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CHAPTER 59. Xu Chu Strips For A Fight With Ma Chao; Cao Cao Writes A Letter To Sow Dissension.

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

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The fight narrated in the last chapter lasted till
morn when each side drew off, Ma Chao camping on
the River Wei, whence he kept up harassing attacks
both day and night. Cao Cao, also camped in the
bed of the same river, began to construct three
floating bridges out of his rafts and boats so as to
facilitate communication with the south bank. Cao
Ren established a camp on the river, which he
barricaded with his carts and wagons.
Ma Chao determined to destroy this camp, so his
troops collected straw and each man marched with a
bundle and took fire with him. Han Sui’s forces were
to fight. While one party attacked, the other party
piled up the straw, which they lit, and soon there was
a fierce fire all around. The defenders could do
nothing against it, so they abandoned the camp and
ran away. All the transport and bridges were
destroyed. It was a great victory for the Xiliang army
and gave them the command of the River Wei.
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Cao Cao was sad at the failure to make good his
strong camp and fearful of his defenselessness.
Then Xun You proposed a mud wall. So three
thousand soldiers were set to build a mud rampart.
The enemy seeing this harassed the workmen with
perpetual attacks at different points so that the work
went slowly. Beside, the soil was very sandy, and the
wall would not stand but collapsed as fast as it was
built. Cao Cao felt helpless.
It was the ninth month of the sixteenth year of
Rebuilt Tranquillity (AD 211), and the fierce cold of
winter was just coming on. Ominous clouds covered
the sky day after day with never a break. One day as
Cao Cao sat in his tent, very disheartened, a
stranger was announced and was led in. He was an
old man who said he had a suggestion to offer. He
was tall, as delicate as a crane and as refined as a
pine tree. He gave his name as Lou Zibo and said he
came from Jingzhao. He was a recluse and a Taoist,
his religious name being Plum−Blossom Dreamer.
Cao Cao received him with great courtesy, and
presently the venerable one began, saying, “O Prime
Minister, you have long been striving to make a
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camp on the river. Now is your opportunity; why not
begin?”
“The soil is too sandy to stand,” said Cao Cao.
“But if you have some other plan to propose, pray tell
me what it is, O Hermit.”
“You are more than human, O Prime Minister, in
the art of war, and you surely know the times and
seasons. It has been overcast for many days, and
these clouds foretell a north wind and intense cold.
When the wind begins to blow, you should hurry your
army to carry up the earth and sprinkle it with water.
By dawn your wall will be complete.”
Cao Cao seized upon the suggestion. He offered
his aged visitor a reward, but the venerable one
would receive nothing.
That night the wind came down in full force. Every
man possible was set to earth−carrying and wetting.
As they had no other means of carrying water, they
made stuff bags which they filled with water and let
out the water over the earth. And so as they piled the
earth, they froze it solid with water, and by dawn the
wall was finished and stood firm. When his scouts
told Ma Chao that the enemy had built a wall, he
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rode out and saw it. Ma Chao was greatly perplexed
and began to suspect help from the gods.
However, very soon after, he got his whole army
together and sounded an attack. Cao Cao himself
rode out of the camp, with only the redoubtable Xu
Chu in attendance, and advanced toward the enemy.
Flourishing his whip he called out, “I, Cao Cao, am
here alone, and I beg Ma Chao to come out to parley
with me.”
Thereupon Ma Chao rode out, his spear set ready
to thrust.
“You despised me because I had no wall to my
camp, but lo! in one single night, God has made me
a wall. Do you not think it time to give in?”
Ma Chao was so enraged that he almost rushed
at Cao Cao, but he was not too angry to notice the
henchman behind him, glaring in angry fashion, who
held a gleaming sword in his grip. Ma Chao thought
this man could be no other than Xu Chu, so he
determined to find out. With a flourish of his whip, he
said, “Where is the noble ‘Marquis Tiger’ that I hear
you have in your camp?”
