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CHAPTER IC.

CHUKO LIANG WINS A GREAT VICTORY;

SsuMA I INVADES SHU. The fourth month of Chien-An, seventh year, found Chuko Liang camped at Ch‘ishan in three camps, waiting for the army of Wei.

When Ssúma I reached Ch‘angan, the officer in command, Chang Ho, told him all that had happened. He gave Chang Ho the post of leader of the van, with Tai Ling as his second, and then marched out toward the enemy, camping on the Wei River's south bank. When the local commanders Kuo Huai and Sun Li went to see the new Commander-in-Chief, he asked if they had fought any battle.

“Not yet," said they.

Ssóma said, "The enemy had a long march; their chance lay in attacking quickly. As they have not attacked they have some deep laid scheme to work out. What news have you from the west ?

Kuo replied, “The scouts say that the greatest care is being taken in every district. But there is no news from Wutu and Yinp'ing.”

“I must send someone to fight a battle with them. You get away as quickly and privily as you can to the rescue of those two towns, and then attack the rear of the Shu army so as to throw them into disorder."

They set out to obey these orders, and on the way they fell to discussing Ssŭma.

"How does Ssúma compare with Chuko?" said Kuo. "Chuko is by far the better," replied Sun.

“Though Chuko may be the cleverer, yet this scheme of our leader's shows him to be superior to most men.

The enemy may have got those two cities yet; when we unexpectedly fall upon their rear, they will certainly be disordered.”

Soon after this a scout came in to say that the two cities were in possession of the enemy, and, further, that the Shu army was not far in front.

Said Sun, “There is some crafty scheme afoot. Why are they prepared for battle in the open when they hold two cities? We had better retire."

His companion agreed, and they issued orders to face about and retreat. Just then a bomb exploded, and, at the same time, there suddenly appeared from the cover of some hills & small body of men. On the flag that came forward they read the name Chuko Liang, and in the midst of the company they saw him, seated in a small chariot. On his left was Kuan Hsing, and on his right Chang Pao.

They were quite taken aback. Kʻung-ming laughed and said, "Do not run away. Did you think that your leader's ruse would take me in? Sending a challenge to fight every day, indeed, while you were to slip round behind my army and attack! I have the two cities, and if you have not come to surrender, then hurry up and fight a battle with me.”

By now they were really frightened. Then behind them there rose a shout as of battle, and Wang P‘ing and Chiang Wei began to smite them in the rear, while Kuan and Chang bore down upon them in front. They were soon utterly broken, and the two leaders escaped by scrambling up the hillside.

Chang Pao saw them, and was urging his steed forward to catch them, when unhappily he and his horse went over together into a gully. When they picked him up they found that he had been kicked in the head and was badly hurt. K‘ung-ming sent him back to Ch'êngtu.

It has been said that the two leaders escaped. They got back to Ssúma's camp and said, "Wutu and Yinp'ing were both in the enemy's possession, and K‘ung-ming had prepared an ambush, so that we were attacked front and rear. We lost the day and only escaped on foot.”

"It is no fault of yours," said the general. “The fact is he is sharper than I. Now go to defend Yung and Mei and remain on the defensive; do not go out to give battle. I have a plan to defeat them."

These two having left, Ssúma called in Chang Ho and Tai Ling and said, "Kung-ming has captured Wutu and Yinpʻing. He must restore order and confidence among the people of these places, and so will be absent from his camp. You two will take a legion each, start to-night and make your way quietly to the rear of the Shu army. Then you will attack vigorously. When you have done that I shall lead out the army in front of them and array ready for battle. While they are in disorder I shall make my attack. Their camp ought to be captured. If I can win the advantage of these hills their defeat will be easy."

These two left, marching one right the other left. They took by-roads and got well to the rear of the Shu army. In the third watch they struck the high road and joined forces. Then they marched toward the enemy. After about thirty li there was a halt in front. The two leaders galloped up to see what had caused it and found many straw-carts drawn across the road.

"This has been prepared,” said Chang. "We should return."

Just as they ordered the men to turn about, torches broke into flame all over the hills, the drums rolled, trumpets blared and soldiers sprang out on every side. At the same time K'ung-ming shouted from the hill-top, "Tai Ling and Chang Ho, listen to my words. Your master reckoned that I should be busy restoring order in the two towns and so should not be in my camp. Wherefore he sent you to take the camp, and you have just fallen into my snare. As you are leaders of no great importance I shall not harm you. Dismount and yield."

Chang's wrath blazed forth at this, and he pointed at Kʻungming, crying, “You peasant out of the woods, invader of our great country! How dare you use such words to me? Wait till I catch you; I will tear you to shreds."

He galloped forward to ascend the hill, his spear ready for the thrust. But the arrows and stones pelted too quickly. Then he turned and dashed in among the soldiers, scattering them right and left. He got clear, but he saw his colleague was not with him. At once he turned back, fought his way to his comrade and brought him out safely.

K'ung-ming on the hill-top watched this warrior and saw he was a right doughty fighting man.

"I have heard that men stood aghast when Chang Fei fought his great fight with Chang Ho. Now I can judge his valour for myself. He will do harm to Shu one day if I spare him. He will have to be removed."

