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Sunday, October 28, 2012

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

SGS Characters and Cards in this chapter:




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Chapter 37


As has been said Xu Shu hastened to the capital. When Cao Cao knew Xu Shu had arrived, he sent two of his confidants, Xun Yu and Cheng Yu to receive the newcomer at the city gate, and so Xu Shu was led first to the Prime Minister's palace.

"Why did such an illustrious scholar as you bow the knee to Liu Bei?" said Cao Cao.

"I am young, and I fled to avoid the results of certain escapades. I spent some time as a wanderer and so came to Xinye where I became good friends with him. But my mother is here, and when I thought of all her affection, I could no longer remain absent."

"Now you will be able to take care of your mother at all times. And I may have the privilege of receiving your instructions."

Xu Shu then took his leave and hastened to his mother's dwelling. Weeping with emotion, he made his obeisance to her at the door of her room.

But she was greatly surprised to see him and said, "What have you come here for?"

"I was at Xinye, in the service of Liu Bei of Yuzhou, when I received your letter. I came immediately."

His mother suddenly grew very angry.

Striking the table she cried, "You shameful and degenerate son! For years you have been a vagabond in spite of all my teaching. You are a student and know the books. You must then know that loyalty and filial piety are often opposed. Did you not recognize in Cao Cao a traitor, a man who flouts his king and insults the mighty ones? Did you not see that Liu Bei was virtuous and upright as all the world knows? Moreover, he is of the House of Han, and when you were with him you were serving a fitting master. Now on the strength of a scrap of forged writing, with no attempt at any inquiry, you have left the light and plunged into darkness and earned a disgraceful reputation. Truly you are stupid. How can I bear to look upon you? You have besmirched the fair fame of your forefathers and are of no use in the world!"

The son remained bowed to the earth, not daring to lift his eyes while his mother delivered this vilifying tirade. As she said the last word, she rose suddenly and left the room. Soon after one of the servants came out to say Lady Xun had hanged herself. Xu Shu rushed in to try to save her, but was too late. A eulogy of her conduct has been written thus:

Wise Mother Xun, fair is your fame,
The storied page glows with your name,
From duty's path you never strayed,
The family's renown you made.
To train your son no pains you spared,
For your own body nothing cared.
You stand sublime, from us apart,
Through simple purity of heart.
Brave Liu Bei's virtues you extolled,
You blamed Cao Cao, the basely bold.
Of blazing fire you felt no fear,
You blenched not when the sword came near,
But dreaded lest a willful son
Should dim the fame his fathers won.
Yes, Mother Xun was of one mold
With famous heroes of old,
Who never shrank from injury,
And even were content to die.
Fair meed of praise, while still alive,
Was yours, and ever will survive.
Hail! Mother Xun, your memory,
While time rolls on, shall never.

At sight of his mother dead, Xu Shu fell in a swoon and only recovered consciousness after a long time. By and bye Cao Cao heard of it and sent mourning gifts, and in due course went in person to condole and sacrifice. The body was interred on the south of the capital, and the dead woman's unhappy son kept vigil at her tomb. He steadily rejected all gifts from Cao Cao.

At that time Cao Cao was contemplating an attack on the south.

His adviser Xun Yu dissuaded him, saying, "The winter is not favorable for this campaign. My lord should await milder weather."

And Cao Cao yielded. But he began to prepare, and led the River Zhang's waters aside to form a lake, which he called the Aquamarine Lake, where he could accustom his soldiers to fight on the water.

As has been said, Liu Bei prepared gifts to offer to Zhuge Liang on his visit. One day his servants announced a stranger of extraordinary appearance, wearing a lofty headdress and a wide belt.

"Surely this is he," said Liu Bei, and, hastily arranging his dress, he went to welcome the visitor.

But the first glance showed him that it was the recluse of the mountains, Sima Hui. However, Liu Bei was glad to see him and led him into the inner apartment as he would an old friend.

There Liu Bei conducted him to the seat of honor and made his obeisance, saying, "Since leaving you that day in the mountains, I have been overwhelmed with military preparations and so have failed to visit you as courtesy demanded. Now that the brightness has descended upon me, I hope this dereliction of duty may be pardoned."

"I hear Xu Shu is here. I have come expressly to see him," replied Water Mirror bluntly.

"He has lately left for Xuchang. A messenger came with a letter telling of the imprisonment of his mother."

"Then he has just fallen into Cao Cao's trap, for that letter was a forgery. I have known his mother to be a very noble woman. Even if she were imprisoned by Cao Cao, she would not summon her son like that. Certainly the letter was a forgery. If the son did not go, the mother would be safe; if he went, she would be a dead woman."

"But how?" asked Liu Bei dismayed.

"She is a woman of the highest principles, who would be greatly mortified at the sight of her son under such conditions."

Liu Bei said, "Just as your friend was leaving, he mentioned the name of a certain Zhuge Liang. What think you of him?"

Water Mirror laughed, saying, "If Xu Shu wanted to go, he was free to go. But why did he want to provoke Zhuge Liang into coming out and showing compassion for someone else?"

"Why do you speak like that?" asked Liu Bei

He replied, "Five persons, Zhuge Liang of Nanyang, Cui Zhouping of Boling, Shi Guangyuan of Yingchuan, Meng Gongwei of Runan, and Xu Shu of Yingchuan were the closest of friends. They formed a little coterie devoted to meditation on essential refinement. Only Zhuge Liang arrived at a perception of its meaning. He used to sit among them with his arms about his knees muttering and then, pointing to his companions, he would say, 'You, gentlemen, would become governors and protectors if you were in official life.'

