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Sunday, November 25, 2012

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

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Chapter 45
Zhou Yu was very annoyed by the words of Zhuge Jin, and a fierce hatred for Zhuge Liang took root in his heart. He nourished a secret resolve to make away with Zhuge Liang. He continued his preparations for war, and when the troops were all mustered and ready, he went in for a farewell interview with his lord.

"You go on first, Noble Sir," said Sun Quan. "I will then march to support you."

Zhou Yu took his leave and then, with Cheng Pu and Lu Su, marched out with the army. He invited Zhuge Liang to accompany the expedition, and when Zhuge Liang cheerfully accepted, the four embarked in the same ship. They set sail, and the fleet made for Xiakou.

About twenty miles from Three Gorges the fleet anchored near the shore, and Zhou Yu built a stockade on the bank near the middle of their line with the Western Hills as a support. Other camps were made near his. Zhuge Liang, however, took up his quarters in a small ship.

When the camp dispositions were complete, Zhou Yu sent to request Zhuge Liang to come and give him advice. Zhuge Liang came.

After the salutations were ended, Zhou Yu said, "Cao Cao, though he had fewer troops than Yuan Shao, nevertheless overcame Yuan Shao because he followed the advice given by Xun You to destroy Yuan Shao's supplies at Wuchao. Now Cao Cao has over eight hundred thousand troops while I have but fifty or sixty thousand.

In order to defeat him, his supplies must be destroyed first. I have found out that the main depot is at the Iron Pile Mountains. As you have lived hereabout, you know the topography quite well, and I wish to entrust the task of cutting off supplies to you and your colleagues Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, and Zhao Zilong. I will assist you with a thousand soldiers. I wish you to start without delay. In this way we can best serve our masters."

Zhuge Liang saw through this at once. He thought to himself, "This is a ruse in revenge for my not having been persuaded to enter the service of the South Land. If I refuse, I shall be laughed at. So I will do as he asks and trust to find some means of deliverance from the evil he intends."

Therefore Zhuge Liang accepted the task with alacrity, much to the joy of Zhou Yu.

After the leader of the expedition had taken his leave, Lu Su went to Zhou Yu secretly and said, "Why have you set him this task?"

"Because I wish to compass his death without appearing ridiculous. I hope to get him killed by the hand of Cao Cao and prevent his doing further mischief."

Lu Su left and went to see Zhuge Liang to find out if he suspected anything. Lu Su found him looking quite unconcerned and getting the soldiers ready to march.

Unable to let Zhuge Liang go without a warning, however, Lu Su put a tentative question, "Do you think this expedition will succeed?"

Zhuge Liang laughingly replied, "I am an adept at all sorts of fighting, with foot, horse, and chariots on land and marines on the water. There is no doubt of my success. I am not like you and your friend, only capable in one direction."

"What do you mean by our being capable only in one direction?" said Lu Su.

"I have heard the street children in your country singing:

"To lay an ambush, hold a pass, 
Lu Su is the man to choose; 
But when you on the water fight, 
Zhou Yu is the man to use.

"You are only fit for ambushes and guarding passes on land, just as Zhou Yu only understands fighting on the water," said Zhuge Liang.

Lu Su carried this story to Zhou Yu, which only incensed him the more against Zhuge Liang.

"How dare he flout me, saying I cannot fight a land battle? I will not let him go. I will go myself with ten thousand troops and cut off Cao Cao's supplies."

Lu Su went back and told this to Zhuge Liang, who smiled and said, "Zhou Yu only wanted me to go on this expedition because he wanted Cao Cao to kill me. And so I teased him a little. But he cannot bear that. Now is the critical moment, and Marquis Sun Quan and my master must act in harmony if we are to succeed. If each one tries to harm the other, the whole scheme will fail. Cao Cao is no fool, and it is he who usually attack enemies through cutting off their supplies. Do you not think Cao Cao has already taken double precautions against any surprise of his own depot? If Zhou Yu tries, he will be taken prisoner. What he ought to do is to bring about a decisive naval battle, whereby to dishearten the northern soldiers, and then find some other means to defeat them utterly. If you could persuade him what his best course was, it would be well."

Without loss of time, Lu Su went to Zhou Yu to relate what Zhuge Liang had told him.

Zhou Yu shook his head when he heard it and beat the ground with his foot, saying, "This man is far too clever. He beats me ten to one. He will have to be done away with, or the South Land will suffer."

Said Lu Su, "This is the moment to use people. You must think of the country's good first of all. When once Cao Cao is defeated, you may do as you please."

Zhou Yu had to confess the reasonableness of this.
Liu Bei had ordered his nephew Liu Qi to hold Jiangxia, while he and the bulk of the army returned to Xiakou. Thence he saw the opposite bank thick with banners and flags and glittering with every kind of arms and armors. He knew then that the expedition from the South Land had started. So he moved all his force from Jiangxia to Fankou.

Then he assembled his officers and said to them, "Zhuge Liang went to Wu some time ago, and no word has come from him, so I know not how the business stands. Will anyone volunteer to go to find out?"

"I will go," said Mi Zhu.

So presents were prepared and gifts of flesh and wine, and Mi Zhu prepared to journey to the South Land on the pretext of offering a congratulatory feast to the army. He set out in a small ship and went down river. He stopped opposite the camp, and the soldiers reported his arrival to Zhou Yu, who ordered him to be brought in. Mi Zhu bowed low and expressed the respect which Liu Bei had for Zhou Yu and offered the various gifts. The ceremony of reception was followed by a banquet in honor of the guest.

Mi Zhu said, "Zhuge Liang has been here a long time, and I desire that he may return with me."

"Zhuge Liang is making plans with me, and I could not let him return," said Zhou Yu. "I also wish to see Liu Bei that we may make joint plans. But when one is at the head of a great army, one cannot get away even for a moment. If your master would only come here, it would be very gracious on his part."

Mi Zhu agreed that Liu Bei might come and presently took his leave.

Then Lu Su asked Zhou Yu, "What is your reason for desiring Liu Bei to come?"

"Liu Bei is the one bold and dangerous man and must be removed. I am taking this opportunity to persuade him to come. When he shall be slain, a great danger will cease to threaten our interests."

Lu Su tried to dissuade him from this scheme, but Zhou Yu was deaf to all Lu Su said.

