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CHAPTER 69. Guan Lu Sees Things In The Book Of Changes; Five Loyal Subjects Die For Their State.

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

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The sight of the corpses of his victims rising to
their feet in the storm and running toward him was
too much for Cao Cao, and he swooned. However,
the wind quickly fell and the corpses disappeared.
His followers assisted Cao Cao to his palace, but he
was very ill.
A poet celebrated the episode of the murdered
Taoist:
He studied his magical books,
He was learned in mystical lore,
And with magical fleetness of foot
He could travel the wide world over.
The magical arts that he knew,
He employed in an earnest essay
To reform the bad heart of Cao Cao.
But in vain; Cao Cao held on his way.
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Cao Cao’s illness seemed beyond the art of the
physicians, and drugs seemed of no avail. It
happened that Minister Xu Zhi came from the capital
to visit the prince, who bade the latter take a cast
from the “Book of Changes.”
“Have you ever heard of Guan Lu? He is more
than human in his skill at divination,” said Xu Zhi.
“I have heard a lot about him, but I do not know
how clever he is; you tell me about him,” replied Cao
Cao.
“He is from Pingyuan. His face is ugly and coarse;
he drinks to excess and is rather dissipated. His
father was an elder of Langye. From a lad Guan Lu
loved to study the stars, staying up all night to watch
them, in spite of the prohibition of his father and
mother. He used to say that if domestic fowls and
wild geese knew the seasons naturally, how much
more should humans. He often used to play with
other boys at drawing pictures of the sky on the
ground, putting in the sun, moon, and stars. When
he grew older he studied the ‘Book of Changes’ very
deeply and observed the winds. He was a marvelous
calculator and excellent physiognomist.
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“His fame reached the ears of Shan Zichun, the
Governor of Langye, who called him to his residence
for an interview. There were present some hundred
or so other guests, every one of whom could be
called able of speech.
“’I am young and not over−bold,’ said Guan Lu to
the Governor. ‘I pray you give me three flasks of
wine to loosen my tongue.’ The request was
astonishing, but the wine was brought in, and when
he had drunk it, Guan Lu, looking contemptuously at
the other guests, said, ‘Now I am ready; are these
the sort of opponents you have got together for me
to contend with? Are these gentlemen sitting around
me disputants?’
“’I myself am anxious for a match with you,’ said
Shan Zichun. Then they began upon the meaning of
the Book of Changes. Guan Lu’s words poured forth
like a torrent, and his ideas were most recondite. The
Governor replied, stating difficulties; Guan Lu swept
them away in a stream of eloquence. So it went on
the whole day without a pause even for refreshment.
Neither Shan Zichun nor his other guests could help
praising Guan Lu and agreeing with him.
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“His fame spread wide after this encounter, and
people spoke of him as the ‘Supernatural Boy.’ After
this he became famous in another way. There was a
certain Guo En, a man of the people, who had two
brothers. All three became lame, and they called in
Guan Lu to cast lots and discover the reason. Guan
Lu said, ‘By the lots there is a female demon in your
family tomb, an aunt, the wife of one of your father’s
brothers. Some years ago, in a time of famine, for
the sake of a few carts of grain, she was pushed into
a well and a great stone was thrown in on her,
crushing her head so that she suffered intensely.
She complained to the Most High, and your
lameness is the retribution for that crime. No prayers
will avert the evil. The three brothers wept and
acknowledged their guilt.
“Governor Wang Ji of Anping, heard of the
diviner’s fame and invited him to come on a visit, and
he went. It happened that another guest of the
Governor was the magistrate of Xindu, whose wife
suffered from headaches and his son from pains in
the heart. Guan Lu was asked to discover the
reason. He cast lots and said that at the west corner
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of the main hall there were buried two corpses, one
of a man who held a spear, the other of a man who
had a bow and arrows. The wall was built across
them. The spearman’s master had gashed his head,
and so his head pained. The archer’s master had
stabbed him in the heart, and so his heart suffered
anguish. They dug where Guan Lu indicated and,
about eight spans down, found two coffins, one with
a spear inside and the other with a strung bow and
wooden arrows. All were much decayed. Guan Lu
bade them remove the bones and bury them three
miles outside the walls. Thereafter the woman and
her son suffered no more.
