Li Jue sent one of his officers, General Wang Chan of the Tiger Army, to arrest Huangfu Li； but Wang Chan had a sense of right and esteemed Huangfu Li as an honorable man. Instead of carrying out the orders, Wang Chan returned to say Huangfu Li could not be found.
Jia Xu tried to work on the feelings of the barbarian tribes. He said to them, “The Son of Heaven knows you are loyal to him and have bravely fought and suffered. He has issued a secret command for you to go home, and then he will reward you.”
the tribesmen had a grievance against Li Jue for not paying them, so they listened readily to the insidious persuasions of Jia Xu and deserted.
then Jia Xu advised the Emperor, “Li Jue is covetous in nature. He is deserted and enfeebled. A high office should be granted to him to lead him astray.”
So the Emperor officially appointed Li Jue Regent Marshal. This delighted him GREatly, and he ascribed his promotion to the potency of his wise witches’ prayers and incantations. He rewarded those people most liberally.
But his army was forgotten. Wherefore his commander, Yang Feng, was angry.
Yang Feng said to General Song Guo, “We have taken all the risks and exposed ourselves to stones and arrows in his service, yet instead of giving us any reward he ascribes all the credit to those witches of his.”
“Let us put him out of the way and rescue the Emperor,” said Song Guo.
“You explode a bomb within as signal, and I will attack from outside.”
So the two aGREed to act together that very night in the second watch. But they had been overheard, and the eavesdropper told Li Jue. Song Guo was seized and put to death. That night Yang Feng waited outside for the signal and while waiting, out came Li Jue himself. Then a melee began, which lasted till the fourth watch. But Yang Feng got away and fled to Xian.
But from this time Li Jue’s army began to fall away, and he felt more than ever the losses caused by Guo Si’s frequent attacks. Then came news that Zhang Ji, at the head of a large army, was coming down from Shanxi to make peace between the two factions.
Zhang Ji vowed he would attack the one who was recalcitrant.
Li Jue tried to gain favor by hastening to send to
tell Zhang Ji he was ready to make peace.
So did Guo Si.
then a nephew of Li Jue, Li Xian, suddenly surrounded the Palace,
put the Emperor and Empress in two carriages,
and assigned Jia Xu and Zuo Ling to carry them off. The Palace attendants were made to follow on foot.
As they went out of the rear gate, they met Guo Si’s army who began to shoot at the cavalcade with arrows.
They killed many attendants before Li Jue’s army came up and forced them to retire.
the carriages were got out of the Palace and eventually reached Li Jue’s camp, while Guo Si’s soldiers plundered the Palace and carried off all the women left there to their camp. Then the Palace was set on fire.
As soon as Guo Si heard of the whereabouts of the Emperor, he came over to attack the camp of Li Jue. The Emperor between these two opposing factions was GREatly alarmed. Indeed：
[hip, hip, hip] Slowly the Hans had declined but renewed their vigor with Liu Xiu, Twelve were the rulers before him, followed him also twelve others. Foolish were two of the latest, dangers surrounded the altars,
These were degenerate days, with authority given to eunuchs. Then did He Jin the simple, the inept, who commanded the army, Warriors call to the capital, wishing to drive out the vermin；Though they drove out the leopards,
tigers and wolves quickly entered. All kinds of evil were wrought by a low class creature from Xizhou. Wang Yun, honest of heart, beguiled this wretch with a woman, Much desired of his henchman, thus sowing seeds of dissension.
Strife resulted, and peace no longer dwelt in the empire. No one suspected that Li Jue and Guo Si would continue the evil, Much to the sorrow of the Middle Kingdom；
yet they stove for a trifle. Famine stalked in the Palace, grief for the clashing of weapons；Why did the warriors strive？ Why was the land thus partitioned？
they had turned aside from the way appointed of Heaven. Kings must ponder these things；
heavy the burden lies on them, Chiefest in all the realm theirs is no common appointment,
Should the King falter or fail, calamities fall on the multitude people,
The empire is drenched with their blood, grisly ruin surrounds them. Steeped in sorrow and sad, read you the ancient records；Long is the tale of years；
the tale of sorrow is longer.
Wherefore one who would rule,
chiefly must exercise forethought.
