תמונות בעמוד

Sun Ch'üan went into the camp, and Hsü Shêng came to receive him. When the prince was seated in his tent, he said, “O Prince, you placed me in command of the force to repulse Wei. Now this captain of mine, Sun Shao, is disobedient and should suffer death. I would ask why he should be pardoned."

"He is naturally hot and impetuous. He has been guilty of disobedience, but I hope you will overlook his fault."

“The law is none of my making, nor is it yours, O Prince; it is a state penalty, and if relationship is enough to evade it, where is discipline?"

"He has offended, and you have the right to judge and punish. But although his real name was Yü, yet my brother loved him and gave him our family name. He has rendered me good service, and if he should be put to death I should fail in my fraternal duty.'

"Since you have intervened, O Prince, I remit the death penalty.

Sun Ch‘üan bade his nephew thank his chief, but the youth would not make an obeisance. On the contrary, he loudly maintained the correctness of his view. “I can only lead my men against Ts'ao and so die,” cried he. “I cannot consent to the other plan."

Hsü Shêng's countenance changed. The recalcitrant young man was ordered to leave the tent.

“He will not be any loss,” said Sun Ch‘üan, “and I will not employ him again."

Then the prince left and returned to his own place. That night they reported to Hsü Shêng that Sun Shao had gone secretly over the river with his own force, and the commander, who did not wish him to come to harm, as evidently that would displease the prince, sent a force to support him. Ting Fêng was chosen to command this reinforcement, and he was told what to do.

The Ruler of Wei, in his dragon ships, reached Kuangling, and the van got to the river bank. He came to survey the position.

“How many soldiers are on the other bank ?” asked Ts'ao.

Ts'ao Chên replied, "I have not seen a single one; nor are there any flags or encampments.”

"That is a ruse; I will go and find out."

So he set out to cross the river in one of the dragon ships. He anchored under the bank. On his boat were displayed the emblems proper to an imperial equipage, and they shone out bravely. Seated in the ship, the prince looked up and down the south bank, but not a man was visible.

“Do you think we should cross?” asked the prince of his strategists.

"If the rules of war mean anything, they ought to be prepared. We think Your Majesty should exercise caution.

Wait a few days and watch. Then perhaps the van might be sent to make a reconnaissance."

"So I think,” said the prince. “But as it is now late, we will pass the night on the river.'

It was a dark night, and the ship was brilliantly lighted up; it seemed like day on board. But all along the south bank there appeared no glimmer of light.

“What do you think it means ?" said Ts'ao.

The courtiers replied, “They heard that Your Majesty's heavenly army was coming, and ran away like so many rats.”

The prince laughed to himself. When daylight came there came with it a thick fog, so that nothing on the bank could be seen. After a time a breeze blew off the fog, and then, to their immense surprise, they found that the whole length of the south bank as far as they could see was one battlement, with towers at intervals, while spears and swords glittered in the sun and flags and pennons fluttered in the breeze. Also the scouts began to report a similar wall at Nanhsü. A long stone wall had grown up in a night and stood there with carts and masts of ships lying along it.

This may be explained. The fact was that the wall was an imitation, and the warriors that manned it were bundles of reeds dressed in soldiers' uniforms. But the sight chilled the ardour of the invaders.

“My hosts of men are no use against such warriors; we can do nothing," said Ts'ao.

He thought over this sadly enough. But now the wind had increased in force, and white combers began to heave up in the river, and seas broke over his boat, drenching the dragon robes. The ship seemed as if she would roll right over. So Ts‘ao Chên sent out small boats to rescue his master and his men. But they were too affrighted to move. Wherefore Wen P'ing, who was in charge, leaped on board and helped the prince down into one of the smaller craft, which then flew away before the wind and got safely into a creek.

Soon came a hasty messenger from the west to say that Chao Yün had marched out through Hsip'ing Pass and threatened Ch‘angan. This frightened Ts'ao P'ei so badly that he decided to retreat, and gave orders to retire. The whole army were in a mood to run away, and moved off toward the north, pursued by the men of Wu. To hasten the march, the Prince of Wei bade his men abandon all the imperial paraphernalia and impediments. The dragon ships withdrew into the Huai River one by one.

As they moved in disorder, suddenly arose the sounds of an enemy force, shouts and the rolling of drums and the blaring of trumpets, and a cohort marched down obliquely on to their line. And at the head was Sun Shao.

The men of Wei could make no effective stand, and many were slain, while large numbers were driven into the river and drowned. By dint of great efforts, the prince was saved and got away up the river. But when they had sailed about thirty li, they saw ahead a tract of blazing reeds. The enemy had poured fish oil over the dry reeds and set them alight. The wind was spreading the flames down river toward the men of Wei, and the heat was intense. The dragon ships had to stop.

Tsʻao P‘ei was put into a smaller craft and taken on shore; his larger ships were presently set on fire and destroyed. They mounted the prince on a horse and moved along the bank, but soon they fell in with another body of men. This time it was the supports under Ting Fêng.