“A certain Zhuge Yuan, Magistrate of Guantao,
newly promoted to Governor, was leaving for his new
post, and Guan Lu went to see him off. One of the
guests mentioned that Guan Lu could divine what
was hidden from sight. The Governor doubted such
powers and said he would put a test. He got a
swallow’s egg, a wasp’s nest, and a spider, and
concealed them in three separate boxes. He asked
Guan Lu to guess the contents. The divination made,
Guan Lu wrote three quatrains:
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‘The latent life will declare itself;
It will cling to your lordly hall,
Or male or female, flung into space,
Wide wings will prevent its fall.
This seems to indicate a swallow’s egg.
‘A many−chambered dwelling
Is hanging to your eaves.
Each room has a poisonous tenant;
Who’ll be flying when he leaves.
This answers to a wasp’s nest.
‘Therein is a long−legged, trembling thing,
Who spins a thread from his inside
And spreads a fine spun net for flies;
He profits most at eventide.
And this it a spider.’
“The guests were amazed.
“An old woman in his village having lost a cow,
came to consult him. After the divination, he told her
that seven men had taken away the cow and were
cooking and eating it on the bank of a certain
mountain stream. She would better go there quickly
and see who they were. If she went with all speed,
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she would find the skin and the flesh. The woman
went and found the seven men hidden behind a
small shanty, boiling beef. Most of the cow’s flesh
was still there. She told Governor Liu Bin, who
arrested the seven men and punished them. Then
the Governor asked the old lady how she got to
know exactly who the offenders were, and she told
him.
“Governor Liu Bin was dubious, too. He sent for
Guan Lu and put him to the following test. He placed
his seal and a pheasant feather in a box and asked
what were the contents. The reply was:
‘Square within, without so round,
Beauteous colors here abound;
The jewel within is held secure
And what it witnesses is sure.
Is not this a seal in its bag?
‘There’s a bird on the precipice steep,
Its body with flame seems aglow.
Its wings are barred yellow and black.
At sunrise it never fails to crow.
And I think this hints at a pheasant feather.
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“Governor Liu Bin treated the marvelous diviner
with great honor.
“One day Guan Lu saw a youth plowing a field.
After watching him for a long time, Guan Lu suddenly
asked his name and age.
“’My name is Zhao Yan, and I am nineteen,’ said
the young man. ‘Pray, who may you be, Sir?’
“’I am Guan Lu; you may have heard of me. I see
an air of early death about you, and you will be done
with life in three days. It is a pity that one so
handsome should die so young.’
“Zhao Yan forsook his plow, hurried home and
told his father. The father at once set out to find
Guan Lu, and, having found Guan Lu, threw himself
on the ground and besought the diviner to save his
son.
“’How can I avert the doom? It is fate,’ said Guan
Lu.
“’Alas! I have but this one son, I pray you save
him.’
“And the son added his tears and prayers to
those of his father. Guan Lu was deeply touched.
Then he turned to the lad and said, ‘You get ready
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some good wine and some venison. Tomorrow go
into the forest on the south there, and underneath a
lofty tree you will see two men seated on boulders
playing chess. One of them will be dressed in white,
and he will be facing the south. He is very evil
looking. The other will be seated opposite, dressed
in red. He is very handsome. They will be deeply
absorbed in their game and will not notice who offers
them food and wine, which you will humbly present
on your knees. When they have eaten and drunk,
you will prostrate yourself and with tears pray them
to grant you length of days. You will gain an
increased span of life, but, above all things, do not
mention that I told you what to do.’
“The father kept Guan Lu as a guest, and the next
day the son followed out his instructions. He entered
the forest and soon came upon the two men seated
beneath a pine, playing chess. They seemed
oblivious to all around them. Zhao Yan presented the
w i n e a n d t h e f o o d , a n d t h e t w o m e n a t e
absent−mindedly, for the game went on.
“But when Zhao Yan threw himself on the ground
and implored the gift of long life, they seemed
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startled. “’This must be some of Guan Lu’s doing,’
said Red−Robe. ‘Still, as we have accepted a gift at
his hand, we must have pity on him.’
“He who was dressed in white then lifted up a
book that hung at his side and looked therein.
“’You are nineteen this year,’ said White−Dress to
Zhao Yan. ‘You ought to die. But we will insert a
number nine over the number one and so make it
read ninety−nine, and that is the age you will attain.
But when you go back, tell Guan Lu he is not to
betray the secrets of fate, or Heaven will surely
punish him.’
“Then Red−Robe took out a pen and added the
figure. A gust of wind passed, and the two old men
were transformed into two cranes that rose into the
sky and flew away.
