Yuan Shao was not satisfied. He wrote to Jingzhou Region and sent the letter by a trusty hand to tell Imperial Protector Liu Biao to stop Sun Jian and take away the seal.
Just after this came the news of the defeat and misfortune of Cao Cao, and when he was coming home, Yuan Shao sent out to welcome him and conduct him into camp. They also prepared a feast to console him.shlf
During the feast Cao Cao said sadly, “My object was for the public good, and all you gentlemen nobly supported me. My plan was to get Yuan Shao with his Henei troops to approach Mengching； and my force at Qiao to keep Chenggao； while the others of you to hold Suanzao, to close the passes of Huanyuan and Daigu, and to take possession of the granaries, to control the points of vantage, and thus to secure the Capital District. I planned for Yuan Shu with his Nanyang army to occupy the counties of Danshi and Xilin and go into Wu Pass to help the three supports. All were to fortify their positions and not to fight. Advantage lay in a diverse military coalition that could show the empire a possibility of dealing with the rebellion. We could have convinced the people to side with us against Dong Zhuo. Victory would have been ours at once. But then came delays and doubts and inaction, and the confidence of the people was lost, and I am ashamed.”
[e] Liu Dai was the Imperial Protector of Yanzhou at that time.
No reply was possible and the guests dispersed. Cao Cao saw that the others mistrusted him, and in his heart knew that nothing could be accomplished. So he led off his force to Yanzhou Region*.
then Gongsun Zan said to Liu Bei, “This Yuan Shao is an incapable, and things will turns chaotic. We had better go too.”
So he broke camp and went north. At Pingyuan he left Liu Bei in command and went to strengthen his own position and refresh his troops.
the Imperial Protector of Yanzhou, Liu Dai, wished to borrow grain of the Governor of Dongjun, Qiao Mao. Being denied, Liu Dai attacked the camp, killed Qiao Mao and took over all his army. Yuan Shao seeing the confederacy breaking up also marched away and went east.
On the way home, Sun Jian was passing through Jingzhou Region. The Imperial Protector of Jingzhou, Liu Biao, was a scion of the imperial house and a native of Shanyang. As a young man he had made friends with many famous people, and he and his companions were called the Eight Wise Ones. The other seven were：
Yuan Shu, confused and frightened, had no word to reply.
He ordered the death of the slanderer to placate Sun Jian.
then suddenly they told Sun Jian, “Some officer has come riding down from the Pass to see you, General. He is in the camp.”
Sun Jian therefore took his leave and returned to his own camp, where he found the visitor was Li Jue, one of the much trusted commanders of Dong Zhuo.
“Wherefore come you？” said Sun Jian.
Li Jue replied, “You are the one person for whom my master has respect and admiration, and he sends me to arrange a matrimonial alliance between the two families. He wishes that his daughter may become the wife of your son.”
“What！ Dong Zhuo, that rebel and renegade, that subverter of the Throne！ I wish I could destroy his nine generations as a thank-offering to the empire！ Think you I would be willing to have an alliance with such a family？ I will not slay you as I ought, but go, and go quickly！ Yield the Pass and I may spare your lives. If you delay, I will grind your bones to powder and make mincemeat of your flesh！”
Li Jue threw his arms over his head and ran out. He returned to his master and told him what a rude reception he had met with. Dong Zhuo asked his adviser Li Ru how to reply to this.
Li Ru said, “Lu Bu’s late defeat had somewhat blunted the edge of our army’s desire for battle. It would be well to return to the capital and remove the Emperor to Changan, as the street children had been lately singing：
[hip, hip, hip]“A Han on the west, a Han on the east. The deer （emperor） in Changan shall worry least.”[yip, yip, yip]
Li Ru continued, “If you think out this couplet, it applies to the present juncture. Half the first line refers to the founder of the dynasty, Liu Bang the Supreme Ancestor, who became ruler in the western city of Changan, which was the capital during twelve reigns. The other half corresponds to Liu Xiu the Latter Han Founder who ruled from Luoyang, the eastern capital during twelve latter reigns. The revolution of the heavens brings us back to this starting moment. Thus if you remove to Changan, there will be no need for anxiety.”
