“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
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.”
Presently said Taishi Ci, “Give me a thousand soldiers, and I will go out and drive off these fellows.”
“You are a bold warrior, but they are very numerous. It is a serious matter to go out among them,” said Kong Rong.
“My mother sent me because of your goodness to her. How shall I be able to look her in the face if I do not raise the siege？ I would prefer to conquer or perish.”
“I have heard Liu Bei is one of the heroes in the world. If we could get his help, there would be no doubt of the result. But there is no one to send.”
“I will go as soon as I have received your letter.”
So Kong Rong wrote letters and gave them to his helper.
Taishi Ci put on his armor, mounted his steed, attached his bow and quiver to his girdle, took his spear in his hand, tied his packed haversack firmly to his saddle bow, and rode out at the city gate. He went quite alone.
Along the moat a large party of the besiegers were gathered, and they came to intercept the solitary rider. But Taishi Ci dashed in among them and cut down several and so finally fought his way through.
Guan Hai, hearing that a rider had left the city, guessed what his errand would be and followed Taishi Ci with a party of horsemen. Guan Hai spread them out so that the messenger rider was entirely surrounded. Then Taishi Ci laid aside his spear, took his bow,
adjusted his arrows one by one and
shot all round him. And as a rider fell
from his steed with every twang of Taishi Ci’s bowstring,
the pursuers dared not close in.
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.”
He called together his officials to consult.
One of them, Cao Bao, said, “Now the enemy is upon us： We cannot sit and await death with folded hands. I for one will help you to make a fight.”
Tao Qian reluctantly sent the army out. From a distance he saw Cao Cao’s army spread abroad like frost and rushed far and wide like snow. In their midst was a large white flag and on both sides was written Vengeance.
When he had ranged his troops, Cao Cao rode out dressed in mourning white and abused Tao Qian.
But Tao Qian advanced, and from beneath his ensign he bowed low and said, “I wished to make friends with you, Illustrious Sir, and so I sent Zhang Kai to escort your family. I knew not that his rebel heart was still unchanged. the fault does not lie at my door as you must see.”
“You old wretch！ You killed my father, and now you dare mumble this nonsense,” said Cao Cao.
And he asked who would go out and seize Tao Qian.
Xiahou Dun undertook this service and rode out. Tao Qian fled to the inner portion of his array； and as Xiahou Dun came on, Cao Bao went to meet him. But just as the two horses met, a hurricane burst over the spot, and the flying dust and pebbles threw both sides into the utmost confusion. Both drew off.
Tao Qian retired into the city and called his officers to council.
“the force against us is too strong,” said he. “I will give myself up as a prisoner and let him wreak his vengeance on me. I may save the people.”
But a voice was heard saying, “You have long ruled here, and the people love you. Strong as the enemy are, they are not necessarily able to break down our walls, especially when defended by you and your people. I have a scheme to suggest that I think will make Cao Cao die in a place where he will not find burial.”
these bold words startled the assembly, and they eagerly asked what the scheme was.
[hip, hip, hip] Making overtures for friendship,
Tao Qian encountered deadly hate. But,
where danger seemed most threatening,
he discovered safety’s gate. [yip, yip, yip]
the next chapter will disclose who the speaker was
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）
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.”
“I shall prove unworthy of your recommendation,” said Cheng Yu to his friend Xun Yu, “for I am rough and ignorant. But have you forgotten a fellow villager of yours, Guo Jia？ He is really able. Why not spread the net to catch him？”
“I had nearly forgotten,” said Xun Yu suddenly.
So he told Cao Cao of this man, who was at once invited.
Guo Jia, discussing the world at large with Cao Cao, recommended Liu Ye from Henan, who was a descendant of Liu Xiu the Founder of Latter Han. When Liu Ye had arrived, he was the means of inviting two more： Man Chong from Shanyang, and Lu Qian from Wucheng, who were already known to Cao Cao by reputation. These two brought to their new master’s notice the name of Mao Jie from Chenliu, who also came and was given office. Then a famous leader, with his troop of some hundreds, arrived to offer service. This was Yu Jin of Taishan, an expert horseman and archer, and skilled beyond his fellows in every form of military exercise. He was made an army inspector.
then another day Xiahou Dun brought a fellow to present to Cao Cao.
“Who is he？” asked Cao Cao.
“He is from Chenliu and is named Dian Wei. He is the boldest of the bold, the strongest of the strong. He was one of Zhang Miao’s people, but quarreled with his tent companions and killed some dozens of them with his fists. Then he fled to the mountains where I found him. I was out shooting and saw him follow a tiger across a stream. I persuaded him to join my troop, and I recommend him.”
