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CHAPTER 60. Zhang Song Turns The Tables On Yang Xiu; Pang Tong Proposes The Occupation Of Shu.

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

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The man who proposed the plan spoken of in the
last chapter was Zhang Song, who belonged to
Yiazhou and held the small office of Supernumerary
Charioteer. His appearance was grotesque. He had
a broad forehead, protuberant at the temples like a
countryman’s hoe, and a pointed head. His nose was
flat and his teeth protruded. He was a dwarf in
stature but had a deep voice like a great bell.
“What proposal have you to offer that may avert
this danger?” asked the Imperial Protector.
“My proposal is that we gain the support of Cao
Cao. As we know, he has made a clean sweep of the
empire. Lu Bu went first, and both the Yuans
followed, all exterminated. Lately he has destroyed
Ma Chao. In short he is the one man against whom
no one can stand. Therefore, my lord, prepare me
worthy gifts to take to the capital, and I will get Cao
Cao to march an army against Hanzhong, which will
keep this Zhang Lu occupied so that we shall be left
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This met Liu Zhang’s views, and so he prepared
gold and pearls and rich stuffs, worthy presents for
the man of power. And when these were ready, he
appointed Zhang Song his emissary. Zhang Song in
the meantime occupied his leisure in secretly
copying maps and plans of the west country. When
all was ready, he started with a small escort.
They heard this in Jingzhou, and Zhuge Liang
sent a trusty person to the capital to keep him
informed as to all the doings.
Zhang Song arrived in Xuchang, and, after he
had established himself in his lodging, he made daily
visits to the Prime Minister’s palace to try to obtain
an interview. But the last success had filled Cao Cao
with insufferable pride, and he did nothing but give
banquets. He never appeared except for the most
important affairs, and even carried on the business
of the state in his own residence. So Zhang Song
waited many days. But when he got to know the
persons who were nearest the Prime Minister, he
bribed them and obtained an audience.
Cao Cao was seated in the high place, and after
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his visitor had finished his salutations, he said, “Your
master Liu Zhang has sent no tribute for several
years; why?”
“Because the roads are dangerous and thieves
and robbers infest them. Intercourse is restricted.”
Cao Cao interrupted in a loud harsh voice,
saying, “What thieves and robbers are there when I
have cleansed the empire?”
“How can you say the land is tranquil when one
sees Sun Quan in the south, Zhang Lu and Liu Bei in
the west, and every one of these with armies
reckoned in legions? The weakest of them has one
hundred thousand troops.”
The mean appearance of the emissary had
prejudiced Cao Cao from the outset; and when Cao
Cao heard these blunt words, he suddenly shook out
his sleeves, rose and left the hall.
Those in attendance were annoyed with Zhang
Song and said, “How can you behave so rudely
when you come on a mission? Your whole attitude
was blunt and discourteous. Happily for you, our lord
remembered you had come from afar and did not
take open notice of your fault. The best thing for you
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is to go home again as quickly as you can.”
But Zhang Song smiled.
“We have no plausible flatterers and glib talkers in
our western country,” said he.
At this, one from below the steps called out, “So
you call us plausible and glib then; and you have
none such in your country, eh?”
Zhang Song looked around and saw the speaker
was a man with thin delicate eyebrows crossing
narrow eyes set in a pale spiritual face. He asked his
name. It was Yang Xiu, son of the former Regent
Marshal Yang Biao. The young man was then
employed as Chief of the Secretariat of the Prime
Minister. He was deeply read and had the reputation
of being a clever controversialist, as Zhang Song
knew. So on one side was a desire to confound and
on the other overweening pride in his own ability,
with contempt for other scholars. Perceiving the
ridicule in Zhang Song’s speech, Yang Xiu invited
him to go to the library where they could talk more
freely. There, after they had got settled in their
respective places, Yang Xiu began to talk about the
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“Your roads are precipitous and wearisome,” said
Yang Xiu.
“But at our lord’s command we travel, even
through fire and water; we never decline,” replied
Zhang Song.
“What sort of a country is this Yiazhou?”
“Yiazhou is a name for the group of western
counties and territories known of old as the state of
Shu. The roads are intersected by streams, and the
land bristles with steep mountains. The circuit is over
two hundred stations and marches and the area over
one hundred thousand square miles. The population
is dense, villages being so close that the crowings of
cocks in one waken the people in the next, and the
dogs barking in this excite the curs in that. The soil is
rich and well cultivated, and droughts or famines are
equally unknown. Prosperity is general and the
music of pipes and strings can always be heard. The
produce of the fields is piled mountain high. There is
no place its equal.”
