“Since meeting you outside the pass, fate has assigned us to different quarters of the world, and I have not been able to pay my respects to you. Touching the death of your noble father, it was owing to the vicious nature of Zhang Kai and due to no fault of Tao Qian. Now while the remnant of the Yellow Scarves is disturbing the
lands, and Dong Zhuo’s partisans have the upper hand in the capital, I wish that you, Illustrious Sir, would regard the critical position of the court rather than your personal grievances, and so divert
your forces from the attack on Xuzhou to the rescue of the state. Such would be for the happiness of that city and the whole empire.”
Cao Cao gave vent to a torrent of abuse： “Who is this Liu Bei that he dares write and exhort me？ Beside, he means to be satirical.”
Cao Cao issued orders to put the bearer of the letter to death and to press on the siege.
But Guo Jia remonstrated, saying, “Liu Bei has come from afar to help Tao Qian, and he is trying the effect of politeness before resorting to arms. I pray you, my lord, reply with fair words
that his heart may be lulled with a feeling of safety. Then attack with vigor and the city will fall.”
Cao Cao found this advice good, so he spared the messenger, telling him to wait to carry back his reply. While this was going on, a horseman came with news of misfortune： “Lu Bu has invaded Yanzhou,
now holding Puyang. The three counties left——Juancheng, Fanxia, and Dongjun——are under severe attacks.”
[e] Zhang Yang was among the eighteen lords who rallied against Dong Zhou at the Tiger Trap Pass.
When Li Jue and Guo Si, the two partisans of Dong Zhuo, succeeded in their attack on the capital, Lu Bu had fled to Yuan Shu. However, Yuan Shu looked
askance at him for his instability and refused to receive him. Then Lu Bu went to try Yuan Shao, who was a brother of Yuan Shu. Yuan Shao accepted
the warrior and made use of him in an attack upon Zhang Yan in Changshan.
But his success filled him with pride, and his arrogant demeanor so annoyed the other commanders that Yuan Shao was on the
point of putting him to death.
To escape this Lu Bu had gone away to Zhang Yang*,
Governor of Shangdang,
who accepted his services
Presently High Minister Chen Wei visited, to whom Li Ying told the story of his youthful guest.
“He is a wonder, this boy,” said Li Ying, pointing to Kong Rong.
Chen Wei replied, “It does not follow that a clever boy grows up into a clever man.”
the lad took him up at once saying, “By what you say, Sir, you were certainly one of the clever boys.”
the minister adviser and the governor all laughed, saying, “The boy is going to be a noble vessel.”
Thus from boyhood Kong Rong was famous. As a man he rose to be an Imperial Commander and was sent as Governor to Beihai, where he was renowned for hospitality. He used to quote the lines：
[hip, hip, hip]“Let the rooms be full of friends, And the cups be full of wine. That is what I like.”[yip, yip, yip]
After six years at Beihai the people were devoted to him. The day that Mi Zhu arrived, Kong Rong was, as usual, seated among his guests, and the messenger was ushered in without delay. In reply to a question about the reason of the visit, Mi Zhu presented Tao Qian’s letter which said that Cao Cao was pressing on Xuzhou City and the Imperial Protector prayed for help.
then said Kong Rong, “Your master and I are good friends, and your presence here constrains me to go to his aid. However, I have no quarrel with Cao Cao either, so I will first write to him to try to make peace. If he refuses my offer, then I must set the army in motion.”
“Cao Cao will not listen to proposals of peace： He is too certain of his strength,” said Mi Zhu.
Kong Rong wrote his letter and also gave orders to muster his troops. Just at this moment happened another rising of the Yellow Scarves, ten thousand of them, and the ruffians began to rob and murder at Beihai. It was necessary to deal with them first, and Kong Rong led his army outside the city.
the rebel leader, Guan Hai, rode out to the front, saying,
“I know this county is fruitful and can well
spare ten thousand carts of grain. Give me that and we retire；
refuse, and we will batter down the
city walls and destroy every soul.”
It was one Mi Zhu who said he knew how to defeat Cao Cao utterly.
Mi Zhu came of a wealthy family of merchants in Donghai and trading in Luoyang. One day traveling homeward from that city in a carriage, he met an exquisitely beautiful lady trudging along the road, who asked him to let her ride. He stopped and yielded his place to her. She invited him to share the seat with her. He mounted, but sat rigidly upright, never even glancing in her direction. They traveled thus for some miles when she thanked him and alighted.
