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CHAPTER 33. A Gallant Warrior, Cao Pi Marries Lady Zhen; An Expiring Star, Guo Jia Settles Liaodong.

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

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As was said, Cao Pi, having made his way into
the Yuans’ palace, saw two women there whom he
was about to kill. Suddenly a red light shone in his
eyes, and he paused. Lowering his sword he said,
“Who are you?”
“Thy handmaid is the widow of the late Yuan
Shao, Lady Liu,” said the elder of the two, “and this
is the wife of Yuan Xi, his second son. She was of
the Zhen family. When Yuan Xi was sent to
command in Youzhou, her family objected to her
going so far from home and she stayed behind.”
Cao Pi drew Lady Zhen toward him and looked at
her closely. Her hair hung disordered, her face was
dusty and tear−stained, but when, with the sleeve of
his inner garment, he had wiped sway these
disfigurements, he saw a woman of exquisite
loveliness, with a complexion clear as jade touched
with the tender bloom of a flower petal, a woman
indeed beautiful enough to ruin a kingdom.
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“I am the son of the Prime Minister,” said he
turning to the elder woman. “I will guarantee your
safety, so you need fear nothing.”
He then put by his sword and sat down at the
upper end of the room.
As Cao Cao was entering the gate of the
conquered city of Yejun, Xu You rode up very
quickly, passed him, and pointed with his whip at the
gate, saying, “Sir Prime Minister, you would not have
been here but for my plans.”
Cao Cao laughed, but his generals were very
annoyed. When he reached the residence, he
stopped at the gate and asked, “Has anyone had
gone in?”
The guard at the gate said, “Your son is within.”
Cao Cao called him out and chided him, but the
wife of the late Imperial Protector interposed, saying,
“But not for your son we had not been saved. I desire
to present to you a lady, of the Zhen family, as a
handmaid to your son.”
Cao Cao bade them bring out the girl and she
bowed before him. After looking at her intently, he
said, “Just the wife for him!”
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And he told Cao Pi to take Lady Zhen to wife.
After the conquest of Jizhou had been made quite
sure, Cao Cao made a ceremonial visit to the Yuan
family cemetery, where he sacrificed at the tomb of
his late rival, bowed his head, and lamented bitterly.
Turning to his generals, he said, “Not long ago
when Yuan Shao and I worked together in military
matters, he asked me, saying, ‘If this disturbance
does not cease, what fronts should be held?’ and I
replied asking him what he thought. He said, ‘In the
North of Yellow River, to the south I would hold the
Yellow River; on the north, guard against Yan and
Dai ((two ancient states)) and absorb the hordes
from the Gobi Desert. Thence southward I would try
for the empire, and do you not think I might
succeed?’ I replied saying, ‘I depend upon the
wisdom and force of the world directed by scholars;
then every thing would be possible.’ These words
seem as if spoken only yesterday, and now he is
gone. Thinking over it I cannot refrain from tears.”
His officers were deeply affected. Cao Cao
treated the widow generously, giving her gold and
silks and food to her content.
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He also issued a further order that the taxes in
the North of Yellow River would be remitted in
consideration of the sufferings of the people during
the warlike operations. He sent up a memorial to the
Throne and formally became Imperial Protector of
One day Xu Chu, riding in at the east gate, met
Xu You, who called out to him, “Would you fellows
be riding through here if it had not been for me?”
Xu Chu replied, “We fellows, those who survive
and those who perished, risked our lives in bloody
battle to get this city, so do not brag of your deeds!”
“You are a lot of blockheads, not worth talking
about,” said Xu You.
Xu Chu in his anger drew his sword and ran Xu
You through. Then he took Xu You’s head and went
to tell Cao Cao the reason.
Said Cao Cao, “He and I were old friends and we
could joke together. Why did you kill him?”
Cao Cao blamed Xu Chu very severely and gave
orders that the corpse should be buried honorably.
