At this time Chen Gong was in office in Dongjun, and he was also on friendly terms with Tao Qian. Hearing of Cao Cao’s design to destroy the whole population, Chen Gong came in haste to see his former companion*. Cao Cao, knowing Chen Gong’s errand, put him off at first and would not see him. But then Cao Cao could not forget the kindness he had formerly received from Chen Gong, and presently the visitor was called to his tent.
Chen Gong said, “they say you go to avenge your father’s death on Xuzhou, to destroy its people. I have come to say a word. Imperial Protector Tao Qian is humane and a good man. He is not looking out for his own advantage, careless of the means and of others. Your worthy father met his unhappy death at the hands of Zhang Kai. Tao Qian is guiltless. Still more innocent are the people, and to slay them would be an evil. I pray you think over it.”
Cao Cao retorted angrily, “You once abandoned me and now you have the impudence to come to see me！ Tao Qian slew my whole family, and I will tear his heart out in revenge. I swear it！ You may speak for your friend and say what you will. I shall be as if I heard not.”
Intercession had failed. Chen Gong sighed and took his leave.
He said, “Alas！ I cannot go to Tao Qian and look upon his face.”
So Chen Gong rode off to the county of Chenliu to give service to Governor Zhang Miao.
Cao Cao’s army of revenge laid waste whatever place it passed through, slaying the people and desecrating their cemeteries.
they all aGREed. The storm continued into the night and as Cao Song sat waiting anxiously for signs of clearing, he suddenly heard a hubbub at the west end of the temple. His brother, Cao De, drawing his sword, went out to see what it was about, and Cao De was at once cut down. Cao Song seized one of the concubines by the hand, rushed with her through the passage toward the back of the temple so that they might escape. But the lady was stout and could not get through the narrow doors, so the two hid in one of the small outhouses at the side. However, they were seen and slain.
the unhappy Governor Ying Shao fled for his life to Yuan Shao. The murderers fled into the South of River Huai with their plunder after having set fire to the old temple.
[hip, hip, hip] Cao Cao, whom the ages praise, Slew his hosts on his former flight；Nemesis never turns aside, Murdered too his family died. [yip, yip, yip]
Some of the escort escaped and took the evil tidings to Cao Cao. When he heard it he fell to the earth with a GREat cry. They raised him.
With set teeth he muttered, “Tao Qian’s people have slain my father： No longer can the same sky cover us. I will sweep Xuzhou off the face of the earth. Only thus can I satisfy my vengeance.”
Cao Cao left one small army of thirty thousand under Xun Yu and Cheng Yu to guard the east headquarters and the three counties of Juancheng, Fanxia, and Dongjun. Then he set forth with all the remainder to destroy Xuzhou and avenge his father. Xiahou Dun, Yu Jin, and Dian Wei were Van Leaders with Cao Cao’s orders to slaughter all the inhabitants of each captured city.
Now the Governor of Jiujiang, Bian Rang, was a close friend of Tao Qian. Hearing Xuzhou was threatened, Bian Rang set out with five thousand troops to his friend’s aid. Angered by this move, Cao Cao sent Xiahou Dun to stop and kill Bian Rang while still on the march.
Remonstrance and appeal being vain, Ma Midi retired. But he said to his colleagues, “Is Wang Yun then careless of the future？ Worthy people are the mainstay of the state； laws are the canons of action. To destroy the mainstay and nullify the laws is to hasten destruction.”
As was just said Wang Yun was obdurate. Cai Yong whose offense was an expression of gratitude was thrown into prison and there strangled. The people of that day wept for Cai Yong, for they refused to see any offense in what he had done, and death was a harsh punishment.
[hip, hip, hip] Dong Zhuo, the dictator, Tyrannized the state, Fell and his sole mourner Shared his direful fate. Zhuge Liang in seclusion Was content to dream, Felt his worth and never Helped a traitor’s scheme. [yip, yip, yip]
Those generals——Li Jue, Guo Si, Fan Chou, and Zhang Ji——whom Dong Zhuo had left to guard Meiwo fled when their master was slain and went into the county of Shanxi in Liangzhou Region. Thence they sent in a memorial entreating amnesty. But Wang Yun would not hear of it.
“Four of them were the chief instruments of Dong Zhuo’s agGREssions. Now though a general amnesty were proclaimed, these men should be excluded from its benefit,” said Wang Yun.
the messenger returned and told the four there was no hope of pardon and they could only flee.
then their adviser, Jia Xu, said, “If we throw away our arms and flee singly, then we shall fall easy victims to any village beadle who may seize us. Rather let us cajole the Shanxi people to throw in their lot with us and make a sudden onslaught on the capital and so avenge Dong Zhuo. If we succeed, we control the court and the empire. There will be enough time to run away if we fail.”
the plan was adopted, and they spread abroad the story that Wang Yun intended to massacre the county.
