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CHAPTER 45. In The Three Gorges, Cao Cao Loses Soldiers; In The Meeting Of Heroes, Jiang Gan Is Lured Into A Ruse.

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

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Zhou Yu was very annoyed by the words of
Zhuge Jin, and a fierce hatred for Zhuge Liang took
root in his heart. He nourished a secret resolve to
make away with Zhuge Liang. He continued his
preparations for war, and when the troops were all
mustered and ready, he went in for a farewell
interview with his lord.
“You go on first, Noble Sir,” said Sun Quan. “I will
then march to support you.”
Zhou Yu took his leave and then, with Cheng Pu
and Lu Su, marched out with the army. He invited
Zhuge Liang to accompany the expedition, and when
Zhuge Liang cheerfully accepted, the four embarked
in the same ship. They set sail, and the flotilla made
for Xiakou.
About twenty miles from Three Gorges the fleet
anchored near the shore, and Zhou Yu built a
stockade on the bank near the middle of their line
with the Western Hills as a support. Other camps
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were made near his. Zhuge Liang, however, took up
his quarters in a small ship.
When the camp dispositions were complete, Zhou
Yu sent to request Zhuge Liang to come and give
him advice.
Zhuge Liang came; and after the salutations were
ended, Zhou Yu said, “Cao Cao, though he had
fewer troops than Yuan Shao, nevertheless
overcame Yuan Shao because he followed the
advice given by Xun You to destroy Yuan Shao’s
supplies at Wuchao. Now Cao Cao has over eight
hundred thousand troops while I have but fifty or
sixty thousand. In order to defeat him, his supplies
must be destroyed first. I have found out that the
main depot is at the Iron Pile Mountains. As you
have lived hereabout, you know the topography quite
well, and I wish to entrust the task of cutting off
supplies to you and your colleagues Guan Yu, Zhang
Fei, and Zhao Yun. I will assist you with a thousand
soldiers. I wish you to start without delay. In this way
we can best serve our masters.”
Zhuge Liang saw through this at once. He thought
to himself, “This is a ruse in revenge for my not
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having been persuaded to enter the service of the
South Land. If I refuse, I shall be laughed at. So I will
do as he asks and trust to find some means of
deliverance from the evil he intends.”
Therefore Zhuge Liang accepted the task with
alacrity, much to the joy of Zhou Yu.
After the leader of the expedition had taken his
leave, Lu Su went to Zhou Yu secretly and said,
“Why have you set him this task?”
“Because I wish to compass his death without
appearing ridiculous. I hope to get him killed by the
hand of Cao Cao and prevent his doing further
Lu Su left and went to see Zhuge Liang to find out
if he suspected anything. Lu Su found him looking
quite unconcerned and getting the soldiers ready to
march. Unable to let Zhuge Liang go without a
warning, however, Lu Su put a tentative question,
“Do you think this expedition will succeed?” Zhuge
Liang laughingly replied, “I am an adept at all sorts of
fighting, with foot, horse, and chariots on land and
marines on the water. There is no doubt of my
success. I am not like you and your friend, only
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capable in one direction.”
“What do you mean by our being capable only in
one direction?” said Lu Su.
“I have heard the street children in your country
“To lay an ambush, hold a pass,
Lu Su is the man to choose;
But when you on the water fight,
Zhou Yu is the man to use.
“You are only fit for ambushes and guarding
passes on land, just as Zhou Yu only understands
fighting on the water.”
Lu Su carried this story to Zhou Yu, which only
incensed him the more against Zhuge Liang.
“How dare he flout me, saying I cannot fight a
land battle? I will not let him go. I will go myself with
ten thousand troops and cut off Cao Cao’s supplies.”
Lu Su went back and told this to Zhuge Liang,
who smiled and said, “Zhou Yu only wanted me to go
on this expedition because he wanted Cao Cao to kill
me. And so I teased him a little. But he cannot bear
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that. Now is the critical moment, and Marquis Sun
Quan and my master must act in harmony if we are
to succeed. If each one tries to harm the other, the
whole scheme will fail. Cao Cao is no fool, and it is
he who usually attack enemies through cutting off
their supplies. Do you not think Cao Cao has already
taken double precautions against any surprise of his
own depot? If Zhou Yu tries, he will be taken
prisoner. What he ought to do is to bring about a
decisive naval battle, whereby to dishearten the
northern soldiers, and then find some other means to
defeat them utterly. If you could persuade him what
his best course was, it would be well.”
