Romance of Three Kingdoms Chapter 120

Recommending Du Yu, An Old General Offers New Plans;
Capturing Of Sun Hao, Three Kingdoms Becomes One.

When Sun Xiu, the Ruler of Wu, knew that the House of Wei had fallen before the Jins, he also knew that the usurper’s next thought would be the conquest of his own land. The anxiety made him ill, so that he took to his bed and was like to die. He then summoned to his bedside his Prime Minister, Puyang Xing, and his heir, Sun Wan. But they two came almost too late. The dying Ruler, with his last effort, took the Minister by the hand, but could only point to his son. Then he died.

Puyang Xing left the couch and called a meeting of the officers, whereat he proposed to place the heir on his father’s throne.

Then Wan Yu, Inspector of the Left Army, rose and said, “Prince Sun Wan is too youthful to rule in such troublous times. Let us confer the throne to Sun Hao, Lord of Wucheng.”

Zhang Bu, General of the Left Army, supported his election, saying, “Sun Hao is able and prompt in decision. He can handle the responsibilities of an emperor.”

However, Puyang Xing was doubtful and consulted the Empress Dowager.

“Settle this with the officials;” she replied, “I am a widow and know nothing of such matters.”

Finally Sun Hao won the day, and in the seventh month he was enthroned as Emperor of Wu, and the first year of his reign was Prosperous Beginning (AD 264). Sun Hao was the son of Sun He, a former Heir Apparent, and grandson of Sun Quan the Great Emperor. The excluded prince, Sun Wan, was consoled with the title of Prince of Yuzhang. Posthumous rank was given to his late father, Sun He the Scholar Emperor, and his mother, Lady He, the Scholar Empress. The Veteran Leader Ding Feng was made Commander of the Right and Left Armies.

However, the year-style was changed to Sweet Dew the very next year. The new ruler soon proved himself cruel and oppressive and day by day grew more so. Sun Hao indulged in every form of vice and chose Eunuch Cen Hun as his confidant and favorite. When Prime Minister Puyang Xing and General Zhang Bu ventured upon remonstrance, both, with all their family, were put to death. Thereafter none dared to speak; the mouth of every courtier was shut tight.

Another year-style, Treasured Paramount, was adopted the next year (266), and the responsibility of the Prime Minister’s office was shared by two officers, Lu Kuai the Left and Wan Yu the Right.

At this time the imperial residence was in Wuchang. The people of Yangzhou shouldered heavy tribute and suffered exceedingly. There was no limit to the Ruler’s extravagance. The treasury was swept clean, and the income of the royal domain exhausted.

At length Lu Kuai, Left Prime Minister, ventured a memorial, saying:

“No natural calamity has fallen upon the people, yet they starve; no public work is in progress, yet the treasury is empty. I am distressed. The country under the Hans has fallen apart and three states have arisen therefrom. Those ruled by the Caos and the Lius, as the result of their own folly, have been lost in Jin. Foolish I may be, but I would protect the state for Your Majesty against the evils we have seen in the other divisions. This city of Wuchang is not safe as a royal residence. There is a rhyme concerning it, the gist of which is that it is better to drink the water of Jianye than eat the fish of Wuchang, better to die in Jianye than to live in Wuchang. This shows the regard of the people as well as the will of Heaven. Now the public storehouses are nearly empty; they contain insufficient for a year’s use. The officers of all grades vex and distress the people and none pity them.

“In former times the Palace women numbered less than a hundred; for years past they have exceeded a thousand. This is an extravagant waste of treasure. The courtiers render no disinterested service, but are split into cliques and cabals. The honest are injured, and the good driven away. All these things undermine the state and weaken the people. I beg Your Majesty to reduce the number of officers and remove grievances, to dismiss the Palace women and select honest officers, to the joy of the people and the tranquillity of the state.”

But the Ruler of Wu was displeased, threw the memorial away, and showed his contempt for the Minister’s remonstrance by beginning to collect material for the building of a new palace complex to be called the Reflected Light Palace. He even made the officers of the court go into the forest to fell trees for the work.

The Ruler of Wu called in the soothsayer Shang Guang and bade him take the cast and inquire as to the attainment of empire.

Shang Guang cast a lot and replied, “All is propitious, and in the year of the ‘mouse’ your blue umbrella will enter Luoyang!”

And Sun Hao was pleased.

He said to Minister Hua Jiao, “The former Rulers listened to your words and sent generals to various points and placed defensive camps along the rivers. And over all these was set Ding Feng. Now my desire is to conquer Han and avenge the wrongs of my brother, the Ruler of Shu. What place should be first conquered?”

Hua Jiao replied, “Now that Chengdu has fallen and the Throne there been overturned, Sima Yan will assuredly desire to absorb this southern land. Your Majesty should display virtue and restore confidence to your people. That would be the best plan. If you engage in war, it will be like throwing on hemp to put out a fire—the hemp only adds to the blaze. This is worthy of careful consideration.”

But Sun Hao grew angry and said, “I desire to take this opportunity to return to my real heritage. Why do you employ this ill-omened language? Were it not for your long service, now would I slay you and expose your head as a warning.”

He bade the lictors hustle Minister Hua Jiao from his presence, and Hua Jiao left the court.

“It is pitiful,” said Hua Jiao. “Ere long our silky, beautiful country will pass to another!”

So Hua Jiao retired.

And the Ruler of Wu ordered Lu Kang, General Who Guards the East, to camp his army at Jiangkou in order to attack Xiangyang.

Spies reported this in Luoyang, and it was told the Ruler of Jin. When Sima Yan heard that the army of Wu threatened to invade Xiangyang, he called a council.

Jia Chong stood forth, saying, “I hear the government of Wu, under its present ruler, Sun Hao, is devoid of virtue, and the Ruler of Wu has turned aside out of the road. Your Majesty should send Commander Yang Hu to oppose this army. When internal trouble shall arise, let him attack, and victory will then be easy.”

The Ruler of Jin issued an edict ordering Yang Hu to prepare, and so he mustered his troops and set himself to guard the county.

Yang Hu became very popular in Xiangyang. Any of the soldiers of Wu who desired to desert to the other side were allowed to come over. He employed only the fewest possible troops on patrol duty. Instead he set his soldiers to till the soil, and they cultivated an extensive area, whereby the hundred days supplies with which they set out were soon increased to enough for ten years.

Yang Hu maintained great simplicity, wearing the lightest of garments and no armor. His personal escort and servants numbered only about ten.

One day his officers came to his tent and said, “The spies reported great laxity in the enemy’s camp. It is time to make an attack!”

But Yang Hu replied, “You must not despise Lu Kang, for he is able and crafty. Formerly his master sent him to attack Xiling, and he slew Bu Chan and many of his generals, before I could save that city. So long as Lu Kang remains in command, I shall remain on the defensive. I shall not attack till there be trouble and confusion among our enemies. To be rash and not await the proper moment to attack is to invite defeat.”

They found him wise and said no more. They only kept the boundaries.

One day Yang Hu and his officers went out to hunt, and it happened that Lu Kang had chosen the same day to hunt. Yang Hu gave strict orders not to cross the boundary, and so each hunted only on his own side.

Lu Kang was astonished at the enemy’s scrupulous propriety.

He sighed, “The soldiers of Yang Hu have so high a discipline that I may not make any invasion now.”

In the evening, after both parties had returned, Yang Hu ordered an inspection of the slaughtered game and sent over to the other side any that seemed to have been first struck by the soldiers of Wu.

Lu Kang was greatly pleased and sent for the bearers of the game.

“Does your leader drink wine?” asked he.

They replied, “Only fine wines does he drink.”

“I have some very old wine,” replied Lu Kang, smiling, “and I will give of it to you to bear to your general as a gift. It is the wine I myself brew and drink on ceremonial occasions, and he shall have half in return for today’s courtesy.”

They took the wine and left.

“Why do you give him wine?” asked Lu Kang’s officers.

“Because he has shown kindness, and I must return courtesy for courtesy.”

When the gift of wine arrived and the bearers told Yang Hu the story of their reception, he laughed.

“So he knows I can drink,” said Yang Hu.

He had the jar opened, and the wine was poured out. One of his generals, Chen Yuan, begged him to drink moderately lest there should be some harm come of it.

“Lu Kang is no poisoner,” replied Yang Hu.

And he drank. The friendly intercourse thus continued, and messengers frequently passed from one camp to the other.

One day the messengers said that Lu Kang was unwell and had been ailing for several days.

“I think he suffers from the same complaint as I,” said Yang Hu. “I have some remedies ready prepared and will send him some.”

The drugs were taken over to the Wu camp.

But the sick man’s officers were suspicious and said, “This medicine is surely harmful: It comes from the enemy.”

However, Lu Kang said, “No; old Uncle Yang Hu would not poison a person. Do not doubt.”

He drank the decoction. Next day he was much better.

When his staff came to congratulate him, he said, “If our opponents take their stand upon virtue and we take ours upon violence, they will drag us after them without fighting. See to it that the boundaries be well kept and that we seek not to gain any unfair advantage.”

Soon after came a special envoy from the Ruler of Wu to urge upon Lu Kang prompt activity.

“Our Emperor sends orders for you to press forward,” said the envoy. “You are not to await a Jin invasion.”

“You may return, and I will send up a memorial,” replied Lu Kang.

So a memorial was written and soon followed the envoy to the capital, which by this time was Jianye. When the Ruler of Wu, Sun Hao, read it, he found therein many arguments against attacking Jin and exhortations to exercise a virtuous rule instead of engaging in hostilities. It angered him.

“They say Lu Kang has come to an understanding with the enemy, and now I believe it!” said the Ruler of Wu.

Thereupon he deprived Lu Kang of his command and took away his commission and degraded him into Marching General. Sun Ji, General of the Left Army, was sent to supersede Lu Kang. And none dared to intervene.

Sun Hao became still more arbitrary and of his own will changed the year-style once more to the Phoenix (AD 269). Day by day his life became more wanton and vicious. The soldiers in every camp murmured with anger and resentment, and at last three high officers—Prime Minister Wan Yu, General Liu Ping, and Minister of Agriculture Lou Xuan—boldly and earnestly remonstrated with the Emperor for his many irregularities. They suffered death. Within ten years more than forty ministers were put to death for doing their duty.

Sun Hao maintained an extravagantly large guard of fifty thousand heavy cavalry, and these soldiers were the terror of everyone.

Now when Yang Hu, on the Jin side of the frontier, heard that his opponent Lu Kang had been removed from his command and that the conduct of the Ruler of Wu had become wholly unreasonable, he knew that the time was near for him to conquer Wu. Wherefore he presented a memorial:

“Although fate is superior to human, yet success depends upon human effort. Now as the geographic difficulties of the South Land are not as those of the River Lands, while the ferocity of Sun Hao exceeds that of Liu Shan, the misery of the people of Wu exceeds that of the dwellers in Shu. Our armies are stronger than ever before, and if we miss this opportunity to bring the whole land under one rule, but continue to weary our army with continual watching and cause the world to groan under the burden of militarism, then our efficiency will decline and we shall not endure.”

When Sima Yan read this, he gave orders for the army to move. But three officers—Jia Chong, Xun Xu, and Feng Dan—opposed it, and the orders were withdrawn.

Yang Hu was disappointed at the news and said, “What a pity it is that of ten affairs in the world, one always meets with eight or nine vexations!”

In the fourth year of Universal Tranquillity, in Jin calendar (AD 278), Yang Hu went to court and asked leave to retire on account of ill health.

Before granting him leave to go, Sima Yan asked, “Do you have plans to propose to settle the empire?”

Yang Hu replied, “Sun Hao is a very cruel ruler and could be conquered without fighting. If he were to die and a wise successor sat upon his throne, Your Majesty would never be able to gain possession of Wu.”

The Ruler of Jin realized the truth, and he said, “Suppose your army attacked now. What then?”

“I am now too old and too ill for the task,” replied Yang Hu. “Some other bold and capable leader must be found.”

Yang Hu left the court and retired to his home. Toward the end of the year he was nigh unto death, and the Ruler of Jin went to visit him. The sight of his master at his bedside brought tears to the eyes of the faithful old leader.

“If I died a myriad times, I could never requite Your Majesty,” said Yang Hu.

Sima Yan also wept, saying, “My great grief is that I could not take advantage of your abilities to attack Wu. Who now is there to carry out your design?”

Hesitatingly the sick man replied, “I am dying and must be wholly sincere. General Du Yu is equal to the task, and is the one man to attack Wu.”

Sima Yan said, “How beautiful it is to bring good people into prominence! But why did you write a memorial recommending certain people and then burn the draft so that no one knew?”

The dying man answered, “I bowed before the officials in open court, but I did not beseech the kindness of the private attendants.”

So Yang Hu died, and Sima Yan wailed for him and then returned to his palace. He conferred on the dead leader the posthumous rank of Imperial Guardian and Lord of Juping. The traders closed their shops out of respect to his memory, and all the frontier camps were filled with wailing. The people of Xiangyang, recalling that he loved to wander on the Xian Hills, built there a temple to him and set up a stone and sacrificed regularly at the four seasons. The passers-by were moved to tears when they read Yang Hu’s name on the tablet, so that it came to be called “The Stone of Tears”.

I saw the fragments of a shattered stone
One spring time on the hillside, when, alone,
I walked to greet the sun. The pines distilled
Big drops of dew unceasing; sadness filled
My heart. I knew this was the Stone of Tears,
The stone of memory of long-past years.

On the strength of Yang Hu’s recommendation, Du Yu was made Commander of Jingzhou, and the title of General Who Guards the South was conferred upon him. He was a man of great experience, untiring in study and devoted to the Zuo Volume, the book of commentaries composed by Zuo Qiuming upon the Spring and Autumn Annals. In hours of leisure, a copy of Zuo Volume was never out of his hand; and when he went abroad, an attendant rode in front with the beloved book. He was said to be “Zuo mad”.

Du Yu went to Xiangyang and began by being kind to the people and caring for his soldiers. By this time Wu had lost by death both Ding Feng and Lu Kang.

The conduct of the Ruler of Wu waxed worse and worse. He used to give great banquets whereat intoxication was universal. He appointed Rectors of Feasts to observe all the faults committed by guests, and after these banquets all offenders were punished, some by flaying the face, others by gouging out the eyes. Everyone went in terror of these Rectors.

Wang Jun, Imperial Protector of Yizhou, sent in a memorial advising an attack upon Wu. He said:

“Sun Hao is steeped in vice and should be attacked at once. Should he die and be succeeded by a good ruler, we might meet with serious opposition. The ships I built seven years ago lie idle and rotting: We can use them. I am seventy years of age and must soon die. If any one of these three events happen—the death of Sun Hao, the destruction of these ships, or my death—then success will be difficult to ensure. I pray Your Majesty not to miss the tide.”

At the next assembly of officers Sima Yan said to them, “I have decided to act. I have received similar advice from Yang Hu and Wang Jun.”

At this arose Minister Wang Hun and said, “I hear Sun Hao intends to march north to the Middle Land and has his army ready. Report says it is formidable and would be hard to defeat. I counsel to await another year till that army has lost its first vigor.”

A command to cease warlike preparations was the result of this counsel. The Ruler of Jin betook himself to his private chamber where he engaged in a game of chess with Secretary Zhang Hua as opponent. While at the game, another memorial arrived. It was from Du Yu. It read:

“Formerly Yang Hu explained his plans confidentially to Your Majesty, but did not lay them before the court. The result has been much debate and conflict of opinion. In every project there are pros and cons, but in this the arguments are mostly in favor. The worst that can happen is failure. Since last autumn the proposed attack has become generally known, and, if we stop now, Sun Hao will be frightened and remove the capital to Wuchang, repair his fortifications in the South Land, and move his threatened people out of danger. Then the southern capital cannot be assaulted, nor is there anything left in the countryside to rob. Hence next year’s attack will also fail.”

Just as the Ruler of Jin finished reading, Zhang Hua pushed aside the board, rose and drew his hands into his sleeves, saying, “Your Majesty’s skill in war is almost divine, your state is prosperous, and the army strong. The Ruler of Wu is a tyrant, his people are miserable, and his country mean. Now you can easily conquer him, and I pray that there be no further hesitation!”

“How could I hesitate after your discourse?” said Sima Yan.

Thereupon he returned to the council chamber and issued his commands. Du Yu was made Commander-in-Chief and, with one hundred thousand troops, was to attack Jiangling; Sima Zhou, Prince of Langye and General Who Guards the East, was to attack Tuzhong; Wang Hun, General Who Conquers the East, to go up against Hengjiang; Wang Rong, General Who Exhibits Prowess, to move against Wuchang; Hu Fen, General Who Pacifies the South, to attack Xiakou. And all divisions, fifty thousand troops each, were under the orders of Du Yu. In addition to the land forces, two large fleets were to operate on the river under Wang Jun, General Who Shows Dragon Courage, and Tang Bin, General Who Possesses Martial Bravery. Marines and lands troops amounted to more than two hundred thousand. A separate force under Yang Ji, General Who Holds the South, was sent away to Xiangyang to coordinate all forces.

The Ruler of Wu was greatly alarmed at the news of such armies and fleets, and he called to him quickly his Prime Minister Zhang Ti, Minister of the Interior He Zhi, and Minister of Works Teng Xun, to consult how to defend his land.

Zhang Ti proposed: “Send Commander of the Flying Chariots Wu Yan to meet the enemy at Jiangling; Commander of the Flying Cavalry Sun Xin to Xiakou; I volunteer to take command of a camp at Niuzhu, together with the General of the Left Army Shen Zong and General of the Right Army Zhuge Xing, ready to lend help at any point.”

The Ruler of Wu approved his dispositions and felt satisfied that he was safe by land. But in the privacy of his own apartment he felt miserable, for he realized that no preparations had been made against an attack by water under the Wei leader Wang Jun.

Then the favorite eunuch Cen Hun asked the Emperor why he bore a sad countenance, and Sun Hao told him of his dread of the enemy navy.

“The armies of Jin are coming, and I have deployed troops for general defense. Only the water front, by which Wang Jun and his several thousand battleships sail east along the tide, makes me feel so worried.”

“But I have a scheme that will smash all Wang Jun’s ships!” cried Cen Hun.

“What is it?” asked the Ruler of Wu, pleased to hear this.

“Iron is plentiful. Make great chains with heavy links and stretch them across the river at various points. Also forge many massive hammers and arrange them in the stream, so that when the enemy’s ships sail down before the wind, they will collide with the hammers and be wrecked. Then they will sail no more.”

Blacksmiths were soon at work on the river bank welding the links and forging the hammers. Work went on day and night, and soon all the chains were placed in different points.

As has been said Du Yu was to attack Jiangling, and he sent General Zhou Zhi with eight hundred sailors to sail secretly along the Great River to capture Yuexiang. There they were to make an ambush in the Bashan Mountains and a great show of flags along the bank and among the trees. Drums were to be beaten and bombs exploded during the day and many fires lighted at night to give the appearance of a great army.

So Zhou Zhi sailed to the Bashan Mountains.

Next day Du Yu directed the army and the marine forces in a simultaneous advance.

The scouts reported: “The Ruler of Wu has sent the land force under Wu Yan, the navy under Lu Jing, and the vanguard under Sun Xin!”

Du Yu led his forces forward. The vanguard of Wu, under Sun Xin, came up, and at the first encounter Du Yu’s army retired. Sun Xin landed his marines and pursued. But in the midst of the pursuit a signal bomb sounded, and Sun Xin was attacked on all sides by the Jin troops. He tried to retire, but the army he had been pursuing, Du Yu’s force, turned back too and joined in the attack. Wu’s losses were very heavy, and Sun Xin hastened back to the city. But the eight hundred Jin soldiers of Zhou Zhi mingled with the Wu army at the ramparts and so entered the gates. The Jin soldiers raised signal fires on the walls.

This maneuver amazed Sun Xin, and he said, “The northern troops had surely flown across the river into the city!”

Sun Xin made an effort to escape, but the leader of Jin, Zhou Zhi, unexpectedly appeared and slew him.

Admiral Lu Jing of the Wu fleet of that had accompanied Sun Xin saw on the south shore, in the Bashan Mountains, a great standard bearing the name Jin General Who Guards the South Du Yu. Lu Jing became alarmed and landed to try to escape, but the Jin General Zhang Shang soon found and slew him.

At his position at Jiangling, Wu Yan heard of these defeats and knew his position was untenable, so he fled. However, he was soon captured and led into the presence of the victorious general.

“No use sparing you,” said Du Yu, and he sentenced the prisoner to death.

Thus Jiangling was captured and all the counties along the River Xiang and River Yuan as far as Huangzhou, which surrendered at the first summons.

Du Yu sent out officers to soothe the people of the conquered counties, and they suffered nothing from the soldiery. Next he marched toward Wuchang, and that city also yielded. So the glory of Du Yu became very great. He then summoned his officers to a council to decide upon attacking Capital Jianye.

Hu Fen said, “A one-century rebellion will not be reduced completely at once. The time of the spring rise of waters is near, and our position is precarious. We should do well to await the coming spring.”

Du Yu replied, “In the days of old, Yue Yi overcame the powerful state Qi in one battle in Jixi. Our prestige is now high and success certain, easy as the splitting of a bamboo, which seems to welcome the knife after the first few joints have been overcome. We shall meet no great opposition.”

So Du Yu gave orders to the various leaders to move in concert against the capital land of Jianye.

Now the Jin leader Wang Jun had gone down the river with his naval force. From his scouts he heard of the iron chains and the hammers that had been laid in the river to hinder his progress. But he only laughed. He constructed great rafts of timber and placed on them straw effigies of soldiers in armors and sent them down river with the current. The defenders of Wu took them for real troops and, alarmed by their numbers, fled in panic. Then the great hammers and chains were dragged away as the rafts drifted on. Moreover, on the rafts they laid great torches many fathoms long, and very thick, made of straw soaked in linseed oil. When the raft was checked by a chain, the torches were lighted and the chains exposed to the heat till they melted and broke asunder. Thus the rafts went down stream conquering wherever they came.

Then the Prime Minister of Wu, Zhang Ti, sent two leaders, General of the Left Army Shen Zong and General of the Right Army Zhuge Xing, to try to check the advance of the armies.

Shen Zong said to his colleague, “The forces above have failed to stop the enemy, and the enemy will surely come here. We shall have to put forth all our strength. If haply we can succeed, the safety of our South Land is assured. But suppose we fight and lose the battle, then is our country lost.”

“Sir, you only say what is too true,” said Zhuge Xing.

Just as they talked of these matters came reports of the approach of their enemies in irresistible force. The two leaders were seized with panic and went back to see the Prime Minister.

“Our country is lost!” cried Zhuge Xing. “Why not run?”

“We all know that the land is doomed,” replied Zhang Ti. “But if we make no defense, and no one dies for his country, shall we not be shamed?”

Zhuge Xing left, weeping; and Zhang Ti went with Shen Zong to the army. The invaders soon arrived, and the Jin General Zhou Zhi was the first to break into the camp. Zhang Ti resisted stubbornly, but was soon slain in a melee, and Shen Zong was killed by Zhou Zhi. The army of Wu was defeated and scattered.

Jin’s army banners waved on Bashan Mountains
And trusty Zhang Ti in Jiangling fighting died;
He accepted not that the kingly grace was spent,
He rather chose to die than shame his side.

The armies of Jin conquered at Niuzhu and penetrated deeply into the country of Wu. From his camp Wang Jun sent a report of his victory to Luoyang, and Sima Yan was pleased.

But Jia Chong again opposed further fighting, saying, “The armies have been long absent, and the soldiers will suffer from the unhealthiness of the southern country. It would be well to call them home.”

Zhang Hua spoke against this course, saying, “The Jin army has reached the very home and center of the enemy. Soon Wu courage will fail, and the Ruler of Wu himself will be our prisoner. To recall the army now would be to waste the efforts already made.”

The Ruler of Jin inclined to neither side.

Jia Chong turned upon Zhang Hua savagely, saying, “You are wholly ignorant and understand nothing. You are bent upon winning some sort of glory at the expense of our soldiers’ lives. Death would be too good for you!”

“Why wrangle?” said Sima Yan. “Zhang Hua agrees with me, and he knows my wishes.”

Just at this moment came a memorial from the leader Du Yu also recommending advance, whereupon the Ruler of Jin decided that the army should go on.

The royal mandate duly reached the camp of Wang Jun, and the Jin navy went out to the attack in great pomp. The soldiers of Wu made no defense, but surrendered at once.

When Sun Hao, the Ruler of Wu, heard his armies had surrendered thus, he turned pale, and his courtiers said, “What is to be done? Here the northern army comes nearer every day and our troops just give in.”

“But why do they not fight?” said Sun Hao.

The courtiers replied, “The one evil of today is Eunuch Cen Hun. Slay him, and we ourselves will go out and fight to the death!”

“How can a eunuch harm a state?” cried Sun Hao.

“Have we not seen what Huang Hao did in Shu?” shouted the courtiers in chorus.

Moved by sudden fury, the courtiers rushed into the Palace, found the wretched object of their hate and slew him, and even feeding on his palpitating flesh.

Then Tao Jun said, “All my ships are small, but give me large vessels and I will place thereon twenty thousand marines and go forth to fight. I can defeat the enemy.”

His request was granted, and the royal guards were sent up the river to join battle, while another naval force went down stream, led by Leader of the Van Zhang Xiang. But a heavy gale came on. The flags were blown down and lay over in the ships, and the marines would not embark. They scattered leaving their leader with only a few score men.

Wang Jun, the leader of Jin, set sail and went down the river.

After passing Three Mountains, the sailing master of his ship said, “The gale is too strong for the fleet to go on. Let us anchor till the storm has moderated.”

[e] Shidou has been a southern capital of China for successive dynasties. A beautiful place, Shidou was considered a treasure by the emperors of Yuan Dynasty (Mongol rule). Located near Shanghai where the Great River meets the East Sea, Shidou’s modern name is Nanjing.

But Wang Jun would not listen. Drawing his sword, he said, “I wish to capture Capital Shidou*, and will not hear of anchoring.”

So he compelled the sailing master to continue. On the way Zhang Xiang, one of the leaders of Wu, came to offer surrender.

“If you are in earnest, you will lead the way and help me,” said Wang Jun.

Zhang Xiang consented, returned to his own ship, and led the squadron. When he reached the walls of Shidou, he called to the defenders to open the gates and allow the Jin army to enter. The gates were opened.

When the Ruler of Wu heard that his enemies had actually entered the capital city, he wished to put an end to his life, but his officers prevented this.

Secretary Hu Zong and Palace Officer Xue Rong said, “Your Majesty, why not imitate the conduct of Liu Shan of Shu, now Duke of Anle?”

So Sun Hao no longer thought of death, but went to offer submission. He bound himself and took a coffin with him. His officers followed him. He was graciously received, and the Jin General Wang Jun himself loosened the bonds, and the coffin was burned. The vanquished Ruler was treated with the ceremony due to a prince.

A poet of the Tang Dynasty wrote a few lines on this surrender:

Adown the stream ride storied warships tall;
With massive chains some seek to stop their way.
But Jiangling’s independence fades away,
And soon “We yield” is signaled from the wall.
Full oft I think of bygone days and sigh,
Along the stream, unmoved, the old hills rest,
While I am homeless on the earth’s broad breast,
Where grim old forts stand gray beneath the sky.

Therefore Wu was subdued and ceased to exist as a state. Its 4 regions, 43 counties, 313 districts, 5,230,000 families, 62,000 civil officers, 230,000 soldiers and military officers, 23,000,000 inhabitants, its stores of grain and over five thousand large ships, all fell booty to the victorious Jin Dynasty. In the women’s quarters of the Palace were found more than five thousand persons.

Proclamations were issued; treasuries and storehouses were sealed. Tao Jun’s navy soon melted away without striking a blow. Wang Jun was greatly elated at his success. Sima Zhou, Prince of Langye, and General Wang Rong also arrived and congratulated each other.

When Du Yu, the Commander-in-Chief, arrived, there were great feastings and rewards for the soldiers. The granaries were opened and doles of grain issued to the people, so that they also were glad of peace.

Only one city stood out—Jianping, under Governor Wu Yang. However, he too surrendered when he heard the capital had fallen.

The tidings of all these successes reached Capital Luoyang just at the celebration of the birthday of the Ruler of Jin, and the rejoicings and congratulations were redoubled. At one of the banquets the Ruler of Jin did honor to the memory of the late Yang Hu.

Raising his wine cup, and in a voice broken by emotion, he said, “Today’s success is the merit of the Imperial Guardian. I regret that he is not here to share our rejoicings.”

In Wu, Sun Xi, General of the Flying Cavalry, went away from the court and wailed, facing the south.

“Alas, ye blue heavens! What manner of man is this Sun Hao to yield thus the heritage of his family, won by the sword of General Sun Jian the Martially Glorious in the brave days that are past?”

Meantime the victors marched homeward, and Sun Hao went to Luoyang to present himself at court. In his capacity of minister, he prostrated himself at the feet of the Emperor of the Jin Dynasty in the Hall of Audience. He was allowed a seat.

“I set that seat for you long since,” said the Ruler of Jin.

“Thy servant also set a seat for Your Majesty in the south,” retorted Sun Hao.

The Ruler of Jin laughed loudly.

Then Jia Chong turned to Sun Hao and said, “I hear, Sir, that when you were in the south, they gouged out people’s eyes and flayed their faces. What crimes were so punished?”

“Murders of princes and malicious speech and disloyal conduct were so punished!”

Jia Chong was silenced, for he was ashamed.

Sun Hao was created Lord of Guiming. His sons and grandsons received minor ranks and other grades were conferred upon his ministers who had followed him in his surrender. The sons and grandsons of the late Prime Minister of Wu, Zhang Ti, who had perished in battle, were given ranks. The victorious leader, Wang Jun, was rewarded with the title General Who Upholds the State. And many other ranks were conferred to the Jin officers.

The three states now became one empire under the rule of Sima Yan of the Jin Dynasty. That is domains under heaven, after a long period of union, tends to divide; after a long period of division, tends to unite.

Liu Shan, the Emperor of Shu-Han, passed away in the seventh year of Great Beginning, in Jin calendar (AD 271). Cao Huang, the Emperor of Wei, passed away in the first year of Magnificent Peace (AD 302). And Sun Hao, the Emperor of Wu, passed away in the fourth year of Prosperous Peace (AD 283). All three died of natural causes.