At this Xu Chu lifted his sword and roared, “I am
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Xu Chu of Qiao!”
From Xu Chu’s eyes shot gleams of supernatural
light and his attitude was so terror−striking that Ma
Chao dared not move. He turned his steed and
retired.
Cao Cao and his doughty follower returned to
their camp; and as they two passed between the
armies, not a man there but felt a quiver of fear.
“They know our friend Xu Chu over there as
Marquis Tiger,” said Cao Cao when he returned.
And thereafter the soldiers all called Xu Chu by
that name.
“I will capture that fellow Ma Chao tomorrow,”
said Xu Chu.
“Ma Chao is very bold,” said his master. “Be
careful!”
“I swear to fight him to the death,” said Xu Chu.
Then Xu Chu sent a written challenge to his
enemy saying that the Marquis Tiger challenged Ma
Chao to a decisive duel on the morrow.
Ma Chao was very angry when he received the
letter.
“Dare he insult me so?” cried he. Then he wrote
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his pledge to slay Tiger−Lust on the morrow.
Next day both armies moved out and arrayed in
order of battle. Ma Chao gave Pang De and Ma Dai
command of the two wings, while Han Sui took the
center. Ma Chao took up his station in front of the
center and shouted, “Where is the Tiger−Lust?”
Cao Cao, who was on horseback by the standard,
turned and said, “Ma Chao is no less bold than Lu
Bu!”
As he spoke, Xu Chu rode forth whirling his sword
and the duel began. They fought over a hundred
bouts, and neither had the advantage. But then, their
steeds being spent with galloping to and fro, each
retired within his own lines and obtained a fresh
mount. The contest was renewed, and a hundred
more encounters took place, still without victory to
either.
Suddenly Xu Chu galloped back to his own side,
stripped off his armor, showing his magnificent
muscles and, naked as he was, leaped again into the
saddle and rode out to continue the battle.
Again the champions engaged, while both armies
stood aghast. Thirty bouts more, and Xu Chu,
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summoning up all his force, plunged toward Ma
Chao with his sword held high to strike. But Ma Chao
avoided the stroke and rode in with his spear
pointing directly at his opponent’s heart. Throwing
down his sword, Xu Chu dashed aside the spear,
which passed underneath his arm.
Then ensued a struggle for the spear, and Xu
Chu by a mighty effort snapped the shaft so that
each held one half. Then the duel was continued,
each be laboring the other with the pieces of the
broken spear.
At this point Cao Cao began to fear for his
champion and so ordered two of his generals,
Xiahou Yuan and Cao Hong, to go out and take a
hand. At this Pang De and Ma Dai gave the signal to
their armored horsemen to attack. They rode in, and
a melee began in which Cao Cao’s troops were
worsted, and the great champion Xu Chu received
two arrow wounds in the shoulder. So the troops of
Cao Cao retreated to their stockade, Ma Chao
following them to the river. Cao Cao’s army lost more
than half their number.
Cao Cao barred his gates and allowed none to go
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out.
Ma Chao went down to the river. When he saw
Han Sui, he said, “I have seen some wicked fighters,
but none to match that Xu Chu. He is aptly
nicknamed Tiger−Lust”
Thinking that by strategy he might get the better
of Ma Chao, Cao Cao secretly sent two bodies of
troops across the river to take up position so that he
might attack in front and rear.
One day from his ramparts, Cao Cao saw Ma
Chao and a few horsemen ride close up to the walls
and then gallop to and fro like the wind. After gazing
at them for a long time, Cao Cao tore off his helmet
and dashed it on the ground, saying, “If that Ma
Chao is not killed, may I never know my place of
burial!”
Xiahou Yuan heard his master, and his heart
burned within him. He cried, “May I die here at once
if I do not destroy that rebel!”
