At the close of the last chapter, Chen Gong was about to slay Cao Cao. But Chen Gong reflected, “I joined him to do righteous things. Now if I killed him, I would only do unrighteousness, and the people would condemn me. I rather leave in silence.”
Rising from his bed before the sunrise, Chen Gong mounted his horse and rode away eastward to his home county of Dongjun.
Cao Cao awoke with the day and missed his companion. Thought he, “Chen Gong thinks me brutal because of a couple of egoistic phrases I used, and so he has gone. I ought to push on too and not linger here.”
So Cao Cao traveled as quickly as possible toward Qiao. When he saw his father, he related what had happened and said he wanted to dispose of all the family property and enlist soldiers with the money.
“Our possessions are but small,” said his father, “and not enough to do anything with. However, there is a graduate here, one Wei Hong, careless of wealth but careful of virtue, whose family is very rich. With his help we might hope for success.”
A feast was prepared, and Wei Hong was invited.
Cao Cao made him a speech： “the Hans have lost their lordship, and Dong Zhuo is really a tyrant. He flouts his prince and is cruel to the people, who gnash their teeth with rage. I would restore the Hans, but my means are insufficient. Sir, I appeal to your loyalty and public spirit.”
Wei Hong replied, “I have long desired this but, so far, have not found a person fit to undertake the task. Since you, Cao Cao, have so noble a desire, I willingly devote all my property to the cause.”
This was joyful news, and the call to arms was forthwith prepared and sent far and near. So they established a corps of volunteers and set up a large white recruiting banner with the words Loyalty and Honor inscribed thereon. The response was rapid, and volunteers came in like rain drops in number.
[e] Xiahou Ying （？-173） a major general of Liu Bang. Ennobled as the Marquis of Ruyin and commonly called the Lord of Tang. ……
One day came a certain Yue Jing from Yangping and another Li Dian from Julu. These two were appointed to Cao Cao’s personal staff. Another was one Xiahou Dun from Qiao. He was descended from Xiahou Ying* of old. Xiahou Dun had been trained from his early boyhood to use the spear and the club. When only fourteen he had been attached to a certain master-in-arms. One day one person spoke disrespectfully of his master, and Xiahou Dun killed that person. For this deed, however, he had to flee and had been an exile for some time. Now he came to offer his services, accompanied by his cousin Xiahou Yuan. Each brought a thousand trained soldiers. Really these two were brothers of Cao Cao by birth,
“We certainly will,” they cried, “and wish you long life.”
That night the tables were spread in an inner room, and his friends gathered there. When the wine had made a few rounds, the host suddenly covered his face and began to weep.
the guests were aghast.
“Sir, on your birthday too, why do you weep？” said they.
“It is not my birthday,” replied Wang Yun. “But I wished to call you together, and I feared lest Dong Zhuo should suspect, so I made that the excuse. This man insults the Emperor and does as he wishes so that the imperial prerogatives are in imminent peril. I think of the days when our illustrious founder destroyed the Qin, annihilated Chu, and obtained the empire. Who could have foreseen this day when that Dong Zhuo has subjugated all to his will？ That is why I weep.”
then they all wept with him.
Seated among the guests, however, was Cao Cao, who did not join in the weeping but clapped his hands and laughed aloud.
“If all the officers of the government weep till dawn, and from dawn weep till dark, will that slay Dong Zhuo？” said Cao Cao.
Wang Yun turned on him angrily.
“Your forbears ate the bounty of the Hans. Do you feel no gratitude？ You can laugh？”
“I laughed at the absurdity of an assembly like this being unable to compass the death of one man. Foolish and incapable as I am, I will cut off his head and hang it at the gate as an offering to the people.”
Wang Yun left his seat and went over to Cao Cao.
“these later days,” Cao Cao continued,
“I have bowed my head to Dong Zhuo
with the sole desire of finding a
chance to destroy him. Now he begins
to trust me, and so I can approach him
“Let me say farewell to my mother,” begged he, and he did so in these lines：
[hip, hip, hip]“the heaven and earth are changed, Alas！ the sun and the moon leave their courses, I, once the center of all eyes, am driven to the farthest confines, Oppressed by an arrogant minister my life nears its end, Everything fails me and vain are my falling tears.”[yip, yip, yip]
Lady Tang sang：
[hip, hip, hip]“Heaven is to be rent asunder, Earth to fall away, I, handmaid of an emperor, would grieve if I followed him not. We have come to the parting of ways, the quick and the dead walk not together；Alas！ I am left alone with the grief in my heart.”[yip, yip, yip]
When they had sung these lines, they fell weeping into each others’ arms.
“the Prime Minister is awaiting my report,” said Li Ru, “and you delay too long. Think you that there is any hope of succor？”
the Empress broke into another fit of railing, “The rebel forces us to death, mother and son, and Heaven has abandoned us. But you, the tool of his crime, will assuredly perish！”
thereupon Li Ru GREw more angry, laid hands on the Empress and threw her out of the window. Then he bade the soldiers strangle Lady Tang and forced the lad to swallow the wine of death.
Li Ru reported the achievement to his master who bade them bury the victims without the city. After this Dong Zhuo’s behavior was more atrocious than before. He spent his nights in the Palace, defiled the imperial concubines there, and even slept on the Dragon Couch.