“But what of the people?”
“Our administrators are talented as Sima Xiangru;
our soldiers able as Ma Yuan; our physicians are
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expert as Zhang Ji; our diviners are profound as Yan
Zun. Our schools of philosophy and our culture stand
forth as models, and we have more remarkable
people than I can enumerate. How should I ever
finish the tale of them?”
“And how many such as you, Sir, do you think
there are at the orders of your Imperial Protector?”
“Our officers are all geniuses: wise, bold, loyal,
righteous, and magnanimous. As for poor simpletons
like me, they are counted by hundreds; there are
cartloads of them, bushels of them. No one could
count them.”
“What office may you hold then?” Zhang Song
replied, “Mine can hardly be called an office. I am a
Supernumerary Charioteer. But, Sir, what state
affairs may you control?”
“I am the First Secretary in the Palace of the
Prime Minister,” replied Yang Xiu.
“They say that members of your family held office
for many generations, and I do not understand why
you are not in court service actually assisting the
Emperor, instead of filling the post of a mere clerk in
the private palace of the Prime Minister.”
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Yang Xiu’s face suffused with shame at this
rebuke, but he mastered himself and replied,
“Though I am among the minor officials, yet my
duties are of great importance, and I am gaining
experience under the Prime Minister’s guidance. I
hold the office for the sake of the training.”
Zhang Song smiled, saying, “If what I have heard
is true, Cao Cao’s learning throws no gleaming light
on the way of Confucius or Mencius, nor does his
military skill illumine the art of Sun Zi or Wu Qi. He
seems to understand the doctrine of brute force and
holding on to what advantages he can seize, but I
see not how he can give you any valuable training or
enlighten your understanding.”
“ A h , S i r ; t h a t c o m e s o f d w e l l i n g i n
out−of−the−way parts. How could you know of the
magnificent talents of the great Prime Minister? But I
will show you something.”
Yang Xiu called up an attendant and bade him
bring a book from a certain case. He showed this to
his guest, who read the title “The New Book of Cao
Cao”. Then Zhang Song opened it and read it
through from the beginning, the whole thirteen
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chapters. They all dealt with the art of war.
“What do you take this to be?” asked Zhang
Song, when he had finished.
“This is the great Prime Minister’s discussion of
the art of ancient and modern war composed on the
model of Sun Zi’s Treatise on the Art of War. You
may be disdainful of the Prime Minister’s talents, but
will this not go down to posterity?”
“This book! Every child in Yiazhou knows this by
heart. What do you mean by calling it a new book? It
was written by some obscure person of the time of
the Warring States, and Cao Cao has plagiarized it.
But he has deceived no one but you, Sir.”
“But what is the use of your sarcastic insult in
saying that your school children know the book by
rote? It has never been given to the world, although
copies have been made. It belongs to his private
“Do you disbelieve me? Why, I know it and could
repeat it.”
Then Zhang Song repeated the whole book, word
for word, from beginning to end.
Yang Xiu said, “You remember it like this after
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only one reading! Really you are marvelous.”
He boasted not a handsome face,
Nor was his body blessed with grace.
His words streamed like a waterfall,
He read a book and knew it all.
Shu’s glories could he well rehearse,
His lore embraced the universe.
Or text or note of scholiast
Once read, his memory held fast. At leave−taking
Yang Xiu said, “Remain a while in your lodgings till I
can petition our Prime Minister to give you another
Zhang Song thanked him and left. By and bye
Yang Xiu went to see Cao Cao on the matter of
receiving the emissary from the west and said, “Sir,
why did you formerly treat Zhang Song so
“He spoke very rudely; that is why.”
“But you bore with Mi Heng; why not with this
“Mi Heng’s reputation for scholarship stood
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highest of all, and I could not bear to put him to
death. But what ability has this Zhang Song?”
“To say nothing about his speech being like the
River of Heaven, nothing daunts his talent for
dialectic. I happened to show him your new treatise;
he read it over once and could repeat it. From this, it
is evident he is cultured and has a prodigious
memory. There are few like him in the world. But he
said the book was the work of an obscure person of
a few hundred years back, and every school child in
his country knew it.”
“It only shows that the ancients and I are in secret
sympathy,” replied Cao Cao.
However, Cao Cao ordered the book to be torn
up and burned.
“Then may I bring him to see you, Sir, that he
may see the glory of our court.”
