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CHAPTER 68. Gan Ning’s Hundred Horsemen Raid The Northern Camp; Zuo Ci’s Flung−Down Cup Fools Cao Cao.

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

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Sun Quan was occupied in ordering his army at
Ruxu when he heard of the coming of Cao Cao with
four hundred thousand troops to the relief of Hefei.
He told off a fleet of fifty large ships to lie in the port
while Chen Wu went up and down the river banks on
the look−out.
“It would be well to inflict a defeat upon Cao Cao’s
army before they recover from the long march; it
would dishearten them,” said Zhang Zhao.
Looking around at the officers in his tent, Sun
Quan said, “Who is bold enough to go forth and fight
this Cao Cao and so take the keen edge off the spirit
of his army?”
And Ling Tong offered himself.
“I will go!” said he.
“How many soldiers do you require?”
“Three thousand troops will suffice,” replied Ling
But Gan Ning struck in, saying, “Only a hundred
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horse would be needed; why send three thousand?”
Ling Tong was angry, and he and Gan Ning
began to wrangle even in the presence of their chief.
“Cao Cao’s army is too strong to be attacked
recklessly,” said Sun Quan.
Finally he gave the commission to Ling Tong with
his three thousand, bidding him reconnoiter just
outside Ruxu, and fight the enemy if he met him.
Marching out, Ling Tong very soon saw a great
cloud of dust, which marked the approach of an
army. As soon as they came near enough, Zhang
Liao, who led the van, engaged with Ling Tong, and
they fought half a hundred bouts without sign of
victory for either. Then Sun Quan began to fear for
his champion, so he sent Lu Meng to extricate Ling
Tong from the battle and escort him home.
When Ling Tong had come back, his rival Gan
Ning went to Sun Quan and said, “Now let me have
the hundred horsemen, and I will raid the enemy’s
camp this night. If I lose a soldier or a mount, I will
claim no merit.”
Sun Quan commended his courage and chose a
hundred of his best veterans, whom he placed under
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Gan Ning’s command for the raid. Sun Quan also
gave him as a feast for the soldiers fifty flasks of
wine and seventy five pounds of mutton.
Returning to the tents, Gan Ning drew up his little
force and made them sit down in rows. Then he filled
two silver goblets with wine, solemnly drank to them,
and said, “Comrades, tonight our orders are to raid
the camp of the enemy. Wherefore fill your goblets
and call up all your strength for the task.”
But the men did not welcome his words; instead
they looked one at another uncertain.
Seeing them in this mood, Gan Ning adopted a
fierce tone, drew his sword and cried, “What are you
waiting for? If I, a leader of rank, can risk my life,
cannot you?”
Moved by the angry face of the leader, the men
rose, bowed their heads and said, “We will fight to
the last.”
Then the wine and meat were distributed to them
and each one ate his fill. The second watch was
chosen as the hour to start, and each man stuck a
white goose plume in his cap whereby they could
recognize each other in the darkness.
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At the time appointed they buckled on their armor,
mounted and, galloping away, quickly came to Cao
Cao’s camp. Hastily throwing aside the thorny
barriers, they burst in with a yell that rose to the very
heavens. They made straight for the center, hoping
to slay Cao Cao himself. But the troops of the
leader’s brigade had made a rampart of their carts
within which they were sheltered as if in an iron tun,
so that the raiders failed to find a way in.
However, Gan Ning and his small force dashed
hither and thither, cutting and slashing, till Cao Cao’s
men were quite bewildered and frightened. They had
no notion of the number of their assailants. All their
efforts only increased the confusion. Wherefore the
hundred men had it all their own way and rushed
from point to point slaying whomever they met. But
soon the drums beat in every camp and torches
were lit and shouts arose, and it was time for the
raiders to get away.
