Said Lu Bu, “After Wang Yun and I plotted to slay Dong Zhuo
and my misfortune in the Li Jue and Guo Si’s sedition,
I drifted about from one place to another, and none of the nobles east of the Huashang Mountains seemed willing to receive me. When Cao Cao with wicked ambition invaded this region and you, Sir, came to its rescue, I aided you by attacking Yanzhou and thus diverting a portion of his force. I did not think then that I should be the victim of a vile plot and lose my leaders and my soldiers. But now if you will, I offer myself to you that we may together accomplish GREat designs.”
Liu Bei replied, “When the late Tao Qian died, there was no one to administer Xuzhou, and so I assumed that task for a time. Now since you are here, General, it is most suitable that I step down in your favor.”
Whereupon Liu Bei handed the insignia and the seal of authority to Lu Bu. Lu Bu was on the point of accepting them, when he saw Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, who stood behind the Imperial Protector, glaring at him with angry eyes.
So Lu Bu put on a smile and said, “I may be something of a fighting man, but I could not rule a GREat region like this.”
Liu Bei repeated his offer. But Chen Gong said, “the strong guest does not oppress his host. You need not fear, Lord Liu Bei.”
then Liu Bei desisted. Banquets were held and dwelling places prepared for the guest and his retinue.
As soon as convenient, Lu Bu returned the feast. Liu Bei went with his two brothers. Half through the banquet Lu Bu requested Liu Bei to retire to one of the inner private rooms, whither Guan Yu and Zhang Fei followed him. There Lu Bu bade his wife and daughter bow as to their benefactor. Here also Liu Bei showed excessive modesty.
Lu Bu said, “Good younger brother, you need not be so very modest.”
Zhang Fei heard what Lu Bu said, and his eyes glared, crying,
“What sort of a man are you that dares call our brother ‘younger brother’？
He is one of the ruling family——a jade leaf on a golden branch. Come out,
and I will fight you three hundred bouts for the insult.”
Li Jue and Guo Si Duel In Changan;
The Emperor Establishes Anyi The New Capital.
the last chapter told of the defeat of Lu Bu, and his gathering the remnant of his army at Dingtao. When all his generals had joined him, he began to feel strong enough to try conclusions with Cao Cao once again.
Said Chen Gong, who was opposed to this course, “Cao Cao is too strong right now. Seek some place where we can rest a time before trying.”
“Suppose I went to Yuan Shao,” said Lu Bu.
“Send first to make inquiries.”
Lu Bu aGREed.
the news of the fighting between Cao Cao and Lu Bu had reached Jizhou, and one of Yuan Shao’s advisers, Shen Pei, warned him, saying, “Lu Bu is a savage beast. If he gets possession of Yanzhou, he will certainly attempt to add this region to it. For your own safety you should help to crush him.”
Wherefore Yuan Shao sent Yan Liang with fifty thousand troops to destroy Lu Bu. the spies heard this and at once told Lu Bu, who was GREatly disturbed and called in Chen Gong.
“Go over to Liu Bei, who has lately succeeded to Xuzhou.”
Hence Lu Bu went thither.
Hearing this, Liu Bei said, “Lu Bu is a hero, and we will receive him with honor.”
But Mi Zhu was strongly against receiving him, saying, “He was a cruel, bloodthirsty beast.”
But Liu Bei replied, “How would misfortune have been averted from Xuzhou if he had not attacked Yanzhou？ He cannot be our enemy now that he comes seeking an asylum.”
“Brother, your heart is really too good. Although it may be as you say, yet it would be well to prepare,” said Zhang Fei.
the new Imperial Protector with a GREat following met Lu Bu ten miles outside the city gates,
and the two chiefs rode in side by side.
They proceeded to the residence and there,
after the elaborate ceremonies of reception were over,
they sat down to converse.