Cao Cao grudgingly consented, saying “I am
reviewing troops tomorrow on the western parade
ground. You may bring him there and let him see
what my army looks like. He will be able to talk about
it when he goes home. When I have dealt with the
south, I shall take the west in hand.”
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Hence the very next day Yang Xiu took Zhang
Song over to the west parade ground, where a
review of the Tiger Guard was to be held. There
were fifty thousand of them, and when drawn up in
order, they made a very brave show with their
gleaming helmets and bright new uniforms. Their
drums rolled to shake the heavens, and their
weapons glittered in the sun. Their discipline and
order were perfect; their gay banners fluttered in the
breeze. They looked ready to fly even, so alert and
smart were they.
Zhang Song glanced at them contemptuously.
After a long time Cao Cao called up Zhang Song
and, pointing to his army, said, “Have you ever seen
such fine bold fellows in Yiazhou?”
“We never see this military parade in Yiazhou; we
govern the people by righteousness.”
Cao Cao changed color and looked hard at the
bold speaker, who gazed back at him without the
least sign of fear.
Yang Xiu shot a quick glance at Zhang Song, but
Cao Cao went on, saying, “I regard the rat−class of
the world as of no more importance than so many
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weeds, and for my army to reach a place is to
overcome it, to give battle is to conquer, to besiege
is to take. Those who are with me, live; but those
who oppose me, die. Do you understand?”
“O Prime Minister, I know well that when you
march out your army, you always conquer. I knew it
when you attacked Lu Bu at Puyang; and when you
fought Zhang Xiu at Wancheng; and when you met
Zhou Yu at the Red Cliffs; and when in Huarong
Valley encountered Guan Yu; and on that day when
you cut off your beard and threw away your robe at
Tong Pass; and when you hid in a boat to escape
the arrows on the River Wei. On all these occasions,
no one could stand against you.”
It made Cao Cao very angry to be thus twitted
with his misfortunes and he said, “You stuck−up
pedant! How dare you thus bring up all my failures?”
Cao Cao called to his attendants to eject the bold
disputant and put him to death.
Yang Xiu ventured to argue with him, saying,
“You may behead him, but he came from the west
bearing tribute, and his death would have a very evil
effect on all distant peoples.”
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But Cao Cao was too angry to be reasonable and
persisted. However, Xun Yu also remonstrated, and
Zhang Song was not put to death. But he was
beaten and ejected. He returned to his lodging and
left the city that night, reflecting upon what he had
intended and what he had accomplished.
Thought he, “I did not expect such arrogance
when I came with the intention of giving him a region.
When I get back, Liu Zhang will expect great things.
Now I am returning empty handed and a failure to
endure the laughter of my fellow country people. I
will not go back. I have heard of the virtues of Liu
Bei, and I will go to him and see what manner of man
he is. Then I can decide what to do.”
So with his little escort and following he made for
Jingzhou. He had reached the boundaries of
Wuchang when he met a body of horsemen, at the
head of whom rode a general in simple undress, who
pulled up, saying, “Surely you are the Charioteer
Zhang Song.”
“I am he,” said Zhang Song.
The general quickly dismounted and humbly said,
“I have expected you these many days. I am Zhao
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Zhang Song dismounted and returned the
salutation, saying, “Then you are no other than the
Fine Man of Changshan.”
“No other,” was the reply. “And my lord Liu Bei
bade me await you here and offer you refreshment
after your long and toilsome journey.”
At this some soldiers brought forward wine and
food which they offered kneeling.
Zhang Song said, “I am come because the world
says Liu Bei is liberal and kindly disposed.”
After a few cups of wine, the two retook the road
toward Jingzhou City, which they neared next day at
evening. They went to the guest−house. Here they
found a large number of people who received the
visitor with the beating of drums and every sign of
And the officer in command, bowing low, said,
“My brother sent me to meet you after your long and
dusty journey and prepare the guest−house for your
reception. My name is Guan Yu.”
So Zhang Song and Zhao Yun dismounted and
entered the guest−house, where hosts and guest
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exchanged formal salutations and took their seats. In
a short time refreshments were served, and both
men were most diligent in their attention to the
traveler. This roadside banquet was prolonged to the
time of setting the watch, when they prepared for
Next morning, after the early meal, they mounted
and continued their journey. Very soon they met Liu
Bei himself, with an escort, and his two chief
advisers, deferentially standing by the roadside. As
soon as he recognized them, Zhang Song
dismounted and walked toward them. Liu Bei
received him with extreme respect.