Gan Ning led his little body of troops out through
the south gate with never a soldier trying to stop him,
and rode for his own camp. He met Zhou Tai, who
had been sent to help him in case of need; but the
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need had not arisen, and the hundred heroes with
their leader rode back in triumph. There was no
A poem was written praising this exploit:
The drums of war make earth to shake
When the South Land comes near even devils
People long will tell of that night raid,
That Gan Ning’s goose−plumed warriors made.
On his return, Gan Ning took the tale of his men
at the camp gate, not a man nor a horse was
missing. He entered to the sound of drum and fife
and the shouting of his men.
“Long life!” shouted they, as Sun Quan came to
welcome them.
Gan Ning dismounted and prostrated himself. His
lord raised him, and took him by the hand, saying,
“This expedition of yours must have given those
rebels a shaking. I had yielded to your desire only I
wished to give you the opportunity to manifest your
valor. I did not wish to let you be sacrificed.”
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Gan Ning’s exploit was rewarded with gifts, a
thousand rolls of silk and a hundred keen swords, all
of which he distributed among his soldiers.
Sun Quan was very proud of his subordinate’s
doughty deed, and said, “Cao Cao may have his
Zhang Liao, but I can match him with my friend Gan
Soon Zhang Liao came to proffer another
challenge, and Ling Tong, impatient at being
excelled by his rival and enemy, begged that he
might go out to fight. His request was granted, and
he marched out a short distance from Ruxu with five
thousand troops. Sun Quan, with Gan Ning in his
train, went out to look on at the encounter.
When both armies had come out on the plain and
were arrayed, Zhang Liao, with Li Dian and Yue Jin,
one on either side, advanced to the front. Ling Tong,
sword in hand, galloped out towards him and, at
Zhang Liao’s command, Yue Jin took the challenge
and went to open the combat. They fought half a
hundred bouts, and neither seemed to have the
better of the other.
Then Cao Cao, hearing of the great contest going
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on, rode up to the battlefield and took position under
the great standard, whence he could see the fighting.
Seeing both combatants were waxing desperate, he
thought to decide the struggle by an unfair blow. He
bade Cao Xiu let fly a secret arrow, which he did by
creeping up under cover of Zhang Liao. It struck Ling
Tong’s steed, which reared and threw its rider. Yue
Jin dashed forward to thrust at the fallen warrior with
his spear, but before the blow could be given, the
twang of another bow was heard and an arrow
speeding by hit Yue Jin full in the face. He fell from
his horse. Then both sides rushed forward to rescue
their champions; the gongs clanged, and the combat
ceased. Ling Tong returned to his camp and
reported himself to his master.
“The arrow that saved you was shot by Gan
Ning,” said Sun Quan.
Ling Tong turned to his rival and bowed low.
“I could not have supposed you would have
rendered me such a service, Sir,” said he to Gan
This episode ended the strife and enmity between
the two leaders, who thereafter swore perpetual
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On the other side Cao Cao saw to it that his
general’s wound was dressed, and next day he
launched an attack against Ruxu along five different
lines. He himself led one army in the center; on the
left Zhang Liao and Li Dian led two armies; on the
right Xu Huang and Pang De commanded the other
two. Each army was ten thousand strong, and they
marched to give battle on the river bank. The crews
and fighting troops of the South Land’s naval
squadron were greatly frightened by the approach of
these armies.
“You have eaten the bread of your prince, and
you must give loyal service; why fear?” said Xu
Thereupon he put some hundreds of his best men
into small boats, went along the bank, and broke into
the legion under Li Dian. Meanwhile Dong Xi on the
ships beat drums and cheered them on. But a great
storm came on, lashing the river to fury, and the
waves rolled mountains high. The larger ships rolled
as if they would overturn, and the soldiers of Wu
were frightened. They started to get down into the
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bulkier cargo−boats to save their lives. But Dong Xi
threatened them with his sword, cutting down some
half score of the mutineers.
“My orders are to hold this point against the
enemy;” shouted he, “we dare not abandon the
However, the wind increased, and presently the
bold Dong Xi was thrown into the river by the rolling
of his ship and was drowned, together with his men.