Cao Cao inquired for any wise and reputable
people who were known to be living in the region and
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was told: “Commander Cui Yan, of Dongwu, who
had on many occasions given valuable advice to
Yuan Shao. As the advice was not followed, he had
pleaded indisposition and remained at home.”
Cao Cao sent for this man, gave him an office
and said to him, “According to the former registers,
there are three hundred thousand households in the
region so that one may well call it a major region.”
Cui Yan replied, “The empire is rent and the
country is torn; the Yuan brothers are at war, and the
people have been stripped naked. Yet, Sir, you do
not hasten to inquire after local conditions and how
to rescue the people from misery, but first compute
the possibilities of taxation. Can you expect to gain
the support of our people by such means?”
Cao Cao accepted the rebuke, changed the
policy, thanked him, and treated him all the better for
As soon as Jizhou was settled, Cao Cao sent to
find out the movements of Yuan Tan. He heard Yuan
Tan was ravaging Ganling, Anping, Bohai, and
Hejian. Moreover, the scouts brought the news that
Yuan Shang had fled to Zhongshan, and Yuan Tan
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led an expedition against him, but Yuan Shang
would not face a battle. He had gone away to
Youzhou to his brother Yuan Xi. Yuan Tan, having
gathered Yuan Shang’s troops, prepared for another
attempt on Jizhou.
Whereupon Cao Cao summoned him. Yuan Tan
refused to come, and Cao Cao sent letters breaking
off the marriage between Yuan Tan and his
daughter. Soon after Cao Cao led an expedition
against Yuan Tan and marched to Pingyuan,
whereupon Yuan Tan sent to Liu Biao to beg
assistance. Liu Biao sent for Liu Bei to consult about
this. Liu Bei said, “Cao Cao is very strong now that
he has overcome Jizhou, and the Yuans will be
unable to hold out for long. Nothing is to be gained
by helping Yuan Tan and it may give Cao Cao the
loophole he is always looking for to attack this place.
My advice is to keep the army in condition and
devote all our energies to defense.”
“Agreed; but what shall we say?” said Liu Biao.
“Write to both the brothers as peacemaker in
gracious terms.”
Accordingly Liu Biao wrote thus to Yuan Tan:
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“When the superior person would escape danger,
that person does not go to an enemy state. I heard
recently that
you had crooked the knee to Cao Cao, which was
ignoring the enmity between him and your father,
rejecting the duties of brotherhood, and leaving
behind you the shame of an alliance with the enemy.
If your brother, the successor to Jizhou, has acted
unfraternally, your duty was to bend your inclination
to follow him and wait till the state of affairs had
settled. Would it not have been very noble to bring
about the redress of wrongs?”
And to Yuan Shang, Liu Biao wrote:
“Your brother, the ruler of Qingzhou, is of an
impulsive temperament and confuses right with
wrong. You ought first
to have destroyed Cao Cao in order to put an end
to the hatred which your father bore him and, when
the situation had become settled, to have
endeavored to redress the wrongs. Would not that
have been well? If you persist in following this
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mistaken course, remember the hound and the hare,
both so wearied that the peasant got them all.”
From this letter Yuan Tan saw that Liu Biao had
no intention of helping him, and feeling he alone
could not withstand Cao Cao; he abandoned
Pingyuan and fled to Nanpi, whither Cao Cao
pursued him.
The weather was very cold and the river was
frozen, so that the grain boats could not move.
Wherefore Cao Cao ordered the inhabitants to break
the ice and tow the boats. When the peasants heard
the order they ran away. Cao Cao angrily wished to
arrest and behead them. When they heard this they
went to his camp in a body and offered their heads to
the sword.
“If I do not kill you, my order will not be obeyed,”
said Cao Cao. “Yet supposing I cut off your heads,
but I cannot bear to do that severity. Quickly flee to
the hills and hide so that my soldiers do not capture
The peasants left weeping. Then Yuan Tan led
out his army against Cao Cao. When both sides
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were arrayed, Cao Cao rode to the front, pointed
with his whip at his opponent and railed at him,
saying, “I treated you well; why then have you turned
against me?”
