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CHAPTER 8. Wang Yun Prepares The Chaining Scheme; Dong Zhuo Rages At Phoenix Pavilion.

| Articles of Ancient China, English Version - Romance of the Three Kingdoms Novel | March 6, 2011

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This is what Kuai Liang said, “Sun Jian is now
gone and his sons are but youths. Seize this moment
of weakness to break into Changsha, and it is yours
in one beat of the drum. If you return the corpse and
make peace, you give them time to grow powerful,
and evil will ensue to Jingzhou.”
“How can I leave Huang Zu in their hands?” said
Liu Biao.
“Why not sacrifice this blundering warrior for a
“But he is my dear friend and to abandon him is
So Huan Jie was allowed to return to his own side
with the understanding that Sun Jian’s dead body
should be given in exchange. Sun Ce freed his
prisoner, brought away his father’s coffin, and the
fighting ceased. Sun Jian was interred in the plains
of Que. When the ceremonies were over, Sun Ce led
his army home again.
Three Kingdoms Romance
In Changsha, the southern territory of the Great
River ((Yangtze River)), Sun Ce set himself to the
task of ruling well. Being humble and generous, he
invited to his side humans of wisdom and valor and
so bore himself that all the best and bravest of the
country gathered about him.
Meanwhile, Dong Zhuo at Capital Changan, when
he heard of the death of the turbulent Sun Jian, said,
“An evil that pressed hard upon my heart has been
He asked what children Sun Jian had left, and
when they told him the eldest was but seventeen, he
dismissed all anxiety from his thoughts.
From this time forward his arrogance and
domineering spirit waxed worse and worse. He
styled himself “Imperial Rector,” a name full of honor,
and in all his behavior aped imperial state. He
created his younger brother, Dong Min, Lord of
Huazhou and made him Commander of the Left
Army. A nephew, Dong Huang, was made Court
Counselor and placed in command of the Palace
Guard, and everyone of his clan, young or old, was
ennobled. Eighty miles from the capital Dong Zhuo
Three Kingdoms Romance
laid out a city called Meiwo, an exact replica of
Changan, with its palaces, granaries, treasuries, and
magazines, and employed a quarter of a million
people to build it. Here he accumulated supplies
sufficient for twenty years. He selected eight hundred
of the most beautiful maidens and sent them to dwell
in his new city. The stores of wealth in every form
were incalculable. All his family and retainers found
quarters in this new city.
Dong Zhuo visited his city at intervals of a month
or so, and every visit was like an imperial progress,
with booths by the roadside to refresh the officials
and courtiers who attended him to the northwest
Royal Gate and saw him start.
On one occasion Dong Zhuo spread a great feast
for all those assembled to witness his departure; and
while it was in progress, there arrived a large number
of rebels from the north who had voluntarily
surrendered. The tyrant had them brought before
him as he sat at table and meted out to them wanton
cruelties. The hands of this one were lopped off, the
feet of that; one had his eyes gouged out; another
lost his tongue. Some were boiled to death. Shrieks
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of agony arose to the very heavens, and the
courtiers were faint with terror. But the author of the
misery ate and drank, chatted and smiled as if
nothing was going on.
Another day Dong Zhuo was presiding at a great
gathering of officers who were seated in two long
rows. After the wine had gone up and down several
times, Lu Bu entered and whispered a few words in
his master’s ear.
Dong Zhuo smiled and said, “He was always so.
Take Minister Zhang Wen outside.”
The others all turned pale. In a little time a serving
man brought the head of their fellow guest on a red
dish and showed it to their host. They nearly died
with fright.
“Do not fear,” said Dong Zhuo smiling. “Minister
Zhang Wen was in league with Yuan Shu to
assassinate me. A letter he wrote fell by mistake into
the hands of my son so I have had him put to death.
You gentlemen, who have no reason, need have no
The officials hastened to disperse. One of them,
Minister of the Interior Wang Yun, who had
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witnessed all this, returned to his palace very
pensive and much distressed. The same evening, a
bright moonlight night, he took his staff and went
strolling in his private garden. Standing near one of
the creeper trellises, he gazed up at the sky and the
tears rolled down his cheeks. Suddenly he heard a
rustle in the Peony Pavilion and someone sighing
deeply. Stealthily creeping near, he saw there one of
the household singing girls named Diao Chan.
This maiden had been brought up in his palace,
where she had been taught to sing and dance. At
twenty−one, she was then just bursting into
womanhood, a pretty and clever girl whom Wang
Yun regarded more as a daughter than a dependant.