Just as she left she said, “I am the Goddess of Fire from the Southern Land. I am on my way to execute a decree of the Supreme God to burn your dwelling, but your extreme courtesy has so deeply touched me that I now warn you. Hasten homeward, remove your valuables, for I must arrive tonight.”
thereupon she disappeared. Mi Zhu hastily finished his journey and, as soon as he arrived, moved everything out of his house. Sure enough that night a fire started in the kitchen and involved the whole house. After this he devoted his wealth to relieving the poor and comforting the afflicted. Tao Qian gave him the magistracy office he then held.
the plan Mi Zhu proposed was this： “I will go to Beihai and beg Governor Kong Rong to help. Another should go to Qingzhou on a similar mission to get the help from Imperial Protector Tien Kai. If the armies of these two places march on Cao Cao, he will certainly retire.”
Tao Qian accepted the plan and wrote two letters. He asked for a volunteer to go to Qingzhou, and a certain Chen Deng offered himself and, after he had left, Mi Zhu was formally entrusted with the mission to the north. Meanwhile Tao Qian and his generals would hold the city as they could.
Kong Rong was a native of Qufu in the old state of Lu. He was one of the twentieth generation in descent from the GREat Teacher Confucius. Kong Rong had been noted as a very intelligent lad, somewhat precocious. When ten years old he had gone to see Li Ying, the Governor of Henan, but the doorkeeper demurred to letting him in.
But when Kong Rong said, “I am Minister Li Ying’s intimate friend,” he was admitted.
Li Ying asked Kong Rong what relations had existed between their families that might justify the term intimate.
the boy replied,
“Of old my ancestor Confucius questioned your ancestor,
the Taoist sage Laozi, concerning ceremonies.
So our families have known each other for many generations.”
Li Ying was astonished at the boy’s ready wit.
At this time Chen Gong was in office in Dongjun, and he was also on friendly terms with Tao Qian. Hearing of Cao Cao’s design to destroy the whole population, Chen Gong came in haste to see his former companion*. Cao Cao, knowing Chen Gong’s errand, put him off at first and would not see him. But then Cao Cao could not forget the kindness he had formerly received from Chen Gong, and presently the visitor was called to his tent.
Chen Gong said, “they say you go to avenge your father’s death on Xuzhou, to destroy its people. I have come to say a word. Imperial Protector Tao Qian is humane and a good man. He is not looking out for his own advantage, careless of the means and of others. Your worthy father met his unhappy death at the hands of Zhang Kai. Tao Qian is guiltless. Still more innocent are the people, and to slay them would be an evil. I pray you think over it.”
Cao Cao retorted angrily, “You once abandoned me and now you have the impudence to come to see me！ Tao Qian slew my whole family, and I will tear his heart out in revenge. I swear it！ You may speak for your friend and say what you will. I shall be as if I heard not.”
Intercession had failed. Chen Gong sighed and took his leave.
He said, “Alas！ I cannot go to Tao Qian and look upon his face.”
So Chen Gong rode off to the county of Chenliu to give service to Governor Zhang Miao.
Cao Cao’s army of revenge laid waste whatever place it passed through, slaying the people and desecrating their cemeteries.
When Tao Qian heard the terrible tidings,
he looked up to heaven, saying,
“I must be guilty of some fault before
Heaven to have brought this evil upon my people！”
they all aGREed. The storm continued into the night and as Cao Song sat waiting anxiously for signs of clearing, he suddenly heard a hubbub at the west end of the temple. His brother, Cao De, drawing his sword, went out to see what it was about, and Cao De was at once cut down. Cao Song seized one of the concubines by the hand, rushed with her through the passage toward the back of the temple so that they might escape. But the lady was stout and could not get through the narrow doors, so the two hid in one of the small outhouses at the side. However, they were seen and slain.
the unhappy Governor Ying Shao fled for his life to Yuan Shao. The murderers fled into the South of River Huai with their plunder after having set fire to the old temple.
[hip, hip, hip] Cao Cao, whom the ages praise, Slew his hosts on his former flight；Nemesis never turns aside, Murdered too his family died. [yip, yip, yip]
Some of the escort escaped and took the evil tidings to Cao Cao. When he heard it he fell to the earth with a GREat cry. They raised him.
With set teeth he muttered, “Tao Qian’s people have slain my father： No longer can the same sky cover us. I will sweep Xuzhou off the face of the earth. Only thus can I satisfy my vengeance.”
Cao Cao left one small army of thirty thousand under Xun Yu and Cheng Yu to guard the east headquarters and the three counties of Juancheng, Fanxia, and Dongjun. Then he set forth with all the remainder to destroy Xuzhou and avenge his father. Xiahou Dun, Yu Jin, and Dian Wei were Van Leaders with Cao Cao’s orders to slaughter all the inhabitants of each captured city.
Now the Governor of Jiujiang, Bian Rang, was a close friend of Tao Qian. Hearing Xuzhou was threatened, Bian Rang set out with five thousand troops to his friend’s aid. Angered by this move, Cao Cao sent Xiahou Dun to stop and kill Bian Rang while still on the march.
