So spoke Li Ru, and the words pleased Dong Zhuo mightily.
So the next day Dong Zhuo spread a feast and invited many
guests. As all the officers went in terror of him, no one
dared be absent. Dong Zhuo himself rode up to the garden
last of all and took his place with his sword girded on.
When the wine had gone round several times,
Dong Zhuo stopped the service and the music and began to speak.
“I have something to say. Listen quietly all of you！”
All turned towards him.
“the emperor is lord of all.
If he lacks dignity and behaves in an
unseemly manner, he is no fitting inheritor
of the ancestral prerogatives. He who is now on
the throne is a weakling, inferior to the Prince of Chenliu in
intelligence and love of learning. The Prince is in every way
fitted for the throne. I desire to depose the
Emperor and set up the Prince in his place. What think you？”
the assembly listened in perfect silence,
none daring at first to utter a word of dissent.
But one dared； for suddenly a guest stood up
in his place, smote the table and cried.
“No！ No！ Who are you that you dare utter such bold words？
the Emperor is son of the late Emperor and has done no wrong.
Why then should he be deposed？ Are you a rebel？”
the speaker was Ding Yuan, Imperial Protector of Bingzhou.
Dong Zhuo glared at Ding Yuan, roaring,
“there is life for those who are with me,
death for those against！”
Dong Zhuo drew his sword and made for the
objector. But the watchful Li Ru had noticed
“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,
He Miao looked around：
His enemies hemmed him in on every side.
He was hacked to pieces.
Yuan Shu bade his soldiers scatter and seek out all
the families of the eunuchs, sparing none.
In that slaughter many beardless men were killed in error.
Cao Cao set himself to extinguish the fires.
He then begged Empress He to undertake the
direction of affairs, and soldiers were sent to
pursue Zhang Rang and rescue the young
Emperor and the young Prince of Chenliu.
Meanwhile, Zhang Rang and Duan Gui had
hustled away the Emperor and the Prince.
They burst through the smoke and fire and
traveled without stopping till they reached the
Beimang Hills. It was then the third watch.
They heard a GREat shouting behind them
and saw soldiers in pursuit. Their leader,
Min Gong, a commander in Henan,
was shouting, “Traitors, stop, stop！”
Zhang Rang, seeing that he was lost,
jumped into the river, where he was drowned.
the two boys ignorant of the meaning of all this
confusion and terrified out of their senses,
dared not utter a cry. They crept in among the rank
grass on the river bank and hid. The soldiers scattered
in all directions but failed to find them.
So they remained till the fourth watch,
shivering with cold from the drenching dew and
very hungry. They lay down in the thick grass and
wept in each other’s arms, silently,
lest anyone should discover them.
“This is no a place to stay in,”
said Prince Xian. “We must find some way out.”
So the two children knotted their clothes
together and managed to crawl up the bank.
They were in a thicket of thorn bushes,
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.
So Dong Zhuo composed something like this：
“Thy servant knows that the continual
rebellions owe their origin to Zhang Rang and
the Regular Attendants of the Inner Bureau,
who act counter to all recognized precepts.
Now to stop the ebullition of a pot the best way is to
withdraw the fire； to cut out an abscess, though painful,
is better than to nourish the evil. I have dared undertake a
military advance on the capital, with thy
permission, and now pray that Zhang Rang and the
other eunuchs be removed for the happiness of the dynasty and of the empire.”
He Jin read this memorial and showed it to his partisans.
then said Minister Zheng Tai, “A fierce wild beast：
If he comes, his prey will be humans！”
He Jin replied, “You are too timorous：
You are unequal to GREat schemes.”
But Lu Zhi also said, “Long have I known this man.
In appearance innocent, he is a very wolf at heart. Let him in,
and calamity enters with him. Stop him, do not let him come,
and thus will you avoid upheaval.”
He Jin was obstinate, and both Zheng Tai and Lu Zhi gave up
their posts and retired, as did more than half the ministers of state,
while He Jin sent a warm welcome to Dong Zhuo,
who soon camped at Shengchi Lake and stationed there without further action.
Zhang Rang and the eunuchs knew this
move was directed against them and said,
“This is He Jin’s plot. If we do not strike first,
our whole clans shall be exterminated.”
So they hid a band of fifty armed ruffians
at the Gate of Grand Virtue in the Palace of
Happiness, where the Empress lived, then they went in to see her.
The eunuchs persuaded the ladies to retire.
But in the night Empress He summoned her
brother into the Palace and told him what had occurred.
He went out and took counsel with the principal officers of state.
Next morning a court was held and a memorial was presented, saying:
“Empress Dong, being the foster mother of Liu Xian,
Prince of Chenliu, a regional prince—only a collateral—cannot properly
occupy any part of the Palace. She is to be removed into her
riginal fief of Hejian and is to depart immediately.”
And while they sent an escort to remove Empress Dong,
a strong guard was placed about the Imperial Uncle Dong Chong’s
dwelling. They took away his seal of office and he, knowing this
was the end, killed himself in his private apartments. His dependents,
who wailed his death, were driven off by the guards.
The eunuchs Zhang Rang and Duan Gui, having lost their patroness,
sent large gifts to He Jin’s younger brother, He Miao, and his mother,
Lady Wuyang, and thus got them to put in a good word to
Empress He so as to gain her protection.