“Your exalted name has been long known to me;”
said Liu Bei, “it has reverberated through my ears.
My one regret is that cloudy hills and long distances
have hitherto prevented me from enjoying the
advantage of your instruction. Hearing that you were
passing through, I have come to meet you; and if you
would be willing to notice me and condescend to rest
for a time in my city, thus allowing me to satisfy my
long disappointed desire to see you, I should indeed
hold myself fortunate.”
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Naturally the traveler’s vanity was tickled, and he
joyfully remounted. They rode bridle to bridle into the
city. When they reached the residence, again they
exchanged profound salutations and compliments
before they took their various places as host and
guest. And then a banquet was served. But all
throughout Liu Bei refrained from saying a word
about the west; he only chatted on general and
common things.
The visitor noted this steady avoidance and
resolved to probe his host’s thoughts.
“How many counties are there in Jingzhou, where
you are now, O Imperial Uncle?”
Zhuge Liang replied, “Jingzhou is only ours
temporarily; we have borrowed it from the South
Land. They are always sending messengers to
demand its return. However, now that our lord has
married their daughter, his position is more secure.
But it is still temporary.”
“The South Land is large,” said Zhang Song, “yet
their six territories and their eighty−one counties do
not satisfy them. The people are strong and the land
is fruitful.”
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Said Pang Tong, “Our lord, being of the dynastic
family, has never occupied a territory of the empire.
Those others, thievish as they are, may indeed seize
upon as much territory as they are strong enough to
hold, but such deeds are not according to the wise
person’s heart.”
“Noble Sirs, pray say no more; what virtue have I
that I should expect anything from the future?” said
Liu Bei.
“Not so, indeed,” said Zhang Song. “Illustrious Sir,
you are of the lineage of Han; your noble character is
widely known. No one could say that your fate
excludes all thoughts of occupying territory, where
you might begin to set up authority and take an
emperor’s position.”
Liu Bei deprecated such a suggestion, “Sir, you
go too far; this really is too much.”
The next three days were spent in banquets and
wine parties, but all the time no mention was made
of the Western Land of Rivers. And when, at the end
of that time, Zhang Song took leave, his host was at
the three−mile “parting road” to bid him farewell and
offer refreshment.
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When the moment came for the parting, Liu Bei
raised his wine−cup and said, “I am sincerely grateful
that you deigned to come here. You have prolonged
your visit to three days, but now the moment of
parting has come. Who knows when I may have the
privilege of receiving your instructions again?”
As Liu Bei said this, the tears flowed, but he hid
them while Zhang Song, willing to believe that this
emotion was on his account, thought how
wonderfully kind and noble his host must be to be
thus affected. Quite overcome, Zhang Song decided
to speak about the west.
So he said, “I have thought that I, too, would
come to you one day, but so far I have found no way.
In Jingzhou I see Sun Quan on the east, always
ready to pounce; I see Cao Cao on the north, greedy
to swallow. So this is not a wholly desirable place for
you to remain in.”
“I know this but too well,” said Liu Bei, “but I have
no secure place to go to.”
“Yiazhou is well protected, has much fertile soil, is
populous and well governed. Its scholars are
attracted by your virtue. If you marched your armies
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westward, you could easily become a real power
there and restore the glory of the Hans.”
“But how dare I attempt this? The ruler is also of
the Imperial House. The whole region is devoted to
him for his good deeds, and no other person could
attain such a hold.”
“I am no traitor,” said Zhang Song, “but in your
presence I feel constrained to be perfectly open and
plain. Liu Zhang, the Imperial Protector of Yiazhou, is
naturally weak and can neither use the wise nor
employ the capable. Then again Zhang Lu threatens
the north. People are distracted and would gladly
welcome an appreciative ruler. The journey I have
just made was to propose to support Cao Cao and
place the region under him, but I found him
rebellious and set on evil, proud and arrogant. So I
have turned aside to you. If you will take Yiazhou,
you will have a base from which to deal with
Hanzhong when you will, and the whole country
beside. You will continue the rightful line, and your
name will live in history. Would not that be real
fame? If then you think of taking our country, I am
willing to do what little I can as an ally within. But do
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you contemplate such a step?”
“I am deeply grateful that you think so well of me.
But the Imperial Protector being a member of the
family, I should lay myself open to general
execration, were I to attack him.”
“When a hero finds himself in the world, his duty
is to work out his destiny, to exert himself and
perform his task as best as he can, to press forward
among the foremost. At the moment the position is
that, if you fail to seize this opportunity, some other
will take possession of Yiazhou, and you will regret
when too late.”