Zhou Yu even issued orders: "Arrange half a hundred executioners to be ready to hide within the lining of the tent if Liu Bei decides to come; and when I drop a cup, that will be a signal for them to fall on and slay him."

Mi Zhu returned and told Liu Bei that his presence was desired by Zhou Yu. Suspecting nothing, Liu Bei at once ordered them to prepare a fast vessel to take him without loss of time.

Guan Yu was opposed to his going, saying, "Zhou Yu is artful and treacherous, and there is no news from Zhuge Liang. Pray think more carefully."

Liu Bei replied, "I have joined my forces to theirs in this attack on our common enemy. If Zhou Yu wishes to see me and I refuse to go, it is a betrayal. Nothing will succeed if both sides nourish suspicions."

"If you have finally decided to go, then will I go with you," said Guan Yu.

"And I also," cried Zhang Fei.

But Liu Bei said, "Let Guan Yu come with me while you and Zhao Zilong keep guard. Jian Yong will hold Exian. I shall not be away long."

So leaving these orders, Liu Bei embarked with Guan Yu on a small boat. The escort did not exceed twenty. The light craft traveled very quickly down the river. Liu Bei rejoiced greatly at the sight of the war vessels in tiers by the bank, the soldiers in their breastplates, and all the pomp and panoply of war. All was in excellent order.

As soon as he arrived, the guards ran to tell Zhou Yu.

"How many ships has he?" asked Zhou Yu.

They replied, "Only one; and the escort is only about a score."

"His fate is sealed," said Zhou Yu.

Zhou Yu sent for the executioners and placed them in hiding between the outer and inner tents, and when all was arranged for the assassination he contemplated, he went out to receive his visitor. Liu Bei came with his brother and escort into the midst of the army to the Admiral's tent.

After the salutations, Zhou Yu wished Liu Bei to take the upper seat, but he declined saying, "General, you are famous throughout all the empire, while I am a nobody. Do not overwhelm me with too great deference."

So they took the positions of simple friends, and refreshments were brought in.

Now by chance Zhuge Liang came on shore and heard that his master had arrived and was with the Commander-in-Chief. The news gave Zhuge Liang a great shock, and he said to himself, "What is to be done now?"

He made his way to the reception tent and stole a look therein. He saw murder written on Zhou Yu's countenance and noted the assassins hidden within the walls of the tent. Then he got a look at Liu Bei, who was laughing and talking quite unconcernedly. But when he noticed the redoubtable figure of Guan Yu near his master's side, he became quite calm and contented.

"My lord faces no danger," said Zhuge Liang, and he went away to the river bank to await the end of the interview.

Meanwhile the banquet of welcome proceeded. After the wine had gone around several times, Zhou Yu picked up a cup to give the signal agreed upon. But at that moment Zhou Yu saw so fierce a look upon the face of the trusty henchman who stood, sword in hand, behind his guest, that Zhou Yu hesitated and hastily asked who he was.

"That is my brother, Guan Yu," replied Liu Bei.

Zhou Yu, quite startled, said, "Is he the slayer of Yan Liang and Wen Chou?"

"Exactly; he it is," replied Liu Bei.

The sweat of fear broke out all over Zhou Yu's body and trickled down his back. Then he poured out a cup of wine and presented it to Guan Yu.

Just then Lu Su came in, and Liu Bei said to him, "Where is Zhuge Liang? I would trouble you to ask him to come."

"Wait till we have defeated Cao Cao," said Zhou Yu, "then you shall see him."

Liu Bei dared not repeat his request, but Guan Yu gave him a meaningful look which Liu Bei understood and rose, saying, "I would take leave now. I will come again to congratulate you when the enemy has been defeated and your success shall be complete."

Zhou Yu did not press him to remain, but escorted him to the great gates of the camp, and Liu Bei left. When he reached the river bank, they found Zhuge Liang awaiting them in their boat.

Liu Bei was exceedingly pleased, but Zhuge Liang said, "Sir, do you know in how great danger you were today?"

Suddenly sobered, Liu Bei said, "No, I did not think of danger."

"If Guan Yu had not been there, you would have been killed," said Zhuge Liang.

Liu Bei, after a moment's reflection, saw that it was true. He begged Zhuge Liang to return with him to Fankou, but Zhuge Liang refused.

"I am quite safe," said Zhuge Liang. "Although I am living in the tiger's mouth, I am as steady as the Taishan Mountains. Now, my lord, return and prepare your ships and soldiers. On the twentieth day of the eleventh month, send Zhao Zilong with a small ship to the south bank to wait for me. Be sure there is no miscarriage."

"What are your intentions?" said Liu Bei.

"When the southeast wind begins, I shall return."

Liu Bei would have questioned him further, but Zhuge Liang pressed him to go. So the boat started up river again, while Zhuge Liang returned to his temporary lodging.

 The boat had not proceeded far when appeared a small fleet of fifty ships sweeping down with the current, and in the prow of the leading vessel stood a tall figure armed with a spear. Guan Yu was ready to fight. But when they were near, they recognized that was Zhang Fei, who had come down fearing lest his brother might be in some difficulty from which the strong arm of Guan Yu might even be insufficient to rescue him.

The three brothers thus returned together.

After Zhou Yu, having escorted Liu Bei to the gate of his camp, had returned to his quarters, Lu Su soon came to see him.

"Then you had cajoled Liu Bei into coming, why did you not carry out your plan?" asked Lu Su.

"Because of that Guan Yu. He is a very tiger, and he never left his brother for a moment. If anything had been attempted, he would certainly have had my life."

Lu Su knew that Zhou Yu spoke the truth. Then suddenly they announced a messenger with a letter from Cao Cao. Zhou Yu ordered them to bring him in and took the letter. But when he saw the superscription The First Minister of Han to Commander-in-Chief Zhou Yu, he fell into a frenzy of rage, tore the letter to fragments, and threw them on the ground.

"To death with this fellow!" cried he.

"When two countries are at war, their emissaries are not slain," said Lu Su.

"Messengers are slain to show one's dignity and independence," replied Zhou Yu.

The unhappy bearer of the letter was decapitated, and his head sent back to Cao Cao by the hands of his escort.

