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CHAPTER 103. In Gourd Valley, Sima Yi Is Trapped; In Wuzhang Hills, Zhuge Liang Invokes The Stars.

| Articles of Ancient China, English Version - Romance of the Three Kingdoms Novel | March 7, 2011

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Heavily smitten in the battle, Sima Yi fled from the
field a lonely horseman, a single spear. Seeing a
thick wood in the distance, he made for its shelter.
Zhang Yi halted the rear division while Liao Hua
pressed forward after the fugitive, whom he could
see threading his way among the trees. And Sima Yi
indeed was soon in fear of his life, dodging from tree
to tree as his pursuer neared. Once Liao Hua was
actually close enough to slash at his enemy, but Liao
Hua missed the blow and his sword struck a tree;
and before he could pull his sword out of the wood,
Sima Yi had got clear away. When Liao Hua got
through into the open country, he did not know which
way to go. Presently he noticed a golden helmet
lying on the ground to the east, just lately thrown
aside. He picked it up, hung it on his saddle, and
went away eastward.
But the crafty fugitive, having flung away his
helmet thus on the east side of the wood, had gone
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away west, so that Liao Hua was going away from
his quarry. After some time Liao Hua fell in with
Jiang Wei, when he abandoned the pursuit and rode
with Jiang Wei back to camp.
The wooden oxen and running horses having
been driven into camp, their loads were put into the
storehouse. The grain that fell to the victors
amounted to ten thousand carts or more.
Liao Hua presented the enemy’s helmet as proof
of his prowess in the field, and received a reward of
the first grade of merit. But Wei Yan had nothing to
offer, and so was overlooked. Wei Yan went away
angry and discontented, but Zhuge Liang pretended
to be ignorant of his services.
Very sadly Sima Yi returned to his own camp.
Bad news followed, for a messenger brought letters
telling of an invasion by three armies of Wu. The
letters said that forces had been sent against them,
and the Ruler of Wei again enjoined upon his
Commander−in−Chief a waiting and defensive
policy. So Sima Yi deepened his moats and raised
his ramparts.
Cao Rui had sent three armies against the
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invaders: Liu Shao led that to save Jiangxia; Tian Du
led the Xiangyang force; Cao Rui himself, with Man
Chong, went into Hefei. This last was the main army.
Man Chong led the leading division toward Lake
Chaohu. Thence, looking across to the eastern
shore, he saw a forest of battleships, and flags and
banners crowded the sky. So he returned to the main
army and proposed an attack without loss of time.
“The enemy think we shall be fatigued after a long
march and have not troubled to prepare any
defense; we should attack this night, and we shall
overcome them.”
“What you say accords with my own ideas,” said
the Ruler of Wei, and he told off the cavalry leader,
Zhang Qiu, to take five thousand troops and try to
burn out the enemy. Man Chong was also to attack
from the eastern bank.
In the second watch of that night, the two forces
set out and gradually approached the entrance to the
lake. They reached the marine camp unobserved,
burst upon it with a yell, and the soldiers of Wu fled
without striking a blow. The troops of Wei set fires
going in every direction and thus destroyed all the
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ships together with much grain and many weapons.
Zhuge Jin, who was in command, led his beaten
troops to Miankou, and the attackers returned to their
camp much elated.
When the report come to Lu Xun, he called
together his officers and said, “I must write to the
Emperor to abandon the siege of Xincheng, that the
army may be employed to cut off the retreat of the
Wei army while I will attack them in front. They will
be harassed by the double danger, and we shall
break them.”
All agreed that this was a good plan, and the
memorial was drafted. It was sent by the hand of a
junior officer, who was told to convey it secretly. But
this messenger was captured at the ferry and taken
before the Ruler of Wei, who read the dispatch,
saying, with a sigh, “This Lu Xun of East Wu is really
very resourceful.”
The captive was put into prison, and Liu Shao
was told off to defend the rear and keep off Sun
Quan’s army.
