“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
suddenly appeared showing very great distress. The Emperor asked what the matter was.
“Sire, how can you be feasting with these when the empire is at the last gasp?” said Liu Tao.
“All is well,” said the Emperor. “Where is anything wrong?”
Said Liu Tao, “Robbers swarm on all sides and plunder the cities.
And all is the fault of the Ten Eunuchs who sell offices and injure the
people, oppress loyal officials and deceive their superiors. All virtuous
ones have left the services and returned to their places, and are building and
guarding their positions. More regional offices have been sought than imperial
appointments. Central authority is being undermined by local interests. Misfortune is before our very eyes!”
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.
Lu Zhi explained,
“I had surrounded the rebels and was on the point of smashing them, when Zhang
Jue employed some of his supernatural powers and prevented my victory. The court sent down Eunuch
Zhuo Feng to inquire into my failure, and that official demanded a bribe. I told him how hard pressed we
were and asked him where, in the circumstances, I could find a gift for him. He went away in wrath and
reported that I was hiding behind my ramparts and would not give battle and that I disheartened my army.
So I was superseded by Dong Zhuo, and I have to go to the capital to answer the charge.”
This story put Zhang Fei into a rage. He was for slaying the escort and setting free Lu Zhi. But Liu Bei checked him.
“the government will take the due course,” said Liu Bei. “You must not act hastily！”
And the escort and the three brothers went two ways.
It was useless to continue on that road to Guangzong, so Guan Yu proposed to go back to Zhuo, and they retook the road.
Two days later they heard the thunder of battle behind some hills. Hastening to the top, they beheld the government soldiers
suffering GREat loss, and they saw the countryside was full of Yellow Scarves. On the rebels’ banners were the words Zhang Jue the Lord of Heaven written large.
“We will attack this Zhang Jue！” said Liu Bei to his brothers, and they galloped out to join in the battle.
Zhang Jue had worsted Dong Zhuo and was following up his advantage. He was in hot pursuit when the three brothers dashed
into his army, threw his ranks into confusion, and drove him back fifteen miles. Then the brothers returned with the rescued general to his camp.
“What offices have you？” asked Dong Zhuo, when he had leisure to speak to the brothers.
“None,” replied they.
“We have just rescued this menial in a bloody fight,” cried Zhang Fei, “and now he is rude to us！ Nothing but his death can slake my anger.”
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.”
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.