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Then Chang Pao rode at Sun Huan. From behind his chief, Hsieh Ching dashed out to meet him. They fought nearly two score bouts, and then Hsieh Ching ran away with Chang Pao in pursuit.
When Li I saw his comrade overcome he whipped up his steed and came into the fray, whirling his silvered battle-axe. Chang Pao fought a score of bouts with him, but neither got the better.
Then a certain minor captain named T'an Hsiung, seeing that his two comrades could not overcome Chang Pao, shot a treacherous arrow from the ranks and wounded Chang Pao's steed. Feeling the pang of the wound, the horse bolted back to his own side, but fell before he reached it, throwing his rider sprawling on the ground. Seeing this, Li I turned and rode toward the prostrate leader to slay him with his battleaxe. But just as he was about to deliver his blow, lo! a red flash came between, and his head rolled along the earth.
The red flash was Kuan Hsing's great sword. Seeing the horse fall and Li I coming up, he had rushed in and dealt that fatal blow. And he had saved Chang Pao from death. Then they attacked and lay on so that Sun Huan suffered a great defeat. Then each side beat the retreat and drew off.
Next day Sun Huan came out to offer battle again, and the two cousins went forth together. Kuan Hsing, from horseback by the main standard, challenged his enemy. Sun Huan rode out fiercely, and they two fought near two score bouts. But he was not strong enough and drew off. The two youths followed and reached his camp. Wu Pan and two others fought well. Chang Pao helped them with all his force and was the first to force his way into the ranks of Wu.
He came across Hsieh Ching, whom he slew with a spear thrust. The men of Wu scattered and fled, and the victory was on the side of Shu.
But Kuan Hsing was missing. Chang Pao was desperate, saying he would not survive his cousin. So he girded on his huge spear and rode far and wide seeking him. Presently he met Kuan Hsing, bearing his sword in his left hand, while his right held a captive. “Who is this?" asked Chang Pao.
"In the mêlée I met an enemy," cried Kuan Hsing, "and I took him prisoner."
Then Chang Pao recognised the man who had let fly the treacherous arrow that had brought down his horse. The two returned to camp, where they slew their prisoner and poured a libation of his blood to the dead horse.
After this they drew up a report of the victory for the First Ruler. Sun Huan had lost his two famous captains as well as many other officers and many men. His army was too weakened to continue the campaign, so he halted and sent back to Wu for reinforcements.
Then Chang Nan and Fêng Hsi said to Wu Pan, "The power of Wu is broken; let us raid their encampment.'
But Wu Pan said, “Though so many have been lost, there are many left. Chu Jan's marine force is in a strong position on the river and is untouched. If you carry out your plan and the marines land in force and cut off our retreat we shall be in difficulties."
"That is easily met," said Chang Nan. “Let each of the two leaders Kuan and Chang take five companies and go into ambush in the valleys to guard against any such move.'
“I think it better to send some persons to pretend to be deserters. Let them tell Chu Jan of the plan to raid the camp, and Chu Jan will come to the rescue as soon as he sees fire. Then the ambushed men can attack him."
They thought this a fine plan, and they made the necessary arrangements.
Hearing of the ill success and losses of his colleague, Chu Jan was already thinking of going to his help, when a few deserters appeared and boarded his ship. He questioned them, and they said they were Fêng Hsi's men, who had deserted because of unfair treatment. They had a secret to tell.
"What secret can you betray?"
"To-night Fêng is going to make an attack upon General Sun's camp; he thinks it is a good chance. They are going to raise a fire as a signal."
Chu Jan saw no reason to doubt the men, and he sent off at once to tell Sun Huan. But the messenger never arrived, as Kuan Hsing intercepted and slew him. Then he deliberated upon going to help.
“You cannot trust what those soldiers said," said Ts'ui Yü, one of the captains. "Both army and navy will be lost if anything goes agley. No, General; rather keep careful watch and let me go.
Chu Jan saw this was the wiser plan, so he gave Ts'ui a legion and he left. But that night an attack was made on Sun Huan's camp, and the men were scattered and fled. Ts'ui Yü saw the flames as he marched and pressed on. Then just as he was passing some hills he came upon the ambush, and the two cousins appeared, one on either side. Taken by surprise, Ts'ui could only try to flee, but he met Chang Pao, who made him prisoner. When Chu Jan heard it he was panic-stricken and dropped down-river some distance.
The remnant of Sun Huan's men ran away. As they went he enquired what places lay on their road. They told him that if he went north he would come to Illing, where they could camp. So they went thither.
Just as they reached the wall, their pursuers came up and the city was besieged. Kuan Hsing and Chang Pao went back
to Tzŭkuei and saw the First Ruler, who rejoiced at their success. The prisoner was put to death, and the soldiers were rewarded. The effect of these victories spread far, so that the captains in Wu had no inclination to fight.
When the Prince of Wu received Sun Huan's call for help he was frightened and knew not what to do. So he called a great council, and he said, "Sun Huan is besieged in Illing and Chu Jan has been defeated on the river; what can be done?"