Zhou Yu then decided to move. The van under Gan Ning was to advance, supported by two wings led by Han Dang and Jiang Qin. Zhou Yu would lead the center body in support. The next morning the early meal was eaten in the fourth watch, and the ships got under way in the fifth with a great beating of drums.

Cao Cao was greatly angered when he heard that his letter had been torn to fragments, and he resolved to attack forthwith. His advance was led by the Supreme Admiral Cai Mao, the Vice-Admiral Zhang Yun, and others of the Jingzhou officers who had joined his side. Cao Cao went as hastily as possible to the meeting of the three rivers and saw the ships of the South Land sailing up.

In the bow of the foremost ship from the south stood a fine figure of a warrior, who cried, "I am Gan Ning. I challenge anyone to combat!"

Cai Mao sent his young brother, Cai Xun, to accept the challenge. But as Cai Xun's ship approached, Gan Ning shot an arrow and Cai Xun fell. Gan Ning pressed forward, his crossbowmen keeping up a heavy discharge which Cao Cao's troops could not stand. The wings of Han Dang from the left and Jiang Qin from the right also joined in.

Cao Cao's soldiers, being mostly from the dry plains of the north, did not know how to fight effectually on water, and the southern ships had the battle all their own way. The slaughter was very great. However, after a contest lasting till afternoon, Zhou Yu thought it more prudent, in view of the superior numbers of his enemy, not to risk further the advantage he had gained. So he beat the gongs as the signal to cease battle and recall the ships.

Cao Cao was worsted, but his ships returned to the bank, where a camp was made and order was restored.

Cao Cao sent for his defeated leaders and reproached them, saying, "You did not do your best. You let an inferior force overcome you."

Cai Mao defended himself, saying, "The Jingzhou marines have not been exercised for a long time, and the others have never been trained for naval warfare at all. A naval camp must be instituted, the northern soldiers trained, and the Jingzhou force drilled. When they have been made efficient, they will win victories."

"You are the Supreme Admiral. If you know what should be done, why have you not done it?" said Cao Cao. "What is the use of telling me this?"

So Cai Mao and Zhang Yun organized a naval camp on the river bank. They established twenty-four "Water Gates," with the large ships outside as a sort of rampart, and under their protection the smaller ships went to and fro freely. At night when the lanterns and torches were lit, the very sky was illuminated, and the water shone red with the glare. On land the smoke of the camp fires could be traced for one hundred mile without a break.

Zhou Yu returned to camp and feasted his victorious fighting force. A messenger bore the joyful tidings of victory to his master Sun Quan. When night fell, Zhou Yu went up to the summit of one of the hills and looked out over the long line of bright lights stretching toward the west, showing the extent of the enemy's camp. He said nothing, but a great fear came in upon him.

Next day Zhou Yu decided that he would go in person to find out the strength of the enemy. So he bade them prepare a small squadron which he manned with strong, hardy men armed with powerful bows and stiff crossbows. He also placed musicians on each ship. They set sail and started up the stream. When they got opposite Cao Cao's camp, the heavy stones that served as anchors were dropped, and the music was played while Zhou Yu scanned the enemy's naval camp. What he saw gave him no satisfaction, for everything was most admirable.

He said, "How well and correctly built is that naval base! Anyone knows the names of those in command?"

"They are Cai Mao and Zhang Yun," said his officers.

"They have lived in the south a long time," said Zhou Yu, "and are thoroughly experienced in naval warfare. I must find some means of removing them before I can effect anything."

Meanwhile on shore the sentinels had told Cao Cao that the enemy craft were spying upon them, and Cao Cao ordered out some ships to capture the spies. Zhou Yu saw the commotion of the commanding flags on shore and hastily gave the order to unmoor and sail down stream. The squadron at once got under way and scattered; to and fro went the oars, and each ship seemed to fly. Before Cao Cao's ships could get out after them, they were all far away.

Cao Cao's ships took up the chase but soon saw pursuit was useless. They returned and reported their failure.

Again Cao Cao found fault with his officers and said, "The other day you lost a battle, and the soldiers were greatly dispirited. Now the enemy have spied out our camp. What can be done?"

In eager response to his question one stepped out, saying, "When I was a youth, Zhou Yu and I were fellow students and pledged friends. My three-inch tongue is still good, and I will go over and persuade him to surrender."

Cao Cao, rejoiced to find so speedy a solution, looked at the speaker. It was Jiang Gan of Jiujiang, one of the counseling staff in the camp.

"Are you a good friend of Zhou Yu?" said Cao Cao.

"Rest content, O Prime Minister," replied Jiang Gan. "If I only get on the other side of the river, I shall succeed."

"What preparations are necessary?" asked Cao Cao.

"Just a youth as my servant and a couple of rowers. Nothing else."

Cao Cao offered him wine, wished him success, and sent him on his way.

Clad in a simple linen robe and seated in his little craft, the messenger reached Zhou Yu's camp and bade the guards say that an old friend Jiang Gan wished to see him.

The commander was in his tent at a council when the message came, and he laughed as he said to those about him, "A persuader is coming."

Then he whispered certain instructions in the ear of each one of them, and they went out to await his arrival.

Zhou Yu received his friend in full ceremonial garb. A crowd of officers in rich silken robes were about him. The guest appeared, his sole attendant a lad dressed in a simple blue gown. Jiang Gan bore himself proudly as he advanced, and Zhou Yu made a low obeisance.

"You have been well I hope since last we met," said Jiang Gan.

"You have wandered far and suffered much in this task of emissary in Cao Cao's cause," said Zhou Yu.

"I have not seen you for a very long time," said the envoy much taken aback, "and I came to visit you for the sake of old times. Why do you call me an emissary for the Cao Cao's cause?"

"Though I am not so profound a musician as Shi Kuang of old, yet I can comprehend the thought behind the music," replied Zhou Yu.

"As you choose to treat your old friend like this, I think I will take my leave," said Jiang Gan.

Zhou Yu laughed again, and taking Jiang Gan by the arm, said, "Well, I feared you might be coming on his behalf to try to persuade me. But if this is not your intention, you need not go away so hastily."

So they two entered the tent. When they had exchanged salutes and were seated as friends, Zhou Yu bade them call his officers that he might introduce them. They soon appeared civil and military officials, all dressed in their best. The military officers were clad in glittering silver armor and the staff looked very imposing as they stood ranged in two lines.

