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CHAPTER 75. Guan Yu Has A Scraped−Bone Surgery; Lu Meng In White Robe Crosses The River.

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

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At the sight of Guan Yu falling from his charger,
Cao Ren led his army out of the city to follow up with
an attack, but Guan Ping drove him off and escorted
his father back to camp. There the arrow was
extracted, but the arrow head had been poisoned.
The wound was deep, and the poison had
penetrated to the bone. The right arm was discolored
and swollen and useless.
Guan Ping consulted with the other leaders and
proposed, saying, “As fighting is impossible for the
moment, we should withdraw to Jingzhou, where my
father’s wound can be treated.”
Having decided upon this, they went to see the
wounded warrior.
“What have you come for?” asked Guan Yu when
they entered.
“Considering that you, Sir, have been wounded in
the right arm, we fear the result of the excitement of
battle. Moreover, you can hardly take part in a fight
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just now, and we therefore propose that the army
retire till you are recovered.”
Guan Yu replied angrily, “I am on the point of
taking the city, and if I succeed, I must press forward
to Capital Xuchang, and destroy that brigand Cao
Cao, so that the Hans may be restored to their own.
Think you that I can vitiate the whole campaign
because of a slight wound? Would you dishearten
the army?”
Guan Ping and his colleagues said no more, but
somewhat unwillingly withdrew.
Seeing that their leader would not retire and the
wound showed no signs of healing, the various
generals inquired far and near for a good surgeon to
attend their general.
One day a person arrived in a small ship and,
having landed and come up to the gate of the camp,
was led in to see Guan Ping. The visitor wore a
square−cut cap and a loose robe. In his hand he
carried a small black bag.
He said, “My name is Hua Tuo, and I belong to
Qiao. I have heard of the wound sustained by the
famous general and have come to heal it.”
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“Surely you must be the physician who treated
Zhou Tai in the South Land,” said Guan Ping.
“I am.”
Taking with him the other generals, Guan Ping
went in to see his father. Guan Yu was engaging in a
game of chess with Ma Liang, although his arm was
very painful. But Guan Yu kept up appearances so
as not to discourage the troops. When they told him
that a physician had come, he consented to see him.
Hua Tuo was introduced, asked to take a seat
and, after the tea of ceremony, was shown the
injured arm. “This was caused by an arrow,” said the
doctor. “There is poison in the wound, and it has
penetrated to the bone. Unless the wound is soon
treated, the arm will become useless.”
“What do you propose to do?” asked Guan Yu.
“I know how to cure the wound, but I think you will
be afraid of the remedy.”
“Am I likely to be afraid of that when I am not
even afraid of death? Death is only a return home
after all.”
Then Hua Tuo said, “This is what I shall do. In a
private room I shall erect a post with a steel ring
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attached. I shall ask you, Sir, to insert your arm in
the ring, and I shall bind it firmly to the post. Then I
shall cover your head with a quilt so that you cannot
see, and with a scalpel I shall open up the flesh right
down to the bone. Then I shall scrape away the
poison. This done, I shall dress the wound with a
certain preparation, sew it up with a thread, and
there will be no further trouble. But I think you may
quail at the severity of the treatment.”
Guan Yu smiled.
“It all sounds easy enough;” said he, “but why the
post and the ring?”
Refreshments were then served; and after a few
cups of wine, the warrior extended his arm for the
operation. With his other hand he went on with his
game of chess. Meanwhile the surgeon prepared his
knife and called a lad to hold a basin beneath the
“I am just going to cut; do not start,” said Hua
“When I consented to undergo the treatment, did
you think I was afraid of pain?”
The surgeon then performed the operation as he
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had pre−described. He found the bone much
discolored, but he scraped it clean. When the knife
went over the surface of the bone and made horrible
sounds, all those near covered their eyes and turned
pale. But Guan Yu went on with his game, only
drinking a cup of wine now and again, and his face
betrayed no sign of pain. When the wound had been
cleansed, sewn up and dressed, the patient stood up
smiling and said, “This arm is now as good as it ever
was; there is no pain. Indeed, Master, you are a
“I have spent my life in the art;” said Hua Tuo,
“but I have never seen such a patient as you, Sir.