Xu Sheng dashed hither and thither among Li
Dian’s army, slaying right and left. Chen Wu, hearing
the noise of battle, set out for the river bank. On his
way Chen Wu met Pang De and the legion under
him. A melee ensued. Then Sun Quan with Zhou Tai
and his troops joined in.
The small force from the ships that had attacked
Li Dian was now surrounded. So Sun Quan gave the
signal for an onslaught that should rescue them. This
failed, and Sun Quan was himself surrounded in turn
and soon in desperate straits. From a height, Cao
Cao saw his difficulties and sent in Xu Chu to cut
Sun Quan’s column in halves so that neither half
could aid the other.
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When Zhou Tai had cut an arterial alley out of the
press and reached the river−side, he looked for his
master. But Sun Quan was nowhere visible, so Zhou
Tai dashed once again into the battle. Coming to his
own troops, he cried, “Where is our lord?”
They pointed to where the press was most dense.
Zhou Tai stiffened and dashed in. Presently he
reached his lord’s side and cried out, “My lord, follow
me and I will hack a way out!”
Zhou Tai fought his way out to the river bank.
Then he turned to look, and Sun Quan was not
behind him. So he turned back, forced his way in and
once again found his way to his master’s side.
“I cannot get out; the arrows are too thick,” said
Sun Quan.
“Then go first, my lord, and I will follow.”
Sun Quan then urged his steed as fast as he
could go, and Zhou Tai kept off all pursuit. Zhou Tai
sustained many wounds and the arrows rattled on
his helmet, but he got clear at last and Sun Quan
was safe. As they neared the river bank, Lu Meng
came up with some of the naval force and escorted
Sun Quan down to the ships.
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“I owe my safety to Zhou Tai, who thrice came to
my aid,” said Sun Quan. “But Xu Sheng is still in the
thick of the fight, and how can we save him?”
“I will go to his rescue,” cried Zhou Tai.
Whirling his spear, Zhou Tai again plunged into
the battle and presently brought his colleague safely
out of the press. Both were severely wounded.
Lu Meng ordered his troops to keep up a rapid
flight of arrows so as to command the bank, and in
this way the two leaders were enabled to get on
board the ships.
Now Chen Wu had engaged the legion under
Pang De. Being inferior in force and no aid being
forthcoming, Chen Wu was forced into a valley
where the trees and undergrowth were very dense.
He tried to turn, but was caught by the branches, and
while so entangled he was killed by Pang De.
When Cao Cao saw that Sun Quan had escaped
from the battle to the river bank, he urged his steed
forward in pursuit. He sent flights of arrows toward
the fugitives. By this time Lu Meng’s troops had
emptied their quivers, and he began to be very
anxious. But just then a fleet of ships sailed up led by
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Lu Xun, the son−in−law of Sun Ce, who came with
one hundred thousand marines and drove back Cao
Cao’s army. Then he landed to pursue. He captured
many thousands of horses and slew many men, so
that Cao Cao was quite defeated and retired. Then
they sought and found the body of Chen Wu among
the slain.
Sun Quan was much grieved when he came to
know that Chen Wu had been slain and Dong Xi
drowned, and wept sore. Men were sent to seek for
Dong Xi’s body, which at last was found. Both
generals were buried with great honors.
As a recompense for Zhou Tai’s services in Sun
Quan’s rescue, Sun Quan prepared in his honor a
great banquet, where Sun Quan himself offered
Zhou Tai a goblet of wine and complimented and
embraced him while the tears coursed down his
“Twice you saved my life, careless of your own,”
cried Sun Quan, “and you have received many
wounds. It is as if your skin had been engraved and
painted. What sort of a man should I be if I did not
treat you as one of my own flesh and blood? Can I
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regard you, noble Sir, merely as a unit in my army?
You are my meritorious minister. I share the glory
you have won and mine are your joys and sorrows.”
