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CHAPTER VIIIC.

CHAO YÜN SLAYS FIVE CAPTAINS;

K'UNG-MING CRAFTILY TAKES THREE CITIES. K‘ung-ming's army marched northward, passing through Mienyang, where stood Ma Ch'ao's tomb. In honour of the dead hero, Kʻung-ming sacrificed there in person, Ma Ch'ao's brother being chief mourner for the occasion.

After this ceremony, when the Commander-in-chief was discussing his plans, the spies came in to tell him that Ts'ao Jui had put in motion an army under Hsiahou Mou. Then Wei Yen went in to offer a complicated and lengthy ruse, saying, “Hsiahou Mou is a fatling, soft and stupid. Give me five companies, and I will go out by Paochung, follow the line of the Tséinling east to the Tzŭwu Valley and then turn north. In ten days I can be at Ch‘angan. Hearing of my intent, Hsiahou will hasten to get out of my way. He must go by way of Hêngmen and Tiko. I will come in by the east, and you, Sir, can advance by the Hsieh Valley. In this way all west of Hsienyang will be ours.

K‘ung-ming smiled at the suggestion. “I do not think the plan quite perfect,” said he. "You are misled by thinking there is no one worth considering guarding the capital. If anyone suggest sending a force across by way of Shanpichung we should be lucky if we lost only half a legion, to say nothing of the check to our élan. The ruse will not do."

"If you, O Minister, march by the high road they will bring against you the whole host within the Pass and will thus hold you indefinitely; you will never get to the capital.”

“But I shall go along the level road on the right of Shênsi. I cannot fail if I keep to the fixed rules of war."

Wei Yen withdrew, gloomy and dissatisfied. Then Chao Yün sent orders to the advanced guard to move.

Hsiahou Mou was at Ch‘angan preparing his force. There came to him a certain captain from Hsiliang, named Han Tê, a man of great valour, whose weapon was a mighty battleaxe called "Mountain Splitter. He brought with him eight legions of the Ch‘iang and offered his services. They were gladly accepted, and his army was made the van of the attack.

This Han Tê had four sons, all very expert in archery and horsemanship. They were named Ying, Yao, Ch'iung and Chội, and they came to serve under their father. Han Tê led his sons and the eight legions by the road to Fengming Hill

(The Hill of the Phenix Song), where they were near the men of Shu, and here they drew up the array.

When the battle line was in order, the father, with his four sons, rode to the front and began to revile their enemy as rebels and raiders. Chao Yün quickly lost his temper, rode forward and challenged. The eldest son, Yin, accepted and galloped out; but he was slain in the third bout. Immediately his brother Yao went out, whirling his sword. But now Chao Yün's blood was up, and the old dash and vigour came upon him so that the young man had no chance. Then the third son, Ch'iung, took his great halberd and dashed out to his brother's aid. Chao Yün had now two opponents; nevertheless he held his own, nor blenched nor failed a stroke. Seeing that his two brothers were nearing defeat, the fourth son went to join in the fray with his pair of swords that he had named “Sun and Moon.” And there was the veteran warrior with three against him, and he still kept them at bay.

Presently a spear thrust got home on Han Ch'i, who fell. Another captain then coming out to take his place, Chao Yün lowered his spear and fled. Han Ch‘iung then took his bow and shot three arrows at the fugitive, who turned them aside so that they fell harmless. Angry at this, Han Ch‘iung again seized his halberd and went in pursuit. But Chao Yün took his bow and shot an arrow that wounded his pursuer in the face. So he fell and died. Han Yao then galloped up and raised his sword to strike, but Chao Yün slipped past, got within his guard and made Yao a prisoner. He quickly galloped into his own array with his captive, dropped him and then, dashing out, recovered his spear, which had fallen when he seized his man.

Han Tê was overwhelmed with the loss of all his sons and went behind the array. His barbarians were too frightened at the prowess of Chao Yün to be of any use in battle, and no one dared to meet the old warrior. So they retired, while Chao Yün rode to and fro among them slaying at his will.

I thought of brave old men, of Chao Tzŭlung,
Who, spite of numbered years three score and ten,
Was marvellous strong in battle; who one day
Slew four opposing captains, greater feat
Than when at Tangyang he had saved his king.

Seeing the successful battle that Chao Yün was waging, Têng Chih led on his men to join in the fight. This completed the discomfiture of the Hsiliang men, and they ran away. Han Tê, seeing the danger of being captured, threw off his armour and went on foot. The men of Shu drew off and returned to their camp.

In camp Têng Chih felicitated his veteran colleague.

“For a man of seventy years you are unique and wonderful,” said he. “You are as much the hero as you ever were. It is almost an incomparable feat to have slain four captains in one day.”

“Yet the minister thought me too old and did not wish to employ me. I had to give him a proof.”

The captive Han Yao was sent to the main body with the messenger who bore an account of the victory.

In the meantime, Han Tê led his defeated army back to his chief, to whom he related his sad story with many tears. Then Hsiahou Mou decided to lead his own army out against Chao Yün.

When the scouts reported his coming, the veteran took his spear and mounted his steed. He led one company out to Fêngming Hill, at the foot of which he made his array. On the day of the battle Hsiahou Mou wore a golden casque, rode a white horse and carried a huge sword. From his place beneath the great standard he saw Chao Yün galloping to and fro. He was going out to give battle, when Han Tê checked him.

"Is it not mine to avenge my four sons ?” said he.

He seized his axe, the "Mountain Splitter," and rode directly at the hero, who advanced with fury. The contest was but short, for in the third encounter Chao Yün's spear thrust brought Han Tê to the earth. Without waiting a moment he made for Hsiahou Mou, who hastily dashed in behind his ranks and so escaped. Then Têng Chih led on the main body and completed the victory. The men of Wei retired ten li and made a camp.

