“Magistrate, what was your origin?”
Liu Bei replied, “I am descended from Prince Sheng of Zhongshan.
Since my first fight with the Yellow Scarves rebels at Zhuo County,
I have been in some thirty battles, wherein I gained some trifling merit. My reward was this office.”
“You lie about your descent, and your statement of services is false!” roared the inspector.
“Now the court has ordered the reduction of your sort of low class and corrupt officials.”
Liu Bei muttered to himself and withdrew. On his return to the magistracy, he took council with his secretaries.
“This pompous attitude only means the inspector wants a bribe,” said they.
“I have never wronged the people to the value of a single coin: Then where is a bribe to come from?”
Next day the inspector had the minor officials before him and forced them to bear witness that their
master had oppressed the people. Liu Bei time after time went to rebut this charge,
but the doorkeepers drove him away and he could not enter.
Now Zhang Fei had been all day drowning his sorrow in wine and had drunk far too much. Calling for
his horse he rode out past the lodging of the inspector, and at the gate saw a small
crowd of white-haired people weeping bitterly. He asked why.
They said, “The inspector has compelled the underlings to bear false witness against our
magistrate, with the desire to injure the virtuous Liu Bei. We came to
beg mercy for him but are not permitted to enter. Moreover, we have been beaten by the doorkeepers.”
This provoked the irascible and half intoxicated Zhang Fei to fury. His eyes opened
wide until they became circles; he ground his teeth; in a moment he was off his steed,
had forced his way past the scared doorkeepers into the building, and was in the rear apartments.
There he saw Imperial Inspector Du Biao sitting on high with the official underlings in bonds at his feet.
“Oppressor of the people, robber!” cried Zhang Fei. “Do you know me?”
But before the inspector could reply, Zhang Fei had had him by the hair and had
dragged him down. Another moment he was outside and firmly lashed to the
hitching post in front of the building. Then breaking off a switch from a willow tree,
Zhang Fei gave his victim a severe thrashing, only staying his hand when the tenth switch was too short to strike with.
Liu Bei was sitting alone, communing with his sorrow, when he heard a shouting before his door. He asked what the matter was.
They told him, “General Zhang Fei had bound somebody to a post and was thrashing him!”
Zhu Jun returned to Capital Luoyang,
was promoted to the General of the Flying Cavalry*,
and received the governorship of Henan. He did not forget those who had helped him to
win victory. Thus he reported the merits of Liu Bei and Sun Jian to the Throne.
Sun Jian, having influential friends and connections to support him, quickly got an appointment
to a post of Commander of Changsha and went to assume the new office. But Liu Bei,
in spite of Zhu Jun’s memorial, waited in vain for preferment, and the three brothers became very sad.
Walking along one day in the capital, Liu Bei met a court official, Zhang Jun, to whom
he related his services and told his sorrows. Zhang Jun was much surprised at
this neglect and one day at court spoke to the Emperor about it.
Said he, “The Yellow Scarves rebelled because the eunuchs sold offices and bartered ranks.
There was employment only for their friends, punishment only for their enemies.
This led to rebellion. Wherefore it would be well to slay the Ten Eunuchs and expose
their heads and proclaim what had been done throughout the whole empire.
Then reward the worthy. Thereby the land would be wholly tranquil.”
But the eunuchs fiercely opposed this and said Zhang Jun was insulting the Emperor,
and the Emperor bade the guards thrust Zhang Jun out.
However, the eunuchs took counsel together and one said, “Surely someone who
rendered some service against rebels resents being passed over.”
So they caused a list of unimportant people to be prepared for preferment by and by.
Among them was Liu Bei, who received the post of magistrate of the county of Anxi, to
which he proceeded without delay after disbanding his army and sending them home
to their villages. He retained two dozens or so as escort.
The three brothers reached Anxi, and soon the administration of the county was so
reformed and the rule so wise that in a month there was no law-breaking. The three
brothers lived in harmony, eating at the same table and sleeping on the same couch.
Guan Yu and Zhang Fei would stand in attendance, were it even a whole day.
Four months after their arrival, there came out a general order for the reduction
of the number of military officers holding civil posts, and Liu Bei began to fear that
he would be among those thrown out. In due course the inspecting official, Du Biao
by name, arrived and was met at the boundary. But to the polite obeisance of Liu Bei,
he made no return, save a wave of his whip as he sat on his horse.