Having thus thrown the people into a state of terror, they went a step farther and said, “There is no advantage in dying for nothing. Revolt and join us！”
So they cajoled the people into joining them and gathered a host equal to one hundred thousand. This horde was divided into four parts, and they all set out to raid Capital Changan. On the way they fell in with a son-in-law of their late chief,
Wang Yun spoke to Cai Yong angrily,
“Dong Zhuo has been put to death as a rebel,
and all the land rejoices. You, a Han minister,
instead of rejoicing, weep for him. Why？”
Cai Yong confessed his fault, saying, “I am without talent, yet know what is right. I am not the man who turns my back on the dynasty and toward Dong Zhuo. Yet once I experienced his kindness, and I could not help mourning for him.
I know my fault is grave, but I pray you regard the reasons. If you will leave my head and only cut off my feet, you may use me to continue the History of Han, whereby I may have the good fortune to be allowed to expiate my fault.”
All were sorry for Cai Yong, for he was a man of GREat talents, and they begged that he might be spared.
the Imperial Guardian, Ma Midi, secretly interceded for him, saying, “Cai Yong is famous as a scholar, and he can write glorious history, and it is inadvisable to put to death a man renowned for rectitude without consideration.”
But in vain, for the High Minister was now strong and obdurate.
[e] Emperor Wu, aka Liu Che, （reigned BC 141-87） whose reign was longest among the Han emperors. Emperor Wu was perhaps the most influential
Han emperor who concerned not only about expanding territory but also about developing trade with other countries （the Silk Road, for example）。
Emperor paid special attention to longevity, and his court often had elaborate rituals. ……
[e] Sima Qian （BC 145-85） astronomer, calendar expert, and the first GREat Chinese historian, noted for his authorship of the “Historical Records” or Shi Ji, which is considered to be the most important history of China down to the end of the 2nd century. ……
Wang Yun said, “Centuries ago, Emperor Wu* spared Sima Qian* and employed him on the annals, with the result that many slanderous stories have been handed down to us. This is a trying period of GREat perplexity,
Gongsun Zan replied, “Formerly you were regarded as loyal and public spirited, and we chose you chief of the confederacy. Now your deeds prove you cruel and base and wolf-hearted in behavior. How can you look the world in the face？”
“Who will capture him？” cried Yuan Shao in a rage.
At once Wen Chou rode out with his spear set. Gongsun Zan rode down the bridge to the enemy’s side, where the two engaged. Ten bouts showed Gongsun Zan the terrible power of Wen Chou, and so he drew off. The enemy came on. Gongsun Zan took refuge within his formation, but Wen Chou cut his way in and rode this way and that, slaying right and left. The four best of Gongsun Zan’s generals offered joint battle, but one fell under the first stroke of the doughty warrior, and the other three fled. Wen Chou followed clearing through to the rear of the army. Gongsun Zan made for the mountains.
Wen Chou forced his horse to its utmost pace, crying hoarsely, “Down！ Dismount and surrender！”
Gongsun Zan fled for life. His bow and quiver dropped from his shoulders, his helmet fell off, and his hair streamed straight behind him as he rode in and out between the sloping hills. Then his steed stumbled and he was thrown, rolling over and over to the foot of the slope.
Wen Chou was now very near and poising his spear for the thrust. Then suddenly came out from the shelter of a grassy mound on the left a general of youthful mien, but sitting his steed bravely and holding a sturdy spear. He rode directly at Wen Chou, and Gongsun Zan crawled up the slope to look on.
the new warrior was of middle height with bushy eyebrows and large eyes, a broad face and a heavy jowl, a youth of commanding presence. The two exchanged some fifty bouts and yet neither had the advantage. Then Gongsun Zan’s rescue force came along, and Wen Chou turned and rode away. The youth did not pursue.
Gongsun Zan hurried down the hill and asked the young fellow who he was.
He bowed low and replied, “My name is Zhao Yun from Changshan. I first served Yuan Shao； but when I saw that he was disloyal to his prince and careless of the welfare of the people, I left him and I was on my way to offer service to you. This meeting in this place is most unexpected.”
Gongsun Zan was very pleased, and the two went together to the camp, where they at once busied themselves with preparations for a new battle.
Next day Gongsun Zan prepared for fight by dividing his army into two wings. He had five thousand cavalry in the center, all mounted on white horses. Gongsun Zan had formerly seen service against the northern frontier tribes, the Qiang Peoples, where he always placed his white horses in the van of his army, and thus he had won the sobriquet of General Who Commands White Horses.
“What good fortune for the world that this is so！” said Wang Yun.
