Cao Cao Moves The Court To Xuchang;
Lu Bu Night-Raids Xuzhou.
Capital Luoyang was presently entered. Within the walls all was destruction. The palaces and halls had been burned, the streets were overgrown with grass and brambles and obstructed by heaps of ruins. The palaces and courts were represented by broken roofs and toppling walls. A small "palace" however was soon built, and therein the officers of court presented their congratulations, standing in the open air among thorn hushes and brambles. The reign style was changed from Prosperous Stability to Rebuilt Tranquillity, the first year (AD 196).
The year was a year of grievous famine. The Luoyang people, even reduced in numbers as they were to a few hundreds, had not enough to eat and they prowled about stripping the bark off trees and grubbing up the roots of plants to satisfy their starving hunger. Officers of the government of all but the highest ranks went out into the country to gather fuel. Many people were crushed by the falling walls of burned houses. At no time during the decadence of Han did misery press harder than at this period.
A poem written in pity for the sufferings of that time says:
Mortally wounded, the white serpent poured forth its life blood at Mangdang Hills;
Regent Marshal Yang Biao memorialized the Throne, saying, "The decree issued to me some time ago has never been acted upon. Now Cao Cao is very strong in the east of Huashang Mountains, and it would be well to associate him in the government that he might support the ruling house."
Blood-red pennons of war waved then in every quarter,
Chieftain with chieftain strove and raided each other's borders,
Midst the turmoil and strife the Kingship even was threatened.
Wickedness stalks in a country when the King is a weakling,
Brigandage always is rife, when a dynasty's failing,
Had one a heart of iron, wholly devoid of feeling,
Yet would one surely grieve at the sight of such desolation.
The Emperor replied, "There was no need to refer to the matter again. Send a messenger when you will."
So the decree went forth and a messenger bore it into the East of Huashang. Now when Cao Cao had heard that the court had returned to Capital Luoyang, he called together his advisers to consult.
Xun Yu laid the matter before Cao Cao and the council thus: "Eight hundred years ago, Lord Wen of Yin supported Prince Xiang of the declining Shang Dynasty, and all the feudal lords backed Lord Wen. The Founder of the Hans, Liu Bang, won the popular favor by wearing mourning for Emperor Yi of Qin. Now Emperor Xian has been a fugitive on the dusty roads. To take the lead in offering an army to restore him to honor is to have an unrivaled opportunity to win universal regard. But you must act quickly or some one will get in before you."
Cao Cao understood and at once prepared his army to move. Just at this moment an imperial messenger was announced with the very command Cao Cao wanted, and Cao Cao immediately set out.
At Luoyang everything was desolate. The walls had fallen, and there were no means of rebuilding them, while rumors and reports of the coming of Li Jue and Guo Si kept up a state of constant anxiety.
The frightened Emperor spoke with Yang Feng, saying, "What can be done? There is no answer from the East of Huashang, and our enemies are near."
Then Yang Feng and Han Xian said, "We, your ministers, will fight to the death for you."
But Dong Cheng said, "The fortifications are weak and our military resources small, so that we cannot hope for victory, and what does defeat mean? I see nothing better to propose than a move into the east of Huashang Mountains."
The Emperor agreed to this, and the journey began without further preparation. There being few horses, the officers of the court had to march afoot. Hardly a bowshot outside the gate they saw a thick cloud of dust out of which came all the clash and clamor of an advancing army. The Emperor and his Consort were dumb with fear. Then appeared a horseman; he was the messenger returning from the East of Huashang.
He rode up to the chariot, made an obeisance, and said, "General Cao Cao, as commanded, is coming with all the military force of the East of Huashang; but hearing that Li Jue and Guo Si had again approached the capital, he has sent Xiahou Dun in advance. With Xiahou Dun are many capable leaders and fifty thousand of proved soldiers. They will guard Your Majesty."
All fear was swept away. Soon after Xiahou Dun and his staff arrived. Xiahou Dun, Xu Chu, and Dian Wei were presented to the Emperor who graciously addressed them. Then one came to say a large army was approaching from the east, and at the Emperor's command Xiahou Dun went to ascertain who these were. He soon returned saying they were Cao Cao's infantry.