"When they asked him what was his ambition, he would only smile and always compared himself with the great ancient scholars Guan Zhong and Yue Yi. No one could gauge his talents."

"How comes it that Yingchuan produces so many able humans?" said Liu Bei.

"That old astrologer, Yin Kui, used to say that the stars clustered thick over the region, and so there were many wise people."

Now Guan Yu was there. When he heard Zhuge Liang so highly praised, he said, "Guan Zhong and Yue Yi are the two most famous leaders mentioned in the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States Periods. They well overtopped the rest of humankind. Is it not a little too much to say that Zhuge Liang compares with these two?"

"In my opinion he should not be compared with these two, but rather with two others," said Water Mirror.

"Who are these two?" asked Guan Yu.

"One of them is Lu Wang, who laid the foundations of the Zhou Dynasty so firmly that it lasted eight hundred years; and the other Zhang Liang, who made the Han glorious for four centuries."

Before the surprise called forth by this startling statement had subsided, Water Mirror walked down the steps and took his leave. Liu Bei would have kept him if he could, but he was obdurate.

As he stalked proudly away, he threw up his head and said, "Though Sleeping Dragon has found his lord, he has not been born at the right time. It is a pity!"

"What a wise hermit!" was Liu Bei's comment.

Soon after the three brothers set out to find the abode of the wise man. When they drew near the Sleeping Dragon Ridge, they saw a number of peasants in a field hoeing up the weeds, and as they worked they sang:

"The earth is a checkered board,
And the sky hangs over all,
Under it humans are contending,
Some rise, but a many fall.
For those who succeed this is well,
But for those who go under rough.
There's a dozing dragon hard by,
But his sleep is not deep enough."

Liu Bei and his brothers stopped to listen to the song and, calling up one of the peasants, asked who made it.

"It was made by Master Sleeping Dragon," said the laborer.

"Then he lives hereabout. Where?"

"South of this hill there is a ridge called the Sleeping Dragon, and close by is a sparse wood. In it stands a modest cottage. That is where Master Zhuge Liang takes his repose."

Liu Bei thanked him and the party rode on. Soon they came to the ridge, most aptly named, for indeed it lay wrapped in an atmosphere of calm beauty.

A poet wrote of it thus:

Not far from Xiangyang
There stands, clear cut against the sky,
A lofty ridge, and at its foot
A gentle stream goes gliding by.
The contour, curving up and down,
Although by resting cloud it's marred,
Arrests the eye; and here and there
The flank by waterfalls is scarred.
There, like a sleeping dragon coiled,
Or phoenix hid among thick pines,
You see, secure from prying eyes,
A cot, reed-built on rustic lines.
The rough-joined doors, pushed by the wind,
Swing idly open and disclose
The greatest genius of the world
Enjoying still his calm repose.
The air is full of woodland scents,
Around are hedgerows trim and green,
Close-growing intercrossed bamboos
Replace the painted doorway screen.
But look within and books you see
By every couch, near every chair;
And you may guess that common persons
Are very seldom welcomed there.
The hut seems far from human ken,
So far one might expect to find
Wild forest denizens there, trained
To serve in place of humankind.
Without a hoary crane might stand
As warden of the outer gate;
Within a long-armed gibbon come
To offer fruit upon a plate.
But enter; there refinement reigns;
Brocaded silk the lutes protect,
And burnished weapons on the walls
The green of pines outside reflect.
For he who dwells within that hut
Is talented beyond compare,
Although he lives the simple life
And harvest seems his only care.
He waits until the thunderous call
Shall bid him wake, nor sleep again;
Then will he forth and at his word
Peace over all the land shall reign.

Liu Bei soon arrived at the door of the retreat, dismounted, and knocked at the rough door of the cottage. A youth appeared and asked what he wanted.

Liu Bei replied, "I am Liu Bei, General of the Han Dynasty, Lord of Yicheng, Imperial Protector of Yuzhou, and Uncle of the Emperor. I am come to salute the Master."

"I cannot remember so many titles," said the lad.

"Then simply say that Liu Bei has come to inquire after him."

"The Master left this morning early."

"Whither has he gone?"

"His movements are very uncertain. I do not know whither he has gone."

"When will he return?"

"That also is uncertain. Perhaps in three days, perhaps in ten."

The disappointment was keen.

"Let us go back, since we cannot see him," said Zhang Fei.

"Wait a little time," said Liu Bei.

"It would be better to return," said Guan Yu, "then we might send to find out when this man had come back."

So Liu Bei agreed, first saying to the boy, "When the Master returns, tell him that Liu Bei has been here."

They rode away for some miles. Presently Liu Bei stopped and looked back at the surroundings of the little cottage in the wood.

The mountains were picturesque rather than grand, the water clear rather than profound, the plain was level rather than extensive, the woods luxuriant rather than thick. Gibbons ranged through the trees, and cranes waded in the shallow water. The pines and the bamboos vied with each other in verdure. It was a scene to linger upon.

While Liu Bei stood regarding it, he saw a figure coming down a mountain path. The man's bearing was lofty. He was handsome and dignified. He wore a comfortable-looking bonnet on his head, and a black robe hung about his figure in easy folds. He used a staff to help him down the steep path.

"Surely that is he!" said Liu Bei.

He dismounted and walked over to greet the stranger, whom he saluted deferentially, saying, "Are you not Master Sleeping Dragon, Sir?"

"Who are you, General?" said the stranger.

"I am Liu Bei."

"I am not Zhuge Liang, but I am a friend of his. My name is Cui Zhouping."

"Long have I known of you! I am very glad to see you," replied Liu Bei. "And now I pray you be seated just where we are, and let me receive your instruction."