This made Guan Yu and Zhang Fei furious. But worse was to follow.
When the inspector had arrived at his lodging, he took his seat on the dais,
leaving Liu Bei standing below. After a long time he addressed Liu Bei.
Zhu Jun saw that the advice was good
and followed it. As predicted the rebels ran out,
led by Han Zhong. The besiegers fell upon them as they fled, and Han Zhong was slain.
The rebels scattered in all directions. But the other two rebel chieftains, Zhao Hong and
Sun Zhong, came with large reinforcements, and as they appeared very strong, the imperial
soldiers retired, and the new body of rebels reentered Wancheng.
Zhu Jun encamped three miles from the city and prepared to attack. Just then there arrived a
body of horse and foot from the east. At the lead was one general with a broad open face, a body
as an alert tiger’s, and a torso as a lofty bear’s. His name was Sun Jian. He was a native
of Fuchun in the old state of Wu, a descendant of the famous Sun Zi the Strategist*.
When he was seventeen, Sun Jian was with his father on the River Qiantang and saw a party of
pirates, who had been plundering a merchant, dividing their booty on the river bank.
“We can capture these!” said he to his father.
So, gripping his sword, he ran boldly up the bank and cried out to this side and that
as if he was calling his men to come on. This made the pirates believe the soldiers
were on them and they fled, leaving their booty behind them. He actually killed
one of the pirates. In this way be became known and was recommended for office.
Then, in collaboration with the local officials, he raised a band of one thousand and
helped to quell the rebellion of one Xu Chang, who called himself the Sun Emperor
and had ten thousand supporters. The rebel’s son Xu Hao was also slain with his father.
For this Sun Jian was commended by Imperial Protector Zang Min in a memorial to the
Throne, and he received further promotion to the post of
magistrate of Yandu, then of Xuyi, and then of Xiapi.
When the Yellow Scarves rebellion began, Sun Jian gathered together the youths of his
village, some of the merchant class, got a troop of one thousand five hundred of
veteran soldiers and took the field. Now he had reached the fighting area.
Zhu Jun welcomed Sun Jian gladly and ordered him to attack the south gate of Wancheng.
The north and the west gates were simultaneously attacked by Liu Bei and Zhu Jun, but the
east gate was left free to give the rebels a chance of exit. Sun Jian was the first to mount the
wall and cut down more than twenty rebels with his own sword. The rebels ran,
but the leader Zhao Hong rode directly at Sun Jian with his spear ready to thrust. Sun Jian
leaped down from the wall, snatched away the spear and with it knocked Zhao Hong from
The rebels fled north. Meeting Liu Bei, they declined to fight and scattered.
But Liu Bei drew his bow, fitted an arrow, and shot their leader Sun Zhong, who fell to
the ground. The main army of Zhu Jun came up, and after tremendous slaughter,
the rebels surrendered. Thus was peace brought to the ten counties about the Nanyang area.
Hearing these things Zhu Jun
pressed harder yet upon Yangcheng, and the
approaching break-up of the rebellion became evident. Then one of Zhang Ba’s
officers, Yan Zheng, killed his leader and brought the head in token of submission.
Thus rebellion in that part of the country was stamped out, and Zhu Jun made
his report to the government.
However, the embers of the Yellow Scarves still smoldered. Three other rebels,
Zhao Hong, Han Zhong, and Sun Zhong, gathered some thirty thousand rebels
and began to murder and rob and burn, calling themselves the avengers of Master Zhang Jue.
The court commanded the successful Zhu Jun to lead his veteran and successful
troops to destroy the rebels. He at once marched toward the city of Wancheng
which the rebels were holding. When Zhu Jun arrived, Han Zhong went to
oppose him. Zhu Jun sent Liu Bei and his brothers to attack the southwest
corner of the city. Han Zhong at once led the best of his troops to defend
the city. Meanwhile Zhu Jun himself led two thousand of armored horsemen
to attack the opposite corner. The rebels, thinking the city being lost, abandoned
the southwest and turned back into the city to help the defenders. Liu Bei pressed
hotly in their rear, and they were utterly routed. They took refuge in the city which
was then invested. When famine pressed upon the besieged, they sent a messenger
to offer to surrender, but Zhu Jun refused the offer.
