Seeing he could not persuade Liu Bei, Tao Qian then said, “As you are set in determination, perhaps you will consent to encamp at Xiaopei. It is only a little town, but thence you can keep watch and ward over the region.”
they all with one voice prayed Liu Bei to consent, so he gave in. The feast of victory being now ended, the time came to say farewell. When Zhao Yun took his leave, Liu Bei held his hands alternately while dashing away the falling tears. Kong Rong and Tien Kai went home to their own places.
When Liu Bei and his brothers took up their abode in Xiaopei, they first repaired the defenses, and then they put out proclamations in order to calm the inhabitants.
In the meantime Cao Cao had marched toward his own region.
Cao Ren met and told him, “Lu Bu is very powerful, and he has Chen Gong as adviser. Yanzhou is as good as lost, with the exception of three counties which have been vigorously and desperately defended by Xun Yu and Cheng Yu.”
Cao Cao said, “I own that Lu Bu is a bold fighter but nothing more； he has no craft. So we need not fear him seriously.”
then he gave orders to make a strong camp till they could think out some victorious plan.
Lu Bu, knowing of Cao Cao’s return, called two of his subordinate generals, Xue Lan and Li Fang, to him and assigned to them the task of holding the city of Yanzhou, saying, “I have long waited for opportunity to employ your skill. Now I give you ten thousand soldiers, and you are to hold the city while I go forth to attack Cao Cao.”
At one of these, when the feasting was over, he proceeded with his wish of retirement in favor of Liu Bei.
Placing Liu Bei in the seat of highest honor, Tao Qian bowed before him and then addressed the assembly, “I am old and feeble, and my two sons lack the ability to hold so important an office as this. The noble Liu Bei is a descendant of the imperial house. He is of lofty virtue and GREat talent. Let him then take over the rule of this region, and only too willingly I shall retire to have leisure to nurse my health.”
Liu Bei replied, “I came at the request of Governor Kong Rong, because it was the right thing to do. Xuzhou is saved； but if I take it, surely the world will say I am a wicked man.”
Mi Zhu said, “You may not refuse. the House of Han is falling, their realm is crumbling, and now is the time for doughty deeds and signal services. This is a fertile region, well populated and rich, and you are the man to rule over it.”
“But I cannot accept,” said Liu Bei.
“Imperial Protector Tao Qian is a GREat sufferer,” said Chen Deng, “and cannot see to matters. You may not decline, Sir.”
Said Liu Bei, “Yuan Shu belongs to a family of rulers, who have held the highest offices of state four times in three generations. The multitude people respects him. Why not invite him to this task？”
“Because Yuan Shu is a drying skeleton in a dark tomb： Not worth talking about. This opportunity is a gift from Heaven, and you will never cease to reGREt its loss,” said Kong Rong.
So spoke Kong Rong, but still Liu Bei obstinately refused.
Tao Qian besought him with tears, saying, “I shall die if you leave me, and there will be none to close my eyes.”
About this time Pang Shu, who had been hiding and protecting Lu Bu’s
family in Changan since his disappearance, restored them to him. This deed angered Li Jue and Guo Si so that they put Pang Shu to death and wrote to Lu Bu’s protector to serve him the same. To escape this Lu Bu once again had to flee and this time joined himself to Zhang Miao, the Governor of Chenliu.
Lu Bu arrived just as Zhang Miao’s brother, Zhang Chao, was introducing Chen Gong.
Chen Gong said to Zhang Miao, “the rupture of the empire has begun, and warriors are seizing what they can. It is strange that you, with all the advantages of population and provisions you enjoy, do not strike for independence. Cao Cao has gone on an expedition against the east, leaving his own territory defenseless. Lu Bu is one of the fighting people of the day. If you and he together attacked and got Yanzhou, you could then proceed to the dominion.”
Zhang Miao was pleased and resolved to try. He ordered an attack, and soon Lu Bu was in possession of Yanzhou and its neighborhood, all but three small counties of Juancheng, Fanxia, and Dongjun, which were vigorously and desperately defended by Xun Yu and Cheng Yu in concert. Cao Cao’s cousin, Cao Ren, had fought many battles but was repeatedly defeated, and the messenger with the evil tidings had come from him asking prompt help.
Cao Cao was GREatly disturbed by this and said, “If my own region be lost, I have no home to return to. I must do something at once.”
“the best thing would be to become friends with Liu Bei at any cost and return to Yanzhou,” said Guo Jia.
then Cao Cao wrote to Liu Bei,
“Since meeting you outside the pass, fate has assigned us to different quarters of the world, and I have not been able to pay my respects to you. Touching the death of your noble father, it was owing to the vicious nature of Zhang Kai and due to no fault of Tao Qian. Now while the remnant of the Yellow Scarves is disturbing the
lands, and Dong Zhuo’s partisans have the upper hand in the capital, I wish that you, Illustrious Sir, would regard the critical position of the court rather than your personal grievances, and so divert
your forces from the attack on Xuzhou to the rescue of the state. Such would be for the happiness of that city and the whole empire.”