Now Zhuge Jin’s defeated soldiers were suffering
from hot weather illnesses, and at length he was
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compelled to write and tell Lu Xun, and ask that his
army be relieved and sent home.
Having read this dispatch, Lu Xun said to the
messenger, “Make my obeisance to the General and
say that I will decide.”
When the messenger returned with this reply,
Z h u g e J i n a s k e d w h a t w a s d o i n g i n t h e
Commander−in−Chief’s camp.
The messenger replied, “The soldiers were all
outside planting beans, and the officers were
amusing themselves at the gates. They were playing
a game of skill, throwing arrows into narrow−necked
vases.”
Then Zhuge Jin himself went to his chief’s camp
and asked how the pressing danger was to be met.
Lu Xun replied, “My messenger to the Emperor
was captured, and thus my plans were discovered.
Now it is useless to prepare to fight, and so we
would better retreat. I have sent in a memorial to
engage the Emperor to retire gradually.”
Zhuge Jin replied, “Why delay? If you think it best
to retire, it had better be done quickly.”
“My army must retreat slowly, or the enemy will
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come in pursuit, which will mean defeat and loss.
Now you must first prepare your ships as if you
meant to resist, while I make a semblance of an
attack toward Xiangyang. Under cover of these
operations we shall withdraw into the South Land,
and the enemy will not dare to follow.”
So Zhuge Jin returned to his own camp and
began to fit out his ships as if for an immediate
expedition, while Lu Xun made all preparations to
march, giving out that he intended to advance upon
Xiangyang.
The news of these movements were duly
reported in the Wei camps, and when the leaders
heard it, they wished to go out and fight. But the
Ruler of Wei knew his opponent better than they and
would not bring about a battle.
So he called his officers together and said to
them, “This Lu Xun is very crafty; keep careful guard,
but do not risk a battle.”
The officers obeyed, but a few days later the
scouts brought in news that the armies of Wu had
retired. The Ruler of Wei doubted and sent out some
of his own spies, who confirmed the report.
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When he thus knew it was true, he consoled
himself with the words, “Lu Xun knows the art of war
even as did Sun Zi and Wu Qi. The subjugation of
the southeast is not for me this time.”
Thereupon Cao Rui distributed his generals
among the various vantage points and led the main
army back into Hefei, where he camped ready to
take advantage of any change of conditions that
might promise success.
Meanwhile Zhuge Liang was at Qishan, where, to
all appearances, he intended to make a long sojourn.
He made his soldiers mix with the people in Wei and
share in the labor of the fields, and the crops—the
soldiers one−third, the people two−third. He gave
strict orders against any encroachment on the
property of the farmers, and so they and the soldiers
lived together very amicably.
Then Sima Yi’s son, Sima Shi, went to his father
and said, “These soldiers of Shu have despoiled us
of much grain, and now they are mingling with the
people of Qishan and tilling the fields along the
banks of River Wei as if they intended to remain
there. This would be a calamity for us. Why do you
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not appoint a time to fight a decisive battle with
Zhuge Liang?”
His father replied, “I have the Emperor’s orders to
act on the defensive and may not do as you
suggest.”
While they were thus talking, one reported that
Wei Yan had come near and was insulting the army
and reminding them that he had the helmet of their
leader. And he was challenging them. The generals
were greatly incensed and desired to accept the
challenge, but the Commander−in−Chief was
immovable in his decision to obey his orders.
“The Holy One says: ‘If one cannot suffer small
things, great matters are imperiled.’ Our plan is to
defend.”
So the challenge was not accepted, and there
was no battle. After reviling them for some time, Wei
Yan went away.
Seeing that his enemy was not to be provoked
into fighting, Zhuge Liang gave orders to Ma Dai to
build a strong stockade in the Gourd Valley and
therein to excavate pits and to collect large quantities
of inflammables. So on the hill they piled wood and
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straw in the shape of sheds, and all about they dug
pits and buried mines. When these preparations
were complete, Ma Dai received instructions to block
the road in rear of Gourd Valley and to lay an
ambush at the entrance.
