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CHAPTER 19. Cao Cao Fights At Xiapi;

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

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Lu Bu Perishes At The White Gate Tower.
As was stated before, Gao Shun and Zhang Liao
together went to smite Guan Yu, while Lu Bu
attacked Zhang Fei. Both brothers went out to give
battle, while Liu Bei force was held in reserve. But
then Lu Bu attacked both Guan Yu and Zhang Fei
from the rear, and the brothers were forced to flee.
Liu Bei with a few score of horsemen rushed back to
Xiaopei. As he approached the gate with Lu Bu
pressing him close, he shouted to the soldiers on the
wall to lower the drawbridge. Lu Bu was so close
behind that the archers on the wall feared to shoot
lest they should wound their lord, and so Lu Bu got
into the gate. The gate guards could not force him
back so they scattered in all directions. Lu Bu led his
force into the city.
Liu Bei saw the position was too desperate for
him to reach his residence, and he must abandon all
his family. So he hastened through the city and left
by the west gate out at which he and his scanty
following fled for very life.
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When Lu Bu reached the residence, he was met
by Mi Zhu who said, “The hero does not destroy a
person’s family. Your rival for the empire is Cao Cao,
and my master, always mindful of the good turn you
did him at the Archery Feast, would not be
ungrateful. But he could not help going to Cao Cao,
and I think you will pity him.”
Lu Bu replied, “We two are old friends; how could
I bear to harm his wives and children?”
Whereupon he sent the family to Xuzhou with Mi
Zhu to take care of them. Next Lu Bu led his army
into Huashang Mountains to Yanzhou, leaving Gao
Shun and Zhang Liao to guard Xiaopei.
During these troubles Sun Qian had also fled out
of the city; Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, each with a
handful of soldiers, had got away to the hills. As Liu
Bei with his few horsemen was making the best of
their way from the scene of his defeat, he heard
some one coming up behind him. When he got
closer the person proved to be Sun Qian.
“Alas! I know not the fate of my brothers, whether
they be alive or dead, and my wife and children are
lost to me! What can I do?” said Liu Bei.
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Sun Qian replied, “I see nothing better than
getting away to Cao Cao, whence we may be able to
plan our future moves.”
Liu Bei had no better plan to propose, and the two
men directed their way to Xuchang, choosing
by−roads rather than highways. When their small
supplies ran out, they entered a village to beg. But
when the people of any place heard that Liu Bei of
Yuzhou was the man who needed help, they vied
with each other in offering all that was required.
One day they sought shelter at a house whence a
youth came out and made a low obeisance. They
asked his name and he gave it as Liu An, of a well
known family of hunters. Hearing who the visitor
was, the hunter wished to lay before him a dish of
game, but though he sought for a long time, nothing
could be found for the table. So Liu An came home,
killed his wife and prepared a portion for his guest.
While eating Liu Bei asked, “What flesh is it?”
Liu An told him: “Wolf.”
Liu Bei knew no better and ate his fill. Next day at
daylight, just as Liu Bei was leaving, he went to the
stables in the rear to get his horse and passing
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through the kitchen; he saw the dead body of a
woman lying on the table. The flesh of one arm had
been cut away. Quite startled he asked what this
meant, and then he knew what he had eaten the
night before. He was deeply sorry at this proof of his
host’s regard and the tears rained down as he
mounted his steed at the gate.
“I wish I could go with you,” said Liu An, “but as
my mother still lives I cannot go so far from home.”
Liu Bei thanked him and went his way. The party
took the road by Liangcheng, and as they were going
out they saw not far off a thick cloud of dust. When
the troop came nearer, they found the troops were of
Cao Cao’s army, and with them they traveled to the
main camp where they found Cao Cao himself. Cao
Cao shed tears at the sad story of Liu Bei’s distress,
the loss of the city, his brothers and wives and
children. When Liu Bei him of the hunter who had
sacrificed his wife to feed them, Cao Cao sent the
hunter a present of a hundred ounces of silver as a
The march then was continued to Jibei, where
Xiahou Yuan welcomed them. They heard that his
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brother Xiahou Dun was still ill from the wound he
had received in the eye. Cao Cao went to the sick
man’s bedside to see him and had him removed to
Xuchang for skilled treatment.