The two men sat down in the wood on a stone, and the two brothers ranged themselves by Liu Bei's side.

Cui Zhouping began, saying, "General, for what reason do you wish to see Zhuge Liang?"

Liu Bei replied, "The empire is in confusion, and troubles gather everywhere. I want your friend to tell me how to restore order."

"You, Sir, wish to arrest the present disorder, although you are a kindly man and, from the oldest antiquity, the correction of disorder has demanded stern measures. On the day that Liu Bang first put his hand to the work and slew the wicked ruler of Qin, order began to replace disorder. Good government began with the Supreme Ancestor (BC 206), and endured two hundred years---two centuries of tranquillity. Then came Wang Mang's rebellion, and disorder took the place of order. Anon, arose Liu Xiu, who restored the Han Dynasty, and order once more prevailed. We have had two centuries of order and tranquillity, and the time of trouble and battles is due. The restoration of peace will take time. It cannot be quickly accomplished. You, Sir, wish to get Zhuge Liang to regulate times and seasons, to repair the cosmos, but I fear the task is indeed difficult, and to attempt it would be a vain expenditure of mental energy. You know well that he who goes with the favor of Heaven travels an easy road; he who goes contrary meets difficulties. One cannot escape one's lot; one cannot evade fate."

"Master," replied Liu Bei, "your insight is indeed deep, and your words of wide meaning. But I am a scion of the House of Han and must help it. Dare I talk of the inevitable and trust to fate?"

Cui Zhouping replied, "A simple denizen of the mountain wilds is unfitted to discuss the affairs of empire. But you bade me speak and I have spoken---perhaps somewhat madly."

"Master, I am grateful for your instruction. But know you whither Zhuge Liang has gone?"

"I also came to see him, and I know not where he is," said Cui Zhouping.

"If I asked you, Master, to accompany me to my poor bit of territory, would you come?"

"I am too dilatory, too fond of leisure and ease, and no longer have any ambitions. But I will see you another time."

And with these words Cui Zhouping saluted and left. The three brothers also mounted and started homeward.

Presently Zhang Fei said, "We have not found Zhuge Liang, and we have had to listen to the wild ravings of this so-called scholar. There is the whole result of this journey."

"His words were those of a deep thinker," replied Liu Bei.

Some days after the return to Xinye, Liu Bei sent to find out whether Zhuge Liang had returned, and the messenger came back saying that he had. Wherefore Liu Bei prepared for another visit.

Again Zhang Fei showed his irritation by remarking, "Why must you go hunting after this villager? Send and tell him to come."

"Silence!" said Liu Bei, "The Teacher Mencius said, 'To try to see the sage without going his way is like barring a door you wish to enter.' Zhuge Liang is the greatest sage of the day. How can I summon him?"

So Liu Bei rode away to make his visit, his two brothers with him as before. It was winter and exceedingly cold. Floating clouds covered the whole sky. Before they had gone far, a bitter wind began to blow in their faces, and the snow began to fly. Soon the mountains were of jade and the trees of silver.

"It is very cold and the earth is frozen hard, no fighting is possible now," said Zhang Fei. "Yet we are going all this way to get advice which will be useless to us. Where is the sense of it? Let us rather get back to Xinye out of the cold."

Liu Bei replied, "I am set upon proving my zeal to Zhuge Liang. But if you, my brother, do not like the cold, you can return."

"I do not fear death: Do you think I care for the cold? But I do care about wasting my brother's energies," said Zhang Fei.

"Say no more," said Liu Bei, and they traveled on.

When they drew near the little wood, they heard singing in a roadside inn and stopped to listen. This was the song:

Although possessed of talent rare,
This man has made no name;
Alas! The day is breaking late
That is to show his fame.
O friends you know the Lu Wang's tale:
The aged man constrained to leave
His cottage by the sea,
To follow in a prince's train
His counselor to be.
Eight hundred feudal chieftains met
Who came with one accord;
The happy omen, that white fish,
That leapt the boat aboard;
The gory field in distant wilds.
Whence flowed a crimson tide,
And him acknowledged chief in war
Whose virtues none denied;
That Zhang Liang, a Gaoyang rustic,
Fond of wine, who left, his native place
And went to serve so faithfully
The man of handsome face;
And one who spoke of ruling chiefs
In tones so bold and free,
But sitting at the festive board
Was full of courtesy;
And one, that was he who laid in dust
Walled cities near four score
But humans of doughty deeds like these
On earth are seen no more.
Now had these humans not found their lord
Would they be known to fame?
Yet having found, they served him well
And so achieved a name.

The song ended, the singer's companion tapping the table sang:

We had a famous founder,
Who drew his shining sword,
Cleansed all the land within the seas
And made himself its lord.
In time his son succeeded him,
And so from son to son
The lordship passed, held firm until
Four hundred years had run.
Then dawned a day of weaklier sons,
The fiery virtue failed,
Then ministers betrayed their trust,
Court intrigues vile prevailed.
The omens came; a serpent
Coiled on the dragon throne,
While in the hall of audience
Unholy haloes shone.
Now bandits swarm in all the land
And noble strives with chief,
The common people, sore perplexed,
Can nowhere find relief.
Let's drown our sorrows in the cup,
Be happy while we may,
Let those who wish run after fame
That is to last for aye.

The two men laughed loud and clapped their hands as the second singer ceased. Liu Bei thought full surely the longed for sage was there, so he dismounted and entered the inn. He saw the two merry-makers sitting opposite each other at a table. One was pale with a long beard; the other had a strikingly refined face.

Liu Bei saluted them and said, "Which of you is Master Sleeping Dragon?"

"Who are you, Sir?" asked the long-bearded one. "What business have you with Sleeping Dragon?"

