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Lu Hsün took his way to his camp in deep thought.
"This K‘ung-ming is well named 'Sleeping Dragon,'” said he, “I am not his equal."
Then, to the amazement of all, he gave orders to retire. The officers ventured to remonstrate, seeing that they had been so successful.
"General, you have utterly broken the enemy, and Liu Pei is shut up in one small city; it seems the time to smite, and yet you retire because you have come across a mysterious arrangement of stones.'
“I am not afraid of the stones, and it is not on their account that I retire. But I fear Ts'ao P'ei of Wei. He is no less resourceful than his father, and when he hears I am marching into Shu, he will certainly attack us. How could I return then?"
The homeward march began. On the second day the scouts brought word that three armies of Wei had debouched at three different points and were moving toward the borders of Wu.
"Just as I thought," said Lu Hsün. "But I am ready for them."
“And now the west is mine," the victor thought,
But danger from the north discretion taught. The story of the retreat will be told in the next chapter.
LIU, THE FIRST RULER, CONFIDES HIS SON TO K'UNG-MING'S
CARE; CHUKO LIANG PEACEFULLY SETTLES THE FIVE ATTACKS. It was in the sixth month of the second year of Chang-Wu that Lu Hsün destroyed the army of Shu at Iling and forced the king to seek refuge in Paitich‘êng, of which Chao Yün then undertook the defence. When Ma Liang returned only to find his lord defeated he was more distressed than he could say. He announced what K‘ung-ming had said concerning the plans, and the First Ruler sighed, saying, "If I had listened to the Prime Minister's advice the defeat would not have happened. Now how can I face a return to my capital?"
So he promulgated a command to change the guest-house into the "Palace of Eternal Peace.” He was deeply grieved when they told him of the death of so many of his captains. Next he heard that Huang Ch'üan, who had been given command of the army on the north bank, had given in to Wei. They suggested to him that the family of the renegade was in his power and he could hold them responsible. But he only said, "The army was quite cut off, and he had no alternativa but to surrender. Really, I betrayed him, not he me. Why should I take vengeance on his family ?”
So he continued the issue of the renegade's pay to his family.
When Huang Ch‘üan surrendered he was led into the presence of the King of Wei, who said, "You have surrendered to me because you desired to imitate the admirable conduct of Ch'ên and Han.'
But Huang replied, weeping, “The Emperor of Shu has been very kind to me, and he gave me the leadership of the army on the north bank. Lu Hsün cut me off so that I could not return to Shu, and I would not surrender to Wu, wherefore I have yielded to Your Majesty. Defeated as I am, I should be only too happy if my life were spared, but I have no claim to the credit of the virtuous ones of old.”
The reply satisfied the King of Wei, and he conferred an office on Huang, who, however, declined the offer. Then one of the courtiers said that a spy had reported that all the family of Huang had been put to death. But the leader replied that he could not believe it.
"I have the greatest confidence in the clemency of the King of Shu. He knows I would not have surrendered of my own free will, and he would not injure my family.”
And the King of Wei agreed with his opinion.
'Twas a pity that Huang Ch‘üan grudged to die;.
Ts'ao P'ei sought advice from Chia Hsü concerning his design of bringing the whole country under his own rule.
“I wish to bring the whole empire under my rule; which shall I first reduce, Shu or Wu?"
“Liu Pei is an able warrior, and Chuko Liang is a most capable administrator; Sun Ch'üan possesses discrimination, and his general, Lu Hsün, occupies all the strategical positions of importance. The natural obstacles, the intervening rivers and spreading lakes, would be hard to overcome. I do not think you have any leader to match either of these two men. Even with the prestige of Your Majesty's own presence, no one could guarantee the result. The better course is to hold on and await the outcome of the struggle between those other two.”
“I have already despatched three armies against Wu; can it be that they will fail?"
The President, Liu Yeh, held the same opinion as his colleague. Said he, “Lu Hsün has just won a great victory over the great host of Shu, and all his army is full of confidence. Further, there are the lakes and the rivers, which are natural difficulties hard to cope with. And again, Lu Hsün is resourceful and well prepared."
The king said, "Formerly, Sir, you urged me to attack Wu; why do you now give contrary advice?"
"Because times have changed. When Wu was suffering defeat after defeat the country was depressed and might be smitten. Now this great victory has changed all that and their morale has increased a hundredfold. I say now they may not be attacked."
"Well; but I have decided to attack. So say no more,” said the king.
He then led the Imperial Guards out to support his three armies. But the scouts soon brought news justifying the opinion of his advisers. A force had been sent to oppose each of his three armies. Liu Yeh pointed this out and again said that no success could be expected. Still the king was obstinate, and marched.