“If Sima Yi comes, let him enter the valley, and
then explode the mines and set fire to the straw and
the wood,” said Zhuge Liang. “Also, set up a
seven−star signal at the mouth of the valley and
arrange a night signal of seven lamps on the hill.”
After Ma Dai had gone, Wei Yan was called in,
and Zhuge Liang said to him, “Go to the camp of Wei
with five hundred troops and provoke them to battle.
The important matter is to entice Sima Yi out of his
stronghold. You will be unable to obtain a victory, so
retreat that he may pursue; and you are to make for
the signal, the seven stars by day or the seven
lamps at night. Thus you will lead him into the Gourd
Valley, where I have a plan prepared for him.”
When Wei Yan had gone, Gao Xiang was
summoned.
“Take small herds, forty or fifty at a time, of the
wooden oxen and running horses, load them up with
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grain and lead them to and fro on the mountains. If
you can succeed in getting the enemy to capture
them, you will render a service.”
So the transport wooden cattle were sent forth to
play their part in the scheme, and the remainder of
the Qishan soldiers were sent to work in the fields,
with orders to join in the battle only if Sima Yi came
in person. In that case they were to attack the south
bank of the river and cut off the retreat. Then Zhuge
Liang led his army away to camp next to the Gourd
Valley.
Xiahou Hui and Xiahou He went to their chief,
Sima Yi, and said, “The enemy have set out camps
and are engaged in field work as though they
intended to remain. If they are not destroyed now,
but are allowed to consolidate their position, they will
be hard to dislodge.”
“This certainly is one of Zhuge Liang’s ruses,”
said the chief.
“You seem very afraid of him, General,” retorted
they. “When do you think you can destroy him? At
least let us two brothers fight one battle that we may
prove our gratitude for the Emperor’s kindness.”
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“If it must be so, then you may go in two
divisions,” said Sima Yi.
As the two divisions, five thousand troops each,
were marching along, they saw coming toward them
a number of the transport wooden animals of the
enemy. They attacked at once, drove off the escort,
captured them, and sent them back to camp. Next
day they captured more, with soldiers and horses as
well, and sent them also to camp.
Sima Yi called up the prisoners and questioned
them.
They told him, saying, “The Prime Minister
understood that you would not fight, and so had told
off the soldiers to various places to work in the fields
and thus provide for future needs. We had been
unwittingly captured.”
Sima Yi set them free and bade them begone.
“Why spare them?” asked Xiahou He.
“There is nothing to be gained by the slaughter of
a few common soldiers. Let them go back to their
own and praise the kindliness of the Wei leaders.
That will slacken the desire of their comrades to fight
against us. That was the plan by which Lu Meng
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captured Jingzhou.”
Then he issued general orders that all Shu
prisoners should be well treated and sent away free,
and he rewarded those of his army who had done
well.
As has been said, Gao Xiang was ordered to
keep pretended convoys on the move, and the
soldiers of Wei attacked and captured them
whenever they saw them. In half a month they had
scored many successes of this sort, and Sima Yi’s
heart was cheered. One day, when he had made
new captures of soldiers, he sent for them and
questioned them again.
“Where is Zhuge Liang now?”
“He is no longer at Qishan, but in camp about
three miles from the Gourd Valley. He is gathering a
great store of grain there.”
After he had questioned them fully, he set the
prisoners free.
Calling together his officers, he said, “Zhuge
Liang is not camped on Qishan, but near the Gourd
Valley. Tomorrow you shall attack the Qishan camp,
and I will command the reserve.”
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The promise cheered them, and they went away
to prepare.
“Father, why do you intend to attack the enemy’s
rear?” asked Sima Shi.