Presently scouts, sent out particularly for tidings
of Lu Bu, returned, saying, “Lu Bu has allied himself
with the bandits in the east, and they are attacking
At this Cao Cao dispatched Cao Ren with three
thousand soldiers to take Xiaopei, while he, in
conjunction with Liu Bei, moved against Lu Bu.
They went east. As they reached the Mangdang
Hills near Xiao Pass, they met the a band of thirty
thousand Taishan Mountains brigands barring their
road. The chieftains of the bandits were Sun Guan,
Wu Dun, Yin Li, and Chang Xi who rode out with
their spears set. However, Xu Chu plunged into the
battle and easily beat them back and chased them
right up to the pass.
The scouts told Lu Bu, who was then in Xuzhou,
whither he had gone to start an expedition to save
Xiaopei. He left the protection of Xuzhou to Chen Gui
and set out with Chen Deng. As this latter was
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starting, Chen Gui said to him, “Remember the
words of Cao Cao, that the business of the east is in
our hands. Now is our moment, for Lu Bu is about to
suffer defeat.”
“Father, I can look after the outside. But when Lu
Bu returns beaten, you must arrange with Mi Zhu to
keep him out of the city. I shall find a means of
escape,” said Chen Deng.
“His family is here, and he has many friends. How
about them?”
“I also have a scheme to settle them.”
Then Chen Deng went to see Lu Bu, to whom he
said, “Xuzhou is surrounded, and this city will be
fiercely attacked. We ought to provide for possible
retreat, and I advise storing grain and money in
Xiapi. We could retreat there if the day went
adversely. Why not see about this in good time?”
“Your words are indeed wise. I will also send my
wives and little ones thither,” said Lu Bu.
The family left under escort of Wei Xu and Song
Xian, and with them was sent much grain and
treasures and coins.
And then the soldiers marched to the relief of the
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pass. About half way there Chen Deng said, “Let me
go first to reconnoiter so that you, my lord, may
advance with confidence.”
Thus Chen Deng parted company with his chief
and preceded him to the pass where he was
received by Chen Gong.
Chen Deng said, “The General greatly wonders
why you do not advance. He is going to inquire into
“The enemy is in great force, and we cannot be
too careful,” said Chen Gong. “We are holding the
pass, and you should persuade our master to take
steps to guard Xiaopei.”
Chen Deng said, “Your words are true.”
That evening he went up to the heights from
which he could see Cao Cao’s army, which was quite
close to the pass. Then he wrote three notes, tied
them to arrows, and shot them into Cao Cao’s camp.
Next day he left and hastened back to Lu Bu and
said, “Those bandits are about to give up the pass to
the enemy, but I have left Chen Gong to hold it. You
would better make an attack tonight and hold him.”
“Had it not been for you, the pass would have
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been lost,” said Lu Bu.
Then he sent Chen Deng back to arrange a fire
signal with Chen Gong for simultaneous action. So
Chen Deng returned to Chen Gong to whom he said,
“Cao Cao’s troops have found a secret way through
the pass, and I fear Xuzhou is already lost. You
ought to go back at once.”
At this the pass was abandoned, and Chen Gong
began to retreat. Then Chen Deng gave the
prearranged signal.
Lu Bu saw the fire and advanced in the darkness
to the relief of the pass. Presently he met Chen
Gong’s army; and as neither recognized the other in
the darkness, a fierce battle ensued. Nor was the
trick discovered till daylight came.
While these things were going on, Cao Cao had
noted the signal and advanced as fast as possible.
The bandits, who alone remained to hold the pass,
were easily driven out and scattered in all directions.
When daylight came and the trick was
discovered, Lu Bu and Chen Gong set off together
for Xuzhou. But when they arrived and summoned
the gate, instead of opening the doors, the guards on
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the wall saluted them with a thick flight of arrows. At
the same time Mi Zhu appeared on the defense
tower and shouted, “You stole our master’s city, and
now we are going to give it back to him. You will not
enter here again.”
“Where is Chen Gui?” cried Lu Bu, angrily.
“We have slain him!” was the reply.
