תמונות בעמוד

Kʻuan and Chao Ch'ü appeared and reviled him from the ramparts above. More than this, they dragged his wife up upon the wall, murdered her before his face and threw the bloody body at his feet. They followed up this by the murder in like manner of his three sons and other members of his family to the number of half a score and more. And all their dead bodies were flung from the wall.

Rage and despair filled Ma's bosom; he almost fell from his steed. But little time was allowed to grieve, for Hsiahou Yüan was nearly upon him. Knowing that he could not oppose this force with any chance of victory, he made no battle line, but set off with two of his captains to cut his way through such parties of the enemy as they might meet. Their sole object was escape, so when they fell upon Yang and Chiang they only fought to get through, and in the same way they forced a road through the small army under Yin and Chao. However, they lost most of their few followers, and at the end had only some three score left.

About the fourth watch they came to Lich'êng. In the darkness the gate guards, thinking only of the return of their own men, opened the gates and unwittingly let in the enemy. Once in the city the slaughter began, and every one, soldier or common person, was slain, till the city was swept clear from the south gate to the very centre.

Presently they came to the residence of Chiang Hsü and dragged forth his aged mother. She showed no sign of fear, but reviled Ma Ch'ao till in his anger he slew her with his own sword. Thence they went to the house of Yin and Chao and slew all they found therein. The only person who escaped the massacre was the wife of Chao Ang, who had accompanied her husband.

But the city proved no place of safety. Hsiahou with his army appeared the following day, and Ma fled before him to the west. But ere he had gone twenty li he came face to face with another army drawn up in battle array. Yang Fou was the leader. Grinding his teeth with rage, Ma set his spear and rode at Yang, while his two captains, Ma Tai and P'ang Tê, attacked the rear. Yang was overcome, and his seven brothers who had gone with him into the battle were slain. Yang himself was wounded in five places, but still fought on till he was made prisoner.

However, Hsiahou had not left pursuing Ma. He came up to the city, and Ma fled before him to the west. His army was now reduced to the two captains and about half a score of horsemen, and these few were left to go their way.

Ts'ao Ts'ao's general, Hsiahou Yüan, set himself to restore order and tranquillity in the district, after which he apportioned its defence among Chiang Hsü and certain other trustworthy men. The captive leader Yang Fou was sent to the capital in a cart. When he arrived he saw Ts'ao, who offered him the title of Marquis. But Yang declined the honour, saying, "I have neither the credit of a successful defence nor the merit of death in the attempt. Death should be my portion rather than honours. How could I accept the offer?"

Ts'ao praised him and did not insist.

Having escaped from their pursuers, Ma Ch‘ao and his few followers decided to make for Hanchung and offer their services to Chang Lu. He received them gladly, for he thought with such help he could certainly get possession of Ichou on the west as well as repel Ts'ao on the east. More than this, he thought to cement the friendship by giving Ma a daughter to wife. But this displeased one of his captains, Yang Po.

“The misfortune that befell Ma Ch'ao's wife and family was entirely the fault of his own misconduct. Would you give your daughter to such as he to wife?” said Yang.

Chang Lu again considered the matter and abandoned his intention. But a certain busybody told Ma what had been proposed and that Yang had defeated the scheme. Whereupon Ma was very annoyed and sought to compass the death of Yang. Yang and his brother Sung on the other side conspired to destroy Ma.

At this time a messenger arrived in Hanchung begging for assistance against the invader Liu Pei. Chang Lu refused help. But then Huang Ch'üan came on the same errand. He first saw Yang Sung and talked to him and brought him to favour the scheme, pointing out the inter-dependence of the eastern and western countries, which stood next each other as the lips are close to the teeth. So he won over Yang Sung, who led him to see his master. To him again Huang spoke forcibly and laid the matter before him so cogently that Chang promised his help.

One of Chang's officers tried to dissuade him by pointing out the old enmity between him and Liu Chang, but another suddenly interjected, saying, “Useless I may be, but if you will give me troops I will capture this Liu Pei and you will retain all your land.”

The land's true lord goes west and then

Hanchung sends forth its bravest men.
Who made this bold offer? The next chapter will tell.



LIU PEI TAKES THE GOVERNORSHIP OF ICHOU. It was Yen Pu who thus opposed sending help to Liu Chang. Then Ma Ch'ao rose and said, “I have been the recipient of much kindness from my lord, which I feel I can never repay adequately. Now let me lead an army to take Chiaming Pass and capture Liu Pei. Then, my lord, Liu Chang will surely lose his twenty districts, and they shall be yours.

This offer rejoiced Chang Lu, who sent away Huang Ch'uan without an answer and told off two legions for Ma Ch'ao to lead. As P'ang Tê was too ill to take part in the expedition, Yang Po was sent in his place. The day to march was chosen.

Meanwhile, the messenger sent by Fa Chêng had returned to Fouch'êng to say Chêng Tu had advised his master to set fire to all the plains and valleys between the capital and the invaders, as well as the granaries, to move away the people and to stand solely on the defensive. This news caused Liu Pei and K‘ung-ming great anxiety, for it would be a grave danger to them. However, Fa Chêng was more sanguine.

"Do not be anxious," said he, "the plan would be extremely harmful, but it will not be carried out. Liu Chang will not do that."

Surely enough, very soon they heard that Liu Chang had not adopted the suggestion; he would not remove the people. It was a great relief to Yüan-tê.

