« הקודםהמשך »
Nought is under man's control,
Nor can he with fate contend. Did Chiang kill the blundering warrior? The next chapter will unfold.
A STAR FALLS AS CHUKO LIANG ASCENDS TO HEAVEN ;
A WOODEN IMAGE AFFRIGHTS SSƯMA I. The unhappy Wei did not suffer the edge of the sword, for Chuko stayed the stroke, saying, "It is my fate; not his fault."
So Chiang put up his sword, and Kʻung-ming sank wearily upon his couch.
"Ssúma I thinks I am dead, and he sent these few men to make sure. Go ye and drive them off," said he.
Wei Yen left the tent and led out a small party to drive away the men of Wei, who fled as they appeared. He chased them to a distance and returned. Then Kung-ming sent him to his own camp and bade him keep a vigilant look-out.
Presently Chiang Wei came in, went up to the sick man's couch and asked how he felt.
He replied, "My death is very near. My chief desire has been to spend myself to the utmost to restore the Hans and lead a glorious return of the Hans to their capital, but Heaven decrees it otherwise. I have never ceased from my studies. I have written a book in twenty chapters, one hundred and four thousand, one hundred and twelve words, treating 'The eight Needfuls,' 'The seven Cautions,' 'The six Fears' and 'The five Dreads' of war. But among all those about me there is no one fit to receive it and carry on my work save you. I pray you not to despise it."
He gave the treatise to Chiang Wei, who received it sobbing.
"I have also a plan for a multiple crossbow, which I have been unable to execute. The weapon shoots ten bolts of eight inches length at every discharge. The plans are quite ready and the weapons can be made according to them.”
Chiang took the papers with a deep bow.
The dying man continued, “There is no part of Shu that causes anxiety, save Yenp'ing. That must be carefully guarded. It is protected naturally by its lofty precipices, but it will surely be lost by and by.”
Next K‘ung-ming sent for Ma Tai, to whom he gave certain whispered instructions, and then said aloud, "You are to follow out my instructions after my death."
Soon after, Yang I entered the tent and went to the couch. He received a silken bag containing certain secret orders. K‘ung-ming gave it him, he said, "After my death Wei Yen will turn traitor. When that happens you will find herein who is to slay him."
Just as these arrangements were finished K‘ung-ming fell into a swoon, from which he did not revive till the evening. Then he set himself to compose a memorial to the king. When this reached the king he was greatly alarmed and at once sent Li Fu to visit and confer with the dying minister.
Li travelled quickly to the camp and was led to the tent of the Commander-in-chief. He delivered the king's command and enquired after the sick man's welfare. Kʻung-ming wept, and he replied, “Unhappily I am dying and leaving my task incomplete. I am injuring my country's policy and am in fault to the world. After my death you must aid the king in perfect loyalty and see that the old policy is continued, and the rules of government maintained. Do not lightly cast out the men I have employed. My plans of campaign have been confided to Chiang Wei, who can continue my policy for the service of the state. But my hour draws near, and I must write my testament."
Li Fu listened, and then took his leave. K'ung-ming made one final effort to carry out his duties. He rose from his couch, was helped into a small carriage and thus made a round of inspection of all the camps and posts. But the cold autumn wind chilled him to the bone.
“I shall never again lead the army against the rebels,” said he. "O distant and azure Heaven, when will this end?"
Kung-ming returned to his tent. He became rapidly weaker and called Yang I to his bedside.
Said he, “Wang P‘ing and the others with him may be depended on to the death. They have fought many campaigns and borne many hardships; they should be retained in the public service. After my death let everything go on as before, but the army is to be gradually withdrawn. You know the tactics to be followed, and I need say little. My friend Chiang Wei is wise and brave; set him to guard the retreat."
