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The Mans were now warm in pursuit and pressed on with all their might, the King Wutʻuku being in the forefront of the pursuers.
But then they came to a thick umbrageous wood; and he halted, for he saw flags moving about behind the sheltering trees.
"Just as you foretold," said Wut'uku to Mênghuo.
“Yes; Chuko Liang is going to be worsted this time. We have beaten off his men now daily for half a month and won fifteen successive victories. His men simply run when they hear the wind. The fact is he has exhausted all his craft and has tried every ruse.
Now our task is nearly done." Wut'uku was greatly cheered and began to feel contempt for his enemy.
The sixteenth day of the long fight found Wei Yen leading his oft-defeated men once more against the rattan-protected foe. King Wut'uku on his white elephant was well in the forefront. He had on a cap with symbols of the sun and moon and streamers of wolf's beard, a fringed garment studded with gems, which allowed the plates or scales of his cuirass to appear, and his eyes seemed to flash fire. He pointed the finger of scorn at Wei Yen and began to revile him.
Wei whipped up his steed and fled. The Mans pressed after him. Wei made for the Coiled Serpent Valley, for he saw a white flag calling him thither. Wut'uku followed in hot haste, and as he saw only bare hills without a sign of vegetation, be felt quite confident that no ambush was laid.
So he followed into the valley. There he saw some score of black painted carts in the road. The soldiers said to each other that they must be the commissariat waggons of the enemy, abandoned in their hasty flight. This only urged the king to greater speed, and he went on toward the other mouth of the valley, for the men of Shu had disappeared. However, , he saw baulks of timber being tumbled down across the track and great boulders rolled down the hill side into the road.
The pursuers cleared away the obstacles. When they had done so and advanced a little they saw certain wheeled vehicles in the road, some large, some small, laden with wood and straw, which was burning. The king was suddenly frightened and ordered a retreat. But he heard much shouting in the rear, and they told him that the wood-laden carts on being broken open had been found to contain gunpowder, and they were all on fire. However, seeing that the valley was barren and devoid of grass and wood, Wut'uku was not in the least alarmed and merely bade his men search for a way round.
Then he saw torches being hurled down the mountain side. These torches rolled till they came to a certain spot, where they ignited the fuses leading to the powder. Then the ground suddenly heaved with the explosion of bombs beneath. The whole valley was soon full of flames, darting and playing in all directions, and wherever they met with rattan armour the rattan caught fire, and thus the whole army, huddled and crowded together, burned in the midst of the valley.
K‘ung-ming looked on from the heights above and saw the Mans burning. Many of the dead had been mangled and torn by the explosions of the mines. The air was full of suffocating vapour.
Kʻung-ming's tears fell fast as he saw the slaughter, and he sighed, saying, “Though I am rendering great service to my country yet I have sacrificed many lives." Those who were with him were also deeply affected.
King Mênghuo was in his camp awaiting news of success when he saw a crowd of his men come along, and they bowed before him and told him that King Wuko was fighting a great battle and was about to surround Chuko Liang in the Valley of the Coiled Serpent. But he needed help. They said they themselves had had no alternative when they had yielded to Shu, but now they had returned to their allegiance and were come to help him.
So Mênghuo placed himself at the head of his clansmen and those who had just come to him, and lost no time in marching out. He bade them lead him to the spot. But when he reached the valley and saw the destruction, he knew he had been made a victim again. As he made to retire there appeared a body of his enemies on each side, and they began to attack. He was making what stand he could when a great shouting arose. The Mans were nearly all disguised men of Shu, and they quickly surrounded him and his clansmen to make them prisoners.
Mênghuo galloped clear and got into the hills. Presently he fell upon a small chariot, with a few men about it, and therein sat Kung-ming, simply dressed and holding a fan.
“What now, rebel Mênghuo?” cried he.
But Mênghuo had galloped away. He was soon stopped by Ma Tai and lay a helpless prisoner bound hand and foot. His wife, Chujung, and the other members of his family were also taken.
K‘ung-ming returned to camp and seated himself in the high place in his own tent. He was still sad at the thought of the sacrifice of life, and he said to his officers, "There was no help for it; I had to use that plan. But it has sadly injured my inner virtue and destroyed my self-satisfaction. Guessing that the enemy would suspect an ambush in every thicket, I sent persons to walk about in wooded places with flags. Really there was no ambush. I bade Wei lose battle after battle just to lead the enemy on and harden their hearts. When I saw the Valley of the Coiled Serpent, with its bare sides of smooth rock and the road in its depths, I recognised what could be done and sent Ma Tai to arrange the contents of the black carts, the mines, which I had prepared long ago for this purpose. In every bomb were nine others, and they were buried thirty paces apart. They were connected by fuses laid in hollow bamboos that they might explode in succession, and the force was enormous. Chao Yün prepared those carts laden with straw and rolled down the baulks of timber and boulders that blocked the mouth. Wei Yen led the king on and on till he had enticed him into the valley, when he took up a position to escape. Then the burning began. They say that what is good for water is not much good for fire, and the oil-soaked rattan, excellent as a protection against swords and arrows, was most inflammable, catching fire at sight. The Mans were so stubborn that the only way was to use fire, or we should never have scored a victory. But I much regret that the destruction of the men of Wuko has been so complete.”