Said Liu Bei to Zhu Jun, “Seeing that the founder of the Han Dynasty, Liu Bang the
Supreme Ancestor, could welcome the submissive and receive the favorable, why reject these?”
“The conditions are different,” replied Zhu Jun. “In those old days disorder was
universal and the people had no fixed lord*. Wherefore submission was welcomed
and support rewarded to encourage people to come over. Now the empire is united,
and the Yellow Scarves are the only malcontents. To receive their surrender is not to
encourage the good. To allow brigands, when successful, is to give way to every
license, and to let them surrender when they fail is to encourage brigandage.
Your plan is not a good one.”
Liu Bei replied, “Not to let brigands surrender is well. But the city is
surrounded as by an iron barrel. If the rebels’ request be refused, they will be
desperate and fight to the death, and we can hardly withstood a myriad of such
“Zhang Ba uses magic,” said Zhu Jun.
“Tomorrow, then, will I prepare counter magic in the shape of the blood of slaughtered swine and goats.
This blood shall be sprinkled upon their hosts from the precipices above by soldiers in ambush. Thus shall we be able to break the power of their shamanic art.”
So it was done. Guan Yu and Zhang Fei took each a thousand troops and hid them on the high
cliffs behind the hills, and they had a plentiful supply of the blood of swine and goats and all
manners of filthy things. And so next day, when the rebels with fluttering banners and rolling
drums came out to challenge, Liu Bei rode forth to meet them. At the same moment that the
armies met, again Zhang Ba began his magic and again the elements began to struggle together.
Sand flew in clouds, pebbles were swept along the ground, black masses of vapor filled the sky,
and rolling masses of foot and horse descended from on high. Liu Bei turned, as before, to flee
and the rebels rushed on. But as they pressed through the hills, the trumpets blared, and the hidden
soldiers exploded bombs, threw down filth and spattered blood. The masses of soldiers and horses in
the air fluttered to the earth as fragments of torn paper, the wind ceased to blow, the thunder subsided,
the sand sank, and the pebbles lay still upon the ground.
Zhang Ba quickly saw his magic had been countered and turned to retire. Then he was attacked on the
flanks by Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, and in rear by Liu Bei and Zhu Jun. The rebels were routed. Liu Bei,
seeing from afar the banner of Zhang Ba The Lord of Earth, galloped toward it but only succeeded in
wounding Zhang Ba with an arrow in the left arm. Wounded though he was,
Zhang Ba got away into the city of Yangcheng, where he fortified himself and was besieged by Zhu Jun.
Scouts, sent out to get news of Huangfu Song, reported: “Commander Huangfu Song had been
very successful, and Dong Zhuo had suffered many reverses. Therefore the court put Huangfu
Song in the latter’s place. Zhang Jue had died before Huangfu Song’s arrival. Zhang Lian had
added his brother’s army to his own, but no headway could be made against Huangfu Song,
was sent to Capital Luoyang. The common crowd had surrendered. For these services Huangfu
Song was promoted to General of the Flying Chariots* and the Imperial Protector of Jizhou*.
“Huangfu Song did not forget his friends. His first act after he had attained to power was to
memorialize the Throne concerning the case of Lu Zhi, who was then restored to his former
rank for his meritorious conducts. Cao Cao also received advancement
for his services and is preparing to go to Jinan to his new post.”
Zhang Fei Whips The Government Officer;
He Jin Plots To Kill The Eunuchs.
Dong Zhuo was born in the far northwest at Lintao in the West Valley Land. As the governor
of Hedong, Dong Zhuo himself was arrogant and overbearing. But the day he had treated Liu
Bei with contumely had been his last, had not Liu Bei and Guan Yu restrained their wrathful brother Zhang Fei.
“Remember he has the government commission,” said Liu Bei. “Who are we to judge and slay?”
“It is bitter to take orders from such a wretch. I would rather slay him! You may stay here if you wish to, but I will seek some other place,” said Zhang Fei.
“We three are one in life and in death; there is no parting for us. We will all go hence.”
