Lu Bu was a conspicuous figure in front of the line

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

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

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

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

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

they attacked Lu Bu. Mu Shun, a general of Governor Zhang Yang, rode out with his spear set, but soon fell at the first encounter with Lu Bu. This frightened the others. Then galloped forth Wu Anguo, a general under Governor Kong Rong. Wu Anguo raised his iron mace ready at his rival. Lu Bu whirling his halberd and urging on his steed came to meet Wu Anguo. The two fought, well matched for ten bouts, when a blow from the trident halberd broke Wu Anguo’s

wrist. Letting his mace fall to the

ground he fled. Then all eight of the

lords led forth their armies to

his rescue, and Lu Bu retired to his line.

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“This man looks no common person. And how can the enemy

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

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

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

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

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

  the wine was still warm!

  This doughty deed has been celebrated in verse:

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

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

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

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

Cao Cao was GREatly excited at this success.

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

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

Expel him from the tent, I say.”

But again Cao Cao interposed,

“Shall we consider the station of

him who has done a GREat service?”

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When all were seated in the tent Yuan Shao said,

When all were seated in the tent Yuan Shao said,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liu Bei modestly thanked him, declining.

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

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

Even as they were at this meeting came in a scout to say

that Hua Xiong with a company of mail-clad

horsemen was coming down from the Pass.

They were flaunting Sun Jian’s captured purple

turban on the end of a bamboo pole.

The enemy was soon hurling insults at those

within the stockade and challenging them to fight.

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Hua Xiong bade Hu Zhen lead five thousand out against Sun Jian

Hua Xiong bade Hu Zhen lead five thousand out against Sun Jian.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When news of the disaster reached Yuan Shao,

he was GREatly chagrined and called

all the lords to a council.

They assembled and Gongsun Zan was the last to arrive.

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then the Governor of Changsha, Sun Jian, offered

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sun Jian advanced to the

Pass and hailed the defenders,

crying, “Helpers of a villain!

Be quick to surrender!”

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Cao Cao told him and said, “Had it not been for this man here with me

Cao Cao told him and said, “Had it not been for this man here with me,

I should have been already hacked to pieces.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But I have bidden them kill a pig!

Why do you refuse my poor hospitality?

I pray you ride back with me.”

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the Magistrate ordered Cao Cao to the prison till the morrow when

the Magistrate ordered Cao Cao to the prison till the morrow when

he could send Cao Cao to the capital and claim the reward. He gave the soldiers wine and food as a reward.

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

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

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

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

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

  “And where are you going?”

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

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

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

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

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

Lu Boshe GREeted them and said to Cao Cao,

“I hear the government has sent stringent

orders on all sides to arrest you.

Your father has gone into hiding to

Chenliu. How has this all come about?”

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Fear seized them in its grip and they were silent, all but Yuan

Fear seized them in its grip and they were silent, all but Yuan Shao who said,

“The Emperor was innocent of any fault,

and to set him aside in favor of a commoner was rebellion and nothing else!”

“the empire is in my hands!” cried Dong Zhuo.

“When I choose to do this thing, who will dare to say nay?

Think you my sword lacks an edge?”

  “If your sword is sharp, mine is never blunt!”

said Yuan Shao as his sword FLASHed out of the sheath.

  the two men stood face to face amid the feasters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zhou Bi said, “He left in a state of GREat anger. In such a state of excitement much harm may ensue to the present state of affairs, especially as the Yuan family have been noted for their high offices for four generations, and their proteges and dependents are everywhere. If they assemble bold people and call up their clients,

all the valiant warriors will be in arms,

and the east region of the Huashang Mountains

will be lost. You had better pardon Yuan Shao and give him a

post. He will be glad at being forgiven and will do no harm.”

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

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

So the next day Dong Zhuo spread a feast and invited many

guests. As all the officers went in terror of him, no one

dared be absent. Dong Zhuo himself rode up to the garden

last of all and took his place with his sword girded on.

When the wine had gone round several times,

Dong Zhuo stopped the service and the music and began to speak.

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

All turned towards him.

“the emperor is lord of all.

If he lacks dignity and behaves in an

unseemly manner, he is no fitting inheritor

of the ancestral prerogatives. He who is now on

the throne is a weakling, inferior to the Prince of Chenliu in

intelligence and love of learning. The Prince is in every way

fitted for the throne. I desire to depose the

Emperor and set up the Prince in his place. What think you?”

the assembly listened in perfect silence,

none daring at first to utter a word of dissent.

But one dared; for suddenly a guest stood up

in his place, smote the table and cried.

“No! No! Who are you that you dare utter such bold words?

the Emperor is son of the late Emperor and has done no wrong.

Why then should he be deposed? Are you a rebel?”

the speaker was Ding Yuan, Imperial Protector of Bingzhou.

Dong Zhuo glared at Ding Yuan, roaring,

“there is life for those who are with me,

death for those against!”

Dong Zhuo drew his sword and made for the

objector. But the watchful Li Ru had noticed

standing behind Ding Yuan a particularly dangerous

looking henchman of his, who was now

handling his halberd threateningly,

and whose eyes were blazing with anger.

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Alarmed by the portent, he hastily dressed and went forth

“God is helping us,” said Prince Xian.

they followed whither the fireflies led and gradually

got into a road. They walked till their feet were too sore

to go further, when, seeing a heap of straw near the road,

they crept to it and lay down.

This heap of straw was close to a farm house.

In the night, as the farmer was sleeping, he saw in a

vision two bright red suns drop behind his dwelling.

Alarmed by the portent, he hastily dressed and went forth

to look about him. Then he saw a bright light

shooting up from a heap of straw.

He hastened thither and then saw two youths lying behind it.

“To what household do you belong,

young gentlemen?” asked the farmer.

the Emperor was too frightened to reply,

but his companion said, “He is the Emperor.

There was a revolution in the Forbidden City,

and we ran away. I am his brother, Prince of Chenliu.”

the farmer bowed again and again and said,

“My name is Sui Lie. My brother Sui Yi is the former

Minister of the Interior. My brother was

disgusted with the behavior of the eunuchs

and so resigned and hid away here.”

the two lads were taken into the farm,

and their host on his knees served them with refreshment.

It has been said that Min Gong had gone in

pursuit of Eunuch Duan Gui. By and by Min

Gong overtook Duan Gui and cried,

“Where is the Emperor?”

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

Min Gong slew Duan Gui and hung the

bleeding head on his horse’s neck. Then

he sent his troops searching in all directions,

and he rode off by himself on the same quest.

Presently he came to the farm. Sui Lie,

seeing what hung on his horse’s neck,

questioned him and, satisfied with his story,

led him to the Emperor. The meeting

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