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CHAPTER 74. Pang De Takes His Coffin On A Decisive Campaign; Guan Yu Drowns The Seven Armies.

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

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The bold and self−confident leader of Cao Cao’s
army who promised to make an end of Guan Yu was
Pang De. Cao Cao was glad to find such a man.
“That fellow Guan Yu has a great reputation, and
in the whole country he has no rival. He has not met
his match yet, but now you are going, he will find all
his work cut out.”
So spoke Cao Cao. He conferred on Yu Jin the
title of General Who Corrects the South and on Pang
De that of General Who Corrects the West, and he
made Pang De Leader of the Van. The two generals
marched out with their seven armies to Fankou.
These seven armies were composed of sturdy
fellows from the north, led by two of their own
commanders named Dong Heng and Dong Chao.
Hearing who was to command them, these two,
supported by their generals, went to see Yu Jin and
represented that the Leader of the Van was
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Dong Heng said, “Sir General, the expedition you
lead is for the relief of Fankou, and it can confidently
expect victory, but is it not unwise to place such as
Pang De in command of the van?”
“Why?” said Yu Jin, surprised.
“Because Pang De was once under the command
of Ma Chao. He had no alternative but to surrender
and fight for Wei. But his former chief is now in high
honor in Shu, one of the Five Tiger Generals, and his
own brother Pang Rou is there, too, as an officer. To
send Pang De as Leader of the Van just now seems
like trying to extinguish a fire with oil. Would it not be
well to inform the Prince of Wei and ask him to
exchange this man for another?”
Without further argument or delay, Yu Jin went to
see the Prince and laid before him the objections to
Pang De’s appointment. As soon as Cao Cao
understood, he summoned Pang De to the steps and
bade him yield his seal as Leader of the Van.
“O Prince, why do you reject my services? I was
just about to do my best for you.”
“I do not doubt you, but Ma Chao is now in the
west, and your brother also; both in the service of Liu
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Bei. I myself have no doubts, but it is what all the
crowd are saying. What can I do?”
Pang De took off his head−dress and prostrated
himself, bitter tears rolling down his cheeks.
“Since I surrendered to you, O Prince, I have
experienced much kindness, so that I would undergo
any sufferings to show my gratitude. I hope you will
trust me. When my brother and I were at home
together, his wife was a wicked woman and I slew
her, pretending I was drunk. My brother has never
forgiven me, but is permeated with hate for me. He
swears never to see me again, and we are enemies.
For my old master, Ma Chao, I have profound
contempt. He is bold, but only that, and was in a
pitiable and dejected state when he found his way to
the west. Now, like me, he serves his own master,
but our friendship is at an end. How could I think of
another after your kindness to me?”
Cao Cao raised Pang De from the ground and
soothed him, saying, “I have always known what a
noble man you are, and what I said just now was to
satisfy the feelings of other people. Now you can
strive to win fame; and if you do not turn your back
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on me, I shall not on you.”
Then Pang De took his leave and returned to his
house, where he ordered the artificers to make him a
coffin. Next he invited all his friends to a banquet,
and the coffin was set out in the reception room for
all to see.
And they asked one another, “What can that
inauspicious thing mean putting out on the eve of a
By and by, drinking to them, Pang De said, “The
Prince of Wei has been generous to me, and I am
pledged to show my gratitude to the death. I am
about to go out against this Guan Yu, and I have to
kill him or he must kill me. If he does not kill me, I
must commit suicide, and so I have prepared what is
necessary. I will not return leaving my task
The terrible omen saddened the guests, and they
fell to sighing. Then Pang De called in his wife, Lady
Li, and bade her bring their son Pang Hui, whom he
commended to her care.
“I have been appointed Leader of the Van of this
new expedition against Guan Yu, and my duty bids
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me seek death or glory on the battlefield. If I die, our
son is in your special care. Alas, the child has been
born ill−starred, and when he grows up he will have
to avenge a father.”
Both mother and son wept as they bade him
farewell. When the army marched, the coffin was
carried in its train.
He bade his officers, saying, “I will fight to the end
with Guan Yu. Place my body therein if I fall in
combat. And if I slay him, then will I bring his head in
this coffin as an offering to our Prince.”
Then out spoke his five hundred veterans and
said, “If you are like this, O General, then we also will
follow you to the end.”
