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troops. Finally he set Ma Tai with half a company to guard the mouth of the valley and prevent all entrance and exit. He added that he would visit the valley at irregular intervals to inspect the work.
"A plan for the defeat of Ssúma is being prepared here and must be kept a profound secret," said he.
Ma Tai left to take up the position. The two captains, Tu Jui and Hu Chung, were superintendents of the work in the valley. K‘ung-ming came every day to give instructions.
One day Yang I went to K‘ung-ming and said, “The stores of grain are all at Chienko, and the labour of transport is very heavy. What can be done?”
Kʻung-ming replied, smiling, “I have had a scheme ready for a long time. The timber that I collected and bought in Hsich'üan was for the construction of wooden transport animals to convey grain. It will be very advantageous, as they will require neither food nor water and they can keep on the move day and night without resting.”
All those within hearing said, “From old days till now no one has ever heard of such a device. What excellent plan have you, O Minister, to make such marvellous creatures?"
“They are being made now after my plans, but they are not yet ready. Here I have the plans for these ‘oxen and horses,' with all their dimensions written out in full. You may see the details.”
K‘ung-ming then produced a paper, and all the captains crowded round to look at it.
[Here follows a specification which appears incomprehensible, and is omitted.]
They were all greatly astonished and lauded K‘ung-ming's cleverness. A few days later the new transport animals were complete and began work. They were quite life-like and went over the hills in any desired direction. The whole army saw them with delight. They were put in charge of Kao Hsiang and a company to guide them. They kept going constantly between Chienko and the front carrying grain for the use of the soldiers.
Along the Chienko mountain roads
And transport troubles take away. Ssúma was already sad enough at his defeat when the spies told him of these “bullocks and horses” of new design which the men of Shu were using to convey their grain. This troubled him still more. With this device they might never be compelled to retreat for want of food. What was the use for him to shut his gates and remain on the defensive waiting for the enemy to be starved when they never would be starved?
Then he called up two captains and bade them lurk beside the track of the "bullocks and horses" and capture four or five of them.
So a half company went on this service disguised as men of Shu. They made their way along the by-ways by night and hid. Presently the "wooden” convoy came along under the escort of Kao Hsiang. Just as the end of it was passing they made a sudden rush, and captured a few of the “animals" which the men of Shu abandoned. In high glee they took them to their own camp.
When Ssúma saw them he had to confess they were very life-like. But what pleased him most was that he could imitate them now that he had models.
“If you can use this sort of thing it would be strange if I could not,” said he.
He called to him many clever artizans and made them then and there take the machines to pieces and make some exactly like them. In less than half a month they had completed a couple of thousand after K‘ung-ming's model, and they could move. Then he placed Ts'ên Wei, an officer of high rank, in charge of this new means of transport, and the "animals" began to ply between the camp and Shênsi.
Kao Hsiang returned to camp and reported the loss of a few of his "oxen and horses."
"I wished him to capture some of them," said K‘ung-ming, much pleased. “I am just laying out these few, and before long I shall get some very solid help in exchange.'
"How do you know, O Minister," said his officers.
“Because Ssúma will certainly copy them, and when he has done that I have another trick ready to play on him."
Some days later K'ung-ming received a report that the enemy were using the same sort of "bullocks and horses" to bring up supplies from Shênsi.
"Exactly as I thought," said he.
Calling Wang Pfing, he said, “Dress up a company as men of Wei and find your way quickly and secretly to Peiyuan. Pretend you are escort men, for the convoy, and mingle with the real escort. Then suddenly turn on them so that they scatter. Then you will turn the “animals” this way. By and by you will be pursued. When that occurs you will give a turn to the tongues of the wooden animals, and they will not move. Leave them where they are and run away.
When the men of Wei come up they will be unable to drag the creatures and equally unable to carry them. I shall have men ready, and you will go back with them, give the tongues a backward turn and bring the convoy here. The enemy will be greatly astonished.”
Next he called Chang I and said, “Dress up half a company in the costume of the 'six ting' and the ‘six chia' so that they appear
supernatural. Fit them with demon heads and wild beast shapes, and let them stain their faces various colours so as to look as strange as possible. Give them flags and swords and bottle-gourds with smoke issuing from combustibles inside. Let these men hide among the hills till the convoy approaches, when they will start the smoke, rush out suddenly and drive off the 'animals. No one will dare pursue such uncanny creatures."
