liu Bei.

“They were at war, and Gongsun Zan got the worst of it, so he acted on the defensive, building a high wall about his army and on that erecting a high tower, which he called the Yijing Tower. Therein he placed all his grain, one hundred thousand carts total, and took up his own quarters. His fighting troops passed in and out without ceasing, some going out to give battle, others returning to rest. One of them was surrounded and sent to ask Gongsun Zan to rescue him. Gongsun Zan said, ‘If I rescue him, hereafter everyone will want to be helped and will not exert himself.’ So Gongsun Zan did not go. This disgusted his soldiers, and many deserted to the enemy so that his army diminished. He sent letters to the capital to crave help, but the messenger was captured. He sent to Zhang Yan to arrange with him for a two-pronged joint attack, and those letters with the plans also fell into Yuan Shao’s hands. The plans were adopted by Yuan Shao, who gave the signals agreed upon. Thus Gongsun Zan fell into an ambush, lost heavily, and retreated into the city. There he was besieged, and a subterranean passage was pierced into the tower where he lodged. The tower was set on fire, and Gongsun Zan could not escape. So he slew his wife and little ones and hanged himself. The flames destroyed the bodies of the whole family.

“Yuan Shao has added the remnants of the vanquished army to his own and so become yet stronger. His brother Yuan Shu in the South of River Huai, however, has become so arrogant and cruel that the people have turned against him. Then Yuan Shu had sent to say he would yield the title of Emperor, which he had assumed, in favor of Yuan Shao. Yuan Shao demanded the Imperial Hereditary Seal also, and Yuan Shu promised to bring it in person. Now Yuan Shu has abandoned River Huai and is about to move to the North of Yellow River. If he succeeded, the two brothers will control adjoining regions and be dangerous.”

It was a sad story, and Liu Bei remembered with sorrow that, in the days of success and prosperity, the dead chieftain, Gongsun Zan, had pushed his interest and shown him much kindness. Moreover he was anxious to know the fate of Zhao Zilong.

In his heart he thought, “What better chance am I likely to get of setting myself free?”

So Liu Bei rose and said to Cao Cao, “If Yuan Shu goes over to join his brother, he will surely pass through Xuzhou. I beg you to give me an army with which to smite him on the way. That will finish Yuan Shu.”

“Memorialize the Emperor tomorrow, and I will give you an army,” said Cao Cao.

So next day Liu Bei went to an audience, and Cao Cao gave him command of fifty thousand horse and foot, and sent Generals Zhu Ling and Lu Zhao with him.

At parting with Liu Bei, the Emperor shed tears.

As soon as Liu Bei reached his lodging, he set about preparations for immediate departure, taking his seal as General and preparing his weapons. Dong Cheng went three miles away from the city to bid him farewell.

“You must not mind my going. This journey will assuredly help on the scheme,” said Liu Bei.

“Keep your mind fixed on that,” said Dong Cheng, “and never forget what His Majesty requires of us.”

They parted. Presently his brothers asked him why he was in such a hurry to get away.

Liu Bei replied, “I have been a bird in a cage, a fish in a net. This is like the fish regaining the open sea and the bird soaring into the blue sky. I suffered much from the confinement.”

Then he ordered Zhu Ling and Lu Zhao to march the troops faster.

Now Guo Jia and Cheng Yu had been absent inspecting stores and supplies when Liu Bei left. As soon as they heard of his expedition, they went in to see their master, asking him why he had let Liu Bei go in command of an army.

“He is going to cut off Yuan Shu,” replied Cao Cao.

“Formerly, when he was Imperial Protector of Yuzhou, we recommended that he should be put to death, but you would not hear of it. Now you have given him an army. You have allowed the dragon to reach the sea, the tiger to return to the mountains. What control will you have in future?”

So spoke Cheng Yu, and Guo Jia followed in the same strain, saying, “Even if you would not put him to death, you need not have let him go. As the proverb says, ‘Relax opposition for one day and age-long harm ensues.’ You must admit the truth of this.”

Cao Cao recognized that these were prudent counsels, so he sent Xu Chu with five hundred horsemen and imperative orders to bring Liu Bei back again.

Liu Bei was marching as rapidly as possible when he noticed a cloud of dust in the rear and remarked to his brothers, “Surely they are pursuing us.”

He halted and made a stockade, and ordered his brothers to be in readiness, one on each flank. Presently the messenger arrived and found himself in the midst of an army ready for battle. Xu Chu dismounted and entered the camp to speak with Liu Bei.

“Sir, on what business have you come?” asked Liu Bei.

“The Prime Minister has sent me to request you to return as he has further matters to discuss with you.”

“When a general has once taken the field, even the royal command is of no effect. I bade farewell to the Emperor, I received the Prime Minister’s commands, and there can be nothing further to talk about. You may return forthwith and take that as my reply.”

Xu Chu was undecided what action to take. He thought, “The Prime Minister cherishes a friendship with Liu Bei, and I have no orders to kill. I can only return with this reply and ask further instructions.”

So Xu Chu left. When he related what had occurred, Cao Cao still hesitated to take any action.

“This refusal to return means enmity,” said Cheng Yu and Guo Jia.

“Still, two of my people are with him,” said Cao Cao. “He will not dare do anything unfriendly, I think. Beside, I sent him and I cannot go back on my own orders.”

So Liu Bei was not pursued.

He took his arms, he fed his steed,

And fared forth willingly,

Intent to accomplish his King’s behest

Deep graven on his memory.

At least he had broken out of his cage,

He heard not the tiger’s roar,

He had shaken the shackles from his feet,

As a dragon on high could soar.

As soon as Ma Teng heard that Liu Bei had set forth, he reported that pressing business called him and marched back to his own region, Xiliang.

When Liu Bei reached Xuzhou, the Deputy Imperial Protector, Che Zhou, came to meet him. When the official banquet was over, Sun Qian and Mi Zhu paid their visit to Che Zhou. Then Liu Bei proceeded to his residence to greet his family.

Scouts were sent out to see what Yuan Shu was doing. They came back with the intelligence: “Yuan Shu’s arrogance had driven away his generals, Lei Bo and Chen Lan, who had returned to their mountain fastness in Mount Song. His forces thus reduced, he wrote resigning the imperial style he had assumed in favor of his brother Yuan Shao, who at once commanded his presence. Thereupon he packed up the Palace fittings he had made, got the remnants of his army in order, and marched west.”

When Yuan Shu neared Xuzhou, Liu Bei led out his force of fifty thousand soldiers and four generals —-Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Zhu Ling, and Lu Zhao. Yuan Shu sent out Ji Ling to force a way through. But Zhang Fei opposed him and attacked without a parley. In the tenth bout Zhang Fei cut down Ji Ling. The defeated troops fled in all directions.

Then Yuan Shu came up with his own army. Liu Bei placed Zhu Ling and Lu Zhao in command of the left wing, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei the right wing, and himself in the center, and so met Yuan Shu.

As soon as the enemy came near, Liu Bei began to abuse him, crying, “O rebellious one, and wicked, I have a command to destroy you! Yield, then, with good grace and so escape your punishment!”

“Base weaver of mats and mean maker of straw sandals! How dare you make light of me?” replied Yuan Shu, and he gave the signal for an attack.

Liu Bei retired, and his generals from the flanks closed in. They smote the army of Yuan Shu till corpses littered the plain and blood flowed in streams. At the same time Yuan Shu’s former generals, Lei Bo and Chen Lan from Mount Song, attacked the baggage train and completed the destruction. Yuan Shu tried to retreat to Shouchun, but Lei Bo and Chen Lan barred the road.

Yuan Shu sought refuge in Jiangling, with one thousand troops left of all his army. And these were the weakly ones, able neither to fight nor flee. It was then the height of summer, and their food was nearly exhausted. The whole provision consisted of thirty carts of wheat. This was made over to the soldiers, and the members of his household went hungry. Many died of actual starvation. Yuan Shu could not swallow the coarse food that the soldiers lived on. One day he bade his cook bring him some honeyed water to quench his thirst.

“There is no water, save that tainted with blood,” replied the cook. “Where can I get honeyed water?”

This was the last straw. Yuan Shu sat up on his couch and rolled out on the floor with a loud cry. Blood gushed from his mouth and thus he died. It was the sixth month of the fourth year of Rebuilt Tranquillity (AD 199).

The last days of Han approached and weapons clashed in every quarter,

The misguided Yuan Shu, lost to all sense of honor,

Forgetful of his forefathers, who had filled the state’s highest offices,

Madly aspired to become himself Emperor,

Resting his outrageous claim on the possession of the Seal,

And arrogantly boasting that thus he fulfilled the design of Heaven.

Alas! Sick unto death he vainly begged for a little honeyed water;

He died, alone.

Yuan Shu being dead, his nephew, Yuan Yin, taking his coffin and his wife and children, sought shelter in Lujiang. There the Magistrate, Xu Liu, slew all the survivors. Among the possessions Xu Liu found the Imperial Hereditary Seal, which he at once took to the capital and presented to Cao Cao, for which service he was made Governor of Gaoling. Since then the Imperial Hereditary Seal belonged to Cao Cao.

When Liu Bei heard that Yuan Shu was dead, he prepared a report to the Throne, and sent it to Cao Cao. He sent the two generals deputed by Cao Cao, Zhu Ling and Lu Zhao, back to the capital, keeping the army to defend Xuzhou. He also personally went through the countryside commanding the people to resume their ordinary avocations.

Cao Cao was angry when his two officers returned without their man and was going to put them to death. Xun Yu reasoned with him.

“The power was in Liu Bei’s hands, and so these two had no alternative,” said Xun Yu.

So they were pardoned.

“You should instruct Che Zhou, the Deputy Imperial Protector, to try to destroy him,” said Xun Yu.

Accordingly he sent secret orders to Che Zhou, who took Chen Deng into his confidence and asked his advice.

Chen Deng said, “That is easy. Liu Bei is outside the city, and an ambush in the city gate to attack him on his return from the country will be final. I will attack the escort with arrows from the city walls.”

Che Zhou agreed to try this.

Then Chen Deng went to his father to tell him. Chen Gui bade him go and warn the intended victim. Chen Deng at once rode away to do so. Before long he met Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, to whom he told his story.

Now Liu Bei was following some distance behind. As soon as Zhang Fei heard of the plot, he wanted to attack the ambush, but Guan Yu proposed another plan.

Said he, “Attacking the ambush will be a failure, since we are without the walls. And I think we can compass the death of Che Zhou. In the night we will pretend to be some of Cao Cao’s soldiers and entice him out to meet us. We will slay him.”

Zhang Fei approved of the plan. Now the soldiers still had some of Cao Cao’s army banners and wore similar armor. About the third watch they came to the city wall and hailed the gate. Those on guard asked who they were. The men replied that they were Zhang Liao’s troops sent from the capital. This was told Che Zhou who sent hastily for Chen Deng to ask his advice.

“If I do not receive them, they will suspect my loyalty,” said Che Zhou. “Yet if I go out, I may be victim of a ruse.”

So he went up on the wall and said, “It is too dark to distinguish friends from foes. You must wait till daylight.”

“If Liu Bei know our presence, he will attack,” shouted back the soldiers.

And they begged him to let them in. Still Che Zhou hesitated. They shouted louder than ever to open the gate.

Presently Che Zhou girded on his armor, placed himself at the head of one thousand cavalry and went out. He galloped over the bridge, shouting, “Where is Zhang Liao?”

Then lights blazed around, and he recognized Guan Yu with his sword drawn.

“Wretch!” cried Guan Yu. “You would plot to slay my brother, would you?”

Che Zhou was too frightened to make good defense, and he turned to reenter the gate. But as he reached the drawbridge, Chen Deng shot out flights of arrows, wherefore Che Zhou turned aside and galloped along under the wall. But Guan Yu came quickly in pursuit. His sword was raised aloft, and as it came down, Che Zhou fell to the earth.

Guan Yu cut off his head and returned, shouting, “I have slain the traitor. You others need not fear if you only surrender!”

They threw aside their spears and gave in. As soon as the excitement had calmed, Guan Yu took the head to show Liu Bei and told him the story of the plot.

“But what will Cao Cao think of this?” said Liu Bei. “And he may come.”

“If he does, we can meet him,” said Guan Yu.

But Liu Bei was grieved beyond measure. When he entered the city, the elders of the people knelt in the road to welcome him. When he reached his residence, he found that Zhang Fei had already exterminated the family of Che Zhou.

Liu Bei said, “We have slain one of Cao Cao’s best officers, and how will he stand that?”

“Never mind!” cried Chen Deng. “I have a plan.”

Just from grave danger extricated,

A looming war must be placated.

The plan proposed by Chen Deng will be disclosed next.

Chapter 22

Yuan Shao And Cao Cao Both Take The Field; Guan Yu And Zhang Fei Captures Two Generals.

This was the plan Chen Deng proposed to Liu Bei, “Yuan Shao is Cao Cao’s terror. He is strongly posted in an extensive territory of four regions —-Jizhou, Qingzhou, Youzhou, and Bingzhou —-with one million fighting soldiers and numerous able officers. Write letters and pray him rescue you.”

Liu Bei replied, “But we have never had any dealings with each other, and he is unlikely to do such a thing for a person who has just destroyed his brother.”

“There is someone here whose family have been on intimate terms with the Yuans for a hundred years. Yuan Shao would surely come, if he wrote.”

“And who is this?”

“A man you know well and respect greatly. Can you not guess?”

“You surely mean Zheng Xuan,” said Liu Bei suddenly.

“That is he,” said Chen Deng smiling.

Now Zheng Xuan was a student and a man of great talent, who had long studied under the famed teacher Ma Rong, whose knowledge of the Book of Odes was universally recognized. Whenever Ma Rong lectured, he let fall a curtain behind which were a circle of singing girls. The students were assembled in front of this curtain. Zheng Xuan attended these lectures for three years and never once let his eyes wander to the curtain.

Naturally the master admired his pupil. After Zheng Xuan had finished his studies and gone home, Ma Rong praised him to the others, saying, “Only one man has penetrated the inner meaning of my instructions, and that one is Zheng Xuan.”

In Zheng Xuan’s household, the waiting maids were familiar with the Book of Odes. Once one of the maids opposed Zheng Xuan’s wishes, so as punishment she was made to kneel in front of the steps. Another girl made fun of her, quoting from an ode:

“What are you doing there in the mire?”

The kneeling girl capped the verse from another ode, quoted she:

“That was but a simple word I said,

Yet brought it wrath upon my head.”

Such was the family in which Zheng Xuan had been born. In the reign of the Emperor Huan, he rose to the rank of Chair of the Secretariat. But when the Ten Eunuchs began to control the government, he gave up office and retired into the country to Xuzhou. Liu Bei had known him before, had consulted him on many occasions, and greatly respected him.

Liu Bei was glad that he had remembered this man, and without loss of time, in company with Chen Deng, he went to Zheng Xuan’s house to ask him to draft this letter, which Zheng Xuan generously consented to do.

Sun Qian was entrusted with the task of delivery and set out at once. Yuan Shao read it and considered the matter long before speaking.

“Liu Bei destroyed my brother, and I ought not to help him, but out of consideration for the writer of this letter I must.”

Thereupon Yuan Shao assembled his officers to consider an attack upon Cao Cao.

Adviser Tian Feng said, “Do not raise an army. The people are worn out, and the granaries are empty with these constant wars. Let us rather report the recent victory of Gongsun Zan to the Throne. If that does not reach the Emperor, then memorialize that Cao Cao is hindering the government. Then raise an army, occupy Liyang, assemble a Yellow River fleet in Henan, prepare weapons, send out your various divisions, and within three years you will win all round.”

Adviser Shen Pei replied, “I do not agree. The military genius of our illustrious lord having overcome the hordes of the north, to dispose of Cao Cao is as simple as turning one’s hand. It is not a matter of months.”

Adviser Ju Shou said, “Victory is not always to the many. Cao Cao’s discipline is excellent; his soldiers are brave and well drilled. He will not sit down quietly waiting to be surrounded as Gongsun Zan did. Now you abandon the intention to inform the Throne of our success, which I find a good plan, but you intend to send out an army without any valid excuse. Our lord should not do that.”

Then followed adviser Guo Tu, saying, “You are wrong. No expedition against Cao Cao can lack excuse. But if our master would take the chance now offering itself of coming into his own, he will accede to the request in the letter of Zheng Xuan and ally himself with Liu Bei for the destruction of Cao Cao. This would win the approval of Heaven and the affections of the people, a double blessing.”

Thus the four advisers differed and wrangled, and Yuan Shao could not decide which to follow.

Then there came two others, Xu You and Xun Shen, and, seeing them, Yuan Shao said, “You two have wide experience, how would you decide?”

The two made their obeisance, and Yuan Shao said, “A letter from Zheng Xuan the Chair has arrived, counseling me to support Liu Bei in an attack on Cao Cao. Now am I to send an army or not send an army?”

They both cried with one voice, “Send! Your armies are numerous enough and strong enough. You will destroy a traitor and help the dynasty.”

“Your words just express my desire,” said Yuan Shao and thenceforward the discussion turned on the expedition.

First, Liu Bei’s legate, Sun Qian, was sent back with Yuan Shao’s consent and instructions for Liu Bei to make ready to cooperate. Second, Yuan Shao assigned Shen Pei and Peng Ji as Commanding Generals; Tian Feng, Xun Shen, and Xu You as Military Advisers; Yan Liang and Wen Chou as Generals. The army was to be composed of three hundred thousand, horse and foot in equal numbers. They were to march on Liyang.

When the arrangements were complete, Guo Tu went to his chief, saying, “In order to manifest the righteousness of your attack on Cao Cao, it would be well to issue a manifesto with a summary of his various crimes.”

Yuan Shao approved of this, and Chen Lin, well known as a scholar, was entrusted to compose such a document. Chen Lin had been the Court Secretary in the reign of the late Emperor Ling. When Dong Zhuo unseated Regent Marshal He Jin, Chen Lin sought safety in Jizhou. This is the manifesto:

“A perspicacious ruler wisely provides against political vicissitudes; a loyal minister carefully foresees the difficulties in the assertion of authority. Wherefore a person of unusual parts precedes an extraordinary situation, and of such a person the achievements will be extraordinary. For indeed the ordinary person is quite unequal to an extraordinary situation.

“In former days, after having gained ascendancy over a weakling emperor of the powerful Qin Dynasty, Prime Minister Zhao Gao wielded the whole authority of the Throne, overruling the government. All dignity and fortune came through him, and his contemporaries were restrained so that none dared to speak openly. Slowly but surely evolved the tragedy of the Wangyi Palace, when the Emperor was slain and the Imperial Tablets perished in the flames. Zhao Gao, the author of these crimes, has ever since been held up to obloquy as the arch example of an evil doer.

“In the later days of Empress Lu of the Hans, after the death of the Supreme Ancestor, the world saw Lu Chan and Lu Lu, brothers of the Empress and fellows in wickedness, monopolizing the powers of government. Within the capital, they commanded two armies, and without they ruled the feudal states of Liang and Zhao. They arbitrarily controlled all state affairs and decided all questions in the council chamber and the court. This dominance of the base and declension of the noble continued till the hearts of the people grew cold within them.

“Thereupon Zhou Bo, Lord of Jiang, and Liu Zhan, Lord of Zhuxu, asserted their dignity and let loose their wrath. They destroyed the contumacious ministers and restored their ruler to his royal state. Thus they enabled the kingly way to be reestablished and the glory to be manifested. Here are two instances where ministers asserted their authority.

“This Cao Cao, now Minister of Works, forsooth, had for ancestor a certain eunuch named Cao Teng, fitting companion of Xu Huan and Zuo Guan. All three were prodigies of wickedness and insatiably avaricious and, let loose on the world, they hindered ethical progress and preyed upon the populace. This Cao Teng begged for and adopted Cao Cao’s father who, by wholesale bribery, wagons of gold and cartloads of jewels presented at the gates of the influential, contrived to sneak his way into considerable office where he could subvert authority. Thus Cao Cao is the depraved bantling of a monstrous excrescence, devoid of all virtue in himself, ferocious and cunning, delighting in disorder and reveling in public calamity.

“Now I, Yuan Shao, a man of war, have mustered my armies and displayed my might that I may sweep away and destroy the evil opponents of government. I have already had to deal with Dong Zhuo, the ruffian who invaded the official circle and wrested the government. At that time I grasped my sword and beat the drums to restore order in the east. I assembled warriors, selected the best, and took them into my service. In this matter I came into relations with this Cao Cao and conferred with him to further my scheme. I gave him command of a subordinate force and looked to him to render such petty service as he was equal to. I suffered his stupidities and condoned his shortcomings, his rash attacks and facile retreats, his losses and shameful defeats, his repeated destruction of whole armies. Again and again I sent him more troops and filled the gaps in his depleted ranks. I even addressed a memorial to the Throne for him to be appointed Imperial Protector of Yanzhou. I made him feel as he were a tiger. I added to his honors and increased his authority, hoping that eventually he would justify himself by a victory against Dong Zhuo such as Qin used Meng Ming against Jin.

“But Cao Cao availed himself of the opportunity to overstep all bounds, to give free rein to violence and evil. He stripped the common people, outraged the good, and injured the virtuous. Bian Rang, Governor of Jiujiang, was a man of conspicuous talent and of world-wide reputation. He was honest in speech and correct in demeanor. He spoke without flattery. Cao Cao put him to death and his head was exposed, and his family utterly destroyed. From that day to this scholars have deeply mourned, and popular resentment has steadily grown. One person raised his arm in anger, and the whole countryside followed him. Whereupon Cao Cao was smitten at Xuzhou, and his territory was snatched by Lu Bu. He fled eastward without shelter or refuge.

“My policy is a strong trunk and weak branches, a commanding central government and obedient feudal lords. Also I am no partisan. Therefore I again raised my banners, donned my armor, and moved forward to attack. My drums rolled for an assault on Lu Bu, and his multitudes incontinently fled. I saved Cao Cao from destruction and restored him to a position of authority. Wherein I must confess to showing no kindness to the people of Yanzhou, although it was a great matter for Cao Cao.

“Later it happened that the imperial cortege moved east, and a horde of rebels of Dong Zhuo’s faction rose and attacked. The course of government was hindered. At that moment my territory was threatened from the north, and I could not leave it. Wherefore I sent one of my officers, Xu Xun, to Cao Cao to see to the repair of the dynastic temples and the protection of the youthful sovereign. Thereupon Cao Cao gave the rein to his inclinations. He arbitrarily ordered the removal of the court to Xuchang. He brought shame upon the Ruling House and subverted the laws. He engrossed the chairmanship of the three highest offices and monopolized the control of the administration. Offices and rewards were conferred according to his will; punishment was at his word. He glorified whole families of those he loved; he exterminated whole clans of those he hated. Open critics were executed; secret opponents were assassinated. Officials locked their lips; wayfarers only exchanged glances. Chairs of boards recorded levies, and every government official held a sinecure.

“The late Yang Biao, a man who had filled two of the highest offices of state as Chairs of two boards, because of some petty grudge was, though guiltless, charged with a crime. He was beaten and suffered every form of cruelty. This arbitrary and impulsive act was a flagrant disregard of constitutional rules.

“Another victim was the Counselor Zhao Yan. He was faithful in remonstrance, honest in speech, endowed with the highest principles of rectitude. He was listened to at court. His words carried enough weight with the Emperor to cause him to modify his intention and confer reward for outspokenness. Desirous of diverting all power into his own hands and stifle all criticism, Cao Cao presumed to arrest and put to death this censor, in defiance of all legal procedures.

“Another evil deed was the destruction of the tomb of Prince Xiao of Liang, the brother of the late Emperor. His tomb should certainly have been respected, even its mulberries and sweetgum trees, its cypresses and its pines. Cao Cao led soldiers to the cemetery and stood by while it was desecrated, the coffin destroyed and the poor corpse exposed. They stole the gold and jewels of the dead. This deed brought tears to the eyes of the Emperor and rent the hearts of all people. Cao Cao also appointed new offices —-Commander Who Opens Grave Mounds and General Who Seeks for Gold —-whose tracks were marked by desecrated graves and exhumed bodies. Indeed, while assuming the position of the highest officer of state, he indulged the inclination of a bandit, polluting the empire, oppressing the people, a bane to gods and humans.

“He added to this by setting up minute and vexatious prohibitions so that there were nets and snares spread in every pathway, traps and pitfalls laid in every road. A hand raised was caught in a net, a foot advanced was taken in an entanglement. Wherefore the people of his regions, Yanzhou and Yuzhou, waxed desperate and the inhabitants of the metropolis groaned and murmured in anger.

“Read down the names through all the years,

Of ministers that all people curse,

For greed and cruelty and lust,

Than Cao Cao you will not find a worse.

“I have investigated the cases of evil deeds in the regions, but I have been unable to reform him. I have given him repeated opportunities hoping that he would repent. But he has the heart of a wolf, the nature of a wild beast. He nourishes evil in his bosom and desires to pull down the pillars of the state, to weaken the House of Han, to destroy the loyal and true, and to stand himself conspicuous as the chiefest of criminals.

“Formerly, when I attacked the north, Gongsun Zan, that obstinate bandit and perverse brave, resisted my might for a year. Before Gongsun Zan could be destroyed, this Cao Cao wrote to him that, under the pretense of assisting my loyal armies, he would covertly lead them to destruction. The plot was discovered through his messengers, and Gongsun Zan also perished. This blunted Cao Cao’s ardor, and his plans failed.

“Now he is camped at the Ao Granaries, with the Yellow River to strengthen his position. Like the mantis in the story, who threatened the chariot with its forelegs, he thinks himself terrible. But with the dignity and prestige of Han to support me, I confront the whole world. I have spearmen by millions, horsemen by hundreds of thousands, fierce and vigorous warriors strong as Chong Huang and Wu Huo, those heroes of antiquity. I have enlisted expert archers and strong bowmen. In Bingzhou my armies have crossed the Taihang Range, and in Qingzhou they have forded River Ji and River Ta. They have coasted down the Yellow River to attack his van, and from Jingzhou the armies of Liu Biao have descended to Wancheng and Wangye to smite his rearguard. Thunder-like in the weight of their march, tiger-like in the alertness of their advance, they are as flames let loose among light grass, as the blue ocean poured on glowing embers. Is there any hope that he escape destruction?

“Of the hordes of Cao Cao, those who can fight are from the north or from other camps, and they all desire to return home. They weep whenever they look to the north. The others belong to Yanzhou or Yuzhou, being remnants of the armies of Lu Bu and Zhang Yang. Beaten, stern necessity forced them to accept service, but they take it only as a temporary expedient. They who have been wounded hate each other. If I give the signal to return and send my drums to the mountain tops, and wave the white flag to show them they may surrender, they will melt away like dew before the sun, and no blood will be shed. The victory will be mine.

“Now the Hans are failing and the bonds of empire are relaxed. The sacred dynasty has no supporter, the ministers are not strong enough to cope with the difficulties. Within the capital the responsible ministers are crestfallen and helpless. There is no one to rely upon. Such loyal and high principled people as are left are browbeaten by a tyrannical minister. How can they manifest their virtue?

“Cao Cao has surrounded the Palace with seven hundred veterans, the ostensible object being to guard the Emperor, but the covert design being to hold him prisoner. I fear this is but the first step in usurpation, and so I take my part. Now is the time for loyal ministers to sacrifice their lives, the opportunity for officers to perform meritorious deeds. Can I fail to urge you?

“Cao Cao has forged commands to himself to undertake the control of government affairs and, in the name of the state, sends out calls for military assistance. I fear lest distant regions may obey his behest and send troops to help him, to the detriment of the multitude and their everlasting shame. No wise person will do so.

“The forces of four regions —-Bingzhou, Jizhou, Qingzhou, and Youzhou —-are moving out simultaneously. When this call reaches Jingzhou, you will see their forces cooperate with those of Liu Biao. All regions and counties ought to organize volunteers and set them along their borders to demonstrate their force and prove their loyal support of the dynasty. Will not this be rendering extraordinary service?

“The rank of lordship, with feudal rights over five thousand households and a money reward of five millions, will be the reward of the one who brings the head of Cao Cao. No questions will be asked of those who surrender. I publish abroad this notice of my bounty and the rewards offered that you may realize that the dynasty is in real danger.”

Yuan Shao read this effusion with great joy. He at once ordered copies to be posted everywhere, in towns and cities, at gates, tax stations, ferries, and passes. Copies found their way to the capital, and one got into Cao Cao’s palace. That day he happened to be in bed with a bad headache. The servants took the paper to the sick man’s room. He read it and was frightened from the tips of his hair to the marrow of his very bones. He broke out into a cold perspiration, and his headache vanished.

Cao Cao bounded out of bed and said to Cao Hong, “Who wrote this?”

“They say it is Chen Lin’s brush,” replied he.

Cao Cao laughed, “They have the literary gift; they would rather have the military too to back it up. This fellow may be a very elegant writer, but what if Yuan Shao’s fighting capacity falls short?”

Cao Cao called his advisers together to consider the next move.

Kong Rong heard of the summons and went to Cao Cao, saying, “You should not fight with Yuan Shao: He is too strong. Make peace.”

Xun Yu said, “He is despicable. Do not make peace.”

Kong Rong replied, “His land is wide and his people strong. He has many skillful strategists like Guo Tu, Xu You, Peng Ji, and Shen Pei; loyal leaders like Tian Feng and Ju Shou; and formidable generals like Yan Liang and Wen Chou; able commanders like Gao Lan, Zhang He, Han Meng, and Chunyu Qiong. You cannot say he is despicable.”

Xun Yu laughed, saying, “His army is a rabble. One general, Tian Feng, is bold but treacherous; another, Xu You, is greedy and ignorant; Shen Pei is devoted but stupid; Peng Ji is steady but useless. And these four of such different temperaments, mutually incompatible, will make for confusion rather than efficiency. The brave Yan Liang and Wen Chou are worthless and can be disposed of in the first battle; and the others such as Gao Lan, Zhang He, Han Meng, and Chunyu Qiong are poor, rough stuff. What is the use even of their hundred thousands?”

Kong Rong was silent, and Cao Cao smiled.

“They are even as Xun Yu describes,” said Cao Cao.

Then Cao Cao issued orders. Generals Liu Dai and Wang Zhong were to lead an army of fifty thousand troops, displaying the Prime Minister’s banners, and march against Xuzhou to attack Liu Bei.

This Liu Dai had been Imperial Protector of Yanzhou but had surrendered to Cao Cao and entered Cao Cao’s service after the fall of his region. Cao Cao had given him a rank as Supernumerary Leader and now was disposed to make use of him.

Cao Cao himself took command of a large army of two hundred thousand troops for a simultaneous attack on Yuan Shao at Liyang.

Adviser Cheng Yu said, “The two Liu Dai and Wang Zhong sent against Liu Bei are unequal to their task.”

“I know,” said Cao Cao. “They are not meant to fight Liu Bei. It is merely a feint. They have orders not to make any real attack till I have overcome Yuan Shao. Then Liu Bei will be next.”

Liu Dai and Wang Zhong went their way, and Cao Cao marched out his grand army, which came into touch with the enemy, then thirty miles distant, at Liyang. Both sides made fortified camps and waited watching each other. This went on for two months of the autumn.

There was dissension in Yuan Shao’s camp. Xu You was at enmity with his colleague, Shen Pei, who was in commanding position; and the strategist Ju Shou resented the rejection of his plan. So they would not attack. Yuan Shao also could not make up his mind.

Tired of this state of inaction, Cao Cao then gave orders to his commanders: Zang Ba was to continue the pressure on Qingzhou and Xuzhou; Yu Jin and Li Dian to deploy troops along the Yellow River; Cao Ren to quarter the main force at Guandu. Then Cao Cao with an army marched back to Capital Xuchang.

The five legions sent against Liu Bei went into camp thirty-five miles from Xuzhou. The camp made an imposing display of the banners of the Prime Minister, but no attacks followed. Their spies were very busy north of the river to get news of Cao Cao’s movement. On the defensive side, Liu Bei, as he was uncertain of the strength of the force against him, dared not move.

Suddenly orders came for the Cao Cao’s army to attack, and then discord showed itself.

Liu Dai said, “The Prime Minister orders an attack: You advance.”

Wang Zhong replied, “You were named first.”

“I am the Commander-in-Chief. It is not my place to go first.”

“I will go with you in joint command,” said Wang Zhong.

“Let us cast lots, and he upon whom the lot falls must go,” said Liu Dai.

They drew lots, and it fell to Wang Zhong, who advanced toward Xuzhou with half the force.

When Liu Bei heard of the threatened attack, he called Chen Deng to consult.

Liu Bei said, “There is dissension in Yuan Shao’s camp at Liyang, so they do not advance. We do not know where Cao Cao is, but his own banner is not displayed in his Liyang’s camp. Why then is it shown here?”

Chen Deng replied, “His tricks take a hundred forms. It must be that he regards the north as more important and has gone there to look after its defense. He dares not show his flag there, and I feel sure it is only meant to mislead us. He is not here.”

Liu Bei then asked whether one of his brothers would find out the truth, and Zhang Fei volunteered to go.

“I fear you are unsuited for this,” said Liu Bei. “You are too impetuous.”

“If Cao Cao is there, I will haul him over here,” said Zhang Fei.

“Let me go first and find out,” said Guan Yu.

“If you go, I shall feel more at ease,” said Liu Bei.

So Guan Yu set out with three thousand soldiers to reconnoiter. It was then early winter, and snow was falling from a gloomy sky. They marched regardless of the snow and came near Wang Zhong’s camp with arms all ready to attack. Guan Yu summoned Wang Zhong to a parley.

“The Prime Minister is here. Why do you not surrender?” said Wang Zhong.

“Beg him to come to the front, for I would speak with him,” replied Guan Yu.

“Is he likely to come out to see such as you,” said Wang Zhong.

Guan Yu angrily dashed forward, and Wang Zhong set his spear to meet him. Guan Yu rode till he came close to his antagonist, then suddenly wheeled away. Wang Zhong went after him and followed up a slope. Just as they passed the crest, Guan Yu suddenly wheeled again, shouted, and came on flourishing the mighty sword. Wang Zhong could not withstand that and fled. But Guan Yu, changing the huge sword to his left hand, with his right laid hold of his victim by the straps of his breastplate, lifted him out of the saddle, and rode away to his own lines with the captive laid across the pommel of his saddle. Wang Zhong’s army scattered.

The captive was sent to Xuzhou, where he was summoned into the presence of Liu Bei.

“Who are you? What office do you hold? How dare you falsely display the ensigns of the Prime Minister?” said Liu Bei.

“What do you mean by falsely when I simply obeyed my orders?” said Wang Zhong. “My master wanted to produce the impression that he was present. Really he was not there.”

Liu Bei treated him kindly, giving him food and clothing, but put him in prison till his colleague could be captured.

Guan Yu said to Liu Bei, “I knew you had peaceful intentions in your mind; therefore, I captured Wang Zhong instead of slaying him.”

“I was afraid of Zhang Fei’s hasty and impulsive temper,” said Liu Bei. “He would have slain this man. So I could not send him. There is no advantage in killing people of this sort, and while alive they are often useful in amicable settlements.”

Here Zhang Fei said, “You have got this Wang Zhong; now I will go and get the other man.”

“Be careful,” said Liu Bei. “Liu Dai was once Imperial Protector of Yanzhou, and he was one of the nobles who met at Tiger Trap Pass to destroy Dong Zhuo. He is not to be despised.”

“I do not think him worth talking about so much. I will bring him in alive just as Second Brother did this other.”

“I fear that if his life be lost, it may upset our designs,” said Liu Bei.

“If I kill him, I will forfeit my own life,” said Zhang Fei.

So he was given three thousand soldiers and went off quickly.

The capture of his colleague made Liu Dai careful. He strengthened his defenses and kept behind them. He took no notice of the daily challenges and continual insults which began with Zhang Fei’s arrival.

After some days Zhang Fei evolved a ruse. He issued orders to prepare to rush the enemy’s camp at night, but he himself spent the day drinking. Pretending to be very intoxicated, he held a court-martial, and one soldier was severely flogged for a breach of discipline.

The man was left bound in the midst of the camp, Zhang Fei saying, “Wait till I am ready to start tonight: You shall be sacrificed to the flag.”

At the same time he gave secret orders to the custodians to let the man escape. The man found his opportunity, crept out of camp, and went over to the enemy, to whom he betrayed the plan of a night attack. As the man bore signs of savage punishment, Liu Dai was the more disposed to credit his desertion and tale. So Liu Dai made his arrangements, putting the greater part of his troops in ambush outside his camp so that it was empty.

That night, having divided his army into three parties, Zhang Fei went to attack the camp. A few men were ordered to advance directly, dash in and set fire going. Two larger bodies of troops were to go round to the rear of the camp and attack when they saw the fire well started. At the third watch, Zhang Fei, with his veterans, went to cut off Liu Dai’s road to the rear.

The thirty men told off to start a conflagration made their way into the camp and were successful. When the flames arose, the ambushing troops rushed out but only to find themselves attacked on both sides. This confused them, and as they knew nothing of the number of their assailants, they were panic stricken and scattered.

Liu Dai, with a company of footmen got clear of the fight and fled, but he went straight toward Zhang Fei. Escape was impossible, and the two men rode up each to attack the other. Zhang Fei captured his opponent, and the men surrendered. Zhang Fei sent news of this success to his brothers.

Liu Bei said, “Hitherto Zhang Fei has been rather violent, but this time he has acted wisely, and I am very pleased.”

They rode out to welcome Zhang Fei.

“You said I was too rough. How now?” said Zhang Fei to his brothers.

“If I had not put you on your mettle, you would not have evolved this stratagem,” said Liu Bei.

Zhang Fei laughed. Then appeared the captive Liu Dai, in bonds.

Liu Bei at once dismounted and loosed the cords, saying, “My young brother was rather hasty, but you must pardon him.”

So Liu Dai was freed. He was taken into the city, his colleague was released, and both were cared for.

Liu Bei said to them, “I could not help putting Deputy Imperial Protector Che Zhou to death when he tried to kill me, but Cao Cao took it as disaffection and sent you two generals to punish me. I have received much kindness from him and certainly would not show ingratitude by killing you. I wish you to speak for me and explain when you get back.”

“We are deeply grateful that you spare our lives, and we will certainly do so in gratitude for what our wives and children owe you.”

Next day the two leaders and their army were allowed to depart unscathed. But before they had got three miles from the boundary, they heard a mighty shouting and there appeared Zhang Fei barring the road.

“My brother made a mistake in letting you go. He did not understand. How could he give freedom to two rebels?”

This made the two men quake with fear, but as the fierce eyed warrior with uplifted sword was bearing down upon them, they heard another man galloping up and shouting, “Do not behave so disgracefully!”

The newcomer was Guan Yu, and his appearance relieved the unhappy men of all fear.

“Why do you stop them since our brother set them free?” cried Guan Yu.

“If they are let go today, they will surely come back,” cried Zhang Fei.

“Wait till they do, then you may kill them,” replied Guan Yu.

The two leaders with one voice cried, “Even if the Prime Minister slay our whole clans, we will never come again. We pray you pardon us.”

Said Zhang Fei, “If Cao Cao himself had come, I would have slain him. Not a breastplate should have gone back. But for this time I leave you your heads.”

Clapping their hands to their heads the two men scuttled off while the two brothers returned to the city.

“Cao Cao will certainly come,” said Guan Yu and Zhang Fei.

Sun Qian said, “This is not a city that can hold out for long. We should send part of our forces to Xiaopei and guard Xiapi as a corner stone of our position.”

Liu Bei agreed and told off Guan Yu to guard Xiapi whither he also sent his two wives, Lady Gan and Lady Mi. The former was a native of Xiapi; the latter was Mi Zhu’s younger sister.

Sun Qian, Jian Yong, Mi Zhu, and Mi Fang were left to defend Xuzhou, and Liu Bei with Zhang Fei went to Xiaopei.

The two released leaders, Liu Dai and Wang Zhong, hastened home to Cao Cao and explained to him that Liu Bei was not disaffected.

But their master was exceeding angry with them, crying, “You shameful traitors, what use are you?”

He roared to the guards to take them away to instant execution.

How can a hare or a deer expect

To conquer in tiger strife?

Minnows and shrimps that with dragons contend

Already have done with life.

The fate of the two leaders will be told in the next chapter.

Chapter 23

Mi Heng Slips His Garment And Rails At Traitors; Ji Ping Pledges To Kill The Prime Minister.

At the close of the last chapter the two unsuccessful leaders, Liu Dai and Wang Zhong, were in danger of death.

However, Kong Rong remonstrated with Cao Cao, saying, “You knew these two were no match for Liu Bei, and if you put them to death because they failed, you will lose the hearts of your people.”

Wherefore the death sentence was not executed, but they were deprived of rank and status.

Cao Cao next proposed to lead an army himself to attack Liu Bei, but Kong Rong advised, “The weather is too inclement. We must wait the return of spring. In the interval, we better use the time to arrange peace with Zhang Xiu and Liu Biao, before launching an expedition against Xuzhou.”

Wherefore Liu Ye was sent to Zhang Xiu and in due time reached Xiangyang. He first had an interview with Jia Xu, Zhang Xiu’s adviser, whereat he dwelt upon Cao Cao’s virtues so that Jia Xu was impressed. Jia Xu kept Liu Ye as a guest and undertook to smooth his way.

Soon after Liu Ye saw Zhang Xiu and spoke of the advantages of coming to terms with Cao Cao. While the discussion was in progress, a messenger from Yuan Shao was announced, and he was called in. He presented letters and, when they also proposed terms of peace, Jia Xu asked what their success had been lately against Cao Cao.

“The war had ceased for the moment on account of the winter,” replied the messenger. “As you, General, and Liu Biao are both well reputed officers of the state, I have been sent to request your help.”

Jia Xu laughed, “You can return to your master and say that as he could not brook rivalry of his brother, he certainly would be sorely put to it with that of all the officers of the state.”

The letter was torn into fragments before the messenger’s face, and he was angrily bidden be gone.