Cao Cao gave vent to a torrent of abuse： “Who is this Liu Bei that he dares write and exhort me？ Beside, he means to be satirical.”
Cao Cao issued orders to put the bearer of the letter to death and to press on the siege.
But Guo Jia remonstrated, saying, “Liu Bei has come from afar to help Tao Qian, and he is trying the effect of politeness before resorting to arms. I pray you, my lord, reply with fair words
that his heart may be lulled with a feeling of safety. Then attack with vigor and the city will fall.”
Cao Cao found this advice good, so he spared the messenger, telling him to wait to carry back his reply. While this was going on, a horseman came with news of misfortune： “Lu Bu has invaded Yanzhou,
now holding Puyang. The three counties left——Juancheng, Fanxia, and Dongjun——are under severe attacks.”
[e] Zhang Yang was among the eighteen lords who rallied against Dong Zhou at the Tiger Trap Pass.
When Li Jue and Guo Si, the two partisans of Dong Zhuo, succeeded in their attack on the capital, Lu Bu had fled to Yuan Shu. However, Yuan Shu looked
askance at him for his instability and refused to receive him. Then Lu Bu went to try Yuan Shao, who was a brother of Yuan Shu. Yuan Shao accepted
the warrior and made use of him in an attack upon Zhang Yan in Changshan.
But his success filled him with pride, and his arrogant demeanor so annoyed the other commanders that Yuan Shao was on the
“What does this mean？” said Liu Bei.
Tao Qian said, “there is trouble on every side, and the kingly rule is no longer maintained. You, Sir, are a member of the family and eminently fitted to support them and their prerogatives. I am verging on senility, and I wish to retire in your favor. I pray you not to decline, and I will report my action to the court.”
Liu Bei started up from his seat and bowed before his host, saying, “Scion of the family I may be, but my merit is small and my virtue meager. I doubt my fitness even for my present post, and only a feeling of doing right sent me to your assistance. To hear such speech makes me doubt. Surely you think I came with GREed in my heart. May God help me no more if I cherished such a thought.”
“It is a poor old man’s real sentiment,” said Tao Qian.
Time after time Tao Qian renewed his offer to entrust the region of Xuzhou to Liu Bei, but Liu Bei kept refusing.
In the midst of this came Mi Zhu, saying, “The enemies had reached the wall, and something must be done to drive them off. The present matter could await a more tranquil time.”
Said Liu Bei, “I ought to write to Cao Cao to press him to raise the siege. If he refuses, we will attack forthwith.”
Orders were sent to the three camps outside to remain quiescent till the letter could reach Cao Cao.
It happened that Cao Cao was holding a council when a messenger with a war letter was announced.
Presently Liu Bei came up and went to see Kong Rong, who said, “the enemy is very powerful, and Cao Cao handles his army skillfully. We must be cautious. Let us make most careful observations before we strike a blow.”
“What I fear is famine in the city,” said Liu Bei. “They cannot hold out very long. I will put my troops with yours under your command, while I with Zhang Fei make a dash through to see Tao Qian and consult with him.”
Kong Rong approved of this, so he and Tien Kai took up positions on the ox-horn formation, with Guan Yu and Zhao Yun on either side to support them.
When Liu Bei and Zhang Fei leading one thousand troops made their dash to get through Cao Cao’s army, they got as far as the flank of his camp when there arose a GREat beating of drums, and horse and foot rolled out like billows on the ocean. The leader was Yu Jin.
Yu Jin checked his steed and called out, “You mad men from somewhere, where are you going？”
Zhang Fei heard Yu Jin but deigned no reply. He only rode straight to attack the speaker. After they had fought a few bouts, Liu Bei waved his double swords as signal for his troops to come on, and they drove Yu Jin before them. Zhang Fei led the pursuit and in this way they reached the city wall.
From the city wall, the besieged saw a huge banner embroidered in white Liu Bei of Pingyuan, and the Imperial Protector bade them open the gate for the rescuers to enter. Liu Bei was made very welcome, conducted to the residency, and a banquet prepared in his honor. The soldiers also were feasted.
Tao Qian was delighted with Liu Bei,
Kong Rong pressed rewards upon Taishi Ci, but he would accept nothing and departed. When his mother saw him, she was pleased at his success saying she rejoiced that he had been able to prove his gratitude, and after this he departed for Yangzhou.
Liu Bei went away to his friend Gongsun Zan and laid before Gongsun Zan his design to help Xuzhou.
“Cao Cao and you are not enemies. Why do you spend yourself for the sake of another？” said Gongsun Zan.
“I have promised,” Liu Bei replied, “and dare not break faith.”
