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All these things done, the bearer of gifts was called. He came and bowed low at the door of the tent, saying, “The brother of my house, Menghuo, having received great kindness at your hands in sparing his life, feels bound to offer a paltry gift. He has presumed to collect a few pearls and some gold and other trifling jewels by way of something to give your soldiers. And hereafter he will send tribute to your Emperor."
"Where is your brother at this moment?" asked K'ung-ming.
“Having been the recipient of your great bounty, he has gone to the Silver Pit Hills (Yink'êng Shan) to collect some treasures. He will soon return."
"How many men have you brought?"
“Only about a hundred; I should not dare to bring any large number. They are just porters."
They were brought in for K'ung-ming's inspection. They had blue eyes and swarthy faces, auburn hair and brown beards. They wore earrings. Their hair was fuzzy, and they went barefoot. They were tall and powerful.
K‘ung-ming made them sit down, and bade his captains press them to drink and treat them well and compliment them.
The King Menghuo was anxious about the reception that would be given to his brother and the treatment of his gifts, so he sat in his tent expecting the messenger at any moment. Then two men came, and he questioned them eagerly. They said the presents had been accepted, and even the porters had been invited to drink in the tent and had been regaled with beef and flesh in plenty.
"O King, your brother sent us with the news, and we were to tell you secretly that all would be ready at the second watch."
This was pleasing news, and he prepared his three legions ready to march out to the camp. They were divided into three divisions.
The king called up his chieftains and notables, and said, “Let each army carry the means of making fire, and as soon as they arrive let a light be shown as a signal. I am coming to try to capture Chuko Liang."
With these orders they marched, and they crossed the Lu River in the dusk. The king, with a hundred captains as escort, pressed on at once toward the main camp of Shu. They met with no opposition. They even found the main gate open, and Mênghuo and his party rode straight in. But the camp was a desert; not a man was visible.
Mênghuo rode right up to the large tent and pushed open the flap. It was brilliantly lighted with lamps, and lying about under their light were his brother and all his men, dead drunk. The wine they had been pressed to drink while the plays were going on had been heavily drugged, and the men had fallen down almost as soon as they had swallowed it. One or two who had recovered a little could not speak: they only pointed to their mouths.
Menghuo then saw that he had been the simple victim of another ruse. However, he picked up his brother and the others and started off to return to his main army.
But as he turned, torches began to flash out and drums to beat. The Mans were frightened and took to their heels. But they were pursued, and the pursuing cohort was led by Wang P‘ing. The king bore away to the left to escape, but again a cohort appeared in front of him; Wei Yen was there. He tried the other side; and was stopped by Chao Yün. He was in a trap; and attacked on three sides and no fourth to escape by, what could he do? He abandoned everything, making one wild rush for the Lu River.
As he reached the river bank he saw a bark on the river with Man soldiers on board. Here was safety. He hailed the boat and jumped on board as soon as it touched the bank. No sooner had he embarked than suddenly he was seized and bound. The boat, which Ma Tai had provided and prepared, was part of the general plan, and the Man soldiers therein were his men disguised.
Many of Mênghuo's men accepted the chance of surrender held out by K'ung-ming, who soothed them and treated them well and did not injure one of them.
The remains of the conflagration were stamped out, and in a short time Ma Tai brought along his prisoner. At the same time Chao Yün led in his brother, Mêngyu. Each of the other captains had some prisoners too, chiefs or notables.
K‘ung-ming looked at the king and laughed. “That was but a shallow ruse of yours to send your brother with presents to pretend to submit to me; did you really think I should not see through it? But here you are once more in my power; now do you yield ?”
“I am a prisoner owing to the gluttony of my brother and the power of your poisonous drugs. If I had only played his part myself and left him to support me with soldiers, I should have succeeded. I am the victim of fate and not of my own incapacity. No; I will not yield.”
"Remember this is the third time; why not?" said K‘ungming.
Mênghuo dropped his head and made no answer. “Ah well; I will let you go once more," said K'ung-ming.
"O Minister, if you will let me and my brother go we will get together our family and clients and fight you once more. If I am caught that time then I will confess myself beaten to the ground, and that shall be the end."
"Certainly I shall scarcely pardon you next time," said K'ung-ming. “You had better be careful. Diligently tackle
your Book of Strategy: look over your list of confidants. If you can apply a good plan at the proper moment you will not have any need for late regrets."
The king and his brother and all the chiefs were released from their bonds. They thanked K‘ung-ming for his clemency and went away.
