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With myriad shining bolts the air was filled,
Soon the second army of Wei came up, but too late to help. From the signs they knew that their comrades had been victims of a cruel trick, and they turned back. But as they faced about a shout was heard, and from the hill-tops came, "I, Chuko Liang, am here!”
Looking up they saw his figure outlined against a fire, Pointing to the slain, he cried, “I have been hunting, as you see; only instead of slaying a horse (Ma, for Ssūma) I have killed a deer (Chang). But you may go in peace, and when you see your general, tell him that he will be my quarry one day.”
The soldiers told this to Ssúma when they returned, and he was deeply mortified, and blamed himself as the cause of the death of his colleague Chang Ho. And when he returned to Loyang the king wept at the death of his brave leader and had his body honourably buried.
K‘ung-ming had no sooner reached Hanchung than he prepared to go on to the capital and see his lord.
But Li Yen, who was in charge of the capital beside being responsible for supplying the army, said to the king, "Why does the Prime Minister return, for I have kept him fully supplied with all things needed for the army?”
Then the king sent Fei I into Hanchung to enquire why the army had retired. And when he had arrived and showed the cause of his coming, Kʻung-ming was greatly surprised and showed the letter from Li_telling of the alliance and threatened invasion from Wu. Then Fei related the gist of Li's memorial to the Throne. So K‘ung-ming enquired carefully, and then it came out that Li had failed to find sufficient grain to keep the army supplied and so had sent the first lying letter to the army that it might retire before the shortage showed itself. His memorial to the Throne was designed to cover the former fault.
“The fool has ruined the great design of the state just to save his own skin," cried K'ung-ming bitterly.
He called in the offender and sentenced him to death. But Fei I interceded, saying that the late Emperor had loved and trusted Li Yen, and so his life was spared. However, when Fei made his report the king was wroth and ordered Li Yen to suffer death.
But this time Chiang Wan intervened, saying, “Your late father named Li Yen as one of the guardians of your youth.' And the king relented. However, Li was stripped of all rank and exiled. But K‘ung-ming gave Li's sons employment.
Preparations then began for an expedition to start in three years. Plans were discussed, provisions were accumulated, weapons put in order and officers and men kept fit and trained. By his kindness to all men Kʻung-ming won great popularity, and the time passed quickly.
In the second month of the thirteenth year Kóung-ming presented a memorial saying, "I have been training the army for three years; supplies are ample and all is in order for an expedition. We may now attack Wei. If I cannot destroy these rebels, sweep away the evil hordes and bring about a glorious entry into the capital, then may I never again enter your Majesty's presence.'
The king replied, “Our state is now firmly established, and Wei troubles us not at all; why not enjoy the present tranquillity, O Father-Minister ?”
“Because of the mission left me by your father. I am ever scheming to destroy Wei, even in my dreams. I must strive my best and do my utmost to restore you to the ancient capital of your race and replace the Hans in their old palace."
As he said this a voice cried, "An army may not go forth, O Minister!" Ch'iao Chou had raised a last protest.
K‘ung-ming's sole thought was service,
Himself he would not spare;
And read misfortune there.
CHAPTER CII. SSUMA OCCUPIES THE RIVER BANKS; CHUKO CONSTRUCTS “BULLOCKS" AND "HORSES." Ch'iao Chou, who protested against the war, was Grand Historian. He was also a student of astrology. He opposed the war, saying, "My present office involves the direction of the observations on the Astrological Terrace, and I am bound to report whether the aspect forebodes misfortune or promises happiness. Not long since, several flights of orioles came from the south, plunged into the Han Waters and were drowned. This is an evil augury. Moreover, I have studied the aspect of the sky, and the 'Wolf' constellation is influencing the aspect of the planet Venus. An aura of prosperity pervades the north. To attack Wei will not be to our profit. Again, the people say that the cypress trees moan in the night. With so many evil omens, I would that the Prime Minister should not go forth to war, but remain at home to guard what we have."
"How can I ?” said K‘ung-ming. "His late Majesty laid upon me a heavy responsibility, and I must exert myself to the utmost in the endeavour to destroy these rebels. The policy of a state cannot be changed because of vain and irresponsible talk of inauspicious signs.”
K‘ung-ming was not to be deterred. He instructed the officials to prepare the Great Bovine Sacrifice in the Dynastic Temple. Then, weeping, he prostrated himself and made this declaration : "Thy servant Liang has made five expeditions to Ch‘ishan without gaining any extension of territory. His fault weighs heavily upon him. Now once again he is about to march, pledged to use every effort of body and mind to exterminate the rebels against the Han House, and to restore to the Dynasty its ancient glory in its old capital. To achieve this end he would use the last remnant of his strength and could die content."