"I am Liu Bei. I want to inquire of him on how to restore tranquillity to the world."

"Well, neither of us is your man, but we are friends of his. My name is Shi Guangyuan and my friend here is Meng Gongwei."

"I know you both by reputation," said Liu Bei gladly. "I am indeed fortunate to meet you in this haphazard way. Will you not come to Sleeping Dragon's retreat and talk for a time? I have horses here for you."

"We idle folks of the wilds know nothing of tranquilizing states. Please do not trouble to ask. Pray mount again and continue searching Sleeping Dragon."

So he remounted and went his way. He reached the little cottage, dismounted, and tapped at the door. The same lad answered his knock, and he asked whether the Master had returned.

"He is in his room reading," said the boy.

Joyful indeed was Liu Bei as he followed the lad in. In front of the middle door he saw written this pair of scrolls:

By purity inspire the inclination;
By repose affect the distant.

As Liu Bei was looking at this couplet, he heard someone singing in a subdued voice and stopped by the door to peep in. He saw a young man close to a charcoal brazier, hugging his knees while he sang:

"The phoenix dies high, O!
And only will perch on a magnolia tree.
The scholar is hidden, O!
Till his lord appear he can patient be.
He tills his fields, O!
He is well-content and loves his home,
He awaits his day, O!
His books and his lute to leave and roam.

As the song ended Liu Bei advanced and saluted, saying, "Master, long have I yearned for you, but have found it impossible to salute you. Lately Water Mirror spoke of you and I hastened to your dwelling, only to come away disappointed. This time I have braved the elements and come again and my reward is here. I see your face, and I am indeed fortunate."

The young man hastily returned the salute and said, "General, you must be that Liu Bei of Yuzhou who wishes to see my brother."

"Then, Master, you are not Sleeping Dragon!" said Liu Bei, starting back.

"I am his younger brother, Zhuge Jun. He has another elder brother, Zhuge Jin, now with Sun Quan in the South Land as a counselor. Zhuge Liang is the second of our family."

"Is your brother at home?"

"Only yesterday he arranged to go a jaunt with Cui Zhouping."

"Whither have they gone?"

"Who can say? They may take a boat and sail away among the lakes, or go to gossip with the priests in some remote mountain temple, or wander off to visit a friend in some far away village, or be sitting in some cave with a lute or a chessboard. Their goings and comings are uncertain and nobody can guess at them."

"What very poor luck have I! Twice have I failed to meet the great sage."

"Pray sit a few moments, and let me offer you some tea."

"Brother, since the master is not here, I pray you remount and go," said Zhang Fei.

"Since I am here, why not a little talk before we go home again?" said Liu Bei.

Then turning to his host he continued, "Can you tell me if your worthy brother is skilled in strategy and studies works on war?"

"I do not know."

Grumbled Zhang Fei, "The wind and snow are getting worse. We ought to go back."

Liu Bei turned on him angrily and told him to stop.

Zhuge Jun said, "Since my brother is absent, I will not presume to detain you longer. I will return your call soon."

"Please do not take that trouble. In a few days I will come again. But if I could borrow paper and ink, I would leave a note to show your worthy brother that I am zealous and earnest."

Zhuge Jun produced the "four treasures" of the scholar, and Liu Bei, thawing out the frozen brush between his lips, spread the sheet of delicate note-paper and wrote:

"Liu Bei has long admired your fame. He has visited your dwelling twice, but to his great regret he has gone empty away. He humbly remembers that he is a distant relative of the Emperor, that he has undeservedly enjoyed fame and rank. When he sees the proper government wrested aside and replaced by pretense, the foundation of the state crumbling away, hordes of braves creating confusion in the country, and an evil cabal behaving unseemly toward the rightful Prince, then his heart and gall are torn to shreds. Though he has a real desire to assist, yet is he deficient in the needful skill. Wherefore he turns to the Master, trusting in his kindness, graciousness, loyalty, and righteousness. Would the Master but use his talent, equal to that of Lu Wang, and perform great deeds like Zhang Liang, then would the empire be happy and the Throne would be secure.

"This is written to tell you that, after purification of mind with fasting and of body with fragrant baths, Liu Bei will come again to prostrate himself in your honored presence and receive enlightenment"

The letter written and given to Zhuge Jun, Liu Bei took his leave, exceedingly disappointed at this second failure.

As he was mounting, he saw the serving lad waving his hand outside the hedge and heard him call out, "The old Master is coming!"

Liu Bei looked and then saw a figure seated on a donkey leisurely jogging along over a bridge.

The rider of the donkey wore a cap with long flaps down to his shoulders, and his body was wrapped in a fox fur robe. A youth followed him bearing a jar of wine. As he came through the snow he hummed a song:

"This is eve, the sky is overcast,
The north wind comes with icy blast,
Light snowflakes whirl down until
A white pall covers dale and hill.
Perhaps above the topmost sky
White dragons strive for mastery,
The armor scales from their forms riven
Are scattered over the world wind-driven.
Amid the storm there jogs along
A simple wight who croons a song.
'O poor plum trees, the gale doth tear
Your blossoms off and leave you bare.'"

"Here at last is Sleeping Dragon," thought Liu Bei, hastily slipping out of the saddle.

He saluted the donkey rider as he neared and said, "Master, it is hard to make way against this cold wind. I and my companions have been waiting long."

The rider got off his donkey and returned the bow, while Zhuge Jun from behind said, "This is not my brother. It is his father-in-law Huang Chenyan."

Liu Bei said, "I chanced to hear the song you were singing. It is very beautiful."