This first battle having gone against him, Hsiahou called his officers to consult. He said he could now credit the story of Chao Yün's stand at Tangyang and that, alone, he had fought against a whole host and come out victor. But what to be done against such a champion ?

Then Ch'êng Wu, an adviser, said, “My opinion is that this Chao, though brave in the field, is lacking in the council chamber. Really he is not greatly to be feared. Give battle again soon, but first prepare an ambush. You can retreat and so draw him into it. Then go up on the hill top and direct the attack from that point of vantage so that he may be hemmed in on all sides and be captured.”

The necessary plans for this were made, and two parties of three legions each, led by Tung Hsi and Hsüeh Tsē, went into ambush right and left. The ambush laid, Hsiahou Mou advanced once more to attack, drums rolling and flags flying. As soon as he appeared Chao Yün and Têng Chih went to meet him.

Têng Chih said, "The men of Wei were beaten only yesterday. This renewed attempt must mean that they are trying some trick. You should be cautious, General.”

"I do not think this youth, with the smell of mother's milk still on his lips, worth talking about. We shall surely capture him to-day.”

Chao Yün pranced out, and P'an Sui came to meet him from the side of Wei. But P'an Sui made no stand and quickly ran away. Chao Yün pursued. Then there came out to stop him no less than eight captains of Wei, all of whom passed in front of Hsiahou. But one by one they too fled. . Chao Yün pressed forward at full spead, Têng Chih coming up behind.

When Chao Yün had got deeply involved, with the battle raging all around him, Têng Chih decided to retire. This was the signal for the ambush to come out, and Têng was so hampered that he could not attempt to rescue his colleague. Chao Yün was thus entirely surrounded. However, he struggled on, losing men at every dash, till he had but one company left. He was then at the foot of the hill whence Hsiahou Mou was directing operations, and observing his enemy from this point of vantage, he sent men to check him whithersoever he went. Chao decided to charge up the hill, but was stopped by rolling baulks of timber and tumbling rocks.

The battle had lasted long, and Chao Yün was fatigued. So he halted to rest a time, intending to renew the struggle when the moon should be up. But just as he had taken off his armour the moon rose and, with it, his enemies began to attack with fire as well, and the thunder of the drums was accompanied by showers of stones and arrows. The oncoming host shouted to him to yield. However, he did not think of that, but got upon his steed to strive once more to extricate himself. And his enemies pressed closer and closer, pouring in flights and flights of arrows. No advance was possible, and the end seemed very near.

“I refused the repose of age," sighed he, "and now my end will come to me here.

Just then he heard new shouting from the north-east, and to his joy he saw Chang Pao coming toward him, his father's long spear in his hand and a man's head hanging at his bridle. Soon he reached the old man's side and cried, "The minister feared some misfortune had befallen you, so he sent me to your help I have half a legion here. We heard that you were surrounded. On the way I met Hsieh Tsê and slew him.

Chao Yün's courage revived, and he and the young captain went on toward the south-west, driving the men of Wei before them in disorder. Soon another cohort came in from the side, the leader wielding a huge curved sword. This was Kuan Hsing, and he used the same words that his cousin had used, only that the enemy he had encountered, and slain, was Tung Hsi.

"Here is his head,” cried he, "and the minister is coming up too."

"But why not press on to capture Hsiahou Mou since you have had such wonderful success ?cried Chao Yün.

Chang Pao took the hint and went forward. Kuan Hsing followed.

“They are as my own,” said Chao Yün to those who stood near. “And they press on wherever there is merit to be won. I am an old leader and high in rank, but I am not worth so much as these two youths. Yet will I risk my life once more for the sake of my old lord the late Emperor.'

So he led the remnant of his men to try to capture Hsiahou Mou.

During that night the army of Wei was smitten till corpses covered the earth and gore ran in rivers. Hsiahou was unskilful, and young, and inexperienced in battle. His army was in utter rout, and he could only flee. At the head of a few survivors he made for Nananchün. His army, leaderless, scattered like rats.

Kuan Hsing and Chang Pao set out for Nananchün. At the news of their coming Hsiahou Mou closed the city gates and urged his men to defend. Chao Yün soon joined the captains, and they attacked on three sides. Têng Chih arrived also, and the city was quite surrounded.

After vain efforts for ten days, they heard that of the main body of the army some had occupied Yangpʻing, others Shihch'êng, while K‘ung-ming was leading the centre toward them. The four captains went to visit him and told him their illsuccess at the city. He got into his light chariot and rode out to view the city, after which he returned and summoned the officers to his tent.

He said, "The moat is deep, the walls are steep; wherefore the city is well defended and difficult to take. My present plan omits this place. If you persist in the attack and the Wei armies march to try for Hanchung our army will be in danger.”

"Consider what the capture of Hsiahou Mou would mean, said Têng Chih. “He is a Son-in-law, and worth more than slaying a hundred ordinary leaders. We have begun the siege, and I do not like to raise it."

K‘ung-ming said, “I have other plans. West of this lies T'ienshuichün and north Antingchün; does anyone know the Prefects of these two places ?

"Ma Sun is the Prefect of T'ienshui; Ts'ui Liang that of Anting,” replied a scout.

K‘ung-ming then called to him one by one Wei Yen, Chang Pao, Kuan Hsing and two soldiers he could depend upon, and gave each certain instructions. They left to carry out their orders.

Next K‘ung-ming ordered the soldiers to pile up beneath the walls heaps of firewood and straw, saying he was going

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