In a short time Cao Hong, Li Dian, and Yue Jin came to the imperial chariot and their names having been duly communicated. Cao Hong said, "When my brother, Cao Cao, heard of the approach of the rebels, he feared that the advance guard he had sent might be too weak, so he sent me to march quickly for reinforcement."
"General Cao Cao is indeed a trusty servant!" said the Emperor.
Orders were given to advance, Cao Hong leading the escort. By and by scouts came to say that the rebels were coming up very quickly. The Emperor bade Xiahou Dun divide his force into two parts to oppose them. Xiahou Dun and Cao Hong's armies threw out two wings with cavalry in front and foot behind. They attacked with vigor and beat off the Li Jue and Guo Si's rebels with severe loss of ten thousand. Then Xiahou Dun and Cao Hong begged the Emperor to return to Luoyang, and Xiahou Dun guarded the city.
Next day Cao Cao came with his great army, and having got them duly camped he went into the city to audience. He knelt at the foot of the steps, but was called up hither to stand beside the Emperor and be thanked.
Cao Cao replied, "Having been the recipient of great bounty, thy servant owes the state much gratitude. The measure of evil of the two rebels is full, I have two hundred thousand of good soldiers to oppose them, and those soldiers are fully equal to securing the safety of Your Majesty and the Throne. The preservation of the state sacrifice is the matter of real moment."
High honors were conferred on Cao Cao. He was appointed Commander of Capital District, Minister of War, and granted Military Insignia.
The two rebels, Li Jue and Guo Si, wished to attack Cao Cao's army while fatigued from its long march. But their adviser, Jia Xu, opposed this, saying, "There was no hope of victory. He has both strong soldiers and brave leaders. Submission may bring us amnesty."
Li Jue was angry at the suggestion, crying, "Do you wish to dishearten the army?"
And he drew his sword on Jia Xu. But the other officers interceded and saved the adviser. That same night Jia Xu stole out of the camp and, quite alone, took his way home to his native village.
Soon the rebels decided to offer battle. In reply, Cao Cao sent out Xu Chu, Cao Ren, and Dian Wei with three hundred horse. These three leaders dashed into the rebels army but quickly retired. This maneuver was repeated, and again repeated before the real battle array was formed.
Then Li Xian and Li Bie, nephews of Li Jue, rode out. At once from Cao Cao's side dashed out Xu Chu and cut down Li Xian. Li Bie was so startled that he fell out of the saddle. He too was slain. The victor Xu Chu rode back to his own side with the two heads. When he offered them to the chief, Cao Cao patted him on the back, crying, "You are really my Fan Kuai!" 1
Next a general move forward was made, Xiahou Dun and Cao Hong leading the two wings and Cao Cao in the center. They advanced to the roll of the drum. The rebels fell back before them and presently fled. They pursued, Cao Cao himself leading, sword in hand. The slaughter went on till night. Ten thousands were killed and many more surrendered. Li Jue and Guo Si went west, flying in panic like dogs from a falling house. Having no place of refuge they took to the hills and hid among the brushwood.
Cao Cao's army returned and camped again near the capital. Then Yang Feng and Han Xian said one to another, "This Cao Cao has done a great service, and he will be the man in power. There will be no place for us."
So they represented to the Emperor that they wished to pursue the rebels, and under this excuse withdrew their army and camped at Daliang.
One day the Emperor sent to summon Cao Cao to audience. The messenger was called in. Cao Cao noticed that the messenger looked remarkably well and could not understand it seeing that everyone else looked hungry and famine stricken. So Cao Cao said, "You look plump and well, Sir, how do you manage it?"
"Only this; I have lived meager for thirty years."
Cao Cao nodded, "What office do you hold?"
"I am a graduate recommended for filial piety and honesty. I had offices under Yuan Shao and Zhang Yang, but came here when the Emperor returned. Now I am one of the secretaries. I am a native of Dingtao, and my name is Dong Zhao."
Cao Cao got up from his place and crossed over, saying, "I have heard of you. How happy I am to meet you!"
Then wine was brought into the tent, and Xun Yu was called in and introduced. While they were talking, a man came in to report that a party was moving eastward. Cao Cao ordered to find out whose people these were, but Dong Zhao knew at once.
