Contents Copyright Ricky Chua 2010. Powered by Blogger.

Blog Archive


Most Viewed

Latest SGS Questions

Monday, December 31, 2012

"Romance of the Three Kingdoms" (by Luo Guanzhong, Translated by C. H. Brewitt-Taylor)

SGS Characters and Cards in this chapter:

Chapter 70

Zhang He's army, with which he felt so sure of victory, consisted of thirty thousand troops, and they were in three camps---Camp Dangqu, Camp Mengtou, and Camp Dangshi---which were protected by the hills. When Zhang He marched, he left half the soldiers in each camp as defenders.

The news soon reached Baxi, and Zhang Fei called in his colleague Lei Tong to give his opinion.

Lei Tong said, "The country is bad and the hills full of danger in the area of Langzhong. Let us lay an ambush. You, General, go out to give battle, and I will help you by a sudden, unexpected attack. We ought to get Zhang He."

Whereupon Zhang Fei gave five thousand troops to Lei Tong, and himself led out ten thousand troops to a point ten miles from Langzhong. Having set them in order, he rode out and challenge Zhang He to single combat. Zhang He galloped out to meet him.

After the thirtieth or so bout, Zhang He's ranks suddenly began to shout and soon showed signs of confusion. The reason was the appearance of the banners of Shu from the cover of some hills. Zhang He dared not continue to fight, and he fled. Zhang Fei pursued him. Lei Tong also appeared in his road and attacked, and so, with enemies on both sides, Zhang He forced his way out and lost the day. Both Zhang Fei and Lei Tong continued to smite him, even into the night, till he got back to his camp at Dangqu.

Zhang He reverted to his old plan of defending the three camps, rolling down logs and hurling stones. But he remained behind his defenses. Zhang Fei made a camp three miles off.

Next day Zhang Fei went forth and offered battle, but Zhang He took no notice. Zhang He ascended to the summit of the hill and drank wine to the accompaniment of trumpets and drums, but he would not fight. Zhang Fei bade his soldiers shout insults, but these had no effect. Lei Tong was sent up the hill, but the rolling logs and hurtling stones forced him to retire. Then the defenders of the other two camps came out to the attack, and Lei Tong was discomfited.

Next day Zhang Fei again offered battle, but there was no response. Again the soldiers yelled every form of insult, but Zhang He from the hill top only replied by similar abuse. Zhang Fei was at his wits' ends; and this game was played for more than fifty days.

Then Zhang Fei made a strong stockade just in front of the hill, and therein he sat day after day drinking till he became half drunk. And when he was so, he reviled his opponent.

About this time Liu Bei sent gifts to the army, and when the messenger went back, he told Liu Bei that his brother was giving himself over to wine. This made Liu Bei anxious, so he lost no time in asking advice from Zhuge Liang.

Zhuge Liang was jocular, saying, "Since that is so, let us send him fifty vessels of the best brew of Chengdu. He probably has but poor stuff in the camp."

"But he has always had a weakness for wine, and he has failed because of it. Yet you would encourage him to drink by sending him more wine?"

"My lord, is it that you do not understand your brother even after all these years? He is brave and steady, yet when we first invaded West River Land, he released Yan Yan, which was not what a mere brave would have done. He is face to face with Zhang He, and has been for nearly two months, and day after day he drinks and rages and insults his enemy openly. He treats Zhang He with most perfect contempt. But this is not only the wine cup; it is a deep plan to get the better of Zhang He."

"This may be so," replied Liu Bei, "but let us not rely upon it too much. Let Wei Yan go to help him."

Zhuge Liang sent Wei Yan with the wine, and the carts set out, each flying a yellow flag with a writing in large characters: Fine Wine for the Frontier Army.

When Wei Yan reached the army, he handed over the wine, which he said was a gift from the Lord of Shu. And Zhang Fei received it with due respect.

Zhang Fei told Wei Yan and Lei Tong each to take a thousand troops and move out on the two wings, ready to act when they saw a red flag displayed. And then he had the wine laid out and called up some soldiers to drink with a great display of flags and a rolling of drums.

The spies reported all these doings on the hill-top, and Zhang He came out to look for himself. There he saw his opponent drinking, and two of the soldiers were boxing before Zhang Fei for his amusement.

"He despises me too much," said Zhang He.

And Zhang He gave orders to prepare for a night attack on the enemy camp. His own troops in Camp Dangqu should do the raiding, and those from Camp Mengtou and Camp Dangshi were to support them.

There was little moon that night, and Zhang He took advantage of the obscurity to steal down the side of the hill. He got quite close to the enemy camp and stood for a time looking at Zhang Fei sitting amid a blaze of lamps and drinking. Suddenly Zhang He dashed forward with a yell, and at the same moment his drums on the hill-top rolled out their defiance. Zhang Fei never stirred. Zhang He rushed at him and delivered a mighty thrust with his spear. Zhang Fei toppled over---it was a Zhang Fei of straw. Zhang He checked and turned his steed. At that moment he heard a string of detonations, and a warrior appeared before him barring his way. It was the real Zhang Fei, as the round head and thundering voice speedily made manifest.

With the serpent halberd set, Zhang Fei rode toward Zhang He. The two warriors fought many bouts under the gleaming lights. No help came to Zhang He. In vain he yearned for the assistance, which the two camps were to bring him. He did not know that his reinforcements had been driven back by Wei Yan and Lei Tong, and that the two camps, Mengtou and Dangshi, were now in possession of his enemies. As the help did not come, Zhang He was powerless; and, to add to his discomfiture, the glare of fire out in the moutains of Dangqu told him of the seizure of his third camp by Zhang Fei's rear force. Nothing could be done, and Zhang He cut an alley, forced out of the press, and fled to Wakou Pass. The victory was all to Zhang Fei.

The news of the success delighted Liu Bei, and he knew then that Zhang Fei's drinking had been part of a stratagem to entice his enemy into the open and defeat them.

Zhang He reached Wakou Pass, but with the loss of two-thirds of his army of thirty thousand troops. He stood on defense and sent urgent messages to Cao Hong to come to his rescue.

Cao Hong angrily replied, "He disobeyed my orders and marched. He has lost an important point and now he sends to me for help!"

While refusing aid, Cao Hong sent to urge his colleague to go out and fight. But Zhang He too greatly feared. 
 At length Zhang He decided upon a plan of action. He sent out two parties into ambush and said to them, "I will pretend defeat and fly. They will follow, and you can cut off their retreat."

When he did march out, he met Lei Tong. The two engaged in battle, and Zhang He presently ran away. Lei Tong pursued and fell into the ambush. Then Zhang He returned and slew Lei Tong. His troops went back and told Zhang Fei, who came up to provoke another fight. Zhang He again tried his stratagem, but Zhang Fei did not pursue. Again and again the ruse was tried, but Zhang Fei knew it was only a ruse and simply retired to his own camp.

He said to Wei Yan, "Zhang He has compassed the death of Lei Tong by leading him into an ambush, and he wants to inveigle me into another. What say you to meeting trick with trick?"

"But how?" said Wei Yan.
"Tomorrow I will lead the army forward, you following me with some reliable soldiers. When his army come out from their ambush, you can smite them, sending half your men against each party. We will secretly fill the by-roads with loads of combustibles, entice the enemy among them and start a fire. In the confusion, I shall try to capture Zhang He. So will we avenge our comrade's death."
So Zhang Fei went out, and Zhang He's troops came and began to fight. After a half score bouts, Zhang He ran away, and this time Zhang Fei pursued. Zhang He, now fleeing, now stopping to exchange a blow or two, led Zhang Fei through the hills to a valley. Here, suddenly changing front to rear and rear to front, Zhang He halted, made a camp, and offered battle.
 It was now the time when Zhang He expected his hidden troops to appear and surround Zhang Fei. But none appeared. He knew not that his ambush had been broken up by Wei Yan's army and driven into the valley where the road was filled with cartloads of combustibles, and that the valley even then was all aflame.

Then Zhang Fei came to the attack, and the rout was complete. Zhang He, fighting desperately, got through to the Wakou Pass and there mustered the remnant of his force. He strengthened the position and remained behind his ramparts.

Zhang Fei and Wei Yan then tried to take the Pass, but day after day they failed. Zhang Fei, seeing no hope of success, retired seven miles and bivouacked. From this point he sent out scouts under Wei Yan to explore the country. While going along, they observed some burden-bearers, men and women, going up a very retired path, pulling down the creepers, and pushing aside the grasses.

"That is the way to take Wakou Pass," cried Zhang Fei, pointing with his whip to the wayfarers.

He ordered his soldiers not to scare the people, but to call a few gently and bring them to him. They soon had several standing before their leader, who spoke to them kindly and put them at ease.

"Whence come you?" asked Zhang Fei.
"We belong to Hanzhong and are going home. We heard that you were out fighting and the high road to Langzhong was blockaded, and so we have come across the Mist Torrent and Zitong Mountains and down River Guijin. We are going to our homes in Hanzhong."
"Can one reach Wakou Pass by this road? And how far is it?"
The country people replied, "A small road leads past to the rear of the Pass from Zitong Mountains."
For this piece of information Zhang Fei rewarded them by taking them into his camp and giving them a good meal. Then he sent off Wei Yan to make a frontal attack on the Pass, while he himself with five hundred light horse attacked it from the rear by way of Mount Zitong.
Zhang He was grieved and disappointed that Cao Hong sent no help, and the news of Wei Yan's attack only added to his sorrow. But he girded on his armor and was about to ride out when they told him that fires had started at half a dozen places behind the Pass. They most likely indicated soldiers. However, he went out to meet them, and, to his horror, when the flags opened out, his eyes fell on the figure of Zhang Fei. Away he ran along a by-road.

