Thus relieved Cao Cao set off for the east gate. Then he fell in with Dian Wei, who took him under his protection and fought through the press, leaving a trail of death behind till they reached the gate. Here the fire was raging fiercely, and burning beams were falling on all sides. The earth element seemed to have interchanged with the fire element.
Dian Wei warded off the burning pieces of wood with his lance and rode into the smoke making a way for his lord. Just as they were passing through the gate a flaming beam fell from the gate tower. Cao Cao just warded it off with his arm,
but it struck his steed on the quarters and knocked the steed down. Cao Cao’s hand and arm were badly burned and his hair and beard singed. Dian Wei turned back to his rescue. Luckily Xiahou Yuan came along just then, and the two raised Cao Cao and set him on Xiahou Yuan’s horse. And thus they got him out of the burning city.
But they had to go through heavy fighting till daybreak.
Cao Cao returned to his camp. His officers crowded about his tent, anxious for news of his health. He soon recovered and laughed when he thought of his escape.
“I blundered into that fool’s trap, but I will have my revenge,” said he.
“Let us have a new plan soon,” said Guo Jia.
“I will turn his trick to my own use. I will spread the false report that I was burned in the fire, and that I died at the fifth watch. He will come to attack as soon as the news gets abroad, and I will have an ambush ready for him in Maling Hills. I will get him this time.”
“Really a fine stratagem！” said Guo Jia.
So the soldiers were put into mourning, and the report went everywhere that Cao Cao was dead. And soon Lu Bu heard it, and he assembled his army at once to make a surprise attack, taking the road by the Maling Hills to his enemy’s camp.
As he was passing the hills,
he heard the drums beating for an advance, and the ambushing soldiers leapt out all round him. Only by desperate fighting did he get out of the melee and with a
sadly diminished force
returned to his camp at Puyang.
There he strengthened the fortifications and
could not be tempted forth to battle.
Gao Shun, Wei Xu, and Hou Cheng pursued him, Lu Bu taking the lead. Cao Cao’s two generals, Yu Jin and Yue Jing, attacked the pursuers but could not check them. Cao Cao went away north. But from behind some hills came out Zhang Liao and Zang Ba to attack. Lu Qian and Cao Hong were sent to stop the attackers, but Lu Qian and Cao Hong were both defeated. Cao Cao sought safety in the west. Here again his retreat was met by Lu Bu’s four generals, Hao Meng, Cao Xing, Cheng Lian, and Song Xian.
the fight became desperate. Cao Cao dashed at the enemy’s array. The din was terrible. Arrows fell like pelting rain upon them, and they could make no headway.
Cao Cao was desperate and cried out in fear, “Who can save me？”
then from the crush dashed out Dian Wei with his double spears, crying, “Fear not, my lord！”
Dian Wei leapt from his steed, leaned his double spears against a wall and laid hold of a handful of battle-axes. Turning to his followers he said, “When the ruffians are at ten paces, call out to me.”
then he set off with mighty strides, plunging forward, careless of the flying arrows. Lu Bu’s horsemen followed, and when they got near, Dian Wei’s followers shouted, “Ten paces！”
“Five, then call！” shouted back Dian Wei, and went on.
Presently, “Five paces！”
then Dian Wei spun round and flung the battle-axes. With every fling a man fell from the saddle and never a battle-ax missed.
Having thus slain ten or so the remainder fled, and Dian Wei quickly remounted his steed, set his twin spears and rushed again into the fight with a vigor that none could withstand. One by one his opponents yielded, and he was able to lead Cao Cao safely out of the press of battle. Cao Cao and his commanders went to their camp.
But as evening fell, the noise of pursuit fell on their ears, and soon appeared Lu Bu himself.
“Cao Cao, you rebel, do not flee！” shouted Lu Bu as he approached with his halberd ready for a thrust.
All stopped and looked in each others’ faces： The soldiers were weary, their steeds spent. Fear smote them, and they looked around for some place of refuge.
You may lead your lord safely out of the press,
But what if the enemy follow？
We cannot say here what Cao Cao’s fate was,
but the next chapter will relate.
