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CHAPTER LXXXIV.

LU HSÜN BURNS HIS ENEMY'S CAMPS;

K'UNG-MING PLANS THE EIGHT ARRAYS. The last chapter closed with the report that the First Ruler had shifted camp in search of coolth, and the news was very welcome to Lu Hsün. He went forthwith to assure himself of the truth of the report and observe the new position. A level plain lay at his feet, whereon he saw something short of a legion, the greater part of whom appeared invalids. On the banner of their leader he read the name Wu Pan.

"We despise these men,” said Chou T'ai. “Let me and General Han go out and smite them. I will give the formal guarantee of victory."

The Commander-in-chief made no reply, but remained gazing out before him. Presently he said, “It seems to me that an air of slaughter is rising over there from that valley; surely there is an ambush there. These poor troops in the foreground are nothing but a bait. No, Gentlemen; do not leave your positions.

Those who heard this took it only as another proof of the imbecility of their pedant commander. Next day Wu Pan's men approached closer and challenged to battle, swaggering about and brandishing their weapons and shouting volleys of abuse without end. They manifested contempt by throwing off their armour and clothing and moving to and fro with the utmost carelessness, bare bodies and naked forms, blatantly unready to fight. Some even sat or lay asleep.

Hsü Shêng and his colleague came to the commander's tent to complain of these insults and ask permission to go out and punish the enemy, but Lu Hsün only smiled.

"You see everything from the point of view of brute courage. You seem not to know the principles of war laid down by Sun and Wu. This display is only meant to entice us into fight. You will see the pretence yourselves in about three days."

“In three days the change of camp will be complete, and the enemy will be too strongly posted for our success,” said they.

I am just letting them move their camp."

These two left the tent also sniggering. But on the third day the officers were assembled at a certain look-out point whence they saw that Wu's men were leaving,"

“There is still a deadly look over the valley,” said Lu Hsün. "Liu Pei will soon appear.”

He was right. Very soon they saw a whole army all well accoutred pass across the field escorting the First Ruler. And the sight took away all their courage.

“That is why I would not listen to those of you who wanted to fight,” said Lu. "Now that the ambush has been withdrawn we can settle them in about ten days."

“The proper time to attack was when they began to transfer their camp. Now they are fully established with encampments stretching hundreds of li. Having spent seven or eight months in strengthening where they might be attacked, will it not be difficult to destroy them?” I see you do not understand how to carry on war.

This man Pei is a bad man, but capable and crafty. When he first started on this expedition his methods were of the best, and he kept to them for a long time, so we gave him no chance against us. When his men are worn out and his thoughts cease to be clear that will be our day to attack.”

At last they agreed with their chief.

The general discoursed on war,

According to the book;
Right craftily the bait for whales

Was put upon the hook.
When kingdoms three were carven out,

Though famous men were many,
Commander Lu of Chiangnan

At least stands high as any.
The truth is, the plan whereby the Shu army was to be
crushed was all ready, and at this stage he wrote to the Prince
Wu full details, even naming a day for the victory.

"We have found another remarkably able man," said the prince, "and I have no further anxiety. They all said he was a useless pedant, and only I knew better. Reading this letter shows him nothing at all of a pedant."

Then the Prince of Wu mustered the remainder of his soldiers to hold in reserve.

Meanwhile the First Ruler had sent orders to hasten the marines down the river and take up stations along the banks deep in the territory of Wu. However, Huang Ch'üan spoke against this, saying, “It is easy enough for the ships to go down, but how about returning? Let me make the first advance, and Your Majesty may follow. That will make it more than probable that nothing will go wrong."

“Those Wu dogs are afraid," objected the ruler, "and I want to make a dash at them. Where is the difficulty ?”

It was only after many others had spoken against the proposal that the First Ruler gave up the notion of going into the forefront of the attack. Then dividing the army into two portions, he placed Huang Ch'üan in command on the north bank, to keep a watch on Wei, while he commanded on the southern bank. They made encampments and stations along the bank.

The spies of Wei duly reported these doings to Ts'ao P'ei, who laughed aloud when he heard the details of the long line of camps and the encampments among the trees and all this.

“Liu Pei is going to be defeated," said he. "How do you know?" asked his courtiers.

“Because Liu Yüan-tê does not know how to wage war. How can he beat off an enemy along a front of seven hundred li? The maxims of war forbid to camp in open plains, among marshes, amid preciptous heights and obstacles. He will be defeated at the hand of Lu Hsün, and we shall hear of it in about ten days."

His officers felt more than doubtful and entreated their master to prepare an army. But the lord of Wei replied, “If successful, Lu Hsün will lead all his force westward into Hsich'uan, and his country will be defenceless. I shall pretend to send an army to help. I shall send them in three divisions, and I shall overcome Wu easily."

They all bowed acquiescence and approval. Then orders went out appointing Ts'ao Jên to lead an army out by Juhsü, Ts'ao Hsiu to take a second out by Tungk'ou and Ts'ao Chên to command a third to go through Nanchün, and the three armies were to combine on a given date for a sudden attack on Wu.

The story of that attack will not be told here; it is necessary to say how Ma Liang fared. Reaching Chêngtu, he lost no time in seeing the Prime Minister and presenting the plan of the armies as they were in the field.

