“What does this mean?” said Liu Bei.Tao Qian said, “there is

“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Tao Qian said, “there is trouble on every side, and the kingly rule is no longer maintained.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:

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