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officers in Ch'êngtu are ignorant of that refinement of war which consists in not allowing the enemy to guess your plans. How could I let them know anything? When I heard that the Tanguts might invade, I remembered that Ma Ch'ao's forefathers were friendly with them and they had a high opinion of Ma Ch'ao, thinking him a leader of supreme prestige. So I sent orders by despatch to Ma Ch‘ao to hold the Hsip'ing Pass, and to prepare ambushes in certain places and change them daily so as to keep the Ch'iang off. That settled them. I sent hastily to the south to order Wei Yen to move certain bodies of men about through the south-west districts, to be seen and then to disappear, to go in and come out and march to and fro, so that the Mans should be perplexed. The Mans are brave, but prone to doubts and hesitations, and they would not advance in the face of the unknown. Hence there is nothing to fear in that quarter. I also knew that Mêng Ta and our Li Yen were sworn friends. I had left him in charge of the Palace of Eternal Tranquillity. I then wrote a letter as if from Li to Mêng, so that I know Mêng will feign illness and not move his army. I sent Chao Yün to occupy all the strategical positions on the way by which Ts'ao Chên would march, and bade him defend only and not go out to battle. If our men refuse to come out, Ts'ao Chên will certainly have to retire. So all those four are settled. But for greater security I have sent your two cousins each with three legions to camp at points whence they can quickly help any of the others who may need it. And none of these arrangements are known here.
“Now there is only Wu left to deal with. Had the other four succeeded and Shu been in danger, Sun Ch'uan would have come to the attack. If the others fail I know he will not budge, for he will remember that Ts'ao Pei has just sent three armies to attack his country. And this being so, I want some man with a ready tongue and ingenious mind to go and talk plainly to Sun Ch'uan. So far I have not found such a man, and I am perplexed. I regret that I have given Your Majesty occasion to make this journey."
“My Consort also wanted to come,”_said the Emperor. “But now you have spoken, O Minister-Father, I am as one awakened from a dream; I shall grieve no more.”
They two drank a few cups of wine together, and the minister escorted his master to his chariot. A ring of courtiers were waiting, and they could not help remarking the happiness that shone in their master's face. The Emperor took his leave and returned to his palace, but the courtiers did not know what to think.
Now K‘ung-ming had noted a certain man among the crowd who smiled and looked quite happy. He looked at him intently and then recollected his name, which was Têng Chih, a man of
reputable ancestry, who came from Hsinyeh. He sent a man privately to detain Têng, and when all the others had gone, K'ung-ming led him into the library for a chat. Presently he came to the matter near his heart.
“The three states have become a fact," said he. “Now if our state wanted to absorb the other two and restore the condition of one rule, which country should it attack first?”
"Though Wei is the real rebel, yet Wei is strong and would be very difficult to overthrow. Any move against it would have to develop slowly. As our Emperor has but lately succeeded his father and the people are none too decided in his favour, I should propose a treaty of mutual defence with Wu. This would obliterate the enmity of His late Majesty and would have important results. However, you, Sir, may have another opinion. What is it?"
"That is what I have been thinking of this long time, but I had not the man for the task. Now I have found him."
“What do you want a man to do ?”
"I want him to go as envoy to Wu to negotiate such a treaty. As you understand the position so well you will surely do honour, to your prince's commission as envoy. There is no other who would succeed.”
"I fear I am not equal to such a task: I am not clever enough and too ignorant."
I will inform the Emperor to-morrow and beg him to appoint you. Of course you will accept.”
Têng Chih consented and then took his leave. As promised, Kʻung-ming memorialised, and the Emperor consented that the mission should be entrusted to Têng Chih. And he started.
The din of war will cease in Wu,
When Shu's desires are known. For the success or failure of this mission read the next chapter.
A PHILOSOPHICAL ENCOUNTER;
FIRE USED TO DESTROY Ts'AO PEI'S ARMY. After
fter his recent exploits Lu Hsün became the one hero of Wu. He was given the title "Pillar of the State," was ennobled as “Marquis of Chiangling,” and received the Governorship of Chingchou. He became commander of all the military forces.
Chang Chao and Ku Yung, thinking the moment opportune for enhancing their lord's dignity, sent in a memorial pro posing that his rule should be designated by a distinctive style, and he assumed Huang-Wu as his nien-hao.
Then arrived a messenger from Wei, and he was called in to an assembly and bidden to state his business. He said, “Recently Shu sent to Wei for help, and, the situation being misunderstood, a force was despatched. Now this action is greatly regretted. In Wei it is thought desirable to set four armies in motion against Shu to capture it, and if Wu will assist, and success crown these efforts, Wei and Wu will share the conquered territory."
Sun Ch'uan listened, but was not prepared to give a decided answer. He betook himself to his counsellors, who suggested that the sapient Lu Hsün should be consulted. So he was called, and his speech ran thus:
“Ts'ao P'ei is too firmly established in the capital to be upset now, and if this offer of his be refused we shall provoke his enmity. Neither Wei nor Wu, so far as I see, has any man fit to oppose Chuko Liang. We must perforce consent and put our army in order. But we can wait till we see how the four armies speed. If Shu seems likely to fall and Chuko Liang is out-manouvred, then our army can be despatched and we will take the capital. If the four armies fail we shall have to consider.”