The vanguard then marched away. A certain man
told the story of these happenings to Cao Cao, who
was very pleased, saying, “I have no anxiety with
such a general to lead my armies.”
But Jia Xu said, “I am anxious for Pang De’s
safety. He is over−bold and imprudent to fight with
Guan Yu to the death.”
Cao Cao thought such an act would be unwise,
and he hastily sent a messenger with an edict
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warning Pang De against his antagonist.
“This Guan Yu lacks neither cunning nor valor.
You are to be most cautious in engaging him. If you
can conquer, then conquer; but if there be any doubt,
remain on the defensive.”
“How highly does our Prince regard this fellow
Guan Yu!” said the general to his officers when he
heard this new command. “But I think I shall be able
to take the keen edge off his thirty−year reputation.”
“The command of the Prince is to be obeyed,”
said Yu Jin. Pang De hastened to Fankou in all the
pomp and panoply of war, his gongs clanging, his
drums rolling as he marched.
Guan Yu was sitting in his tent when his spies
came to report: “Seven armies of the north under Yu
Jin are approaching. They are ten miles away. The
van leader is Pang De.”
Rage took possession of Guan Yu. His face
changed color, his beard shook, and he roared out,
“There is never a fighting man in all the world who
has heard my name without trembling. Does this
fellow dare disdain me?”
Then he ordered Guan Ping to attack Fankou
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while he went out to stay the impudent boaster who
dared him.
“Father,” said Guan Ping, “Taishan Mountain in its
majesty does not quarrel with a pebble. Let me go
and fight this Pang De.”
“Well, my son, go and try; I will support you.”
So Guan Ping took his sword, mounted his steed,
and went out with his troops. Both sides being drawn
up for battle. On the side of Wei there flew a single
black flag on which was inscribed “Pang De,
Corrector of the West” in white. The leader himself
wore a blue robe with a silver helmet and rode a
white charger. He stood out in front backed by his
five hundred veterans, and a few foot soldiers were
there too, bearing the gruesome coffin.
Guan Ping was very angry, crying out, “Turncoat!
“Who is that?” asked Pang De of his followers.
A certain one replied, “That is Guan Yu’s adopted
son, Guan Ping.”
Pang De cried, “I have an edict from the Prince of
Wei to take your father’s head. You are but a
weakling and I will spare you. But call your father.”
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Guan Ping dashed forward flourishing his sword.
Pang De went to meet him, and there followed thirty
odd bouts with no advantage to either.
Both sides then drew off to rest. Soon the news of
this combat reached Guan Yu, and he was not
pleased. He sent Liao Hua to assault the city while
he went to do battle with Pang De. Guan Ping met
his father and related the story of the indecisive fight.
So Guan Yu rode out with his green−dragon saber
ready, and he shouted to Pang De, “Come quickly
and be slain!”
The drums reechoed as Pang De rode out and
replied, “The edict from the Prince of Wei tells me to
take your head. In case you disbelieve it, here is the
coffin ready to receive it. If you fear death, down
from your horse and surrender.”
“I hold you for a simple fool,” cried Guan Yu.
“What can you do? It is a pity to stain my blade with
the blood of such a rat.”
Then he galloped out toward Pang De, flourishing
the saber. Pang De whirled his blade and came to
meet him, and they two fought a hundred bouts. And
as they fought, the lust of battle seemed to grow and
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both armies were lost in amazement. But the army of
Wei began to fear for their champion, and the gongs
sounded the retirement. At the same time Guan Ping
began to think of his father’s fatigue, and his gongs
clanged too. So that both armies drew off at the
same time.
“People rumor Guan Yu is a mighty man of war;
today I really believe that,” said Pang De, when he
had got back among his own line.
Then his chief, Yu Jin, came to see him and said,
“O General, you fought the great combat of a
hundred bouts, which ended indecisively. I think it
would be prudent to retire out of his way.”
But Pang De replied haughtily, “What makes you
so soft? Yet the Prince gave you the command of the
seven armies! But tomorrow I will fight again and that
to the death. I swear I will never give way.”
Yu Jin could not overcome his decision, so he
went back to his own camp.
When Guan Yu had got back to his camp, he
extolled Pang De, saying, “His swordsmanship is
perfect; he is my worthy enemy.”