The visitor was introduced to them all. Presently a banquet was spread, and while they feasted, the musicians played songs of victory and the wine circulated merrily.

Under the mellowing influence, Zhou Yu's reserve seemed to thaw and he said, "Jiang Gan is an old fellow student of mine, and we are pledged friends. Though he has arrived here from the north, he is no artful pleader so you need not be afraid of him."

Then Zhou Yu took off the commanding sword which he wore as Commander-in-Chief and handed it to Taishi Ci, saying, "You take this and wear it for the day as master of the feast. This day we meet only as friends and speak only of friendship, and if anyone shall begin a discussion of the questions at issue between Cao Cao and the South Land, just slay him."

Taishi Ci took the sword and seated himself in his place. Jiang Gan was not a little overcome, but he said no word.

Zhou Yu said, "Since I assumed command, I have tasted no drop of wine; but today as an old friend is present and there is no reason to fear him, I am going to drink freely."

So saying he quaffed a huge goblet and laughed loudly.

The rhinoceros cups went swiftly round from guest to guest till all were half drunk. Then Zhou Yu, laying hold of the guest's hand, led him outside the tent. The guards who stood around all braced themselves up and seized their shinning weapons.

"Do you not think my soldiers a fine lot of fellows?" said Zhou Yu.

"Strong as bears and bold as tigers," replied Jiang Gan.

Then Zhou Yu led him to the rear of the tent whence he saw the grain and forage piled up in mountainous heaps.

"Do you not think I have a fairly good store of grain and forage?"

"Your troops are brave and your supplies ample: The empire's gossip is not baseless, indeed."

Zhou Yu pretended to be quite intoxicated and went on, "When you and I were students together, we never looked forward to a day like this, did we?"

"For a genius like you, it is nothing extraordinary," said the guest.

Zhou Yu again seized his hand, and they sat down.

"A man of the time, I have found a proper lord to serve. In his service, we rely upon the right feeling between minister and prince outside, and at home we are firm in the kindly feeling of relatives. He listens to my words and follows my plans. We share the same good or evil fortune. Even when the great old persuaders like Su Qin, Zhang Yi, Lu Jia, and Li Yiji lived again, even when their words poured forth like a rushing river, their tongues were as a sharp sword, it is impossible to move such as I am!"

Zhou Yu burst into a loud laugh as he finished, and Jiang Gan's face had become clay-colored. Zhou Yu then led his guest back into the tent, and again they fell to drinking.

Presently Zhou Yu pointed to the others at table and said, "These are all the best and bravest of the land of the south. One might call this the 'Gathering of Heroes.'"

They drank on till daylight failed and continued after lamps had been lit. Zhou Yu even gave an exhibition of sword play and sang this song:

When a man is in the world, O, 
He ought to do his best. 
And when he's done his best, O. 
He ought to have his rest. 
And when I have my rest, O, 
I'll quaff my wine with zest. 
And when I'm drunk as drunk can be, O, 
I'll sing the madman's litany.

A burst of applause greeted the song. By this time it was getting late, and the guest begged to be excused.

"The wine is too much for me," said Jiang Gan.

His host bade them clear the table.

As all the others left, Zhou Yu said, "It has been many a day since I shared a couch with my friend, but we will do so tonight."

Putting on the appearance of irresponsible intoxication, he led Jiang Gan into the tent and they went to bed. Zhou Yu simply fell, all dressed as he was, and lay there emitting uncouth grunts and groans, so that to the guest sleep was impossible.

Jiang Gan lay and listened to the various camp noises without and his host's thunderous snores within. About the second watch he rose and looked at his friend by the dim light of the small lamp. He also saw on the table a heap of papers, and coming out and looking at them furtively, he saw they were letters. Among them he saw one marked as coming from Cai Mao and Zhang Yun, Cao Cao's Supreme Admiral and Vice-Admiral. He read it and this is what it said:

"We surrendered to Cao Cao, not for the sake of pay but under stress of circumstances. Now we have been able to hold these northern soldiers into this naval camp but, as soon as occasion offers, we mean to have the rebel's head to offer as a sacrifice to your banner. From time to time there will be reports as occasions serve, but you may trust us. This is our humble reply to your letter."

"Those two were connected with the South Land in the beginning," thought Jiang Gan, so he secreted the letter in his dress and began to examine the others. But at that moment Zhou Yu turned over, and so Jiang Gan hastily blew out the light and went to his couch.

Zhou Yu was muttering as he lay there as if dreaming, saying, "Friend, I am going to let you see Cao Cao's head in a day or two."

Jiang Gan hastily made some reply to load on his host to say more. Then came, "Wait a few days; you will see Cao Cao's head. The old wretch!"

Jiang Gan tried to question him as to what he meant, but Zhou Yu was fast asleep and seemed to hear nothing. Jiang Gan lay there on his couch wide awake till the fourth watch was beating.

Then someone came in, saying, "General, are you awake?"

At that moment as if suddenly awakened from the deepest slumber, Zhou Yu started up and said, "Who is this on the couch?"

The voice replied, "Do you not remember, General? You asked your old friend to stay the night with you. It is he, of course."

"I drank too much last night," said Zhou Yu in a regretful tone, "and I forgot. I seldom indulge to excess and am not used to it. Perhaps I said many things I ought not."

The voice went on, "A man has arrived from the north."

"Speak lower," said Zhou Yu, and turning toward the sleeper, he called him by name. But Jiang Gan affected to be sound asleep and made no sign.

Zhou Yu crept out of the tent, while Jiang Gan listened with all his ears. He heard the man say, "Cai Mao and Zhang Yun, the two commanders, said that they cannot execute the plan in a hurry."

But listening as he did with straining ears, he could not make out what followed. Soon after Zhou Yu reentered and again called out his companion's name. But no reply came, for Jiang Gan was pretending to be in the deepest slumber and to hear nothing. Then Zhou Yu undressed and went to bed.

As Jiang Gan lay awake, he remembered that Zhou Yu was known to be meticulously careful in affairs, and if in the morning Zhou Yu found that a letter had disappeared, he would certainly slay the offender. So Jiang Gan lay there till near daylight and then called out to his host. Getting no reply, he rose, dressed, and stole out of the tent. Then he called his servant and made for the camp gate.