“Qishan is their main position, and they will
certainly hasten to its rescue. Then I shall make for
the valley and burn the stores. That will render them
helpless and will be a victory.”
The son dutifully agreed with his father.
Sima Yi began to march out, with Zhang Hu and
Yue Chen following as the reserves.
From the top of a hill Zhuge Liang watched the
Wei soldiers march and noticed that they moved in
companies from three to five thousand, observing
the front and the rear carefully as they marched. He
guessed that their object was the Qishan camp, and
sent strict orders to his generals that if Sima Yi led in
person, they were to go off and capture the camp on
the south bank.
When the troops of Wei had got near and made
their rush toward the camp of Shu, the troops of Shu
ran up also, yelling and pretending to reinforce the
defenders. Sima Yi, seeing this, suddenly marched
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his center army with his two sons, changed his
direction, and turned off for the Gourd Valley. Here
Wei Yan was expecting him; and as soon as he
appeared, Wei Yan galloped up and soon
recognized Sima Yi as the leader.
“Sima Yi, stay!” shouted Wei Yan as he came
near.
He flourished his sword, and Sima Yi set his
spear. The two warriors exchanged a few passes,
and then Wei Yan suddenly turned his steed and
bolted. As he had been ordered, he made direct for
the seven−starred flag, and Sima Yi followed, the
more readily as he saw the fugitive had but a small
force. The two sons of Sima Yi rode with him, Sima
Shi on the left, Sima Zhao on the right.
Presently Wei Yan and his troops entered the
mouth of the valley. Sima Yi halted a time while he
sent forward a few scouts, but when they returned
and reported: “Not a single Shu soldier is seen but a
many straw houses on the hills.”
Sima Yi rode in, saying, “This must be the store
valley!”
But when he had got well within, Sima Yi noticed
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that kindling wood was piled over the straw huts, and
as he saw no sign of Wei Yan he began to feel
uneasy.
“Supposing soldiers seize the entrance; what
then?” said he to his sons.
As he spoke there arose a great shout, and from
the hillside came many torches, which fell all around
them and set fire to the straw, so that soon the
entrance to the valley was lost in smoke and flame.
They tried to get away from the fire, but no road led
up the hillside. Then fire−arrows came shooting
down, and the earth−mines exploded, and the straw
and firewood blazed high as the heavens.
Sima Yi, scared and helpless, dismounted,
clasped his arms about his two sons and wept,
saying, “My sons, we three are doomed!”
But suddenly a fierce gale sprang up, black
clouds gathered, a peal of thunder followed, and rain
poured down in torrents, speedily extinguishing the
fire all through the valley. The mines no longer
exploded and all the fiery contrivances ceased to
work mischief.
“If we do not break out now, what better chance
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shall we have?” cried the father, and he and his two
sons made a dash for the outlet.
As they broke out of the valley, they came upon
reinforcements under Zhang Hu and Yue Chen, and
so were once more safe. Ma Dai was not strong
enough to pursue, and the soldiers of Wei got safely
to the river.
But there they found their camp in the possession
of the enemy, while Guo Huai and Sun Li were on
the floating bridge struggling with the troops of Shu.
However, as Sima Yi neared, the troops of Shu
retreated, whereupon Sima Yi ordered the bridges
burned and the north bank occupied.
The Wei army attacking the Qishan camp were
greatly disturbed when they heard of the defeat of
their general and the loss of the camp on River Wei.
The troops of Shu took the occasion to strike with
greater vigor, and so gained a great victory. The
beaten army suffered great loss. Those who
escaped fled across the river.
When Zhuge Liang from the hill−top saw that
Sima Yi had been inveigled into the trap by Wei Yan,
he rejoiced exceedingly; and when he saw the
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flames burst forth, he thought surely his rival was
done for. Then, unhappily for him, Heaven thought it
well to send down torrents of rain, which quenched
the fire and upset all his calculations.