A poet has summed up the history of these stirring years in a poem:

It was the dawning of a glorious day
When first the Founder of the House of Han
Xianyang’s proud Palace entered. Noontide came
When Liu Xiu the imperial rule restored.
Alas, that Liu Xian succeeded in full time
And saw the setting of the sun of power!
He Jin, the feeble, fell beneath the blows
Of Palace minions. Dong Zhuo, vile though bold,
Then ruled the court. The plot Wang Yun
To oust him, failed, recoiled on his own head.
The Li Jue and Guo Si lit up the flame of war
And brigands swarmed like ants through all the land.
Then rose the valiant and deployed their might.
Sun Ce carved out a kingdom in the southeast,
North of Yellow River the Yuans strove to make their own.
Liu Zhang went west and seized on Ba and Shu,
Liu Biao laid hold on Jingzhou and Chu,
Zhang Lu, in turn held Hanzhong by force.
Ma Teng and Han Sui kept Xiliang.
Tao Qian and Gongsun Zan built up quarters,
Zhang Xiu and Lu Bu challenged the bold.
But overtopping all Cao Cao the strong
Became first minister, and to his side,
Drew many able people. He swayed the court,
Without, he held the nobles in his hand;
By force of arms he held the capital
Against all rivals. Of imperial stock
Was born Liu Bei, who with sworn brothers twain
Made oath the dynasty should be restored.
These wandered homeless east and west for years,
A petty force. But Destiny was kind
And led Liu Bei to Nanyang’s rustic cot,
Where lay Sleeping Dragon, he who
Already that the empire must be rent.
Twice Liu Bei essayed in vain to see the sage
Once more he went? And then his fortune turned.
Jingzhou fell to him, followed the River Lands,
A fitting base to build an empire on.
Alas! He ruled there only three short years,
Then left his only son to Zhuge Liang’s care.
Full nobly Zhuge Liang played protector’s part,
Unceasing strove to win first place for Shu;
But Fate forbade; one night for aye his star
Went down behind the rampart of the hills.
Jiang Wei the strong inherited his task
And struggled on for years.
But Zhong Hui and Deng Ai
Attacked the Hans’ last stronghold, and it fell.
Five sons of Cao Cao sat on the dragon throne,
And Sima Yan snatched the court from Cao Huang.
Before him bowed the kings of Shu and Wu,
Content to forfeit kingly power for life.
All down the ages rings the note of change,
For fate so rules it; none escapes its sway.
The three kingdoms have vanished as a dream,
The useless misery is ours to grieve.

Romance of Three Kingdoms Chapter 101

Going Out From Longshang, Zhuge Liang Dresses As A God;
Dashing Toward Saber Pass, Zhang He Falls Into A Snare.

By means of the artifice just described, Zhuge Liang withdrew his army safely into Hanzhong, while Sima Yi retreated upon Changan. Zhuge Liang distributed the rewards for success and then went to Capital Chengdu for audience.

“Your Majesty recalled me just as I was about to advance upon Changan. What is the important matter?” said the Prime Minister.

For a long time the Latter Ruler made no reply.

Presently he said, “I longed to see your face once more, that is the only reason.”

Zhuge Liang replied, “I think my recall was not on your own initiative. Some slanderous persons has hinted that I cherished ulterior objects.”

The Latter Ruler, who indeed felt guilty and ill at ease, made no reply.

Zhuge Liang continued, “Your late father laid me under an obligation which I am pledged to fulfill to the death. But if vile influences are permitted to work at home, how can I destroy the rebels without?”

“The fact is I recalled you because of the talk of the eunuchs. But I understand now and am unutterably sorry,” said the Latter Ruler.

Zhuge Liang interrogated the eunuchs and thus found out the base rumors that had been spread abroad by Gou An. He sent to arrest this man, but Gou An had already fled and gone over to Wei. The eunuchs who had influenced the Emperor were put to death, and all the other eunuchs who were involved were expelled from the Palace.

The Prime Minister also upbraided Jiang Wan and Fei Yi for not having looked into the matter and set the Son of God right. The two Ministers bowed their heads and admitted their fault.

Zhuge Liang then took leave of the Latter Ruler and returned to the army. He wrote to Li Yan to see to the necessary supplies and began preparations for a new expedition.

Yang Yi said, “The soldiers are wearied by the many expeditions, and the supplies are not regular. I think a better plan would be to send half the army to Qishan for three months, and at the end of that time exchange them for the other half, and so on alternately. For example, if you have two hundred thousand troops, let one hundred thousand go into the field and one hundred thousand remain. In this way, using ten legions and ten legions, their energies will be conserved and you can gradually work toward the Middle Land.”

“I agree with you,” said Zhuge Liang. “Our attack is not a matter to be achieved in haste. The suggestion for an extended campaign is excellent!”

Wherefore the army was divided, and each half went out for one hundred days’ service at a time, when it was relieved by the other half. Full penalties were provided for any laxity and failure to maintain the periods of active service.

In the spring of the ninth year of Beginning Prosperity, the Shu army once more took the held against Wei. In Wei it was the fifth year of Calm Peace (AD 231).

When the Ruler of Wei heard of this new expedition, he called Sima Yi and asked his advice.

“Now that my friend Cao Zhen is no more, I am willing to do all that one man can to destroy the rebels against Your Majesty’s authority,” said Sima Yi.

Cao Rui was gratified by this ready offer, and honored Sima Yi with a banquet. Next day an edict was issued for the army to move. The Ruler of Wei, riding in his state chariot, escorted Sima Yi out of the city, and, after the farewells, the Commander took the road to Changan, where the force was gathering. There was assembled a council of war.

Zhang He offered his services, saying, “I volunteer to guard Yongcheng and Meicheng against the Shu army.”

But Sima Yi said, “Our vanguard army is not strong enough to face the enemy’s whole force. Moreover, to divide an army is not generally a successful scheme. The better plan will be to leave a guard in Shanggui and send all the others to Qishan. Will you undertake the Leadership of the Van?”

Zhang He consented, saying, “I have always been most loyal and will devote my energies entirely to the service of the state. So far I have not had an adequate opportunity to prove my sincerity. But now that you confer upon me a post of such responsibility, I can only say that no sacrifice can be too great for me, and I will do my utmost.”

So Zhang He was appointed Van Leader, and then Guo Huai was set over the defense of the counties of West Valley Land. Other generals were distributed to other posts, and the march began toward Qishan.

The spies reported: “The main force of Shu is directed toward Qishan, and the Leaders of the Van are Wang Ping and Zhang Ni. The route chosen for their march is from Chencang across San Pass and to the Xie Valley.”

Hearing this, Sima Yi said to Zhang He, “Zhuge Liang is advancing in great force and certainly intends to reap the wheat in West Valley Land for his supply. You get sufficient troops to hold Qishan, while Guo Huai and I go to Tianshui and foil the enemy’s plan to gather the wheat.”

So Zhang He took forty thousand troops to hold Qishan, and Sima Yi set out westwards to the West Valley Land.

When Zhuge Liang reached Qishan and had settled his army in camp, he saw that the bank of River Wei had been fortified by his enemy.

“That must be the work of Sima Yi,” remarked Zhuge Liang to his generals. “But we have not enough food in camp. I have written to Li Yan to send grain, but it has not yet arrived. The wheat in West Valley Land is now just ripe, and we will go and reap it.”

Leaving Wang Ping, Zhang Ni, Hu Ban, and Wu Yi to guard for the camps, Zhuge Liang, with Wei Yan, Jiang Wei, and several other generals, went over to Lucheng. The Governor of that city knew he could not offer any real defense, so he opened the gates and yielded.

After calming the people, Zhuge Liang asked, “Where is the ripe wheat to be found?”

The Governor replied, “Longshang is the place.”

So Zhang Yi and Ma Zheng were left to guard the city, and the remainder of the army went to Longshang.

But soon the leading body returned to say, “Sima Yi has already occupied that city.”

“He guessed what I intended to do!” said Zhuge Liang, taken aback.

Zhuge Liang then retired, bathed and put on another dress. Next he bade them bring out three four-wheeled chariots, all exactly alike, that were among the impedimenta of the army. They had been built in Shu some time before.

Jiang Wei was told off to lead a thousand troops as escort for one chariot, and five hundred drummers were appointed to accompany it. The chariot with its escort and drummers was sent away behind the city. In like manner two other chariots were equipped and sent east and west of the city under Ma Dai and Wei Yan. Each chariot was propelled by a team of twenty-four men, all dressed in black, barefooted and with loosened hair. Each one of the team also had in hand a sword and a black seven-starred flag.

While the chariots were taking up their positions, thirty thousand soldiers were ordered to prepare wagons and sickles to cut and carry away the grain.

Next Zhuge Liang selected twenty-four good soldiers, whom he dressed and armed like those sent away with the three chariots. These were to push his own chariot. Guan Xing was told to dress up as the God of Clouds and to walk in front of Zhuge Liang’s chariot holding a black seven-starred flag. These preparations complete, Zhuge Liang mounted, and the chariot took the road toward the Wei camp.

The appearance of a chariot with such attendants more than startled the enemy’s scouts, who did not know whether the apparition was that of a human or a demon. They hastened to their Commander and told him.

Sima Yi came out himself and saw the cavalcade, and its central figure being Zhuge Liang, dressed as a Taoist mystic, with headdress, white robe, and a feather fan. Around the chariot were twenty-four hair-loosened beings, each with a sword in hand; and leading was a being as a heaven-sent god with the seven-starred flag.

“Some of Zhuge Liang’s odd doings,” said he.

And Sima Yi ordered two thousand troops, saying, “Chase as fast as you can, and bring in the chariot, escort, and the seated figure.”

The soldiers went out to do their bidding. But as soon as they appeared, the chariot retired and took a road leading to the Shu camp. Although the Wei soldiers were mounted, they could not come up with the cavalcade. What they did meet with was a chilly breeze and a cold mist that rolled about them.

They found it uncanny and halted, saying one to another, “How extraordinary it is that we have been pressing on and yet we got no nearer. What does it mean?”

When Zhuge Liang saw that the pursuit had ceased, he had his chariot pushed out again to the front and passed within sight of the halted troops. At first they hesitated, but presently took up the pursuit once more. Whereupon the chariot again retired, proceeding slowly, but always keeping out of reach. And thus more than seven miles were covered and the chariot was still not captured.

Again the soldiers halted, puzzled and perplexed at this incomprehensible chase. But as soon as they stopped, the chariot came again toward them and they retook pursuit.

Sima Yi now came up with a strong force. But he also halted, and said to his generals, “This Zhuge Liang is a master in the arts of necromancy and juggling and Eight Gates and knows how to call up the Deities of Six Layers to his aid. I know this trick of his: It is the ‘Ground Rolling’ in the ‘Book of Six Layers Deities’, and it is vain to pursue.”

So they ceased following. But then a roll of drums came from the left side as if a body of troops were approaching. Sima Yi told off some companies to repel them, but there only came into view a small force, and in their midst was a party of men dressed in black, the exact counterpart of the cavalcade he had first sent to pursue. In the chariot sat another Zhuge Liang just like the one that had just disappeared.

“But just now he was sitting in that other chariot, which we chased for fifteen miles. How can he be here?” said Sima Yi.

Shortly after they heard another roll of the drums, and as the sound died away there appeared another body of men, with a chariot in the midst, exactly like the last and also carrying a sitting figure of Zhuge Liang.

“They must be heaven-sent soldiers,” said Sima Yi.

The soldiers were now feeling the strain of these weird appearances and began to get out of hand. They dared not stay to fight such beings, and some ran away. But before they had gone far, lo! another roll of drums, another cohort and another chariot with a similar figure seated therein.

The soldiers of Wei were now thoroughly frightened, and even Sima Yi himself began to feel doubtful whether these appearances should be ascribed to humans or devils. He realized, however, that he was in the midst of dangers as he did not know the number of the Shu soldiers, and he and his troops ran away helter-skelter, never stopping till they reached Shanggui. They entered the city and closed the gates.

Having thus driven off the Wei soldiers, Zhuge Liang proceeded to reap and gather the wheat in Longshang, which was carried into Lucheng and laid out to dry.

Sima Yi remained shut up within the walls for three days. Then, as he saw his enemies retiring, he sent out some scouts, who presently returned with a Shu soldier they had captured. The prisoner was questioned.

“I was of the reaping party,” said the man. “They caught me when I was looking for some horses that had strayed.”

“What wonderful soldiers were they of yours that one saw here lately?” asked Sima Yi.

The man replied, “Zhuge Liang was with one party of them, the others were led by Jiang Wei, Ma Dai, and Wei Yan. There was a thousand of fighting soldiers with each chariot and five hundred drummers. Zhuge Liang was with the first party.”

“His comings and goings are not human,” said Sima Yi sadly.

Then Guo Huai came, and he was called to a council.

Said Guo Huai, “I hear the soldiers of Shu in Lucheng are very few, and they are occupied with gathering the grain. Why not smite them?”

Sima Yi told him his last experience of his opponent’s wiles.

“He threw dust in your eyes that time,” said Guo Huai with a smile. “However, now you know. What is the good of more talk? Let me attack the rear, while you lead against the front, and we shall take the city and Zhuge Liang too.”

An attack was decided upon.

In Lucheng, while the soldiers were still busy with the wheat, Zhuge Liang called up his generals, and said, “The enemy will attack tonight. There is a suitable place for an ambush in the newly reaped fields, but who will lead for me?”

Four generals—Jiang Wei, Wei Yan, Ma Dai, and Ma Zheng—offered themselves, and he posted them, each with two thousand troops, outside the four corners of the city. They were to await the signal and then converge. When these had gone, Zhuge Liang led out a small party of one hundred soldiers and hid in the newly reaped fields.

In the meantime Sima Yi was drawing near. It was dusk when he stood beneath the walls of Lucheng.

Said he to his officers, “If we attacked by daylight, we should find the city well prepared. So we will take advantage of the darkness. The moat is shallow here, and there shall be no difficulty in crossing it.”

The troops bivouacked till the time should come to attack. About the middle of the first watch Guo Huai arrived, and his force joined up with the others. This done, the drums began to beat, and the city was quickly surrounded. However, the defenders maintained such a heavy discharge of arrows, bolts and stones from the walls that the besiegers dared not close in.

Suddenly from the midst of the Wei army came the roar of a bomb, soon followed by others from different places. The soldiers were startled, but no one could say whence the sounds had proceeded. Guo Huai went to search the wheat fields, and then the four armies from the corners of the city converged upon the Wei army. At the same time the defenders burst out of the city gates, and a great battle began. Wei lost many troops.

After heavy fighting Sima Yi extricated his army from the battle and made his way to a hill, which he set about holding and fortifying, while Guo Huai got round to the rear of the city and called a halt.

Zhuge Liang entered the city and sent his troops to camp again at the four corners of the walls.

Guo Huai went to see his chief, and said, “We have long been at grips with these soldiers and are unable to drive them off. We have now lost another fight. Unless something is done, we shall not get away at all.”

“What can we do?” asked Sima Yi.

“You might write to Yongzhou and Liangzhou to send their forces to our help. I will try my fortune against Saber Pass and cut off Zhuge Liang’s retreat and supplies. That should bring about discontent and mutiny, and we can attack when we see the enemy in confusion.”

The letters were sent, and soon Sun Li came leading the troops of Yongzhou and Liangzhou, foot and horse, of two hundred thousand. The new arrivals were sent to help Guo Huai in the attack on Saber Pass.

After many days had passed without sight of the enemy, Zhuge Liang thought it was time to make another move.

Calling up Jiang Wei and Ma Dai, he said, “The soldiers of Wei are well posted on the hills and refuse battle because, firstly, they think that we are short of food, and, secondly, they have sent an army against Saber Pass to cut off our supplies. Now each of you will take ten thousand troops and garrison the important points about here to show them that we are well prepared to defend ourselves. Then they will retire.”

After these two had gone, Yang Yi came to see Zhuge Liang about the change of troops then due.

Yang Yi said, “O Prime Minister, you have ordered the troops to be alternated every one hundred days. Now the time is due, and the replacing troops have already left Hanzhong and that dispatches from the leading divisions have come in. Here we have eighty thousand troops, of which forty will be due for relief.”

“There is the order; carry it out,” replied Zhuge Liang.

So the forty thousand home-going soldiers prepared to withdraw.

Just then came the news: “Sun Li has arrived with reinforcements of two hundred thousand troops from Yongzhou and Liangzhou. Guo Huai and Sun Li have gone to attack Saber Pass, and Sima Yi is leading an army against Lucheng.”

In the face of such important news, Yang Yi went to discuss with Zhuge Liang.

Said Yang Yi, “The Wei army are advancing against our critical points. Should you, O Prime Minister, postpone for a time the withdrawal of the field troops in order to strengthen our defense? You can wait for the new troops to arrive first.”

Zhuge Liang replied, “I must keep faith with the soldiers. Since the order for the periodical exchange of troops has been issued, it must be carried out. Beside, the soldiers due for relief are all prepared to start, their expectations have been roused and their relatives await them. In the face of yet greater difficulties I would still let them go.”

So orders were given for the time-expired soldiers to march that day. But when the legionaries heard it, a sudden movement of generosity spread among them.

And they said, “Since the Prime Minister cares for us so much, we do not wish to go, but will prefer to remain to fight the Wei army to death.”

“But you are due for home. You cannot stay here,” said Zhuge Liang.

They reiterated that they all wished to stay instead of going home.

Zhuge Liang was glad and said, “Since you wish to stay and fight with me, you can go out of the city and camp ready to encounter the army of Wei as soon as they arrive. Do not give them time to rest or recover breath, but attack vigorously at once. You will be fresh and fit, waiting for those fagged with a long march.”

So they gripped their weapons and joyfully went out of the city to array themselves in readiness.

Now the Yongzhou and Liangzhou troops had traveled by double marches, and so were worn out and needed rest. But while they were pitching their tents, the troops of Shu fell upon them lustily, leaders full of spirit, soldiers full of energy. The weary soldiers could make no proper stand, and retired. The troops of Shu followed, pressing on them till corpses littered the whole plain and blood flowed in runnels.

It was a victory for Zhuge Liang, and he came out to welcome the victors and led them into the city and distributed rewards.

Just then arrived an urgent letter from Li Yan, then at Baidicheng, and when Zhuge Liang had torn it open he read:

“News has just come that Wu has sent an envoy to Luoyang and entered into an alliance with Wei whereby Wu is to attack us. The army of Wu has not yet set out, but I am anxiously awaiting your plans.”

Doubts and fears crowded in upon Zhuge Liang’s mind as he read. He summoned his officers.

“As Wu is coming to invade our land, we shall have to retire quickly,” said he. “If I issue orders for the Qishan force to withdraw, Sima Yi will not dare to pursue while we are camped here.”

The Qishan force broke camp and marched in two divisions under Wang Ping, Zhang Ni, Hu Ban, and Wu Yi. Zhang He watched them go, but was too fearful of the movement being some ruse to attempt to follow. He went to see Sima Yi.

“The enemy have retired, but I know not for what reason.”

“Zhuge Liang is very crafty, and you will do well to remain where you are and keep a careful lookout. Do nothing till their grain has given out, when they must retire for good,” said Sima Yi.

Here General Wei Ping stepped forward, saying, “But they are retreating from Qishan. We should seize the occasion of their retreat to smite them. Are they tigers that you fear to move? How the world will laugh at us?”

But Sima Yi was obstinate and ignored the protest.

When Zhuge Liang knew that the Qishan troops had got away safely, he called Yang Yi and Ma Zheng and gave them secret orders to lead ten thousand of bowmen and crossbowmen out by the Wooden Path of Saber Pass and place them in ambush on both sides of the road.

Said he, “If the soldiers of Wei pursue, wait till you hear a bomb. When you hear the bomb, at once barricade the road with timber and stones so as to impede them. When they halt, shoot at them with the bows and the crossbows.”

Wei Yan and Guan Xing were told to attack the rear of the enemy.

These orders given, the walls of Lucheng were decorated lavishly with flags, and at various points within the city were piled straw and kindling wood ready to make some smoke as though there were cooking activities in the city. The soldiers were sent out along the road toward Saber Pass.

The spies of Wei returned to headquarters to report: “A large number of Shu soldiers have left, but we do not know how many remain within the city.”

In doubt, Sima Yi went himself to look, and when he saw the smoke rising from within the walls and the fluttering flags, he said, “The city is deserted!”

He sent men in to confirm this, and they said the place was empty.

“Then Zhuge Liang is really gone. Who will pursue?”

“Let me,” replied Zhang He.

“You are too impulsive,” said Sima Yi.

“I have been Leader of the Van from the first day of this expedition. Why not use me today, when there is work to be done and glory to be gained?”

“Because the utmost caution is necessary. They are retreating, and they will leave an ambush at every possible point.”

“I know that, and you need not be afraid.”

“Well; you wish to go and may, but whatever happens you must be prepared for.”

“A really noble man is prepared to sacrifice self for country. Never mind what happens.”

“Then take five thousand troops and start. Wei Ping shall follow with twenty thousand of horse and foot to deal with any ambush that may discover itself. I will follow later with three thousand to help where need be.”

So Zhang He set out and advanced quickly.

Ten miles out he heard a roll of drums, and suddenly appeared from a wood a cohort led by Wei Yan, who galloped to the front, crying, “Whither would you go, O rebel leader?”

Zhang He swiftly turned and engaged Wei Yan, but after some ten passes Wei Yan fled. Zhang He rode after Wei Yan along the road for ten miles and then stopped to observe. As he saw no ambush, he turned again and resumed the pursuit. All went well till he came to a slope, when there arose shouts and yells and another body of soldiers came out.

“Zhang He, do not run away!” cried this leader, who was Guan Xing.

Guan Xing galloped close, and Zhang He did not flee. They fought, and after half a score of passes Guan Xing seemed to have the worst of the encounter and fled. Zhang He followed. Presently they neared a dense wood. Zhang He was fearful of entering in, so he sent forward scouts to search the thickets. They could find no danger, and Zhang He again pursued.

But quite unexpectedly Wei Yan, who had formerly fled, got round ahead of Zhang He and now appeared again. The two fought a half score bouts and again Wei Yan ran. Zhang He followed, but Guan Xing also got round to the front by a side road and so stopped the pursuit of Zhang He. Zhang He attacked furiously as soon as he was checked, this time so successfully that the troops of Shu threw away their war-gear and ran. The road was thus littered with spoil, and the Wei soldiers could not resist the temptation to gather it. They slipped from their horses and began to collect the arms.

The maneuvers just described continued, Wei Yan and Guan Xing one after the other engaging Zhang He, and Zhang He pressing on after each one, but achieving nothing. And as evening fell the running fight had led both sides close to the Wooden Path.

Then suddenly Wei Yan made a real stand, and he rode to the front, yelling, “Rebel! I have despised fighting you, but you have kept pursuing me. Now we will fight to the death!”

Zhang He was furious and nothing loath, so he came on with his spear to meet Wei Yan, who was flourishing his sword. They met; yet again, after some ten bouts, Wei Yan threw aside weapons, armor, helmet and all his gear, and led his defeated company sway along the Wooden Path.

Zhang He was filled with the lust to kill, and he could not let Wei Yan escape. So he set out after Wei Yan, although it was already dark. But suddenly lights appeared, and the sky became aglow, and at the same time huge boulders and great bulks of timber came rolling down the slopes and blocked the way.

Fear gripped Zhang He, and he cried, “I have blundered into an ambush!”

The road was blocked in front and behind and bordered by craggy precipices. Then, rat-tat-tat! came the sound of a rattle, and therewith flew clouds of arrows and showers of bolts. Zhang He, his more than one hundred generals, and his whole pursuing army perished in the Wooden Path.

[hip, hip, hip]
With myriad shining bolts the air was filled,
The road was littered with brave soldiers killed;
The force to Saber Pass faring perished here;
The tale of valor grows from year to year.
[yip, yip, yip]

Soon the second army of Wei under Wei Ping came up, but too late to help. From the signs they knew that their comrades had been victims of a cruel trick, and they turned back.

But as they faced about, a shout was heard, and from the hilltops came, “I, Zhuge Liang, am here!”

Looking up they saw his figure silhouetted against a fire.

Pointing to the slain, Zhuge Liang cried, “I have gone hunting in this wood. Only instead of slaying a horse, I have killed a deer. But you may go in peace, and when you see your Commander, tell him that he will be my quarry one day!”

The soldiers told this to Sima Yi when they returned.

Sima Yi was deeply mortified, saying, “Letting friend Zhang He die is my fault!”

And when he returned to Luoyang, the Ruler of Wei wept at the death of his brave leader and had his body searched and honorably buried.

Zhuge Liang had no sooner reached Hanzhong than he prepared to go on to Capital Chengdu and see his lord.

But Li Yan, who was in the capital, said to the Latter Ruler, “Why does the Prime Minister return, for I have kept him fully supplied with all things needed for the army?”

Then the Latter Ruler sent Fei Yi into Hanzhong to inquire why the army had retired.

When Fei Yi had arrived and showed the cause of his coming, Zhuge Liang was greatly surprised.

Zhuge Liang showed the letter from Li Yan, saying, “Li Yan wrote to warn that East Wu was about to invade the country.”

Fei Yi said, “Li Yan memorialized to the Throne, saying he had sent you supplies and knew not why Your Excellency returned.”

So Zhuge Liang inquired carefully, and then it came out that Li Yan had failed to find sufficient grain to keep the army supplied, and so had sent the first lying letter to the army that it might retire before the shortage showed itself. His memorial to the Throne was designed to cover the former fault.

“The fool has ruined the great design of the state just to save his own skin!” cried Zhuge Liang bitterly.

He summoned the offender and sentenced him to death.

But Fei Yi interceded, saying, “O Prime Minister, the First Ruler had loved and trusted Li Yan with his son. Please forgive him this time.”

And so Li Yan’s life was spared.

However, when Fei Yi made his report in Chengdu, the Latter Ruler was wroth and ordered Li Yan to suffer death.

But this time Jiang Wan intervened, saying, “Your late father named Li Yan as one of the guardians of your youth.”

And the Latter Ruler relented. However, Li Yan was stripped of all ranks and relegated to Zitong.

Zhuge Liang went to Chengdu and appointed Li Teng, Li Yan’s son, as High Counselor.

Preparations then began for another expedition. Plans were discussed, provisions were accumulated, weapons put in order, and officers and soldiers kept fit and trained. By his kindness to the people, Zhuge Liang waited for three years before beginning marching, and in the two River Lands people’s hearts filled with joys.

And the time passed quickly.

In the second month of the twelfth year (AD 234), Zhuge Liang presented a memorial, saying, “I have been training the army for three years. Supplies are ample, and all is in order for an expedition. We may now attack Wei. If I cannot destroy these rebels, sweep away the evil hordes, and bring about a glorious entry into the capital, then may I never again enter Your Majesty’s presence.”

The Latter Ruler replied, “The empire has settled on a tripod, and Wu and Wei trouble us not at all. Why not enjoy the present tranquillity, O Father Minister?”

“Because of the mission left me by your father. I am ever scheming to destroy Wei, even in my dreams. I must strive my best and do my utmost to regain you the Middle Land and restore the glory of the Hans.”

As Zhuge Liang said this, a voice cried, “An army may not go forth, O Prime Minister!”

Qiao Zhou had raised a last protest.

[hip, hip, hip]
Zhuge Liang’s sole thought was service,
Himself he would not spare;
But Qiao Zhou had watched the starry sky,
And read misfortune there.
[yip, yip, yip]

The next chapter will give the arguments against fighting.

Romance of Three Kingdoms Chapter 102

Sima Yi Occupies The Banks Of River Wei;
Zhuge Liang Constructs Mechanical Bullocks And Horses.

Qiao Zhou, who protested against the war, was Grand Historian. He was also an astrologer.

He opposed the war, saying, “My present office involves the direction of the observations on the Astrological Terrace, and I am bound to report whether the aspect forebodes misfortune or promises happiness. Not long since, several flights of thousands of birds came from the south, plunged into River Han and were drowned. This is an evil augury. Moreover, I have studied the aspect of the sky, and the ‘Wolf’ constellation is influencing the aspect of the planet Venus. An aura of prosperity pervades the north. To attack Wei will not be to our profit. Again, the people in Chengdu say that the cypress trees moan in the night. With so many evil omens, I wish that the Prime Minister should not go forth to war, but remain at home to guard what we have.”

“How can I?” said Zhuge Liang. “His Late Majesty laid upon me a heavy responsibility, and I must exert myself to the utmost in the endeavor to destroy these rebels. The policy of a state cannot be changed because of inauspicious signs.”

Zhuge Liang was not to be deterred. He instructed the officials to prepare the Great Bovine Sacrifice in the Dynastic Temple. Then, weeping, he prostrated himself and made this declaration:

“Thy servant Zhuge Liang has made five expeditions to Qishan without gaining any extension of territory. His fault weighs heavily upon him. Now once again he is about to march, pledged to use every effort of body and mind to exterminate the rebels against the Han House, and to restore to the dynasty its glory in the Middle Land. To achieve this end, he would use the last remnant of his strength and could die content.”

The sacrifice ended, he took leave of the Latter Ruler and set out for Hanzhong to make the final arrangements for his march. While so engaged, he received the unexpected news of the death of Guan Xing. He was greatly shocked, and fainted. When he had recovered consciousness, his officers did their utmost to console him.

“How pitiful! Why does Heaven deny long life to the loyal and good? I have lost a most able general just as I am setting out and need him most.”

[hip, hip, hip]
As all are born, so all must die;
People are as gnats against the sky;
But loyalty or piety
May give them immortality.
[yip, yip, yip]

The armies of Shu numbered three hundred forty thousand strong, and they marched in five divisions, with Jiang Wei and Wei Yan in the van, and when they had reached Qishan, Li Hui, the Commissary General, was instructed to convey stores into the Xie Valley in readiness.

In Wei they had recently changed the style of the year period to “Green Dragon”, because a green dragon had been seen to emerge from Mopo Well. The year of the fighting was the second year (AD 234).

The courtiers said to the Ruler of Wei, “The commanders of the passes report thirty or so legions advancing in five divisions from Shu upon Qishan.”

The news distressed the Ruler of Wei, who at once called in Sima Yi and told him of the invasion.

Sima Yi replied, “The aspect of the sky is very auspicious for the Middle Land. The Wolf star has encroached upon the planet Venus, which bodes ill for the River Lands. Thus Zhuge Liang is pitting his powers against Heaven, and will meet defeat and suffer death. And I, by virtue of Your Majesty’s good fortune, am to be the instrument of destruction. I request to name four leaders to go with me.”

“Who are they? Name them,” said the Ruler of Wei.

“They are the four sons of Xiahou Yuan: Xiahou Ba, Xiahou Wei, Xiahou Hui, and Xiahou He. Xiahou Ba and Xiahou Wei are trained archers and cavaliers; Xiahou Hui and Xiahou He are deep strategists. All four desire to avenge the death of their father. Xiahou Ba and Xiahou Wei should be Leaders of the Van; Xiahou Hui and Xiahou He should be Marching Generals, to discuss and arrange plans for the repulse of our enemy.”

“You remember the evil results of employing the Dynastic Son-in-Law Xiahou Mao: He lost his army and is still too ashamed to return to court. Are you sure these are not of the same kidney?”

“They are not like Xiahou Mao in the least.”

The Ruler of Wei granted the request and named Sima Yi as Commander-in-Chief with the fullest authority. When Sima Yi took leave of the Ruler of Wei, he received a command in Cao Rui’s own writing:

“When you, Noble Sir, reach the banks of River Wei and have well fortified that position, you are not to give battle. The army of Shu, disappointed of their desire, will pretend to retire and so entice you on, but you will not pursue. You will wait till their supplies are consumed and they are compelled to retreat, when you may smite them. Then you will obtain the victory without distressing the army unduly. This is the best plan of campaign.”

Sima Yi took it with bowed head. He proceeded forthwith to Changan. When he had mustered the forces assembled from all western counties, they numbered four hundred thousand, and they were all camped on River Wei. In addition, fifty thousand troops were farther up the stream preparing nine floating bridges. The two Leaders of the Van, Xiahou Ba and Xiahou Wei, were ordered to cross the river and camp, and in rear of the main camp on the east a solid earth rampart was raised to guard against any surprises from the rear.