The officers praised his ability and flattered his craftiness; that need not be said.
Then Mênghuo was summoned. He appeared and fell upon his knees. His limbs were freed from the bonds, and he was sent into a side tent for refreshment. But the officers told off to entertain him received certain secret orders.
The chief prisoners were Menghuo, his wife, brother and the Chief Tailai. There were many of his clan as well. As they were eating and drinking a messenger apeared in the door of the tent and addressed the king, “The Minister is ashamed and does not wish to see you again, Sir. He has sent me to release you. You may enlist another army if you can and once more try a decisive battle. Now you may
But instead of going Mênghuo began to weep.
"Seven times a captive and seven times released !" said the king. “Surely there was never anything like it in the whole world. I know I am a barbarian and beyond the pale, but I am not entirely devoid of a sense of propriety and rectitude. Does he think that I feel no shame?"
Thereupon he and all his fell upon their knees and crawled to the tent of the Commander-in-chief and begged pardon, saying, “O Minister, you are the majesty of Heaven. We men of the south will offer no more opposition.”
“Then you yield?” said Kʻung-ming.
"I and my sons and grandsons are deeply affected by your all-pervading and life-giving mercy. Now how can we not yield ?”
K‘ung-ming asked Menghuo to come up into the tent and be seated, and he prepared a banquet of felicitation. Also he confirmed him in his headship and restored all the places that had been captured. Everyone was overwhelmed with K‘ung-ming's generosity, and they all went away rejoicing.
A poem has praised Kung-ming's action:
He rode in his chariot green,
The vanquished erected a fane. Chang Shih and Fei Wei ventured to remonstrate with K‘ung-ming on his policy. They said, “You, O Minister, have led the army this long journey into the wilds and have reduced the Man country, and have brought about the submission of the king; why not appoint officials to share in the administration and hold the land ?”
K‘ung-ming replied, “There are three difficulties. To leave foreigners implies leaving a guard for them; there is the difficulty of feeding a guard. The Mans have lost many of their relatives. To leave foreigners without a guard will invite a calamity; this is the second difficulty. Among the Mans dethronements and murders are frequent, and there will be enmities and suspicions. Foreigners and they will be mutually distrustful; this is the third difficulty. If I do not leave men I shall not have to send supplies, which makes for peace and freedom from trouble."
They had to agree that the policy was wise.
The kindness of the conqueror was rewarded by the gratitude of these southern people, and they even erected a shrine in his honour, where they sacrificed at the four seasons. They called him their “Gracious Father” and they sent gifts of jewels, cinnabar, lacquer, medicines, ploughing cattle and chargers for the use of the army. And they pledged themselves not to rebel.
When the feastings to the soldiers were finished, the army marched homeward to Shu. Wei Yen was in command of the advanced column. He marched to the Lu waters. But on his arrival the clouds gathered and a gale blew over the face of the waters. Because of the force of the gale the army could not advance. Wei Yen then returned and reported the matter to his chief. K’ung-ming called in Mênghuo to ask what this might mean.
The Mans beyond the border have yielded now at last,
The water demons raging mad won't let our men go past. The next chapter will contain Mênghuo's explanation.
SACRIFICE AT LU SHUI; HOMEWARD MARCH;
ATTACK ON THE CAPITAL; CHUKO'S MEMORIAL. Mênghuo at the head of the Man Chieftains and Notables, with the Lolos, attended to do honour to the army of Shu on its departure. They reached the Lu waters in the ninth month. But on trying to cross the river a tremendous storm came and hindered them. The leader having reported his difficulty to Kʻung-ming, the king was asked if he knew of any reason for such a storm. He replied, “Wild spirits have always troubled those who would cross this river; it is necessary to propitiate them with sacrifices."
"What is the sacrifice?" asked K'ung-ming.
"In the old days when malicious spirits brought misfortune, they sacrificed men to the number of seven sevens and offered their heads. They also slew a black ox and a white goat. Sacrifice thus; the wind will subside and the waters come to rest. The same used to be done to secure a plenteous harvest."
“How can I slay a single man without good reason now that fighting is done and peace has returned ?" said Kʻung-ming.
He went down to the river to see for himself. The north wind was blowing hard, and the waves were high. Both men and horses seemed frightened. He himself was perplexed. Then he sought out some of the natives and questioned them. They said they had heard the demons moaning every night since he had crossed. The cries began at dusk and continued till dawn. There were many dark demons in the malarial vapours and no man dared cross.
"The sin is mine," said K‘ung-ming, "for many of Ma Tai's men perished in these waters beside the southern men. Their poor distressed souls are not yet freed. Therefore I will come this night and sacrifice to them."
“According to the ancient rule the number of victims ought to be forty-nine; then the spirits will disperse," said the natives.
“As the resentful demons are here because of the deaths of men, where is the sense in slaying more men? But this will I do. I will make balls of flour paste after the manner of human heads and stuff them with the flesh of oxen and goats. These shall be used instead of human heads, for indeed they be (punningly) called man-t'ou,* heads of Man.”
*Bread is called "man-tou"