“He fears an ambush in the wood,” said Cao Cao. “We will set up flags there and deceive him. There is a long embankment near the camp but behind it there is no water. There we will lay an ambush to fall upon Lu Bu when he comes to burn the wood.”
So Cao Cao hid all his soldiers behind the embankment except half a hundred drummers, and he got together many peasants to loiter within the stockade as though it was not empty.
Lu Bu rode back and told Chen Gong what he had seen.
“This Cao Cao is very crafty and full of wiles,” said the adviser. “Do not act.”
“I will use fire this time and burn out his ambush,” said Lu Bu.
Next morning Lu Bu rode out, and there he saw flags flying everywhere in the wood. He ordered his troops forward to set fire on all sides. But to his surprise no one rushed out to make for the stockade. Still he heard the beating of drums and doubt filled his mind. Suddenly he saw a party of soldiers move out from the shelter of the stockade. He galloped over to see what it meant.
then the signal-bombs exploded； out rushed the troops and all their leaders dashed forward. Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan, Xu Chu, Dian Wei, Li Dian, and Yue Jing all attacked at once. Lu Bu was at a loss and fled into the open country. One of his generals, Cheng Lian, was killed by an arrow of Yue Jing. Two thirds of his troops were lost, and the beaten remainder went to tell Chen Gong what had come to pass.
“We had better leave,” said Chen Gong. “An empty city cannot be held.”
So Chen Gong and Gao Shun, taking their chief’s family with them,
When Cao Cao’s soldiers got into the city,
they met with no resistance.
Zhang Chao committed suicide by burning himself. Zhang Miao fled to Yuan Shu.
Thus the whole northeast fell under the power of Cao Cao. He immediately tranquilized the people and rebuilt the cities and their defenses.
Lu Bu in his retreat fell in with his generals, and Chen Gong also rejoined him, so that he was by no means broken.
“I have but small army,” said Lu Bu, “but still enough to break Cao Cao.”
And so he retook the backward road. Indeed：
Thus does fortune alternate, victory, defeat, the happy conqueror today, tomorrow, must retreat？
What was the fate of Lu Bu will appear later.
“Whom do I fear？” said Lu Bu.
So he threw caution to the winds and went out of the city. He met his foes and he began to revile them. The redoubtable Xu Chu went to fight with him, but after twenty bouts neither combatant was any the worse.
“He is not the sort that one man can overcome,” said Cao Cao.
And he sent Dian Wei to attack Lu Bu from another direction. Lu Bu stood the double onslaught. Soon after the flank commanders joined in——Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan attacking the left； Li Dian and Yue Jing surrounding the right. Lu Bu had six opponents. These proved really too many for him so he turned his horse and rode back to the city.
But when the members of the Tian family saw him coming back beaten, they raised the drawbridge.
Lu Bu shouted, “Open the gates！ Let me in！”
But the Tians said, “We have gone over to Cao Cao！”
This was hard to hear and the beaten man abused them roundly before he left. Chen Gong got away through the east gate taking with him the general’s family.
Thus Puyang came into Cao Cao’s hands, and for their present services the Tian family were pardoned their previous fault.
However, Liu Ye said, “Lu Bu is a savage beast. If let alive, he will be a GREat danger. Hunt him down！”
Liu Ye was ordered to keep Puyang. Wherefore Cao Cao determined to follow Lu Bu to Dingtao whither he had gone for refuge.
Lu Bu, Zhang Miao, and Zhang Chao were assembled in the city. Gao Shun and other generals were out foraging. Cao Cao army arrived but did not attack for many days, and presently he withdrew fifteen miles and made a stockade. It was the time of harvest, and he set his soldiers to cut the wheat for food.
The spies reported this to Lu Bu who came over to see.
But when he saw that Cao Cao’s stockade lay near a thick wood,
he feared an ambush and retired.
Cao Cao heard that Lu Bu had come and gone and guessed the reason.