“Zhao Yan came back home and told what he had
seen. Guan Lu told him the red−robed man was the
Southern Dipper Constellation, and the white−robed,
the Northern Dipper.
“’But the Northern Dipper consists of nine stars,
and there was only one man,’ objected the lad.
“’Separately they are nine, but they combine to
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form one. The Northern Dipper records deaths; the
Southern Dipper, births. Now the extra figure has
been added, you need have no anxiety; you will live
long.
“Father and son both thanked him most sincerely,
but thereafter Guan Lu was very careful how he
divined for people lest he should betray celestial
secrets.
“Now, this man is at Pingyuan, and you, O Prince,
can seek your fate of him. Why not call him?”
Cao Cao was greatly glad. Guan Lu was sent for
and came. As soon as the salutations were over,
Cao Cao asked him to cast lots for him.
Guan Lu at once found the cause and said, “The
illness is only due to magical machinations; it should
not create anxiety.”
Cao Cao was much relieved in his mind, and his
health began to improve.
Next Cao Cao wished to know about the
conditions in the empire’s affairs.
After the necessary calculations the prophet said,
“Three and eight cross; the yellow boar meets the
tiger; the southern expedition causes the loss of one
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limb.”
Then Cao Cao asked him to inquire whether his
life should be long or not.
Guan Lu replied, “Lion in the Palace to preserve
the talents of ancestors: the Prince’s way is securely
renewed, and his son and grandson shall come to
high honor.”
Then Cao Cao asked concerning himself.
“Divination concerning the fate of the universe
may not be foreknown; wait a time and I will look into
it.”
Cao Cao was pleased and would like to keep
such a man near him, so he offered him the post of
historiographer (who was also soothsayer) at his
court, but it was declined.
“My destiny is mean, my luck despicable; I am not
equal to such an office and dare not undertake it,”
said Guan Lu.
“Why not?” said Cao Cao.
“My forehead has no lofty fullness; my eyes no
steady expression; my nose no bridge; my feet no
round, solid heels; my back lacks the triple armor (of
shoulder blades and intervening muscles); and my
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breast the three marks (like the character indicating
wealth). I can only control evil spirits securely; I
cannot rule living humans.”
“What think you of my physiognomy?”
“What can a minister of extremely exalted rank
like yourself desire further?” said Guan Lu.
Cao Cao pressed him to say; the soothsayer only
laughed. Then Cao Cao asked him to look at the
many officers of all kinds standing around.
“Every one of them is a servant equal to the
administration of the empire,” said Guan Lu.
But when Cao Cao asked whether good or bad
fortune was to be his, the soothsayer would not give
a clear and full reply.
A poem says:
Guan Lu was a seer of old.
Stars to him their secrets told.
Mysteries, occult and dim,
Were as daylight unto him.
His so subtle intellect
Could the shade of death detect,
But the secrets of his skill
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Died with him,—are secrets still.
Again Cao Cao asked him to divine concerning
his rivals Wu and Shu.
Guan Lu said, “The south just lost a famous
leader, and the west is encroaching on your
territory.”
Cao Cao’s doubts as to the accuracy of one of
these events were soon set at rest, for a messenger
came from Hefei to report: “Lu Su, the Supreme
Commander of the South Land, has died in Lukou.”
Then Cao Cao sent hurriedly into Hanzhong, and
the scout returned to report: “Zhang Fei and Ma
Chao have taken the Xiabian Pass and are
threatening Hanzhong.”
Cao Cao was angry and inclined to march at once
against the invaders; but he consulted the great
soothsayer, who advised him not to move.
“Do not act in haste. In the coming spring there
will be a conflagration in Xuchang,” said Guan Lu.
Having been witness of the verification of Guan
Lu’s words, Cao Cao was in no mood to neglect the
warning. He stayed on in his palace, but he sent Cao
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Hong with fifty thousand troops to assist in the
defense of the Eastern Land of Rivers, while Xiahou
Dun, with thirty thousand troops, went to Xuchang to
keep careful watch and be ready against any
surprises. He placed High Minister Wang Bi in
command of the Imperial Guard.
Sima Yi warned Cao Cao against this Wang Bi,
saying, “The man is given to wine, and slack. He is
not a fit person for such a post.”
Cao Cao replied, “He is very fit. He has followed
me through all difficulties and dangers. He is loyal
and diligent, solid as stone or iron.”
Wang Bi was appointed and led the guard into
camp at the capital, outside the East Gate of the
Imperial Palace.