“Where is Chen Deng?” said Lu Bu turning to
Chen Gong. “Do you still hold to your delusion,
General, that you ask where this specious rogue is?”
Lu Bu bade them search through all the ranks,
but Chen Deng was not to be found. Then they
decided to go to Xiaopei. But ere they had got half
way there, suddenly appeared the troops under the
command of Gao Shun and Zhang Liao.
They said, “Chen Deng came to us saying you,
General, was surrounded and wanted help, so we
came at once.”
“Another trick of that false rogue!” said Lu Bu.
“Surely he shall die for this.”
They went with all speed to Xiaopei, only to see
as they drew near, the ensigns of the enemy
displayed all along the walls, for the city had been
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taken by Cao Ren.
While Lu Bu stood at the foot of the rampart
reviling the traitor, Chen Deng himself appeared on
the wall and pointing to Lu Bu cried, “Did you think
that I, a minister of the dynasty, would serve a rebel
like you?”
Lu Bu in his wrath was about to make a
desperate attack, but suddenly a great noise was
heard and an army came up behind him. It was led
by no other than Zhang Fei. Gao Shun went to
engage him, but he had no chance of success. Lu
Bu then joined in the fray. Then another army
appeared, and the leader this time was Cao Cao
himself, and his army rushed to the attack. Seeing
that he had no hope of victory, Lu Bu went away
toward the east, with Cao Cao in pursuit. Lu Bu’s
army marched till they were worn out.
Then appeared a new force under Guan Yu.
Holding his sword ready to strike, Guan Yu called
out, “Do not flee, O Lu Bu! Guan Yu is waiting for
Lu Bu joined battle; he was flurried and scarcely
knew what was happening. And soon Zhang Fei
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came up once more. By desperate efforts Lu Bu and
his troops cut an arterial alley through the press and
got free. After this they started for Xiapi as fast as
they could travel, and Hou Cheng helped to keep the
pursuers at bay and welcomed them into the city.
So the two brothers, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei,
were together again after their separation. Both shed
tears of joy as they told each other what they had
seen and suffered.
“I was on the Haizhou Road when I heard of you,”
said Guan Yu. “I lost no time in starting.”
“And I had been camped in the Mangdang Hills
for a long time. It is happiness to be together again.”
So they talked. Then they marched off together to
find their elder brother, and made their salutations
with tears. In Liu Bei’s heart, sadness and joy
intermingled. Next they were presented to Cao Cao,
and with him they went into the captured Xuzhou
Mi Zhu soon came with the welcome news of the
safety of the family. And Chen Gui and Chen Deng
came to present their salutations. A grand banquet
was prepared for the officers at which Cao Cao
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presided as host, and Chen Gui and Liu Bei
occupied the seats of honor to his right and left. At
the close of the banquet, Cao Cao paid the two
Chens the highest compliments on their success and
rewarded them with the revenues of ten counties
beside giving the son the title of General Who Quells
the Waves.
Cao Cao was very pleased with his success and
at once began to scheme for the taking of Xiapi, the
sole place now left to Lu Bu, where he had taken
refuge. Cheng Yu said the course was inadvisable.
“If Lu Bu be pressed too hard, he may get clear
by a desperate effort and throw himself into the arms
of our especial enemy, Yuan Shu. These two as
allies would be difficult to overcome. Rather send a
capable man to guard the South of River Huai, one
able to secure you against Lu Bu on one hand and to
hold Yuan Shu on the other. Moreover the bandits
are in Huashang Mountains and still our enemies.
They must be watched.”
Cao Cao replied, “I can keep the whole of
Huashang Mountains, and I will request Liu Bei to
take the south.”
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“Could I dare withstand your command?” said Liu
So forthwith Liu Bei, leaving Mi Zhu and Jian
Yong at Xuzhou, went south, taking in his train Guan
Yu, Zhang Fei, and Sun Qian. And Cao Cao led his
army to Xiapi.
Lu Bu felt very secure in his refuge. He had good
store of grain, and he had the protection of River Si,
so he sat quiet, satisfied that he could maintain his
defense. So he allowed Cao Cao’s army to approach
without molestation.