But his steed was not fast, and as Zhang Fei pressed him close, Zhang He dismounted and ran up the mountain side. So Zhang He escaped. He had, however, some ten followers, and it was a small and dejected party that presently found its way into Nanzheng. He saw Cao Hong, and Cao Hong was very angry at his plight.
"I told you not to go, but you were willful. And you gave in your written pledge. You have lost all your soldiers, yet you do not commit suicide. What will you do next?"

Cao Hong ordered the lictors to put Zhang He to death. But Marching General Guo Huai, interceded.

"An army is easily raised; a leader is hard to find. Though Zhang He is guilty, he is a great favorite with our prince. I think you should spare him. Rather give him command of another army and send him to take Jiameng Pass and so hold up the soldiers at all the stations. Hanzhong will be tranquil of its own accord. If he fails a second time, you can punish him for both faults."

Cao Hong was satisfied to do this, and instead of dealing with his fault, he gave Zhang He five thousand troops and told him to take Jiameng Pass.

The Commanders of the Pass were Meng Da and Huo Jun. They were at variance---Meng Da desiring to go out to meet Zhang He, but Huo Jun being in favor of defense. Meng Da being set on having his way went out, gave battle, and was defeated. Huo Jun reported this to the capital, where Liu Bei at once called in the Directing Instructor to ask advice. Zhuge Liang assembled all the chief generals into the hall.

"Jiameng Pass is in danger. We must get Zhang Fei from Langzhong to drive off Zhang He," said Zhuge Liang.

Fa Zheng
replied, "Zhang Fei is encamped at Wakou Pass, and Langzhong is no less important than Jiameng Pass. I do not think he should be recalled. Choose one among the generals to go and defeat Zhang He."

Zhuge Liang laughed, "Zhang He is renowned in Wei. No ordinary leader will avail. Zhang Fei is the only man to send, the only one equal to the task."

Then among the generals one started up crying angrily, "Instructor, why do you thus despise us? I will use what little skill I have in slaying our enemy and will lay his head at the foot of our standard."

The speaker was Veteran General Huang Zhong, and all eyes centered on him.

"Friend Huang Zhong, you are bold enough, but what about your age? I fear you are no match for Zhang He."

Huang Zhong's white beard bristled, and he said, "I know I am old. But these two arms can still pull the four-hundred-fifty-pound bow, and the vigor of my body is not yet departed. Am I not strong enough to meet such a poor thing as Zhang He?"

"General, you are nearly seventy. Can you still hold you are not aged?"

Huang Zhong tore down the hall. Seizing one of the great swords off the rack, he whirled it as if it flew. And the stiffest bow that hung on the wall, he pulled till it snapped.

"Well, if you will go, who will second you?" said Zhuge Liang.

"I would prefer Veteran General Yan Yan. And if there is the least anxiety, well, here is this hoary head."

Liu Bei was pleased to let these two go to fight Zhang He. However, Zhao Zilong put in a protest.

"Zhang He has already got through Jiameng Pass, so that the fighting will be no child's play, and the loss of that Pass endangers the whole of Yizhou. It is no task to set to a couple of old men."

Replied Zhuge Liang, "You regard the two as too old to succeed, but I think the attainment of Hanzhong depends upon these two."

Zhao Zilong and many others sniggered as they went from the hall. They did not agree with Zhuge Liang.

In due course the two Veteran Generals arrived at the Pass.

At sight of them, Meng Da and Huo Jun, the defenders of the Pass, laughed in their hearts, thinking: "Zhuge Liang has slipped up in his calculations in sending such a pair of dotards on such an important mission."

Huang Zhong said to Yan Yan, "You see the behavior of these people? They are laughing at us because we are old. Now we will do something that will win admiration from all the world."

"I should be glad to hear your orders," replied Yan Yan.

The two generals came to a decision how to act. Huang Zhong led his army down below to meet Zhang He in the open plain. Both drew up their array. When Zhang He rode out and saw his venerable opponent, he laughed in his face.

"You must be very old, and yet you are unashamed to go into the battle, eh?" said Zhang He.

"You menial!" replied the veteran. "Do you despise me for my age? You will find my good sword, however, keen enough."

So he urged forward his steed and rode at Zhang He. The two chargers met and a score of bouts were fought. Then suddenly a great shouting came from the rear. Yan Yan had come up and fallen upon the rear portion of Zhang He's army. Thus attacked on two sides, Zhang He was defeated. The pursuit did not cease with nightfall, and Zhang He was driven back near thirty miles. Contented with this success, Huang Zhong and Yan Yan went into their camp, where they rested their soldiers for a time.

When Cao Hong heard of Zhang He's new defeat, he was going to exact the penalty. But Guo Huai persuaded him to forbear.

"If he is pressed too hard, he may take refuge in Shu," said Guo Huai. "Rather send him help. You will thus keep a hold over him and prevent his desertion."

Wherefore Xiahou Shang and Han Hao were sent with reinforcements. Xiahou Shang was a nephew of Xiahou Dun, and Han Hao was the brother of Han Xuan, the late Governor of Changsha. They had five thousand troops.

The two generals soon reached Zhang He, and asked how now the situation was going.

"That old man Huang Zhong is really a hero," said Zhang He, "and with Yan Yan's help he is very formidable."

"When I was at Changsha, I heard the old man was very fierce. He and Wei Yan yielded the city to Liu Bei and killed my own brother. Now that I shall meet him, I can have my revenge," said Han Hao.

So he and Xiahou Shang led out the new army.

Now, by means of spies Huang Zhong had got a thorough knowledge of the country.

Yan Yan said, "Hereabout there is a mountain named Tiandang Mountain wherein Cao Hong has stored his supplies. If we can gain its possession, we shall reduce the enemy to want and we shall get Hanzhong."

Huang Zhong replied, "I think so, too, and so let us do so and so."

Yan Yan agreed with him and marched off with a body of troops to carry out his part in the stratagem.
At news of the coming of new armies, Huang Zhong marched out to meet them. He found Han Hao in front of his array, and Han Hao began to abuse the veteran, shouting out, "Disgraceful old ruffian!"

Then Han Hao whipped up his steed and set his spear at Huang Zhong. Xiahou Shang also rode out and took part in the combat. The veteran held them both at bay for some half score bouts and then fled. They pursued him for seven miles, when they reached and seized his camp. Huang Zhong, however, quickly made another defense of brushwood. Next day Xiahou Shang and Han Hao renewed the pursuit, which ended with the capture of the temporary camp of the day before. And they had advanced seven miles further. Then they called upon Zhang He to protect the rear camp. When Zhang He came up, he dissuaded them from continuing.
"Huang Zhong has retreated before you for two days. There is some deep stratagem behind this," said Zhang He.
Xiahou Shang scoffed at him, saying, "You are such a coward that you have been defeated many times. Now say no more, but let us accomplish something."
Zhang He retired much mortified and shamed. Next day the two generals again went out to battle, and again Huang Zhong fled from them for seven miles. The two generals pursued as quickly as they could. The day after, Huang Zhong fled without any pretense of showing fight, except at short intervals. He got to Jiameng Pass and went on the defensive. The pursuers knocked at the very gate of the Pass and made a camp close by.
Then Meng Da secretly wrote to Liu Bei that Huang Zhong had been repeatedly defeated and now was in the Pass and unable to go out.
Liu Bei became alarmed and consulted Zhuge Liang, who said, "The old general is making the enemy over-confident---to their ultimate destruction."
But Zhao Zilong did not share this opinion, nor did many others, and Liu Bei decided to send Liu Feng to reinforce his aged general.
The young man came to the Pass and saw Huang Zhong, who asked him, "General, what makes you come here?"
"My father heard that you have sustained several defeats, and he has sent me," said Liu Feng.
"But I am only employing the ruse of leading on the enemy," said Huang Zhong, smiling. "You will see tonight that in one battle I shall regain all the camps and capture their supplies and many horses. I have only lent the camps to them to store their supplies. Tonight I shall leave Huo Jun to guard the Pass, while General Meng Da will gather up the spoils for us. Now, young Sir, you shall see the destruction of the enemy."
That same night, at the second watch, Huang Zhong left the Pass with five thousand troops. But now Xiahou Shang and Han Hao, seeing no move from the Pass for many days, had become careless and so their camps were unable to resist. Their troops had no time to don their armors or to saddle their horses. All the leaders did was to flee for their lives, while their troops trampled each other down and were killed in great numbers. All three camps were recovered by dawn, and in them were found all sorts of military equipment. Horses and their caparisons also fell to the victors, and all the booty was carried off by Meng Da and stored in the Pass.
Huang Zhong pressed on his victory. Liu Feng ventured to say, "Our soldiers need repose."
"Can you seize the tiger's whelps without going into the tiger's den?" cried Huang Zhong. And he urged on his steed. The soldiers also were eager.
Zhang He's own army was thrown into confusion by the flying men from the defeated armies, and he could not maintain his station, but was forced to retreat. They abandoned all their stockades and rushed to the bank of River Han.
Then Zhang He sought the two generals who had brought about the misfortune and said to them, "This is Tiandang Mountain, where our stores are. Close by is Micang Mountain. The two mountains are the very source of life of the Hanzhong army. Lose them, and Hanzhong is gone too. We must see to their security."