Now there was a certain Geng Ji, a Luoyang
man, who had long been employed in the Prime
Minister’s palace in a subordinate capacity and
afterward had been promoted to a post of Minister.
He and Minister Wei Huang were close friends.
These two were greatly distressed at Cao Cao’s
advance to princely rank, and more especially at his
use of the imperial chariots. In the early months of
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the twenty−third year (AD 218), Geng Ji and Wei
Huang came to a secret exchange of views on Cao
Cao’s conduct.
Geng Ji said, “The man is rebellious and wicked,
every day behaving worse. He intends to go farther,
and how can we, as servants of the dynasty, help
him in his wickedness?”
Wei Huang said, “I have a friend named Jin Yi,
who also is a servant of Han and an enemy of Cao
Cao’s. He is a descendant of the old Great Minister
Jin Midi. Beside, he is friendly with Wang Bi. If we all
tried our best, we ought to succeed.”
“But if he is friendly Wang Bi, he will not assist
us!” said Geng Ji.
“Let us go and sound him,” said Wei Huang.
So the two went to see Jin Yi, who received them
in his private rooms. There they talked.
Said Wei Huang, “O virtuous Jin Yi, we know you
are on most friendly terms with Commander Wang
Bi, and so have come to beg a favor.”
“What is it you ask?”
“The Prince of Wei will soon receive the
abdication of the Emperor and himself ascend to the
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seat of the mighty. Then you and your friend Wang
Bi will advance to places of great honor; and when
that day comes, we pray you not to forget us, but to
recommend us for employment. We should feel no
shallow gratitude for your kindness.”
Jin Yi flicked down his sleeves and arose looking
very angry. At that instant arrived the tea for the
visitors. He snatched it away from the serving man
and emptied it on the floor.
Wei Huang started up in feigned alarm.
“How have I offended you, my good friend?” cried
he.
“I have been friends with you because you are
descendants of people who have served the Hans
faithfully. Now, instead of trying to repay the debt of
gratitude you ought to feel, you turn aside to assist
one who is their enemy, think you that I can regard
you as friends? How could I look the world in the
face?”
“But if it be destiny, one cannot help it,” said Geng
Ji. “One must accept it.”
Jin Yi grew still more angry, so that the two
visitors were convinced that at heart he was still loyal
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to the dynasty. Then they began to tell him the true
state of the case.
“Our real desire is to destroy this rebel, and we
have come to ask your help in that. What we said at
first was only a test to find out what you thought.”
“Think you, with my ancestry, generation after
generation in the confidence and service of the
Hans, that I would willingly follow a rebel? If you,
Sirs, really think of restoring the dynasty, pray tell me
your plans.”
“Though we have the desire to prove our
gratitude, yet we lack the means to destroy the
enemy,” said Wei Huang.
Said Jin Yi, “We desire helpers within and
supporters without. If we could slay Wang Bi, we
could use his name and troops to help the Emperor.
With the help of Liu Bei, the Imperial Uncle, we
should be able to destroy the rebel Cao Cao.”
Hearing Jin Yi’s plan, the others clapped their
hands in approval.
“And I have two friends outside of the city who will
go with us,” said Jin Yi. “Both of them have the
murder of a father to avenge. We can get their
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helps.”
“Who are they?”
“They are sons of the great physician Ji Ping and
are called Ji Mao and Ji Mu. Cao Cao put their father
to death for his connection with the plot organized by
Dong Cheng, when Dong Cheng received the secret
edict conveyed in the robe and girdle, which was
conferred upon him by the Emperor. The two sons
escaped that time by flight, but they have since
secretly returned to the capital. With their help all will
go well.”
Geng Ji and Wei Huang rejoiced at the prospect
of further help, and a messenger was sent to call in
the two Reilly brothers. Soon they arrived, and the
plot was laid before them. They were deeply affected
and shed copious tears. Their wrath rose to the sky
and they swore to aid in the destruction of the rebel.
“On the fifteenth day of the first month there will
be grand illuminations in the city,” said Jin Yi, “and
felicitations will continue on every side. Geng Ji and
Wei Huang will each lead out their retainers and
make their way quickly to Wang Bi’s camp to wait till
they see the fire begin. Then they will dash in, slay
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Wang Bi, and follow me inside the Palace. We will
then request the Emperor to ascend the Tower of the
Five Phoenixes, assemble his officers, and issue
orders to destroy the rebels. The two Reilly brothers
will make their way into the city and set fires going.