Then Sun Quan bade Zhou Tai open his dress
and exhibit his wounds for all the assembly to see.
The skin was gashed all over as if his body had been
scored with a knife. Sun Quan pointed to the wounds
one after another and asked how each one had been
received. And, as Zhou Tai told him, for every wound
Sun Quan made him drink off a goblet of wine till he
became thoroughly intoxicated. Sun Quan then
presented him with a black silk parasol and bade him
use it on all occasions as a sign of the glory that was
But Sun Quan found his opponents too stable; at
the end of a month the two armies were both at Ruxu
and neither had won a victory.
Then said Zhang Zhao and Gu Yong, “Cao Cao is
too strong, and we cannot overcome him by mere
force. If the struggle continues longer, you will only
lose more soldiers. You would better seek to make
Sun Quan followed this advice and dispatched Bu
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Zhi on a peace mission to Cao Cao’s camp. Sun
Quan offered a yearly tribute. Cao Cao also saw that
the South Land was too strong to be overcome, and
Cao Cao insisted, “The Marquis should first send
away his army, and then I would retire.”
Bu Zhi returned with this message, and Sun Quan
sent away the greater part, leaving only Zhou Tai
and Jiang Qin to hold Ruxu. The army returned to
Capital Moling.
Cao Cao left Cao Ren and Zhang Liao in charge
of Hefei, and he marched the army back to Capital
On arrival, all Cao Cao’s officers, military and
civil, persuaded him to become Prince of Wei. Only
the Chair of the Secretariat, Cui Yan, spoke strongly
against the scheme.
“You are, then, the only man who knows not the
fate of Xun Yu,” said his colleagues.
“Such times! Such deeds!” cried Cui Yan. “You
are guilty of rebellion, but you may commit it
yourselves. I will bear no part in it.”
Certain enemies told Cao Cao, and Cui Yan was
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thrown into prison. At his trial he glared like a tiger,
and his very beard curled with contempt; he raged
and cursed at Cao Cao for a betrayer of his prince,
and a rebel. The interrogating magistrate reported
his conduct to Cao Cao, who ordered Cui Yan to be
beaten to death in prison.
Cui Yan of Qinghe−Greenriver,
Firm and unyielding was he,
With beard crisp curling and gleaming eyes,
Which showed the man of stone and iron within.
He drove the evil from his presence,
And his glory is fair and high.
For loyalty to his lord of Han,
His fame shall increase as the ages roll.
In the twenty−first year of Rebuilt Tranquillity
(216), in the fifth month of that year, a great
memorial signed by many officers went up to
Emperor Xian, praying:
“The Duke of Wei has rendered so great services
that no minister before him, in Heaven as well as on
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Earth, not
even Yi Yin and the Duke of Zhou, could match
his manifest merits to the state. Thus, the title of
kingship should be granted to him.”
The memorial was approved, and a draft edict
was prepared by the famous Zhong Yao to make
Cao Cao Prince of Wei. Thrice Cao Cao with
seeming modesty pretended to decline the honor,
but thrice was his refusal rejected. Finally he made
his obeisance and was enrolled as Prince of Wei
with the usual insignia and privileges, a coronet with
twelve strings of beads and a chariot with gilt shafts,
drawn by six steeds. Using the formalities of the Son
of God, he decorated his imperial chariot with bells
and had the roads cleared when he passed along.
He built himself a palace at Yejun.
Then he began to discuss the appointment of an
heir−apparent. His principal wife, Lady Ding, was
without issue; but a concubine, Lady Liu, had borne
him a son, Cao Ang, who had been killed in battle at
the siege of Wancheng when Cao Cao fought
against Zhang Xiu. A second concubine, Lady Bian,
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had borne him four sons: Cao Pi, Cao Zhang, Cao
Zhi, and Cao Xiong. Wherefore he elevated Lady
Bian to the rank of Queen of Wei in place of Lady
The third son, Cao Zhi, was very clever and a
ready master of composition. Cao Cao wished him to
be named the heir.