Without loss of time, Lu Su went to Zhou Yu to
relate what Zhuge Liang had told him. Zhou Yu
shook his head when he heard it and beat the
ground with his foot, saying, “This man is far too
clever; he beats me ten to one. He will have to be
done away with or my country will suffer.”
Said Lu Su, “This is the moment to use people;
you must think of the country’s good first of all. When
once Cao Cao is defeated, you may do as you
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Zhou Yu had to confess the reasonableness of
Liu Bei had ordered his nephew Liu Qi to hold
Jiangxia while he and the bulk of the army returned
to Xiakou. Thence he saw the opposite bank thick
with banners and flags and glittering with every kind
of arms and armor. He knew then that the expedition
from the South Land had started. So he moved all
his force from Jiangxia to Fankou.
Then he assembled his officers and said to them,
“Zhuge Liang went to Wu some time ago, and no
word has come from him, so I know not how the
business stands. Will any one volunteer to go to find
“I will go,” said Mi Zhu.
So presents were prepared and gifts of flesh and
wine, and Mi Zhu prepared to journey to the South
Land on the pretext of offering a congratulatory feast
to the army. He set out in a small ship and went
down river. He stopped opposite the camp, and the
soldiers reported his arrival to Zhou Yu, who ordered
him to be brought in. Mi Zhu bowed low and
expressed the respect which Liu Bei had for Zhou Yu
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and offered the various gifts. The ceremony of
reception was followed by a banquet in honor of the
Mi Zhu said, “Zhuge Liang has been here a long
time, and I desire that he may return with me.”
“Zhuge Liang is making plans with me, and I
could not let him return,” said Zhou Yu. “I also wish
to see Liu Bei that we may make joint plans; but
when one is at the head of a great army, one cannot
get away even for a moment. If your master would
only come here, it would be very gracious on his
Mi Zhu agreed that Liu Bei might come and
presently took his leave.
Then Lu Su asked Zhou Yu, “What is your reason
for desiring Liu Bei to come?”
“Liu Bei is the one bold and dangerous man and
must be removed. I am taking this opportunity to
persuade him to come; and when he shall be slain, a
great danger will cease to threaten our country.”
Lu Su tried to dissuade him from this scheme, but
Zhou Yu was deaf to all Lu Su said. Zhou Yu even
issued orders: “Arrange half a hundred executioners
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to be ready to hide within the lining of the tent if Liu
Bei decides to come; and when I drop a cup, that will
be a signal for them to fall on and slay him.”
Mi Zhu returned and told Liu Bei that his presence
was desired by Zhou Yu. Suspecting nothing, Liu Bei
at once ordered them to prepare a fast vessel to take
him without loss of time.
Guan Yu was opposed to his going, saying, “Zhou
Yu is artful and treacherous, and there is no news
from Zhuge Liang. Pray think more carefully.”
Liu Bei replied, “I have joined my forces to theirs
in this attack on our common enemy. If Zhou Yu
wishes to see me and I refuse to go, it is a betrayal.
Nothing will succeed if both sides nourish
“If you have finally decided to go, then will I go
with you,” said Guan Yu.
“And I also,” cried Zhang Fei.
But Liu Bei said, “Let Guan Yu come with me
while you and Zhao Yun keep guard. Jian Yong will
hold Exian. I shall not be away long.”
So leaving these orders, Liu Bei embarked with
Guan Yu on a small boat. The escort did not exceed
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twenty. The light craft traveled very quickly down the
river. Liu Bei rejoiced greatly at the sight of the war
vessels in tiers by the bank, the soldiers in their
breastplates, and all the pomp and panoply of war.
All was in excellent order.
As soon as he arrived, the guards ran to tell Zhou
“How many ships has he?” asked Zhou Yu.
They replied, “Only one; and the escort is only
about a score.”
“His fate is sealed,” said Zhou Yu.