After listening for some time, Wang Yun suddenly
called out, “What mischief are you up to there, you
naughty girl?”
The maiden dropped on her knees in terror,
saying, “Would thy unworthy handmaid dare to do
anything wrong?”
“Then what are you sighing about out here in the
“May thy handmaid speak from the bottom of her
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“Tell me the whole truth; do not conceal
And the girl said, “Thy handmaid has been the
recipient of bountiful kindness. She has been taught
to sing and dance and been treated so kindly that
were she torn in pieces for her lord’s sake, it would
not repay a thousandth part. She has noticed lately
that her lord’s brows have been knit in distress and
knows it is on account of the state troubles. But she
has not dared to ask. This evening he seemed more
sad than ever, and she was miserable on her lord’s
account. But she did not know she would be seen.
Could she be of any use she would not shrink from a
myriad deaths.”
A sudden idea came to Wang Yun, and he stuck
the ground with his staff. And he said, “Who would
think that the fate of Han lay on your palm? Come
with me!”
The girl followed him into the house. Then he
dismissed all the waiting attendants, placed Diao
Chan on a chair and bowed before her. She was
frightened and threw herself on the ground, asking in
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terror what it all meant.
Said Wang Yun, “You can sympathize with the
people of Han,” and the fount of his tears opened
“My lord, as thy handmaid said just now, use her
in any way; thy handmaid will never shrink,” said the
Wang Yun knelt, saying, “The people are on the
brink of destruction, the prince and his officers are in
jeopardy, and you, you are the only savior. That
wretch Dong Zhuo wants to depose the Emperor and
not a person among us can find means to stop him.
Now he has a son, a bold warrior it is true, but both
father and son have a weakness for beauty, and I
am going to use what I may call the ‘chaining’ plan. I
shall first propose you in marriage to Lu Bu and then,
after you are betrothed, I shall present you to Dong
Zhuo, and you will take every opportunity to force
them asunder and turn sway their countenances
from each other, cause the son to kill his adopted
father and so put an end to the great evil. Thus you
may restore the altars of the land that it may live
again. All this lies within your power; will you do it?”
Three Kingdoms Romance
“Thy handmaid has promised not to recoil from
death itself. You may use my poor self in any way,
and I must do my best.”
“But if this gets abroad then we are all lost!”
“Fear not;” said she, “if thy handmaid does not
show gratitude, may she perish beneath a myriad
“Thank you, thank you!” said Wang Yun.
Then Wang Yun took from the family treasury
many pearls and bade a cunning jeweler make
therewith a fine golden headdress, which was sent
as a present to Lu Bu. He was delighted and came to
thank the donor. When Lu Bu arrived, he was met at
the gate by Wang Yun himself and within found a
table full of dainties for his delectation. He was
conducted into the private apartments and placed in
the seat of honor.
Lu Bu said, “I am but a simple officer in the
palace of a minister; you are an exalted officer of
state; why am I treated thus?”
“Because in the whole land there is no hero your
equal. Poor Wang Yun bows not to an officer’s rank;
poor Wang Yun bows to his ability “
Three Kingdoms Romance
This gratified Lu Bu mightily, and his host
continued to praise and flatter and ply him with wine
and to talk of the virtues of the Prime Minister and
his henchman.
Lu Bu laughed and drank huge goblets.
Presently most of the attendants were sent away,
only a few kept to press the guest to drink. When the
guest was very mellow, Wang Yun suddenly said,
“Let the child come in!”
Soon appeared two attendants, dressed in white,
leading between them the exquisite and fascinating
Diao Chan.
“Who is this?” said Lu Bu startled into sobriety.
“This is my little girl, Diao Chan. You will not be
annoyed at my familiarity, will you? But you have
been so very friendly, I thought you would like to see
her.” Wang Yun bade Diao Chan present a goblet of
wine, and her eyes met those of the warrior.
Wang Yun feigning intoxication said, “My little
child begs you, General, to take a cup or two. We all
depend upon you, all our house.”
Lu Bu begged Diao Chan to sit down. She
pretended to wish to retire. Her master pressed her
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to remain, saying that she might do so since the
guest was a dear friend. So she took a seat modestly
near her master.
Lu Bu kept his gaze fixed upon the maid, while he
swallowed cup after cup of wine.
“I should like to present her to you as a
handmaid; would you accept?” said Wang Yun.
The guest started up.
“If that is so, you may rely upon my abject
gratitude,” said Lu Bu.