Dong Zhuo was exceedingly pleased and said, “Had you not spoken thus, I should not have understood！”
then taking Lu Bu with him, Dong Zhuo started at once for Capital Luoyang.
Here he called all the officials to a GREat council in the
An ancient poet has told of this famous fight in these lines：
the fateful day of Han came in the reigns of Huan and Ling,
their glory declined as the sun sinks at the close of day.
Dong Zhuo, infamous minister of state, pulled down the youthful Bian.
It is true the new Xian was a weakling, too timid for his times.
then Cao Cao proclaimed abroad these wicked deeds,
And the GREat lords, moved with anger, assembled their forces.
In council met they and chose as their oath-chief Yuan Shao,
Pledged themselves to maintain the ruling house and tranquillity.
Of the warriors of that time matchless Lu Bu was the boldest.
His valor and prowess are sung by all within the four seas.
He clothed his body in silver armor like the scales of a dragon,
On his head was a golden headdress with pheasant tails,
About his waist a shaggy belt, the clasp, two wild beasts’ heads with gripping jaws,
His flowing, embroidered robe fluttered about his form,
His swift courser bounded over the plain, a mighty wind following,
His terrible trident halberd FLASHed in the sunlight, bright as a placid lake.
Who dared face him as he rode forth to challenge？
the bowels of the confederate lords were torn with fear and their hearts trembled.
then leaped forth Zhang Fei, the valiant warrior of the north,
Gripped in his mighty hand the long serpent halberd,
His mustache bristled with anger, standing stiff like wire.
His round eyes glared, lightning FLASHes darted from them.
Neither quailed in the fight, but the issue was undecided.
Guan Yu stood out in front, his soul vexed within him,
His GREen-dragon saber shone white as frost in the sunlight,
His bright colored fighting robe fluttered like butterfly wings,
Demons and angels shrieked at the thunder of his horse hoofs,
In his eyes was fierce anger, a fire to be quenched only in blood.
Next Liu Bei joined the battle, gripping his twin sword blades,
“How long it is since we last saw each other！”
replied Lu Bu, bowing in return.
“And where are you now？”
“I am a general in the Imperial Tiger Army.
When I learned you were a strong supporter of the Throne,
I could not say how I rejoiced.
I have come now to present to you a really fine horse,
a five-hundred-mile-a-day horse,
one that crosses rivers and goes up mountains as if they
were the level plain. Its name is Red Hare.
It will be a fitting aid to your valor.”
Lu Bu bade his guards lead out the horse.
It was of a uniform color like glowing-sun
red——not a hair of another color.
It measured ten spans from head to tail and from
hoof to neck eight spans. When it neighed,
the sound filled the empyrean and shook the ocean.
[hip, hip, hip] Mark ye the steed swift and tireless,
see the dust, spurned by his hoofs, rising in clouds,
Now it swims the river, anon climbs the hill,
rending the purple mist asunder,
Scornful it breaks the rein, shakes from its head
the jeweled bridle, It is as a fiery
dragon descending from the highest heaven. [yip, yip, yip]
Lu Bu was delighted with the horse and said,
“What return can I hope to make for such a creature？”
“What return can I hope for？
I came to you out of a sense of what is right,” replied Li Su.
Wine was brought in and they drank.
“We have seen very little of each other,
but I am constantly meeting your honorable father,” said Li Su.
“You are drunk,” said Lu Bu. “My father has been dead for years.”
“Not so； I spoke of Ding Yuan, the man of the day.”
Lu Bu started. “Yes, I am with him, but only because I can do no better.”
“God is helping us,” said Prince Xian.
they followed whither the fireflies led and gradually
got into a road. They walked till their feet were too sore
to go further, when, seeing a heap of straw near the road,
they crept to it and lay down.
This heap of straw was close to a farm house.
In the night, as the farmer was sleeping, he saw in a
vision two bright red suns drop behind his dwelling.
Alarmed by the portent, he hastily dressed and went forth
to look about him. Then he saw a bright light
shooting up from a heap of straw.
He hastened thither and then saw two youths lying behind it.
“To what household do you belong,
young gentlemen？” asked the farmer.
the Emperor was too frightened to reply,
but his companion said, “He is the Emperor.
