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KAN NING'S HUNDRED HORSEMEN RAID THE ENEMY'S CAMP;
Tso TZ'U'S FLUNG-DOWN CUP FOOLS TSʻAO TSʻAO. Sun Ch'uan was occupied in ordering his army at Juhsük‘ou when he heard of the coming of Ts'ao Ts'ao with forty legions to the relief of Hofei. He told off a fleet of fifty large ships to lie in the port while Ch'ên Wu went up and down the river banks on the look-out.
"It would be well to inflict a defeat upon Ts'ao's men before they recover from the long march; it would dishearten them, said Chang Chao.
Looking around at the officers in his tent, Sun Ch'üan said, “Who is bold enough to go forth and fight this Ts'ao Ts'ao and so take the keen edge off the spirit of his army?”
And Ling T‘ung offered. "I will go,” said he.
But Kan Ning struck in, saying, “Only a hundred horse would be needed; why send three companies ?”
Ling Tfung was angry, and he and Kan Ning began to wrangle even in the presence of their chief.
"Ts'ao Ts'ao's army is too strong to be attacked recklessly," said Sun Ch'üan.
Finally he gave the commission to Ling Tung with his three companies, bidding him reconnoitre just outside Juhsük'ou, and fight the enemy if he met him.
Marching out, they very soon saw a great cloud of dust, which marked the approach of an army As soon as they came near enough, Chang Liao, who led the van, engaged with Ling Tfung, and they fought half a hundred bouts without sign of victory for either. Then Sun Ch'uan began to fear for his champion, so he sent Lü Mêng to extricate him from the battle and escort him home. When Ling had come back, his rival went to Sun Ch'üan and said, "Now let me have the hundred horsemen and I will raid the enemy's camp this night. If I lose a man or a mount I will claim no merit."
Sun Ch'uan commended his courage and chose a hundred of his best veterans, whom he placed under Kan Ning's command for the raid. He also gave him as a feast for the soldiers fifty flasks of wine and fifty catties of mutton.
Returning to the tents, Kan Ning drew up his little force and made them sit down in rows. Then he filled two silver goblets
with wine, solemnly drank to them and said, “Comrades, tonight our orders are to raid the camp of the enemy. Wherefore fill your goblets and call up all your strength for the task.”
But the men did not welcome his words; instead they looked one at another uncertain. Seeing them in this mood, Kan Ning adopted a fierce tone, drew his sword and cried, “What are you waiting for? If I, a leader of rank, can risk my life, cannot
Moved by the angry face of the leader, the men rose, bowed their heads and said they would fight to the last.
Then the wine and meat were distributed to them and each one ate his fill. The second watch was chosen as the hour to start, and each man stuck a white goose plume in his cap whereby they could recognise each other in the darkness.
At the time appointed they buckled on their armour, mounted and, galloping away, quickly came to Ts'ao Ts'ao's camp. Hastily throwing aside the "deer-horns," they burst in with a yell that rose to the very heavens. They made straight for the centre, hoping to slay Ts'ao himself. But the men of the leader's brigade had made a rampart of their carts within which they were sheltered as if in an iron tun, so that the raiders failed to find a way in.
However, the leader and his small force dashed hither and thither, cutting and slashing, till Ts'ao Ts'ao's men were quite bewildered and frightened.
They had no notion of the number of their assailants. All their efforts only increased the confusion. Wherefore the hundred men had it all their own way and rushed from point to point slaying whomever they met. But soon the drums beat in every camp and torches were lit and shouts arose, and it was time for the raiders to get away.
Kan Ning led his little body of men out through the south gate with never a man trying to stop him, and rode for his own camp. He met Chou T'ai, who had been sent to help him in case of need; but the need had not arisen, and the hundred heroes with their leader rode back in triumph. There was no pursuit.
A poem was written praising this exploit:
The drums of war make earth to shake
On his return, Kan Ning took the tale of his men at the camp gate, not a man nor a horse was missing. He entered to the sound of drum and fife and the shouting of his men.
“Wan Shui! Long Life!" shouted they, as Sun Ch‘üan came to welcome them. Kan Ning dismounted and prostrated himself. His lord raised him, and took him by the hand,
saying, “This expedition of yours must have given those rebels a shaking. I had not yielded to your desire only I wished to give you the opportunity to manifest your valour. I did not wish to let you be sacrificed.”
Kan Ning's exploit was rewarded with gifts, a thousand rolls of silk and a hundred good swords, all of which he distributed among his soldiers.
Sun Ch'uan was very proud of his subordinate's doughty deed, and said, “Mêng-tê may have his Chang Liao, but I can match him with my friend Kan Ning.'
Soon Chang Liao came to proffer another challenge, and Ling Tfung, impatient at being excelled by his rival and enemy, begged that he might go out to fight. His request was granted, and he marched out a short distance from Juhsü with half a legion. Sun Ch'üan, with Kan Ning in his train, went out to look on at the encounter.
When both armies had come out on the plain and were arrayed, Chang Liao, with Li Tien and Yüeh Chin, one on either side, advanced to the front. Ling Trung, sword in hand, galloped out towards him and, at his chief's command, Yüeh Chin took the challenge and went to open the combat. They fought half a hundred bouts and neither seemed to have the better of the other. Then Ts'ao Ts'ao, hearing of the great contest going on, rode up to the battlefield and took position under the great standard, whence he could see the fighting. Seeing both combatants were waxing desperate, he thought to decide the struggle by an unfair blow. He bade Ts'ao Hsiu let fly a secret arrow, which he did
by creeping up under cover of Chang Liao. It struck Ling Tung's steed, which reared and threw its rider. Yüeh Chin dashed forward to thrust at the fallen warrior with his spear, but before the blow could be given the twang of another bow was heard and an arrow speeding by hit Yüeh Chin full in the face. He fell from his horse.