The Wu leader, Chu Huan, who had been sent against Ts'ao Jên at Juhsü, was a young man of twenty-seven. He was bold and resourceful, and Sun Ch'uan held him in great regard. Hearing that Ts'ao Jên was going to attack Tzůchi, Chu led the bulk of his men to befend it, leaving only half a legion in Juhsü. Then he heard that the van of the enemy, under Ch'ang Tiao, had made a dash for Juhsü, so he hastened back and found the small garrison a prey to fear. Drawing his sword, he made a speech, "Success depends upon the leader rather than on the number of men. The 'Art of War' says that the value of soldiers who come from afar is doubled; that of those who inhabit a place is halved, yet always those who are in possession overcome those who come from afar. Now the enemy is weary from a long march and I and you, my men, can hold this place together. We have a great river to defend us on the south, and we are backed by the mountains on the north. Success should be ours easily, and we are as hosts at home awaiting the arrival of our weary visitors. This will give us victory in every fight. Even if the great Ts'ao P‘ei come, we need feel no anxiety. How much less care we for Ts'ao Jên and his men ?"
Then he issued orders to furl all the banners and to silence all the drums as if the city was empty of defenders.
In time, Ch'ang Tiao and his veterans of the van came to the city. Not a man was visible, and he hastened forward with all speed. But as he neared the city, suddenly a bomb went off. Immediately up rose a forest of flags, and out dashed Chu Huan, with his sword drawn. And he made for Ch'ang Tiao. In the third encounter he cut down his enemy, and his men, rushing to the attack, thoroughly routed the invaders, slaying innumerable men. Beside scoring a complete victory, Chu Huan took much spoil of flags and weapons and horses. Ts'ao Jên himself, coming up later, was attacked by the garrison of Tzūchi and also routed. He fled home to his master with the news of defeat and destruction.
And before the king could decide what course to take in regard to this loss the news came of the defeat of his other two armies.
So all three had failed and were lost, and P'ei sighed and said sadly, "This has come from my wilfulness and neglect of advice."
The summer of that year was very unhealthy, and a pestilence swept away the soldiers in huge numbers. So they were marched home to Loyang. The two countries were at enmity though they were not fighting.
Meanwhile the First Ruler was failing. He remained in his Palace of Eternal Peace and presently was confined to his couch. Gradually he became worse, and in the fourth moon of the third year his condition became serious. He himself
felt the end was near, and he was depressed and wept for his two lost brothers till the sight of his eyes suffered. He was morose and ill-tempered: he could not bear any of his court near him, drove away his servants and lay upon his couch sad and solitary.
One evening as thus he lay, a sudden gust of wind came into the chamber, almost extinguishing the candles. As they burned bright again he saw two men standing in the shade behind them.
"I told you I was worried," said the king, “and bade you leave me; why have you come back? Go!”
But they remained and did not go. Wherefore the king rose and went over to look at them. As he drew near he saw one was Yün-ch'ang; the other I-tê.
"Are you still alive, then, brothers?" said he.
"We are not men; we are shades,” said Kuan Yü. "The Supreme One has conferred spirithood upon us in consideration of our faithfulness throughout life, and ere long, brother, we three shall be together again.”
The king clutched at the figures and burst into tears; then he awoke. The two figures were no longer there. He called in his people and asked the hour: they told him the third watch.
“I am not much longer for this world,” said he with a sigh.
Messengers were sent to the capital to summon the Prime Minister and certain other high officers of state to receive the king's last instructions. They came, Kʻung-ming bringing the two younger sons. The eldest, the heir-apparent, was left in charge of the capital.
K‘ung-ming saw at once that his master was very ill. He bowed to the ground at the foot of the "dragon" couch. The dying king bade him come near and sit beside him, and he patted his faithful minister on the back, saying, “The attainment of emperorship was your work. Little thought you that I should prove so stupid as not to follow your advice and so bring about the late disasters. But I am deeply sorry, and now I shall not live long. My heir is a degenerate, but I must leave him to do the best he can with the great inheritance.'
And the tears flowed in streams.
"I trust Your Majesty will fulfil the hopes of the people by a speedy recovery,” said Kʻung-ming, also in tears.
Turning his head, the king saw Ma Liang's brother at the bedside. He bade him retire. When he had left the chamber, the king said, “Do you think Ma Su is clever ?!!
“He is one of the ablest men in the world,” said K‘ung-ming.
"I do not think so. I think his words exceed his deeds. Do not make much use of him. Watch him carefully.”
Having said this, he bade them summon the high officers of state to the chamber. Taking paper and pen the First Ruler wrote his testament. He handed it to the Prime