"They are old leaders under the rebels, Yang Feng and the White Wave General Han Xian. They are running off because you have come, Illustrious Sir!"
"Do they mistrust me?" said Cao Cao.
"They are not worthy of your attention. They are a poor lot."
"What of this departure of Li Jue and Guo Si?"
"Tigers without claws, birds without wings---they will not escape you very long. They are not worth thinking about."
Cao Cao saw that he and his guest had much in common, so he began to talk of affairs of state.
Said Dong Zhao, "You, Illustrious Sir, with your noble army have swept away rebellion and have become the mainstay of the Throne, an achievement worthy of the ancient Five Protectors. But the officials will look at it in very different ways and not all favorably to you. I think you would not be wise to remain here, and I advise a change of capital to Xuchang. However, it must be remembered that the restoration of the capital has been published far and wide and the attention of all the people is concentrated on Luoyang, hoping for a period of rest and tranquillity. Another move will displease many. However, the performance of extraordinary deed may mean the acquisition of extraordinary merit. It is for you to decide."
"Exactly my own inclination!" said Cao Cao, seizing his guest's hand. "But are there not dangers? Yang Feng at Daliang and the court officials!"
"That is easily managed. Write to Yang Feng and set his mind at rest. Then say to the high officials plainly that there is no food in the capital here, and so you are going to another place where there is, and where there is no danger of scarcity. When they hear it they will approve."
Cao Cao had now decided; and as his guest took leave, Cao Cao seized his hands once more, saying, "I shall need your advice in future affairs."
Dong Zhao thanked and left. Thereafter Cao Cao and his advisers secretly discussed the change of capital.
Now as to that Court Counselor Wang Li, who was an astrologer, said to Liu Ai, Chair of the Imperial Office, "I have been studying the stars. Since last spring Venus has been nearing the Guard star in the neighborhood of the Measure, and the Cowherd (the Great Bear and Vega) crossing the River of Heaven. Mars has been retrograding and came into conjunction with Venus in the Gate of Heaven, so that Metal (Venus) and Fire (Mars) are mingled. Thence must emerge a new ruler. The aura of the Hans is exhausted, and the ancient states of Jin and Wei must increase."
A secret memorial was presented to the Emperor, saying:
"The Mandate of Heaven has its course and the five elements---metal, wood, water, fire, and earth---are out of proportion. Earth attacking Fire is Wei attacking Han, and the successor to the empire of Han is in Wei."
Cao Cao heard of these sayings and memorials and sent a man to the astrologer to say, "Your loyalty is well known, but the ways of Heaven are past finding out. The less said the better."
Then Cao Cao discussed with Xun Yu. The adviser expounded the meaning thus: "The virtue of Han was fire; your element is earth. Xuchang is under the influence of earth, and so your fortune depends on getting there. Fire can overcome earth, as earth can multiply wood. Dong Zhao and Wang Li agree, and you have only to hide your time."
So Cao Cao made up his mind.
Next day at court he said, "The capital is deserted and cannot be restored nor can it be supplied easily with food. Xuchang is a noble city, resourceful and close to Luyang, a grain basin. It is everything that a capital should be. I venture to request that the court move thither."
The Emperor dared not oppose and the officials were too overawed to have any independent opinion, so they chose a day to set out. Cao Cao commanded the escort, and the officials all followed. When they had traveled a few stages they saw before them a high mound and from behind this there arose the beating of drums. Then Yang Feng and Han Xian came out and barred the way. In front of all stood Xu Huang, who shouted, "Cao Cao is stealing away the Emperor!"
Cao Cao rode out and took a good look at this man. He seemed a fine fellow; and in his secret soul Cao Cao greatly admired him, although he was an enemy. Then Cao Cao ordered Xu Chu to go and fight Xu Huang. The combat was battle-ax against broadsword, and the two men fought more than half a hundred bouts without advantage to either side. Cao Cao then beat the gongs and drew off his troops.
In the camp a council was called. Cao Cao said, "The two rebels themselves need not be discussed; but Xu Huang is a fine general, and I was unwilling to use any great force against him. I want to win him over to our side."