You are as if not from the earth but heaven.”
Here as surgeons, there physicians, all boast
their skill;
Bitter few are those that cure one when one’s
really ill.
As for superhuman valor rivals Guan Yu had
So for holy touch in healing Hua Tuo stood alone.
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When the cure was well advanced, Guan Yu gave
a fine banquet in honor of Hua Tuo and offered him a
fee of a hundred ounces of gold. But Hua Tuo
declined it, saying, “I had come to treat you, O
General, from admiration of your great virtue and not
for money. Although your wound is cured, you must
be careful of your health, and especially avoid all
excitement for a hundred days, when you will be as
well as ever you were.”
Then Hua Tuo, having prepared dressings for the
wound, took his leave, refusing fees to the very last.
Having captured Yu Jin and accomplished the
death of Pang De, Guan Yu became more famous
and more fear−inspiring through the whole empire
than even before. Cao Cao called together his
advisers to help him decide upon what he should do.
Said Cao Cao, “I must acknowledge this Guan Yu
as the one man who, in skill and valor, overtops the
whole world. Lately he has obtained possession of
Jingzhou and the territory near it, and has so
become very terrible. He is a tiger with wings added.
Pang De is no more; Yu Jin is his prisoner; the
armies of Wei have lost their morale; and if he led his
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armies here, Xuchang, we should be helpless. I can
only think of avoiding the peril by removal of the
capital. What think you?”
“No; do not take that step,” said Sima Yi, rising to
reply. “Yu Jin and all the others you lost were victims
of the flood and slain in battle. These losses do no
harm at all to your great plan. The Suns and Lius are
no longer friends since Guan Yu has accomplished
his desire. You may send a messenger into Wu to
foment the quarrel and cause Sun Quan to send his
armies to attack the army of Guan Yu from the rear,
promising that, when things are tranquil, you will
reward the south to Sun Quan. In this way you will
relieve Fankou.”
Here Minister Jiang Ji said, “Sima Yi speaks well,
and the messenger should lose no time. Do not
move the capital or send an army.”
Cao Cao therefore did not carry out his first
proposal. But he was sad at the loss of Yu Jin, and
spoke of him affectionately, “Yu Jin had followed me
faithfully for thirty years, yet in that moment of truth
he was less than Pang De.”
It was necessary to send someone with the letters
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to Wu and also to find another leader willing to face
Guan Yu. Cao Cao had not long to wait for the latter,
as an officer stepped out from the ranks of those in
waiting and offered himself. It was Xu Huang.
Xu Huang’s offer was accepted, and he was given
fifty thousand of veterans. Lu Qian was sent as his
second, and the army marched to Yangling Slope,
where they halted to see if any support was coming
from the southeast.
Sun Quan fell in with the scheme of Cao Cao as
soon as he had read Cao Cao’s letter. He at once
prepared a reply for the messenger to take back, and
then gathered his officers, civil and military, to
consult. Zhang Zhao was the first speaker.
“We know Guan Yu has captured one leader and
slain another. This has added greatly to his fame and
reputation. Cao Cao was going to move the capital
rather than risk an attack. We also know that Fankou
is in imminent danger. Cao Cao has asked for our
help; but when he has gained his end, I doubt
whether he will hold to his promise.”
Before Sun Quan had replied they announced the
arrival of Lu Meng, who had come in a small ship
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from Lukou with a special message. He was at once
called in and asked what it was.
Said Lu Meng, “The armies of Guan Yu being
absent at Fankou, the opportunity should be taken to
attack Jingzhou.”
“But I wish to attack Xuzhou in the north; what of
this plan?” said Sun Quan.
