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CHAPTER 22. Yuan Shao And Cao Cao Both Take The Field; Guan Yu And Zhang Fei Captures Two Generals.

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

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This was the plan proposed to Liu Bei, “Yuan
Shao is Cao Cao’s terror. He is strongly posted in an
extensive territory of four regions—Jizhou,
Qingzhou, Youzhou, and Bingzhou—with one million
fighting soldiers and numerous able officers. Write
letters and pray him rescue you.”
Liu Bei replied, “But we have never had any
dealings with each other, and he is unlikely to do
such a thing for one who has just destroyed his
“There is some one here whose family have been
on intimate terms with the Yuans for a hundred
years. Yuan Shao would surely come if he wrote.”
“And who is this?”
“A man you know well and respect greatly; can
you not guess?”
“You surely mean Zheng Xuan,” said Liu Bei
“That is he,” said Chen Deng smiling.
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Now Zheng Xuan was a student and a man of
great talent, who had long studied under the famed
teacher Ma Rong, whose knowledge of the Book of
Odes was universally recognized. Whenever Ma
Rong lectured, he let fall a curtain behind which were
a circle of singing girls. The students were
assembled in front of this curtain. Zheng Xuan
attended these lectures for three years and never
once let his eyes wander to the curtain.
Naturally the master admired his pupil. After
Zheng Xuan had finished his studies and gone
home, Ma Rong praised him to the others, saying,
“Only one man has penetrated the inner meaning of
my instructions, and that one is Zheng Xuan.”
In Zheng Xuan’s household, the waiting maids
were familiar with the Book of Odes. Once one of the
maids opposed Zheng Xuan’s wishes, so as
punishment she was made to kneel in front of the
steps. Another girl made fun of her, quoting from an
“What are you doing there in the mire?”
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The kneeling girl capped the verse from another
ode, quoted she:
“That was but a simple word I said,
Yet brought it wrath upon my head.”
Such was the family in which Zheng Xuan had
been born. In the reign of the Emperor Huan, he rose
to the rank of Chair of the Secretariat. But when the
Ten Eunuchs began to control the government, he
gave up office and retired into the country to Xuzhou.
Liu Bei had known him before, had consulted him on
many occasions, and greatly respected him. Liu Bei
was glad that he had remembered this man, and
without loss of time, in company with Chen Deng, he
went to Zheng Xuan’s house to ask him to draft this
letter, which Zheng Xuan generously consented to
Sun Qian was entrusted with the task of delivery
and set out at once. Yuan Shao read it and
considered the matter long before speaking.
“Liu Bei destroyed my brother, and I ought not to
help him, but out of consideration for the writer of this
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letter I must.”
Thereupon Yuan Shao assembled his officers to
consider an attack upon Cao Cao.
Adviser Tian Feng said, “Do not raise an army.
The people are worn out, and the granaries are
empty with these constant wars. Let us rather report
the recent victory of Gongsun Zan to the Throne. If
that does not reach the Emperor, then memorialize
that Cao Cao is hindering the government. Then
raise an army: occupy Liyang, assemble a Yellow
River fleet in Henan, prepare weapons, send out
your various divisions, and within three years you will
win all round.”
Adviser Shen Pei replied, “I do not agree. The
military genius of our illustrious lord having overcome
the hordes of the north, to dispose of Cao Cao is as
simple as turning one’s hand; it is not a matter of
Adviser Ju Shou said, “Victory is not always to the
many. Cao Cao’s discipline is excellent; his soldiers
are brave and well drilled. He will not sit down quietly
waiting to be surrounded as Gongsun Zan did. Now
you abandon the intention to inform the Throne of
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our success, which I find a good plan, but you intend
to send out an army without any valid excuse. Our
lord should not do that.”
Then followed adviser Guo Tu, saying, “You are
wrong. No expedition against Cao Cao can lack
excuse. But if our master would take the chance now
offering itself of coming into his own, he will accede
to the request in the letter of Zheng Xuan and ally
himself with Liu Bei for the destruction of Cao Cao.
This would win the approval of Heaven and the
affections of the people, a double blessing.”
Thus the four advisers differed and wrangled, and
Yuan Shao could not decide which to follow. Then
there came two others, Xu You and Xun Shen, and,
seeing them, Yuan Shao said, “You two have wide
experience, how would you decide?”
