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CHAPTER 78. Treating A Headache, A Famous Physician Dies; Giving The Last Words, The Crafty Hero Departs.

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

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As has been said, the Prince of Hanzhong
swooned on hearing the terrible news of the death of
the two Guans, father and son. His officers went to
his help, and when he had recovered sufficiently,
they led him to his private apartments.
“My lord, control your grief,” said Zhuge Liang.
“Life and death are fixed by fate. Guan Yu brought
the evil upon himself by his harshness and
haughtiness. You must now take care of your health
and mature your vengeance.”
“When we swore brotherhood in the Peach
Garden, we pledged ourselves to live or die together.
What enjoyment of riches and honors is there for me
now that my brother is gone?”
Just then he saw Guan Yu’s son, Guan Xing,
coming in weeping in deep distress. At sight of the
youth, Liu Bei uttered a great cry and again sank to
the earth. By and by he came to, and spent the
whole day weeping and swooning at intervals. For
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three days he refused all nourishment, and he wept
so bitterly that his garments were wetted, and there
were spots of blood. Zhuge Liang and the others
tried every means to soothe him, but he was
“I swear I will not live under the same heaven as
Sun Quan,” cried he.
“It is said that the head of your brother has been
sent to Cao Cao, but Cao Cao has buried the
remains with the rites of a princely noble,” said
Zhuge Liang.
“Why did he do that?” asked Liu Bei.
“Because Sun Quan thought thereby to bring evil
upon Cao Cao. But Cao Cao saw through the
subterfuge and has buried your brother with great
honor so that your anger may burn against Wu.”
“I want to send my armies to punish Wu and
appease my wrath,” said Liu Bei.
“No; you may not do that. Wu wishes to move you
to smite Wei, and Wei wishes you to attack Wu, each
harboring the malevolent design of taking advantage
of the quarrel. You would do well, my lord, to keep
your armies at home. Put on mourning for Guan Yu,
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and wait till Wei and Wu are at war. That will be your
The other officers supported Zhuge Liang, and
Liu Bei listened. Presently his grief spent itself, and
he began to take food again. An edict was
promulgated enjoining mourning dress upon all
officials. The Prince went outside the south gate to
summon the spirit home, and sacrificed and wailed a
whole day for the dead warrior, his brother.
Although Cao Cao had given honorable burial to
the remains of Guan Yu, yet he was continually
haunted by the dead man’s spirit. Every night when
he closed his eyes, he saw Guan Yu as he knew the
warrior so well in the flesh. These visions made him
nervous, and he sought the advice of his officers.
Some suggested the building of new rooms for his
own use.
“There is much witchcraft and malign influence in
this old palace at Luoyang; build a new palace for
your own occupation,” said they.
“I would, and it should be called ‘The Firm
Foundation,’“ said he. “But where is the good
Three Kingdoms Romance
Jia Xu said, “There is one Su Yue, a very cunning
artificer in Luoyang.”
Su Yue was called and set to work on the plans
for a nine−hall pavilion for Cao Cao’s own use. It had
verandahs and upper rooms as well. His plans
pleased Cao Cao greatly.
“You have planned just such a place as I wished,
only where will you find the main beam for such a
“I know a certain tree that will serve,” said the
architect. “About ten miles from the city there is the
Pool of the Leaping Dragon. Near it is a shrine, and
beside that grows a fine pear tree. It is over a
hundred spans high, and that will serve for the roof
Cao Cao at once sent people to fell the tree. But
after one whole day of labor they came back to say
they could make no impression on it neither with saw
nor ax. Cao Cao, doubting their word, went to see.
When he had dismounted and stood by the tree, he
could not but admire its size and proportions, as it
rose above him tall, straight and branched till the
wide−spreading and symmetrical top reached into
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the clouds. But he bade the men attack it again.
Then a few aged people of the village came and
said, “The tree has stood here some centuries and is
the haunt of a spirit. We think it should not be cut
Cao Cao grew annoyed, saying, “I have gone to
and fro in the world now some forty years, and there
is no one, from the Emperor to the commoner, who
does not fear me. What spirit is there who dares
oppose my wish?”