Once he led his soldiers out of the city to Yangcheng when the villagers, men and women, were assembled from all sides for the annual spring festival. His troops surrounded the place and plundered it. They took away booty by the cart loads, and women prisoners and more than one thousand severed heads.
The procession returned to
Capital Luoyang and published a story
Wu Qiong said, “Yuan Shao is fond of scheming,
but he fails in decision and so is not to be feared. But it would be well to give him rank and thus win popular favor.”
Dong Zhuo followed this advice, and within that day sent a messenger to offer Yuan Shao the governorship of Bohai.
On the first day of the ninth month, the Emperor was invited to proceed to the Hall of Virtue where was a GREat assembly of officials.
there Dong Zhuo, sword in hand, faced the gathering and said, “The Emperor is a weakling unequal to the burden of ruling this land. Now listen ye to the document I have prepared！”
And Li Ru read as follows：
“the dutiful Emperor Ling too soon left his people. The emperor is the cynosure of all the people of this land. Upon the present Emperor Bian, Heaven has conferred but small gifts： In dignity and deportment he is deficient, and in mourning he is remiss. Only the most complete virtue can grace imperial dignity. Empress He has trained him improperly, and the whole state administration has fallen into confusion. Empress Dong died suddenly and no one knew why. The doctrine of the three bonds——Heaven, Earth, and Human——and the continuity of Heaven and Earth interdependence have both been injured.
“But Liu Xian, Prince of Chenliu, is sage and virtuous beside being of handsome exterior. He conforms to all the rules of propriety： His mourning is sincere, and his speech is always correct. Eulogies of him fill the empire. He is well fitted for the GREat duty of consolidating the rule of Han.
“Now therefore the Emperor is deposed and created Prince of Hongnong, and Empress He retires from the administration.
“I pray the Prince of Chenliu to accept the throne in conformity with the decrees of Heaven and Earth, the desires of people, and the fulfillment of the hopes of humankind.”
This having been read, Dong Zhuo bade the officials lead the Emperor down from the throne, remove his seal, and cause him to kneel facing the north, styling himself faithful servant of the Throne and requesting commands. Moreover Dong Zhuo bade Empress He strip
“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.”
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
his 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.
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.
What Cao Cao said was this：
“the eunuch evil is of very old standing,
but the real cause of the present trouble is in
the improper influence allowed them by the emperors and
the misplaced favoritism they have enjoyed. But a gaoler would
be ample force to employ against this kind of evil, and getting rid of
the main culprits is quite enough. Why increase confusion
by summoning troops from the regions？
Any desire to slay all of them will speedily become known, and the plan will fail.”
“then, Cao Cao, you have some scheme of your own to further,” said He Jin with a sneer.
Cao Cao left the meeting, proclaiming, “The one who throws the world into chaos is He Jin！”
then He Jin sent swift, secret letters far and wide to several bases.
It must be recalled that Dong Zhuo had failed in his attempt to
destroy the Yellow Scarves rebellion. He would have been punished
if he had not bribed the Ten Eunuchs heavily for their protection.
Later, through connections in the capital, he obtained rapid promotions
from General to General of the Front Army, to Lord of Aoxiang, to Imperial
Protector in the western region of Xizhou and Commander of
an army of two hundred thousand troops. But Dong Zhuo
was treacherous and disloyal at heart. So when he received the
summons to the capital, he rejoiced GREatly and lost no
time in obeying it. He left a son-in-law, Commander Niu Fu,
to look after the affairs of Xizhou and set out for Luoyang.
Dong Zhuo took with him a huge army and four
generals——Li Jue, Guo Si, Zhang Ji, and Fan Chou.
Dong Zhuo’s adviser and son-in-law, Li Ru, said,
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!”
“Noble Sir, save me!” cried the inspector.
Now Liu Bei had always been kindly and gracious,
wherefore he bade his brother release the officer and go his way.
Then Guan Yu came up, saying, “Brother, after your magnificent services you only
got this petty post, and even here you have been insulted by this fellow.
A thorn bush is no place for a phoenix. Let us slay this fellow,
leave here, and go home till we can evolve a bigger scheme.”
Liu Bei contented himself with hanging the official seal about the inspector’s neck, saying,
“If I hear that you injure the people, I will assuredly kill you. I now spare your life, and I return to you the seal. We are going.”
The inspector went to the governor of Dingzhou and complained, and orders were issued
for the arrest of the brothers, but they got away to Daizhou and
sought refuge with Liu Hu, who sheltered them because of Liu Bei’s noble birth.
By this time the Ten Regular Attendants had everything in their hands,
and they put to death all who did not stand in with them. From every officer
who had helped to put down the rebels they demanded presents; and if
these were not forthcoming, he was removed from office. Imperial
Commanders Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun both fell victims to these intrigues and
were deprived from offices, while on the other hand the eunuchs
received the highest honors and rewards. Thirteen eunuchs were ennobled,
including Zhao Zhong* who was added to the rank of General of the Flying Cavalry;
Zhang Rang* possessed most of the prize farms around the capital.
The government grew worse and worse, and everyone was irritated.
Rebellions broke out in Changsha led by Ou Xing, and in Yuyang led by
Zhang Ju and Zhang Chun. Memorials were sent up in number as snow flakes in
winter, but the Ten suppressed them all. One day the Emperor was at a feast in
one of the gardens with the Ten, when Court Counselor Liu Tao