Zhou Yu sent for the executioners and placed
them in hiding between the outer and inner tents,
and when all was arranged for the assassination he
contemplated, he went out to receive his visitor. Liu
Bei came with his brother and escort into the midst of
the army to the Commander’s tent.
After the salutations, Zhou Yu wished Liu Bei to
take the upper seat, but he declined saying,
“General, you are famous through all the empire,
while I am a nobody. Do not overwhelm me with too
great deference.”
So they took the positions of simple friends, and
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refreshments were brought in.
Now by chance Zhuge Liang came on shore and
heard that his master had arrived and was with the
Commander−in−Chief. The news gave Zhuge Liang
a great shock, and he said to himself, “What is to be
done now?”
He made his way to the reception tent and stole a
look therein. He saw murder written on Zhou Yu’s
countenance and noted the assassins hidden within
the walls of the tent. Then he got a look at Liu Bei,
who was laughing and talking quite unconcernedly.
But when he noticed the redoubtable figure of Guan
Yu near his master’s side, he became quite calm and
“My lord faces no danger,” said Zhuge Liang, and
he went away to the river bank to await the end of
the interview.
Meanwhile the banquet of welcome proceeded.
After the wine had gone around several times, Zhou
Yu picked up a cup to give the signal agreed upon.
But at that moment Zhou Yu saw so fierce a look
upon the face of the trusty henchman who stood,
sword in hand, behind his guest, that Zhou Yu
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hesitated and hastily asked who he was.
“That is my brother, Guan Yu,” replied Liu Bei.
Zhou Yu, quite startled, said, “Is he the slayer of
Yan Liang and Wen Chou?”
“Exactly; he it is,” replied Liu Bei.
The sweat of fear broke out all over Zhou Yu’s
body and trickled down his back. Then, nearly
spilling it, he poured out a cup of wine and presented
it to Guan Yu.
Just then Lu Su came in, and Liu Bei said to him,
“Where is Zhuge Liang? I would trouble you to ask
him to come.”
“Wait till we have defeated Cao Cao,” said Zhou
Yu, “then you shall see him.”
Liu Bei dared not repeat his request, but Guan Yu
gave him a meaningful look which Liu Bei
understood and rose, saying, “I would take leave
now; I will come again to congratulate you when the
enemy has been defeated and your success shall be
Zhou Yu did not press him to remain, but
escorted him to the great gates of the camp, and Liu
Bei left. When he reached the river bank, they found
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Zhuge Liang awaiting them in their boat.
Liu Bei was exceedingly pleased, but Zhuge
Liang said, “Sir, do you know in how great danger
you were today?”
Suddenly sobered, Liu Bei said, “No; I did not
think of danger.” “If Guan Yu had not been there, you
would have been killed,” said Zhuge Liang.
Liu Bei, after a moment’s reflection, saw that it
was true. He begged Zhuge Liang to return with him
to Fankou, but Zhuge Liang refused.
“I am quite safe,” said Zhuge Liang. “Although I
am living in the tiger’s mouth, I am as steady as the
Taishan Mountains. Now, my lord, return and
prepare your ships and soldiers. On the twentieth
day of the eleventh month, send Zhao Yun with a
small ship to the south bank to wait for me. Be sure
there is no miscarriage.”
“What are your intentions?” said Liu Bei.
“When the southeast wind begins, I shall return.”
Liu Bei would have questioned him further, but
Zhuge Liang pressed him to go. So the boat started
up river again, while Zhuge Liang returned to his
temporary lodging.
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The boat had not proceeded far when appeared a
small fleet of fifty ships sweeping down with the
current, and in the prow of the leading vessel stood a
tall figure armed with a spear. Guan Yu was ready to
fight. But when they were near, they recognized that
was Zhang Fei, who had come down fearing lest his
brother might be in some difficulty from which the
strong arm of Guan Yu might even be insufficient to
rescue him.
The three brothers thus returned together.
After Zhou Yu, having escorted Liu Bei to the gate
of his camp, had returned to his quarters, Lu Su
soon came to see him.
“Then you had cajoled Liu Bei into coming, why
did you not carry out your plan?” asked Lu Su.