“You ought to attack Cao Cao’s army as they
come up, before they have time to make camps and
defenses. They will only have a fatigued army to
oppose to your fresh troops, and you will certainly
defeat them.”
So said Chen Gong, but Lu Bu replied, “I have
suffered too many defeats lately to take any risk.
Wait till they actually attack, and you will see them
floating away on the waters.”
So Lu Bu neglected the confidant’s advice and
waited till the enemy had settled into their camp. This
done, the attackers advanced against the city. From
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the foot of the wall, Cao Cao called to Lu Bu to listen
while he spoke. Lu Bu ascended to the wall where
he stood.
Cao Cao addressed him, saying, “When I heard
that your family and that of Yuan Shu were likely to
be united by marriage, I sent an army against you.
Yuan Shu was guilty of treason, while you had to
your credit on the destruction of Dong Zhuo. For
what reason have you sacrificed all your merits to
throw in your lot with a rebel? It will be over late to
regret when this city shall have fallen. But if you
surrender and help me to support the ruling house,
you shall not lose your rank.”
Lu Bu replied, “If the Prime Minister will retire, we
may be able to discuss the matter.”
But Chen Gong, standing near his master, began
to rail at Cao Cao for a rebel and shot an arrow that
struck his plumed helmet.
“My oath, but I will slay you at least!” cried Cao
Cao, pointing his finger at Chen Gong.
Then the attack on the walls began.
“They have come from far and cannot maintain
this for long,” said Chen Gong. “General, go out with
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your horse and foot and take up a position outside,
leaving me to maintain the defense with the
remainder of our troops. If he engages you, I will
come out and strike at his rear ranks; if he attacks
the city, you can come to our aid. In ten days their
stores will fail, and we can beat them off. This will
place them between the ox−horns.”
“The advice seems good,” said Lu Bu. Lu Bu went
back to his palace and prepared his weapons. As it
was the depth of winter, he made his army take
plenty of wadded clothing to keep them warm. Lady
Yan, his wife, heard of it and came to ask whither he
was going. He told her of Chen Gong’s plan.
She said, “My lord, you are leaving an
undamaged city, abandoning your wife and little
ones, and going with a paltry force. Should any
untoward event happen, will your handmaid and her
lord ever meet again?”
Lu Bu hesitated and for three days made no
move. Then Chen Gong came to see him again and
said, “The enemy are all round the city, and unless
you go out soon you will be quite hemmed in.”
“I am thinking it would be better to maintain a
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stubborn defense,” said Lu Bu.
“Our enemies are short of food and have sent for
supplies to Xuchang. These will soon arrive, and you
should go out with some veterans and intercept the
convoy. That loss would be a heavy blow.”
Lu Bu agreed and went in to tell his wife the new
She wept saying, “If you go, do you think Chen
Gong and others equal to the defense of the city?
Should anything go wrong, you would be very sorry.
You abandoned me at Changan, and it was only
through the fortunate kindness of Pang Shu that I
was hidden from our enemies and rejoined you. Who
would have thought you would leave me again? But
go, go your way as far as you wish, and do not mind
your wife.”
And she wept bitterly. Lu Bu very sadly went to
take leave of Diao Chan who said, “You are my lord
and my life; you must not be careless and ride out
“You need not fear; with my mighty trident halberd
and Red−Hare, who dare come near me?”
He went out. But when he met Chen Gong, he
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said, “That story about supplies for Cao Cao is all
false, one of his many ruses. I am not going to stir.”
Chen Gong sighed; he felt all was lost.
“We shall die, and no person shall know our burial
place,” said he.
Thereupon Lu Bu remained in his own quarters
with his ladies, drinking freely to dissipate his
Two of his advisers, Xu Si and Wang Kai, went in
and proposed, “Yuan Shu in the South of River Huai
is very powerful. Why not write to him to renew the
marriage alliance? Yuan Shu can hardly refuse to
rescue the affianced bride of his son.”
So Lu Bu wrote and bade these two take the
Xu Si said, “You ought to send a strong escort
with us to force a way through.”