The two made their obeisance, and Yuan Shao
said, “A letter from Zheng Xuan the Chair has
arrived, counseling me to support Liu Bei in an attack
on Cao Cao. Now am I to send an army or not send
an army?”
They both cried with one voice, “Send! Your
armies are numerous enough and strong enough;
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you will destroy a traitor and help the dynasty.”
“Your words just express my desire,” said Yuan
Shao and thenceforward the discussion turned on
the expedition.
First, Liu Bei’s legate, Sun Qian, was sent back
with Yuan Shao’s consent and instructions for Liu Bei
to make ready to cooperate. Second, Yuan Shao
assigned Shen Pei and Peng Ji as Commanding
Generals; Tian Feng, Xun Shen, and Xu You as
Military Advisers; Yan Liang and Wen Chou as
Generals. The army was to be composed of three
hundred thousand, horse and foot in equal numbers.
They were to march on Liyang.
When the arrangements were complete, Guo Tu
went to his chief, saying, “In order to manifest the
righteousness of your attack on Cao Cao, it would be
well to issue a manifesto with a summary of his
various crimes.” Yuan Shao approved of this, and
Chen Lin, well known as a scholar, was entrusted to
compose such a document. Chen Lin had been the
Court Secretary in the reign of the late Emperor Ling.
When Dong Zhuo unseated Regent Marshal He Jin,
Chen Lin sought safety in Jizhou. This is the
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“A perspicacious ruler wisely provides against
political vicissitudes; a loyal minister carefully
foresees the difficulties
in the assertion of authority. Wherefore a person
of unusual parts precedes an extraordinary situation,
and of such a person the achievements will be
extraordinary. For indeed the ordinary person is quite
unequal to an extraordinary situation.
“In former days, after having gained ascendancy
over a weakling emperor of the powerful Qin
Dynasty, Prime Minister Zhao Gao wielded the whole
authority of the Throne, overruling the government.
All dignity and fortune came through him, and his
contemporaries were restrained so that none dared
to speak openly. Slowly but surely evolved the
tragedy of the Wangyi Palace, when the Emperor
was slain and the Imperial Tablets perished in the
flames. Zhao Gao, the author of these crimes, has
ever since been held up to obloquy as the arch
example of an evil doer.
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“In the later days of Empress Lu of the Hans, after
the death of the Supreme Ancestor, the world saw
Lu Chan and Lu Lu, brothers of the Empress and
fellows in wickedness, monopolizing the powers of
government. Within the capital, they commanded two
armies, and without they ruled the feudal states of
Liang and Zhao. They arbitrarily controlled all state
affairs and decided all questions in the council
chamber and the court. This dominance of the base
and declension of the noble continued till the hearts
of the people grew cold within them.
“Thereupon Zhou Bo, Lord of Jiang, and Liu
Zhang, Lord of Zhuxu, asserted their dignity and let
loose their wrath. They destroyed the contumacious
ministers and restored their ruler to his royal state.
Thus they enabled the kingly way to be reestablished
and the glory to be manifested. Here are two
instances where ministers asserted their authority.
“This Cao Cao, now Minister of Works, forsooth,
had for ancestor a certain eunuch named Cao Teng,
fitting companion of Xu Huang and Zuo Guan. All
three were prodigies of wickedness and insatiably
avaricious and, let loose on the world, they hindered
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ethical progress and preyed upon the populace. This
Cao Teng begged for and adopted Cao Cao’s father
who, by wholesale bribery, wagons of gold and
cartloads of jewels presented at the gates of the
influential, contrived to sneak his way into
considerable office where he could subvert authority.
Thus Cao Cao is the depraved bantling of a
monstrous excrescence, devoid of all virtue in
himself, ferocious and cunning, delighting in disorder
and reveling in public calamity.
“Now I, Yuan Shao, a man of war, have mustered
my armies and displayed my might that I may sweep
away and destroy the evil opponents of government.
I have already had to deal with Dong Zhuo, the
ruffian who invaded the official circle and wrested the
government. At that time I grasped my sword and
beat the drums to restore order in the east. I
assembled warriors, selected the best, and took
them into my service. In this matter I came into
relations with this Cao Cao and conferred with him to
further my scheme. I gave him command of a
subordinate force and looked to him to render such
petty service as he was equal to. I suffered his
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stupidities and condoned his shortcomings, his rash
attacks and facile retreats, his losses and shameful
defeats, his repeated destruction of whole armies.
