« הקודםהמשך »
"But standing always on the defensive is showing weakness,” said Ts‘ao Ts'ao.
Thereupon he bade a man carry a chieh, simple authority to act, to the mountain commander and so order him to attack the enemy.
“Hsiahou Yüan is very stern and inflexible, and he may be carried too far and fall victim to some vile ruse,” said Liu Hua.
Wherefore the prince wrote a letter to him to accompany the chieh. And when the messenger arrived and the letter was opened it read: "Every leader must exercise a combination of inflexibility and yielding. Boldness is not the only thing that counts; if he make it so, then is he a mere creature to fight. Now I am camped at Nanchün ready to watch the deeds of your admirable prowess and capacity, and all I have to say is, 'Do not disgrace your previous reputation.'
The letter pleased the commander mightily. Having sent away the bearer, he called in Chang Ho to consult.
“The prince has a great army at Nanchün ready to destroy Liu Pei. We have been on the defence here long enough, and it is time we rendered some solid service. To-morrow I am going out to battle, and hope to capture Huang Chung."
“Your opponent combines ready resource with boldness and prevision,” said Chang Ho. “Beside, he has Fa Chêng to aid him; and you must be cautious, for the country is very difficult and dangerous. You had better keep on the defensive.”
“How shall we be able to look our prince in the face when other men render good service? However, you just keep the hill, and I will go out to battle."
Then an order was issued asking who would go out to reconnoitre and provoke a battle. His brother Hsiahou Shang volunteered. He was told that he was not to make a real stand, but merely to begin the fight. He was to lose and not win, for a grand ruse was ready for the enemy. He explained his plans, and Hsiahou Shang went away with a small column.
Now Huang Chung and his helper, Fa Chêng, were camped quite close to the Tingchün Mountain. They had endeavoured to entice Hsiahou Yüan out into the field to fight, but failed; to attack him as he stood in that country was very difficult. So thus far no advance had been made. But as soon as Ts'ao's men appeared and seemed to offer battle, Huang Chung was ready to march out to meet them at once. But a certain minor captain named Ch'ên Shih offered his services.
"Do not trouble yourself to move, O General,” said Ch'ên Shih, "for I will go out to fight them."
Huang Chung consented, and placed three companies under Ch'ên Shih, who went out of the valley and set his army in array. And when Hsiahou Shang came up and, as arranged,
merely fought a few bouts and ran away, Ch'ên Shih followed to take advantage of his success. But he was soon brought to a standstill by the rolling of logs and hurling of stones on the part of his opponents. As he turned to retire, Hsiahou Yuan brought out his men and attacked. Ch'ên Shih had no chance against them and was quickly made prisoner. Many of his men joined the enemy, but a few escaped to their own side and told Huang Chung of the misfortune.
Huang Chung at once asked advice from Fa Chêng, who said, “This Hsiahou Yüan is easily provoked to anger, and being angry he is bold without discretion. Your way now is to work up the enthusiasm of your men, then break camp and advance. Do this in a series of marches, and you will excite your enemy up to the point of giving battle, when you can capture him. They call this the 'Ruse of the Interchange of Host and Guest.'”
So Huang Chung collected all the things his men liked, and made them presents, till the sound of rejoicing filled the whole valley and the men were hot to fight. Then camp was broken, and the army marched forward a certain distance. Then they encamped. After some days' rest the maneuvre was repeated; and then again.
When tidings of the advance reached Hsiahou Yüan, he proposed to go out and fight. "No, no,
said the prudent Chang Ho. “This is a wellknown ruse, and you should remain on the defensive. You will lose if you fight.”
Hsiahou was not the man to stomach this moderate advice, so he sent out Hsiahou Shang to give battle. As soon as this force reached the camp of Huang Chung, he mounted and rode out to fight. In the very first bout he captured Hsiahou Shang. Those who escaped told how their leader had been captured, and Hsiahou Yüan at once sent to offer an exchange of prisoners. This was agreed to, to be effected the following day in front of both armies.
So next day both sides were arrayed in a spot where the valley widened, the two leaders on horseback beneath their respective standards. Beside each stood his prisoner. Neither was encumbered with robe or helmet, but each wore thin, simple dress. At the first beat of the drum each started to race over to his own side. Just as Hsiahou Shang reached the ranks of his own side, Huang Chung shot an arrow and wounded him in the back. The wounded man did not fall, but went on.
But Hsiahou Yüan, mad with rage, could contain himself no longer. He galloped straight at Huang Chung, which was exactly what the latter wanted to irritate him into doing. The fight that then ensued went on for a score of bouts, when suddenly the gongs clanged out from Hsiahou Yüan's side and
he drew off, losing some men while doing so. When he reached his own side he asked why the gong had sounded.
“Because we saw the banners of Shu through openings in the hills in several places and we feared an ambush.”
The leader believed them, and did not return to the battlefield; he simply remained defensive. Before long, Huang Chung had got quite near to the Ts'ao camp, and then he asked further advice from his colleague.
Fa Chêng pointed over to the hills, and said, "There rises a steep hill on the west of Tingchün Mountain, difficult of access, but from its summit one has a complete view of the defences of the enemy. If you can take this hill, the mountain lies in the hollow of your hand.”
Huang looked up and saw the top of the hill was a small tableland and there were very few men there. So that evening he left his camp, dashed up the hill, drove out the small host there and took it. It was just opposite Tingchün Mount.
Then said Fa Chêng, “Now take up position half way up the hill, while I go to the top. When the enemy appears I will show a white flag. But you will remain quiet till the enemy become tired and remiss, when I will hoist a red flag. That will be the signal for attack.