So Lu Bu told off one thousand troops and two of
his generals, Zhang Liao and He Meng, to conduct
his messenger beyond the pass. They started that
same night at the second watch, Zhang Liao leading
and He Meng bringing up the rear. They got out of
the city, crept past Liu Bei’s camp, and got beyond
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the danger zone. Then half the escort went on, and
Zhang Liao led the remainder back toward the city.
At the pass he found Guan Yu waiting. However, at
that moment Gao Shun came to his help, and they
all returned and reentered the gates. The two
messengers presently reached Shouchun, saw Yuan
Shu, and presented the letter.
“How is this?” said Yuan Shu. “Formerly he slew
my messenger and repudiated the marriage; now he
sends to ask for it.”
“It is all due to the vile plans of that monster Cao
Cao. If pray you, Illustrious Sir, consider it carefully,”
replied Xu Si.
“But if your master was not hemmed in by his
enemy and in imminent danger, he would never have
thought of renewing this proposal of marriage.”
The messengers said, “You may decide not to
help him, but the teeth are cold when the lips are
gone. It will not make for your happiness and
Said Yuan Shu, “Lu Bu is unreliable; tell him that I
will send soldiers after the girl has arrived here.”
This was final, and the two messengers took
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leave and headed back to Xiapi. When the party
reached Liu Bei’s camp, Xu Si decided, “We must
wait the night falls, and Wang Kai and I will try to get
through in the darkness; the escort of He Meng
remaining behind to protect our rear.”
They tried that very night, and the two
messengers crept across without discovery. But the
escort found them selves faced by Zhang Fei. He
Meng tried to fight but was captured in the very first
bout, and the five hundred troops of his half
company were either killed or they fled.
The prisoner was taken to Liu Bei, who forwarded
him to the main camp. There he told the story of the
marriage and the scheme to save the city. Cao Cao
was angry and ordered the execution of He Meng at
the main gate.
Then Cao Cao sent orders to each camp to
exercise the greatest diligence with threats of
rigorous punishment of the officers of any corps that
permitted any communication between the besieged
and the outer world.
Every soldier felt mightily afraid. Liu Bei returned
to camp and cautioned his brothers, saying, “We are
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in the most important place with regard to the South
of River Huai, and you must be very careful not to
allow any breach of this command.”
Zhang Fei was inclined to grumble, saying, “We
have just captured one of the enemy’s leaders, and
there is no word of praise or reward for us; nothing
but new orders and threats. What do you make of
“You are wrong to complain,” said Liu Bei. “These
are orders of the Commander−in−Chief, and what
would happen were there no orders? Do not disobey
them, Brother.”
They promised obedience and withdrew. In the
meantime Xu Si and Wang Kai had got back to Lu
Bu and told him what Yuan Shu had said, that if the
girl came the soldiers should go.
“But how can she be sent?” said Lu Bu.
Xu Si said, “That is the difficulty. He Meng’s
capture means that Cao Cao knows the whole plan
of getting help from the South of River Huai. I do not
see how any one but you yourself could hope to get
through the close siege.” “Suppose we tried, today?”
said Lu Bu.
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“This is an ill−omened day; you must not try
today. Tomorrow is a very lucky day, especially in
the evening, for any military action.”
Then Lu Bu ordered Zhang Liao and Gao Shun,
“Get ready three thousand troops for the venture,
and prepare a light carriage. I will lead the first
seventy miles; thence you can escort the bride−elect
the remainder of the way to her new home.”
Next evening toward the second watch, Lu Bu
wrapped up his daughter in soft wadded garments,
bound her about with a mailed coat, and took her on
his back. Then with his mighty trident halberd in
hand, he mounted Red−Hare and rode at the head of
the cavalcade out of the city gate. Zhang Liao and
Gao Shun followed.
In this order they approached Liu Bei’s camp. The
drums at once beat the alarm, and Guan Yu and
Zhang Fei barred the way.
“Stop!” they shouted.
Lu Bu had no desire to fight; all he wished was to
get through, so he made for a side road. Liu Bei
came in pursuit and the two parties engaged. Brave
as he might be, Lu Bu was almost helpless now that
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he was hampered by a girl on his shoulders, whom
he was desperately anxious to preserve from hurt.