“But his master, Yuan Shao, is stronger than Cao Cao,” protested Zhang Xiu. “You have torn up his letter and are dismissing his man. What shall we say about such an insult should Yuan Shao come?”

“Better join hands with Cao Cao,” said Jia Xu.

“But there is still between us an unavenged enmity. We could not suffer each other.”

Jia Xu said, “There are three advantages in joining hands with Cao Cao. First, he has a command from the Emperor to restore peace. Second, as Yuan Shao is so strong, our little help to him will be despised, while we shall loom large and be well treated by Cao Cao. Third, Cao Cao is going to be Chief of the Feudal Lords, and he will ignore all private feuds in order to show his magnanimity to all the world. I hope, General, you will see these things clearly and hesitate no longer.”

Zhang Xiu, now convinced, became more reasonable and recalled Liu Ye, who, at the interview, extolled the many virtues of his master.

“If the Prime Minister had any thought of the old quarrel, he would hardly have sent me to make friendly engagements, would he?” said Liu Ye at the last.

So Zhang Xiu and his adviser proceeded to the capital where formal submission was made. At the interview Zhang Xiu bowed low at the steps, but Cao Cao, hastening forward, took him by the hand and raised him, saying, “Forget that little fault of mine, I pray you, General!”

Zhang Xiu received the title of General Who Possesses Prowess, and Jia Xu was appointed Counselor.

Cao Cao then directed his secretaries to draft letters inviting the support of Liu Biao.

Jia Xu said, “Liu Biao loves to have to do with famous people. If some famous scholar should be sent to him, he would submit forthwith.”

So Cao Cao inquired of Xun You who was the best person to go as a messenger, and he recommended Kong Rong. Cao Cao agreed and sent Xun You to speak with this officer.

Xun You went to Kong Rong, saying, “A scholar of reputation is required to aid as a messenger of state. Can you undertake this task?”

Kong Rong replied, “I have a certain friend, Mi Heng, whose talents are ten times mine. He ought to be constantly at the court of the Emperor and not merely be sent as a state messenger. I will recommend him to the Emperor.”

So Kong Rong wrote the following memorial:

“In ancient days, when the great waters were abroad, the emperor pondered over their regulation and he sought out people of talent from all directions. In old time, when Emperor Wu of the Hans desired to enlarge his borders, crowds of scholars responded to his call.

“Intelligent and holy, Your Majesty ascended the throne. You have fallen upon evil days, but have been diligent, modest, and untiring in your efforts. Now the great mountains have sent forth spirits, and people of genius appear.

“I, your humble servant, know of a certain simple scholar, Mi Heng by name, of Pingyuan, a young man of twenty-four. His moral character is excellent, his talents eminent. As a youth he took a high place in study and penetrated the most secret arcane of learning. What he glanced at he could repeat, what he heard once he never forgot. He is naturally high principled, and his thoughts are divine. Sang Hongyang’s mental calculations and Zhang Anshi’s memorial feats compared with Mi Heng’s powers are no longer wonderful. Loyal, sincere, correct, and straight-forward, his ambition is unsullied. He regards the good with trembling respect; he detests the evil with uncompromising hatred. Ren Zuo in unflinching candor, Shi Yu in severe rectitude, never surpassed him.

“Hundreds of hawks are not worth one osprey. If Mi Heng be given a court appointment, notable results must follow. Ready in debate, rapid in utterance, his overwhelming intelligence wells up in profusion. In the solution of doubts and the unraveling of difficulties he has no peer.

“In former days of Han, Jia Yi begged to be sent on trial to a vassal state for the control of the Xiongnu tribespeople; Zhong Jun offered to bring back the Prince of Nanyue to do homage to the emperor. The generous conduct of these youths has been much admired.

“In our day Lu Cui and Yan Xiang, remarkable for their talents, have been appointed among the secretaries. And Mi Heng is no less capable. Should he be got, then all possibilities may be realized: The dragon may curvet through the celestial streets and soar along the Milky Way; fame will extend to the poles of the universe and hang in the firmament with rainbow glory. He would be the glory of all the present Ministers and enhance the majesty of the Palace itself. The Music will acquire new beauties, and the Palace will contain an excellent treasure. People like Mi Heng are but few. As in the recitation of ‘Ji Chu Songs’ and the singing of ‘Yang E Poems’, the most skillful performers are sought; and such fleet horses as ‘Fei Tu Broncos’ and ‘Yao Niao Mustangs’ were looked for by the famous judges of horses, Wang Liang and Bo Le.

“So I, the humble one, dare not conceal this man. Your Majesty is careful in the selection of servants and should try him. Let him be summoned as he is, simply clad in his serge dress; and should he not appear worthy, then may I be punished for the fault of deception.”

The Emperor read the memorial and passed it to his Prime Minister, who duly summoned Mi Heng. He came, but after his formal salutations were over, he was left standing and not invited to sit down.

Looking up to heaven, Mi Heng sighed deeply, saying, “Wide as is the universe, it cannot produce the person.”

“Under my orders are scores of people whom the world call heroes. What do you mean by saying there is not the person,” said Cao Cao.

“I should be glad to hear who they are,” said Mi Heng.

“Xun Yu, Xun You, Guo Jia, and Cheng Yu are all people of profound skill and long views, superior to Xiao He and Chen Ping. Zhang Liao, Xu Chu, Li Dian, and Yue Jing are bravest of the brave, better than Cen Peng and Ma Wu. Lu Qian and Man Chong are my secretaries; Yu Jin and Xu Huang are my van leaders; Xiahou Dun is one of the world’s marvels, Cao Ren is the most successful leader of the age. Now say you there are not the people?”

“Sir, you are quite mistaken,” said Mi Heng with a smile. “I know all these things you call people. Xun Yu is qualified to pose at a funeral or ask after a sick man; Xun You is fit to be a tomb guardian; Cheng Yu might be sent to shut doors and bolt windows; and Guo Jia is a reciter of poems; Zhang Liao might beat drums and clang gongs; Xu Chu might lead cattle to pasture; Yue Jing would make a fair reader of elegy; Li Dian could carry dispatches and notices; Lu Qian would be a fair armorer; Man Chong could be sent to drink wine and eat brewers’ grains; Yu Jin might be of use to carry planks and build walls; Xu Huang might be employed to kill pigs and slay dogs; Xiahou Dun should be styled ‘Whole Body General,’ and Cao Ren should be called ‘Money-grubbing Governor.’ As for the remainder, they are mere clothes shelves, rice sacks, wine vases, flesh bags.”

“And what special gifts have you?” said Cao Cao angrily.

“I know everything in heaven above and the earth beneath. I am conversant with the Three Religions and the Nine Systems of Philosophy. I could make my prince the rival of Kings Yao and Shun, and I myself could compare in virtue with Confucius and Mencius. Can I discuss on even terms with common people?”

Now Zhang Liao was present, and he raised his sword to strike down the impudent visitor who spoke thus to his master, but Cao Cao said, “I want another drummer boy to play on occasions of congratulation in the court. I will confer this office upon him.”

Instead of indignantly declining this, Mi Heng accepted the position and went out.

“He spoke very impertinently,” said Zhang Liao. “Why did you not put him to death?”

“He has something of a reputation; empty, but people have heard of him and so, if I put him to death, they would say I was intolerant. As he thinks he has ability, I have made him a drummer to mortify him.”

Soon after Cao Cao instituted a banquet in the capital at which the guests were many. The drums were to be played, and the old drummers were ordered to wear new clothes. But the new drummer Mi Heng took his place with the other musicians clad in old and worn garments. The piece chosen was the “Tolling of Yuyang,” and from the earliest taps on the drum the effect was exquisite, profound as the notes from metal and stone. The performance stirred deeply the emotions of every guest; some even shed tears.

Seeing all eyes turned on the shabby performer, the attendants said, “Why did you not put on your new uniform?”

Mi Heng turned to them, slipped off his frayed and torn robe and stood there in full view, naked as he was born. The assembled guests covered their faces. Then the drummer composedly drew on his nether garments.

“Why do you behave so rudely at court?” said Cao Cao.

“To flout one’s prince and insult one’s superiors is the real rudeness,” cried Mi Heng. “I bare my natural body as an emblem of my purity.”

“So you are pure! And who is foul?”

“You do not distinguish between the wise and the foolish, which is to have foul vision. You have never read the Odes or the Histories, which is to have foul speech. You are deaf to honest words, which is to have foul ears. You are unable to reconcile antiquity with today, which is to be foul without. You cannot tolerate the vassals, which is to be foul within. You harbor thoughts of rebellion, which is to have a foul heart. I am one of the most famous scholars in the empire, and you make me a drummer boy, that is as Yang Huo belittling Confucius or Zang Cang vilifying Mencius. You desire to be chief and arbitrator of the great nobles, yet you treat me thus!”

Now Kong Rong who had recommended Mi Heng for employment was among the guests, and he feared for the life of his friend. Wherefore he tried to calm the storm.

“Mi Heng is only guilty of a misdemeanor,” said Kong Rong. “He is not a man likely to disturb your dreams like Fu Yue, Illustrious Sir.”

Pointing to Mi Heng, the Prime Minister said, “I will send you to Jingzhou as my messenger; and if Liu Biao surrenders to me, I will give you a post at court.”

But Mi Heng was unwilling to go. So Cao Cao bade two of his men prepare three horses, and they set Mi Heng on the middle one and dragged him along the road between them.

It is also related that a great number of officers of all ranks assembled at the East Gate to see the messenger start.

Xun Yu said, “When Mi Heng comes, we will not rise to salute him.”

So when Mi Heng came, dismounted, and entered the waiting room, they all sat stiff and silent. Mi Heng uttered a loud cry.

“What is that for?” said Xun Yu.

“Should not one cry out when one enters a coffin?” said Mi Heng.

“We may be corpses,” shouted they altogether, “but you are a wandering headless ghost.”

“I am a minister of Han and not a partisan of Cao Cao’s,” cried Mi Heng. “You cannot say I have no head.”

They were angry enough to kill him, but Xun Yu checked them, saying, “He is a paltry fellow. It is not worth soiling your blades with his blood.”

“I am paltry, and yet I have the soul of a man, and you are mere worms,” said Mi Heng.

They went their ways, all very angry. Mi Heng went on his journey and presently reached Jingzhou, where he saw Liu Biao. After that, under pretense of extolling Liu Biao’s virtue, he lampooned Liu Biao who was annoyed and sent him to Jiangxia to see Huang Zu.

“Why did you not put the fellow to death for lampooning you?” said one to Liu Biao.

“You see he shamed Cao Cao, but Cao Cao did not kill him as Cao Cao feared to lose popular favor. So Cao Cao sent him to me, thinking to borrow my hand to slay him and so suffer the loss of my good name. I have sent him on to Huang Zu to let Cao Cao see that I understood.”

Liu Biao’s clever caution met with general praise. At that time a messenger from Yuan Shao was also there with certain proposals for an alliance, and it was necessary to decide which aide to espouse. All the advisers came together to consider the question.

Then Commander Han Song said, “As you have now two offers, you can please yourself and choose your own way to destroy your enemies; for if one refuses, you can follow the other. Now Cao Cao is an able general and has many capable officers in his train. It looks as though he may destroy Yuan Shao and then move his armies across the river. I fear, my lord, you would be unable then to withstand him. That being so, it would be wise to support Cao Cao, who will treat you with respect.”

Liu Biao replied, “You go to the capital and see how things tend. That will help me to decide.”

Han Song said, “The positions of master and servant are clearly defined. Now I am your man prepared to go all lengths for you and obey you to the last, whether in serving the Emperor or in following Cao Cao. But lest there should be any doubt you must remember that if the Emperor gives me any office, then I shall become his servant and shall not be ready to face death for you.”

“You go and find out what you can. I have ideas in my mind.”

So Han Song took his leave and went to the capital, where he saw Cao Cao. Cao Cao gave him rank and made him Governor of Lingling.

Adviser Xun Yu remonstrated, saying, “This man came to spy out how things were moving. He has done nothing to deserve reward, and yet you give him an office like this. There were no such suspicious rumors connected with poor Mi Heng, and yet you sent him off and would never test his power.”

“Mi Heng shamed me too deeply before all the world. I am going to borrow Liu Biao’s hand to remove him. And you need say no more,” said Cao Cao.

Then Cao Cao sent Han Song back to his former master to tell him what had happened. Han Song came and was full of praise for the virtues of the court and was keen on persuading Liu Biao to espouse that side.

Then Liu Biao suddenly turned angry, charged him with treachery, put him in prison, and threatened him with death.

“You turn your back on me,” cried Han Song. “I did not betray you.”

Kuai Liang remarked, “Han Song had foretold this possibility before he left. It is only what he expected.”

Liu Biao, who was just and reasonable, went no further.

Presently came the news that Mi Heng had been put to death by Huang Zu on account of a quarrel begun over the wine cups. Both being worse for liquor they had begun to discuss the worth of people.

“You were in Xuchang,” said Huang Zu. “Who was there of worth?”

“The big boy was Kong Rong and the little one Yang Xiu. There was no one else to count.”

“What am I like?” said Huang Zu.

“You are like a god in a temple: You sit still and receive sacrifice, but the lack of intelligence is pitiful.”

“Do you regard me as a mere image?” cried Huang Zu, angrily.

So Huang Zu put the impudent speaker to death. Even at the very point of death, Mi Heng never ceased his railing and abuse.

“Alas!” sighed Liu Biao when he heard Mi Heng’s fate. Then Liu Biao had the victim honorably interred near Yingwu, on Parrot Island.

And a later poet wrote of Mi Heng:

Huang Zu could brook no rival; at his word

Mi Heng met death, beneath the cruel sword.

His grave on Parrot Isle may yet be seen,

The river flowing past it, coldly green.

Cao Cao heard of the young man’s death with pleasure.

“The putrid bookworm has just cut himself up with his own sharp tongue,” said he.

As there was no sign of Liu Biao coming to join him, Cao Cao began to think of coercion. Xun Yu dissuaded him from this course.

Said he, “Yuan Shao is not subjugated; Liu Bei is not destroyed. To attack Liu Biao would be to neglect the vital to care for the immaterial. Destroy the two chief enemies first, and the Han River is yours at one blow.”

And Cao Cao took the advice.

After the departure of Liu Bei, Dong Cheng and his fellow conspirators did nothing else day or night but try to evolve plans for the destruction of Cao Cao. But they could see no chance to attack. At the new year audience Cao Cao was odiously arrogant and overweening, and the chief conspirator’s disgust was so intense that he fell ill.

Hearing of the State Uncle’s indisposition, the Emperor sent the Court Physician to see him. The Court Physician at this time was a native of Luoyang, named Ji Ping. A very famous physician, Ji Ping devoted himself wholly to the treatment of his court patient. Living in Dong Cheng’s palace and seeing Dong Cheng at all times, Ji Ping soon found that some secret grief was sorely troubling him. But Ji Ping dared not ask questions.

One evening of the full moon festival, when the physician was just taking his leave, Dong Cheng kept him, and the two men had supper together. They eat talking for some time, and Dong Cheng by and by dropped off to sleep dressed as he was.

Presently Wang Zifu and the others were announced. As they were coming in, Wang Zifu cried, “Our business is settled!”

“I should be glad to hear how,” said Dong Cheng.

“Liu Biao has joined Yuan Shao, and five hundred thousand troops in fifty legions are on their way here by different routes. More than this, Ma Teng and Han Sui are coming from the northwest with seven hundred thousand Xiliang troops. Cao Cao has moved every soldier outside Xuchang to meet the combined armies. There is a great banquet in his palace tonight. If we get together our young men and servants, we can muster more than a thousand, and we can surround the palace, while Cao Cao is at the banquet, and finish him off. We must not miss this.”

Dong Cheng was more than delighted. He called his servants and armed them, put on his own armor and mounted his horse. The conspirators met, as they had arranged, just at the inner gate of the Prime Minister’s palace. It was the first watch. The small army marched straight in, Dong Cheng leading with his treasured sword drawn. His intended victim was at table in one of the private rooms. Dong Cheng rushed in, crying, “Cao Cao, you rebel, stay!” and dashed at Cao Cao who fell at the first blow.

And just then he woke up and found it was all a dream, but his mouth was still full of curses.

“Do you really wish to destroy Cao Cao?” said Ji Ping, going forward to his half awakened patient.

This brought Dong Cheng to his senses. He stopped, terror stricken, and made no reply.

“Do not be frightened, O Uncle,” said the doctor. “Although I am a physician, I am also a man, and I never forget my emperor. You have seemed sad for many days, but I have never ventured to ask the reason. Now you have shown it in your dream, and I know your real feelings. If I can be of any use, I will help. Nothing can daunt me.”

Dong Cheng covered his face and wept.

“I fear you may not be true to me,” cried he.

Ji Ping at once bit off a finger as a pledge of his faith. And then his host and patient brought forth the decree he had received in the girdle.

“I am afraid our schemes will come to nought,” said Dong Cheng. “Liu Bei and Ma Teng are gone, and there is nothing we can do. That was the real reason I fell ill.”

“It is not worth troubling you gentlemen with, for Cao Cao’s life lies in these hands of mine,” said Ji Ping.

“How can that be?”

“Because he is often ill with deep-seated pain in his head. When this comes on, he sends for me. When next he calls me, I only have to give him one dose and he will certainly die. We do not want any weapons.”

“If only you could do it! You would be the savior of the dynasty. It depends upon you.”

Then Ji Ping went away leaving his late patient a happy man. Dong Cheng strolled into the garden and there he saw one of his servants, Quin Quington, whispering with one of the concubines, Yun Ying, in a dark corner. This annoyed him, and he called his attendants to seize them. He would have put them to death but for the intervention of his wife. At her request he spared their lives, but both were beaten forty canes, and the lad was thrown into a dungeon. Sulky at this treatment, Quin Quington broke out of the cell in the night, climbed over the wall, and went straight to Cao Cao’s palace, where he betrayed the conspiracy.

Cao Cao at once had him taken into a secret chamber and questioned him.

Quin Quington gave the names of the conspirators, saying, “Wang Zifu, Wu Zilan, Chong Ji, Wu Shi, Ma Teng, and my master have been meeting secretly. My master has a roll of white silk, with writing on it, but I do not know what it means. Yesterday, Ji Ping bit off one of his fingers as a pledge of fidelity. I saw that.”

Quin Quington was kept in a secret part of the palace, while his late master, Dong Cheng, only knowing that he had run away, took no special means to find him.

Soon after this Cao Cao feigned a headache and sent for Ji Ping as usual.

“The rebel is done for,” thought Ji Ping, and he made a secret package of poison which he took with him to the palace of the Prime Minister. He found Cao Cao in bed. The patient bade the doctor prepare a potion for him.

“One draught will cure this disease,” said Ji Ping.

He bade them bring him a pot, and he prepared the potion in the room. When it had simmered for some time and was half finished, the poison was added, and soon after the physician presented the draught. Cao Cao, knowing it was poisoned, made excuses and would not swallow it.

“You should take it hot,” said the doctor. “Then there will be a gentle perspiration, and you will be better.”

“You are a scholar,” said Cao Cao, sitting up, “and know what is the correct thing to do. When the master is ill and takes drugs, the attendant first tastes them; when a man is ill, his son first tastes the medicine. You are my confidant and should drink first. Then I will swallow the remainder.”

“Medicine is to treat disease. What is the use of anyone’s tasting it?” said Ji Ping.

But he guessed now the conspiracy had been discovered, so he dashed forward, seized Cao Cao by the ear, and tried to pour the potion down his throat. Cao Cao pushed it away, and it spilt. The bricks upon which it fell were split asunder. Before Cao Cao could speak, his servants had already seized the assailant.

Said Cao Cao, “I am not ill. I only wanted to test you. So you really thought to poison me!”

He sent for a score of sturdy gaolers who carried off the prisoner to the inner apartments to be interrogated. Cao Cao took his seat in a pavilion, and the hapless physician, tightly bound, was thrown to the ground before him. The prisoner maintained a bold front.

Cao Cao said, “I thought you were a physician. How dared you try to poison me? Someone incited you to this crime. If you tell me, I will pardon you.”

“You are a rebel. You flout your Prince and injure your betters. The whole empire wishes to kill you. Do you think I am the only one?”

Cao Cao again and again pressed the prisoner to tell what he knew, but he only replied that no one had sent him and it was his own desire.

“I have failed, and I can but die,” added Ji Ping.

Cao Cao angrily bade the gaolers give him a severe beating, and they dogged him for two watches. His skin hung in tatters, the flesh was battered, and the blood from his wounds ran down the steps. Then fearing he might die and his evidence be lost, Cao Cao bade them cease and remove him. They took him off to a quiet place where he might recover somewhat.

Having issued orders to prepare a banquet for next day, Cao Cao invited all the courtiers thereto. Dong Cheng was the only one who excused himself, saying he was unwell. The other conspirators dared not stay away as they felt they would be suspected.

Tables were laid in the private apartments, and after several courses the host said, “There is not much to amuse us today, but I have a man to show you that will sober you.”

“Bring him in!” Cao Cao said, turning to the gaolers, and the hapless Ji Ping appeared, securely fastened in a wooden collar. He was placed where all could see him.

“You officials do not know that this man is connected with a gang of evil doers who desire to overturn the government and even injure me. However, Heaven has defeated their plans, but I desire that you should hear his evidence.”

Then Cao Cao ordered the gaolers to beat their prisoner. They did so till Ji Ping lay unconscious, when they revived him by spraying water over his face. As soon as he came to, he glared at his oppressor and ground his teeth.

“Cao Cao, you rebel! What are you waiting for? Why not kill me?” cried Ji Ping.

Cao Cao replied, “The conspirators were only six at first; you made the seventh. Is that true?”

Here the prisoner broke in with more abuse, while Wang Zifu and the other three conspirators exchanged glances, looking as though they were sitting on a rug full of needles. Cao Cao continued his torture of the prisoner, beating him into unconsciousness and reviving him with cold water, the victim disdaining to ask mercy. Finally Cao Cao realized he would incriminate none of his accomplices, and so he told the gaolers to remove Ji Ping.

At the close of the banquet, when the guests were dispersing, four of them, the four conspirators, were invited to remain behind to supper. They were terrified so that their souls seemed no longer to inhabit their bodies, but there was no saying nay to the invitation.

Presently Cao Cao said, “Still there is something I want to speak about, so I have asked you to stay for a time longer. I do not know what you four have been arranging with Dong Cheng.”

“Nothing at all,” said Wang Zifu.

“And what is written on the white silk?” asked Cao Cao.

They all said they knew nothing about it.

Then Cao Cao ordered the runaway servant to be brought in. As soon as Quin Quington came, Wang Zifu said, “Well, what have you seen and where?”

Quin Quington replied, “You five very carefully chose retired places to talk in, and you secretly signed a white roll. You cannot deny that.”

Wang Zifu replied, “This miserable creature was punished for misbehavior with one of Uncle Dong Cheng’s maids, and now because of that he slanders his master. You must not listen to him.”

“Ji Ping tried to pour poison down my throat. Who told him to do that if it was not Dong Cheng?” said Cao Cao.

They all said they knew nothing about who it was.

“So far,” said Cao Cao, “matters are only beginning, and there is a chance of forgiveness. But if the thing grows, it will be difficult not to take notice of it.”

The whole four vigorously denied that any plot existed. However Cao Cao called up his henchmen, and the four men were put into confinement.

Next day Cao Cao with a large following went to the State Uncle’s palace to ask after his health.

Dong Cheng came out to receive his visitor, who at once said, “Why did you not come last night?”

“I am not quite well yet and have to be very careful about going out,” replied Dong Cheng.

“One might say you were suffering from national sorrow, eh?” said Cao Cao.

Dong Cheng started. Cao Cao continued, “Have you heard of the Ji Ping affair?”

“No. What is it?”

Cao Cao smiled coldly, saying, “How can it be you do not know?”

He turned to his attendants and told them to bring in the prisoner, while he went on talking to his host about national illness.

Dong Cheng was much put about and knew not what to do. Soon the gaolers led in the physician to the steps of the hall. At once the bound man began to rail at Cao Cao as rebel and traitor.

“This man,” said Cao Cao, pointing to Ji Ping, “has implicated Wang Zifu and three others, all of whom are now under arrest. There is one more whom I have not caught yet.”

“Who sent you to poison me?” continued Cao Cao, turning toward the physician. “Quick, tell me!”

“Heaven sent me to slay a traitor!”

Cao Cao angrily ordered them to beat Ji Ping again, but there was no part of his body that could be beaten. Dong Cheng sat looking at him, his heart feeling as if transfixed with a dagger.

“You were born with ten fingers. How is it you have now only nine?”

Ji Ping replied, “I bit off one as a pledge when I swore to slay a traitor.”

Cao Cao told them to bring a knife, and they lopped off his other nine fingers.

“Now they are all off. That will teach you to make pledges.”

“Still I have a mouth that can swallow a traitor and a tongue that can curse him,” said Ji Ping.

Cao Cao told them to cut out his tongue.

Ji Ping said, “Do not. I cannot endure any more punishment, I shall have to speak out. Loosen my bonds.”

“Loose them. There is no reason why not,” said Cao Cao.

They loosed him. As soon as he was free, Ji Ping stood up, turned his face toward the Emperor’s palace and bowed, saying, “It is Heaven’s will that thy servant has been unable to remove the evil.”

Then he turned and smashed his head into the steps and died.

His body was quartered and exposed. This happened in the first month of the fifth year of Rebuilt Tranquillity (AD 200), and a certain historian wrote a poem:

There lived in Han a simple physician.

No warrior, yet brave

Enough to risk his very life

His Emperor to save.

Alas! He failed; but lasting fame

Is his; he feared not death;

He cursed the traitorous Prime Minister

Unto his latest breath.

Seeing his victim had passed beyond the realm of punishment, Cao Cao had Quin Quington led in.

“Do you know this man, Uncle?”

“Yes,” cried Dong Cheng. “So the runaway servant is here. He ought to be put to death!”

“He just told me of your treachery. He is my witness,” said Cao Cao. “Who would dare kill him?”

“How can you, the First Minister of State, heed the unsupported tale of an absconding servant?”

“But I have Wang Zifu and the others in prison,” said Cao Cao. “And how can you rebut their evidence?”

He then called in the remainder of his followers and ordered them to search Dong Cheng’s bedroom. They did so and found the decree that had been given him in the girdle and the pledge signed by the conspirators.

“You mean rat!” cried Cao Cao. “You dared do this?”

He gave orders to arrest the whole household without exception. Then he returned to his palace with the incriminating documents and called all his advisers together to discuss the dethronement of the Emperor and the setting up of a successor.

Many decrees, blood written, have issued, accomplishing nothing,

One inscribed pledge was fraught with mountains of sorrow.

The reader who wishes to how the fate of the Emperor must read the next chapter.

Chapter 24

Cao Cao Murdered The Consort Dong; Liu Bei Flees To Yuan Shao.

The last chapter closed with the discovery of the “girdle” decree and the assembly of Cao Cao’s advisers to consider the deposition of Emperor Xian.

Cheng Yu spoke strongly against this, saying, “Illustrious Sir, the means by which you impress the world and direct the government is the command of the House of Han. In these times of turmoil and rivalry among the nobles, such a step as the deposition of the ruler will certainly bring about civil war and is much to be deprecated.”

After reflection Cao Cao abandoned the project. But Dong Cheng’s plot was not to go unpunished. All five of the conspirators with every member of their households, seven hundred at least, were taken and put to death at one or another of the gates of the city. The people wept at such merciless and wholesale slaughter.

A secret decree in a girdle sewn,

In red blood written, the Emperor’s own,

To the staunch and faithful Dong Cheng addressed,

Who had saved him once when enemies pressed.

And who, sore grieved at his Sovereign’s fate,

Expressed in dreams his ceaseless hate,

Carried misfortune and death in its train,

But glory to him who died in vain.

Another poet wrote of the sad fate of Wang Zifu and his friends:

Greatheartedly these signed the silken roll,

And pledged themselves to save their king from shame.

Alas! Black death of them took heavy toll,

To write their names upon the roll of fame.

But the slaughter of the conspirators and their whole households did not appease the wrath of the Prime Minister. The Emperor’s consort was a sister of Dong Cheng; and, sword in hand, Cao Cao went into the Forbidden City determined to slay her also. The Emperor cherished her tenderly, the more so as she was then in the fifth month of pregnancy. That day, as they often did, the Emperor, Consort Dong, and Empress Fu were sitting in their private apartment secretly talking of the decree entrusted to Dong Cheng and asking each other why nothing seemed to have been done. The sudden appearance of the angry Prime Minister, armed as he was, frightened them greatly.

“Does Your Majesty know that Dong Cheng conspired against me?” said he.

“Dong Zhuo died long ago,” replied the Emperor.

“Not Dong Zhuo —-Dong Cheng!” roared Cao Cao.

The Emperor’s heart trembled, but he gasped out, “Really I did not know!”

“So the cut finger and the blood written decree are all forgotten, eh?”

The Emperor was silent. Cao Cao bade his lictors seize Consort Dong. The Emperor interposed asking pity for her condition.

But Cao Cao said, “If Heaven had not interposed and defeated the plot, I should be a dead man. How could I leave this woman to work evil to me by and by?”

Said the Emperor, “Immure her in one of the palaces till her confinement. Do not harm her now!”

“Do you wish me to spare her offspring to avenge the mother?” said Cao Cao.

“I pray that my body may be spared mutilation and not put to shame,” said Consort Dong.

Cao Cao bade his men show her the white silk cord. The Emperor wept bitterly.

“Do not hate me in the below realms of the Nine Golden Springs,” said the Emperor to her.

His tears fell like rain. Empress Fu also joined in the lament, but Cao Cao said, “You are behaving like a lot of children.”

And he told the lictors to take Consort Dong away and strangle her in the courtyard.

In vain had the fair girl found favor in the sight of her lord.

She died, and the fruit of her womb perished.

Stern and calm her lord sat, powerless to save.

Hiding his face while tears gushed forth.

When leaving the Palace, Cao Cao gave strict orders to the keepers, saying “Anyone of the imperial relatives by marriage who enter the Palace will be put to death, and the guards will share the same punishment for lack of zeal.”

To make more sure he appointed three thousand Imperial Guards from his own troops and appointed Cao Hong to the command.

Then said Cao Cao to his counselor Cheng Yu, “The conspirators in the capital have been removed, it is true, but there are yet two others, Ma Teng and Liu Bei. These must not be left.”

Cheng Yu replied, “Ma Teng is strong in the west and would not be easily captured. He might be enticed to the capital by suave words and kindly praises, when he would be at your mercy. Liu Bei is at Xuzhou, strongly posted in an ox-horn formation, and not to be lightly attacked. More than this, Yuan Shao is at Guandu, and his one desire is to attack you. Any attempt on the east will send Liu Bei to Yuan Shao for help, and Yuan Shao will come here at once. Then what will you do?”

“You are at fault,” replied Cao Cao. “Liu Bei is a bold warrior. If we wait till he is fully fledged and winged, he will be more difficult to deal with. Yuan Shao may be strong, but he is not to be feared. He is too undeciding to act.”

As they were discussing these things, Guo Jia came in, and Cao Cao suddenly referred the matter to him.

“If I attack Liu Bei, then Yuan Shao is to be feared. What do you think of it?”

Guo Jia said, “Yuan Shao by nature is dilatory and hesitating, and his various advisers are jealous of each other. He is not to be feared. Liu Bei is getting together a new army and has not yet won their hearts. You could settle the east in one battle.”

“This advice is in harmony with my thinking,” said Cao Cao.

And he prepared an army of two hundred thousand troops, to move in five divisions against Xuzhou.

Scouts took the news of these preparations to Xuzhou. Sun Qian first went to Xiapi to tell Guan Yu and then went to Xiaopei to tell Liu Bei. The two discussed the position and decided that help must be sought. So letters were written to Yuan Shao and given to Sun Qian, who went north, sought Tian Feng, and asked him to arrange an interview with Yuan Shao. Sun Qian was introduced and presented his letters.

But Yuan Shao was of melancholy countenance, and his dress was all awry. Tian Feng said, “Why this disarray, my lord?”

“I am about to die,” replied Yuan Shao.

“But why do you utter such words?”

“I have three sons, but only the youngest is clever enough to understand my ideas. Now he is suffering from scabies which places his life in jeopardy. Think you that I have any heart to talk over any other affairs?”

“But,” said Tian Feng, “the present combination of circumstances is unparalleled. Cao Cao is going to attack the east, and Xuchang will be empty. You can enter it with a few volunteers and so perform good service to the Emperor and save the people from sorrow. You have only to make up your mind to act.”

“I know the chance is excellent, but I am worried and distressed and fear failure.”

“What are you distressed about?” said Tian Feng.

“Among my sons only this special one is remarkable; and if anything happens, I am done.”

Thus it became evident that no army would be dispatched.

In confirmation of this, Yuan Shao said to Sun Qian, “Go home and tell Liu Bei the real reason, and say that if anything untoward happen, he can come over to me, and I will find some means of helping him.”

Tian Feng struck the ground with his staff.

“It is such a pity!” cried he. “Just as a unique opportunity presents itself, everything is spoiled by the illness of a child.”

He went out. Sun Qian saw that no help could be hoped for and set out to return. When he had arrived and related what he had seen, Liu Bei was quite alarmed and asked what could be done.

“Do not be troubled, brother,” said Zhang Fei. “We can destroy Cao Cao merely by a sudden attack before his army shall have time to camp.”

“That would be according to the rules of war,” said Liu Bei. “You have always been a bold warrior, and that move against Liu Dai shows that you are becoming a strategist too.”

So Liu Bei gave Zhang Fei command of enough soldiers to carry out this plan.

Now while Cao Cao was in the midst of his march toward Xiaopei, a tornado sprang up and the howling gale tore down one of the banners and broke the staff. Cao Cao called together his advisers and leaders to ask them what this portended.

Xun Yu said, “From what direction was the wind at the time, and what was the color of the flag?”

“The wind was from the southeast, and the flag was blue and red.”

“There is only one interpretation: A raid on the camp will occur tonight.”

Cao Cao nodded. At that moment Mao Jie entered and reported a similar incident. Cao Cao asked him the portent.

“My thinking tells me it means a night raid,” replied he.

Alas for the weakness of this descendant of kings!

He placed his faith on a night raid.

But the broken staff of a banner warned his enemy.

Why should the ancient of days favor the wicked?

“This is evidently providence,” said Cao Cao.

And he began to make preparations. He told off nine bodies of troops to take stations, leaving only one of them as if camped while he placed the others in ambush at eight points.

There was but little moonlight as Liu Bei and Zhang Fei marched their respective armies toward Cao Cao’s camp. They had left Sun Qian to guard Xiaopei. Zhang Fei, since he was the originator of the stratagem, led the way with some light horse. As they drew near, everything seemed very quiet and no one seemed moving. Then suddenly lights flashed out all about them, and Zhang Fei saw he had fallen into a trap. At once from all the eight directions came out the ambushing troops. From east, west, north, south were Zhang Liao, Xu Chu, Li Dian, and Yu Jin. From northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest were Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan, Xu Huang, and Yue Jing.

Zhang Fei, dashing this way and rushing that, guarding his van and protecting his rear, vainly tried to clear himself. The soldiers he had, being originally Cao Cao’s troops, soon gave in and returned to their old leader. The position became very desperate.

Zhang Fei met Xu Huang and engaged him, but his rear was also attacked by Yue Jing. At length he cut an alley out and with a half score of his troops started to return to Xiaopei. The retreat was cut off. He thought to make for Xuzhou but felt certain that way was also barred. No other way seemed open, and so he made for the Mangdang Hills.

As Liu Bei drew near the camp, he intended to attack when he heard the din of battle. Then he was attacked in the rear and very soon had lost half his force. Next Xiahou Dun came to attack. Thereupon Liu Bei bolted. He was pursued by Xiahou Yuan. Presently Liu Bei looked about him and found he had less than half a hundred soldiers following him. He set his face in the direction of Xiaopei.

But before long Liu Bei saw that place was in flames. So he changed his plan and went toward Xiapi. However he found the whole countryside full of the enemy, and he could not get through. So he bethought himself of the promise of Yuan Shao, that he would find refuge if things went unfavorable, and determined to go to Yuan Shao till he could form some other plan. Wherefore he took the Qingzhou road. But it also was blocked, and he went into the open country and made his way north, not without being pursued and losing the remainder of his few followers.

He hastened toward Qingzhou City, traveling one hundred miles a day. When he reached the city and summoned the gate, the guards asked who he was and they told the Governor, who was Yuan Shao’s eldest son, Yuan Tan. Yuan Tan was greatly surprised, but he opened the gates and went to meet Liu Bei, whom he treated with due consideration.

Liu Bei told the story of his defeat and said he wished for harbor. He was given suitable quarters and hospitably entertained, while the young man wrote to inform his father. Then Yuan Tan provided an escort and sent Liu Bei on his journey as far as the boundary of Pingyuan.

At the city of Yejun, Liu Bei was met by Yuan Shao in person ten miles outside the city, with a great escort. Liu Bei made a humble obeisance which Yuan Shao hastened to return and said, “I have been very distressed that, on account of my son’s illness, I did not come to your aid. It is a great joy to see you; the one desire of my life is satisfied.”

Liu Bei replied, “The poor Liu Bei you see here has long desired to take refuge with you, but fate has hitherto denied him that privilege. Now attacked by Cao Cao, my family lost, I remembered that you, General, would receive good people from all sides. Wherefore I put my pride in my pocket. I trust that I may be found worthy and one day I will prove my gratitude.”

Yuan Shao received him with much pleasure and treated him exceedingly well. And they both lived in Yuan Shao’s home region Jizhou.

After the capture of Xiaopei, Cao Cao pressed on toward Xuzhou City, which, after a short defense and the flight of Mi Zhu and Jian Yong, was surrendered by Chen Deng. Cao Cao led his army into the city, restored order, and pacified the people. Next he wanted to press on to Xiapi, where Guan Yu was holding out and keeping guard of Liu Bei’s family.

Xun Yu said, “Guan Yu is there, in charge of his brother’s family, and he will defend the city to the last. If you do not take it quickly, Yuan Shao will get it.”

Cao Cao said, “I have always loved Guan Yu, both for his warlike abilities and his principles. I would engage him to enter my service. I would rather send someone to talk him into surrender.”

“He will not do that,” said Guo Jia. “His sense of right is too solid. I fear anyone who went to speak with him would suffer.”

Then suddenly a man stepped out, saying, “I know him slightly, and I will go.”

The speaker was Zhang Liao.

Cheng Yu looked at him and said, “Though you are an old acquaintance, I do not think you are equal to talking over Guan Yu. But I have a scheme that will so entangle him that he will have no alternative. He will have to enter the service of the Prime Minister.”

They set the fatal spring beside the lordly tiger’s trail,

They hide the hook with fragrant bait to catch the mighty whale.

How Guan Yu was to be entrapped will be told in the next chapter.

Chapter 25

Besieged In Tushan, Guan Yu Makes Three Conditions; Relieved At Baima, Cao Cao Beholds A Marvel.

The plan to seduce Guan Yu from allegiance to his brothers was now announced by Cheng Yu, “Since Guan Yu is far braver than ordinary warriors, he can only be overreached by superior cunning. Now send some of the captured soldiers who have lately been of Liu Bei’s army into Xiapi, where they shall say they have come back. They shall thus be our allies on the inside. Then an attack and a feigned defeat will entice Guan Yu to a distance from the city. And his return road shall be cut.”

Cao Cao accepted the scheme, and a few score of the troops who had lately been in Xuzhou were sent to the city. Guan Yu believed the story they told and trusted them. So they were suffered to remain.

After this part of the game had been played, Xiahou Dun led forward five thousand troops against the city. At first, Guan Yu would not accept the challenge. But provoked by men sent to hurl insults at him from the foot of the wall, his wrath got the better of him, and he moved out with three thousand troops. After the leaders had exchanged some ten bouts, Xiahou Dun made to run away. Guan Yu pursued. Xiahou Dun stopped and made a stand, then he fled again. Thus alternately fighting and retiring, he enticed Guan Yu seven miles from Xiapi. Then Guan Yu suddenly remembering the risk to the city drew off his army to return homeward.

Soon, at the sound of a signal bomb, from the left and right out moved two bodies of troops led by Xu Huang and Xu Chu who barred his way. Guan Yu hastened along a road that seemed to offer retreat, but from both sides his ambushing enemies shot their crossbows, and the arrows flew like locusts on the wing. No way past was found, and he turned back. Then both bodies joined in attacking him. He drove them off and got into the road to his own city, but soon Xiahou Dun came up again and attacked fiercely as before. Evening came and still Guan Yu was hemmed in, so he went up on a low hill of Tushan Mountains upon which he encamped for a rest.

Guan Yu was surrounded on all sides by enemies. By and by, looking toward his city, he saw the glow of fire. It meant that the traitors, who had come in to surrender, had opened the gate, and the enemy had gone in force. They had made the fires in order to perplex and distress Guan Yu, and indeed the sight saddened him.

In the night he made efforts to escape from the hill, but every attempt was checked by flights of arrows. At daybreak he prepared for one more effort, but before moving he saw a horseman riding up at full speed and presently discerned Zhang Liao.

When within speaking distance, Guan Yu said, “Are you come to fight me, Zhang Liao?”

“No,” replied Zhang Liao. “I am come to see you because of our old friendship.”

Wherefore Zhang Liao threw aside his sword, dismounted, and came forward saluting. And the two sat down.

“Then naturally you have come to talk me over,” said Guan Yu.

“Not so!” said Zhang Liao. “Sometime ago you saved me. Can I help saving you?”

“Then you desire to help me.”

“Not exactly that,” replied Zhang Liao.

“Then what are you doing here if you have not come to help me?”

“Nothing is known of the fate of your elder brother, nor whether your younger brother is alive or dead. Last night your city fell into the hands of Cao Cao, but neither soldiers nor people were harmed, and a special guard was set over the family of Liu Bei lest they should be alarmed. I came to tell you how well they had been treated.”