Then all will raise their voices and summon the
populace to their aid. They are to hold up any rescue
force in the city till the Emperor has issued the edict
and disturbance is allayed, when they will rush
toward Yejun and seize Cao Cao. Then a messenger
will be dispatched with a summons for Liu Bei, the
Imperial Uncle. We will begin our work that night at
the second watch, and we will escape the ill success
that attended Dong Cheng’s attempt.”
All five swore before Heaven to be true, and they
smeared their lips with blood in earnest of their oath.
After this, each returned to his own home to prepare
arms and call up their people.
Geng Ji and Wei Huang each had four or five
hundred retainers, whom they armed. Ji Mao and Ji
Mu also got together three hundred men. They gave
out a story of a hunting party to explain the
gathering.
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When the preparations were complete, and
before the time fixed for the rising, Jin Yi went to see
Wang Bi and said, “Everything in the world seems
now tranquil, and the power of the Prince of Wei
extends over all the land. It is a season of joy and
felicitation, and everyone is hanging out lanterns and
putting up decorations for the occasion.”
The night of full moon was very clear, moon and
stars most brilliant. The people of the capital took
advantage of the night and thronged the “six streets
and the three market places.” The lanterns were
hung out in profusion, and all went merrily. No official
interfered with the crowd, no one thought of the flight
of time; all was simple gaiety.
That night the Commander of the Imperial
Guards, Wang Bi, and his officers had a feast in their
camp. Just after the second watch had begun, they
heard a great shouting in the camp, and someone
came in to say that a fire had started in the rear.
Wang Bi hurriedly left the table and went outside. He
saw flames leaping up and rolling by and heard
shouts of “Kill!” rising on every side and echoing to
the very sky. He thought the camp had certainly
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mutinied, and, jumping on his horse, went out at the
south gate. Just outside he ran against Geng Ji, who
loosed an arrow which struck him in the shoulder. He
nearly fell with the shock, but he got away toward the
west gate. He found he was pursued by armed men,
so he got flurried, dismounted, and went on foot.
Presently he came to the house of Jin Yi and
hammered at the door.
Now the fire that had created such a scare had
been raised by Jin Yi’s own people sent for that
purpose, and Jin Yi had followed them to fight when
the time came. Hence there was no one but the
woman folk left in his house. When the women heard
the clamor at the door, they thought Jin Yi had come
back, and his wife, from the door of the women’s
quarter, called out, “Have you killed Wang Bi?”
This was a shock, but it told Wang Bi that his
quondam friend was now an enemy. Wherefore he
fled further to the house of Cao Xiu and told him,
“Geng Ji and Jin Yi have raised a disturbance.”
Cao Xiu immediately armed himself, got to horse,
and led a thousand troops into the city. He found
fires on all sides, and the Tower of the Five
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Phoenixes was in flames. The Emperor had fled into
the recesses of the Palace, but Cao Cao’s friends
and partisans were defending the Palace gates like
grim death.
In the city the crowd was shouting one to another:
“Slay Cao Cao and restore the Hans!”
When Xiahou Dun had received thirty thousand
troops and the command to keep watch and ward
over the capital, he had gone into camp three miles
from the city. When he saw the conflagration start,
he set the army in motion and surrounded the city.
He also sent reinforcements to Cao Xiu within.
Inside the city the fighting went on all night. No
one joined the conspirators; the small band were left
to their own efforts. Soon it was reported that Jin Yi,
Ji Mao, and Ji Mu were slain. Geng Ji and Wei
Huang found their way to one of the gates, but there
they met Xiahou Dun’s main force and were made
prisoners. The handful of men with them were cut to
pieces.
When the fighting subsided, Xiahou Dun went into
the city and set his troops to put out the fires. He
also laid hands on the whole households of the five
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conspirators. Then he sent a report to Cao Cao, who
sent back orders to execute the two conspirators and
put to death in public all the members of the five
families. He was also to arrest every official and
send the whole batch to Yejun for interrogations.
Xiahou Dun sent his two chief prisoners to the
place of execution. They shouted against Cao Cao.
“Living we have failed to slay you, Cao Cao; dead we
will be malicious spirits smiting rebels in all places!”
The executioner smote Geng Ji on the mouth with
his sword, so that the blood gushed out, but he
continued to shout as long as he could. Wei Huang,
his fellow−conspirator, dashed his temples on the
ground crying, “How I hate him!” and ground his
teeth till he broke them to fragments. And they both
died of hatred and exhaustion.