Without more ado, Xiahou Yuan flung open the
gates and rode out with his company. Cao Cao tried
to stop this mad rush, but it was no good; so, fearing
Xiahou Yuan might come to grief, Cao Cao rode out
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after him. At sight of the soldiers of Cao Cao, Ma
Chao faced his troops about, extended them in line
and, as the enemy approached, dashed forward to
the attack. Then noticing Cao Cao himself among
them, Ma Chao left Xiahou Yuan and rode straight
for Cao Cao. Panic seized Cao Cao and he rode for
his life, while his troops were thrown into confusion.
It was during the pursuit of this portion of the Cao
Cao’s army that Ma Chao was told of a force of the
enemy on the west of River Wei. Realizing the
danger, he abandoned the pursuit, called in his
forces, and went to his own camp, there to consult
with Han Sui.
“What now? Cao Cao has went to the west of the
river, and we can be attacked in the rear,” said Ma
Chao.
Commander Li Kan said, “Then you would better
come to an agreement, sacrifice some territory, and
make peace. Then both can repose through the
winter and await the changes and chances that may
come with the spring warmth.” “He is wise,” said Han
Sui, “and I advise the same.”
But Ma Chao hesitated. Others exhorted him to
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make peace, and at length he agreed. So Yang Qiu
and Hou Xuan were sent as messengers of peace to
the camp of Cao Cao.
“You may return; I will send my reply,” said Cao
Cao when they had declared the purport of their
mission. And they left.
Then Jia Xu said to Cao Cao, “What is your
opinion, O Prime Minister?”
“What is yours?” asked Cao Cao.
“War allows deceit, therefore pretend to agree.
Then we can try some means of sowing suspicions
between Han Sui and Ma Chao so that we may
thereby destroy both.”
Cao Cao clapped his hands for very joy, saying,
“That is the best idea of all! Most suitable! You and I
agree in our ideas; I was just thinking of that.”
So an answer was returned:
“Let me gradually withdraw my soldiers, and I will
give back the land belonging to you on the west of
the river.”
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And at the same time Cao Cao ordered the
construction of a floating bridge to help in the
withdrawal.
When the reply arrived, Ma Chao said to Han Sui,
“Although he agrees to peace, yet he is evil and
crafty. We must remain prepared against his
machinations. Uncle, you and I will take turns in
watching Cao Cao and Xu Huang on alternate days.
So shall we be safe against his treachery.”
They agreed and began the regular alternate
watch. Soon Cao Cao got to know what they were
doing, and he turned to Jia Xu, saying, “I am
succeeding.”
“Who keeps the look−out on this side tomorrow?”
asked Cao Cao.
“Han Sui,” replied some one.
Next day Cao Cao at the head of a large party of
his generals rode out of the camp, and the officers
presently spread out right and left, he himself
remaining a solitary rider visible in the center. Han
Sui did not know that Cao Cao had come out.
Presently Cao Cao called out, “Do any of you
soldiers want to see Cao Cao? Here I am quite
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alone. I have not four eyes nor a couple of mouths,
but I am very knowing.”
The soldiers turned pale with fright. Then Cao
Cao called up a man and told him to go and see Han
Sui and say, “Sir, the Prime Minister humbly asks
you to come and confer with him.”
Thereupon Han Sui went out, and seeing Cao
Cao wore no armor, Han Sui also threw off his and
rode out clad in a light robe. Each rode up to the
other till their horse’s heads nearly touched and there
they stood talking.
Said Cao Cao, “Your father and I were granted
filial degrees at the same time, and I used to treat
him as an uncle. You and I set out on our careers at
the same time, too, and yet we have not met for
years. How old may you be now?”
“I am forty,” replied Han Sui.
“In those old days in the capital, we were both
very young and never thought about middle age. If
we could only restore tranquillity to the state, that
would be a matter of rejoicing.”
After that they chatted long about old times, but
neither said a word on military matters. They
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gossiped for a couple of hours before they took leave
of each other.
It was not long before some one told Ma Chao of
this meeting, and he went over to his ally to ask
about it.
“What was it Cao Cao came out to discuss today
?” said Ma Chao.