"Whither are you going, Sir?" said the watchmen at the gate.

"I fear I am in the way here," replied Jiang Gan, "and so I have taken leave of the Commander-in-Chief for a time. So do not stop me."

He found his way to the river bank and reembarked. Then, with flying oars, he hastened back to Cao Cao's camp. When he arrived, Cao Cao asked at once how he had sped, and he had to acknowledge failure.

"Zhou Yu is very clever and perfectly high-minded," said Jiang Gan. "Nothing that I could say moved him in the least."

"Your failure makes me look ridiculous," said Cao Cao.

"Well, if I did not win over Zhou Yu, I found out something for you. Send away these people, and I will tell you," said Jiang Gan.

The servants were dismissed, and then Jiang Gan produced the letter he had stolen from Zhou Yu's tent. He gave it to Cao Cao. Cao Cao was very angry and sent for Cai Mao and Zhang Yun at once.

As soon as they appeared, he said, "I want you two to attack."

Cai Mao replied, "But the soldiers are not yet sufficiently trained."

"The soldiers will be well enough trained when you have sent my head to Zhou Yu, eh?"

Both commanders were dumb-founded, having not the least idea what this meant. They remained silent for they had nothing to say. Cao Cao bade the executioners lead them away to instant death. In a short time their heads were produced.

By this time Cao Cao had thought over the matter, and it dawned upon him that he had been tricked. A poem says:

No one could stand against Cao Cao, 
Of sin he had full share, 
But Zhou Yu was more treacherous, 
And caught him in a snare. 
Two commanders to save their lives, 
Betrayed a former lord, 
Soon after, as was very met. 
Both fell beneath the sword.

The death of these two naval commanders caused much consternation in the camp, and all their colleagues asked the reason for their sudden execution. Though Cao Cao knew they had been victimized, he would not acknowledge it.

So he said, "These two had been remiss, and so had been put to death."

The others were aghast, but nothing could be done. Two other officers, Mao Jie and Yu Jin, were put in command of the naval camp.

Spies took the news to Zhou Yu, who was delighted at the success of his ruse.

"Those two Cai Mao and Zhang Yun were my only source of anxiety," said he. "Now they are gone: I am quite happy."

Lu Su said, "General, if you can continue like this, you need not fear Cao Cao."

"I do not think any of them saw my game," said Zhou Yu, "except Zhuge Liang. He beats me, and I do not think this ruse was hidden from him. You go and sound him. See if he knew."

Zhou Yu's treacherous plot succeeded well, 
Dissension sown, his rivals fell. 
Drunk with success was he, but sought 
To know what cynic Zhuge Liang thought.

What passed between Lu Su and Zhuge Liang will next be related.
"Romance of the Three Kingdoms" (by Luo Guanzhong, Translated by C. H. Brewitt-Taylor)

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Chapter 44

The dying message which Lady Wu recalled to Sun Quan's memory was, "For internal matters consult Zhang Zhao; for external policy Zhou Yu."

Wherefore Zhou Yu was summoned.

But Zhou Yu was already on the way.. He had been training his naval forces on Poyang Lake when he heard of the approach of Cao Cao's hosts and had started for Chaisang without loss of time. So, before the messenger ordered to call him could start, he had already arrived. As he and Lu Su were close friends, the latter went to welcome him and told him of all that had happened.

"Have no anxiety," said Zhou Yu. "I shall be able to decide this. But go quickly and beg Zhuge Liang to come to see me."

So Lu Su went to seek out Zhuge Liang.

Zhou Yu had many other visitors. First came Zhang Zhao, Zhang Hong, Gu Yong, and Bu Zhi to represent their faction to find out what might be afoot.

They were received, and after the exchange of the usual commonplaces, Zhang Zhao said, "Have you heard of our terrible danger?"

"I have heard nothing," said Zhou Yu.

"Cao Cao and his hordes are encamped up the Han River. He has just sent letters asking our lord to hunt with him in Jiangxia. He may have a desire to absorb this country but, if so, the details of his designs are still secret. We prayed our master to give in his submission and so avoid the horrors of war, but now Lu Su has returned bringing with him the Directing Instructor of Liu Bei's army, Zhuge Liang. Zhuge Liang, desiring to avenge himself for the recent defeat, has talked our lord into a mind for war, and Lu Su persists in supporting that policy. They only await your final decision."

Zhou Yu said, "The fact is I have also desired to submit for a long time. I beg you to leave me now, and tomorrow we will see our master, and I shall make up his mind for him."

So they took their leave. Very soon came the military party led by Cheng Pu, Huang Gai, and Han Dang. They were admitted and duly inquired after their host's health.


Then the leader Cheng Pu said, "Have you heard that our country is about to pass under another's government?"

"No, I have heard nothing," replied the host.

"We helped General Sun Quan to establish his authority here and carve out this kingdom, and to gain that end we fought many a battle before we conquered the country. Now our lord lends his ear to his civil officers and desires to submit himself to Cao Cao. This is a most shameful and pitiful course, and we would rather die than follow it. So we hope you will decide to fight, and you may depend upon our struggling to the last person."

"And are you unanimous, Generals?" asked Zhou Yu.

Huang Gai suddenly started up and smote his forehead, saying, "They may take my head, but I swear never to surrender."

"Not one of us is willing to surrender," cried all the others.

"My desire also is to decide matters with Cao Cao on the battlefield. How could we think of submission? Now I pray you retire, Generals, and when I see our lord, I will settle his doubts."

So the war party left. They were quickly succeeded by Zhuge Jin, Lu Fan, and their faction.

They were brought in and, after the usual courtesies, Zhuge Jin said, "My brother has come down the river saying that Liu Bei desires to ally himself with our lord against Cao Cao. The civil and military hold different opinions as to the course to be pursued. But as my brother is so deeply concerned, I am unwilling to say much on either side. We are awaiting your decision."

"And what do you think about it?" asked Zhou Yu.

"Submission is an easy road to tranquillity, while the result of war is hard to foretell."

Zhou Yu smiled, "I shall have my mind made up. Come tomorrow to the palace, and the decision shall be announced."

