Tao Qian Thrice Offers Xuzhou To Liu Bei;
Cao Cao Retakes Yanzhou From Lu Bu.

the last chapter closed with Cao Cao in GREat danger. However, help came. Xiahou Dun with a body of soldiers found his chief, checked the pursuit, and fought with Lu Bu till dusk. Rain fell in torrents swamping everything; and as the daylight waned, they drew off and Cao Cao reached camp. He rewarded Dian Wei generously and advanced him in rank.

  When Lu Bu reached his camp, he called in his adviser Chen Gong. then Chen Gong proposed a new stratagem.

  He said, “In Puyang there is a rich, leading family, Tian by name, who number thousands, enough to populate a whole county in themselves. Make one of these people go to Cao Cao’s camp with a pretended secret letter about Lu Bu’s ferocity, and the hatred of the people, and their desire to be rid of him. And by saying that only Gao Shun is left to guard the city, and they would help anyone who would come to save them. Thus our enemy Cao Cao will be inveigled into the city, and we will destroy him either by fire or ambush. His skill may be equal to encompassing the universe, but he will not escape.”

  Lu Bu thought this trick might be tried, and they arranged for the Tian family letter to be sent.

  Coming soon after the defeat, when Cao Cao felt uncertain what step to take next, the secret letter was read with joy. It promised interior help and said the sign should be a white flag with the word Rectitude written thereon.

  “Heaven is going to give me Puyang!” said Cao Cao joyfully.

So he rewarded the messenger very liberally and began to prepare for the expedition.

then came Liu Ye, saying, “Lu Bu is no strategist, but Chen Gong is full of guile. I fear treachery in this letter, and you must be careful. If you will go, then enter with only one third your army, leaving the others outside the city as a reserve.”

Cao Cao aGREed to take this precaution. He went to Puyang,

which he found gay with fluttering flags.

Looking carefully he saw among them, at the west gate,

the white flag with the looked-for inscription.

His heart rejoiced.

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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.

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About this time Pang Shu, who had been hiding and protecting Lu Bu’s

family in Changan since his disappearance, restored them to him. This deed angered Li Jue and Guo Si so that they put Pang Shu to death and wrote to Lu Bu’s protector to serve him the same. To escape this Lu Bu once again had to flee and this time joined himself to Zhang Miao, the Governor of Chenliu.

Lu Bu arrived just as Zhang Miao’s brother, Zhang Chao, was introducing Chen Gong.

Chen Gong said to Zhang Miao, “the rupture of the empire has begun, and warriors are seizing what they can. It is strange that you, with all the advantages of population and provisions you enjoy, do not strike for independence. Cao Cao has gone on an expedition against the east, leaving his own territory defenseless. Lu Bu is one of the fighting people of the day. If you and he together attacked and got Yanzhou, you could then proceed to the dominion.”

Zhang Miao was pleased and resolved to try. He ordered an attack, and soon Lu Bu was in possession of Yanzhou and its neighborhood, all but three small counties of Juancheng, Fanxia, and Dongjun, which were vigorously and desperately defended by Xun Yu and Cheng Yu in concert. Cao Cao’s cousin, Cao Ren, had fought many battles but was repeatedly defeated, and the messenger with the evil tidings had come from him asking prompt help.

Cao Cao was GREatly disturbed by this and said, “If my own region be lost, I have no home to return to. I must do something at once.”

“the best thing would be to become friends with Liu Bei at any cost and return to Yanzhou,” said Guo Jia.

then Cao Cao wrote to Liu Bei,

gave the letter to the waiting messenger and broke camp.

The news that the enemy had left was very gratifying to Tao Qian,

who then invited his various defenders into Xuzhou

City and prepared banquets and feasts in token of his gratitude.

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Presently Liu Bei came up and went to see Kong Rong, who said, “the enemy is very powerful, and Cao Cao handles his army skillfully. We must be cautious. Let us make most careful observations before we strike a blow.”

“What I fear is famine in the city,” said Liu Bei. “They cannot hold out very long. I will put my troops with yours under your command, while I with Zhang Fei make a dash through to see Tao Qian and consult with him.”

  Kong Rong approved of this, so he and Tien Kai took up positions on the ox-horn formation, with Guan Yu and Zhao Yun on either side to support them.

  When Liu Bei and Zhang Fei leading one thousand troops made their dash to get through Cao Cao’s army, they got as far as the flank of his camp when there arose a GREat beating of drums, and horse and foot rolled out like billows on the ocean. The leader was Yu Jin.

  Yu Jin checked his steed and called out, “You mad men from somewhere, where are you going?”

