“I have heard of your mighty exploits,” said Cao Cao. “Will you join my army？”
“That is my strongest desire,” said Xu Chu.
So Xu Chu called up his clan, some hundreds in all, and they formally submitted to Cao Cao. Xu Chu received the rank of general and received ample rewards. The two rebel leaders, He Yi and Huang Shao, were executed. Runan and Yingchuan were now perfectly pacified.
Cao Cao withdrew his army and went back to Juancheng. Xiahou Dun and Cao Ren came out to welcome him, and they told him that spies had reported Yanzhou City to be left defenseless. Lu Bu’s generals, Xue Lan and Li Fang, had given up all its garrison to plundering the surrounding country. They wanted him to go against it without loss of time.
“With our soldiers fresh from victory, the city will fall at a tap of the drum,” said they.
So Cao Cao marched the army straight to the city. An attack was quite unexpected but the two leaders, Xue Lan and Li Fang, hurried out their few soldiers to fight. Xu Chu, the latest recruit, said he wished to capture these two and he would make of them an introductory gift.
the task was given him and he rode forth. Li Fang with his halberd advanced to meet Xu Chu. The combat was brief as Li Fang fell in the second bout. His colleague Xue Lan retired with his troops. But he found the drawbridge had been seized by Li Dian, so that he could not get shelter within the city. Xue Lan led his men toward Juye. But Lu Qian pursued and killed him with an arrow. His soldiers scattered to the four winds. And thus Yanzhou was recaptured.
Next Cheng Yu proposed an expedition to take Puyang. Cao Cao marched his army out in perfect order. the van leaders were Dian Wei and Xu Chu； Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan led the left wing； Li Dian and Yue Jing led the right wing； Yu Jin and Lu Qian guarded the rear. Cao Cao himself commanded the center.
When they approached Puyang,
Lu Bu wished to go out in person and alone to attack,
but his adviser Chen Gong protested, saying,
“General, you should not go out until the arrival of the other officers.”
At once Li Dian dashed forward into the midst of the Yellow Scarves and laid hands on the rebel chief Huang Shao whom he carried off captive. Cao Cao’s troops then set on and scattered the rebels. The spoil of treasure and food was immense.
the other rebel leader, He Yi, fled with a few hundred horsemen toward Kobei Hills. But while on their road thither there suddenly appeared a force led by a certain swashbuckler who shall be nameless for the moment. This bravo was a well-built man, thickset and stout. With a waist ten span in girth. He used a long sword.
He barred the way of retreat. He Yi set his spear and rode toward him. But at the first encounter the bravo caught He Yi under his arm and bore He Yi off a prisoner. All the rebels were terror-stricken, dropped from their horses and allowed themselves to be bound. Then the victor drove them like cattle into an enclosure with high banks.
Presently Dian Wei, still pursuing the rebels, reached Kobei Hills. The swashbuckler went out to meet him.
“Are you also a Yellow Scarves rebel？” said Dian Wei.
“I have some hundreds of them prisoners in an enclosure here.”
“Why not bring them out？” said Dian Wei.
“I will if you win this sword from my hand.”
This annoyed Dian Wei who attacked him. they engaged and the combat lasted for two long hours and then was still undecided. Both rested a while. The swashbuckler was the first to recover and renewed the challenge. They fought till dusk and then, as their horses were quite spent, the combat was once more suspended.
In the meantime some of Dian Wei’s men had run off to tell the story of this wondrous fight to Cao Cao who hastened in amazement, followed by many officers to watch it and see the result.
Next day the unknown warrior rode out again,
and Cao Cao saw him. In Cao Cao’s
heart he rejoiced to see such a doughty
hero and desired to gain his services.
So Cao Cao bade Dian Wei feign defeat.
Kong Rong shouted back, “I am a servant of the GREat Hans, entrusted with the safety of their land. Think you I will feed rebels ？”
Guan Hai whipped his steed, whirled his sword around his head and rode forward. Zong Bao, one of Kong Rong’s generals, set his spear and rode out to give battle, but after a very few bouts Zong Bao was cut down. Soon the soldiers fell into panic and rushed pell-mell into the city for protection. The rebels then laid siege to the city on all sides. Kong Rong was very down-hearted； and Mi Zhu, who now saw no hope for the success of his mission, was grieved beyond words.
the sight from the city wall was exceeding sad, for the rebels were there in enormous numbers. One day standing on the wall, Kong Rong saw afar a man armed with a spear riding hard in among the Yellow Scarves and scattering them before him like chaff before the wind.
Before long the man had reached the foot of the wall and called out, “Open the gate！”
But the defenders would not open to an unknown man, and in the delay a crowd of rebels gathered round the rider along the edge of the moat. Suddenly wheeling about, the warrior dashed in among them and bowled over a dozen at which the others fell back. At this Kong Rong ordered the wardens to open the gates and let the stranger enter. As soon as he was inside, he dismounted, laid aside his spear, ascended the wall, and made humble obeisance to the Governor.