While these preparations were in progress, Guo Huai and Sun Li came to the new camp.

Guo Huai said, “With the troops of Shu at Qishan, there is a possibility of their dominating River Wei, going up on the plain, and pushing out a line to the northern hills whereby to cut off all highways in the West Valley Land.”

“You say well,” said Sima Yi. “See to it. Take command of all the West Valley Land forces, occupy Beiyuan, and make a fortified camp there. But adopt a defensive policy. Wait till the enemy’s food supplies get exhausted before you think of attack.”

So Guo Huai and Sun Li left to carry out these orders.

Meanwhile Zhuge Liang made five main camps at Qishan, and between Xie Valley and Saber Pass he established a line of fourteen large camps. He distributed the troops among these camps as for a long campaign. He appointed inspecting officers to make daily visits to see that all was in readiness.

When he heard that the army of Wei had camped in Beiyuan, he said to his officers, “They camp there fearing that our holding this area will sever connection with West Valley Land. I am pretending to look toward Beiyuan, but really my objective is River Wei. I am going to build a hundred or more large rafts and pile them with straw, and I have five thousand of marines to manage them. In the darkness of the night I shall attack Beiyuan. Sima Yi will come to the rescue. If he is only a little worsted, I shall cross the river with the rear divisions, then the leading divisions will embark on the rafts, drop down the river, set fire to the floating bridges, and attack the rear of the enemy. I shall lead an army to take the gates of the first camp. If we can get the south bank of the river, the campaign will become simple.”

Then the generals took orders and went to prepare.

The spies carried information of the doings of the troops of Shu to Sima Yi, who said to his generals, “Zhuge Liang has some crafty scheme, but I think I know it. He proposes to make a show of taking Beiyuan, and then, dropping down the river, he will try to burn our bridges, throw our rear into confusion, and then attack our camps.”

So he gave Xiahou Ba and Xiahou Wei orders: “You are to listen for the sounds of battle about Beiyuan. If you hear the shouting, you are to march down to the river, to the hills on the south, and lay an ambush against the troops of Shu as they arrive.”

Zhang Hu and Yue Chen were to lead two other forces, of two thousand of bowmen each, and lie in hiding on the north bank near the bridges to keep off the rafts that might come down on the current and keep them from touching the bridges.

Then he sent for Guo Huai and Sun Li, and said, “Zhuge Liang is coming to Beiyuan to cross the river secretly. Your new force is small, and you can hide half way along the road. If the enemy cross the river in the afternoon, that will mean an attack on us in the evening. Then you are to simulate defeat and run. They will pursue. You can shoot with all your energy, and our marines and land troops will attack at once. If the attack is in great force, look out for orders.”

All these orders given, Sima Yi sent his two sons Sima Shi and Sima Zhao to reinforce the front camp, while he led his own army to relieve Beiyuan.

Zhuge Liang sent Wei Yan and Ma Dai to cross River Wei and attack Beiyuan, while the attempt to set fire to the bridges was confided to Hu Ban and Wu Yi. The general attack on the Wei camp by River Wei was to be made by three divisions: The front division under Wang Ping and Zhang Ni, the middle division under Jiang Wei and Ma Zheng, the rear division under Liao Hua and Zhang Yi. The various divisions started at noon and crossed the river, where they slowly formed up in battle order.

Wei Yan and Ma Dai arrived Beiyuan about dusk. The scouts having informed the defenders of their approach, Sun Li abandoned his camp and fled. This told Wei Yan that his attack was expected, and he turned to retire. At this moment a great shouting was heard, and there appeared two bodies of the enemy under Sima Yi and Guo Huai bearing down upon the attackers from left and right. Wei Yan and Ma Dai fought desperately to extricate themselves, but many of the soldiers of Shu fell into the river and drowned. The others scattered. However, Wu Yi came up and rescued the force from entire destruction, and moved across the river to make camp.

Hu Ban set half his troops to navigate the rafts down the river to the bridges. But Zhang Hu and Yue Chen stationed near the bridges shot clouds of arrows at them, and the Shu leader, Hu Ban, was wounded. He fell into the river and was drowned. The crews of the rafts jumped into the water and got away. The rafts fell into the hands of the soldiers of Wei.

At this time the front division under Wang Ping and Zhang Ni were ignorant of the defeat of their Beiyuan army, and they went straight for the camps of Wei. They arrived in the second watch.

They heard loud shouting, and Wang Ping said to Zhang Ni, “We do not know whether the cavalry sent to Beiyuan has been successful or not. It is strange that we do not see a single soldier of the enemy. Surely Sima Yi has found out the plan and prepared to frustrate the attack. Let us wait here till the bridges have been set on fire and we see the flames.”

So they halted. Soon after, a mounted messenger came up with orders: “The Prime Minister bade you retire immediately, as the attack on the bridges has failed.”

Wang Ping and Zhang Ni attempted to withdraw, but a bomb exploded and the troops of Wei, who had taken a by-road to their rear, at once attacked. A great fire started also. A disorderly battle ensued, from which Wang Ping and Zhang Ni eventually forced their ways out, but only with great loss.

And when Zhuge Liang collected his army at Qishan once more he found, to his sorrow, that he had lost more than ten thousand troops.

Just at this time Fei Yi arrived front Chengdu.

Zhuge Liang received him and, after the ceremonies were over, said, “I would trouble you, Sir, to carry a letter for me into East Wu. Will you undertake the mission?”

“Could I possibly decline any task you laid upon me?” said Fei Yi.

So Zhuge Liang wrote a letter and sent it to Sun Quan. Fei Yi took it and hastened to Capital Jianye, where he saw Sun Quan, the Ruler of Wu, and presented this letter:

“The Hans have been unfortunate, and the line of rulers has been broken. The Cao party have usurped the seat of government and still hold the command. My late master, Emperor Bei, confided a great task to me, and I must exhaust every effort to achieve it. Now my army is at Qishan, and the rebels are on the verge of destruction on River Wei. I hope Your Majesty, in accordance with your oath of alliance, will send a leader against the north to assist by taking the Middle Land, and the empire can be shared. The full circumstances cannot be told, but I hope you will understand and act.”

Sun Quan was pleased at the news and said to the envoy, “I have long desired to set my arm in motion, but have not been able to arrange with Zhuge Liang. After this letter I will lead an expedition myself, and go to Juchao and capture Xincheng of Wei. Moreover, I will send Lu Xun and Zhuge Jin to camp at Miankou and Jiangxia, and take Xiangyang. I will also send another army under Sun Shao and Zhang Cheng into Guangling to capture Huaiyang. The total number will be three hundred thousand troops, and they shall start at once.”

Fei Yi thanked him and said, “In such a case the Middle Land will fall forthwith.”

A banquet was prepared. At this, Sun Quan said, “Whom did the Prime Minister send to lead the battle?”

Fei Yi replied, “Wei Yan was the chief leader.”

“A man brave enough, but crooked. One day he will work a mischief unless Zhuge Liang is present. But surely Zhuge Liang knows.”

“Your Majesty’s words are to the point,” said the envoy. “I will return at once and lay them before Zhuge Liang.”

Fei Yi quickly took leave and hastened to Qishan with his news of the intended expedition of Wu against Wei with three hundred thousand troops in three directions.

“Did the Ruler of Wu say nothing else?” asked Zhuge Liang.

Then Fei Yi told him what had been said about Wei Yan.

“Truly a comprehending ruler,” said Zhuge Liang, appreciatively. “But I could not be ignorant of this. However, I value Wei Yan because he is very bold.”

“Then Sir, you ought to decide soon what to do with him.”

“I have a scheme of my own.”

Fei Yi returned to Chengdu, and Zhuge Liang resumed the ordinary camp duties of a leader.

When Zhuge Liang was in a council with his commanders, suddenly a certain Wei leader came and begged to be allowed to surrender. Zhuge Liang had the man brought in and questioned him.

“I am a leader, Zheng Wen by name. General Qin Lang and I are old colleagues. Recently Sima Yi transferred us and, showing great partiality for my colleague, appointed him Leader of the Van and threw me out like a weed. I was disgusted and left, and I wish to join your ranks if you will accept my service.”

Just at that moment a soldier came in to say that Qin Lang with a company had appeared in front of the tents and was challenging Zheng Wen.

Said Zhuge Liang, “How does this man stand with you in fighting skill?”

“I should just kill him,” said Zheng Wen.

“If you were to slay him, that would remove my doubts.”

Zheng Wen accepted the proposer with alacrity, mounted his horse, and away he went. Zhuge Liang went out to see the fight. There was the challenger shaking his spear and reviling his late friend as rebel and brigand and horse-thief.

“Traitor! Give me back my horse you stole!” cried Qin Lang, galloping toward Zheng Wen as soon as he appeared.

Zheng Wen whipped up his horse, waved his sword, and went to meet the attack. In the first bout he cut down Qin Lang. The Wei soldiers then ran away. The victor hacked off the head of his victim and returned to lay it at Zhuge Liang’s feet.

Seated in his tent, Zhuge Liang summoned Zheng Wen and burst out: “Take him away and behead him!”

“I have done nothing wrong!” cried Zheng Wen.

“As if I do not know Qin Lang! The man you have just killed was not Qin Lang. How dare? you try to deceive me?”

Zheng Wen said, “I will own up. But this was his brother Qin Ming.”

Zhuge Liang smiled.

“Sima Yi sent you to try this on for some reason of his own, but he could not throw dust in my eyes. If you do not tell the truth, I will put you to death.”

Thus caught, the false deserter confessed and begged his life.

Zhuge Liang said, “You can save your life by writing a letter to Sima Yi telling him to come to raid our camp. I will spare you on this condition. And if I capture Sima Yi, I will give you all the credit and reward you handsomely.”

There was nothing for it but to agree, and the letter was written. Then Zheng Wen was placed in confinement.

But Fan Jian asked, “How did you know this was only a pretended desertion?”

“Sima Yi looks to his people,” replied Zhuge Liang. “If he made Qin Lang a leading general, Qin Lang was certainly a man of great military skill and not the sort of man to be overcome by this fellow Zheng Wen in the first encounter. So Zheng Wen’s opponent certainly was not Qin Lang. That is how I knew.”

They congratulated him on his perspicacity. Then Zhuge Liang selected a certain persuasive speaker from among his officers and whispered certain instructions in his ear. The officer at once left and carried the letter just written to the Wei camp, where he asked to see the Commander-in-Chief. He was admitted, and the letter was read.

“Who are you?” said Sima Yi.

“I am a man from the Middle Land, a poor fellow stranded in Shu. Zheng Wen and I are fellow villagers. Zhuge Liang has given Zheng Wen a Van Leadership as a reward for what he has done, and Zheng Wen got me to bring this letter to you and to say that he will show a light tomorrow evening as a signal, and he hopes you will lead the attack yourself. Zheng Wen will work from the inside in your favor.”

Sima Yi took great pains to test the reliability of these statements, and he examined the letter minutely to see if it bore any signs of fabrication, but he found it was Zheng Wen’s writing.

Presently he ordered in refreshments for the bearer of the letter, and then he said, “We will fix today at the second watch for the raid, and I will lead in person. If it succeeds, I will give you a good appointment as a reward.”

Taking leave, the soldier retraced his steps to his own camp and reported the whole interview to Zhuge Liang.

Zhuge Liang held his sword aloft toward the North Star, took the proper paces for an incantation, and prayed.

This done, he summoned Wang Ping, Zhang Ni, Wei Yan, Ma Dai, Ma Zheng, and Jiang Wei, to whom he gave certain instructions. When they had gone to carry them out, he ascended a hill, taking with him a few score guards only.

Sima Yi had been taken in by Zheng Wen’s letter and intended to lead the night raid. But the elder of his sons, Sima Shi, expostulated with his father.

“Father, you are going on a dangerous expedition on the faith of a mere scrap of paper,” said his son. “I think it imprudent. What if something goes unexpectedly wrong? Let some general go in your place, and you come up in rear as a reserve.”

Sima Yi saw there was reason in this proposal, and he finally decided to send Qin Lang, with ten thousand troops, and Sima Yi himself would command the reserve.

The night was fine with a bright moon. But about the middle of the second watch the sky clouded over, and it became very black, so that a man could not see his next neighbor.

“This is providential,” chuckled Sima Yi.

The expedition duly started, soldiers with gags, and horses with cords round their muzzles. They moved swiftly and silently, and Qin Lang made straight for the camp of Shu.

But when he reached it and entered, and saw not a soldier, he knew he had been tricked. He yelled to his troops to retire, but lights sprang up all round, and attacks began from four sides. Fight as he would, Qin Lang could not free himself.

From behind the battle area Sima Yi saw flames rising from the camp of Shu and heard continuous shouting, but he knew not whether it meant victory for his own army or to his enemy. He pressed forward toward the fire. Suddenly, a shout, a roll of drums, and a blare of trumpets close at hand, a bomb that seemed to rend the earth, and Wei Yan and Jiang Wei bore down upon Sima Yi, one on each flank. This was the final blow to him. Of every ten soldiers of Wei, eight or nine were killed or wounded, and the few others scattered to the four winds.

Meanwhile Qin Lang’s ten thousand troops were falling under arrows that came in locust-flights, and their leader was killed. Sima Yi and the remnant of his army ran away to their own camp.

After the third watch the sky cleared. Zhuge Liang from the hill-top sounded the gong of retreat. This obscurity in the third watch was due to an incantation called Concealing Method. The sky became clear, because Zhuge Liang performed another incantation to have the Deities of Six Layers sweep away the few floating clouds that still persisted.

The victory was complete. The first order on Zhuge Liang’s return to camp was to put Zheng Wen to death.

Next he considered new plans for capturing the south bank. Every day be sent a party to offer a challenge before the camps of the enemy, but no one accepted.

One day Zhuge Liang rode in his small chariot to the front of the Qishan Mountains, keenly scanned the course of River Wei and carefully surveyed the lie of the land. Presently he came to a valley shaped like a bottle-gourd, large enough to form a hiding place for a whole thousand soldiers in the inner recess, while half as many more could hide in the outer. In rear the mountains were so close that they left passage only for a single horseman. The discovery pleased the general mightily, and he asked the guides what the place was called.

They replied, “It is called Shangfang Valley, and nicknamed Gourd Valley.”

Returning to his camp, he called up two leaders named Du Rui and Hu Zhong and whispered into their ears certain secret orders. Next he called up a thousand craftspeople and sent them into the Gourd Valley to construct “wooden oxen and running horses” for the use of the troops. Finally he set Ma Dai with five hundred troops to guard the mouth of the Gourd Valley and prevent all entrance and exit.

Zhuge Liang said, “People from outside cannot enter, from inside cannot exit. I will visit the valley at irregular intervals to inspect the work. A plan for the defeat of Sima Yi is being prepared here and must be kept a profound secret.”

Ma Dai left to take up the position. The two generals, Du Rui and Hu Zhong, were superintendents of the work in the Gourd Valley. Zhuge Liang came every day to give instructions.

One day Yang Yi went to Zhuge Liang and said, “The stores of grain are all at Saber Pass, and the labor of transport is very heavy. What can be done?”

Zhuge Liang replied, smiling, “I have had a scheme ready for a long time. The timber that I collected and bought in the River Lands was for the construction of wooden transport animals to convey grain. It will be very advantageous, as they will require neither food nor water and they can keep on the move day and night without resting.”

All those within hearing said, “From old days till now no one has ever heard of such a device. What excellent plan have you, O Prime Minister, to make such marvelous creatures?”

“They are being made now after my plans, but they are not yet ready. Here I have the sketches for these mechanical oxen and horses, with all their dimensions written out in full. You may see the details.”

Zhuge Liang then produced a paper, and all the generals crowded round to look at it. They were all greatly astonished and lauded, “The Prime Minister is superhuman!”

A few days later the new mechanical animals were complete and began work. They were quite life-like and went over the hills in any desired direction. The whole army saw them with delight. They were but in charge of Right General Gao Xiang and a thousand soldiers to guide them. They kept going constantly between Saber Pass and the front carrying grain for the use of the soldiers.

[hip, hip, hip]
Along the Saber Pass mountain roads
The running horses bore their loads,
And through Xie Valley’s narrow way
The wooden oxen paced each day.
O generals, use these means today,
And transport troubles take away.
[yip, yip, yip]

Sima Yi was already sad enough at his defeat, when the spies told him of these wooden bullocks and horses of new design which the soldiers of Shu were using to convey their grain.

This troubled him still more, and he said to his generals, “I knew the transportation from the River Lands was difficult; therefore, I shut the gates and remained on the defensive waiting for the enemy to be starved. With this device, they may never be compelled to retreat for want of food.”

Then he called up Zhang Hu and Yue Chen and gave orders: “Each of you with five hundred troops will goes to the Xie Valley by by-roads. When you see the Shu soldiers transport their grain by, you are to let them through, but only to attack at the end and capture four or five of the wooden horses and bullocks.”

So a thousand soldiers went on this service disguised as soldiers of Shu. They made their way along the by-ways by night and hid. Presently the wooden convoy came along under the escort of Gao Xiang. Just as the end of it was passing, they made a sudden rush, and captured a few of the “animals” which the soldiers of Shu abandoned. In high glee they took them to their own camp.

When Sima Yi saw them, he had to confess they were very life-like. But what pleased him most was that he could imitate them now that he had models.

“If Zhuge Liang can use this sort of thing, it would be strange if I could not,” said he.

He called to him many clever craftspeople and made them then and there take the machines to pieces and make some exactly like them. In less than half a month, they had completed a couple of thousand after Zhuge Liang’s models, and the new mechanical animals could move. Then Sima Yi placed Cen Wei, General Who Guards the Frontiers, in charge of this new means of transport, and the “animals” began to ply between the camp and the West Valley Land. The Wei soldiers were filled with joys.

Gao Xiang returned to camp and reported the loss of a few of his wooden oxen and horses.

“I wished him to capture some of them,” said Zhuge Liang, much pleased. “I am just laying out these few, and before long I shall get some very solid help in exchange.”

“How do you know, O Prime Minister?” said his officers.

“Because Sima Yi will certainly copy them; and when he has done that, I have another plan ready to play on him.”

Some days later Zhuge Liang received a report that the enemy were using the same sort of wooden bullocks and horses to bring up supplies from Xizhou.

“Exactly as I thought,” said be.

Calling Wang Ping, he said, “Dress up a thousand soldiers as those of Wei, and find your way quickly and secretly to Beiyuan. Tell them that you are escort for the convoy, and mingle with the real escort. Then suddenly turn on them so that they scatter. Next you will turn the herd this way. By and by you will be pursued. When that occurs, you will give a turn to the tongues of the wooden animals, and they will be locked from movement. Leave them where they are and run away. When the soldiers of Wei come up, they will be unable to drag the creatures and equally unable to carry them. I shall have soldiers ready, and you will go back with them, give the tongues a backward turn and bring the convoy here, The enemy will be greatly astonished.”

Next he called Zhang Ni and said, “Dress up five hundred soldiers in the costume of the Deities of the Six Layers so that they appear supernatural. Fit them with demon heads and wild beast shapes, and let them stain their faces various colors so as to look as strange as possible. Give them flags and swords and bottle-gourds with smoke issuing from combustibles inside. Let these soldiers hide among the hills till the convoy approaches, when they will start the smoke, rush out suddenly and drive off the wooden animals. No one will dare pursue such uncanny company.”

When Zhang Ni had left, Wei Yan and Jiang Wei were called.

“You will take ten thousand troops, go to the border of Beiyuan to receive the wooden transport creatures and defend them against attack.”

Then another five thousand under Zhang Yi and Liao Hua was sent to check Sima Yi if he should come, while a small force under Ma Dai and Ma Zheng was sent to bid defiance to the enemy near their camp on the south bank.

So one day when a convoy was on its way from the West Valley Land, the scouts in front suddenly reported some soldiers ahead who said they were escort for the grain. Commander Cen Wei halted and sent to inquire. It appeared the newcomers were really the soldiers of Wei, however, and so he started once more.

The newcomers joined up with his own troops. But before they had gone much farther, there was a yell, and the men of Shu began to kill, while a voice shouted, “Wang Ping is here!”

The convoy guard were taken aback. Many were killed, but the others rallied round Cen Wei and made some defense. However, Wang Ping slew Cen Wei, and the others ran this way and that, while the convoy was turned toward the Shu camp.

The fugitives ran off to Beiyuan and reported the mishap to Guo Huai, who set out hot foot to rescue the convoy. When he appeared, Wang Ping gave the order to turn tongues, left the wooden animals in the road, and ran away. Guo Huai made no attempt to pursue, but tried to put the wooden animals in motion toward their proper destination. But he could not move them.

He was greatly perplexed. Then suddenly there arose the roll of drums all round, and out burst two parties of soldiers. These were Wei Yan and Jiang Wei’s troops, and when they appeared Wang Ping’s soldiers faced about and came to the attack as well. These three being too much for Guo Huai; he retreated before them. Thereupon the tongues were turned back again and the wooden herd set in motion.

Seeing this, Guo Huai came on again. But just then he saw smoke curling up among the hills and a lot of extraordinary creatures burst out upon him. Some held swords and some flags, and all were terrible to look at. They rushed at the wooden animals and urged them away.

“Truly these are supernatural helpers,” cried Guo Huai, quite frightened.

The soldiers also were terror-stricken and stood still.

Hearing that his Beiyuan troops had been driven off, Sima Yi came out to the rescue. Midway along the road, just where it was most precipitous, a cohort burst out upon him with fierce yells and bursting bombs. Upon the leading banners he read Han General Zhang Yi and Han General Liao Hua.

Panic seized upon his army, and they ran like winds.

[hip, hip, hip]
In the field the craftier leader on the convoy makes a raid,
And his rival’s life endangers by an ambush subtly laid.
[yip, yip, yip]

If you would know the upshot, read the next chapter.

Romance of Three Kingdoms Chapter 103

In Gourd Valley, Sima Yi Is Trapped;
In Wuzhang Hills, Zhuge Liang Invokes The Stars.

Heavily smitten in the battle, Sima Yi fled from the field a lonely horseman. Seeing a thick wood in the distance, he made for its shelter.

Zhang Yi halted the rear division while Liao Hua pressed forward after the fugitive, whom he could see threading his way among the trees. And Sima Yi indeed was soon in fear of his life, dodging from tree to tree as his pursuer neared. Once Liao Hua was actually close enough to slash at his enemy, but Liao Hua missed the blow and his sword struck a tree; and before he could pull his sword out of the wood, Sima Yi had got clear away. When Liao Hua got through into the open country, he did not know which way to go. Presently he noticed a golden helmet lying on the ground to the east, just lately thrown aside. He picked it up, hung it on his saddle, and went away eastward.

But the crafty fugitive, having flung away his helmet thus on the east side of the wood, had gone away west, so that Liao Hua was going away from his quarry. After some time Liao Hua fell in with Jiang Wei, when he abandoned the pursuit and rode with Jiang Wei back to camp.

The wooden oxen and running horses having been driven into camp, their loads were put into the storehouse. The grain that fell to the victors amounted to ten thousand carts or more.

Liao Hua presented the enemy’s helmet as proof of his prowess in the field, and received a reward of the first grade of merit. Wei Yan went away angry and discontented; Zhuge Liang noticed this, but he said nothing.

Very sadly Sima Yi returned to his own camp. Bad news followed, for a messenger brought letters telling of an invasion by three armies of Wu. The letters said that forces had been sent against them, and the Ruler of Wei again enjoined upon his Commander-in-Chief a waiting and defensive policy. So Sima Yi deepened his moats and raised his ramparts.

Meanwhile, when the South Land marched against the Middle Land, Cao Rui sent three armies against the invaders: Liu Shao led that to save Jiangxia; Tian Du led the Xiangyang force; Cao Rui himself, with Man Chong, went into Hefei. This last was the main army.

Man Chong led the leading division toward Lake Chaohu. Thence, looking across to the eastern shore, he saw a forest of battleships, and flags and banners crowded the sky. So he returned to the main army and proposed an attack without loss of time.

“The enemy think we shall be fatigued after a long march, and so they have not troubled to prepare any defense. We should attack this night, and we shall overcome them.”

“What you say accords with my own ideas,” said the Ruler of Wei.

Then the Ruler of Wei told off the cavalry leader, Zhang Qiu, to take five thousand troops and try to burn out the enemy with combustibles. Man Chong was also to attack from the eastern bank.

In the second watch of that night, the two forces set out and gradually approached the entrance to the lake. They reached the marine camp unobserved, burst upon it with a yell, and the soldiers of Wu fled without striking a blow. The troops of Wei set fires going in every direction and thus destroyed all the ships together with much grain and many weapons.

Zhuge Jin, who was in command, led his beaten troops to Miankou, and the attackers returned to their camp much elated.

When the report came to Lu Xun, he called together his officers and said, “I must write to the Emperor to abandon the siege of Xincheng, that the army may be employed to cut off the retreat of the Wei army while I will attack them in front. They will be harassed by the double danger, and we shall break them.”

All agreed that this was a good plan, and the memorial was drafted. It was sent by the hand of a junior officer, who was told to convey it secretly. But this messenger was captured at the ferry and taken before the Ruler of Wei.

Cao Rui read the dispatch, then said with a sigh, “This Lu Xun of Wu is really very resourceful.”

The captive was put into prison, and Liu Shao was told off to defend the rear and keep off Sun Quan’s army.

Now Zhuge Jin’s defeated soldiers were suffering from hot weather illnesses, and at length he was compelled to write and tell Lu Xun, and ask that his army be relieved and sent home.

Having read this dispatch, Lu Xun said to the messenger, “Make my obeisance to the General, and say that I will decide.”

When the messenger returned with this reply, Zhuge Jin asked what was doing in the Commander-in-Chief’s camp.

The messenger replied, “The soldiers were all outside planting beans, and the officers were amusing themselves at the gates. They were playing a game of skill, throwing arrows into narrow-necked vases.”

Alarmed, Zhuge Jin himself went to his chief’s camp.

Said he, “Cao Rui himself leads the expedition, and the enemy is very strong. How do you, O Commander, meet this pressing danger?”

Lu Xun replied, “My messenger to the Emperor was captured, and thus my plans were discovered. Now it is useless to prepare to fight, and so we had better retreat. I have sent in a memorial to engage the Emperor to retire gradually.”

Zhuge Jin replied, “Why delay? If you think it best to retire, it had better be done quickly.”

“My army must retreat slowly, or the enemy will come in pursuit, which will mean defeat and loss. Now you must first prepare your ships as if you meant to resist, while I make a semblance of an attack toward Xiangyang. Under cover of these operations we shall withdraw into the South Land, and the enemy will not dare to follow.”

So Zhuge Jin returned to his own camp and began to fit out his ships as if for an immediate expedition, while Lu Xun made all preparations to march, giving out that he intended to advance upon Xiangyang.

The news of these movements were duly reported in the Wei camps. When the leaders heard it, they wished to go out and fight. But the Ruler of Wei knew his opponent better than they and would not bring about a battle.

So he called his officers together and said to them, “This Lu Xun is very crafty. Keep careful guard, but do not risk a battle.”

The officers obeyed.

A few days later the scouts brought in news: “The three armies of Wu have retired!”

The Ruler of Wei doubted and sent out some of his own spies, who confirmed the report.

[e] Sun Zi (aka Sun Wu, Sunzi, Suntzu, Sun-tzu, Sun tzu) the author of the famed treatise The Art of War. A general of Wu in the Spring and Autumn period, Sun Zi made her the mightiest state during his lifetime by defeating Chu and conquering Yue. His treatise the Art of War is still avidly read today by many. …..
[e] Wu Qi, aka Wu Zi, a famous general in the Warring States period. He first served Lu, then went to Wei, his native, and led Wei army against Qin. He made enemies in Wei, so he fled to Chu, where King Dao made him prime minister. Wu Qi made Chu a powerful state; expanded her territory; defended her against Wei, Zhao, and Han; and attacked Qin. Wu Qi is the author of a military treatise named “Wu Qi’s Art of War”. …..

When he thus knew it was true, he consoled himself with the words, “Lu Xun knows the art of war even as did Sun Zi* and Wu Qi*. The subjugation of the southeast is not for me this time.”

Thereupon Cao Rui distributed his generals among the various vantage points and led the main army back into Hefei, where he camped ready to take advantage of any change of conditions that might promise success.

Meanwhile Zhuge Liang was at Qishan, where he intended to make a long sojourn. He made his soldiers mix with the people in Wei and share in the labor of the fields, and the crops—the soldiers one-third, the people two-third. He gave strict orders against any encroachment on the property of the farmers, and so they and the soldiers lived together very amicably.

Then Sima Yi’s son, Sima Shi, went to his father and said, “These soldiers of Shu have despoiled us of much grain, and now they are mingling with the people of Qishan and tilling the fields along the banks of River Wei as if they intended to remain there. This would be a calamity for us. Why do you not appoint a time to fight a decisive battle with Zhuge Liang?”

His father replied, “I have the Emperor’s orders to act on the defensive and may not do as you suggest.”

While they were thus talking, one reported that Wei Yan had come near and was insulting the army and reminding them that he had the helmet of their leader. And he was challenging them. The generals were greatly incensed and desired to accept the challenge, but the Commander-in-Chief was immovable in his decision to obey his orders.

“The Holy One says: ‘If one cannot suffer small things, great matters are imperiled.’ Our plan is to defend.”

So the challenge was not accepted, and there was no battle. After reviling them for some time, Wei Yan went away.

Seeing that his enemy was not to be provoked into fighting, Zhuge Liang gave orders to Ma Dai to build a strong stockade in the Gourd Valley and therein to excavate pits and to collect large quantities of inflammables. So on the hill they piled wood and straw in the shape of sheds, and all about they dug pits and buried mines. When these preparations were complete, Ma Dai received instructions to block the road in rear of Gourd Valley and to lay an ambush at the entrance.

“If Sima Yi comes, let him enter the valley, and then explode the mines and set fire to the straw and the wood,” said Zhuge Liang. “Also, set up seven star flags at the mouth of the valley and arrange a night signal of seven lamps on the hill.”

After Ma Dai had gone, Wei Yan was called in, and Zhuge Liang said to him, “Go to the camp of Wei with five hundred troops and provoke them to battle. The important matter is to entice Sima Yi out of his stronghold. You will be unable to obtain a victory, so retreat that he may pursue. You are to make for the signal, the seven star flags by day or the seven lamps at night. Thus you will lead him into the Gourd Valley, where I have a plan prepared for him.”

When Wei Yan had gone, Gao Xiang was summoned.

“Take small herds, forty or fifty at a time, of the wooden oxen and running horses, load them up with grain and lead them to and fro on the mountains. If you can succeed in getting the enemy to capture them, you will render a service.”

So the transport wooden cattle were sent forth to play their part in the scheme, and the remainder of the Qishan soldiers were sent to work in the fields.

He gave orders to his generals, saying, “If the enemy under other leaders come to attack, you are to flee the field. Only in the case Sima Yi comes in person, you are to attack most vigorously the south bank of the river and cut off the retreat.”

Then Zhuge Liang led his army away to camp next to the Gourd Valley.

Xiahou Hui and Xiahou He went to their chief, Sima Yi, and said, “The enemy have set out camps and are engaged in field work as though they intended to remain. If they are not destroyed now, but are allowed to consolidate their position, they will be hard to dislodge.”

“This certainly is one of Zhuge Liang’s ruses,” said the chief.