So spoke Liu Bei, and his brother was satisfied. Wherefore all three set out and lost no time
in traveling until they came to Zhu Jun, who received them well and accepted their aid in
attacking Zhang Ba. At this time Cao Cao had joined himself to Huangfu Song, and they
were trying to destroy Zhang Lian, and there was a great battle at Quyang.
Zhang Ba was commanding some eighty thousand troops. The rebel had led his army to a strong
position in the rear of the hills. An attack being decided upon, Liu Bei was the van leader. On the
rebel side a general of Zhang Ba, Gao Sheng, came out to offer battle. Liu Bei sent Zhang Fei to smite
Gao Sheng. Out rode Zhang Fei at full speed, his spear ready set. After a few bouts Zhang Fei wounded
Gao Sheng, who was unhorsed. At this Liu Bei signaled the main army to advance.
Then Zhang Ba, while still mounted, loosened his hair, grasped his sword, and uttered his incantations.
Thereupon began the wind to howl and the thunder to roll, while a dense black cloud from the heavens s
ettled upon the field. And therein seemed to be horsemen and footmen innumerable, who swept to attack
Lu Zhi explained,
“I had surrounded the rebels and was on the point of smashing them, when Zhang
Jue employed some of his supernatural powers and prevented my victory. The court sent down Eunuch
Zhuo Feng to inquire into my failure, and that official demanded a bribe. I told him how hard pressed we
were and asked him where, in the circumstances, I could find a gift for him. He went away in wrath and
reported that I was hiding behind my ramparts and would not give battle and that I disheartened my army.
So I was superseded by Dong Zhuo, and I have to go to the capital to answer the charge.”
This story put Zhang Fei into a rage. He was for slaying the escort and setting free Lu Zhi. But Liu Bei checked him.
“the government will take the due course,” said Liu Bei. “You must not act hastily！”
And the escort and the three brothers went two ways.
It was useless to continue on that road to Guangzong, so Guan Yu proposed to go back to Zhuo, and they retook the road.
Two days later they heard the thunder of battle behind some hills. Hastening to the top, they beheld the government soldiers
suffering GREat loss, and they saw the countryside was full of Yellow Scarves. On the rebels’ banners were the words Zhang Jue the Lord of Heaven written large.
“We will attack this Zhang Jue！” said Liu Bei to his brothers, and they galloped out to join in the battle.
Zhang Jue had worsted Dong Zhuo and was following up his advantage. He was in hot pursuit when the three brothers dashed
into his army, threw his ranks into confusion, and drove him back fifteen miles. Then the brothers returned with the rescued general to his camp.
“What offices have you？” asked Dong Zhuo, when he had leisure to speak to the brothers.
“None,” replied they.
“We have just rescued this menial in a bloody fight,” cried Zhang Fei, “and now he is rude to us！ Nothing but his death can slake my anger.”
the seer made no reply,
and again and again Cao Cao pressed the question.
then Xu Shao replied, “In peace you are an able subject； in chaos you are a crafty hero！”
Cao Cao GREatly rejoiced to hear this.
Cao Cao graduated at twenty and earned a reputation of piety and integrity. He began his career as
Commanding Officer in a county within the Capital District. In the four gates of the city he guarded,
he hung up clubs of various sorts, and he would punish any breach of the law whatever the rank of the
offender. Now an uncle of Eunuch Jian Shuo* was found one night in the streets with a sword and was
arrested. In due course he was beaten. Thereafter no one dared to offend again, and Cao Cao’s name
became heard. Soon he became a magistrate of Dunqiu.
At the outbreak of the Yellow Scarves, Cao Cao held the rank of General and was given command of five
thousand horse and foot to help fight at Yingchuan. He just happened to fall in with the newly defeated
rebels whom he cut to pieces. Thousands were slain and endless banners and drums and horses were captured,
together with huge sums of money. However, Zhang Ba and Zhang Lian got away； and after an interview with
Huangfu Song, Cao Cao went in pursuit of them.
Meanwhile Liu Bei and his brothers were hastening toward Yingchuan, when they heard the din of battle and saw
flames rising high toward the sky. But they arrived too late for the fighting. They saw Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun to whom they told the intentions of Lu Zhi.
“the rebel power is quite broken here,” said the commanders, “but they will surely make for Guangzong to join Zhang Jue. You can do nothing better than hasten back.”