“My name is Taishi Ci, and I am from the county of Laihuang. I only returned home yesterday from the north to see my mother, and then I heard that your city was in danger from a rebel attack. My mother said you had been very kind to her and told me I should try to help. So I set out all alone, and here I am.”
This was cheering. Kong Rong already knew Taishi Ci by reputation as a valiant fighting man, although they two had never met. The son being far away from his home, Kong Rong had taken his mother, who dwelt a few miles from the city, under his especial protection and saw that she did not suffer from want. This had won the old lady’s heart and she had sent her son to show her gratitude.
Kong Rong showed his appreciation
by treating his guest with the GREatest respect,
making him presents of clothing and armor,
saddles and horses.
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）
Remonstrance and appeal being vain, Ma Midi retired. But he said to his colleagues, “Is Wang Yun then careless of the future？ Worthy people are the mainstay of the state； laws are the canons of action. To destroy the mainstay and nullify the laws is to hasten destruction.”
As was just said Wang Yun was obdurate. Cai Yong whose offense was an expression of gratitude was thrown into prison and there strangled. The people of that day wept for Cai Yong, for they refused to see any offense in what he had done, and death was a harsh punishment.
[hip, hip, hip] Dong Zhuo, the dictator, Tyrannized the state, Fell and his sole mourner Shared his direful fate. Zhuge Liang in seclusion Was content to dream, Felt his worth and never Helped a traitor’s scheme. [yip, yip, yip]
Those generals——Li Jue, Guo Si, Fan Chou, and Zhang Ji——whom Dong Zhuo had left to guard Meiwo fled when their master was slain and went into the county of Shanxi in Liangzhou Region. Thence they sent in a memorial entreating amnesty. But Wang Yun would not hear of it.
“Four of them were the chief instruments of Dong Zhuo’s agGREssions. Now though a general amnesty were proclaimed, these men should be excluded from its benefit,” said Wang Yun.
the messenger returned and told the four there was no hope of pardon and they could only flee.
then their adviser, Jia Xu, said, “If we throw away our arms and flee singly, then we shall fall easy victims to any village beadle who may seize us. Rather let us cajole the Shanxi people to throw in their lot with us and make a sudden onslaught on the capital and so avenge Dong Zhuo. If we succeed, we control the court and the empire. There will be enough time to run away if we fail.”
the plan was adopted, and they spread abroad the story that Wang Yun intended to massacre the county.
Having thus thrown the people into a state of terror, they went a step farther and said, “There is no advantage in dying for nothing. Revolt and join us！”
So they cajoled the people into joining them and gathered a host equal to one hundred thousand. This horde was divided into four parts, and they all set out to raid Capital Changan. On the way they fell in with a son-in-law of their late chief,
Imperial Commander Niu Fu,
who marched five thousand troop from Xiliang. Niu Fu
had set out to avenge his father-in-law,
and he became the Van Leader of the horde.
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.”
Gongsun Zan replied, “Formerly you were regarded as loyal and public spirited, and we chose you chief of the confederacy. Now your deeds prove you cruel and base and wolf-hearted in behavior. How can you look the world in the face？”
“Who will capture him？” cried Yuan Shao in a rage.
At once Wen Chou rode out with his spear set. Gongsun Zan rode down the bridge to the enemy’s side, where the two engaged. Ten bouts showed Gongsun Zan the terrible power of Wen Chou, and so he drew off. The enemy came on. Gongsun Zan took refuge within his formation, but Wen Chou cut his way in and rode this way and that, slaying right and left. The four best of Gongsun Zan’s generals offered joint battle, but one fell under the first stroke of the doughty warrior, and the other three fled. Wen Chou followed clearing through to the rear of the army. Gongsun Zan made for the mountains.
Wen Chou forced his horse to its utmost pace, crying hoarsely, “Down！ Dismount and surrender！”
Gongsun Zan fled for life. His bow and quiver dropped from his shoulders, his helmet fell off, and his hair streamed straight behind him as he rode in and out between the sloping hills. Then his steed stumbled and he was thrown, rolling over and over to the foot of the slope.
Wen Chou was now very near and poising his spear for the thrust. Then suddenly came out from the shelter of a grassy mound on the left a general of youthful mien, but sitting his steed bravely and holding a sturdy spear. He rode directly at Wen Chou, and Gongsun Zan crawled up the slope to look on.
the new warrior was of middle height with bushy eyebrows and large eyes, a broad face and a heavy jowl, a youth of commanding presence. The two exchanged some fifty bouts and yet neither had the advantage. Then Gongsun Zan’s rescue force came along, and Wen Chou turned and rode away. The youth did not pursue.