“And I have heard much of the difficult nature of
the country, its many high mountains and numerous
streams, and its narrow roads. How could such a
country be invaded?”
Then Zhang Song drew the map from his sleeve,
saying, “I am so deeply affected by your virtue that I
offer you this map of the country, whereby its roads
and rivers may be known.”
Liu Bei unrolled the map; it was covered with
notes, on the lie of the land, lengths and widths, and
such matters. Strategic points on rivers and hills
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were shown, and store−houses and granaries and
treasuries. Everything was plainly stated.
Zhang Song went on, “Sir, you can prepare your
plans promptly. I have two friends who will certainly
help you. And when they come to see you, you may
be perfectly frank with them. Their names are Fa
Zheng and Meng Da.”
Liu Bei thanked him with joined hands.
Said he, “As the blue mountains grow not old and
the green waters always remain, so shall I never
forget. And when I shall have accomplished my task,
you shall have no mean reward.”
Replied Zhang Song, “I look for no reward.
Having met with an enlightened lord, I felt compelled
to unbosom myself to him.” Zhang Song left soon
after, and Guan Yu escorted him for several miles.
After arrival in Yiazhou, Zhang Song lost no time
in sending for his friends, Fa Zheng and Meng Da.
The former was the first to come, and he was told of
Cao Cao’s arrogance and haughtiness toward
humans of parts.
“As for the man himself,” said Zhang Song, “he is
a man to grieve with but not a person to rejoice with.
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I have promised Yiazhou to Liu Bei, the Imperial
Uncle, and I want your especial advice and
“I think Liu Zhang is incapable,” said Fa Zheng,
“and I have felt drawn to Liu Bei for some time past.
So we are in sympathy here.”
Shortly after Meng Da arrived. Meng Da and Fa
Zheng were fellow townsmen. When Meng Da
entered the room and saw the other two in earnest
and secret conversation, he said, “I know what you
two are about; you are scheming to hand over
Yiazhou to somebody.”
“It is really so; you have guessed right,” said
Zhang Song.
“But to whom ought it to go?” said Fa Zheng.
“There is but one: Liu Bei,” said Meng Da.
All three clapped their hands and laughed.
Then said Fa Zheng to Zhang Song, “You will see
our lord tomorrow; what about that?”
“I shall recommend that you two be sent to
Jingzhou on a mission.”
They thought that a suitable scheme.
And when the lately arrived messenger saw his
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master and was asked how he had fared, Zhang
Song said, “Cao Cao is a rebel who desires to get
the whole empire into his hands. I need hardly tell
you that. But he also hankers after this region.”
“Then what will become of us?” said Liu Zhang.
“I have a plan to check both our enemies. Liu Bei,
the Imperial Uncle, now in Jingzhou, is a relative of
yours, and he is generous and well disposed. This is
a matter of common knowledge. Cao Cao was
simply overwhelmed at the result of the battle at the
Red Cliffs, and Zhang Lu more so. Now my plan is
that you ally yourself with your distinguished relative
against Cao Cao and Zhang Lu.”
“I have been thinking thus for a long−time; can
you recommend a suitable emissary?”
“The only ones are Fa Zheng and Meng Da.”
These two were summoned and, meanwhile, a
letter was prepared. Fa Zheng was to proceed as
emissary to open up friendly relations, and Meng Da
would follow in due course with an army to welcome
Liu Bei into the Western Land of Rivers.
While still discussing the details of the policy, a
person forced his way in, his face all running with
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sweat, and cried out, “My lord, your land of forty−one
counties will be lost to you and pass to another if you
listen to Zhang Song.” Zhang Song turned a startled
look on the intruder, who was Huang Quan of
Xiliang, First Secretary in the Imperial Protector’s
The Imperial Protector said, “Why do you use
such language? Liu Bei is of my family, and so I am
seeking his support.”
Said Huang Quan, “I know all about him; he is
liberal minded to gain people to his side, and his
softness can overcome the hardest. He is bolder
than any other. He gains humans’ hearts from afar
off, and those near him look up to him. He also has
the wisest advisers and the boldest warriors. But if
you call him here as a soldier, think you that he will
be content to remain in a lowly condition? And if you
treat him as an honored guest, can a state stand two
rulers? Hear me, my lord, and you stand secure as
Taishan Mountains; be deaf to my words, and your
position is as precarious as a pile of eggs. This
Zhang Song has lately come home through Jingzhou
where he has certainly been plotting with Liu Bei.
