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he sent off Wei Yen to make a frontal attack on the Pass while he himself with some light horse attacked it from the rear by way of Tzúchang Mount.
Chang Ho was grieved and disappointed that his colleague sent no help, and the news of Wei Yen's attack only added to his sorrow. But he girded on his armour and was about to ride out when they told him that fires had started at half a dozen places behind the Pass. They most likely indicated soldiers. However, he went out to meet them, and, to his horror, when the flags opened out, his eyes fell on the figure of Chang Fei. Away he ran along a by-road.
But his steed was not fast, and as Chang Fei pressed him close, Chang Ho dismounted and ran up the mountain side. So he saved his life. He had, however, very few followers, and it was a small and dejected party that presently found its way nto Nanch'êng. He saw Ts'ao Hung, and Ts'ao was very angry at his plight.
"I told you not to go, but you were wilful. And you gave in your written pledge. You have lost all your men, yet you do not commit suicide. What will you do next?”
Ts'ao Hung ordered the lictors to put him to death. But the Commissary General interceded.
"An army is easily raised; a leader is hard to find. Though Chang Ho is guilt, he is a great favourite with our prince. I think you should spare him. Rather give him command of another army and send him to take Chiaming Pass and so hold up the soldiers at all the stations. Hanchung will be tranquil of its own accord. If he fail a second time you can punish him for both faults."
Ts'ao Hung was satisfied to do this, and instead of dealing with his fault gave Chang Ho half a legion and told him to take the Pass.
The captains of the Pass he was to capture were Mêng Ta and Ho Hsün. They were at variance—the former desiring to go out to meet Chang Ho, the letter being in favour of defence. Mêng Ta being set on having his way went out, gave battle and was defeated. Ho Hsün reported this to the capital, where Yüan-tê at once called in the Commander-in-chief to ask advice. Kʻung-ming assembled all the chief captains into the hall.
"Chiaming Pass is in danger; we must get Chang Fei from Langchung to drive off Chang Ho," said he.
Fa Chêng replied, “Chang Fei is encamped at Wak'ou, and Langchung is no less important than Chiaming. I do not think he should be recalled. Choose one among the captains to go and defeat Chang Ho."
K‘ung-ming laughed, “Chang Ho is renowned in Wei; no ordinary leader will avail. Chang Fei is the only man to send, the only one equal to the task.”
Then among the captains one started up crying angrily, “O Commander, why do you thus despise us? I will use what little skill I have in slaying our enemy and I will lay his head at the foot of our standard."
The speaker was the veteran Huang Chung, and all eyes centred on him.
“Friend Huang, you are bold enough, but what about your age? I fear you are no match for Chang Ho.”
Huang Chung's white beard bristled, and he said, "I know I am old. But these two arms can still pull the three hundred catty bow, and the vigour of my body is not yet departed. Am I not strong enough to meet such a poor thing as Chang Ho ?”
“General, you are nearly seventy, can you still hold you are not aged ?”
Huang tore down the hall. Seizing one of the great swords off the rack he whirled it as if it flew. And the stiffest bow that hung on the wall he pulled till it snapped.
"Well, if you will go, who will second you?" said K‘ung-ming.
“I would prefer Yen Yen. And if there is the least anxiety, -well, here is this hoary head."
Yüan-tê was pleased to let these two go to fight Chang Ho. However, Chao Yün put in a protest.
"Chang Ho has already got through Chiaming Pass, so that the fighting will be no child's play, and the loss of that Pass endangers the whole of Ichou. It is no task to set to a couple of old men.”
Replied K‘ung-ming, “You regard the two as too old and stupid to succeed, but I think the attainment of Hanchung depends upon these two."
Chao Yün and many others sniggered as they went from the hall; they did not agree with Kʻung-ming.
In due course the veteran captain and his chosen colleague arrived at the Pass. At sight of them the defenders laughed in their hearts, thinking that in sending such a pair of dotards on such a mission K‘ung-ming had slipped up in his calculations.
Huang Chung said to his colleague, “You see the behaviour of these people? They are laughing at us because we are old. Now we will do something that will win admiration from all the world."
"I should be glad to hear your orders,” replied Yen Yen.
The two captains came to a decision how to act. Huang Chung led his men down below to meet Chang Ho in the open plain. Both drew up their array. When Chang Ho rode out and saw his venerable opponent he laughed in his face.
“You must be very old, and yet you are unashamed to go into the battle, eh?” said Chang Ho.
"You menial!" replied the veteran. "Do you despise me for my age? You will find my good sword, however, young enough."
So he urged forward his steed and rode at Chang Ho. The two chargers met and a score of bouts were fought. Then suddenly a great shouting came from the rear. Yen had come up and fallen upon the rear portion of Chang Ho's army. Thus attacked on two sides, Chang Ho was defeated. The pursuit did not cease with nightfall, and Chang Ho was driven back near a hundred li. Contented with this success, Huang and his colleague went into their camp, where they rested their men for a time.
When Ts'ao Hung heard of Chang Ho's new defeat, he was going to exact the penalty. But Kuo Chun persuaded him to forbear.
"If he is pressed too hard he may take refuge in Shu,” said he. “Rather send him help. You will thus keep a hold over him and prevent his desertion."
Wherefore Hsiahou Shang was sent with reinforcements. This Shang was a nephew of Hsiahou Tun. The brother of Han Yuan, Han Hao by name, was also sent. They had half a legion.
The two captains soon reached Chang Ho, and asked how now the war was going.
“That old man Huang is really a hero," said Chang; "and with Yen Yen's help he is very formidable.”
"When I was at Changsha I heard the old man was very fierce. He and Wei Yen yielded the city and killed my own brother. Now that I shall meet him I can have my revenge,” said Han Hao.
