then spoke the Governor of Henei, Wang Kuang, “We have been moved by a noble sense of right to assemble here. Now must we first choose a chief and bind ourselves to obedience.”
then said Cao Cao, “For four generations the highest offices of state have been filled by members of the Yuan family, and their clients and supporters are everywhere. As a descendant of ancient ministers of Han, Yuan Shao is a suitable man to be our chief lord.”
Yuan Shao again and again declined this honor. But they all said, “It must be he！ There is no other！”
And then he aGREed.
So the next day a three-story altar was built, and they planted about it the banners of all parties in five directions of space. And they set up white yaks’ tails and golden axes and emblems of military authority and the seals of leadership round about.
All being ready, the chief lord was invited to ascend the altar. Clad in ceremonial robes and girded with a sword, Yuan Shao reverently ascended. There he burned incense, made obeisance and recited the oath：
“the House of Han has fallen upon evil days, the bands of imperial authority are loosened. The rebel minister, Dong Zhuo, takes advantage of the discord to work evil, and calamity falls upon honorable families. Cruelty overwhelms simple folks. We, Yuan Shao and his confederates, fearing for the safety of the imperial prerogatives, have assembled military forces to rescue the state. We now pledge ourselves to exert our whole strength and act in concord to the utmost limit of our powers. There must be no disconcerted or selfish action. Should any depart from this pledge, may he lose his life and leave no posterity. Almighty Heaven and Universal Earth and the enlightened spirits of our forebears, be ye our witnesses！”
the reading finished, Yuan Shao smeared the blood of the sacrifice upon his lips and upon the lips of those who shared the pledge. All were deeply affected by the ceremony and many shed tears.
This done, the chief lord was supported down from the high place and led to his tent, where he took the highest place and the others arranged themselves according to rank and age. Here wine was served.
Presently Cao Cao said, “It behooves us all to obey the chief we have this day set up, and support the state. There must be no feeling of rivalry or superiority based upon numbers.”
Yuan Shao replied, “Unworthy as I am, yet as elected chief I must impartially reward merit and punish offenses. Let each see to it that he obeys the national laws and the army precepts. These must not be broken.”
“Only thy commands are to be obeyed！” cried all.
then Yuan Shao said, “My brother, Yuan Shu,
is appointed Chief of the Commissariat.
He Jin was panic stricken
and looked about for a way to escape,
but all gates had been shut. the eunuchs closed him in,
and then the assassins appeared and cut He Jin into halves.
[hip, hip, hip] Closing the days of the Hans, and the years
of their rule were near spent, Stupid and tactless was He Jin,
yet stood he highest in office, Many were they who advised him,
but he was deaf as he heard not, Wherefore fell he
a victim under the swords of the eunuchs. [yip, yip, yip]
So He Jin died. Yuan Shao and Cao Cao waited long.
By and by, impatient at the delay,
they called through the gate, “Thy carriage awaits, O General！”
For reply the head of He Jin was flung over the wall.
A decree was proclaimed：
“He Jin has contemplated treachery and therefore
has been slain！ It pardons his adherents.”
Yuan Shao shouted, “the eunuchs have slain the
High Minister. Let those who will slay
this wicked party come and help me！”
then one of He Jin’s generals, Wu Kuang,
set fire to the gate. Yuan Shu at the head of his
guards burst in and fell to slaying the eunuchs
without regard to age or rank. Yuan Shao and
Cao Cao broke into the inner part of the Palace.
Four of the eunuchs——Zhao Zhong, Cheng Kuang,
Xia Yun, and Guo Sheng——fled to the Blue Flower
Lodge where they were hacked to pieces.
Fire raged, destroying the buildings.
Four of the Ten Regular Attendants——Zhang Rang,
Duan Gui, Cao Jie, and Hou Lan——led by Zhang Rang
carried off the Empress, Emperor Bian,
and Prince Xian of Chenliu toward the North Palace.
Lu Zhi, since he had resigned office,
was at home, but hearing of the revolution
in the Palace he donned his armor,
took his spear, and prepared to fight.
He saw Eunuch Duan Gui hurrying
the Empress along and called out,
“You rebel, how dare you abduct the Empress？”
the eunuch fled. The Empress leaped
out of a window and
was taken to a place of safety.
General Wu Kuang burst into one of the
inner halls where he found He Miao, sword in hand.
“You also were in the plot to slay your own
brother,” cried Wu Kuang.
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.
“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.”
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.”
All three being of one mind, next day
“I am Guan Yu,” replied he. “I am a native of the east side of the river, but I have been a fugitive on the waters for some five years,
because I slew a ruffian who, since he was wealthy and powerful, was a bully. I have come to join the army here.”
then Liu Bei told Guan Yu his own intentions, and all three went away to Zhang Fei’s farm where they could talk over the grand project.
Said Zhang Fei, “the peach trees in the orchard behind the house are just in full flower. Tomorrow we will institute a sacrifice there and
solemnly declare our intention before Heaven and Earth, and we three will swear brotherhood and unity of aims and sentiments： Thus will we enter upon our GREat task.”