“This is certainly talking me over,” said Guan Yu. “Though escape is impossible, yet I am not perturbed. I look upon death as going home. You had better depart quickly and let me go down and begin the struggle again.”

“Surely you must know everybody will ridicule you when they hear of this,” said Zhang Liao.

“I shall die for loyalty and righteousness. Who will laugh?” said Guan Yu.

“You would be guilty of three faults if you died.”

“Tell me them,” said Guan Yu.

“First of all, you and your elder brother pledged yourselves in the Peach Garden to die or to live together. Now your brother has been defeated, and you want to fight to the death. Therefore, if your brother appears again by and by and wants your help, he will seek it in vain. Is this anything else than betraying the Peach Garden Oath? Secondly, you are in charge of your brother’s family and, if you fought and died, the two women would be left forlorn and without a protector. That would be a betrayal of trust. Thirdly, your military skill stands out conspicuous and will go down in history. If you do not aid your brother in his noble attempt to maintain the dynasty, then all your labors and sufferings will have been spent to win a worthless reputation as a valiant fool. Where is the sense in that? I feel it my duty to point out these three faults to you.”

Guan Yu remained silent and thought for some time.

Then he said, “You have spoken of my three faults. What do you desire?”

“You are surrounded with the certainty of death if you do not yield. There is no advantage in a useless death. Wherefore your best course is to yield to Cao Cao till you hear news of Liu Bei and can rejoin him. Thus you will ensure the safety of the two ladies and also keep inviolate the Peach Garden compact. You will preserve a useful life. Brother, you must reflect on these things.”

“Brother, you have spoken of three advantages; now I have three conditions. If the Prime Minister concede these, then will I doff my armor. If he refuses, then I prefer to be guilty of the three faults and die.”

“Why should the Prime Minister not concede them? He is most liberal and large minded. I pray you let me hear your conditions.”

“The first is that as I and the Imperial Uncle have sworn to support the Hans, I now submit to the Emperor and not to His Prime Minister Cao Cao. The second condition is that suitable provision be made for the two ladies under my care and that no one shall be allowed to approach them. The third is that I shall be allowed to set off to rejoin Uncle Liu Bei so soon as I shall hear where he is, whether it be far or near. I require all these to be satisfied. Failing a single one, I will not submit. Wherefore, Zhang Liao, I pray you hasten back and announce them.”

Zhang Liao lost no time but rode back to Cao Cao. When he spoke of Guan Yu’s intention to submit to the Hans but not to Cao Cao, the latter laughed, saying, “As I am a minister of Han, so am I Han. I grant that.”

Zhang Liao then spoke of provision due to their rank and security from molestation for the ladies, to which Cao Cao replied, “I will give them twice the regular amount for an Uncle of the Emperor. As for securing them from molestation, that is simple. The ordinary domestic law is enough. Why should there be any doubt?”

Then said Zhang Liao, “Whenever he shall get news of the whereabouts of Liu Bei, he must go to him.”

At this Cao Cao shook his head, saying, “Then I am merely to feed Guan Yu. What is the use of this? I cannot consent.”

Zhang Liao replied, “You must know of Yu Rang’s saying: The difference in behavior brought about by difference of treatment? Liu Bei treats Guan Yu just kindly and liberally. You can surely engage Guan Yu’s heart and support by being kinder and more liberal.”

“What you say is much to the point. I will grant the three conditions,” said Cao Cao.

Whereupon Zhang Liao left to carry the news to Guan Yu, still on the summit of the Tushan Mountains.

Said Guan Yu, “Now I expect the army to withdraw so that I may enter the city to tell the two ladies what has been arranged. After that I submit at once.”

Zhang Liao rode back once more with this request, and the order was given for the army to retire three miles.

“Do not do this,” said Xun Yu. “I fear treachery.”

“He will certainly not break faith,” said Cao Cao. “He is too high principled.”

The army retired, and Guan Yu with his force reentered the city of Xiapi, where he saw that the people were following their ordinary avocations in tranquillity. He came to the palace and went in to see the two ladies, who hastened to meet him.

He bowed to them below the steps and said, “I apologize for having caused you to feel alarmed.”

“Where is the Uncle?” asked they.

“I know not whither he has gone.”

“What do you intend to do, brother-in-law?”

“I went out of the city to try a last battle. I was surrounded on a hill top, and Zhang Liao has urged me to yield. I proposed three conditions, all of which were conceded, and the enemy drew off to allow me to return to the city. Unless I have your decision, sisters-in-law, I scarcely dare to take any final step.”

They asked what were the conditions and were told.

Lady Gan said, “When Cao Cao’s army came in, we took it to mean certain death. But it is scarcely credible that not a hair of our heads has been disturbed. Not a soldier has dared enter our doors. You have accepted the conditions, brother-in-law, and there is no need to ask our consent. Our only fear is that he will not let you go by and by to search for the Uncle.”

“Sisters-in-law, you need not be anxious. I will see to that.”

“You must decide everything and need not ask us.”

Guan Yu withdrew and then, with a small escort, went to his interview with Cao Cao. Cao Cao came to the outermost gate to welcome him, and Guan Yu dismounted and made obeisance. Cao Cao returned his salute with the greatest cordiality.

“The leader of a defeated army is grateful for the graciousness that has preserved his life,” said Guan Yu.

“I have so long admired your loyalty and high principles that this happy meeting gratifies the desire of my whole life,” replied Cao Cao.

“As the Prime Minister has granted the three requests which my friend petitioned for on my behalf, there is now but little to discuss,” said Guan Yu.

“As I have spoken, so be it. I could not break faith,” replied Cao Cao.

“Whenever I hear where Uncle Liu Bei is, I must certainly go to him, even if through fire and water. It may be that there will be no time nor opportunity of saying farewell. I trust you will understand the reason.”

“If Liu Bei should prove to be alive, you must certainly be allowed to go to him. But I fear that in the confusion he may have lost his life. You may set your mind at rest and let me make inquiries.”

Guan Yu thanked him. Then a banquet was prepared in Guan Yu’s honor. Next day the army started on its homeward march.

For the journey to the capital, a carriage was prepared for the two ladies, and Guan Yu was its guard. On the road they rested at a certain post station, and Cao Cao, anxious to compromise Guan Yu by beguiling him into forgetfulness of his duty, assigned Guan Yu to the same apartment as his sisters-in-law. Guan Yu stood the whole night before the door with a lighted candle in his hand. Not once did he yield to fatigue. Cao Cao’s respect for him could not but increase.

At the capital the Prime Minister assigned a dignified residence to Guan Yu, which he immediately divided into two enclosures, the inner one for the two ladies and the other for himself. He placed a guard of eighteen of his veterans over the women’s quarters.

Guan Yu was presented to Emperor Xian who conferred upon him the rank of General Who Serves the Hans. Guan Yu expressed his thanks to the Emperor. Next day Cao Cao made a great banquet, inviting all his advisers and officers, solely in honor of Guan Yu, who sat in the seat of honor. Beside this Guan Yu received presents of silks and gold and silver vessels, all of which Guan Yu sent into the ladies’ quarters for their use and keeping. In fact from the day of arrival in the capital, Guan Yu was treated with marked respect and distinction, small banquets following each other in each three days, and large banquets held in each five days.

Cao Cao also presented him with ten most lovely serving girls. Guan Yu sent these also within to wait upon his two sisters-in-law.

Every third day Guan Yu went to the door of the women’s quarters to inquire after their welfare, and then they asked if any news of the wanderer had come. This ceremony closed with the words: “Brother-in-law, you may retire when you wish.”

Cao Cao heard of this extremely correct behavior and thought all the more of the man for it.

One day Cao Cao noticed that the robe Guan Yu was wearing was old and frayed. Taking his measurements, Cao Cao had a new one made of fine brocade and presented it to him. Guan Yu took it and put it on under the old robe, so that the latter covered it.

“Why so very thrifty?” laughed Cao Cao.

“It is not thrift,” was his reply. “The old robe was a gift from my brother, and I wear it because it reminds me of him. I could not allow the new gift to eclipse his old one.”

“How very high principled!” said Cao Cao, sighing.

One day when Guan Yu was at home, there came a messenger to say that the two women had thrown themselves on the ground and were weeping. They would not say why.

Guan Yu set his dress in order, went over, and knelt by the door, saying, “Why this grief, sisters-in-law?”

Lady Gan replied, “In the night I dreamed that the Uncle had fallen into a pit. I woke up and told Lady Mi, and we think he must be dead. So we weep.”

“Dreams are not to be credited,” he replied. “You dreamed of him because you were thinking of him. Pray do not grieve.”

Just then Guan Yu was invited to another banquet, so he took leave of the ladies and went. Seeing Guan Yu looked sad and tearful, his host asked the reason.

“My sisters-in-law have been weeping for my brother, and I cannot help being sad in sympathy.”

Cao Cao smiled and tried to cheer up his guest. Cao Cao plied Guan Yu with wine so that Guan Yu became quite intoxicated and sat stroking his beard and saying, “What a useless thing am I! I could do no service for my country, and I have parted from my elder brother.”

“How many hairs in your beard?” suddenly asked his host.

“Some hundreds, perhaps. In the autumn a few fall out, but in the winter it is fullest. Then I use a black silk bag to keep the hairs from being broken,” replied Guan Yu.

Cao Cao had a bag made for him to protect his beard. Soon after when they were at court, the Emperor asked what was the bag he saw on Guan Yu’s breast.

“My beard is rather long, Your Majesty,” said Guan Yu. “So the Prime Minister gave me a bag to protect it.”

The Emperor bade him take off the bag and show his beard in all its fullness and it fell in rippling waves below his breast.

“Really a most beautiful beard!” said the Emperor.

This is why people call him: “The Man with the Beautiful Beard.”

Another time, after a banquet, Cao Cao was seeing his guest start from the gate of his palace when he noticed that his charger was very thin.

“Why is it so thin?” said Cao Cao.

“My worthless body is rather heavy and really too much for it. It is always out of condition.”

Cao Cao at once told his attendants to bring out a certain steed, and before long it appeared. It was red, like glowing charcoal, and a handsome creature in every way.

“Do you recognize it?” asked Cao Cao.

“Why, it is no other than Red Hare!” cried Guan Yu.

“Yes, it is Red Hare,” said Cao Cao.

And he presented the horse, all fully caparisoned, to his guest.

Guan Yu bowed many times and thanked him again and again, till Cao Cao began to feel displeased and said, “I have given you many things, lovely handmaids and gold and silks and never won a bow of gratitude from you before. This horse seems to please you better than all the rest. Why do you think so poorly of the damsels and so much of the steed?”

“I know the horse: It can travel three hundred miles a day, and I am very lucky to get him. Now as soon as I find out where my brother is, I can get to him in a single day,” said Guan Yu.

Cao Cao grumbled to himself and began to repent of his gift.

Fortune dealt a stunning blow, still he played his part;

Partitioning his dwelling proved his purity of heart.

The crafty minister desired to win him to his side,

But felt that failure was foredoomed however much he tried.

Said Cao Cao to Zhang Liao, “I have treated Guan Yu pretty liberally, but he still cherishes the desire to leave me. Do you know if it is really so?”

“I will try to find out,” was the reply.

So Zhang Liao took an early opportunity of seeing Guan Yu, and when the politeness of the visit were over, Zhang Liao said, “I recommended you to the Prime Minister, and you have not lost much by that.”

“I am deeply affected by his kindness and bounty,” said Guan Yu, “but, though my body is here, yet I am always thinking of my brother.”

“Your words do not express present conditions quite correctly. One who lives in the world without discrimination and consideration of his relations with others is not the most admirable type of person. Even Liu Bei never treated you better than does the Prime Minister. Why then do you maintain this desire to get away?”

“I know only too well that he has been most kind, but I have also received great kindness from Uncle Liu Bei. Beside we have sworn to die together, and I cannot remain here. But before I go, I must try to render the Prime Minister some signal service to prove my gratitude.”

“Supposing Liu Bei should have left the world, whither will you go?” said Zhang Liao.

“I will follow him to the below realms of Nine Golden Springs.”

There could no longer be the least doubt as to Guan Yu’s intentions, and Zhang Liao told Cao Cao just how matters stood. Cao Cao sighed.

“To serve one’s chief with unswerving fidelity is a proof of the highest principle of all,” said he.

Said Xun Yu, “He spoke of performing some act of service before leaving. If he gets no chance of such a thing, he will not be able to go.”

Cao Cao agreed that this was so.

Liu Bei went to Yuan Shao for refuge. Here Liu Bei was always sorrowful and, when asked the reason, said he did not know where his brothers were nor what had happened to his family since they fell into the hands of Cao Cao.

“Why should I not be sad when I have failed towards my country and my family?” said he.

“I have long wished to attack Xuchang,” said Yuan Shao. “Now it is autumn and just the time for an expedition, so let us discuss plans for the destruction of Cao Cao.”

Tian Feng at once opposed this.

“When Cao Cao attacked Xuzhou and Xuchang was undefended, you let the chance slip by. Now that Xuzhou has been captured, and their soldiers are flushed with victory, it would be madness to attempt it. It is necessary to await another chance.”

“Let me think about it,” said Yuan Shao.

He asked advice from Liu Bei whether to attack or to hold on.

Liu Bei replied, “Cao Cao is a rebel. I think you are failing in your duty if you do not attack him.”

“Your words are good,” said Yuan Shao.

He made up his mind to move. But again the adviser Tian Feng intervened.

Then Yuan Shao grew angry, saying, “You fellows who cultivate literature and despise war have made me miss a lot!”

Tian Feng bowed his head and said, “Neglect your servant’s wise words, and you will fail in the field.”

Yuan Shao was so angry that he wanted to put Tian Feng to death. However, Liu Bei begged him off and he was only imprisoned.

Seeing the fate of his colleague, another adviser, Ju Shou, assembled his clan and distributed among them all his possessions, saying, “I go with the army. If we succeed, then nothing can exceed our glory; but if we are defeated, the risk I run is great.”

His friends wept as they said farewell.

General Yan Liang was appointed to the command of the advance guard, to go to attack Baima.

Then Ju Shou first protested, “His mind is too narrow for such a post. He is brave but unequal to such a trust.”

“You are not the sort of man to measure my best generals,” replied Yuan Shao.

The army marched to Liyang, and Governor Liu Yue of Dongjun sent an urgent call to Xuchang for aid. Cao Cao moved his armies hastily.

As soon as the news of battle got about, Guan Yu went to see the Prime Minister and said, “Illustrious Sir, the army is mobilized. I volunteer for the van leader.”

“I scarcely dare put you to such inconvenience, but presently, if need arises, I will call upon you.”

So Guan Yu retired, and one hundred fifty thousand soldiers marched out in three directions. On the road the letters from Liu Yue arrived praying for help, and Cao Cao marched the first fifty thousand troops to Baima and took up a position supported by the hills. In the wide plains in front of them, Yan Liang was encamped with one hundred thousand veterans.

Cao Cao was frightened at the force opposed to him and, returning to camp, spoke to Song Xian, who had once served under Lu Bu, saying, “You are one of Lu Bu’s famous veteran generals. Can you give battle to this Yan Liang?”

Song Xian agreed to try. He armed himself, mounted, and rode to the front. Yan Liang was there on horseback, his sword lying crossways. Seeing an opponent approaching, he uttered a loud shout and galloped toward Song Xian. The two met, but after only three bouts, Song Xian fell under a mighty slash from Yan Liang’s sword.

“What a terrible leader!” said Cao Cao.

“He has slain my comrade, I want to go and avenge him,” then cried Wei Xu.

Cao Cao bade him go and he rode out, spear set, and in front of the army railed at Yan Liang.

Yan Liang replied not a word, but their two steeds came together; and at the first blow from Yan Liang’s sword, Wei Xu’s forehead was halved.

“Now, who again dares face him?” cried Cao Cao.

Xu Huang took up the challenge and he went out. The combat endured twenty bouts, and then Xu Huang fled back to his own side. The other generals were now greatly depressed at their failure. Cao Cao withdrew his army, feeling very sad at the loss of two generals in quick succession. Yan Liang also marched off his force.

Then Cheng Yu went to see his chief, saying, “I can produce a man the equal of Yan Liang.”

“Who?” cried Cao Cao.

“No other than Guan Yu.”

“I am afraid that if he is given an opportunity to perform that return service he spoke of, he will leave me.”

“If Liu Bei is still alive, he is with Yuan Shao. If you get Guan Yu to defeat Yuan Shao’s army, Yuan Shao will look askance at Liu Bei and put him to death. Liu Bei gone, where can Guan Yu go?”

This argument appealed to Cao Cao at once, and he sent to request Guan Yu to come.

Previous to obeying the call, Guan Yu went to say farewell to his sisters-in-law.

“You may get news of the Uncle on the journey,” said they.

“Yes,” said Guan Yu and left them.

Armed with his green-dragon saber, riding on the swift steed Red Hare, and having but a slender following, Guan Yu was not long in arriving at Baima. He saw Cao Cao, who told him what had happened. Yan Liang was too valiant for any to face.

“Let me look at him,” said Guan Yu.

Then wine was served for his refreshment, and while they were drinking, it was reported that Yan Liang once again offered a challenge. So Cao Cao and his guest and staff went to the summit of a hill whence the enemy could be seen. Cao Cao and Guan Yu sat on the hill top, and the commanders stood about them. Cao Cao pointed out Yan Liang’s troops arrayed on the plains below. The ensigns and banners waving fresh and bright amid the forest of spears and swords made a grand and imposing spectacle.

“See how formidable these soldiers of the North of Yellow River are,” said Cao Cao.

“I regard them as so many clay fowls and mud dogs,” said Guan Yu.

Cao Cao pointed out Yan Liang, saying, “There under that grand umbrella, in that embroidered robe and that silver breastplate and riding on horseback and gripping that huge sword is Yan Liang.”

“His head looks as though it was stuck on a pole for sale,” said Guan Yu, just glancing over the army at his feet.

“He is very terrible. You must not despise him,” said Cao Cao.

Guan Yu rose, saying, “I am a poor thing, but I will go over and bring you his head if you like.”

“Joking is not allowed in this army,” interposed Zhang Liao. “Please be careful what you say, General.”

Guan Yu quickly mounted, turned down his mighty weapon, and galloped down the hill, his phoenix eyes rounded, and his silkworm eyebrows fiercely bristling. He dashed straight into the enemy’s array, and the northern soldiers opened like falling waves and dissolving storms. He made directly for the commander.

Now Yan Liang sitting there in state saw a horseman rushing toward him, and just as he began to ask who the rider of the red horse was, lo! the horseman was there. Taken utterly by surprise, the leader could make no defense. Guan Yu’s arm rose and the mighty weapon fell. And with it fell Yan Liang.

Leaping from the saddle, Guan Yu cut off his victim’s head and hung it to his horse’s neck. Then he mounted and rode out, just as if there was no army there.

The northern troops, panic stricken, made no fight. Cao Cao’s army attacked with full force and slew great numbers of them. They captured many horses and weapons and much military gear. Guan Yu rode quickly back up the hill and laid the proof of his prowess at the feet of the Prime Minister.

“You are more than human, General!” cried Cao Cao.

“What have I done to talk about?” said Guan Yu. “My brother, Zhang Fei, did the same thing in an army of a hundred legions, and did it as easily as picking something from his own pocket.”

Cao Cao marveled at the statement and turning to those about him said, “If you meet this Zhang Fei, be careful.”

And he bade them make a note on the overlap of their robes so that they should remember.

The beaten army returning northward met Yuan Shao on the road and told their story.

“A red-faced warrior with a long beard, wielding a huge, long-handled sword, broke into the army, cut off the General’s head and bore it off,” said they.

“Who was this?” asked Yuan Shao.

Ju Shou said, “It must have been Liu Bei’s brother, Guan Yu. It could be nobody else.”

Yuan Shao was very angry and, pointing to Liu Bei, he said, “Your brother has slain my beloved leader. You are in the plot too. Why should I save you alive?”

He bade the lictors take Liu Bei away and behead him.

Morning saw him guest on high.

Evening, prisoner, doomed to die.

Liu Bei’s actual fate will be told in the next chapter.

Chapter 26

Yuan Shao Loses Another Leader; Guan Yu Abandons Rank And Wealth.

As the last chapter closed, Liu Bei had been condemned to die.

Liu Bei spoke up, however, and said, “Pray hear one word, Illustrious Sir, before you decide. I have lost sight of my brother since my misfortune at Xuzhou and know not whether Guan Yu be dead or alive. There are many men in the world who resemble him. Is every red-faced man with a beard named Guan Yu? Should you not rather seek some evidence?”

Now Yuan Shao was impulsive and facile by nature, and when Liu Bei spoke thus, he suddenly turned upon Ju Shou, saying, “By wrongly regarding what you said, I nearly killed an innocent person.”

Then Yuan Shao requested Liu Bei once more to resume his seat in the tent and give advice on how to avenge Yan Liang.

Soon from the lower end a voice was heard, saying, “Yan Liang and I were as brothers, and can I allow any other to avenge his death?”

The speaker was a man of eight-span height with a face like a jilin, a famous leader from the North of Yellow River, named Wen Chou.

Yuan Shao was pleased and said, “You are the only man who can do it. I will give you one hundred thousand troops, and you can cross the Yellow River, and quickly smite that rebel Cao Cao.

“You cannot do it. Wen Chou will fail,” said Ju Shou. “The proper course is to hold Yenjin and detach a force to Guandu. If you rashly cross the river and anything goes wrong, not a soul will return.”

Yuan Shao said, “That is always the way with you fellows, always delaying and taking the dash out of the army. You put off today and postpone tomorrow till success has become impossible. Do you forget that promptitude is what each soldier honors?”

The adviser withdrew sadly, saying, “Superiors do not curb their ambitions; inferiors crave for achievements; things are undone. Eternal is the course of Yellow River, shall I change it?”

Thereafter Ju Shou feigned illness and went no more to the council.

Liu Bei said, “I have received much kindness at your hands and have been unable to show my gratitude. I would accompany General Wen Chou that I may repay your bounty and also that I may hear news of my brother.”

Yuan Shao gladly consented and ordered Wen Chou to share his command with Liu Bei.

But the former objected, saying, “Liu Bei has been so often defeated that it will augur ill for success this time. Since you wish, I will give Liu Bei command of the rear guard of thirty thousand soldiers.”

And this being approved, three legions were told off under Liu Bei’s special command to follow the main body.

The prowess displayed by Guan Yu in the bold attack on Yan Liang redoubled Cao Cao’s respect for him, and Cao Cao memorialized the Throne that Guan Yu receive the title of Lord of Hanshou, and a seal was cast for him.

Just then came the unexpected news that Yuan Shao’s army had moved toward the Yellow River and was in position above Yenjin. Cao Cao first sent to transfer the inhabitants to the west bank and then led out an army to oppose Yuan Shao. He issued an order to face about, thus placing the rear companies in front. The commissariat wagons were also placed in the van.

“What is this reversal for?” asked Lu Qian.

Cao Cao replied, “When the supplies are in rear, they are liable to be plundered. So I have put them first.”

“But if you meet the enemy and they steal them?”

“Wait till the enemy appears. I shall know what to do.”

Lu Qian was much exercised at this new move of the Prime Minister. In the meantime the supply train moved along the river toward Yenjin. Presently the foremost troops raised a great shout, and Cao Cao sent to see what it meant.

The messenger came back, saying, “Wen Chou’s army is approaching, and the supply train has been abandoned and is at the mercy of the enemy. The main body is still far behind. What to do next?”

Thereupon Cao Cao pointed to two mounds, saying, “We will take refuge here for the present.”

All those near him hastened to the mounds. There Cao Cao ordered them all to loosen their dress, lay aside their breastplates, and rest a time. The horsemen turned their steeds loose.

Wen Chou’s soldiers approached under cover. As they drew near, the officers told Cao Cao, saying, “The rebels are near. We ought to catch the horses and go back to Baima.”

But Adviser Xun You checked them, saying, “These are a bait for the enemy. Why retire?”

Cao Cao glanced across at him and said, “He understands. Do not say anything.”

Now having got possession of the supply carts, the enemy next came to seize the horses. By this time they had all broken ranks and were scattered, each soldier going his own way. Then suddenly Cao Cao gave the order to go down from the mounds and smite them.

The surprise was complete. Wen Chou’s army was in confusion, and Cao Cao’s army surrounded them. Wen Chou made a stand, but those about him trampled each other down, and he could do nothing but flee. And he fled.

Then standing on the top of a mound Cao Cao pointed to the flying leader, calling out, “There is one of the most famous generals of the north. Who can capture him?”

Zhang Liao and Xu Huang both mounted and dashed after him, crying, “Wen Chou, do not run away!”

Looking round, the fugitive saw two pursuers, and then he set aside his spear, took his bow and adjusted an arrow, which he shot at Zhang Liao.

“Cease shooting, you rebel!” shouted Xu Huang.

Zhang Liao ducked his head, and the shaft went harmlessly by, save that it carried away the tassel of his cap. He only pressed harder in pursuit. The next arrow however struck his horse in the head, and the animal stumbled and fell, throwing its rider to the earth.

Then Wen Chou turned to come back. Xu Huang, whirling his battle-ax, stood in his way to stop Wen Chou. But Xu Huang saw behind Wen Chou several more horsemen coming to help; and as they would have been too many for him, he fled. Wen Chou pursued along the river bank. Suddenly he saw coming toward him with banners fluttering in the breeze, a small party of horse, and the leader carried a great sword.

“Stop!” cried Guan Yu, for it was he, and he attacked at once.

At the third bout Wen Chou’s heart failed him, and he wheeled and fled, following the windings of the river. But Guan Yu’s steed was fast and soon caught up. One blow, and the hapless Wen Chou fell.

When Cao Cao saw from the mound that the leader of the enemy had fallen, he gave the signal for a general onset, and half of the northern army were drowned in the river. And the carts with supplies and all the horses were quickly recovered.

Now Guan Yu, at the head of a few horsemen, was thrusting here and striking there at the moment when Liu Bei, with the thirty thousand reserve troops, appeared on the battle field on the other bank of the river. At once they told him that the red-faced, long-bearded warrior was there and had slain Wen Chou. Liu Bei hastily pressed forward to try to get a look at the warrior. He saw across the river a body of horse and the banners bore the words Guan Yu, Lord of Hanshou.

“Then it is my brother, and he is really with Cao Cao,” said Liu Bei, secretly thanking God that Guan Yu was safe.

Liu Bei made an attempt to wait about till he could call to Guan Yu, but a great mass of Cao Cao’s soldiers came rushing down, and he was forced to retire.

Yuan Shao, bringing reinforcements, reached Guandu and built a stockade.

Two advisers, Guo Tu and Shen Pei, went in to see him and said, “Again that fellow Guan Yu has been in the battle. He killed Wen Chou. Liu Bei pretends ignorance of him.”

Their master was angry and railed at Liu Bei, “The long-eared rebel! How dare he do such a thing?”

Soon Liu Bei appeared. Again Yuan Shao ordered him out to instant execution.

“What crime have I committed?” asked Liu Bei.

“You sent your brother to slay one of my generals. Is that no crime?”

“Pray let me explain before I die. Cao Cao hated me and has always done so. Now he has found out where I am and, fearing that I may help you, has got my brother to destroy your two generals, feeling sure that when you heard of it, you would be angry and put me to death. You cannot fail to see this.”

“What he says is sense,” said Yuan Shao, turning to his advisers, “and you two nearly brought on me the reproach of injuring the good.”

Yuan Shao ordered his attendants to retire and asked Liu Bei to come and sit by him.

Liu Bei came, saying, “I am deeply thankful, Illustrious Sir, for your great kindness, for which I can never be sufficiently grateful. Now I desire to send some confidential messenger with a secret letter to my brother to tell him where I am, and I am sure he will come without a moment’s delay. He will help you to destroy Cao Cao to make up for having destroyed your two officers. Do you approve of this?”

“If I got Guan Yu, he would be ten times better than the Yan Liang and Wen Chou that I have lost,” replied Yuan Shao.

So Liu Bei prepared a letter. But there was no one to take it. Yuan Shao ordered the army to withdraw to Wuyang, where they made a large camp. For some time nothing was done.

Then Cao Cao sent Xiahou Dun to defend the strategic points at Guandu while he led the bulk of the army back to the capital. There he gave many banquets in honor of the services of Guan Yu, and then he told Lu Qian that putting the supplies in the front of the army had been meant as a bait to draw the enemy to destruction.

“Only Xun You understood that,” said Cao Cao in conclusion.

Everyone present praised his ingenuity. Even while the banquet was proceeding, there arrived news of a rising of Yellow Scarves rebels at Runan led by Liu Pi and Gong Du. They were very strong, and Cao Hong had been defeated in several engagements. Now he begged for help.

Guan Yu hearing this said, “I should like to have the opportunity of performing some service by destroying these rebels.”

“You have already rendered noble services for which you have not been properly requited. I could hardly trouble you again,” said Cao Cao.

“I have been idle too long. I shall get ill,” said Guan Yu.

Cao Cao then let him to go and gave him fifty thousand troops with Yu Jin and Yue Jing as generals under him. They were to leave soon.

Then Xun Yu said privily to his master, “He always cherishes the idea of returning to Liu Bei. He will leave you if he hears any news. Do not let him go on this expedition.”

“If he does well this time, I will not let him go into battle again,” said Cao Cao.

In due time the force led by Guan Yu drew near the rebels in Runan and made their camp. One night, just outside his camp, two spies were caught and taken in to Guan Yu who in one of them recognized Sun Qian. The attendants being dismissed, Guan Yu questioned Sun Qian.

“After we lost sight of each other, I have heard not a word of you. What are you doing here?” said Guan Yu.

“After I escaped, I drifted hither and thither till I had the good fortune to reach Runan, and Liu Pi and Gong Du, the Yellow Scarves leaders, took me in. But why are you with Cao Cao, General? And where are your sisters-in-law? Are they well?”

Guan Yu told him all that had happened.

“I have heard lately that Liu Bei is with Yuan Shao. I would have liked to go and join him, but I have not found a convenient opportunity. Now the two men I am with have taken the side of Yuan Shao against Cao Cao. By good luck you were coming here, so I got command of a small party of scouts to be able to see you and tell you. Presently our two leaders will pretend to be defeated and you, and the two ladies, can go over to Yuan Shao. And you will see your brother.”

“Since he is there, I certainly must go at once to see him. But it is a misfortune that I have slain two of Yuan Shao’s generals. I fear things are not in my favor,” said Guan Yu.

“Let me go first and see how the land lies. I will come back and tell you.”

“I would risk a myriad deaths to see my brother,” said Guan Yu. “But I must go to say farewell to Cao Cao.”

Sun Qian was sent away that night, and next day Guan Yu led out his army to offer battle. Gong Du, in armor, went out to the front of the line of battle, and Guan Yu said, “You people, why have you risen against the government?”

“Why do you blame us when you have turned your back on your own lord?” replied Gong Du.

“How have I turned my back on my lord?”

“Liu Bei is with Yuan Shao, and you are with Cao Cao. What is that?”

Guan Yu could not reply, but he whirled round his sword and rode forward. Gong Du fled, and Guan Yu followed. Gong Du turned and said to Guan Yu, “Do not forget your old chief’s kindness. Now attack as soon as you can, and I will give up the defense.”

Guan Yu understood and urged on his troops. The leaders of the rebels pretended they were worsted, and they all scattered. So Runan was retaken. Having pacified the people, Guan Yu quickly led his army back to the capital, where he was met by Cao Cao and congratulated on his success and feasted.

When this was all over, Guan Yu went to the dwelling of his sisters-in-law to pay his respects at their gate.

“Have you been able to get any news of Uncle Liu Bei in your two expeditions?” asked Lady Gan.

“None,” replied Guan Yu.

As he retired from the door, he heard sounds of bitter weeping within.

“Alas! He is dead,” said they. “Our brother-in-law thinks we shall be greatly distressed; and thus, he hides the truth from us.”

One of the old soldiers, who acted as guard, hearing the sounds of perpetual grief, took pity on them and said, “Do not weep, ladies. Your lord is with Yuan Shao in the North of Yellow River.”

“How do you know that?” said they.

“I went out with General Guan Yu, and one of the soldiers told me.”

The two ladies summoned Guan Yu and reproached him, saying, “Uncle Liu Bei never betrayed you, and yet you remain here enjoying the bounty of Cao Cao and forgetting the old times. And you tell us falsehoods.”

Guan Yu bowed his head, saying, “My brother really is in the North of Yellow River, but I dared not tell you, lest it should become known. Something must be done, but done carefully, and it needs time.”

“Brother-in-law, you should hasten,” said Lady Gan.

Guan Yu withdrew feeling that he must evolve some scheme of departure without further loss of time. It caused him much uneasiness.

Yu Jin, having found out that Liu Bei was in the north, told Cao Cao, who at once sent Zhang Liao to find out Guan Yu’s intentions.

Zhang Liao entered jauntily and congratulated Guan Yu, saying, “They tell me you obtained news of your brother in the battlefield. I felicitate you.”

“My lord was there indeed, but I met him not. I see nothing to be glad about.”

“Is there any difference between the relationship of you two and that of any other two brothers?”

Guan Yu replied, “You and I stand in the relationship of friends. Liu Bei and I are friends and brothers beside, and prince and minister in addition to both. Our relationship cannot be discussed in usual terms.”

“Well, now that you know where your brother is, are you going to him?”

“How can I go back on what I said before? I am sure you will explain fully to the Prime Minister.”

Zhang Liao went back and told his master, who said, “I must find a way to keep him here.”

While Guan Yu was pondering over his difficulties, they told him that a friend had come to inquire for him. The visitor was introduced but Guan Yu did not recognize him.

“Who are you?” asked Guan Yu.

“I am Chen Zhen of Nanyang, in the service of Yuan Shao.”

In great perturbation, Guan Yu sent away the attendants and, they being gone, said, “There is some special reason for your visit?”

For reply Chen Zhen drew out a letter and handed it to his host, who recognized that it was from his brother Liu Bei. The letter read:

“I, the writer, and you, Sir, pledged ourselves in the Peach Garden to die together. Why then are we apart and yet alive, our kindly feelings destroyed, our sense of right outraged? If you desire to obtain fame and acquire riches and honor, I will offer my head without hesitation so that your achievement is fulfilled. More might be said, but I await your commands with great anxiety.”

Guan Yu finished the letter with a bitter cry.

“I always wanted to find my brother, but I did not know where he was. How can he think such evil of me?” said he.

“Liu Bei looks for you very eagerly. If you are still bound by the old pledge, you should go quickly,” said Chen Zhen.

“Anyone born into the world without the essential virtue of sincerity is no true human. I came here openly and can go in no other way. Now will I write a letter which I will ask you to bear to my brother, that as soon as I can take leave of Cao Cao, I will bring the ladies and come to him.”

“But what if Cao Cao refuse to let you go?” said Chen Zhen.

“Then would I rather die. I will not remain here.”

“Then, Sir, quickly write your letter and relieve your brother from his anxiety.”

So Guan Yu wrote like this:

“I, the humble one, know full well that a human of principle does not betray and a human of loyalty despises death. I have been a student in my youth and know somewhat of the proprieties. I sigh and weep at the memory of the fraternal affection that made Yangjue Ai and Zuo Botao die rather than separate. I was in charge of Xiapi, but the place lacked provision and there was no help. I would have fought to the death, but there was on my shoulders the responsibility for my sisters-in-law. Wherefore I had to take care of my body lest I betrayed your trust. And so I made a prisoner of myself, hoping to find a way of release. I heard of you lately in Runan. I must, however, bid farewell to Cao Cao and bring the ladies with me when I come. May I perish, victim to the superhuman powers, if I have harbored any traitorous thought. Ink and paper are poor substitutes for what I would say, but I look to see you soon.”

Chen Zhen left with this missive, and Guan Yu went to tell the women. Then he proceeded to the Prime Minister’s palace to say farewell. But Cao Cao knew what he was coming for, and at the gate Guan Yu found the board intimating that no one could be received. So he had to return. However, he bade his own few soldiers prepare to start at any moment. He also gave orders that everything received from Cao Cao was to be left in the quarters. Nothing was to be taken.

Next day he again proceeded to the palace to say farewell to his patron, but again found the board hanging there to show there was no admission. So it was several times; he could never enter. Then he went to see Zhang Liao, but Zhang Liao was indisposed.

“This means Cao Cao will not let me go,” thought Guan Yu. “But I am going, and I shall hesitate no longer.”

So he wrote this letter:

“As a young man I entered the service of the Imperial Uncle, and pledged myself to share his fortunes. Heaven and Earth witnessed this oath. When I lost the city, I made three requests which you granted. Now I hear my brother is with Yuan Shao and I, remembering our pledge, cannot but go to him. Though your bounty is great, I forget not the bond of the past; wherefore I write this letter of farewell trusting that when you have read it, you will be content for me to postpone to another season the proof of my gratitude.”

Guan Yu sealed and sent it to the palace. Then he deposited in the treasury of his dwelling all the gold and silver he had received, hung his seal of lordship of Hanshou in the middle of the reception hall and left, taking his sisters-in-law with him in a carriage. He rode Red Hare and carried the green-dragon saber in his hand. With a small escort of guards, those formerly under his command, he left the city by the north gate.

The wardens would have stopped him, but Guan Yu frightened them with a fierce shout. Having got out, he told the escort to go in front with the carriage while he would remain behind to guard against pursuit. So they pushed the carriage toward the high road.

In the city, Guan Yu’s letter reached the Prime Minister while he was consulting about what to do. He read it and exclaimed, “So he has left!”

Then the warden of the gate came to report that Guan Yu had forced his way out, and was gone with a carriage, a horse, and a score of guards. Next came the servants from his house to report that he had left, taking nothing of the treasure, nor anyone of the waiting maids. Everything was left in the house. Even his seal was there. His only escort were the few soldiers of his original force.

Suddenly from the assembly of officers rose a voice, saying, “With three thousand of mailed horse, I will bring him back alive.”

Their eyes turned to the speaker, who was General Cai Yang.

On the dragon’s cave he turns his back,

But numberless wolves infest his track.

What came of this offer to pursue will be seen in the next chapter.

Chapter 27

The Man Of Beautiful Beard Rides On A Solitary Journey; Guan Yu Slays Six Generals Through Five Passes.

Now of all the officers in Cao Cao’s army, the two friendly toward Guan Yu were Zhang Liao and Xu Huang. The others treated Guan Yu with respect, except Cai Yang who was decidedly inimical. So this Cai Yang was ready to pursue and capture Guan Yu as soon as he heard of his departure. But Cao Cao accepted Guan Yu’s going as natural.

“He does not forget his old leader, and he was perfectly open in all his actions. He is a gentleman, and you would do well to follow his example,” said Cao Cao.

So Cao Cao bade the would-be pursuer be gone and say no more about pursuit.

“You were exceedingly good to Guan Yu,” said Cheng Yu, “but he went off very rudely. He certainly left a screed behind with his reasons, but he affronted you, and that is no light matter. Now to let him join Yuan Shao is to add wings to a tiger. You had better catch him and put him to death so as to guard against future evil.”

Cao Cao replied, “But he had my promise, and can I break my word? Each has his master. Do not pursue.”

But Cao Cao said to Zhang Liao, “He has rejected all I gave him, so bribes were powerless with him in whatever shape. I have the greatest respect for such as him. He has not yet gone far, and I will try to strengthen his attachment to me and make one appeal to sentiment. Ride after him and beg him to stop till I can come up and bid farewell and offer him a sum of money for his expenses and a fighting robe, that he may remember me kindly in after days.”

So Zhang Liao rode out quite alone. Cao Cao followed him leisurely with an escort of a score or so.

Now the steed that Guan Yu rode was Red Hare, and it was very fast. No one could have come up with him but that there was the ladies’ carriage to escort, and so Red Hare had to be held in and go slow. Suddenly Guan Yu heard a shout behind him, a voice crying, “Go slowly, Guan Yu!”

He turned and made out the person to be Zhang Liao. Ordering the pushers of the carriage to press on along the high road, he reined in his steed, held the green-dragon saber ready for a stroke, and waited for Zhang Liao to come up.

“Of course you have come to take me back, Zhang Liao?” said Guan Yu.

“No. The Prime Minister, seeing that you are going a long journey, wishes to see you on your way and told me to hasten forward and beg you to wait till he can come up. That is the only thing.”

“Seeing that he is coming along with mailed men, I shall fight to the very last,” said Guan Yu.

And he took up his position on a bridge where he waited the approach of the party, who advanced quickly. Four of Cao Cao’s generals, Xu Chu, Xu Huang, Yu Jin, and Li Dian, followed close. Seeing Guan Yu was ready to fight, Cao Cao ordered his escort to open out in two lines, and then it was seen they carried no arms. This relieved his mind, for it proved to Guan Yu they meant no attack.

“Why do you go in such haste, Guan Yu?” asked Cao Cao.

Guan Yu inclined his head but did not dismount, saying, “I informed you in writing that since my lord was in the North of Yellow River, I had to leave at once. I went to your palace again and again but was refused admittance. So I wrote a letter of farewell, sealed up the treasure, resigned my lordship seal, and left everything for you. I hope you recall the promise you once made me.”

Cao Cao replied, “My desire is to keep my troth with all people. I cannot go back on my word. However, you may find the journey expensive, and therefore I have here prepared a sum of money to help you.”

Then from horseback Cao Cao held out a packet of gold.

Guan Yu said, “I have sufficient left from your former bounty. Keep that for presents to your soldiers.”

“Why should you refuse this? It is but an insignificant return for great services.”

“My services have been all trifling, not worth mentioning.”

“Really, Guan Yu, you are the most high-principled of humans. I am very sorry my luck is too poor to retain you at my side. Pray accept just this robe to show you I am not quite ungrateful,” said Cao Cao.

And one of his generals, dismounting, held up a silken coat in both hands. Guan Yu even still fearful of what might happen, would not dismount, but he reached down his sword and took the robe on its point. Then he threw it over his shoulders and turned to thank the giver.