Soon after, the scouts reported the escape of his
victims, and he sighed, saying, “Human proposes;
God disposes. We cannot wrest events to our will.”
Fierce fires roared in the valley,
But the rain quenched them.
Had Zhuge Liang’s plan but succeeded,
Where had been the Jins?
From the new camp on the north bank of the
river, Sima Yi issued an order that he would put to
death any officer who proposed going out to battle.
The final result of the late ill−advised expedition had
been the loss of the south bank of the river.
Accordingly no one spoke of attacking, but all turned
their energies toward defense.
Guo Huai went to the general to talk over plans.
He said, “The enemy have been carefully spying out
the country and are certainly selecting a new position
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for a camp.”
Sima Yi said, “If Zhuge Liang goes out to Wugong
Hills, and thence eastward, we shall be in grave
danger; if he goes southwest by River Wei, and halts
on the Wuzhang Hills, we need feel no anxiety.”
They decided to send scouts to find out the
movements of their enemy. Presently the scouts
returned to say that Zhuge Liang had chosen the
Wuzhang Hills.
“Our great Emperor of Wei has remarkable
fortune,” said Sima Yi, clapping his hand to his
forehead.
Then he confirmed the order to remain strictly on
the defensive till some change of circumstances on
the part of the enemy should promise advantage.
After his army had settled into camp on the
Wuzhang Hills, Zhuge Liang continued his attempts
to provoke a battle. Day after day, parties went to
challenge the army of Wei, but they resisted all
provocation.
One day Zhuge Liang put a dress made of deer
hide in a box, which he sent, with a letter, to his rival.
The insult could not be concealed, so the generals
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led the bearer of the box to their chief. Sima Yi
opened the box and saw the deer hide dress. Then
he opened the letter, which read something like this:
“ F r i e n d S i m a Y i , a l t h o u g h y o u a r e a
Commander−in−Chief and lead the armies of the
Middle Land, you seem but
little disposed to display the firmness and valor
that would render a contest decisive. Instead, you
have prepared a comfortable lair where you are safe
from the keen edge of the sword. Are you not very
like a deer? Wherefore I send the bearer with a
suitable gift, and you will humbly accept it and the
humiliation, unless, indeed, you finally decide to
come out and fight like a man. If you are not entirely
indifferent to shame, if you retain any of the feelings
of a tiger, you will send this back to me and come out
and give battle.”
Sima Yi, although inwardly raging, pretended to
take it all as a joke and smiled.
“So he regards me as a deer,” said he.
He accepted the gift and treated the messenger
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well. Before the messenger left, Sima Yi asked him a
few questions about his master’s eating and sleeping
and hours of labor.
“The Prime Minister works very hard,” said the
messenger. “He rises early and retires to bed late.
He attends personally to all cases requiring
punishment of over twenty of strokes. As for food, he
does not eat more than a few pints of grain daily.”
“Indeed, he eats little and works much,” remarked
Sima Yi. “Can he last long?”
The messenger returned to his own side and
reported that Sima Yi had taken the whole episode in
good part and shown no sign of anger. He had only
asked about the Prime Minister’s hours of rest, and
food, and such things. He had said no word about
military matters.
“I told him that you ate little and worked long
hours, and then he said, ‘Can he last long?’ That was
all.”
“He knows,” said Zhuge Liang, pensively.
First Secretary Yang Yong presently ventured to
remonstrate with his chief.