When he had left, Wei Yen and Chiang Wei were called.
“You will take one legion, go to the border of Peiyuan to receive the wooden transport creatures and defend them against attack.”
Then another half legion was sent to check Ssúma if he should come, while a small force was sent to bid defiance to the enemy near their camp on the south bank.
So one day when a convoy was on its way from Shênsi, the scouts in front suddenly reported some soldiers ahead who said they were escort men for the grain. The Commander Ts'ên Wei halted and sent to enquire. It appeared they were really men of Wei, however, and so he started once more.
The new comers joined up with his own men. But before they had gone much farther there was a yell, and the men of Shu began to kill, while a voice shouted “Wang P‘ing is here!" The convoy guard were taken aback. Many were killed, but the others rallied round Ts'ên Wei and made some defence. However, Wang P‘ing slew the leader, and the others ran this way and that, while the convoy was turned toward the
The fugitives ran off to Peiyuan and reported the mishap to Kuo Huai, who set out hot foot to rescue the convoy. When he appeared, Wang P‘ing gave the order to turn tongues, left the "animals” in the road and ran away. Kuo Huai made no attempt to pursue, but tried to put the "animals” in motion toward their proper destination. But could he move them?
He was greatly perplexed. Then suddenly there arose roll of drums all round, and out burst two parties of soldiers. These were Wei Yen and Chiang Wei's men, and when they appeared Wang P‘ing's men faced about and came to the attack as well. These three being too much for Kuo Huai, he retreated before them. Thereupon the tongues were turned back again and the "animals” set in motion.
Seeing this, Kuo Huai came on again. But just then he saw smoke curling up among the hills and a lot of extraordinary creatures burst out upon him. Some held swords and some flags, and all were terrible to look at. They rushed at the “animals” and urged them away.
“Truly these are supernatural helpers,” cried Kuo, quite frightened.
The soldiers also were terror-stricken and stood still.
Hearing that his Peiyuan men had been driven off, Ssúma came out to the rescue. Midway along the road, just where it was most precipitous, a cohort burst out upon him with fierce yells and bursting bombs. Upon the leading banner he read “Chang I and Liao Hua, Generals of Han." Panic seized upon his men, and they ran like rats.
In the field the craftier leader on the convoy makes a raid,
And his rival's life endangers by an ambush subtly laid. If you would know the upshot, read the next chapter.
SSUMA SURROUNDED IN SHANGFANG VALLEY; CHUKO INVOKES THE STARS IN THE WUCHANG PLAIN. Sorely smitten in the battle, Ssắma fled from the field a lonely horseman, a single spear. Seeing a thick wood in the distance he made for its shelter.
Chang I halted the rear division while Miao Hua pressed forward after the fugitive, whom he could see threading his way among the trees. And Ssúma indeed was soon in fear of his life, dodging from tree to tree as his pursuer neared. Once Miao Hua was actually close enough to slash at his enemy, but he struck a tree instead of his man, and before he could pull his sword out of the wood Ssúma had got clear away. When Miao got through into the open country he did not know which way to go. Presently he noticed a helmet lying on the ground, just lately thrown aside. He picked it up, hung it on his saddle and went away eastward.
But the crafty fugitive, having flung away his helmet thus on the east side of the wood, had gone away west, so that Miao was going away from his quarry. After some time Miao fell in with Chiang Wei, when he abandoned the pursuit and rode with him back to camp.
The "wooden oxen and running horses" having been driven into camp, their loads were put into the storehouse. The grain that fell to the victors amounted to a myriad “stone” or more.
Miao Hua presented the enemy's helmet as proof of his prowess in the field and received a reward of the first grade of merit. But Wei Yen had nothing to offer, and so was overlooked. He went away angry and discontented, muttering that the general pretended to be ignorant of his services.
Very sadly Ssúma returned to his own camp. Bad news followed, for a messenger brought letters telling of an invasion by three armies of Wu. The letters said that forces had been sent against them, and the king again enjoined upon his general a waiting and defensive policy. So Ssúma deepened his moats and raised his ramparts.
King Ts'ao Jui had sent three armies against the invaders; Liu Shao led that to save Changhsia, Tien Yu led the Hsiangyang force. The king, with Man Ch'ung, went into Hofei. This last was the main army.