“He just recalled the old days when we were
together in the capital.”
“Did he say nothing about military matters?”
“Not a word; and I could not talk about them
alone.”
Ma Chao went out without a word, but he felt
suspicious.
When Cao Cao returned to his camp, he said to
Jia Xu, “Do you know why I talked with him thus
publicly?”
“It may be an excellent idea,” said Jia Xu, “but it is
not sufficient simply to estrange two people. I can
improve on it, and we will make them quarrel and
even kill each other.”
“What is your scheme?”
“Ma Chao is brave but not very astute. You write
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a letter with your own hand to Han Sui himself and
put in it some rambling statements about some harm
that is going to happen. Then blot it out and write
something else. Afterwards you will send it to Han
Sui, taking care that Ma Chao shall know all about it.
Ma Chao will demand to read the letter, and when he
sees that the important part of the letter has been
changed, he will think that Han Sui has made the
changes lest his secrets should leak out. This will fit
into the private talk you had with Han Sui the other
day, and the suspicion will grow until it has brought
about trouble. I can also secretly corrupt some of
Han Sui’s subordinates, and get them to widen the
breach and we can settle Ma Chao.”
“The scheme looks excellent,” said Cao Cao.
And he wrote the letter as suggested, and then
erased and changed it, after which he sealed it
securely and sent it across to Han Sui.
Surely enough some one told Ma Chao about the
letter, which increased his doubts, and he came to
Han Sui’s quarters to ask to see it. Han Sui gave it to
him, and the erasures and alterations struck Ma
Chao at once.
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“Why are all these alterations here?” asked he.
“It came like that; I do not know.” “Does any one
send a rough draft like this? It seems to me, Uncle,
that you are afraid I shall know something or other
too well, and so you have changed the wording.”
“It must be that Cao Cao has sealed up the rough
draft by mistake.”
“I do not think so. He is a careful man and would
not make such a mistake. You and I, Uncle, have
been allies in trying to slay the rebel; why are you
turning against me now ?”
“If you doubt my word, I will tell you what you can
do. Tomorrow, in full view of the army, I will get Cao
Cao to come out and talk. You can hide in behind the
ranks ready to kill me if I am false.”
“That being so, I shall know that you are true,
Uncle.”
This arrangement made, next day Han Sui with
five generals in his train—Li Kan, Ma Wan, Yang
Qiu, Hou Xuan, and Liang Xing—rode to the front,
while Ma Chao concealed himself behind the great
standard. Han Sui sent over to say that he wished to
speak to the Prime Minister.
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Thereupon at his command, Cao Hong, with a
train of ten horsemen rode out, advanced straight to
Han Sui, leaned over to him and said, loudly enough
to be heard plainly, “Last night the Prime Minister
quite understood. Let there be no mistake.”
Then without another word on either side Cao
Hong rode away.
Ma Chao had heard. He gripped his spear and
started galloping out to slay his companion in arms.
But the five generals checked him and begged him
to go back to camp.
When Han Sui saw him, he said, “Nephew, trust
me, really I have no evil intentions.”
But Ma Chao, burning with rage, went away.
Then Han Sui talked over the matter with his five
generals.
“How can this be cleared up?”
“Ma Chao trusts too much to his strength,” said
Yang Qiu. “He is always inclined to despise you, Sir.
If we overcome Cao Cao, do you think he will give
way to you? I think you should rather take care of
your own interests, go over to the Prime Minister’s
side, and you will surely get rank one day.”
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“I was his father’s pledged brother and could not
bear to desert him,” said Han Sui.
“It seems to me that as things have come to this
pass: you simply have to now.”
“Who would act as go−between?” asked Han Sui.
“I will,” said Yang Qiu.
Then Han Sui wrote a private letter which he
confided to Yang Qiu, who soon found his way over
to the other camp. Cao Cao was only too pleased,
and he promised that Han Sui should be made Lord
of Xiliang and Yang Qiu its Governor. The other
confederates should be rewarded in other ways.