“I have heard of your mighty exploits,” said Cao Cao. “Will you join my army？”
“That is my strongest desire,” said Xu Chu.
So Xu Chu called up his clan, some hundreds in all, and they formally submitted to Cao Cao. Xu Chu received the rank of general and received ample rewards. The two rebel leaders, He Yi and Huang Shao, were executed. Runan and Yingchuan were now perfectly pacified.
Cao Cao withdrew his army and went back to Juancheng. Xiahou Dun and Cao Ren came out to welcome him, and they told him that spies had reported Yanzhou City to be left defenseless. Lu Bu’s generals, Xue Lan and Li Fang, had given up all its garrison to plundering the surrounding country. They wanted him to go against it without loss of time.
“With our soldiers fresh from victory, the city will fall at a tap of the drum,” said they.
So Cao Cao marched the army straight to the city. An attack was quite unexpected but the two leaders, Xue Lan and Li Fang, hurried out their few soldiers to fight. Xu Chu, the latest recruit, said he wished to capture these two and he would make of them an introductory gift.
the task was given him and he rode forth. Li Fang with his halberd advanced to meet Xu Chu. The combat was brief as Li Fang fell in the second bout. His colleague Xue Lan retired with his troops. But he found the drawbridge had been seized by Li Dian, so that he could not get shelter within the city. Xue Lan led his men toward Juye. But Lu Qian pursued and killed him with an arrow. His soldiers scattered to the four winds. And thus Yanzhou was recaptured.
Next Cheng Yu proposed an expedition to take Puyang. Cao Cao marched his army out in perfect order. the van leaders were Dian Wei and Xu Chu； Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan led the left wing； Li Dian and Yue Jing led the right wing； Yu Jin and Lu Qian guarded the rear. Cao Cao himself commanded the center.
When they approached Puyang,
Lu Bu wished to go out in person and alone to attack,
but his adviser Chen Gong protested, saying,
“General, you should not go out until the arrival of the other officers.”
Dian Wei rode out in answer to the challenge, and some thirty bouts were fought.
Then Dian Wei turned and fled toward his own side. The bravo followed and came quite close. But a flight of arrows drove him away.
Cao Cao hastily drew off his men for one and a half miles and then secretly sent a certain number to dig a pitfall and sent troops armed with hooks to lie in ambush.
the following day Dian Wei was sent out with one hundred horse. His adversary nothing loath came to meet Dian Wei.
“Why does the defeated leader venture forth again？” cried he laughing.
the swashbuckler spurred forward to join battle, but Dian Wei, after a faint show of fighting, turned his horse and rode away. His adversary intent upon capture, took no care, and he and his horse all blundered into the pitfall. The hookmen took him captive, bound him, and carried him before Cao Cao.
As soon as he saw the prisoner, Cao Cao advanced from his tent, sent away the soldiers, and with his own hands loosened the leader’s bonds. Then he brought out clothing and dressed him, bade him be seated and asked who he was and whence he came.
“I am named Xu Chu. I am from Qiao. When the rebellion broke out, I and my relations of some hundreds built a stronghold within a rampart for protection. One day the robbers came, but I had stones ready for them. I told my relatives to keep on bringing them up to me and I threw them, hitting somebody every time I threw. This drove off the robbers. Another day they came and we were short of grain. So I aGREed with them to an exchange of plow oxen against grain. They delivered the grain and were driving away the oxen when the beasts took fright and tore off to their pens. I seized two of oxen by the tail,
one with each hand,
and hauled them backwards a hundred or so paces.
The robbers were so amazed that they thought no more about oxen but went their way.
So they never troubled us again.”
At once Li Dian dashed forward into the midst of the Yellow Scarves and laid hands on the rebel chief Huang Shao whom he carried off captive. Cao Cao’s troops then set on and scattered the rebels. The spoil of treasure and food was immense.
the other rebel leader, He Yi, fled with a few hundred horsemen toward Kobei Hills. But while on their road thither there suddenly appeared a force led by a certain swashbuckler who shall be nameless for the moment. This bravo was a well-built man, thickset and stout. With a waist ten span in girth. He used a long sword.