“I thank you, Sir Prime Minister, for the robe and trust we shall meet again.”

So saying, Guan Yu went down from the bridge and bore away to the north.

“He is a very rude man,” said Xu Chu, who was of the escort. “Why do you not take him prisoner?”

Cao Cao replied, “He was absolutely alone facing scores of us. He was justified in being suspicious. But my word has gone forth, and he is not to be pursued.”

Cao Cao and his escort returned, the Prime Minister very sad when he thought of the man who had gone.

Guan Yu went down from the bridge and started in the wake of the carriage carrying the two ladies, which should have gone about ten miles while this interview had been going on. He could see no signs of it and rode hither and thither looking on all sides.

Presently he heard someone shouting from a hill, calling him by name to halt. He saw a youth wearing a yellow turban and dressed in a silk robe. He held a spear in his hand and was mounted on a horse from the neck of which dangled a bloody head. Behind him were a hundred or so men on foot, and they advanced quickly.

“Who are you?” asked Guan Yu.

The young man dropped his spear, dismounted, and made a low bow. Guan Yu feared this was some ruse, so he only checked his horse and gripped his sword the more firmly, saying, “Sir, I desire you to tell me your name!”

“My name is Liao Hua. I belong to a Xiangyang family. Since these troubled times began I have been an outlaw among the rivers and lakes, and I and my comrades have lived by plunder. We are about five hundred in all. By chance my friend Du Yuan came across two ladies in a carriage just now; and, quite wrongly, he took them prisoners and brought them to the hold in the hills. I questioned the servants and so found out who they were and who was escorting them. So I wished them to be set free to pursue their journey. Du Yuan opposed this and spoke so ill-mannerly that I killed him. And here is his head. I pray you pardon me.”

“Where are the two ladies?”

“They are among the hills,” replied Liao Hua.

“Bring them down here, at once,” said Guan Yu.

In a short time a party of the brigands pushed the carriage down the hill, and the ladies sat there before him.

Then Guan Yu dismounted, laid aside his sword, and stood respectfully before them with his arms crossed.

“Sisters, have you been alarmed?” asked he.

They replied, “We should have suffered at the hands of Du Yuan had it not been for Liao Hua.”

“How did Liao Hua come to save the ladies?” asked Guan Yu of those who stood by.

They said, “Du Yuan carried off the ladies and proposed that he and Liao Hua should have one each as wife. But Liao Hua had found out they were of gentle birth and worthy, and was for treating them with respect. When Du Yuan disagreed, Liao Hua slew him.”

Hearing this Guan Yu bowed to Liao Hua and thanked him. Liao Hua then wanted to join himself and his troop to Guan Yu, but Guan Yu, seeing he was a Yellow Scarf, would have nothing to do with him. So Guan Yu simply thanked him for his kindness to the ladies. Liao Hua offered some presents, but these were also declined.

So Liao Hua took his leave and presently disappeared in a valley among the hills. Guan Yu told his sisters the story of his interview with Cao Cao and the gift of a robe, and then he urged the carriage on its way. Towards dark they came to a farm where they would rest. The farmer, an old graybeard, came out to welcome the party and asked who they were. Guan Yu described himself as the brother of Liu Bei, and said his name.

“Surely you are no other than the slayer of Yan Liang and Wen Chou,” said the venerable host.

“That is so,” replied Guan Yu.

“Come in,” said the old man, joyfully.

“My two sisters-in-law are in the carriage,” said Guan Yu. “Will you let your women folks go out to receive them?”

As Guan Yu remained standing there, the host asked him to be seated, but he would not sit while the women were present and remained standing in a respectful attitude till the old man’s wife had returned and ushered the ladies into the inner apartments. Then the old man set to the entertainment of his guest in the guest hall. Guan Yu asked his name.

He replied, “I am called Hu Hua. In the days of the Emperor Huan, I was an officer of the court, but I resigned and retired into private life. I have a son, Hu Ban, with Governor Wang Zhi of Yingyang. If you should be going that way, General, I should like to send him a letter by you.”

Guan Yu said he would take the letter. Next day, after an early meal, the ladies got into their carriage, the host handed his letter to Guan Yu, and the little party once more took the road. They went toward Luoyang.

Presently they approached a pass known as the Dongling Pass, guarded by Commander Kong Xiu and five hundred soldiers. When the soldiers saw a carriage being pushed toward the pass, they ran to tell their commander, who came out to accost the travelers.

Guan Yu dismounted and returned the officer’s salute, and Kong Xiu said, “Whither are you going?”

“I have left the Prime Minister to go into the North of Yellow River to find my brother.”

“But Yuan Shao is my master’s rival. You have authority from him to go thither?”

“I left hurriedly and could not get it.”

“If you have no authority, you must wait while I send to request orders.”

“To remain while you send and receive an answer will delay me greatly,” said Guan Yu.

“I must stand by my instructions. That is the only thing to do,” said Kong Xiu.

“Then you refuse to let me pass?”

“If you want to go through, leave the family as a gage.”

At this Guan Yu got very angry and made to cut at the commander on the spot, but Kong Xiu withdrew into the gate and beat the drums for an attack. Thereupon the soldiers armed themselves, mounted, and came down to oppose the passage, crying, “Dare you go through, eh?”

The carriage was sent off to a safe distance, and then Guan Yu rode at full speed directly at the commander, who set his spear and came to meet him. The two steeds met and the men engaged, but at the first stroke of the green-dragon saber the commander of the gate fell to the earth dead. His troops fled.

“Soldiers, do not flee!” cried Guan Yu. “I killed him because I could do no otherwise. I have nothing against you, but I would ask you to tell the Prime Minister how this thing came to pass, that Kong Xiu wished to kill me, and so I slew him in self defense.”

The soldiers bowed before him, and Guan Yu, with the carriage, passed through the gates and continued their way to Luoyang. But one of the guards of the pass went quickly in advance and informed the Governor of Luoyang, Han Qu, of the slaughter of Kong Xiu. Wherefore Han Qu assembled his officers to take counsel.

Meng Tan, one of his generals, said, “This Guan Yu must be a fugitive, or he would have a safe conduct. Our only course is to stop him, or we shall incur blame.”

“The man is fierce and brave. Remember the fate of Yan Liang and Wen Chou. It seems vain to oppose him by force, and so we must think out some trap for him,” said Han Qu.

“I have a ruse ready,” said Meng Tan. “I will close the gate with thorny blockades, and I will go to fight with him. I will engage and then flee, and you can shoot him from an ambush along the road. If we can get him and his party and send them prisoners to the capital, we ought to be well rewarded.”

This course was determined upon, and soon they heard that Guan Yu was approaching. Han Qu strung his bow and filled his quiver with arrows and with one thousand soldiers took up position along the pass.

Then as the party approached, Han Qu said, “Who is the traveler who comes?”

Guan Yu bowed low and said, “He is a certain Guan Yu, Lord of Hanshou, and he wishes to go through the pass.”

“Have you a letter from the Prime Minister?”

“In the hurry of departure I did not get any.”

“My special orders from him are to hold this pass and make examination of all spies that may go to and fro. Any person without an authority must be a fugitive.”

Then Guan Yu began to be angry, saying, “I have killed Kong Xiu at Dongling Pass. Do you also seek death?”

“Who will capture him for me?” cried Han Qu, and Meng Tan offered himself. He rode out, whirling his double swords, and made straight for Guan Yu.

Guan Yu sent back the carriage out of danger and then rode toward Meng Tan. They engaged, but very soon Meng Tan turned his steed and fled. Guan Yu pursued. Meng Tan, intent only on leading his enemy toward the ambush, took no account of the speed of Red Hare. Very soon Meng Tan was caught up, and a stroke of the mighty sword cut him in two pieces. Then Guan Yu stopped and turned back. The archers in the gate shot their hardest; and though it was a long way off, one of them lodged an arrow in his left arm. He pulled it out with his teeth, but the blood streamed down as he rode toward Governor Han Qu. The men scattered. Guan Yu rode straight at his next victim. He raised his sword and made an oblique cut which sliced off the head and shoulder of Han Qu.

Then Guan Yu drove off the soldiers and returned to escort the carriage. He bound up his wound, and, fearing lest anyone might take advantage of his weakness, he made no long halts on the road but hurried toward River Si Pass.

The warden of this pass was Bian Xi of Bingzhou, a warrior whose weapon was a comet-hammer. He had been a Yellow Scarf and had gone over to Cao Cao, who had given him this post. As soon as he heard of the coming of the redoubtable Guan Yu, he cudgeled his brains for a ruse to use against him. He decided upon an ambush. In the State Guardian Temple at the pass he placed two hundred ax-men and swordsmen. He reckoned on enticing Guan Yu to the temple for refreshment, and when he let fall a cup as signal, the hidden ruffians would rush out.

All being thus arranged and ready, he went out to welcome Guan Yu in friendly guise, and Guan Yu dismounted at his coming. Bian Xi began very amiably.

“Your name, General, makes the very earth tremble, and everyone looks up to you. This return to the Imperial Uncle proves you to be noble and true.”

Guan Yu in reply told him the story of the men he had slain in the last two passes.

Bian Xi replied, “You slew them; that is well. When I see the Prime Minister, I will explain to him the inner reasons for these acts.”

Guan Yu thought he had found a friend and so mounted and rode through the pass. When he came to the temple, a number of priests came out to meet him with clanging bells.

This temple, named State Guardian Temple, had a courtyard in which the Emperor Ming had burned incense in the past. In the temple were thirty priests, and among these there happened to be one Pu Jing who came from the same village as Guan Yu. His religious name was Transverse Peace. Hearing who the visitor was, Transverse Peace came forward to speak with him.

“General,” said Transverse Peace, “it is many a long year since you left Pudong.”

“Yes,” said Guan Yu, “nearly twenty years.”

“Do you recognize this poor priest?”

“I left the village many years ago; I do not recognize you.”

“My house and yours were only separated by a rivulet,” said the priest.

Now Bian Xi, seeing Transverse Peace holding forth about village matters, thought Transverse Peace would blab about the ambush, so Bian Xi bade him be silent.

“I want to invite the General to a feast. You priest fellows seem to have a lot to say,” said Bian Xi.

“Not too much,” said Guan Yu. “Naturally when fellow villagers meet, they talk of old times.”

Bian Xi invited the visitor into the guest room to take tea, but Guan Yu said, “The two ladies are out there in the carriage. They ought to have some first.”

So the priest bade them take some tea to the ladies, and then he led Guan Yu within, at the same time lifting the priest knife which he wore at his side and looking meaningfully at Guan Yu. The latter understood and told his people to bring along his weapon and keep close at his side.

When Bian Xi invited Guan Yu to go into the Hall of the Laws for some refreshment, Guan Yu turned to him, saying, “Is this invitation with good intention or evil?”

Bian Xi was so taken aback that he could make no reply, and then Guan Yu saw that many armed men were concealed behind the arras.

Then Guan Yu shouted loudly at Bian Xi, saying, “What means this? I thought you an honorable man. How dare you?”

The traitor saw that his plot had failed and called to the assassins to come out and fall to, but Guan Yu had a short sword in his hand and slashed at anyone who came near. So they scattered. Their commander ran down the hall and tried to escape among the side buildings, but Guan Yu threw aside the short sword, took up the green-dragon saber and went after Bian Xi. The latter was trying to get into position to throw his comet-hammer, but Guan Yu cut the cord and the weapon was useless. Guan Yu followed Bian Xi in and out and soon caught up with him. Then with one blow Guan Yu cut him in halves.

The fight over, Guan Yu sought the two ladies, who were surrounded by soldiers. These fled at sight of the terrible warrior. Seeking out the priest, his fellow countryman, he thanked him for the timely warning which had saved him from death.

“I cannot remain here after this,” said Transverse Peace. “I shall pack up my few garments and my alms bowl and take to the road, vague in my wanderings as the clouds in the sky. But we shall meet again and till then take care of yourself.”

Then Guan Yu took leave and retook the road to Yingyang. The Governor of this city was named Wang Zhi, and he was related to Han Qu by their children’s marriage. Hearing of the death of his relative, Wang Zhi set about a scheme to kill Guan Yu secretly. He sent soldiers to guard the city gates and, when he heard that Guan Yu approached, he went himself and received Guan Yu with a smiling countenance and bade Guan Yu welcome. Guan Yu told him the object of his journey.

“You, General, have been able to get some exercise on the road, but the ladies in their carriage must be cramped and fatigued. I pray you come into the city, and all of you remain the night in the official travelers’ quarters. Tomorrow you can set forth again.”

The offer was tempting, and his host seemed in earnest, so the two ladies went into the city, where they found everything very comfortably prepared for them. And, though Guan Yu declined the Governor’s invitations to a banquet, refreshments for the travelers were sent to their lodgings. Guan Yu was fatigued from the trials of the journey, and as soon as the evening meal was over, he bade the ladies retire to rest while he sat down in the main room, quite alone, for he bade all to get repose while they could. His horse was given a good feed for once. He sat with his armor loosened in order to be more at ease.

Now Governor Wang Zhi had a general named Hu Ban to whom he had entrusted the arrangements for the destruction of his guest.

Said Wang Zhi, “This Guan Yu is a traitor to the Prime Minister and a fugitive. On the road he has murdered several pass commanders and is guilty of serious crimes. But he is too strong and valiant for any ordinary soldier to overcome. So this evening you will lead a whole company of a thousand troops to surround his lodging, each one armed with a torch, and we will burn him. They will start the fire about midnight. Everyone of the party will perish. I will come with a force to stand by and assist if necessary.”

These orders received, Hu Ban passed them on to the soldiers, who began secretly to prepare dry wood and other combustibles which they piled up at the gate of the rest house. Hu Ban thought within himself that he would like to know what manner of man was this Guan Yu, whose fame had spread so far, so he determined to get a peep at the guest. He went to the rest house and inquired where Guan Yu was.

“The General is the man in the main hall reading,” was the reply.

Hu Ban noiselessly made his way to the outside of the room and peeped in. He saw the famous warrior stroking his beard with his left hand while he read by the light of a lamp placed on a low table. An involuntary exclamation of wonder escaped at the majesty of the figure.

“Really a god!” Hu Ban sighed.

“Who is there?” suddenly asked the reader at the sound.

Hu Ban entered and said, “I am Hu Ban, a general of the Governor.”

“Surely you are the son of Hu Hua, who lives outside Xuchang,” said Guan Yu.

“I am he,” replied Hu Ban.

Then Guan Yu called up his followers and bade them look among the baggage for the letter, which they brought. Guan Yu handed it to the general.

Hu Ban read it and then breathed long, saying, “I very nearly caused the death of a good man.”

Then he betrayed the whole plot, saying, “This Wang Zhi is a wicked man, who wanted to kill you. At this moment you are surrounded, and at the third watch they will set fire to this place. Now I will go and open the city gates while you hastily prepare for flight.”

Guan Yu was greatly surprised, but he quickly buckled up his armor, got his steed ready, roused the two ladies, and put them into their carriage. Then they left the rest house; and as they passed out, they saw the soldiers all about them, each with a torch. The party hastened to the outskirts of the city and found the gate already open, and they lost no time in getting clear of the city. Hu Ban returned to give orders to fire the rest house.

The fugitives pressed on. But before long they saw lights coming up behind them, and Wang Zhi called out to them to stop.

Guan Yu reined in his horse and began to abuse him, crying, “Worthless fellow! What had you against me that you wished to burn me to death?”

Wang Zhi whipped up his steed and set his spear, but Guan Yu cut him through with the short sword he wore at his side and scattered his followers.

Then the carriage pushed on. Guan Yu’s heart was filled with gratitude to Hu Ban.

When the party drew near Huazhou, someone told Liu Yue, who rode out to welcome him. Liu Yue had been once rescued by Guan Yu, who slew Yan Liang and Wen Chou and lifted the siege of the city.

Guan Yu did not dismount but bowed from horseback, saying, “Have you been quite well since we parted?”

“Whither are you going, Sir?” replied Liu Yue.

“I have left the Prime Minister and am on my way to find my brother.”

“Liu Bei is with Yuan Shao, who is at enmity with the Prime Minister. How can you be allowed to go to him?” asked Liu Yue.

“That matter was settled long ago.”

“The Yellow River Ferry is an important point and is guarded by a commander of Xiahou Dun. He will not let you cross.”

“But suppose then you provide boats for me?”

“Though there are boats, I dare not give them to you.”

“Well, formerly I slew Yan Liang and Wen Chou and saved you a grave danger. Now you refuse me a ferry boat!”

“I am afraid Xiahou Dun will know of it and make it a fault against me.”

Guan Yu perceived that no help was to be expected from this man, so he pushed on and presently reached the ferry. There the Commander of the Guard, Qin Qi, came out to question him.

“I am one Guan Yu, Lord of Hanshou.”

“Whither are you bound?”

“I go to the North of Yellow River to seek my brother, Liu Bei, and I respectfully ask you to grant me a passage over the river.”

“Where is the authority of the Prime Minister?”

“I am not on a mission from the Prime Minister, so why should I have such an authority?”

“I have orders from my chief to guard the ferry, and you will not cross. Even if you grew wings, you should not fly over.”

Guan Yu’s choler arose.

“Do you know that I have been the death of all those who have hitherto tried to stop me?” said he.

“You have only slain a few officers of no rank or reputation; but you dare not kill me!”

“Where would you stand beside Yan Liang and Wen Chou?” asked Guan Yu.

Qin Qi grew angry, and he loosed his rein. Sword in hand, he came at a gallop. The two met, but in the first encounter Qin Qi’s head was swept off by the terrible green-dragon saber.

“He who opposed me is dead! You others need not be afraid,” cried Guan Yu. “Be quick and prepare me a boat.”

The boat was soon at the landing, and the two women stepped on board, followed by Guan Yu. They crossed and were then in the country of Yuan Shao. In the course of his journey to this point, Guan Yu had forced five passes and slain six generals.

His seal hung up, the treasury locked, his

courtly mansion left,

He journeyed toward his brother dear, too long

from his side left.

The horse he rode was famed for speed as for

endurance great,

His good sword made a way for him and

opened every gate.

His loyalty and truth forth stand, a pattern

unto all,

His valor would frighten rushing streams and

make high mountains fall.

Alone he traveled lustily, this was death to meet

his blade,

He has been themed by myriads, his glory never

will fade.

“I did not willingly slay a single one of them,” mused Guan Yu as he rode along. “There was no help for it. Nevertheless when Cao Cao hears of it, he will regard me as ungrateful for his bounty.”

Before long he saw a rider on the road who soon hailed him and proved to be Sun Qian.

“I have never heard a word from you since we lost sight of each other at Runan. How have you fared?” said Guan Yu.

“After your departure Liu Pi and Gong Du retook the city. I was sent by them to Yuan Shao to try to make peace with him and succeeded, so that Yuan Shao invited Liu Bei to go to him and share in the deliberations for a concerted attack on Cao Cao. But to my disgust the leaders of Yuan Shao’s army showed great jealousy of each other so that Tian Feng got into gaol, Ju Shou was degraded, and others quarreled. Then Yuan Shao vacillated and hesitated, so that your brother and I consulted how we might get away from them all. Now the Uncle is at Runan with Liu Pi and, thinking you could not know that and might suffer some harm if you unwillingly went to Yuan Shao, I have come to warn you. It is good fortune to find you like this. Now we can hasten to Runan, and you will meet your brother.”

Guan Yu took Sun Qian to make his bow to the ladies, who asked after his adventures, and Sun Qian said, “Uncle Liu Bei were nearly executed due to Yuan Shao’s sudden bursts of anger after the deaths of Yan Liang and Wen Chou. Now, however, he is out of his way and safe at Runan, and you will meet him soon.”

The ladies covered their faces and wept at the recital of his dangers. Then the party no longer traveled north but took the road toward Runan. Not long after a great cloud of dust was noticed behind them, and that presently made out a hundred of horsemen. These were led by Xiahou Dun, who shouted out to Guan Yu to stop.

One by one the pass commanders stopped his

progress and were slain,

The river crossed, another army comes and he

must fight again.

How finally Guan Yu escaped death will appear in the succeeding chapter.

Chapter 28

Putting Cai Yang To Death, The Brothers’ Doubts Disappear; Meeting At Gucheng, Lord and Lieges Fortify Each Other.

Sun Qian had joined Guan Yu in escorting the two ladies, and they were on the road to Runan when Xiahou Dun suddenly determined to pursue. So with a couple of hundred horse, Xiahou Dun set out. When Xiahou Dun was seen approaching, Guan Yu bade Sun Qian go ahead with the carriage while he remained to deal with the pursuers.

When they were near enough, Guan Yu said, “In coming after me thus you do not reinforce the magnanimity of your master!”

Replied Xiahou Dun, “The Prime Minister has sent no definite instructions. You have caused the death of several people, among them one of my commanders, and so I have come to capture you! You have behaved most grossly. The Prime Minister will decide.”

Thereupon Xiahou Dun dashed forward with his spear ready to thrust.

But at that moment a rider came up behind him at full gallop, crying, “You must not fight with Guan Yu!”

Guan Yu stayed his steed at once and waited.

The messenger came up, drew from his bosom an official letter, and said to Xiahou Dun, “The Prime Minister loves General Guan Yu for his loyalty and honor, and fearing lest Guan Yu might be stopped at the various passes, he sent me with this letter to show when necessary at any point on the road.”

“But this Guan Yu has slain several commanders of the passes. Does the Prime Minister know that?” said Xiahou Dun.

The messenger said these things were unknown.

“Then,” said Xiahou Dun, “I will arrest him and take him to the Prime Minister, who may set him free or not as he wills.”

“Do you think I fear anything you can do?” said Guan Yu getting wrathful.

And he rode forward. Xiahou Dun, nothing loth, set his spear and prepared for battle. They met and had reached the tenth encounter when a second horseman came up at full speed, crying, “Generals, wait a little!”

Xiahou Dun stayed his hand and asked the messenger, saying, “Am I to arrest him?”

“No,” replied the messenger. “Fearing lest he should have difficulties at the passes, the Prime Minister has sent me with a dispatch to say he is to be released.”

“Did the Prime Minister know that he had slain several commanders on the way?”

“He did not know!”

“Since he was ignorant of that, I may not let this Guan Yu go,” and Xiahou Dun gave the signal to his men to close in round Guan Yu.

But Guan Yu flourished his sword and made to attack them and a fight was again imminent, when a third rider appeared, who cried, “Guan Yu, give way and do not fight!”

The speaker was Zhang Liao. Both combatants made no further move but awaited his arrival.

Zhang Liao said, “I bring the Prime Minister’s order that since he has heard that Guan Yu has slain certain commanders on the way, he fears that some will hinder his passage. Wherefore he has sent me to deliver his command at each gate that Guan Yu is to be suffered to pass freely.”

Xiahou Dun said, “Qin Qi was the son of Cai Yang’s sister, and he was confided to my especial care. Now this Guan Yu has killed him, and how can I refrain?”

“When I see his uncle Cai Yang, I will explain. But now the main point is that you have the Prime Minister’s orders to let Guan Yu pass and you may not despise his wish.”

So the only thing for Xiahou Dun to do was to retire, and he did.

“Whither are you going?” then said Zhang Liao to Guan Yu.

“I fear my brother is no longer with Yuan Shao, and now I am going to find him wherever he is.”

“As you do not know where to go, why not return to the Prime Minister?”

“Where is the sense of that?” said Guan Yu with a smile. “But, Zhang Liao, you return, and try to arrange pardon for my faults.”

With this Guan Yu saluted Zhang Liao and took his leave. Zhang Liao retired and joined Xiahou Dun.

Guan Yu quickly regained the carriage, and as they went along side by side he told Sun Qian what had happened. Several days later a heavy rain storm came on which soaked everything. Looking about for protection they noticed a farm under the shelter of a precipice and took their way thither. An old man came out to them, to whom they told their story.

When they had finished, the old fellow said, “My name is Guo Chang, and I have lived here many years. I am very pleased to greet the man whom I have known so long by reputation.”

Guo Chang quickly killed a sheep for their refreshment and brought out wine for the two men. The two ladies were entertained in the inner apartments. And while they refreshed themselves, their baggage was put out to dry and their steeds were fed.

As the day closed in, they saw several youths come along, and their host said, “My son is come to pay his respects.”

“This is my humble son,” said Guo Chang, presenting a lad to Guan Yu.

“What has he been doing?” asked Guan Yu.

“He has just come in from hunting.”

The young fellow went out. The old man continued, “All my family have been farmers or scholars. He is my only son, and instead of following in the footsteps of his ancestors he cares for nothing but gadding about and hunting, unhappily.”

“Why unhappily?” said Guan Yu. “In these days of disorder a good soldier can make a name for himself.”

“If he would only learn the military arts, that would be something of a career. But he is nothing but a vagabond and does everything he should not. He is a grief to me.”

Guan Yu sighed in sympathy. The old gentleman stayed till a late hour; and when he took his leave, his two guests began to prepare for rest.

Suddenly outside there arose a great hubbub, men shouting and horses neighing. Guan Yu called to his people; but as no one answered, he and Sun Qian drew their swords and went into the stable yard. There they found their host’s son on the ground shouting to his followers to fight.

Guan Yu asked what it was all about, and his guards told him, “The young fellow had tried to steal Red Hare, but had been badly kicked. We heard shouting and went to see what it meant when his men had set on us.”

Guan Yu was very wrathful.

“You mean thieves! Would you steal my horse?” cried he.

But before he could do anything, his host came running out, saying, “It was not with my consent that my son did this evil thing. I know he is very guilty and deserves death. But his mother loves him tenderly, and I pray you be generous and pardon him!”

“Really he is unworthy of his father,” said Guan Yu. “What you told me shows he is a degenerate. For your sake I pardon him.”

Then Guan Yu told his own people to keep a better lookout, sent the people about their business and, in company with Sun Qian, went away to rest.

Next morning both the host and hostess were up betimes waiting to thank Guan Yu for forgiving their son’s mad freak.

“My son has insulted your tiger dignity, I know, and I am deeply affected by your kindness in not punishing him,” said the old man.

“Bring him here and I will talk to him,” said Guan Yu.

“He went out before daylight with a lot of his fellow rogues, and I know not where he is.”

So Guan Yu bade them farewell, got the ladies into their carriage, and they moved out of the farmyard. Guan Yu and Sun Qian riding abreast as escort. They took the road toward the hills.

Before they had gone far, they saw a large party of men, led by a couple of riders, pouring down one of the gullies. One of the riders wore a yellow turban and a battle robe. The other was Guo Chang’s son.

The wearer of the turban called out, saying, “I am one of the commanders of Zhang Jue the Lord of Heaven. Whoever you may be, leave that horse you are riding for me. You may then go free!”

Guan Yu greeted the speech with a hearty laugh.

“O you mad ignoramus! If you had ever been with Zhang Jue as a bandit, you would have learned to know Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei, the three brothers.”

“I have heard of the ruddy long beard called Guan Yu, but I have never seen him. Who may you be?”

Guan Yu then laid aside his sword, stopped his horse, and drew off the bag that covered his beard thus showing its magnificence.

The turban wearer immediately slipped out of the saddle, laid an angry hand on his companion, and they both bowed low in front of Guan Yu’s steed.

“Who are you?” asked Guan Yu.

“I am Pei Yuanshao. After the death of Zhang Jue, I was left forlorn; and I got together a few others like myself, and we took refuge in the forests. This morning early this fellow came to tell us that a guest at his father’s farm had a valuable horse and proposed to me to steal it. I did not think I should meet you, General.”

The wretched Guo Chang’s son implored that his life might be spared, and Guan Yu pardoned him for his father’s sake. Then Guan Yu covered his face and crept away.

“You did not recognize me. How then did you know my name?” asked Guan Yu.

Pei Yuanshao replied, “Not far from here is a mountain called the Sleeping Bull, where lives a certain Zhou Cang, a very powerful man who came from the west. He has a stiff curly beard and looks very handsome. He also was a commander in the rebel army, who took to the forest when his leader perished. He has told me a lot about you, but I have never had the happiness of seeing you.”

Said Guan Yu, “Under the green wood trees is no place for a hero’s foot. You had better abandon this depraved life and return to the path of virtue. Do not work out your own destruction.”

As they were talking, a troop of horsemen appeared in the distance. They belonged to Zhou Cang, as Pei Yuanshao said, and Guan Yu waited for them to approach. The leader was very dark complexioned, tall, and armed with a spear. As soon as he drew near enough to see, he exclaimed joyfully, “This is General Guan Yu!”

In a moment he had slipped out of the saddle and was on his knees by the roadside.

“Zhou Cang renders obeisance,” said he.

Said Guan Yu, “O Warrior, where have you known me?”

“I was one of the Yellow Scarves, and I saw you then. My one regret was that I could not join you. Now that my good fortune has brought me here, I hope you will not reject me. Let me be one of your foot soldiers to be always near you to carry your whip and run by your stirrup. I will cheerfully die for you.”

As he seemed thoroughly in earnest, Guan Yu said, “But if you follow me, what of your companions?”

“They may do as they please: Follow me or go their ways.”

Thereupon they all shouted, “We will follow!”

Guan Yu dismounted and went to ask the ladies what they thought of this.

Lady Gan replied, “Brother-in-law, you have traveled thus far alone and without fighters; you have safely passed many dangers and never wanted their assistance. You refused the service of Liao Hua, why then suffer this crowd? But this is only a my view and you must decide.”

“What you say, sister-in-law, is to the point.”

Therefore returning to Zhou Cang, he said, “It is not that I am lacking in gratitude, but my sisters-in-law do not care for a large following. Wherefore return to the mountains till I shall have found my brother, when I will surely call you.”

Zhou Cang replied, “I am only a rough uncouth fellow, wasting his life as a brigand. Meeting you, General, is like seeing the full sun in the skies, and I feel that I can never bear to miss you again. As it might be inconvenient for all my people to follow you, I will bid my companion lead them away, but I will come and follow you on foot wherever you go.”

Guan Yu again asked his sisters-in-law what they thought of this. Lady Gan said one or two made no difference, and so Guan Yu consented. But Pei Yuanshao was not satisfied with this arrangement and said he wished also to follow.

Zhou Cang said, “If you do not stay with the band, they will disperse and be lost. You must take command for the moment and let me accompany General Guan Yu. As soon as he has a fixed abode, I will come to fetch you.”

Somewhat discontentedly Pei Yuanshao accepted the situation and marched off, while his one-time colleague joined the train of Guan Yu, and they went toward Runan. They traveled quickly for some days, and then they saw a city on a hill.

The natives told them, “This city is called Gucheng. A few months before a warrior suddenly appeared, drove out the magistrate, and took possession. Then he has begun to recruit soldiers, bought up horses, and laid in stores. The warrior’s name is Zhang Fei. Now he has a large force, and no one in the neighborhood dare face him.”

“To think that I should find my brother like this!” said Guan Yu, delighted. “I have had never a word of him, nor knew I where he was since Xuzhou fell.”

So Guan Yu dispatched Sun Qian into the city to tell its new commander to come out to meet him and provide for their sisters-in-law.

Now, after being separated from his brothers, Zhang Fei had gone to the Mangdang Hills, where he had remained a month or so while he sent far and near for tidings of Liu Bei. Then as he happened to pass Gucheng, he had sent in to borrow some grain, but had been refused. In revenge, he had driven away the magistrate and taken possession of the city. He found the place well suited to his needs at the moment.

As directed by Guan Yu, Sun Qian entered the city and, after the usual ceremonies, told Zhang Fei the news, “Liu Bei has left Yuan Shao and gone to Runan; and Guan Yu, with your sisters-in-law, is at the gates. He wishes you to go out and receive them.”

Zhang Fei listened without a word till he came to the request to go out to meet his brother. At that point he called for his armor and, when he had put it on, laid hold of his long serpent halberd, mounted, and rode out with a large company at his back. Sun Qian was too astonished to ask what this meant and simply followed.

Guan Yu was very glad when he saw his brother coming, put up his weapons and, with Zhou Cang at his back, rode toward him at full speed. But as Guan Yu approached, he saw all the signs of fierce anger on Zhang Fei’s face, and Zhang Fei roared as he shook his spear, threatening Guan Yu.

Guan Yu was entirely taken aback and called out anxiously, “Brother, what does this mean? Is the Peach Garden Pledge quite forgotten?”

“What impudence is this that you come to see me since your disgraceful behavior?” shouted Zhang Fei.

“What disgraceful behavior has been mine?” said Guan Yu.

“You have betrayed your brother; you have surrendered to Cao Cao; and you have received title and office at his hands. And now you are come to exploit me. One of us shall die!”

Guan Yu said, “Really you do not understand, and it is hard for me to explain. But ask the two ladies here, worthy brother, and they will tell you.”

At this the ladies lifted the curtain of the carriage and called out: “Brother, why is this?”

Zhang Fei said, “Wait a while, sisters, and see me slay this traitor. After that I will conduct you into the city.”

Said Lady Gan, “Since he knew not where you were, our brother took shelter with Cao Cao. And since he knew that his elder brother was at Runan, he has braved every danger to escort us thus far on the road. Pray take a correct view of his conduct.”

Lady Mi also chimed in, “When your brother went to Xuchang, no other course was open to him.”

“Sisters, do not let him deceive you to the truth. Real loyalty prefers death to dishonor. No good person can serve two masters.”

Guan Yu said, “Brother, cease to wrench me I pray you.”

Sun Qian said, “Guan Yu came expressly to seek you.”

“How much more nonsense will you talk?” roared Zhang Fei. “How can he be true-hearted? He came to capture me, I say.”

“Had I come to capture you, I should have come with troops and horses,” said Guan Yu.

“And are there not troops and horses?” said Zhang Fei pointing to a point behind Guan Yu.

Guan Yu turned, and there he saw a cloud of dust rising as though a squadron of horse was coming. And soon they were near enough, and from their trumpets and banners they showed themselves to be of Cao Cao’s army.

“Now will you try to cajole me further?” cried Zhang Fei in a rage.

He set his serpent halberd and was just coming on when Guan Yu said, “Brother, wait a while. See me slay the leader of these that I may prove myself no traitor.”

“Well, if you are really true, prove it by slaying that leader, whoever he may be, before I have finished three rolls of the drum.”

Zhang Fei’s condition was accepted. Soon the attacking force was near enough to make out the leader to be Cai Yang.

Sword in hand Cai Yang rode at full speed, crying, “So I have found you, slayer of my nephew! I have a command to capture you and will execute it.”

Guan Yu made no reply. Raising his sword ready to strike, he moved out and the drums began to beat. Before a roll could be completed the fight was over, and Cai Yang’s head had rolled on the ground. His force scattered and fled. Guan Yu, however, captured the young ensign bearer and questioned him.

The youth said, “The fact is the Prime Minister had not given an order. Incensed at the loss of his nephew, Cai Yang wished to cross the river to pursue and attack you, General, although the Prime Minister refused permission. To satisfy him, the Prime Minister had sent Cai Yang to attack Runan, and the meeting at this place is entirely an accident.”

Guan Yu bade him repeat this story to his brother. Zhang Fei also questioned him concerning all that had happened in the capital, and the recital of the whole story satisfied Zhang Fei of the fidelity of Guan Yu.

Just then messengers came from the city to Zhang Fei to say: “Some scores of horsemen has arrived at the south gate. They seem in a great hurry but no one know them.”

Zhang Fei, with still a lingering doubt in his mind, went to look at the newcomers and there saw some forty mounted archers with light bows and short arrows. Hastily dismounting to see them better, he found they were Mi Zhu and Mi Fang.

Quickly slipping out of the saddle, they came up and Mi Zhu said, “After the dispersal at Xuzhou when we lost sight of you, we returned to our village whence we sent all around for news of you. We heard that Guan Yu had surrendered to Cao Cao and our lord was in the North of Yellow River with Yuan Shao. The one of whom we could hear nothing was yourself. But yesterday, while on our way, we fell in with some travelers who told us a certain General Zhang Fei, of such and such an appearance, had suddenly occupied Gucheng, and we felt it must be you. So we came to inquire, and we happily fell in with you here.”

Zhang Fei replied, “Guan Yu and Sun Qian are here, and my two sisters are with them. They had heard where my elder brother was.”

This news added to the joy of the two newcomers who went to see Guan Yu and the women, and then they all entered the city. When the ladies had settled down a little, they related the whole story of the adventures on the road at which Zhang Fei was overcome with remorse and bowed before his brother bitterly weeping. Mi Zhu and Mi Fang were greatly affected. Then Zhang Fei related what had happened to him.

A day was spent in banquets, and next day Zhang Fei wished his newly found brother to go with him to Runan to see their elder brother Liu Bei.

But Guan Yu said, “No. you take care of the ladies here while Sun Qian and I go to get news.”

So Guan Yu and Sun Qian with a small escort set out. When they reached Runan, they were received by Liu Pi.

“Liu Bei is no longer in the city. After waiting some days, he has come to the conclusion that the soldiers are too few, and has gone back to Yuan Shao to consult with him,” said Liu Pi.

Guan Yu was greatly disappointed, and Sun Qian did his best to console him, saying, “Do not be sorrowful. It only means the trouble of another journey into the North of Yellow River to tell Uncle Liu Bei, and then we can all meet at Gucheng.”

So spoke Sun Qian, and Guan Yu accepted it. They took leave of Liu Pi and returned to Gucheng where they related what had happened.

Zhang Fei wanted to go with them into the North of Yellow River, but Guan Yu opposed this, saying, “Seeing you have this city, it makes a rallying point for us and a resting place. We must not abandon it lightly. Sun Qian and I will go; and while sway we look to you to keep the city safe.”

“How can you go after killing the two generals, Yan Liang and Wen Chou?”

“That will not stop me. And after I am there, I can act according to circumstances.”

Then Guan Yu summoned Zhou Cang and asked him, saying, “How many followers are there with Pei Yuanshao at Sleeping Bull Mountain?”

“I should think four or five hundred.”

“Now,” said Guan Yu, “I am going to take the shortest road to find my brother. Can you go to summon your army and lead them along the high road to assist me?”

With instructions to bring up this force, Zhou Cang left, while Guan Yu and Sun Qian and their small escort went off to the north.

When they drew near the boundary, Sun Qian said, “You must be careful how you go over. You ought to stop here while I go in, see Uncle Liu Bei, and take the necessary steps.”

Seeing the wisdom of this, Guan Yu stopped there and sent his companion in advance. He and his followers going up to a nearby farm as an abiding place.

When they got to the farm, out came a venerable man leaning on a staff. After exchanging salutes, Guan Yu told the old man all about himself.

“My family name is also Guan, my personal name being Ding,” said the old man. “I know your reputation, and I am very happy to meet you.”

Guan Ding sent for his two sons to come and make their bow. He put up Guan Yu in his house and provided for his escort in the farm buildings.

In the meantime Sun Qian had made his way to Jizhou City and told Liu Bei the whole story.

Liu Bei said, “Jian Yong is also here. We will send for him secretly to talk over this matter.”

They did so; and when the usual salutes had been exchanged, they three began to consider the means of getting away.

“My lord,” said Jian Yong, “you see Yuan Shao personally and say you wish to go to Jingzhou to see Liu Biao about a scheme for the destruction of Cao Cao. That will give an excuse.”

“That seems best,” said Liu Bei, “but will you go with me?”

“I have another plan to extricate myself,” said Jian Yong.

Having settled their plans, Liu Bei soon went in to see his protector and suggested, “Liu Biao is strong and well posted. His help should be sought against our enemy.”

“I have sent messengers repeatedly to ask his help,” said Yuan Shao, “but he is unwilling.”

“As he and I are of the same family, he will not refuse me if I go and ask him,” said Liu Bei.

“Certainly he is worth much more than Liu Pi. You shall go.”

“I have just heard,” Yuan Shao continued, “that Guan Yu has left Cao Cao and wants to come here. If he does, I will put him to death out of revenge for my two beloved generals —-Yan Liang and Wen Chou.”

“Illustrious Sir, you wished to employ him and so I sent for him. Now you threaten to put him to death. The two men he slew were but deer compared with such a tiger as he is. When you exchange a couple of deer for a tiger, you need not complain of the bargain.”

“Really I like him,” said Yuan Shao. “I was only joking. You can send another messenger for him and tell him to come soon.”

“May I send Sun Qian for him?”

“Certainly.”

After Liu Bei had gone, Jian Yong came in and said to Yuan Shao, “If Liu Bei goes, he will not come back. I had better go to speak to Liu Biao. And I can keep a watch on Liu Bei.”

Yuan Shao agreed and issued orders for both to go.

On the subject of the mission, Guo Tu came in to his chief to dissuade him.

Said Guo Tu, “Liu Bei went to speak to Liu Pi, but he accomplished nothing. Now you are sending Jian Yong with him, and I am sure neither will ever return.”

“Do not be too suspicious,” said Yuan Shao. “Jian Yong is clever enough.”

That was the end of the interview. Forthwith Liu Bei sent Sun Qian back to Guan Yu and then, with Jian Yong, took leave of Yuan Shao and rode out of the city, As soon as they reached the border line, they met Sun Qian and all three rode off to Guan Ding’s farm to meet Guan Yu. He came out to welcome them, bowed and then seized his brother’s hands while tears streamed down his face.

Presently the two sons of their host came to bow to the visitors. Liu Bei asked their names.

“These are of the same name as myself,” said Guan Yu. “The sons are Guan Neng, who is a student, and Guan Ping, who is to be a soldier.”

“I have been thinking of sending the younger in your train, General,” said old Guan Ding, “Would you take him?”

“What is his age?” said Liu Bei.

“He is eighteen.”

Liu Bei said, “Since, O Senior, you are so kind, I venture to suggest that your son should be adopted by my brother, who has no son of his own. What think you of that?”

Guan Ding was perfectly willing, so he called Guan Ping and bade him make a son’s obeisance to Guan Yu and to style Liu Bei “Uncle.”

Then it was time to get on their way lest they should be pursued, and with Guan Yu went Guan Ping. Guan Ding and Guan Ning escorted them a long distance and then returned.