Then both sides rushed forward to rescue their champions; the gongs clanged, and the combat ceased. Ling Tung returned to his camp and reported himself to his master.
"The arrow that saved you was shot by Kan Ning," said Sun Choian.
Ling T‘ung turned to his rival and bowed low.
"I could not have supposed you would have rendered me such a service, Sir,” said he to Kan Ning.
This episode ended the strife and enmity between the two men, who thereafter swore perpetual friendship.
On the other side Ts'ao saw to it that his captain's wound was dressed, and next day he launched an attack against Juhsü along five different lines. He himself led one army; the other armies were led by Chang Liao, Li Tien, Hsü Huang and P'ang Tê. Each army was one legion strong, and they marched to give battle on the river bank. The crews and fighting men
of the Wu naval squadron were greatly frightened by the approach of these armies.
“You have eaten of the bread of your prince and you must give loyal service; why fear?” said Hsü Huang.
Thereupon he put some hundreds of his best men into small boats, went along the bank and broke into the legion under Li Tien. Meanwhile their comrades on the ships beat drums and cheered them on. But a great storm came on, lashing the river to fury, and the waves rolled mountains high. The larger ships rolled as if they would overturn, and the men were frightened. They started to get down into the bulkier cargo-boats to save their lives. But Tung Hsi threatened them with his sword, cutting down some half score of the mutineers.
“My orders are to hold this point against the enemy;" shouted he, "we dare not abandon the ships."
However, the wind increased, and presently the bold Tung Hsi was thrown into the river by the rolling of his ship and was drowned.
Hsü Huang dashed hither and thither among Li Tien's men, slaying right and left. Ch'ên Wu, hearing the noise of battle, set out for the river bank. On his way he met P'ang Tê and the legion under him. A mêlée ensued. Then Sun Ch'üan with Chou T'ai and his men joined in.
The small force from the ships that had attacked Li Tien was now surrounded. So Sun Ch‘üan gave the signal for an onslaught that should rescue them. This failed, and Sun Ch'üan was himself surrounded in turn and soon in desperate straits. From a height, Ts'ao saw his difficulties and sent in Hsü Ch‘u to cut Sun Ch‘üan's column in halves so that neither half could aid the other.
When Chou T'ai had cut his way out of the press and reached the river-side he looked for his master. But he was nowhere visible, so he dashed once again into the battle. Coming to his own men, he asked where Sun Ch'uan was. They pointed to where the press was most dense. Chou T'ai stiffened and dashed in. Presently he reached his lord's side and cried out, "My lord, follow me and I will hack a way out."
Chou Tai fought his way out to the river bank. Then he turned to look, and Sun Ch'uan was not behind him. So he turned back, forced his way in and once again found his way to his master's side.
"I cannot get out; the arrows are too thick,” said Sun Ch'üan. “Then go first, my lord, and I will follow."
Sun Ch'üan then urged his steed as fast as he could go and Chou T'ai kept off all pursuit. He sustained many wounds and the arrows rattled on his helmet, but he got clear at last and Sun Ch'üan was safe. As they neared the river bank, Lü Mêng came up with some of the naval force and escorted Sun Ch'üan down to the ships.
“I owe my safety to Chou T'ai, who thrice came to my aid,'* said Sun Ch'üan. “But Hsü Shêng is still in the thick of the fight, and how can we save him?"
"I will go to his rescue,” cried Chou.
Whirling his spear, Chou again plunged into the battle and presently brought his colleague safely out of the press. Both were severely wounded.
Lü Mêng ordered his men to keep up a rapid flight of arrows so as to command the bank, and in this way the two leaders were enabled to get on board the ships.
Now Ch'ên Wu had engaged the legion under P'ang Tê. Being inferior in force and no aid being forthcoming, Ch'ên Wu was forced into a valley where the trees and undergrowth were very dense. He tried to turn, but was caught by the branches and while so entangled he was killed.
When Ts'ao saw that Sun had escaped from the battle to the river bank he urged his steed forward in pursuit. He sent flights of arrows toward the fugitives. By this time Lü Mêng's men had emptied their quivers, and he began to be very anxious. But just then a fleet of ships sailed up led by Lu Hsün, the son-in-law of Sun Ts'ê, who came with ten legions and drove back Ts'ao's men. Then he landed to pursue. He captured many thousands of horses and slew many men, so that Ts'ao Ts'ao was quite defeated and retired.
Then they sought and found the body of Ch'ên Wu among the slain. Sun Ch'uan was much grieved when he came to know that Ch'ên Wu had been slain and Tung Hsi drowned, and wept sore. Men were sent to seek for Tung Hsi's body, which at last was found. Both captains were buried with great honours.
As a recompense for Chou Tai's services in his rescue, Sun Ch‘üan prepared in his honour a great banquet, where he himself offered Chou a goblet of wine and complimented and embraced him while the tears coursed down his cheeks.
“Twice you saved my life, careless of your own," cried he, "and you have received many wounds. It is as if your skin had been engraved and painted. What sort of a man should I be if I did not treat you as one of my own flesh and blood ? Can I regard you, noble Sir, merely as a unit in my army? You are my meritorious minister. I share the glory you have won and mine are your joys and sorrows."
Then he bade Chou T'ai open his dress and exhibit his wounds for all the assembly to see. The skin was gashed all over as if his body had been scored with a knife. Sun Ch‘üan pointed to the wounds one after another and asked how each one had been received. And, as Chou told him, for every wound Sun Ch'uan made him drink off a goblet of wine till he became thoroughly intoxicated. Sun Ch'uan then presented him with