“You seem very afraid of him, Commander,” retorted they. “When do you think you can destroy him? At least let us two brothers fight one battle that we may prove our gratitude for the Emperor’s kindness.”

“If it must be so, then you may go in two divisions,” said Sima Yi.

As the two divisions, five thousand troops each, were marching along, they saw coming toward them a number of the transport wooden animals of the enemy. They attacked at once, drove off the escort, captured them, and sent them back to camp. Next day they captured more, with soldiers and horses as well, and sent them also to camp.

Sima Yi called up the prisoners and questioned them.

They told him, saying, “The Prime Minister understood that you would not fight, and so had told off the soldiers to various places to work in the fields, and therefore provide for future needs. We had been unwittingly captured.”

Sima Yi set them free and bade them begone.

“Why spare them?” asked Xiahou He.

“There is nothing to be gained by the slaughter of a few common soldiers. Let them go back to their own and praise the kindliness of the Wei leaders. That will slacken the desire of their comrades to fight against us. That was the plan by which Lu Meng captured Jingzhou.”

Then he issued general orders that all Shu prisoners should be well treated and sent away free. However, he kept rewarding those of his army who had done well.

As has been said, Gao Xiang was ordered to keep pretended convoys on the move, and the soldiers of Wei attacked and captured them whenever they saw them. In half a month they had scored many successes of this sort, and Sima Yi’s heart was cheered. One day, when he had made new captures of soldiers, he sent for them and questioned them again.

“Where is Zhuge Liang now?”

“He is no longer at Qishan, but in camp about three miles from the Gourd Valley. He is gathering a great store of grain there.”

After he had questioned them fully, he set the prisoners free.

Calling together his officers, he said, “Zhuge Liang is not camped on Qishan, but near the Gourd Valley. Tomorrow you shall attack the Qishan camp, and I will command the reserve.”

The promise cheered them, and they went away to prepare.

“Father, why do you intend to attack the enemy’s rear?” asked Sima Shi.

“Qishan is their main position, and they will certainly hasten to its rescue. Then I shall make for the valley and burn the stores. That will render them helpless and will be a victory.”

The son exclaimed his admiration for the plan.

Sima Yi began to march out, with Zhang Hu and Yue Chen following as the reserves.

From the top of a hill Zhuge Liang watched the Wei soldiers march and noticed that they moved in companies from three to five thousand, observing the front and the rear carefully as they marched. He guessed that their object was the Qishan camp.

So he sent strict orders to his generals: “If Sima Yi leads in person, you are to go off and capture the Wei camp and the south bank of River Wei.”

They received and obeyed his orders.

When the troops of Wei had got near and made their rush toward the camp of Shu in Qishan, the troops of Shu ran up also, yelling and pretending to reinforce the defenders. Sima Yi, seeing the Shu troops rushing to rescure Qishan, suddenly marched his center army’s guards with his two sons, changed his direction, and turned off for the Gourd Valley. Here Wei Yan was expecting him; and as soon as he appeared, Wei Yan galloped up and soon recognized Sima Yi as the leader.

“Sima Yi, stay!” shouted Wei Yan as he came near.

He flourished his sword, and Sima Yi set his spear. The two warriors exchanged a few passes, and then Wei Yan suddenly turned his steed and bolted. As he had been ordered, he made direct for the seven star flags, and Sima Yi followed, the more readily as he saw the fugitive had but a small force. The two sons of Sima Yi rode with him, Sima Shi on the left, Sima Zhao on the right.

Presently Wei Yan and his troops entered the mouth of the valley. Sima Yi halted a time while he sent forward a few scouts.

They returned and reported: “Not a single Shu soldier is seen, but a many straw houses are on the hills.”

Sima Yi said, “This must be the store valley!”

He led his army in eagerly. But when he had got well within, Sima Yi noticed that kindling wood was piled over the straw huts; and as he saw no sign of Wei Yan, he began to feel uneasy.

“Supposing soldiers seize the entrance. What then?” said he to his sons.

As he spoke there arose a great shout, and from the hillside came many torches, which fell all around them and set fire to the straw, so that soon the entrance to the valley was lost in smoke and flame. They tried to get away from the fire, but no road led up the hillside. Then fire-arrows came shooting down, and the earth-mines exploded, and the straw and firewood blazed high as the heavens. The fire caused strong winds, and the winds aided the fire; and the valley became a fiery stove.

Sima Yi, scared and helpless, dismounted, clasped his arms about his two sons, and wept, saying, “My sons, we three are doomed!”

As they stood weeping, a fierce gale suddenly sprang up, black clouds gathered, a peal of thunder followed, and rain poured down in torrents, speedily extinguishing the fire all through the valley. The mines no longer exploded, and all the fiery contrivances ceased to work mischief.

“If we do not break out now, what better chance shall we have?” cried Sima Yi, and he led the soldiers to make a dash for the outlet.

As they broke out of the valley, they came upon reinforcements under Zhang Hu and Yue Chen, and so were once more safe. Ma Dai was not strong enough to pursue, and the soldiers of Wei got safely to the river.

But there they found their camp in the possession of the enemy, while Guo Huai and Sun Li were on the floating bridge struggling with the troops of Shu. Sima Yi charged up hastily, and the troops of Shu retreated, whereupon Sima Yi crossed the river and ordered the bridges burned. He then occupied the north bank.

The Wei army attacking the Qishan camp were greatly disturbed when they heard of the defeat of their Commander-in-Chief and the loss of the camp on River Wei. The troops of Shu took the occasion to strike with greater vigor, and so gained a great victory. The beaten army suffered heavy loss. Those who escaped fled across the river.

When Zhuge Liang from the hill-top saw that Sima Yi had been inveigled into the trap by Wei Yan, he rejoiced exceedingly; and when he saw the flames burst forth, he thought surely his rival was done for. Then, unhappily for him, Heaven thought it well to send down torrents of rain, which quenched the fire and upset all his calculations.

Soon after, the scouts reported the escape of his victims.

Zhuge Liang sighed, saying, “Human proposes; God disposes. We cannot wrest events to our will.”

[hip, hip, hip]
Fierce fires roared in the valley,
But the rain quenched them.
Had Zhuge Liang’s plan but succeeded,
Where had been the Jins?
[yip, yip, yip]

From the new camp on the north bank of the river, Sima Yi issued an order: “The south shore has been lost. If any of you proposes going out to battle again, he shall be put to death!”

Accordingly no one spoke of attacking, but all turned their energies toward defense.

Guo Huai went to the general to talk over plans.

He said, “The enemy have been carefully spying out the country. They are certainly selecting a new position for a camp.”

Sima Yi said, “If Zhuge Liang goes out to Wugong Hills, and thence eastward along the hills, we shall be in grave danger. If he goes westward along River Wei, and halts on the Wuzhang Hills, we need feel no anxiety.”

They decided to send scouts to find out the movements of their enemy. Presently the scouts returned to say that Zhuge Liang had chosen the Wuzhang Hills.

“Our great Emperor of Wei has remarkable fortune,” said Sima Yi, clapping his hand to his forehead.

Then he confirmed the order to remain strictly on the defensive till some change of circumstances on the part of the enemy should promise advantage.

After his army had settled into camp on the Wuzhang Hills, Zhuge Liang continued his attempts to provoke a battle. Day after day, parties went to challenge the army of Wei, but they resisted all provocation.

One day Zhuge Liang put a dress made of deer hide in a box, which he sent, with a letter, to his rival. The insult could not be concealed, so the generals led the bearer of the box to their chief. Sima Yi opened the box and saw the deer hide dress. Then he opened the letter, which read something like this:

“Friend Sima Yi, although you are a Commander-in-Chief and lead the armies of the Middle Land, you seem but little disposed to display the firmness and valor that would render a contest decisive. Instead, you have prepared a comfortable lair where you are safe from the keen edge of the sword. Are you not very like a deer? Wherefore I send the bearer with a suitable gift, and you will humbly accept it and the humiliation, unless, indeed, you finally decide to come out and fight like a warrior. If you are not entirely indifferent to shame, if you retain any of the feelings of a tiger, you will send this back to me and come out and give battle.”

Sima Yi, although inwardly raging, pretended to take it all as a joke and smiled.

“So he regards me as a deer,” said he.

He accepted the gift and treated the messenger well. Before the messenger left, Sima Yi asked him a few questions about his master’s eating and sleeping and hours of labor.

“The Prime Minister works very hard,” said the messenger. “He rises early and retires to bed late. He attends personally to all cases requiring punishment of over twenty of strokes. As for food, he does not eat more than a few pints of grain daily.”

“Indeed, Zhuge Liang eats little and works much,” remarked Sima Yi to his generals. “Can he last long?”

The messenger returned to his own side and reported to Zhuge Liang, saying, “Sima Yi took the whole episode in good part and shown no sign of anger. He only asked about the Prime Minister’s hours of rest, and food, and such things. He said no word about military matters. I told him that you ate little and worked long hours, and then he said, ‘Can he last long?’ That was all.”

“He knows me,” said Zhuge Liang, pensively.

First Secretary Yang Yong presently ventured to remonstrate with his chief.

“I notice,” said Yang Yong, “that you check the books personally. I think that is needless labor for a Prime Minister to undertake. In every administration the higher and subordinate ranks have their especial fields of activity, and each should confine his labors to his own field. In a household, for example, the male plows and the female cooks, and thus operations are carried on without waste of energy, and all needs are supplied. If one individual strives to attend personally to every matter, he only wearies himself and fails to accomplish his end. How can he possibly hope to perform all the various tasks well?

[e] Bing Ji was a prime minister of Western Han. One day, while riding in his cart with attendants, they came across brawling people by the road. He continued without concern. They then came across a man with an water buffalo panting. He immediately stopped to ask how long they had been traveling. His attendants were puzzled as to why he was more concerned about an ox than injured people. He replied that fighting was a matter for local officials, but an ox panting in early spring (if not traveling for long) suggested unusual heat, which could have disastrous results for all. …..
[e] Chen Ping (BC ?-178) a master strategist of Liu Bang. He first served Xiang Yu but then became a follower in Liu Bang’s camp. Served as Liu Bang’s prime minister and Empress Lu’s left minister. After the death of Empress Lu, Chen Ping played an important role in returning royal authority to the Liu clan. …..

“And, indeed, the ancients held this same opinion, for they said that the high officers should attend to the discussion of ways and means, and the lower should carry out details. Of old, Bing Ji* was moved to deep thought by the panting of an ox, but inquired not about the corpses of certain brawlers which lay about the road, for this matter concerned the magistrate. Chen Ping* was ignorant of the figures relating to taxes, for he said these were the concern of the tax controllers. O Prime Minister, you weary yourself with minor details and sweat yourself everyday. You are wearing yourself out, and Sima Yi has good reason for what he said.”

“I know—I cannot but know,” replied Zhuge Liang with tears in his eyes. “But this heavy responsibility was laid upon me, and I fear no other will be so devoted as I am.”

Those who heard him wept. Thereafter Zhuge Liang appeared more and more harassed, and military operations did not speed.

On the other side the officers of Wei resented bitterly the insult that had been put upon them when their leader had been presented with the deer hide dress.

They wished to avenge the taunt, and went to their general, saying, “We are reputable generals of the army of a great state. How can we put up with such insults from these soldiers of Shu? We pray you let us fight them.”

“It is not that I fear to go out,” said Sima Yi, “nor that I relish the insults, but I have the Emperor’s command to hold on and may not disobey.”

The officers were not in the least appeased.

Wherefore Sima Yi said, “I will send your request to the Throne in a memorial. What think you of that?”

They consented to await the Emperor’s reply, and a messenger bore to the Ruler of Wei, in Hefei, this memorial:

“I have small ability and high office. Your Majesty laid on me the command to defend and not fight till the army of Shu had suffered by the flux of time. But Zhuge Liang has now sent me a gift of a deer hide dress, and my shame is very deep. Wherefore I advise Your Majesty that one day I shall have to fight in order to justify your kindness to me and to remove the shameful stigma that now rests upon my army. I cannot express the degree to which I am urged to this course.”

Cao Rui read it and turned questioningly to his courtiers seeking an explanation.

Said he, “Sima Yi has been in obstinate defense: Why does he want to attack now?”

Commander Xin Pi replied, “Sima Yi has no desire to give battle. This memorial is because of the shame put upon the officers by Zhuge Liang’s gift. They are all in a rage. He wishes for an edict to pacify them.”

Cao Rui understood and gave to Xin Pi an authority ensign and sent him to the River Wei camp to make known that it was the Emperor’s command not to fight.

Sima Yi received the messenger with all respect, and it was given out that any future reference to offering battle would be taken as disobedience to the Emperor’s especial command in the edict.

The officers could but obey.

Sima Yi said to Xin Pi, “Noble Sir, you interpreted my own desire correctly!”

It was thenceforward understood that Sima Yi was forbidden to give battle.

When it was told to Zhuge Liang, he said, “This is only Sima Yi’s method of pacifying his army.”

Wei Jiang asked, “How do you know, O Prime Minister?”

“Sima Yi has never had any intention of fighting. So he requested the edict to justify his strategy. It is well known that a general in the field takes no command from any person, not even his own prince. Is it likely that he would send a thousand miles to ask permission to fight if that was all he needed? The officers were bitter, and so Sima Yi got the Emperor to assist him in maintaining discipline. All this is meant to slacken our soldiers.”

Just at this time Fei Yi came from Capital Chengdu. He was called in to see the Prime Minister, and Zhuge Liang asked the reason for his coming.

He replied, “The Ruler of Wei, Cao Rui, hearing that Wu has invaded his country at three points, has led a great army to Hefei and sent three armies under Man Chong, Tian Du, and Liu Shao, to oppose the invaders. The stores and fight-material of Wu have been burned, and the army of Wu have fallen victims to sickness. A letter from Lu Xun containing a scheme of attack fell into the hands of the enemy, and the Ruler of Wu has marched back into his own country.”

Zhuge Liang listened to the end; then, without a word, he fell in a swoon. He recovered after a time, but he was broken.

He said, “My mind is all in confusion. This is a return of my old illness, and I am doomed.”

Ill as he was, Zhuge Liang that night went forth from his tent to scan the heavens and study the stars. They filled him with fear.

He returned and said to Jiang Wei, “My life may end at any moment.”

“Why do you say such a thing?”

“Just now in the Triumvirate constellation the Guest Star was twice as bright as usual, while the Host Star was darkened; the supporting stars were also obscure. With such an aspect I know my fate.”

“If the aspect be as malignant as you say, why not pray in order to avert it?” replied Jiang Wei.

“I am in the habit of praying,” replied Zhuge Liang, “but I know not the will of God. However, prepare me forty-nine guards and let each have a black flag. Dress them in black and place them outside my tent. Then will I from within my tent invoke the Seven Stars of the North. If my master-lamp remain alight for seven days, then is my life to be prolonged for twelve years. If the lamp goes out, then I am to die. Keep all idlers away from the tent, and let a couple of guards bring me what is necessary.”

Jiang Wei prepared as directed.

It was then the eighth month, mid-autumn, and the Milky Way was brilliant with scattered jade. The air was perfectly calm, and no sound was heard. The forty-nine men were brought up and spaced out to guard the tent, while within Zhuge Liang prepared incense and offerings. On the floor of the tent he arranged seven lamps, and, outside these, forty-nine smaller lamps. In the midst he placed the lamp of his own fate.

This done, he prayed:

“Zhuge Liang, born into an age of trouble, would willingly have grown old in retirement. But His Majesty, Liu Bei the Glorious Emperor, sought him thrice and confided to him the heavy responsibility of guarding his son. He dared not do less than spend himself to the utmost in such a task, and he pledged himself to destroy the rebels. Suddenly the star of his leadership has declined, and his life now nears its close. He has humbly indited a declaration on this silk piece to the Great Unknowable and now hopes that He will graciously listen and extend the number of his days that he may prove his gratitude to his prince and be the savior of the people, restore the old state of the empire and establish eternally the Han sacrifices. He dares not make a vain prayer: This is from his heart.”

This prayer ended, in the solitude of his tent Zhuge Liang awaited the dawn.

Next day, ill as he was, he did not neglect his duties, although he spat blood continually. All day he labored at his plans, and at night he paced the magic steps, the steps of seven stars of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

Sima Yi remained still on the defensive.

One night as he sat gazing up at the sky and studying its aspect, he suddenly turned to Xiahou Ba, saying, “A leadership star has just lost position: Surely Zhuge Liang is ill and will soon die. Take a reconnoitering party of one thousand to the Wuzhang Hills and find out. If you see signs of confusion, it means that Zhuge Liang is ill. I shall take the occasion to smite hard.”

Xiahou Ba left with an army.

It was the sixth night of Zhuge Liang’s prayers, and the lamp of his fate still burned brightly. He began to feel a secret joy. Presently Jiang Wei entered and watched the ceremonies. He saw Zhuge Liang was loosening his hair, his hand holding a sword, his heels stepping on Ursa Major and Ursa Minor to hold the leadership star.

Suddenly a great shouting was heard outside, and Wei Jiang was about to send someone to inquire when Wei Yan dashed in, crying, “The Wei soldiers are upon us!”

In his haste Wei Yan had knocked over and extinguished the Lamp of Fate.

Zhuge Liang threw down the sword and sighed, saying, “Life and death are foreordained. No prayers can alter them.”

Stunned, Wei Yan fell to the earth and craved forgiveness. Jiang Wei got angry and drew his sword to slay the unhappy general.

[hip, hip, hip]
Nought is under man’s control,
Nor can he with fate contend.
[yip, yip, yip]

The next chapter will unfold what happened.

Romance of Three Kingdoms Chapter 104

A Falling Star: The Prime Minister Ascends To Heaven;
A Wooden Statue: The Commander-In-Chief Is Terrified.

The unhappy Wei Yan did not suffer the edge of the sword, for Zhuge Liang stayed the stroke, saying, “It is my fate—not his fault.”

So Jiang Wei put up his sword.

Zhuge Liang spat a few mouthfuls of blood, then sank wearily upon his couch.

Said he, “Sima Yi thinks I am dead, and he sent these few troops to make sure. Go and drive them off.”

Wei Yan left the tent and led out a small party to drive away the troops of Wei, who fled as they appeared. He chased them to more than seven miles and returned. Then Zhuge Liang sent Wei Yan to his own camp and bade him keep a vigilant lookout.

Presently Jiang Wei came in, went up to the sick man’s couch, and asked how he felt.

Zhuge Liang replied, “My death is very near. My chief desire has been to spend myself to the utmost to restore Han to its glory and to regain the Middle Land. But Heaven decrees it otherwise. My end is not far away. I have written a book in twenty-four chapters, 104,112 words, treating the Eight Needfuls, the Seven Cautions, the Six Fears, and the Five Dreads of war. But among all those about me there is no one fit to receive it and carry on my work save you. I pray you not to despise it.”

He gave the treatise to Jiang Wei, who received it sobbing.

“I have also a plan for a multiple crossbow, which I have been unable to execute. The weapon shoots ten bolts of eight inches length at every discharge. The sketches are quite ready, and the weapons can be made according to them.”

Jiang Wei took the papers with a deep bow.

The dying man continued, “There is no part of Shu that causes anxiety, save the Yinping Mountains. That must be carefully guarded. It is protected naturally by its lofty precipices, but it will surely be the cause of great losses.”

Next Zhuge Liang sent for Ma Dai, to whom he gave certain whispered instructions, and then said, “You are to follow out my instructions after my death.”

Soon after, Yang Yi entered the tent and went to the couch. He received a silken bag containing certain secret orders.

As Zhuge Liang gave it to him, he said, “After my death, Wei Yan will turn traitor. When that happens and the army is in danger, you will find herein what to do.”

Just as these arrangements were finished, Zhuge Liang fell into a swoon, from which he did not revive till late in the evening. Then he set himself to compose a memorial to the Latter Ruler.

When this reached the Latter Ruler, he was greatly alarmed and at once sent Chief Secretary Li Fu to visit and confer with the dying minister.

Li Fu traveled quickly to the Wuzhang Hills and was led to the tent of the Commander-in-Chief. He delivered the Latter Ruler’s command and inquired after the sick man’s welfare.

Zhuge Liang wept, and he replied, “Unhappily I am dying and leaving my task incomplete. I am injuring my country’s policy and am in fault to the world. After my death you must aid the Emperor in perfect loyalty, and see that the old policy is continued, and the rules of government maintained. Do not lightly cast out the people I have employed. My plans of campaign have been confided to Jiang Wei, who can continue my policy for the service of the state. But my hour draws near, and I must write my testament.”

Li Fu listened, and then took his leave.

Zhuge Liang made one final effort to carry out his duties. He rose from his couch, was helped into a small carriage, and thus made a round of inspection of all the camps and posts. But the cold autumn wind chilled him to the bone.

“I shall never again lead the army against the rebels,” said he. “O Azure Heaven, when will this regret end?”

Zhuge Liang returned to his tent. He became rapidly weaker and called Yang Yi to his bedside.

Said he, “Ma Dai, Wang Ping, Liao Hua, Zhang Yi, Zhang Ni may be depended on to the death. They have fought many campaigns and borne many hardships; they should be retained in the public service. After my death let everything go on as before, but the army is to be gradually withdrawn. You know the tactics to be followed, and I need say little. My friend Jiang Wei is wise and brave; set him to guard the retreat.”

Yang Yi received these orders, weeping.

Next, writing materials were brought in and the dying minister set himself to write his testament. It is here given in substance:

“Life and death are the common lot, and fate cannot be evaded. Death is at hand, and I desire to prove my loyalty to the end. I, thy servant Zhuge Liang, dull of parts, was born into a difficult age, and it fell to my lot to guide military operations. I led a northern expedition, but failed to win complete success. Now sickness has laid hold upon me and death approaches, so that I shall be unable to accomplish my task. My sorrow is inexpressible.

“I desire Your Majesty to cleanse your heart and limit your desires, to practice self-control and to love the people, to maintain a perfectly filial attitude toward your late father and to be benevolent to all the world. Seek out the recluse scholars that you may obtain the services of the wise and good; repel the wicked and depraved that your moral standard may be exalted.

“To my household belong eight hundred mulberry trees and a hundred acres of land; thus there is ample provision for my family. While I have been employed in the service of the state, my needs have been supplied from official sources, but I have not contrived to make any additions to the family estate. At my death I shall not leave any increased possessions, even an excess roll of silk, that may cause Your Majesty to suspect that I have wronged you.”

Having composed this document, the dying man turned again to Yang Yi, saying, “Do not wear mourning for me, but make a large coffer and therein place my body, with seven grains of rice in my mouth. Place a lamp at my feet and let my body move with the army as I was wont to do. If you refrain from mourning, then my leadership star will not fall, for my inmost soul will ascend and hold it in place. So long as my star retains its place, Sima Yi will be fearsome and suspicious.

“Let the army retreat, beginning with the rearmost division; send it away slowly, one camp at a time. If Sima Yi pursues, array the army and offer battle, turn to meet him and beat the attack. Let him approach till he is very near and then suddenly display the wooden image of myself that I have had carved, seated in my chariot in the midst of the army, with the generals right and left as usual. And you will frighten Sima Yi away.”

Yang Yi listened to these words intently. That night Zhuge Liang was carried into the open and gazed up at the sky.

“That is my star,” said he, pointing to one that seemed to be losing its brilliancy and to be tottering in its place. Zhuge Liang’s lips moved as if he muttered a spell. Presently he was borne into his tent and for a time was oblivious of all about him.

When the anxiety caused by this state of coma was at its height, Li Fu arrived.

He wept when he saw the condition of the great leader, crying, “I have foiled the great designs of the state!”

However, presently Zhuge Liang’s eyes reopened and fell upon Li Fu standing near his couch.

“I know your mission,” said Zhuge Liang.

“I came with the royal command to ask also who should control the destinies of the state for the next century,” replied Li Fu. “In my agitation I forgot to ask that.”

“After me, Jiang Wan is the most fitting man to deal with great matters.”

“And after Jiang Wan?”

“After him, Fei Yi.”

“Who is next after Fei Yi?”

No reply came, and when they looked more carefully, they perceived that the soul of the Prime Minister had passed.

Thus died Zhuge Liang, on the twenty-third day of the eighth month in the twelfth year of Beginning Prosperity, at the age of fifty and four (AD 234).

The poet Du Fu wrote some verses on his death.

[hip, hip, hip]
A bright star last night falling from the sky,
This message gave, “The Master is no more.”
No more in camps shall bold men tramp at his command;
At court no statesman ever will fill the place he held;
At home, his clients miss their patron kind;
Sad for the army, who were lonely in this world.
In the green wood stones and creeks are crying,
No more of his lute, birds have hushed singing.
[yip, yip, yip]

And Bai Juyi also wrote a poem:

[hip, hip, hip]
Within the forest dim the Master lived obscure,
Till, thrice returning, there the prince his mentor met.
As when a fish the ocean gains, desire was filled
Wholly the dragon freed could soar aloft at will.
As king’s son’s guardian none more zealous was;
As minister, most loyally he wrought at court.
His war memorials still to us are left,
And, reading them, the tears unconscious fall.
[yip, yip, yip]

Now in past days, Commander Liao Li in Changshui had a high opinion of his own abilities and thought himself perfectly fitted to be Zhuge Liang’s second. So he neglected the duties of his proper post, showed discontent and indiscipline, and was constantly slandering the minister. Thereupon Zhuge Liang degraded him and transferred him to Minshan.

When Liao Li heard of Zhuge Liang’s death, he shed tears and said, “Then, after all, I shall remain a barbarian!”

Li Yan also grieved deeply at the sad tidings, for he had always hoped that Zhuge Liang would restore him to office and so give him the opportunity of repairing his former faults. After Zhuge Liang had died, he thought there was no hope of reemployment, and so he died.

Another poet, Yuan Weizhi, also wrote in praise of the great adviser.

[hip, hip, hip]
He fought disorder, helped a weak king;
Most zealously he kept his master’s son.
In state-craft he excelled Guan Zhong, Yue Yi,
In war-craft he overpassed Wu Qi, Sun Zi.
With awe the court his war memorials heard,
With majesty his Eight Arrays were planned.
Virtue and wisdom both filled in his heart,
For thousand autumns, his fame would still stay.
[yip, yip, yip]

Heaven grieved and earth mourned on the night of Zhuge Liang’s death. Even the moon was dimmed, as Zhuge Liang’s soul returned to Heaven.

As the late commander had directed, Jiang Wei and Yang Yi forbade the mourning of his death. His body was placed in the coffer as he had wished, and three hundred of his trusted leaders and soldiers were appointed to watch it.

Secret orders were given to Wei Yan to command the rearguard, and then, one by one, the camps were broken up and the army began its homeward march.

Sima Yi watched the skies. One night a large red star with bright rays passed from the northeast to the southwest and dropped over the camps of Shu. It dipped thrice and rose again. Sima Yi heard also a low rumbling in the distance.

He was pleased and excited, and said to those about him, “Zhuge Liang is dead!”

At once he ordered pursuit with a strong force. But just as he passed his camp gates, doubts filled his mind and he gave up the plan.

“Zhuge Liang is a master of mysteries: He can get aids from the Deities of the Six Layers. It may be that this is but a ruse to get us to take the field. We may fall victims to his guile.”

So he halted. But he sent Xiahou Ba with a few dozen scouts to reconnoiter the enemy’s camps.

One night as Wei Yan lay asleep in his tent, he dreamed a dream. In his vision two horns grew out of his head. When he awoke he was much perplexed to explain his dream.

Marching General Zhao Zhi came to see him, and Wei Yan said, “You are versed in the Book of Changes. I have dreamed that two horns grew upon my head, and would trouble you to expound the dream and tell me its portent.”

Zhao Zhi thought a moment and replied, “It is an auspicious dream. Dragon and Jilin both have horns on the head. It augurs transformation into an ascending creature.”

Wei Yan, much pleased, said, “If the dream proves true as you said, I will thank you with very generous gifts.”

Zhao Zhi left and presently met Fei Yi, who asked whence he came.

“From the camp of our friend Wei Yan. He dreamed that he grew horns upon his head, and I have given him an auspicious interpretation. But really it is inauspicious. However, I did not wish to annoy him.”

“How do you know it is inauspicious?”

“The word for horn is composed of two parts, ‘knife’ above and ‘use’ below, and so means that there is a knife upon his head. It is a terrible omen.”

“Keep it secret,” said Fei Yi.

Then Fei Yi went to the camp of Wei Yan, and when they were alone, he said, “The Prime Minister died last night in the third watch. He left certain final orders, and among them, that you are to command the rearguard to keep Sima Yi at bay while the army retreats. No mourning is to be worn. Here is your authority, so you can march forthwith.”

“Who is acting in place of the late minister?” asked Wei.

“The chief command has been delegated to Yang Yi, but the secret plans of campaign have been entrusted to Jiang Wei. This authority was issued from Yang Yi.”

Wei Yan replied, “Though the Prime Minister is dead, I am yet alive. Counselor Yang Yi is only a civil officer and unequal to this post. He ought to conduct the coffin home while I lead the army against Sima Yi. I shall achieve success, and it is wrong to abandon a whole plan of campaign because of the death of one man, even if that be the Prime Minister.”

“The Prime Minister’s orders were to retire, and these orders are to be obeyed.”

“If the Prime Minister had listened to me, we should now have been at Changan. I am the Van Leader, General Who Conquers the West, and Lord of Nanzheng. I am not going to act as rearguard for any civil official,” said Wei Yan, angry.

“It may be as you say, General, but you must not do anything to make us ridiculous. Let me go back to Yang Yi and explain, and I may be able to persuade him to pass on to you the supreme military authority he holds.”

Wei Yan agreed, and Fei Yi went back to the main camp and told Yang Yi what had passed.

Yang Yi replied, “When near death the Prime Minister confided to me that Wei Yan would turn traitor. I sent him the authority to test him, and now he has discovered himself as the Prime Minister foretold. So I will direct Jiang Wei to command the rearguard.”

The coffer containing the remains of Zhuge Liang was sent on in advance, and Jiang Wei took up his post to cover the retreat.

Meanwhile Wei Yan sat in his tent waiting for the return of Fei Yi and was perplexed at the delay. When the suspense became unbearable, he sent Ma Dai to find out the reason.

Ma Dai returned and told him: “Jiang Wei is covering the retreat, and that most of the army has already gone.”

Wei Yan was furious.

“How dare he play with me, the pedantic blockhead?” cried he. “But he shall die for this!”

Turning to Ma Dai, Wei Yan said, “Will you help me?”

Ma Dai replied, “I have long hated Yang Yi; certainly I am ready to attack him.”

So Wei Yan broke camp and marched southward.

By the time Xiahou Ba had reached the Shu camps, they were all empty, and he hastened back with this news.

“Then Zhuge Liang is really dead! Let us pursue,” said Sima Yi, much irritated at being misled.

“Be cautious,” said Xiahou Ba. “Send an subordinate leader first.”

“No; I must go myself this time.”

So Sima Yi and his two sons hastened to the Wuzhang Hills. With shouts and waving flags, they rushed into the camps, only to find them quite deserted.

Sima Yi said to his sons, “You are to bring up the remaining force with all speed, whereas I will lead the vanguard.”

Sima Yi hastened in the wake of the retreating army. Coming to some hills, he saw them in the distance and pressed on still harder. Then suddenly a bomb exploded, a great shout broke the stillness, and the retiring army turned about and came toward him, ready for battle. In their midst fluttered a great banner bearing the words, Prime Minister of Han, Lord of Wuxiang, Zhuge Liang.