He barred the way of retreat. He Yi set his spear and rode toward him. But at the first encounter the bravo caught He Yi under his arm and bore He Yi off a prisoner. All the rebels were terror-stricken, dropped from their horses and allowed themselves to be bound. Then the victor drove them like cattle into an enclosure with high banks.
Presently Dian Wei, still pursuing the rebels, reached Kobei Hills. The swashbuckler went out to meet him.
“Are you also a Yellow Scarves rebel？” said Dian Wei.
“I have some hundreds of them prisoners in an enclosure here.”
“Why not bring them out？” said Dian Wei.
“I will if you win this sword from my hand.”
This annoyed Dian Wei who attacked him. they engaged and the combat lasted for two long hours and then was still undecided. Both rested a while. The swashbuckler was the first to recover and renewed the challenge. They fought till dusk and then, as their horses were quite spent, the combat was once more suspended.
In the meantime some of Dian Wei’s men had run off to tell the story of this wondrous fight to Cao Cao who hastened in amazement, followed by many officers to watch it and see the result.
Next day the unknown warrior rode out again,
and Cao Cao saw him. In Cao Cao’s
heart he rejoiced to see such a doughty
hero and desired to gain his services.
So Cao Cao bade Dian Wei feign defeat.
Cao Cao replied, “It is not a good plan to keep soldiers idle here during such scarcity.”
“If that is so, it would be more advantageous to attack the eastern counties of Chencheng, Yingchuan, and Runan, and feed your army on their supplies. The remnants of the Yellow Scarves, He Yi and Huang Shao, are there with stores and treasures of all kinds that they have amassed by plundering wherever they could. Rebels of their stamp are easily broken. Break them, and you can feed your army with their grain. Moreover, both the court and the common people will join in blessing you.”
This new design appealed strongly to Cao Cao, and he quickly began his preparations to carry it out. He left Xiahou Dun and Cao Ren to guard Juancheng, while his main body, under his own command, marched to seize Chencheng. This done they went to Runan and Yingchuan.
Now when the Yellow Scarves leaders, He Yi and Huang Shao, knew that Cao Cao was approaching. They came out in a GREat body to oppose him. They met at Goat Hill. Though the rebels were numerous, they were a poor lot, a mere pack of beasts without organization and lacking discipline. Cao Cao ordered his strong archers and vigorous crossbowmen to keep them in check.
Dian Wei was sent out to challenge. the rebel leaders chose a second-rate champion for their side, who rode out and was vanquished in the third bout. Then Cao Cao’s army pushed forward, and they made a camp at Goat Hill.
the following day the rebel Huang Shao himself led forth his army and made his battle array along a circle. A leader advanced on foot to offer combat. He wore a yellow turban on his head and a GREen robe. His weapon was an iron mace.
He shouted, “I am He Man, the devil who shoots across the sky. Who dare fight with me？”
Cao Hong uttered a GREat shout and jumped from the saddle to accept the challenge. Sword in hand he advanced on foot and the two engaged in fierce combat in the face of both armies. They exchanged some fifty blows, neither gaining the advantage. Then Cao Hong feigned defeat and ran away.
He Man went after him. Just as he closed,
Cao Hong tried a feint and then suddenly wheeling about,
wounded his adversary.
Another slash, and He Man lay dead.
“If you do not, we cannot live in pence,” said they.
To these requests his brothers added their persuasion, till at length he consented to assume the administrative duties. He forthwith appointed Sun Qian and Mi Zhu as his Advisers, and Chen Deng his Secretary. He moved his army from Xiaopei to Xuzhou City, and he put forth proclamations to reassure the people.