So Sun Ch‘üan said to the envoy of Wei, “We are not ready at the moment, so we will choose a day to start later." And with this answer the envoy left.
Next they made careful enquiries about the success or failure of the armies against Shu. They heard that the western tribes had turned back when they saw Ma Ch‘ao in command at Hsip'ing Pass. The Mans had been perplexed at the tactics of Wei Yen and had retreated to their caves. The Shangyung leader, Mêng Ta, had set out, but half way had
fallen ill and gone back, and Ts'ao Chên's army had been brought to a halt by the defensive preparations of Chao Yün, who had garrisoned every pass and occupied every point of vantage. They had eventually retreated, after being camped in Hsiehku for some time.
Knowing all this, Sun Ch'uan said to his officials, "Lu Hsün's words were indeed prophetic; he made most perfect deductions. Any rash action on my part would place me on bad terms with Shu."
Just then the coming of an envoy from Shu was announced.
Said Chang Chao, “This mission is also part of Chuko Liang's scheme to divert danger from Shu. Têng Chih has come as envoy.”
“That being so, how should I reply?” asked Sun Ch‘üan.
"I will tell you. Set up a large cauldron and pour therein a quantity of oil. Light a fire beneath. When the oil is boiling, choose a goodly company of your tallest and brawniest fighting men, arm them and draw them up in lines between the palace gate and your throne room. Then summon the envoy, but before he can say a word upbraid him with being guilty of the same sort of treachery as Li Shê-ch‘i and worthy of the same fate of being boiled in oil. Then see what he will
Sun Ch'uan followed this advice, and prepared the cauldron of oil and had the strong men ready. Then he bade them introduce the envoy,
Têng Chih came, his ceremonial dress in perfect order, and advanced as far as the gate. Seeing the grim array of fighting men armed, some with gleaming swords, some with great axes, some with long spears and some with short knives, he understood at once what was meant, but he never blenched. He advanced quite steadily and bravely till he reached the door of the hall. Even when he saw the boiling cauldron of oil and the savage executioners glaring at him he only smiled.
He was led to the front of the curtain behind which sat the prince, and he made the ordinary salutation of raising his extended arms, but he did not bow in obeisance.
The prince bade his attendants roll up the curtain, and called out, “Why do you not make an obeisance ?"
Têng Chih boldly replied, “The envoy of the superior state does not make an obeisance to the ruler of a smaller country.'
“If you do not control that tongue of yours, but will let it wag, you will be like that fellow Li who went to talk to Ch‘i. You will soon find yourself in the cauldron."
Then Têng Chih laughed aloud. “People say there are many sages in Wu; no one would believe that they would be frightened of a simple scholar.”
This reply only increased Sun Ch‘üan's anger, and he said, “Who fears a fool like you?”
"If you fear not the envoy, why so anxious about what he may have to say ?”
"Because you come here as spokesman of Chuko Liang and you want me to sever with Wei and turn to your country; is not that your message ?”
"I am a simple scholar of Shu, and I am come to explain matters to the state of Wu. But here I find armed men and a boiling cauldron all prepared against a simple envoy. How can I form any other opinion than that you will not allow me to speak?”
As soon as Sun Ch'üan heard these words he bade the soldiers go, and called the envoy into the hall. There he invited him to a seat and said, “What is the real matter between Wei and Wu? I desire that you would inform me.'
Then Têng replied, "Do you, great Prince, desire to discuss peace with Wei or with Shu?”
"I really desire to discuss peace with the lord of Shu. But he is young and inexperienced and ignorant, and unable to carry a matter through."
“Prince, you are a valiant warrior, just as Chuko Liang is a great minister. Now Shu has the strength of its geographical difficulties just as Wu has the protection of its three rivers. If these two countries are at peace they are mutually protective. They may swallow up the rest of the empire, or they may stand secure alone. If you send tribute to Wei, and acknowledge yourself one of its ministers, you will be expected to attend at court, and your heir-apparent will become a servant in that court; and if you disobey, an army will be sent to attack you. Shu also will come down the river and invade your country. Then this country will be yours no longer. And if you listen not to these words of mine, and refuse my offer, I shall commit suicide before your face and so justify the post I have as an envoy."
As he spake these last words he gathered up his robes and marched down the hall as though he was just going to jump into the cauldron.
"Stop him!” cried Sun Ch'uan, and they did so. Then he requested Têng to go into an inner apartment, where he treated the envoy as a guest of the highest honour.
“O Master," said Sun Ch'uan; "your words exactly express my thoughts, and I desire to make a league of peace with your country. Are you willing to be the intermediary?”
“Just now it was you, O Prince, who wished to boil this poor servant; now it is also you who wish to use him. How can such a doubtful person be trusted ?".
“My mind is made up,” replied Sun Ch'üan. "Do not doubt me, Master.”
Têng Chih was detained, and a conclave of officers gathered.