“I see he is no ordinary man,” said Cao Cao. “He is fine and straight and looks very powerful and bold.”
“He is. He killed a man once to avenge a friend and carried his head through the whole market place. Hundreds saw him, but dared not come near. The weapon he uses now is a couple of spears, each weighs a hundred and twenty pounds, and he vaults into the saddle with these under his arm.”
Cao Cao bade the man give proof of his skill. So Dian Wei galloped to and fro carrying the spears. Then he saw away among the tents a huge banner swaying dangerously with the force of the wind and on the point of falling. A crowd of soldiers were vainly struggling to keep it steady.
Down he leaped,
shouted to the men to clear out and held the staff quite steady
with one hand, keeping it perfectly
upright in spite of the strong wind.
When Li Jue and Guo Si heard that both the boastful generals had fallen under the hand of one young man, they knew that Jia Xu had given good advice and was gifted with clear prescience. So they valued his plans the more highly and decided to act on the defensive. They refused all challenges to combat.
Surely enough after a couple of months the supplies of the Xiliang force were all exhausted and the leaders began to consider retreat.
Just at this juncture a household servant of Ma Yu’s family betrayed his master and told of the conspiracy of the three court officials to assist the attackers. The two chiefs Li Jue and Guo Si in revenge seized the three conspirators——Ma Yu, Chong Shao, and Liu Fan——, with every member of their households, and beheaded them in the market place. The heads of the three were exposed at the front gate of the capital.
Being short of food and hearing of the destruction of their three adherents in the city, the only course for Ma Teng and Han Sui was to retreat. At once Zhang Ji went in pursuit of Ma Teng, and Fan Chou followed Han Sui. The retreating army under Ma Teng was beaten, and only by Ma Chao’s desperate efforts were the pursuers driven off.
Fan Chou pursued the other army. When he had come close, Han Sui rode boldly up and addressed him, saying, “You and I, Sir, are fellow villagers. Why then behave so unfriendly？”
Fan Chou replied, “I must obey the commands of my chief.”
“I am here for the service of the state. Why do you press me so hard？” said Han Sui.
At this Fan Chou turned his horse, called in his troops, and left Han Sui in peace. Unwittingly a nephew of Li Jue had been a witness of this scene； and when he saw the enemy allowed to go free, he returned and told his uncle. Angry that his enemy had escaped, Li Jue would have sent an army to wreak vengeance on his general.
But his adviser Jia Xu again came in, saying,
“the people are yet unsettled,
it was dangerous to provoke another war. Instead,
invite Fan Chou to a banquet and,
while the feast was in proGREss,
executing him for dereliction of duty.”
Jia Xu then suggested to Li Jue and Guo Si,
saying, “Seventy miles west of the capital stand the Zhouzhi Hills. The passes are narrow and difficult. Send Generals Zhang Ji and Fan Chou to occupy this point of vantage and fortify themselves so that they may support Li Meng and Wang Fang.”
Li Jue and Guo Si accepted this advice. they told off fifteen thousand horse and foot, and Li Meng and Wang Fang left in high spirit. They made a camp ninety miles from Changan.
the force from the west arrived. Ma Teng and Han Sui led out their troops to the attack. They found their opponents Li Meng and Wang Fang in battle array.
Ma Teng and Han Sui rode to the front side by side. Pointing to the rebel leaders, the commanders abused them, crying, “Those are traitors！ Who will capture them？”
Hardly were the words spoken when there came out a youth general with a clear, white complexion as jade, eyes like shooting stars, lithe of body and strong of limb. He was armed with a long spear and bestrode an excellent steed. This young leader was Ma Chao, son of Ma Teng, then seventeen years of age.
Though young he was a supreme valiance. Wang Fang, despising him on account of his youth, galloped forth to fight him. Before they had exchanged many passes Wang Fang was disabled and fell to a thrust of the young Ma Chao’s spear. The victor turned to retire into the formation, but Li Meng rode after Ma Chao to avenge his fallen colleague.
Ma Chao did not see Li Meng, but his father called out “You are followed！”
Hardly had Ma Teng spoken when he saw that the pursuer was a prisoner seated on his son’s steed. Now Ma Chao had known he was followed, but pretended not to see, waiting till his enemy should have come close and lifted his spear to strike. Then Ma Chao suddenly wheeled about. The spear thrust met only empty air； and as the horses passed, Ma Chao’s powerful arm shot out and pulled Li Meng from the saddle. Thus Li Meng and Wang Fang’s soldiers were left leaderless and fled in all directions.
The army of Ma Teng and Han Sui dashed in pursuit,
and a complete victory was scored.
They pressed into one of the passes and made a camp.
Then they decapitated Li Meng and exposed his head.