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Slay this man; and make an end of Liu Bei. That will
be for the happiness of this land.”
“But how else am I to fend off my two enemies?”
“Fortify your country, dig out your moats, and
raise your ramparts. Then you can wait on events.”
“If these rebels invade this land, the position will
be critical, as when fire singes one’s eyebrows. It is
idle talk to tell me to wait on events.”
No notice was taken of Huang Quan, and Fa
Zheng was about to set out when another interfered,
crying, “No, no!”
This was a secretary, Wang Lei.
With bowed head Wang Lei stood and said, “My
lord will bring misfortune upon himself if he listens to
this Zhang Song.”
“Not so; I make an alliance with Liu Bei in order to
withstand Zhang Lu.”
“Zhang Lu’s invasion would be but a skin disease.
Liu Bei’s entry into this country would be a mortal
malady. Liu Bei is an unscrupulous brave; he was
once in Cao Cao’s service and plotted against him.
Then he hung on to Sun Quan and seized Jingzhou.
This shows his character and his designs. Think you
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that you two can dwell together? If you invite him,
then Shu is lost!”
“No more wild talk!” cried Liu Zhang angrily. “Liu
Bei is of my clan and family and will not ravish me of
my possessions.”
He bade the guards escort both men outside and
ordered Fa Zheng to set out. So he did, and before
long came to Jingzhou. When the salutations were
over, Fa Zheng presented his letter, which Liu Bei
opened and read:
“I, Liu Zhang, a younger brother of our family,
now write to General Liu Bei. From my humble place
long have I
gazed in your direction, but the roads of the
Western Land of Rivers are precipitous, and I have
failed to send my tribute. This is to my shame. The
victims of misfortune aid each other, and those in
trouble support each other. If friends act thus, how
much more should members of the same family?
Now Zhang Lu is mustering an army of invasion on
my northern frontier, much to the injury of my
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tranquillity. Wherefore I send this letter that you may
know of my distress; and if you remember the kindly
bonds of family and will play a brotherly part and
lead your armies to destroy these ruffians, you will
be my eternal protector and I shall be ever grateful.
This letter leaves much unsaid, but I await your
This letter greatly pleased Liu Bei. He made a
banquet for the bearer thereof, and when they had
mellowed themselves with wine, he dismissed the
attendants and spoke to Fa Zheng in confidence.
“Friend, I have long admired you, and Zhang
Song extolled your virtues. I shall always feel grateful
for this opportunity of hearing you.”
Fa Zheng bowed, saying, “That is too great praise
for a humble emissary from Shu. But they say that
horses always neighed in recognition of Bo Le, the
supreme judge of horses, and when a person has
found his lord, he dies for him. Have you thought
further of Zhang Song’s proposals, General?”
“I have always been a wanderer, often in suffering
and sorrow. I have often thought of the wren for even
that tiny bird has a twig to rest on; and of the cunning
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hare, that secures safety with three openings to its
burrow. Does not a person need at least a shelter?
Your land of the west is fertile and a temptation, but
its ruler is of my family, and I cannot plot against
“Yes; Yiazhou is a very paradise. But without a
ruler it cannot exist. Liu Zhang knows not how to use
the wise people, and his heritage must speedily pass
to another. Today it is offered to your hands, and you
must not miss the opportunity. You know the saying,
that the leader in the hunt gets the quarry. If you will
only consent, I will serve you to the death.”
Liu Bei signified his gratitude.
Said he, “Let me reflect for a time and take
The banquet terminated and the guest left. Zhuge
Liang conducted Fa Zheng to his lodging while his
master sat thinking.
Then Pang Tong said, “You must decide; not to
decide is foolish. You are of high intelligence, my
lord, and why do you hesitate?”
“What should my reply be?” asked Liu Bei.
“You know these surroundings, and with them
Three Kingdoms Romance
you cannot attain your ends. Now before you lies a
populous, fertile, and rich land, a base with the
greatest possibilities. You have the promise of
assistance from two men within, and it seems like a
gift of providence. Why hesitate?”
“Now there are two men in the world as mutually
antagonistic as fire and water. My opposite is Cao
Cao. He is impetuous and I am long suffering; he is
cruel and I am humane; he feigns while I am true. In
all particulars I act the direct contrary to him. I refuse
to risk the loss of the confidence and trust of the
world for a trifling advantage.”