Who can with outstretched hands uphold the sky
Or thrones maintain by simple loyalty?
Han’s day was done; two would avert the doom,
But failed, and carried anger to the tomb.
Xiahou Dun carried out his chief’s orders and sent
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the officials he had arrested to Yejun. There Cao
Cao set up two flags, one red and one white, in the
drill ground and sent all the officials thither. Then he
addressed them.
“In this late rebellion some of you went out to
extinguish the fire, some of you stayed within doors.
Let those who went forth to put out the fire take their
stand by the red flag, and those who remained in
their houses go to the white flag.”
The officials thought within themselves, “Certainly
there can be nothing wrong in trying to put out a fire,”
so they nearly all placed themselves under the red
flag; only about a third went to the white.
Then the order was given to seize all those by the
red flag.
They protested.
“We are guiltless!” cried they.
Cao Cao said, “At that time you intended not to
put out the flames but to aid the rebels.”
He sent them all down to River Zhang and had
them put to death on the bank. There were more
than three hundred victims. He rewarded those who
were under the white flag and sent them to their
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homes in the capital.
Wang Bi died from his wound and was buried with
great honor.
Cao Xiu was placed over the guards; Zhong Yao
was created Prime Minister of the princedom of Wei,
Hua Xin became High Minister. The occasion was
taken to create six grades of the title of Lordship with
three divisions each, eighteen in all. There were
seventeen grades of Marquis West of the Pass. And
all these had golden seals of office with purple
ribbons. There were also sixteen ranks of Interior
Marquis and Exterior Marquis. They had silver seals
with tortoise ornaments on the back and black
ribbons. There were five classes of Minister with
three grades in each class. These had brass seals,
with chain ornaments and ribbons. And with all these
various gradations of ranks and nobility reorganized,
the court was entirely reformed. There were new
ranks and new people in office.1
Cao Cao then remembered the warning about a
conflagration in the capital and wished to reward
Guan Lu for his prescience, but he would receive
nothing.
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Cao Hong with an army went into Hanzhong. He
placed Xiahou Yuan and Zhang He in command at
points of importance, while he went on to the attack.
At that time Zhang Fei and Lei Tong were holding
Baxi. Ma Chao marched to Xiabian and sent Wu Lan
out as Van Leader to reconnoiter. He fell in with Cao
Hong, and Wu Lan was going to retire. But General
Ren Kui advised against this.
“The enemy are newly arrived, why not fight and
take the keen edge off their pride? If we do not fight,
how can we look our chief in the face when we
return?”
So it was decided to offer battle, and Ren Kui
rode out and challenged Cao Hong. The challenge
was accepted, and the warriors advanced. Cao Hong
cut Ren Kui down in the third encounter and pressed
the advantage, and Wu Lan was beaten off. When
Wu Lan returned and told Ma Chao, he was blamed.
“Why did you attack without orders and bring
about this defeat?”
“It was the fault of Ren Kui, who disobeyed
orders.”
“Defend the Pass most carefully; do not engage,”
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said Ma Chao.
Ma Chao sent a report to Capital Chengdu and
awaited orders for a further action. Cao Hong
suspected some ruse when Ma Chao remained so
long inactive, and retired to Nanzheng. Here he was
visited by Zhang He, who asked, “General, why did
you retire after the successful attack and slaughter of
one of the enemy leaders?”
“Seeing that Ma Chao declined to come out to
fight, I suspected some ruse,” replied Cao Hong.
“Beside, when I was at Yejun that wonderful
soothsayer, Guan Lu, foretold the loss of a leader
here. I heeded what he said and so was careful.”
Zhang He laughed, “You have been a leader of
soldiers for half your life, and yet you heed the
sayings of a soothsayer! I may be of small wit, but I
would take Baxi with my own troops, and the
possession of Baxi would be the key to the whole of
Shu.”
“The defender of Baxi is Zhang Fei,” said Cao
Hong. “He is no ordinary man to meet. One must be
careful.”
“All of you fear this Zhang Fei, but I do not. I look
Three Kingdoms Romance
upon him as a mere nobody. I shall have to capture
him this time.”
“But if you fail, what then?”
“Then I shall be content to pay the penalty
according to military rules.”
Cao Hong made him put his undertaking in
writing, and then Zhang He marched to the attack.
The proud are often defeat;
Lightsome attacks oft fail.
The following chapter will tell how Zhang He
fared.

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