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of joy and felicitation, and everyone is hanging out lanterns and putting up decorations for the occasion.”
The night of full moon was very clear, moon and stars most brilliant. The people of the capital took advantage of the night and thronged the "six streets and the three market places.” The lanterns were hung out in profusion, and all went merrily. No official interfered with the crowd, no one thought of the flight of time; all was simple gaiety.
That night Wang Pi and his officers of the guards had a feast in their camp. Just after the second watch had begun they heard a great shouting in the camp, and someone came in to say that a fire had started in the rear. Wang Pi hurriedly left the table and went outside. He saw flames leaping up and rolling by and heard shouts of "Kill!" rising on every side and echoing to the very sky. He thought the camp had certainly mutinied, and, jumping on his horse, went out at the south gate. Just outside he ran against Kêng Chi, who loosed an arrow which struck him in the shoulder. He nearly fell with the shock, but he got away toward the west gate. He found he was pursued by armed men, so he got flurried, dismounted and went on foot. Presently he came to the house of Chin Wei and hammered at the door.
Now the fire that had created such a scare had been raised by Chin's own men sent for that purpose, and he had followed them to fight when the time came. Hence there was no one but the women folk left in his house. When the women heard the clamour at the door they thought Chin I had come back, and his wife, from the door of the women's quarter, called out, "Have you killed Wang Pi?”
This was a shock, but it told Wang Pi that his quondam friend was now an enemy. Wherefore he fled further to the house of Ts'ao Hsiu and told him that Kêng Chi and Chin I had raised a disturbance. Ts'ao Hsiu immediately armed himself, got to horse and led a company into the city. He found fires on all sides, and the Tower of the Five Phoenixe was in flames. The Emperor had fled into the recesses of the palace, but Ts'ao Ts'ao's friends and partizans were defending the palace gate like grim death.
In the city the crowd was shouting one to another to slay Ts'ao Ts'ao and restore the Hans.
When Hsiahou Tun had received the command to keep watch and ward over the capital, he had gone into camp five li from the city. When he saw the conflagration start he set the army in motion and surrounded the city. He also sent reinforcements to Ts'ao Hsiu within.
Inside the city the fighting went on all night. No one joined the conspirators; the small band were left to their own efforts. Soon it was reported that Chin I and the brothers Chi were slain. Kêng and Wei found their way to one of the gates, but there they met Hsiahou Tun's main force and were made prisoners. The handful of men with them were cut to pieces.
When the fighting subsided, Hsiahou Tun went into the city and set his men to put out the fires. He also laid hands on the whole households of the five conspirators. Then he sent a report to Ts'ao Ts'ao, who sent back orders to execute the two conspirators and put to death in public all the members of the five families. He was also to arrest every official and send the whole batch to Yehchün.
Hsiahou Tun sent his two chief prisoners to the place of execution. They shouted against Ts'ao Ts'ao.
“Living we have failed to slay you, Ts'ao A-man; dead we will be malicious spirits smiting rebels in all places.”
The executioner smote Kêng on the mouth with his sword, so that the blood gushed out, but he continued to shout as long as he could. Wei Huang, his fellow-conspirator, dashed his temples on the ground crying, "How I hate him!” and ground his teeth till he broke them to fragments. And he died.
Who can with outstretched hands uphold the sky
But failed, and carried anger to the tomb. Hsiahou Tun carried out his chief's orders and sent the officials he had arrested to Yehchün. There Ts'ao Ts'ao set up two flags, one red and one white, in the drill ground and sent all the officials thither. Then he addressed them.
"In this late rebellion some of you went out to extinguish the fire, some of you stayed within doors. Let those who went forth to put out the fire take their stand by the red flag and those who remained in their houses go to the white flag."
The officials thought within themselves, “Certainly there can be nothing wrong in trying to put out a fire," so they nearly all placed themselves under the red flag; only about a third went to the white.
Then the order was given to seize all those by the red flag. They protested. “We are guiltless !” cried they.
Ts'ao Ts'ao said, “At that time you intended not to put out the flames but to aid the rebels."
He sent them all down to the Chang River and had them put to death on the bank. There were more than three hundred victims. He rewarded those who were under the white flag and sent them to their homes in the capital.
Wang Pi died from his wound and was buried with great honour.
Ts'ao Hsiu was placed over the guards; Chung Yu was dreated Prime Minister, Hua Hsin became a Chief Censor. The occasion was taken to create six grades of the title of “Marquis” with three divisions each, eighteen in all. There were seventeen grades of marquis under the name Kuan-hsi, or
“West of the Pass." And all these had golden seals of office with purple ribbons. There were also sixteen ranks of marquis called Kuan-nei, “Interior," and Kuan-wai, “Exterior". They had silver seals with tortoise ornaments on the back and black ribbons. There were five classes of T'ai-fu with three grades in each class. These had brass seals, with chain ornaments and ribbons. And with all these various gradations of ranks and nobility reorganised, the Court was entirely transformed. There were new ranks and new men in office.