“Because of that Guan Yu; he is a very tiger, and
he never left his brother for a moment. If anything
had been attempted, he would certainly have had my
Lu Su knew that Zhou Yu spoke the truth. Then
suddenly they announced a messenger with a letter
from Cao Cao. Zhou Yu ordered them to bring him in
and took the letter. But when he saw the
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“ T h e F i r s t M i n i s t e r o f H a n t o
Commander−in−Chief Zhou Yu”,
he fell into a frenzy of rage, tore the letter to
fragments, and threw them on the ground.
“To death with this fellow!” cried he.
“When two countries are at war, their emissaries
are not slain,” said Lu Su.
“Messengers are slain to show one’s dignity and
independence,” replied Zhou Yu.
The unhappy bearer of the letter was decapitated,
and his head sent back to Cao Cao by the hands of
his escort.
Zhou Yu then decided to move. The van under
Gan Ning was to advance, supported by two wings
led by Han Dang and Jiang Qin. Zhou Yu would lead
the center body in support. The next morning the
early meal was eaten in the fourth watch, and the
ships got under weigh in the fifth with a great beating
of drums.
Cao Cao was greatly angered when he heard that
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his letter had been torn to fragments, and he
resolved to attack forthwith. His advance was led by
the Supreme Admiral Cai Mao, the Vice−Admiral
Zhang Yun, and others of the Jingzhou officers who
had joined his side. Cao Cao went as hastily as
possible to the meeting of the three rivers and saw
the ships of the South Land sailing up. In the bow of
the foremost ship stood a fine figure of a warrior who
cried, “I am Gan Ning; I challenge any one to
Cai Mao sent his young brother, Cai Xun, to
accept the challenge; but as Cai Xun’s ship
approached, Gan Ning shot an arrow and Cai Xun
fell. Gan Ning pressed forward, his crossbowmen
keeping up a heavy discharge which Cao Cao’s
troops could not stand. The wings of Han Dang from
the left and Jiang Qin from the right also joined in.
Cao Cao’s soldiers, being mostly from the dry
plains of the north, did not know how to fight
effectually on water, and the southern ships had the
battle all their own way. The slaughter was very
great. However, after a contest lasting till afternoon,
Zhou Yu thought it more prudent, in view of the
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superior numbers of his enemy, not to risk further the
advantage he had gained. So he beat the gongs as
the signal to cease battle and recall the ships.
Cao Cao was worsted, but his ships returned to
the bank, where a camp was made and order was
restored. Cao Cao sent for his defeated leaders and
reproached them, saying, “You did not do your best.
You let an inferior force overcome you.”
Cai Mao defended himself, saying, “The Jingzhou
marines have not been exercised for a long time,
and the others have never been trained for naval
warfare at all. A naval camp must be instituted, the
northern soldiers trained and the Jingzhou force
drilled. When they have been made efficient, they
will win victories.”
“If you know what should be done, why have you
not done it?” said Cao Cao. “What is the use of
telling me this? Get to work.”
So Cai Mao and Zhang Yun organized a naval
camp on the river bank. They established
twenty−four “Water Gates,” with the large ships
outside as a sort of rampart, and under their
protection the smaller ships went to and fro freely. At
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night when the lanterns and torches were lit, the very
sky was illuminated, and the water shone red with
the glare. On land the smoke of the camp fires could
be traced for one hundred mile without a break.
Zhou Yu returned to camp and feasted his
victorious fighting force. A messenger bore the joyful
tidings of victory to his master Sun Quan. When
night fell, Zhou Yu went up to the summit of one of
the hills and looked out over the long line of bright
lights stretching toward the west, showing the extent
of the enemy’s camp. He said nothing, but a great
fear came in upon him.
Next day Zhou Yu decided that he would go in
person to find out the strength of the enemy. So he
bade them prepare a small squadron which he
manned with strong, hardy men armed with powerful
bows and stiff crossbows. He also placed musicians
on each ship. They set sail and started up the
stream. When they got opposite Cao Cao’s camp,
the heavy stones that served as anchors were
dropped, and the music was played while Zhou Yu
scanned the enemy’s naval camp. What he saw
gave him no satisfaction, for everything was most
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He said, “How well and correctly built is that naval
base! Any one knows the names of those in
“They are Cai Mao and Zhang Yun,” said his
officers. “They have lived in our country a long time,”
said Zhou Yu, “and are thoroughly experienced in
naval warfare. I must find some means of removing
them before I can effect anything.”