Xiahou Shang said, "My uncle, Xiahou Yuan, will look out for the defense of Micang Mountain, which is next to his station at Dingjun Mountain; there need be no anxiety about that. And my brother, Xiahou De, guards Tiandang Mountain. Let us go to him and help to protect that."

Zhang He and the two generals set out at once. They reached the mountain and told Xiahou De all that had happened.

"I have one hundred thousand troops in camp here," replied he. "You may take some of them and recover your lost camps."

"No," replied Zhang He. "The only proper course is to defend."

Almost as they spoke the rolling of drums and the clang of gongs were heard, and the look-outs came to say that Huang Zhong was near.

"The old ruffian does not know much of the art of war," said Xiahou De with a laugh. "After all, he is only a brave."

"Be not mistaken: He is crafty and not only bold," said Zhang He.

"This move is against the rules and not at all crafty. He is worn from a long march and his soldiers are fatigued, and they are deep in an enemy's country."

"Nevertheless, be careful how you attack," said Zhang He. "You would still do well to depend upon defense only."

"Give me three thousand good soldiers, and I will cut him to pieces," cried Han Hao.

They told off the three companies for him, and down he went into the plain. As he approached, Huang Zhong arrayed his army.

Liu Feng put in a note of warning, saying, "The sun is setting, and our men are weary. Let us retire for the fight tomorrow."

But Huang Zhong paid little attention, saying, "I do not hold with your objections. This is the one God-given opportunity to make good, and it would be a sin not to take it."

So saying, the drums rolled for a great attack. Han Hao came forward with his troops, and the aged general went toward him whirling his sword. In the first encounter Han Hao fell. At this the soldiers of Shu gave a yell and went away up the hill, whereupon Zhang He and Xiahou Shang hastily moved out to withstand them. But a great red glare sprang into the sky from behind the hill, and a shouting arose. Hastily Xiahou De led off his troops to meet the danger there and went straight into the arms of Yan Yan. The Veteran General's arm rose, the sword fell, and Xiahou De dropped from his steed to rise no more.

This ambush, into which the dead general had rushed, had been carefully prepared by Huang Zhong, who had sent Yan Yan away before he marched himself and given Yan Yan orders what to do. It was the brushwood that Yan Yan's men had spent the time in collecting that now sent forth the flames reaching up to the heavens and filling the valleys.

Yan Yan, after slaying Xiahou De, came round the hill to aid in the attack so that the defenders were taken both in front and rear. They could do nothing and presently left the battlefield and rushed toward Dingjun Mountain to seek refuge with Xiahou Yuan.

Meanwhile the victors took steps to hold the position they had won and sent the good news of victory to Capital Chengdu. And when the news arrived, Liu Bei called together all his officers to rejoice.

Then said Fa Zheng, "Not long ago Zhang Lu submitted to Cao Cao, and thereby Cao Cao got possession of Hanzhong quite easily. Instead of following up this by an advance westward, he left two generals to guard it and went south. That was a mistake. Now, my lord, do not make a mistake yourself, but take advantage of the present favorable position, with Zhang He newly defeated and Tiandang Mountain captured, to attack Hanzhong and you will have it at once. Once that is yours, you can train your army and amass supplies ready for a stroke against the arch-rebel himself. This God-given advantage will be confirmed to you, and you should not miss it."

Both Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang saw the wisdom of this scheme and prepared to act. Zhao Zilong and Zhang Fei were to lead the van, while Liu Bei with Zhuge Liang commanded the main army of one hundred thousand troops. A day was chosen to set out, and orders were sent to everyone to keep careful guard for Yizhou.

It was a certain auspicious day in the seventh month of the twenty-third year that the army marched (AD 218). Reaching Jiameng Pass, Huang Zhong and Yan Yan were summoned and well rewarded for their services.

Liu Bei said to Huang Zhong, "People said you were old, General, but the Directing Instructor of the army know you better than they, and you have rendered amazing service. Still, Dingjun Mountain is yet to be captured, and it is both a great central store and a major defense of Nanzheng. If we could get Dingjun Mountain, we could be quite easy about the whole region of Hanzhong. Think you that you are equal to taking Dingjun Mountain?"

To this harangue of Liu Bei, the veteran nobly answered that he was willing to try and was ready to start when they would.

Said Zhuge Liang hastily, "Do not be hasty. You are brave enough, General, but Xiahou Yuan is a man of different stamp from Zhang He. Xiahou Yuan is a real strategist and tactician; so much so that Cao Cao relies upon him as his defense against Xiliang. It was he who was set to defend Changan when threatened by Ma Chao. Now he is in Hanzhong, and Cao Cao puts his whole confidence in him and his skill as a leader. You have overcome Zhang He, but it is not certain you will conquer this man. I think I must send down to Jingzhou for Guan Yu for this task."

Huang Zhong hotly replied, "Old Lian Po was eighty years old and yet he ate a bushel of rice and ten pounds of flesh, so that his vigor frightened the nobles and not one dared encroach upon the borders of the state of Zhao. I am not yet seventy. You call me old, O Instructor; then I will not take any helper, but go out simply with my own three thousand troops, and we will lay Xiahou Yuan's head at your feet."

Zhuge Liang refused to allow him to go; Huang Zhong insisted. At last Zhuge Liang consented, but said he would send an overseer.

They put upon his mettle the man who was to go,
Youth's vigor may be lesser worth than age's powers, we know.

The next chapter will tell who the overseer was.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"Romance of the Three Kingdoms" (by Luo Guanzhong, Translated by C. H. Brewitt-Taylor)

SGS Characters and Cards in this chapter:

Chapter 69 

The sight of the corpses of his victims rising to their feet in the storm and running toward him was too much for Cao Cao, and he swooned. However, the wind quickly fell and the corpses disappeared. His followers assisted Cao Cao to his palace, but he was very ill.

A poet celebrated the episode of the murdered Daoist:

He studied his magical books,

He was learned in mystical lore,

And with magical fleetness of foot

He could travel the wide world over.

The magical arts that he knew,

He employed in an earnest essay

To reform the bad heart of Cao Cao.

But in vain; Cao Cao held on his way.

Cao Cao's illness seemed beyond the art of the physicians, and drugs seemed of no avail. It happened that Minister Xu Zhi came from the capital to visit the prince, who bade the latter take a cast from the "Book of Changes".

"Have you ever heard of Guan Lu? He is more than human in his skill at divination," said Xu Zhi.

"I have heard a lot about him, but I do not know how clever he is. You tell me about him," replied Cao Cao.

"He is from Pingyuan. His face is ugly and coarse; he drinks to excess and is rather dissipated. His father was an elder of Langye. Since a lad Guan Lu loved to study the stars, staying up all night to watch them, in spite of the prohibition of his father and mother. He used to say that if domestic fowls and wild geese knew the seasons naturally, how much more should humans. He often used to play with other children at drawing pictures of the sky on the ground, putting in the sun, moon, and stars. When he grew older he studied the 'Book of Changes' very deeply and observed the winds. He was a marvelous calculator and excellent physiognomist.

"His fame reached the ears of Shan Zichun, the Governor of Langye, who called him to his residence for an interview. There were present some hundred or so other guests, everyone of whom could be called able of speech.

"'I am young and not over-bold,' said Guan Lu to the Governor. 'I pray you give me three flasks of wine to loosen my tongue.' The request was astonishing, but the wine was brought in, and when he had drunk it, Guan Lu, looking contemptuously at the other guests, said, 'Now I am ready. Are these the opponents you have got together for me to contend with? Are these gentlemen sitting around me disputants?'

"I myself am anxious for a match with you,' said Shan Zichun. Then they began upon the meaning of the Book of Changes. Guan Lu's words poured forth like a torrent, and his ideas were most recondite. The Governor replied, stating difficulties; Guan Lu swept them away in a stream of eloquence. So it went on the whole day without a pause even for refreshment. Neither Shan Zichun nor his other guests could help praising Guan Lu and agreeing with him.

"His fame spread wide after this encounter, and people spoke of him as the 'Supernatural Boy.' After this he became famous in another way. There was a certain Guo En, a common man, who had two brothers. All three became lame, and they called in Guan Lu to cast lots and discover the reason. Guan Lu said, 'By the lots there is a female demon in your family tomb, an aunt, the wife of one of your father's brothers. Some years ago, in a time of famine, for the sake of a few carts of grain, she was pushed into a well and a great stone was thrown in on her, crushing her head so that she suffered intensely. She complained to the Most High, and your lameness is the retribution for that crime. No prayers will avert the evil.' The three brothers wept and acknowledged their guilt.

"Governor Wang Ji of Anping, heard of the diviner's fame and invited him to come on a visit, and he went. It happened that another guest of the Governor was the magistrate of Xindu, whose wife suffered from headaches and his son from pains in the heart. Guan Lu was asked to discover the reason. He cast lots and said that at the west corner of the main hall there were buried two corpses, one of a man who held a spear, the other of a man who had a bow and arrows. The wall was built across them. The spearman's master had gashed his head, and so his head pained. The archer's master had stabbed him in the heart, and so his heart suffered anguish. They dug where Guan Lu indicated and, about eight spans down, found two coffins, one with a spear inside and the other with a strung bow and wooden arrows. All were much decayed. Guan Lu bade them remove the bones and bury them three miles outside the walls. Thereafter the woman and her son suffered no more.