“We will choose a propitious day ere long and
send her to the palace.”
Lu Bu was overjoyed. He could not keep his eyes
off Diao Chan, and loving glances flashed from her
liquid eyes.
However the time came for the guest to leave,
and Wang Yun said, “I would ask you to remain the
night, but the Prime Minister might suspect
Lu Bu thanked him again and again and
Some few days later when Wang Yun was at
court and Lu Bu was absent, Wang Yun bowed low
Three Kingdoms Romance
before Dong Zhuo and said, “I wish that you would
deign to come to dine at my lowly cottage; could your
noble thought bend that way?”
“Should you invite me, I would certainly hasten,”
was the reply.
Wang Yun thanked him. Then Wang Yun went
home and prepared in the reception hall a feast in
which figured every delicacy from land and sea.
Beautiful embroideries surrounded the chief seat in
the center, and elegant curtains were hung within
and without. At noon next day, when the Prime
Minister arrived, Wang Yun met him at the gate in full
court costume. Wang Yun stood by while Dong Zhuo
stepped out of his chariot, and Dong Zhuo and a
host of one hundred armed guards crowded into the
hall. Dong Zhuo took his seat at the top, his suite fell
into two lines right and left; while Wang Yun stood
humbly at the lower end. Dong Zhuo bade his people
conduct Wang Yun to a place beside himself.
Said Wang Yun, “The great Prime Minister’s
abundant virtue is as the high mountains; neither the
ancient sages—Yi Yin and Duke Zhou—could attain
Three Kingdoms Romance
Dong Zhuo smiled. They bore in the dishes and
the wine, and the music began. Wang Yun plied his
guest with assiduous flattery and studied deference.
When it grew late and the wine had done its work,
Dong Zhuo was invited to the inner chamber. So he
sent away his guards and went.
Here the host raised a goblet and drank to his
guest, saying, “From my youth up I have understood
something of astrology and have been studying the
aspect of the heavens. I read that the days of Han
are numbered, and that the great Prime Minister’s
merits command the regard of all the world, as when
King Shun succeeded King Yao, and King Yu
continued the work of King Shun, all by the strength
of their own merits, conforming to the mind of
Heaven and the desire of people.”
“How dare I expect this?” said Dong Zhuo.
“From the days of old, those who walk in the way
have replaced those who deviate therefrom; those
who lack virtue have fallen before those who
possess it. Can one escape fate?”
“If indeed the decree of Heaven devolves on me;
you shall be held the first in merit!” said Dong Zhuo.
Three Kingdoms Romance
Wang Yun bowed. Then lights were brought in
and all the attendants were dismissed, save the
serving maids to hand the wine. So the evening went
Presently Wang Yun said, “The music of these
everyday musicians is too commonplace for your
ear, but there happens to be in the house a little
maid that might please you.”
“Excellent!” said the guest.
Then a curtain was lowered. The shrill tones of
reed instruments rang through the room, and
presently some attendants led forward Diao Chan,
who then danced on the outside of the curtain.
A poem praises her:
For a palace this maiden was born,
So timid, so graceful, so slender,
Like a tiny bird flitting at morn
Over the dew−laden lily buds tender.
Were this exquisite maid only mine,
For never a mansion I’d pine.
Another poem runs thus:
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The music falls; the dancer comes, a swallow
gliding in,
A dainty little damsel, soft as silk;
Her beauty captivates the guest yet saddens him
For he must soon depart and leave her there.
She smiles; no gold could buy that smile, no other
smiled so,
No need to deck her form with jewels rare.
But when the dance is over and coy glances
come and go,
Then who shall be the chosen of the fair?
The dance ended. Dong Zhuo bade them lead the
maiden in, and she came, bowing low as she
approached him. He was much taken with her
beauty and modest grace.
“Who is she?” said Dong Zhuo.
“A singing girl; her name is Diao Chan.”
“Then can she sing?”
The master bade her sing, and she did so to the
accompaniment of castanets. There is a measure
describing her youthful beauty:
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You stand, a dainty maiden,
Your cherry lips so bright,
Your teeth so pearly white,
Your fragrant breath love−laden;
Yet is your tongue a sword;
Cold death is the reward
Of loving thee, O maiden.
Dong Zhuo was delighted and praised her
warmly. She was told to present a goblet of wine to
the guest which he took from her hands and then
asked her age.
She replied, “Thy unworthy handmaid is
“A perfect little fairy!” said Dong Zhuo.