  Zhang Fei heard Yu Jin but deigned no reply. He only rode straight to attack the speaker. After they had fought a few bouts, Liu Bei waved his double swords as signal for his troops to come on, and they drove Yu Jin before them. Zhang Fei led the pursuit and in this way they reached the city wall.

  From the city wall, the besieged saw a huge banner embroidered in white Liu Bei of Pingyuan, and the Imperial Protector bade them open the gate for the rescuers to enter. Liu Bei was made very welcome, conducted to the residency, and a banquet prepared in his honor. The soldiers also were feasted.

Tao Qian was delighted with Liu Bei,

admiring his high-spirited appearance and clear speech.

Tao Qian bade Mi Zhu offer Liu Bei

the seal and insignia of the protectorship office.

But Liu Bei shrank back startled.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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In the last chapter the two arch rebels,

Li Jue and Guo Si, proposed to murder Emperor Xian,

but their followers Zhang Ji and Fan Chou opposed this.

“No. the people will not approve of his death now. Restore him to power, and get the leaguers inside Changan’s control. Remove his supporters, and then we can compass his death. And the empire shall be in our hands.”

So they ceased the attack. The Emperor again spoke from the tower, saying, “Why do you still remain? You have slain Wang Yun: Now withdraw these soldiers.”

then Li Jue and Guo Si replied, “Your servants desire rank rewards for their good service to your dynasty.”

  “And what ranks, Sirs?”

  All four wrote their wishes and handed them up to the Emperor who had no choice but to accede to the request, and they were created:

  Li Jue was appointed General of the Flying Cavalry, Lord of Chiyang, Commander of Capital District, Court Administrator, and granted Military Insignia.

  Guo Si was appointed General of the Rear Army, Lord of Meiyang, Court Administrator, and granted Military Insignia.

  Fan Chou was appointed General of the Right Army and Lord of Wanian.

  Zhang Ji was appointed General of the Flying Cavalry and Lord of Pingyan.

  Li Meng and Wang Fang, for opening the city gates, were appointed Imperial Commanders.

  After receiving ranks of nobility, Li Jue and Guo Si thanked the Emperor, and went away to camp at Xunung, the suburb of Changan. The inferior rebel leaders also were gratified with ranks. And once more the capital was free of troops.

Dong Zhuo’s followers, having so far succeeded, did not forget their late leader. They sought his corpse for burial, but only a few fragments were discoverable. Then they had sculptors engrave a statue of fragrant wood in his likeness, laid that out in proper form, and instituted a noble’s sacrifices and prayers.

The remains were dressed in the robes of a prince,

laid in a princely coffin for burial.

They selected Meiwo for his tomb and having

found an auspicious day conveyed the coffin thither.

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Shisun Rui said, “the moment is favorable. The Emperor has just recovered from his illness, and we can dispatch an able talker to Meiwo to persuade Dong Zhuo to come here to discuss affairs. Meanwhile we will obtain a secret decree as authority for Lu Bu to lay an ambush just inside the Palace gates to kill Dong Zhuo as he enters. This is the best plan to adopt.”

“But who would dare to go?” said Huang Wan.

“Li Su, General of the Imperial Tiger Army, would go. He belongs to the same region as Lu Bu and is very angry with the Prime Minister for not advancing him. His going would assure us the plan would be completed.”

  “Good,” said Wang Yun. “Let us see what Lu Bu thinks of it.”

  When Lu Bu was consulted, he told them that this Li Su’s persuasion had led him to kill Ding Yuan, his former benefactor.

  “If Li Su refuses this mission, I will kill him,” said Lu Bu.

  So they sent for Li Su.

  When Li Su arrived, Lu Bu said, “Formerly you talked me into killing Ding Yuan and going over to Dong Zhuo. Now we find Dong Zhuo means evil for the Emperor and is an oppressor of the people. His iniquities are many, and he is hated by gods and humans. You go to Meiwo, say you have a command from the Emperor to summon the Prime Minister to the Palace. He will come, and he will be put to death. You will have the credit of being loyal and restoring the Hans. Will you undertake this?”

“I also wish to slay him,” was the reply. “But I could not find anyone to assist me. How can I hesitate? Your intervention is directly from Heaven.”

And Li Su snapped an arrow in twain as register of his oath.

“If this succeeds, what glorious rank will be yours!” said Wang Yun.

Next day Li Su, with a small escort,

set out for Meiwo and announced himself as bearer of a decree.

He was conducted into Dong Zhuo’s presence.

After he had made his obeisance,

Dong Zhuo asked what the decree was.

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