"A certain Zhuge Yuan, Magistrate of Guantao, newly promoted to Governor, was leaving for his new post, and Guan Lu went to see him off. One of the guests mentioned that Guan Lu could divine what was hidden from sight. The Governor doubted such powers and said he would put a test. He got a swallow's egg, a wasp's nest, and a spider, and concealed them in three separate boxes. He asked Guan Lu to guess the contents. The divination made, Guan Lu wrote three quatrains:

'The latent life will declare itself;
It will cling to your lordly hall,
Or male or female, flung into space,
Wide wings will prevent its fall.
This seems to indicate a swallow's egg.
'A many-chambered dwelling
Is hanging to your eaves.
Each room has a poisonous tenant;
Who'll be flying when he leaves.
This answers to a wasp's nest.
'Therein is a long-legged, trembling thing,
Who spins a thread from his inside
And spreads a fine spun net for flies;
He profits most at eventide.
And this it a spider.'

"The guests were amazed.

"An old woman in his village having lost a cow, came to consult him. After the divination, he told her that seven men had taken away the cow and were cooking and eating it on the bank of a certain mountain stream. She had better go there quickly and see who they were. If she went with all speed, she would find the skin and the flesh. The woman went and found the seven men hidden behind a small shanty, boiling beef. Most of the cow's flesh was still there. She told Governor Liu Bin, who arrested the seven men and punished them. Then the Governor asked the old lady how she got to know exactly who the offenders were, and she told him.

"Governor Liu Bin was dubious, too. He sent for Guan Lu and put him to the following test. He placed his seal and a pheasant feather in a box and asked what were the contents. The reply was:

'Square within, without so round,
Beauteous colors here abound;
The jewel within is held secure
And what it witnesses is sure.
Is not this a seal in its bag?
'There's a bird on the precipice steep,
Its body with flame seems aglow.
Its wings are barred yellow and black.
At sunrise it never fails to crow.
And I think this hints at a pheasant feather.

"Governor Liu Bin treated the marvelous diviner with great honor.

"One day Guan Lu saw a youth plowing a field. After watching him for a long time, Guan Lu suddenly asked his name and age. The young man said, 'My name is Zhao Yang, and I am nineteen. Pray, who may you be, Sir?'

"'I am Guan Lu; you may have heard of me. I see an air of early death about you, and you will be done with life in three days. It is a pity that one so handsome should die so young.'

"Zhao Yang forsook his plow, hurried home and told his father. The father at once set out to find Guan Lu, and, having found Guan Lu, threw himself on the ground and besought the diviner to save his son.

"'How can I avert the doom? It is fate,' said Guan Lu.

"'Alas! I have but this one son, I pray you save him.'

"And the son added his tears and prayers to those of his father. Guan Lu was deeply touched. Then he turned to the lad and said, 'You get ready some good wine and some venison. Tomorrow go into the forest on the south there, and underneath a lofty tree you will see two men seated on boulders playing chess. One of them will be dressed in white, and he will be facing the south. He is very evil looking. The other will be seated opposite, dressed in red. He is very handsome. They will be deeply absorbed in their game and will not notice who offers them food and wine, which you will humbly present on your knees. When they have eaten and drunk, you will prostrate yourself and with tears pray them to grant you length of days. You will gain an increased span of life, but, above all things, do not mention that I told you what to do.'

"The father kept Guan Lu as a guest, and the next day the son followed out his instructions. He entered the forest and soon came upon the two men seated beneath a pine, playing chess. They seemed oblivious to all around them. Zhao Yang presented the wine and the food, and the two men ate absent-mindedly, for the game went on. But when Zhao Yang threw himself on the ground and implored the gift of long life, they seemed startled.

"'This must be some of Guan Lu's doing,' said Red Robe. 'Still, as we have accepted a gift at his hand, we must have pity on him.'

"He who was dressed in white then lifted up a book that hung at his side and looked therein.

"'You are nineteen this year,' said White Dress to Zhao Yang. 'You ought to die. But we will insert a number nine over the number one and so make it read ninety-nine, and that is the age you will attain. But when you go back, tell Guan Lu he is not to betray the secrets of fate, or Heaven will surely punish him.'

"Then Red Robe took out a pen and added the figure. A gust of wind passed, and the two old men were transformed into two cranes that rose into the sky and flew away. Zhao Yang came back home and told what he had seen. Guan Lu told him the red-robed man was the Southern Dipper Constellation, and the white-robed, the Northern Dipper.

"'But the Northern Dipper consists of nine stars, and there was only one man,' objected the lad.

"'Separately they are nine, but they combine to form one. The Northern Dipper records deaths; the Southern Dipper, births. Now the extra figure has been added, you need have no anxiety. You will live long.

"Father and son both thanked him most sincerely, but thereafter Guan Lu was very careful how he divined for people lest he should betray celestial secrets."

"Now, this man is at Pingyuan, and you, O Prince, can seek your fate of him. Why not call him?"

Cao Cao was greatly glad. Guan Lu was sent for and came. As soon as the salutations were over, Cao Cao asked him to cast lots for him.

Guan Lu at once found the cause and said, "Your illness is only due to magical machinations. It should not create anxiety."

Cao Cao was much relieved in his mind, and his health began to improve. Next Cao Cao wished to know about the conditions in the empire's affairs.

After the necessary calculations the prophet said:

“Three and eight cross;

Where the army halt,

The yellow boar meets the tiger;

It causes the loss of one limb."

Then Cao Cao asked him to inquire whether his life should be long or not.

Guan Lu replied:

"In the Lion Palace

The talents of ancestors are preserved.

The Prince's way is securely renewed,

And his son and grandson shall come to high honor."

Then Cao Cao asked concerning himself.

"Divination concerning the fate of the universe may not be foreknown. Wait a time and I will look into it."

Cao Cao was pleased and would like to keep such a man near him, so he offered him the post of
Historiographer (who was also soothsayer) at his court, but it was declined.

"My destiny is mean, my luck despicable. I am not equal to such an office and dare not undertake it," said Guan Lu.

"Why not?" said Cao Cao.

"My forehead has no lofty fullness; my eyes no steady expression; my nose no bridge; my feet no round, solid heels; my back lacks the triple armor (of shoulder blades and intervening muscles); and my breast the three marks (like the character indicating wealth). I can only control evil spirits securely; I cannot rule living humans."

"What think you of my physiognomy?"

"What can a minister of extremely exalted rank like yourself desire further?" said Guan Lu.

Cao Cao pressed him to say. The soothsayer only laughed. Then Cao Cao asked him to look at the many officers of all kinds standing around.

"Everyone of them is a servant equal to the administration of the empire," said Guan Lu.

But when Cao Cao asked whether good or bad fortune was to be his, the soothsayer would not give a clear and full reply.

A poem says:
Guan Lu was a seer of old.
Stars to him their secrets told.
Mysteries, occult and dim,
Were as daylight unto him.
His so subtle intellect
Could the shade of death detect,
But the secrets of his skill
Died with him,---are secrets still.
Again Cao Cao asked him to divine concerning his rivals Wu and Shu.
Guan Lu said, "The south just lost a famous leader, and the west is encroaching on your territory."

Cao Cao's doubts as to the accuracy of one of these events were soon set at rest, for a messenger came from Hefei to report: "Lu Su, the Commander-in-Chief of the South Land, has died in Lukou."

Then Cao Cao sent hurriedly into Hanzhong, and the scout returned to report: "Zhang Fei and Ma Chao have taken the Xiabian Pass and are threatening Hanzhong."

Cao Cao was angry and inclined to march at once against the invaders. But he consulted the great soothsayer, who advised him not to move.

"Do not act in haste. In the coming spring there will be a conflagration in Xuchang," said Guan Lu.

Having been witness of the verification of Guan Lu's words, Cao Cao was in no mood to neglect the warning. He stayed on in his palace, but he sent Cao Hong with fifty thousand troops to assist in the defense of East River Land, while Xiahou Dun, with thirty thousand troops, went to Xuchang to keep careful watch and be ready against any surprises. He placed High Minister Wang Bi in command of the Imperial Guard.

Sima Yi warned Cao Cao against this Wang Bi, saying, "The man is given to wine, and slack. He is not a fit person for such a post."

Cao Cao replied, "He is very fit. He has followed me through all difficulties and dangers. He is loyal and diligent, solid as stone or iron."

Wang Bi was appointed and led the guard into camp at the capital, outside the East Gate of the Imperial Palace.

Now there was a certain Geng Ji, a Luoyang man, who had long been employed in the Prime Minister's palace in a subordinate capacity and afterward had been promoted to a post of Minister. He and Minister Wei Huang were close friends.

These two were greatly distressed at Cao Cao's advance to princely rank, and more especially at his use of the imperial chariots. In the early months of the twenty-third year (AD218 ), Geng Ji and Wei Huang came to a secret exchange of views on Cao Cao's conduct.

Geng Ji said, "The man is rebellious and wicked, every day behaving worse. He intends to go farther, and how can we, as servants of the dynasty, help him in his wickedness?"

Wei Huang said, "I have a friend named Jin Yi, who also is a servant of Han and an enemy of Cao Cao's. He is a descendant of the old Great Minister Jin Midi. Beside, he is friendly with Wang Bi. If we all tried our best, we ought to succeed."

"But if he is friendly with Wang Bi, he will not assist us!" said Geng Ji.