Drawing the sword he was wearing, Cao Cao
went up to the tree and slashed at the trunk. The tree
groaned as he struck, and blood stains spattered his
dress. Terror−stricken, he threw down the sword,
mounted his horse and galloped off.
But that evening when he retired to rest, he could
not sleep. He rose, went into the outer room, and sat
there leaning on a low table. Suddenly a man
appeared with his hair unbound, dressed in black
and carrying a naked sword. The visitor came
straight toward Cao Cao, stopped in front of him and,
pointing, cried out, “Behold the Spirit of the Pear
Tree. You may desire to build your nine−hall pavilion,
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and you may contemplate rebellion; but when you
began to attack my sacred tree, the number of your
days was accomplished. I am come now to slay
“Where are the guards?” shouted Cao Cao in
The figure struck at him with the sword. Cao Cao
cried out and then awoke. His head was aching
They sought the best physicians for him, but they
failed to relieve the terrible pain. Sympathy for their
lord was universal among Cao Cao’s subordinates.
Hua Xin one day said to his master, “My lord, have
you heard of Hua Tuo?” “Do you mean him of Qiao
who cured Zhou Tai?”
“Yes; that is he,” replied Hua Xin.
“I have heard something of his fame, but I know
nothing of his capabilities in his art.”
“He is very clever; there are few so skillful. If one
is ill and calls him in, he knows immediately whether
to use drugs, or the needle, or the cutlery, and the
patient finds relief at once. Let one suffer from an
internal complaint and drugs are ineffectual, with a
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dose of hashish he throws the patient into a state of
perfect insensibility and then opens the abdomen
and washes the affected organs with a medicament.
The patient feels no pain. When the cleansing is
complete, he sews up the wound with thread,
dresses it, and in a month or less the patient is well.
This shows you how skillful he is.
“One day Hua Tuo was traveling, when he heard
a man by the wayside groaning with pain. ‘That is
dyspepsia,’ said Hua Tuo. And further questions
confirmed the diagnosis. He prescribed long
draughts of the juice of garlic as an emetic, and the
man vomited a worm; after this the man was quite
“Chen Deng, the Governor of Guangling, suffered
from a heavy feeling at the heart. His face was red
and congested, and he had no appetite. Hua Tuo
gave him a drug, and he threw up many internal
wriggling parasites with red heads. The Governor
asked what had caused the trouble, and Hua Tuo
told him that he ate too much strong smelling fish.
He could cure Chen Deng this once, but in three
years the disease would recur, and then nothing
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could save him. Three later Chen Deng died.
“Another man had a tumor between the eyes, and
it itched intolerably. Hua Tuo examined it and said
there was a bird in it. The tumor was opened, and,
surely enough, a canary flew out. The patient was
“A dog bit a man’s toe, and two tumorous growths
ensued, one of which itched intolerably and the other
pained severely. Hua Tuo said the painful one
contained ten needles, and the other a couple of
chess pips, black and white. He opened the two
swellings, and the contents were as he had said.
Really he is of the same class of physician as
masters Bian Que and Zang Kong of old times. He
lives at Jincheng, not far away, and could be here
very soon.”
Cao Cao summoned him; and as soon as he
arrived, Hua Tuo felt the pulse and made careful
“Prince, your headaches are due to a malignant
humor within the brain case. The humor is too thick
to get out. Swallowing drugs will do no good. But I
propose to administer a dose of hashish, then open
Three Kingdoms Romance
the brain case and remove the thickened humor.
That will be a radical cure.”
“You mean you want to kill me?” cried Cao Cao
“O Prince, you have heard how I cured Guan Yu
of the poison that had got into his bones? I scraped
them, and he did not hesitate a moment. Your
malady is trifling, and why do you mistrust me?”
“A painful arm may be scraped, but how can you
cut open a man’s head? The fact is you have
conspired with some of Guan Yu’s friends to take this
opportunity to make away with me in revenge for his
Cao Cao told his lictors to hale Hua Tuo to gaol,
and there he was tortured to try to find who were his
Jia Xu pleaded for him, saying, “The man
possesses rare skills; to kill him is to waste his
talents.” But the intervention was of no avail.