The sacrifice ended, he took leave of the king and set out for Hanchung to make the final arrangements for his march. While so engaged, he received the unexpected news of the death of Kuan Hsing. He was greatly shocked, and fainted. When he had recovered consciousness his officers did their utmost to console him.
"How pitiful! Why does Heaven deny long life to the loyal and good? I have lost a most able captain just as I am setting out and need him most."
As all are born, so all must die;
May give them immortality. The armies of Shu numbered thirty-four legions, and they marched in five divisions, with Chiang Wei and Wei Yen in the van, and when they had reached Ch‘ishan, Li K‘uei, the Commissary General, was instructed to convey stores into Hsieh Valley in readiness.
In Wei they had recently changed the style of the yearperiod to Ch'ing-Lung, Black Dragon, because a black dragon had been seen to issue from Mopfo Well. The year of the fighting was the second year.
The courtiers said to King Jui, “The wardens of the marches report thirty or so legions advancing in five divisions from Shu upon Ch'ishan."
The news distressed the king, who at once called in Ssúma I and told him of the invasion.
Ssúma replied, “The aspect of the sky is very auspicious for the capital. The Kuei star has encroached upon the planet Venus, which bodes ill for Hsich'üan. Thus Kʻungming is pitting his powers against the heavens and will meet defeat and suffer death. And I, by virtue of Your Majesty's good fortune, am to be the instrument of destruction. I request leave to name four men to go with me."
"Who are they? Name them,” said the king.
“They are the four sons of Hsiahou Yuan, Pa, Wei, Hui and Ho. The first two trained archers and cavaliers, the other two are deep strategists. All four desire to avenge the death of their father. Pa and Wei should be leaders of the van; Hui and Ho Expeditionary Ministers of War to discuss and arrange plans for the repulse of our enemy.”
“You remember the evil results of employing the 'Dynastic Son-in-Law,' Hsiahou Mou; he lost his army and is still too ashamed to return to court. You are sure these are not of the same kidney?"
“They are not like him in the least."
The king granted the request and named Ssúma I as Commander-in-chief with the fullest authority. When Ssúma took leave of the king he received a command in the king's own writing:
“When you, Noble Sir, reach the banks of the Wei River and have well fortified that position, you are not to give battle. The men of Shu, disappointed of their desire, will pretend to retire and so entice you on, but you will not pursue. You will wait till their supplies are consumed and they are compelled to retreat, when you may smite them. Then you will obtain the victory without distressing the army unduly. This is the best plan of campaign."
Ssúma took it with bowed head. He proceeded forthwith to Ch'angan. When he had mustered the forces assembled from all districts they numbered forty legions, and they were all camped on the river. In addition, five legions were farther up the stream preparing nine floating bridges. The two leaders of the van were ordered to cross the river and camp, and in rear of the main camp on the east a solid earth rampart was raised to guard against any surprises from the rear.
While these preparations were in progress, Kuo Huai and Sun Li came to the new camp, and the former said, “With the men of Shu at Ch‘ishan there is a possibility of their dominating the Wei River, going up on the plain and pushing out a line to the north hills whereby to cut off Shensi.'
"You say well,” said Ssŭma. "See to it. Take command of all the Shênsi forces, occupy Peiyuan and make a fortified camp there. But adopt a fabian policy; wait till the enemy's food supplies get exhausted before you think of attack."
So they left to carry out these orders. In this expedition Kʻung-ming made five main camps at Ch‘ishan, and between Hsieh Valley and Chienko he established a line of fourteen large camps. He distributed the men among these camps as for a long campaign. He appointed inspecting officers to make daily visits to see that all was in readiness. When he heard that the men of Wei had camped in Peiyuan, he said to his officers, “They camp there fearing that our holding this district will sever connection with Shênsi. I am pretending to look toward Peiyuan, but really my objective is the Wei River. I am going to build several large rafts and pile them with straw, and I have five companies of watermen to manage them. In the darkness of the night I shall attack Peiyuan; Ssúma will come to the rescue; if he is only a little worsted I shall cross the river with the rear divisions. Then the leading divisions will embark on the rafts, drop down the river, set fire to the bridges and attack the rear of the enemy. I shall lead an army to take the gates of the first camp. If we can get the south bank of the river the campaign will become simple.”
The spies carried information of the doings of the men of Shu to Ssúma, who said to his men, “Kʻung-ming has some crafty scheme, but I think I know it. He proposes to make a show of taking Peiyuan, and then, dropping down the river, he will try to burn our bridges, throw our rear into confusion and then attack."
So he ordered Hsiahou Pa and his brother to listen for the sounds of battle about Peiyuan; if they heard the shouting they were to march down to the river, to the hills on the south, and attack the men of Shu as they arrived. Two other forces, of two companies of bowmen each, were to lie in hiding on the north bank near the bridges to keep off the rafts that