This and a keen-edged blade,
these must suffice to maintain one.
Liu Bei bade Guan Yu check him. Next day Lu Bu came to take leave of his host.
“You, O Lord, kindly received me, but I fear your brothers and I cannot aGREe. So I will seek some other asylum.”
“General, if you go, the blame is mine. My rude brother has offended and must eventually apologize. In the meantime what think you of a temporary sojourn at the town where I was encamped for some time, Xiaopei？ The place is small and mean, but it is near, and I will see to it that you are supplied with all you need.”
Lu Bu thanked him and accepted this offer. He led his troops there and took up residence. After he had gone, Liu Bei buried his annoyance, and Zhang Fei did not again refer to the matter.
That Cao Cao had subdued the east of the Huashang Mountains has been stated before. He memorialized the Throne and was rewarded with the title of General Who Exhibits Firm Virtue and Lord of Feiting. At this time the rebellious Li Jue was commanding the court, and he had made himself Regent Marshal, and his colleague Guo Si styled himself Grand Commander. Their conduct was abominable but no one dared to criticize them.
Imperial Guardian Yang Biao and Minister Zhu Jun privately talked with Emperor Xian and said, “Cao Cao has two hundred thousand troops and many capable advisers and leaders. It would be well for the empire if he would lend his support to the imperial family and help to rid the government of this evil party.”
His Majesty wept, “I am weary of the insults and contempt of these wretches and should be very glad to have them removed.”
“I have thought of a plan to estrange Li Jue and Guo Si and so make them destroy each other. Then Cao Cao could come and cleanse the court,” said Yang Biao.
“How will you manage it？” asked the Emperor.
“Guo Si’s wife, Lady Qiong, is very jealous, and we can take advantage of her weakness to bring about a quarrel.”
So Yang Biao received instruction to act, with a secret edict to support him. Yang Biao’s wife, Lady Kai, made an excuse to visit Lady Qiong at her palace and, in the course of conversation, said “There is talk of secret liaison between the General, your husband, and the wife of Minister Li Jue. It is a GREat secret, but if Minister Li Jue knew it, he might try to harm your husband. I think you ought to have very little to do with that family.”
Lady Qiong was surprised but said, “I have wondered why he has been sleeping away from home lately, but I did not think there was anything shameful connected with it. I should never have known if you had not spoken. I must put a stop to it.”
By and by, when Lady Kai took her leave,
Lady Qiong thanked her warmly for the information she had given.
Some days passed, and Guo Si was going over to
the dwelling of Li Jue to a dinner.
Said Lu Bu, “After Wang Yun and I plotted to slay Dong Zhuo and my misfortune in the Li Jue and Guo Si’s sedition, I drifted about from one place to another, and none of the nobles east of the Huashang Mountains seemed willing to receive me. When Cao Cao with wicked ambition invaded this region and you, Sir, came to its rescue, I aided you by attacking Yanzhou and thus diverting a portion of his force. I did not think then that I should be the victim of a vile plot and lose my leaders and my soldiers. But now if you will, I offer myself to you that we may together accomplish GREat designs.”
Liu Bei replied, “When the late Tao Qian died, there was no one to administer Xuzhou, and so I assumed that task for a time. Now since you are here, General, it is most suitable that I step down in your favor.”
Whereupon Liu Bei handed the insignia and the seal of authority to Lu Bu. Lu Bu was on the point of accepting them, when he saw Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, who stood behind the Imperial Protector, glaring at him with angry eyes.
So Lu Bu put on a smile and said, “I may be something of a fighting man, but I could not rule a GREat region like this.”
Liu Bei repeated his offer. But Chen Gong said, “the strong guest does not oppress his host. You need not fear, Lord Liu Bei.”
then Liu Bei desisted. Banquets were held and dwelling places prepared for the guest and his retinue.
As soon as convenient, Lu Bu returned the feast. Liu Bei went with his two brothers. Half through the banquet Lu Bu requested Liu Bei to retire to one of the inner private rooms, whither Guan Yu and Zhang Fei followed him. There Lu Bu bade his wife and daughter bow as to their benefactor. Here also Liu Bei showed excessive modesty.
Lu Bu said, “Good younger brother, you need not be so very modest.”