Huang Chenyan replied, "It is a little poem I read in my son in-law's house, and I recalled it as I crossed the bridge and saw the plum trees in the hedge. And so it happened to catch your ear, Noble Sir."

"Have you seen your son-in-law lately?" asked Liu Bei.

"That is just what I have come to do now."

At this Liu Bei bade him farewell and went on his way. The storm was very grievous to bear, but worse than the storm was the grief in his heart as he looked back at Sleeping Dragon Ridge.

One winter's day through snow and wind
A prince rode forth the sage to find;
Alas! His journey was in vain,
And sadly turned he home again.
The stream stood still beneath the bridge
A sheet of ice draped rock and ridge,
His steed benumbed with biting cold
But crawled as he were stiff and old.
The snowflakes on the rider's head
Were like pear-blossoms newly shed,
Or like the willow-catkins light
They brushed his cheek in headlong flight.
He stayed his steed, he looked around,
The snow lay thick on tree and mound,
The Sleeping Dragon Ridge lay white
A hill of silver, glistening bright.

After the return to Xinye, the time slipped away till spring was near. Then Liu Bei cast lots to find the propitious day for another journey in search of Zhuge Liang. The day being selected, he fasted for three days and then changed his dress ready for the visit. His two brothers viewed the preparations with disapproval and presently made up their minds to remonstrate.

The sage and the fighting generals never agree,
A warrior despises humility.

The next chapter will tell what they said.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

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

SGS Characters and Cards in this chapter:




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Chapter 36


                

In hot anger, Cao Ren lost no time in marching out to avenge the loss of so many of his army. He hastily crossed the River Yu to attack Xinye and trample it in the dust.

When Shan Fu got back into the city, he said to Liu Bei, "When Cao Ren, now at Fancheng, hears of his losses, he will try to retrieve them and will come to attack us."

"What is the counter move?" asked Liu Bei.

"As he will come with all his force, his own city will be left undefended. We will surprise it."

"By what ruse?"

The adviser leaned over and whispered to his chief. Whatever the plan was, it pleased Liu Bei, who made arrangements. Soon the scouts reported Cao Ren crossing the river with a mighty host.

"Just as I guessed," said Shan Fu, hearing of it.

Then he suggested that Liu Bei should lead out one army against the invaders. Liu Bei did so, and, when the formation was complete, Zhao Zilong rode to the front as champion and challenged the other side.

Li Dian rode out and engaged. At about the tenth bout Li Dian found he was losing and retired toward his own side. Zhao Zilong pressed after him, but was checked by a heavy discharge of arrows from the wings. Then both sides stopped the battle and retired to their camps.

Li Dian reported to his chief: "Our enemy are brave, very full of spirit, and we will be hard to overcome. We had better retreat to Fancheng and wait for reinforcements."

Cao Ren angrily replied, "You damped the army's spirit before we started, and now you betray us. You have been bought, and you deserve death."

Cao Ren called in the executioners, and they led away their victim. But the other officers came to intercede, and Li Dian was spared. However, he was transferred to the command of the rear, while Cao Ren himself led the attack.

Next day the drums beat an advance and Cao Ren, having drawn up his soldiers, sent a messenger over to ask if Liu Bei recognized his plan of battle array.

So Shan Fu went on a hill and looked over it.

Then he said to Liu Bei, "The arrangement is called 'The Eight Docked Gates,' and the names of the gates are Birth, Exit, Expanse, Wound, Fear, Annihilation, Obstacle, and Death. If you enter by one of the three Birth, Exit, or Expanse you succeed. If by one of the gates Wound, Fear, or Annihilation, you sustain injuries. The other two gates Obstacles and Death will bring the end. Now, though the eight gates are all there quite correct, the central key-post is lacking, and the whole formation can be thrown into confusion by entry from the southeast and exit due west."

Wherefore certain orders were issued and Zhao Zilong, leading five hundred troops, rode out on his prancing steed to break the array. He burst in, as directed, at the southeast and, with great clamor and fighting, reached the center. Cao Ren made for the north, but Zhao Zilong, instead of following him, made a dash westward and got through. Thence he turned round to the southeast again and smote till Cao Ren's army was in disarray. Liu Bei gave a general advance signal, and the victory was complete. The beaten enemy retired.

Shan Fu forbade pursuit, and they returned. The loss of the battle convinced Cao Ren of the wisdom of his colleague Li Dian, and he sent for Li Dian to consult.

"They certainly have some very able person in Liu Bei's army since my formation was so quickly broken," said Cao Ren.

"My chief anxiety is about Fancheng," said Li Dian.

"I will raid their camp this night," said Cao Ren. "If I succeed, we will decide upon what should be done next. If I fail, we will return to Fancheng."

"Their camp will be well prepared against such a thing, and you will fail," said Li Dian.

"How can you expect to fight successfully when you are so full of doubts?" said Cao Ren, angrily.

He held no more converse with his cautious colleague, but himself took command of the van and set out. Li Dian was relegated to the rear. The attack on the enemy's camp was fixed for the second watch.

Now as Shan Fu was discussing plans with his chief a whirlwind from the northeast went by, which Shan Fu said, "There will be a raid on the camp tonight."

"How shall we meet it?" said Liu Bei.

"The plans are quite ready," was the reply.


Shan Fu whispered them to the chief. So at the second watch, when the enemy arrived, they saw fires on all sides, the stockades and huts burning. Cao Ren understood at once that all hope of a surprise was vain, and he turned to get away as quickly as possible. This was the signal for Zhao Zilong to fall on, and that cut Cao Ren's return road. He hastened north toward the river, and reached the bank, but, while waiting for boats to cross the stream, up came Zhang Fei and attacked.