[e] Chen Gong is the magistrate who spared
Cao Cao after Cao Cao failed to assassinate Dong Zhuo.
Chen Gong and Cao Cao then traveled as fugitives to Qiao,
but they parted haft way. （chapter 4）
A messenger went post haste with a command for Cao Cao and Bao Xin,
Lord of Jibei, to act together in quelling the rebellion. As soon as Cao Cao received the court command, he arranged with his colleague first to attack the rebels at Shouyang. Bao Xin made a dash right into their midst and inflicting damage wherever he could, but he was killed in a battle. Cao Cao pursued the rebels as they fled. Ten thousand surrendered. Then Cao Cao put his quondam enemies in the van. When his army reached any place, many more surrendered and joined him. After three months of these tactics, he had won over many thousands, both of soldiers and ordinary folks.
Of these new adherents the strongest and boldest were made the Qingzhou Army, and the others were sent home to their fields. In consequence of these successes Cao Cao’s prestige and fame became very GREat and increased daily. He reported his success to Capital Changan and was rewarded with the title of General Who Guards the East.
[e] Yanzhou had belonged to Liu Dai, but he submitted to Cao Cao, and Cao Cao used the region as his base. [e] Zhang Liang, aka Zhang Zifang, the master strategist for Liu Bang. His family had served the state of Han as chief ministers during the Warring States period. It is said that he received the strategy book of Lu Wang from a mysterious old man. When he was young, Zhang Liang plotted to assasinate the First Emperor, but failed. He later rebeled against Qin. Joined Liu Bang （BC 206） to fight against Qin and then Chu. Recommended Han Xin to Liu Bang. Zhang Liang’s insights had earned him the name “The Teacher of Emperor”。 After Liu Bang won the empire, Zhang Liang was enobled as Lord of Liu, but did not take office, instead he resigned from political life and traveled. ……
At his headquarters in Yanzhou*, Cao Cao welcomed wise counselors and bold warriors, and many gathered around him. Two clever persons, uncle and nephew, came at the same time, both from Yanzhou, named Xun Yu and Xun You. The uncle had once been in the service of Yuan Shao.
Cao Cao rejoiced when he had won the elder Xun to his side, saying, “Xun Yu is my Zhang Liang*！”
He made Xun Yu a Marching General. the nephew Xun You was famed for his ability and had been in the court service when it was in Luoyang, but he had abandoned that career and retired to his village. Cao Cao made him a Military Instructor.
Xun Yu said to Cao Cao, “there is a certain wise person of Yanzhou somewhere, but I do not know in whose service he is.”
“Who is he？”
“Cheng Yu. He belongs to the eastern part of Yanzhou.”
“Yes； I have heard of him,” said Cao Cao.
So a messenger was sent to his native place to inquire.
Cheng Yu was away in the hills engaged in study,
but he came at Cao Cao’s invitation.
Wang Yun spoke to Cai Yong angrily,
“Dong Zhuo has been put to death as a rebel,
and all the land rejoices. You, a Han minister,
instead of rejoicing, weep for him. Why？”
Cai Yong confessed his fault, saying, “I am without talent, yet know what is right. I am not the man who turns my back on the dynasty and toward Dong Zhuo. Yet once I experienced his kindness, and I could not help mourning for him.
I know my fault is grave, but I pray you regard the reasons. If you will leave my head and only cut off my feet, you may use me to continue the History of Han, whereby I may have the good fortune to be allowed to expiate my fault.”
All were sorry for Cai Yong, for he was a man of GREat talents, and they begged that he might be spared.
the Imperial Guardian, Ma Midi, secretly interceded for him, saying, “Cai Yong is famous as a scholar, and he can write glorious history, and it is inadvisable to put to death a man renowned for rectitude without consideration.”
But in vain, for the High Minister was now strong and obdurate.
[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. ……
[e] Sima Qian （BC 145-85） astronomer, calendar expert, and the first GREat Chinese historian, noted for his authorship of the “Historical Records” or Shi Ji, which is considered to be the most important history of China down to the end of the 2nd century. ……
Wang Yun said, “Centuries ago, Emperor Wu* spared Sima Qian* and employed him on the annals, with the result that many slanderous stories have been handed down to us. This is a trying period of GREat perplexity,
and we dare not let a specious fellow
like this wield his pen in criticism of those
about the court of a youthful
prince and abuse us as he will.”
“What is the meaning of this？” said Dong Zhuo.
“He is a madman,” said Li Su, and he told the guards to drive the fellow away.
Dong Zhuo went in and found all the officials in court dress lining the road. Li Su walked beside his carriage, a sword in his hand. When Li Su reached the north gate of the Forbidden City, he found the soldiers of Dong Zhuo drawn up outside and only the pushers of the Palace carriage, a twenty or so, were allowed to proceed further.