Again and again I sent him more troops and filled the
gaps in his depleted ranks. I even addressed a
memorial to the Throne for him to be appointed
Imperial Protector of Yanzhou. I made him feel as he
were a tiger. I added to his honors and increased his
authority, hoping that eventually he would justify
himself by a victory against Dong Zhuo such as Qin
used Meng Ming against Jin.
“But Cao Cao availed himself of the opportunity to
overstep all bounds, to give free rein to violence and
evil. He stripped the common people, outraged the
good, and injured the virtuous. Bian Rang, Governor
of Jiujiang, was a man of conspicuous talent and of
world−wide reputation. He was honest in speech and
correct in demeanor. He spoke without flattery. Cao
Cao put him to death and his head was exposed,
and his family utterly destroyed. From that day to this
scholars have deeply mourned, and popular
resentment has steadily grown. One person raised
his arm in anger and the whole countryside followed
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him. Whereupon Cao Cao was smitten at Xuzhou,
and his territory was snatched by Lu Bu. He fled
eastward without shelter or refuge.
“My policy is a strong trunk and weak branches, a
commanding central government and obedient
feudal lords. Also I am no partisan. Therefore I again
raised my banners, donned my armor, and moved
forward to attack. My drums rolled for an assault on
Lu Bu, and his multitudes incontinently fled. I saved
Cao Cao from destruction and restored him to a
position of authority. Wherein I must confess to
showing no kindness to the people of Yanzhou,
although it was a great matter for Cao Cao.
“Later it happened that the imperial cortege
moved west, and a horde of rebels of Dong Zhuo’s
faction rose and attacked. The course of government
was hindered. At that moment my territory was
threatened from the north, and I could not leave it.
Wherefore I sent one of my officers, Xu Xun, to Cao
Cao to see to the repair of the dynastic temples and
the protection of the youthful sovereign. Thereupon
Cao Cao gave the rein to his inclinations. He
arbitrarily ordered the removal of the court. He
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brought shame upon the Ruling House and
subverted the laws. He engrossed the chairmanship
of the three highest offices and monopolized the
control of the administration. Offices and rewards
were conferred according to his will; punishment was
at his word. He glorified whole families of those he
loved; he exterminated whole clans of those he
hated. Open critics were executed; secret opponents
were assassinated. Officials locked their lips;
wayfarers only exchanged glances. Chairs of boards
recorded levies, and every government official held a
“The late Yang Biao, a man who had filled two of
the highest offices of state as Chairs of two boards,
because of some petty grudge was, though guiltless,
charged with a crime. He was beaten and suffered
every form of cruelty. This arbitrary and impulsive act
was a flagrant disregard of constitutional rules.
“Another victim was the Counselor Zhao Yan. He
was faithful in remonstrance, honest in speech,
endowed with the highest principles of rectitude. He
was listened to at court. His words carried enough
weight with the Emperor to cause him to modify his
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intention and confer reward for outspokenness.
Desirous of diverting all power into his own hands
and stifle all criticism, Cao Cao presumed to arrest
and put to death this censor, in defiance of all legal
“Another evil deed was the destruction of the
tomb of Prince Xiao of Liang, the brother of the late
Emperor. His tomb should certainly have been
respected, even its mulberries and sweetgum trees,
its cypresses and its pines. Cao Cao led soldiers to
the cemetery and stood by while it was desecrated,
the coffin destroyed and the poor corpse exposed.
They stole the gold and jewels of the dead. This
deed brought tears to the eyes of the Emperor and
rent the hearts of all people. Cao Cao also appointed
new offices—Commander Who Opens Grave
Mounds and General Who Seeks for Gold—whose
tracks were marked by desecrated graves and
exhumed bodies. Indeed, while assuming the
position of the highest officer of state, he indulged
the inclination of a bandit, polluting the empire,
oppressing the people, a bane to gods and humans.
“He added to this by setting up minute and
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vexatious prohibitions so that there were nets and
snares spread in every pathway, traps and pitfalls
laid in every road. A hand raised was caught in a net,
a foot advanced was taken in an entanglement.