Then stepped out Man Chong, replying, "Do not let that trouble you; I will have a word with him. I shall disguise myself as a soldier this evening and steal over to the enemy's camp to talk to him. I shall incline his heart toward you."
That night Man Chong, duly disguised, got over to the other side and made his way to the tent of Xu Huang, who sat there by the light of a candle. Xu Huang was still wearing his coat of mail.
Suddenly Man Chong ran out in front and saluted, saying, "You have been well since we parted, old friend?"
Xu Huang jumped up in surprise, gazed into the face of the speaker a long time and presently said, "What! You are Man Chong of Shanyang? What are you doing here?"
"I am an officer in General Cao Cao's army. Seeing my old friend out in front of the army today, I wanted to say a word to him. So I took the risk of stealing in this evening and here I am."
Xu Huang invited Man Chong in and they sat down. Then said Man Chong, "There are very few as bold as you on the earth; why then do you serve such as your present chiefs, Yang Feng and Han Xian? My master is the most prominent man in the world---a man who delights in wise people and appreciates soldiers as every one knows. Your valor today won his entire admiration, and so he took care that the attack was not vigorous enough to sacrifice you. Now he has sent me to invite you to join him. Will you not leave darkness for light and help him in his magnificent task?"
Xu Huang sat a long time pondering over the offer. Then he said, with a sigh, "I know my masters are doomed to failure, but I have followed their fortunes a long time and do not like to leave them."
"But you know the prudent bird selects its tree, and the wise servant chooses his master. When one meets a worthy master and lets him go, one is very reckless."
"I am willing to do what you say," said Xu Huang, rising.
"Why not put these two to death as an introductory gift?" said Man Chong.
"It is very wrong for a servant to slay his master. I will not do that."
"True; you are really a good man."
Then Xu Huang, taking only a few horsemen of his own men with him, left that night and deserted to Cao Cao. Soon some one took the news to Yang Feng, who at the head of a thousand strong horsemen, set out to capture the deserter.
As they drew close, Yang Feng called out, "Betrayer! Stop there!"
But Yang Feng fell into an ambush. Suddenly the whole mountain side was lit up with torches and out sprang Cao Cao's troops, he himself being in command.
"I have been waiting here a long time; do not run away," cried Cao Cao.
Yang Feng was completely surprised and tried to draw off, but was quickly surrounded. Then Han Xian came to his rescue, and a confused battle began. Yang Feng succeeded in escaping, while Cao Cao kept up the attack on the two disordered armies. A great number of the rebels gave in, and the leaders found they had too few men left to maintain their independence, so they betook themselves to Yuan Shu.
When Cao Cao returned to camp, the newly surrendered general was presented and well received. Then again the cavalcade set out for the new capital. In due time they reached Xuchang, and they built palaces and halls, an ancestral temple and an altar, terraces and public offices. The walls were repaired, storehouses built and all put in order.
Then came the rewards for Cao Cao's adherents and others. Dong Cheng and thirteen others were raised to rank of lordship. All good service was rewarded; certain others again, who deserved it, were punished, all according to Cao Cao's sole decision. He himself was made Prime Minister, Regent Marshal, and Lord of Wuping. Xun Yu was made Imperial Counselor and Chair of the Secretariat; Xun You, Minister of War; Guo Jia, Minister of Rites and Religion; Liu Ye, Minister of Works; Mao Jie, Minister of Agriculture, and together with Ren Jun, they were put over the military stores. Cheng Yu was appointed Lord of Dongping; Dong Zhao, Magistrate of Luoyang; Man Chong, Magistrate of Xuchang. Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan, Cao Ren, Cao Hong, Lu Qian, Li Dian, Yue Jin, Yu Jin, and Xu Huang were made Commanders; Xu Chu and Dian Wei, Commanders of Capital District. All good service received full recognition.
Cao Cao was then the one man of the court. All memorials went first to him and were then submitted to the Throne. When state matters were in order, Cao Cao gave a great banquet in his private quarters to all his advisers, and affairs outside the capital were the subject of discussion.
Then Cao Cao said, "Liu Bei has his army at Xuzhou, and he carries on the administration of the region. Lu Bu fled to Liu Bei when defeated, and Liu Bei gave Lu Bu Xiaopei to live in. If these two agreed to join forces and attack, my position would be most serious. What precautions can be taken?"