“The man wants to get a chance to kill me; he is
the same sort of scoundrel as Ji Ping.”
The wretched physician was subjected to worse
Three Kingdoms Romance
His gaoler was a certain Wu, nicknamed “The
Gaoler” by nearly everybody. He was kindly
disposed to Hua Tuo and saw that he was well fed.
Hua Tuo conceived a liking for his gaoler and said to
him one day, “I am doomed, I know. The pity is that
my Black Bag treatise on medicine may be lost. You
have been most kind to me, and as I have no other
way of recompensing you, I will give you a letter to
my wife telling her to send the Black Bag, and I will
give it to you that you may carry on my art.”
Wu the Gaoler rejoiced greatly, thinking that he
would throw away the menial position of gaoler and
travel about the country healing sick folks, and so he
told Hua Tuo to write the letter and promised to carry
on his work.
The letter was written and given to Wu the
Gaoler, who lost no time in traveling to Jincheng to
meet with Hua Tuo’s wife, and she gave him the
Black Bag to bring back to Hua Tuo. After Hua Tuo
had read through the book carefully, he presented it
to Wu the Gaoler, who took it home and hid it away.
Ten days after this, Hua Tuo died in prison. Wu
the Gaoler bought a coffin and had him buried. This
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done, he quitted the prison and went home. But
when he asked for the book, he found that his wife
had discovered it and was using it to light the fire. He
snatched away what was left of it, but a whole
volume was missing, and what was left amounted
only to a few pages. He vented his anger in cursing
his wife, and she retorted, saying, “If you become
such a learned person as Hua Tuo, you will only die
in prison like him. What good did it all do him?”
It struck Wu the Gaoler that there was something
in what she said, and he ceased grumbling at her.
But the upshot of all this was that the learning in the
“Treatise of the Black Bag” was finally lost to the
world, for what was left only contained a few recipes
relating to domestic animals.
Hua Tuo was the ablest of physician,
Seeing what diseases were lurking within beings.
Alas! That he died, and his writings
Followed him to the Nine Golden Springs.
Meanwhile, Cao Cao became worse, the
uncertainty of the intentions of his rivals aggravating
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his disease not a little. Then they said an envoy had
come with letters from Wu, the gist of which was
satisfactory, as it ran like this:
“Thy servant, Sun Quan, has long seen whom
destiny indicates as master of all, and looks forward
with confidence
to his early accession to the dignity of the Son of
God. If he will send his armies to destroy Liu Bei and
sweep rebellion from the two Lands of Rivers, his
servant at the head of his armies will submit and
accept his land as a fief.”
Cao Cao laughed as he read this, and he said to
his officers, “Is this youth trying to put me on a
But Minister Chen Qun and the attendants
seriously replied, “O Prince, the Hans have been
feeble too long, while your virtues and merits are like
the mountains. All the people look to you, and when
Sun Quan acknowledged himself as your minister,
he is but responsive to the will of God and the desire
of humans. It is wrong that you oppose when such
Three Kingdoms Romance
contrary influences work to a common end, and you
must soon ascend to the high place.” Cao Cao
smiled. “I have served the Hans for many years; and
if I have acquired some merit, yet I have been
rewarded with a princedom and high rank. I dare not
aspire to greater things. If the finger of heaven points
to me, then shall I be as King Wen of Zhou.”
“As Sun Quan acknowledges himself your servant
and promises obedience, you, my lord, can confer a
title upon him and assign to him the duty of attacking
Liu Bei,” said Sima Yi.
Approving of the suggestion, Cao Cao gave Sun
Quan the titles of General of the Flying Cavalry and
Lord of Nanzhang, and appointed him to the Imperial
Protectorship of Jingzhou. Forthwith this command
was sent away to Sun Quan.
Cao Cao’s condition grew worse daily. One night
he had a dream of three horses feeding out of the
same manger. Next day he told it to Jia Xu, saying, “I
saw three horses feeding on the same manger
before the family of Ma Teng was harmed. Last night
I saw the same dream again. How do you interpret
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“It is auspicious to dream of dignity,” replied Jia
Xu. “And naturally such an honor comes to the Caos.