“I notice,” said Yang Yong, “that you check the
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books personally. I think that is needless labor for a
Prime Minister to undertake. In every administration
the higher and subordinate ranks have their especial
fields of activity, and each should confine his labors
to his own field. In a household, for example, the
male servants plow and the female servants cook,
and thus operations are carried on without waste of
energy, and all needs are supplied. The master of
the house has ample leisure and tranquillity. If one
individual strives to attend personally to every
matter, he only wearies himself and fails to
accomplish his end. How can he possibly hope to
perform all the various tasks so well as the maids or
the servants? He fails in his own part, that of playing
the master. And, indeed, the ancients held this same
opinion, for they said that the high officers should
attend to the discussion of ways and means, and the
lower should carry out details. Of old, Bing Ji was
moved to deep thought by the panting of an ox, but
inquired not about the corpses of certain brawlers
which lay about the road, for this matter concerned
the magistrate. Chen Ping was ignorant of the
figures relating to taxes, for he said these were the
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concern of the controllers of taxes. O Minister, you
weary yourself with minor details and sweat yourself
every day. You are wearing yourself out, and Sima
Yi has good reason for what he said.”
“I know; I cannot but know,” replied Zhuge Liang.
“But this heavy responsibility was laid upon me, and I
fear no other will be so devoted as I am.”
Those who heard him wept. Thereafter Zhuge
Liang appeared more and more harassed, and
military operations did not speed.
On the other side the officers of Wei resented
bitterly the insult that had been put upon them when
their leader had been presented with the deer hide
dress.
They wished to avenge the taunt, and went to
their general, saying, “We are reputable generals of
the army of a great state; how can we put up with
such insults from these soldiers of Shu? We pray
you let us fight them.”
“It is not that I fear to go out,” said Sima Yi, “nor
that I relish the insults, but I have the Emperor’s
command to hold on and may not disobey.”
The officers were not in the least appeased.
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Wherefore Sima Yi said, “I will send your request to
the Throne in a memorial; what think you of that?”
They consented to await the Emperor’s reply, and
a messenger bore to the Ruler of Wei, in Hefei, this
memorial:
“I have small ability and high office. Your Majesty
laid on me the command to defend and not fight till
the army of
Shu had suffered by the flux of time. But Zhuge
Liang has now sent me a gift of a deer hide dress,
and my shame is very deep. Wherefore I advise
Your Majesty that one day I shall have to fight in
order to justify your kindness to me and to remove
the shameful stigma that now rests upon my army. I
cannot express the degree to which I am urged to
this course.”
Cao Rui read it and turned questioningly to his
courtiers seeking an explanation. Xin Pi supplied it.
“Sima Yi has no desire to give battle; this
memorial is because of the shame put upon the
officers by Zhuge Liang’s gift. They are all in a rage.
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He wishes for an edict to pacify them.”
Cao Rui understood and gave to Xin Pi an
authority flag and sent him to the River Wei camp to
make known that it was the Emperor’s command not
to fight.
Sima Yi received the messenger with all respect,
and it was given out that any future reference to
offering battle would be taken as disobedience to the
Emperor’s especial command in the edict.
The officers could but obey.
Sima Yi said to Xin Pi, “Noble Sir, you interpreted
my own desire correctly.”
It was thenceforward understood that Sima Yi
was forbidden to give battle.
When it was told to Zhuge Liang, he said, “This is
only Sima Yi’s method of pacifying his army. He has
never had any intention of fighting and requested the
edict to justify his strategy. It is well known that a
general in the field takes no command from any
person, not even his own king. Is it likely that he
would send a thousand miles to ask permission to
fight if that was all he needed? The officers were
bitter, and so Sima Yi got the Emperor to assist him
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in maintaining discipline. All this is meant to slacken
our soldiers.”
Just at this time Fei Yi came. He was called in to
see the Prime Minister, and Zhuge Liang asked the
reason for his coming.
He replied, “The Ruler of Wei, Cao Rui, hearing
that Wu has invaded his country at three points, has
led a great army to Hefei and sent three other armies
under Man Chong, Tian Du, and Liu Shao, to oppose
the invaders. The stores and fight−material of Wu
have been burned, and the army of Wu have fallen
victims to sickness. A letter from Lu Xun containing a
scheme of attack fell into the hands of the enemy,
and the Ruler of Wu has marched back into his own
country.”
Zhuge Liang listened to the end; then, without a
word, he fell in a swoon. He recovered after a time,
but he was broken.