So Liu Bei set off and marched
as quickly as possible to Yingchuan. At that time the imperial
troops were attacking with success, and the rebels had retired upon Changshe. They had encamped among the thick grass.
Seeing this, Huangfu Song said to Zhu Jun, “the rebels are camping in the field. We can attack them by fire.”
So the Imperial Commanders bade every man cut a bundle of dry grass and laid an ambush. That night the
wind blew a gale, and at the second watch they started a blaze. At the same time Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun’s
troops attacked the rebels and set their camp on fire. The flames rose to the very heaven. The rebels were thrown
into GREat confusion. There was no time to saddle horses or don armor： They fled in all directions.
the battle continued until dawn. Zhang Lian and Zhang Ba, with a group of flying rebels, found a way of escape.
But suddenly a troop of soldiers with crimson banners appeared to oppose them. Their leader was a man of medium
stature with small eyes and a long beard. He was Cao Cao, a Beijuo man,
holding the rank of Cavalry Commander. His father was Cao Song, but he was not really a Cao. Cao Song had
been born to the Xiahou family, but he had been brought up by Eunuch Cao Teng and had taken this family name.
As a young man Cao Cao had been fond of hunting and delighted in songs and dancing. He was resourceful and full of
guile. An uncle, seeing the young fellow so unsteady, used to
get angry with him and told his father of his misdeeds. His father remonstrated with him.
But Cao Cao made equal to the occasion. One day, seeing
his uncle coming, he fell to the ground in a pretended fit. The
uncle alarmed ran to tell his father, who came, and there was the youth in most perfect health.
“But your uncle said you were in a fit. Are you better？” said his father.
“I have never suffered from fits or any such illness,” said Cao Cao. “But I have lost my
uncle’s affection, and he has deceived you.”
thereafter, whatever the uncle might say of his faults, his father paid no heed.
So the young man GREw up licentious and uncontrolled.
A man of the time named Qiao Xuan said to Cao Cao, “Rebellion is at hand, and
only a man of the GREatest ability can succeed in restoring tranquillity. That man is yourself.”
fall. He who can restore peace is this man and only he.”
When weapons were ready, the
troop, now five hundred strong,
marched to Commander Zhou Jing, who presented them to Imperial Protector Liu Yan.
When the ceremony of introduction was over, Liu Bei declared his
ancestry, and Liu Yan at once accorded him the esteem due to a relation.
Before many days it was announced that the rebellion had actually broken out, and a Yellow Scarves chieftain, Cheng Yuanzhi, had invaded the region with a body of fifty thousand rebels. Liu Yan
bade Zhou Jing and the three brothers to go out to oppose them with the five hundred troops. Liu Bei joyfully undertook to lead the van and marched to the foot of the Daxing Hills where they saw
the rebels. The rebels wore their hair flying about their shoulders, and their foreheads were bound with yellow scarves.
When the two armies had been drawn up opposite each other, Liu Bei rode to the front, Guan Yu to his left, Zhang Fei to his right.
Flourishing his whip, Liu Bei began to hurl reproaches at the rebels, crying, “O malcontents！ Why not dismount and be bound？”
their leader Cheng Yuanzhi, full of rage, sent out one general, Deng Mao, to begin the battle. At once rode forward Zhang Fei, his serpent halberd poised to strike. One thrust and Deng Mao rolled
off his horse, pierced through the heart. At this Cheng Yuanzhi himself whipped up his steed and rode forth with sword raised ready to slay Zhang Fei. But Guan Yu swung up his ponderous
GREen-dragon saber and rode at Cheng Yuanzhi. At the sight, fear seized upon Cheng Yuanzhi, and before he could defend himself, the great saber fell, cutting him in halves.
After the celebrations in honor of victory were over, Commander Zhou Jing proposed to return to Youzhou.
But Liu Bei said, “We are informed that Imperial Commander Lu Zhi has been struggling with a horde of rebels led
by Zhang Jue at Guangzong. Lu Zhi was once my teacher, and I want to go help him.”
So Liu Bei and Zhou Jing separated, and the three brothers with their troops made their way to Guangzong. They found Lu Zhi’s camp,
were admitted to his presence, and declared the reason of their coming. The Commander received them with GREat joy, and they remained with him while he made his plans.
At that time Zhang Jue’s one hundred fifty thousand troops and Lu Zhi’s