Pang Tong smiled at these sentiments, saying,
“My lord’s words are quite in accord with abstract
rectitude, but such ideas scarcely suit the days of
rebellion. There are other ways of fighting than with
warlike weapons, but to adhere too obstinately to the
idea of abstract rectitude is to do nothing. One must
be an opportunist, annex the weak and attack the
willfully deluded, seize the recalcitrant and protect
the docile. These were the teachings of the great
Kings Tang and Wu. If after the settlement you
reward with righteousness and make of the land a
Three Kingdoms Romance
great country, will you be guilty of a breach of trust?
Remember if you do not take it now, another will.”
Liu Bei, a prey to confused emotions, replied,
“These words are as jewels; they should be
engraved on my very heart.” Thereupon he
summoned Zhuge Liang to settle the details of an
army to march west.
Zhuge Liang said, “This is an important place and
must be very well defended.”
Liu Bei replied, “I, Pang Tong, and my two
generals Huang Zhong and Wei Yan will go into the
west; you and our three best generals—Guan Yu,
Zhang Fei, and Zhao Yun—can defend Jingzhou.”
Guan Yu was told off for Xiangyang and the
narrow pass at Qingni, Zhang Fei commanded four
cities along the river, and Zhao Yun camped at
Jiangling. For the march westward, Huang Zhong led
the van, Wei Yan had the rearguard, while Liu Bei
moved in the center with Liu Feng and Guan Ping as
his aids. Pang Tong was Commander of the whole
Just as the fifty thousand troops were starting,
there came Liao Hua to offer his service; he and his
Three Kingdoms Romance
troops were attached to Guan Yu.
It was in the winter that the expedition started.
Soon they met the force under Meng Da, five
thousand soldiers, to act as escort into Yiazhou. Liu
Bei informed Liu Zhang that he had started, and the
latter sent orders to the counties along the road to
entertain them well on the march.
The Imperial Protector proposed to go out in
person to welcome Liu Bei and ordered carriages to
be prepared and tents and banners. All the escort
were dressed in glittering armor. At this Secretary
Huang Quan, the sturdy opponent of the invitation to
Liu Bei, again remonstrated.
“My lord, if you go out, you will be exposed to
danger. I have been in your service for many years,
and I would prevent you from being the victim of
another’s wiles. I pray you reflect.”
Zhang Song said, “His words are those of one
who would sow discord in a family and encourage
the power of the robbers who threaten you.
Assuredly such action is to your detriment.”
Liu Zhang then spoke angrily to Huang Quan,
saying, “I have decided, and why do you oppose
Three Kingdoms Romance
The objector bowed his head and wept. Then
approaching nearer, he seized hold of the Imperial
Protector’s robe with his teeth to hinder him. Liu
Zhang angrily shook his robe and rose from his seat,
but Huang Quan still held on till two of his teeth fell
out. Then the guards forced him away, and he
retired, still crying.
As Liu Zhang was starting, another man cried,
“My lord, do you neglect the loyal words of your
faithful Huang Quan to go to your death?”
And he threw himself prostrate at the steps in
remonstrance. He was Li Hui of Jianning.
“The prince may have ministers who remonstrate
with him, and the father may have children who
oppose,” said Li Hui. “Huang Quan has spoken
faithfully, and you ought to listen. To let Liu Bei into
this land is to welcome the tiger into your gates.”
“Liu Bei is my brother and will not harm me,” said
the Imperial Protector. “And any other who shall
oppose me shall suffer death.”
So Li Hui was thrust out.
“The officers of Shu regard the safety of their
Three Kingdoms Romance
families and no longer render you service. The
generals are arrogant, and each has some scheme
of his own to further. If you do not get Liu Bei to
oppose the enemy without and your own people
oppose you within, surely you are on the road to
So spoke Zhang Song, and the Imperial Protector
replied, “I know the plan is for my advantage.”
Whereupon he mounted his horse to ride out to
Elm Tree Bridge.
Then a messenger reported to him: “Wang Lei
has suspended himself, head downwards, at the city
gate. In one hand he holds a written remonstrance
and in the other a knife. And he says that if you heed
him not, he will cut the rope and die at your feet.”
Liu Zhang went to the gate, took the writing and
“Good medicine is bitter in the mouth but good for
the disease; faithful words offend the ear but are
good for the
conduct. Of old King Huai of Chu listened not to
Qu Yuan, but attended the meeting at Wu Pass and
Three Kingdoms Romance
was captured by the state of Qin. Sir, you are
thoughtlessly leaving your place to go to welcome
Liu Bei, but I fear there is a way out and none in.