Yuan Tan replied, “You have invaded my land,
captured my cities, and broken off my marriage; yet
you accuse me of turning against you.”
Cao Cao ordered Xu Huang to go out and give
battle. Yuan Tan bade Peng An accept the
challenge. After a few bouts Peng An was slain; and
Yuan Tan, having lost, fled and went into Nanpi,
where he was besieged. Yuan Tan, panic−stricken,
sent Xin Ping to see Cao Cao and arrange
“He is nothing but a tickle−minded child,” said
Cao Cao. “He is never of the same mind two days
running, and I cannot depend upon what he says.
Now your brother Xin Pi is in my employ and has a
post of importance, you would better remain here
“Sir Prime Minister, you are in error,” said Xin
Ping. “It is said that the lord’s honor is the servant’s
glory; the lord’s sadness is the servant’s shame. How
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can I turn my back on the family I have so long
served?” Cao Cao felt he could not be persuaded
and sent him back. Xin Ping returned and told Yuan
Tan the surrender could not be arranged, and Yuan
Tan turned on him angrily, saying, “Your brother is
with Cao Cao, and you want to betray me also!”
At this unmerited reproach such a huge wave of
anger welled up in Xin Ping’s breast that he was
overcome and fell in a swoon. They carried him out,
but the shock had been too severe, and soon after
he died. Yuan Tan regretted his conduct when it was
too late.
Then Guo Tu said, “Tomorrow when we go out to
battle, we will drive the people out in front as a
screen for the soldiers, and we must fight a winning
That night they assembled all the common people
of the place and forced into their hands swords and
spears. At daylight they opened the four gates, and a
huge party with much shouting came out at each,
peasantry carrying arms in front, and soldiers behind
them. They pushed on toward Cao Cao’s camps,
and a melee began lasted till near midday. But this
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was quite indecisive, although heaps of dead lay
Seeing that success was at best only partial, Cao
Cao rode out to the hills near and thence had the
drums beaten for a new attack under his own eye.
His officers and troops, seeing that he could observe
them in person, exerted themselves to the utmost,
and Yuan Tan’s army was severely defeated. Of the
peasantry driven into the battle−field multitudes were
Cao Hong, who displayed very great valor, burst
into the press of battle and met Yuan Tan face to
face. The two slashed and hammered at each other
and Yuan Tan was killed.
Guo Tu saw that his side was wholly disorganized
and tried to withdraw into the shelter of Nanpi. Yue
Jin saw this and opened a tremendous discharge of
arrows so that Guo Tu fell and the moat was soon
filled with dead.
The city fell to Cao Cao; he entered and set about
restoring peace and order. Then suddenly appeared
a new army under two of Yuan Xi’s generals, Jiao
Chu and Zhang Nan. Cao Cao led out his troops to
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meet them, but the two commanders laid down their
arms and yielded. They were rewarded with the rank
of lordship.
Then Zhang Yan, the leader of the Black Hills
Brigands, came with one hundred thousand troops
and gave in his submission. He was made General
Who Pacifies the North.
By an order of Cao Cao, the head of Yuan Tan
was exposed and death was threatened to any one
who should lament for him. Nevertheless a man
dressed in mourning attire was arrested for weeping
below the exposed head at the north gate. Taken
into Cao Cao’s presence, he said he was Wang Xiu
and had been an officer in Qingzhou. He had been
expelled because he had remonstrated with Yuan
Tan; but when the news of Yuan Tan’s death came,
he had come to weep for his late master.
“Did you know of my command?” said Cao Cao.
“I knew it.”
“Yet you were not afraid?”
“When one has received favors from a man in life,
it would be wrong not to mourn at his death. How
can one stand in the world if one forgets duty
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through fear? If I could bury his body, I would not
mind death.” Cao Cao said, “And there were many
such as this in the north. What a pity that the Yuan
family could not make the best of them! But if they
had done so, I should never have dared to turn my
eyes toward this place.”