Wherefore the people of his regions, Yanzhou and
Yuzhou, waxed desperate and the inhabitants of the
metropolis groaned and murmured in anger.
“Read down the names through all the years
Of ministers that all humans curse
For greed and cruelty and lust;
Than Cao Cao you will not find a worse.
“I have investigated the cases of evil deeds in the
regions, but I have been unable to reform him. I have
given him repeated opportunities hoping that he
would repent. But he has the heart of a wolf, the
nature of a wild beast. He nourishes evil in his
bosom and desires to pull down the pillars of the
state, to weaken the House of Han, to destroy the
loyal and true, and to stand himself conspicuous as
the chiefest of criminals.
“Formerly, when I attacked the north, Gongsun
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Zan, that obstinate bandit and perverse brave,
resisted my might for a year. Before Gongsun Zan
could be destroyed, this Cao Cao wrote to him that,
under the pretense of assisting my loyal armies, he
would covertly lead them to destruction. The plot was
discovered through his messengers, and Gongsun
Zan also perished. This blunted Cao Cao’s ardor,
and his plans failed.
“Now he is camped at the Ao Granaries, with the
Yellow River to strengthen his position. Like the
mantis in the story, who threatened the chariot with
its forelegs, he thinks himself terrible. But with the
dignity and prestige of Han to support me, I confront
the whole world. I have spearmen by millions,
horsemen by hundreds of thousands, fierce and
vigorous warriors strong as Chong Huang and Wu
Huo, those heroes of antiquity. I have enlisted expert
archers and strong bowmen. In Bingzhou my armies
have crossed the Taihang Range, and in Qingzhou
they have forded River Ji and River Ta. They have
coasted down the Yellow River to attack his van, and
from Jingzhou the armies of Liu Biao have
descended to Wancheng and Wangye to smite his
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rearguard. Thunder−like in the weight of their march,
tiger−like in the alertness of their advance, they are
as flames let loose among light grass, as the blue
ocean poured on glowing embers. Is there any hope
that he escape destruction?
“Of the hordes of Cao Cao, those who can fight
are from the north or from other camps, and they all
desire to return home. They weep whenever they
look to the north. The others belong to Yanzhou or
Yuzhou, being remnants of the armies of Lu Bu and
Zhang Yang. Beaten, stern necessity forced them to
accept service, but they take it only as a temporary
expedient. They who have been wounded hate each
other. If I give the signal to return and send my
drums to the mountain tops, and wave the white flag
to show them they may surrender, they will melt
away like dew before the sun, and no blood will be
shed. The victory will be mine.
“Now the Hans are failing and the bonds of
empire are relaxed. The sacred dynasty has no
supporter, the ministers are not strong enough to
cope with the difficulties. Within the capital the
responsible ministers are crestfallen and helpless.
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There is no one to rely upon. Such loyal and high
principled people as are left are browbeaten by a
tyrannical minister. How can they manifest their
“Cao Cao has surrounded the Palace with seven
hundred veterans, the ostensible object being to
guard the Emperor, but the covert design being to
hold him prisoner. I fear this is but the first step in
usurpation, and so I take my part. Now is the time for
loyal ministers to sacrifice their lives, the opportunity
for officers to perform meritorious deeds. Can I fail to
urge you?
“Cao Cao has forged commands to himself to
undertake the control of government affairs and, in
the name of the state, sends out calls for military
assistance. I fear lest distant regions may obey his
behest and send troops to help him, to the detriment
of the multitude and their everlasting shame. No wise
person will do so.
“The forces of four regions—Bingzhou, Jizhou,
Qingzhou, and Youzhou—are moving out
simultaneously. When this call reaches Jingzhou,
you will see their forces cooperate with those of Liu
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Biao. All regions and counties ought to organize
volunteers and set them along their borders to
demonstrate their force and prove their loyal support
of the dynasty. Will not this be rendering
extraordinary service?
“The rank of lordship, with feudal rights over five
thousand households and a money reward of five
millions, will be the reward of the one who brings the
head of Cao Cao. No questions will be asked of
those who surrender. I publish abroad this notice of
my bounty and the rewards offered that you may
realize that the dynasty is in real danger.” Yuan Shao
read this effusion with great joy. He at once ordered
copies to be posted everywhere, in towns and cities,
at gates, tax stations, ferries, and passes. Copies
found their way to the capital, and one got into Cao
Cao’s palace. That day he happened to be in bed
with a bad headache. The servants took the paper to
the sick man’s room. He read it and was frightened
from the tips of his hair to the marrow of his very
bones. He broke out into a cold perspiration, and his
headache vanished. He bounded out of bed and said
to Cao Hong, “Who wrote this?”
