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The news was very grievous, and the king refused food. His officers remonstrated, saying, "Now Your Majesty has the loss of two brothers to avenge, and you must not destroy yourself.”
So after a time he began to eat and drink, and he then offered the leadership of the van to Chang Pao, so that he might have the satisfaction of avenging his father and uncle.
“For my country or for my father, I would shrink from no sacrifice," said the young man.
Just as the force for the young man's leadership was being organised, another party of horsemen approached, also dressed in white. This was a small force under Kuan Hsin, son of Kuan the Noble. The youth also threw himself to the ground and wept.
At sight of him thoughts stirred in the king's breast, and he burst into tears. Neither reason nor persuasion could stop them.
“I think of the plain and simple days of long ago when we pledged ourselves one to the other. Now I am Emperor. How I should rejoice to share my good fortune with them! But they have met violent deaths, and the sight of these two youths wrings my heart to the very core.
“Young gentlemen, please retire,” said the officers to the two youthful captains, “and let our sacred one repose his 'dragon body.'”
They went. Said the attendants, “Your Majesty is no longer young; you are over sixty, remember, and it is not fitting that you give way to such extreme sorrow.".
"But my brothers,—dead," wailed the First Ruler. "How can I live without them?"
He broke into a fresh paroxysm and beat his head on the ground.
“What can be done?” asked the officers one to another. "He is in such trouble! How can we comfort him?”
Ma Lang said, “Sire, it is bad for the army to spend whole days in wailing and tears when leading against the enemy."
And then Ch'ên Chên said, “There is a certain hermit living among the Ch'ingch'êng Hills, near Ch'êngtu, who is said to be three hundred years old. He is called Li I and people say he is a seer. Let us tell His Majesty and let him send for this old man that he may know what the future may have in store. It will have more weight than anything we can say."
They went to the king and told him; he agreed to summon the seer and sent Ch'ên Chên with the command. Soon the messenger reached the town near the hills and asked the people where the prophet dwelt. They led him far into a secluded valley like a fairy village, very unlike any ordinary spot. Soon a lad came to receive the visitor.
"You are surely Ch'ên Hsiao-ch'i.”
Ch'ên Chên was startled that the lad knew him, and still more so at the familiar address, and said, "O superhuman boy, how do you know my name so well ?”
"Last evening my master told me that a messenger with an imperial command would come to-day and mentioned your name.
"Truly he is more than wise," said Ch'ên Chên; "and men have not believed him."
So the two proceeded to the old man's abode, and Ch'ên declared his errand. The old man said he was too aged to travel.
"But the Emperor anxiously desires to see you face to face if haply you would not mind making the effort.”
In the end, and after much persuasion, the old fellow consented and went. The First Ruler received him affably, surprised at the contrast between his hoary head and fresh boyish complexion. The venerable one had blue eyes, with square and sparkling pupils. His carriage was erect and he stood straight as a pine tree.
"This is no common man,” thought he, and he treated him with distinguished courtesy.
The seer said, “I am but an old man of the barren hill country, without learning or wisdom; you shame me, O Emperor, by calling me, and I know not why."
"I and my two brothers, both now deceased, swore a mutual oath some thirty years ago. Both have gone, both by violent death. I would lead a great army to avenge them and wish to know how the expedition will end. Hearing that you, Venerable Sir, are learned in the deeper mysteries, I sent for you and beg you to tell me.”
“But this is fate; it is not for an old man like me to know."
But the First Ruler pressed him to say. However, the aged one got paper and a brush and wrote, "Soldiers, horses, weapons” again and again on many sheets of paper. Having done this, he suddenly tore them into fragments. Further, he drew a picture of a tall man lying supine and another above him digging a grave. And over all he wrote, "white."
After this he bowed and departed, leaving the First Ruler annoyed.
“This is only a demented old man; what he says is not worthy of confidence," said the First Ruler. And he burned the paper.
Then he ordered an advance at full speed. Chang Fei's son, Pao, came in saying, "Wu Pan and his men have come; I pray that I may be appointed to lead the van.”
The First Ruler admired his noble intent and gave him a van-leader's seal. But just as he was attaching the seal to his girdle another youth boldly stepped forth and said, “Leave that seal to me!"
It was Kuan Hsing, son of Kuan Yü. “I have already received my commission,” said Chang Pao. "What abilities have you for such a task?" cried Hsing.
“That I have been training as a soldier since my boyhood. I can shoot and never miss."