The trimmers took their leave. But soon after came Lu Meng, Gan Ning, and their supporters, also desirous of discussing the same thing, and they told him that opinions differed greatly, some being for peace and others for war. One party constantly disputed with the other.

"I must not say much now," replied Zhou Yu, "but you will see tomorrow in the palace, when the matter will be fully debated."

They went away leaving Zhou Yu smiling cynically.

About eventide Lu Su and Zhuge Liang came, and Zhou Yu went out to the main gate to receive them.
When they had taken their proper seats, Lu Su spoke first, saying, "Cao Cao has come against the South
Land with a huge army. Our master cannot decide whether to submit or give battle and waits for your decision. What is your opinion?"

Zhou Yu replied, "We may not oppose Cao Cao when he acts at the command of the Emperor. Moreover, he is very strong, and to attack him is to take serious risks. In my opinion, opposition would mean defeat and, since submission means peace, I have decided to advise our lord to write and offer surrender."

"But you are wrong!" stammered Lu Su. "This country has been under the same rule for three generations and cannot be suddenly abandoned to some other. Our late lord Sun Ce said that you were to be consulted on matters beyond the border, and we depended upon you to keep the country as secure and solid as the Taishan Mountains. Now you adopt the view of the weaklings and propose to yield! I cannot believe you mean it."

Replied Zhou Yu, "The six territories contain countless people. If I am the means of bringing upon them the misery of war, they will hate me. So I have decided to advise submission."

"But do you not realize our lord's might and the strength of our country? If Cao Cao does attack, it is very uncertain that he will realize his desire."

The two wrangled for a long time, while Zhuge Liang sat smiling with folded arms.

Presently Zhou Yu asked, "Why do you smile thus, Master?"

And Zhuge Liang replied, "I am smiling at no other than your opponent Lu Su, who knows nothing of the affairs of the day."

"Master," said Lu Su, "what do you mean?"

"Why, this intention to submit is perfectly reasonable. It is the one proper thing."

"There!" exclaimed Zhou Yu. "Zhuge Liang knows the times perfectly well, and he agrees with me."

"But, both of you, why do you say this?" said Lu Su.

Said Zhuge Liang, "Cao Cao is an excellent commander, so good that no one dares oppose him. Only very few have ever attempted it, and they have been exterminated---the world knows them no more. The only exception is Liu Bei, who did not understand the conditions and vigorously contended against him, with the result that he is now at Jiangxia in a very parlous state. To submit is to secure the safety of wives and children, to be rich and honored. But the dignity of the country would be left to chance and fate---however, that is not worth consideration."

Lu Su interrupted angrily, "Would you make our lord crook the knee to such a rebel as Cao Cao?"

"Well," replied Zhuge Liang, "there is another way, and a cheaper. There would be no need to 'lead the sheep and shoulder wine pots' for presents, nor any need to yield territory and surrender seals of office. It would not even be necessary to cross the river yourselves. All you would require is a simple messenger and a little boat to ferry a couple of persons across the river. If Cao Cao only got these two under his hand, his hordes and legions would just drop their weapons, furl their banners, and silently vanish away."

"What two persons could cause Cao Cao to go away as you say?" asked Zhou Yu.

"Two persons who could be easily spared from this populous country. They would not be missed any more than a leaf from a tree or a grain of millet from a granary. But if Cao Cao could only get them, would he not go away rejoicing?"

"But who are the two?" asked Zhou Yu again.

"When I was living in the country, they told me that Cao Cao was building a pavilion on the River Zhang. It was to be named the Bronze Bird Tower. It is an exceedingly handsome building, and he has sought throughout all the world for the most beautiful women to live in it. For Cao Cao really is a sensualist.

"Now there are two very famous beauties in Wu, born of the Qiao family. So beautiful are they that birds alight and fishes drown, the moon hides her face and the flowers blush for shame at sight of them. Cao Cao has declared with an oath that he only wants two things in this world: The imperial throne in peace and the sight of those two women on the Bronze Bird Terraces. Given these two, he would go down to his grave without regret. This expedition of his, his huge army that threatens this country, has for its real aim these two women. Why do you not buy these two from their father, the State Patriarch Qiao, for any sum however large and send them over the river? The object of the army being attained, it will simply be marched away. This is the ruse that Fan Li of Yue made to the king of Wu of the famous beauty Xi Shi."

"How do you know Cao Cao so greatly desires these two?" said Zhou Yu.

"Because his son Cao Zhi, who is an able writer, at the command of his father wrote a poem 'An Ode to the Bronze Bird Terrace,' theme only allowing allusions to the family fitness for the throne. He has sworn to possess these two women. I think I can remember the poem, if you wish to hear it. I admire it greatly."

"Try," said Zhou Yu.

So Zhuge Liang recited the poem:

"Let me follow in the footsteps of the enlightened ruler that I may rejoice,
And ascend the storied terrace that I may gladden my heart,
That I may see the wide extent of the palace,
That I may gaze upon the plans of the virtuous one.
He has established the exalted gates high as the hills,
He has built the lofty towers piercing the blue vault,
He has set up the beautiful building in the midst of the heavens,
Whence the eye can range over the cities of the west.
On the banks of the rolling River Zhang he planned it,
Whence abundance of fruits could be looked for in his gardens.
The two towers rise, one on either flank,
This named Golden Phoenix, that Jade Dragon.
He would have the two Qiaos, these beautiful ladies of Wu,
That he might rejoice with them morning and evening.
Look down; there is the grand beauty of an imperial city,
And the rolling vapors lie floating beneath.
He will rejoice in the multitude of scholars that assemble,
Answering to the felicitous dream of King Wen.
Look up; and there is the gorgeous harmony of springtime,
And the singing of many birds delighting the ear;
The lofty sky stands over all.
The house desires success in its double undertaking,
That the humane influence may be poured out over all the world,
That the perfection of reverence may be offered to the Ruler.
Only the richly prosperous rule of Kings Wu and Huan
Could compare with that of the sacred understanding
That fortune! What beauty!
The gracious kindness spreads afar,
The imperial family is supported,
Peace reigns over all the empire,
Bounded only by the universe.
Bright as the glory of the sun and moon,
Ever honorable and ever enduring,
The Ruler shall live to the age of the eastern emperor,
The dragon banner shall wave to the farthest limit.
His glorious chariot shall be guided with perfect wisdom,
His thoughts shall reform all the world,
Felicitous produce shall be abundant,
And the people shall rest firm.
My desire is that these towers shall endure forever,
And that joy shall never cease through all the ages.