"Let us go and sound him," said Wei Huang.
So the two went to see Jin Yi, who received them in his private rooms. There they talked.
Said Wei Huang, "O virtuous Jin Yi, we know you are on most friendly terms with Commander Wang Bi, and so have come to beg a favor."

"What is it you ask?"

"The Prince of Wei will soon receive the abdication of the Emperor and himself ascend to the seat of the mighty. Then you and your friend Wang Bi will advance to places of great honor. When that day comes, we pray you not forget us, but recommend us for employment. We should feel no shallow gratitude for your kindness."
Jin Yi flicked down his sleeves and arose looking very angry. At that instant arrived the tea for the visitors. He snatched it away from the serving man and emptied it on the floor.
Wei Huang started up in feigned alarm.
"How have I offended you, my good friend?" cried he.
"I have been friends with you because you are descendants of people who have served the Hans faithfully. Now, instead of trying to repay the debt of gratitude you ought to feel, you turn aside to assist one who is their enemy, think you that I can regard you as friends? How could I look the world in the face?"
"But if it be destiny, one cannot help it," said Geng Ji. "One must accept it."
Jin Yi grew still more angry, so that the two visitors were convinced that at heart he was loyal to the dynasty. Then they began to tell him the true state of the case.
Said they, "Our real desire is to destroy this rebel, and we have come to ask your help in that. What we said at first was only a test to find out what you thought."
"Think you, with my ancestry, generation after generation in the confidence and service of the Hans, that I would willingly follow a rebel? If you, Sirs, really think of restoring the dynasty, pray tell me your plans."
"Though we have the desire to prove our gratitude, yet we lack the means to destroy the enemy," said Wei Huang.

Said Jin Yi, "We desire helpers within and supporters without. If we could slay Wang Bi, we could use his name and troops to help the Emperor. With the help of Liu Bei, the Imperial Uncle, we should be able to destroy the rebel Cao Cao."
Hearing Jin Yi's plan, the others clapped their hands in approval.

"And I have two friends outside of the city who will go with us," said Jin Yi. "Both of them have the murder of a father to avenge. We can get their helps."

"Who are they?"

"They are sons of the great physician Ji Ping and are called Ji Mao and Ji Mu. Cao Cao put their father to death for his connection with the plot organized by Dong Cheng, when Dong Cheng received the secret edict conveyed in the robe and girdle, which was conferred upon him by the Emperor. The two sons escaped that time by flight, but they have since secretly returned to the capital. With their help all will go well."

Geng Ji and Wei Huang rejoiced at the prospect of further help, and a messenger was sent to call in the two Ji brothers. Soon they arrived, and the plot was laid before them. They were deeply affected and shed copious tears. Their wrath rose to the sky, and they swore to aid in the destruction of the rebel.
"On the fifteenth day of the first month there will be grand illuminations in the city," said Jin Yi, "and felicitations will continue on every side. Geng Ji and Wei Huang will each lead out their retainers and make their way quickly to Wang Bi's camp to wait till they see the fire begin. Then they will dash in, slay Wang Bi, and follow me inside the Palace. We will then request the Emperor to ascend the Tower of the Five Phoenixes, assemble his officers, and issue orders to destroy the rebels. The two Ji brothers will make their way into the city and set fires going. Then all will raise their voices and summon the populace to their aid. They are to hold up any rescue force in the city till the Emperor has issued the edict and disturbance is allayed, when they will rush toward Yejun and seize Cao Cao. Then a messenger will be dispatched with a summons for Liu Bei, the Imperial Uncle. We will begin our work that night at the second watch, and we will escape the ill success that attended Dong Cheng's attempt."
All five swore before Heaven to be true, and they smeared their lips with blood in earnest of their oath. After this, each returned to his own home to prepare arms and call up their people.
Geng Ji and Wei Huang each had four or five hundred retainers, whom they armed. Ji Mao and Ji Mu also got together three hundred men. They gave out a story of a hunting party to explain the gathering.
When the preparations were complete, and before the time fixed for the rising, Jin Yi went to see Wang Bi.
Said Jin Yi, "Everything in the world seems now tranquil, and the power of the Prince of Wei extends over all the land. It is a season of joy and felicitation, and you can organize a lantern festivity, and people shall hang out lanterns and put up decorations for the occasion."
So Wang Bi issued guidelines for a Feast of Lanterns in the city. The night of full moon was very clear, moon and stars most brilliant. The people of the capital took advantage of the night and thronged the streets and the market places. The lanterns were hung out in profusion, and all went merrily.
No official interfered with the crowd;
No one thought of the flight of time;
All was simple gaiety.
That night the Commander of the Imperial Guards, Wang Bi, and his officers had a feast in their camp. Just after the second watch had begun, they heard a great shouting in the camp, and someone came in to say that a fire had started in the rear. Wang Bi hurriedly left the table and went outside. He saw flames leaping up and rolling by and heard shouts of "Kill!" rising on every side and echoing to the very sky. He thought the camp had certainly mutinied, and, jumping on his horse, went out at the south gate. Just outside he ran against Geng Ji, who loosed an arrow which struck him in the shoulder. He nearly fell with the shock, but he got away toward the west gate. He found he was pursued by armed men, so he got flurried, dismounted, and went on foot. Presently he came to the house of Jin Yi and hammered at the door.
Now the fire that had created such a scare had been raised by Jin Yi's own people sent for that purpose, and Jin Yi had followed them to fight when the time came. Hence there was no one but the woman folks left in his house. When the women heard the clamor at the door, they thought Jin Yi had come back.
Jin Yi's wife, from the door of the women's quarter, called out, "Have you killed Wang Bi?"
This was a shock, but it told Wang Bi that his quondam friend was now an enemy.
Wherefore Wang Bi fled further to the house of Cao Xiu and told him, "Geng Ji and Jin Yi have raised a disturbance."
Cao Xiu immediately armed himself, got to horse, and led out a thousand troops. He found fires on all sides, and the Tower of the Five Phoenixes was in flames. The Emperor had fled into the recesses of the Palace, but Cao Cao's friends and partisans were defending the Palace gates like grim death.
In the city the crowd was shouting one to another: "Slay Cao Cao and restore the Hans!"
When Xiahou Dun had received thirty thousand troops and the command to keep watch and ward over the capital, he had gone into camp three miles from the city. When he saw the conflagration start, he set the army in motion and surrounded the city. He also sent reinforcements to Cao Xiu within.
Inside the city the fighting went on all night. No one joined the conspirators; the small band were left to their own efforts. Soon it was reported that Jin Yi, Ji Mao, and Ji Mu were slain. Geng Ji and Wei Huang found their way to one of the gates, but there they met Xiahou Dun's main force and were made prisoners. The handful of men with them were cut to pieces.
When the fighting subsided, Xiahou Dun went into the city and set his troops to put out the fires. He also laid hands on the whole households of the five conspirators. Then he sent a report to Cao Cao, who sent back orders to execute the two conspirators and put to death in public all the members of the five families. He was also to arrest every official and send the whole batch to Yejun for interrogations.
Xiahou Dun sent his two chief prisoners to the place of execution. They shouted against Cao Cao.
"Living we have failed to slay you, Cao Cao. Dead we will be malicious spirits smiting rebels in all places!"
The executioner smote Geng Ji on the mouth with his sword, so that the blood gushed out, but he continued to shout as long as he could.
Wei Huang, his fellow-conspirator, dashed his temples on the ground, crying, "How I hate him!" and ground his teeth till he broke them to fragments. And they both died of hatred and exhaustion.
Who can with outstretched hands uphold the sky
Or thrones maintain by simple loyalty?
Han's day was done; two would avert the doom,
But failed, and carried anger to the tomb.
Xiahou Dun carried out his chief's orders and sent the officials he had arrested to Yejun. There Cao Cao set up two flags, one red and one white, in the drill ground and sent all the officials thither. Then he addressed them.
"In this late rebellion some of you went out to extinguish the fire, some of you stayed within doors. Let those who went forth to put out the fire take their stand by the red flag, and those who remained in their houses go to the white flag."
The officials thought within themselves, "Certainly there can be nothing wrong in trying to put out a fire," so they nearly all placed themselves under the red flag. Only about a third went to the white.
Then the order was given to seize all those by the red flag.
They protested. "We are guiltless!" cried they.
Cao Cao said, "At that time you intended not to put out the flames but to aid the rebels."
He sent them all down to River Zhang and had them put to death on the bank. There were more than three hundred victims. He rewarded those who were under the white flag and sent them to their homes in the capital.
Wang Bi died from his wound and was buried with great honor.
Cao Xiu was placed over the guards; Zhong Yao was created Prime Minister of the princedom of Wei; Hua Xin became High Minister. The occasion was taken to create six grades of the title of Lordship with three divisions each, eighteen in all. There were seventeen grades of Marquis West of the Pass. And all these had golden seals of office with purple ribbons. There were also sixteen ranks of Interior Marquis and Exterior Marquis. They had silver seals with tortoise ornaments on the back and black ribbons. There were five classes of Minister with three grades in each class. These had brass seals, with chain ornaments and ribbons. And with all these various gradations of ranks and nobility reorganized, the court was entirely reformed. There were new ranks and new people in office.
Cao Cao then remembered the warning about a conflagration in the capital and wished to reward Guan Lu for his prescience, but he would receive nothing.
Meanwhile, in East River Land, Cao Hong with an army of fifty thousand went into Hanzhong. He placed Xiahou Yuan and Zhang He in command at points of importance, while he went on to the attack. At that time Zhang Fei and Lei Tong were holding Baxi. Ma Chao marched to Xiabian and sent Wu Lan out as Van Leader to reconnoiter. He fell in with Cao Hong, and Wu Lan was going to retire. But General Ren Kui advised against this.
Said Ren Kui, "The enemy are newly arrived. Why not fight and take the keen edge off their pride? If we do not fight, how can we look our chief in the face when we return?"
So it was decided to offer battle, and Ren Kui rode out and challenged Cao Hong. The challenge was accepted, and the warriors advanced. Cao Hong cut Ren Kui down in the third encounter and pressed the advantage, and Wu Lan was beaten off. When Wu Lan returned and told Ma Chao, he was blamed.
"Why did you attack without orders and bring about this defeat?"
"It was the fault of Ren Kui, who disobeyed orders."
"Defend the Pass most carefully. Do not engage," said Ma Chao.