The intrepid mourner was not put to death. The
remains of Yuan Tan were properly interred, and
Wang Xiu was well treated and even given an
In his new position Wang Xiu was asked for
advice about the best way to proceed against Yuan
Shang, who had fled to his brother, but Wang Xiu
remained silent, thereby winning from Cao Cao
renewed admiration for his constancy.
“He is indeed loyal!” said Cao Cao.
Then he questioned Guo Jia, who advised him,
saying, “Give Yuan Xi’s former generals the
command and ask them to attack Youzhou.”
Whereupon Jiao Chu and Zhang Nan were given
the command and reinforced by the armies under Lu
Xiang, Lu Kuang, Ma Yan, and Zhang Yi to bring
about the surrender of Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang.
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Then six generals, to attack Youzhou along three
routes. Other armies led by Li Dian, Yue Jin, and
Zhang Yan were sent against Gao Gan at Bingzhou.
The two Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang heard of Cao
Cao’s advance with dismay for they had no hope of
successful resistance. Therefore they abandoned
Youzhou and hastily marched into Liaoxi to seek
refuge with the Wuhuan tribespeople in the frontier
Wuhuan State.
Then Wuhuan Chu, new Imperial Protector of
Youzhou, was not disposed to incur the enmity of the
powerful Cao Cao, so he called his subordinates
together to swear them to support him and said, “I
understand that Cao Cao is the most powerful man
of the day, and I am going to support him and those
who do not go with me I shall put to death.”
Each in turn smeared his lips with the blood of
sacrifice and took the oath till it came to the turn of
Han Heng. Instead he dashed his sword to the
ground, crying, “I have received great promotions
and benefits from the Yuans. Now my lord has been
vanquished; my knowledge was powerless to save
him, my bravery insufficient to cause me to die for
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him; I have failed in my duty. But I refuse to commit
the crowning act of treachery and ally myself with
Cao Cao.”
This speech made the others turn pale.
The chief said, “For a great undertaking there
must be lofty principles. However, success does not
necessarily depend upon universal support, and
since Han Heng is actuated by such sentiments then
let him follow his conscience.”
So Wuhuan Chu turned Han Heng out of the
assembly. Wuhuan Chu then went out of the city to
meet and welcome Cao Cao’s army and rendered
his submission. He was well received and the title
given him of General Who Guards the North.
Then the scouts came to report: “Generals Li
Dian, Yue Jin, and Zhang Yan had marched to
Bingzhou, but that Gao Gan had occupied Wine Jar
Pass and could not be dislodged.”
So Cao Cao marched thither himself. The
defender still maintaining his position, Cao Cao
asked for plans. Xun You proposed that a band
should go over pretending to be deserters. Cao Cao
assented and then called the two Lu Xiang and Lu
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Kuang, to whom he gave whispered orders. They left
with their companies. Soon they came near the pass
and called out, saying, “We are old officers in Yuan
Shao’s armies forced into surrender to Cao Cao. We
find him so false and he treats us so meanly that we
want to return to help our old master. Wherefore
quickly open your gates to us.”
Gao Gan was suspicious, but he let the two
officers come up to the pass; and when they had
stripped off their armor and left their horses, they
were permitted to enter.
And they said to Gao Gan, “Cao Cao’s troops are
new to the country and not settled; you ought to fall
upon their camp this very evening. If you approve,
we will lead the attack.”
Gao Gan decided to trust them and prepared to
attack, giving the two brothers the leadership of ten
thousand soldiers. But as they drew near Cao Cao’s
camp, a great noise arose behind them and they
found themselves in an ambush attacked on all
sides. Realizing too late that he had been the victim
of a ruse, Gao Gan retreated to the pass, but found it
occupied by Li Dian and Yue Jin. Gao Gan then
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made the best of his way to the Chieftain of the
Xiongnu People. Cao Cao gave orders to hold the
passes and sent companies in pursuit.