Then the eldest son, Cao Pi sought from the High
Adviser Jia Xu a plan to secure his rights of
primogeniture, and Jia Xu told him to do so and so.
Thereafter, whenever the father went out on any
military expedition, Cao Zhi wrote fulsome
panegyrics, but Cao Pi wept so copiously at bidding
his father farewell that the courtiers were deeply
affected and remarked that though Cao Zhi was
crafty and clever, he was not so sincerely filial as
Cao Pi. Cao Pi also bought over his father’s
immediate attendants, who then rang the praises of
his virtues so loud that Cao Cao was strongly
disposed to name him as the heir after all.
After hesitating a long time, the matter was
referred to Jia Xu.
“I wish to name my heir; who shall it be?” said
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Cao Cao.
Jia Xu would not say, and Cao Cao asked why.
“I was just recalling the past in my mind and could
not reply at once,” said Jia Xu.
“What were you recalling?”
“I was thinking of two fathers, Yuan Shao and Liu
Biao, and their sons.”
Cao Cao smiled. Soon after this he declared his
eldest son his heir.
In the winter of that year, in the tenth month, the
building of the palace of the new Prince of Wei was
completed and the furnishing begun. From all parts
were collected rare flowers and uncommon trees to
beautify the gardens. One agent went into the South
Land and saw Sun Quan, to whom he presented a
letter from Cao Cao asking that he might be allowed
to proceed to Wenzhou to get some oranges. At that
period Sun Quan was in a most complaisant mood
toward Cao Cao, so from the orange trees in his own
city, he picked forty loads of very fine fruits and sent
them immediately to Yejun.
On the way, the bearers of the oranges fell tired,
and they had to stop at the foot of a certain hill.
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There came along an elderly man, blind of one eye
and lame of one leg, who wore a white rattan
head−dress and a black loose robe. He saluted the
bearers and stayed to talk.
Presently he said, “Your burdens are heavy, O
porters; may this old Taoist lend you a shoulder?
What do you say?”
Naturally they were pleased enough, and the
amiable wayfarer bore each load for two miles.
When they resumed their burdens, they noticed that
the loads seemed lighter than before, and they felt
rather suspicious.
When the Taoist was taking his leave of the
officer in charge of the party, he said, “I am an old
friend from the same village as the Prince of Wei. My
name is Zuo Ci. Among Taoists I bear the
appellation of ‘Black−Horn’. When you get to the end
of your journey, you may say that I was inquiring
after your lord.”
Zuo Ci shook down his sleeves and left. In due
course the orange bearers reached the new palace,
and the oranges were presented. But when Cao Cao
cut one open, it was but an empty shell of a thing;
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there was no pulp beneath the rind. Cao Cao was
rather puzzled and called in the porters, who told him
of their falling in with the mysterious Taoist on the
way. But Cao Cao scouted the idea of that being the
But just then the warden of the gate sent to say
that a certain Taoist named Zuo Ci was at the gate
and wished to see the king.
“Send him in,” said Cao Cao.
“He is the man we met on the way,” said the
porters when he appeared.
Cao Cao said curtly, “What sorcery have you
been exercising on my beautiful fruit?”
“How could such a thing happen?” said the
Thereupon he cut open an orange and showed it
full of pulp, most delicious to the taste. But when Cao
Cao cut open another, that again was empty, nothing
but rind.
Cao Cao was more than ever perplexed. He bade
his visitor be seated, and, as Zuo Ci asked for
refreshment, wine and food were brought in. The
Taoist ate ravenously, consuming a whole sheep,
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and drank in proportion. Yet he showed no sign of
intoxication or repletion.
“By what magic are you here?” said Cao Cao.
“I am but a poor Taoist. I went into Shu, and on
Mount Omi, I studied the way for thirty long years.