Beside other parties came up all shouting and
attacking, and he had no alternative but to give up
his project and return into the city of Xiapi. He
reached his palace very sad at heart. The besiegers
returned to camp well pleased that no one had got
beyond their lines.
Lu Bu found consolation in the wine cup. The
siege had gone on for two months, and still the city
stood. Then they heard that Zhang Yang, Governor
of Henei, had been inclined to come to the help of Lu
Bu. But one of his subordinates, Yang Chou, had
assassinated him and was bringing his head as an
offering to Cao Cao, when he also had been slain by
Kui Gu, one of the Governor’s adherents. Kui Gu had
then led the force to Quan.
In the camp of the besiegers, there now arose
much murmuring. Cao Cao sent Shi Huan to
intercept and kill Kui Gu.
Then he called a counsel, saying, “Though Zhang
Yang, who meant to hurt us, is happily no more, yet
we are threatened on the north by Yuan Shao, and
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on the east Liu Biao and Zhang Xiu are a menace.
Here we meet with no success against the city of
Xiapi. We are for leaving Lu Bu to his fate and
returning home. What do you think?”
Among them Xun You fought against the idea,
saying, “You must not act like this. Lu Bu has lost
much, and his spirit is broken. The spirit of the leader
expresses that of his army; and when the leader
fails, his soldiers do not fight. Chen Gong is clever,
but nothing is done. Lu Bu broken, Chen Gong
without decision, it only needs a sharp attack, and
we shall succeed.”
“I have a plan to propose—” said Guo Jia, “a plan
to overcome the city at once; it is better than two
hundred thousand troops.”
“I suppose you mean drowning the city by River
Si and River Yi,” said Xun Yu.
“That is it,” said Guo Jia, smiling. Cao Cao
accepted the suggestion with joy and set his troops
to cut the banks of River Yi and River Si, and moved
his army to the high ground whence they watched
the drowning out of Xiapi. Only the east gate
remained clear of water.
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The besieged soldiers hastened to their leader.
Lu Bu said, “Why should I fear? My good horse
can go as well through the water as over the land.”
And he again returned to the wine cup for
consolation, drinking deeply with his wife and
The continual drinking bouts told at last, and Lu
Bu began to look dissipated. Seeing himself in a
mirror one day, he was startled at the change and
said to himself, “I am injuring myself with wine; no
more from this day forward.”
He then issued an order that no one should drink
wine under penalty of death.
Now one of his generals, Hou Cheng, lost fifteen
horses, stolen by one of his subordinates, Hou Cao,
who intended to resell them to Liu Bei. Hou Cheng
found out where the horses were, went out after
them, and recovered them after killing Hou Cao. And
Hou Cheng’s colleagues congratulated him on his
success. To celebrate the occasion, Hou Cheng
brewed a few barrels of wine to be drunk at the feast,
But thinking his chief might find him in fault, Hou
Cheng sent the bottles of wine to Lu Bu’s palace with
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a petition explaining, “By your virtue of warlike
renown, I have recovered my horses; and as my
comrades come with their congratulations, I brew
some bottles of wine, first to offer Your Lordship and
second to ask your permission to have a little wine at
the feast.”
Lu Bu took it very angrily, saying, “When I have
forbidden all wine, you brew some and begin to give
feasts; you are simply defying me!”
Whereupon he ordered the officer to instant
execution. However, Song Xian, Wei Xu, and other
officers came in and interceded, and after a time Lu
Bu softened.
“ Y o u o u g h t t o l o s e y o u r h e a d f o r t h i s
disobedience; but for the sake of your colleagues,
the punishment shall be reduced to a hundred
They tried to beg him off this, but only succeeded
in reducing the number of blows to one half.
When the sentence had been carried out and Hou
Cheng was permitted to return home, his colleagues
came sadly to console him.
“Had it not been for you I should have been put to
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death,” said Hou Cheng.
Song Xian replied, “All Lu Bu cares for is his
family; there is no pity for any one else. We are no
more than the weeds by the roadside.”
Wei Xu said, “The city is besieged; the water is
drowning us out. There will not be much more of this,
for we may die any day.”
“He is a beast, with neither a sense of humanity
nor of right. Let us leave him,” said Song Xian.