I do not think you need feel any misgivings.”
Cao Cao was comforted.
Cao Cao dreamed three steeds together fed,
The vision seers could not explain,
None guessed how soon, when Cao Cao was
One dynasty would rule again.
Ah, yes; Cao Cao had vainly wrought;
Of none avail each wicked wile,
For, later, in Wei court, there fought
Against him one with equal guile.
That night Cao Cao became worse. As he lay on
his couch he felt dizzy and could not see, so he rose
and sat by a table, upon which he leaned. It seemed
to him that someone shrieked, and, peering into the
darkness, he perceived the forms of many of his
victims—the Empress Fu, the Consort Dong, Fu
Wan, Dong Cheng, and more than twenty other
officials—, and all were bloodstained. They stood in
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the obscurity and whispered, demanding his life. He
rose, lifted his sword and threw it wildly into the air.
Just then there was a loud crash, and the southwest
corner of the new building came down. And Cao Cao
fell with it. His attendants raised him and bore him to
another palace, where he might lie at peace.
But he found no peace. The next night was
disturbed by the ceaseless wailing of men and
women’s voices.
When day dawned, Cao Cao sent for his officers,
and said to them, “Thirty years have I spent in the
turmoil of war and have always refused belief in the
supernatural. But what does all this mean?”
“O Prince, you should summon the Taoists to
offer sacrifices and prayers,” said they.
Cao Cao sighed, saying, “The wise Teacher said,
‘He who offends against heaven has no one to pray
to.’ I feel that my fate is accomplished, my days have
run, and there is no help.”
But he would not consent to call in the priests.
Next day his symptoms were worse. He was panting
and could no longer see distinctly. He sent hastily for
Xiahou Dun, who came at once. But as Xiahou Dun
Three Kingdoms Romance
drew near the doors, he too saw the shadowy forms
of the slain Empress and her children and many
other victims of Cao Cao’s cruelty. He was overcome
with fear and fell to the ground. The servants raised
him and led him away, very ill. Then Cao Cao called
in four of his trusty advisers—Cao Hong, Chen Qun,
Jia Xu, and Sima Yi—that they might hear his last
Cao Hong, speaking for the four, said, “Take
good care of your precious self, O Prince, that you
may quickly recover.”
But Cao Cao said, “Thirty and more years have I
gone up and down, and many a bold leader has
fallen before me. The only ones that remain are Sun
Quan in the south and Liu Bei in the west. I have not
yet slain them. Now I am very ill, and I shall never
again stand before you; wherefore my family affairs
must be settled. My first born—Cao Ang, son of Lady
Liu—fell in battle at Wancheng, when he was young.
The Lady Bian bore four sons to me, as you know.
The third, Cao Zhi, was my favorite, but he was vain
and unreliable, fond of wine and lax in morals.
Therefore he is not my heir. My second son, Cao
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Zhang, is valiant, but imprudent. The fourth, Cao
Xiong, is a weakly and may not live long. My eldest,
Cao Pi, is steady and serious; he is fit to succeed
me, and I look to you to support him.”
Cao Hong and the others wept as they heard
these words, and they left the chamber. Then Cao
Cao bade his servants bring all of the Tibetan
incenses and fragrances that he burned every day,
and he handed out to his handmaids.
And he said to them, “After my death you must
diligently attend to your womanly labors. You can
make silken shoes for sale, and so earn your own
He also bade them go on living in the Bronze Bird
Pavilion and celebrate a daily sacrifice for him, with
music by the singing women, and presentation of the
eatables laid before his tablet.
Next he commanded that seventy−two sites for a
tomb should be selected near Jiangwu, that no one
should know his actual burying place, lest his
remains should be dug up.
And when these final orders had been given, he
sighed a few times, shed some tears, and died. He
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was sixty−six, and passed away in the first month of
the twenty−fifth year (AD 220).
A certain poet composed “A Song of Yejun”
expressing sympathy for Cao Cao, which is given
I stood in Yejun and saw the River Zhang
Go gliding by. I thought no common human
Ever rose from such a place. Or he was great
In war, a poet, or an artist skilled.