"I should like to see your prowess," said the First Ruler, “that I may decide who is the better."
Chang Pao ordered some of his men to set up a flag at a hundred paces, and on the flag he drew a heart in red. Then he took his bow and shot three arrows, each of which went through the “heart”. Those present commended the performance. Then Kuan Hsing seized his bow, saying, "What is it to hit such a mark ?”
Just as he said this a flock of wild geese flew over his head. "I will hit the third of the flying geese," said he.
He shot; and the third fell.
But Chang Pao was enraged. Leaping on his steed he seized the long spear left him by his father, crying, "Dare you try a real combat?"
Kuan Hsing took up the challenge at once. He sprang into the saddle, took his father's great sword and galloped out.
"You can use the spear, think you that I cannot wield a sword?” cried he.
The two impetuous youths were on the point of a battle when the First Ruler bade them hold.
“Do not behave so badly !" cried he.
Both dropped out of the saddle, threw aside their weapons, ran to his feet and begged pardon.
“Young men, from the time I left my native place and swore brotherhood with your fathers they were as my own flesh and blood. You two are also brothers and you should help each other in vengeance rather than quarrel and dispute. You have lost the sense of rectitude while your fathers' deaths are still recent and what will happen in future?”
Both fell at his feet and implored forgiveness.
The ruler then bade Kuan Hsing bow to Chang Pao as to an elder brother, and there, in front of all, they broke an arrow as a pledge that each would always succour the other.
Then the First Ruler issued a mandate appointing Wu Pan leader of the van, and the two young men were enrolled as his own escort.
The advance began on land and on water, and they made a brave show as they moved against the land of Wu.
In the meantime the two assassins, with the grim evidence of their crime, duly reached Wu and told their story to the marquis who received them.
Then he said to his assembled officers, "Liu Pei has declared himself Emperor and is leading against us in person a great host. What shall we do, for the danger is imminent?”
They all turned pale and looked one at another. Then Chuko Chin spoke out.
“I have been in your service these many years and have never justified the favour you have shown me. I will risk my life and go to this Liu Pei of Shu that I may talk to him plainly and prove to him the advantages of friendship and alliance against Ts'ao Pei."
This offer pleased Sun Ch‘üan, who then appointed Chuko Chin as his messenger to try to induce the First Ruler to keep the peace.
Messengers pass when states are at wrangle;
May this one succeed and unravel this tangle! What fortune attended this messenger will be related in the next chapter.
SUN CH'UAN SUBMITS TO WEI AND IS REWARDED; THE FIRST RULER ATTACKS WU AND REWARDS HIS ARMY. In the eighth month of the year Chang-wu (221 A.D.) the First Ruler marched at the head of his army and camped at Paitich'êng (City of the White Emperor), through the K‘uei Pass. His advanced guard had reached Ch'uankʻou when his attendants told him that Chuko Chin had come as a messenger from Wu. He told them not to admit him. But Huang Ch‘üan said, “His brother being your Prime Minister he is certainly come on some important mission. Your Majesty ought to see him and hear what he says. If his proposals are admissible, then agree; if not, he can be made use of to take knowledge of your intentions to Sun Ch'uan and let him know that you intend to punish his crime.”
Then the First Ruler gave way, and the messenger was brought in. He bowed down to the earth.
“Sir, you have come a long journey; what is its object?” said the First Ruler.
"My brother has long served Your Majesty ; I have come at the risk of my life to discuss Chingchou affairs. When Kuan the Noble was at Chingchou my master repeatedly sought to ally the two families by marriage, but was refused. When he attacked Hsiangyang, Ts'ao Ts'ao wrote again and again urging my master to attack Chingchou. But he was unwilling, and it was the enmity between your brother and Lü Mêng that led to the attack and the unfortunate success. My master is now very sorry for it, but it was Lü Mêng's doing. However, Lü Mêng is now dead and his enmity has died with him Moreover, the Lady Sun is always thinking over returning to you. My master now proposes to send back the lady, to hand over to you those officers who surrendered and to restore Chingchou. If the two houses swear perpetual amity then they may join forces against Tsʻao P'ei and punish his usurpation."
To this harangue the First Ruler only replied, “You of East Wu killed my brother; yet you dare to come with your artful talk !"
Chuko Chin said, “I only wish to discuss the relative importance of the issues. Your Majesty is an Imperial Uncle, and Ts'ao P'ei has seized the throne of your House. Yet you