By the time the released prisoners had got back to the river the army of Shu had crossed to the farther side and were all in order with their flags fluttering in the breeze. As Menghuo passed the camp, he saw Ma Tai sitting in state. Ma Tai pointed his sword at the king as he passed, and said, “Next time you are caught you will not escape."
When Mênghuo came to his own camp he found Chao Yün in possession and all in order. Chao Yün was seated beneath the large banner, with his sword drawn, and as the king passed, he also said, “Do not presume on the kindness of the Prime Minister because you have been generously treated.”
Mênghuo grunted and passed on. Just as he was going over the frontier hills he saw Wei Yen and a company drawn up on the slopes. Wei Yen shouted, “See to it; we have got into the inmost recesses of your country and have taken all your defensive positions. Yet you are fool enough to hold out. Next time you are caught you will be quite destroyed. There will be no more pardons.
Mênghuo and his companies ran away with their arms over their heads. Each one returned to his own ravine.
In the fifth moon, when the sun is fierce,
After the crossing of the river the soldiers were feasted. Then he addressed his officers.
"I let Mênghuo see our camp the second time he was our prisoner because I wanted to tempt him into raiding it. He is something of a soldier, and I dangled our supplies and resources before his eyes, knowing he would try to burn them and that he would send his brother to pretend to submit that thereby he could get into our camp and have a chance to betray us. I have captured and released him three times, trying to win him over. I do not wish to do him any harm. I now explain my policy that you may understand I am not wasting your efforts and you are not still to work your best for the government."
They all bowed, and one said, "O Minister, you are indeed perfect in every one of the three gifts: wisdom, benevolence and valor. Not even Chiang Tzŭ-ya or Chang Liang can equal you!"
Said K‘ung-ming, “How can I expect to equal our men of old? But my trust is in your strength, and together we shall succeed.”
This speech of their leader's pleased them all mightily.
In the meantime Mênghuo, puffed up with pride at getting off three times, hastened home to his own ravine, whence he sent trusted friends with gifts to the Eight Hordes of Barbarians and the Ninety-three Tribes and all the Man quarters and clans to borrow shields and swords and Lao warriors and braves. He got together ten legions. They all assembled on an appointed day, massing like clouds and sweeping in like mists gathering on the mountains, each and all obeying the commands of the King Menghuo.
And the scouts knew it all, and they told Kʻung-ming, who said, “This is what I was waiting for, that the Mans should have an opportunity of knowing our might."
Thereupon he seated himself in a small carriage and went out to watch.
O let our enemy's courage glow
That we our greater might may show. The history of the campaign will be continued in the next chapter.
K‘UNG-MING'S SUCCESSFUL FOURTH RUSE; THE KING OF THE Mans CAPTURED FOR THE FIFTH TIME. K‘ung-ming's small carriage was escorted by only a few horsemen. Hearing that a sluggish river, the Western Erh, lay in the way, and having no boat, K‘ung-ming bade the escort cut down some trees and make a raft. They did so; but the raft sank. So K‘ung-ming turned to Lü K'ai and said, “There is close by a mountain covered with bamboos. I have heard of these bamboos, and some are several spans in girth. We can make a bridge of them for the army to cross.
So three legions were sent to the mountains, where they cut down many thousands of bamboos, and floated them down river. Then at the narrowest point they made a bridge a hundred feet or so in length. Next the main army was brought down to the river and camped in line along the bank. The camp was protected by a moat, crossed by a floating bridge, and a mud rampart. On the south bank they constructed three large stockades so as to prepare for the coming of the Man soldiers.
They had not long to wait. King Mênghuo was hot with rage and came quickly. As soon as he got near the river, he led cut a legion of fierce warriors and challenged the first stockade.
K‘ung-ming went forth in simple state. He wore a silk cap, a white robe and held in his hand a feather fan. He sat in a small quadriga, and his captains rode right and left.
The King of the Mans was clad in mail of rhinoceros hide and wore a bright red casque. In his left hand he bore a shield, and his right gripped a sword. He rode an ordinary OX.
As soon as he saw his enemies he opened his mouth and poured forth abuse and insults, while his men darted to and fro brandishing their weapons.
Kóung-ming at once ordered the army to retire within the stockades and bar the gates. The Mans came close up to the stockade and pranced about naked, shouting in derision.
Within the stockade the captains grew very angry, and they went in a body to their leader to beg that he would withdraw the order to remain on the defensive. But he would not listen.