“Now the forces are on both sides of the river extending along a front of seven hundred li, with forty stations, each beside a mountain stream or in a pleasantly shaded forest. At our lord's command I prepared this map, and he sent me to ask your opinion.”

“Who advised such an arrangement? He ought to be put to death, whoever it was,” cried K‘ung-ming sorrowfully, tapping the table at his side.

"It is entirely our lord's own work; no other had any hand in it," said Ma.

"The life and energy of the Hans are done indeed," said K‘ung-ming. "He has committed those very faults which the rules of the 'Art of War' lay down as to be particularly avoided. The camps are made where free movement is impossible, and nothing can save him if the enemy use fire. Beside, what defence is possible along a seven hundred li front? Disaster is at hand, and Lu Hsün sees it all, which explains his obstinate refusal to come out into the open. Go back as quickly as you can and tell our lord that this will not do, that it must be changed at once."

“But if I am too late! If Wu has already attacked and won. what then."

“The enemy will not dare to follow up their victory by a march on Ch'êngtu from fear of Wei. So this city is secure. Our lord will be compelled to shelter in Paitich'êng. I have already placed a legion of men in hiding at Fishbelly Creek (Yüfupu).

"Have you? I have been up and down that creek three or four times without seeing a man. I do not see the reason of telling lies to me," said Ma.

"You will see; do not ask so many questions."

With the precious instructions which he had persuaded the great strategist to draw up, Ma Liang hastened back to the imperial camp, while K‘ung-ming went to the capital to prepare a relief expedition.

The men of Shu had become slack and idle and no longer maintained adequate defence, wherefore Lu Hsün perceived that his moment had arrived, and called his captains to his tent to receive orders.

“There has been no fighting since I received our lord's command. I have spent the time in acquiring a knowledge of the enemy. As a preliminary operation I want to capture a camp on the south bank. Who volunteers ?"

Out stepped Han and Chou and Ling, all three at once, each crying that he wanted to be sent. But they were sent back; ; the Commander-in-chief did not want any of them. Then he called up the junior captain, Shunyü Tan, and said, “You will take the fourth camp on the south side; you may have half a legion. The commander of the post is Fu T’ung. I shall support you."

When Shunyü had gone, he summoned Hsü Shêng and Ting Fêng and said, “Each of you will take three companies and bivouac five li from the camp, so that if your colleague is repulsed and pursued you can rescue him.”

Shunyü Tan marched between the lights and reached the camp he was to capture just after the third watch. His drums rolled, and he attacked at once. The defenders came out led by Fu Tung, who, spear ready to thrust, rode straight toward the leader of the attack and forced him back. Suddenly there arose the roll of other drums, and a cohort under Chao Yung barred the way. Shunyü turned off along another road, escaping with loss of many men.

But he was not yet safe. Some distance farther he ran against the barbarian leader Shamoko. However, Shunyü avoided him also and went on his way, pursued now by three parties. Soon he reached the spot five li from the camp, and here the two leaders of Shu, who had been placed ready to afford succour, came out and stopped the pursuit. When the enemy had retired, Shunyü. Tan was escorted back to camp.

He was wounded, and with the arrow still undrawn he appeared before Lu Hsün and apologised for his failure.

"It was no fault of yours," said the Commander-in-chief. “I wanted to test the force of our enemy. My plan of attack is quite ready."

“The enemy is very strong and will not be easily overcome, said Hsü and Ting. "We have now suffered great loss to no purpose."

“This plan of mine would not hoodwink Chuko Liang, but happily he is not here. His absence will allow me to score a great success.”

Then he summoned his captains to receive orders. He sent Chu Jan to lead the marine force. He was to advance next day, after noon, when the south-east wind would serve. His ships were laden with reeds and straw, which were to be used as ordered. Han Tang was directed to attack the north bank, Chou T'ai the south. Each soldier, in addition to his weapons, was to carry a bundle of straw or reeds, with sulphur and nitre hidden therein, and each had a piece of tinder. They were to advance, and, when they reached the Shu camps, they were to start a conflagration. But they were to burn only alternate camps, twenty in all, leaving the others untouched. They were to advance and only stop if they captured Liu Pei. And so they set out.

The First Ruler was in his own camp, pondering over a plan to destroy the armies of Wu, when suddenly the staff that bore the great standard in front of his own tent fell over and lay on the ground. There was no wind to account for this, so he turned to Ch'êng Ch'i and asked what it might portend.

"It means only one thing, that the men of Wu will raid the camp to-night," said Ch'êng.

“They will not dare after the slaughter of yesterday." “But suppose that was only a reconnaisance; what then?

Just then a report came in that some men of Wu could be seen, very far off, going along the hills eastward.

"They are soldiers meant to put us off the scent," said the First Ruler. “Tell the captains not to move, but let Kuan Hsing and Chang Pao, with a small mounted force, go out to reconnoitre."

It was dusk when these two returned, and they then reported fire among the camps on the north bank. The king hastily. bade Kuan Hsing go to the north camps and Chang Pao to the south to find out what was really happening. And they started.

About the middle of the first watch the wind got up and blew strong from the east. Then fire arose from the camp on the left of the ruler's own. He was starting to extinguish this flame when another fire began in the camp on his right. With the aid of the strong breeze both fires became fierce, and

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