Then Wang Yun rose and said, “If the Prime
Minister would not mind, I should like to offer him this
little maid.”
“How could I be grateful enough for such a
“She would be most fortunate if she could be your
servant,” said Wang Yun.
Dong Zhuo thanked his host warmly.
Three Kingdoms Romance
Then the orders were given to prepare a closed
carriage and convey Diao Chan to the Prime
Minister’s palace.
Soon after Dong Zhuo took his leave, and Wang
Yun accompanied him the whole way.
After he had taken leave, Wang Yun mounted to
ride homeward. Half way he met two lines of guards
with red lamps who were escorting Lu Bu who was
on horseback and armed with his trident halberd.
Seeing Wang Yun, Lu Bu at once reined in,
stopped, seized him by the sleeve, and said angrily,
“You promised Diao Chan to me and now you have
given her to the Prime Minister: what foolery is this?”
Wang Yun checked him, saying, “This is no place
to talk; I pray you come to my house.”
So they went together, and Wang Yun led Lu Bu
into a private room.
After the usual exchange of polite greetings,
Wang Yun said, “Why do you find fault with me,
“Somebody told me that you had sent Diao Chan
to the Prime Minister’s palace in a covered carriage:
what does it mean?”
Three Kingdoms Romance
“Of course you do not understand. Yesterday
when I was at court, the Prime Minister told me he
had something to talk to me about in my own house.
So naturally I prepared for his coming, and while we
were at dinner he said, ‘I have heard something of a
girl named Diao Chan whom you have promised to
my son Lu Bu. I thought it was mere rumor so I
wanted to ask if it was true. Beside I should like to
see her.’ I could not say no, so she came in and
made her bow to the lord of lords. Then he said that
it was a lucky day and he would take her away with
him and betroth her to you. Just think, Sir: when the
Prime Minister had come himself, could I stop him?”
“You were not so very wrong;” said Lu Bu, “but for
a time I had misunderstood you. I owe you an
“The girl has a small trousseau, which I will send
as soon as she has gone over to your dwelling.”
Lu Bu thanked him and went away. Next day he
went into the Palace to find out the truth, but could
hear nothing. Then he made his way into the private
quarters and questioned the maids. Presently one
told him that the Prime Minister had brought home a
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new bedfellow the night before and was not up yet.
Lu Bu was very angry. Next he crept round behind
his master’s sleeping apartment.
By this time Diao Chan had risen and was
dressing her hair at the window. Looking out she saw
a long shadow fall across the little lake. She
recognized the headdress, and peeping around she
saw it was indeed no other than Lu Bu. Thereupon
she contracted her eyebrows, simulating the deepest
grief, and with her dainty handkerchief she wiped her
eyes again and again. Lu Bu stood watching her a
long time.
Soon after he went in to give morning greeting.
Dong Zhuo was sitting in the reception room. Seeing
his henchman, Dong Zhuo asked if there was
anything new.
“Nothing,” was the reply.
Lu Bu waited while Dong Zhuo took his morning
meal. As he stood beside his master, he glanced
over at the curtain and saw a woman there behind
the screen showing a half face from time to time and
throwing amorous glances at him. He felt it was his
beloved and his thoughts flew to her. Presently Dong
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Zhuo noticed his expression and began to feel
“If there is nothing, you may go,” said Dong Zhuo.
Lu Bu sulkily withdrew.
Dong Zhuo now thought of nothing but his new
mistress and for more than a month neglected all
affairs, devoting himself entirely to pleasure. Once
he was a little indisposed, and Diao Chan was
constantly at his side, never even undressing to
show her solicitude. She gratified his every whim.
Dong Zhuo grew more and more fond of her.
One day Lu Bu went to inquire after his father’s
health. Dong Zhuo was asleep, and Diao Chan was
sitting at the head of his couch. Leaning forward she
gazed at the visitor, with one hand pointed to her
heart, the other at Dong Zhuo asleep, and her tears
fell. Lu Bu felt heartbroken. Dong Zhuo drowsily
opened his eyes; and seeing his son’s gaze fixed on
something behind him, he turned over and saw who
it was. He angrily rebuked his son, saying, “Dare you
make love to my beauty?”
He told the servants to turn Lu Bu out, shouting,
“Never let him enter here again!”
Three Kingdoms Romance
Lu Bu went off home very wrath. Meeting Li Ru,
he told Li Ru the cause of his anger. The adviser
hastened to see his master and said, “Sir, you aspire
to be ruler of the empire, why then for a small fault
do you blame the General? If he turns against you, it
is all over.”