Both Liu Bei and Guan Yu gladly aGREed.
All three being of one mind, next day they prepared the sacrifices, a black ox, a white horse, and wine for libation. Beneath the smoke of the incense burning on the altar, they bowed their heads and recited this oath：
“We three——Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei——though of different families, swear brotherhood, and promise mutual help to
one end. We will rescue each other in difficulty； we will aid each other in danger. We swear to serve the state and save the people. We ask not the same day of birth, but we seek to die together. May Heaven, the all-ruling, and Earth, the all-producing, read our hearts. If we turn aside from righteousness or forget kindliness, may Heaven and Human smite us！”
they rose from their knees. The two others bowed before Liu Bei as their elder brother, and Zhang Fei was to be the youngest of the trio.
This solemn ceremony performed, they slew other oxen and made a feast to which they invited the villagers. Three hundred joined them, and all feasted and drank deep in the Peach Garden.
Liu Bei was twenty-eight when the outbreak
As a child, Liu Bei played with the other village children beneath this tree, and he would climb up into it, saying, “I am the Son of Heaven,
and this is my chariot！” His uncle, Liu Yuanqi, recognized that Liu Bei was no ordinary boy and saw to it that the family did not come to actual want.
When Liu Bei was fifteen, his mother sent him traveling for his education. For a time he served Zheng Xuan and Lu Zhi as masters. And he became GREat friends with Gongsun Zan.
Liu Bei was twenty-eight when the outbreak of the Yellow Scarves called for soldiers. The sight of the notice saddened him, and he sighed as he read it.
Suddenly a rasping voice behind him cried, “Sir, why sigh if you do nothing to help your country？”
Turning quickly he saw standing there a man about his own height, with a bullet head like a leopard’s, large eyes, a swallow pointed chin,
and whiskers like a tiger’s. He spoke in a loud bass voice and looked as irresistible as a dashing horse. At once Liu Bei saw he was no ordinary man and asked who he was.
“Zhang Fei is my name,” replied the stranger. “I live near here where I have a farm； and I am a wine seller and a butcher as
well； and I like to become acquainted with worthy people. Your sighs as you read the notice drew me toward you.”
Liu Bei replied, “I am of the Imperial Family, Liu Bei is my name. And I wish I could destroy these Yellow Scarves and restore peace to the land, but alas！ I am helpless.”
“I have the means,” said Zhang Fei. “Suppose you and I raised some troops and tried what we could do.”
This was happy news for Liu Bei, and the two betook themselves to the village inn to talk over the project. As they were drinking,
a huge, tall fellow appeared pushing a hand-cart along the road. At the threshold he halted and entered the inn to rest awhile and he called for wine.
and deep red lips. He had eyes like a phoenix’s and fine bushy eyebrows like silkworms. His whole appearance was dignified and awe-inspiring. Presently, Liu Bei crossed over, sat down beside him and asked his name.
A SONG OF A PURE-HEARTED GIRL
Lakka-trees ripen two by two
And mandarin-ducks die side by side.
If a true-hearted girl will love only her husband,
In a life as faithfully lived as theirs,
What troubling wave can arrive to vex
A spirit like water in a timeless well?
A TRAVELLER’S SONG
The thread in the hands of a fond-hearted mother
Makes clothes for the body of her wayward boy;
Carefully she sews and thoroughly she mends,
Dreading the delays that will keep him late from home.
But how much love has the inch-long grass
For three spring months of the light of the sun?
ON A GATE-TOWER AT YUZHOU
Where, before me, are the ages that have gone?
And where, behind me, are the coming generations?
I think of heaven and earth, without limit, without end,
And I am all alone and my tears fall down.
AN OLD AIR
There once was a man, sent on military missions,
A wanderer, from youth, on the You and Yan frontiers.
Under the horses’ hoofs he would meet his foes
And, recklessly risking his seven-foot body,
Would slay whoever dared confront
Those moustaches that bristled like porcupinequills.
…There were dark clouds below
the hills, there were white clouds above them,
But before a man has served full time, how can he go back?
In eastern Liao a girl was waiting, a girl of fifteen years,
Deft with a guitar, expert in dance and song.
…She seems to be fluting, even now, a reed-song of home,
Filling every soldier’s eyes with homesick tears.
A FAREWELL TO MY FRIEND CHEN ZHANGFU
In the Fourth-month the south wind blows plains of yellow barley,
Date-flowers have not faded yet and lakka-leaves are long.
The green peak that we left at dawn we still can see at evening,
While our horses whinny on the road, eager to turn homeward.
…Chen, my friend, you have always been a great and good man,
With your dragon’s moustache, tiger’s eyebrows and your massive forehead.
In your bosom you have shelved away ten thousand volumes.
You have held your head high, never bowed it in the dust.
…After buying us wine and pledging us, here at the eastern gate,
And taking things as lightly as a wildgoose feather,
Flat you lie, tipsy, forgetting the white sun;
But now and then you open your eyes and gaze at a high lone cloud.
…The tide-head of the lone river joins the darkening sky.
The ferryman beaches his boat. It has grown too late to sail.