Could you but behead Zhang Song in the market
place and have nothing to do with this league with
Liu Bei, it would be for the happiness of old and
young, and assure the safety of yourself.”
Anger rose in Liu Zhang’s breast as he read.
“Why do you insult me when I go to meet a kindly
man I feel as if I were about to enjoy the delight of
seeing brother?”
At this Wang Lei gave a great cry, severed the
rope, and fell to the ground battered and dead.
Head downwards at the city gate one hung
A last remonstrance in his outstretched hand.
Resolved that, were his words rejected, he
Would not survive defeat. Sincere was he
Who, desperate, held to Liu Zhang’s silken robe
Until his broken teeth released their grip.
Sincere indeed, but how can he compare
With stern Wang Lei who went to awful death?
Three Kingdoms Romance
Liu Zhang with thirty thousand troops went out to
welcome his clansman, and there followed one
thousand wagons laden with supplies and rich stuffs.
Liu Bei’s advanced guard had arrived at River
Moonstone. During the march the people had
brought presents, and Liu Bei had given an order to
pay for everything, under penalty of death for
disobedience. Thus no one suffered, and the people
came out in trusting crowds to watch the soldiers
marching by and welcome them in every way. Liu
Bei soothed them with very gracious words.
Then Fa Zheng secretly showed Pang Tong a
letter from Zhang Song advocating the assassination
of Liu Zhang near the place of welcome.
Pang Tong said, “Say nothing about this; after the
two Lius have met, there may be opportunities, but
this is too early to talk. Any plot would leak out.”
So nothing was said. Fucheng, where the
meeting was to take place, was one hundred twenty
miles from Capital Chengdu. Liu Zhang arrived first
and sent messengers to welcome Liu Bei. The two
armies camped on the bank of River Fu. Liu Bei went
into the city to see the Imperial Protector, and they
Three Kingdoms Romance
met cordially as brothers should. Both shed a few
tears, and by and bye they began a heart−to−heart
talk. Then followed a banquet, and after this each
returned to his own camp. The Imperial Protector
said, “How ridiculous have been proved the fears of
Huang Quan and Wang Lei! They do not understand
the force of family affection. I see he is really a kindly
and noble man, and with him as a support I shall fear
neither Cao Cao nor Zhang Lu. And I owe all this to
Zhang Song.”
To show his gratitude, Liu Zhang took off the
green silken robe he wore and sent it as a gift to
Zhang Song, together with five hundred ounces of
However, some of his officers were not so
content, and a group of them bade him beware.
“Do not rejoice too soon, O Master,” said they,
“for Liu Bei is hard enough within in spite of his mild
exterior. You have not sounded him yet and should
be on your guard.”
“You are all too anxious;” said Liu Zhang,
laughing, “my brother is no double−dealer, I am
Three Kingdoms Romance
When Liu Bei had returned to his own tent, Pang
Tong came in to ask what impression he had of his
host of that day.
“He seems a very honest man,” said Liu Bei.
“He is good enough, but some of his servants are
discontented at this turn of affairs, and I would not
guarantee there will be no murders. If you took my
advice, you would have Liu Zhang assassinated at
the return banquet. A hundred ruffians behind the
arras, a signal from you, and the deed would be
accomplished. All that would be needed, then would
be a rush on Capital Chengdu. No sword need be
drawn, no arrow fitted to the string.”
“He is a brother of my house and has treated me
with sincerity. I am a new−comer and so far unknown
in this land. Such a deed would be abhorrent to all
the world, and these people would resent it. I will not
establish myself by such means.”
“The scheme is not mine; it originated in a private
letter from Zhang Song, who says it will have to be
done some time.”
At this moment Fa Zheng came in and said, “This
is not for ourselves; it is the will of heaven.”
Three Kingdoms Romance
“Liu Zhang and I are of the same house, and I
would shudder at harming him.”
“Sir, you are wrong. If you act not as we propose,
then Zhang Lu will take Shu in revenge for the death
of his mother. What is there for you at the end of
your long march? Advance, and success is yours;
retreat, and you have nothing. And delays are most
dangerous. At any moment this scheme may leak
out, and another will reap the profit. This is the day
when Heaven smiles on you. Act before Liu Zhang
suspects you; establish yourself.”
So urged Fa Zheng, and Pang Tong backed it.
Their lord, by argument, they tried
From rectitude to turn aside.
What Liu Bei hid in his heart will be explained in
the next chapter.

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