With this Wang Yun himself poured out a goblet for Cao Cao
who drained it and swore an oath. After this the treasured
sword was brought out and given to Cao Cao who hid it under
his dress. He finished his wine, took leave of the guests, and left the hall. Before long the others dispersed.
the next day Cao Cao, with this short sword girded on, came to the palace of the Prime Minister.
“Where is the Prime Minister？” asked he.
“In the small guest room,” replied the attendants.
So Cao Cao went in and found his host seated on a couch. Lu Bu was at his side.
“Why so late, Cao Cao？” said Dong Zhuo.
“My horse is out of condition and slow,” replied Cao Cao.
Dong Zhuo turned to his henchman Lu Bu.
“Some good horses have come in from the west. You go and pick out a good one as a present for him.”
And Lu Bu left.
“This traitor is doomed！” thought Cao Cao. He ought to have struck then, but Cao Cao knew Dong Zhuo was very powerful, and he was afraid to act. He wanted to make sure of his blow.
Now Dong Zhuo’s corpulence was such that he could not remain long sitting, so he rolled over couch and lay face inwards.
“Now is the time,” thought the assassin, and he gripped the good sword firmly.
But just as Cao Cao was going to strike, Dong Zhuo happened to
look up and in a mirror he saw the reflection of Cao Cao behind him with a sword in the hand.
“What are you doing, Cao Cao？” said Dong Zhuo turning suddenly. And at that moment Lu Bu came along leading a horse.
Cao Cao in a flurry dropped on his knees and said, “I have a precious sword here which I wish to present to Your Benevolence.”
Dong Zhuo took it.
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.”
Dong Zhuo hastily dismounted and made
obeisance on the left of the road.
Then Prince Xian spoke graciously to him.
From first to last the Prince had carried himself most
perfectly so that Dong Zhuo in his heart admired his
behavior, and then arose the first desire to
set aside the Emperor in favor of the Prince of Chenliu.
they reached the Palace the same day,
and there was an affecting interview with Empress He.
But when they had restored order in the Palace,
the Imperial Hereditary Seal, the special seal of the Emperor, was missing.
Dong Zhuo camped without the walls,
but every day he was to be seen in the streets
with an escort of mailed soldiers so
that the common people were in a state of
constant trepidation. He also went in and out
of the Palace careless of all the rules of propriety.
Commander of the Rear Army Bao Xin spoke of
Dong Zhuo’s behavior to Yuan Shao, saying,
“This man harbors some evil design and should be removed.”
“Nothing can he done till the government is more settled,”
said Yuan Shao.
then Bao Xin saw Minister of the Interior
Wang Yun and asked what he thought.
“Let us talk it over,” was the reply.
Bao Xin said no more but he left the capital and retired to the Taishan Mountains.
Dong Zhuo induced the soldiers of the two brothers He Jin and
He Miao to join his command, and privately spoke to his adviser Li Ru about deposing the Emperor in favor of the Prince of Chenliu.
“the government is really without a head.
“Go to the General and confess your faults,” said the Empress.
“If we did, then should we be cut to mincemeat！
Rather summon the General into your presence
and command him to cease.
If he will not, then we pray but die in your presence.”
Empress He issued the requisite command.
He Jin was just going to her when Secretary Chen
Lin advised him not to enter, saying,
“the eunuchs are certainly behind the order and mean your harm.”
But He Jin could only see the command of the
Empress and was oblivious to all else. Said he,
“Clearly, this is an edict from the Empress. What harm？”
“Our plot is no longer a secret,” said Yuan Shao.
“Still you may go if you are ready to fight your way in.”
“Get the eunuchs out first！” said Cao Cao.
“Silly children！” said He Jin.
“What can they do against the man who
holds the forces of the empire in his palm？”
Yuan Shao said, “If you will go,
then we will come as a guard, just as a precaution.”
Whereupon both Yuan Shao and Cao Cao chose
five hundred best men under their command,
at whose head they placed Yuan Shu, a brother of
Yuan Shao. Yuan Shu, clad in mail, drew up
his troops outside the Forbidden City’s entrance,
while Yuan Shao and Cao Cao, holding swords, went as escort.
When He Jin neared the Palace of Happiness,
the officers from the Inner Bureau said,
“The orders are to admit the Regent Marshal and none other.”
So the escort was detained outside.
He Jin went in proudly. At the Gate of Grand Virtue,
he was met by Zhang Rang and Duan Gui,
and their followers quickly closed in around him.
He Jin began to feel alarmed.
then Zhang Rang in a harsh voice began to revile him：
“What crime had Empress Dong committed that she should
have been put to death？ And when the Mother of the
Country was buried, who feigned sickness and did not attend？