Seeing he could not persuade Liu Bei, Tao Qian then said, “As you are set in determination, perhaps you will consent to encamp at Xiaopei. It is only a little town, but thence you can keep watch and ward over the region.”
they all with one voice prayed Liu Bei to consent, so he gave in. The feast of victory being now ended, the time came to say farewell. When Zhao Yun took his leave, Liu Bei held his hands alternately while dashing away the falling tears. Kong Rong and Tien Kai went home to their own places.
When Liu Bei and his brothers took up their abode in Xiaopei, they first repaired the defenses, and then they put out proclamations in order to calm the inhabitants.
In the meantime Cao Cao had marched toward his own region.
Cao Ren met and told him, “Lu Bu is very powerful, and he has Chen Gong as adviser. Yanzhou is as good as lost, with the exception of three counties which have been vigorously and desperately defended by Xun Yu and Cheng Yu.”
Cao Cao said, “I own that Lu Bu is a bold fighter but nothing more； he has no craft. So we need not fear him seriously.”
then he gave orders to make a strong camp till they could think out some victorious plan.
Lu Bu, knowing of Cao Cao’s return, called two of his subordinate generals, Xue Lan and Li Fang, to him and assigned to them the task of holding the city of Yanzhou, saying, “I have long waited for opportunity to employ your skill. Now I give you ten thousand soldiers, and you are to hold the city while I go forth to attack Cao Cao.”
But Chen Gong, the strategist, came in hastily, saying,
“General, you are going away； whither？”
“I am going to camp my troops at Puyang,
that vantage point.”
“What does this mean？” said Liu Bei.
Tao Qian said, “there is trouble on every side, and the kingly rule is no longer maintained. You, Sir, are a member of the family and eminently fitted to support them and their prerogatives. I am verging on senility, and I wish to retire in your favor. I pray you not to decline, and I will report my action to the court.”
Liu Bei started up from his seat and bowed before his host, saying, “Scion of the family I may be, but my merit is small and my virtue meager. I doubt my fitness even for my present post, and only a feeling of doing right sent me to your assistance. To hear such speech makes me doubt. Surely you think I came with GREed in my heart. May God help me no more if I cherished such a thought.”
“It is a poor old man’s real sentiment,” said Tao Qian.
Time after time Tao Qian renewed his offer to entrust the region of Xuzhou to Liu Bei, but Liu Bei kept refusing.
In the midst of this came Mi Zhu, saying, “The enemies had reached the wall, and something must be done to drive them off. The present matter could await a more tranquil time.”
Said Liu Bei, “I ought to write to Cao Cao to press him to raise the siege. If he refuses, we will attack forthwith.”
Orders were sent to the three camps outside to remain quiescent till the letter could reach Cao Cao.
It happened that Cao Cao was holding a council when a messenger with a war letter was announced.
the letter was brought in and handed to him and,
when he had opened and looked at it,
he found it was from Liu Bei.
This is the letter, very nearly：
the victors were welcomed into the city, and as soon as possible a banquet was prepared in their honor. Mi Zhu was presented to Liu Bei. Mi Zhu related the story of the murder of Cao Song by Zhang Kai, Cao Cao’s vengeful attack on Xuzhou, and his coming to beg for assistance.
Liu Bei said, “Imperial Protector Tao Qian is a kindly man of high character, and it is a pity that he should suffer this wrong for no fault of his own.”
“You are a scion of the imperial family,” said Governor Kong Rong, “and this Cao Cao is injuring the people, a strong man abusing his strength. Why not go with me to rescue the sufferers？”
“I dare not refuse, but my force is weak and I must act cautiously,” said Liu Bei.
“Though my desire to help arises from an old friendship, yet it is a righteous act as well. I do not think your heart is not inclined toward the right,” said Kong Rong.
Liu Bei said, “This being so, you go first and give me time to see Gongsun Zan from whom I may borrow more troops and horses. I will come anon.”
“You surely will not break your promise？” said the Governor.
“What manner of man think you that I am？” said Liu Bei. “the wise one said, ‘Death is common to all； the person without truth cannot maintain the self.’ Whether I get the troops or not, certainly I shall myself come.”
So the plan was aGREed to. Mi Zhu set out to return forthwith while Kong Rong prepared for his expedition.