The party took the road to Sleeping Bull Mountain. Before they had gone very far, they met Zhou Cang with a small party. He was wounded. He was introduced to Liu Bei who asked him how it was.

He replied, “Before I reached the hill, a certain warrior all alone, had fought with my friend Pei Yuanshao and killed him. Then many of our troops surrendered to him, and he occupied our old camp. When I reached it, I tried to allure the soldiers back to my side but only succeeded with a few. The others were too afraid. I got angry and engaged the interloper, who however worsted me time after time and wounded me thrice.”

“Who is the warrior? What does he look like?” asked Liu Bei.

“All I know he is a doughty fighter, I do not know his name.”

Thereafter they advanced toward the hill with Guan Yu in front and Liu Bei in rear. When they drew near, Zhou Cang began to abuse his enemy, who soon appeared, mailed and armed, coming down the hill like a tornado.

Suddenly Liu Bei rode out waving his whip and shouting, “O Zhao Zilong, I am here to look for you!”

Indeed the rider was Zhao Zilong. He instantly slipped out of the saddle and bowed by the roadside.

Liu Bei dismounted to talk with him and ask how he came to be there.

“When I left you, I had no idea that Gongsun Zan was a man who would listen to no reason. The result was disaster, and he perished in the flames. Yuan Shao invited me to him several times, but I thought too little of him to go. Then I wanted to go to Xuzhou to you, but you had lost that place, and Guan Yu had gone over to Cao Cao, and you had joined Yuan Shao. Several times I thought of coming to you, but I feared Yuan Shao. So I drifted from one place to another with nowhere to rest till I happened to come this way, and Pei Yuanshao tried to steal my horse. So I slew him and took possession of his camp. I heard Zhang Fei was in Gucheng but thought it might be only a rumor. And so the days have passed till this happy meeting.”

Liu Bei told Zhao Zilong all that had happened to him since they parted, and so did Guan Yu.

Said Liu Bei, “The first time I saw you, I felt drawn to you and did not want to part from you. I am very happy to meet you again.”

“In all my wanderings, trying to find a lord worth serving, I have seen no one like you. Now I have reached your side, that is enough for all my life. I care not what may happen to me.”

Next they burned the camp on Sleeping Bull Mountain, after which they all took the road back to Gucheng where they were welcomed. They exchanged the stories of their several adventures, and the two ladies related the valiant deeds of Guan Yu whereat Liu Bei was too affected to speak.

Then they performed a great sacrifice to Heaven and Earth with the slaughter of a bull and a horse.

The soldiers also were recompensed for their toils. Liu Bei surveyed the conditions around him and found therein much to rejoice at. His two brothers were restored to his side and none of his helpers were missing. Moreover he had gained Zhao Zilong, and Guan Yu had acquired an adopted son Guan Ping. Another commander had joined his ranks in the person of Zhou Cang. There was every occasion for feasting and gratification.

Scattered wide were the brothers, none knew another’s retreat,

Joyfully now they foregather, dragon and tigers meet.

At this time the forces under the command of Liu Bei, Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Zhao Zilong, Sun Qian, Jian Yong, Mi Zhu, Mi Fang, Guan Ping, and Zhou Cang numbered four or five thousand soldiers. Liu Bei was in favor of leaving Gucheng and occupying Runan, and just then Liu Pi and Gong Du, the commanders of that city, sent to invite him to go there. So they went. There they devoted all their efforts to strengthen their army, both horse and foot.

Yuan Shao was much annoyed when Liu Bei did not return and at first was for sending a force after him. However Guo Tu dissuaded him.

“Liu Bei needs cause you no anxiety. Cao Cao is your one enemy and must be destroyed. Even Liu Biao, though strongly posted on River Han, is none too terrible. There is Sun Ce on the southeast of the Great River, strong, feared, with wide domain of six territories, a large army, and able counselors and leaders; you should make an alliance there against Cao Cao.”

Guo Tu won his chief to his view and wrote to Sun Ce, sending the letter by Chen Zhen.

Just as one warrior leaves the north,

Another from the east comes forth.

Future chapters will reveal the outcome of these dispositions.

Chapter 29

The Little Chief Of The South Slays Yu Ji; The Green Eyed Boy Lays Hold On The South Land.

Sun Ce gradually became supreme on the southeast of the Great River. In the fourth year of Rebuilt Tranquillity (AD 199), he took Lujiang by the defeat of the Governor Liu Xu. He dispatched Yu Fan with a dispatch to Governor Hua Xin of Yuzhang, and Hua Xin surrendered. Thence Sun Ce’s renown increased, and he boldly sent a memorial on his military successes to the Emperor by the hand of Zhang Hong.

Cao Cao saw in Sun Ce a powerful rival and said, “He is a lion difficult to contend with.”

So Cao Cao betrothed his niece, daughter of Cao Ren, to Sun Kuang, the youngest brother of Sun Ce, thus connecting the two families by marriage. Cao Cao also retained Zhang Hong near him in the capital.

Then Sun Ce sought the title of Grand Commander, one of the highest offices of state, but Cao Cao prevented the attainment of this ambition, and Sun Ce keenly resented it. Henceforward his thoughts turned toward an attack on Cao Cao.

About this time the Governor of Wujun, Xu Gong, sent a secret letter to the capital to Cao Cao, saying:

“Sun Ce is a turbulent fellow of the Xiang Yu type. The government ought, under the appearance of showing favor to him, to recall him to the capital, for he is a danger in the southern regions.”

But the bearer of this letter was captured on the Great River and sent to Sun Ce, who immediately put him to death. Then Sun Ce treacherously sent to ask the author of the letter to come and consult over some affair. The unsuspecting Xu Gong came.

Sun Ce produced the letter, saying, “So you wish to send me to the land of the dead, eh?”

And thereupon the executioners came in and strangled Xu Gong. The family of the victim scattered, but three of his clients determined to avenge him if only they could find some means of attacking Sun Ce.

One day Sun Ce went hunting in the hills to the west of Dantu. A stag was started, and Sun Ce pressed after it at topmost speed and followed it deep into the forest. Presently he came upon three armed men standing among the trees. Rather surprised to see them there, he reined in and asked who they were.

“We belong to Han Dang’s army and are shooting deer,” was the reply.

So Sun Ce shook his bridle to proceed. But just as he did so, one of the men thrust at him with a spear and wounded his thigh. Sun Ce drew the sword at his side, dashed forward, and tried to cut down the aggressor. The blade of his sword suddenly fell to the ground, only the hilt remaining in his hand. Then one of the assassins drew his bow, and an arrow wounded Sun Ce in the cheek. Sun Ce plucked out the arrow and shot at the offender, who fell, but the other two attacked him furiously with their spears, shouting, “We are Xu Gong’s men and his avengers!”

Sun Ce then understood. But he had no weapons save his bow against them. He tried to draw off, keeping them at bay striking with his bow. But the fight was getting too much for him, and both he and his steed were wounded in several places. However, just at the critical moment, Cheng Pu and some of his own officers came up, and they minced the assassins into pieces.

But their lord was in a sorry plight. His face was streaming with blood, and some of the wounds were very severe. They tore up his robe and therewith bound up his wounds, and they carried him home.

A poem in praise of the three avengers says:

O Sun Ce was a warrior and a stranger he to fear.

But he was basely murdered while hunting of the deer.

Yet were they leal who slew him, to avenge a murdered lord.

Self immolated like Yu Rang, they dreaded not the sword.

Badly wounded, Sun Ce was borne to his home. They sent to call the famous physician Hua Tuo, but he was far away and could not be found. However, a disciple of his came, and the wounded man was committed to his care.

“The arrowheads were poisoned,” said the physician, “and the poison has penetrated deep. It will take a hundred days of perfect repose before danger will be past. But if you give way to passion or anger, the wounds will not heal.”

Sun Ce’s temperament was hasty and impatient, and the prospect of such a slow recovery was very distasteful. However, he remained quiet for some twenty of the hundred days. Then came Zhang Hong from the capital, and Sun Ce insisted on seeing and questioning him.

“Cao Cao fears you, my lord, very greatly,” said Zhang Hong, “and his advisers have exceeding respect for you —-all except Guo Jia.”

“What did Guo Jia say?” asked the sick chieftain.

Zhang Hong remained silent, which only irritated his master and caused him to demand to be told. So Zhang Hong had to speak the truth.

He said, “The fact is Guo Jia told Cao Cao that he needed not fear you, that you were frivolous and unready, impulsive and shallow, just a stupid swaggerer who would one day come to his death at the hands of some mean person.”

This provoked the sick man beyond endurance.

“The fool, how dare he say this of me?” cried Sun Ce. “I will take Xuchang from Cao Cao, I swear.”

It was no more a question of repose. Ill as he was, he wanted to begin preparations for an expedition at once. They remonstrated with him, reminded him of the physician’s orders and urged him to rest.

“You are risking your priceless self in a moment’s anger,” said Zhang Zhao.

Then arrived Chen Zhen, the messenger from Yuan Shao, and Sun Ce would have him brought in.

He said, “My master wishes to ally himself with the South Land in an attack on Cao Cao.”

Such a proposal was just after Sun Ce’s heart. At once he called a great meeting of his officers in the wall tower and prepared a banquet in honor of the messenger. While this was in progress, Sun Ce noticed many of his officers whispering to each other, and they all began to go down from the banquet chamber. He could not understand this and inquired of the attendants near him what it meant.

They told him, “Saint Yu Ji has just gone by, and the officers have gone down to pay their respects to him.”

Sun Ce rose from his place and went and leaned over the railing to look at the man. He saw a Daoist priest in snowy garb leaning on his staff in the middle of the road, while the crowd about him burnt incense and made obeisance.

“What wizard fellow is this? Bring him here!” said Sun Ce.

“This is Yu Ji,” said the attendants. “He lives in the east and goes to and fro distributing charms and draughts. He has cured many people as everybody will tell you, and they say he is a saint. He must not be profaned.”

This only angered Sun Ce the more, and he told them to arrest the man at once or disobey at their peril. So there being no help for it, they went down into the road and hustled the saint up the steps.

“You madman! How dare you incite people to evil?” said Sun Ce.

“I am but a poor priest of the Langye Mountains. More than half a century ago, when gathering simples in the woods, I found near the Yangqu Spring a book called ‘The Way of Peace.’ It contains a hundred and more chapters and taught me how to cure the diseases of humans. With this in my possession I had only one thing to do: To devote myself to spreading its teachings and saving humankind. I have never taken any thing from the people. Can you say I incite people to evil deeds?”

“You say you take nothing: Whence came your clothes and your food? The fact is you are one of the Yellow Scarves, and you will work mischief if you are left alive.”

Then turning to his attendants, Sun Ce ordered, “Take him away and put him to death.”

Zhang Zhao interceded, “The Daoist Saint has been here in the east these many years. He has never done any harm and does not deserve death or punishment.”

“I tell you I will kill these wizard fellows just as I would cattle.”

The officials in a body interceded, even the guest of honor, Chen Zhen, but in vain. Sun Ce refused to be placated. He ordered Yu Ji to be imprisoned.

The banquet came to an end, and Chen Zhen retired to his lodging. Sun Ce also returned to his palace.

His treatment of the Daoist Holy Man was theme of general conversation and soon reached the ears of his mother.

Lady Wu sent for her son to the ladies’ apartments and said to him, “They tell me you have put Saint Yu Ji in bonds. He has cured many sick people, and the common folk hold him in great reverence. Do not harm him!”

“He is simply a wizard who upsets the multitude with his spells and craft. He must be put to death,” replied Sun Ce.

Lady Wu entreated him to stay his hand, but he was obstinate.

“Do not heed the gossip of the streets, Mother,” said he. “I must be judge of these matters.”

However, Sun Ce sent to the prison for Yu Ji in order to interrogate him. Now the gaolers, having a great respect for Yu Ji and faith in his powers, were very indulgent to him and did not keep him in the collar. However when Sun Ce sent for him, they put on him with collar and fetters all complete.

Sun Ce had heard of their indulgence and punished the gaolers, and ordered the prisoner thereafter to be put in constant torture. Zhang Zhao and many others, moved by pity, made a petition which they humbly presented, and they offered to become surety for him.

Sun Ce said to them, “Gentlemen, you are all great scholars, but why do you not understand reason? Formerly in Jiaozhou was Imperial Protector Zhang Jing, who was deluded by these vicious doctrines into beating drums, twanging lyres, burning incense, and such things. He wore a red turban and represented himself as able to ensure victory to an army. But he was slain by the enemy. There is nothing in all this, only none of you will see it. I am going to put this fellow to death in order to stop the spread of this pernicious doctrine.”

Lu Fan interposed, saying, “I know very well this Yu Ji can control the weather. It is very dry just now, why not make him pray for rain as an amercement?”

“We will see what sort of witchcraft he is equal to,” said Sun Ce.

Thereupon he had the prisoner brought in, loosed his fetters, and sent him up to an altar to intercede for rain.

The docile Daoist Yu Ji prepared to do as he was bidden. He first bathed himself, then dressed himself in clean garments. After that he bound his limbs with a cord and lay down in the fierce heat of the sun. The people came in crowds to look on.

Said Yu Ji, “I will pray for three spans high of refreshing rain for the benefit of the people, nevertheless I shall not escape death thereby.”

The people said, “But if your prayer be efficacious, our lord must believe in your powers.”

“The day of fate has come for me, and there is no escape.”

Presently Sun Ce came near the altar and announced that if rain had not fallen by noon, he would burn the priest. And to confirm this he bade them prepare the pyre.

As it neared noon a strong wind sprang up, and the clouds gathered from all quarters. But there was no rain.

“It is near noon,” said Sun Ce. “Clouds are of no account without rain. He is only an impostor.”

Sun Ce bade his attendants lay the priest on the pyre and pile wood around him and apply the torch. Fanned by the gale the flames rose rapidly. Then appeared in the sky above a wreath of black vapor, followed by roaring thunder and vivid lightning, peal on peal and flash on flash. And the rain fell in a perfect deluge. In a short time the streets became rivers and torrents. It was indeed a three-span fall.

Yu Ji, who was still lying upon the pile of firewood, cried in a loud voice, “O Clouds, cease thy rain, and let the glorious sun appear!”

Thereupon officials and people helped the priest down, loosened the cord that bound him, and bowed before him in gratitude for the rain.

But Sun Ce boiled with rage at seeing his officers and the people gathered in groups and kneeling in the water regardless of the damage to their clothing.

“Rain or shine are as nature appoints them, and the wizard has happened to hit upon a moment of change. What are you making all this fuss about?” cried he.

Then he drew his sword and told the attendants to smite the Daoist Saint therewith. They all besought him to hold his hand.

“You want to follow Yu Ji in rebellion, I suppose,” cried Sun Ce.

The officers, now thoroughly cowed by the rage of their lord, were silent and showed no opposition when the executioners seized the Daoist Saint and beheaded him.

As the head fell, they saw just a wreath of black smoke drift away to the northeast where lay the Langye Mountains.

The corpse was exposed in the market place as a warning to enchanters and wizards and such people. That night there came a very violent storm, and when it calmed down at daylight, there was no trace of the body of Yu Ji. The guards reported this, and Sun Ce in his wrath sentenced them to death. But as he did so, he saw Yu Ji calmly walking toward him as if the Daoist Saint were still alive. Sun Ce drew his sword and darted forward to strike at the wraith, but he fainted and fell to the ground.

They carried him to his chamber, and in a short time he recovered consciousness.

His mother, Lady Wu, came to visit him and said, “My son, you have done wrong to slay the holy one, and this is your retribution.”

“Mother, when I was a boy, I went with Father to wars, where people are cut down as one cuts reed stalks. There is not much retribution about such doings. I have put this fellow to death and so checked a great evil. Where does retribution come in?”

“This comes of want of faith,” she replied. “Now you must avert the evil by meritorious deeds.”

“My fate depends on Heaven. Wizards can do me no harm, so why avert anything?”

His mother saw that it was useless to try persuasion, but she told his attendants to do some good deeds secretly whereby the evil should be turned aside.

That night about the third watch, as Sun Ce lay in his chamber, he suddenly felt a chill breeze, which seemed to extinguish the lamps for a moment, although they soon brightened again; and he saw in the lamp light the form of Yu Ji standing near his bed.

Sun Ce said, “I am the sworn foe of witchcraft, and I will purge the world of all such as deal in magic. You are a spirit, and how dare you approach me?”

Reaching down a sword that hung at the head of his bed, he hurled it at the phantom, which then disappeared. When his mother heard this story, her grief redoubled. Sun Ce, ill as he was, went to see his mother and did his utmost to reassure her.

She said, “Confucius the Teacher says: ‘How abundantly do spiritual beings display the powers that belong to them!’ and ‘Prayer has been made to the spirits of the upper and lower worlds.’ You must have faith. You sinned in putting Saint Yu Ji to death, and retribution is sure. I have already sent to have sacrifices performed at the Jade Pure Monastery, and you should go in person to pray. May all come right!”

Sun Ce could not withstand such a mandate from his mother so, mustering all his strength, he managed to get into a sedan chair and went to the monastery, where the Daoists received him respectfully and begged him to light the incense. He did so, but he returned no thanks. To the surprise of all, the smoke from the brazier, instead of floating upwards and dissipating, collected in a mass that gradually shaped itself into an umbrella, and there on the top sat Yu Ji.

Sun Ce simply spat abuse and went out of the temple. As he passed the gates, lo! Yu Ji stood there gazing at him with angry eyes.

“Do you see that wizard fellow?” said he to those about him.

They said they saw nothing. More angry than ever, he flung his sword at the figure by the gate. The sword struck one of his escorts who fell. Sun Ce told them to bury the man. But as he went out of the courtyard, he saw Yu Ji walking in.

“This temple is nothing more than a lurking place for sorcerers and wizards and such people,” said Sun Ce.

Whereupon he took a seat in front of the building and sent for five hundred soldiers to pull the place down. When they went up on the roof to strip off the tiles, Sun Ce saw Yu Ji standing on the main beam flicking tiles to the ground. More angry than ever, Sun Ce told them to drive out the priests belonging to the place and burn it. They did so, and when the flames rose their highest, Sun Ce saw the dead Daoist Yu Ji standing in the midst of the fire.

Sun Ce returned home still in a bad humor, which increased when he saw the form of Yu Ji standing at his gate. He would not enter but mustered his army and went into camp outside the city walls. And there he summoned his officers to meet him and talk over joining Yuan Shao in an attack on Cao Cao.

They assembled, but they remonstrated with him and begged him to consider his precious health. That night he slept in the camp and again saw Yu Ji, this time with his hair hanging loose. Sun Ce raged at the vision without cessation.

Next day his mother called him into the city and he went. She was shocked at the change in his appearance: He looked so utterly miserable. Her tears fell.

“My son,” said Lady Wu, “how wasted you are!”

He had a mirror brought and looked at himself. He was indeed so gaunt and thin that he was almost frightened and exclaimed, “How do I come to look so haggard?”

While he spoke, Yu Ji appeared in the mirror. He struck it and shrieked. Then the half healed wounds reopened and he fainted.

He was raised and borne within. When he recovered consciousness, he said, “This is the end. I shall die.”

He sent for Zhang Zhao and his other chief officers and his brother, Sun Quan, and they gathered in his chamber.

He gave them his dying charge, saying, “In the disordered state of the empire, the domains of Wu and Yue, with its strong defense of the three rivers and resourceful lands, has a brilliant future. You, Zhang Zhao, must assist my brother.”

So saying Sun Ce handed his seal to Sun Quan, saying, “For manipulating the might of Wu so as to make it the deciding force among the factions and then obtaining the whole empire, you are not so suited as I. But in encouraging the wise and confiding in the able and getting the best out of everyone for the preservation of this land, I should not succeed as you will. Remember with what toil and labor your father and I have won what we possess, and take good care thereof.”

Sun Quan wept as he knelt to receive the seal, and the dying Sun Ce turned to his mother, saying, “Mother, the days allotted of Heaven have run out, and I can no longer serve my tender mother. I have given over the seal to my brother and trust that you will advise him early and late, and see that he lives worthy of his predecessors.”

“Alas! Your brother is full young for such a task,” said his mother, weeping. “I know not what may happen.”

“He is far abler than I and fully equal to the task of ruling. Should he have doubts upon internal affairs, he must turn to Zhang Zhao; for outer matters he must consult Zhou Yu. It is a pity Zhou Yu is absent so that I cannot give him my charge face to face.”

To his brothers Sun Ce said, “When I am gone, you must help your brother. Should any discord arise in the family, let the others punish the wrongdoer and let not his ashes mingle with those of his ancestors in the family vaults.”

The young men wept at these words.

Then he called for his wife, Lady Qiao, and said, “Unhappily we have to part while still in the full vigor of life. You must care for my mother. Your sister will come to see you presently, and you can ask her to tell her husband, Zhou Yu, to help my brother in all things and make my brother keep to the way I have taught him to walk in.”

Then Sun Ce closed his eyes and soon after passed away. He was only twenty-six.

People called him first of the chieftains,

The east had felt his might,

He watched like a tiger crouching.

Struck as a hawk in flight.

There was peace in the lands he ruled.

His fame ran with the wind.

But he died and left to another.

The great scheme in his mind.

As his brother breathed his last, Sun Quan sank by the bed and wept.

“This is not the time to mourn,” said Zhang Zhao. “First see to the funeral ceremonies and that the government is safe.”

So the new ruler dried his tears. The superintendence of the funeral was confided to Sun Jing, and then Zhang Zhao led his young master to the hall to receive the felicitations of his officers.

Sun Quan was endowed with a square jaw and a large mouth; he had green eyes and a purple beard.

Formerly, when Minister Liu Wan had gone to Wu to visit the Sun family, he said of the family of brothers, “I have looked well at them all, and they are all clever and perspicacious, but none of them have the very ultimate degree of good fortune. Only the second, Sun Quan, has the look of a deep thinker. His face is remarkable, and his build unusual, and he has the look of one who will come to great honor.”

When Sun Quan succeeded to his brother and his brother’s might, there was still some reorganization to be done. Soon Zhou Yu had arrived at Wujun.

The young ruler received him very graciously and said, “I need have no anxiety now that you have come.”

Zhou Yu had been sent to hold Baqiu. When he heard that his chief had been wounded, he thought it well to return to see how he was. But Sun Ce had died before Zhou Yu could arrive. He hurried to be present at the funeral.

When Zhou Yu went to wail at the coffin of his late chief, Lady Wu, the dead man’s mother, came out to deliver her son’s last injunctions.

When she had told him the last charge, Zhou Yu bowed to the earth, saying, “I shall exert the puny powers I have in your service as long as I live.”

Shortly after Sun Quan came in, and, after receiving Zhou Yu’s obeisance, said, “I trust you will not forget my brother’s charge to you.”

Zhou Yu bowed, saying, “I would willingly suffer any form of death for you.”

“How best can I maintain this great charge which I have inherited from my father and brother?”

“He who wins people, prospers; he who loses them, fails. Your present plan should be to seek people of high aims and farseeing views, and you can establish yourself firmly.”

“My brother bade me consult Zhang Zhao for internal administration, and yourself on external matters,” said Sun Quan.

“Zhang Zhao is wise and understanding and equal to such a task. I am devoid of talent and fear to take such responsibility, but I venture to recommend to you as a helper one Lu Su, a man of Linhuai. This man’s bosom hides strategy, and his breast conceals tactics. He lost his father in early life and has been a perfectly filial son to his mother. His family is rich and renowned for charity to the needy. When I was stationed at Juchao, I led some hundreds of soldiers across Linhuai. We were short of grain. Hearing that the Lu family had two granaries there, each holding three thousand carts, I went to ask for help. Lu Su pointed to one granary and said, ‘Take that as a gift.’ Such was his generosity!

“He has always been fond of fencing and horse archery. He was living in Que. His grandmother died while he was there, and he went to bury her in Dongcheng, and then his friend, Liu Ziyang, wished to engage him to go to Chaohu and join Zheng Bao. However, he hesitated about that and has not gone yet. You should invite him without loss of time.”

Sun Quan at once sent Zhou Yu to engage the services of this man, and Zhou Yu set out. When the obeisance was over, Zhou Yu laid before Lu Su the inducements that his own master held out.

Lu Su replied, “I have been engaged by Liu Ziyang to go to Chaohu, and I am just starting thither.”

Said Zhou Yu, “Of old Ma Yuan said to Liu Xiu, ‘This is an age when not only do princes select their ministers, but ministers must also choose their princes.’ Now our General Sun Quan calls to him the wise and treats his officers well. Thus he engages the help of the wonderful and gets the services of the extraordinary in a way that few others do. But if you are not engaged elsewhere, come with me to the South Land as the best thing to do.”

Lu Su returned with Zhou Yu and saw Sun Quan, who treated him with the greatest deference and with him discussed affairs very fully. The conference proved so interesting that it went on all day and neither felt fatigue.

One day at the close of the usual reception, Sun Quan kept Lu Su to dine with him. They sat up late and by and by slept on the same couch as would the closest of friends.

In the dead of night Sun Quan said to his bedfellow, “The dynasty is failing, and everything is at sixes and sevens. I have received a great charge from my father and brother, and I am thinking of imitating the actions of the celebrated Protectors of Reign, Wen and Huan, and becoming the leader of the feudal lords, and I pray you instruct me.”

Lu Su replied, “Of old the Founder of Han, the Supreme Ancestor, wished to honor and serve Emperor Yi of Qin, but could not on account of Xiang Yu’s evildoings. Now Cao Cao can be compared with Xiang Yu: How can you be the protector of the Emperor? My humble opinion is that the Hans have fallen beyond hope of recovery and Cao Cao cannot be destroyed, and that the only key to your big schemes is to secure your present position in order to keep the master hand and control the combinations among the others. Now take advantage of the turmoil in the north to smite Huang Zu and attack Liu Biao in Jingzhou. Thereby you will command the whole length of the Great River. Then you may consolidate the empire and become the Son of Heaven. This was how the Supreme Ancestor acted.”

Hearing this Sun Quan was very greatly pleased. He threw on some clothing, got up, and thanked his newly-found adviser. Next day Sun Quan gave Lu Su costly gifts and sent robes and silks to his mother.

Lu Su then recommended a friend of his to Sun Quan’s notice, a man of wide reading and great ability. He was also a filial son. His name was Zhuge Jin, and he came from Nanyang. Sun Quan treated Zhuge Jin as a superior guest. This man dissuaded Sun Quan from making common cause with Yuan Shao, but advised him rather to favor Cao Cao, against whom he could plan when occasion served. Sun Quan therefore sent back the messenger Chen Zhen with dispatches that broke off all negotiations.

Hearing of Sun Ce’s death, Cao Cao was for sending an expedition against the south.

But Zhang Hong dissuaded him, saying, “It would be mean to take advantage of the period of mourning. And if you should not overcome him, you will make him an enemy instead of being a friend. It would be preferable to treat him generously.”

So Cao Cao memorialized the Throne and obtained for Sun Quan the title of General and Governor of Kuaiji, while Zhang Hong was appointed Commander under Sun Quan.

And a seal of office was sent to Sun Quan by Zhang Hong. The new appointment pleased Sun Quan, and he was greatly glad to get Zhang Hong back again. Then Zhang Hong was sent to act jointly with Zhang Zhao in the administration.

Zhang Hong was the means of getting another into Sun Quan’s service. His friend was Gu Yong, a disciple of the Historian Cai Yong. Gu Yong was a man of few words and an abstainer from wine. He was very correct in all things. Sun Quan appointed Gu Yong Deputy Governor.

Henceforward Sun Quan’s rule was very prosperous, and he waxed mightily in influence and won the love of all the people.

When Chen Zhen had returned and related the events in the South Land and told of the honors that Cao Cao had obtained for Sun Quan in return for his support, Yuan Shao was very wroth, and he set about preparing for an attack on Xuchang with a force of seven hundred thousand northern soldiers.

Although in the south they rest from war,

They rattle the spears beneath the northern star.

Later it will be seen which side conquered.

Chapter 30

Shunning Advice, Yuan Shao Loses Leaders and Granaries; Using Strategy, Cao Cao Scores Victory At Guandu.

Hearing that Yuan Shao was hastening to attack at Guandu, Xiahou Dun wrote to the capital urgently asking for reinforcements, and Cao Cao told off seventy thousand troops with which he marched. Xun Yu was left to guard the capital.

Just as Yuan Shao’s army was starting, Tian Feng sent out a remonstrance from his prison cell, saying, “My lord, a hasty attack in full scale will bring disaster to our army. It is best now to wait upon such times as Heaven should appoint.”

Peng Ji said to Yuan Shao, “Why does this Tian Feng utter ill-omened words? My lord is sending forth an army in the cause of humanity and justice.”

Easily moved to anger, Yuan Shao was going to execute Tian Feng, but this time he forbore at the entreaties of many of his officers.

However, he was not appeased, for he said, “I will punish Tian Feng when I return from conquering Cao Cao.”

Meanwhile Yuan Shao hastened to start. The banners of his host filled the horizon, their swords were as trees in the forest. They marched to Yangwu and there made a strong camp.

Then Ju Shou once more opposed any hasty movement, saying, “Though our soldiers are many, they are not so bold as the enemy. However, veterans as are the enemy, they have not ample supplies. Therefore they will wish to force on a speedy battle, while our policy is to hold them off and delay. If we can keep from a decisive battle long enough, the victory will be ours without fighting.”

This advice did not appeal to Yuan Shao.

Said he, threateningly, “Tian Feng spoke discouraging words to my armies, and I will assuredly put him to death on my return. How dare you follow in the same way?”

Yuan Shao summoned the lictors and sent away the adviser in chains, saying, “When I have overcome Cao Cao, then will I deal with you and Tian Feng together!”

The huge army was camped in four divisions, one toward each point of the compass. The camps were thirty miles in circuit. Scouts and spies were sent out to discover the strong and the weak points of the enemy.

Cao Cao’s army arrived and were smitten with fear when they heard of the strength of their enemy. The leader called together his council.

Then said Adviser Xun You, “The enemy are many but not terrible. Ours is an army of veterans, every soldier of ours worth ten of theirs. But our advantage lies in a speedy battle, for unhappily our stores are insufficient for a long campaign.”

“You speak to the point,” said Cao Cao. “I think the same.”

Therefore Cao Cao issued orders to press noisily forward and force on a battle. Yuan Shao’s soldiers took up the challenge, and the two sides were arrayed. On Yuan Shao’s side, Shen Pei placed ten thousand of crossbowmen in ambush on the two wings, while five thousand of archers held the center. The signal for general attack was a bomb, and the onset was to continue through three rolls of the drum.

Yuan Shao wore a silver helmet and breastplate and an embroidered robe held in by a jeweled belt. He took up his post in the center with his commanders —-Gao Lan, Zhang He, Han Meng, Chunyu Qiong, and others —-ranged right and left. His banners and ensigns made a brave show.

When Cao Cao’s army’s center opened and the banners moved aside, the chieftain appeared on horseback with his staff of doughty leaders all fully armed —-Xu Chu, Zhang Liao, Xu Huang, Li Dian, and others.

Pointing with his whip at Yuan Shao, Cao Cao cried, “In the presence of the Emperor, I pressed your claims to consideration and obtained for you the title of Regent Marshal. Why do you now plan rebellion?”

Yuan Shao replied, “You take the title of a minister of Han, but you are really a rebel against the House. Your crimes and evil deeds reach to the heavens, and you are worse than the usurper Wang Mang and the rebel Dong Zhuo. What are these slanderous words about rebellion that dare you address to me?”

“I have a command to make you prisoner!”

“I have the Girdle Decree to arrest rebels!” replied Yuan Shao.

Then Cao Cao became wrathful and bade Zhang Liao ride forth as his champion. From the other side rode Zhang He on a curvetting steed. The two champions fought forty or fifty bouts with no advantage to either. In his heart Cao Cao thought the contest amazing. Then Xu Chu whirled up his sword and went to help. From the other side, to match him rode out Gao Lan with his spear set, and the contestants were now four, battling two and two. Then Cao Cao ordered three thousand troops under Xiahou Dun and Cao Hong to attack the opponents’ array. Thereupon on Yuan Shao’s side, Shen Pei gave the signal for attack, and the legion of crossbowmen on the wings shot and the center archers let fly all together. The arrows flew all over the field in front, and Cao Cao’s troops could not advance. They hastened away toward the south. Yuan Shao threw his soldiers on their rear, and they were broken. They fled away toward Guandu, and Yuan Shao advanced another stage. He camped near them.

Then Shen Pei said, “Now send one hundred thousand soldiers to guard Guandu, and get near Cao Cao’s camp. Then build up observation mounds to get a clear view of the enemy, and choose vantage points whence to shoot arrows into the midst of their host. If we can force him to evacuate this place, we shall have gained a strategic point whence Capital Xuchang can be attacked.”

Yuan Shao adopted this suggestion. From each of the camps, they sought out the strongest veterans who dug with iron spades and carried earth to raise mounds near Cao Cao’s camp.

Cao Cao’s soldiers saw what their enemies were doing and were anxious to make a sortie and drive them off. But the archers and crossbowmen came out commanding the narrow throat through which it was necessary to attack and stayed them. At the end of ten days, they had build up more than half a hundred mounds, and on the summit of each was a lofty tower, whence the archers could command their opponents’ camp. Cao Cao’s soldiers were greatly frightened and held up their bucklers to keep off the various missiles. From the mounds the arrows flew down like a fierce rain after each roll of drums. The soldiers of Yuan Shao’s army laughed and jeered when they saw their enemies crouching under their shields and crawling on the ground to avoid their missiles.

Cao Cao saw that his troops were getting out of hand under this attack, so he called a council.

Liu Ye spoke up, saying, “Let us make catapults and so destroy them.”

Cao Cao at once had models brought and set cunning workers to make these stone-throwing machines. They soon constructed some hundreds and placed them along the walls of the camp inside, just opposite the high ladders on the enemy’s mounds.

Then Cao Cao’s troops watched for Yuan Shao’s archers to ascend the towers. As soon as the archers began to shoot, all the catapults began to heave stone balls into the skies and they wrought great havoc. There was no shelter from the falling stones, and enormous numbers of the archers were killed. Yuan Shao’s troops called these machines “Rumblers,” and after their appearance the archers dared not ascend the mounds to shoot.

Then Shen Pei, the strategist, thought out another plan. He set troops to tunnel under the walls into the midst of Cao Cao’s camp and called this corps “The Sappers”. Cao Cao’s soldiers saw the enemy digging out pits behind the mounds and told the chief, who at once sought a counter plan from Liu Ye.

“As Yuan Shao can no longer attack openly, he is attacking secretly and is tunneling a road under ground into the midst of our camp,” said Liu Ye.

“But how to meet it?”

“We can surround the camp with a deep moat which renders their tunnel useless.”

So a deep moat was dug as quickly as possible, and when the enemy sappers arrived thereat, lo! their labor had been in vain and the sap was useless.

Cao Cao held Guandu throughout the eighth and ninth months when, his army being worn out and provisions failing, he began to think of giving up and returning to the capital. As he could not make up his mind, he referred his difficulties by letter to Xun Yu, whom he had left to guard Xuchang. The reply he got was to this effect:

“I have received your command to decide whether to continue the campaign or retire. It appears to me that Yuan Shao assembled such large forces at Guandu with the expectation of winning a decision. You, Sir, are very weak while he is very strong. If you cannot get the better of him, he will be able to work his will on you, and this will be a crisis of the empire. Your opponents are indeed numerous, but their leader knows not how to use them. With your military genius and discernment, where are you not sure to succeed? Now though your numbers are small, your situation is still brighter than Liu Bang’s when he faced against Xiang Yu in Jungyang and Chenggao. You are securely entrenched with your hands on Yuan Shao’s throat; and even if you cannot advance, that state of things cannot endure forever but must change. This is the time to play some unexpected move, and you must not miss it. The device I leave to your illustrious ingenuity.”

This letter greatly pleased Cao Cao, and he urged upon his troops to use every effort to maintain the position.

Yuan Shao then retired some ten miles, and Cao Cao sent out scouts to ascertain his new dispositions. One of Xu Huang’s officers, Shi Huan, captured an enemy spy and sent him to his chief. Xu Huang interrogated him and found out that a convoy of supplies was expected and that this spy and others had been sent to find out what the risks of the route were. Xu Huang went at once to tell Cao Cao.

When Xun You heard that the commander of the convoy was Han Meng, he said, “That fellow is a valiant fool. A few thousand light horse sent to intercept him can capture the whole train and cause much trouble in the enemy’s camp.”

“Whom should I send?” asked Cao Cao.

“You might send Xu Huang. He is capable of such a task.”

So Xu Huang was deputed, and he took with him Shi Huan, who had captured the spy, and his company. And this party was supported by Zhang Liao and Xu Chu.

It was night when the commissariat train of many thousands of wagons drew near Yuan Shao’s camp. As they passed through a defile, Xu Huang and Shi Huan came out and stopped the train. Han Meng galloped up to give battle but was soon overcome. The guard was scattered, and soon the whole train was in flames. The escort and their leader fled away.

The glow of the flames seen from Yuan Shao’s camp caused great consternation, which became fear when the escaped soldiers rode in and told their tale.

Yuan Shao sent out Zhang He and Gao Lan to try to intercept the raiders, and they came upon Xu Huang and his company. Just as Zhang He and Gao Lan were attacking, reinforcements from Zhang Liao and Xu Chu came up, and the Yuan Shao’s troops were between two fires. They were cut to pieces and the successful generals of Cao Cao rode back to Guandu, where they were richly rewarded.

As an additional safeguard, Cao Cao made a supporting outpost in front of the main camp to be the apex of a triangle of defense.

When Han Meng returned with his woeful tidings, Yuan Shao was angry and threatened to put him to death. His colleagues begged him off.

Then said Shen Pei, “Food is very important for an army in the field and must be defended with the greatest diligence. Wuchao is our main depot and must be carefully guarded.”

“My plans being complete,” said Yuan Shao. “You may as well return to Capital Yejun of Jizhou and undertake the control of the supplies. Let there be no shortage.”

So Shen Pei left the army. Then a force of twenty thousand troops was told off to defend the depot in Wuchao. The leaders of this body were Chunyu Qiong, Gui Yuanjin, Han Juzi, Lu Weihuang, and Zhao Rui.

Of these generals, Chunyu Qiong was a hard man and a heavy drinker, who in his cups was a terror to the soldiers. Under the idle life of guarding the supply depot, the leaders gave themselves up to indulgence and drank heavily.

In Cao Cao’s army food was also getting scarce, and a message was sent to Capital Xuchang to send grain quickly. The messenger with the letter, however, had not gone far when he fell into the hands of Yuan Shao’s guards, who took him to the adviser Xu You.

Seeing from the letter that Cao Cao was short of supplies, Xu You went to Yuan Shao and told him, saying, “Cao Cao and we have been at grips here for a long time, and Capital Xuchang must be undefended. A small army sent quickly could take it, and at the same moment an attack here would deliver Cao Cao into our hands. Now is the moment to strike, for his supplies are short.”

Yuan Shao replied, “Cao Cao is full of ruses, and this letter is artfully designed to bring about a battle to suit himself.”

“If you do not take this chance, he will do you some injury by and by.”

Just at this juncture in came a dispatch from Yejun in which, after some details regarding the forwarding of grain, Shen Pei said he had discovered that Xu You had been in the habit of receiving bribes while in Jizhou and had winked at his relatives collecting excess taxes. One of his son and nephew were then in prison.

At this Yuan Shao turned on Xu You angrily and said, “How can you have the face to stand before me and propose plans, you extortionate fellow? You and Cao Cao have old liking for each other, and he has bribed you to do his dirty work for him and help his base schemes. Now you want to betray my army. I ought to take off your head, but temporarily I will let your neck carry it away. Get out and never let me see you again.”

The discredited adviser sighed and went out, saying, “Faithful words offend his ear. He is a pest and unworthy of advice from me. And now that Shen Pei has injured my son and nephew, how can I look my fellow folks in the face again?”

And Xu You drew his sword to end his life. But his people prevented that.

They said, “If Yuan Shao rejects your honest words, then assuredly he will be taken by Cao Cao. You are an old friend of Cao Cao’s: Why not abandon the shade for the sunlight?”

Just these few words awakened Xu You to consciousness of his position, and he decided to leave Yuan Shao and go over to Cao Cao for he was an old friend.

Vainly now for chances lost

Yuan Shao sighs; once he was great.

Had he taken Xu You’s advice,

Cao Cao had not set up a state.

Xu You stealthily left the camp and set out for Cao Cao’s lines. He was captured on the way. He told his captors: “I am an old friend of the Prime Minister. Go and tell the Prime Minister that Xu You of Nanyang wishes to see him.”

They did so. Cao Cao was resting in his tent, his clothing loose and comfortable after the toils of the day. When he heard who wished to see him, he arose quite joyfully and hastily ran out, on bare feet, to receive Xu You. Cao Cao went forth to greet him. They saw each other in the distance, and Cao Cao clapped his hands with gladness, bowing to the ground when near enough to his visitor.

Xu You hastened to help him rise, saying, “Sir, you, a great minister, should not thus salute a simple civilian like me.”

“But you are my old friend, and no name or office makes any difference to us,” replied Cao Cao.

“Having been unable to choose the lord I would serve, I bowed my head before Yuan Shao wishing to support him sincerely. But he was deaf to my words and disregarded my plans. Wherefore I have left him and come now to see my old friend from whom I hope employment.”

“If you are willing to come, then have I indeed a helper,” said Cao Cao. “I desire you to give me a scheme for the destruction of Yuan Shao.”

“I counseled him to send a light force to take Capital Xuchang and at the same time attack here in full scale so that head and tail be both attacked.”

Cao Cao was alarmed, saying, “If he does so, I am lost!”

“How much grain have you in store?” said the new adviser.

“Enough for a year.”

“I think not quite,” said Xu You, smiling.

“Well, half a year.”

The visitor shook out his sleeves, rose and hurried toward the door of the tent, saying, “I offer him good counsel, and he repays me with deceit. Could I have expected it?”