When Gao Gan reached the boundary of the
Xiongnu State, he met Ce Xian, the Khan of the
northern tribespeople.
Gao Gan dismounted and made a low obeisance,
saying, “Cao Cao is conquering and absorbing all the
borders and your turn, O King, will come quickly. I
pray you help me and let us smite together for the
safety of the northern regions.”
Ce Xian the Khan replied, “I have no quarrel with
Cao Cao; why then should he invade my land? Do
you desire to embroil me with him?”
He would have nothing to do with Gao Gan and
sent him sway. At his wits’ end, Gao Gan decided to
try to join Liu Biao and go southward so far on his
journey as Shanglu when he was taken prisoner and
put to death by Governor Wang Yan. His head was
sent to Cao Cao, and Wang Yan received lordship
for this service.
Thus Bingzhou was conquered. Then Cao Cao
began to discuss the overthrow of Wuhuan State.
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Cao Hong, speaking in the name of his brother
officials, said, “The two Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang are
nearly done for and too weak to be feared. They
have fled far into the Sea of Sand; and if we pursue
them thither; it may bring down Liu Biao and Liu Bei
upon the capital. Should we be unable to rescue it,
the misfortune would be immense. Wherefore we
beg you to return to Xuchang.”
But Guo Jia was of different advice.
“You are wrong,” said he. “Though the prestige of
our lord fills the empire, yet the peoples of the
desert, relying upon their inaccessibility, will not be
prepared against us. Wherefore I say attack, and we
shall conquer them. Beside Yuan Shao was kind to
the nomads, and the two brothers have been more
so. They must be destroyed. As for Liu Biao he is a
mere gossip, who needs not cause the least anxiety.
And Liu Bei is unfit for any heavy responsibility and
will take no trouble over a light one. You may leave
the base with perfect safety and make as long an
expedition as you choose. Nothing will happen.”
“You speak well, O Guo Jia,” said Cao Cao.
He led his legions, heavy and light, to the edge of
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the desert, with many wagons. The expedition
marched into the desert. The rolling ocean of yellow
sand spread its waves before them, and they saw far
and near the eddying sand pillars, and felt the fierce
winds that drove them forward. The road became
precipitous and progress difficult. Cao Cao began to
think of returning and spoke thereof to Guo Jia, who
had advised the journey.
Guo Jia had speedily fallen victim to the effects of
the climate, and at this time he lay in his cart very ill.
Cao Cao’s tears fell as he said, “My friend, you
are suffering for my ambition to subdue the Gobi
Desert. I cannot bear to think you should be ill.”
“You have always been very good to me,” said
the sick man, “and I can never repay what I owe
“The country is exceedingly precipitous, and I am
thinking of going back; what think you?”
Guo Jia replied, “The success of an expedition of
this kind depends upon celerity. To strike a sudden
blow on a distant spot with a heavy baggage train is
difficult. To ensure success the need is light troops
and a good road to strike quickly before an enemy
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has time to prepare. Now you must find guides who
know the road well.”
Then the sick adviser was left at Yizhou for
treatment, and they sought among the natives for
some persons to serve as guides. Tian Chou, one of
Yuan Shao’s old generals, knew those parts well,
and Cao Cao called him and questioned him.
Tian Chou said, “Between autumn and summer
this route is under water, the shallow places too
heavy for wheeled traffic, the deep parts insufficient
for boats. It is always difficult. Therefore you would
do better to return and at Lulong cross the Baitan
Pass into the desert. Then advance to Liucheng and
smite before there is time to prepare. One sudden
rush will settle King Mao Dun.”
For this valuable information and plan, Tian Chou
was made General Who Calms the North, and went
in advance as leader and guide. Next after him came
Zhang Liao, and Cao Cao brought up the rear. They
advanced by double marches.
Tian Chou led Zhang Liao to White Wolf Hills,
where they came upon Yuan Xi, Yuan Shang, and
Mao Dun and a force of ten thousand cavalry. Zhang
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Liao galloped to inform his chief, and Cao Cao rode
up to the top of an eminence to survey the foe. He
saw a large mass of cavalry without any military
formation advancing in a disorderly crowd.