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“They say it is Chen Lin’s brush,” replied he.
Cao Cao laughed, “They have the literary gift;
they would rather have the military too to back it up.
This fellow may be a very elegant writer, but what if
Yuan Shao’s fighting capacity falls short?”
Cao Cao called his advisers together to consider
the next move. Kong Rong heard of the summons
and went to Cao Cao, saying, “You should not fight
with Yuan Shao; he is too strong. Make peace.”
Xun Yu said, “He is despicable; do not make
Kong Rong replied, “His land is wide and his
people strong. He has many skillful strategists like
Guo Tu, Xu You, Peng Ji, and Shen Pei; loyal
leaders like Tian Feng and Ju Shou; and formidable
generals like Yan Liang and Wen Chou; able
commanders like Gao Lan, Zhang He, Han Meng,
and Chunyu Qiong. You cannot say he is
Xun Yu laughed, saying, “His army is a rabble.
One general, Tian Feng, is bold but treacherous;
another, Xu You, is greedy and ignorant; Shen Pei is
devoted but stupid; Peng Ji is steady but useless.
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And these four of such different temperaments,
mutually incompatible, will make for confusion rather
than efficiency. The brave Yan Liang and Wen Chou
are worthless and can be disposed of in the first
battle; and the others such as Gao Lan, Zhang He,
Han Meng, and Chunyu Qiong are poor, rough stuff.
What is the use even of their hundred thousands?”
Kong Rong was silent, and Cao Cao smiled.
“They are even as Xun Yu describes,” said Cao
Then Cao Cao issued orders. Generals Liu Dai
and Wang Zhong were to lead an army of fifty
thousand troops, displaying the Prime Minister’s
banners, and march against Xuzhou to attack Liu
This Liu Dai had been Imperial Protector of
Yanzhou but had surrendered to Cao Cao and
entered Cao Cao’s service after the fall of the region.
Cao Cao had given him a rank as Supernumerary
Leader and now was disposed to make use of him.
Cao Cao himself took command of a large army
of two hundred thousand troops for a simultaneous
attack on Yuan Shao at Liyang.
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Adviser Cheng Yu said, “The two Liu Dai and
Wang Zhong sent against Liu Bei are unequal to
their task.”
“I know,” said Cao Cao. “They are not meant to
fight Liu Bei; it is merely a feint. They have orders
not to make any real attack till I have overcome Yuan
Shao. Then Liu Bei will be next.”
Liu Dai and Wang Zhong went their way, and Cao
Cao marched out his grand army, which came into
touch with the enemy, then thirty miles distant, at
Liyang. Both sides made fortified camps and waited
watching each other. This went on for two months of
the autumn. There was dissension in Yuan Shao’s
camp. Xu You was at enmity with his colleague,
Shen Pei, who was in commanding position; and the
strategist Ju Shou resented the rejection of his plan.
So they would not attack. Yuan Shao also could not
make up his mind.
Tired of this state of inaction, Cao Cao then gave
orders to his commanders: Zang Ba was to continue
the pressure on Qingzhou and Xuzhou; Yu Jin and Li
Dian to deploy troops along the Yellow River; Cao
Ren to quarter the main force at Guandu. Then Cao
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Cao with an army marched back to Capital Xuchang.
The five legions sent against Liu Bei went into
camp thirty−five miles from Xuzhou. The camp made
an imposing display of the banners of the Prime
Minister, but no attacks followed. Their spies were
very busy north of the river to get news of Cao Cao’s
movement. On the defensive side, Liu Bei, as he
was uncertain of the strength of the force against
him, dared not move.
Suddenly orders came for the Cao Cao’s army to
attack, and then discord showed itself.
Liu Dai said, “The Prime Minister orders an
attack; you advance.”
Wang Zhong replied, “You were named first.”
“I am the Commander−in−Chief; it is not my place
to go first.”
“I will go with you in joint command,” said Wang
“Let us cast lots, and he upon whom the lot falls
must go,” said Liu Dai.