Then a plot was planned: when the preparations for
the act of treachery were complete, a bonfire was to
be lighted in Han Sui’s camp, and all would try to do
away with Ma Chao.
Yang Qiu went back and related all this to his
chief, and Han Sui felt elated at the success of his
overtures. A lot of wood was collected in camp at the
back of his tent ready for the signal blaze, and the
five generals got ready for the foul deed. It was
decided that Ma Chao should be persuaded into
coming to a banquet, and there they would slay him
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then.
All this was done, but not without some hesitation
and delay, and some news of the plot reached Ma
Chao. He found out the careful preparations that had
been made and resolved to act first. Leaving Ma Dai
and Pang De in reserve, he chose a few trusted
leaders and with stealthy steps made his way into
Han Sui’s tent. There he found Han Sui and his five
confederates deep in conversation. He just caught a
word or two that Yang Qiu said, “We must not delay,
now is the time.”
In burst Ma Chao raging and yelling, “You herd of
rebels! Would you dare to plot against me?”
They were taken aback. Ma Chao sprang at Han
Sui and slashed at his face. Han Sui put up his hand
to ward off the blow, and it was cut off. The five drew
their swords and set on Ma Chao and his men who
rushed outside. Soon Ma Chao was hemmed in by
the five, but he kept them at bay by wonderful
swordsmanship. And as the swords flashed, the red
blood flowed. Soon Ma Wan was down and Liang
Xing disabled; then the other three fled.
Ma Chao ran back into the tent to finish Han Sui,
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but the servants had removed him. Then a torch was
lit, and soon there was commotion all through the
camp. Ma Chao mounted his horse, for Pang De and
Ma Dai had now arrived, and the real fight began.
Cao Cao’s troops poured in from all sides, and the
Xiliang soldiers fought with each other.
Losing sight of his companions, Ma Chao and a
few of his followers got to the head of the floating
bridge over the River Wei just about dawn. There he
fell across Li Kan coming over the bridge. Ma Chao
set his spear and rode at him full tilt. Li Kan let go his
spear and fled. Lucky for him, it seemed at first that
Yu Jin came up in pursuit. But unable to get near
enough to seize Ma Chao, Yu Jin sent an arrow
flying after him. Ma Chao’s ear caught the twang of
the bowstring, and he dodged the arrow, which flew
on and killed Li Kan. Ma Chao turned to attack his
pursuer, who galloped away, and then he returned
and took possession of the bridge.
Quickly Cao Cao’s troops gathered about him,
and the fiercest among them, the Tiger Guards, shot
arrows at Ma Chao, which he warded off with his
spear shaft so that they fell harmless to the earth.
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Ma Chao and his troops rode to and fro striking a
blow wherever there was a chance, but the enemy
were very thick about him, and he could not force his
way out. In desperation he cut an arterial alley
northwards and got through, but quite alone. Of his
followers everyone fell.
Still he kept on dashing this way and that, till he
was brought down by a crossbow bolt. He lay upon
the ground and his enemies were pressing in. But at
the critical moment, an army came in from the
northwest and rescued him. Pang De and Ma Dai
had come up in the very nick of time.
Thus Ma Chao was rescued, and they set him on
one of the soldiers’ horses, and he again took up the
battle. Leaving a trail of blood in his rear, he got
away northwest.
Hearing that his enemy had got away, Cao Cao
gave order to his generals, “Pursue him day and
night, and rich rewards are for him dead or alive. For
his head the rewards are a thousand ounces of gold
and the lordship of a fief of ten thousand families. If
any one captures Ma Chao, the reward is the rank of
general.”
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Consequently the pursuit was hot as every one
was anxious to win renown and reward. Meanwhile
careless of all but flight, Ma Chao galloped on, and
one by one his followers dropped by the way. The
footmen who were unable to keep up were captured
till very few remained, and only some scores of
riders were left. They traveled toward Lintao, a city in
Longxi.