Huang cheerfully prepared to act on this plan. In the meantime Tu Hsi, who had been driven from the hill-top, had run back and reported the loss of the hill to Hsiahou Yüan.
"With Huang Chung in occupation of that hill I simply must give battle," said he.
Chang Ho strongly dissuaded him, saying the whole thing was but a ruse of Fa Chêng's, but Hsiahou Yüan was obstinate.
"From the top of that hill the whole of our position is visible, our strength and our weakness; I must fight.”
In vain were the remonstrances repeated. Hsiahou Yüan set out his men to surround the hill and then began to vent his rage at his enemy so as to incite him to give battle.
Then the white flag was hoisted. However, Hsiahou Yuan was allowed to fume and rage in vain. He tried every form of insult, but no one appeared. In the afternoon the men became weary and dispirited. Plainly their eagerness had gone; and Fa Chêng unfurled the red flag.
Then the drums rolled out, and the men shouted till the earth seemed to shake as the hoary old leader rode out and led his men down the slope with a roar as of an earthquake. Hsiahou Yuan was too surprised to defend himself. His chief enemy rushed straight to his standard and with a thundering shout raised his sword and cleft Hsiahou Yüan through between the head and shoulders so that he fell in two pieces.
Hoary headed is he, but he goes up to battle;
The arrows fly.
At the death of their captain, the soldiers fled for their lives, and Huang captured the mount. Chang Ho came out to oppose him, but, attacked at two points by Huang Chung and Ch'ên Shih, he could not stand. He lost the day and fled. However, before he had gone far, another cohort flashed out from the hills and barred his way. And the leader was Chao Yün. Confused and uncertain what to do, he led his men toward Tingchün Mount. But a body of soldiers came out to stop him and said that the mount was in the hands of the enemy. So he and Tu Hsi joined their forces and went to the Han Waters, where they camped.
Thence they sent to tell Ts'ao Ts'ao of their defeat. At the news of the death of his favourite, he uttered a great cry and then he understood the prediction of the soothsayer, Kuan Lu, that the sortes showed opposition. It was the twenty-fourth year of the period, the yellow boar had met the tiger and the year of the cycle was the thirty-sixth. The expedition had suffered a loss indeed by the death of a general, and the death had taken place at the mount known as “Army Halt.” The affection between Ts'ao Ts'ao and his captain had been very close.
Ts'ao Ts'ao sent to enquire the whereabouts of Kuan Lu, but no one knew.
Ts'ao nourished feelings of resentment against the slayer of his friend, and he led his army out against Tingchün Mount to avenge his death. Hsü Huang led the van. When the army reached the Han Waters, Chang Ho and Tu Hsi joined them.
They said to Ts'ao Ts'ao, "This mount is lost. Before marching farther, the stores in Granary Hill should be moved north." And Ts'ao Ts'ao agreed.
Huang Chung cut off the head of Hsiahou Yüan and took it to Yüan-tê when he reported his victory. For his services he was rewarded with the title “Conqueror of the West," and great banquets were given in his honour.
While these were going on, his colleague, Ch'ên Shih, brought the news of Ts'ao Ts'ao's army of twenty legions on the way to avenge his friend's loss; and the supplies on Granary Hill were being moved north.
Then said K'ung-ming, “Ts'ao Ts'ao is certainly short of supplies. If we can burn what he has and destroy his baggage train he will have but little spirit left to fight.”
"I am willing to undertake the task," said Huang Chung.
"Remember Ts'ao Ts'ao is a different sort of man from your latest victim."
Yüan-tê said, “After all, Hsiahou Yüan was but a bold warrior. It would have been ten times better to have killed Chang Ho.”
“I will go and kill him," said the aged one, firing up.
"Then go with Chao Yün," said K'ung-ming; "act in concert and see who can do best."
Huang Chung agreed to this condition, and Chang Cho was sent as second.
Soon after the army had marched out, Chao Yün asked of his colleague what plan he had prepared against Ts'ao Ts'ao's army of twenty legions in their ten camps, and how the stores of grain and forage were to be destroyed.
“I am going to lead," said Huang Chung.
“But I am the senior leader; you are only my second,” said Huang Chung.
“No; you and I are equal in responsibility and both anxious to render good service. We are no rivals. Let us cast lots for who is to lead the way.”
They did so, and the aged one gained precedence.
"Since you have won the right to make the first attempt, you must let me help you,” said Chao Yün. “Now let us decide upon a fixed time, and if you have returned by that time I shall not need to stir. But if at that time you have not come back then I shall come to reinforce you."
“That suits me admirably," said Huang Chung.
So they decided upon noon as the time; and Chao Yün went back to his own camp, where he called in his next in command and said, “My friend Huang is going to try to burn the stores to-morrow. If he has not returned at noon I am to go to aid him. You are to guard our camp, which is in a dangerous place by the river, but you are not to move out unless comfelled.”
Huang Chung went back to his camp and said to his senior captain, Chang, "I have slain one leader and cowed another. I am going to destroy the enemy's store of grain to-morrow, taking with me most of the men. You are to come and assist me. A meal for the men is to be ready about midnight to-night, and we shall move at the fourth watch. We shall march to the foot of their hill, capture Chang Ho and then start the fire.”
All being ready, they set out-Huang Chung leading—and stole across the Han Waters to the foot of the hills. As the sun got up out of the east, they saw before them mountains of grain and only a few men on watch. These fled at first sight of the men of Shu. The horsemen dismounted and began to collect brushwood and pile it round the grain heaps. Just as they