By dint of great efforts and with the support of Li Dian, Cao Ren got into a boat, but most of the soldiers were drowned in the stream. As soon as he got to the farther shore, he bolted for Fancheng. He reached the wall and hailed the gate, but, instead of a friendly welcome, he heard the rolling of drums, which was soon followed by the appearance of a body of troops. Guan Yu led them.

"I took the city a long time ago!" shouted Guan Yu.

This was a severe shock to Cao Ren, who turned to flee. As soon as he faced about, Guan Yu attacked and killed many of his force. The remnant hastened to Xuchang. On the road the beaten general wondered who had advised his opponents with such success, and he asked the natives for the answer.

While the defeated Cao Ren had to find his way back to the capital, Liu Bei had scored a great success. Afterwards he marched to Fancheng, where he was welcomed by Magistrate Liu Mi, himself a scion of the ruling family, who had been born in Changsha. Liu Mi received Liu Bei as a guest in his own house and gave banquets and treated him exceedingly well.

In the train of the Magistrate, Liu Bei saw a very handsome and distinguished-looking young man, and asked who he was.

Liu Mi replied, "He is my nephew, Kou Feng, son of Lord Kou of Luo. I have taken care of him after his parents died."

Liu Bei had taken a great liking for the lad and proposed to adopt him. His guardian was willing, and so the adoption was arranged. The young man's name was changed to Liu Feng. When Liu Bei left, he took his adopted son with him. Liu Feng was then made to bow before Guan Yu and Zhang Fei as uncles.

Guan Yu was doubtful of the wisdom of adopting another son, saying, "You have a son. Why do you think it necessary to adopt another? It may cause confusion."

"How? I shall treat him as a father should, and he will serve me as befits a son."

Guan Yu was displeased.

Then Liu Bei and Shan Fu began further discussions of strategy, and they decided to leave Zhao Zilong with one thousand soldiers to guard Fancheng, and they returned to Xinye.

In the meantime Cao Cao's defeated generals had gone back. When they saw the Prime Minister, Cao Ren threw himself on the ground weeping and acknowledging his faults. He told the tale of his losses.

"The fortune of war," said Cao Cao. "But I should like to know who laid Liu Bei's plans."

"That was Shan Fu," said Cao Ren.

"Who is he?" asked Cao Cao.

Cheng Yu said, "The man is not Shan Fu. When young this man was fond of fencing and used to take up the quarrels of other people and avenge their wrongs. At the end of Emperor Ling, he killed a man to avenge his friend, and then he let down his hair, muddled his face, and was trying to escape when a lictor caught him and questioned him. He would not reply. So they carted him through the streets beating a drum and asking if anyone recognized him. Nobody dared own to knowing him, even if they did so. However, his comrades managed to release him secretly, and he ran away under some other name. Then he turned to study and wandered hither and thither wherever scholars were to be found. He was a regular disputant with Sima Hui. His real name is Xu Shu and he comes from Yingchuan. Shan Fu is merely an assumed name."

"How does he compare with yourself?" asked Cao Cao.

"Ten times cleverer."


"It is a pity. If able people gather to Liu Bei, his wings will soon grow. What is to be done?"

"Xu Shu is there now. But if you wanted him, it would not be difficult to call him," replied Cheng Yu.

"How could I make him come?" said Cao Cao.

"He is noted for his affection for his mother. His father died young, leaving his mother a widow with one other son. Now that son is dead, and his mother, Lady Xun, has no one to care for her. If you sent and got his mother here and told her to write and summon her son, he would surely come."

Cao Cao sent without loss of time and had the old lady brought to the capital, where he treated her exceedingly well.

Presently he said, "I hear you have a very talented son, who is now at Xinye helping on that rebel Liu Bei against the government. There he is like a jewel in a muck heap: It is a pity. Supposing you were to call him, I could speak of him before the Emperor, and he might get an important office."

Cao Cao bade his secretaries bring along paper and ink, with which Lady Xun could write to her son.

"What sort of a man is Liu Bei?" asked she.

Cao Cao replied, "A common sort of person from Zhuo, irresponsible enough to style himself Imperial Uncle, and so claiming some sort of connection with the Hans. He is neither trustworthy nor virtuous. People say he is a superior man as far as externals go, but a mean man by nature."

Lady Xun answered in a hard voice, "Why do you malign him so bitterly? Everyone knows he is a descendant of one of the Han princes and so related to the House. He has condescended to take a lowly office and is respectful to all people. He has a reputation for benevolence. Everyone, young and old, cowherds and firewood cutters, all know him by name and know that he is the finest and noblest man in the world. If my son is in his service, then has he found a fitting master. You, under the name of a Han minister, are really nothing but a Han rebel. Contrary to all truths, you tell me Liu Bei is a rebel, whereby you try to induce me to make my son leave the light for darkness. Are you devoid of all sense of shame?"

As Lady Xun finished speaking, she picked up the inkstone to strike Cao Cao. This so enraged him that he forgot himself and the need for caution and bade the executioners lead off the old woman and put her to death.

Adviser Cheng Yu, however, stopped this act, saying, "This old lady wished to die. But if you kill her, your reputation will be damaged and hers enhanced. Beside that will add a keen desire for revenge to the motives which led Xu Shu to labor in the interest of Liu Bei. You had better keep her here so that Xu Shu's body and his thoughts may be in different places. He can not devote all his energies to helping our enemy while his mother is here. If you keep her, I think I can persuade the son to come and help you."

So the outspoken old lady was saved. She was given quarters and cared for. Daily Cheng Yu went to ask after her health, falsely claiming to being a sworn brother of her son's, and so entitled to serve her and treat her as a filial son would have done. He often sent her gifts and wrote letters to her so that she had to write in reply. And thereby he learned her handwriting so that he could forge a "home" letter. When he could do this without fear of detection, he wrote one and sent it by the hand of a trusty person to Xinye.