Zhang Fei heard what Lu Bu said, and his eyes glared, crying, “What sort of a man are you that dares call our brother ‘younger brother’？ He is one of the ruling family——a jade leaf on a golden branch. Come out, and I will fight you three hundred bouts for the insult.”
Liu Bei hastily checked the impulsive one, and Guan Yu persuaded him to go away. Then Liu Bei apologized, saying, “My poor brother talks wildly after he has been drinking. I hope you will not blame him.”
Lu Bu nodded, but said nothing. Soon after the guests departed.
But as the host escorted Liu Bei to his carriage,
he saw Zhang Fei galloping up armed as for a fray.
“Lu Bu, you and I will fight that duel of three hundred bouts！
” shouted Zhang Fei.
“Whom do I fear？” said Lu Bu.
So he threw caution to the winds and went out of the city. He met his foes and he began to revile them. The redoubtable Xu Chu went to fight with him, but after twenty bouts neither combatant was any the worse.
“He is not the sort that one man can overcome,” said Cao Cao.
And he sent Dian Wei to attack Lu Bu from another direction. Lu Bu stood the double onslaught. Soon after the flank commanders joined in——Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan attacking the left； Li Dian and Yue Jing surrounding the right. Lu Bu had six opponents. These proved really too many for him so he turned his horse and rode back to the city.
But when the members of the Tian family saw him coming back beaten, they raised the drawbridge.
Lu Bu shouted, “Open the gates！ Let me in！”
But the Tians said, “We have gone over to Cao Cao！”
This was hard to hear and the beaten man abused them roundly before he left. Chen Gong got away through the east gate taking with him the general’s family.
Thus Puyang came into Cao Cao’s hands, and for their present services the Tian family were pardoned their previous fault.
However, Liu Ye said, “Lu Bu is a savage beast. If let alive, he will be a GREat danger. Hunt him down！”
Liu Ye was ordered to keep Puyang. Wherefore Cao Cao determined to follow Lu Bu to Dingtao whither he had gone for refuge.
Lu Bu, Zhang Miao, and Zhang Chao were assembled in the city. Gao Shun and other generals were out foraging. Cao Cao army arrived but did not attack for many days, and presently he withdrew fifteen miles and made a stockade. It was the time of harvest, and he set his soldiers to cut the wheat for food.
The spies reported this to Lu Bu who came over to see.
But when he saw that Cao Cao’s stockade lay near a thick wood,
he feared an ambush and retired.
Cao Cao heard that Lu Bu had come and gone and guessed the reason.
Dian Wei rode out in answer to the challenge, and some thirty bouts were fought.
Then Dian Wei turned and fled toward his own side. The bravo followed and came quite close. But a flight of arrows drove him away.
Cao Cao hastily drew off his men for one and a half miles and then secretly sent a certain number to dig a pitfall and sent troops armed with hooks to lie in ambush.
the following day Dian Wei was sent out with one hundred horse. His adversary nothing loath came to meet Dian Wei.
“Why does the defeated leader venture forth again？” cried he laughing.
the swashbuckler spurred forward to join battle, but Dian Wei, after a faint show of fighting, turned his horse and rode away. His adversary intent upon capture, took no care, and he and his horse all blundered into the pitfall. The hookmen took him captive, bound him, and carried him before Cao Cao.
As soon as he saw the prisoner, Cao Cao advanced from his tent, sent away the soldiers, and with his own hands loosened the leader’s bonds. Then he brought out clothing and dressed him, bade him be seated and asked who he was and whence he came.
“I am named Xu Chu. I am from Qiao. When the rebellion broke out, I and my relations of some hundreds built a stronghold within a rampart for protection. One day the robbers came, but I had stones ready for them. I told my relatives to keep on bringing them up to me and I threw them, hitting somebody every time I threw. This drove off the robbers. Another day they came and we were short of grain. So I aGREed with them to an exchange of plow oxen against grain. They delivered the grain and were driving away the oxen when the beasts took fright and tore off to their pens. I seized two of oxen by the tail,
one with each hand,
and hauled them backwards a hundred or so paces.
The robbers were so amazed that they thought no more about oxen but went their way.
So they never troubled us again.”
“If you do not, we cannot live in pence,” said they.