Ma Chao sent a report to Capital Chengdu and awaited orders for a further action. Cao Hong suspected some ruse when Ma Chao remained so long inactive, and retired to Nanzheng.

Here he was visited by Zhang He, who asked, "General, why did you retire after the successful attack and slaughter of one of the enemy leaders?"

"Seeing that Ma Chao declined to come out to fight, I suspected some ruse," replied Cao Hong. "Beside, when I was at Yejun that wonderful soothsayer, Guan Lu, foretold the loss of a leader here. I heeded what he said and so was careful."

Zhang He laughed, "You have been a leader of soldiers for half your life, and yet you heed the sayings of a soothsayer! I may be of small wit, but I would take Baxi with my own troops, and the possession of Baxi would be the key to the whole of Shu."

"The defender of Baxi is Zhang Fei," said Cao Hong. "He is no ordinary man to meet. One must be careful."

"All of you fear this Zhang Fei, but I do not. I look upon him as a mere nobody. I shall have to capture him this time."

"But if you fail, what then?"

"Then I shall be content to pay the penalty according to military rules."
Cao Hong made him put his undertaking in writing, and then Zhang He marched to the attack.
The proud are often defeat;
Lightsome attacks oft fail.

The following chapter will tell how Zhang He fared.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Romance of the Three Kingdoms" (by Luo Guanzhong, Translated by C. H. Brewitt-Taylor)

SGS Characters and Cards in this chapter:

Chapter 68

Sun Quan was occupied in ordering his army at Ruxu when he heard of the coming of Cao Cao from Hanzhong with four hundred thousand troops to the relief of Hefei. He told off a fleet of fifty large ships to lie in the port, while Chen Wu went up and down the river banks on the look-out.

"It would be well to inflict a defeat upon Cao Cao's army before they recover from the long march. It would dishearten them," said Zhang Zhao.

Looking around at the officers in his tent, Sun Quan said, "Who is bold enough to go forth and fight this Cao Cao and so take the keen edge off the spirit of his army?"

And Ling Tong offered himself, saying, "I will go!"

"How many soldiers do you require?"

"Three thousand troops will suffice," replied Ling Tong.

But Gan Ning struck in, saying, "Only a hundred horse would be needed. Why send three thousand?"

Ling Tong was angry, and he and Gan Ning began to wrangle even in the presence of their chief.

"Cao Cao's army is too strong to be attacked recklessly," said Sun Quan.

Finally he gave the commission to Ling Tong with his three thousand, bidding him reconnoiter just outside Ruxu, and fight the enemy if he met him.

Marching out, Ling Tong very soon saw a great cloud of dust, which marked the approach of an army. As soon as they came near enough, Zhang Liao, who led the van, engaged with Ling Tong, and they fought half a hundred bouts without sign of victory for either. Then Sun Quan began to fear for his champion, so he sent Lu Meng to extricate Ling Tong from the battle and escort him home.

When Ling Tong had come back, his rival Gan Ning went to Sun Quan and said, "Now let me have the hundred horsemen, and I will raid the enemy's camp this night. If I lose a soldier or a mount, I will claim no merit."

Sun Quan commended his courage and chose a hundred of his best veterans, whom he placed under Gan Ning's command for the raid. Sun Quan also gave him as a feast for the soldiers fifty flasks of wine and seventy five pounds of mutton.

Returning to the tents, Gan Ning drew up his little force and made them sit down in rows. Then he filled two silver goblets with wine and solemnly drank to them.

Next he said, "Comrades, tonight our orders are to raid the camp of the enemy. Wherefore fill your goblets and call up all your strength for the task."

But the men did not welcome his words. Instead they looked one at another uncertain.

Seeing them in this mood, Gan Ning adopted a fierce tone, drew his sword and cried, "What are you waiting for? If I, a leader of rank, can risk my life, cannot you?"

Moved by the angry face of the leader, the men rose, bowed their heads and said, "We will fight to the last!"

Then the wine and meat were distributed to them and each one ate his fill. The second watch was chosen as the hour to start, and each man stuck a white goose plume in his cap whereby they could recognize each other in the darkness.

At the time appointed they buckled on their armor, mounted and, galloping away, quickly came to Cao Cao's camp. Hastily throwing aside the thorny barriers, they burst in with a yell that rose to the very heavens. They made straight for the center, hoping to slay Cao Cao himself. But the troops of the leader's brigade had made a rampart of their carts within which they were sheltered as if in an iron tun, so that the raiders failed to find a way in.

However, Gan Ning and his small force dashed hither and thither, cutting and slashing, till Cao Cao's men were quite bewildered and frightened. They had no notion of the number of their assailants. All their efforts only increased the confusion. Wherefore the hundred men had it all their own way and rushed from point to point slaying whomever they met. But soon the drums beat in every camp and torches were lit and shouts arose, and it was time for the raiders to get away.

Gan Ning led his little body of troops out through the south gate with never a soldier trying to stop him, and rode for his own camp. He met Zhou Tai, who had been sent to help him in case of need; but the need had not arisen, and the hundred heroes with their leader rode back in triumph. There was no pursuit.

A poem was written praising this exploit:

The drums of war make earth to shake
When the South Land comes near even devils quake.
People long will tell of that night raid,
That Gan Ning's goose-plumed warriors made.

On his return, Gan Ning took the tale of his men at the camp gate, not a man nor a horse was missing. He entered to the sound of drum and fife and the shouting of his men.
"Long life!" shouted they, as Sun Quan came to welcome them.

Gan Ning dismounted and prostrated himself.
His lord raised him, and took him by the hand, saying, "This expedition of yours must have given those rebels a shaking. I had yielded to your desire only I wished to give you the opportunity to manifest your valor. I did not wish to let you be sacrificed."

Gan Ning's exploit was rewarded with gifts, a thousand rolls of silk and a hundred keen swords, all of which he distributed among his soldiers.

Sun Quan was very proud of his subordinate's doughty deed, and said, "Cao Cao may have his Zhang Liao, but I can match him with my friend Gan Ning."

Soon Zhang Liao came to proffer another challenge, and Ling Tong, impatient at being excelled by his rival and enemy, begged that he might go out to fight. His request was granted, and he marched out a short distance from Ruxu with five thousand troops. Sun Quan, with Gan Ning in his train, went out to look on at the encounter.

When both armies had come out on the plain and were arrayed, Zhang Liao, with Li Dian and Yue Jing, one on either side, advanced to the front. Ling Tong, sword in hand, galloped out towards him and, at Zhang Liao's command, Yue Jing took the challenge and went to open the combat. They fought half a hundred bouts, and neither seemed to have the better of the other.

Then Cao Cao, hearing of the great contest going on, rode up to the battlefield and took position under the great standard, whence he could see the fighting. Seeing both combatants were waxing desperate, he thought to decide the struggle by an unfair blow. He bade Cao Xiu let fly a secret arrow, which Cao Xiu did by creeping up under cover of Zhang Liao. It struck Ling Tong's steed, which reared and threw its rider. Yue Jing dashed forward to thrust at the fallen warrior with his spear, but before the blow could be given, the twang of another bow was heard and an arrow speeding by hit Yue Jing full in the face. He fell from his horse. Then both sides rushed forward to rescue their champions. The gongs clanged, and the combat ceased. Ling Tong returned to his camp and reported himself to his master.

"The arrow that saved you was shot by Gan Ning," said Sun Quan.

Ling Tong turned to his rival and bowed low.

"I could not have supposed you would have rendered me such a service, Sir," said he to Gan Ning.

This episode ended the strife and enmity between the two leaders, who thereafter swore perpetual friendship.

On the other side Cao Cao saw to it that Yue Jing's wound was dressed. Next day he launched an attack against Ruxu along five different lines. He himself led one army in the center; on the left Zhang Liao and Li Dian led two armies; on the right Xu Huang and Pang De commanded the other two. Each army was ten thousand strong, and they marched to give battle on the river bank. The crews and fighting troops of the South Land's naval squadron were greatly frightened by the approach of these armies.

"You have eaten the bread of your prince, and you must give loyal service. Why fear?" said Xu Sheng.

Thereupon he put some hundreds of his best men into small boats, went along the bank, and broke into the legion under Li Dian. Meanwhile Dong Xi on the ships beat drums and cheered them on. But a great storm came on, lashing the river to fury, and the waves rolled mountains high. The larger ships rolled as if they would overturn, and the soldiers of Wu were frightened. They started to get down into the bulkier cargo-boats to save their lives. But Dong Xi threatened them with his sword, cutting down some half score of the mutineers.