And so they gained favor once more at court.
In the sixth month of that year, the secret emissaries of He Jin
poisoned Empress Dong in her residence in the country.
Her remains were brought to the capital and buried in Wen Tombs*.
He Jin feigned illness and did not attend the funeral.
Commander Yuan Shao went one day to see He Jin, saying, “
The two eunuchs, Zhang Rang and Duan Gui, are spreading the
report outside that you has caused the death of the late empress and
is aiming at the throne. This is an excuse for you to destroy them.
Do not spare them this time, or you will pay like Dou Wu and Chen Fan,
who in the previous reign missed their chance because the secret had not
been kept, and they paid by their own deaths. Now you and
your brother have many commanders and officers behind,
so that the destruction of the eunuchs can be but an ease.
It is a heaven-sent opportunity. Delay no further!”
At this assembly a man spoke
against the plot,
“The influence of the eunuchs dates back a century and a
half, during the reigns of Emperors Chong and Zhi.
It has spread like a noxious weed in all directions.
How can we hope to destroy it? Above all keep
this plot secret, or our whole clans will be exterminated.”
He Jin eyed down and saw General of Military Standards Cao Cao.
He Jin was very angry at this speech and cried,
“What do inferiors like you know of the ways of government?”
And in the midst of the confusion Pan Yin came to say:
“The Emperor is no more. The eunuchs have decided to keep
the death a secret and forge a command to the Regent Marshal to
come into the Palace to settle the succession. Meanwhile
to prevent trouble they have inscribed the name of Prince Xian on the roll.”
And as Pan Yin finished speaking, the edict arrived summoning He Jin.
“The matter for the moment is to set up the rightful heir,
” said Cao Cao. “We can deal with the traitors later.”
“Who dare to join me in supporting the rightful heir—Prince Bian?”
asked He Jin, the Regent Marshal.
At once one stood forward, crying, “Give me five thousand veterans,
and we will break into the Palace, set up the true heir, slay the eunuchs,
and sweep clean the government! Then peace will come to the empire.”
The energetic speaker was Yuan Shao, son of the former Minister of
the Interior Yuan Feng and nephew of Imperial Guardian Yuan Wei.
Yuan Shao then held the rank of Imperial Commander.
He Jin mustered five thousand royal guards. Yuan Shao put on
complete armor and took command. He Jin, supported by He Yong,
Xun You, Zheng Tai, and more than thirty other ministers and
high-rank officials, went into the Palace. In the hall where lay the coffin
of the late Emperor, they placed Liu Bian on the throne. After
the ceremony was over and all had bowed before the new Emperor,
Yuan Shao went in to arrest Eunuch Jian Shuo. Jian Shuo in terror
fled into the Palace garden and hid among the shrubs, where he was
discovered and murdered by Guo Sheng, one of the Ten Eunuchs.
The guards under Jian Shuo’s command all surrendered.
Yuan Shao said, “Their gangs have broken.
The most opportune moment is now to slay all the eunuchs!”
But Zhang Rang and the eunuchs of the Ten scented the
danger and rushed to see Empress He.
They said, “The originator of the plan to injure your brother
was Jian Shuo: Only he was concerned and no other.
Now the Regent Marshal, on Yuan Shao’s advice,
wishes to slay everyone of us. We implore your pity, O Your Majesty!”
“Fear not!” said Empress He,
whose son had just become Emperor, “I will protect you.”
She sent for her brother, and said, “You and I are of lowly origin,
and we owe our good fortune to the eunuchs.
The misguided Jian Shuo is now dead, and need you really
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
Such were some of various omens. Emperor Ling, GREatly moved by these signs of the displeasure of Heaven, issued an edict asking
his ministers for an explanation of the calamities and marvels.
Court Counselor Cai Yong replied bluntly： “Falling rainbows and changes of fowls’ sexes are brought about by the interference of empresses and eunuchs in state affairs.”
the Emperor read this memorial with deep sighs, and Chief Eunuch Cao Jie, from his place behind the throne, anxiously noted these signs of grief. An opportunity offering,
Cao Jie informed his fellows, and a charge was trumped up against Cai Yong, who was driven from the court and forced to retire to his country house.
With this victory the eunuchs GREw bolder. Ten of them, rivals in wickedness and associates in evil deeds, formed a powerful party
known as the Ten Regular Attendants——Zhang Rang, Zhao Zhong, Cheng Kuang, Duan Gui, Feng Xu, Guo Sheng, Hou Lan, Jian Shuo, Cao Jie, and Xia Yun.
One of them, Zhang Rang, won such influence that he became the Emperor’s most honored and trusted adviser.
The Emperor even called him “Foster Father”. So the corrupt state administration went quickly from bad to worse, till the country was ripe for rebellion and buzzed with brigandage.
At this time in the county of Julu was a certain Zhang family, of whom three brothers bore the name of Zhang Jue, Zhang Ba, and Zhang Lian, respectively.
“This book,” said the old gentleman, “is the Essential Arts of Peace. With the aid of these volumes, you can convert the world and rescue
With a humble obeisance, Zhang Jue took the book and asked the name of his benefactor.
“I am Saint Hermit of the Southern Land,” was the reply, as the old gentleman disappeared in thin air.