“He is not worth fighting for. The best we could do
would be to seize him and hand him over to Cao
Cao,” said Wei Xu. “I was punished because I got my
horses back again, yet all he trusts in is his own
Red−Hare. If you two will betray the gate and seize
Lu Bu, I will steal the horse and go out to Cao Cao’s
They settled how to carry out the plot, and that
very night Hou Cheng sneaked into the stables and
got Red−Hare away. He hastened to the east gate
which was opened to let him through. The guard
made a pretense of pursuing him but only a
Hou Cheng reached the besiegers’ camp,
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presented the horse and told Cao Cao what had
been arranged. They would show a white flag and
open the gates to his army. Hearing this Cao Cao
had a few notifications written out, which were
attached to arrows and shot over the walls. This is
one of them:
“Regent Marshal Cao Cao has received a
command from the Emperor to destroy Lu Bu. Those
who interfere with
the operations of his grand army, whatever their
rank, shall be put to death in the gate on the day that
the city shall be captured. Should any one capture
Lu Bu or bring his head he shall be well rewarded.
Let all take note of this.”
Next day at daylight a tremendous hubbub was
heard without the city and Lu Bu, halberd in hand,
hasted to the wall to see what it meant. As he went
from gate to gate inspecting the defenses and
guards, he censured Wei Xu for letting Hou Cheng
escape and get away with his horse. Lu Bu
threatened to punish Wei Xu. But just then the
Three Kingdoms Romance
besiegers began a fierce attack as the white flag had
just appeared, and Lu Bu had to turn all his energies
to defense. The assault lasted till noon, when the
attacking force drew off for a time.
Lu Bu was taking a rest in the tower and fell
asleep in his chair. Song Xian sent away Lu Bu’s
attendants; and when they had gone, he stole Lu
Bu’s weapon, the trident halberd in which he trusted.
Then Song Xian and Wei Xu fell upon Lu Bu together
and before he was well awake had bound him with
cords, trussing him so that he could not move. Lu Bu
shouted for his guards, but they were driven off by
the two traitor generals and could not come near.
Then a white flag was shown, and the besiegers
again approached the city. The traitors shouted out,
“Lu Bu has been captured alive!”
But Xiahou Yuan could hardly believe it till they
threw down the famous halberd. The gates were
flung open, and the enemy entered the city. Gao
Shun and Zhang Liao, who were at the opposite
gate, were surrounded and cut off by the water and
helpless. They were captured. Chen Gong made a
dash to the south gate but was also taken by Xu
Three Kingdoms Romance
Huang. Presently Cao Cao entered and at once gave
orders to turn the streams back into their usual
courses. He put out proclamations soothing the
Cao Cao and Liu Bei, with Guan Yu and Zhang
Fei behind, seated themselves side by side in the
White Gate Tower. The captives, to the number of a
thousand, were brought before them. Lu Bu looked a
pitiable object. Although a very tall man, he was tied
up in a veritable ball.
“The bonds are very tight,” cried he, “I beseech
you to loosen them!”
“Bindings a tiger must binding tight, of course,”
replied Cao Cao.
Seeing Hou Cheng, Song Xian, and Wei Xu
standing there looking pleased at their success, Lu
Bu said, “I treated you all well enough; how could
you turn against me?”
Said Song Xian, “You listened to the words of
your women, but rejected the advice of your
generals. Was not that mean?”
Lu Bu was silent. Then Gao Shun was brought
Three Kingdoms Romance
“What have you to say?” asked Cao Cao. Gao
Shun sulkily held his tongue and was ordered out to
Next Chen Gong was led in.
“I hope you have been well since we last saw
each other, Chen Gong?” said Cao Cao.
“Your ways were crooked, and so I left you,” said
Chen Gong.
“You say I was crooked; and what of your serving
Lu Bu?”
“Though he was a fool, he did not resemble you
in deceit and wickedness.”
“You say you are able enough and clever, but
what about your position today?”
Turning toward Lu Bu, Chen Gong said, “This
man would not follow my advice. Had he done so, he
would not now be a captive.”
“What think you ought to be done about this day’s
work?” said Cao Cao.