"My orders are to hold this point against the enemy," shouted he. "We dare not abandon the ships!"

However, the wind increased, and presently the bold Dong Xi was thrown into the river by the rolling of his ship and was drowned, together with his men.

Xu Sheng
dashed hither and thither among Li Dian's army, slaying right and left. Chen Wu, hearing the noise of battle, set out for the river bank. On his way Chen Wu met Pang De and the legion under him. A melee ensued. Then Sun Quan with Zhou Tai and his troops joined in.

The small force from the ships that had attacked Li Dian was now surrounded. So Sun Quan gave the signal for an onslaught that should rescue them. This failed, and Sun Quan was himself surrounded in turn and soon in desperate straits. From a height, Cao Cao saw his difficulties and sent in Xu Chu to cut Sun Quan's column in halves so that neither half could aid the other.

When Zhou Tai had cut an alley out of the press and reached the riverside, he looked for his master. But Sun Quan was nowhere visible, so Zhou Tai dashed once again into the battle.
Coming to his own troops, he cried, "Where is our lord?"

They pointed to where the press was most dense. Zhou Tai stiffened and dashed in.

Presently he reached his lord's side and cried out, "My lord, follow me, and I will hack a way out!"

Zhou Tai fought his way out to the river bank. Then he turned to look, and Sun Quan was not behind him. So he turned back, forced his way in, and once again found his way to his master's side.

"I cannot get out. The arrows are too thick!" said Sun Quan.

"Then go first, my lord, and I will follow!"

Sun Quan then urged his steed as fast as he could go, and Zhou Tai kept off all pursuit. Zhou Tai sustained many wounds and the arrows rattled on his helmet, but he got clear at last and Sun Quan was safe. As they neared the river bank, Lu Meng came up with some of the naval force and escorted Sun Quan down to the ships.

"I owe my safety to Zhou Tai, who thrice came to my aid," said Sun Quan. "But Xu Sheng is still in the thick of the fight, and how can we save him?"

"I will go to his rescue," cried Zhou Tai.

Whirling his spear, Zhou Tai again plunged into the battle and presently brought his colleague safely out of the press. Both were severely wounded.

Lu Meng ordered his troops to keep up a rapid flight of arrows so as to command the bank, and in this way the two leaders were enabled to get on board the ships.

Now Chen Wu had engaged the legion under Pang De. Being inferior in force and no aid being forthcoming, Chen Wu was forced into a valley where the trees and undergrowth were very dense. He tried to turn, but was caught by the branches, and while so entangled he was killed by Pang De.

When Cao Cao saw that Sun Quan had escaped from the battle to the river bank, he urged his steed forward in pursuit. He sent flights of arrows toward the fugitives. By this time Lu Meng's troops had emptied their quivers, and he began to be very anxious. But just then a fleet of ships sailed up led by Lu Xun, the son-in-law of Sun Ce, who came with one hundred thousand marines and drove back Cao Cao's army. Then he landed to pursue. He captured many thousands of horses and slew many men, so that Cao Cao was quite defeated and retired. Then they sought and found the body of Chen Wu among the slain.

Sun Quan was much grieved when he came to know that Chen Wu had been slain and Dong Xi drowned, and wept sore. Men were sent to seek for Dong Xi's body, which at last was found. Both generals were buried with great honors.

As a recompense for Zhou Tai's services in Sun Quan's rescue, Sun Quan prepared in his honor a great banquet, where Sun Quan himself offered Zhou Tai a goblet of wine and complimented and embraced him while the tears coursed down his cheeks.

"Twice you saved my life, careless of your own," cried Sun Quan, "and you have received many wounds. It is as if your skin had been engraved and painted. What sort of a man should I be if I did not treat you as one of my own flesh and blood? Can I regard you, Noble Sir, merely as a unit in my army? You are my meritorious minister. I share the glory you have won and mine are your joys and sorrows."

Then Sun Quan bade Zhou Tai open his dress and exhibit his wounds for all the assembly to see. The skin was gashed all over as if his body had been scored with a knife. Sun Quan pointed to the wounds, one after another, and asked how each one had been received. And, as Zhou Tai told him, for every wound Sun Quan made him drink off a goblet of wine till he became thoroughly intoxicated. Sun Quan then presented him with a green silk parasol and bade him use it on all occasions as a sign of the glory that was his.

But Sun Quan found his opponents too stable. At the end of a month the two armies were both at Ruxu and neither had won a victory.

Then said Zhang Zhao and Gu Yong, "Cao Cao is too strong, and we cannot overcome him by mere force. If the struggle continues longer, you will only lose more soldiers. You had better seek to make peace."

Sun Quan followed this advice and dispatched Bu Zhi on a peace mission to Cao Cao's camp. Sun Quan offered a yearly tribute. Cao Cao also saw that the South Land was too strong to be overcome, and consented.

Cao Cao insisted, "The Marquis should first send away his army, and then I would retire."

Bu Zhi returned with this message, and Sun Quan sent away the greater part, leaving only Zhou Tai and Jiang Qin to hold Ruxu. The army returned to Capital Jianye.

Cao Cao left Cao Ren and Zhang Liao in charge of Hefei, and he marched the army back to Capital Xuchang.

On arrival, all Cao Cao's officers, military and civil, persuaded him to become Prince of Wei. Only the Chair of the Secretariat, Cui Yan, spoke strongly against the scheme.

"You are, then, the only man who knows not the fate of Xun Yu," said his colleagues.

"Such times! Such deeds!" cried Cui Yan. "You are guilty of rebellion, but you may commit it yourselves. I will bear no part in it."

Certain enemies told Cao Cao, and Cui Yan was thrown into prison. At his trial he glared like a tiger, and his very beard curled with contempt. He raged and cursed at Cao Cao for a betrayer of his prince, and a rebel. The interrogating magistrate reported his conduct to Cao Cao, who ordered Cui Yan to be beaten to death in prison.

Cui Yan of Qinghe,

Firm and unyielding was he,

With beard crisp curling and gleaming eyes,

Which showed the man of stone and iron within,

He drove the evil from his presence,

And his glory is fair and high.

For loyalty to his lord of Han,

His fame shall increase as the ages roll.
In the twenty-first year of Rebuilt Tranquillity (216), in the fifth month of that year, a great memorial signed by many officers went up to Emperor Xian, praying:

"The Duke of Wei has rendered so great services that no minister before him, in Heaven as well as on Earth, not even Yi Yin and the Duke of Zhou, could match his manifest merits to the state. Thus, the title of kingship should be granted to him."

The memorial was approved, and a draft edict was prepared by the famous Zhong Yao to make Cao Cao Prince of Wei. Thrice Cao Cao with seeming modesty pretended to decline the honor, but thrice was his refusal rejected. Finally he made his obeisance and was enrolled as Prince of Wei with the usual insignia and privileges, a coronet with twelve strings of beads and a chariot with gilt shafts, drawn by six steeds. Using the formalities of the Son of God, he decorated his imperial chariot with bells and had the roads cleared when he passed along. He built himself a Palace at Yejun.

Then he began to discuss the appointment of an heir-apparent. His principal wife, Lady Ding, was without issue; but a concubine, Lady Liu, had borne him a son, Cao Ang, who had been killed in battle at the siege of Wancheng when Cao Cao fought against Zhang Xiu. A second concubine, Lady Bian, had borne him four sons: Cao Pi, Cao Zhang, Cao Zhi, and Cao Xiong. Wherefore he elevated Lady Bian to the rank of Queen of Wei in place of Lady Ding.

The third son, Cao Zhi, was very clever and a ready master of composition. Cao Cao wished him to be named the heir.

Then the eldest son, Cao Pi sought from the High Adviser Jia Xu a plan to secure his rights of primogeniture, and Jia Xu told him to do so and so. Thereafter, whenever the father went out on any military expedition, Cao Zhi wrote fulsome panegyrics, but Cao Pi wept so copiously at bidding his father farewell that the courtiers were deeply affected and remarked that though Cao Zhi was crafty and clever, he was not so sincerely filial as Cao Pi. Cao Pi also bought over his father's immediate attendants, who then rang the praises of his virtues so loud that Cao Cao was strongly disposed to name him as the heir after all.

After hesitating a long time, the matter was referred to Jia Xu.

"I wish to name my heir. Who shall it be?" said Cao Cao.

Jia Xu would not say, and Cao Cao asked why.

"I was just recalling the past in my mind and could not reply at once," said Jia Xu.
"What were you recalling?"
"I was thinking of two fathers, Yuan Shao and Liu Biao, and their sons."
Cao Cao laughed. Soon after this he declared his eldest son his heir.
In the winter of that year, in the tenth month, the building of the Palace of the new Prince of Wei was completed, and the furnishing begun. From all parts were collected rare flowers and uncommon trees to beautify the gardens. One agent went into the South Land and saw Sun Quan, to whom he presented a letter from Cao Cao asking that he might be allowed to proceed to Wenzhou to get some oranges. At that period Sun Quan was in a most complaisant mood toward Cao Cao, so from the orange trees in his own city, he picked forty loads of very fine fruits and sent them immediately to Yejun.

On the way, the bearers of the oranges fell tired, and they had to stop at the foot of a certain hill. There came along an elderly man, blind of one eye and lame of one leg, who wore a white rattan headdress and a black loose robe. He saluted the bearers and stayed to talk.