Meanwhile on shore the sentinels had told Cao
Cao that the enemy crafts were spying upon them,
and Cao Cao ordered out some ships to capture the
spies. Zhou Yu saw the commotion of the
commanding flags on shore and hastily gave the
order to unmoor and sail down stream. The
squadron at once got under way and scattered; to
and fro went the oars, and each ship seemed to fly.
Before Cao Cao’s ships could get out after them,
they were all far away.
Cao Cao’s ships took up the chase but soon saw
pursuit was useless. They returned and reported
their failure.
Again Cao Cao found fault with his officers and
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said, “The other day you lost a battle, and the
soldiers were greatly dispirited. Now the enemy have
spied out our camp. What can be done?”
In eager response to his question one stepped
out, saying, “When I was a youth, Zhou Yu and I
were fellow students and pledged friends. My
three−inch tongue is still good, and I will go over and
persuade him to surrender.”
Cao Cao, rejoiced to find so speedy a solution,
looked at the speaker. It was Jiang Gan of Jiujiang,
one of the counseling staff in the camp.
“Are you a good friend of Zhou Yu?” said Cao
“Rest content, O Prime Minister,” replied Jiang
Gan. “If I only get on the other side of the river, I
shall succeed.”
“What preparations are necessary?” asked Cao
“Just a youth as my servant and a couple of
rowers; nothing else.”
Cao Cao offered him wine, wished him success,
and sent him on his way.
Clad in a simple white robe and seated in his little
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craft, the messenger reached Zhou Yu’s camp and
bade the guards say that an old friend Jiang Gan
wished to see him.
The commander was in his tent at a council when
the message came, and he laughed as he said to
those about him, “A persuader is coming.”
Then he whispered certain instructions in the ear
of each one of them, and they went out to await his
Zhou Yu received his friend in full ceremonial
garb. A crowd of officers in rich silken robes were
about him. The guest appeared, his sole attendant a
lad dressed in a simple blue gown. Jiang Gan bore
himself proudly as he advanced, and Zhou Yu made
a low obeisance.
“You have been well I hope since last we met,”
said Jiang Gan.
“You have wandered far and suffered much in this
task of emissary in Cao Cao’s cause,” said Zhou Yu.
“I have not seen you for a very long time,” said
the envoy much taken aback, “and I came to visit
you for the sake of old times. Why do you call me an
emissary for the Cao Cao’s cause?”
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“Though I am not so profound a musician as Shi
Kuang of old, yet I can comprehend the thought
behind the music,” replied Zhou Yu.
“As you choose to treat your old friend like this, I
think I will take my leave,” said Jiang Gan.
Zhou Yu laughed again, and taking Jiang Gan by
the arm, said, “Well, I feared you might be coming on
his behalf to try to persuade me. But if this is not
your intention, you need not go away so hastily.”
So they two entered the tent; and when they had
exchanged salutes and were seated as friends, Zhou
Yu bade them call his officers that he might introduce
them. They soon appeared civil and military officials,
all dressed in their best. The military officers were
clad in glittering silver armor and the staff looked
very imposing as they stood ranged in two lines.
The visitor was introduced to them all. Presently a
banquet was spread, and while they feasted, the
musicians played songs of victory and the wine
circulated merrily. Under its mellowing influence,
Zhou Yu’s reserve seemed to thaw and he said,
“Jiang Gan is an old fellow student of mine, and we
are pledged friends. Though he has arrived here
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from the north, he is no artful pleader so you need
not be afraid of him.”
Then Zhou Yu took off the commanding sword
which he wore as Commander−in−Chief and handed
it to Taishi Ci, saying, “You take this and wear it for
the day as master of the feast. This day we meet
only as friends and speak only of friendship, and if
any one shall begin a discussion of the questions at
issue between Cao Cao and our country, just slay
Taishi Ci took the sword and seated himself in his
place. Jiang Gan was not a little overcome, but he
said no word.
Zhou Yu said, “Since I assumed command, I have
tasted no drop of wine, but today as an old friend is
present and there is no reason to fear him; I am
going to drink freely.”