“It would be better to attack Jingzhou, and so get
control of the Great River. Cao Cao is far away to the
north and too occupied to regard the east. Xuzhou is
weakly held and could be taken easily, but the lie of
the land favors the use of an army rather than a navy
force. If you capture it, it will not be easy to hold; but
once you hold Jingzhou, you can evolve other
schemes.” “Really, my desire was to attack
Jingzhou, but I wished to hear what you would say to
the other plan. Now, Sir, make me a plan speedily
and I will act upon it.”
So Lu Meng took his leave and went back to
Lukou. But soon they heard that Guan Yu had had
beacon towers erected at short distances all along
the Great River, and that the army of Jingzhou was
being put into most efficient condition.
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“If this is so, it is hard to make a plan that will
ensure success,” said Lu Meng. “I have already
advised my master to attack Jingzhou, but I am
unable to meet this complication.”
Therefore he made illness an excuse to stay at
home, and sent to inform Sun Quan, who was very
distressed at the news.
Then said Lu Xun, “The illness is feigned; he is
quite well.”
“If you know that so well, go and see,” said Sun
Away went Lu Xun and speedily arrived at Lukou,
where he saw Lu Meng, who indeed appeared to be
in perfect health. Nor did his face bear any signs of
recent illness.
“The Marquis of Wu has sent me to inquire after
your honorable complaint,” said Lu Xun.
“How distressed I am that the state of my
wretched carcass has caused the Marquis the
inconvenience of inquiring” replied Lu Meng.
“The Marquis placed a very heavy responsibility
on your shoulders, but you are not making the best
use of the opportunity. However, what is the real
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origin of your distress?”
Lu Meng sat gazing at his visitor a long time
without replying.
“I have a little remedy,” said Lu Xun. “Do you
think you might use it?”
Lu Meng dismissed the servants, and when the
two were alone, he said, “This remedy, my friend,
please tell me what it is.”
“Your ailment is due simply to the efficiency of the
Jingzhou soldiers; and I know how to keep the
beacons from flaring, and I can make the defenders
of Jingzhou come to you with their hands tied. Would
that cure you?”
“My friend, you speak as if you saw into my
inmost heart. Pray unfold your good scheme.”
“Guan Yu thinks himself too much of a hero for
anyone to dare to face him, and his only anxiety is
yourself. Now you must take advantage of this
excuse you have made of illness actually to resign
this post so that the farce may be kept up and
another person be appointed to your place. Let this
person, your successor, humbly praise Guan Yu till
that general becomes so conceited that he will
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withdraw all the troops from Jingzhou to send them
against Fankou. When Jingzhou is left undefended
then is our chance, and the city will fall into our
“The plan seems most excellent,” said Lu Meng.
Wherefore Lu Meng’s malady waxed worse, so
that he was confined to bed; and he gave Lu Xun his
letter of resignation to carry back to Sun Quan. The
messenger hastened back and explained the ruse to
his master, who soon after issued a command for Lu
Meng to retire and attend to the recovery of his
But Lu Meng came to Sun Quan to discuss the
matter of a successor.
Sun Quan said to him, “As to the appointment at
Lukou, you know Zhou Yu recommended Lu Su, who
at his last moment proposed you. Now you ought to
be able to mention some other talented and
well−known officer to succeed you.”
“If you choose a well−known man, Guan Yu will
certainly be on his guard against him. Now Lu Xun is
deep and farseeing, but he has no widespread fame.
Hence no particular notice would be taken of his
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appointment and no countermeasures taken. So he
is the most suitable person to send.”
Sun Quan agreed and thereupon promoted Lu
Xun to the rank of General of the Right Army and
Admiral of the Right Fleet, and sent him to defend
the port.
“I am very young,” said Lu Xun, “and feel unequal
to such a post.”