Yang received these orders weeping. Next, writing materials were brought in and the dying minister set himself to write his testament. It is here given in substance:
“Life and death are the common lot, and fate cannot be evaded. Death is at hand, and I desire to prove my loyalty to the end. I, thy servant Liang, dull of parts, was born into a difficult age, and it fell to my lot to guide military operations. I led a northern expedition, but failed to win complete success. Now sickness has laid hold upon me and death approaches, so that I shall be unable to accomplish my task. My sorrow is inexpressible.
“I desire Your Majesty to cleanse your heart and limit your desires, to practise self-control and to love the people, to maintain a perfectly filial attitude toward your late father and to be benevolent to all the world. Seek out the recluse scholars that you may obtain the services of the wise and good;
repel the wicked and depraved that your moral standard may be exalted.
“To my household belong eight hundred mulberry trees and five thousand mou* of land; thus there is ample provision for my family. While I have been employed in the service of the state my needs have been supplied from official sources, but I have not contrived to make any additions to the family estate. At my death I shall not leave any increased possessions that may cause Your Majesty to suspect that I have wronged you."
Having composed this document, the dying man turned again to Yang I, saying, "Do not wear mourning for me, but make a large coffer and therein place my body, with seven grains of rice in my mouth. Place a lamp at my feet and let my body move with the army as I was wont to do. If you refrain from mourning, then my leadership star will not fall, for my inmost soul will ascend and hold it in place. So long as my star retains its place Ssúma I will be fearsome and suspicious. Let the army retreat, beginning with the rearmost division; send it away slowly, one camp at a time. If Ssŭma pursue, array the army and offer battle, turn to meet him and beat the attack. Let him approach till he is very near and then suddenly display the image of myself that I have had carven, seated in my chariot in the midst of the army, with the captains right and left as usual. And you will frighten Ssúma away.
Yang listened to these words intently and without remark. That night K‘ung-ming was carried into the open and gazed up at the sky.
"That is my star," said he, pointing to one that seemed to be losing its brilliancy and to be tottering in its place. K‘ungming's lips moved as if he muttered a spell. Presently he was borne into his tent and for a time was oblivious of all about him.
When the anxiety caused by this state of coma was at its height Li Fu arrived. He wept when he saw the condition of the great leader, crying that he had foiled the great designs of the state.
However, presently K‘ung-ming's eyes reopened and fell upon Li Fu standing near his couch.
“I know your mission," said he.
"I came with the royal command to ask also who should control the destinies of the state for the next century,” replied Li. “In my agitation I forgot to ask that.”
“After me, Chiang Wan is the most fitting man to deal with great matters." "And after him?" "After him, Fei I.” "Who next after him?" *Six mou equal one acre, roughly.
No reply came, and when they looked more carefully they perceived that the soul of the Great Minister had passed.
Thus died Chuko Liang, on the twenty-third day of the eighth month in the twelfth year of the period Chien-Hsing, at the age of fifty and two The poet Tu Fu wrote some verses on his death.
A bright star last night falling from the sky
And Po Chü-i also wrote a poem :
Within the forest dim the Master lived obscure,
And, reading them, the tears unconscious fall. Now in past days a certain officer named Liao Li had a high opinion of his own abilities and thought himself perfectly fitted to be K‘ung-ming's second. So he neglected the duties of his proper post, showed discontent and indiscipline and was constantly slandering the minister. Thereupon he was degraded and exiled by K‘ung-ming. When he heard of his death he shed tears and said, “Then, after all, I am but a barbarian.”
Li Yen also grieved deeply at the sad tidings, for he had always hoped that K‘ung-ming would restore him to office and so give him the opportunity of repairing his former faults. After K‘ung-ming had died he thought there was no hope of re-employment, and so he died.
Another poet, Yüan Wei-chih, also wrote in praise of the great adviser.
He fought disorder, helped a failing king;
You 'll sigh to think that he has had no peer. Heaven grieved and earth mourned on the night of Kʻungming's death. Even the moon was dimmed. And K‘ungming returned to Heaven.