One day I heard my name called from out the rocky
wall of my cell. I looked, but could see nothing. The
same thing happened next day, and so on for many
days. Then suddenly, with a roar like thunder, the
rock split asunder, and I saw a sacred book in three
volumes called ‘The Book of Concealing Method’.
From the first volume I learned to ascend to the
clouds astride the wind, to sail up into the great void
itself; from the second to pass through mountains
and penetrate rocks; from the third, to float light as
vapor, over the seas, to become invisible at will or
change my shape, to fling swords and project
daggers so as to decapitate a man from a distance.
You, O Prince, have reached the acme of glory; why
not now withdraw and, like me, become a disciple of
the Taoists? Why not travel to Mount Omi and there
mend your ways so that I may bequeath my three
volumes to you ?”
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“Oft have I reflected upon this course and
struggled against my fate, but what can I do? There
is no one to maintain the government,” replied Cao
“There is Liu Bei of Yiazhou, a scion of the
dynastic family; could you not make way for him? If
you do not, I may have to send one of my flying
swords after your head one day.”
“You are one of his secret agents,” said Cao Cao,
suddenly enraged. “Seize him!” cried he to his lictors.
They did so, while the Taoist laughed. And Zuo Ci
continued to laugh as they dragged him down to the
dungeons, where they beat him cruelly. And when
they had finished, the Taoist lay there gently
respiring in a sound sleep, just as if he felt nothing
This enraged Cao Cao still more, and he bade
them put the priest into the large wooden collar and
nail it securely and then chain him in a cell. And Cao
Cao set guards over him, and the guards saw the
collar and chains just fall off while the victim lay fast
asleep not injured in the least.
The Taoist lay in prison seven days without food
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or water; and when they went to look at him, he was
sitting upright on the ground, quite well and rosy
The gaolers reported these things to Cao Cao,
who had the prisoner brought in.
“I do not mind going without food for years,” said
the victim, when Cao Cao questioned him, “yet I
could eat a thousand sheep in a day.”
Cao Cao was at the end of his resources; he
could prevail nothing against such a man.
That day there was to be a great banquet at the
new palace, and guests came in crowds. When the
banquet was in progress and the wine cup passing
freely, suddenly the same Taoist appeared. He had
wooden clogs on his feet. All faces turned in his
direction and not a few were afraid; others
Standing there in front of the great assembly, the
Taoist said, “O powerful Prince, here today you have
every delicacy on the table and a glorious company
of guests. You have rare and beautiful objects from
all parts of the world. Is there anything lacking? If
there be anything you would like, name it and I will
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get it for you.”
Cao Cao replied, “Then I want a dragon’s liver to
make soup: can you get that?”
“Where’s the difficulty?” replied Zuo Ci.
With a pencil the Taoist immediately sketched a
dragon on the whitewashed wall of the banquet hall.
Then he flicked his sleeve over it, the dragon’s belly
opened of itself, and therefrom Zuo Ci took the liver
all fresh and bloody.
“You had the liver hidden in your sleeve,” said
Cao Cao, incredulous. “Then there shall be another
test,” said the Taoist. “It is winter and every plant
outside is dead. What flower would you like, O
Prince. Name any one you will.”
“I want a peony,” said Cao Cao.
“Easy,” said the Taoist.
At this request they brought out a flower−pot,
which was placed in full view of the guests. Then he
spurted some water over it, and in a very short time
up came a peony with two fully expanded flowers.
The guests were astonished, and they asked the
Taoist to be seated and gave him wine and food.
The cook sent in some minced fish.
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“The best mince is made from the perch of River
Song,” said the Taoist.
“How can you get fish five hundred miles away?”
said Cao Cao.
“Not at all difficult. Tell someone to get a rod and
hook, and fish in the pond just below this banquet
They did so, and very soon several beautiful
perches lay on the steps.
“I have always kept some of these in my ponds,
of course,” said Cao Cao.
“O Prince, do you think to deceive me? All
perches have two gills except the River Song perch,
which has two pairs. That is the distinguishing
The guests crowded round to look, and, surely
enough, the fish had four gills.