Sima Yi stopped, pale with fear. Then out from the army came some score of generals of rank, and they were escorting a small carriage, in which sat Zhuge Liang as he had always appeared, in his hand the feather fan.

“Then Zhuge Liang is still alive!” gasped Sima Yi. “And I have rashly placed myself in his power.”

As he pulled round his horse to flee, Jiang Wei shouted, “Do not try to run away, O rebel! You have fallen into one of the Prime Minister’s traps and had better stay!”

The soldiers, seized with panic, fled, throwing off all their gear. They trampled each other down, and many perished. Their leader galloped fifteen miles without pulling rein. When at last two of his generals came up with him, and had stopped his flying steed by catching at the bridle, Sima Yi clapped his hand to his head, crying, “Have I still a head?”

“Do not fear, Commander, the soldiers of Shu are now far away,” they replied.

But he still panted with fear, and only after some time did he recognize that his two companions were Xiahou Ba and Xiahou Hui. The three found their way by by-roads to their own camp, whence scouts were sent out in all directions.

In a few days the natives brought news: “The Shu army had really gone, and as soon as the retiring army entered the valley, they raised a wailing for the dead and hoisted white flags. Zhuge Liang was really dead, and Jiang Wei’s rearguard consisted of only one thousand troops. The figure in the carriage was only a wooden image of the Prime Minister.”

“While he lived, I could guess what he would do; dead, I was helpless!” said Sima Yi.

The people had a saying that “A dead Zhuge Liang can scare off a live Sima Yi.”

[hip, hip, hip]
In the depth of night a brilliant star
Fell from the northern sky;
Doubts stayed Sima Yi
When he would pursue
His dead, but fearsome enemy.
And even now the western people,
With scornful smile, will say
“Oh, is my head on my shoulder still?
It was nearly lost today.”
[yip, yip, yip]

Now indeed Sima Yi knew that his rival was no more, so he retook the pursuit. But when he reached the Red Hills, the Shu army had marched too far away.

As he took the homeward road, he said to his officers, “We can now sleep in comfort.”

As they marched back, they saw the camps of their enemies, and were amazed at their skillful arrangement.

“Truly a wonderful genius!” sighed Sima Yi.

The armies of Wei returned to Changan. Leaving officers to guard the various strategic points, Sima Yi himself went on to Luoyang to see the audience.

Yang Yi and Jiang Wei retired slowly and in good order till they neared the Plank Trail, when they donned mourning garb and began to wail for their dead. The soldiers threw themselves on the ground and wailed in sorrow. Some even wailed themselves to death.

But as the leading companies entered upon the Plank Trail, they saw a great blaze in front, and, with a great shout, a cohort came out barring the way. The leaders of the retreating army were taken aback and sent to inform Yang Yi.

[hip, hip, hip]
The regiments of Wei are nowhere near,
Then who are these soldiers that now appear?
[yip, yip, yip]

The next chapter will tell who they were.

Romance of Three Kingdoms Chapter 105

The Lord of Wuxiang Leaves A Plan In The Silken Bag;
The Ruler of Wei Removes The Bronze Statue With The Dew Bowl.

Yang Yi sent forward a man to find out what force this was that stood in his way, and the scout returned to say they were soldiers of Shu led by Wei Yan. Wei Yan had burned the Plank Trail and now barred the way.

Then said Yang Yi, “Just before his death the Prime Minister foretold that this man would one day turn traitor, and here it has come to pass. I did not expect to meet it thus, but now our road of retreat is cut, and what is to be done?”

Then replied Fei Yi, “He certainly has slandered us to the Emperor and said that we were rebelling, and therefore he has destroyed the wooden roads in order to prevent our progress first. Therefore, we must memorialize to the Throne the truth about him and then plan his destruction.”

Jiang Wei said, “I know a by-way hereabout that will lead us round to the rear of these covered roads. True it is precipitous and dangerous, but it will take us to our destination. It is called the Chashan Mountain Path.”

So they prepared a memorial and turned off in order to follow the narrow mountain road.

Meanwhile in Chengdu the Latter Ruler of Shu was troubled; he lost his appetite and was sleepless. Then he dreamed that the Silky Hills that protected his capital was rived and fell. This dream troubled him till morning, when he called in his officers of all ranks to ask them to interpret his vision.

When he had related his dream, Qiao Zhou stood forth and said, “Last night I saw a large red star fall from the northeast to the southwest. Surely it forebodes a misfortune to the First Minister. Your Majesty’s dream corresponds to what I saw.”

The Latter Ruler’s anxiety increased. Presently Li Fu returned and was summoned into the Latter Ruler’s presence.

Li Fu bowed his head and wept, saying, “The Prime Minister is dead!”

He repeated Zhuge Liang’s last messages and told all that he knew.

The Latter Ruler was overcome with great sorrow, and wailed, crying, “Heaven smites me!”

And he fell over and lay upon his couch. They led him within to the inner chambers; and when Empress Wu, the Empress Dowager, heard the sad tidings, she also wailed without ceasing. And all the officers were distressed and wept, and the common people showed their grief.

The Latter Ruler was deeply affected, and for many days could hold no court. And while thus prostrate with grief, they told him that Wei Yan had sent up a memorial charging Yang Yi with rebellion. The astounded courtiers went to the Latter Ruler’s chamber to talk over this thing, and Empress Wu was also there. The memorial was read aloud. It was much like this:

“I, thy Minister and General, Wei Yan, General Who Conquers the West and Lord of Nanzheng, humbly and with bowed head write that Yang Yi has assumed command of the army and is in rebellion. He has made off with the coffin of the late Prime Minister and wishes to lead enemies within our borders. As a precaution, and to hinder his progress, I have burned the Plank Trail and now report these matters.”

The Latter Ruler said, “Wei Yan is a valiant warrior and could easily have overcome Yang Yi. Why then did he destroy the Plank Trail?”

Empress Wu said, “The First Ruler used to say that Zhuge Liang knew that treachery lurked in the heart of Wei Yan, and he wished to put Wei Yan to death; he only spared Wei Yan because of his valor. We should not believe too readily this tale of his that Yang Yi has rebelled. Yang Yi is a scholar and a civil officer, and the late Prime Minister placed him in a position of great responsibility, thereby proving that he trusted and valued Yang Yi. If we believe this statement, surely Yang Yi will be forced to go over to Wei. Nothing should be done without due meditation.”

As they were discussing this matter, an urgent memorial came from Yang Yi, and opening it, they read:

“I, Yang Yi, leader of the retreating army, humbly and with trepidation, present this memorial. In his last moments the late Prime Minister made over to me the charge of the great enterprise, and bade me carry out his plan without change. I have respected his charge. I ordered Wei Yan to command the rearguard with Jiang Wei as his second. But Wei Yan refused obedience and led away his own army into Hanzhong. Then he burned the Plank Trail, tried to steal away the body of the late Commander-in-Chief, and behaved altogether unseemly. His rebellion came upon me suddenly and unexpectedly. I send this memorial in haste.”

The Empress Dowager listened to the end.

Then, turning to the officers, she said, “What is your opinion now?”

Jiang Wan replied, “Yang Yi is hasty and intolerant, but he has rendered great services in supplying the army. He has long been a trusted colleague of the late Prime Minister, who, being near his end, entrusted to him the conduct of affairs. Certainly he is no rebel. On the other hand, Wei Yan is bold and ambitious and thinks himself everybody’s superior. Yang Yi is the only one who has openly been of different opinion, and hence Wei Yan hates him. When he saw Yang Yi placed over his head in command of the army, Wei Yan refused his support. Then Wei Yan burned the Plank Trail in order to cut off Yang Yi’s retreat, and maligned him, hoping to bring about his fall. I am ready to guarantee Yang Yi’s fealty to the extent of my whole house, but I would not answer for Wei Yan.”

Dong Yun followed, “Wei Yan has always been conceited and discontented. His mouth was full of hate and resentment, and only fear of the late Prime Minister held him in check. The Prime Minister’s death gave him his opportunity, and he turned traitor. This is certainly the true state of the case. Yang Yi is able, and his employment by the late Prime Minister is proof of his loyalty.”

“If this is true and Wei Yan is really a rebel, what should be done?” asked the Latter Ruler.

Jiang Wan said, “I think the late Prime Minister has framed some scheme by which to get rid of Wei Yan. If Yang Yi had not felt secure, he would scarcely have set out to return through the valleys. Your Majesty may feel sure that Wei Yan will fall into some trap. We have received, almost at the same time, two memorials from two men, each bringing against the other a charge of rebellion. Let us wait.”

In a short time another memorial arrived from Wei Yan, who accused Yang Yi of rebellion. The Latter Ruler was reading it, when a messenger from Yang Yi was announced with yet another memorial labeling Wei Yan a rebel. The court received several more memorials from both sides blaming each other, and the officials did not know what to do.

Just then Fei Yi arrived. He was summoned into the royal presence and told the story of Wei Yan’s revolt.

The Latter Ruler replied, “In that case I should do well to send Dong Yun with the ensigns of authority to mediate the situation and attempt to persuade Wei Yan with kind words.”

So Dong Yun left on this mission.

At this time Wei Yan was camped at Nangu Valley, which was a commanding position. He thought his plan was succeeding well. It had not occurred to him that Yang Yi and Jiang Wei could get past him by any by-way.

On the other hand, Yang Yi, thinking that Hanzhong was lost, sent He Ping with three thousand troops on in front while he followed with the coffin.

When He Ping had got to the rear of Nangu Valley, they announced their presence with rolling drums. The scouts quickly told Wei Yan, who at once armed himself, took his sword, and rode out to confront He Ping. When both sides were arrayed, He Ping rode to the front and began to revile his opponent.

“Where is that rebel Wei Yan?” cried He Ping.

“You aided that traitor Yang Yi!” cried Wei Yan, no way backward with his tongue. “How dare you abuse me?”

He Ping waxed more indignant.

“You rebelled immediately after the late chief’s death, before even his body was cold. How could you?”

Then shaking his whip at the followers of Wei Yan, He Ping cried, “And you soldiers are Shu people. Your fathers and mothers, wives and children, and your friends are still in the land. Were you treated unkindly that you have joined a traitor and aid his wicked schemes? You ought to have returned home and waited quietly the rewards that would have been yours.”

The soldiers were touched by his words. They cheered, and more than a half ran away.

Wei Yan was now raging. He whirled up his sword and galloped forward straight for He Ping, who went to meet him with his spear ready. They fought several bouts, and then He Ping rode away as if defeated. Wei Yan followed, but He Ping’s troops began to shoot and Wei Yan was driven backward. As he got near his own ranks, Wei Yan saw many generals leaving their companies and going away. He rode after them and cut some of them down. But this did not stay the movement; they continued to go. The only steady portion of his own army was that commanded by Ma Dai. They stood their ground.

“Will you really help me?” said Wei Yan. “I will surely remember you in the day of success.”

The two then went in pursuit of He Ping, who fled before them. However, it was soon evident that He Ping was not to be overtaken, and the pursuers halted. Wei Yan mustered his now small force.

“What if we go over to Wei?” said Wei Yan.

“I think your words unwise,” said Ma Dai. “Why should we join anyone? A really strong person would try to carve out his own fortune and not be ready to crook the knee to another. You are far more able and brave than any leader in the River Lands. No one would dare to stand up to you. I pledge myself to go with you to the seizure of Hanzhong, and thence we will attack the West River Land.”

So they marched together toward Nanzheng, where Jiang Wei stationed. From the city wall Jiang Wei saw their approach and marked their proud, martial look. He ordered the drawbridge to be raised and sent to tell his colleague, Yang Yi.

As they drew near, both Wei Yan and Ma Dai shouted out, “Surrender!”

In spite of the smallness of their following, Jiang Wei felt that Ma Dai acting with Wei Yan was a dangerous combination, and he wanted the advice of Yang Yi.

“Wei Yan is valorous, and he is having the help of Ma Dai. How shall we repel them?” asked Jiang Wei.

Yang Yi replied, “Just before his death, the Prime Minister gave me a silken bag, which he said I was to open when Wei Yan’s mutiny reached a critical point. It contains a plan to rid ourselves of this traitor, and it seems that now is the moment to see what should be done.”

So Yang Yi opened the bag and drew forth the letter it held. On the cover he read, “To be opened when Wei Yan is actually arrayed opposite you.”

Said Jiang Wei, “As this has all been arranged for, I had better go out, and when his line is formed then you can come forth.”

Jiang Wei donned his armor, took his spear, and rode out, with three thousand troops. They marched out of the city gates with the drums beating. The array completed, Jiang Wei took his place under the great standard and opened with a volley of abuse.

“Rebel Wei Yan, the late Prime Minister never harmed you. Why have you turned traitor?”

Wei Yan reined up, lowered his sword and replied, “Friend Jiang Wei, this is no concern of yours. Tell Yang Yi to come.”

Now Yang Yi was also beneath the standard, but hidden. He opened the letter, and the words therein seemed to please him, for he rode forward blithely.

Presently he reined in, pointed to Wei Yan and said, “The Prime Minister foresaw your mutiny and bade me be on my guard. Now if you are able thrice to shout, ‘Who dares kill me?’, then you will be a real hero, and I will yield to you the whole of Hanzhong.”

Wei Yan laughed.

“Listen, you old fool! While Zhuge Liang lived I feared him somewhat. But he is dead and no one dares stand before me. I will not only shout the words thrice, but a myriad times. Why not?”

Wei Yan raised his sword, shook his bridle, and shouted, “Who dares kill me?”

He never finished. Behind him someone shouted savagely, “I dare!” and at the same moment Wei Yan fell dead, cut down by Ma Dai.

This was the denouement, and was the secret entrusted to Ma Dai just before Zhuge Liang’s death. Wei Yan was to be made to shout these words and slain when he least expected it. Yang Yi knew what was to happen, as it was written in the letter in the silken bag. A poem says:

[hip, hip, hip]
Zhuge Liang foresaw when freed from his restraint
Wei Yan would traitor prove. The silken bag
Contained the plan for his undoing. We see
How it succeeded when the moment came.
[yip, yip, yip]

So before Dong Yun had reached Nanzheng, Wei Yan was dead. Ma Dai joined his army to Jiang Wei’s, and Yang Yi wrote another memorial, which he sent to the Latter Ruler.

The Latter Ruler issued an edict: “Wei Yan had paid the penalty of his crime. He should be honorably buried in consideration of his former services.”

Then Yang Yi continued his journey and in due time arrived at Chengdu with the coffin of the late Prime Minister. The Latter Ruler led out a large cavalcade of officers to meet the body at a point seven miles from the walls, and he lifted up his voice and wailed for the dead, and with him wailed all the officers and the common people, so that the sound of mourning filled the whole earth.

By royal command the body was borne into the city to the palace of the Prime Minister, and his son Zhuge Zhan was chief mourner.

When next the Latter Ruler held a court, Yang Yi bound himself, and confessed he had been in fault.

The Latter Ruler bade them loose his bonds and said, “Noble Sir, the coffin would never have reached home but for you. You carried out the orders of the late Prime Minister, whereby Wei Yan was destroyed and all was made secure. This was all your doing.”

Yang Yi was promoted to be the Instructor of the Center Army, and Ma Dai was rewarded with the rank that Wei Yan had forfeited.

Yang Yi presented Zhuge Liang’s testament, which the Latter Ruler read, weeping. By a special edict it was commanded that soothsayers should cast lots and select the site for the tomb of the great servant of the state.

Then Fei Yi said to the Latter Ruler, “When nearing his end, the Prime Minister commanded that he should be buried on Dingjun Mountain, in open ground, without sacrifice or monument.”

This wish was respected, and they chose a propitious day in the tenth month for the interment, and the Latter Ruler followed in the funeral procession to the grave on the Dingjun Mountain. The posthumous title conferred upon the late Prime Minister was Zhuge Liang the Loyally Martial, and a temple was built in Mianyang wherein were offered sacrifices at the four seasons.

The poet Du Fu wrote a poem:

[hip, hip, hip]
To Zhuge Liang stands a great memorial hall,
In cypress shade, outside the Chengdu Wall,
The steps thereto are bright with new grass springing,
Hiding among the branches orioles are singing.
The people and army asked for his wisdoms,
Upon the throne, built for the father, sat the son.
But ere was compassed all his plans conceived
He died; and heroes since for him have ever grieved.
[yip, yip, yip]

Another poem by the same author says:

[hip, hip, hip]
Zhuge Liang’s fair fame stands clear to all the world;
Among king’s ministers he surely takes
Exalted rank; for when the empire cleft
In three, a kingdom for his lord he won
By subtle craft. Throughout all time he stands
A shining figure, clear against the sky.
Akin was he to famous Yi Yin, Lu Wang,
Yet stands with chiefs, like Xiao He, Cao Shen;
The fates forbade that Han should be restored,
War-worn and weary, yet he steadfast stood.
[yip, yip, yip]

Evil tidings came to the Latter Ruler on his return to his capital. He heard that Quan Zong had marched out with a large army from Wu and camped at the entrance to Baqiu. No one knew the object of this expedition.

“Here is Wu breaking their oath just as the Prime Minister has died,” cried the Latter Ruler. “What can we do?”

Then said Jiang Wan, “My advice is to send Wang Ping and Zhang Ni to camp at Baidicheng as a measure of precaution, while you send an envoy to Wu to announce the death and period of mourning. He can there observe the signs of the times.”

“The envoy must have a ready tongue,” said the Latter Ruler.

One stepped from the ranks of courtiers and offered himself. He was Zong Yu, a man of Nanyang, a Military Adviser. So he was appointed as envoy with the commissions of announcing the death of the Prime Minister and observing the conditions.

Zong Yu set out for Capital Jianye, arrived and was taken in to the Emperor’s presence. When the ceremony of introduction was over and the envoy looked about him, he saw that all were dressed in mourning.

But Sun Quan’s countenance wore a look of anger, and he said, “Wu and Shu are one house. Why has your master increased the guard at Baidicheng?”

Zong Yu replied, “It seemed as necessary for the west to increase the garrison there as for the east to have a force at Baqiu. Neither is worth asking about.”

“As an envoy you seem no way inferior to Deng Zhi,” said Sun Quan, smiling.

Sun Quan continued, “When I heard that your Prime Minister Zhuge Liang had gone to heaven, I wept daily and ordered my officers to wear mourning. I feared that Wei might take the occasion to attack Shu, and so I increased the garrison at Baqiu by ten thousand troops that I might be able to help you in case of need. That was my sole reason.”

Zong Yu bowed and thanked the Ruler of Wu.

“I would not go back upon the pledge between us,” said Sun Quan.

Zong Yu said, “I have been sent to inform you of the mourning for the late Prime Minister.”

Sun Quan took up a gold-tipped arrow and snapped it in twain, saying, “If I betray my oath, may my posterity be cut off!”

Then the Ruler of Wu dispatched an envoy with incense and silk and other gifts to be offered in sacrifice to the dead in the land of Shu.

Zong Yu and the envoy took leave of the Ruler of Wu and journeyed to Chengdu, where they went to the Latter Ruler.

Zong Yu made a memorial, saying, “The Ruler of Wu has wept for our Prime Minister and put his court into mourning. The increased garrison at Baqiu is intended to safeguard us from Wei, lest they take the occasion of a public sorrow to attack. And in token of his pledge, the Ruler of Wu broke an arrow in twain.”

The Latter Ruler was pleased and rewarded Zong Yu. Moreover, the envoy of Wu was generously treated.

According to the advice in Zhuge Liang’s testament, the Latter Ruler made Jiang Wan Prime Minister and Chair of the Secretariat, while Fei Yi became Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Chair of the Secretariat. Wu Yi was made Commander of the Flying Cavalry and Commander of Hanzhong; Jiang Wei, General Who Upholds the Han, Lord of Pingxiang, Commander-in-Chief, and Commander of Hanzhong.

Now as Yang Yi was senior in service to Jiang Wan, who had thus been promoted over his head, and as he considered his services had been inadequately rewarded, he was discontented and spoke resentfully.

He said to Fei Yi, “If when the Prime Minister died I had gone over to Wei, with the whole army, I should not have been thus left out in the cold.”

Fei Yi secretly reported this speech to the Latter Ruler, who was angered and threw Yang Yi into prison.

The Latter Ruler intended putting him to death, but Jiang Wan interceded, saying, “Yang Yi had followed the late Prime Minister in many campaigns and had had many good services. Your Majesty should not put him to death, but take away his rank.”

And Yang Yi was reprieved. However, he was degraded and sent into Hanjia in Hanzhong, where he committed suicide through shame.

In the thirteenth year of Beginning Prosperity of Shu, the same year being the third year of Green Dragon of Wei, and the fourth year of Domestic Peace of Wu (AD 235), there were no military expeditions. In Wei, Sima Yi was created Grand Commander, with command over all the forces of Wei, and he departed for Luoyang.

The Ruler of Wei, at Xuchang, made preparations to build himself a palace complex. At Luoyang he also built the Hall of Sunrise, the Hall of the Firmament, and the Hall of Complete Patterns, all lofty and of beautiful designs. He also raised a Hall of Beautiful Passions, a Green Flageolet Tower, and a Phoenix Tower. He also dug a Nine Dragons Pool. Over all these works he placed Doctorate Scholar Ma Jun as superintendent of their building.

Nothing was spared that would contribute to the beauty of these buildings. The beams were carved, the rafters were painted, the walls were of golden bricks, and the roofs of green tiles. They glittered and glowed in the sunlight. The most cunning craftspeople in the world were sought, many thousands of them, and myriads of ordinary workers labored day and night on these works for the Emperor’s glory and pleasure. But the strength of the people was spent in this toil, and they cried aloud and complained unceasingly.

Moreover, the Ruler of Wei issued an edict to carry earth and bring trees for the Fragrant Forest Park, and he employed officers of state in these labors, carrying earth and transporting trees.

The Minister of Works, Dong Xun, ventured upon a remonstrance, sending a memorial:

“From the beginning of Rebuilt Tranquillity Era, a generation ago, wars have been continuous and destruction rife. Those who have escaped death are few, and these are old and weak. Now indeed it may be that the palaces are too small and enlargement is desired, but would it not be more fitting to choose the building season so as not to interfere with cultivation? Your Majesty has always valued many honorable officers, letting them wear beautiful headdresses, clad in handsome robes, and riding in decorated chariots to distinguish them from the common people. Now these officers are being made to carry timber and bear earth, to sweat and soil their feet. To destroy the glory of the state in order to raise a useless edifice is indescribable folly. Confucius the Teacher said that princes should treat ministers with polite consideration, and ministers should serve princes with loyalty. Without loyalty, without propriety, can a state endure?

“I recognize that these words of mine mean death, but I am of no value, a mere bullock’s hair, and my life is of no importance, as my death would be no loss. I write with tears, bidding the world farewell.

“Thy servant has eight sons, who will be a burden to Your Majesty after his death. I cannot say with what trepidation I await my fate.”

“Has the man no fear of death?” said Cao Rui, greatly angered.

The courtiers requested the Emperor to put Dong Xun to death, but Cao Rui remembered his rectitude and proven loyalty and only degraded him, adding a warning to put to death those who would remonstrate.

A certain Zhang Mao, in the service of the Heir Apparent, also ventured upon a remonstrance. Cao Rui put him to death immediately.

Then Cao Rui summoned his Master of Works, Ma Jun, and said, “I have built high terraces and lofty towers with intent to hold intercourse with gods and goddesses, that I may obtain from them the elixir of life.”

[e] Emperor Wu, aka Liu Che, (reigned BC 141-87) whose reign was longest among the Han emperors. Emperor Wu was perhaps the most influential Han emperor who concerned not only about expanding territory but also about developing trade with other countries (the Silk Road, for example). Emperor paid special attention to longevity, and his court often had elaborate rituals. …..

Then Ma Jun replied, “Of the four and twenty emperors of the line of Latter Han, only Emperor Wu* enjoyed the throne very long and really attained to old age. That was because he drank of the essence of the brilliancy of the sun and the brightness of the moon. In the Palace at Changan is the Terrace of Cypress Beams, upon which stands the bronze figure of a man holding up a Dew Bowl, whereinto distills, in the third watch of the night, the vapor from the great constellation of the north. This liquid is called Celestial Elixir, or Sweet Dew. If mingled with powdered jade and swallowed, it restores youth to the aged.”

“Take workers to Changan immediately and bring hither the bronze figure to set up in the Fragrant Forest Park,” said the Ruler of Wei.

As the Ruler of Wei commanded, they took ten thousand workers to Changan, and they built a scaffold around the figure. Then they attached ropes to haul it down. The terrace being two hundred feet high and the pedestal ten cubits in circumference, Ma Jun bade his laborers first detach the bronze image. They did so and brought it down. Its eyes were moist as with tears, and the workers were affrighted.

Then suddenly beside the terrace sprang up a whirlwind, with dust and pebbles flying thick as a shower of rain, and there was a tempestuous roar as of an earthquake. Down fell the pedestal, and the platform crumbled, crushing a thousand people to death.

However, the bronze figure and the golden bowl were conveyed to Luoyang and presented to the Emperor.

“Where is the pedestal?” asked the Ruler of Wei.

“It is too heavy to transport,” replied the Ma Jun. “It weighs a million and half of pounds.”

Wherefore the Ruler of Wei ordered the pillar to be broken up and the metal brought, and from this he caused to be cast two figures which he named Saints of Wengzhong. They were placed outside the gate of the Board of War. A pair of dragons and a pair of phoenixes were also cast, the dragons forty feet high and the birds thirty. These were placed in front of the Hall of Audience.

Moreover, in the Fragrant Forest Park the Ruler of Wei planted wonderful flowers and rare trees, and he also established a menagerie of strange animals.

Yang Fu, Assistant Imperial Guardian, remonstrated with the Emperor on these extravagances in a memorial:

“As is well known, King Yao preferred his humble thatched cottage, and all the world enjoyed tranquillity; King Yu contented himself with a small modest palace, and all the empire rejoiced. In the days of Yin and Zhou Dynasties the hall of the ruler stood three feet above the usual height and its area was nine mats. The sage emperors and illustrious kings had no decorated chambers in lofty palaces built with the wealth, and by the strength, of a worn-out and despoiled people.

“Emperor Jie built a jade chamber and elephant stables; Emperor Zhou erected a surpassingly beautiful palace complex and a Deer Terrace. But these lost the empire. King Ling of Chu built beautiful palaces, but he came to an evil end. The First Emperor of Qin made the Epang Palace, but calamity fell upon his son, for the empire rebelled and his house was exterminated in the second generation.

“All those who have failed to consider the means of the people and given way to sensuous pleasures have perished. Your Majesty has the examples of Kings Yao, Yu, Shun, and Tang on the one hand, and the warnings of Kings Jie, Zhou, Ling, and the First Emperor on the other. To seek only self-indulgence and think only of fine palaces will surely end in calamity.

“The prince is the first and the head; his ministers are his limbs; they live or die together, they are involved in the same destruction. Though I am timorous, yet if I dared forget my duty, or failed to speak firmly, I should be unable to move Your Majesty. Now I have prepared my coffin and bathed my body ready for the most condign punishment.”

But the Ruler of Wei disregarded this memorial and only urged on the rapid completion of the terrace. Thereon he set up the bronze figure with the golden bowl. Moreover, he sent forth a command to select the most beautiful women in the empire for his garden of delight. Many memorials were presented, but the Ruler of Wei heeded them not.

Now the Consort of the Ruler of Wei was of the Mao family of Henei. In earlier days, when he was a prince, he had loved her exceedingly, and when he succeeded to the throne she became Empress Mao. Later he favored Lady Guo, and his Consort Mao was neglected. Lady Guo was beautiful and clever, and the Ruler of Wei delighted in her. He neglected state affairs for her society and often spent a month at a time in retirement with her. Every day there was some new gaiety.

In the spring, when the plants in the Fragrant Forest Park were in flower, the Ruler of Wei and Lady Guo came to the garden to enjoy them and to feast.

“Why not invite the Empress?” asked Lady Guo.

“If she came, nothing would pass my lips,” replied the Ruler of Wei.

He gave orders that his Consort should be kept in ignorance of these rejoicings.

But when a month passed without the appearance of the Emperor, Empress Mao and her ladies went to the Blue Flower Pavilion to entertain themselves. Hearing music, she asked who was providing it, and they told her that the Emperor and Lady Guo were feasting in the grounds.

That day Empress Mao returned to her palace filled with sorrow. Next day she went out in her carriage and saw the Emperor on a verandah.

“Yesterday Your Majesty was walking in the north garden, and you had plenty of music too,” said she, smiling.

Cao Rui was wroth and sent for all the attendants.

He upbraided them with disobedience, saying, “I had forbidden you to tell things to the Empress, and you disobeyed my command.”

With this he put them all to death. Empress Mao feared and returned to her palace.

Then an edict appeared forcing Empress Mao to commit suicide and raising Lady Guo to be Empress in her place. And no officer dared to utter a remonstrance.

[e] Yan state a state in the Warring States period. Located in the northeast, and north of Qi. …..

Just after this the Imperial Protector of Youzhou, Guanqiu Jian, sent in a memorial, saying: “Gongsun Yuan of Liaodong has risen in revolt, assumed the style of Prince of Yan*, and adopted a reign title of Extending Han. Gongsun Yuan has built himself a Palace, established an administration of his own, and is disturbing the whole north with plundering.”

A council met to consider this memorial.

[hip, hip, hip]
Within, officials labor at ignoble tasks, and mean,
Without, the glint of weapons on the border may be seen.
[yip, yip, yip]

How the insurgents were attacked will be related in the next chapter.

Romance of Three Kingdoms Chapter 106

Suffering Defeat, Gongsun Yuan Meets His Death;
Pretending Illness, Sima Yi Deceives Cao Shuang.

This Gongsun Yuan was a grandson of Gongsun Du the Warlike, and a son of Gongsun Kang in Liaodong. In the twelfth year of Rebuilt Tranquillity, when Cao Cao was pursuing Yuan Xi* and Yuan Shang*, who had fled eastward, Gongsun Kang had captured them, beheaded them, and sent their heads to Cao Cao*. For this service Gongsun Kang received the title of Lord of Xiangping. After Gongsun Kang’s death, as his two sons—Gongsun Huang and Gongsun Yuan—were young, his brother Gongsun Gong took the chiefship; and Cao Pi, beside confirming the lordship, gave him the rank of General of the Flying Cavalry.

In the second year of Calm Peace (AD 228), the second son, Gongsun Yuan, being now grown up, well-educated and trained in military exercises, obstinate and fond of fighting, took away his uncle’s power and ruled the heritage of his father. Cao Rui conferred upon him the title of General Who Wields Ferocity, and made him Governor of Liaodong.

Then the Ruler of Wu, Sun Quan, anxious to secure Gongsun Yuan’s support, sent two envoys, Zhang Mi and Xu Yan, with gifts of gold and gems and pearls and offered Gongsun Yuan the title of Prince of Yan. Fearing that the Middle Land would resent any dallying with Wu, Gongsun Yuan slew the Wu envoys and sent the heads to the Ruler of Wei. For this proof of fealty, Cao Rui gave him the title of Grand General and the Dukedom of Yuelang.