“Lu Meng has proposed you, and you will not
make any mistakes. Pray do not decline,” said Sun
So the appointment was made, and Lu Xun set
out at once. When he had assumed charge of the
cavalry, the infantry, and the marines, he set about
drawing up a letter to Guan Yu, and he selected fine
horses and beautiful silks and good wines and
delicacies suitable for gifts to go with the letter. He
sent all by the hand of a trusty messenger to
The news of the change of command reached
Guan Yu when he lay ill from the effects of his
wound and unable to conduct any military
operations. Close upon the news came the letter and
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the gifts from Lu Xun, and the bearer was called in to
see the warrior.
“Friend Sun Quan was not very prudent when he
made a general out of a mere scholar,” said Guan
Yu, pointing to the messenger.
The messenger said, “General Lu Xun sends this
letter and some presents, which he hopes you will
accept. He also sends his felicitations, and would
rejoice if the two houses could become friends.”
Guan Yu read the letter, which was couched in
most modest language, and then threw back his
head and laughed loud. He bade the attendants
receive the various gifts, and sent the bearer away.
The messenger forthwith returned to Lukou and
said the old warrior had seemed very gratified and
would henceforward feel no anxiety that danger
might threaten from their direction. Spies were sent
out to report on proceedings, and they returned to
say that half the troops of Jingzhou had been sent to
assist in the siege of Fankou. That city was to be
seriously assaulted as soon as Guan Yu had
This news was promptly sent on to Sun Quan,
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who at once called in Lu Meng to decide upon the
next move.
“Now is the favorable moment to get possession
of Jingzhou,” said Sun Quan. “I propose to send you
and my brother, Sun Jiao, to lead the army.”
This Sun Jiao was really only a cousin, as he was
the second son of Sun Quan’s uncle, Sun Jing. But
Lu Meng objected. “My lord, if you think to employ
me, then employ me only; if Sun Jiao, then Sun Jiao
only. You cannot have forgotten that Zhou Yu and
Cheng Pu were associate commanders, and
although the final decision lay with Zhou Yu, yet the
other presumed upon his seniority and there was
some unfriendliness between the two. All ended well
because Cheng Pu recognized the ability of his
colleague and so supported him. I know I am not so
clever as Zhou Yu, but Sun Jiao’s consanguinity will
be a greater obstacle than mere length of service,
and I fear he may not be wholly with me.”
Sun Quan saw the force of the contention, and
appointed Lu Meng to sole command with Sun Jiao
to help him in the commissariat. Lu Meng thanked
his lord for his commission, soon got his thirty
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thousand marines together and assembled eighty
ships for the expedition.
Lu Meng dressed a number of sailors in the plain
white costumes of ordinary merchants and put them
on board to work his vessels. He concealed his
veterans in the compartments. He selected seven
generals—Han Dang, Jiang Qin, Zhu Ran, Pan
Zhang, Zhou Tai, Xu Sheng, and Ding Feng—to
serve under him and settled the order of their
successive movements. The remainder of the forces
was left with Sun Quan as supports and reserves.
Letters were also written to Cao Cao that he might
cooperate by sending his army to attack Guan Yu in
the rear, and to Lu Xun that he would act in concert.
Then the sailors in plain white dress navigated
the ships to River Xunyang as quickly as possible,
and then crossed to the north bank.
When the beacon−keepers came down to
question them, the men of Wu said, “We are traders
forced into the bank by contrary winds.”
And they offered gifts to the beacon−keepers,
who accepted them and let the ships come to an
anchor close to the shore.
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At about the second watch the soldiers came out
of hiding in the holds of the transports, suddenly fell
upon the beacon−keepers and made them prisoners,
officers and soldiers. Next the signal for a general
landing was given, and all the soldiers from the
eighty ships went ashore. The guard stations were
attacked, and all the troops captured and carried off
to the ships, not one being allowed to escape. Then
the force of Wu hurried off to the city of Jingzhou,
having so far carried out their plans that no one knew
of their coming.