Presently he said, "Your burdens are heavy, O Porters. May this old Daoist lend you a shoulder? What do you say?"

Naturally they were pleased enough, and the amiable wayfarer bore each load for two miles. When they resumed their burdens, they noticed that the loads seemed lighter than before, and they felt rather suspicious.

When the Daoist was taking his leave of the officer in charge of the party, he said, "I am an old friend from the same village as the Prince of Wei. My name is Zuo Ci. Among Daoists I bear the appellation of 'Black Horn'. When you get to the end of your journey, you may say that I was inquiring after your lord."

Zuo Ci shook down his sleeves and left. In due course the orange bearers reached the new Palace, and the oranges were presented. But when Cao Cao cut one open, it was but an empty shell of a thing: There was no pulp beneath the rind. Cao Cao was rather puzzled and called in the porters, who told him of their falling in with the mysterious Daoist on the way. But Cao Cao scouted the idea of that being the reason.

But just then the warden of the gate sent to say that a certain Daoist named Zuo Ci was at the gate and wished to see the king.
"Send him in," said Cao Cao.
"He is the man we met on the way," said the porters when he appeared.
Cao Cao said curtly, "What sorcery have you been exercising on my beautiful fruit?"
"How could such a thing happen?" said the Daoist.

Thereupon he cut open an orange and showed it full of pulp, most delicious to the taste. But when Cao Cao cut open another, that again was empty, nothing but rind.

Cao Cao was more than ever perplexed. He bade his visitor be seated, and, as Zuo Ci asked for refreshment, wine and food were brought in. The Daoist ate ravenously, consuming a whole sheep, and drank in proportion. Yet he showed no sign of intoxication or repletion.

"By what magic are you here?" said Cao Cao.

"I am but a poor Daoist. I went into Jialing in Shu, and on Emei Mountain, I studied the way for thirty long years. One day I heard my name called from out the rocky wall of my cell. I looked, but could see nothing. The same thing happened next day, and so on for many days. Then suddenly, with a roar like thunder, the rock split asunder, and I saw a sacred book in three volumes called 'The Book of Concealing Method'---the first volume was named 'Concealing Heaven', the second 'Concealing Earth', and the third 'Concealing Human'. From the first volume I learned to ascend to the clouds astride the wind, to sail up into the great void itself; from the second to pass through mountains and penetrate rocks; from the third, to float light as vapor, over the seas, to become invisible at will or change my shape, to fling swords and project daggers so as to decapitate a man from a distance. You, O Prince, have reached the acme of glory. Why not now withdraw and, like me, become a disciple of the Daoists? Why not travel to Emei Mountain and there mend your ways so that I may bequeath my three volumes to you ?"

"Oft have I reflected upon this course and struggled against my fate, but what can I do? There is no one to maintain the government," replied Cao Cao.

"There is Liu Bei of Yizhou, a scion of the dynastic family. Could you not make way for him? If you do not, I may have to send one of my flying swords after your head one day."

"You are one of his secret agents," said Cao Cao, suddenly enraged. "Seize him!" cried he to his lictors.

They did so, while the Daoist laughed. And Zuo Ci continued to laugh as they dragged him down to the dungeons, where they beat him cruelly. And when they had finished, the Daoist lay there gently respiring in a sound sleep, just as if he felt nothing whatever.

This enraged Cao Cao still more, and he bade them put the priest into the large wooden collar and nail it securely and then chain him in a cell. And Cao Cao set guards over him, and the guards saw the collar and chains just fall off while the victim lay fast asleep not injured in the least.

The Daoist lay in prison seven days without food or water. But when they went to look at him, he was sitting upright on the ground, quite well and rosy looking.

The gaolers reported these things to Cao Cao, who had the prisoner brought in.

"I do not mind going without food for years," said the victim, when Cao Cao questioned him, "yet I could eat a thousand sheep in a day."

Cao Cao was at the end of his resources. He could prevail nothing against such a man.

That day there was to be a great banquet at the new Palace, and guests came in crowds. When the banquet was in progress and the wine cup passing freely, suddenly the same Daoist appeared. He had wooden clogs on his feet. All faces turned in his direction and not a few were afraid; others wondered.

Standing there in front of the great assembly, the Daoist said, "O Powerful Prince, here today you have every delicacy on the table and a glorious company of guests. You have rare and beautiful objects from all parts of the world. Is there anything lacking? If there be anything you would like, name it and I will get it for you."

Cao Cao replied, "Then I want a dragon's liver to make soup: Can you get that?"

"Where's the difficulty?" replied Zuo Ci.

With a pencil the Daoist immediately sketched a dragon on the whitewashed wall of the banquet hall. Then he flicked his sleeve over it, the dragon's belly opened of itself, and therefrom Zuo Ci took the liver all fresh and bloody.
"You had the liver hidden in your sleeve," said Cao Cao, incredulous.
"Then there shall be another test," said the Daoist. "It is winter and every plant outside is dead. What flower would you like, O Prince. Name any one you will."
"I want a peony," said Cao Cao.
"Easy," said the Daoist.

At this request they brought out a flower-pot, which was placed in full view of the guests. Then he spurted some water over it, and in a very short time up came a peony with two fully expanded flowers.

The guests were astonished, and they asked the Daoist to be seated and gave him wine and food. The cook sent in some minced fish.
"The best mince is made from the perch of River Song," said the Daoist.
"How can you get fish five hundred miles away?" said Cao Cao.
"Not at all difficult. Tell someone to get a rod and hook, and fish in the pond just below this banquet hall."
They did so, and very soon several beautiful perches lay on the steps.
"I have always kept some of these in my ponds, of course," said Cao Cao.
"O Prince, do you think to deceive me? All perches have two gills except the River Song perch, which has two pairs. That is the distinguishing feature."
The guests crowded round to look, and, surely enough, the fish had four gills.
"To cook this perch one needs purple sprout ginger though," said the Daoist.
"Can you also produce that?" asked Cao Cao.

Zuo Ci told them to bring in a silver bowl, which the magician filled with water. Very soon the ginger filled the bowl, and he presented it to the host. Cao Cao put out his hand to pick some, when suddenly a book appeared in the bowl and the title was Cao Cao's New Treatise on the Art of War. He took it out and read it over. Not a word of his treatise was missing.

Cao Cao became more mystified. Zuo Ci took up a jade cup that stood on the table, filled it with fine wine, and presented it to Cao Cao.

"Drink this, O Prince, and you will live a thousand years."
"Drink of it first yourself," said Cao Cao.

The Daoist took the jade pin from his headdress and drew it across the cup as if dividing the wine into two portions.

Then he drank one half and handed the cup with the other half to Cao Cao. But Cao Cao angrily refused it. The Daoist then threw the cup into the air, where it was transformed into a white dove which circled round the banquet hall and then flew away.

All faces were turned upward following the flight of the dove, and so no one had noticed the going of the Daoist. But he was gone; and soon the gate warden reported that he had left the Palace.

Said Cao Cao, "A magician like this ought to be put to death, or he will do some mischief."

The redoubtable Xu Chu and a company of three hundred armed men were sent to arrest the Daoist. They saw the Daoist, still wearing his wooden clogs, not far ahead but striding along quickly. Xu Chu rode after Zuo Ci, but in spite of all his horse could do, he could not come up with Zuo Ci. Xu Chu kept up the chase right to the hills, when he met a shepherd lad with a flock of sheep. And there walked the Daoist among the sheep. The Daoist disappeared. The angry warrior slew the whole flock of sheep, while the shepherd lad looked on weeping.

Suddenly the boy heard a voice from one of the severed heads, telling him to replace the heads on the bodies of his sheep. Instead of doing so, he fled in terror, covering his face.

Then he heard a voice calling to him, "Do not run away. You shall have your sheep again."

He turned, and lo! the sheep were all alive again, and Zuo Ci was driving them along. The boy began to question him, but the Daoist made no reply. With a flick of his sleeves, he was gone.

The shepherd lad went home and told all these marvels to his master, who could not conceal such a story, and it reached Cao Cao. Then sketches of the Daoist were sent everywhere with orders to arrest him. Within three days were arrested in the city and outside three or four hundred persons all blind of one eye, lame of one leg, and wearing a rattan headdress, a black loose robe and wooden clogs. They were all alike and all answered to the description of the missing Daoist.

There was a great hubbub in the street. Cao Cao ordered his officer to sprinkle the crowd of Daoists with the blood of pigs and goats in order to exorcise the witchcraft and take them away to the drill ground on the south of the city. Thither he followed them with his guards, who surrounded the crowd of arrested persons and slew everyone. But from the neck of each one, after the head was severed, there floated up into the air a wreath of black vapor, and all these wreaths drifted toward a center where they joined up into the image of another Zuo Ci, who presently beckoned to him a white crane out of the sky, mounted it and sat as on a horse.

Clapping his hands, the Daoist cried merrily, "The rats of the earth follow the golden tiger, and one morning the doer of evil shall be no more."

The soldiers shot arrows at both bird and man. At this a tremendous storm burst over the city. Stones were driven along, sand was whirled about, and all the corpses arose from the ground, each holding his own head in his hands. They rushed toward Cao Cao as if to strike him. The officials covered their eyes, and none dared to look another in the face.

The power of a bold man will overturn a state,
The art of a necromancer also produces wonders.
Read the next chapter and you will know the fate of Cao Cao.

Site search