Cao Cao held him back.

“Do not be angry,” said he. “I will tell you the truth. Really I have here only enough for three months.”

“Everybody says you are a marvel of wickedness, and indeed it is true,” said Xu You.

“But who does not know that in war there is no objection to deceit?” replied Cao Cao.

Then whispering in Xu You’s ear, he said, “Actually here I have only supplies for this month’s use.”

“O do not throw dust in my eyes any more. Your grain is exhausted and I know it.”

Cao Cao was startled, for he thought no one knew of the straits he was in.

“How did you find that out?” said Cao Cao.

Xu You produced the captured letter, saying, “Who wrote that?”

“Where did you get it?”

Whereupon Xu You told Cao Cao the story of the captured messenger.

Cao Cao seized him by the hand, saying, “Since our old friendship has brought you to me, I hope you have some plan to suggest to me.”

Xu You said, “To oppose a great army with a small one is to walk in the way of destruction, unless you inflict quick defeat. I can propose a plan which will defeat the innumerable hordes of Yuan Shao without fighting a battle. But will you follow my advice?”

“I very much desire to know your plan,” said Cao Cao.

“Your enemy’s stores of all kinds are at Wuchao, where the Commander of the Guard is that drunkard Chunyu Qiong. You can send some of your trusty veterans to pretend they belong to one of Yuan Shao’s generals, Jiang Qi, sent to help guard the depot. These soldiers can find an opportunity to fire the grain and stores of all kinds, which will upset all Yuan Shao’s calculations. In three days Yuan Shao is no more.”

Cao Cao greatly approved. He treated Xu You very liberally and kept him in his camp. Forthwith he chose five thousand of horse and foot ready for the expedition.

Zhang Liao protested, saying, “The enterprise will be futile as the grain depot will certainly be well guarded. Without caution, we may be victims of the treachery on the part of the newly arrived Xu You.”

“Xu You is no traitor,” said Cao Cao. “He has come sent by Heaven to defeat Yuan Shao. If we do not get grain, it will be hard to hold out. I have to either follow his advice or sit still and be hemmed in. If he were a traitor, he would hardly remain in my camp. Moreover this raid has been my desire for a long time. Have no doubts: The raid will certainly succeed.”

“Well, then, you must look out for an attack here while the camp is undefended.”

“That is already well provided for,” said Cao Cao gleefully.

The arrangements for the raid on the grain depot were made with extreme care to ensure success. Cao Cao assigned Xun You, Jia Xu, and Cao Hong to guard the main camp, together with Xu You; Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan to guard the left camp; Cao Ren and Li Dian to guard the right camp. When all was ready they set out, Cao Cao himself in the center, with Zhang Liao and Xu Chu as van leaders and Xu Huang and Yu Jin as rear guard. The army showed the ensigns of their opponents. The troops carried bundles of grass and faggots to make a blaze. The soldiers were gagged and the horses tied round the muzzles so as to prevent any noise. They set out at dusk.

The night was fine and the stars shone brightly.

Ju Shou, still a prisoner in Yuan Shao’s camp, saw the stars were very brilliant and told his gaolers to conduct him out to the central pavilion whence he could study them. While watching he saw the planet Venus invade the quarter of the Bear and Lyra, which startled him very greatly.

“Some misfortune is near!” said Ju Shou.

So although it was still night, he went to see his master. But Yuan Shao was sleeping after indulgence in too much wine and was in bad humor. However, when they had roused him saying that the prisoner had a secret message to deliver, he got up.

“While I happened to be studying the aspect of the heavens,” said the night visitor, “I saw Venus, then between Hydra and Cancer, suddenly shoot into the neighborhood of the Bear and Lyra. There is danger of a robber raid, and special precautions must be taken at the grain depot. Lose no time in sending good soldiers and vigorous leaders thither, and keep a lookout on the byways among the hills that you may escape the wiles of Cao Cao.”

“You are a criminal!” said Yuan Shao. “How dare you come with such wild nonsense to upset my armies.”

And turning to the gaolers Yuan Shao continued, “I bade you confine him. Why did you let him come?”

Then he issued orders to put the gaolers to death and appointed others to keep the prisoner in close custody.

Ju Shou went away, wiping his falling tears and sighing deeply, “Our soldiers’ destruction is at hand, and I know not where our poor corpses may find a resting place.”

Blunt truth offended Yuan Shao,

Too stupid any plan to make,

His stores destroyed this is evident

That Jizhou also is at stake.

Cao Cao’s raiding party went along through the night. Passing one of Yuan Shao’s outpost camps, they were challenged.

Cao Cao sent forward a man to say, “Jiang Qi has orders to go to Wuchao to guard the grain stores.”

Seeing that the raiders marched under the ensigns of Yuan Shao, the guard had no suspicions and let them pass. At every post this ruse was effective, and they got safely through. They reached their objective at the end of the fourth watch, the straw and wood were placed in position without loss of time, and the blaze started. Then Cao Cao’s commanders beat to attack.

At this time Chunyu Qiong and his companions were all asleep after a heavy drinking bout. However, when the alarm was given, they sprang up and asked what was the matter. The hubbub was indescribable. Very soon the fuddled officers were caught with hooks and hauled out of their camp.

Yuan Shao’s generals Gui Yuanjin and Zhao Rui were just returning from taking grain to the camp and seeing the flames arise, they hastened to assist.

Some of Cao Cao’s soldiers ran to him, saying, “The enemy is coming up in the rear. Send reinforcements.”

But Cao Cao only replied, “Press on to the front till the enemy is actually close at hand and then face about.”

So the attack was pressed on and they all hastened forward. Very soon the fire gained strength, and thick smoke hung all around filling the sky. When Gui Yuanjin and Zhao Rui drew near, Cao Cao turned about and attacked them. They could not stand this for a moment, and both generals were killed. Finally the stores of grain and forage were utterly destroyed.

The commander, Chunyu Qiong, was made prisoner and taken to Cao Cao who ordered him to be deprived of ears, nose, and hands. He was bound on a horse and sent, thus horribly mutilated, to his master.

From Yuan Shao’s camp, the flames of the burning depot were seen away in the north, and they knew what they meant. Yuan Shao hastily summoned his officers to a council to send a rescue party.

Zhang He offered to go with Gao Lan, but Guo Tu said, “You may not go. It is certain that Cao Cao is there in person, wherefore his camp is undefended. Let loose our soldiers on the camp, and that will speedily bring Cao Cao back again. This is how Sun Bin besieged Wei and thereby rescued Zhao.”

But Zhang He said, “Not so; Cao Cao is too wily not to have fully prepared against a chance attack. If we attack his camp and fail and Chunyu Qiong should be caught, we shall all be captured too.”

Guo Tu said, “Cao Cao will be too intent on the destruction of the grain to think of leaving a guard. I entreat you to attack his camp.”

So Yuan Shao sent five thousand soldiers under Zhang He and Gao Lan to attack Cao Cao’s camp, and he sent ten thousand with Jiang Qi to go to recover the grain store.

Now after overcoming Chunyu Qiong, Cao Cao’s troops dressed themselves in the armor and clothing of the defeated soldiers and put out their emblems, thus posing as defeated force running back to their own headquarters. And when they happened upon Jiang Qi’s rescue body, they said they had been beaten at Wuchao and were retreating. So Cao Cao’s troops were suffered to pass without molestation while Jiang Qi hastened on. But soon Jiang Qi came to Zhang Liao and Xu Chu who cried out, “Stop!”

And before Jiang Qi could make any opposition, Zhang Liao had cut him down. Soon his force were killed or dispersed, and the victors sent false messengers to Yuan Shao’s camp to say that Jiang Qi had attacked and driven away the attackers of the granaries. So no more relief were sent that way. However, Yuan Shao sent reinforcements to Guandu.

In due course, the Yuan Shao’s force came down upon Cao Cao’s camp at Guandu, and the defenders —-Xiahou Dun, Cao Ren, and Cao Hong —-at once came out and fought them on three sides so that they were worsted. By the time reinforcements arrived, Cao Cao’s army, returning from the raid, had also come, and Yuan Shao’s army were attacked in the rear. So they were quite surrounded. However, Zhang He and Gao Lan managed to force their way out and got away.

When the remains of the defenders of the grain stores reached their master’s camp, they were mustered. Seeing the mutilated state of their one time leader, Yuan Shao asked how Chunyu Qiong had come to betray his trust and to suffer thus.

The soldiers told their lord, “The General was intoxicated at the time of the attack.”

So Yuan Shao ordered Chunyu Qiong to be forthwith executed.

Guo Tu, fearing lest Zhang He and Gao Lan would return and testify the whole truth, began to intrigue against them.

First Guo Tu went to his lord, saying, “Those two, Zhang He and Gao Lan, were certainly very glad when your armies were defeated.”

“Why do you say this?” asked Yuan Shao.

“O they have long cherished a desire to go over to Cao Cao. So when you sent them on the duty of destroying his camp, they did not do their best and so brought about this disaster.”

Yuan Shao accordingly sent to recall these two to be interrogated as to their faults. But Guo Tu sent a messenger in advance to warn them, as though in friendly guise, of the adverse fate that awaited them.

So when the orders reached them to return to answer for their faults, Gao Lan asked, “For what reason are we recalled?”

“Indeed I do not know,” said the messenger.

Gao Lan drew his sword and killed the messenger.

Zhang He was astonished at this demonstration, but Gao Lan said, “Our lord has allowed someone to malign us and say we have been bought by Cao Cao. What is the sense in our sitting still and awaiting destruction? Rather let us surrender to Cao Cao in reality and save our lives.”

“I have been wanting to do this for some time,” replied Zhang He.

Wherefore both, with their companies, made their way to Cao Cao’s camp to surrender.

When they arrived, Xiahou Dun said to his master, “These two have come to surrender, but I have doubts about them.”

Cao Cao replied, “I will meet them generously and win them over, even if they have treachery in their hearts.”

The camp gates were opened to the two officers, and they were invited to enter. They laid down their weapons, removed their armor, and bowed to the ground before Cao Cao, who said, “If Yuan Shao had listened to you, he would not have suffered defeat. Now you two coming to surrender are like Wei Zi leaving the falling House of Shang to go to Zhou and Han Xin leaving Xiang Yu to go over to the rising House of Han.”

Cao Cao made them Generals and conferred upon Zhang He the title of Lord of Duting and upon Gao Lan Lord of Donglai, which pleased them much.

And so as Yuan Shao had formerly driven sway his adviser, Xu You, so now he had alienated two leaders and had lost his stores at Wuchao, and his army was depressed and down-hearted.

When Xu You advised Cao Cao to attack Yuan Shao as promptly as he could, the two newly surrendered generals volunteered to lead the way. So Cao Cao sent Zhang He and Gao Lan to make a first attack on the camp, and they left in the night with three thousand troops. The fighting went on confusedly all night but stayed at dawn. Yuan Shao had lost half of his army.

Then Xun You suggested a plan to Cao Cao, saying, “Now is the moment to spread a report that an army will go to take Suanzao and attack Yejun, and another to take Liyang and intercept the enemy’s retreat. Yuan Shao, when he hears of this, will be alarmed and tell off his troops to meet this new turn of affairs; and while he is making these new dispositions, we can have him at great disadvantage.”

Cao Cao adopted the suggestion, and care was taken that the report spread far around. It came to the ears of Yuan Shao’s soldiers, and they repeated it in camp. Yuan Shao believed it and ordered his son Yuan Tan with fifty thousand troops to rescue Yejun, and General Xin Ming with another fifty thousand to go to Liyang, and they marched away at once. Cao Cao heard that these armies had started, and at once dispatched troops in eight divisions to make a simultaneous attack on the nearly empty camp. Yuan Shao’s troops were too dispirited to fight and gave way on all sides.

Yuan Shao without waiting to don his armor went forth in simple dress with an ordinary cap upon his head and mounted his steed. His youngest son, Yuan Shang, followed him. Four of the enemy generals —-Zhang Liao, Xu Chu, Xu Huang, and Yu Jin —-with their forces pressed in his rear, and Yuan Shao hastened across the river, abandoning all his documents and papers, baggage, treasure, and stores. Only eight hundred horsemen followed him over the stream. Cao Cao’s troops followed hard but could not come up with him. However, they captured all his impedimenta, and they slew some eighty thousands of his army so that the watercourses ran blood and the drowned corpses could not be counted. It was a most complete victory for Cao Cao, and he made over all the spoil to the army.

Among the papers of Yuan Shao was found a bundle of letters showing secret correspondence between him and many persons in the capital and army.

Cao Cao’s personal staff suggested that the names of those concerned should be abstracted and the persons arrested, but their lord said, “Yuan Shao was so strong that even I could not be sure of safety. How much less other people?”

So Cao Cao ordered the papers to be burned and nothing more was said.

Now when Yuan Shao’s soldiers ran away, Ju Shou, being a prisoner, could not get away and was captured.

Taken before Cao Cao, who knew him, Ju Shou cried aloud, “I will not surrender!”

Said Cao Cao, “Yuan Shao was foolish and neglected your advice: Why still cling to the path of delusion? Had I had you to help me, I should have been sure of the empire.”

Ju Shou was well treated in the camp, but he stole a horse and tried to get away to Yuan Shao. This angered Cao Cao who recaptured him and put him to death, which he met with brave composure.

“I have slain a faithful and righteous man!” then said Cao Cao sadly.

And the victim was honorably buried at Guandu. His tomb bore the inscription This is the tomb of Ju Shou the Loyal and Virtuous.

Ju Shou was honest and virtuous,

The best in Yuan Shao’s train,

From him the stars no secrets held,

In tactics all was plain.

For him no terrors had grim death.

Too lofty was his spirit,

His captor slew him, but his tomb

Bears witness to his merit.

Cao Cao now gave orders to attack Jizhou.

In feeling over confident, that’s where one’s weakness lay;

The other bettered him by plans which never went astray.

The following chapter will tell who won the next campaign.

Chapter 31

Cao Cao Overcomes Yuan Shao In Cangting; Liu Bei Seeks Shelter With Liu Biao In Jingzhou.

Cao Cao lost no time in taking advantage of Yuan Shao’s flight, but smote hard at the retreating army. Yuan Shao without helmet or proper dress, and with few followers, crossed hastily to the north bank at Liyang. He was met by one of his generals, Jiang Yiqu, who took him in and comforted him and listened to the tale of misfortunes. Next Jiang Yiqu called in the scattered remnants of the army, and when the soldiers heard that their old lord was alive they swarmed to him like ants, so that Yuan Shao quickly became strong enough to attempt the march to Jizhou. Soon the army set out and at night halted at Huang Hills.

That evening, sitting in his tent, Yuan Shao seemed to hear a far off sound of lamentation. He crept out quietly to listen and found it was his own soldiers telling each other tales of woe. This one lamented an elder brother lost, that one grieved for his younger brother abandoned, a third mourned a companion missing, a fourth, a relative cut off. And each beat his breast and wept.

And all said, “Had he but listened to Tian Feng, we had not met this disaster!”

Yuan Shao, very remorseful, said, “I did not hearken unto Tian Feng, and now my soldiers have been beaten and I was nearly lost. How can I return and look him in the face?”

Next day the march was resumed, and Yuan Shao met Peng Ji with reinforcements, to whom he said, “I disregarded Tian Feng’s advice and have brought myself to defeat. Now shall I be greatly ashamed to look him in the face.”

This tribute to Tian Feng’s prescience roused the jealousy of Peng Ji, who replied, “Yes. When he heard the news of your defeat, though he was a prisoner, he clapped his hands for joy and said, ‘Indeed, just as I foretold!’”

“How dare he laugh at me, the blockhead? Assuredly he shall die!” said Yuan Shao.

Whereupon Yuan Shao wrote a letter and sent therewith a sword to slay the prisoner.

Meanwhile Tian Feng’s gaoler came to him one day, saying, “Above all humans I felicitate you.”

“What is the joyful occasion and why felicitate?” said Tian Feng.

The gaoler replied, “Imperial Protector Yuan Shao has been defeated and is on his way back. He will treat you with redoubled respect.”

“Now am I a dead man!” said Tian Feng.

“Why say you that, Sir, when all people give you joy?”

“The Imperial Protector appears liberal, but he is jealous and forgetful of honest advice. Had he been victorious, he might have pardoned me. Now that he has been defeated and put to shame, I may not hope to live.”

But the gaoler did not believe Tian Feng. Before long came the letter and the sword with the fatal order.

The gaoler was dismayed, but the victim said, “I knew all too well that I should have to die.”

The gaoler wept.

Tian Feng said, “An able person born into this world who does not recognize and serve the right lord is ignorant. Today I die, but I am not deserving of pity.”

Whereupon he cut his throat in the prison.

Ju Shou but yesterday was killed,

Tian Feng ends his life his fate fulfilled;

The Yellow River’s main beams break one by one,

Mourn ye that Yuan House! Its day is done.

Thus died Tian Feng, pitied of all who heard of his fate.

When Yuan Shao came home in Jizhou, he was with troubled mind and distorted thoughts. He could not attend to the business of government and became so ill that his second wife, who came of the Liu family and had replaced the first wife after her death, besought him to make his last dispositions.

Now three sons had been born to Yuan Shao: Yuan Tan the eldest, who was the Commander of Qingzhou; Yuan Xi, who ruled over Youzhou; and Yuan Shang, borne to him by Lady Liu. This youngest son was very handsome and noble looking, and his father’s favorite. So he was kept at home.

After the defeat at Guandu, the lad’s mother was constantly urging that her son should be named as successor, and Yuan Shao called together four of his counselors to consider this matter. These four happened to be divided in their sympathies: Shen Pei and Peng Ji being in favor of the youngest son, and Xin Ping and Guo Tu supporters of the eldest.

When they met to consult, Yuan Shao said, “As there is nought but war and trouble outside our borders, it is necessary that tranquillity within be early provided for, and I wish to appoint my successor. My eldest son is hard and cruel, my second is mild and unfit. The third has the outward form of a hero, appreciates the wise, and is courteous to his subordinates. I wish him to succeed, but I wish that you tell me your opinions.”

Guo Tu said, “Yuan Tan is your first born, and he is in a position of authority beyond your control. If you pass over the eldest in favor of the youngest, you sow the seeds of turbulence. The prestige of the army has been somewhat lowered and enemies are on our border. Should you add to our weakness by making strife between father and son, elder and younger brothers? Rather consider how the enemy may be repulsed and turn to the question of the heirship later.”

Then the natural hesitation of Yuan Shao asserted itself, and he could not make up his mind. Soon came news that his sons Yuan Tan was coming from Qingzhou with sixty thousand troops, Yuan Xi coming from Youzhou with fifty thousand troops, and his nephew Gao Gan coming from Bingzhou with fifty thousand troops to help him, and he turned his attention to preparations for fighting Cao Cao.

When Cao Cao drew up his victorious army on the banks of Yellow River, the aged natives brought an offering of food and sauce to bid him welcome. Their venerable and hoary appearances led Cao Cao to treat them with the highest respect.

He invited them to be seated and said to them, “Venerable Sirs, what may be your age?”

“We are nearly a hundred,” replied the old villagers.

“I should be very sorry if my army had disturbed your village,” said Cao Cao.

One of them said, “In the days of the Emperor Huan a yellow star was seen over by way of the ancient states of Chu and Song in the southwest. Yin Kui of Liaodong, who was learned in astrology, happened to be passing the night here, and he told us that the star foretold the arrival in these parts, fifty years hence, of a true and honest man here in the Yellow River. Lo! That is exactly fifty years ago. Now Yuan Shao is very hard on the people and they hate him. You, Sir, having raised this army in the cause of humanity and righteousness, out of pity for the people and to punish crimes, and having destroyed the hordes of Yuan Shao at Guandu, just fulfill the prophecy of Yin Kui. The millions of the land may look now for tranquillity.”

“How dare I presume that I am he?” said Cao Cao with a smile.

Wine was served and refreshments brought in, and the old gentlemen were sent away with presents of silk stuffs. And an order was issued to the army that if anyone killed so much as a fowl or a dog belonging to the villagers, he should be punished as for murder. And the soldiers obeyed with fear and trembling while Cao Cao rejoiced in his heart.

It was told Cao Cao that the total army from the four regions under the Yuan family amounted to two hundred thirty thousand soldiers and they were camped at Cangting. Cao Cao then advanced nearer to them and made a strong camp.

Next day the two armies were arrayed over against each other. On one side Cao Cao rode to the front surrounded by his commanders, and on the other appeared Yuan Shao supported by his three sons, his nephew, and his leaders.

Cao Cao spoke first, “Yuan Shao, your schemes are poor, your strength is exhausted, why still refuse to think of surrender? Are you waiting till the sword shall be upon your neck? Then it will be too late.”

Yuan Shao turned to those about him, saying, “Who dares go out?”

His son Yuan Shang was anxious to exhibit his prowess in the presence of his father, so he flourished his pair of swords and rode forth.

Cao Cao pointed him out to his officers and asked, “Anyone knows him?”

“He is the youngest son of Yuan Shao,” was the reply.

Before they had finished speaking, from their own side rode out Shi Huan, armed with a spear. The two champions fought a little while and suddenly Yuan Shang whipped up his horse, made a feint and fled. His opponent followed. Yuan Shang took his bow, fitted an arrow, turned in his saddle, and shot at Shi Huan, wounding him in the left eye. Shi Huan fell from the saddle and died on the spot.

Yuan Shao seeing his son thus get the better of his opponent, gave the signal for attack, and the whole army thundered forward. The onslaught was heavy, but presently the gongs on both sides sounded the retire and the battle ceased.

When he had returned to camp, Cao Cao took counsel to find a plan to overcome Yuan Shao. Then Cheng Yu proposed the plan of the “Ten Ambushes” and persuaded Cao Cao to retire upon the river, placing troops in ambush as he went. Thus would Yuan Shao be inveigled into pursuit as far as the river, when Cao Cao’s army would be forced to make a desperate stand or be driven into the water.

Cao Cao accepted this suggestion and told off ten companies of five thousand soldiers each to lie in ten ambush on two sides of the road of retreat. The arrangement of the ambushes were thus: On the left, first company under Xiahou Dun; second company, Zhang Liao; third company, Li Dian; fourth company, Yue Jing; fifth company, Xiahou Yuan; on the right, first company was under Cao Hong; second company, Zhang He; third company, Xu Huang; fourth company, Yu Jin; fifth company, Gao Lan. Xu Chu commanded the advanced front.

Next day the ten companies started first and placed themselves right and left as ordered. In the night Cao Cao ordered the advanced front to feign an attack on the camp, which roused all the enemy in all their camps. This done, Xu Chu retreated and Yuan Shao’s army came in pursuit. The roar of battle went on without cessation, and at dawn Cao Cao’s army rested on the river and could retreat no farther.

Then Cao Cao shouted, “There is no road in front, so all must fight or die.”

The retreating army turned about and advanced vigorously. Xu Chu simply flew to the front, smote and killed ten generals and threw Yuan Shao’s army into confusion. They tried to turn and march back, but Cao Cao was close behind. Then the drums of the enemy were heard, and right and left there appeared two ambush companies of Gao Lan and Xiahou Yuan. Yuan Shao collected about him his three sons and his nephew, and they were enabled to cut an alley out and flee. Three miles further on they fell into another ambush of Yue Jing and Yu Jin, and here many troops of Yuan Shao were lost so that their corpses lay over the countryside and the blood filled the water courses. Another three miles and they met the third pair of Li Dian and Xu Huang barring their road.

Here they lost heart and bolted for an old camp of their own that was near, and bade their men prepare a meal. But just as the food was ready to eat, down came Zhang Liao and Zhang He and burst into the camp.

Yuan Shao mounted and fled as far as Cangting, when he was tired and his steed spent. But there was no rest, for Cao Cao came in close pursuit. It seemed now a race for life. But presently Yuan Shao found his onward course again blocked by Xiahou Dun and Cao Hong, and he groaned aloud.

“If we do not make most desperate efforts, we are all captives!” said he.

And they plunged forward. His second son Yuan Xi and his nephew Gao Gan were wounded by arrows, and most of his soldiers were dead or had disappeared. He gathered his sons into his arms and wept bitterly. Then he fell into a swoon. He was picked up, but his mouth was full of blood which ran forth in a bright scarlet stream.

He sighed, saying, “Many battles have I fought, and little did I think to be driven to this. Heaven is afflicting me. You had better return each to his own territory and swear to fight this Cao Cao to the end.”

Then Yuan Shao bade Xin Ping and Guo Tu as quickly as possible follow Yuan Tan to Qingzhou and prepare to give battle to Cao Cao lest he should invade. Yuan Xi was told to go to Youzhou and Gao Gan to Bingzhou.

So each started to prepare armies and horses for repulsing Cao Cao. Yuan Shao with his youngest son Yuan Shang and the remnant of his officers went away to Jizhou, and military operations were suspended for a time.

Meanwhile Cao Cao was distributing rewards to his army for the late victory, and his spies were scouting all about Jizhou. He soon learned that Yuan Shao was ill, and that the youngest son Yuan Shang and Shen Pei were in command of the city, while his brothers and cousin had returned each to his own. Cao Cao’s advisers were in favor of a speedy attack.

But he objected, saying, “Jizhou is large and well supplied. Shen Pei is an able strategist. And it behooves me to be careful. I would rather wait till the autumn when the crops have been gathered in so that the people will not suffer.”

While the attack was being talked over there came letters from Xun Yu:

“Liu Bei was strengthening himself at Runan with the force of Liu Pi and Gong Du and, when he heard that you was attacking Jizhou, he said he would take the opportunity to march on the capital. Wherefore you, Sir, should hasten homeward to defend Xuchang.”

This news disconcerted Cao Cao. He left Cao Hong in command on the river bank, with orders to maintain the appearance of strength there, while he led the main part of his army to meet the threatened attack from Runan.

Meanwhile Liu Bei, his brothers, and the leaders, having gone forth with the intention of attacking the capital, had reached a point near the Rang Mountains when Cao Cao came upon them. So Liu Bei camped by the hills and divided his army into three, sending Guan Yu and Zhang Fei with ten thousand troops each to entrench themselves southeast and southwest respectively of the main body, which he and Zhao Zilong commanded.

When Cao Cao came near, Liu Bei beat his drums and went out to where Cao Cao had already arrayed his army.

Cao Cao called Liu Bei to a parley, and when the latter appeared under his great standard, Cao Cao pointed his whip at him and railed, saying, “I treated you as a guest of the highest consideration. Why then do you turn your back on righteousness and forget kindness?”

Liu Bei replied, “Under the name of Prime Minister you are really a rebel. I am a direct descendant of the family, and I have a secret decree from the Throne to take such offenders as you.”

As he said these words, he produced and recited the decree which is known as the “Girdle Mandate.”

Cao Cao grew very angry and ordered Xu Chu to go out to battle. As Liu Bei’s champion, out rode Zhao Zilong with spear ready to thrust. The two warriors exchanged thirty bouts without advantage to either. Then there arose an earth-rending shout and up came the two brothers, Guan Yu from the southeast and Zhang Fei from the southwest. The three armies then began a great attack, which proved too much for Cao Cao’s troops, fatigued by a long march, and they were worsted and fled. Liu Bei having scored this victory returned to camp.

Next day he sent out Zhao Zilong again to challenge the enemy, but it was not accepted and Cao Cao’s army remained ten days without movement. Then Zhang Fei offered a challenge which also was not accepted. And Liu Bei began to feel anxious.

Then unexpectedly came news that the enemy had stopped a train of supplies brought by Gong Du, and at once Zhang Fei went to the rescue. Worse still was the news that followed, that an army led by Xiahou Dun had got in behind to attack Runan.

Quite dismayed, Liu Bei said, “If this be true, I have enemies in front and rear and have no place to go.”

He then sent Guan Yu to try to recover the city and thus both his brothers were absent from his side. One day later a horseman rode up to say that Runan had fallen, its defender Liu Pi had fled, and Guan Yu was surrounded. To make the matters worse, the news came that Zhang Fei, who had gone to rescue Gong Du, was in like case.

Liu Bei tried to withdraw his troops, fearing all the time an attack from Cao Cao. Suddenly the sentinels came in, saying: “Xu Chu is at the camp gate offering a challenge.”

Liu Bei did not allow his army to go out. They waited till dawn, and then Liu Bei bade the soldiers get a good meal and be ready to start. When ready the foot went out first, the horsemen next, leaving a few troops in the camp to beat the watches and maintain an appearance of occupation.

After traveling some miles, they passed some mounds. Suddenly torches blazed out, and on the summit stood one who shouted, “Do not let Liu Bei run away! I, the Prime Minister, am here awaiting you!”

Liu Bei dashed along the first clear road he saw.

Zhao Zilong said, “Fear not, my lord, only follow me!”

And setting his spear, Zhao Zilong galloped in front opening an alley as he went. Liu Bei gripped his double swords and followed close. As they were winning through, Xu Chu came in pursuit and engaged Zhao Zilong, and two other companies led by Yu Jin and Li Dian bore down as well. Seeing the situation so desperate, Liu Bei plunged into the wilds and fled. Gradually the sounds of battle became fainter and died away while he went deeper and deeper into the hills, a single horseman fleeing for his life. He kept on his way till daybreak, when a company suddenly appeared beside the road. Liu Bei saw these men with terror at first, but was presently relieved to find they were led by the friendly Liu Pi. They were a company of his defeated army escorting the family of their chief. With them also were Sun Qian, Jian Yong, and Mi Fang.

They told him, “The attack on Runan was too strong to be resisted, and so we were compelled to abandon the defense, and the enemy followed, and only Guan Yu’s timely arrival saved us from destruction.”

“I do not know where my brother is,” said Liu Bei.

“All will come right if you will push on,” said Liu Pi.

They pushed on. Before they had gone far, the beating of drums was heard and suddenly appeared Zhang He with a thousand soldiers.

Zhang He cried, “Liu Bei, quickly dismount and surrender!”

Liu Bei was about to retire when he saw a red flag waving from a rampart on the hills and down came rushing another body of troops under Gao Lan.

Thus checked in front and his retreat cut off, Liu Bei looked up to Heaven and cried, “O Heaven, why am I brought to this state of misery? Nothing is left me now but death!”

And he drew his sword to slay himself.

But Liu Pi stayed his hand, saying, “Let me try to fight a way out and save you. Death is nothing to me!”

As he spoke Gao Lan’s force was on the point of engaging his. The two leaders met and in the third bout Liu Pi was cut down. Liu Bei at once rushed up to fight, but just then there was sudden confusion in the rear ranks of the opponents, and a warrior dashed up and thrust at Gao Lan with his spear. Gao Lan fell from his steed. The newcomer was Zhao Zilong.

His arrival was most opportune. He urged forward his steed thrusting right and left, and the enemy’s ranks broke and scattered. Then the first force under Zhang He came into the fight, and the leader and Zhao Zilong fought thirty or more bouts. However, this proved enough, for Zhang He turned his horse away recognizing that he was worsted. Zhao Zilong vigorously attacked, but was forced into a narrow space in the hills where he was hemmed in. While seeking for some outlet, they saw Guan Yu, Guan Ping, and Zhou Cang, with three hundred men, coming along. Soon Zhang He was driven off, and then Liu Bei’s troops came out of the narrow defile and occupied a strong position among the hills where they made a camp.

Liu Bei sent Guan Yu for news of the missing brother. Zhang Fei had been attacked by Xiahou Yuan who had killed Gong Du, but Zhang Fei had vigorously resisted, beaten him off, and followed him up. Then Yue Jing had come along and surrounded Zhang Fei.

In this pass he was found by Guan Yu, who had heard of his plight from some of his scattered soldiers met on the way. Now they drove off the enemy. The two brothers returned. Soon they heard of the approach of a large body of Cao Cao’s army. Liu Bei then bade Sun Qian guard his family and sent him on ahead, while he and the others kept off the enemy, sometimes giving battle and anon marching. Seeing that Liu Bei had retired too far, Cao Cao let him go and left the pursuit.

When Liu Bei collected his army, he found they numbered only a thousand, and this halting and broken force marched as fast as possible to the west. Coming to a river they asked the natives its name and were told it was the Han River, and near it Liu Bei made a temporary camp. When the local people found out who was in the camp, they presented meat and wine.

A feast was given upon a sandy bank of the Han River.

After they had drunk awhile, Liu Bei addressed his faithful followers, saying, “All you, Fair Sirs, have talents fitting you to be advisers to a monarch, but your destiny has led you to follow poor me. My fate is distressful and full of misery. Today I have not a spot to call my own, and I am indeed leading you astray. Therefore I say you should abandon me and go to some illustrious lord where you may be able to become famous.”

At these words they all covered their faces and wept.

Guan Yu said, “Brother, you are wrong to speak thus. When the great Founder of Han contended with Xiang Yu, he was defeated many times, but he won at the Nine-Mile Mountains and that achievement was the foundation of a dynasty that endured for four centuries. Victory and defeat are but ordinary events in a soldier’s career, and why should you give up?”

“Success and failure both have their seasons,” said Sun Qian, “and we are not to grieve. Jingzhou, which your illustrious relative, Liu Biao, commands, is a rich and prosperous country. Liu Biao is of your house, why not go to him?”

“Only that I fear he may not receive me,” said Liu Bei.

“Then let me go and prepare the way. I will make Liu Biao come out to his borders to welcome you.”

So with his lord’s approval, Sun Qian set off immediately and hastened to Jingzhou. When the ceremonies of greeting were over, Liu Biao asked the reason of the visit.

Said Sun Qian, “The princely Liu Bei is one of the heroes of the day, although just at the moment he may lack soldiers and leaders. His mind is set upon restoring the dynasty to its pristine glory, and at Runan the two commanders, Liu Pi and Gong Du, though bound to him by no ties, were content to die for the sake of his ideals. You, Illustrious Sir, like Liu Bei, are a scion of the imperial stock. Now the Princely One has recently suffered defeat and thinks of seeking a home in the east with Sun Quan. I have ventured to dissuade him, saying that he should not turn from a relative and go to a mere acquaintance; telling him that you, Sir, are well known as courteous to the wise and condescending to scholars, so that they flock to you as the waters flow to the east sea, and that certainly you would show kindness to one of the same ancestry. Wherefore he has sent me to explain matters and request your commands.”

“He is my brother,” said Liu Biao, “and I have long desired to see him, but no opportunity has occurred. I should be very happy if he would come.”

Cai Mao, who was sitting by, here broke in, “No, no! Liu Bei first followed Lu Bu, then he served Cao Cao, and next he joined himself to Yuan Shao. And he stayed with none of these, so that you can see what manner of man he is. If he comes here, Cao Cao will assuredly come against us and fight. Better cut off this messenger’s head and send it as an offering to Cao Cao, who would reward you well for the service.”

Sun Qian sat unmoved while this harangue was pronounced, saying at the end, “I am not afraid of death. Liu Bei, the Princely One, is true and loyal to the state and so out of sympathy with Lu Bu, or Cao Cao, or Yuan Shao. It is true he followed these three, but there was no help for it. Now he knows your chief is a member of the family, so that both are of the same ancestry, and that is why he has come far to join him. How can you slander a good man like that?”

Liu Biao bade Cai Mao be silent and said, “I have decided, and you need say no more.”

Whereat Cai Mao sulkily left the audience chamber.

Then Sun Qian was told to return with the news that Liu Bei would be welcome, and Imperial Protector Liu Biao went ten miles beyond the city to meet his guest.

When Liu Bei arrived, he behaved to his host with the utmost politeness and was warmly welcomed in return. Then Liu Bei introduced his two sworn brothers and friends and they entered Jingzhou City where Liu Bei finally was lodged in the Imperial Protector’s own residence.

As soon as Cao Cao knew whither his enemy had gone, he wished to attack Liu Biao, but Cheng Yu advised against any attempt so long as Yuan Shao, the dangerous enemy, was left with power to inflict damage.

He said, “My lord should return to the capital to refresh the soldiers so that they may be ready for a north and south campaign in the mild spring weather.”

Cao Cao accepted his advice and set out for the capital. In the first month of the eighth year of Rebuilt Tranquillity (AD 203), Cao Cao once again began to think of war, and sent to garrison Runan as a precaution against Liu Biao. Then, after arranging for the safety of the capital, he marched a large army to Guandu, the camp of the year before, and aimed at Jizhou.

As to Yuan Shao, who had been suffering from blood-spitting but was now in better health, he began to think of measures against Xuchang, but Shen Pei dissuaded him, saying, “You are not yet recovered from the fatigues of last year. It would be better to make your position impregnable and set to improving the army.”

When the news of Cao Cao’s approach arrived, Yuan Shao said, “If we allow the foe to get close to the city before we march to the river, we shall have missed our opportunity. I must go out to repel this army.”

Here his son Yuan Shang interposed, “Father, you are not sufficiently recovered for a campaign and should not go so far. Let me lead the army against this enemy.”

Yuan Shao consented, and he sent to Qingzhou and Youzhou and Bingzhou to call upon his other two sons and his nephew to attack Cao Cao at the same time as his own army.

Against Runan they beat the drum,

And from Jizhou the armies come.

To whom the victory will be seen in the next chapter.

Chapter 32

Jizhou Taken: Yuan Shang Strives; River Zhang Cut: Xun You Schemes.

Yuan Shang was puffed up with pride after his victory over Shi Huan and, without deigning to wait the arrival of his brothers, he marched out with thirty thousand troops to Liyang to meet the army of Cao Cao. Zhang Liao came out to challenge him, and Yuan Shang, accepting the challenge rode out with spear set. But he only lasted to the third bout when he had to give way. Zhang Liao smote with full force and Yuan Shang, quite broken, fled pell-mell to Jizhou. His defeat was a heavy shock to his father Yuan Shao, who had a severe fit of hemorrhage at the news and swooned.

Lady Liu, his wife, got him to bed as quickly as possible, but he did not rally; and she soon saw it was necessary to prepare for the end. So she sent for Shen Pei and Peng Ji that the succession might be settled. They came and stood by the sick man’s bed, but by this time he could no longer speak. He only made motions with his hands.

When his wife put the formal question, “Is Yuan Shang to succeed?”

Yuan Shao nodded his head. Shen Pei at the bedside wrote out the dying man’s testament. Presently Yuan Shao uttered a loud moan, a fresh fit of bleeding followed, and he passed away.

Born of a line of nobles famous for generations,

He himself in his youth was wayward always and headstrong,

Vainly he called to his side generals skilled and courageous,

Gathered beneath his banner countless legions of soldiers,

For he was timid at heart, a lamb dressed as a tiger,

Merely a cowardly chicken, phoenix-feathered but spurless.

Pitiful was the fate of his house; for when he departed

Brother with brother strove and quarrels arose in the household.

Shen Pei and some others set about the mourning ceremonies for the dead man. His wife, Lady Liu, put to death five of his favorite concubines, and such was the bitterness of her jealousy that, not content with this, she shaved off the hair and slashed the faces of their poor corpses lest their spirits should meet and rejoin her late husband in the land of shades beneath the Nine Golden Springs. Her son followed up this piece of cruelty by slaying all the relatives of the unhappy concubines lest they should avenge their deaths.

Shen Pei and Peng Ji declared Yuan Shang successor with the titles of Regent Marshal and Supreme Imperial Protector of the four regions of Jizhou, Qingzhou, Youzhou, and Bingzhou and sent in a report of the death of the late Imperial Protector.

At this time Yuan Tan, the eldest son, had already marched out his army to oppose Cao Cao. But hearing of his father’s death, he called in Guo Tu and Xin Ping to consult as to his course of action.

“In your absence, my lord,” said Guo Tu, “the two advisers of your younger brother will certainly set him up as lord, wherefore you must act quickly.”

“Those two, Shen Pei and Peng Ji, have already laid their plans,” said Xin Ping. “If you go, you will meet with some misfortune.”

“Then what should I do?” asked Yuan Tan.

Guo Tu replied, “Go and camp near the city, and watch what is taking place while I enter and inquire.”

Accordingly Guo Tu entered the city and sought an interview with the young Imperial Protector.

“Why did not my brother come?” asked Yuan Shang after the usual salutes.

Guo Tu said, “He cannot come as he is in the camp unwell.”

“By the command of my late father, I take the lordship. Now I confer upon my brother the rank of General of the Flying Cavalry, and I wish him to go at once to attack Cao Cao, who is pressing on the borders. I will follow as soon as my army is in order.”

“There is no one in our camp to give advice,” said Guo Tu. “I wish to have the services of Shen Pei and Peng Ji.”

“I also need the help of these two,” said Yuan Shang. “And as I am always working at schemes, I do not see how I can do without them.”

“Then let one of these two go,” replied Guo Tu.

Yuan Shang could do no other than accede to this request, so he bade the two men cast lots who should go. Peng Ji drew the lot and was appointed, receiving a seal of office. Then he accompanied Guo Tu to the camp. But when he arrived and found Yuan Tan in perfect health, he grew suspicious and resigned.

Yuan Tan angrily refused to accept his resignation and was disposed to put him to death, but Guo Tu privately dissuaded him, saying, “Cao Cao is on the borders, and Peng Ji must be kept here to allay your brother’s suspicions. After we have beaten Cao Cao, we can at once make an attempt on Jizhou.”

Yuan Tan agreed and forthwith broke up his camp to march against the enemy. He reached Liyang and lost no time in offering battle. He chose for his champion Wang Zhao and, when Wang Zhao rode out, Cao Cao sent Xu Huang to meet him. These two had fought but a few bouts when Wang Zhao was slain. At once Cao Cao’s army pressed forward, and Yuan Tan suffered a severe defeat. Yuan Tan drew off his army and retired into Liyang, whence he sent to his brother for reinforcements.

Yuan Shang and his adviser Shen Pei discussed the matter and only five thousand troops were sent. Cao Cao hearing of the dispatch of this meager force sent Li Dian and Yue Jing to waylay them, and the half legion was destroyed. When Yuan Tan heard of the inadequate force sent and their destruction, he was very wrath and roundly abused Peng Ji.