Ts'ao Ts'ao then remembered the warning about a conflagration in the capital and wished to reward Kuan Lu for his prescience, but he would receive nothing.
Ts‘ao Hung with an army went into Hanchung. He placed Hsiahou Yüan and Chang Ho in command at points of importance, while he went on to the attack. At that time Chang Fei with Lei Trung were holding Pahsi. Ma Ch'ao marched to Hsiapan and sent Wu Lan out as van leader to reconnoitre. He fell in with Ts'ao Hung, and Wu Lan was going to retire. But a petty officer, Jên K'uei, advised against this.
“They are newly arrived, why not fight and take the keen edge off their pride? If we do not fight, how can we look our chief in the face when we return?”
So it was decided to offer battle, and Jên K‘uei rode out and challenged Tsʻao Hung. The challenge was accepted, and the warriors advanced. Jên K'uei fell in the third encounter. Ts'ao Hung pressed the advantage, and Wu Lan was driven off. When he returned and told Ma Ch'ao, he was blamed.
“Why did you attack without orders and bring about this defeat ?"
“It was the fault of Jên K'uei, who disobeyed orders."
Ma Ch'ao sent a report to Ch'êngtu and awaited orders for a further action. Ts'ao Hung suspected some ruse when Ma Ch'ao remained so long inactive, and retired to Nanchün. Here he was visited by Chang Ho, who asked why he had retired after the successful attack and slaughter of one of the enemy leaders.
"Seeing that Ma Ch'ao declined to come out to fight I suspected some ruse,” replied he. “Beside, when I was at Yehtu that wonderful soothsayer, Kuan Lu, foretold the loss of a leader here. I heeded what he said and so was careful.”
Chang Ho laughed, “You have been a leader of soldiers for half your life and yet you heed the sayings of a soothsayer! I may be of small wit, but I would take Pahsi with my own troop, and the possession of Pahsi would be the key to the whole of Shu.”
“The defender of Pahsi is Chang Fei," said Ts'ao Hung. “He is no ordinary man to meet. One must be careful.”
"All of you fear this Chang Fei, but I do not; I look upon him as a mere nobody. I shall have to capture him this time.”
“But if you fail, what then ?”
“Then I shall be content to pay the penalty according to military rules."
Ts'ao Hung made him put his undertaking in writing, and then Chang Ho marched to the attack.
The proud are often defeated,
Lightsome attacks oft fail.
FIERCE CHANG FEI TAKES A POSITION BY GUILE; AGED HUANG CHUNG CAPTURES A HILL BY STRATAGEM. Chang Hoʻs army, with which he felt so sure of victory, consisted of three legions, and they were in three camps protected by some hills. They were named “Yench'ü Camp,” "Mêngt'ou Camp" and "Tangshih Camp.” When he marched he left half the men in each camp as defenders.
The news soon reached Pahsi, and Chang Fei called in his colleague Lei T‘ung to give his opinion. Lei said, “The country is bad and the hills full of danger in Langchung; let us lay an ambush. You, O General, go out to give battle and I will help you by some sudden and unexpected attack. We ought to get Chang Ho."
Whereupon Chang Fei gave half a legion to Lei Tung and himself led out a legion to a point thirty li from Langchung. Having set them in order, he rode out and challenged Chang Ho to single combat. Chang galloped out to meet him.
After the thirtieth or so bout Chang Ho's men suddenly began to shout and soon showed signs of confusion. The reason was the appearance of the banners of Shu from the cover of some hills. Chang Ho dared not continue to fight after this, and he fled. Chang Fei pursued him. Lei Tung also appeared in his road and attacked, and so, with enemies on both sides, Chang Ho lost the day. Both Chang Fei and Lei Tsung continued to smite him, even into the night, till he got back to his camp at Yench'ü Hill.
Chang Ho reverted to his old plan of defending the three camps, rolling down logs and hurling stones. But he remained behind his defences. Chang Fei made a camp ten li off.
Next day he went forth and offered battle, but Chang Ho took no notice. He ascended to the summit of the hill and drank wine to the accompaniment of trumpets and drums, but he would not fight. Chang Fei bade his soldiers shout insults, but these had no effect. Lei Tfung was sent up the hill, but the rolling logs and hurtling stones forced him to retire. Then the men of the other two camps came out to the attack and Lei was discomfited.
Next day Chang Fei again offered battle, but there was no response. Again the soldiers yelled every form of insult, but Chang Ho from the hill top only replied by similar abuse.