He also attended to the burial ceremonies； he and all his army dressing in mourning. After the fullest sacrifices and ceremonies, a burial place for the late Imperial Protector was found close to the source of the Yellow River. The dead man’s testament was forwarded to court.
the news of the events in Xuzhou duly reached the ears of Cao Cao, then in Juancheng.
Said he, angrily, “I have missed my revenge. This Liu Bei has simply stepped into command of the region without expending half an arrow： He sat still and attained his desire. But I will put him to death and then dig up Tao Qian’s corpse in revenge for the death of my noble father！”
Orders were issued for the army to prepare for a new campaign against Xuzhou.
[e] the Land Within the Passes, or Guanzhong, was the area around Changan.
But Adviser Xun Yu remonstrated with Cao Cao, saying, “the Supreme Ancestor secured the Land Within the Passes* and his illustrious successor on the throne, Liu Xiu, took Henei. They both first consolidated their position whereby they could command the whole empire. Their whole proGREss was from success to success. Hence they accomplished their great designs in spite of difficulties.
“Illustrious Sir, your Land Within the Passes and your Henei are Yanzhou and the Yellow River, which you had first, and which is of the utmost strategic point of the empire. If you undertake this expedition against Xuzhou leaving many troops here for defense, you will not accomplish your design； if you leave too few, Lu Bu will fall upon us. And finally if you lose this and fail to gain Xuzhou, whither will you retire？ That region is not vacant. Although Tao Qian has gone, Liu Bei holds it； and since the people support him, they will fight to the death for him.
To abandon this place for that is to exchange the GREat for the small,
to barter the trunk for the branches,
to leave safety and run into danger.
I would implore you to reflect well.”
This year locusts suddenly appeared, and they consumed every GREen blade. There was a famine, and in the northeast grain rose to fifty “strings” of cash a cart. People even took to cannibalism. Cao Cao’s army suffered from want, and he marched them to Juancheng. Lu Bu took his troops to Shanyang. Perforce therefore the fighting ceased.
In Xuzhou. Imperial Protector Tao Qian, over sixty years of age, suddenly fell seriously ill, and he summoned his confident, Mi Zhu, to his chamber to make arrangements for the future.
As to the situation the adviser said, “Cao Cao abandoned his attack on this place because of his enemy’s seizure of Yanzhou； and now they are both keeping the peace solely because of the famine. But Cao Cao will surely renew the attack in the spring. When Liu Bei refused to allow you to vacate office in his favor, you were in full vigor. Now you are ill and weak, and you can make this a reason for retirement. He will not refuse again.”
So a message was sent to the little garrison town Xiaopei calling Liu Bei to a counsel on military affairs. This brought him with his brothers and a slender escort. He was at once called in to the sick man’s chamber. Quickly disposing of the inquiries about his health, Tao Qian soon came to the real object of his call for Liu Bei.
“Sir, I asked you to come for the sole reason that I am dangerously ill and likely to die at any time. I look to you, Illustrious Sir, to consider the Hans and their empire as more important than anything else, and so to take over the symbols of office of this region, the commission and the seal, that I may close my eyes in peace.”
“You have two sons, why not depute them to relieve you？” said Liu Bei.
“Both lack the requisite talents. I trust you will instruct them after I have gone, but do not let them have the guidance of affairs.”
“But I am unequal to so GREat a charge.”
“I will recommend to you one who could assist you. He is Sun Qian from Beihai who could be appointed to some post.”
Turning to Mi Zhu, Tao Qian said, “the noble Liu Bei here is the most prominent man of the time, and you should serve him well.”
Still would Liu Bei have put from him such a post, but just then the Imperial Protector, pointing to his heart to indicate his sincerity, passed away.
When the ceremonial wailing of the officials was over, the insignia of office were brought to Liu Bei. But he would have none of them.
The following days the inhabitants of the town and country
around crowded into the state residence,
bowing and with tears,
calling upon Liu Bei to receive the charge.