Then rose Xu Chu, saying, "Give me fifty thousand of picked soldiers, and I will give the Prime Minister both their heads."
Xun Yu said, "O Leader, you are brave, but we must consider the present circumstance. We cannot start sudden war just as the capital has been changed. However, there is a certain ruse known as 'Rival Tigers and One Prey.' Liu Bei has no decree authorizing him to govern the region. You, Sir Prime Minister, can procure one for him, and when sending it, and so conferring upon him right in addition to his might, you can enclose a private note telling him to get rid of Lu Bu. If he does, then he will have lost a vigorous warrior from his side, and he could be dealt with as occasions serve. Should he fail, then Lu Bu will slay him. This is 'Rival Tigers and One Prey' ruse; they wrangle and bite each other."
Cao Cao agreed that this was a good plan, so he memorialized for the formal appointment, which he sent to Liu Bei. Liu Bei was created General Who Conquers the East, Lord of Yicheng, and Imperial Protector of Xuzhou as well. At the same time a private note was enclosed.
In Xuzhou, when Liu Bei heard of the change of capital, he began to prepare a congratulatory address. In the midst of this an imperial messenger was announced and was met which all ceremony outside the gate. When the epistle had been reverently received, a banquet was prepared for the messenger.
The messenger said, "This decree was obtained for you by Prime Minister Cao Cao."
Liu Bei thanked him. Then the messenger drew forth his secret letter. After reading it, Liu Bei said, "This matter can be easily arranged."
The banquet over and the messenger conducted to his lodging to seek repose. Liu Bei, before going to rest, called in his councilors to consider the letter.
"There need be no compunction about putting him to death;" said Zhang Fei, "Lu Bu is a bad man."
"But he came to me for protection in his weakness; how can I put him to death? That would be immoral," said Liu Bei.
"If he was a good man; it would be difficult," replied Zhang Fei.
Liu Bei would not consent. Next day, when Lu Bu came to offer congratulations, he was received as usual. He said, "I have come to felicitate you on the receipt of the imperial bounty."
Liu Bei thanked him in due form. But then he saw Zhang Fei draw his sword and come up the hall as if to slay Lu Bu. Liu Bei hastily interfered and stopped Zhang Fei.
Lu Bu was surprised and said, "Why do you wish to slay me, Zhang Fei?"
"Cao Cao says you are immoral and tells my brother to kill you," shouted Zhang Fei.
Liu Bei shouted again and again to Zhang Fei to go away, and he led Lu Bu into the private apartments out of the way. Then he told Lu Bu the whole story and showed him the secret letter.
Lu Bu wept as he finished reading, "This is that miscreant's scheme for sowing discord between us."
"Be not anxious, Elder Brother," said Liu Bei. "I pledge myself not to be guilty of such an infamous crime."
Lu Bu again and again expressed his gratitude, and Liu Bei kept him for a time. They remained talking and drinking wine till late.
Said Guan Yu and Zhang Fei later, "Why not kill him?"
Liu Bei said, "Because Cao Cao fears that Lu Bu and I may attack him, he is trying to separate us and get us to swallow each other, while he steps in and takes the advantage. Is there any other reason?"
Guan Yu nodded assent, but Zhang Fei said, "I want to get him out of the way lest he trouble us later."
"That is not what a noble man should do," said his elder brother.
Soon the messenger was dismissed and returned to the capital with a the reply from Liu Bei. The letter only said the instruction would take time to plan and implement. But the messenger, when he saw Cao Cao, told him the story of Liu Bei' pledge to Lu Bu.
Then said Cao Cao, "The plan has failed; what next?"
Xun Yu replied, "I have another trick called 'Tiger against Wolf' in which the tiger is made to gobble up the wolf."
"Let us hear it," said Cao Cao.
"Send to Yuan Shu to say that Liu Bei has sent up a secret memorial to the Throne that he wishes to subdue the southern regions around the Huai River. Yuan Shu will be angry and attack him. Then you will order Liu Bei to dispose of Yuan Shu and so set them destroying each other. Lu Bu will certainly think that is his chance and turn traitor. This is the 'Tiger against Wolf' trick."
