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perhaps never to come again. Human relations should not be set at nought, wherefore a secondary consort should be sought, so that all things may be correctly ordered within the palace.”

The prince having signified his acceptance of the principle, Fa Chêng continued, “There is the sister of Wu I, comely and good, and declared by the physiognomist as destined to high honour. She was betrothed to Liu Pao, son of Liu Yen, but he died in youth, and she has remained unwedded. Take her as a wife.'

"It is incompatible with propriety; Liu Mao and I are of the same ancestry.”

As to the degree of relationship, would it differ from the marriage of Wên of Chin and Huaiying ?”

Upon this precedent the prince gave his consent and wedded the lady, and she bore to him two sons, the elder of whom was named Jung and the younger Li.

Meanwhile, the whole land of Shu was prospering, the people were tranquil, and the state was becoming wealthy. The fields yielded bountiful harvests. Suddenly there came one who told of the attempt of Sun Ch'üan to ally himself with Kuan Yü by marriage, and the indignant rejection of the proposal.

“Chingchou is in danger," said K‘ung-ming. "Recall and replace Kuan Yü."

Then began to arrive a series of messengers from Chingchou, bearers of news of the moves in the game. At first they brought good tidings, then evil. Kuan Hsing came first to tell of the drowning of the seven armies. Then one reported the installation of beacon towers along the river bank, and other preparations which seemed as near perfect as any could be. And Liu Pei's anxiety ceased.

But evil tidings were on the way. Liu Pei was ill at ease and felt a creepiness of the skin that boded evil. He was restless by day and sleepless by night. One night he rose from his couch and was reading by the light of a candle when drowsiness overcame him and he fell asleep over the low table by his side. He dreamed. A cold gust of wind swept through the chamber, almost putting out the candle flame. When it brightened again he glanced up and saw a figure standing near the light.

"Who are you, who thus come by night to my chamber?” asked he.

The figure made no reply, and Yüan-tê got up to go over and see who it was. Then the figure took the shape of his brother. But it avoided him, retreating as he advanced.

“Brother, there is nothing wrong, I hope. But surely something of great importance brings you here thus in the dead of the night. And why do you avoid me thus; your brother, who loves you as himself ?”

Then the figure wept and said, “Brother, send your armies to avenge me.”

As Kuan Yü said that, a chilly blast went through the room, and the figure disappeared. Just then Yüan-tê awoke and knew that he had dreamed.

The drums were beating the third watch as he awoke. He felt greatly worried and disturbed. So he went into the front portion of the palace and sent for K'ung-ming Soon he came, and Yüan-tê told him of the vision.

"You have been thinking too deeply of Kuan Yü lately, my lord,” said K‘ung-ming. "There is no need to be distressed."

But Yüan-tê could not find comfort, and K‘ung-ming was long in calming his feelings and arguing away his fancies.

As Kʻung-ming left the palace he met Hsü Ching, who said, “I have a very secret piece of news to tell you, so I came on here.”

“What is your secret?” “There is a report about that Wu has got possession of Chingchou; Lü Mêng has taken it. And more than that, Kuan Yü is dead. I had to come to tell you.”

"I saw it in the sky. A large star fell over against Chingchou, and I knew some evil had befallen Kuan Yü. But I feared the effect upon our master and I forbore to say anything.

They did not know that Yüan-tê was standing just within the door. Suddenly he rushed out, seized K‘ung-ming by the sleeve and said, "Why did you deceive me? Why, when you had such terrible news?"

“Because it is only a rumour," replied they. “It is too improbable for belief. We pray you not to be distressed.”

By our oath we live or die together; how can I go on living if he is lost?”

The two men soothed their lord as best they could, but even as they spoke to him one of the private attendants said that Ma Liang and I Chi had arrived. Yüan-tê called them in and questioned them eagerly. They said Chingchou was indeed lost, and Kuan Yü begged for instant help.

The letters they brought had not been read before Liao Hua was ushered in. He prostrated himself and, weeping, told the story of the refusal of help on the part of Liu Fêng and Mêng Ta.

"Then is my brother lost!” cried Yüan-tê.

“If those two have really behaved so badly, the offence is even too great for death," said K'ung-ming. “But calm yourself, O Prince. I will see about an army and lead it to the rescue.'

“If Yün-ch‘ang is gone, I cannot live,” moaned Yüan-tê. “To-morrow I will set out with an army to rescue him.”

Yüan-tê sent off a messenger to Chang Fei and gave orders to muster horse and foot for instant departure.

Before day dawned other messengers arrived, giving step by step the sequence of the tragedy, the last relating Kuan Yü's capture, haughty refusal to bend, and his death.

When he heard of the final catastrophe, Yüan-tê uttered a great cry and fell swooning.

His mind went back to the pledge of days gone by;

Could he live still and let his brother die? What happened will be told in the next chapter.

CHAPTER LXXVIII.

HUA TO, TREATING Ts'Ao Ts'AO, HIMSELF DIES;

TSʻAO TSʻAO'S LAST WORDS AND DEATH. As has been said, the Prince of Hanchung swooned on hearing the terrible news of the death of the two Kuans, 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 K‘ung-ming. “Life and death are fixed by fate. Kuan Yü 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 honours is there for me now that my brother is gone?"

Just then he saw Kuan Yü's son, Hsing, coming in in deep distress. At sight of the youth, Liu Pei 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 three days he refused all nourishment, and he wept so bitterly that his garments were wetted, and there were spots of blood. K‘ung-ming and the others tried every means to soothe him, but he was inconsolable.

“I swear I will not live under the same heaven as Sun Ch‘üan,” cried he.

"It is said that the head of your brother has been sent to Ts'ao Ts'ao, but Ts'ao has buried the remains with the rites of a princely noble," said K‘ung-ming.

"Why did he do that?" asked Yüan-tê.

"Because he thought thereby to bring evil upon Ts'ao. But Ts'ao saw through the subterfuge and has buried your brother with great honour so that your anger may burn against Wu."

“I want to send my armies to punish Wu and appease my wrath," said Yüan-tê.

"No; you may not do that. Wu wishes to move you to smite Wei, and Wei wishes you to attack Wu, each harbouring 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 Kuan Yü, and wait till Wei and Wu are at war.

That will be your time.” The other officers supported K'ung-ming, and Yuan-tê 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 Ts'ao Ts'ao had given honourable burial to the remains of Kuan Yü, yet he was continually haunted by the dead man's spirit. Every night when he closed his eyes he saw Kuan the Noble as he knew him 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 Loyang; build new rooms for your own occupation," said they.

"I would, and it should be called 'Chienshih,' or 'The Firm Foundation,'” said he. “But where is the architect?"

They told him there was one Su Yüeh, a very cunning artificer. He was called and set to work on the plans for a nine chien pavilion for Ts'ao Ts'ao's own use. It had verandahs and upper rooms as well. His plans pleased Ts'ao greatly.

“You have planned just such a place as I wished, only where will you find the main beam for such a building?"

"I know a certain tree that will serve," said the architect. "About thirty li 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 feet high, and that will serve for the roof tree.

Ts'ao Ts'ao at once sent men to fell the tree. But after one whole day's labour the men came back to say they could make no impression on it neither with saw nor axe. Ts'ao, 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 unbranched till the wide-spreading and symmetrical top reached into the clouds. But he bade the men attack it again. Then a few aged me 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 down."

Ts'ao grew annoyed. “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, he 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

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