Nearing Jingzhou, Lu Meng spoke kindly to his
captives, and gave them gifts and comforted them in
order to induce them to get the gates opened for him
to enter the city. He won them over to his side, and
they promised to aid him. They would show a flare
as a signal that the gates were free. So they went in
advance and arrived at the gates about midnight.
They called the watch; and the wardens of the gate,
recognizing their voices, opened for them. Once
within, they shouted and lit the flares. Immediately
the soldiers of Wu came in with a rush and were
soon in possession.
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The first order issued by Lu Meng was to spare
the people. Instant death should be the punishment
for any murder or robbery. The various officials in the
city were retained in their offices and continued their
functions. Special guards were set over Guan Yu’s
family dwelling, and none dared break open any
other house. A messenger was sent with tidings to
Sun Quan.
One very wet day Lu Meng, with a few horsemen
as escort, was going round the walls and visiting the
gates. One of the soldiers took from a passer−by a
broad−brimmed hat and put it on over his helmet to
keep his armor dry. Lu Meng saw it, and the offender
was seized. He was a fellow−villager of Lu Meng, but
that did not save him.
“You are an old acquaintance, but you knew my
order; why did you disobey it?” “I thought the rain
would spoil my uniform, and I took the hat to protect
it. I did not take it for my own advantage, but to
protect official property. Spare me, O General, for
the sake of our common dwelling−place.”
“I know you were protecting your armor, but still it
was disobedience to the order against taking
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anything from the people.”
The soldier was beheaded, and his head exposed
as a warning. But when all was over, Lu Meng had
the body buried decently and wept at the grave for
the loss of his friend. Never after this was there the
least laxity of discipline.
When Sun Quan visited the city, Lu Meng met
him at the boundary and led him to the official
residence, where Sun Quan issued rewards and
commendations. This done, Sun Quan ordered Pan
Jun to take charge of the new possession. Yu Jin,
who was in prison, was freed and sent back to Cao
Cao. When the people had been comforted and the
soldiers rewarded, there was a great banquet in
honor of the success of the expedition.
Then said Sun Quan to Lu Meng, “We have got
the city of Jingzhou, but now Fu Shiren is holding
Gongan and Mi Fang Nanjun. How can we get these
two territories?”
Suddenly Yu Fan started up and offered his
“You will need neither bows nor arrows,” said Yu
Fan, “unless my little tongue is worn out. I can
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persuade Fu Shiren to surrender.”
“Friend Yu Fan, how will you do it?” asked Sun
“Fu Shiren and I are very old friends, ever since
we were boys; and if I explain the matter to him, I am
sure he will come over to this side.”
So Yu Fan, with an escort, left quickly for
Gongan, where his friend was in command.
Now when Fu Shiren heard of the capture of
Jingzhou, he closed his gates. Yu Fan arrived, but
was refused entrance. So Yu Fan wrote a letter,
attached it to an arrow, and shot it over the city wall.
A soldier picked it up and took it to his commander,
who found therein much persuasion to surrender.
Having read all this, he thought within himself, “I
think I should do well in surrender, for at his
departure Guan Yu was very bitter against me.”
Without further ado, he bade the wardens open
the gate, and his friend came in. After their greetings
they talked of old times, and Yu Fan praised Sun
Quan’s magnanimity and liberality and greatness
generally. So finally Fu Shiren decided to exchange
masters and went away, taking with him his seal of
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office. He was presented to Sun Quan, who
reappointed him to the command of Gongan under
its new lord.
Lu Meng thought the appointment imprudent and
said to Sun Quan, “Guan Yu is yet unconquered; we
should not put Fu Shiren in Gongan. Instead, send
him to Nanjun to induce his former colleague and
fellow Mi Fang to join him in desertion to the enemy.”
Lu Meng’s advice was followed, and Fu Shiren
was recalled.
“Go to Nanjun and win over Mi Fang, and I will
reward you richly,” said Sun Quan.
Fu Shiren accepted the mission and duly left for
Jingzhou’s defender failed when tried,
So Wang Fu’s words were justified.
For the events of the journey see the next
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