Cao Cao in person joined the pursuit and got to
Anding, but there Ma Chao was still far in advance,
so he gave up and returned. Gradually the generals
did the same, all coming back to Changan. Poor Han
Sui, with the loss of his left hand, was an invalid, but
he was rewarded with the Lordship of Xiliang. Yang
Qiu and Hou Xuan were given noble ranks and
offices in Weikou.
Then orders were given to lead the whole army
back to the capital. Yang Fu, a military adviser from
Liangzhou, came to Changan to point out the danger
of withdrawal.
“Ma Chao has the boldness of Lu Bu and the
heart of a barbarian. Unless you destroy him this
time, he will come again and he will be both bolder
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and stronger, and the whole west will be lost.
Wherefore you should not with draw your army.”
Cao Cao said, “I would be quite willing to finish
the subjugation, but there is much to do in the capital
and the south is still to conquer. So I cannot remain.
But you, Sir, might secure this country for me. Do
you consents”
Yang Fu did consent. And he brought to Cao
Cao’s notice Wei Kang, who was made Imperial
Protector of Liangzhou, with joint military powers.
Just before Yang Fu left, he said to Cao Cao, “A
strong force ought to be left in Changan, as a
reserve in case they be required.”
“That has been already dealt with,” replied Cao
Cao.
Contentedly enough Yang Fu took leave and
went away.
Cao Cao’s generals asked him to explain his
recent policy, saying, “Since the first outbreak at
Tong Pass, O Prime Minister, the north bank of River
Wei was undefended. Why did you not cross to the
north bank from the east of the river? But instead
you engaged in the attack of the Pass for many days
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before crossing to the north bank.”
And he replied, “The rebels first held the Pass.
Had I forthwith taken the east of the river, the rebels
would have defended the camps one by one and
mustered at all the ferries, and I should never have
got across the river to the north bank. So I massed
troops against Tong Pass and made the rebels
guard the south bank so that the west of the river
was left open. Thus Xu Huang and Zhu Ling could
move there, and I was able later to cross over to the
north. Then I made the raised road and the mud
rampart to deceive the enemy and cause them to
think I was weak and thus embolden them up to the
point of attacking without proper preparation. Then I
used the clever device of causing dissension in their
ranks and was able in one day to destroy the stored
up energy of all their forces. ‘It was a thunder clap
before you could cover your ears.’ Yes indeed; the
mutations of the art of war can be called infinite.”
“But one thing more puzzled us,” said the officers,
“and we ask you to explain it. When you heard the
enemy was reinforced, you seemed to grow happier.
Why was that?”
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“Because Tong Pass is distant from Xuchang;
and if the rebels had taken advantage of all
defensible points and held them, they could not have
been quelled in less than a couple of years. When
they came on altogether, they made a multitude but
they were not unanimous. They easily quarreled and,
disunited, were easily overcome. So I had reason to
rejoice that they came on altogether.”
“Indeed no one can equal you in strategy,” said
his officers, bowing low before him. “Still, remember
that I rely on you,” said Cao Cao.
Then he issued substantial rewards to the army
and appointed Xiahou Yuan to the command at
Changan. The soldiers who had surrendered were
distributed among the various troops. Xiahou Yuan
recommended Zhang Ji of Gaoling, as his aids.
So the army returned to Capital Xuchang where it
was welcomed by the Emperor in state chariot. As a
reward for his service, Cao Cao was given the court
privileges of omitting his distinctive name when he
was received in audience and of proceeding toward
the court without assuming the appearance of frantic
haste. Further he might go to court armed and
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booted, as did the Han Founding Minister Xiao He of
old. Whence his prestige and importance waxed
mightily.
The fame of these doings penetrated west into
Hanzhong, and one of the first to be moved to
indignation was Zhang Lu, Governor of Hanning.