However, Gongsun Yuan was dissatisfied, and his thoughts turned toward independence. He took council with his officers and proposed to style himself Prince of Yan and to adopt a reign-title of Extending Han, the first year.

One general, Jia Fan, opposed this and said, “My lord, the central authorities have treated you well and honored you. I fear that Sima Yi is too skillful a leader for rebellion to succeed. You see even Zhuge Liang cannot defeat him. How much less can you?”

Gongsun Yuan’s reply was to condemn Jia Fan to death. However, Adviser Lun Zhi ventured upon further remonstrance.

“Jia Fan spoke well. The Sacred One says that extraordinary phenomena presage the destruction of a state. Now this time portents are not wanting, and wonders have been seen. A dog, dressed in red and wearing a turban, went up to the roof and walking like a man. Moreover, while a certain person living in a village south of the city was cooking his food, he saw a child in the pan, boiled to death. A great cave opened near the market place and threw out a large, fleshy body completely human save that it lacked limbs. Swords could not cut it; arrows could not penetrate it. No one knew what to call it; and when they consulted the soothsayers, they obtained the reply, ‘Incomplete shape, silent mouth: A state is near destruction.’ These prodigies are all inauspicious. Flee from evil and strive to walk in fair fortune’s way. Make no move without most careful thought.”

This second remonstrance enraged Gongsun Yuan still more, and he sent Lun Zhi to death with Jia Fan. Both were executed in the public place.

Gongsun Yuan then prepared to make a bid for empire. He raised an army of one hundred fifty thousand, appointed Bei Yan as Commander, and Yang Zuo as Leader of the Van. This army set out for the Middle Land.

Ruler of Wei was alarmed at the report of this rising, and sent for Sima Yi.

Sima Yi was not greatly perturbed, and said, “My forty thousand troops will be equal to the task.”

The Ruler of Wei replied, “The task is heavy, for your troops are few and the road is long.”

“The strength of an army is not in numbers, but in strategy. Aided by Your Majesty’s good fortune, I shall certainly be able to bring this fellow Gongsun Yuan a captive to your feet.”

“What do you think will be the rebel’s plan?” asked the Ruler of Wei.

“His high plan would be flight before our army can arrive; his middle plan would be defending his position in Liaodong; his low plan would be to try to hold Xiangping. In the last case I shall certainly capture him.”

“How long will the expedition take?”

“We have to cover one thousand five hundred miles which will take a hundred days. Attack will consume another hundred. The return will need a hundred, and with sixty days to rest we shall take a year.”

“Suppose during that year we are attacked by Wu or Shu.”

“My plans provide for that. Your Majesty need have no anxiety.”

The Ruler of Wei being thus reassured, formally ordered Sima Yi to undertake the expedition.

Hu Zun was appointed to lead the van. Hu Zun went and camped in Liaodong. The scouts hastened to tell Gongsun Yuan, who sent Bei Yan and Yang Zuo to camp at Liaosui with eighty thousand troops. They surrounded their camp with a wall seven miles in circumference and placed thorny barriers outside the rampart. It seemed very secure.

Hu Zun saw these preparations and sent to tell his chief. Sima Yi smiled.

“So the rebel does not want to fight, but thinks to weary my soldiers,” said Sima Yi. “Now I am disposed to think that most of his army is within that wall, so that his stronghold is empty and undefended. I will make a dash at Xiangping. He will have to go to its rescue, and I will smite him on the way. I should score a great success.”

So Sima Yi hastened to Xiangping along unfrequented ways.

Meanwhile Bei Yan and Yang Zuo, the two generals within the walled camp, discussed their plans.

Yang Zuo said, “When the Wei army comes near, we will not fight. They will have come a long march and their supplies will be short, so that they cannot hold out long. When they retreat, we shall find our opportunity. These were the tactics Sima Yi used against Zhuge Liang on River Wei, and Zhuge Liang died before the end of the expedition. We will try similar means.”

Presently the scouts reported that the Wei army had marched south.

Bei Yan at once saw the danger and said, “They are going to attack Xiangping, which they know has few troops. If that base be lost, this position is useless.”

So they broke up their camp and followed the enemy.

When Sima Yi heard it, he rejoiced, saying, “Now they will fall into the snare I have laid for them.”

Sima Yi sent Xiahou Ba and Xiahou Wei to take up position on the River Ji. They were to attack if the army of Liaodong came near them. They had not long to wait. As soon as Bei Yan and his army approached, Xiahou Ba and Xiahou Wei exploded a bomb, beat the drums, waved their flags, and came out, one force on each side. Bei Yan and Yang Zuo made a fight but soon fled to Shoushan Mountain, where they fell in with Gongsun Yuan and joined the main army. Then they turned to give battle to the Wei army.

Bei Yan rode to the front and reviled the enemy, shouting, “You rebels! Do not try trickery, but dare you fight in the open?”

Xiahou Ba rode out to accept the challenge, and after a few bouts Bei Yan fell. In the confusion caused by the death of their leader, Xiahou Ba urged on his troops and drove Gongsun Yuan back to Xiangping, and Gongsun Yuan took refuge in the city.

The city was surrounded. It was autumn, and the rain fell day after day without ceasing. At the end of the month, the plain was under three feet of water, so that the grain boats sailed straight from River Ji to the city walls. The besiegers suffered much from the floods.

Pei Jing, Commander of the Left, went to Sima Yi and asked, “The rain keeps pouring down, and tents cannot be pitched on mud. May the army be moved to camp on the higher ground?”

But Sima Yi flouted the suggestion.

“How can the army move away just when success is in sight? The rebels will be conquered now any day. If any other speaks about drawing off, he will be put to death.”

Pei Jing agreed and went away.

Soon after, Chou Lian, Commander of the Right, came to see his chief and repeated the suggestion, saying, “The soldiers are suffering from the rains. O Commander, let them camp on the hills.”

Sima Yi got angry and said, “I have sent the command, and you are against it!”

And he ordered Chou Lian to be executed. His head was suspended at the camp gate as a warning to others. The soldiers dared to complain any more.

Then Sima Yi ordered the south camp to be abandoned, and the army marched seven miles south, thus allowing the soldiers and people in the city to come out to gather fuel and pasture their cattle.

The attacking army could not understand this move, and General Chen Qun spoke about it.

“When you besieged Shangyong, O Commander, you attacked all round at eight points, and the city fell in eight days. Meng Da was taken, and you won a great success. Now your forty thousand troops have borne their armors many days over long marches and you do not press the attack, but keep them in the mud and mire and let the enemy gather supplies and feed their cattle. I do not know what your intention may be.”

“Sir,” replied the Commander-in-Chief, “I see you are ignorant of war after all. You do not understand the different conditions. Meng Da then had ample supplies and few troops, while we were under exactly opposite conditions. So we had to attack vigorously and at once. The suddenness of the attack defeated the enemy. But look at present conditions. The Liaodong troops are many and we few; they are on the verge of starvation, and we are full fed. Why should we force the attack? Our line is to let the soldiers desert and capture the city. Therefore I leave a gate open and the road free that they may run away.”

Chen Qun then understood and acknowledged the correctness of the strategy. Sima Yi sent to Luoyang to hasten supplies, that there should be no shortage.

However, the war was not supported in the capital, for when the messenger arrived and the Ruler of Wei summoned his courtiers, they said, “In Liaodong the rain has been continuous for a month, and the soldiers are in misery. Sima Yi ought to be recalled, and the war renewed at a more convenient season.”

The Ruler of Wei replied, “The leader of our army is most capable and best able to decide upon what should be done. He understands the conditions and is teeming with magnificent plans. He will certainly succeed. Wherefore, Noble Sirs, wait a few days and let us not be anxious about the result.”

So Cao Rui heeded not the voice of the dissentients, but took care that provisions were sent.

After a few days the rain ceased, and fine, clear weather followed. That night Sima Yi went out of his tent that he might study the sky. Suddenly he saw a very large and bright star start from a point over Shoushan Mountain and travel over toward Xiangping, where it fell. The soldiers were rather frightened at this apparition, but the leader rejoiced.

“Five days from now Gongsun Yuan will be slain where that star fell,” said he. “Therefore attack with vigor.”

They opened the attack the next morning at dawn, throwing up banks and sapping the walls, setting up stone-throwing machines and rearing ladders. When night came the attack did not cease. Arrows fell in the city like pelting rain.

Within the city, grain began to run short, and soon there was none. They slaughtered bullocks and horses for food. The soldiers began to be mutinous and no longer fought with any spirit. There was talk of slaying Gongsun Yuan and yielding the city.

Gongsun Yuan was disheartened and frightened, and decided to sue for peace. He sent his Prime Minister Wang Jian and Imperial Censor Liu Fei out of the city to beg Sima Yi to allow him to submit. These two had to be let down from the walls by ropes, as no other means of exit were possible.

Wang Jian and Liu Fei found their way to Sima Yi and said, “We pray you, O Commander, retire seven miles and allow the officers to come forth and surrender.”

“Why did not Gongsun Yuan himself come?” said Sima Yi. “He is rude.”

He put the two envoys to death and sent their heads back into the city.

Gongsun Yuan was still more alarmed, but he resolved to make one more attempt. This time he sent High Counselor Wei Yin as his envoy. Sima Yi received this messenger sitting in state in his tent with his officers standing right and left. Wei Yin approached on his knees, and when he reached the door of the tent recited his petition.

“I pray you, O Commander, turn your thunderous wrath from us. We will send the son of our leader, Gongsun Xiu, the Heir Apparent, as hostage and all the officers shall appear before you bound with cords.”

Sima Yi replied, “There are five possible operations for any army. If you can fight, fight; if you cannot fight, defend; if you cannot defend, flee; if you cannot flee, surrender; if you cannot surrender, die. These five courses are open to you, and a hostage would be useless. Now return and tell your master.”

Wei Yin put his hands over his head and fled like a rat. He went into the city and related what had happened to him.

The Gongsuns, father and son, resolved to flee. They chose a thousand of mounted troops, and in the dead of night opened the south gate and got out. They took the road to the east and were rejoiced to find it clear.

All went well for a distance of three miles, when a bomb exploded. This was followed by a roll of drums and the blare of trumpets; and a cohort stood in the way. The leader was Sima Yi, supported by his two sons—Sima Shi and Sima Zhao.

“Stop, O rebel!” cried the sons.

But Gongsun Yuan lashed his steed to a gallop. Then Hu Zun, Xiahou Ba, Xiahou Wei, Zhang Hu, and Yue Chen, with their troops, came up and quickly surrounded them so that they were helpless. Gongsun Yuan saw that escape was impossible, so he came with his son, dismounted, and offered surrender.

Sima Yi hardly looked at the two men, but he turned to his officers and said, “That night the star fell to this land, and today, five days later, the omen becomes true.”

They all felicitated him, saying, “The Commander is superhuman!”

Gongsun Yuan and Gongsun Xiu were slain where they stood. Then Sima Yi turned to resume the siege of Xiangping; but before he had reached the walls, Hu Zun’s army had entered. Sima Yi went in and was received with great respect, the people burning incense as he passed. He went to the residence, and then the whole of the Gongsun Yuan’s clan, and all who had assisted in his rising, were beheaded. They counted heads to the number of seventy.

The city taken and the rebels destroyed, Sima Yi issued a proclamation in order to restore confidence among the people.

Certain persons told him, “Jia Fan and Lun Zhi had been against the revolt and had therefore suffered death.”

So Sima Yi honored their tombs and conferred ranks upon their children. The contents of the treasury were distributed among the soldiers as rewards, and then the army marched back to Luoyang.

One night the Ruler of Wei was suddenly awakened by a chill blast that extinguished all the lights, but he saw the form of the late Empress Mao, with a score or two of other Palace attendants, coming toward the bed whereon he lay, and as they approached they demanded his life. He was very frightened and fell ill so that he was like to die.

So the two officers, Liu Fang and Sun Zu, were set over the privy council, and he summoned his brother Cao Yu, the Prince of Yan, to the capital to make him Regent Marshal to assist the Heir Apparent, Cao Fang. However, Cao Yu being modest and retiring by nature, declined these high offices and their responsibilities.

The Ruler of Wei then turned to his two confidants, Liu Fang and Sun Zu, inquired of them, saying, “Who of the family is a suitable person to support the Heir Apparent?”

As Liu Fang and Sun Zu had both received many favors from Cao Zhen, they replied, “None is so fit as Cao Shuang, the son of Cao Zhen.”

The Ruler of Wei approved their choice, and thus Cao Shuang became a great person.

Then Liu Fang and Sun Zu memorialized, saying, “As Cao Shuang has been chosen, Cao Yu, the Prince of Yan, should be ordered to leave the capital and return to Yan, his own place.”

The Ruler of Wei consented and issued an edict, which these two bore to Cao Yu, saying, “The edict in the Emperor’s own hand bids you return to your own domain at once, and you are not to return to court without a special command.”

Cao Yu wept, but he left forthwith.

Thereupon Cao Shuang was created Regent Marshal and Court Administrator.

But the Ruler of Wei’s illness advanced rapidly, and he sent messenger with authority ensign to call Sima Yi into the Palace. As soon as he arrived, he was led to the Emperor’s chamber.

“I feared lest I should not see you again,” said the Ruler of Wei. “But now I can die content.”

The general bowed and said, “On the road they told me the sacred person was not perfectly well. I grieved that I had not wings to hasten hither. But I am happy in that I now behold the dragon countenance.”

The heir, Cao Fang, was summoned to the Emperor’s bedside and also Cao Shuang, Liu Fang, Sun Zu, and certain others.

Taking Sima Yi by the hand, the dying Emperor said, “When Liu Bei lay dying at Baidicheng, he confided his son, so soon to be an orphan, to the care of Zhuge Liang, who labored in this task to the very end and whose devotion only ceased with death. If such conduct is possible in the mere remnant of a dying dynasty continued in a small state, how much more may I hope for it in a great country! My son is only eight years of age, and incapable of sustaining the burden of rulership. Happily for him he has ample merit and experience around him in the persons of yourself and his relatives. He will never lack friends for my sake.”

Turning to the young prince, he continued, “My friend Sima Yi is as myself, and you are to treat him with the same respect and deference.”

Cao Rui bade Sima Yi lead the young prince forward. The boy threw his arms around Sima Yi’s neck and clung to him.

“Never forget the affection he has just shown,” said Cao Rui, weeping. And Sima Yi wept also.

The dying man swooned; although he could not speak, his hand still pointed to his son, and soon after he died. Cao Rui had reigned thirteen years and was thirty-six years of age. His death took place in the first month of the third year of Spectacular Beginning (AD 239).

No time was lost in enthroning the new Emperor, the supporters being Sima Yi and Cao Shuang. The new ruler’s name was Cao Fang. However, he was Cao Rui’s son only by adoption. He had been brought up in the Palace secretly, and no one knew his real origin.

The posthumous title of Emperor Rui the Knowledgeable was conferred upon the late ruler, and he was buried in the Gaoping Tombs. Empress Guo was given the title of Empress Dowager.

The new reign was styled Right Beginning Era, the first year (AD 239). Sima Yi and Cao Shuang conducted the government, and in all matters Cao Shuang treated Sima Yi with deference and took no steps without his knowledge.

[e] Deng Yu was commander-in-chief of Liu Xiu, the founder of Latter Han. …..

Cao Shuang was no stranger at court. Cao Rui had respected him for his diligence and care and had been very fond of him, He had had the freedom of the Palace all his life. He had a host of five hundred clients and retainers. Among them were five wholly light and foppish. Their names were He Yan, Deng Yang, Li Sheng, Ding Mi, and Bi Gui. Deng Yang was a descendant of Commander Deng Yu of Han*. Beside these five there was another named Huan Fan, Minister of Agriculture, a man of good parts, who had the sobriquet of “Bag of Wisdom”. These six were Cao Shuang’s most trusted companions and confidants.

One day He Yan said, “My lord, you should not let your great powers slip into the hands of any other, or you will repent it.”

Cao Shuang replied, “Sima Yi as well as I received the late Emperor’s sacred trust, and I mean to be true.”

He Yan said, “When your father and this Sima Yi were winning their victories in the west, your father suffered much from this man’s temper, which ultimately brought about his death. Why do you not look into that?”

Cao Shuang seemed suddenly to wake up.

Having entered into an intrigue with the majority of the officers about the court, then one day he presented to the Ruler of Wei a memorial, saying, “Sima Yi should be promoted to the rank of Guardian of the Throne for his great merits and services.”

The promotion was made, and consequently Sima Yi, now a civil officer, let the whole military authority fall into the hands of Cao Shuang.

Having thus far succeeded, Cao Shuang next appointed his brothers to high military posts: Cao Xi as Commander of the Center Army; Cao Xun, Commander of the Imperial Guards; Cao Yan, Commander of the Cavalry. Each commanded three thousand of the Palace guards, with right to go in and out of the Palace at will. Moreover, three of his friends—He Yan, Deng Yang, and Ding Mi—were created Chairs of three boards; Bi Gui, Commander of Capital District; and Li Sheng, Governor of Henan. These five and their patron were close associates in all concerns of state.

Cao Shuang gathered about him larger and still larger numbers of supporters, till Sima Yi gave out that he was ill and remained in seclusion. His two sons also resigned their offices.

Cao Shuang and his friends now gave themselves up to dissipation, spending days and nights in drinking and music. In their dress and the furniture of their table they copied the Palace patterns. Tribute in the shape of jewels and curios went to the residence of Cao Shuang before it entered the Emperor’s palace, and his complex swarmed with beautiful damsels. Minister Zhang Dang of the Inner Bureau toadied to Cao Shuang so far as to select eighteen of the late Emperor’s handmaids and send them to the now powerful minister. Cao Shuang also chose for him a chorus of two score well-born ladies who were skilled in music and dancing. Cao Shuang also built for himself beautiful towers and pavilions and made to himself vessels of gold and silver, the work of the most expert craftspeople, whom he kept constantly employed.

Now He Yan heard of Guan Lu’s great skill in divination and sent to Pingyuan to invite him to discuss about the Book of Changes.

When the soothsayer arrived, Deng Yang was of the company to meet him, and he said to Guan Lu, “You call yourself a skillful diviner, but your speech does not resemble the language of the Book of Changes. How is that?”

Guan Lu replied, “An interpreter does not use the language of the original.”

He Yan laughed, saying, “Certainly good words are not wearisome. But cast a lot for me, and tell me whether I shall ever arrive at the highest office or not, for I have dreamed repeatedly that many blue flies settled on my nose.”

Guan Lu replied, “Gao Kai and Gao Yuan aided King Shun; Duke Zhou assisted the young Emperor Cheng of Zhou Dynasty; all these were kindly and modest and enjoyed great happiness. You, Sir, have come to high honors and wield great powers, but those who esteem you are few and those who fear you, many. You are not careful to walk in the way of good fortune. Now the nose is an eminence. If an eminence retains its characteristic, thereby it remains in honor. But is it not that blue flies gather to foul objects and the lofty fears a fall? I would wish you to give of your abundance for the good of the poor and avoid walking in the wrong road. Then indeed may you reach the highest dignity, and the blue flies will disperse.”

“This is mere senile gossip,” said Deng Yang.

“The gift of age is to see that which is yet to come; the gift of gossip is to perceive what is not said,” replied Guan Lu. Thereupon he shook out his sleeves and went away.

“He is very mad, really,” said his two hosts.

Guan Lu went home. When he saw his uncle, Guan Lu gave him an account of the interview.

His uncle was alarmed at the probable consequences, and said, “Why did you anger them? They are too powerful for you to offend.”

“What is there to fear? I have been talking to two dead men.”

“What do you mean?”

“Deng Yang’s gait is that of one whose sinews are loosed from his bones, and his pulse is unsteady. When he would stand, he totters as a man without limbs. This is the aspect of a disembodied soul. He Yan looks as if his soul was about to quit its habitation. He is bloodless, and what should be solid in him is mere vapor. He looks like rotten wood. This is the aspect of a soul even now in the dark valley. Both these men will certainly soon die a violent death, and none need fear them.”

His uncle left, cursing him for a madman.

Cao Shuang and his five friends were devoted to hunting and were often out of the city. Cao Xi, a brother of Cao Shuang, remonstrated with him about this and pointed out the dangers of such frequent absence on these excursions.

“You are in an exalted position and yet you are constantly being out hunting. If anyone took advantage of this to work you evil, you might have to be exceedingly regretful.”

Cao Shuang only showed anger and replied, “The whole military authority is in my hands, and what is there to fear?”

Huan Fan, Minister of Agriculture, also reasoned with him, but Cao Shuang would not listen.

About this time the style of the reign was changed from Right Beginning, the tenth year, to Domestic Calm, the first year (AD 249).

Now ever since Cao Shuang had enjoyed the monopoly of military authority, he had never heard the truth about the state of health of the man he had maneuvered out of power. But when the Ruler of Wei appointed Li Sheng to the Imperial Protectorship of Qingzhou, Cao Shuang bade Li Sheng go to take leave of Sima Yi, at the same time to find out the true state of his health.

So Li Sheng proceeded to the residence of the High Minister and was announced.

Sima Yi saw through the device at once and told his sons, saying, “This is Cao Shuang’s wish to find out my real condition.”

And he bade them play their parts in the scene he arranged, before the visitor was admitted.

Sima Yi threw aside his headdress, so letting his hair fall in disorder, stretched himself upon his couch, tumbled the bed ding into confusion, got a couple of servant girls to support him, and then told his servants to lead in the visitor.

Li Sheng came in and went up to the sick man, saying, “It is a long time since I have seen you, and I did not know you were so seriously ill. His Majesty is sending me to Qingzhou, and I have come to pay my respects to you and bid you farewell.”

“Ah, Bingzhou is in the north; you will have to be very careful there,” said Sima Yi feigning that he had not heard.

“I am going as Imperial Protector of Qingzhou, not Bingzhou,” said Li Sheng.

“Oh, you have just come from Bingzhou.”

“Qingzhou, in Huashang Mountains.”

“Just back from Qingzhou, eh?” said Sima Yi, smiling.

“How very ill the Imperial Guardian is!” said Li Sheng to the servants.

“The Minister is deaf,” said they.

“Give me paper and a pen,” said Li Sheng.

Writing materials were brought, when Li Sheng wrote what he wished to say and put it before his host.

“My illness has made me very deaf. Take care of yourself on the way,” said Sima Yi.

Looking up, he pointed to his mouth. One of the girls brought some broth and held the cup for him to drink. He put his lips to the cup, but spilled the broth all over his dress.

“I am very weak and ill,” said he, “and may die at any moment. My sons are but poor things, but you will instruct them. When you see the Regent Marshal, you will ask him to take care of them for me, will you not?”

At this point Sima Yi fell back on the couch, panting, and Li Sheng took his leave.

Li Sheng told Cao Shuang what he had seen, and Cao Shuang rejoiced, thinking his rival could not last long.

“If the old man died, I should not be the one to grieve,” said Cao Shuang.

But no sooner had Li Sheng gone than Sima Yi rose from his couch and said to his sons, “Li Sheng will take a full account of this to Cao Shuang, who will not fear me any more. But wait till Cao Shuang goes on his next hunting trip, and we will see what can be done.”

Soon after this, Cao Shuang proposed to the Ruler of Wei, Cao Fang, to visit the Gaoping Tombs where his father lay and perform the filial sacrifices in person. So they went, a goodly company of officers in the train of the imperial chariot, and Cao Shuang with all his brothers and his friends went with the guards.

Huan Fan, Minister of Agriculture, entreated him to remain in the city for fear of plots and risings.

“Your Lordship are in charge of the capital security, and you and your brothers should not leave the city together. Suppose there were a revolt, what then?”

But Cao Shuang asked angrily and rudely, “Who would dare make trouble? Hold your wild tongue!”

And he went with the Emperor.

His departure rejoiced the heart of Sima Yi, who at once began quietly to muster his trusty friends and henchmen and put the finishing touches to the plot for the overthrow of his rival.

[hip, hip, hip]
Now terminates his forced inaction,
He must destroy the hostile faction.
[yip, yip, yip]

Cao Shuang’s fate will appear in the next chapter.

Romance of Three Kingdoms Chapter 107

The Ruler of Wei Hands Over The Power To Sima Yi;
Jiang Wei Is Defeated At Ox Head Hills.

Sima Yi was very pleased to hear that Cao Shuang and his party were to follow the Ruler of Wei on a visit to the tombs combined with a hunt, for it meant that the whole enemy faction left the city. Accordingly, Cao Shuang and his three brothers Cao Xi, Cao Xun, Cao Yan, and his friends He Yan, Deng Yang, Ding Mi, Bi Gui, Li Sheng, and others left the capital with the Emperor.

As soon as they left, Sima Yi entered with his authority as Imperial Guardian, gave Gao Rou, Minister of the Interior, provisional command of the army and sent him to seize the camp of Cao Shuang. A similar command was given to Wang Guan, Supervisor of the Palace, to replace Cao Xi as Commander of the Center Army and to occupy his camp.

Having secured his position thus, Sima Yi and his supporters went to the palace of the Empress Dowager.

They said to her, “Cao Shuang has betrayed the trust placed in him by the late Emperor and has ruined the government. His fault must be expiated.”

Empress Guo replied, “What can be done in the absence of the Son of Heaven?”

“I have prepared plans for the destruction of these base ministers and will see to it that no trouble happens to yourself.”

The Empress was much alarmed, but could only act as she was directed and agree. So two of Sima Yi’s supporters, Commander Jiang Ji and High Minister Sima Fu, copied out the memorial he had prepared, and it was sent to the Ruler of Wei by the hand of an eunuch. Then the arsenals were seized.

Soon the news of the rising came to the knowledge of the family of Cao Shuang, and his wife, Lady Liu, came out from the inner apartments and summoned Pan Ju, Commander of the Gates.

She inquired, “The Master is outside, and Sima Yi is revolting: What does it mean?”

“Your Ladyship need feel no alarm. Let me go and find out the truth,” said Pan Ju.

Thereupon Pan Ju, at the head of a several dozen bowmen, went up on the wall and looked around. At that moment Sima Yi was crossing the court, and Pan Ju bade his men shoot. Sima Yi could not pass.

But Sun Qiao, one of his generals, said, “You must not shoot at the Imperial Guardian; he is on public service.”

Thrice Sun Qiao urged his chief not to let the men shoot, and so Pan Ju desisted. Sima Yi went across guarded by his son Sima Zhao. Then he went out of the city and camped on River Luo at the Floating Bridge.

When the revolution began, one of Cao Shuang’s officers, Lu Zhu by name, took counsel with Military Adviser Xin Chang.

“Now that this revolt has begun, what should we do?”

“Let us go to the Emperor with what troops we have,” replied Xin Chang.

“Perhaps the best course,” replied Lu Zhu.

And Xin Chang went into the inner chamber to get ready to start. There he met his sister, Xin Xianying, who asked the meaning of all this haste.

“His Majesty is out on a hunt, and Sima Yi has closed the gates of the city. This is rebellion.”

“I do not think so. He only means to slay Cao Shuang, his rival,” replied she.

“What will be the outcome of this?” asked her brother.

“Cao Shuang is no match for Sima Yi,” replied she.

“If Sima Yi asks us to join him, should we?” asked Xin Chang.

Xin Xianying replied, “You know what a true man should do. When a man is in danger, there is the greater need for sympathy. To be of Cao Shuang’s people and desert him in an emergency is the greatest of evils.”

This speech decided Xin Chang, who went with Lu Zhu. At the head of a some twenty horsemen, they forced the gate and got out of the city.

When their escape was reported to Sima Yi, he thought that Huan Fan would surely try to follow their example, so he sent to call him. However, on the advice of his son, Huan Fan did not answer the summons, but decided to flee. He got into his carriage and drove hastily to the South Gate. But the gate was barred. The Commander of the Gate, Si Fan, was an old dependant of Huan Fan.

Huan Fan pulled out from his sleeve a slip of bamboo and said, “The Empress’s command: Open the gate for me.”

“Let me look,” said Si Fan.

“What! How dare you, an old servant of mine, behave thus?”

Si Fan let Huan Fan pass.

As soon as he had got outside, Huan Fan shouted to Si Fan, “Sima Yi has raised a revolt, and you had better follow me!”

Si Fan realized that he had made a mistake, and chase after Huan Fan, but failed to come up with him.

“So the ‘Bag of Wisdom’ has got away too. That is a pity, but what can we do?” said Sima Yi, when they reported the escape.

“The poor horse always hankers after the old stable and manger. Cao Shuang would not know how to use Huan Fan,” replied Jiang Ji.

Then Sima Yi called to him Xu Yun and Chen Tai and said, “Go you to Cao Shuang and say that I have no other intention than to take away the military power from him and his brothers.”

As soon as they had left, he called Yin Damu and ordered Jiang Ji prepare a letter to be taken to Cao Shuang by Yin Damu.

Said Sima Yi, “You are on good terms with the man and are the fittest person for this mission. Tell him that Jiang Ji and I are concerned solely with the military powers in the hands of himself and his brothers, as we have sworn pointing to River Luo.”

So Yin Damu went his way.

Out in the country Cao Shuang was enjoying the hunting, flying his falcons and coursing his hounds. Suddenly came the news of the rising in the city and the memorial against him. He almost fell out of the saddle when they told him. The eunuch handed in the memorial to the Ruler of Wei in the presence of Cao Shuang, who took it and opened it. A minister in attendance was ordered to read it. It said:

“Sima Yi, General Who Conquers the West and Imperial Guardian, with bowed head and trepidation, presents this memorial. On my return from the expedition into Liaodong, His late Majesty summoned Your Majesty, Cao Shuang, myself and certain others to his bedside, took me by the arm and impressed upon us all our duty in the years to be.

“Now Cao Shuang has betrayed the trust placed in him, has disordered the kingdom, usurped power at court, and seized upon power in the regions. He has appointed Zhang Dang, Administrator of the City, to control the court and spy upon Your Majesty. He is surely lying in wait to seize the empire. He has sown dissension in the royal family and injured his own flesh and blood. The whole land is in confusion, and people’s hearts are full of fear. All this is opposed to the injunctions of His Late Majesty and his commands to me.

“Stupid and worthless as I am, yet I dare not forget the words of His Late Majesty. My colleagues, Jiang Ji and Sima Fu, agree that Cao Shuang is disloyal at heart, and great military powers should not be entrusted to him or his brothers.

“I have memorialized Her Majesty and obtained her authority to act.

“All military powers have been wrested from the hands of Cao Shuang, Cao Xi, and Cao Xun, leaving them only the simple title of lordships, so that hereafter they may be unable to hinder or control Your Majesty’s actions. If there be any obstruction, the matter shall be summarily dealt with.

“Although in ill health, as a precautionary measure I have camped at the Floating Bridge, whence I write this.”

When they had made an end of reading, the Ruler of Wei turned to Cao Shuang and said, “In the face of such words what mean you to do?”

Cao Shuang was at a loss and turned to his younger brother, saying, “What now?”

Cao Xi replied, “I remonstrated with you, but you were obstinate and listened not. So it has come to this. Sima Yi is false and cunning beyond measure. If Zhuge Liang could not get the better of him, could we hope to do so? I see nothing but to yield that haply we may live.”

Just at this moment arrived Adviser Xin Chang and Commander Lu Zhu. Cao Shuang asked what tidings they brought.

They replied, “The city is completely and closely surrounded, Sima Yi is camped on the river at the Floating Bridge, and you cannot return. You must decide how to act at once.”