Cao Cao thought this good and sent the messenger and also sent a false edict to Liu Bei. When this came the messenger was received with all the ceremonies and the edict ordered the capture of Yuan Shu. After the departure of the bearer, Liu Bei called Mi Zhu who pronounced it a ruse.
"It may be," said Liu Bei, "but the royal command is not to be disobeyed."
So the army was prepared and the day fixed.
Sun Qian said, "A trusty man must be left on guard of the city."
And Liu Bei asked which of his brothers would undertake this task.
"I will guard the city," said Guan Yu.
"I am constantly in need of your advice, so how can we part?" said Liu Bei.
"I will guard the city," said Zhang Fei.
"You will fail," said Liu Bei. "After one of your drinking bouts you will get savage and flog the soldiers. Beside you are rash and will not listen to any one's advice. I shall be uneasy all the time."
"Henceforth I drink no more wine. I will not beat the soldiers and I will always listen to advice," said Zhang Fei.
"I fear the mouth does not correspond to the heart," said Mi Zhu.
"I have followed my elder brother these many years and never broken faith; why should you be contemptuous?" said Zhang Fei.
Liu Bei said, "Though you say this, I do not feel quite satisfied. I will order Adviser Chen Deng to help you and keep you sober. Then you will not make any mistake."
Chen Deng was willing to undertake this duty, and the final orders were given. The army of thirty thousand, horse and foot, left Xuzhou and marched toward Nanyang.
When Yuan Shu heard that a memorial had been presented proposing to take possession of his territories, he broke out into abuse of Liu Bei.
"You weaver of mats! You plaiter of straw shoes! You have been smart enough to get possession of a large region and elbow your way into the ranks of the nobles. I was just going to attack you, and now you dare to scheme against me! How I detest you!"
So Yuan Shu at once gave orders to prepare an army of one hundred thousand, under Ji Ling, to attack Xuzhou. The two armies met at Xuyi, where Liu Bei was encamped in a plain with hills behind and a stream on his flank, for his army was small.
Ji Ling was a native of the East of Huashang. He used a very heavy three-edged sword. After he had made his camp, he rode out and began abusing his opponents, shouting, "Liu Bei, you rustic bumpkin, how dare you invade this land?"
"I have a decree ordering me to destroy the Governor who behaves improperly. If you oppose, you will be assuredly punished," replied Liu Bei.
Ji Ling angrily rode out brandishing his weapon.
But Guan Yu cried, "Fool, do not attempt to fight!"
And Guan Yu rode out to meet him. Then they two fought and after thirty bouts neither had an advantage. Then Ji Ling cried out for a rest. So Guan Yu turned his horse away, rode back to his own array and waited for Ji Ling.
When the moment came to renew the combat, Ji Ling sent out one of his officers, Xun Zheng, to take his place. But Guan Yu said, "Tell Ji Ling to come; I must settle with him who shall be tiger and who shall be deer."
"You, a reputationless leader and unworthy to fight with our general," replied Xun Zheng.
This reply angered Guan Yu, who made just one attack on Xun Zheng and brought him to the ground. At this success Liu Bei urged on the army, and Ji Ling's troops were defeated. They retired to the mouth of the River Huaiyin and declined all challenges.
However, many of their troops were sent into Liu Bei' camp for harassment, and many of them were slain. The two armies thus stood facing each other.
In Xuzhou, after Liu Bei had started on his expedition, Zhang Fei placed his colleague and helper, Chen Deng, in charge of the administration of the region, keeping military affairs under his own supervision. After thinking over the matter or some time, he gave a banquet to all the military officers; and when they were all seated, he made a speech: "Before my brother left, he bade me keep clear of the wine cup for fear of accidents. Now, gentlemen, you may drink deep today; but from tomorrow wine is forbidden, for we must keep the city safe. So take your fill."
And with this he and all his guests rose to drink together. The wine bearer came to Cao Bao who declined it, saying, "I never drink as I am forbidden of heaven."
"What! A fighting man does not drink wine!" said the host. "I want you to take just one cup."
Cao Bao was afraid to offend, so he drank.