Perchance a model minister, or son,
Or famous for fraternal duty shown.
The thoughts of heroes are not ours to judge,
Nor are their actions for our eyes to see.
A man may stand the first in merit; then
His crimes may brand him chief of criminals.
And so his reputation’s fair and foul;
His literary gifts may bear the mark
Of genius; he may be a ruler born;
But this is certain; he will stand above
His fellows, herding not with common people.
Takes he the field, then is he bold in fight;
Would he a mansion build, a palace springs.
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In all things great, his genius masters him.
And such was Cao Cao. He could never be
Obedient; he a rebel was, foredoomed.
He seized and ruled, but hungered for more
Became a prince, and still was not content.
And yet this man of glorious career
When gripped by sickness, wept as might a child.
Full well he knew, when on the bed of death,
That all is vanity and nothing worth.
His latest acts were kindly. Simple gifts
Of fragrant incense gave he to the maids.
Ah me! The ancients’ splendid deeds or secret
We may not measure with our puny rule.
But criticize them, pedants, as ye may
The mighty dead will smile at what you say.
As Cao Cao breathed his last, the whole of those
present raised a great wailing and lamentation. The
news was sent to the members of the family, the Heir
Cao Pi, Lord of Yanling Cao Zhang, Lord of Linzi
Cao Zhi, and Lord of Xiaohuai Cao Xiong. They
Three Kingdoms Romance
wrapped the body in its shroud, enclosed it in a silver
shell, and laid it in a golden coffin, which was sent at
once home to Yejun.
The eldest son wept aloud at the tidings and went
out with all his following to meet the procession and
escort the body of his father into his home. The coffin
was laid in a great hall beside the main building, and
all the officials in deep mourning wailed in the hall.
Suddenly one stood out from the ranks of the
mourners and said, “I would request the heir to
cease lamentation for the dead and devote himself to
the present needs of state.”
It was Sima Fu, and he continued, “The death of
the Prince will cause an upheaval in the empire, and
it is essential that the heir should assume his dignity
without loss of time. There is not mourning alone to
be seen to.”
The others replied. “The succession is settled, but
the investiture can hardly proceed without the
necessary edict from the Emperor. That must be
Said Chen Jiao, who was Minister of War, “As the
Prince died away from home, it may be that disputes
Three Kingdoms Romance
will ensue, and the country will be in danger.”
Then Chen Jiao slashed off the sleeves of his
robe with a sword and shouted fiercely, “We will
invest the prince forthwith, and any one who do not
agree, let him be treated as this robe.”
Still fear held most of the assembly. Then arrived
Hua Xin most haste from the capital. They wondered
what his sudden arrival meant. Soon he entered the
hall and said, “The Prince of Wei is dead and the
world is in commotion; why do you not invest his
successor quickly?”
“We await the command,” cried they in chorus,
“and also the order of Princess−Mother Bian
concerning the heirship.”
“I have procured the Imperial edict here,” cried
he, pulling it out from his breast.
They all began to congratulate him. And he read
the edict.
Hua Xin had always been devoted to Wei, and so
he drafted this edict and got it sealed by Emperor
Xian almost by force. However, there it was; and
therein Cao Pi was named as Prince of Wei, First
Minister, and Imperial Protector of Jizhou.”
Three Kingdoms Romance
Cao Pi thereupon took his seat in the princely
place and received the congratulations of all the
officers. This was followed by a banquet.
However, all was not to pass too smoothly. While
the banquet was in progress, the news came: “Cao
Zhang, Lord of Yanling, with an army of one hundred
thousand troops, is approaching from Changan.”
In a state of consternation, the new Prince turned
to his courtiers, saying, “What shall I do? This young,
golden−bearded brother of mine, always obstinate
and determined and with no little military skill, is
marching hither with an army to contest my
“Let me go to see the Marquis; I can make him
desist,” said one of the guests.
The others cried, “Only yourself, O Exalted One,
can save us in this peril!”
Quarrel between two sons of Cao Cao
Just as in the House of Yuan Shao.
If you would know who proposed himself as
envoy, read the next chapter.
Three Kingdoms Romance

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