This Zhang Lu was a native of Pei ((an ancient
state)). He was a grandson of Zhang Ling who
retired to Mount Humming, in the Eastern Land of
Rivers, where he had composed a work on Taoism
for the purpose of deluding the multitude.
Yet all the people respected Zhang Ling, and
when he died his son, Zhang Heng, carried on his
work, and taught the same doctrines. Disciples had
to pay a fee in rice, five carts. The people of his day
called him the Rice Thief.
Zhang Lu, his son, styled himself Master
Superior, and his disciples were called Commonly
Devil Soldiers. A headman was called Libationer,
and those who made many converts were called
Chief Libationers. Perfect sincerity was the ruling
tenet of the cult, and no deceit was permitted. When
any one fell ill, an altar was set up and the invalid
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was taken into the Room of Silence where he could
reflect upon his sins and confess openly. Then he
was prayed for. The director of prayers was called
Superintending Libationer.
When praying for a person, they wrote his name
on a slip and his confession and made three copies
thereof, called “The writing of the Three Gods.” One
copy was burned on the mountain top as a means of
informing Heaven; another was burned to inform
Earth; and the third was sunk in water to tell the
Controller of the Waters. If the sick person
recovered, he paid as fee five carts of rice.
They had Public Houses of Charity wherein the
poor found rice and flesh and means of cooking. Any
wayfarer was allowed to take of these according to
the measure of his appetite. Those who took in
excess would invite punishment from on high.
Offenses were pardoned thrice; afterwards offenders
were punished. They had no officials but all were
subject to the control of the Libationers.
This sort of cult had been spreading in Hanzhong
for some thirty years and had escaped repression so
far because of the remoteness of the region. All the
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Government did was to give Zhang Lu the title of
General Who Guards the South and the post of
Governor of Hanning and take means to secure from
him a full quota of local tribute.
When the reports of Cao Cao’s success against
the west, and his prestige and influence, reached the
Hanzhong people, Zhang Lu met with his
counselors, saying, “Ma Teng has died, and Ma
Chao defeated, thus the northwest has fallen. Cao
Cao’s next ambition will be the southwest, and
Hanzhong will be his first attack. I should act first by
assuming the title of Prince of Hanzhong and
superintending the defense.1”
In reply one Yan Pu said, “The army of this region
counts one hundred thousand, and there are ample
supplies of everything. The Eastern Land of Rivers is
a natural stronghold with its mountains and rivers.
Now Ma Chao’s soldiers are newly defeated, and the
fugitives from the Ziwu Valley are very numerous.
We can add them to our army by several
ten−thousands more. My advice is that as Liu Zhang
of Yiazhou is weak, we should take possession of
the forty−one counties of the Western Land of
Three Kingdoms Romance
Rivers, and then you may set up your sovereign as
soon as you like.”
This speech greatly pleased Zhang Lu, who then
began to concert measures with his brother, Zhang
Wei, to raise an army.
Stories of the movement reached Yiazhou, whose
Imperial Protector was Liu Zhang. A son of Liu Yan,
a descendant from Prince Gong of the Imperial
House. Prince Gong had been moved out to Jingling
several generations ago, and the family had settled
there. Later, Liu Yan became an official, and when
he died in due course, his son was recommended for
the vacant Protectorship of Yiazhou.
There was enmity between Liu Zhang and Zhang
Lu, for Liu Zhang had put to death Zhang Lu’s
mother and brother. When he knew of the danger,
Liu Zhang dispatched Pang Xi as Governor of Baxi
to ward off Zhang Lu.
But Liu Zhang had always been feeble, and when
he received news from his commander of Zhang Lu’s
movements, his heart sank within him for fear, and
he hastily called in his advisers.
At the council one haughtily said, “My Master, be
Three Kingdoms Romance
not alarmed; I am no genius, but I have a bit of a
healthy tongue, and with that I will make Zhang Lu
afraid even to look this way.”
When plots did grow about the west,
It suited Jingzhou’s plans the best.
The speaker’s name and lineage will be told in the
next chapter.

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