Now Zhang Fei drank huge goblets with all his guests on every hand and so swallowed a huge quantity of liquor. He became quite intoxicated. Yet he would drink more and insisted on a cup with every guest. It came to the turn of Cao Bao who declined.
"Really, I cannot drink," said Cao Bao.
"You drank just now; why refuse this time?"
Zhang Fei pressed him, but still Cao Bao resisted. Then Zhang Fei in his drunken madness lost control of his temper and said, "If you disobey the orders of your general, you shall be beaten one hundred strokes."
And he called in his guards. Here Chen Deng interfered reminding him of the strict injunctions of his brother.
"You civilians attend to your civil business and leave us alone," said Zhang Fei.
The only way of escape for the guest was to beg remission; and Cao Bao did so, "Sir, if you saw my son-in-law's face, you would pardon me."
"Who is your son-in-law?"
"I did not mean to have you really beaten; but if you think to frighten me with Lu Bu, I will. I will beat you as if I was beating him," said Zhang Fei.
The guests interposed to beg him off, but their drunken host was obdurate, and the unhappy guest received fifty blows. Then at the earnest prayers of the others the remainder of the punishment was remitted.
The banquet came to an end, and the beaten Cao Bao went away burning with resentment. That night he sent a letter to Xiaopei relating the insults he had received from Zhang Fei. The letter told Lu Bu of Liu Bei' absence and proposed that a sudden raid should be made that very night before Zhang Fei had recovered from his drunken fit. Lu Bu at once summoned Chen Gong and told him.
"Xiaopei is only a place to occupy temporarily," said Chen Gong. "If you can seize Xuzhou, do so. It is a good chance."
Lu Bu got ready at once and soon on the way with five hundred cavalrymen, ordering Chen Gong and Gao Shun to follow him with the main body.
Xiaopei being only about fifteen miles away, Lu Bu was under the walls at the fourth watch. It was clear moonlight. No one on the ramparts saw him. Lu Bu came up close to the wall and called out, "Liu Bei' secret messenger has arrived."
The guards on the wall were Cao Bao's people, and they called him. Cao Bao came, and when he saw who was there he ordered the gates to be opened. Lu Bu gave the secret signal, and the soldiers entered shouting.
Zhang Fei was in his apartment sleeping off the fumes of wine. His servants hastened to arouse him and told him an enemy had got the gates open.
They said, "Lu Bu got in, and there is fighting in the city."
Zhang Fei savagely got into his armor and laid hold of his mighty octane-serpent halberd. But as he was mounting his horse at the gate the attacking soldiers came up. He rushed at them but being still half intoxicated made but a poor fight. Lu Bu knowing Zhang Fei's prowess did not press him hard, and Zhang Fei made his way, with eighteen leading Guards of Yan 2, to the east gate, and there went out, leaving Liu Bei' family to their fate.
Cao Bao, seeing Zhang Fei had but a very small force and was still half drunk as well, came in pursuit. Zhang Fei saw who it was and was mad with rage. He galloped toward Cao Bao and drove him off after a few passes. He followed Cao Bao to the moat and wounded him in the back. Cao Bao's frightened steed carried its master into the moat, and he was drowned.
Once well outside the city Zhang Fei collected his troops, and they rode off toward the south direction.
Lu Bu having surprised the city set himself to restore order. He put a guard over the residence of Liu Bei so that no one should disturb the family.
Zhang Fei with his few followers went to his brother's camp and told his story of treachery and surprise. All were greatly distressed.
"Success is not worth rejoicing over; failure is not worth grieving over," said Liu Bei with a sigh.
"Where are our sisters?" asked Guan Yu.
"They shared the fate of the city."
Liu Bei nodded his head and was silent.
Guan Yu with an effort controlled his reproaches and said, "What did you say when you promised to guard the city and what orders did our brother give you? Now the city is lost and therewith our sisters-in-law. Have you done well?"
Zhang Fei was overwhelmed by remorse. He drew his sword to kill himself.
He raised the cup in pledge,
Zhang Fei's fate will be told in the next chapter.
None might say nay;
Remorseful, drew the sword,
Himself to slay.
1 Fan Kuai was one of the famous generals of Liu Bang.
2 Yan was an ancient state, and Zhang Fei was a Yan native.