To these requests his brothers added their persuasion, till at length he consented to assume the administrative duties. He forthwith appointed Sun Qian and Mi Zhu as his Advisers, and Chen Deng his Secretary. He moved his army from Xiaopei to Xuzhou City, and he put forth proclamations to reassure the people.
He also attended to the burial ceremonies； he and all his army dressing in mourning. After the fullest sacrifices and ceremonies, a burial place for the late Imperial Protector was found close to the source of the Yellow River. The dead man’s testament was forwarded to court.
the news of the events in Xuzhou duly reached the ears of Cao Cao, then in Juancheng.
Said he, angrily, “I have missed my revenge. This Liu Bei has simply stepped into command of the region without expending half an arrow： He sat still and attained his desire. But I will put him to death and then dig up Tao Qian’s corpse in revenge for the death of my noble father！”
Orders were issued for the army to prepare for a new campaign against Xuzhou.
[e] the Land Within the Passes, or Guanzhong, was the area around Changan.
But Adviser Xun Yu remonstrated with Cao Cao, saying, “the Supreme Ancestor secured the Land Within the Passes* and his illustrious successor on the throne, Liu Xiu, took Henei. They both first consolidated their position whereby they could command the whole empire. Their whole proGREss was from success to success. Hence they accomplished their great designs in spite of difficulties.
“Illustrious Sir, your Land Within the Passes and your Henei are Yanzhou and the Yellow River, which you had first, and which is of the utmost strategic point of the empire. If you undertake this expedition against Xuzhou leaving many troops here for defense, you will not accomplish your design； if you leave too few, Lu Bu will fall upon us. And finally if you lose this and fail to gain Xuzhou, whither will you retire？ That region is not vacant. Although Tao Qian has gone, Liu Bei holds it； and since the people support him, they will fight to the death for him.
To abandon this place for that is to exchange the GREat for the small,
to barter the trunk for the branches,
to leave safety and run into danger.
I would implore you to reflect well.”
This year locusts suddenly appeared, and they consumed every GREen blade. There was a famine, and in the northeast grain rose to fifty “strings” of cash a cart. People even took to cannibalism. Cao Cao’s army suffered from want, and he marched them to Juancheng. Lu Bu took his troops to Shanyang. Perforce therefore the fighting ceased.
In Xuzhou. Imperial Protector Tao Qian, over sixty years of age, suddenly fell seriously ill, and he summoned his confident, Mi Zhu, to his chamber to make arrangements for the future.
As to the situation the adviser said, “Cao Cao abandoned his attack on this place because of his enemy’s seizure of Yanzhou； and now they are both keeping the peace solely because of the famine. But Cao Cao will surely renew the attack in the spring. When Liu Bei refused to allow you to vacate office in his favor, you were in full vigor. Now you are ill and weak, and you can make this a reason for retirement. He will not refuse again.”
So a message was sent to the little garrison town Xiaopei calling Liu Bei to a counsel on military affairs. This brought him with his brothers and a slender escort. He was at once called in to the sick man’s chamber. Quickly disposing of the inquiries about his health, Tao Qian soon came to the real object of his call for Liu Bei.
“Sir, I asked you to come for the sole reason that I am dangerously ill and likely to die at any time. I look to you, Illustrious Sir, to consider the Hans and their empire as more important than anything else, and so to take over the symbols of office of this region, the commission and the seal, that I may close my eyes in peace.”
“You have two sons, why not depute them to relieve you？” said Liu Bei.
“Both lack the requisite talents. I trust you will instruct them after I have gone, but do not let them have the guidance of affairs.”
“But I am unequal to so GREat a charge.”
“I will recommend to you one who could assist you. He is Sun Qian from Beihai who could be appointed to some post.”
Turning to Mi Zhu, Tao Qian said, “the noble Liu Bei here is the most prominent man of the time, and you should serve him well.”
Still would Liu Bei have put from him such a post, but just then the Imperial Protector, pointing to his heart to indicate his sincerity, passed away.
When the ceremonial wailing of the officials was over, the insignia of office were brought to Liu Bei. But he would have none of them.
The following days the inhabitants of the town and country
around crowded into the state residence,
bowing and with tears,
calling upon Liu Bei to receive the charge.
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.
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.