Then Chang Chao said, “Though several of your captains are dead, yet have you some left. Half a score is enough to relieve your anxiety. Send Han Tang, with Chou T'ai as his second, P'an Chang as van-leader, Ling T‘ung as rear-guard; Kan Ning in reserve. You want ten legions."
Sun Ch‘üan made the appointments as proposed. Kan Ning was very seriously ill just then, but he accepted the task.
Now the First Ruler had made a line of forty camps from Wuhsia and Chien-p'ing to Iling, at distances of seventy li apart. He was exceedingly pleased with his two nephews, who had distinguished themselves again and again, and thought how fortunate it was that they could help him at the time his old captains were failing.
When he heard of the coming of Sun Ch'uan's army under newly appointed leaders, he wished to select a captain to oppose the Wu army. Then those near him told him that Huang Chung and a half dozen other officers had run off to Wu.
"Huang is no traitor," said the ruler, smiling; "it is only that he heard what I happened to say about old and useless leaders. He will not confess he is old and wants to prove he is not."
Then he called his two nephews and said to them, "Huang Chung may fail in this enterprise of his, so I hope you two will not mind going to his assistance. As soon as there is some success to report get him to return and do not let him come to grief.”
So the two got their men together and went off to assist the aged warrior.
When young, success is easy, thine at will,
The aged servant fails, though willing still. The next chapter will relate the outcome of Huang Chung's expedition.
FIGHTING AT HSIAOTʻING; THE FIRST RULER CAPTURES
SUPREME COMMAND. As has been said, the veteran warrior Huang Chung was among the officers who followed the First Ruler to war against Wu. When he heard his master talk of old and incapable leaders he girded on his sword and with a few faithful followers made his way to the camps at Iling. He was welcomed by the captains there, but they knew not why he had come.
"For what reason do you come, O Veteran ?" asked they.
"I have followed our lord the Emperor ever since he left Changsha, and I have done diligent service. I am now over seventy, but my appetite is good, I can stretch the strongest bow, and I can ride any distance without fatigue. I am not weak or worn out. But our master has been talking of old and stupid leaders, and I am come to take part in the fight with Wu. If I slay one of their leaders he will see I may be old but not worn out.”
Just about that time the leading division of the Wu army drew near, and the scouts were close to the camp. Huang Chung hastily rose, went out of the tent and mounted to go into the battle.
“Aged General, be careful," said the captains.
But Huang Chung paid no attention and set off at full speed. However, Feng Hsi was sent to help him. As soon as he saw the array of the enemy, he pulled up and challenged the leader of the vanguard. The van-leader, P'an Chang, sent out one of his subordinates, Shih Chi, to take the challenge. Shih Chi despised his aged antagonist and rode lightly forth with his spear set, but in the third bout Huang Chung cut him down. This angered P'an, who flourished Black Dragon, the sword of the old warrior Kuan which had passed into his possession, and took up the battle. These two fought several bouts, and neither was victor, for Huang Chung was brimful of energy. His antagonist, seeing that he could not overcome the old man, galloped off. Huang Chung pursued and smote him and scored a full victory.
On his way back he fell in with the two youthful captains, Kuan and Chang, who told him they had come by sacred command to aid him if necessary.
"And now that you have scored so complete a victory we pray you to return to the main camp," said they.
But the veteran would not. Next day P'ang Chang came to challenge again, and Huang Chung at once accepted. Nor would he allow the young men to come with him, or accept assistance from any other.
He led out five companies. Before many bouts had been exchanged P'an Chang made a feint and got away. Huang Chung pursued, shouting to him not to flee.
"Flee not, for now will I avenge the death of Kuan Yü,” cried he.
Huang pursued some score li, but presently he fell into an ambush and found himself attacked on both flanks and in the rear, and the erstwhile flying enemy turned, so that Huang was surrounded and hemmed in. Suddenly a great storm came on. The wind blew violently, forcing Huang to retreat. And as he was passing some hills an enemy cohort came down the slopes, and one of the arrows wounded the veteran in the armpit. He nearly fell from his horse with the shock. The men of Wu, seeing Huang wounded, came on all together, but saon the two youthful captains, Kuan Hsing and Chang Pao, drove them off and scattered them. Thus they rescued Huang Chung.
He was taken back to the main camp. But he was old and his blood was thin, and the wound gaped wide, so that he was near to die. The First Ruler came to visit him and patted his back and said, “It is my fault, O Veteran, that you have been hurt in the battle."
"I am a soldier," said the old man. "I am glad that I could serve Your Majesty. But now I am seventy-five and I have lived long enough. Be careful of your own safety for the good of the state."
These were his last words. He became unconscious and died that night. A poem was written of him:
First among veterans stands Huang Chung,
Fighting to the end; in very truth a hero.
“My brave captain is gone," sighed he, "and the third of my brave leaders, and I have been unable to avenge their death; it is very grievous."