“The new−born calf fears not the tiger,” said Guan
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Ping. “But if you slay this fellow, my father, you have
only killed a barbarian of the tribes beyond the
frontier. If any accident occurs, then you will have the
reproach of not having considered your brother’s
“How can my resentment be assuaged save by
the death of this man?” returned Guan Yu. “I have
decided to fight, so say no more.”
Next day Guan Yu took the field first, but Pang De
quickly came out. Both arrayed their troops and then
went to the front at the same moment. This time
neither spoke, but the combat began forthwith. It
went on for fifty bouts, and then Pang De pulled his
horse, sheathed his sword, and fled. Guan Yu went
in pursuit, and Guan Ping followed lest there should
be need of him. Guan Yu roared out reviling to his
f l y i n g f o e , “ T r a i t o r ! Y o u w a n t t o u s e t h e
‘swinging−horse stab,’ but here I am, never afraid of
But the fact was that Pang De had only pretended
to try for a foul stroke in order to cover a resort to his
bow. He pulled in his horse, fitted an arrow to the
string, and was just on the point of shooting when
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Guan Ping, who was sharp−eyed, shouted out a
“The bandit is going to shoot!”
Guan Yu saw it, but the bowstring twanged, and
the arrow came flying. He was not nimble enough to
avoid it and it wounded his left arm. Guan Ping at
once went to his father’s assistance and led him
away to the camp. Pang De wished to follow up this
advantage and came back whirling his sword, but,
ere he could strike, the gongs of his own side rang
out. He thought there was something amiss in the
rear and stopped.
The signal for retreat had been sounded by Yu
Jin out of jealousy, for he had seen that Guan Yu
had been wounded, and he grudged his colleague
the glory which would eclipse his own. Pang De
obeyed, but when he got back, he wanted to know
why retreat had been sounded on the very verge of a
great success.
“Why did the gongs clang?” asked Pang De.
“Because of our Prince’s warning. Though Guan
Yu was wounded, I feared some trick on his part. He
is very cunning.” “I should have killed him if you had
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not done that,” said Pang De.
“Haste makes slow going; you can postpone your
fight with him,” said Yu Jin.
Pang De, though ignorant of the real reason why
he was made to miss success at the critical moment,
was still very vexed.
Guan Yu went back to camp, and the arrow−head
was puled out of the wound. Happily it had not
penetrated very deeply, and the usual remedies
against injuries by metal were applied.
Guan Yu was very bitter against his enemy and
declared, “I swear I will have my revenge for this
“Never mind anything but recovering now,” said
his officers. “Rest and get well; then you may fight
Before long, Pang De renewed his challenge, and
Guan Yu was for going out to fight; however, he
yielded to the entreaties of his officers. And when
Pang De set his soldiers to reviling the warrior, Guan
Ping saw to it that his father never heard it. After ten
days of challenges hurled uselessly at an army that
ignored them, Pang De took council with Yu Jin.
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“Evidently Guan Yu is helpless from the effects of
that arrow−wound. We ought to advance all our
seven armies against him while he is ill and destroy
his camp. Thereby we shall relieve Fankou.”
Thus spoke Pang De, but jealousy of the glory
that might accrue to his next in command again
made Yu Jin urge caution and obedience to the
command of the Prince of Wei. Yu Jin refused to
move his army in spite of Pang De’s repeated
persuasion; still more, Yu Jin led the army to a new
camping ground behind the hills some three miles
north of Fankou. There his own army prevented
communication by the main road, while he sent Pang
De into a valley in the rear so that Pang De could do
To Guan Ping’s great joy, Guan Yu’s wound soon
healed. Soon after they heard of Yu Jin’s new camp,
and as Guan Ping could assign no reason for the
change, and suspected some ruse, he told his father,
who went up to a high place to reconnoiter. Looking
round, Guan Yu noted that there seemed much
slackness about everything—from flags to
soldiers—in Fankou, that the relief armies were
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camped in a valley to the north, and that River Xiang
seemed to run very swiftly. After impressing the
topography on his mind, he called the guides and
asked the name of the gully about three miles north
of the city.
“Zengkou Stream,” was the reply.
He chuckled.
“I shall capture Yu Jin,” said he.
Those with him asked how he knew that.