Then said K‘ung-ming, "Now let us capture Mienchu quickly, for, that done, Ch'êngtu is as good as ours.

He therefore told off Huang Chung and Wei Yen to advance first. When Fei Kuan heard of their advance he ordered Li Yen to go out to stop them, and Li led out his three companies. The two sides being arrayed, Huang Chung rode out and fought some half hundred bouts with Li Yen. Neither was able to claim a victory, and so Kung-ming from the midst of the host ordered them to beat the gongs to cease from battle. When Huang Chung had got back to his side again he said, “O Commander, why did you sound the retirement just as I was getting the better of my opponent ?"

“Because I saw that he was not to be overcome by mere force. To-morrow you shall fight again, and then you shall lead him into the hills by the ruse of pretended defeat. There will be a surprise awaiting him."

got guite close to the enemy camp and stood for a time looking at Chang Fei sitting amid a blaze of lamps and drinking. Suddenly he dashed forward with a yell, and at the same moment his drums on the hill-top rolled out their defiance. Chang Fei never stirred. Chang Ho rushed at him and delivered a mighty thrust with his spear. Chang Fei toppled over—it was a Chang Fei of straw. Ho checked and turned his steed. At that moment he heard a string of detonations and a warrior appeared before him barring his way. It was the real Chang Fei, as the round head and thundering voice speedily made manifest.

With spear set, he rode toward Chang Ho. The two warriors fought many bouts under the gleaming lights. No help came to Chang Ho. In vain he yearned for the assistance which the two camps were to bring him. How could he know that his reinforcements had been driven back by Wei Yen and Lei Tung? And that the two camps were now in possession of his enemies? As the help did not come he was powerless; and, to add to his discomfiture, the glare of fire out on the hill told him of the seizure of his third camp. Nothing could be done, and he fled to Wak'ou Pass. The victory was all to Chang Fei.

The news of the success delighted Liu Pei, and he knew then that Chang Fei's drinking had been part of a stratagem to entice his enemy into the open and defeat him.

Chang Ho reached the Pass, but with the loss of more than half his army.

He stood on defence and sent urgent messages to his colleague to come to his rescue.

Ts'ao Hung angrily replied, “He disobeyed my orders and marched; he has lost an important point and now he sends to me for help.”

While refusing aid, he sent to urge his colleague to go out and fight. But Chang Ho too greatly feared. At length he decided upon a plan of action. He sent out two parties into ambush and said to them, "I will pretend defeat and fly. They will follow and you can cut off their retreat."

When he did march out he met Lei T‘ung. The two engaged in battle and Chang presently ran away. Lei pursued and fell into the ambush. Then Chang Ho returned and slew Lei Tʻung. His men went back and told Chang Fei, who came up to provoke another fight. Chang Ho again tried his stratagem, but Chang Fei did not pursue. Again and again the ruse was tried, but Chang Fei knew it was only a ruse and simply retired to his own camp.

He said to Wei Yen, "Chang Ho has compassed the death of Lei Tung by leading him into an ambush, and he wants to inveigle me into another. What say you to meeting trick with trick?"

"But how?" said Wei Yen.

“To-morrow I will lead the army forward, you following me with some reliable soldiers. When his men come out from their ambush you can smite them, sending half your men against each party. We will secretly fill the by-roads with loads of combustibles, entice the enemy among them and start a fire. In the confusion I shall try to capture Chang Ho. So will we avenge our comrade's death."

So Chang Fei went out, and Chang Ho's men came and began to fight. After a half score bouts, Chang Ho ran away, and this time Chang Fei pursued. Ho, now fleeing, now stopping to exchange a blow or two, led Fei through the hills to a valley. Here, suddenly changing front, he halted, made a camp and offered battle.

It was now the time when he expected his hidden men to appear and surround Chang Fei. But none appeared. He knew not that his ambush had been broken up by Wei Yen's brave men and driven into the valley where the road was filled with cart-loads of combustibles, and that the valley even then was all aflame.

Then Chang Fei came to the attack, and the rout was complete. Chang Ho, fighting desperately, got through to the Wak'ou Pass and there mustered the remnant of his men. He strengthened the position and remained behind his ramparts.

Chang Fei and Wei Yen then tried to take the Pass, but day after day they failed. Chang Fei, seeing no hope of success, retired twenty li and bivouacked. From this point he sent out scouts under Wei Yen to explore the country. While going along they observed some burden-bearers, men and women, going up a very retired path, pulling down the creepers and pushing aside the grasses.

“That is the way to take Wak'ou Pass,” cried Chang Fei, pointing with his whip to the wayfarers.

He ordered his soldiers not to scare the people, but to call a few gently and bring them to him. They soon had several standing before their leader, who spoke to them kindly and put them at ease.

"Whence come you?" asked Fei.

"We belong to Hanchung and are going home. We heard that you were out fighting and the high road to Langchung was blockaded, and so we have come across the Ts'angchi Torrent and Tzúchang Mountain and down Kueichin River. We are going to our homes in Hanchung."

"Can one reach Wak'ou Pass by this road? And how far is it?"

The country people replied, “A small road leads past to the rear of the Pass from Tzúchang Mountain."

For this piece of information Chang Fei rewarded them by taking them into his camp and giving them a good meal, and

« הקודםהמשך »