“To cook this perch one needs purple sprout
ginger though,” said the Taoist.
“Can you also produce that?” asked Cao Cao.
Zuo Ci told them to bring in a silver bowl, which
the magician filled with water. Very soon the ginger
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filled the bowl, and he presented it to the host. Cao
Cao put out his hand to pick some, when suddenly a
book appeared in the bowl and the title was “Cao
Cao’s New Treatise on the Art of War”. He took it
out and read it over. Not a word of his treatise was
Cao Cao became more mystified. Zuo Ci took up
a jade cup that stood on the table, filled it with fine
wine, and presented it to Cao Cao.
“Drink this, O Prince, and you will live a thousand
“Drink of it first yourself,” said Cao Cao.
The Taoist took the jade pin from his head−dress
and drew it across the cup as if dividing the wine into
two portions.
Then he drank one half and handed the cup with
the other half to Cao Cao. But Cao Cao angrily
refused it. The Taoist then threw the cup into the air,
where it was transformed into a white dove which
circled round the banquet hall and then flew away.
All faces were turned upward following the flight
of the dove, and so no one had noticed the going of
the Taoist. But he was gone; and soon the gate
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warden reported that he had left the palace.
Said Cao Cao, “A magician like this ought to be
put to death, or he will do some mischief.”
The redoubtable Xu Chu and a company of three
hundred armed men were sent to arrest the Taoist.
They saw the Taoist, still wearing his wooden clogs,
not far ahead but striding along quickly. Xu Chu rode
after Zuo Ci, but in spite of all his horse could do, he
could not come up with Zuo Ci. He kept up the chase
right to the hills, when he met a shepherd lad with a
flock of sheep. And there walked the Taoist among
the sheep. The Taoist disappeared. The angry
warrior slew the whole flock of sheep, while the
shepherd lad looked on weeping.
Suddenly the boy heard a voice from one of the
severed heads, telling him to replace the heads on
the bodies of his sheep. Instead of doing so, he fled
in terror, covering his face.
Then he heard a voice calling to him, “Do not run
away; you shall have your sheep again.”
He turned, and lo! the sheep were all alive again,
and Zuo Ci was driving them along. The boy began
to question him, but the Taoist made no reply. With a
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flick of his sleeves, he was gone.
The shepherd lad went home and told all these
marvels to his master. He could not conceal such a
story, and it reached Cao Cao. Then sketches of the
Taoist were sent everywhere with orders to arrest
him. Within three days were arrested in the city and
outside three or four hundred persons all blind of one
eye, lame of one leg, and wearing a rattan
head−dress, a black loose robe and wooden clogs.
They were all alike and all answered to the
description of the missing Taoist.
There was a great hubbub in the street. Cao Cao
ordered his officer to sprinkle the crowd of Taoists
with the blood of pigs and goats in order to exorcise
the witchcraft and take them away to the drill ground
on the south of the city. Thither he followed them
with his guards, who surrounded the crowd of
arrested persons and slew every one. But from the
neck of each one, after the head was severed, there
floated up into the air a wreath of black vapor, and all
these wreaths drifted toward a center where they
joined up into the image of another Zuo Ci, who
presently beckoned to him a white crane out of the
Three Kingdoms Romance
sky, mounted it and sat as on a horse.
Clapping his hands, the Taoist cried merrily, “The
rats of the earth follow the golden tiger, and one
morning the doer of evil shall be no more.”
The soldiers shot arrows at both bird and man. At
this a tremendous storm burst over the city. Stones
were driven along, sand was whirled about, and all
the corpses arose from the ground, each holding his
own head in his hands. They rushed toward Cao
Cao as if to strike him. The officials covered their
eyes, and none dared to look another in the face.
The power of a bold man will overturn a state,
The art of a necromancer also produces wonders.
Read the next chapter and you will know the fate
of Cao Cao.

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