They drew lots, and it fell to Wang Zhong, who
advanced toward Xuzhou with half the force.
When Liu Bei heard of the threatened attack, he
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called Chen Deng to consult.
Liu Bei said, “There is dissension in Yuan Shao’s
camp at Liyang, so they do not advance. We do not
know where Cao Cao is, but his own banner is not
displayed in his Liyang’s camp. Why then is it shown
Chen Deng replied, “His tricks take a hundred
forms. It must be that he regards the north as more
important and has gone there to look after its
defense. He dares not show his flag there, and I feel
sure it is only meant to mislead us. He is not here.”
Liu Bei then asked whether one of his brothers
would find out the truth, and Zhang Fei volunteered
to go.
“I fear you are unsuited for this,” said Liu Bei.
“You are too impetuous.”
“If Cao Cao is there, I will haul him over here,”
said Zhang Fei.
“Let me go first and find out,” said Guan Yu.
“If you go, I shall feel more at ease,” said Liu Bei.
So Guan Yu set out with three thousand soldiers
to reconnoiter. It was then early winter, and snow
was falling from a gloomy sky. They marched
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regardless of the snow and came near Wang
Zhong’s camp with arms all ready to attack. Guan Yu
summoned Wang Zhong to a parley.
“The Prime Minister is here; why do you not
surrender?” said Wang Zhong. “Beg him to come to
the front, for I would speak with him,” replied Guan
“Is he likely to come out to see such as you,” said
Wang Zhong.
Guan Yu angrily dashed forward, and Wang
Zhong set his spear to meet him. Guan Yu rode till
he came close to his antagonist, then suddenly
wheeled away. Wang Zhong went after him and
followed up a slope. Just as they passed the crest,
Guan Yu suddenly wheeled again, shouted, and
came on flourishing the mighty sword. Wang Zhong
could not withstand that and fled. But Guan Yu,
changing the huge sword to his left hand, with his
right laid hold of his victim by the straps of his
breastplate, lifted him out of the saddle, and rode
away to his own lines with the captive laid across the
pommel of his saddle. Wang Zhong’s army
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The captive was sent to Xuzhou, where he was
summoned into the presence of Liu Bei.
“Who are you? What office do you hold? How
dare you falsely display the ensigns of the Prime
Minister?” said Liu Bei.
“What do you mean by falsely when I simply
obeyed my orders?” said Wang Zhong. “My master
wanted to produce the impression that he was
present. Really he was not there.”
Liu Bei treated him kindly, giving him food and
clothing; but put him in prison till his colleague could
be captured.
Guan Yu said to Liu Bei, “I knew you had
peaceful intentions in your mind; therefore, I
captured Wang Zhong instead of slaying him.”
“I was afraid of Zhang Fei’s hasty and impulsive
temper,” said Liu Bei. “He would have slain this man.
So I could not send him. There is no advantage in
killing persons of this sort, and while alive they are
often useful in amicable settlements.”
Here Zhang Fei said, “You have got this Wang
Zhong; now I will go and get the other man.”
“Be careful,” said Liu Bei. “Liu Dai was once
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Imperial Protector of Yanzhou, and he was one of
the nobles who met at Tiger Trap Pass to destroy
Dong Zhuo. He is not to be despised.”
“I do not think him worth talking about so much. I
will bring him in alive just as Second Brother did this
“I fear that if his life be lost, it may upset our
designs,” said Liu Bei.
“If I kill him, I will forfeit my own life,” said Zhang
So he was given three thousand soldiers and
went off quickly.
The capture of his colleague made Liu Dai
careful. He strengthened his defenses and kept
behind them. He took no notice of the daily
challenges and continual insults which began with
Zhang Fei’s arrival.
After some days Zhang Fei evolved a ruse. He
issued orders to prepare to rush the enemy’s camp
at night, but he himself spent the day drinking.
Pretending to be very intoxicated, he held a
court−martial, and one soldier was severely flogged
for a breach of discipline. The man was left bound in
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the midst of the camp, Zhang Fei saying, “Wait till I
am ready to start tonight; you shall be sacrificed to
the flag.” At the same time he gave secret orders to
the custodians to let the man escape. The man
found his opportunity, crept out of camp, and went
over to the enemy, to whom he betrayed the plan of
a night attack. As the man bore signs of savage
punishment, Liu Dai was the more disposed to credit
his desertion and tale; and Liu Dai made his
arrangements, putting the greater part of his troops
in ambush outside his camp so that it was empty.