There was a revolution in the Forbidden City,
and we ran away. I am his brother, Prince of Chenliu.”
the farmer bowed again and again and said,
“My name is Sui Lie. My brother Sui Yi is the former
Minister of the Interior. My brother was
disgusted with the behavior of the eunuchs
and so resigned and hid away here.”
the two lads were taken into the farm,
and their host on his knees served them with refreshment.
It has been said that Min Gong had gone in
pursuit of Eunuch Duan Gui. By and by Min
Gong overtook Duan Gui and cried,
“Where is the Emperor？”
“He disappeared！ I do not know where he is！”
Min Gong slew Duan Gui and hung the
bleeding head on his horse’s neck. Then
he sent his troops searching in all directions,
and he rode off by himself on the same quest.
Presently he came to the farm. Sui Lie,
seeing what hung on his horse’s neck,
Corrupted by these, He Miao
Corrupted by these, He Miao went in to speak with his sister Empress He and said,
“The General is the chief support of the new Emperor, yet he is no
t gracious and merciful but thinks wholly of slaughter.
If he slays the eunuchs without cause, it may bring about revolution.”
Soon after He Jin entered and told her of his design to put the eunuchs to death.
She argued with him, “Those officials look after palace
affairs and are old servants. To kill the old servants just after the
death of their master would appear disrespectful to the dynasty’s ancestral temple.”
And as He Jin was of a vacillating mind, he murmured assent and left her.
“What about it?” said Yuan Shao on meeting him.
“She will not consent. What can be done?”
“Call up an army and slay them. It is imperative. Never mind her consent!”
“That is an excellent plan,” said He Jin. And he sent orders all round to march soldiers to the capital.
But Secretary Chen Lin objected, “Nay! Do not act without due consideration.
The proverb says ‘To cover the eyes and snatch at swallows is to fool oneself.’
If in so small a matter you cannot attain your wish, what of great affairs?
Now by virtue of the emperor and with the army under your hand, you are
like prancing tiger and soaring dragon: You may do as you please. To use such
enormous powers against the eunuchs would bring victory as easily as lighting up
a furnace to burn a hair. Only act promptly: Use your powers and smite at once,
and all the empire will be with you. But to summon forces to the capital,
to gather many bold warriors into one spot, each with different schemes,
is to turn our weapons against our own person,
Nothing but failure can come of it, and havoc will ensue.”
Yuyang being now tranquil,
Liu Bei’s services were reported to
the Throne, and he received full pardon for the insult to the imperial
inspector. He was made Deputy Magistrate of Xiami, then Commanding
Officer of Gaotang. Then Gongsun Zan praised Liu Bei’s former services,
and he was promoted to Magistrate of Pingyuan. This place was very prosperous,
and Liu Bei recovered something of his old manner before the days of adversity.
Liu Yu also received preferment and was promoted to Grand Commander.
In the summer of the six year of Central Stability (AD 189),
Emperor Ling became seriously ill and summoned He Jin into the Palace
to arrange for the future. He Jin had sprung from a humble family of
butchers, but his sister had become a concubine of rank and borne a son to
the Emperor, named Liu Bian. After this she became Empress He,
and He Jin became the powerful Regent Marshal*.
The Emperor had also greatly loved a beautiful girl, Lady Wang,
who had borne him a son named Liu Xian. Empress He had poisoned
Lady Wang from jealousy, and the baby had been given into the care
of Empress Dong, who was the mother of Emperor Ling. Lady Dong
was the wife of Liu Chang, Lord of Jiedu. As time went on and the
Emperor Huan had no son of his own, he adopted the son of Liu Chang,
who succeeded as the Emperor Ling. After his accession, Emperor Ling had
taken his own mother into the Palace to live and had
conferred upon her the title of Empress Dowager.
Empress Dong had always tried to persuade her son to name Liu Xian as the
Heir Apparent, and in fact the Emperor greatly loved the boy and was
disposed to do as his mother desired. When his end was near, one of the eunuchs,
Jian Shuo, said, “If Liu Xian is to succeed, He Jin must be killed to prevent countermoves.”
The Emperor saw this too. He placed Jian Shuo in command of
the eight armies of the West Garden in order to check Liu Bian’s
supporters. And he summoned He Jin to come to him.
But at the very gate of the Forbidden City, He Jin was warned of his
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.
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.”
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