Then he returned to his camp. By this time Ssúma had completed his battle line and was waiting the moment of disorder to attack. Then he saw his two captains come limping back dejected and crestfallen. They said, “Kʻung-ming forestalled us; he was well prepared, and so we were quite defeated.”

"He is more than human!” exclaimed Ssŭma. "We must retreat."

So the whole army retired into the fortified camps and would not come out.

Thus a great victory fell to Shu, and their booty was immense; weapons and horses innumerable. K‘ung-ming led his army back to camp.

Thereafter he sent parties to offer a challenge at the gate of the Wei camp every day, but the soldiers remained obstinately behind their shelters and would not appear. When this had continued half a month K‘ung-ming grew sad.

Then came a messenger from the capital. He was received with all respect, and incense was burnt as propriety demanded. This done, the command was unsealed, and K‘ung-ming read: "The failure at Chieht'ing was really due to the fault of Ma Su. However, you held yourself responsible and blamed yourself very severely. It would have been a serious matter for me to have withstood your intentions, and so I did what you insisted

on. However, that was a glorious exploit last year when Wang Shuang was slain. This year, Kuo Huai has been driven back and the Ch'iang have been reduced; the two districts have been recovered; you have driven fear into the hearts of all evil doers and thus rendered magnificent services.

"But the land is in confusion, and the original evil has not been destroyed. You fill a great office, for you direct the affairs of the state. It is not well for you to remain under a cloud for any length of time and cloak your grand virtue, wherefore I restore you to the rank of Prime Minister and pray you not to decline the honour.”

K‘ung-ming heard the edict to the end and then said, "My task is not yet accomplished; how can I return to my duties as Prime Minister? I must really decline to accept this.”

Fei I said, "If you decline this you flout the desires of the king and also show contempt for the feelings of the army. At any rate accept for the moment."

Then K‘ung-ming humbly bowed acquiescence.

Fei I went away. Seeing that Ssúma remained obstinately on the defensive, K‘ung-ming thought of a plan by which to draw him. He gave orders to break camp and retire.

When the scouts told Ssúma, he said, “We may not move; certainly there is some deep craftiness in this move."

Chang said, "It must mean that their food is exhausted. Why not pursue ?”

“I reckon that Kʻung-ming laid up ample supplies last year. Now the wheat is ripe, and he has plenty of every sort. Transport might be difficult, but yet he could hold out half a year. Why should he run away? He sees that we resolutely refuse battle, and he is trying some ruse to inveigle us into fighting. Send out spies to a distance to see what is going

on."

They reconnoitred a long way round, and the scouts returned to say that a camp had been formed thirty li away.

"Ah; then he is not running away,” said Ssŭma. “Remain on the defensive still more strictly and do not advance."

Ten days passed without further news; nor did the men of Shu offer the usual challenge. Again spies were sent far afield, and they reported a further retreat of thirty li and a new encampment.

“K‘ung-ming is certainly working some scheme," said Ssŭma. “Do not pursue.”

Another ten days passed and spies went out. The enemy had gone thirty li farther and encamped.

Chang Ho said, “What makes you so over-suspicious ? I can see that K‘ung-ming is retreating into Hanchung, only he is doing it gradually. Why not pursue before it is too late. Let me go and fight one battle."

"No," said the general. “A defeat would destroy the morale of our men, and I will not risk it. K'ung-ming's vile tricks are innumerable."

"If I go and get beaten I will stand the full rigour of military punishment," said Chang.

"Well, if you are set on going, we will divide the army, You take your wing and go, but you will have to fight your best. I will follow to help in case of need."

So Chang got independent command of three legions and took Tai Ling as his second in command, and he had a few score of captains of lower rank. Halfway they camped. Then Ssúma, leaving a substantial guard for his camp, set out along the same road with five legions.

Kʻung-ming knew the movements of the army of Wei and when Chang's army camped to rest. In the night he summoned his captains and told them.

“The enemy are coming in pursuit and will fight desperately. You will have to fight every one of you like ten, but I will set an ambush to attack their rear. Only a wise and bold leader is fit for this task.”

As he closed this speech he glanced at Wei Yen, but this captain hung his head without response. Then Wang P‘ing stepped forth and said he was willing to go on this expedition.

“But if you fail, what then?" said K‘ung-ming. “Then there is the military rule.” K‘ung-ming sighed. “Wang P‘ing is most loyal. He is willing to risk wounds and death in his country's service. However, the enemy are in two divisions, one coming in front, the other trying to get round to the rear. Wang P‘ing is crafty and bold, but he cannot be in two places at once, so I must have yet another captain. Is it that among you there is no other willing to devote himself to death ?

He did not wait long for a reply; Chang I stepped to the front.

"Chang Ho is a most famous leader in Wei and valorous beyond all compare. You are not a match for him," said K‘ung-ming.

“If I fail may my head fall at the tent door,” said he.

"Since you wish to go, I accept you. Each of you shall have a legion of veterans. You will hide in the valleys till the enemy come up, and you will let them pass. Then you will fall upon their rear. If Ssúma comes you must divide the men, Chang to hold the rear and Wang to check the advance. But they will fight desperately, and I must find a way to aid

you.”

When they had gone, Chiang Wei and Liao Hua were called, and K‘ung-ming said, “I am going to give you a silken bag, You are to proceed secretly into those mountains in front. When you see that your two colleagues are in great straits with

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