“I will lend you two thousand horse and foot,” said Gongsun Zan.
“Also I wish to have the services of Zhao Yun,” said Liu Bei.
Gongsun Zan aGREed to this also. they marched away, Liu Bei’s own troops being in the front, and Zhao Yun, with the borrowed troops, being in rear.
In due course Mi Zhu returned saying that Kong Rong had also obtained the services of Liu Bei. The other messenger, Chen Deng, came back and reported that Tien Kai would also bring help. Then was Tao Qian’s heart set at ease.
But both the leaders, though they had promised aid, GREatly dreaded their antagonist and camped among the hills at a great distance,
the victors were welcomed into the city, and as soon as possible a banquet was prepared in their honor. Mi Zhu was presented to Liu Bei. Mi Zhu related the story of the murder of Cao Song by Zhang Kai, Cao Cao’s vengeful attack on Xuzhou, and his coming to beg for assistance.
Liu Bei said, “Imperial Protector Tao Qian is a kindly man of high character, and it is a pity that he should suffer this wrong for no fault of his own.”
“You are a scion of the imperial family,” said Governor Kong Rong, “and this Cao Cao is injuring the people, a strong man abusing his strength. Why not go with me to rescue the sufferers？”
“I dare not refuse, but my force is weak and I must act cautiously,” said Liu Bei.
“Though my desire to help arises from an old friendship, yet it is a righteous act as well. I do not think your heart is not inclined toward the right,” said Kong Rong.
Liu Bei said, “This being so, you go first and give me time to see Gongsun Zan from whom I may borrow more troops and horses. I will come anon.”
“You surely will not break your promise？” said the Governor.
“What manner of man think you that I am？” said Liu Bei. “the wise one said, ‘Death is common to all； the person without truth cannot maintain the self.’ Whether I get the troops or not, certainly I shall myself come.”
So the plan was aGREed to. Mi Zhu set out to return forthwith while Kong Rong prepared for his expedition.
Taishi Ci took his leave, saying,
“My mother bade me come to your aid,
and now happily you are safe.
Thus he got clear away and rode in hot haste to Liu Bei. Taishi Ci reached Pingyuan, and after GREeting his host in proper form he told how Kong Rong was surrounded and had sent him for help. then he presented the letter which Liu Bei read.
“And who are you？” asked Liu Bei.
“I am Taishi Ci, a fellow from Laihuang. I am not related by ties of kin to Kong Rong, nor even by ties of neighborhood, but I am by the bonds of sentiment and I share his sorrows and misfortunes. The Yellow Scarves have invested his city, and he is distressed with none to turn to, and destruction is very near. You are known as humane, righteous, and eager to help the distressed. Therefore at his command I have braved all dangers and fought my way through his enemies to pray you save him.”
Liu Bei smiled, saying, “And does he know there is a Liu Bei in this world？”
So Liu Bei, together with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, told off three thousand troops and set out to help raise the siege. When the rebel leader Guan Hai saw these new forces arriving, he led out his army to fight them, thinking he could easily dispose of so small a force.
the brothers and Taishi Ci with them sat on their horses in the forefront of their array. Guan Hai hastened forward. Taishi Ci was ready to fight, but Guan Yu had opened the combat. He rode forth and the two steeds met. The soldiers set up a GREat noise. After a few bouts Guan Yu’s green-dragon saber rose and fell, and with the stroke fell the rebel leader.
This was the signal for Zhang Fei and Taishi Ci to take a share, and they advanced side by side. With their spears ready they dashed in, and Liu Bei urged forward his force. The besieged Governor saw his doughty rescuers laying low the rebels as tigers among a flock of sheep. None could withstand them,
Presently said Taishi Ci, “Give me a thousand soldiers, and I will go out and drive off these fellows.”
“You are a bold warrior, but they are very numerous. It is a serious matter to go out among them,” said Kong Rong.
“My mother sent me because of your goodness to her. How shall I be able to look her in the face if I do not raise the siege？ I would prefer to conquer or perish.”
“I have heard Liu Bei is one of the heroes in the world. If we could get his help, there would be no doubt of the result. But there is no one to send.”
“I will go as soon as I have received your letter.”
So Kong Rong wrote letters and gave them to his helper.
Taishi Ci put on his armor, mounted his steed, attached his bow and quiver to his girdle, took his spear in his hand, tied his packed haversack firmly to his saddle bow, and rode out at the city gate. He went quite alone.
Along the moat a large party of the besiegers were gathered, and they came to intercept the solitary rider. But Taishi Ci dashed in among them and cut down several and so finally fought his way through.
Guan Hai, hearing that a rider had left the city, guessed what his errand would be and followed Taishi Ci with a party of horsemen. Guan Hai spread them out so that the messenger rider was entirely surrounded. Then Taishi Ci laid aside his spear, took his bow,