Said he, “They have no formation, we can easily
rout them.”
Then he handed over his ensign of command to
Zhang Liao who, with Xu Chu, Yu Jin, and Xu
Huang, made a vigorous attack from four different
points, with the result that the enemy was thrown into
confusion. Zhang Liao rode forward and slew Mao
Dun, and the other generals gave in. Yuan Xi and
Yuan Shang with a few thousand of horse got away
east into Liaodong.
Cao Cao then led his army into Liucheng. For his
services, Tian Chou was conferred the rank of Lord
of Liucheng and Commander of that county.
But Tian Chou declined the rank, saying with
tears, “I am a renegade and a fugitive. It is my good
fortune that you spared my life and how can I accept
a rank for betraying Lulong? I would rather die than
accept the lordship.”
Cao Cao recognized that reason was on Tian
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Chou’s side and conferred upon him the office of
Court Counselor. Cao Cao then pacified the Xiongnu
Chieftains; collected a large number of horses and at
once set out on the homeward march.
The season was winter, cold and dry. For seventy
miles there was no water, and grain also was scanty.
The troops fed on horse flesh. They had to dig very
deep, three or four hundred spans to find water.
When Cao Cao reached Yizhou, he rewarded
those who had remonstrated with him against the
He said, “I took some risk in going so far, but by
good fortune I have succeeded; with the aid of
Heaven I have secured victory. I could not be guided
by your advice, but still they were counsels of safety,
and therefore I reward you to prove my appreciation
of advice and that hereafter you may not fear to
speak your minds.”
Adviser Guo Jia did not live to see the return of
his lord. His coffin was placed on the bier in a hall of
the government offices, and Cao Cao went thither to
sacrifice to his manes.
Cao Cao mourned for him, crying, “Alas! Heaven
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has smitten me; Guo Jia is dead.”
Then turning to his officers he said, “You,
gentlemen, are of the same age as myself, but he
was very young to die. I needed him for the future
generation, and unhappily he has been torn from me
in the flower of his age. My heart and my bowels are
torn with grief.”
The servants of the late adviser presented his last
testament, which they said his dying hand had
written, and he had told them to say, “If the Prime
Minister shall follow the advice given herein, then
Liaodong will be secure.”
Cao Cao opened the cover and read, nodding his
head in agreement and uttering deep sighs. But no
other person knew what was written therein.
Shortly after, Xiahou Dun at the head of a
delegation presented a petition, saying, “For a long
time the Governor of Liaodong, Gongsun Kang, has
been contumacious, and it bodes ill for peace that
the Yuan brothers have fled to him. Would it not be
well to attack before they move against you?”
“I need not trouble your tiger courage, Sirs,” said
Cao Cao smiling. “Wait a few days and you will see
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the heads of our two enemies sent to me.”
They could not believe it.
As has been related the two Yuan Xi and Yuan
Shang escaped to the east with a few hundreds of
horse. The Governor of Liaodong was a son of
Gongsun Du the Warlike, the General of Han.
Gongsun Kang was a native of Xiangping. When he
heard that Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang were on their
way to his territory, he called a council to decide
upon his plan.
At the council Gongsun Gong rose, saying,
“When Yuan Shao was alive, he nourished the plan
of adding this territory to his own. Now his sons,
homeless, with a broken army and no officers, are
coming here; it seems to me like the dove stealing
the magpie’s nest. If we offer them shelter, they will
assuredly intrigue against us. I advise that they be
inveigled into the city, put to death, and their heads
sent to Cao Cao, who will be most grateful to us.”
Said the Governor Gongsun Kang, “I have one
fear; Cao Cao will come against us. If so, it would be
better to have the help of the Yuans against him.”
“Then you can send spies to ascertain whether
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Cao Cao’s army is preparing to attack us. If it is, then
save the Yuans alive; if not, then follow my advice.”