When Dong Zhuo arrived near the Reception Hall, he saw that Wang Yun and all the other officials standing at the door were armed.
“Why are they all armed？” said Dong Zhuo to Li Su.
Li Su was silent as he helped push the carriage forward swiftly to the entrance.
Suddenly Wang Yun shouted, “the rebel is here！ Where are the executioners？”
At this call sprang from both sides soldiers armed with halberds and spears who attacked Dong Zhuo. He had not put on the breastplate he usually wore, and a spear pierced his breast.
He sank down in the carriage calling loudly for his son, “Where is Lu Bu？”
“Here, and with a decree to deal with a rebel！” said Lu Bu, as he appeared in front of his “father.”
thereupon he thrust his trident halberd through the victim’s throat. Then Li Su hacked off the head and held it up.
Lu Bu, his left hand holding his halberd,
thrust his right hand into his bosom whence he drew the decree,
crying, “The decree was to slay the rebel Dong Zhuo——no other！”
the whole assembly shouted,
“Wan shui！ Live forever！ O Emperor！”
A sympathetic poet has written a few lines in pity：
[hip, hip, hip] Await the time, O noble, and be king, Or failing, reap the solace riches bring；
Heaven never is partial,
but severely just,
Meiwo stood strong,
yet now it lies in dust.
Dong Zhuo turned to Li Su and asked what these things portended.
“It means that you are going to receive the abdication of the Hans, which is to renew all things： To mount the jeweled chariot and sit in the golden saddle.”
And Dong Zhuo was pleased and convinced with this answer. During the second day’s journey a violent gale sprang up, and the sky became covered with a thick mist.
“What does this mean？” said Dong Zhuo.
the wily Li Su had an interpretation for this also, saying,
“You are ascending to the place of the dragon： There must be bright light and lurid vapor to dignify your majestic approach.”
Dong Zhuo had no more doubts. He presently arrived and found many officials waiting without the city gate to receive him,
all but Li Ru who was ill and unable to leave his chamber.
He entered and proceeded to his own palace, where Lu Bu came to congratulate him.
“When I sit on the throne, you shall command the whole armies of the empire, horse and foot,” said Dong Zhuo.
That night Dong Zhuo slept in the midst of his escort. In the suburbs that evening some children at
play were singing a little ditty, and the words drifted into the bedchamber on the wind.
[hip, hip, hip]“the grass in the meadow looks fresh now and GREen, Yet wait but ten days, not a blade will be seen.”[yip, yip, yip]
the song sounded ominous but Li Su was again prepared with a happy interpretation：
“It only means that the Lius are about to disappear, and the Dongs to be exalted.”
[e] the staff, the cloth, and the mouths formed the Chinese characters, implied the name of Lu Bu.
Next morning at the first streak of dawn,
Dong Zhuo prepared for his appearance at court. On the way he saw a Taoist,
dressed in a black robe and wearing a white turban,
who carried in his hand a tall staff with a long strip of white cloth attached.
At each end of the cloth was drawn a mouth*.
“I will kill the wretch, I swear it！ In no other way can I wash away my shame.”
“No, no！ Do not say such a thing,” said Wang Yun, putting his hand over the other’s mouth. “You will bring trouble on poor me and my family.”
“When one is born GREat, one cannot be patient for long under another person’s domination,” said Lu Bu.
“It needs someone GREater than the Prime Minister to limit the scope of such talents as yours.”
Lu Bu said, “I would not mind killing the old wretch were it not for the relation in which we stand. I fear to provoke the hostile criticism of posterity.”
Wang Yun shook his head, saying, “Your name is Lu Bu； his is Dong Zhuo. Where was the paternal feeling when he threw the halberd at you？”
“I had been misled if you had not said that,” said Lu Bu hotly.
Wang Yun saw the effect of his words and continued, “It would be a loyal deed to restore the House of Han, and history would hand down your name to posterity perpetually fragrant. If you lend your aid to Dong Zhuo, you will be a traitor and your name will be tainted through all ages.”
Lu Bu rose from his place and bowed to Wang Yun.
“I have decided,” said he. “You need not fear, Sir.”
“But yet you may fail and bring upon yourself misfortune,” said Wang Yun.
Lu Bu drew his dagger, pricking his arm, and swearing by the blood that flowed.
Wang Yun fell on his knees and thanked him.
“then the Han sacrifices will not be cut off, and you will be their savior. But this must remain a secret,
and I will tell you how the plot shall be worked out.”
Lu Bu took leave with GREat emotion.
Wang Yun took into his confidence two colleagues,
Minister Shisun Rui and Imperial Commander Huang Wan.