Zhou Yu listened to the end but then suddenly jumped up in a tremendous rage.

Turning to the north and pointing with his finger, he cried, "You old rebel, this insult is too deep!"

Zhuge Liang hastily rose too and soothed him, saying, "But remember the Khan of the Xiongnu People. The Han emperor gave him a princess of the family to wife although he had made many incursions into our territory. That was the price of peace. You surely would not grudge two more women from among the common people."

"You do not know, Sir," replied Zhou Yu. "Of those two women of the Qiao family you mentioned, Elder Qiao is the widow of Sun Ce, our late ruler, and Younger Qiao is my wife!"

Zhuge Liang feigned the greatest astonishment and said, "No indeed: I did not know. I blundered---a deadly fault---a deadly fault!"

"One of us two has to go: Either the old rebel or I. We shall not both live. I swear that!" cried Zhou Yu.

"However, such a matter needs a good deal of thought," replied Zhuge Liang. "We must not make any mistake."

Zhou Yu replied, "I hold a sacred trust from my late lord, Sun Ce. I would not bow the knee to any such as Cao Cao. What I said just now was to see how you stood. I left Poyang Lake with the intention of attacking the north, and nothing can change that intention, not even the sword at my breast or the ax on my neck. But I trust you will lend an arm, and we will smite Cao Cao together."

"Should I be happy enough not to be rejected, I would render such humble service as I could. Perhaps presently I might be able to offer a plan to oppose him."

"I am going to see my lord tomorrow to discuss this matter," said Zhou Yu.

Zhuge Liang and Lu Su then left.

Next day at dawn Sun Quan went to the council chamber, where his officials, civil and military, were already assembled. They numbered about sixty in all. The civil, with Zhang Zhao at their head, were on the right; the military, with Cheng Pu as their leader, were ranged on the left. All were in full ceremonial dress, and the swords of the soldiers clanked on the pavement.

Soon Zhou Yu entered.

When Sun Quan had finished the usual gracious remarks, Zhou Yu said, "I hear that Cao Cao is encamped on the river and has sent a dispatch to you, my lord. I would ask what your opinion is."

Thereupon the dispatch was produced and handed to Zhou Yu.

After reading it through he said, smiling, "The old thief thinks there are no people in this land that he writes in this contemptuous strain."

"What do you think, Sir?" asked Sun Quan.

"Have you discussed this with the officials?" asked Zhou Yu.

"We have been discussing this for days. Some counsel surrender and some advise fight. I am undecided, and therefore I have asked you to come and decide the point."

"Who advise surrender?" asked Zhou Yu.

"Zhang Zhao and his party are firmly set in this opinion."

Zhou Yu then turned to Zhang Zhao and said, "I should be pleased to hear why you are for surrender, Master."

Then Zhang Zhao replied, "Cao Cao has been attacking all opponents in the name of the Emperor, who is entirely in his hands. He does everything in the name of the government. Lately he has taken Jingzhou and thereby increased his prestige. Our defense against him was the Great River, but now he also has a large fleet and can attack by water. How can we withstand him? Wherefore I counsel submission till some chance shall offer."

"This is but the opinion of an ill-advised student," said Zhou Yu. "How can you think of abandoning this country that we have held for three generations?"

"That being so," said Sun Quan, "where is a plan to come from?"

"Though Cao Cao assumes the name of the Prime Minister of the empire, he is at heart a rebel. You, O General, are able in war and brave. You are the heir to your father and brother. You command brave and tried soldiers, and you have plentiful supplies. You are able to overrun the whole country and rid it of every evil. There is no reason why you should surrender to a rebel.

"Moreover, Cao Cao has undertaken this expedition in defiance of all the rules of war. The north is unsubdued. Ma Teng and Han Sui threaten his rear, and yet he persists in his southern march. This is the first point against Cao Cao. The northern soldiers are unused to fighting on the water. Cao Cao is relinquishing his well-tried cavalry and trusting to ships. That is the second point against him. Again, we are now in full winter and the weather is at its coldest so there is no food for the horses. That is the third point against. Soldiers from the central state marching in a wet country among lakes and rivers will find themselves in an unaccustomed climate and suffer from malaria.

That is the fourth point against. Now when Cao Cao's armies have all these points against them, defeat is certain, however numerous they may be, and you can take Cao Cao captive just as soon as you wish. Give me a few legions of veterans, and I will go and destroy him."

Sun Quan started up from his place, saying, "The rebellious old rascal has been wanting to overthrow the Hans and set up himself for years. He has rid himself of all those he feared, save only myself, and I swear that one of us two shall go now. Both of us cannot live. What you say, noble friend, is just what I think, and Heaven has certainly sent you to my assistance."

"Thy servant will fight a decisive battle," said Zhou Yu, "and shrink not from any sacrifice. Only, General, do not hesitate."

Sun Quan drew the sword that hung at his side and slashed off a corner of the table in front of him, exclaiming, "Let any other person mention surrender, and he shall be served as I have served this table!"

Then he handed the sword to Zhou Yu, at the same time giving him a commission as Commander-in-Chief and Supreme Admiral, Cheng Pu being Vice-Admiral. Lu Su was also nominated as Assistant Commander.

In conclusion Sun Quan said, "With this sword you will slay any officer who may disobey your commands."

Zhou Yu took the sword and turning to the assembly said, "You have heard our lord's charge to me to lead you to destroy Cao Cao. You will all assemble tomorrow at the riverside camp to receive my orders. Should any be late or fail, then the full rigor of military law---the seven prohibitions and the fifty-four capital penalties---there provided, will be enforced."

Zhou Yu took leave of Sun Quan and left the chamber. The various officers also went their several ways.

When Zhou Yu reached his own place, he sent for Zhuge Liang to consult over the business in hand. He told Zhuge Liang of the decision that had been taken and asked for a plan of campaign.

"But your master has not yet made up his mind," said Zhuge Liang. "Till he has, no plan can be decided upon."

"What do you mean?"