Peng Ji replied, “Let me write to my lord and pray him to come himself.”

So Peng Ji wrote and the letter was sent. When it arrived, Yuan Shang again consulted Shen Pei.

The Counselor said, “Guo Tu, your elder brother’s adviser, is very guileful. Formerly he left without discussion because Cao Cao was on the border. If Cao Cao be defeated, there will certainly be an attempt on you. The better plan is to withhold assistance and use Cao Cao’s hand to destroy your rival.”

Yuan Shang took his advice and no help was sent. When the messenger returned to Liyang without success, Yuan Tan was very angry and showed it by putting Peng Ji to death. He also began to talk of surrendering to Cao Cao. Soon spies brought news of this to Yuan Shang, and again Shen Pei was called in.

Yuan Shang said, “If Yuan Tan goes over to Cao Cao, they will both attack Jizhou, and we shall be in great danger.”

Finally Shen Pei and General Su You were left to take care of the defense of the city, and Yuan Shang marched his army to the rescue of his brother.

“Who dares lead the van?” said Yuan Shang.

Two brothers named Lu Xiang and Lu Kuang volunteered, and thirty thousand troops were given them. They were the first to reach Liyang.

Yuan Tan was pleased that Yuan Shang had decided to play a brotherly part and come to his aid, so he at once abandoned all thought of going over to the enemy. He being in the city, Yuan Shang camped outside, making that an ox-horn formation of their strategic position.

Before long Yuan Xi, the second brother, and their cousin, Gao Gan, arrived with their legions and also camped outside the city.

Engagements took place daily, and Yuan Shang suffered many defeats. On the other hand Cao Cao was victorious and elated. In the second month of the eighth year of Rebuilt Tranquillity (AD 203), Cao Cao made separate attacks on all four armies and won the day against each. Then the Yuans abandoned Liyang, and Cao Cao pursued them to Jizhou, where Yuan Tan and Yuan Shang went into the city to defend it, while their brother and cousin camped about ten miles away making a show of great force.

When Cao Cao had made many attacks without success, Guo Jia proffered the following plan.

He said, “There is dissension among the Yuans because the elder has been superseded in the succession. The brothers are about equally strong and each has his party. If we oppose them, they unite to assist each other; but if we have patience, they will be weakened by family strife. Wherefore send first a force to reduce Liu Biao in Jingzhou, and let the fraternal quarrels develop. When they have fully developed, we can smite them and settle the matter.”

Cao Cao approved of the plan. So leaving Jia Xu as Governor of Liyang and Cao Hong as guard at Guandu, the army went away toward Jingzhou.

The two brothers Yuan Tan and Yuan Shang congratulated each other on the withdrawal of their enemy, and their brother Yuan Xi and their cousin Gao Gan marched their armies back to their own districts.

Then the quarrels began. Yuan Tan said to his confidants Guo Tu and Xin Ping, “I, the eldest, have been prevented from succeeding my father, while the youngest son, born of a second wife, received the main heritage. My heart is bitter.”

Said Guo Tu, “Camp your army outside, invite your brother and Shen Pei to a banquet, and assassinate them. The whole matter is easily settled.”

And Yuan Tan agreed. It happened that Adviser Wang Xiu came just then from Qingzhou whom Yuan Tan took into his confidence.

Wang Xiu opposed the murder plan, saying, “Brothers are as one’s limbs. How can you possibly succeed if at a moment of conflict with an enemy you cut off one of your hands? If you abandon your brother and sever relationship, whom will you take in all the world as a relation? That fellow Guo Tu is a dangerous mischief-maker, who would sow dissension between brothers for a momentary advantage, and I beg you to shut your ears and not listen to his persuasions.”

This was displeasing to Yuan Tan, and he angrily dismissed Wang Xiu, while he sent the treacherous invitation to his brother.

Yuan Shang and Shen Pei talked over the matter.

Shen Pei said, “I recognize one of Guo Tu’s stratagems and if you go, my lord, you will be the victim of their plot. Rather strike at them at once.”

Whereupon Yuan Shang rode out to battle. His brother Yuan Tan, seeing him come with fifty thousand troops, knew that his treachery had been discovered, so he also took the field. When the forces were near enough, Yuan Tan opened on Yuan Shang with a volley of abuse.

“You poisoned my father and usurped the succession. Now you come out to slay your elder brother?”

The battle went against Yuan Tan. Yuan Shang himself took part in the fight, risking the arrows and the stones. He urged on his troops and drove his brother off the field. Yuan Tan took refuge in Pingyuan. Yuan Shang drew off his army to his own city.

Yuan Tan and Guo Tu decided upon a new attack, and this time they chose General Cen Bi as Leader of the Van. Yuan Shang went to meet him. When both sides had been arrayed and the banners were flying and the drums beating, Cen Bi rode out to challenge and railed at his opponent. At first Yuan Shang was going to answer the challenge himself, but Lu Kuang had advanced. Lu Kuang and Cen Bi met but had fought only a few bouts when Cen Bi fell. Yuan Tan’s soldiers were once more defeated and ran away to Pingyuan. Shen Pei urged his master to press for the advantage, and Yuan Tan was driven into the city, where he fortified himself and would not go out. So the city was besieged on three sides.

Yuan Tan asked his strategist what should be done next, and Guo Tu said, “The city is short of food, the enemy is flushed with victory, and we cannot stand against them. My idea is to send someone to offer surrender to Cao Cao and thus get him to attack Jizhou. Your brother will be forced to return thither, which will leave you free to join in the attack. We may capture Yuan Shang. Should Cao Cao begin to get the better of your brother’s army, we will lend our force to help Yuan Shang against Cao Cao; and as Cao Cao’s base of supply is distant, we shall drive him off. And we can seize on Jizhou and begin our great design.”

“Supposing this scheme be attempted, who is the man for a messenger?”

“I have one Xin Pi, Xin Ping’s younger brother. Xin Pi is the magistrate here in this very place. He is a fluent speaker and good scholar and suited to your purpose.”

So Xin Pi was summoned and came readily enough. Letters were given him and an escort of three thousand soldiers took him beyond the border. He traveled as quickly as possible.

At that time Cao Cao’s camp was at the Xiping Pass and he was attacking Liu Biao, who had sent Liu Bei out to offer the first resistance. No battle had yet taken place.

Soon after his arrival, Xin Pi was admitted to the Prime Minister’s presence. After the ceremonies of greeting, Cao Cao asked the object of the visit. Xin Pi explained that Yuan Tan wanted assistance and presented his dispatches. Cao Cao read them and told the messenger to wait in his camp while he called his officers to a council.

The council met. Cheng Yu said, “Yuan Tan has been forced into making this offer because of the pressure of his brother’s attack. Put no trust in him.”

Lu Qian and Man Chong said, “You have led your armies here for a special purpose. How can you abandon that and go to assist Yuan Tan?”

“Gentlemen, not one of you is giving good advice,” interposed Xun You. “This is how I regard it. Since there is universal trouble, in the midst of which Liu Biao remains quietly content with his position between the River Zhang and the River Han, it is evident that he has no ambition to enlarge his borders. The Yuans hold four regions and have many legions of soldiers. Harmony between the two brothers means success for the family, and none can foresee what will happen in the empire. Now take advantage of this fraternal conflict and let them fight till they are weakened and have to yield to our Prime Minister. Then Yuan Shang can be removed, and when the times are suitable, Yuan Tan can be destroyed in his turn. Thus peace will ensue. This present combination of circumstances is to be taken advantage of to full measure.”

Cao Cao realized the truth of this and treated Xin Pi well.

At a banquet Cao Cao said, “But is this surrender of Yuan Tan real or false? Do you really think that Yuan Shang’s army is sure to overcome him?”

Xin Pi replied, “Illustrious Sir, do not inquire into the degree of sincerity; rather regard the situation. The Yuans have been suffering military losses for years and are powerless without, while their strategists are put to death within. The brothers seize every chance to speak evil of each other, and their country is divided. Add to this famine, supplemented by calamities and general exhaustion, and everybody, wise as well as simple, can see that the catastrophe is near and the time ordained of Heaven for the destruction of the Yuans is at hand. Now you have a force attacking the capital of Jizhou —-Yejun —-and if Yuan Shang will not return to give aid, the place of refuge is lost. If he helps, then Yuan Tan will follow up and smite him, making use of your power to destroy the remnant of his brother’s army, just as the autumn gale sweeps away the fallen leaves. Now Liu Biao’s Jingzhou is rich, the government peaceful, the people submissive, and it cannot be shaken. Moreover, there is no greater threat to it than the North of Yellow River. If that be reduced, then the task is complete. I pray you, Sir, think of it.”

“I am sorry that I did not meet you earlier,” said Cao Cao, much gratified with this speech.

Forthwith orders were given to return and attack Jizhou. Liu Bei, fearing this retirement was only a ruse, allowed it to proceed without interference and himself returned to Jingzhou.

When Yuan Shang heard that Cao Cao had crossed the Yellow River, he hastily led his army back to Yejun, ordering Lu Xiang and Lu Kuang to guard the rear.

Yuan Tan started from Pingyuan with a force in pursuit. He had proceeded only a dozen miles when he heard a bomb and two bodies of troops came out in front of him and checked his progress. Their leaders were Lu Xiang and Lu Kuang.

Yuan Tan reined in and addressed them, saying, “While my father lived, I never treated you badly. Why do you support my brother and try to injure me?”

The two generals had no reply to make, but they dismounted and bowed before him yielding submission.

Yuan Tan said, “Do not surrender to me but to the Prime Minister.”

And he led them back to camp, where he waited the arrival of Cao Cao and then presented the pair. Cao Cao received them well. He promised his daughter to Yuan Tan to wife, and he appointed the two brothers as advisers.

When Yuan Tan asked Cao Cao to attack Jizhou, the reply was: “Supplies are short and difficult to transport. I must turn the waters of River Ji into the White River whereby to convey my grain and afterwards I can advance.”

Ordering Yuan Tan to remain in Pingyuan, Cao Cao retired into camp at Liyang. The two brothers Lu Xiang and Lu Kuang, who were renegades from Yuan Shang, were now raised to noble rank and followed the army as supernumeraries.

Guo Tu noted this advancement and said to Yuan Tan, “He has promised you a daughter to wife. I fear that bodes no good. Now he has given titles of nobility to the two Lus and taken them with him. This is a bait for the northern people, and at the same time he intends evil toward us. You, my lord, should have two generals’ seals engraved and send them secretly to the brothers so that you may have friends at court ready for the day when Cao Cao shall have broken your brother’s power, and we can begin to work against him.”

The seals were engraved and sent.

As soon as the Lu brothers received them, they informed Cao Cao, who smiled, saying, “He wants your support so he sends you seals as officers. I will consider it as soon as Yuan Shang has been dealt with. In the meantime you may accept the seals till I shall decide what to do.”

Thenceforward Cao Cao planned Yuan Tan’s doom.

Shen Pei and his master also discussed the current situation. Yuan Shang said, “Cao Cao is getting grain into the White River, which means an attack on Jizhou. What is to be done?”

Shen Pei replied, “Send letters to Yin Kai, Commander of Wuan, bidding him camp at Maocheng to secure the road to Shangdang, and direct Ju Gu, son of Ju Shou, to maintain Handan as a distant auxiliary. Then you may advance on Pingyuan and attack Yuan Tan. After he is destroyed, Cao Cao is next.”

The plan seemed good. Yuan Shang left Shen Pei and Chen Lin in charge of Yejun, appointed two Commanders Ma Yan and Zhang Zi as Van Leaders, and set out hastily for Pingyuan.

When Yuan Tan heard of the approach of his brother’s army, he sent urgent messages to Cao Cao, who said to himself, “I am going to get Jizhou this time.”

Just at this time it happened that Xun You came down from the capital. When he heard that Yuan Shang was attacking his brother Yuan Tan, he sought Cao Cao and said, “You, Sir, sit here on guard. Are you waiting till Heaven’s thunder shall strike the two Yuans?”

“I have thought it all out,” said Cao Cao.

Then he ordered Cao Hong to go and fight against Yejun, while he led another army against Yin Kai in Maocheng. Yin Kai could make no adequate defense and was killed by Xu Chu. His soldiers ran away and presently joined Cao Cao’s army. Next Cao Cao led the army to Handan, and Ju Gu came out to fight him. Zhang Liao advanced to fight with Ju Gu, and after the third encounter Ju Gu was defeated and fled. Zhang Liao went after him, and when their two horses were not far apart, Zhang Liao took his bow and shot. The fleeing warrior fell as the bowstring twanged. Cao Cao completed the rout, and Ju Gu’s force was broken up.

Now Cao Cao led his armies to an attack on Yejun. Cao Hong had arrived before, and a regular siege began. The army encompassed the city and began by throwing up great mounds. They also tunneled subterranean ways.

Within the city Shen Pei turned his whole care to the defense and issued the severest commands. The Commander of the East Gate, Feng Li, got intoxicated and failed to keep his watch for which he was severely punished. Feng Li resented this, sneaked out of the city, went over to the besiegers, and told them how the place could be attacked.

“The earth within the Pearly Gate is solid enough to be tunneled, and entrance can be effected there,” said the traitor.

So Feng Li was sent with three hundred men to carry out his plan under cover of darkness.

After Feng Li had deserted to the enemy, Shen Pei went every night to the wall to inspect the soldiers on duty. The night of the sapping he went there as usual and saw that there were no lights outside the city and all was perfectly quiet.

So he said to himself, “Feng Li is certain to try to come into the city by an underground road.”

Whereupon he ordered his troops to bring up stones and pile them on the cover of the tunnel opening. The opening was stopped up and the attacking party perished in the tunnel they had excavated.

Cao Cao having failed in this attempt abandoned the scheme of underground attack. He drew off the army to a place above the River Huan to await till Yuan Shang should return to relieve the city.

Yuan Shang heard of the defeat of Yin Kai and Ju Gu, and the siege of his own city, and bethought himself of relieving it.

One of his commanders, Ma Yan, said, “The high road will surely be ambushed. We must find some other way. We can take a by-road from the West Hills and get through by River Fu, whence we can fall upon Cao Cao’s camp.”

The plan was acceptable and Yuan Shang started off with the main body, Ma Yan and Zhang Zi being rear guard.

Cao Cao’s spies soon found out this move, and when they reported it, he said, “If Yuan Shang comes by the high road, I shall have to keep out of the way; but if by the West Hills’ by-road, I can settle him in one battle. And I think he will show a blaze as a signal to the besieged that they may make a sortie. I shall prepare to attack both.”

So Cao Cao made his preparations. Now Yuan Shang went out by River Fu east toward Yangping, and near this he camped. Thence to Yejun was five miles. River Fu ran beside the camp. He ordered his soldiers to collect firewood and grass ready for the blaze he intended to make at night as his signal. He also sent Li Mu, a civil officer, disguised as an officer of Cao Cao’s army, to inform Shen Pei of his intentions.

Li Mu reached the city wall safely and called out to the guards to open. Shen Pei recognized his voice and let him in. Thus Shen Pei knew of the arrangements for his relief, and it was agreed that a blaze should be raised within the city so that the sortie could be simultaneous with Yuan Shang’s attack. Orders were given to collect inflammables.

Then said Li Mu, “As your food supply is short, it would be well for the old people, the feeble soldiers and the women to surrender. This will come upon them as a surprise, and we will send the soldiers out behind them.”

Shen Pei promised to do all this, and next day they hoisted on the wall a white flag with the words The populace of Jizhou surrender! on it.

“Ho ho! This means no food,” said Cao Cao. “They are sending away the non-combatants to escape feeding them. And the soldiers will follow behind them.”

Cao Cao bade Zhang Liao and Xu Huang laid an ambush of three thousand troops on both sides while he went near the wall in full state. Presently the gates were opened and out came the people supporting their aged folks and leading their little ones by the hand. Each carried a white flag. As soon as the people had passed the gate, the soldiers followed with a rush.

Then Cao Cao showed a red flag, and the ambushing soldiers led by Zhang Liao and Xu Huang fell upon the sortie. The troops tried to return and Cao Cao’s force made a direct attack. The chase continued to the drawbridge, but there Cao Cao’s force met with a tremendous shower of arrows and crossbow bolts which checked the advance. Cao Cao’s helmet was struck and the crest carried away. His leaders came to pull him back, and the army retired.

As soon as Cao Cao had changed his dress and mounted a fresh horse, he set out at the head of the army to attack Yuan Shang’s camp.

Yuan Shang led the defense. The attack came simultaneously from many directions. The defenders were quite disorganized and presently defeated. Yuan Shang led his troops back by the West Hills and made a camp under their shelter. Thence he sent messengers to urge Ma Yan and Zhang Zi to bring up the supports. He did not know that Cao Cao had sent Lu Xiang and Lu Kuang to persuade these two into surrender and that they had already passed under Cao Cao’s banner, and he had conferred upon them the title of lordship.

Just before going to attack the West Hills, Cao Cao sent Lu Xiang, Lu Kuang, Ma Yan, and Zhang Zi to seize the source of Yuan Shang’s supplies.

Yuan Shang had realized he could not hold the hills, so he went by night to Lankou. Before he could get camped, he saw flaring lights springing up all around him and soon an attack began. He was taken aback and had to oppose the enemy with his men half armed, his steeds unsaddled. His army suffered, and he had to retreat another fifteen miles. By that time his force was too enfeebled to show any resistance, and as no other course was possible, he sent the Imperial Protector of Yuzhou, Yin Ku, to Cao Cao’s camp and ask that he might surrender.

Cao Cao feigned to consent, but that night he sent Zhang Liao and Xu Huang to raid Yuan Shang’s camp. Then it became flight, abandoning everything, seals, emblems of office, and even personal clothing. Yuan Shang made for the Zhongshan Mountains.

Then Cao Cao came to attack Jizhou City, and to help out this Xun You suggested drowning the city by turning the course of the River Zhang. Cao Cao adopted the suggestion and at once sent a small number of men to dig a channel to lead the water to the city. All told, it was seventeen miles.

Shen Pei saw the diggers from the city wall and noticed that they made only a shallow channel.

He chuckled, saying to himself, “What is the use of such a channel to drown out the city from a deep river?”

So he made no preparations to keep out the water.

But as soon as night came on, Cao Cao increased his army of diggers tenfold and by daylight the channel was deepened to twenty spans and the water was flowing in a great stream into the city where it already stood some spans deep. So this misfortune was added to the lack of food.

Xin Pi now displayed the captured seal and garments of Yuan Shang hung out on spears, to the great shame of their late owner, and called upon the people of the city to surrender. This angered Shen Pei, who avenged the insult by putting to death on the city wall the whole of the Xin family who were within the city. There were eighty of them, and their severed heads were cast down from the walls. Xin Pi wept exceedingly.

Shen Pei’s nephew Shen Rong, one of the gate wardens, was a dear friend of Xin Pi, and the murder of Xin Pi’s family greatly distressed him. He wrote a secret letter offering to betray the city and tied it to an arrow, which he shot out among the besiegers. The soldiers found it, gave it to Xin Pi who took it to his chief.

Cao Cao issued an order:

“The family of the Yuans should be spared when the city should be taken and that no one who surrendered should be put to death.”

The next day the soldiers entered by the west gate, opened for them by Shen Rong. Xin Pi was the first to prance in on horseback and the army followed.

When Shen Pei, who was on the southeast of the city, saw the enemy within the gates, he placed himself at the head of some horsemen and dashed toward them. He was met and captured by Xu Huang who bound him and led him outside the city.

On the road they met Xin Pi, who ground his teeth with rage at the murderer of his relatives and then struck the prisoner over the head with his whip, crying, “Murder! Blood drinker! You will meet your death!”

Shen Pei retorted, “Traitor! Seller of the city! I am very sorry I was not to have slain you before.”

When the captive was taken into Cao Cao’s presence, Cao Cao said, “Do you know who opened the gate to let me in?”

“No, I know not.”

“It was your nephew Shen Rong who gave up the gate,” said Cao Cao.

“He was always unprincipled, and it has come to this!” said Shen Pei.

“The other day when I approached the city, why did you shoot so hard at me?”

“I am sorry we shot too little.”

“As a faithful adherent of the Yuans, you could do no otherwise. Now will you come over to me?”

“Never; I will never surrender.”

Xin Pi threw himself on the ground with lamentations, saying, “Eighty of my people murdered by this ruffian. I pray you slay him, O Prime Minister!”

“Alive, I have served the Yuans;” said Shen Pei, “dead, I will be their ghost! I am no flattering time-server as you are. Kill me!”

Cao Cao gave the order. They led him away to put him to death.

On the execution ground he said to the executioners, “My lord is in the north, I pray you not to make me face the south.”

So Shen Pei knelt facing the north and extended his neck for the fatal stroke.

Who of all the official throng

In the North was true like Shen Pei?

Sad his fate! He served a fool,

But faithful, as the ancient humans.

Straight and true was every word,

Never from the road he swerved.

Faithful unto death, he died

Gazing toward the lord he’d served.

Thus died Shen Pei and from respect for his character Cao Cao ordered that he be buried honorably on the north of the city.

The Prime Minister then entered the city of Yejun. As he was starting, he saw the executioners hurrying forward a prisoner who proved to be Chen Lin.

“You wrote that manifesto for Yuan Shao. If you had only directed your diatribe against me, it would not have mattered. But why did you shame my forefathers?” said Cao Cao.

“When the arrow is on the string, it must fly,” replied Chen Lin.

Those about Cao Cao urged him to put Chen Lin to death, but he was spared on account of his genius and given a civil post.

Now Cao Cao’s eldest son was named Cao Pi. At the taking of the cities he was eighteen years of age. When he was born a dark purplish halo hung over the house for a whole day. One who understood the meaning of such manifestations had secretly told Cao Cao that the halo belonged to the imperial class and portended honors which could not be put into words.

At eight the lad could compose very skillfully, and he was well read in ancient history. Now he was an adept at all military arts and very fond of fencing. He had gone with his father on the expedition to Jizhou. When Yejun had fallen, he led his escort in the direction of the Yuan family dwelling, and when he reached it, he strode in, sword in hand. When some commander would have stayed him, saying that by order of the Prime Minister no one was to enter the house, Cao Pi bade them begone. The guards fell back and he made his way into the private rooms, where he saw two women weeping in each other’s arms. He went forward to slay them.

Four generations of honors, gone like a dream,

Fate follows on ever surely, though slow she seems.

The fate of the two women will be told in the next chapter.

Chapter 33

A Gallant Warrior, Cao Pi Marries Lady Zhen; An Expiring Star, Guo Jia Settles Liaodong.

As was said, Cao Pi, having made his way into the Yuans’ palace, saw two women there whom he was about to kill. Suddenly a red light shone in his eyes, and he paused.

Lowering his sword he said, “Who are you?”

“Thy handmaid is the widow of the late Yuan Shao, Lady Liu,” said the elder of the two, “and this is the wife of Yuan Xi, his second son. She was of the Zhen family. When Yuan Xi was sent to command in Youzhou, her family objected to her going so far from home and she stayed behind.”

Cao Pi drew Lady Zhen toward him and looked at her closely. Her hair hung disordered, her face was dusty and tear-stained, but when, with the sleeve of his inner garment, he had wiped sway these disfigurements, he saw a woman of exquisite loveliness, with a complexion clear as jade touched with the tender bloom of a flower petal, a woman indeed beautiful enough to ruin a kingdom.

“I am the son of the Prime Minister,” said he turning to the elder woman. “I will guarantee your safety, so you need fear nothing.”

He then put by his sword and sat down at the upper end of the room.

As Cao Cao was entering the gate of the conquered city of Yejun, Xu You rode up very quickly, passed him, and pointed with his whip at the gate, saying, “Sir Prime Minister, you would not have been here but for my plans!”

Cao Cao laughed, but his generals were very annoyed.

When Cao Cao reached the residence, he stopped at the gate and asked, “Has anyone had gone in?”

The guard at the gate said, “Your son is within.”

Cao Cao called him out and chided him, but the wife of the late Imperial Protector interposed, saying, “But not for your son we had not been saved. I desire to present to you a lady, of the Zhen family, as a handmaid to your son.”

Cao Cao bade them bring out the girl and she bowed before him. After looking at her intently, he said, “Just the wife for him!”

And he told Cao Pi to take Lady Zhen to wife.

After the conquest of Jizhou had been made quite sure, Cao Cao made a ceremonial visit to the Yuan family cemetery, where he sacrificed at the tomb of his late rival, bowed his head, and lamented bitterly.

Turning to his generals, he said, “Not long ago when Yuan Shao and I worked together in military matters, he asked me, saying, ‘If this disturbance does not cease, what fronts should be held?’ And I replied asking him what he thought. He said, ‘In the North of Yellow River, to the south I would hold the Yellow River; on the north, guard against Yan and Dai and absorb the hordes from the Gobi Desert. Thence southward I would try for the empire, and do you not think I might succeed?’ I replied saying, ‘I depend upon the wisdom and force of the world directed by scholars; then every thing would be possible.’ These words seem as if spoken only yesterday, and now he is gone. Thinking over it I cannot refrain from tears.”

His officers were deeply affected. Cao Cao treated the widow generously, giving her gold and silks and food to her content.

He also issued a further order that the taxes in the North of Yellow River would be remitted in consideration of the sufferings of the people during the warlike operations. He sent up a memorial to the Throne and formally became Imperial Protector of Jizhou.

One day Xu Chu, riding in at the east gate, met Xu You, who called out to him, “Would you fellows be riding through here if it had not been for me?”

Xu Chu replied, “We fellows, those who survive and those who perished, risked our lives in bloody battle to get this city, so do not brag of your deeds!”

“You are a lot of blockheads, not worth talking about,” said Xu You.

Xu Chu in his anger drew his sword and ran Xu You through. Then he took Xu You’s head and went to tell Cao Cao the reason.

Said Cao Cao, “He and I were old friends, and we could joke together. Why did you kill him?”

Cao Cao blamed Xu Chu very severely and gave orders that Xu You should be buried honorably.

Cao Cao inquired for any wise and reputable people who were known to be living in the region and was told: “Commander Cui Yan, of Dongwu, who had on many occasions given valuable advice to Yuan Shao. As the advice was not followed, he had pleaded indisposition and remained at home.”

Cao Cao sent for this man, gave him an office and said to him, “According to the former registers, there are three hundred thousand households in the region so that one may well call it a major region.”

Cui Yan replied, “The empire is rent, and the country is torn; the Yuan brothers are at war, and the people have been stripped naked. Yet, Sir, you do not hasten to inquire after local conditions and how to rescue the people from misery, but first compute the possibilities of taxation. Can you expect to gain the support of our people by such means?”

Cao Cao accepted the rebuke, changed the policy, thanked him, and treated him all the better for it.

As soon as Jizhou was settled, Cao Cao sent to find out the movements of Yuan Tan. He heard Yuan Tan was ravaging Ganling, Anping, Bohai, and Hejian. Moreover, the scouts brought the news that Yuan Shang had fled to Zhongshan, and Yuan Tan led an expedition against him, but Yuan Shang would not face a battle. He had gone away to Youzhou to his brother Yuan Xi. Yuan Tan, having gathered Yuan Shang’s troops, prepared for another attempt on Jizhou.

Whereupon Cao Cao summoned him. Yuan Tan refused to come, and Cao Cao sent letters breaking off the marriage between Yuan Tan and his daughter. Soon after Cao Cao led an expedition against Yuan Tan and marched to Pingyuan, whereupon Yuan Tan sent to Liu Biao to beg assistance. Liu Biao sent for Liu Bei to consult about this.

Liu Bei said, “Cao Cao is very strong now that he has overcome Jizhou, and the Yuans will be unable to hold out for long. Nothing is to be gained by helping Yuan Tan, and it may give Cao Cao the loophole he is always looking for to attack this place. My advice is to keep the army in condition and devote all our energies to defense.”

“Agreed; but what shall we say?” said Liu Biao.

“Write to both the brothers as peacemaker in gracious terms.”

Accordingly Liu Biao wrote thus to Yuan Tan:

“When the superior person would escape danger, that person does not go to an enemy state. I heard recently that you had crooked the knee to Cao Cao, which was ignoring the enmity between him and your father, rejecting the duties of brotherhood, and leaving behind you the shame of an alliance with the enemy. If your brother, the successor to Jizhou, has acted unfraternally, your duty was to bend your inclination to follow him and wait till the state of affairs had settled. Would it not have been very noble to bring about the redress of wrongs?”

And to Yuan Shang, Liu Biao wrote:

“Your brother, the ruler of Qingzhou, is of an impulsive temperament and confuses right with wrong. You ought first to have destroyed Cao Cao in order to put an end to the hatred which your father bore him and, when the situation had become settled, to have endeavored to redress the wrongs. Would not that have been well? If you persist in following this mistaken course, remember the hound and the hare, both so wearied that the peasant got them all.”

From this letter Yuan Tan saw that Liu Biao had no intention of helping him, and feeling he alone could not withstand Cao Cao. He abandoned Pingyuan and fled to Nanpi, whither Cao Cao pursued him.

The weather was very cold and the river was frozen, so that the grain boats could not move. Wherefore Cao Cao ordered the inhabitants to break the ice and tow the boats. When the peasants heard the order they ran away. Cao Cao angrily wished to arrest and behead them. When they heard this, they went to his camp in a body and offered their heads to the sword.

“If I do not kill you, my order will not be obeyed,” said Cao Cao. “Yet supposing I cut off your heads, but I cannot bear to do that severity. Quickly flee to the hills and hide so that my soldiers do not capture you.”

The peasants left weeping.

Then Yuan Tan led out his army against Cao Cao. When both sides were arrayed, Cao Cao rode to the front.

Pointing with his whip at his opponent, Cao Cao railed at him, saying, “I treated you well. Why then have you turned against me?”

Yuan Tan replied, “You have invaded my land, captured my cities, and broken off my marriage. Yet you accuse me of turning against you!”

Cao Cao ordered Xu Huang to go out and give battle. Yuan Tan bade Peng An accept the challenge. After a few bouts Peng An was slain; and Yuan Tan, having lost, fled and went into Nanpi, where he was besieged. Yuan Tan, panic-stricken, sent Xin Ping to see Cao Cao and arrange surrender.

“He is nothing but a fickle-minded child,” said Cao Cao. “He is never of the same mind two days running, and I cannot depend upon what he says. Now your brother Xin Pi is in my employ and has a post of importance, you had better remain here also.”

“Sir Prime Minister, you are in error,” said Xin Ping. “It is said that the lord’s honor is the servant’s glory; the lord’s sadness is the servant’s shame. How can I turn my back on the family I have so long served?”

Cao Cao felt he could not be persuaded and sent him back. Xin Ping returned and told Yuan Tan the surrender could not be arranged.

Yuan Tan turned on him angrily, saying, “Your brother is with Cao Cao, and you want to betray me also!”

At this unmerited reproach such a huge wave of anger welled up in Xin Ping’s breast that he was overcome and fell in a swoon. They carried him out, but the shock had been too severe, and soon after he died. Yuan Tan regretted his conduct when it was too late.

Then Guo Tu said, “Tomorrow when we go out to battle, we will drive the people out in front as a screen for the soldiers, and we must fight a winning battle.”

That night they assembled all the common people of the place and forced into their hands swords and spears. At daylight they opened the four gates, and a huge party with much shouting came out at each, peasantry carrying arms in front, and soldiers behind them. They pushed on toward Cao Cao’s camps, and a melee began lasted till near midday. But this was quite indecisive, although heaps of dead lay everywhere.

Seeing that success was at best only partial, Cao Cao rode out to the hills near and thence had the drums beaten for a new attack under his own eye. His officers and troops, seeing that he could observe them in person, exerted themselves to the utmost, and Yuan Tan’s army was severely defeated. Of the peasantry driven into the battlefield, multitudes were slain.

Cao Hong, who displayed very great valor, burst into the press of battle and met Yuan Tan face to face. The two slashed and hammered at each other, and Yuan Tan was killed.

Guo Tu saw that his side was wholly disorganized and tried to withdraw into the shelter of Nanpi. Yue Jing saw this and opened a tremendous discharge of arrows so that Guo Tu fell and the moat was soon filled with dead.

The city of Nanpi fell to Cao Cao. He entered and set about restoring peace and order. Then suddenly appeared a new army under two of Yuan Xi’s generals, Jiao Chu and Zhang Neng. Cao Cao led out his troops to meet them, but the two commanders laid down their arms and yielded. They were rewarded with the rank of lordship.

Then Zhang Yan, the leader of the Black Hills Brigands, came with one hundred thousand troops and gave in his submission. He was made General Who Pacifies the North.

By an order of Cao Cao, the head of Yuan Tan was exposed, and death was threatened to anyone who should lament for him. Nevertheless a man dressed in mourning attire was arrested for weeping below the exposed head at the north gate. Taken into Cao Cao’s presence, he said he was Wang Xiu and had been an officer in Qingzhou. He had been expelled because he had remonstrated with Yuan Tan. But when the news of Yuan Tan’s death came, he had come to weep for his late master.

“Did you know of my command?” said Cao Cao.

“I knew it.”

“Yet you were not afraid?”

“When one has received favors from a man in life, it would be wrong not to mourn at his death. How can one stand in the world if one forgets duty through fear? If I could bury his body, I would not mind death.”

Cao Cao said, “And there were many such as this in the north. What a pity that the Yuan family could not make the best of them! But if they had done so, I should never have dared to turn my eyes toward this place.”

The intrepid mourner was not put to death. The remains of Yuan Tan were properly interred, and Wang Xiu was well treated and even given an appointment.

In his new position Wang Xiu was asked for advice about the best way to proceed against Yuan Shang, who had fled to his second brother, but Wang Xiu remained silent, thereby winning from Cao Cao renewed admiration for his constancy.

“He is indeed loyal!” said Cao Cao.

Then he questioned Guo Jia, who advised him, saying, “Give Yuan Xi’s former generals the command and ask them to attack Youzhou.”

Whereupon Jiao Chu and Zhang Neng were given the command and reinforced by the armies under Lu Xiang, Lu Kuang, Ma Yan, and Zhang Zi to bring about the surrender of Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang. Then six generals, to attack Youzhou along three routes. Other armies led by Li Dian, Yue Jing, and Zhang Yan were sent against Gao Gan at Bingzhou.

The two Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang heard of Cao Cao’s advance with dismay for they had no hope of successful resistance. Therefore they abandoned Youzhou and hastily marched into Liaoxi to seek refuge with the Wuhuan tribespeople in the frontier Wuhuan State.

Then Wuhuan Chu, new Imperial Protector of Youzhou, was not disposed to incur the enmity of the powerful Cao Cao, so he called his subordinates together to swear them to support him.

Wuhuan Chu said, “I understand that Cao Cao is the most powerful man of the day, and I am going to support him, and those who do not go with me I shall put to death.”

Each in turn smeared his lips with the blood of sacrifice and took the oath, till it came to the turn of Han Heng.

Instead he dashed his sword to the ground, crying, “I have received great promotions and benefits from the Yuans. Now my lord has been vanquished. My knowledge was powerless to save him, and my bravery insufficient to cause me to die for him: I have failed in my duty. But I refuse to commit the crowning act of treachery and ally myself with Cao Cao.”

This speech made the others turn pale.

The chief said, “For a great undertaking, there must be lofty principles. However, success does not necessarily depend upon universal support, and since Han Heng is actuated by such sentiments, then let him follow his conscience.”

So Wuhuan Chu turned Han Heng out of the assembly. Wuhuan Chu then went out of the city to meet and welcome Cao Cao’s army and rendered his submission. He was well received and the title given him of General Who Guards the North.

Then the scouts came to report: “Generals Li Dian, Yue Jing, and Zhang Yan had marched to Bingzhou, but that Gao Gan had occupied Huguan Pass and could not be dislodged.”

So Cao Cao marched thither himself. The defender still maintaining his position, Cao Cao asked for plans. Xun You proposed that a band should go over pretending to be deserters. Cao Cao assented and then called the two Lu Xiang and Lu Kuang, to whom he gave whispered orders. They left with their companies.

Soon they came near the pass and called out, saying, “We are old officers in Yuan Shao’s armies forced into surrender to Cao Cao. We find him so false and he treats us so meanly that we want to return to help our old master. Wherefore quickly open your gates to us.”

Gao Gan was suspicious, but he let the two officers come up to the pass; and when they had stripped off their armor and left their horses, they were permitted to enter.

And they said to Gao Gan, “Cao Cao’s troops are new to the country and not settled. You ought to fall upon their camp this very evening. If you approve, we will lead the attack.”

Gao Gan decided to trust them and prepared to attack, giving the two brothers the leadership of ten thousand soldiers. But as they drew near Cao Cao’s camp, a great noise arose behind them and they found themselves in an ambush attacked on all sides. Realizing too late that he had been the victim of a ruse, Gao Gan retreated to the pass, but found it occupied by Li Dian and Yue Jing. Gao Gan then made the best of his way to the Chieftain of the Xiongnu People. Cao Cao gave orders to hold the passes and sent companies in pursuit.

When Gao Gan reached the boundary of the Xiongnu State, he met Ce Xian, the Khan of the northern tribespeople.

Gao Gan dismounted and made a low obeisance, saying, “Cao Cao is conquering and absorbing all the borders and your turn, O King, will come quickly. I pray you help me and let us smite together for the safety of the northern regions.”

Ce Xian the Khan replied, “I have no quarrel with Cao Cao. Why then should he invade my land? Do you desire to embroil me with him?”

He would have nothing to do with Gao Gan and sent him sway. At his wits’ end, Gao Gan decided to try to join Liu Biao and go southward so far on his journey as Shanglu when he was taken prisoner and put to death by Governor Wang Yan. His head was sent to Cao Cao, and Wang Yan received lordship for this service.

Thus Bingzhou was conquered. Then Cao Cao began to discuss the overthrow of the Wuhuan State.

Cao Hong, speaking in the name of other officials, said, “The two Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang are nearly done for and too weak to be feared. They have fled far into the Sea of Sand. If we pursue them thither, it may bring down Liu Biao and Liu Bei upon the capital. Should we be unable to rescue it, the misfortune would be immense. Wherefore we beg you to return to Xuchang.”

But Guo Jia was of different advice.

“You are wrong,” said he. “Though the prestige of our lord fills the empire, yet the peoples of the desert, relying upon their inaccessibility, will not be prepared against us. Wherefore I say attack, and we shall conquer them. Beside Yuan Shao was kind to the nomads, and the two brothers have been more so. They must be destroyed. As for Liu Biao he is a mere gossip, who needs not cause the least anxiety. And Liu Bei is unfit for any heavy responsibility and will take no trouble over a light one. You may leave the base with perfect safety and make as long an expedition as you choose. Nothing will happen.”

“You speak well, O Guo Jia,” said Cao Cao.

He led his legions, heavy and light, to the edge of the desert, with many wagons. The expedition marched into the Gobi Desert. The rolling ocean of yellow sand spread its waves before them, and they saw far and near the eddying sand pillars, and felt the fierce winds that drove them forward. The road became precipitous and progress difficult. Cao Cao began to think of returning and spoke thereof to Guo Jia, who had advised the journey.

Guo Jia had speedily fallen victim to the effects of the climate, and at this time he lay in his cart very ill.

Cao Cao’s tears fell as he said, “My friend, you are suffering for my ambition to subdue the Gobi Desert. I cannot bear to think you should be ill.”

“You have always been very good to me,” said the sick man, “and I can never repay what I owe you.”

“The country is exceedingly precipitous, and I am thinking of going back. What think you?”

Guo Jia replied, “The success of an expedition of this kind depends upon celerity. To strike a sudden blow on a distant spot with a heavy baggage train is difficult. To ensure success the need is light troops and a good road to strike quickly before an enemy has time to prepare. Now you must find guides who know the road well.”

Then the sick adviser was left at Yezhou for treatment, and they sought among the natives for some persons to serve as guides. Tian Chou, one of Yuan Shao’s old generals, knew those parts well, and Cao Cao called him and questioned him.

Tian Chou said, “Between autumn and summer this route is under water, the shallow places too heavy for wheeled traffic, the deep parts insufficient for boats. It is always difficult. Therefore you would do better to return and at Lulong cross the Baitan Pass into the desert. Then advance to Liucheng and smite before there is time to prepare. One sudden rush will settle King Mao Dun.”

For this valuable information and plan, Tian Chou was made General Who Calms the North, and went in advance as leader and guide. Next after him came Zhang Liao, and Cao Cao brought up the rear. They advanced by double marches.

Tian Chou led Zhang Liao to White Wolf Hills, where they came upon Yuan Xi, Yuan Shang, and King Mao Dun and a force of ten thousand cavalry. Zhang Liao galloped to inform his chief, and Cao Cao rode up to the top of an eminence to survey the foe. He saw a large mass of cavalry without any military formation advancing in a disorderly crowd.

Said he, “They have no formation. We can easily rout them.”

Then he handed over his ensign of command to Zhang Liao who, with Xu Chu, Yu Jin, and Xu Huang, made a vigorous attack from four different points, with the result that the enemy was thrown into confusion. Zhang Liao rode forward and slew King Mao Dun, and the other generals gave in. Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang with a few thousand of horse got away east into Liaodong.

Cao Cao then led his army into Liucheng. For his services, Tian Chou was conferred the rank of Lord of Liucheng and Commander of that county.

But Tian Chou declined the rank, saying with tears, “I am a renegade and a fugitive. It is my good fortune that you spared my life, and how can I accept a rank for betraying Lulong? I would rather die than accept the lordship.”

Cao Cao recognized that reason was on Tian Chou’s side and conferred upon him the office of Court Counselor. Cao Cao then pacified the Xiongnu Chieftains, collected a large number of horses, and at once set out on the homeward march.

The season was winter, cold and dry. For seventy miles there was no water, and grain also was scanty. The troops fed on horse flesh. They had to dig very deep, three or four hundred spans to find water.

When Cao Cao reached Yezhou, he rewarded those who had remonstrated with him against the expedition.