Chang Liao rode ahead to engage the leader, but was soon wounded by an arrow in the loins. However, he was helped away by Hsü Huang, and the prince was got safely out of the turmoil. The loss of men was heavy, and a huge booty of horses, carts, ships and weapons fell to the victors.

So the Wei armies went away north thoroughly beaten, while Hsü Shêng had scored a great success. He was richly rewarded.

Chang Liao got to Hsüch‘ang, but only to die from the effects of his wound. He was honourably buried by the prince, but the story of his funeral will not be told.

It has been said that Chao Yün was threatening Ch'angan, but soon after he went through the Pass the Prime Minister of Shu sent a despatch to recall him because the aged General Yung K'ai of Ichou had joined himself with the Mans and invaded the four districts. So Chao Yün returned. Meanwhile Ma Ch'ao was put in charge of the Yangp'ing Pass. The Prime Minister was about to go to invade the south. He was then preparing at Ch'êngtu for this expedition.

First Wu met Wei and drove them north,

Then Shu against the Mans went forth. The story of this campaign will follow in the next chapters.



THE KING OF THE Mans. With K‘ung-ming's administration of affairs in the Two Ch'uan began a period of happiness and prosperity for the people. Tranquillity prevailed, and the state of society was well nigh perfect, doors unbolted at night, property left by the roadside remaining untouched till the owner returned for it. Moreover, the harvests were rich year after year, and old and young, with fair, round bellies, well lined, simply sang with joy. The people hastened to fulfil their state duties and vied with each other in the performance of any corvée. As a natural consequence all military preparations were perfect, the granaries bursting with grain and the treasury full to overflowing.

Such was the state of things when, in the third year, the news came to the capital that a host of Mans had invaded the south and were laying waste the country, and that the Prefect of Chienning, a man of an honourable and even noble family, had joined them. Already two districts had yielded to the invaders, but a third was staunchly holding out. The three rebels, who had joined the invaders, were now acting as guides and assisting in the attack on Jungch'ang, which had remained faithful. Wang K'ang, the Prefect of Jungch'ang, ably seconded by Lü K'ai, one of his subordinates, was making a desperate effort to defend the city with only its ordinary inhabitants as fighting men. The position was very desperate.

When this news came, K‘ung-ming went into the palace and thus memorialised to his lord, "The contumacy of the Mans is a real danger to our state. I feel it incumbent upon me to lead an expedition to reduce the barbarians to obedience.”

But the king was afraid, and said, “There are enemies on two sides; if you abandon me and either of them comes, what shall I do?

"Your Majesty need have no fear. We have just concluded a league of peace with Wu, and I think they will be true to their pledge. Li Yen is quite a match for Lu Hsün. Ts'ao P'ei's recent defeat has taken the keenness out of his men, so that he will not feel inclined to make any expeditions further. Ma Ch'ao is in command at the Pass between Wei and Hanchung. I shall also leave Kuan and Chang with forces to reinforce any point where danger may appear. I can assure

Your Majesty that no untoward event will happen. I am going to sweep clean the Man country, so that we may have a free hand to attack Wei when the day comes. Thus I shall be enabled to requite the honour paid me by your father the First Ruler, who came thrice to seek me and who doubled my obligation when he confided to me the care of his son.”

“Indeed I am young and ignorant,” replied the king, "and can only exist with you to decide for me.

At that moment an officer, Wang Lien by name, a man of Nanyang, stepped forward, crying, “No, no, Sir; you may not go. The south is a desert country reeking with malaria. It is wrong that an officer of state in such an exalted and responsible position should go away on a distant expedition. These rebels and barbarians are but an irritation, not a disease, and an ordinary leader would be enough to send against them. He would not fail."

K‘ung-ming replied, “This country of the Mans is distant and mostly uncivilised. To reduce them to reasonableness will be difficult, and I feel I ought to go. When to be harsh and when to show leniency are matters to be decided on at the moment, and instructions cannot be easily given to another."

K‘ung-ming steadily opposed all Wang's efforts to bring about a change of intention, and he soon took leave of his master and made ready to start.

Chiang Yüan was Councillor of the expedition. Fei Wei was Recorder; Tung Chüeh and Fan Chien were Historians; Chao Yün and Wei Yen were Generals; Wang P‘ing and Chang I were Deputy Generals and leaders of the fighting men. Beside these were officers originally belonging to Shu, and the whole force was fifty legions.

Soon after the force marched south, the third son of Kuan the Noble appeared and wished to see K‘ung-ming. After the fall of Chiangchou this youth had fled to Paochia, where he had fallen ill. His illness had been long and severe, and he had only just recovered. He was then travelling toward Ch'êngtu. He knew that vengeance had been taken on the murderers of his father. And he asked to take part in this expedition.

Kʻung-ming was greatly surprised to see him. However, he sent news of the young man's arrival to the court and gave Kuan So a military appointment.

The army, foot and horse, marched in the best of order, eating when hungry, drinking when thirsty, camping at night and moving by day. No plundering was permitted, and the people suffered not at all.

When Yung K'ai and his fellow rebels heard that the Prime Minister of Shu was marching against them, they called their men together and formed three divisions, Kao Ting in the centre, Yung and Chu on the wings. They mustered about

« הקודםהמשך »