Gongsun Zan hurried down the hill and asked the young fellow who he was.
He bowed low and replied, “My name is Zhao Yun from Changshan. I first served Yuan Shao； but when I saw that he was disloyal to his prince and careless of the welfare of the people, I left him and I was on my way to offer service to you. This meeting in this place is most unexpected.”
Gongsun Zan was very pleased, and the two went together to the camp, where they at once busied themselves with preparations for a new battle.
Next day Gongsun Zan prepared for fight by dividing his army into two wings. He had five thousand cavalry in the center, all mounted on white horses. Gongsun Zan had formerly seen service against the northern frontier tribes, the Qiang Peoples, where he always placed his white horses in the van of his army, and thus he had won the sobriquet of General Who Commands White Horses.
The tribes held him so much in fear that they
always fled as soon as the white horses,
their sacred creatures, appeared.
“What good fortune for the world that this is so！” said Wang Yun.
With this Wang Yun himself poured out a goblet for Cao Cao
who drained it and swore an oath. After this the treasured
sword was brought out and given to Cao Cao who hid it under
his dress. He finished his wine, took leave of the guests, and left the hall. Before long the others dispersed.
the next day Cao Cao, with this short sword girded on, came to the palace of the Prime Minister.
“Where is the Prime Minister？” asked he.
“In the small guest room,” replied the attendants.
So Cao Cao went in and found his host seated on a couch. Lu Bu was at his side.
“Why so late, Cao Cao？” said Dong Zhuo.
“My horse is out of condition and slow,” replied Cao Cao.
Dong Zhuo turned to his henchman Lu Bu.
“Some good horses have come in from the west. You go and pick out a good one as a present for him.”
And Lu Bu left.
“This traitor is doomed！” thought Cao Cao. He ought to have struck then, but Cao Cao knew Dong Zhuo was very powerful, and he was afraid to act. He wanted to make sure of his blow.
Now Dong Zhuo’s corpulence was such that he could not remain long sitting, so he rolled over couch and lay face inwards.
“Now is the time,” thought the assassin, and he gripped the good sword firmly.
But just as Cao Cao was going to strike, Dong Zhuo happened to
look up and in a mirror he saw the reflection of Cao Cao behind him with a sword in the hand.
“What are you doing, Cao Cao？” said Dong Zhuo turning suddenly. And at that moment Lu Bu came along leading a horse.
Cao Cao in a flurry dropped on his knees and said, “I have a precious sword here which I wish to present to Your Benevolence.”
Dong Zhuo took it.
It was a fine blade, over a foot in length,
inlaid with the seven precious signs and very keen——a fine sword in very truth.
Dong Zhuo handed the weapon to Lu Bu while
Cao Cao took off the sheath which he also gave to Lu Bu.
Wu Qiong said, “Yuan Shao is fond of scheming,
but he fails in decision and so is not to be feared. But it would be well to give him rank and thus win popular favor.”
Dong Zhuo followed this advice, and within that day sent a messenger to offer Yuan Shao the governorship of Bohai.
On the first day of the ninth month, the Emperor was invited to proceed to the Hall of Virtue where was a GREat assembly of officials.
there Dong Zhuo, sword in hand, faced the gathering and said, “The Emperor is a weakling unequal to the burden of ruling this land. Now listen ye to the document I have prepared！”
And Li Ru read as follows：
“the dutiful Emperor Ling too soon left his people. The emperor is the cynosure of all the people of this land. Upon the present Emperor Bian, Heaven has conferred but small gifts： In dignity and deportment he is deficient, and in mourning he is remiss. Only the most complete virtue can grace imperial dignity. Empress He has trained him improperly, and the whole state administration has fallen into confusion. Empress Dong died suddenly and no one knew why. The doctrine of the three bonds——Heaven, Earth, and Human——and the continuity of Heaven and Earth interdependence have both been injured.
“But Liu Xian, Prince of Chenliu, is sage and virtuous beside being of handsome exterior. He conforms to all the rules of propriety： His mourning is sincere, and his speech is always correct. Eulogies of him fill the empire. He is well fitted for the GREat duty of consolidating the rule of Han.
“Now therefore the Emperor is deposed and created Prince of Hongnong, and Empress He retires from the administration.
“I pray the Prince of Chenliu to accept the throne in conformity with the decrees of Heaven and Earth, the desires of people, and the fulfillment of the hopes of humankind.”
This having been read, Dong Zhuo bade the officials lead the Emperor down from the throne, remove his seal, and cause him to kneel facing the north, styling himself faithful servant of the Throne and requesting commands. Moreover Dong Zhuo bade Empress He strip
off her royal dress of ceremony and await the imperial
command. Both victims of this oppression wept bitterly,
and every minister present was deeply affected.