He said, “I took some risk in going so far, but by good fortune I have succeeded. With the aid of Heaven I have secured victory. I could not be guided by your advice, but still they were counsels of safety, and therefore I reward you to prove my appreciation of advice and that hereafter you may not fear to speak your minds.”

Adviser Guo Jia did not live to see the return of his lord. His coffin was placed on the bier in a hall of the government offices, and Cao Cao went thither to sacrifice to his manes.

Cao Cao mourned for him, crying, “Alas! Heaven has smitten me: Guo Jia is dead!”

Then turning to his officers he said, “You, gentlemen, are of the same age as myself, but he was very young to die. I needed him for the future generation, and unhappily he has been torn from me in the flower of his age. My heart and my bowels are torn with grief.”

The servants of the late adviser presented his last testament, which they said his dying hand had written, and he had told them to say, “If the Prime Minister shall follow the advice given herein, then Liaodong will be secure.”

Cao Cao opened the cover and read, nodding his head in agreement and uttering deep sighs. But no other person knew what was written therein.

Shortly after, Xiahou Dun at the head of a delegation presented a petition, saying, “For a long time the Governor of Liaodong, Gongsun Kang, has been contumacious, and it bodes ill for peace that the Yuan brothers have fled to him. Would it not be well to attack before they move against you?”

“I need not trouble your tiger courage, Sirs,” said Cao Cao smiling. “Wait a few days and you will see the heads of our two enemies sent to me.”

They could not believe it.

As has been related the two Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang escaped to the east with a few hundreds of horse. The Governor of Liaodong was a son of Gongsun Du the Warlike, the General of Han. Gongsun Kang was a native of Xiangping. When he heard that Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang were on their way to his territory, he called a council to decide upon his plan.

At the council Gongsun Gong rose, saying, “When Yuan Shao was alive, he nourished the plan of adding this territory to his own. Now his sons, homeless, with a broken army and no officers, are coming here. It seems to me like the dove stealing the magpie’s nest. If we offer them shelter, they will assuredly intrigue against us. I advise that they be inveigled into the city, put to death, and their heads sent to Cao Cao, who will be most grateful to us.”

Said the Governor Gongsun Kang, “I have one fear: Cao Cao will come against us. If so, it would be better to have the help of the Yuans against him.”

“Then you can send spies to ascertain whether Cao Cao’s army is preparing to attack us. If it is, then save the Yuans alive; if not, then follow my advice.”

It was decided to wait till the spies came back.

In the meantime, Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang had taken counsel together as they approached Liaodong, saying, “Liaodong has a large army, strong enough to oppose Cao Cao. We will go thither and submit till we can slay the Governor and take possession. Then when we are strong enough, we will attack and recover our own land.”

With these intentions they went into the city. They were received and lodged in the guests’ quarters. But when they wished to see Gongsun Kang, he put them off with the excuse of indisposition.

However, before many days the spies returned with the news that Cao Cao’s army was quiescent and there was no hint of any attack.

Then Gongsun Kang called Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang into his presence. But before they came he hid swordsmen and ax-men behind the arras in the hall. When the visitors came and had made their salutations, Gongsun Kang bade them be seated.

Now it was bitterly cold and on the couches where they were sitting were no coverings. So Yuan Shang said, “May we have cushions?”

The host said, “When your heads take that long, long journey, will there be any cushions?”

Before Yuan Shang could recover from his fright, Gongsun Kang shouted, “Why do you not begin?”

At this out rushed the assassins and the heads of the two brothers were cut off as they sat. Packed in a small wooden box they were sent to Cao Cao at Yezhou.

All this time Cao Cao had been calmly waiting. His impatient officers had petitioned in a body, saying, “Let’s march to the capital to ward off Liu Biao’s threat if we are not going to attack the east.”

Cao Cao said, “I am waiting for the heads of the enemy. We will go as soon as the heads arrive.”

In their secret hearts they laughed. But then, surely enough, messenger soon came from Liaodong bringing the heads. Then they were greatly surprised.

And when the messenger presented Gongsun Kang’s letters, Cao Cao cried, “Just as Guo Jia said!”

He amply rewarded the messenger, and the Governor of Liaodong was made Lord of Xiangping and General of the Left Army. When the officers asked what had happened, Cao Cao told them what the late adviser had predicted. He read to them the dead officer’s testament, which ran something like this:

“Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang are going to Liaodong. Illustrious Sir, you are on no account to attack, for Gongsun Kang has long lived in fear lest the Yuans should absorb his country. When they arrive, Gongsun Kang will hesitate. If you attack, he will save the Yuans to help him; if you wait, they will work against each other. This is evident.”

The officers simply jumped with surprise to see how perfectly events had been foreseen. Then Cao Cao at the head of all his officers performed a grand sacrifice before the coffin of the wise Guo Jia. He had died at the age of thirty-eight, after eleven years of meritorious and wonderful service in wars.

When Heaven permitted Guo Jia’s birth,

It made him ablest man on earth.

He knew by rote all histories,

From him war kept no mysteries.

Like Fan Li’s, his plans were quite decisive,

As Chen Ping’s, his strokes were most incisive.

Too soon he ran his earthly race,

Too soon the great beam fell from place.

When Cao Cao returned to Jizhou, he sent off the coffin of his late adviser to Capital Xuchang where it was interred.

Then Cheng Yu and others said, “As the north has been overcome, it is time to settle the south.”

Cao Cao was pleased and said, “That has long occupied my thoughts.”

The last night he spent in Jizhou, Cao Cao went to the eastern corner tower and stood there regarding the sky. His only companion was Xun You.

Presently Cao Cao said, “That is a very brilliant glow there in the south. It seems too strong for me to do anything there.”

“What is there that can oppose your heaven-high prestige?” said Xun You.

Suddenly a beam of golden light shot up out of the earth.

“Surely a treasure is buried there,” remarked Xun You.

They went down from the city wall, called some guards, and led them to the point whence the light proceeded. There the men were ordered to dig.

The southern skies with portents glow,

The northern lands their treasures show.

What the diggers found will appear in the next chapter.

Chapter 34

Behind The Screen, Lady Cai Overhears A Secret; Across The Tan Torrent, The Dilu Horse Carries Its Master.

The diggers at the spot whence the golden light proceeded presently unearthed a bronze bird. Looking at it, Cao Cao turned to his companion, saying, “What is the portent?”

“You will remember that the mother of the praiseworthy King Shun dreamed of a jade bird before his birth, so certainly it is a felicitous omen,” said Xun You.

Cao Cao was very pleased, and he ordered forthwith the building of a lofty tower to celebrate the find, and they began to dig foundations and cut timber, to burn tiles and to smooth bricks for the Bronze Bird Tower on the banks of the River Zhang. Cao Cao set a year for the building.

His younger son, Cao Zhi, said, “If you build a terraced tower, you should add two others, one on each side. The center tower as the tallest should be called the Bronze Bird Tower. The side towers named Jade Dragon Tower and Golden Phoenix Tower. Then connect these by flying bridges and the effect will be noble.”

“My son, your words are very good; and by and bye when the building is complete, I can solace my old age therein.”

Cao Cao had five sons, but this one Cao Zhi was the most clever and his essays were particularly elegant. His father was very fond of him and, seeing that the young man took an interest in the building, Cao Cao left him with his elder brother Cao Pi at Yejun to superintend the work, while he led a half-a-million army that had recently been captured from the Yuans back to Capital Xuchang.

When he arrived, he distributed rewards liberally and memorialized the Throne obtaining the title of the Pure Lord for the late Guo Jia. And he took Guo Jia’s son, Guo Ye, to be brought up in his own family.

Next Cao Cao began to consider the reduction of Liu Biao’s power.

Xun You said, “The Grand Army has only just returned from the north and needs rest. Wait half a year that the soldiers may recover from the fatigue of the campaign, and both Liu Biao and Sun Quan will fall at the first roll of the drums.”

Presently Cao Cao approved of this plan. To enrich his troops, he assigned certain lands to them to till while they rested.

In Jingzhou, Liu Biao had been very generous to Liu Bei ever since he had come as a fugitive seeking shelter. One day at a banquet there came news that two generals, Zhang Wu and Chen Sun, who had tendered their submission, had suddenly begun plundering the people in Jiangxia. They evidently meant rebellion.

“If they really rebel, it will cause a lot of trouble,” said Liu Biao, rather dismayed.

“Do not let that trouble you. I will go and settle it,” said Liu Bei.

Pleased with this proposal, Liu Biao told off thirty thousand troops and placed them under his friend, and the army marched as soon as the orders were issued. In a short time it reached the scene, and the two malcontents came out to fight. Liu Bei, Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, and Zhao Zilong took their stand beneath the great banner and looked over at the enemy.

Zhang Wu was riding a handsome prancing horse, and Liu Bei said, “He certainly has a fine steed.”

As he spoke, Zhao Zilong galloped out with his spear set and dashed toward the enemy. Zhang Wu came out to meet him, but the combat was very brief for Zhang Wu was soon killed by a spear thrust. Thereupon Zhao Zilong laid a hand upon the bridle of the fallen man’s horse to lead it back to his own side. The slain rebel’s companion Chen Sun at once rode after Zhao Zilong, whereupon Zhang Fei uttered a loud shout and rode out to meet him. With one thrust Zhang Fei slew the rebel. Their followers now scattered, and Liu Bei speedily restored order in Jiangxia and returned to Jingzhou City.

Liu Biao, grateful for this service, rode out to the boundary to welcome the victors. They reentered the city and grand banquets were instituted, at which they emptied great goblets in congratulations over the victory.

At one of these banquets the Imperial Protector said, “With such heroism as my brother has shown, Jingzhou has one upon whom to rely. But a source of sorrow is the borders with the lands of Yue, Wu, and Shu, from which a raid may come at any time. Zhang Lu of Shu and Sun Quan of Yue and Wu are to be feared.”

“But I have three bold generals,” said Liu Bei, “quite equal to any task you can set them. Send Zhang Fei to keep ward on the southern border of Yue, Guan Yu to guard the city of Guzi against Zhang Lu in the west, and Zhao Zilong holding the Three Gorges will protect you from Sun Quan. Why need you grieve?”

The scheme appealed strongly to the Imperial Protector, but Cai Mao did not approve.

So he spoke to his sister, Liu Biao’s wife, saying, “Liu Bei is putting his troops in such commanding positions all round the region. That is the danger.”

Lady Cai, thus influenced by her brother, undertook to remonstrate, and that night began by saying to Liu Biao, “Some in the Jingzhou army seem to have a great liking for Liu Bei. They are always coming and going. You ought to take precautions. I do not think you should let Liu Bei stay in the city. Why not send him on some mission?”

“Liu Bei is a good man,” replied the Imperial Protector.

“I think others differ from you,” said the lady.

Liu Biao said nothing but muttered to himself. Soon after he went out of the city to see Liu Bei and noticed he was riding a very handsome horse. They told him it was a prize taken from the recently conquered rebels; and as he praised it very warmly, Liu Bei presented it to him. Liu Biao was delighted and rode it back to the city. Kuai Yue saw it and asked where it had come from. The Imperial Protector told him it was a gift from Liu Bei.

Kuai Yue said, “My passed-away brother, Kuai Liang, knew horses very well, and I am not a bad judge. This horse has tear-tracks running down from its eyes and a white blaze on its forehead. It is called a Dilu horse, and it is a danger to his master. That is why Zhang Wu was killed. I advise you not to ride it.”

Liu Biao began to think.

Soon after he asked Liu Bei to a banquet and in the course of it said, “You kindly presented me with a horse lately, and I am most grateful. But you may need it on some of your expeditions and, if you do not mind, I would like to return it.”

Liu Bei rose and thanked him.

The Imperial Protector continued, “You have been here a long time, and I fear I am spoiling your career as a warrior. Now Xinye in Xiangyang is no poverty-stricken town. How would you like to garrison it with your own troops?”

Liu Bei naturally took the offer as a command and set out as soon as he could, taking leave of the Imperial Protector the next day. And so he took up his quarters in Xinye.

When he left Jingzhou City, he noticed in the gate a person making him emphatic salutations, and the man presently said, “You should not ride that horse.”

Liu Bei looked at the man and recognized in the speaker one of the secretaries of Liu Biao named Yi Ji, a native of Shanyang. So Liu Bei hastily dismounted and asked why.

Yi Ji replied, “Yesterday I heard that Kuai Yue told the Imperial Protector that that horse was a Dilu horse and brought disaster to its owner. That is why it was returned to you. How can you mount it again?”

“I am deeply touched by your affection,” replied Liu Bei, “but a person’s life is governed by fate, and what a horse can interfere with that?”

Yi Ji admitted his superior view, and thereafter he kept in touch with Liu Bei wherever he went.

The arrival of Liu Bei in Xinye was a matter of rejoicing to all the inhabitants, and the whole administration was reformed.

In the spring of the twelfth year of Rebuilt Tranquillity (AD 207), Liu Bei’s wife, Lady Gan, gave birth to a son who was named Liu Shan. The night of his birth a crane settled on the roof of the house, screeched some forty times and then flew away westward.

Just at the time of birth a miraculous incense filled the chamber. Lady Gan one night had dreamed that she was looking up at the sky, and the constellation of the Great Bear had fallen down her throat. And she conceived soon after.

While Cao Cao was absent from the capital on his northern expedition, Liu Bei went to Liu Biao and said to him, “Why do you not take this opportunity to march against the capital? An empire might follow from that.”

“I am well placed here,” was the reply. “Why should I attempt other things?”

Liu Bei said no more. Then the Imperial Protector invited him into the private apartments to drink. While they were so engaged, Liu Biao suddenly began to sigh despondently.

“O brother, why do you sigh thus?” asked Liu Bei.

“I have a secret sorrow that is difficult to speak about,” said Liu Biao.

Liu Bei was on the point of asking what it was when Lady Cai came and stood behind the screen, whereat Liu Biao hung his head and became silent. Before long host and guest bade each other farewell, and Liu Bei went back to his own place at Xinye.

That winter they heard that Cao Cao had returned from Liucheng, and Liu Bei sighed when he reflected that his friend had paid no heed to his advice.

Unexpectedly a messenger came from the capital city with a request that Liu Bei would go thither to consult with the Imperial Protector. So he started at once with the messenger to Jingzhou City. He was received very kindly, and when the salutations were over, the two men went into the private quarters at the rear to dine.

Presently Liu Biao said, “Cao Cao has returned, and he is stronger than ever. I am afraid he means to absorb this region. I am sorry I did not follow your advice for I have missed an opportunity.”

“In this period of disruption, with strife on every side, one cannot pretend that there will be no more opportunities. If you only take what that offers, there will be nothing to regret.”

“What you say, brother, is quite to the point,” replied Liu Biao.

They drank on for a time till presently Liu Bei noticed that his host was weeping, and when he asked the cause of these tears, Liu Biao replied, “It is that secret sorrow I spoke of to you before. I wished to tell you, but there was no opportunity that day.”

“O brother, what difficulty have you, and can I assist you? I am entirely at your service.”

“My first wife, of the Chen family, bore me a son Liu Qi, my eldest. He grew up virtuous but weakly and unfitted to succeed me in my office. Later I took a wife of the Cai family, who bore me a son named Liu Zong, fairly intelligent. If I pass over the elder in favor of the younger, there is the breach of the rule of primogeniture. But if I follow law and custom, there are the intrigues of the Cai family and clan to be reckoned with. Further, the army is in the hollow of their hands. There will be trouble, and I cannot decide what to do.”

Liu Bei said, “All experience proves that to set aside the elder for the younger is to take the way of confusion. If you fear the power of the Cai faction, then gradually reduce its power and influence, but do not let doting affection lead you into making the younger your heir.”

Liu Biao pondered silent. But Lady Cai had had a suspicion why her lord had summoned Liu Bei and what was the subject of discussion, so she had determined to listen secretly. She was behind the screen when the matter was talked over, and she conceived deep resentment against Liu Bei for what he had said.

On his side, Liu Bei felt that his advice had fallen upon a forbidden subject, and he arose and walked across the room. As he did so he noticed that he was getting heavy and stiff, and a furtive tear stole down his cheek as he thought of the past. When he returned and sat down, his host noticed the traces of weeping and asked the cause of his sorrow.

“In the past I was always in the saddle, and I was slender and lithe. Now it is so long since I rode that I am getting stout, and the days and months are slipping by —-wasted. I shall have old age on me in no time, and I have accomplished nothing. So I am sad.”

“I have heard a story that when you were at Xuchang at the season of green plums, you and Cao Cao were discussing heroes. You mentioned this name and that to him as humans of parts, and he rejected everyone of them. Finally he said that you and he were the only two persons of real worth in the whole empire. If he with all his power and authority did not dare to place himself in front of you, I do not think you need grieve about having accomplished nothing.”

At this flattering speech Liu Bei, as wine was getting the better of him and in a half maudlin manner, replied, “If I only had a starting point, then I would not be afraid of anyone in a world full of fools.”

His host said no more and the guest, feeling that he had slipped up in speech, rose as if drunk, took leave, and staggered out saying he must return to his lodging to recover.

The episode has been celebrated in a poem:

When with crooking fingers counting,

Cao Cao reckoned up the forceful

Humans of real determination,

Only two he found; and one was

Liu Bei. But by inaction

He had grown both fat and slothful;

Yet the months and years in passing

Fretted him with nought accomplished.

Though Liu Biao kept silence when he heard the words of Liu Bei, yet he felt the more uneasy. After the departure of his guest, he retired into the inner quarters where he met his wife.

Lady Cai said, “I happened to be behind the screen just now and so heard the words of Liu Bei. They betray scant regard for other people and mean that he would take your territory if he could. If you do not remove him, it will go ill with you.”

Her husband made no reply, but only shook his head.

Then Lady Cai took counsel with her kinsman Cai Mao, who said, “Let me go to the guest-house and slay him forthwith, and we can report what we have done.”

His sister consented and he went out, and that night told off a party of soldiers to do the foul deed.

Now Liu Bei sat in his lodging by the light of a single candle till about the third watch, when he prepared to retire to bed. He was startled by a knock at his door and in came Yi Ji, who had heard of the plot against his new master and had come in the darkness to warn him. He related the details of the plot and urged speedy departure.

“I have not said farewell to my host. How can I go away?” said Liu Bei.

“If you go to bid him farewell, you will fall a victim to the Cai faction,” said Yi Ji.

So Liu Bei said a hasty good-bye to his friend, called up his escort, and they all mounted and rode away by the light of the stars toward Xinye. Soon after they had left the soldiers arrived at the guest-house, but their intended victim was already well on his way.

Naturally the failure of the plot chagrined the treacherous Cai Mao, but he took the occasion to scribble some calumnious verses on one of the partitions.

Then he went to see Liu Biao to whom he said, “Liu Bei has treacherous intentions, as can be seen from some lines written on the wall. And his hurried departure is suspicious.”

Liu Biao felt doubtful, but he went to the guest-house and there on the wall he read this poem:

Too long, far too long I have dreamed life away,

Gazing at scenery day after day.

A dragon can never be kept in a pond,

He should ride on the thunder to heaven and beyond.

Greatly angered by what he read, Liu Biao drew his sword and swore to slay the writer. But before he had gone many paces, his anger had already died down, and he said to himself, “I have seen much of the man, but have never known him write verses. This is the handiwork of someone who wishes to sow discord between us.”

So saying, he turned back and with the point of his sword scraped away the poem. Then, putting up his sword, he mounted and rode home.

By and bye Cai Mao reminded him, saying, “The soldiers are awaiting your orders to go to Xinye and arrest Liu Bei.”

‘There is no hurry,” he replied.

Cai Mao saw his brother-in-law’s hesitation and again sought his sister.

She said, “Soon there is to be the great gathering at Xiangyang, and we can arrange something for that day.”

Next day Cai Mao petitioned the Imperial Protector, saying, “We have had several fruitful harvests recently. I pray you, Sir, attend the Full Harvest Festival at Xiangyang. It would be an encouragement to the people.”

“I have been feeling my old trouble lately. I certainly cannot go,” replied he, “but my two sons can go to represent me and to receive the guests.”

“They are full young,” replied Cai Mao. “They may make some mistakes.”

“Then go to Xinye and request Liu Bei to receive the guests,” said Liu Biao.

Nothing could have pleased Cai Mao more, for this would bring Liu Bei within reach of his plot. Without loss of time he sent to Liu Bei requesting him to go to preside at the Festival.

It has been said that Liu Bei made the best of his way home to Xinye. He felt that he had offended by that slip in speech, but determined to keep silence about it and attempt no explanation. So he discussed it with nobody. Then came the message asking him to preside at the Festival, and he needed counsel.

Sun Qian said, “You have seemed worried and preoccupied lately, and I think something untoward happened at Jingzhou. You should consider well before you accept this invitation.”

Thereupon Liu Bei told his confidants the whole story.

Guan Yu said, “You yourself think your speech offended the Imperial Protector, but he said nothing to show displeasure. You need pay no attention to the babble of outsiders like Yi Ji. Xiangyang is quite near and, if you do not go, Liu Biao will begin to suspect something really is wrong.”

“You speak well,” said Liu Bei.

Said Zhang Fei, “Banquets are no good; gatherings are no better. It is best not to go.”

“Let me take three hundred horse and foot as escort: There will be no trouble then,” said Zhao Zilong.

“That is the best course,” said Liu Bei.

They soon set out for the gathering place, and Cai Mao met them at the boundary and was most affable and courteous. Soon arrived the Imperial Protector’s sons at the head of a great company of officers, civil and military. Their appearance put Liu Bei more at ease. He was conducted to the guest-house, and Zhao Zilong posted his men so as to guard it completely, while he himself, armed, remained close to his chief.

Liu Qi said to Liu Bei, “My father is feeling unwell and could not come, wherefore he begs you, Uncle Liu Bei, to preside at the various ceremonies and give encouragement to the officers who administer the region.”

“Really I am unfit for such responsibilities,” said Liu Bei. “But my brother’s command must be obeyed.”

Next day it was reported that the officials from forty-two counties of nine territories of Jingzhou had all arrived.

Then Cai Mao said to Kuai Yue, “This Liu Bei is the villain of the age and if left alive will certainly work harm to us. He must be got rid of now.”

“I fear you would forfeit everybody’s favor if you harmed him,” replied Kuai Yue.

“I have already secretly spoken in these terms to the Imperial Protector,” said Cai Mao, “and I have his word here.”

“So it may be regarded as settled. Then we can prepare.”

Cai Mao added, “My brothers are ready. Cai He is posted on the road to the Xian Hills from the east gate; Cai Zhong and Cai Xun are on the north and south roads. No guard is needed on the west as the Tan Torrent is quite safeguard enough. Even with legions, Liu Bei could not get over that.”

Kuai Yue replied, “I notice that Zhao Zilong never leaves him. I feel sure he expects some attack.”

“I have placed five hundred men in ambush in the city.”

“We will tell Wen Ping and Wang Wei to invite all the military officers to a banquet at one of the pavilions outside the city, and Zhao Zilong will be among them. Then will be our opportunity.”

Cai Mao thought this a good device for getting Zhao Zilong out of the way.

Now oxen and horses had been slaughtered and a grand banquet prepared. Liu Bei rode to the residence on the horse of ill omen, and when he arrived, the steed was led into the back part of the enclosure and tethered there. Soon the guests arrived, and Liu Bei took his place as master of the feast, with the two sons of the Imperial Protector, one on each side. The guests were all arranged in order of rank. Zhao Zilong stood near his lord sword in hand as a faithful henchman should do.

Then Wen Ping and Wang Wei came to invite Zhao Zilong to the banquet they had prepared for the military officers. But he declined. However, Liu Bei told him to go, and, after some demur, he went. Then Cai Mao perfected his final arrangements, placing his people surrounding the place like a ring of iron. The three hundred guards that formed the escort of Liu Bei were sent away to the guest-house.

All were ready and awaiting the signal. At the third course, Yi Ji took a goblet of wine in his hands and approached Liu Bei, at the same time giving him a meaningful look. Then in a low voice he said, “Make an excuse to get away.”

Liu Bei understood and presently rose and went to the inner chamber, and then he went to the backyard. There he found Yi Ji, who had gone thither after presenting the cup of wine.

Yi Ji then told him, saying, “Cai Mao plots to kill you, and all the roads have been guarded except that to the west. My lord, you must lose no time to depart.”

Liu Bei was quite taken aback. However, he got hold of the Dilu horse, opened the door of the garden, and led it out. Then he took a flying leap into the saddle and galloped off without waiting for the escort. He made for the west gate. At the gate the wardens wanted to question him, but he only whipped up his steed and rode through. The guards at the gate ran off to report to Cai Mao, who quickly went in pursuit with five hundred soldiers.

As has been said Liu Bei burst out at the west gate. Before he had gone far, there rolled before him a river barring the way. It was the Tan Torrent, many score spans in width, which pours its waters into the River Xiang. Its current was very swift.

Liu Bei reached the bank and saw the river was unfordable. So he turned his horse and rode back. Then, not far off, he saw a cloud of dust and knew that his pursuers were therein. He thought that it was all over. However, he turned again toward the swift river, and seeing the soldiers now quite near, plunged into the stream. A few paces, and he felt the horse’s fore legs floundering in front, while the water rose over the skirt of his robe.

Then he plied the whip furiously, crying, “Dilu, Dilu, why betray me?”

Whereupon the good steed suddenly reared up out of the water and, with one tremendous leap, was on the western bank. Liu Bei felt as if he had come out of the clouds.

In after years the famous court official, Su Dongpo, wrote a poem on this leap over the Tan Torrent:

I’m growing old, the leaves are sere,

My sun slopes westward, soon will sink,

And I recall that yesteryear

I wandered by Tan River brink.

Irresolute, anon I paused,

Anon advanced, and gazed around,

I marked the autumn’s reddened leaves,

And watched them eddying to the ground.

I thought of all the mighty deeds

Of him who set the House of Han

On high, and all the struggles since,

The battlefields, the blood that ran.

I saw the nobles gathered round

The board, set in the Banquet Hall;

Amid them, one, above whose head

There hung a sword about to fall.

I saw him quit that festive throng

And westward ride, a lonely way;

I saw a squadron follow swift,

Intent the fugitive to slay.

I saw him reach the River Tan,

Whose swirling current rushes by;

Adown the bank he galloped fast,

“Now leap, my steed!” I heard him cry.

His steed’s hoofs churn the swollen stream;

What chills he that the waves run high?

He hears the sound of clashing steel,

Of thundering squadrons coming nigh.

And upward from the foaming waves

I saw two peerless beings soar;

One was a destined western king,

And him another dragon bore.

The Tan still rolls from east to west.

Its roaring torrent never dry.

Those dragons twain, ah! Where are they?

Yes, where? But there is no reply.

The setting sun, in dark relief

Against the glowing western sky.

Throws out the everlasting hills

While, saddened, here I stand and sigh.

Humans died to found the kingdoms three,

Which now as misty dreams remain.

Of greatest deeds the traces oft

Are faint that fleeting years retain.

Thus Liu Bei crossed the rolling river. Then he turned and looked back at the other bank which his pursuers had just gained.

“Why did you run sway from the feast?” called out Cai Mao.

“Why did you wish to harm a person who has done you no injury?” replied Liu Bei.

“I have never thought of such a thing. Do not listen to what people say to you.”

But Liu Bei saw that his enemy was fitting an arrow to his bowstring, so he whipped up his steed and rode away southwest.

“What spirits aided him?” said Cai Mao to his followers.

Then Cai Mao turned to go back to the city, but in the gate he saw Zhao Zilong coming out at the head of his company of guards.

By wondrous leap the dragon steed his rider’s life could save,

Now follows him, on vengeance bent, his master’s henchman brave.

The next chapters will tell what fate befell the traitor.

Chapter 35

Liu Bei Meets A Recluse At Nanzhang; Shan Fu Sees A Noble Lord At Xinye.

Just as Cai Mao was going into the city, he met Zhao Zilong and his three hundred coming out. It had happened that, while at the banquet, Zhao Zilong had noticed some movement of soldiers and horses and had at once gone to the banquet-hall to see if all was well with his lord. Missing Liu Bei from his place, Zhao Zilong had become anxious and gone to the guest-house. There he heard that Cai Mao had gone off to the west gate with troops. So he quickly took his spear, mounted and went, he and the escort, in hot haste along the same road.

Meeting Cai Mao near the gate, he said, “Where is my lord?”

“He left the banquet-hall quite suddenly, and I know not whither he has gone,” was the reply.

Now Zhao Zilong was cautious and careful and had no desire to act hastily, so he urged his horse forward till he came to the river. There he was checked by a torrent without ford or bridge.

At once he turned back and shouted after Cai Mao, “You invited my lord to a feast. What means this going after him with a squadron of horse?”

Cai Mao replied, “It is my duty to guard the officials of forty-two counties who have assembled here, as I am the Chief Commander.”

“Whither have you driven my lord?” asked Zhao Zilong.

“They tell me he rode quite alone out through the west gate, but I have not seen him.”

Zhao Zilong was anxious and doubtful. Again he rode to the river and looked around. This time he noticed a wet track on the farther side. He thought to himself that it was almost an impossible crossing for a person and a horse, so he ordered his followers to scatter and search. But they also could find no trace of Liu Bei.

Zhao Zilong turned again to the city. By the time he had reached the wall, Cai Mao had gone within. He then questioned the gate wardens, and they all agreed in saying that Liu Bei had ridden out at full gallop. That was all they knew. Fearing to reenter the city lest he should fall into an ambush, Zhao Zilong started for Xinye.

After that marvelous life-saving leap over the Tan Torrent, Liu Bei felt elated but rather dazed.

He could not help telling himself, “My safety is due to an especial interposition of Providence.”

Following a tortuous path, he urged his steed toward Nanzhang. But the sun sank to the west and his destination seemed yet a long way off. Then he saw a young cowherd seated on the back of a buffalo and playing on a short flute.

“If I were only as happy!” sighed Liu Bei.

He checked his horse and looked at the lad, who stopped his beast, ceased playing on the pipe, and stared fixedly at the stranger.

“You must be Liu Bei, the general who fought the Yellow Scarves,” said the boy presently.

Liu Bei was taken aback.

“How can you know my name, a young rustic like you living in such a secluded place?” said he.

“Of course I do not know you, but my master often has visitors, and they all talk about Liu Bei, the tall man whose hands hang down below his knees and whose eyes are very prominent. They say he is the most famous man of the day. Now you, General, are just such a man as they talk about, and surely you are he.”

“Well, who is your master?”

“My master’s name is Sima Hui. He belongs to Yingchuan and his Daoist appellation is Water Mirror.”

“Who are your master’s friends that you mentioned?”

“They are Pang Degong and Pang Tong of Xiangyang.”

“And who are they?”

“Uncle and nephew. Pang Degong is ten years older than my master; the other is five years younger. One day my master was up in a tree picking mulberries when Pang Tong arrived. They began to talk and kept it up all day, my master did not come down till the evening. My master is very fond of Pang Tong and calls him brother.”

“And where does your master live?”

“In that wood there, in front,” said the cowherd pointing to it. “There he has a farmstead.”

“I really am Liu Bei, and you might lead me to your master that I may salute him.”

The cowherd led the way for about one mile, when Liu Bei found himself in front of a farm house. He dismounted and went to the center door. Suddenly came to his ear the sound of a lute most skillfully played and the air was extremely beautiful. He stopped his guide and would not allow him to announce a visitor, but stood there rapt by the melody.

Suddenly the music ceased.

He heard a deep laugh and a man appeared, saying, “Amidst the clear and subtle sounds of the lute, there suddenly rang out a high note as though some noble man was near.”

“That is my master,” said the lad pointing.

Liu Bei saw before him a figure slender and straight as a pine tree, a very saint-like being. Hastening forward he saluted. The skirt of his robe was still wet from the river.

“You have escaped from a grave danger today, Sir,” said Water Mirror.

Liu Bei was startled into silence, and the cowherd said to his master, “This is Liu Bei.”

Water Mirror asked him to enter; and when they were seated in their relative positions as host and guest, Liu Bei glanced round the room. Upon the bookshelves were piled books and manuscripts. The window opened upon an exquisite picture of pines and bamboos and a lute lay upon a stone couch. The room showed refinement in its last degree.

“Whence come you, Illustrious Sir?” asked the host.

“By chance I was passing this way and the lad pointed you out to me. So I came to bow in your honored presence. I cannot tell what pleasure it gives me.”

Water Mirror laughed, saying, “Why this mystery? Why must you conceal the truth? You have certainly just escaped from a grave danger.”

Then Liu Bei told the story of the banquet and the flight.

“I knew it all from your appearance,” said his host. “Your name has long been familiar, but whence comes it that, up to the present, you are only a homeless devil?”

“I have suffered many a check during my life,” said Liu Bei, “and through one of them am I here now.”

“It should not be so. But the reason is that you still lack the one person to aid you.”

“I am simple enough in myself, I know. But I have Sun Qian, Mi Zhu, and Jian Yong on the civil side, and for warriors I have Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, and Zhao Zilong. These are all most loyal helpers, and I depend upon them not a little.”

“Your fighting generals are good: Fit to oppose a legion. The pity is you have no really able adviser. Your civilians are but pallid students of books, not people fitted to weave and control destiny.”

“I have always yearned to find one of those marvelous recluses who live among the hills till their day arrive. So far I have sought in vain.”

“You know what the Teacher Confucius said, ‘In a hamlet of ten households there must be one true person.’ Can you say there is no one?”

“I am simple and uninstructed. I pray you enlighten me.”

“You have heard what the street children sing:

“In eight and nine years begins decay,

Four years, then comes the fateful day,

When destiny will show the way,

And the dragon flies out of the mire!

“This song was first heard when the new reign style was adopted. The first line was fulfilled when Imperial Protector Liu Biao lost his first wife, and when his family troubles began. The next line relates to the approaching death of Liu Biao, and there is not a single person among all his crowd of officers who has the least ability. The last two lines will be fulfilled in you, General.”

Liu Bei started up in surprise, crying, “How could such a thing be?”

Water Mirror continued, “At this moment the marvelously clever people of the earth are all here and you, Sir, ought to seek them.”

“Where are they? Who are they?” said Liu Bei quickly.

“If you could find either Sleeping Dragon or Young Phoenix, you could restore order in the empire.”

“But who are these two?”

His host clapped his hands, smiled and said, “Good, very good!”

When Liu Bei persisted and pressed home his questions, Water Mirror said, “It is getting late. You might stay the night here, General, and we will talk over these things tomorrow.”

He called to a lad to bring wine and food for his guest and his horse was taken to the stable and fed. After Liu Bei had eaten, he was shown to a chamber opening off the main room and went to bed. But the words of his host would not be banished, and he lay there only dozing till far into the night.

Suddenly he became fully awake at the sound of a knock at the door and a person entering. And he heard his host say, “Where are you from?”

Liu Bei rose from his couch and listened secretly.

He heard the visitor reply, “It has long been said that Liu Biao treated good people and bad people as they each should be treated. So I went to see for myself. But that reputation is undeserved. He does treat good people correctly but he cannot use them, and he treats wicked people in the right way, all but dismissing them. So I left a letter for him and went away. And here I am.”

Water Mirror replied, “You, capable enough to be the adviser of a king, ought to be able to find someone fit to serve. Why did you cheapen yourself so far as to go to Liu Biao? Beside, there is a real hero right under your eyes and you do not know him.”

“It is just as you say,” replied the stranger.

Liu Bei listened with great joy for he thought this visitor was certainly one of the two he was advised to look for. Liu Bei would have shown himself then and there, but he thought that would look strange. So he waited till daylight, when he sought out his host.

“Who was it came last night?” said Liu Bei.

“A friend of mine,” was the reply.

Liu Bei begged for an introduction. Water Mirror said, “He wants to find an enlightened master, and so he has gone elsewhere.”

When Liu Bei asked his name, his host only replied, “Good, good!”

And when Liu Bei asked who they were who went by the names of Sleeping Dragon and Young Phoenix, he only elicited the same reply.

Liu Bei then, bowing low before his host, begged him to leave the hills and help him to bring about the restoration of the ruling house to its prerogatives.

But Water Mirror replied, “People of the hills and woods are unequal to such a task. However, there must be many far abler than I who will help you if you seek them.”

While they were talking, they heard outside the farm the shouts of troops and neighing of horses, and a servant came in to say that a general with a large company of soldiers had arrived. Liu Bei went out hastily to see who these were and found Zhao Zilong. He was much relieved, and Zhao Zilong dismounted and entered the house.

“Last night, on my return to Xinye,” said Zhao Zilong, “I could not find you, my lord, so I followed at once and traced you here. I pray you return quickly, as I fear an attack on the city.”

So Liu Bei took leave of his host, and the whole company returned to Xinye. Before they had gone far another army appeared, and, when they had come nearer, they saw Guan Yu and Zhang Fei. They met with great joy, and Liu Bei told them of the wonderful leap his horse had made over the torrent. All expressed surprise and pleasure.

As soon as they reached the city, a council was called and Zhao Zilong said, “You ought first of all to indite a letter to Liu Biao telling him all these things.”

The letter was prepared and Sun Qian bore it to the seat of government in Jingzhou City. He was received, and Liu Biao at once asked the reason of Liu Bei hasty flight from the festival. Whereupon the letter was presented, and the bearer related the machinations of Cai Mao and told of the escape and the amazing leap over the Tan Torrent.

Liu Biao was very angry, sent for Cai Mao, and berated him soundly, saying, “How dare you try to hurt my brother?”

And he ordered Cai Mao out to execution.

Liu Biao’s wife, Cai Mao’s sister, prayed for a remission of the death penalty, but Liu Biao refused to be appeased.

Then spoke Sun Qian, saying, “If you put Cai Mao to death, I fear Uncle Liu Bei will be unable to remain here.”

Then Cai Mao was reprieved, but dismissed with a severe reprimand.

Liu Biao sent his elder son Liu Qi back with Sun Qian to apologize. When Liu Qi reached Xinye, Liu Bei welcomed him and gave a banquet in his honor.

After some little drinking, the chief guest suddenly began to weep and presently said, “My step mother, Lady Cai, always cherishes a wish to put me out of the way, and I do not know how to avoid her anger. Could you advise me, Uncle?”

Liu Bei exhorted him to be careful and perfectly filial and nothing could happen. Soon after, the young man took his leave and wept at parting.

Liu Bei escorted Liu Qi well on his way and, pointing to his steed, said, “I owe my life to this horse. Had it not been for him, I had been already below the Nine Golden Springs.”

“It was not the strength of the horse, but your noble fortune, Uncle.”

They parted, the young man weeping bitterly. On reentering the city, Liu Bei met a person in the street wearing a hempen turban, a cotton robe confined by a black girdle, and black shoes. He came along singing a song:

“The universe is rived, O! Now nears the end of all.

The noble mansion quakes, O! What beam can stay the fall?

A wise one waits his lord, O! But hidden in the glen,

The seeker knows not him, O! Nor me, of common humans.”

Liu Bei listened.

“Surely this is one of the people Water Mirror spoke of,” thought he.

He dismounted, spoke to the singer, and invited him into his residence. Then when they were seated, he asked the stranger’s name.

“I am from Yingchuan, and my name is Shan Fu. I have known you by repute for a long time, and they said you appreciated humans of ability. I wanted to come to you but every way of getting an introduction seemed closed. So I bethought me of attracting your notice by singing that song in the market place.”

Liu Bei thought he had found a treasure and treated the newcomer with the greatest kindness. Then Shan Fu spoke of the horse that he had seen Liu Bei riding and asked to look at it. So the animal was brought round.

“Is not this a Dilu horse?” said Shan Fu. “But though it is a good steed, it risks his master. You must not ride it.”

“It has already fulfilled the omens,” said Liu Bei, and he related the story of the leap over the Tan Torrent.

“But that was saving his master, not risking him. It will surely harm someone in the end. But I can tell you how to avert the omen.”

“I should be glad to hear it,” said Liu Bei.

“If you have an enemy against whom you bear a grudge, give him this horse and wait till it has fulfilled the evil omens on this person, then you can ride it in safety.”

Liu Bei changed color.

“What, Sir! You are but a new acquaintance, and you would advise me to take an evil course and to harm another for my own advantage? No, Sir! I cannot listen.”

His guest smiled, saying, “People said you were virtuous. I could not ask you directly, so I put it that way to test you.”

Liu Bei’s expression changed. He rose and returned the compliment, saying, “But how can I be virtuous while I lack your teaching?”

“When I arrived here, I heard the people saying:

“Since Liu Bei came here, O blessed day!

We’ve had good luck, long may he stay!

“So you see, the effects of your virtue extend to the ordinary people.”

Thereupon Shan Fu was made Commanding Adviser of the army.

The one idea that held Cao Cao after his return from Jizhou was the capture of Jingzhou. He sent Cao Ren and Li Dian, with the two brothers Lu Xiang and Lu Kuang who had surrendered, to camp at Fancheng with thirty thousand troops and so threaten Jingzhou and Xiangyang. Thence he sent spies to find out the weak points.

Then the two Lu Xiang and Lu Kuang petitioned Cao Ren, saying, “Liu Bei is strengthening his position at Xinye and laying in large supplies. Some great scheme is afoot, and he should be checked. Since our surrender we have performed no noteworthy service and, if you will give us five thousand soldiers, we promise to bring you the head of Liu Bei.”

Cao Ren was only too glad, and the expedition set out. The scouts reported this to Liu Bei who turned to Shan Fu for advice.

Shan Fu said, “They must not be permitted to cross the boundary. Send Guan Yu and Zhang Fei left and right, each with one thousand troops, one to attack the enemy on the march, the other to cut off the retreat. You and Zhao Zilong will make a front attack.”

Guan Yu and Zhang Fei started, and then Liu Bei went out at the gate with two thousand troops to oppose the enemy. Before they had gone far they saw a great cloud of dust behind the hills. This marked the approach of the Lu brothers. Presently, both sides being arrayed, Liu Bei rode out and stood by his standard.

He called out, “Who are you who thus would encroach on my territory?”

“I am the great General Lu Kuang, and I have the order of the Prime Minister to make you prisoner!” s