He said, “My mind is all in confusion. This is a
return of my old illness, and I am doomed.”
Ill as he was, Zhuge Liang that night went forth
from his tent to scan the heavens and study the
stars. They filled him with fear.
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He returned and said to Jiang Wei, “My life may
end at any moment.”
“Why do you say such a thing?”
“Just now in the Triumvirate constellation the
Guest Star was twice as bright as usual, while the
Host Star was darkened; the supporting stars were
also obscure. With such an aspect I know my fate.”
“If the aspect be as malignant as you say, why
not pray in order to avert it?” replied Jiang Wei.
“I am in the habit of praying,” replied Zhuge Liang,
“but I know not the will of God. However, prepare me
forty−nine guards and let each have a black flag.
Dress them in black and place them outside my tent.
Then will I from within my tent invoke the Seven
Stars of the North. If my master−lamp remain alight
for seven days, then is my life to be prolonged for
twelve years. If the lamp goes out, then I am to die.
Keep all idlers away from the tent and let a couple of
guards bring me what is necessary.”
Jiang Wei prepared as directed. It was then the
eighth month, mid−autumn, and the Milky Way was
brilliant with scattered jade. The air was perfectly
calm, and no sound was heard.
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The forty−nine men were brought up and spaced
out to guard the tent, while within Zhuge Liang
prepared incense and offerings. On the floor of the
tent he arranged seven lamps, and, outside these,
forty−nine smaller lamps. In the midst he placed the
lamp of his own fate.
This done, he prayed:
“Zhuge Liang, born into an age of trouble, would
willingly have grown old in retirement. But His
Majesty, Liu Bei the Glorious Emperor, sought him
thrice and confided to him the heavy responsibility of
guarding his son. He dared not do less than spend
himself to the utmost in such a task, and he pledged
himself to destroy the rebels. Suddenly the star of his
leadership has declined, and his life now nears its
close. He has humbly indited a declaration on this
silk piece to the Great Unknowable and now hopes
that He will graciously listen and extend the number
of his days that he may prove his gratitude to his
prince and be the savior of the people, restore the
old state of the empire and establish eternally the
Han sacrifices. He dares not make a vain prayer; this
is from his heart.”
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This prayer ended, in the solitude of his tent he
awaited the dawn.
Next day, ill as he was, he did not neglect his
duties, although he spat blood continually. All day he
labored at his plans, and at night he paced the magic
steps, the steps of seven stars of Ursa Major and
Ursa Minor.
Sima Yi remained still on the defensive.
One night as he sat gazing up at the sky and
studying its aspect, he suddenly turned to Xiahou
Ba, saying, “A leadership star has just lost position;
surely Zhuge Liang is ill and will soon die. Take a
reconnoitering party to the Wuzhang Hills and find
out. If you see signs of confusion do not attack; it
means that Zhuge Liang is ill. I shall take the
occasion to smite hard.”
Xiahou Ba left with an army.
It was the sixth night of Zhuge Liang’s prayers,
and the lamp of his fate still burned brightly. He
began to feel a secret joy. Presently Jiang Wei
entered and watched the ceremonies. He saw Zhuge
Liang was loosening his hair, his hand holding a
sword, his heels stepping on Ursa Major and Ursa
Three Kingdoms Romance
Minor to hold the leadership star.
Suddenly a great shouting was heard outside,
and immediately Wei Yan dashed in, crying, “The
Wei soldiers are upon us!”
In his haste Wei Yan had knocked over and
extinguished the Lamp of Fate.
Zhuge Liang threw down the sword and sighed,
saying, “Life and death are foreordained; no prayers
can alter them.”
Wei Yan fell to the earth and craved forgiveness.
Jiang Wei got angry and drew his sword to slay the
unhappy soldier.
Nought is under man’s control,
Nor can he with fate contend.
The next chapter will unfold what happened.
Three Kingdoms Romance

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