"In his heart, Sun Quan is still fearful of Cao Cao's numbers and frets over the inequality of the two armies. You will have to explain away those numbers and bring him to a final decision before anything can be effected."

"What you say is excellent," said Zhou Yu, and he went to the palace that night to see his master.

Sun Quan said, "You must have something of real importance to say if you come like this at night."

Zhou Yu said, "I am making my dispositions tomorrow. You have quite made up your mind?"

"The fact is," said Sun Quan, "I still feel nervous about the disparity of numbers. Surely we are too few. That is really all I feel doubtful about."

"It is precisely because you have this one remaining doubt that I am come. And I will explain. Cao Cao's letter speaks of a million of marines, and so you feel doubts and fears and do not wait to consider the real truth. Let us examine the case thoroughly. We find that he has of central regions' soldiers, say, some one hundred fifty thousand troops, and many of them are sick. He only got seventy or eighty thousand northern soldiers from Yuan Shao, and many of those are of doubtful loyalty. Now these sick men and these men of doubtful loyalty seem a great many, but they are not at all fearsome. I could smash them with fifty thousand soldiers. You, my lord, have no further anxiety."

Sun Quan patted his general on the back, saying, "You have explained my difficulty and relieved my doubts. Zhang Zhao is a fool who constantly bars my expeditions. Only you and Lu Su have any real understanding of my heart. Tomorrow you and Lu Su and Cheng Pu will start, and I shall have a strong reserve ready with plentiful supplies to support you. If difficulties arise, you can at once send for me, and I will engage with my own army."

Zhou Yu left. But in his innermost heart, he said to himself, "If that Zhuge Liang can gauge my master's thoughts so very accurately, he is too clever for me and will be a danger. He will have to be put out of the way."

Zhou Yu sent a messenger over to Lu Su to talk over this last scheme. When he had laid it bare, Lu Su did not favor it.

"No, no," said Lu Su, "it is self-destruction to make away with your ablest officer before Cao Cao shall have been destroyed."

"But Zhuge Liang will certainly help Liu Bei to our disadvantage."

"Try what his brother Zhuge Jin can do to persuade him. It would be an excellent thing to have these two in our service."

"Yes, indeed," replied Zhou Yu.

Next morning at dawn, Zhou Yu went to his camp and took his seat in the council tent. The armed guards took up their stations right and left, and the officers ranged themselves in lines to listen to the orders.

Now Cheng Pu, who was older than Zhou Yu but was made second in command, was very angry at being passed over, so he made a pretense of indisposition and stayed away from this assembly. But he sent his eldest son, Cheng Zi, to represent him.

Zhou Yu addressed the gathering, saying, "The law knows no partiality, and you will all have to attend to your several duties. Cao Cao is now more absolute than ever was Dong Zhuo, and the Emperor is really a prisoner in Xuchang, guarded by the most cruel soldiers. We have a command to destroy Cao Cao, and with your willing help we shall advance. The army must cause no hardship to the people anywhere. Rewards for good service and punishments for faults shall be given impartially."

Having delivered this charge, Zhou Yu told off Han Dang and Huang Gai as Leaders of the Van, and ordered the ships under their own command to get under way and go to the Three Gorges. They would get orders by and bye. Then he appointed four armies with two leaders over each: The first body was under Jiang Qin and Zhou Tai; the second, Pan Zhang and Ling Tong; the third, Taishi Ci and Lu Meng; the fourth, Lu Xun and Dong Xi. Lu Fan and Zhu Zhi were appointed inspectors, to move from place to place and keep the various units up to their work and acting with due regard to the general plan. Land and marine forces were to move simultaneously. The expedition would soon start.

Having received their orders, each returned to his command and busied himself in preparation. Cheng Zi, the son of Cheng Pu, returned and told his father what arrangements had been made, and Cheng Pu was amazed at Zhou Yu's skill.

Said he, "I have always despised Zhou Yu as a mere student who would never be a general, but this shows that he has a leader's talent. I must support him."

So Cheng Pu went over to the quarters of the Commander-in-Chief and confessed his fault. He was received kindly and all was over.

Next Zhou Yu sent for Zhuge Jin and said to him, "Evidently your brother is a genius, a man born to be a king's counselor. Why then does he serve Liu Bei? Now that he is here, I wish you to use every effort to persuade him to stay with us. Thus our lord would gain able support and you two brothers would be together, which would be pleasant for you both. I wish you success."

Zhuge Jin replied, "I am ashamed of the little service I have rendered since I came here, and I can do no other than obey your command to the best of my ability."

Thereupon he went away to his brother, whom he found in the guest-house. The younger brother received him; and when he had reached the inner rooms, Zhuge Liang bowed respectfully and, weeping, told his experiences since they parted and his sorrow at their separation.

Then Zhuge Jin, weeping also, said, "Brother, do you remember the story of Bo Yi and Shu Qi, the brothers who would not be separated?"

"Ah, Zhou Yu has sent him to talk me over," thought Zhuge Liang. So he replied, "They were two of the noble people of old days. Yes, I know."

"Those two, although they perished of hunger near the Shouyang Hills, yet never separated. You and I, born of the same mother and suckled at the same breast, yet serve different masters and never meet. Are you not ashamed when you think of such examples as Bo Yi and Shu Qi?"

Zhuge Liang replied, "You are talking now of love, but what I stand for is duty. We are both men of Han, and Liu Bei is of the family. If you, brother, could leave the South Land and join me in serving the rightful branch, then on the one side we should be honored as Ministers of Han, and on the other we should be together as people of the same flesh and blood should be. Thus love and duty would both receive their proper meed. What do you think of it, my brother?"

"I came to persuade him and lo! It is I who is being talked over," thought Zhuge Jin.

He had no fitting reply to make, so he rose and took his leave. Returning to Zhou Yu, he related the story of the interview.

"What do you think?" asked Zhou Yu.

"General Sun Quan has treated me with great kindness, and I could not turn my back on him," replied Zhuge Jin.

"Since you decide to remain loyal, there is no need to say much. I think I have a plan to win over your brother."

The wisest people see eye to eye,
For each but sees the right;
But should their several interests clash,
They all the fiercer fight.

The means by which Zhou Yu tried to get the support of Zhuge Liang will be described in the next chapter.

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