He replied, “Why, how can any fish last long in
such a trap?”
Those in his train gave but little weight to what he
said, and presently he went back to his own tent. It
was just then the time for the autumn rains, and a
heavy downpour came on, lasting several days.
Orders were given to get ready boats and rafts and
such things. Guan Ping could not think what such
preparations meant in a dry land campaign. So he
asked his father.
“Do you not know even?” replied his father. “Our
enemies have camped in difficult ground instead of
the open country and are crowded in the dangerous
valley there. After some days of this rain, River Xiang
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will swell, and I shall send people to dam up all the
outlets and so let the water rise very high. When at
its highest, I shall open the dams and let the water
out over Fankou. That valley will be flooded too, and
all the soldiers will become aquatic animals.”
The Wei armies had camped in the gully, and
after several days of heavy rain, Army Inspector
Cheng He ventured to speak to his commander.
He said, “The army is camped near the mouth of
a stream in a depression. There are hills around us,
but they are too far off to keep the water away. Our
soldiers are already suffering from these heavy rains,
and, moreover, they say the Jingzhou troops have
moved to higher ground. More than that, at River
Han they are preparing boats and rafts so that they
can take advantage of the floods if there are any.
Our army will be in great danger, and something
should be done.”
But Yu Jin scoffed at his words, saying, “You fool!
Do you want to injure the spirit of our soldiers? Talk
no more, or your head will be fallen.”
Cheng He went away greatly ashamed.
Then he went to Pang De, who saw the force of
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his words and said, “What you said is excellent. If Yu
Jin will not move camp tomorrow, I myself will do so.”
So Cheng He left it at that.
That night there came a great storm. As Pang De
sat in his tent, he heard the sound as of ten
thousand horses in stampede and a roar as of the
drums of war seeming to shake the earth. He was
alarmed, left his tent, and mounted his charger to go
and see what it meant. Then he saw the rolling
waters coming in from every side and the seven
armies flying from the flood, which speedily rose to
the height of ten spans. Yu Jin, Pang De, and
several other officers sought safety by rushing up the
As day dawned, Guan Yu and his marines came
along in large boats with flags flying and drums
beating. Yu Jin saw no way of escape, and his
following was reduced to about fifty or sixty soldiers.
They all said they must surrender. Guan Yu made
them strip and then took them on board.
After that he went to capture Pang De, who was
standing on a hillock with Dong Heng, Dong Chao,
Cheng He, and his five hundred troops, all unarmed.
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Pang De saw his archenemy approach without a
sign of fear, and even went boldly to meet him. Guan
Yu surrounded the party with his boats, and the
archers began to shoot. When more than half the
troops had been struck down, the survivors became
desperate. Dong Heng and Dong Chao pressed their
chief to give in, saying, “We have lost more than half
of our men. Surrender is the only course.”
But Pang De only raged, saying, “I have received
great kindness from the Prince; think you that I will
bow the head to any other?”
Pang De cut down Dong Heng and Dong Chao
right in the battlefield and then shouted, “Anyone
who says surrender shall be as these two.”
So the survivors made a desperate effort to beat
off their enemies, and they held their own up to
midday. Then Guan Yu’s marines redoubled their
efforts, and the arrows and stones rained down upon
the defenders, who fought desperately hand to hand
with their assailants. “The valorous leader fears
death less than desertion; the brave warrior does not
break faith to save his life,” cried Pang De. “This is
the day of my death, but I will fight on to the last. And
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you, General, should fight to your end, too.”
So Cheng He pressed on till he fell into the water
by an arrow of Guan Yu, and then the soldiers
Pang De fought on. Then one of the boats
happened to close in to the bank. With a tremendous
leap Pang De lighted on it and slashed at the
marines, killing ten of them. The others jumped
overboard and swam away. Then Pang De one hand
still holding his sword, tried to maneuver the boat
across the river to Fankou. Then there came drifting
down a raft, which collided with and upset his boat
so that he was struggling in the water. But a general
on the raft jumped into the water, gripped him, put
him on the boat again.
The captor was Zhou Cang, a skillful waterman
who, having lived in Jingzhou for many years, was
thoroughly expert in boat navigation. Beside, he was
very powerful and so was able to make Pang De a
In this flood perished the whole of the seven
armies, except the few that saved themselves by
swimming; these latter, having no way of escape,
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surrendered to the victors.