Then galloped up Huan Fan, who said, “This is really rebellion. Why not request His Majesty to proceed to Xuchang till regional troops can arrive and deal with Sima Yi?”

Cao Shuang replied, “How can we go to another place when all our families are in the city?”

Said Huan Fan, “Even a fool in this crisis would think only of life. You have the Son of Heaven with you here and command all the forces of the empire. None would dare disobey you, and yet you march quietly to death.”

Cao Shuang could not decide to strike a blow for safety; he did nothing but snivel.

Huan Fan continued, “We can reach Xuchang tonight. The stay in Xuchang would be but brief, and there are ample supplies for years. You have forces at your call at the South Pass. You hold the seal of Minister of War, and I have brought it with me. Everything is in your favor. Act! Act at once! Delay is death.”

“Do not hurry me,” said Cao Shuang. “Let me think it over carefully.”

Then came Xu Yun and Chen Tai, the two messengers of Sima Yi, and said, “The Imperial Guardian desires only to strip the military power of the Regent Marshal. If the Regent Marshal yields, he may return peacefully to the city.”

Still Cao Shuang hesitated.

Next arrived Yin Damu, saying, “The Imperial Guardian had sworn by River Luo to the singleness of his aim. Here is letter of Minister Jiang Ji. The Regent Marshal should relinquish the military power and return to the Palace in peace.”

When Cao Shuang seemed disposed to accept the assurance of Sima Yi, Huan Fan inveighed against it, saying, “You are a dead man if you listen to the voice of these people!”

Night found Cao Shuang still vacillating. As twilight faded into darkness he stood, sword in hand, sad, sighing and weeping. And morning found him still trying to make up his mind.

Huan Fan again urged him to decide upon some course.

“You have had a whole day and a whole night for reflection and must decide,” said he.

“I will not fight; I will yield all; being a wealthy man is enough,” said Cao Shuang, throwing down his sword.

Huan Fan left the tent wailing.

“Cao Zhen might boast of his abilities, but his sons are mere cattle,” said he, weeping copiously.

The two messengers, Xu Yun and Chen Tai, bade Cao Shuang offer his seal of office to Sima Yi, and it was brought.

But First Secretary Yang Zong clung to it and would not give it up, saying, “Alas! That you, my lord, should resign your powers and make such a pitiful surrender. For surely you will not escape death in the eastern market place.”

“The Imperial Guardian will surely keep faith with me,” said Cao Shuang.

The seal was borne away, and Cao Shuang’s generals and soldiers, thus released from the bonds of discipline, dispersed and the hosts melted away. When the Cao brothers reached the Floating Bridge, they were ordered to go to their dwellings, and they went. Their supporters were imprisoned to await the edicts of the Emperor.

Cao Shuang and his friends, so lately all-powerful, entered the city alone, without even a servant following.

As Huan Fan approached the bridge, Sima Yi, from horseback, pointed his whip disdainfully at him and said, “What brought you to this?”

Huan Fan made no reply, but with head bent followed the others.

It was decided to request the Emperor to declare the hunt at an end and order a return to the city. Cao Shuang, Cao Xi, and Cao Xun were confined in their own house, the gate whereof was fastened with a huge lock, and soldiers were set to guard it round about. They were sad and anxious, not knowing what would be their fate.

Then Cao Xi said, “We have but little food left. Let us write and ask for supplies. If Sima Yi sends us food, we may be sure he does not intend harm.”

They wrote, and a hundred carts of supplies were sent.

This cheered them, and Cao Shuang said, “Our lives are safe in the hands of Sima Yi!”

Sima Yi had Zhang Dang arrested and put to the question.

Zhang Dang said. “I am not the only one who has tried to subvert the government. He Yan, Deng Yang, Li Sheng, Ding Mi, and Bi Gui are all involved in the plot.”

So they were arrested and, when interrogated, confessed that a revolt had been arranged for the third month. Sima Yi had them locked in one long wooden collar.

The Commander of the Gates, Si Fan, testified: “Huan Fan has imposed upon me with a pretended command from Her Majesty and so has escaped out of the city. Beside he has said the Imperial Guardian was a rebel.”

Then said Sima Yi, “When a person maligns another and is false, the punishment for such a crime as he imputes falls upon his own head.”

Huan Fan and those with him were thrown into prison.

Presently Cao Shuang and his brothers, all persons connected with them, and their clans were put to death in the market place. All the treasures of their houses was sent to the public treasury.

Now there was a certain woman of the Xiahou family who had been wife to Wen Shu, a second cousin of Cao Shuang. Early left a childless widow, her father wished her to marry again. Lady Xiahou refused and cut off her ears as a pledge of constancy. However, when the Caos were all put to death, her father arranged another marriage for her; whereupon she cut off her nose. Her own people were chagrined at her obstinate determination.

“For whom are you keeping your vow?” said they. “Man is but as the light dust upon the tender grass, and what is the good of mutilating your body?”

The woman replied, weeping, “I have heard that honorable persons do not break a vow of chastity for the sake of wealth, and the hearts of righteous persons are constant unto death regardless of all losses. While the house of Cao enjoyed prosperity, I remained faithful; how much more should I be true now that it has fallen upon evil days? Can I act like a mere beast of the field?”

The story of her devotion came to the ears of Sima Yi, who praised her conduct and allowed her to adopt a son to rear as her own and so continue the family.

A poem says:

[hip, hip, hip]
What is a man to be mindful of?
A grain of dust on a blade of grass;
Such virtue as Lady Xiahou had
Stands out sublime as the ages pass.
This fair young wife of gentle mien
Dared all to maintain her purpose high.
What people though strong in the flush of life
Have equaled her in constancy?
[yip, yip, yip]

After Cao Shuang had suffered death, Jiang Ji said to Sima Yi, “Xin Chang and Lu Zhu and others who had been of his party had forced the gate and joined the rebels. Yang Zong had opposed the surrender of the seal of the late minister. They deserve punishment.”

However, no action was taken against them.

“They are righteous people who serves their master faithfully,” said Sima Yi, and he even confirmed these men in their offices.

Xin Chang sighed, “Had I not listened to the advice of my sister, I would have walked in the way of unrighteousness.”

A poet has praised his sister, Xin Xianying.

[hip, hip, hip]
“You call him lord and take his pay,
Then stand by him when danger nears.”
Thus to her brother spoke Xin Xianying,
And won fair fame though endless years.
[yip, yip, yip]

A general amnesty was extended to all Cao Shuang’s partisans, and no officer was removed or dismissed for having supported the late order of things. All were left in possession of their property, and soon all was tranquillity.

However, it is to be noted that He Yan and Deng Yang met the unhappy end that Guan Lu had foretold for them.

[hip, hip, hip]
The seer Guan Lu was deeply read
In all the lore of the ancient sages.
Thus he could see events to come
As clear as those of former ages.
And he perceived the soul of He Yan,
Already in the vale of gloom.
And knew the outer shell of Deng Yang
Was hastening to an early tomb.
[yip, yip, yip]

After his recovery of power, Sima Yi was made Prime Minister and received the Nine Dignities. Sima Yi refused these honors, but the Ruler of Wei insisted and would take no denial. His two sons were made assistants to their father, and all state affairs fell under the control of these three.

However, Sima Yi remembered that one man, Xiahou Ba, a member of the Cao clan, still commanded at Yongzhou. In his position Xiahou Ba might be a real danger, and he must be removed. So an edict was issued calling him to Capital Luoyang to discuss affairs.

Upon receiving this call, Xiahou Ba was shocked. But instead of obeying this call, he declared himself a rebel, and he had a force of three thousand troops to support him. As soon as this was known, Guo Huai marched to suppress the malcontent. The two armies were soon face to face, and Guo Huai went to the front and began to revile his opponent.

“How could you rebel against the ruling house, you who are of the same clan as our great founder, and you who have always been treated generously?”

Xiahou Ba replied, “My forefathers served the state right well, but who is this Sima Yi that he has put to death my kinspeople and would now destroy me? What is his aim, if it be not to usurp the Throne? If I can cut him off and so frustrate his design, I shall at least be no traitor to the state.”

Guo Huai rode forward to attack, and Xiahou Ba advanced to the encounter. They fought some ten bouts, and then Guo Huai turned and fled. But this was only a feint to lead on his enemy, for ere Xiahou Ba had gone far, he heard a shout behind him and turned to see Chen Tai about to attack. At the same moment Guo Huai turned again, and thus Xiahou Ba was between two fires. He could effect nothing, so he fled, losing many troops. Soon he decided that his only course was to flee to Hanzhong and to surrender to the Ruler of Shu.

Wherefore he went into Hanzhong to see if haply the Latter Ruler would accept his services. When Jiang Wei heard of his desire to surrender, he had doubts of Xiahou Ba’s sincerity. However, after due inquiry Jiang Wei was satisfied and allowed the renegade from Wei to enter the city. After making his obeisance, Xiahou Ba, with many tears, told the story of his wrongs. Jiang Wei expressed sympathy.

[e] The last king of Shang Dynasty was King Zhou, who was cruel and corrupt. King Zhou had three uncles—Bi Gan, Qi Zi, and Wei Zi—who served as ministers. When these three officials repeatedly failed to persuade King Zhou to repent, Wei Zi resigned his post, while Qi Zi pretended to be insane. Bi Gan stayed and continued persuading the king, who later executed Bi Gan. Later the Duke of Zhou overthrew Shang Dynasty and enobled Wei Zi, Qi Zi, and the wife and the son of Bi Gan. Wei Zi became known as the Duke of Song. Qi Zi left for Korea where he became a ruler. …..

Said Jiang Wei, “In the ancient time Wei Zi* left the court of King Zhou in disgust, and this act has assured to him everlasting honor. You may be able now to assist in the restoration of the House of Han, and you will then stand no whit inferior to any person of antiquity.”

A banquet was ordered, and while it was being prepared the host talked of affairs in Capital Luoyang.

Said Jiang Wei, “The Simas are now most powerful and in a position to carry out any scheme they planned. Think you that they have any intentions against Shu?”

“The old traitor has enough to do with his rebellion; he has no leisure to trouble about any outside matters. However, two other young leaders in Wei have lately come to the front, and if Sima Yi sent them against Shu and Wu, it might go ill with you both.”

“And who are these two?”

“One is named Zhong Hui, a man of Changsha. He is a son of the former Imperial Guardian Zhong Yao. As a mere boy he was noted for being bold and smart. His father used to take him and his brother, Zhong Yu, to court. Zhong Hui was seven and his brother a year older. Emperor Pi noticed one day that the elder boy was sweating and asked him the reason. Zhong Yu replied, ‘Whenever I am frightened, the sweat pours out.’ Then Emperor Pi said to the other boy, ‘You do not seem frightened.’ And Zhong Hui replied, ‘I am so frightened that the sweat cannot come out.’ The Emperor was discerned the extraordinary ability of the boy. A little later Zhong Hui was always studying books on war and tactics, and became an able strategist, so that he won admiration from both Sima Yi and Jiang Ji. Zhong Hui is being a secretary in the Palace.

“The second man is Deng Ai from Yiyang. He was left an orphan very early, but he was ambitious and enterprising. If he saw lofty mountains or wide marshes, he always looked for those points where soldiers might be stationed or depots of provisions made or combustibles laid. People ridiculed him, but Sima Yi saw there was much to admire and employed the young man on his staff. Deng Ai had an impediment in his speech, so that he called himself ‘Deng-eng-eng-Ai’, and Sima Yi used to make fun of him and asked him one day how many there were of him since he called himself ‘Deng-eng-eng-Ai’. Deng Ai at once replied, ‘There is only one phoenix when they say ‘O Phoenix! O Phoenix!” This ready repartee shows the quickness of his intellect, and you may well be on your guard against him and the other, for they are to be feared.”

“I do not think them worth even talking about,” replied Jiang Wei.

Jiang Wei took Xiahou Ba to Chengdu and presented him to the Latter Ruler.

Jiang Wei said, “Sima Yi had slain Cao Shuang, and he wanted to bait Xiahou Ba, who yielded to Shu. Now the Simas, father and sons, are holding the supreme power, the young Ruler Cao Fang is a weakling, and Wei’s fortune is near its end. For many years in Hanzhong, our troops have been well trained, and our stores and depots filled with ample supplies. Now I wish to lead an expedition, using Xiahou Ba as guide, to conquer the Middle Land and to reestablish the House of Han in its old capital. This is how I could show my gratitude to Your Majesty and fulfill the desire of the late Prime Minister.”

But Fei Yi, Chair of the Secretariat, opposed any expedition, saying, “We have lately lost by death two trusty ministers, Jiang Wan and Dong Yun, and there is no one left fit to take care of the government. The attempt should be postponed; no hasty move should be made.”

“Not so,” replied Jiang Wei. “Life is short. Our days flash by as the glint of a white horse across a chink in the door. We are waiting and waiting. Are we never to try to restore Han to its old glory?”

“Remember the saying of the wise Sun Zi: ‘Know thyself and know thine enemy, then is victory sure.’ We are not the equals of the late Prime Minister, and where he failed, are we likely to succeed?”

Jiang Wei said, “I would enlist the aid of the Qiangs. I have lived near them in Longshang and know them well. With their help, even if we do not gain the whole empire, we can at least conquer and hold all west of Changan.”

The Latter Ruler here closed the discussion, saying, “Sir, as you desire to conquer Wei, do your best. I will not damp your enthusiasm.”

Thus the Latter Ruler’s consent was given. Then Jiang Wei left the court and betook himself, with Xiahou Ba, into Hanzhong to prepare for a new expedition.

“We will first send an envoy to the Qiangs to make a league with them,” said Jiang Wei. “Then we will march out by the Xiping Pass to Yongzhou, where we will build up two ramparts in Qushan in Qushan Mountains and garrison them. The position is a point of vantage. Then we will send supplies beyond the pass by land and waterways, and advance gradually, according to the plan devised by the late Prime Minister.”

In the autumn of the year (AD 249) they sent the two Shu generals, Li Xin and Gou Ai, with fifteen thousand troops, to construct the two ramparts in Qushan in Qushan Mountains, of which Gou Ai was to hold the eastern and Li Xin the western.

When the news reached Yongzhou, the Imperial Protector, Guo Huai, sent a report to Luoyang and also dispatched Chen Tai with a force of fifty thousand troops to oppose the troops of Shu. When that army arrived, Li Xin and Gou Ai led their troops to meet it. But their armies were too weak to stand such a large force, and they once more retired into the city. Chen Tai ordered his army to lay siege and occupy the road that led to Hanzhong, so that supplies were cut off.

After some days, and when the soldiers of Shu began to feel the pinch of hunger, Guo Huai came to see what progress his general was making.

At sight of the position he rejoiced exceedingly, and when he returned to camp he said to Chen Tai, “In this high country the city must be short of water, which means that the besieged must come out for supplies. Let us cut off the streams that supply them, and they will perish of thirst.”

So the Wei soldiers were set to work to divert the streams above the city, and the besieged were soon distressed. Li Xin led out a strong force to try to seize the water sources and fought stubbornly, but was at length worsted and driven back within the walls. After that Li Xin and Gou Ai joined their forces and made another attempt to go out and fight. But the Yongzhou troops surrounded them, and a melee ensured until Li Xin and Gou Ai fought their way back to the city.

Meanwhile the soldiers were parched with thirst.

Gou Ai discussed the circumstance with Li Xin, saying, “I do not understand the delay of Commander Jiang Wei’s reinforcements.”

Li Xin said, “Let me try to fight my way out and get help.”

So the gates were opened, and Li Xin rode out with some twenty horsemen. These were opposed and had to fight every inch of the way, but eventually Li Xin won though severely wounded. All his followers had fallen.

That night a strong north wind brought a heavy fall of snow, and the besieged were thus temporarily relieved from the water famine. They melted the snow and prepared food.

Li Xin, severely wounded, made his way west along the hill paths. After two days he fell in with Jiang Wei.

He dismounted, prostrated himself, and told his story: “Qushan had been surrounded and cut off water supplies. By luck it snowed, and our soldiers were partly relieved. But the situation was very urgent.”

“The delay is not due to my slackness. The Qiang allies we depended upon have not come,” said Jiang Wei.

Jiang Wei sent an escort with the wounded Li Xin to conduct him to Chengdu, where his wounds could be treated.

Turning to Xiahou Ba, Jiang Wei asked, “The Qiangs do not come, and the Wei army is besieging Qushan. General, do you have any plan to propose?”

Xiahou Ba replied, “If we wait for the coming of the Qiangs, it looks as if we shall be too late to relieve Qushan. It is very probable that Yongzhou has been left undefended, wherefore I propose that you go toward Ox Head Hills and work round to the rear of Yongzhou, which will cause the Wei army to fall back to relieve Yongzhou and so relieve our force.”

“The plan appears excellent,” replied Jiang Wei. And he set out.

When Chen Tai knew that Li Xin had escaped, he said to his chief, “Now that this man has got out, he will tell Jiang Wei of the danger and Jiang Wei will conclude that our efforts are concentrated on the ramparts and will endeavor to attack our rear. Therefore I suggest, General, that you go to River Yao and stop the supplies of our enemies, while I go to the Ox Head Hills and smite them. They will retreat as soon as they know their supplies are threatened.”

So Guo Huai marched secretly to River Yao, while Chen Tai went to the hills.

When the Shu army led by Jiang Wei came near the Ox Head Hills, they heard a great shouting in front, and the scouts came in to report that the road was barred. Jiang Wei himself rode out to look.

“So you intended to attack Yongzhou, did you?” shouted Chen Tai. “But we know it and have been watching for you a long time.”

Jiang Wei rode forth to attack. Chen Tai advanced with a flourish of his sword, and they engaged. Chen Tai soon ran away. Then the soldiers of Shu came forward and fell on, driving the soldiers of Wei back to the summit of the hills. But they halted there, and Jiang Wei encamped at the foot of the hills, whence he challenged the enemy every day. But he could gain no victory.

Seeing no result after some days of this, Xiahou Ba said, “This is no place to remain in. We can get no victory and are tempting fate by remaining open to a surprise. I think we should retire till some better plan can be tried.”

Just then it was reported: “The supplies road by River Yao has fallen into the hands of Guo Huai!”

Shocked with the news, Jiang Wei bade Xiahou Ba march away first, and he covered the retreat. Chen Tai pursued in five divisions along five different roads, but Jiang Wei got possession of the meeting point and held them all in check, finally forcing them back on the hills. But from this position Chen Tai ordered his troops to shoot heavy discharges of arrows and stones so that Jiang Wei was forced to abandon his position. He went to River Yao, where Guo Huai led his force out to attack. Jiang Wei went to and fro smiting where he could, but he was surrounded and only got out by a desperate effort and after suffering more than half of his force.

Jiang Wei hastened toward Yangping Pass, but fell in with another body of the enemy, at the head of which he saw a fierce, youthful leader, who at once rode out furiously to attack. This leader had a round face, long ears, and a square mouth with thick lips. Below his left eye was a large hairy mole. It was the elder son of Sima Yi. He was General of the Flying Cavalry, Sima Shi.

“Simpleton! How dare you stand in my way?” yelled Jiang Wei, as he rode forward with his spear set.

Sima Shi met the attack, and a few bouts were fought before Sima Shi fled. Jiang Wei came off victor and so was free to continue his way. Presently he reached the pass and was welcomed within its sheltering walls. Sima Shi soon followed and attacked the Pass after his arrival, but those within the ramparts replied with the multiple crossbows which threw ten bolts at each discharge. For the army of Shu had made these engines of war after the design left by Zhuge Liang.

[hip, hip, hip]
Owing to superior weapons, Shu defeated Wei,
Wei would never recover what was lost that day.
[yip, yip, yip]

What befell Sima Shi will be told in the next chapter.

Romance of Three Kingdoms Chapter 108

In The Snow, Ding Feng Wins A Victory;
At A Banquet, Sun Jun Executes A Secret Plan.

As has been said, Jiang Wei, in his retreat, fell in with a force under Sima Shi, barring his road. It came about thus. After Jiang Wei invaded Yongzhou, Guo Huai had sent a flying messenger to the capital, and the Ruler of Wei summoned Sima Yi for advice. It had then been decided to send reinforcements to Yongzhou, and fifty thousand troops had marched, led by the son of the Prime Minister. On the march Sima Shi had heard that the Shu army had been beaten back, and he had concluded they were weak. So he decided to meet them on the road and give battle. Near the Yangping Pass, however, the roads had been lined with troops armed with the multiple crossbows designed by Zhuge Liang. Since Zhuge Liang’s death, large numbers of these weapons had been made, and the bolts from them, which went in flights of ten, were poisoned. Consequently the Wei losses were very heavy, and Sima Shi himself barely escaped with life. However, eventually he returned to Luoyang.

From the walls of Qushan, the Shu general, Gou Ai, watched anxiously for the expected help. As it came not, he ultimately surrendered. And Jiang Wei, with a loss of twenty to thirty thousand soldiers, marched back into Hanzhong.

In the third year of Domestic Calm (AD 251), in the eighth month, Sima Yi fell ill. His sickness increased rapidly, and, feeling that his end was near, he called his two sons to his bedside to hear his last words.

“I have served Wei many years and reached the highest rank possible among ministers. People have suspected me of ulterior aims, and I have always felt afraid of that. After my death the government will be in your hands, and you must be doubly careful.”

Sima Yi passed away even as he said these last words. The sons informed the Ruler of Wei, who conferred high honors upon the dead and advanced his sons, Sima Shi to the rank of Regent Marshal with the leadership of the Chairs of the Boards, and Sima Zhao to the rank of Commander of the Flying Cavalry.

Meanwhile in the South Land, the Ruler of Wu, Sun Quan, had named his son Sun Deng as his heir. His mother was Lady Xu. But Sun Deng died in the fourth year of the Red Crow Era (AD 241). So the second son Sun He was chosen his successor. His mother was Lady Wang. A quarrel arose between Sun He and Princess Quan, who maligned him and intrigued against him, so that he was set aside. Sun He died of mortification. Then the third son Sun Liang was named the Heir Apparent. His mother was Lady Pan.

At this time old officials like Lu Xun and Zhuge Jin were dead, and the business of the government, great and small, was in the hands of Zhuge Ke, son of Zhuge Jin.

In the first year of Grand Beginning Era (AD 251), on the first of the eighth month, a great storm passed over Wu. The waves rose to a great height, and the water stood eight feet deep over the low-lying lands. The pines and cypresses, which grew at the cemetery of the Imperial Ancestors of Wu, were uprooted and carried to the South Gate of Jianye, where they stuck, roots upward, in the road.

Sun Quan was frightened and fell ill. In the early days of the next year his illness became serious, whereupon he called in Imperial Guardian Zhuge Ke and Regent Marshal Lu Dai to hear the declaration of his last wishes. Soon after he died, at the age of seventy-one. He had reigned for twenty-four years. In Shu-Han calendar it was the fifteenth year of Long Enjoyment (AD 252).

[hip, hip, hip]
A hero, green-eyed and purple-bearded,
He called forth devotion from all.
He lorded the east without challenge
Till death’s one imperative call.
[yip, yip, yip]

Zhuge Ke immediately placed his late lord’s son Sun Liang on the throne, and the opening of the new reign was marked by the adoption of the style Great Prosperity Era, the first year (AD 252). A general amnesty was proclaimed. The late ruler received the posthumous style of Sun Quan the Great Emperor and was buried in Jiangling.

When these things were reported in the Wei capital, Sima Shi’s first thought was to attack the South Land.

But his plans were opposed by Chair of the Secretariat Fu Gu, saying, “Remember what a strong defense to Wu is the Great River. The country has been many times attacked by our ancestors, but never conquered. Rather let us all hold what we have till the time be expedient to possess the whole empire.”

Sima Shi replied, “The way of Heaven changes thrice in a century, and no three-part division is permanent. I wish to attack Wu.”

Sima Zhao, his brother, was in favor of attack, saying “The occasion is most opportune. Sun Quan is newly dead, and the present ruler is a child.”

An expedition was decided upon. Wang Chang, General Who Conquers the South, was sent with one hundred thousand troops against Nanjun. Guanqiu Jian, General Who Guards the South, was given one hundred thousand troops to go against Wuchang. Hu Zun, General Who Conquers the East, led one hundred thousand troops against Dongxing. They marched in three divisions. Sima Zhao was made Commander-in-Chief of the campaign.

In the winter of that year, the tenth month, Sima Zhao marched the armies near to the Wu frontiers and camped. Sima Zhao called together Wang Chang, Guanqiu Jian, Hu Zun, and various other commanders to decide upon plans.

He said, “The county of Dongxing is most important to Wu. They have built a great rampart, with walls right and left to defend Lake Chaohu from an attack in the rear. You gentlemen will have to exercise extreme care.”

Then he bade Wang Chang and Guanqiu Jian each to take ten thousand troops and place themselves right and left, but not to advance till Dongxing had been captured. When that city had fallen, these two were to go forward at the same time. Hu Zun was to lead the van. The first step was to construct a floating bridge to storm the rampart. The two walls should then be captured.

News of the danger soon came to Wu, and Zhuge Ke called a council to take measures.

Then said Ding Feng, General Who Pacifies the North, “Dongxing is of the utmost importance as its loss would endanger Wuchang.”

“I agree with you,” said Zhuge Ke. “You say just what I think. You should lead three thousand marines up the river in thirty ships, while on land Lu Ju, Tang Zi, and Liu Zang will follow in three directions with ten thousand troops each. The signal for the general attack will be a cluster of bombs.”

Ding Feng received the command, and, with three thousand marines and thirty battleships, he sailed in the Great River to Dongxing.

Hu Zun, the Van Leader of Wei, crossed on the floating bridge, took and camped on the rampart. He then sent Huan Jia and Han Zong to assault the left and right flanking forts, which were held by the Wu Generals Quan Yi and Liu Lue. These forts had high walls and strong, and made a good resistance, so that the Wei force could not overcome. But Quan Yi and Liu Lue dared not venture out to attack so strong a force as was attacking them.

Hu Zun made a camp at Xutang. It was then the depth of winter and intensely cold. Heavy snow fell. Thinking that no warlike operations were possible in such weather, Hu Zun and his officers made a great feast.

In the midst of the feasting came one to report: “Thirty ships are coming in the river.”

Hu Zun went out to look and saw them come into the bank. He made out a hundred troops on each.

As they were so few, he returned to the feast and told his officers, “Only three thousand sailors. There is nothing to be alarmed at.”

Giving orders to keep a careful watch, they all returned to enjoy themselves.

Ding Feng’s ships were all drawn up in line. Then he said to his officers, “Today there is indeed a grand opportunity for a brave soldier to distinguish himself. We shall need the utmost freedom of movement, so throw off your armor, leave your helmets, cast aside your long spears, and reject your heavy halberds. Short swords are the weapons for today.”

From the shore the soldiers of Wei watched the Wu marines with amusement, taking no trouble to prepare against an attack. But suddenly a cluster of bombs exploded, and simultaneously with the roar Ding Feng sprang ashore at the head of his troops. They dashed up the bank and made straight for the Wei camp.

The soldiers of Wei were taken completely by surprise and were helpless. Han Zong grasped one of the halberds that stood by the door of the commander’s tent, but Ding Feng stabbed him in the breast, and he rolled over. Huan Jia went round and came up on the left. Just as he poised his spear to thrust, Ding Feng gripped it under his arm. Huan Jia let go and turned to flee, but Ding Feng sent his sword flying after him and caught him in the shoulder. He turned and was thrust through by Ding Feng’s spear.

The three companies of Wu marines went to and fro in the camp of Wei slaying as they would. Hu Zun mounted a horse and fled. His troops ran away across the floating bridge, but that gave way and many were thrown into the water and drowned. Dead bodies lay about on the snow in large numbers. The spoil of military gear that fell to Wu was immense.

Sima Zhao, Wang Chang, and Guanqiu Jian, seeing the Dongxing front had been broken, decided to retreat.

Zhuge Ke marched his army to Dongxing, and he made great feastings and distribution of rewards in celebration of victory.

Then he said to his leaders, “Sima Zhao has suffered a defeat and retreated to the north. It is time to take the Middle Land!”

So he told his officers that this was his intention, and also sent away letters to Shu to engage the aid of Jiang Wei, promising that the empire should be divided between them when they had taken it.

An army of two hundred thousand troops was told off to invade the Middle Land. Just as it was starting, a stream of white vapor was seen emerging from the earth, and as it spread it gradually enveloped the whole army so that people could not see each other.

“It is a white rainbow,” said Jiang Yan, “and it bodes ill to the army. I advise you, O Imperial Guardian, to return and not march against Wei.”

“How dare you utter such ill-omened words and blunt the keenness of my army?” cried Zhuge Ke, angrily.

He bade the lictors take Jiang Yan out and put him to death. But Jiang Yan’s colleagues interceded for him, and he was spared, but he was stripped of all rank. Orders were issued to march quickly.

Then Ding Feng offered a suggestion, saying, “Wei depends on Xincheng for the defense of its passes. It would be a severe blow to Sima Shi if Xincheng falls.”

Zhuge Ke welcomed this suggestion and gave orders to march on Xincheng. They came up and found the city gates closed, wherefore they began to besiege the city. The Commander in the city, Zhang Te, saw the legions of Wu at the walls, held a strict defense.

A hasty messenger was sent to Luoyang, and Secretary Yu Song told the Prime Minister, Sima Shi.

Yu Song said, “Zhuge Ke is laying siege to Xincheng. The city should not try to repulse the attack, but simply hold out as long as possible. When the besiegers have exhausted their provisions, they will be compelled to retire. As they retreat, we can smite them. However, it is necessary to provide against any invasion from Shu.”

Accordingly Sima Zhao was sent to reinforce Guo Huai so as to keep off Jiang Wei, while Guanqiu Jian and Hu Zun kept the army of Wu at bay.

For months the army of Zhuge Ke battered at Xincheng without success. He urged his generals to strenuous efforts, threatening to put to death anyone who was dilatory. At last his attacks looked like succeeding, for the northeast corner of the wall seemed shaken.

Then Zhang Te, the Commander of Xincheng, thought of a device. He sent a persuasive messenger with all the register documents to Zhuge Ke.

And the messenger said, “It is a rule in Wei that if a city holds out against attack for a hundred days and reinforcement has not arrived, then its commander may surrender without penalty to his family. Now Xincheng has held out for over ninety days, and my master hopes you will allow him to withstand the few days necessary to complete the hundred, when he will yield. Here are all register documents that he desires to tender first.”

Zhuge Ke had no doubts that the story was genuine. He ordered the army to retreat temporarily, and the defenders enjoyed a rest. But all Zhang Te really desired was time wherein to strengthen the weak angle of the wall. As soon as the attacks ceased, the defenders pulled down the houses near the corner and repaired the wall with the material.

As soon as the repairs were complete, Zhang Te threw off all pretense and cried from the wall, “I have half a year’s provisions yet and will not surrender to any curs of Wu!”

The defense became as vigorous as before the truce. Zhuge Ke was enraged at being so tricked, and urged on the attack. But one day one of the thousands of arrows that flew from the rampart struck him in the forehead, and he fell. He was borne to his tent, but the wound inflamed, and he became very ill.

Their leader’s illness disheartened the troops, and, moreover, the weather became very hot. Sickness invaded the camp, so that soldiers and leaders alike wished to go home.