So he and Hsiahou Shang led out the new army.
Now, by means of spies Huang had got a thorough knowledge of the country, and Yen said, "Hereabout there is a mountain named “T'ientang” wherein Ts'ao Ts'ao has stored his supplies. If we can gain possession we shall reduce the enemy to want and we shall get Hanchung."
Huang replied, “I think so, too, and so let us do so-and-so."
Yen agreed with him and marched off with a body of men to carry out his part in the stratagem.
At news of the coming of new armies, Huang Chung marched out to meet them. He found Han Hao in front of his array, and Han began to abuse the veteran as a disgraceful old ruffian. Then he whipped up his steed and set his spear at Huang. Hsiahou Shang also rode out and took part in the combat. The veteran held them both at bay for some half score bouts and then fied. They pursued him for twenty li, when they reached and seized his camp. Huang, however, quickly made another defence of brushwood. Next day they renewed the pursuit, which ended with the capture of the temporary camp of the day before. And they had advanced twenty li further. Then they called upon Chang Ho to protect the rear camp. When Chang Ho came up he dissuaded them from continuing.
"Huang Chung has retreated before you for two days; there is some deep stratagem behind this," said Chang Ho.
Hsiahou Shang scoffed at him. "You are such a coward that you have been defeated many times. Now say no more, but let us accomplish something."
Chang Ho retired much mortified and shamed. Next day the two captains again went out to battle, and again Huang fled from them for twenty li. The two captains pursued as quickly as they could. The day after, Huang fled without any pretence of showing fight, except at short intervals. He got to the Pass and went on the defensive. The pursuers knocked at the very gate of the Pass and made a camp close by.
Then Mêng Ta secretly wrote to Yüan-tê that Huang Chung had been repeatedly defeated and now was in the Pass and unable to go out. Yüan-tê became alarmed and consulted Kʻung-ming, who said, “The old captain is making the enemy over-confident,—to their ultimate destruction. But Chao Yün did not share this opinion, nor did many others, and Yüan-tê decided to send Liu Fêng to reinforce his aged captain. The young man came to the Pass and saw Huang, who asked him bluntly why he had come to help.
“My father heard that you have sustained several defeats, and he has sent me," said Liu Fêng.
“But I am only employing the ruse of leading on the enemy,” said Huang Chung, smiling. “You will see to-night that in one battle I shall regain all the camps and capture their supplies and many horses. I have only lent the camps to them to store their supplies. To-night I shall leave Ho Hsün to guard the Pass, while General Mêng will gather up the spoils for us. Now, young Sir, you shall see the destruction of the enemy.”
That same night, at the second watch, Huang left the Pass with half a legion. But now Hsiahou Shang and Han Hao, seeing no move from the Pass for many days, had become careless and so their camps were unable to resist. Their men had no time to don their armour or to saddle their horses. All the leaders did was to flee for their lives, while their men trampled each other down and were killed in great numbers. All three camps were recovered by dawn, and in them were found all sorts of military equipment. Horses and their caparisons also fell to the victors, and all the booty was carried off by Mêng Ta and stored in the Pass.
Huang Chung pressed on his victory. Liu Fêng ventured to say that the men needed repose.
“Can you seize the tiger's whelps without going into the tiger's den?” cried Huang. And he urged on his steed.
The soldiers also were eager. Chang Ho's own army was thrown into confusion by the flying men from the other armies, and he could not maintain his station, but was forced to retreat. They abandoned all their stockades and rushed to the bank of the Han Waters.
Then Chang Ho sought the two captains who had brought about the misfortune and said to them, “This is T‘ientang Mountain, where our stores are. Close by is Mits'ang Mountain, where the grain is stored. They are the very source of life of the Hanchung army. Lose them and Hanchung is gone too. We must see to their security.”
Hsiahou Shang said, "My uncle, Hsiahou Yuan, will look out for the defence of the mountain where the granaries are: there need be no anxiety about that as it is hard by Tingchün Mount and my brother, Hsiahou Tê, guards T‘ientang Mountain. Let us go to him and help to protect that.”
Chang Ho and the two captains set out at once. They reached the mountain and told Hsiahou Tê all that had happened.
“I have ten legions in camp here," replied he. “You may take some of them and recover your lost camps."
"No," replied Chang Ho. “The only proper course to defend.”
Almost as they spoke the rolling of drums and the clang of gongs were heard, and the look-outs came to say that Huang Chung was near.
“The old ruffian does not know much of the art of war, after all," said Hsiahou Tê with a laugh; "he is only a brave.
“Be not mistaken; he is crafty and not only bold,” said Chang Ho.
“This move is against the rules and not at all crafty. He is fresh from a long march and his men are fatigued and they are deep in an enemy's country."
“Nevertheless, be careful how you attack," said Chang Ho. "You would still do well to depend upon defence only."
“Give me three companies of good men and I will cut him to pieces," cried Han Hao.
They told off the three companies for him, and down he went into the plain. As he approached, Huang Chung arrayed his men. Liu Fêng put in a note of warning that it was late in the day to fight and the men were weary, but Huang paid little attention.
"I do not hold with your objections. This is the one Godgiven opportunity to make good, and it would be a sin not to take it."
So saying, the drums rolled for a great attack. Han Hao came forward with his men and the aged captain went toward him whirling his sword. In the first encounter Han Hao fell. At this the men of Shu gave a yell and went away up the hill, whereupon Chang Ho and Hsiahou Shang hastily moved out to withstand them. But a great red glare sprang into the sky from behind the hill, and a shouting arose. Hastily Hsiahou Tê led off his men to meet the danger there and went straight