One day a man arrived inquiring for one Shan Fu. He claimed to have a letter from home for him. The soldiers led the man to Shan Fu. The man said he was an official carrier of letters and had been told to bring this one. Shan Fu quickly tore it open and read:

"On your brother's death recently I was left alone: No relative was near, and I was lonely and sad. To my regret, the Prime Minister Cao Cao inveigled me into coming to the capital, and now he says you are a rebel, and he has thrown me into bonds. However, thanks to Cheng Yu, my life has been spared so far, and, if you would only come and submit too, I should be quite safe. When this reaches you, remember how I have toiled for you and come at once, that you may prove yourself a filial son. We may together find some way of escape to our own place and avoid the dangers that threaten me. My life hangs by a thread, and I look to you to save me. You will not require a second summon."

Tears gushed from Xu Shu's eyes as he read, and with the letter in his hand he went to seek his chief, to whom he told the true story of his life.

"I heard that Liu Biao treated people well and went to him. I happened to arrive at a time of confusion. I saw he was of no use, so I left him very soon. I arrived at the retreat of Sima Hui the Water Mirror late one night and told him, and he blamed me for not knowing a master when I saw one. Then he told me of you and I sang that wild song in the streets to attract your attention. You took me; you used me. But now my aged mother is the victim of Cao Cao's wiles. She is in prison, and he threatens to do worse. She has written to call me, and I must go. I hoped to be able to render you faithful service, but, with my dear mother a captive, I should be useless. Therefore I must leave you and hope in the future to meet you again."

Liu Bei broke into loud moans when he heard that his adviser was to leave.

"The bond between mother and son is divine," said Liu Bei, "and I do not need to be reminded where your duty lies. When you have seen your venerable mother, perhaps I may have again the happiness of receiving your instruction."

Having said farewell, Xu Shu prepared to leave at once. However, at Liu Bei's wish, he consented to stay over the night.

Then Sun Qian said privately to his master, "Xu Shu is indeed a genius, but he has been here long enough to know all our secrets. If you let him go over to Cao Cao, he will be in his confidence, and that will be to our detriment. You ought to keep him at all costs and not let him go. When Cao Cao sees Xu Shu does not come, he will put the mother to death, and that will make Xu Shu the more zealous in your service, for he will burn to avenge his mother's death."

"I cannot do that. It would be very cruel and vile to procure the death of his mother that I might retain the son's services. If I kept him, it would lead to a rupture of the parental lien, and that would be a sin I would rather die than commit."

Both were grieved and sighed.

Liu Bei asked the parting guest to a banquet, but he declined, saying, "With my mother a prisoner I can swallow nothing, nay, though it were brewed from gold or distilled from jewels."

"Alas! Your departure is as if I lost both my hands," said Liu Bei. "Even the liver of a dragon or the marrow of a phoenix would be bitter in my mouth."

They looked into each other's eyes and wept. They sat silent till dawn. When all was ready for the journey, the two rode out of the city side by side. At Daisy Pavilion they dismounted to drink the stirrup cup.

Liu Bei lifted the goblet and said, "It is my mean fortune that separates me from you, but I hope that you may serve well your new lord and become famous."

Xu Shu wept as he replied, "I am but a poor ignorant person whom you have kindly employed. Unhappily I have to break our intercourse in the middle, but my venerable mother is the real cause. Though Cao Cao use all manner of means to coerce me, yet will I never plan for him."

"After you are gone, I shall only bury myself in the hills and hide in the forests," said Liu Bei.

Xu Shu said, "I had in my heart for you the position of leader of the chieftains, but my plans have been altogether upset by my mother. I have been of no advantage to you, nor should I do any good by remaining. But you ought to seek some person of lofty wisdom to help you in your great enterprise. It is unseemly to be downcast."

"I shall find none to help better than you, my master."

"How can I permit such extravagant praise?" said Xu Shu. "I am only a useless blockhead."

As he moved off, he said to the followers, "Officers, I hope you will render the Princely One good service, whereby to write his name large in the country's annals and cause his fame to glow in the pages of history. Do not be like me, a person who has left his work half done."

They were all deeply affected. Liu Bei could not bring himself to part from his friend. He escorted him a little further, and yet a little further, till Xu Shu said, "I will not trouble you, O Princely One, to come further. Let us say our farewell here."

Liu Bei dismounted, took Xu Shu by the hands, and said, "Alas! We part. Each goes his way, and who knows if we shall meet again?"

His tears fell like rain and Xu Shu wept also. But the last goodbyes were said. When the traveler had gone, Liu Bei stood gazing after the little party and watched it slowly disappear. At the last glimpse he broke into lamentation.

"He is gone! What shall I do?"

One of the trees shut out the traveler from his sight, and Liu Bei pointed at it, saying, "Wish that I could cut down every tree in the countryside!"

"Why?" said his officers.

"Because they hinder my sight of Xu Shu."

Suddenly they saw Xu Shu galloping back.

Said Liu Bei, "He is returning: Can it be that he is going to stay?"

So he hastened forward to meet Xu Shu, and when they got near enough, he cried, "This return is surely for no slight reason."

Checking his horse, Xu Shu said, "In the turmoil of my feelings, I forgot to say one word. There is a person of wonderful skill living about seven miles from the city of Xiangyang. Why not seek him?"

"Can I trouble you to ask him to visit me?"

"He will not condescend to visit you. You must go to him. But if he consents, you will be as fortunate as the Zhou when they got the aid of Lu Wang, or the Han when Zhang Liang came to help."