In the depth of night rolled the war drums,
Summoning the warriors as to battle;
But the enemy was no man,
For the waters had risen and the flood came.
This was the plan of Guan Yu, the crafty,
To drown his enemies. More than human
was he in cunning. The ages hand on his fame
As his glory was told in his own day.
Guan Yu then returned to the higher ground,
where his tent was pitched and therein took his seat
to receive his prisoners. The lictors brought up Yu
Jin, who prostrated himself humbly.
“How dared you think to oppose me? To execute
you would be like killing a hog. It would be soiling
weapons for nothing,” said Guan Yu, stroking his
Yu Jin was hound and sent to the prison in
“I will decide your fate when I return,” said Guan
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The general having thus dealt with the chief,
Pang De was sent for. He came, pride and anger
flashing from his eyes; he did not kneel but stood
boldly erect.
“You have a brother in Hanzhong, and your old
chief was Ma Chao, also in high honor in Shu. Would
you not better join them?”
“Rather than surrender to you, I would perish
beneath the sword,” cried Pang De.
He reviled his captors without ceasing till, losing
patience at last, Guan Yu sent him to his death.
Pang De was beheaded. He stretched out his neck
for the headsman’s sword. Out of pity he was
honorably buried.
The floods were still out, and taking advantage of
them, the troops of Jingzhou boarded the boats to
move toward Fankou, which now stood out as a
mere island with waves breaking against the walls.
The force of the waters being great, the city wall
was beginning to give way, and the whole
population, male and female, were carrying mud and
bricks to strengthen it. Their efforts seemed vain,
and the leaders of Cao Cao’s army were very
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Some of the generals went to see Cao Ren, who
said, “No ordinary person’s strength can fend off
today’s danger. If we can hold out till nightfall, we
may escape by boat. We shall lose the city, but we
shall save our skins.”
But Man Chong interposed before the boats could
be got ready. He said, “No! No! Though the force of
these mountainous waters is great, we only have to
wait ten days or so, and the flood will have passed.
Though Guan Yu has not assaulted this city, yet he
has sent another army to Jiaxia, which indicates he
dares not advance lest we should fall upon his rear.
Remember, too, that to retire from this city means
the abandonment of everything south of the Yellow
River. Therefore I decide that you defend this place.”
Cao Ren saluted Man Chong as he concluded his
harangue, saying, “What a tremendous error I should
have committed had it not been for you, Sir!”
Then riding his white charger he went up on the
city walls, gathered his officers around him, and
pledged himself not to surrender.
“The Prince’s command being to defend this city, I
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shall defend it to the last. And I shall put to death
anyone who even mentions abandonment,” said he.
“And we desire to defend it to out last gasp,”
chimed in his officers.
Then they saw to it that the means of offense
were good. Many hundreds of archers and
crossbowmen were stationed on the wall and kept
watch night and day. The old and the young of
ordinary people were made to carry earth and stones
to strengthen the wall.
After some ten days the flood was at an end.
Then the news of Guan Yu’s success against the
Wei campaign got abroad, and the terror of his name
spread wider and wider. About the same time, too,
his second son, Guan Xing, came to visit his father in
camp. Guan Yu thought this a good opportunity to
send his report of success to Capital Chengdu and
entrusted to Guan Xing a dispatch mentioning each
officer’s services and requesting promotion for them.
Guan Xing accordingly took leave of his father and
After Guan Xing’s departure, the army was
divided into two halves, one under Guan Yu to attack
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Fankou, and the other to go to Jiaxia. One day Guan
Yu rode over to the north gate. Halting his steed, he
pointed with his whip toward the defenders on the
wall, and called out, “You lot of rats will not give in
then! What are you waiting for?”
Cao Ren, who was among his soldiers on the
wall, saw that Guan Yu had no armor on, so he
ordered his men to shoot. The archers and bowmen
at once sent a great flight of arrows and bolts that
way. Guan Yu hastily pulled the reins to retire, but an
arrow struck him in the arm. The shock of the blow
made him turn in the saddle, and he fell from his
Just now a mighty army perished
By the river’s overflow;
A crossbow bolt from the city wall
Lays a valiant warrior low.
What further befell Guan Yu will be told in the
next chapter.

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