“Then what can I do?” said Dong Zhuo.
“Recall him tomorrow; treat him well; overwhelm
him with gifts and fair words; and all will be well.”
So Dong Zhuo did so. He sent for Lu Bu and was
very gracious and said, “I was irritable and hasty
yesterday owing to my illness and I wronged you, I
know. Forget it.”
He gave Lu Bu three hundred ounces of gold and
twenty rolls of brocade. And so the quarrel was
made up. But though Lu Bu’s body was with his
adopted father Dong Zhuo, his heart was with his
promised bride Diao Chan.
Dong Zhuo having quite recovered went to court
again, and Lu Bu followed him as usual. Seeing
Dong Zhuo deep in conversation with the Emperor,
Lu Bu, armed as he was, went out of the Palace and
rode off to his chief’s residence. He tied up his steed
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at the entrance and, halberd in hand, went to the
private apartment to seek his love. He found Diao
Chan, and she told him to go out into the garden
where she would join him soon. He went, taking his
halberd with him, and he leaned against the rail of
the Phoenix Pavilion to wait for Diao Chan.
After a long time she appeared, swaying
gracefully as she made her way under the drooping
willows and parting the flowers as she passed. She
was exquisite, a perfect little fairy from the Palace of
the Moon.
Tears were in her eyes as she came up and said,
“Though I am not the Minister’s real daughter, yet he
treated me as his own child. The desire of my life
was fulfilled when he plighted me to you. But oh! to
think of the wickedness of the Prime Minister,
stealing my poor self as he did. I suffered so much. I
longed to die, only that I had not told you the real
truth. So I lived on, bearing my shame as best as I
could but feeling it mean still to live. Now that I have
seen you, I can end it all. My poor sullied body is no
longer fit to serve a hero. I can die before your eyes
and so prove how true I am!”
Three Kingdoms Romance
Thus speaking she seized the curving rail and
started into the lily pond. Lu Bu caught her in his
strong arms and wept as he held her close.
“I knew it; I always knew your heart,” he sobbed.
“Only we never had a chance to speak.”
She threw her arms about Lu Bu.
“If I cannot be your wife in this life, I will in the
ages to come,” she whispered.
“If I do not marry you in this life, I am no hero,”
said he.
“Every day is a year long. O pity me! Rescue me!
My lord!”
“I have only stolen away for a brief moment, and I
am afraid that old rebel will suspect something, so I
must not stay too long,” said Lu Bu.
Diao Chan clung to his robe, saying, “If you fear
the old thief so much, I shall never see another
Lu Bu stopped.
“Give me a little time to think,” said he.
And he picked up his halberd to go.
“In the deep seclusion of the harem, I heard the
stories of your prowess; you were the one man who
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excelled all others. Little did I think that you of all
heroes would rest content under the dominion of
another.” And tears rained again!
A wave of shame flooded his face. Leaning his
halberd against the railing, he turned and clasped
the girl to his breast, soothing her with fond words.
The lovers held each other close, swaying to and fro
with emotion. How could they bring themselves to
say farewell?
In the meantime Dong Zhuo missed his
henchman, and doubt filled his heart. Hastily taking
leave of the Emperor, he mounted his chariot and
returned to his palace. There at the gate stood Lu
Bu’s well known steed Red−Hare, riderless. Dong
Zhuo questioned the doorkeepers, and they told him
the General was within. He sent away his attendants
and went alone to the private apartments. Lu Bu was
not there. He called Diao Chan, but there was no
reply. He asked where she was, and the waiting
maids told him she was in the garden among the
So Dong Zhuo went into the garden, and there he
saw the lovers in the pavilion in most tender talk. Lu
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Bu’s trident halberd was leaning on the railing beside
A howl of rage escaped Dong Zhuo and startled
the lovers. Lu Bu turned, saw who it was, and ran
away. Dong Zhuo caught up the halberd and ran in
pursuit. But Lu Bu was fleet of foot while his master
was very stout. Seeing no hope of catching the
runaway, Dong Zhuo hurled the halberd. Lu Bu
fended it off and it fell to the ground. Dong Zhuo
picked it up and ran on. But by this time Lu Bu was
far ahead. Just as Dong Zhuo was running out at the
garden gate, he dashed full tilt against another man
running in, and down he went.
Surged up his wrath within him as the billows
heavenward leap.
Crashed his unwieldy body to earth in a
shapeless heap.
We shall presently see who the other runner was.
Three Kingdoms Romance

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