Taishi Ci took his leave, saying,
“My mother bade me come to your aid,
and now happily you are safe.
Letters have come from my fellow townsman,
Liu Yao, Imperial Protector of Yangzhou,
calling me thither and I must go.
I will see you again.”
E Lai, whose physical strength was extraordinary, was a general of King Zhou, the last king of Shang Dynasty.
“This is old E Lai* again！” said Cao Cao.
He gave Dian Wei a post in the headquarters and besides made Dian Wei presents of an embroidered robe he was wearing and a swift steed with a handsome saddle.
Cao Cao encouraged able people to assist him, and he had advisers on the civil side and valiant generals in the army. He became famous throughout the East of the Pass.
Now Cao Cao’s father, Cao Song, was living at Langye, whither he had gone as a place free from the turmoil of the partisan struggles. Cao Cao wished to be united with him. As a dutiful son, Cao Cao sent the Governor of Taishan, Ying Shao, to escort his father to Yanzhou. Old Cao Song read the letter with joy, and the family prepared to move. They were some forty in all, with a train of a hundred servants and many carts.
their road led through Xuzhou Region where the Imperial Protector, Tao Qian, was a sincere and upright man who had long wished to get on good terms with Cao Cao but, hitherto, had found no means of effecting a bond of union. Hearing that the family of the GREat man was passing through his region, Tao Qian went to welcome them, treated them with great cordiality, feasting and entertaining them for two days； and when they left, he escorted them to his boundary. Further he sent with them one General Zhang Kai with a special escort of five hundred.
the whole party reached the county of Huafei. It was the end of summer, just turning into autumn, and at this place they were stopped by a tremendous storm of rain. The only shelter was an old temple and thither they went. The family occupied the main rooms and the escort the two side wings. The men of the escort were drenched, angry, and discontented.
then Zhang Kai called some of his petty officers to a secret spot and said, “We are old Yellow Scarves and only submitted to Tao Qian because there was no other choice. We have never got much out of it. Now here is the Cao family with no end of gear, and we can be rich very easily.
We will make a sudden onslaught
tonight at the third watch and slay the whole lot.
Then we shall have plenty of treasure,
and we will get away to the mountains.”
the lust of blood awakened, Lu Bu urged the slaughter of Li Ru, who had been the confidant of the murdered Prime Minister, and Li Su volunteered to go in search of him. But just then a shouting was heard at the gates, and it was told them that a household servant had brought Li Ru in bonds. Wang Yun ordered his immediate execution in the market place.
Dong Zhuo’s head was exposed in a crowded thoroughfare. He was very fat, and the guards made torches by sticking splints into the body, spilling the corpse’s GREase over the ground. The passers-by pelted the head and spurned the body with their feet.
Wang Yun ordered a force of fifty thousand under Lu Bu, Huangfu Song, and Li Su to destroy Meiwo. Learning the news of their master, Li Jue, Guo Si, Fan Chou, and Zhang Ji fled west swiftly through the night with their Flying Bear Army to Liangzhou Region.
When arriving Meiwo, Lu Bu’s first deed was to take Diao Chan into his charge. then they slew every member of the Dong family, sparing none, not even Dong Zhuo’s aged mother. The heads of Dong Zhuo’s brother Dong Min and his nephew Dong Huang were publicly displayed in the market place. In Meiwo were hidden many young ladies of good families. These were set free. All properties were confiscated. The wealth was enormous——several hundred thousand ounces of gold, millions of silver coins, pearls, gems, silks, velvets, furs, grain stores.
When they returned to report success, Wang Yun rewarded and feasted the soldiers. Banquets were held in the Ministry Hall to which all the officials were invited. They drank and congratulated each other. While the feasting was in proGREss it was announced that someone had come and was wailing over Dong Zhuo’s corpse exposed in the market place.
“Dong Zhuo has been put to death,” said Wang Yun, angrily. “Every body is glad to be rid of him, and yet one is found to lament over him. Who is this？”
[e] Cai Yong had had an illustrious career as a court official. When Dong Zhuo took over the court, Cai Yong resigned his post as a minister. Later on, Dong Zhuo wanted to increase the influence of the government over the local lords, and so he invited Cai Yong back, threatening if Cai Yong had refused he would have put to death Cai Yong’s whole family. （chatper 4） Cai Yong’s daughter Cai Yan was a well-known poetess. ……
So Wang Yun gave orders to arrest the mourner and bring him in.
