But when Dian Wei reached the drawbridge

But when Dian Wei reached the drawbridge, he glanced behind him and missed his master. Immediately Dian Wei turned back and cut an alley inside. Just within he met Li Dian.

“Where is our lord?” cried Dian Wei.

“I am looking for him,” said Li Dian.

“Quick! Get help from outside,” shouted Dian Wei. “I will seek him.”

  So Li Dian hastened for aid, and Dian Wei slashed his way in, looking on every side for Cao Cao. He was not to be found. Dashing out of the city, Dian Wei ran up against Yue Jing, who asked where their lord was.

  “I have entered the city twice in search of him, but cannot find him,” said Dian Wei.

  “Let us go in together,” said Yue Jing.

  they rode up to the gate. But the noise of bombs from the gate tower frightened Yue Jing’s horse so that it refused to pass. Wherefore Dian Wei alone went in, butting through the smoke and dashing through the flames. But he got in and searched on every side.

  When Cao Cao saw his sturdy protector Dian Wei cut his way out and disappear leaving him surrounded, he again made an attempt to reach the north gate. On the way, sharply outlined against the glow, he saw the figure of Lu Bu coming toward him with his trident halberd ready to kill. Cao Cao covered his face with his hand, whipped up his steed and galloped past.

But Lu Bu came galloping up behind him and tapping him on the helmet with the halberd cried, “Where is Cao Cao?”

Cao Cao turned and,

pointing to a dun horse well ahead, cried,

“there; on that dun! That’s he.”

Hearing this Lu Bu left pursuing

Cao Cao to gallop after the rider of the dun.

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That day, just about noon, the city gates opened

That day, just about noon, the city gates opened, and two bodies of soldiers appeared as if to fight. Gao Shun was the front commander, and Hou Cheng the rear commander. Cao Cao told off his general, Dian Wei, to oppose them. Neither body, however, came on to full engagement but fell back into the city. By this move Dian Wei and his troops had been drawn close up to the drawbridge. From within the city several soldiers were seen taking any chance of confusion to escape and come outside.

To Cao Cao they said, “We are clients of the Tian family,” and they gave him secret letters stating:

“the signal will be given about the first watch setting by beating a gong. That will be the time to attack. The gates will be opened.”

  So Cao Cao ordered Xiahou Dun to march to the left and Cao Hong to the right. Cao Cao led the main army——together with Xiahou Yuan, Li Dian, and Yue Jing——into the city.

  Li Dian pressed upon his master the precaution, saying, “My lord should stay outside the city. Let us go in first.”

  But Cao Cao bade him be silent, saying, “If I do not go, who will advance?”

  And so at the first watch Cao Cao led the way. The moon had not yet arisen. As he drew near the west gate, they heard a crackling sound, then a loud shouting, and then torches moved hither and thither. Next the gates were thrown wide open, and Cao Cao, whipping up his steed, galloped in.

  But when he reached the state residence, he noticed the streets were quite deserted, and then he knew he had been tricked. Wheeling round his horse, he shouted to his followers to retire. This was the signal for another move. An explosion of a signal bomb was heard close at hand, and it was echoed from every side in a deafening roar. Gongs and drums beat all around with a roar like rivers rushing backward to their source, and the ocean boiling up from its depths. From two sides east and west came bodies of soldiers eager to attack, led by Lu Bu’s generals Zhang Liao and Zang Ba.

Cao Cao dashed off toward the north only to find his way barred by Hao Meng and Cao Xing. Cao Cao tried for the south gate,

but met enemies led by Gao Shun and Hou Cheng.

Cao Cao’s trusty commander Dian Wei,

with fierce eyes and gritting teeth,

at last burst through and got out,

with the enemy close after him.

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Tao Qian Thrice Offers Xuzhou To Liu Bei;Cao Cao

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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the drums began their thunderous roll, and Cao Cao,

the drums began their thunderous roll, and Cao Cao,

pointing to his opponent, said, “You and I had no quarrel, why then did you invade my land?”