That night, having divided his army into three
parties, Zhang Fei went to attack the camp. A few
men were ordered to advance directly, dash in and
set fire going. Two larger bodies of troops were to go
round to the rear of the camp and attack when they
saw the fire well started. At the third watch, Zhang
Fei, with his veterans, went to cut off Liu Dai’s road
to the rear.
The thirty men told off to start a conflagration
made their way into the camp and were successful.
When the flames arose, the ambushing troops
rushed out but only to find themselves attacked on
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both sides. This confused them, and as they knew
nothing of the number of their assailants, they were
panic stricken and scattered.
Liu Dai, with a company of footmen got clear of
the fight and fled, but he went straight toward Zhang
Fei. Escape was impossible, and the two men rode
up each to attack the other. Zhang Fei captured his
opponent, and the men surrendered. Zhang Fei sent
news of this success to his brothers.
Liu Bei said, “Hitherto Zhang Fei has been rather
violent, but this time he has acted wisely, and I am
very pleased.”
They rode out to welcome Zhang Fei.
“You said I was too rough; how now?” said Zhang
Fei to his brothers.
“If I had not put you on your mettle, you would not
have evolved this stratagem,” said Liu Bei.
Zhang Fei laughed. Then appeared the captive
Liu Dai, in bonds. Liu Bei at once dismounted and
loosed the cords, saying, “My young brother was
rather hasty, but you must pardon him.”
So Liu Dai was freed. He was taken into the city,
his colleague was released, and both were cared for.
Three Kingdoms Romance
Liu Bei said to them, “I could not help putting
Imperial Protector Deputy Che Zhou to death when
he tried to kill me, but Cao Cao took it as disaffection
and sent you two generals to punish me. I have
received much kindness from him and certainly
would not show ingratitude by killing you. I wish you
to speak for me and explain when you get back.”
“We are deeply grateful that you spare our lives,
and we will certainly do so in gratitude for what our
wives and children owe you.”
Next day the two leaders and their army were
allowed to depart unscathed. But before they had got
three miles from the boundary, they heard a mighty
shouting and there appeared Zhang Fei barring the
“My brother made a mistake in letting you go; he
did not understand. How could he give freedom to
two rebels?”
This made the two men quake with fear, but as
the fierce eyed warrior with uplifted sword was
bearing down upon them, they heard another man
galloping up and shouting, “Do not behave so
disgracefully!” The newcomer was Guan Yu, and his
Three Kingdoms Romance
appearance relieved the unhappy men of all fear.
“Why do you stop them since our brother set
them free?” cried Guan Yu.
“If they are let go today, they will surely come
back,” cried Zhang Fei.
“Wait till they do, then you may kill them,” replied
Guan Yu.
The two leaders with one voice cried, “Even if the
Prime Minister slay our whole clans, we will never
come again. We pray you pardon us.”
Said Zhang Fei, “If Cao Cao himself had come, I
would have slain him. Not a breastplate should have
gone back. But for this time I leave you your heads.”
Clapping their hands to their heads the two men
scuttled off while the two brothers returned to the
“Cao Cao will certainly come,” said Guan Yu and
Zhang Fei.
Sun Qian said, “This is not a city that can hold out
for long. We should send part of our forces to
Xiaopei and guard Xiapi as a corner stone of our
Liu Bei agreed and told off Guan Yu to guard
Three Kingdoms Romance
Xiapi whither he also sent his two wives, Lady Gan
and Lady Mi. The former was a native of Xiapi; the
latter was Mi Zhu’s younger sister.
Sun Qian, Jian Yong, Mi Zhu, and Mi Fang were
left to defend Xuzhou, and Liu Bei with Zhang Fei
went to Xiaopei.
The two released leaders, Liu Dai and Wang
Zhong, hastened home to Cao Cao and explained to
him that Liu Bei was not disaffected. But their master
was exceeding angry with them, crying, “You
shameful traitors, what use are you?”
He roared to the guards to take them away to
instant execution.
How can a hare or a deer expect
To conquer in tiger strife?
Minnows and shrimps that with dragons contend
Already have done with life.
The fate of the two leaders will be told in the next

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