Soon he was brought in,
and when they saw him all were startled.
For he was no other than Imperial Historian Cai Yong*.
“His Majesty has recovered and wishes his ministers to meet him in the Palace to consider the question of his abdication in your favor. That is what this summons means.”
“What does Wang Yun think of the scheme？”
“Wang Yun has already begun the construction of the Terrace of Abdication and only awaits my lord’s arrival.”
“Last night I dreamed a dragon coiled round my body,” said Dong Zhuo GREatly pleased, “and now I get this happy tidings！ I must not neglect the opportunity.”
So Dong Zhuo gave instructions to his four trusted generals for the safekeeping of his city. Li Jue, Guo Si, Fan Chou, and Zhang Ji were to guard Meiwo with three thousand troops of the Flying Bear Army. Then Dong Zhuo announced his intention of starting on the morrow.
“When I am Emperor, you shall be Commander of the Capital District,” said he.
“Your minister thanks you,” said Li Su.
Dong Zhuo went to bid farewell to his ninety-year-old mother.
“Whither are you going, my son？” asked she.
“I go to receive the abdication of Han； and soon you will be the Empress.”
“I have been feeling nervous and creepy these few days. It is a bad sign.”
“Anyone about to become the Mother of the State must have premonitions,” said her son.
He left her with these words.
Just before starting, he said to Diao Chan, “When I am Emperor, you shall be Lady of the Palace.”
She bowed low thanking him, but she knew and inwardly rejoiced.
Dong Zhuo went out, mounted his carriage,
and began his journey to Capital Changan with an imposing escort.
Less than ten miles the wheel of his carriage broke.
He left it and mounted a horse.
Another ten miles the horse snorted and neighed,
threw up his head and snapped the reins.
A wave of fierce wrath rolled up in Lu Bu. Banging the table he shouted and roared.
His host ostentatiously tried to calm him, saying, “I forgot myself. I should not have spoken like that. Do not be so angry, I pray！”
“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.
Just introduce a woman, Conspiracies succeed；Of soldiers, or their weapons,
There really is no need. They fought their bloody battles, And doughty deeds were done；But in a garden summer house The victory was won.
the order was given to journey to Meiwo, and the whole body of officers assembled to add luster to the start. Diao Chan, from her carriage, saw Lu Bu among the crowd. She at once dropped her eyes and assumed an appearance of deepest melancholy. After the cavalcade started and when her carriage had almost disappeared in the distance, the disappointed lover reined in his steed on a mount whence he could watch the dust that rose around it. Unutterable sadness filled his heart.
Suddenly a voice said, “Why do you not accompany the Prime Minister, General, instead of standing here and sighing？”
It was Wang Yun.
“I have been confined to the house by illness these few days,” continued he, “so I have not seen you. But I had to struggle out today to see the Prime Minister set off. This meeting is most fortunate. But why were you sighing？”
“Just on account of that daughter of yours,” said Lu Bu.
Feigning GREat astonishment, Wang Yun said, “So long a time and yet not given to you！”
“the old ruffian has fallen in love with her himself.”
“Surely this cannot be true.”
Lu Bu related the whole story while Wang Yun listened, silent, but stamping on the ground as with irritation and perplexity.
After a long time Wang Yun said, “I did not think he was such a beast.”
Taking Lu Bu by the hand, Wang Yun said, “Come to my house, and we will talk it over.”
So they went away together to the house and retired to a secret room. After some refreshments, Lu Bu told the whole story of the episode in Phoenix Pavilion just as it happened.
Wang Yun said, “He seems to have corrupted my little girl and has stolen your wife. He will be an object of shame and ridicule to the whole world. And those who do not laugh at him will laugh at you and me. Alas！ I am old and powerless and can do nothing.
More pitied than blamed！ But you, General,
you are a warrior, the GREatest hero in the world.
Yet you have been put to this shame and exposed to this contempt.”