So saying he quaffed a huge goblet and laughed
The rhinoceros cups went swiftly round from
guest to guest till all were half drunk. Then Zhou Yu,
laying hold of the guest’s hand, led him outside the
tent. The guards who stood around all braced
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themselves up and seized their shinning weapons.
“Do you not think my soldiers a fine lot of
fellows?” said Zhou Yu.
“Strong as bears and bold as tigers,” replied Jiang
Then Zhou Yu led him to the rear of the tent
whence he saw the grain and forage piled up in
mountainous heaps.
“Do you not think I have a fairly good store of
grain and forage?”
“Your troops are brave and your supplies ample;
the world’s rumor is not unfounded.”
Zhou Yu pretended to be quite intoxicated and
went on, “When you and I were students together,
we never looked forward to a day like this, did we?”
“For a genius like you, it is nothing extraordinary,”
said the guest.
Zhou Yu again seized his hand and they sat
“A man of the time, I have found a proper lord to
serve. In his service, we rely upon the right feeling
between minister and prince outside, and at home
we are firm in the kindly feeling of relatives. He
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listens to my words and follows my plans. We share
the same good or evil fortune. Even when the great
old persuaders like Su Qin, Zhang Yi, Lu Jia, and Li
Yiji lived again, even when their words poured forth
like a rushing river, their tongues were as a sharp
sword, it is impossible to move such as I am!”
Zhou Yu burst into a loud laugh as he finished,
and Jiang Gan’s face had become clay−colored.
Zhou Yu then led his guest back into the tent, and
again they fell to drinking.
Presently Zhou Yu pointed to the others at table
and said, “These are all the best and bravest of the
land of the south; one might call this the ‘Meeting of
They drank on till daylight failed and continued
after lamps had been lit. Zhou Yu even gave an
exhibition of sword play and sang this song:
When a man is in the world, O,
He ought to do his best.
And when he’s done his best, O.
He ought to have his rest.
And when I have my rest, O,
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I’ll quaff my wine with zest.
And when I’m drunk as drunk can be, O,
I’ll sing the madman’s litany.
A burst of applause greeted the song. By this time
it was getting late, and the guest begged to be
“The wine is too much for me,” said Jiang Gan.
His host bade them clear the table; and as all the
others left, Zhou Yu said, “It has been many a day
since I shared a couch with my friend, but we will do
so tonight.”
Putting on the appearance of irresponsible
intoxication, he led Jiang Gan into the tent and they
went to bed. Zhou Yu simply fell, all dressed as he
was, and lay there emitting uncouth grunts and
groans, so that to the guest sleep was impossible.
Jiang Gan lay and listened to the various camp
noises without and his host’s thunderous snores
within. About the second watch he rose and looked
at his friend by the dim light of the small lamp. He
also saw on the table a heap of papers, and coming
out and looking at them furtively, he saw they were
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letters. Among them he saw one marked as coming
from Cai Mao and Zhang Yun, Cao Cao’s Supreme
Admiral and Vice−Admiral. He read it and this is
what it said:
“We surrendered to Cao Cao, not for the sake of
pay but under stress of circumstances. Now we have
been able to
hold these northern soldiers into this naval camp
but, as soon as occasion offers, we mean to have
the rebel’s head to offer as a sacrifice to your
banner. From time to time there will be reports as
occasions serve, but you may trust us. This is our
humble reply to your letter.”
“Those two were connected with the South Land
in the beginning,” thought Jiang Gan, so he secreted
the letter in his dress and began to examine the
others. But at that moment Zhou Yu turned over, and
so Jiang Gan hastily blew out the light and went to
his couch. Zhou Yu was muttering as he lay there as
if dreaming, saying, “Friend, I am going to let you
see Cao Cao’s head in a day or two.”
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Jiang Gan hastily made some reply to load on his
host to say more. Then came, “Wait a few days; you
will see Cao Cao’s head. The old wretch!”
Jiang Gan tried to question him as to what he
meant, but Zhou Yu was fast asleep and seemed to
hear nothing. Jiang Gan lay there on his couch wide
awake till the fourth watch was beating.
Then some one came in, saying, “General, are
you awake?”
At that moment as if suddenly awakened from the
deepest slumber, Zhou Yu started up and said, “Who
is this on the couch?”