It was decided to wait till the spies came back. In
the meantime, Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang had taken
counsel together as they approached Liaodong,
saying, “Liaodong has a large army strong enough to
oppose Cao Cao. We will go thither and submit till
we can slay the Governor and take possession.
Then when we are strong enough, we will attack and
recover our own land.”
With these intentions they went into the city. They
were received and lodged in the guests’ quarters; but
when they wished to see Gongsun Kang, he put
them off with the excuse of indisposition. However,
before many days the spies returned with the news
that Cao Cao’s army was quiescent and there was
no hint of any attack.
Then Gongsun Kang called Yuan Xi and Yuan
Shang into his presence. But before they came he
hid swordsmen and ax−men behind the arras in the
hall. When the visitors came and had made their
salutations, Gongsun Kang bade them be seated.
Now it was bitterly cold and on the couches
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where they were sitting were no coverings. So Yuan
Shang said, “May we have cushions?”
The host said, “When your heads take that long,
long journey, will there be any cushions?”
Before Yuan Shang could recover from his fright,
Gongsun Kang shouted, “Why do you not begin?”
At this out rushed the assassins and the heads of
the two brothers were cut off as they sat. Packed in a
small wooden box they were sent to Cao Cao at
All this time Cao Cao had been calmly waiting.
His impatient officers had petitioned in a body,
saying, “Let’s march to the capital to ward off Liu
Biao’s threat if we are not going to attack the east.”
Cao Cao said, “I am waiting for the heads of the
enemy. We will go as soon as the heads arrive.”
In their secret hearts they laughed. But then,
surely enough, messenger soon came from
Liaodong bringing the heads. Then they were greatly
surprised; and when the messenger presented
Gongsun Kang’s letters, Cao Cao cried, “Just as Guo
Jia said!”
He amply rewarded the messenger, and the
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Governor of Liaodong was made Lord of Xiangping
and General of the Left Army. When the officers
asked what had happened, Cao Cao told them what
the late adviser had predicted. He read to them the
dead officer’s testament, which ran something like
“Yuan Xi and Yuan Shang are going to Liaodong.
Illustrious Sir, you are on no account to attack, for
Gongsun Kang
has long lived in fear lest the Yuans should
absorb his country. When they arrive, Gongsun Kang
will hesitate. If you attack, he will save the Yuans to
help him; if you wait, they will work against each
other. This is evident.”
The officers simply jumped with surprise to see
how perfectly events had been foreseen. Then Cao
Cao at the head of all his officers performed a grand
sacrifice before the coffin of the wise Guo Jia. He
had died at the age of thirty−eight, after eleven years
of meritorious and wonderful service in wars.
When Heaven permitted Guo Jia’s birth,
It made him ablest man on earth.
Three Kingdoms Romance
He knew by rote all histories,
From him war kept no mysteries.
Like Fan Li’s, his plans were quite decisive,
As Chen Ping’s, his strokes were most incisive.
Too soon he ran his earthly race,
Too soon the great beam fell from place.
When Cao Cao returned to Jizhou, he sent off the
coffin of his late adviser to Capital Xuchang where it
was interred.
Then Cheng Yu and others said, “As the north
has been overcome, it is time to settle the south.”
Cao Cao was pleased and said, “That has long
occupied my thoughts.”
The last night he spent in Jizhou, Cao Cao went
to the eastern corner tower and stood there
regarding the sky. His only companion was Xun You.
Presently Cao Cao said, “That is a very brilliant
glow there in the south. It seems too strong for me to
do anything there.”
“What is there that can oppose your heaven−high
prestige?” said Xun You.
Suddenly a beam of golden light shot up out of
Three Kingdoms Romance
the earth.
“Surely a treasure is buried there,” remarked Xun
They went down from the city wall, called some
guards, and led them to the point whence the light
proceeded. There the men were ordered to dig.
The southern skies with portents glow,
The northern lands their treasures show.
What the diggers found will appear in the next
Three Kingdoms Romance

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