"How does the unknown compare with yourself?"

"With me? Compared with him I am as a worn-out carthorse to a palomino, an old duck to a phoenix. This man often compares himself with the ancient sages Guan Zhong and Yue Yi but, in my opinion, he is far their superior. He has the talent to measure the heavens and mete the earth. He is a man who overshadows every other in the world."

"I would know his name."


"He belongs to Langye, and his name is Zhuge Liang. He is of the family of the former General Zhuge Feng. His father, Zhuge Gui, was the Deputy Governor of Taishan but died young, and the young fellow went with his uncle Zhuge Xuan to Jingzhou. Imperial Protector Liu Biao was an old friend of his uncle, and Zhuge Liang became settled in Xiangyang. Then his uncle died, and he and his younger brother, Zhuge Jun, returned to their farm in Nanyang and worked as farmers. They used to amuse themselves with the composition of songs in the Liangfu style.

"On their land was a ridge of hills called the Sleeping Dragon, and the elder of the brothers took it as a name and called himself Master Sleeping Dragon. This is your man. He is a veritable genius. You ought really to visit him. And if he will help you, you need feel no more anxiety about peace in the empire."

"Water Mirror spoke that time of two persons, Sleeping Dragon and Young Phoenix, and said if only one of them could be got to help me all would be well. Surely he, whom you speak of, is one of them."


"Young Phoenix is Pang Tong of Xiangyang, and Sleeping Dragon is Zhuge Liang."

Liu Bei jumped with delight, "Now at last I know who the mysterious ones are. How I wish they were here! But for you I should have still been an unclued man," said he.

Someone has celebrated in verse this interview where Xu Shu from horseback recommended Zhuge Liang:

Liu Bei heard that his able friend
Must leave him, with saddened heart,
For each to the other had grown very dear,
Both wept when it came to part.
But the parting guest then mentioned a name
That echoed both loud and deep,
Like a thunder clap in a spring-time sky,
And there wakened a dragon from sleep.

Thus was Zhuge Liang recommended to Liu Bei, and Xu Shu rode away.

Now Liu Bei understood the speech of the hermit Water Mirror, and he woke as one from a drunken sleep. At the head of his officers, he retook the road to the city and having prepared rich gifts set out, with his brothers, for Nanyang.

Under the influence of his emotions at parting, Xu Shu had mentioned the name and betrayed the retreat of his friend. Now he thought of the possibility that Zhuge Liang would be unwilling to play the part of helper in Liu Bei's scheme, so Xu Shu determined to go to visit him. He therefore took his way to Sleeping Dragon Ridge and dismounted at the cottage.

Asked why he had come, Xu Shu replied, "I wished to serve Liu Bei of Yuzhou, but my mother has been imprisoned by Cao Cao, and has sent to call me. Therefore I have had to leave him. At the moment of parting I commended you to him. You may expect him speedily and I hope, Sir, you will not refuse your aid but will consent to use your great talents to help him."

Zhuge Liang showed annoyance and said, "And so you have made me a victim of the world's sacrifice."

So saying, Zhuge Liang shook out his sleeves and left the room. The guest shamefacedly retired, mounted his horse, and hastened on his way to the capital to see his mother.

To help the lord he loved right well,
He summoned the aid of another
When he took the distant homeward way
At the call of a loving mother.

What was the sequel will appear in the following chapters.

Monday, October 22, 2012

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

SGS Characters and Cards in this chapter:




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Chapter 35



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!" said the leader.

Liu Bei ordered Zhao Zilong to go out, and the two generals engaged. Very soon Zhao Zilong with a spear thrust had disposed of his opponent, and Liu Bei gave the signal to attack. Lu Xiang could not maintain his position and led his troops off. Soon his force found themselves attacked by an army rushing in from the side led by Guan Yu. The loss was more than a half, and the remainder fled for safety.

About three miles farther on they found their retreat barred by an army under Zhang Fei, who stood in the way with a long spear ready to thrust, crying out, "Zhang Fei is waiting!"

Zhang Fei bore down upon Lu Xiang, who was slain without a chance of striking a blow. The troops again fled in disorder. They were pursued by Liu Bei, and the greater part killed or captured.

Then Liu Bei returned into Xinye where he rewarded Shan Fu and feasted his victorious soldiers.

Some of the defeated troops took the news of the deaths of the leaders and the capture of their comrades to Cao Ren at Fancheng.

Cao Ren, much distressed, consulted Li Dian who advised, saying, "The loss is due to our underestimation of our enemy. Now we should stay where we are, hold on, and request reinforcements."

"Not so," said Cao Ren. "We cannot support calmly the death of two leaders and the loss of so many soldiers. We must avenge them quickly. Xinye is but a crossbow-slug of a place and not worth disturbing the Prime Minister for."

"Liu Bei is a man of metal," said Li Dian. "Do not esteem him lightly."

"What are you afraid of?" said Cao Ren.

"The Rule of War says 'To know your enemy and yourself is the secret of victory,'" replied Li Dian. "I am not afraid of the battle, but I do not think we can conquer."

"You are a traitor!" cried Cao Ren angrily. "Then I will capture Liu Bei myself."

"Do so. I will guard this city," said Li Dian.

"If you do not go with me, it is a proof that you are a traitor," retorted Cao Ren.

At this reproach, Li Dian felt constrained to join the expedition. So they told off twenty five thousand troops with which they crossed the River Yu for Xinye.

The officers all keenly felt the shame of many slain,
The chief determines on revenge and marches out again.

What measure of success the expedition met with will be related in the next chapter.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

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

SGS Characters and Cards in this chapter:




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Chapter 19


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.

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