“There is death for me today, and that is the end!”
said Chen Gong undauntedly.
“Very well for you; but what of your mother and
wife and children?”
Three Kingdoms Romance
“It is said that one who rules with due regard to
filial piety does not harm a person’s family; one who
would show benevolence does not cut off the
sacrifices at a person’s tomb. My mother and wife
and children are in your hands. But since I am your
prisoner, I pray you slay me quickly and not to try to
harrow my feelings.”
Cao Cao’s heart still leaned toward mercy, but
Chen Gong turned and walked away, repulsing the
attendants who would stop him. Cao Cao rose from
his place and walked with Chen Gong, the tears
falling from his eyes. Chen Gong never looked at
Turning to his guards Cao Cao said, “Let his
mother and family be taken to Xuchang and looked
after immediately. Any postponement will be
The condemned man heard him but uttered no
word. He stretched out his neck for the blow. Tears
sprang to the eyes of all present. His remains were
honorably coffined and buried in Xuchang.
A poem pitying Chen Gong’s fate says:
Three Kingdoms Romance
Neither hope of life nor fear of death moved him.
How brave was he, a hero indeed!
But his lord heeded not his words,
Wherefore in vain possessed he great talents.
Nevertheless, in that he stood by his master.
To parting with wife and mother,
He merits our pity and profound respect.
Who would resemble Chen Gong
That day he died at the White Gate Tower?
While Cao Cao sadly escorted Chen Gong on the
way to death, Lu Bu appealed to Liu Bei, “Noble Sir,
you sit there an honored guest while poor I lie bound
at your feet. Will you not utter one word to alleviate
my lot?”
Liu Bei nodded. As Cao Cao returned to his
place, Lu Bu called out, “Your only trouble, Illustrious
Sir, is myself, and I am on your side now. You take
the lead, I will help you, and together the world is at
our feet.”
“What do you think?” said Cao Cao turning to Liu
“You are willing to forget the episodes of Ding
Three Kingdoms Romance
Yuan and Dong Zhuo?”
“Truly the lout is not to be trusted!” said Lu Bu,
looking at Liu Bei.
“Strangle and expose!” said Cao Cao.
As he was led away, Lu Bu turned once more to
Liu Bei, “You long−eared lout, you forget now the
service I rendered you that day at my camp gate,
when my arrow hit the mark!”
Just then some one shouted, “Lu Bu, O fool!
Death is but death, and why are you scared at it?”
Every one turned to look; the guards were
hustling Zhang Liao to the place of judgment. Cao
Cao ordered Lu Bu’s execution.
A poet has written upon the death of Lu Bu:
The flood spreads wide, the city drowns,
Its lord is captive. Nought avails
His courser’s speed or halberd’s thrust.
The tiger erstwhile fierce, now whines
For mercy. Cao Cao had meted him
Full well, a falcon flown at will
And hungry kept. Poor fool! He let
Chen Gong’s advice be overborne
Three Kingdoms Romance
By harem tattle; vainly now
He rails against the Long−Ears’ faith.
And another poem says:
Round is the hungry tiger, eater of men, for whom
is no pity,
Since the blood of his victims is fresh and not yet
Liu Bei spoke no word in favor of Lu Bu,
To whom even a father’s life was not sacred.
It was recorded earlier that the executioners were
hustling Zhang Liao forward. Pointing to him from
above, Cao Cao said, “He has a familiar face.”
“You were not likely to forget me; you saw me
before in Puyang,” said Zhang Liao.
“O, so you remember me, eh?”
“Yes; more is the pity.”
“Pity for what?”
“That the fire that day was not fierce enough to
burn you up, rebel that you are.”
Cao Cao began to get angry. “How dare you
Three Kingdoms Romance
insult me?” cried he and lifted his sword to kill the
bold speaker.
The undaunted Zhang Liao never changed color,
but stretched out his neck for the blow. Then a man
behind Cao Cao caught his arm, and in front of him
another dropped on his knees, saying, “O Prime
Minister, I pray thee stay thy hand!”
Lu Bu whining was not spared,
Railing Zhang Liao far better fared.
Who was it that saved Zhang Liao? The next
chapter will show.

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