“the empire of Han is the possession of all. What is your special claim?” said Lu Bu.

So saying, Lu Bu ordered Zang Ba to ride forth and challenge. From Cao Cao’s side the challenge was accepted by Yue Jing. The two steeds approached each other; two spears were lifted both together, and they exchanged near thirty blows with no advantage to either. Then Xiahou Dun rode out to help his colleague and, in reply, out went Zhang Liao from Lu Bu’s side. And they four fought.

  then fierce anger seized upon Lu Bu. Setting his trident halberd, he urged his Red Hare forward to where the fight was waging. Seeing him approach, Xiahou Dun and Yue Jing both fled, but Lu Bu pressed on after them, and Cao Cao’s army lost the day. Retiring ten miles, they made a new camp. Lu Bu called in and mustered his troops.

  the day having gone against him, Cao Cao called a council, and Yu Jin said, “From the hill tops today I saw a camp of our enemies on the west of Puyang. They were but few men therein, and tonight after today’s victory, it will not be defended. Let us attack; and if we can take the camp, we shall strike fear into the heart of Lu Bu. This is our best plan.”

  Cao Cao thought so too. He and six of his generals——Cao Hong, Li Dian, Mao Jie, Lu Qian, Yu Jin, and Dian Wei——and twenty thousand horse and foot left that night by a secret road for the camp.

In his camp Lu Bu was rejoicing for that day’s victory, when Chen Gong reminded him, saying, “the western camp is importance point, and it might be attacked.”

But Lu Bu replied, “the enemy will not dare approach after today’s defeat.”

“Cao Cao is a very able commander,” replied Chen Gong. “You must keep a good lookout for him lest he attack our weak spot.”

So arrangements were made for defense. Generals Gao Shun, Wei Xu, and Hou Cheng were ordered to march there.

At dusk Cao Cao reached the camp and began an immediate attack on all four sides. The defenders could not hold him off. They ran in all directions, and the camp was captured. Near the fourth watch, when the defending party came, Cao Cao sallied forth to meet them and met Gao Shun.

Another battle then began and waged till dawn.

About that time a rolling of drums was heard in the west,

and they told Cao Cao that Lu Bu himself was at hand.

Thereupon Cao Cao abandoned the attack and fled.

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But Chen Gong, the strategist, came in hastily, saying, “General,

they accepted.

  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.”

“You are making a mistake,” said Chen Gong. “the two you have chosen to defend this city are unequal to the task. For this expedition remember that about sixty miles due south, on the treacherous road to the Taishan Mountains, is a very advantageous position where you should place your best men in ambush. Cao Cao will hasten homeward by double marches when he hears what has happened. If you strike when half his troops have gone past this point, you may seize him.”

  Said Lu Bu, “I am going to occupy Puyang and see what develops. How can you guess my big plan?”

  So Lu Bu left Xue Lan in command at Yanzhou and went away.

  Now when Cao Cao approached the dangerous part of the road near the Taishan Mountains, Guo Jia warned him to take care as there was doubtless an ambush.

  But Cao Cao laughed, saying, “We know all Lu Bu’s dispositions. Xue Lan is keeping the city. Do you think Lu Bu has laid an ambush? I shall tell Cao Ren to besiege Yanzhou, and I shall go to Puyang.”

  In Puyang, when Chen Gong heard of the enemy’s approach, he spoke, saying, “The enemy will be fatigued with long marches, so attack quickly before they have time to recover.”

  Lu Bu replied, “I, a single horseman, am afraid of none. I come and go as I will. Think you I fear this Cao Cao? Let him settle his camp; I will take him after that.”

  Now Cao Cao neared Puyang, and he made a camp. the next day he led out his commanders, and they arrayed their armies in open country. Cao Cao took up his station on horseback between the two standards, watching while his opponents arrived and formed up in a circular area.

Lu Bu was in front, followed by eight of his generals, all strong men:

Zhang Liao of Mayi, backed by Hao Meng,

Cao Xing, and Cheng Lian; Zang Ba of Huaying,

backed by Wei Xu, Song Xian, and Hou Cheng.

they led an army of fifty thousand in total.