The voice replied, “Do you not remember,
General? You asked your old friend to stay the night
with you; it is he, of course.”
“I drank too much last night,” said Zhou Yu in a
regretful tone, “and I forgot. I seldom indulge to
excess and am not used to it. Perhaps I said many
things I ought not.”
The voice went on, “A man has arrived from the
“Speak lower,” said Zhou Yu, and turning toward
the sleeper, he called him by name. But Jiang Gan
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affected to be sound asleep and made no sign.
Zhou Yu crept out of the tent, while Jiang Gan
listened with all his ears. He heard the man say, “Cai
Mao and Zhang Yun, the two commanders, have
But listening as he did with straining ears, he
could not make out what followed. Soon after Zhou
Yu reentered and again called out his companion’s
name. But no reply came, for Jiang Gan was
pretending to be in the deepest slumber and to hear
nothing. Then Zhou Yu undressed and went to bed.
As Jiang Gan lay awake, he remembered that
Zhou Yu was known to be meticulously careful in
affairs, and if in the morning Zhou Yu found that a
letter had disappeared, he would certainly slay the
offender. So Jiang Gan lay there till near daylight
and then called out to his host. Getting no reply, he
rose, dressed, and stole out of the tent. Then he
called his servant and made for the camp gate.
“Whither are you going, Sir?” said the watchmen
at the gate.
“I fear I am in the way here,” replied Jiang Gan,
“ a n d s o I h a v e t a k e n l e a v e o f t h e
Three Kingdoms Romance
Commander−in−Chief for a time. So do not stop me.”
He found his way to the river bank and
reembarked. Then, with flying oars, he hastened
back to Cao Cao’s camp. When he arrived, Cao Cao
asked at once how he had sped, and he had to
acknowledge failure.
“ Z h o u Y u i s v e r y c l e v e r a n d p e r f e c t l y
high−minded,” said Jiang Gan. “Nothing that I could
say moved him in the least.”
“Your failure makes me look ridiculous,” said Cao
“Well, if I did not win over Zhou Yu, I found out
something for you. Send away these people and I
will tell you,” said Jiang Gan.
The servants were dismissed, and then Jiang
Gan produced the letter he had stolen from Zhou
Yu’s tent. He gave it to Cao Cao. Cao Cao was very
angry and sent for Cai Mao and Zhang Yun at once.
As soon as they appeared, he said, “I want you two
to attack.”
Cai Mao replied, “But the soldiers are not yet
sufficiently trained.”
“The soldiers will be well enough trained when
Three Kingdoms Romance
you have sent my head to Zhou Yu, eh?”
Both commanders were dumb−founded, having
not the least idea what this meant. They remained
silent for they had nothing to say. Cao Cao bade the
executioners lead them away to instant death. In a
short time their heads were produced.
By this time Cao Cao had thought over the
matter, and it dawned upon him that he had been
tricked. A poem says:
No one could stand against Cao Cao,
Of sin he had full share,
But Zhou Yu was more treacherous,
And caught him in a snare.
Two commanders to save their lives,
Betrayed a former lord,
Soon after, as was very met.
Both fell beneath the sword.
The death of these two naval commanders
caused much consternation in the camp, and all their
colleagues asked the reason for their sudden
execution. Though Cao Cao knew they had been
Three Kingdoms Romance
victimized, he would not acknowledge it.
So he said, “These two had been remiss, and so
had been put to death.”
The others were aghast, but nothing could be
done. Two other officers, Mao Jie and Yu Jin, were
put in command of the naval camp.
Spies took the news to Zhou Yu, who was
delighted at the success of his ruse.
“Those two Cai Mao and Zhang Yun were my
only source of anxiety,” said he. “Now they are gone;
I am quite happy.”
Lu Su said, “General, if you can continue like this,
you need not fear Cao Cao.”
“I do not think any of them saw my game,” said
Zhou Yu, except Zhuge Liang. He beats me, and I do
not think this ruse was hidden from him. You go and
sound him. See if he knew.”
Zhou Yu’s treacherous plot succeeded well,
Dissension sown, his rivals fell.
Drunk with success was he, but sought
To know what cynic Zhuge Liang thought.
Three Kingdoms Romance
What passed between Lu Su and Zhuge Liang
will next be related.

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