When Zhuge Ke had recovered sufficiently to resume command, he urged on the attack, but the generals said, “The soldiers are sick and unfit for battle.”

Zhuge Ke burst into fierce anger, and said, “The next person who mentions illness will be beheaded.”

When the report of this threat got abroad, the soldiers began to desert freely. Presently Commander Cai Lin, with his whole company, went over to the enemy. Zhuge Ke began to be alarmed and rode through the camps to see for himself. Surely enough, the soldiers all looked sickly, with pale and puffy faces.

The siege had to be raised, and Zhuge Ke retired into his own country. But scouts brought the news of retreat to Guanqiu Jian who led the Wei’s grand army to follow and harass Zhuge Ke’s march and inflicted a severe defeat.

Mortified by the course of events, after his return Zhuge Ke did not attend court held by the Ruler of Wu, but pretended illness.

Sun Liang, the Ruler of Wu, went to the residence to see his general, and the officers came to call. In order to silence comment, Zhuge Ke assumed an attitude of extreme severity, investigating everyone’s conduct very minutely, punishing rigorously any fault or shortcoming and meting out sentences of banishment, or death with exposure, till everyone walked in terror. He also placed two of his own cliques—Zhang Yue and Zhu En—over the royal guards, making them the teeth and claws of his vengeance.

Now Sun Jun was a son of Sun Gong and a great grandson of Sun Jing, brother of Sun Jian. Sun Quan loved him and had put him in command of the guards. Sun Jun was enraged at being superseded by Zhang Yue and Zhu En, the two creatures of Zhuge Ke.

Minister Teng Yin, who had an old quarrel with Zhuge Ke, said to Sun Jun, “This Zhuge Ke is as cruel as he is powerful. He abuses his authority, and no one is safe against him. I also think he is aiming at something yet higher and you, Sir, as one of the ruling family ought to put a stop to it.”

“I agree with you, and I want to get rid of him,” replied Sun Jun. “Now I will obtain an edict condemning him to death.”

Both went in to see the Ruler of Wu, Sun Liang, and they laid the matter before him.

“I am afraid of him, too,” replied Sun Liang. “I have wanted to remove him for some time, but have found no opportunity. If you would prove your loyalty, you would do it for me.”

Then said Teng Yin, “Your Majesty can give a banquet and invite him, and let a few braves be ready hidden behind the curtains. At a signal, as the dropping of a wine cup, they might jump out and slay him, and all further trouble would be avoided.”

Sun Liang agreed.

Zhuge Ke had never been to court since his return from the unfortunate expedition. Under a plea of indisposition he had remained moping at home. One day he was going out of his reception room when he suddenly saw coming in a person dressed in the mourning white.

“Who are you?” said he, rather roughly.

The person seemed too terror-stricken to reply or resist when he was seized.

They questioned him, and he said, “I was in mourning for my father newly dead, and had come into the city to seek a priest to read the liturgy. I had entered by mistake, thinking it was a temple.”

The gate wardens were questioned. They said, “There are scores of us at the gate, which is never unwatched. We have not seen a man enter.”

Zhuge Ke raged and had the mourner and the gate wardens put to death. But that night he was restless and sleepless. By and by he heard a rending sound that seemed to come from the reception hall, so he arose and went to see what it was. The great main beam had broken in two.

Zhuge Ke, much disturbed, returned to his chamber to try once more to sleep. But a cold wind blew, and, shivering in the chilly air, he saw the figures of the mourner and the gate wardens he had put to death. They advanced toward him holding their heads in their hands and seemed to threaten him. He was frightened, and fell in a swoon.

Next morning, when washing his face, the water seemed tainted with the smell of blood. He bade the maid throw it away and bring more; it made no difference, the odor was still there. He was perplexed and distressed. Then came a messenger with an invitation to a royal banquet. He had his carriage prepared. As he was passing through the gate, a yellow dog jumped up and caught hold of his garment and then howled lugubriously.

“The dog even mocks me!” said he, annoyed, and he bade his attendants take it away.

Then he set out for the Palace. Before he had gone far, he saw a white rainbow rise out of the earth and reach up to the sky. While he was wondering what this might portend, his friend Zhang Yue came up and spoke a word of warning.

“I feel doubtful about the real purpose of this banquet,” said Zhang Yue, “and advise you not to go.”

Zhuge Ke gave orders to drive home again. But before he had reached his own gate, the two conspirators—Sun Jun and Teng Yin—rode up and asked, “O Imperial Guardian, why are you turning back?”

“I feel unwell and cannot see the Emperor today,” replied Zhuge Ke.

They replied, “This court is appointed to be held especially to do honor to you and the army. You have not yet reported, and there is a banquet for you. You may be ill, but you really must go to court.”

Zhuge Ke yielded, and once more set his face toward the Palace. Sun Jun and Teng Yin went with him, and his friend Zhang Yue followed. The banquet was spread when he arrived, and after he had made his obeisance he went to his place.

When the wine was brought in, Zhuge Ke, thinking it might be poisoned, excused himself from drinking, saying, “I am currently ill, and I cannot drink wine.”

“Will you have some of the medicated wine brought from your own residence?” said Sun Jun.

“Yes; I could drink that,” replied he.

So a servant was sent for a supply that he might drink with the other guests.

After several courses, the Ruler of Wu made an excuse and left the banquet hall. Sun Jun went to the foot of the hall and changed his garments of ceremony for more homely garb, but underneath these he put on armor.

Then suddenly he raised his keen sword and ran up the hall, shouting, “The Emperor has issued an edict to slay a rebel!”

Zhuge Ke, startled so that he dropped his cup, laid his hand upon his sword. But he was too late; his head rolled to the floor. His friend Zhang Yue drew his sword and rushed at the assassin, but Sun Jun evaded the full force of the blow and was only wounded in the left finger. Sun Jun slashed back at Zhang Yue and wounded him in the right arm. Then the braves dashed in and finished Zhang Yue.

The braves were then sent to arrest Zhuge Ke’s family, while the bodies of Zhuge Ke and Zhang Yue were hastily rolled in matting, thrown into a cart, taken to the outside of the south gate, and tossed into a rubbish pit.

While Zhuge Ke was absent in the palace, his wife sat in the women’s quarters at home feeling strangely unquiet.

Presently a maid came in and, when she drew near, his wife said, “Why does your clothing smell of blood?”

To her horror the maid suddenly transformed into a weird creature with rolling eyes and gritting teeth, that went dancing about the room and leaping till it touched the roof-beams, shrieking all the time, “I am Zhuge Ke, and I have been slain by that bastard Sun Jun!”

By this time the whole family were frightened and began wailing. And a few minutes later the residence was surrounded by a crowd of armed guards sent to murder the inmates, whom they bound, carried off to the market place, and put to the sword. These things occurred in the tenth month of the second year of Great Prosperity (AD 253).

When Zhuge Jin lived, he saw his son’s ability display prominently, and he often sighed, saying, “This son will not safeguard the family.”

Others had also predicted an early death. Zhang Qi, High Minister in Wei, used to say to Sima Shi, “Zhuge Ke will die soon.”

And when asked why, Zhang Qi replied, “Can a person live long when his dignity endangers that of his lord?”

After the conspiracy, Sun Jun became Prime Minister in place of his victim. He was also placed in command of all the military forces, and became very powerful. The control of all matters was in his hands.

In Chengdu, when the letter of Zhuge Ke asking help from Jiang Wei arrived, Jiang Wei had audience with the Latter Ruler and requested authority to raise an army against the north.

[hip, hip, hip]
The army fought, but fought in vain,
Success may crown a new campaign.
[yip, yip, yip]

Who were victorious will appear in the next chapter.

Romance of Three Kingdoms Chapter 109

A Ruse Of A Han General: Sima Zhao Is Surrounded;
Retribution For The House Of Wei: Cao Fang Is Dethroned.

It was the autumn of the sixteenth year of Long Enjoyment (AD 253), and Jiang Wei’s army of two hundred thousand was ready to march against the north. Liao Hua and Zhang Yi were Leaders of the Van; Xiahou Ba was Army Strategist; Zhang Ni was in command of the commissariat. The army marched out by the Yangping Pass.

Discussing the plan of campaign with Xiahou Ba, Jiang Wei said, “Our former attack on Yongzhou failed, so this time they will doubtless be even better prepared to resist. What do you suggest?”

Xiahou Ba replied, “Nanan is the only well-provided place in all Longshang. If we take that, it will serve as an excellent base. Our former ill-success was due to the non-arrival of the Qiangs. Let us therefore send early to tell them to assemble at Longyou, after which we will move out at Shiying and march to Nanan by way of Dongting.”

“You spoke well,” said Jiang Wei.

He at once sent Xi Zheng as his envoy, bearing gifts of gold and pearls and silk to win the help of the King of the Qiangs, whose name was Mi Dang. The mission was successful: King Mi Dang accepted the presents and sent fifty thousand troops to Nanan under the Qiang General Ehe Shaoge.

When Guo Huai heard of the threatened attack, he sent a hasty memorial to Capital Luoyang.

Sima Shi at once asked his leaders, “Who will go out to meet the army from the west?”

Xu Zi volunteered, and as Sima Shi had a high opinion of his capacity, he appointed Xu Zi as Leader of the Van. The brother of the Prime Minister, Sima Zhao, went as Commander-in-Chief.

The Wei army set out for West Valley Land, reached Dongting, and there fell in with Jiang Wei. When both sides were arrayed Xu Zi, who wielded a mighty splitter-of-mountains ax as his weapon, rode out and challenged. Liao Hua went forth to accept, but after a few bouts he took advantage of a feint and fled.

Then Zhang Yi set his spear and rode forth to continue the fight. He also soon fled and returned within his own ranks. Thereupon Xu Zi gave the signal to fall on in force, and the army of Shu lost the day. They retired ten miles, Sima Zhao also drew off his troops, and both sides encamped.

“Xu Zi is very formidable. How can we overcome him?” asked Jiang Wei.

“Tomorrow make pretense of defeat and so draw them into an ambush,” replied Xiahou Ba.

“But remember whose son this Sima Zhao is,” said Jiang Wei. “Sima Zhao cannot be a novice in war. If he sees a likely spot for an ambush, he will halt. Now the troops of Wei have cut our transportation many times. Let us do the same to them, and we may slay this Xu Zi.”

He called in Liao Hua and Zhang Yi and gave them secret orders, sending them in different directions. Then he laid iron thorns along all the approaches and planted thorny barriers as if making a permanent defense. When the troops of Wei came up and challenged, the troops of Shu refused battle.

The scouts reported to Sima Zhao: “The Shu supplies are coming up along the rear of Iron Cage Mountain, and they are using the wooden oxen and running horses as transport. The Shu army are building permanent defenses and are awaiting the arrival of their allies the Qiang tribes.”

Then said Sima Zhao to Xu Zi, “We formerly defeated the army of Shu by cutting off supplies, and we can do that again. Let five thousand troops go out tonight and occupy the road.”

About the middle of the first watch Xu Zi marched across the hills. When he came to the other side, he saw a couple of hundred soldiers driving a hundred or so heads of mechanical animals laden with grain and forage. His army rushed down upon them with shouts, and the troops of Shu, seeing that their road was impassable, abandoned their supplies and ran away. Xu Zi took possession of the supply train, which he sent back to his own camp under the escort of half his troops. With the other half he set out in pursuit.

About three miles away, the road was found blocked with carts set across the track. Some of his soldiers dismounted to clear the way. But as they did so, the brushwood on both sides burst into a blaze. Xu Zi at once drew off his force and turned to retire, but coming to a defile he found the road again blocked with wagons, and again the brushwood began to burn. He made a dash to escape, but before he could get clear a bomb roared, and he saw the troops of Shu coming down on him from two directions. Liao Hua and Zhang Yi from left and right fell on Xu Zi with great fury, and the troops of Wei were wholly defeated. Xu Zi himself got clear, but without any following.

He struggled on till he and his steed were almost spent with fatigue. Presently he saw another company of the enemy in his way, and the leader was Jiang Wei. Before he could make any resistance, Jiang Wei’s spear thrust him down, and as Xu Zi lay on the ground he was cut to pieces.

Meanwhile those troops of Wei who had been sent to escort to camp the convoy of supplies which they had seized were captured by Xiahou Ba. They surrendered. Xiahou Ba then stripped them of their weapons and clothing and therein disguised some of his own soldiers. Holding aloft banners of Wei, these disguised soldiers made for the Wei camp. When they arrived, they were mistaken by those in the camp for comrades, and the gates were thrown open. They rushed in and began to slay. Taken wholly by surprise, Sima Zhao leaped upon his steed and fled. But Liao Hua met him and drove him back. Then appeared Jiang Wei in the path of retreat, so that no road lay open. Sima Zhao made off for the hills, hoping to be able to hold out on the Iron Cage Mountain.

Now there was only one road up the hill, which rose steeply on all sides. And the hill had but one small spring of water, enough to serve a hundred people or so, while Sima Zhao’s force numbered six thousand. Their enemies had blocked the only road of escape. This one fountain was unequal to supplying the needs of the beleaguered army, and soon they were tormented with thirst.

In despair, Sima Zhao looked up to heaven and sighed, saying, “Death will surely come to me here!”

[hip, hip, hip]
The host of Wei on Iron Cage Mountain
Were once fast held by Jiang Wei’s skill;
When Pang Juan first crossed the Maling Hills,
His strategy was reckoned fine
As Xiang Yu at the Nine Mountains;
Both bent opponents to their will.
[yip, yip, yip]

In this critical situation Secretary Wang Tao reminded his leader of what Geng Gong had done in ancient time, saying, “O General, why do you not imitate Geng Gong, who, being in great need, prostrated himself and prayed at a well, wherefrom he afterwards was supplied with sweet water?”

So the leader went to the summit of the hill and knelt beside the spring and grayed thus:

“The humble Sima Zhao received a command to repulse the army of Shu. If he is to die here, then may this spring cease its flow, when he will end his own life and let his soldiers yield to the enemy. But if his allotted span of life be not reached, then, O Blue Vault, increase the flow of water and save the lives of this multitude.”

Thus he prayed; and the waters gushed forth in plenty, so that they all quenched their thirst and lived.

Jiang Wei had surrounded the hill, holding the army thereon as in a prison.

He said to his officers, “I have always regretted that our great Prime Minister was unable to capture Sima Yi in the Gourd Valley, but now I think his son is doomed to fall into our hands!”

However, news of the dangerous position of Sima Zhao had come to Guo Huai, who set about a rescue.

Chen Tai said to him, “Jiang Wei has made a league with the Qiangs, and they have arrived to help him. If you go away to rescue Sima Zhao, the Qiangs will attack from the rear. Therefore I would propose to send someone to the tribespeople to try to create a diversion and get them to retire. If they are disposed of, you may go to the rescue of Sima Zhao.”

Guo Huai saw there was much reason in this, and told Chen Tai to take a force of five thousand troops and go to the camp of the King of the Qiangs. When Chen Tai reached the camp, he threw off his armor and entered weeping and crying that he was in danger of death.

He said, “Guo Huai sets himself up as superior to everyone and is trying to slay me. Therefore I have come to offer my services to you. I know all the secrets of the Wei army, and, if you will, this very night I can lead you to their camp. I have friends in the camp to help, and you can destroy it.”

King Mi Dang was taken with the scheme, and sent his General Ehe Shaoge to go with Chen Tai. The deserters from Wei were placed in the rear, but Chen Tai himself rode with the leading body of the Qiangs. They set out at the second watch and soon arrived. They found the gates open, and Chen Tai rode in boldly. But when Ehe Shaoge and his troops galloped in, there suddenly arose a great cry as soldiers and horses went tumbling into great pits. At the same time Chen Tai came round in the rear and attacked, while Guo Huai appeared on the flank. The Qiangs trampled each other down, and many were killed. Those who escaped death surrendered, and the leader, Ehe Shaoge, committed suicide in a pit.

Guo Huai and Chen Tai then hastened back into the camp of the Qiangs. Mi Dang, taken unprepared, rushed out of his tent to get to horse, but was made prisoner. He was taken before Guo Huai, who hastily dismounted, loosed the prisoner’s bonds, and soothed him with kindly words.

“Our government has always regarded you as a loyal and true friend,” said Guo Huai. “Why then are you helping our enemies?”

Mi Dang sank to the ground in confusion, while Guo Huai continued, “If you will now raise the siege of Iron Cage Mountain and drive off the troops of Shu, I will memorialize the Throne and obtain a substantial reward for you.”

Mi Dang agreed. He set out forthwith, his own army leading and the army of Wei in the rear. At the third watch he sent on a messenger to tell Jiang Wei of his coming. And the Shu leader was glad. Mi Dang was invited to come. On the march the soldiers of Wei had mingled with the Qiangs, and many of them were in the forefront of the army.

As they drew near the camp, Jiang Wei gave order: “The army are to camp outside. Only the King can enter the gate.”

Mi Dang went up toward the gate with a hundred or more followers, and Jiang Wei with Xiahou Ba went to welcome him. Just as they met, before Mi Dang could say a word, the Wei generals dashed on past him and set on to slay. Jiang Wei was taken aback, leaped on his steed and fled, while the mixed force of troops of Wei and Qiangs drove the camp defenders before them and sent them flying.

When Jiang Wei leaped upon his steed at the gate, he had no weapon in his hand, only his bow and quiver hung at his shoulder. In his hasty flight the arrows fell out and the quiver was empty, so when he set off for the hills with Guo Huai in pursuit, Jiang Wei had nothing to oppose to the spears of his pursuers. As they came near he laid hands upon his bow and made as if to shoot. The string twanged and Guo Huai blenched. But as no arrow went flying by, Guo Huai knew Jiang Wei had none to shoot. Guo Huai therefore hung his spear, took his bow and shot. Jiang Wei caught the arrow as it flew by and fitted it to his bowstring. He waited till Guo Huai came quite near, when he pulled the string with all his force and sent the arrow flying straight at Guo Huai’s face. Guo Huai fell even as the bowstring sang.

Jiang Wei pulled up and turned to finish his fallen enemy, but the soldiers of Wei were nearly upon him, and he had only time to snatch up Guo Huai’s spear and ride off. Now that Jiang Wei was armed and their own leader wounded, the soldiers of Wei had no more desire to fight. They picked up their general and carried him to camp. There the arrow-head was pulled out, but the flow of blood could not be stanched, and Guo Huai died.

Sima Zhao descended from the hill as soon as Jiang Wei moved away, and pursued some distance before returning.

Xiahou Ba forced his way out and rejoined Jiang Wei as soon as he could, and they marched away together. The losses of Shu in this defeat were very heavy. On the road they dared not halt to muster or reform, but went helter-skelter into Hanzhong. In that campaign, though the Shu army were defeated, they had killed Xu Zi and Guo Huai on the other side and had damaged the prestige of Wei. Thus Jiang Wei’s achievement made up for his offense.

After rewarding the Qiangs for their help, Sima Zhao led his army back to Capital Luoyang, where he joined his brother Sima Shi in administering the government. They were too strong for any of the officers to dare opposition, and they terrorized Cao Fang, the Ruler of Wei, so that he shook with fright whenever he saw Sima Shi at court, and felt as if needles were being stuck into his back.

One day, when the Ruler of Wei was holding a court, Sima Shi came into the hall wearing his sword. Cao Fang hastily left his Dragon Throne to receive him.

“What does this mean? Is this the correct etiquette for a prince when his minister approaches?” said Sima Shi, smiling. “I pray Your Majesty remember your dignity and listen while the ministers address the Throne.”

Court business then proceeded. Sima Shi decided every question without reference to the Ruler of Wei; and when Sima Shi retired, he stalked haughtily down the hall and went home, followed by his escort, which numbered thousands of horse and foot.

When the Ruler of Wei left the court, only three followed him to the private apartments. They were Minister Xiahou Xuan, Secretary Li Feng, and High Minister Zhang Qi. Zhang Qi was the father of his consort, Empress Zhang. Sending away the servants, Cao Fang and these three went into a private chamber.

Seizing his father-in-law’s hand, Cao Fang began to weep, saying, “That man Sima Shi treats me as a child and regards the officers of state as if they were so many straws. I am sure the throne will be his one day.”

And he wept bitterly.

Said Li Feng, “Do not be so sad, Sire. I am but a poor sort of person. But if Your Majesty will give me authority, I will call together all the bold people in the country and slay this man.”

“It was from fear of this man that my brother Xiahou Ba was forced to go over to Shu,” said Xiahou Xuan. “If Sima Shi were destroyed, my brother could return. I belong to a family related to the rulers of the state for many generations, and I cannot sit still while a wretch ruins the government. Put my name in the command as well, and we will work together to remove him.”

“But I am afraid we can not overcome him,” said Cao Fang.

They wept and said, “We pledge ourselves to work together for the destruction of the tyrant, and to show our gratitude to Your Majesty!”

Cao Fang them stripped himself of his innermost garment, gnawed his finger till the blood flowed, and with his finger-tip traced a command in blood.

He gave it to his father-in-law, Zhang Qi, saying, “My ancestor, Emperor Cao, put to death Dong Cheng for just such a matter as this, so you must be exceedingly careful and maintain the greatest secrecy.”

“Oh, why use such ill-omened words?” cried Li Feng. “We are not like Dong Cheng, and Sima Shi cannot compare to the Founder. Have no doubts.”

The three conspirators took leave and went out carrying the edict with them. Beside the Donghua Gate of the Palace, they saw Sima Shi coming to meet them wearing a sword. Following him were many armed guards. The three ministers took the side of the road to let the party go by.

“Why are you three so late in leaving the Palace?” asked Sima Shi.

“His Majesty was reading, and we stayed with him,” said Li Feng.

“What was he reading?”

“The histories of the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties.”

“What questions did the Emperor ask as he read those books?”

[e] Yi Yin was was helper and prime minister of King Tang, the founder of Shang Dynasty. After King Tang’s death, Yi Yin served his sons and grandson. Soon after Tai Jia, King Tang’s grandson, ascended the throne, he committed many faults, and Yi Yin, acting as regent, exiled Tai Jia to Tong Palace—the burial place of King Tang. After three years Yi Yin returned him the throne. Tai Jia eventually became an enlightened emperor. Shang Dynasty lasted for 650 years (BC 1700-1050). It was this act of Yi Yin rather than his services in building up an empire that has made him immortal. Whether he did right in temporarily dethroning the king was open to question, until a final verdict was rendered by Mencius who thought that his ends amply justified his means. This historical event attests the extent of the power exercised by a prime minister in those days. …..
[e] Duke of Zhou was brother of King Wu, who was the founder of Zhou Dynasty. After King Wu’s death, the Duke of Zhou served his young son as regent. The Duke of Zhou completely ended the Shang domination, and he helped establish the Zhou administrative framework, which served as a model for future Chinese dynasties. Zhou Dynasty lasted for 800 years (BC 1050-221). …..

“He asked about Yi Yin* and how he upheld the Shang; and the Duke of Zhou*, how he acted when he was regent. And we told His Majesty that you were both Yi Yin and the Duke Zhou to him.”

Sima Shi smiled grimly and said, “Why did you compare me with those two when in your hearts you think me a rebel like Wang Mang and Dong Zhuo?”

“How should we dare when we are your subordinates?” said the three ministers.

“You are a lot of flatterers,” said Sima Shi, angrily. “And what were you crying about in that private chamber with the Emperor?”

“We did no such thing.”

“Your eyes are still red: You cannot deny that.”

Xiahou Xuan then knew that the secrecy had been showed, so he broke out into a volley of abuse, crying, “Well, we were crying because of your conduct, because you terrorize over the Emperor and are scheming to usurp the Throne!”

“Seize him!” roared Sima Shi.

Xiahou Xuan threw back his sleeves and struck at Sima Shi with his fists, but the lictors pulled him back. Then the three were searched, and on Zhang Qi was found the blood-stained garment of the Emperor. They handed it to their chief, who recognized the object of his search, the secret edict. It said:

“The two Sima brothers have stolen away all my authority and are plotting to take the Throne. The edicts I have been forced to issue do not represent my wishes, and hereby all officers, civil and military, may unite to destroy these two and restore the authority of the Throne. These ends achieved, I will reward those who help to accomplish them.”

Sima Shi, more angry than ever, said, “So you wish to destroy me and my brother. This is too much!”

He ordered his followers to execute the three on the public ground by waist-bisection and to destroy their whole clans.

The three reviled without ceasing. On the way to the place of execution, they ground their teeth with rage, spitting out the pieces they broke off. They died muttering curses.

Sima Shi then went to the rear apartments of the Palace, where he found the Emperor talking with his Consort.

Just as he entered, she was saying to the Emperor, “The Palace is full of spies, and if this comes out, it will mean trouble for me.”

Sima Shi strode in, sword in hand.

“My father placed Your Majesty on the throne, a service no less worthy than that of Duke Zhou; I have served Your Majesty as Yi Yin served his master. Now is kindness met by enmity and service regarded as a fault. Your Majesty has plotted with two or three insignificant officials to slay me and my brother. Why is this?”

“I had no such intention,” said Cao Fang.

In reply Sima Shi drew the garment from his sleeve and threw it on the ground.

“Who did this?”

Cao Fang was overwhelmed: His soul flew beyond the skies, his spirit lied to the ninth heaven.

Shaking with fear, he said, “I was forced into it. How could I think of such a thing?”

“To slander ministers by charging them with rebellion is an aggravated crime,” said Sima Shi.

Cao Fang knelt at his feet, saying, “Yes; I am guilty. Forgive me.”

“I beg Your Majesty to rise: The laws must be respected!”

Pointing to Empress Zhang, Sima Shi said, “She is of the Zhang house and must die!”

“Spare her!” cried Cao Fang, weeping bitterly.

But Sima Shi was obdurate. He bade the lictors lead her away, and she was strangled with a white silk cord at a Palace gate.

[hip, hip, hip]
Now I recall another year; and lo!
An empress borne away to shameful death.
Barefooted, weeping bitterly she shrieks
“Farewell,” torn from her consort’s arms.
History repeats itself; time’s instrument,
Sima Shi avenges this on Cao Cao’s heirs.
[yip, yip, yip]

[e] Huo Guang (BC ?-68) a general and regent of Han. After Emperor Wu died, Huo Guang became regent to three successive emperors, and the second one had been the Prince of Changyi, who was on the throne for only twenty-seven days. Huo Guang had the Prince of Changyi declared unfit to rule and deposed him. Even though Huo Guang contributed much to the empire’s stabilization, after he died, he was distanced by the emperor and most of his family were executed for conspiracy charges. …..
[e] Yi Yin was was helper and prime minister of King Tang, the founder of Shang Dynasty. After King Tang’s death, Yi Yin served his sons and grandson. Soon after Tai Jia, King Tang’s grandson, ascended the throne, he committed many faults, and Yi Yin, acting as regent, exiled Tai Jia to Tong Palace—the burial place of King Tang. After three years Yi Yin returned him the throne. Tai Jia eventually became an enlightened emperor. Shang Dynasty lasted for 650 years (BC 1700-1050). It was this act of Yi Yin rather than his services in building up an empire that has made him immortal. Whether he did right in temporarily dethroning the king was open to question, until a final verdict was rendered by Mencius who thought that his ends amply justified his means. This historical event attests the extent of the power exercised by a prime minister in those days. …..

[e] Qi was an ancient state on the extreme eastern edge of the North China Plain in what is now Shandong and Hebei provinces. Became prominent under the leadership of Duke Huan and his adviser Guan Zhong during the Spring and Autumn period. It nearly won the empire in the Warring States period. …..

The day after these events, Sima Shi assembled all the officers and addressed them thus: “Our present lord is profligate and devoid of principle; familiar with the vile and friendly with the impure. He lends a ready ear to slander and keeps good people at a distance. His faults exceed those of the Prince of Changyi* of old, and he has proved himself unfit to rule. Wherefore, following the precedents of Yi Yin* and Huo Guang*, I have decided to put him aside and to set up another, thereby to maintain the sanctity of the ruler and ensure tranquillity. What think you, Sirs?”

They all agreed, saying, “General, you are right to play the same part as Yi Yin and Huo Guang, thereby acting in accordance with Heaven and fulfilling the desire of humankind. Who dares dispute it?”

Then Sima Shi, followed by the whole of the officials, went to the Palace of Everlasting Peace and informed the Empress Dowager of his intention.

“Whom do you propose to place on the throne, General?” she asked.

“I have observed that Cao Ju, Prince of Pengcheng, is intelligent, benevolent, and filial. He is fit to rule the empire.”

She replied, “He is my uncle, and it is not convenient. However, there is Cao Mao, Duke of Gaogui, and grandson of Emperor Pi. He is of mild temperament, respectful, and deferential, and may be set up. You, Sir, and the high officers of state might favorably consider this.”

Then spoke one, saying, “Her Majesty speaks well: Cao Mao should be raised to the throne.”

All eyes turned toward the speaker, who was Sima Fu, uncle of Sima Shi.

The Duke of Gaogui was summoned to the capital.

The Empress called Cao Fang into her presence in the Hall of Principles and blamed him, saying, “You are vicious beyond measure, a companion of lewd men and a friend of vile women. You are unfitted to rule. Therefore resign the imperial seal and revert to your status of Prince of Qi*. You are forbidden to present yourself at court without special command.”

Cao Fang, weeping, threw himself at her feet. He gave up the seal, got into his carriage and went away. Only a few faithful ministers restrained their tears and bade him farewell.

[hip, hip, hip]
Cao Cao, the mighty minister of Han,
Oppressed the helpless; little then thought he
That only two score swiftly passing years
Would bring like fate to his posterity.
[yip, yip, yip]

The Emperor-elect Cao Mao was the grandson of Emperor Pi, and son of Cao Lin, Prince of Donghai. When Cao Mao was nearing the capital, all the officers attended to receive him at the Nanye Gate, where an imperial carriage awaited him. He hastily returned their salutations.

“The ruler ought not to return these salutations,” said Grand Commander Wang Su.

“I also am a minister and must respond,” replied he.

They conducted him to the carriage to ride into the Palace, but he refused to mount it, saying, “Her Majesty has commanded my presence; I know not for what reason. How dare I enter the Palace in such a carriage?”

He went on foot to the Hall, where Sima Shi awaited him. He prostrated himself before Sima Shi. Sima Shi hastily raised him and led him into the presence.

The Empress Dowager said, “In your youth I noticed that you bore the impress of majesty. Now you are to be the Ruler of the Empire. You must be respectful and moderate, diffusing virtue and benevolence. You must do honor to your ancestors—the former emperors.”

Cao Mao modestly declined the proposed honor, but he was compelled to accept it. He was led out of the presence of the Empress Dowager and placed in the seat of empire in the Hall of Principles.

The style of the reign was changed from Domestic Calm, the sixth year, to Right Origin, the first year (AD 254). An amnesty was granted. Honors were heaped upon Sima Shi, who also received the golden axes, with the right to proceed leisurely within the precincts, to address the Throne without using his name, and to wear arms at court. Many other officers also received promotions.

But in the spring of the second year of Right Origin, it was reported at court that Guanqiu Jian, General Who Guards the East, and Wen Qin, Imperial Protector of Yangzhou, were raising armies with the declared design of restoring the deposed emperor.

Sima Shi disconcerted.

[hip, hip, hip]
If ministers of Han have always faithful been,
Wei leaders, too, prove their loyalty are keen.
[yip, yip, yip]

How this new menace was met will appear in the next chapter.

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