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At one of these, when the feasting was over, he proceeded

At one of these, when the feasting was over, he proceeded with his wish of retirement in favor of Liu Bei.

Placing Liu Bei in the seat of highest honor, Tao Qian bowed before him and then addressed the assembly, “I am old and feeble, and my two sons lack the ability to hold so important an office as this. The noble Liu Bei is a descendant of the imperial house. He is of lofty virtue and GREat talent. Let him then take over the rule of this region, and only too willingly I shall retire to have leisure to nurse my health.”

  Liu Bei replied, “I came at the request of Governor Kong Rong, because it was the right thing to do. Xuzhou is saved; but if I take it, surely the world will say I am a wicked man.”

  Mi Zhu said, “You may not refuse. the House of Han is falling, their realm is crumbling, and now is the time for doughty deeds and signal services. This is a fertile region, well populated and rich, and you are the man to rule over it.”

  “But I cannot accept,” said Liu Bei.

  “Imperial Protector Tao Qian is a GREat sufferer,” said Chen Deng, “and cannot see to matters. You may not decline, Sir.”

  Said Liu Bei, “Yuan Shu belongs to a family of rulers, who have held the highest offices of state four times in three generations. The multitude people respects him. Why not invite him to this task?”

  “Because Yuan Shu is a drying skeleton in a dark tomb: Not worth talking about. This opportunity is a gift from Heaven, and you will never cease to reGREt its loss,” said Kong Rong.

  So spoke Kong Rong, but still Liu Bei obstinately refused.

Tao Qian besought him with tears, saying, “I shall die if you leave me, and there will be none to close my eyes.”

“Brother, you should accept the offer thus made,” said Guan Yu.

“Why so much fuss?” said Zhang Fei.

“We have not taken the place. It is he who wishes to give it you.”

“You all persuade me to do what is wrong,” said Liu Bei.

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the victors were welcomed into the city and as soon

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.”

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Thus he got clear away and rode in hot haste to Liu Bei

Thus he got clear away and rode in hot haste to Liu Bei. Taishi Ci reached Pingyuan, and after GREeting his host in proper form he told how Kong Rong was surrounded and had sent him for help. then he presented the letter which Liu Bei read.

“And who are you?” asked Liu Bei.

  “I am Taishi Ci, a fellow from Laihuang. I am not related by ties of kin to Kong Rong, nor even by ties of neighborhood, but I am by the bonds of sentiment and I share his sorrows and misfortunes. The Yellow Scarves have invested his city, and he is distressed with none to turn to, and destruction is very near. You are known as humane, righteous, and eager to help the distressed. Therefore at his command I have braved all dangers and fought my way through his enemies to pray you save him.”

  Liu Bei smiled, saying, “And does he know there is a Liu Bei in this world?”

  So Liu Bei, together with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, told off three thousand troops and set out to help raise the siege. When the rebel leader Guan Hai saw these new forces arriving, he led out his army to fight them, thinking he could easily dispose of so small a force.

  the brothers and Taishi Ci with them sat on their horses in the forefront of their array. Guan Hai hastened forward. Taishi Ci was ready to fight, but Guan Yu had opened the combat. He rode forth and the two steeds met. The soldiers set up a GREat noise. After a few bouts Guan Yu’s green-dragon saber rose and fell, and with the stroke fell the rebel leader.

This was the signal for Zhang Fei and Taishi Ci to take a share, and they advanced side by side. With their spears ready they dashed in, and Liu Bei urged forward his force. The besieged Governor saw his doughty rescuers laying low the rebels as tigers among a flock of sheep. None could withstand them,

and he then sent out his own troops to

join in the battle so that the rebels were between two armies.

The rebels’ force was completely broken and many troops surrendered,

while the remainder scattered in all directions.

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Presently said Taishi Ci, “Give me a thousand soldiers

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.

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Kong Rong shouted back, “I am a servant of the GREat Hans

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.

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