CHAPTER 15

Taishi Ci Fights With The Little Prince;
Sun Ce Cuts Short The White Tiger King.
 

In the last chapter it was recorded that Zhang Fei was about to end his life with his own weapon in Xuyi. But Liu Bei rushed forward and caught Zhang Fei in his arms, snatched away the sword, and threw it on the earth, saying, "Brothers are as hands and feet; wives and children are as clothing. You may mend your torn dress, but who can reattach a lost limb? We three, by the Oath of the Peach Garden, swore to seek the same death day. The city is lost, it is true, and my wives and little ones, but I could not bear that we should die ere our course be run. Beside, Xuzhou was not really ours, and Lu Bu will not harm my family but will rather seek to preserve them. You made a mistake, Worthy Brother, but is it one deserving of death?"

And Liu Bei wept. His brothers were much affected and their tears fell in sympathy. As soon as the news of Lu Bu's successful seizure of his protector's region reached Yuan Shu, Yuan Shu sent promises of valuable presents to Lu Bu to induce him to join in a further attack on Liu Bei. The presents are said to have been fifty thousand carts of grain, five hundred horses, ten thousand ounces of gold and silver, and a thousand rolls of colored silk. Lu Bu swallowed the bait and ordered Gao Shun to lead forth fifty thousand troops. But Liu Bei heard of the threatened attack, so he made inclement weather an excuse to moved his few soldiers out of Xuyi for Guangling, before the attacking force came up.

However, Gao Shun demanded the promised reward through Ji Ling, who put Gao Shun off, saying, "My lord has gone away; I will settle this as soon as I can see him and get his decision."

With this answer Gao Shun returned to Lu Bu, who could not decide what to do. Then came a letter from Yuan Shu, saying, "Although Gao Shun had gone to attack Liu Bei, yet Liu Bei had not been destroyed and no reward could be given till he was actually taken."

Lu Bu railed at what he called the breach of faith and was inclined to attack Yuan Shu himself.

However, his adviser, Chen Gong, opposed this course, saying, "You should not; Yuan Shu is in possession of Shouchun and has a large army, well supplied. You are no match for him. Rather ask Liu Bei to take up his quarters at Xiaopei as one of your wings and, when the time comes, let him lead the attack, both south and north. Then Yuan Shu and Yuan Shao will fall before you, and you will be very powerful."

Finding this advice good, Lu Bu sent letters to Liu Bei asking him to return.

After the flight of Liu Bei, Yuan Shu attacked Guangling and reduced Liu Bei' force by half. When the messenger from Lu Bu came, Liu Bei read the letter. He was quite content with the offer, but his brothers were not inclined to trust Lu Bu.

"Such a dishonorable man must have a motive," said Guan Yu and Zhang Fei.

"Since he treats me kindly, I cannot but trust him," replied Liu Bei.

So Liu Bei went back to Xuzhou. Lu Bu, fearing that Liu Bei might doubt his sincerity, restored Liu Bei' family; and when Lady Gan and Lady Mi saw their lord, they told him that they had been kindly treated and guarded by soldiers against any intrusion, and provisions had never been wanting.

"I knew he would not harm my family," said Liu Bei to Guan Yu and Zhang Fei.

However, Zhang Fei was not pleased and would not accompany his brothers into the city when they went to express their thanks. He went to escort the two ladies to Xiaopei.

At the interview Lu Bu said, "I did not wish to take the city, but your brother behaved very badly, drinking and flogging the soldiers, and I came to guard it lest some evil should befall."

"But I had long wished to yield it to you," said Liu Bei.

Thereupon Lu Bu wished to retire in favor of Liu Bei who, however, would not hear of it. Liu Bei returned and took up his quarters in Xiaopei, but his two brothers would not take the situation kindly and were very discontented.

Said Liu Bei, "One must bow to one's lot. It is the will of Heaven, and one cannot struggle against fate."

Lu Bu sent presents of food and stuffs, and peace reigned between the two houses.

In Shouchun, Yuan Shu prepared a great banquet for his soldiers when it was announced that Sun Ce had subdued Lu Kang, the Governor of Lujiang. Yuan Shu summoned the victor, who made obeisance at the foot of the hall of audience. Yuan Shu, sitting in state, asked for details of the campaign and then invited Sun Ce to the banquet.

After the unhappy death of his father Sun Jian, Sun Ce had returned to the lower region of the Great River, where he had devoted himself to peaceful ends, inviting to his side good people and able scholars. Afterwards, when a quarrel broke out between his mother's brother, Governor Wu Jing of Dangyang, and the late Imperial Protector of Xuzhou, Tao Qian, Sun Ce removed his mother with all the family to Que, he himself taking service under Yuan Shu, who admired and loved him greatly.

"If I had a son like Sun Ce," said Yuan Shu, "I should die without regret."

Yuan Shu appointed Sun Ce Commander and sent him on various expeditions, all of which were successful. After this banquet to celebrate the victory over Lu Kang, Sun Ce returned to his camp very bitter over the arrogant and patronizing airs of his patron. Instead of retiring to his tent Sun Ce walked up and down by the light of the moon.

"Here am I, a mere nobody and yet my father was such a hero!"

And he cried out and wept in spite of himself.

Then suddenly appeared one who said, laughing loudly, "What is this, Sun Ce? While your noble father enjoyed the light of the sun, he made free use of me; and if his son has any difficulty to resolve, why does he not refer it to me also instead of weeping here alone?"

Looking at the speaker Sun Ce saw it was Zhu Zhi, a native of Dangyang, who had been in Sun Jian's service. Sun Ce then ceased weeping, and they two sat down.

"I was weeping from regret at being unable to continue my father's work," said Sun Ce.

"Why stay here bound to the service of a master? The Governor of Dangyang is in distress. Why not get command of an army under the pretense of an expedition to relieve Wu Jing? Escape the shadow of Yuan Shu and take control of Dangyang, then you can accomplish great things."

While these two were talking, another man suddenly entered, saying, "I know what you two are planning, Noble Sirs. Under my hand is a band of one hundred bold fellows ready to help Sun Ce in whatever he wishes to do."

The speaker was one of Yuan Shu's advisers named Lu Fan, from Runan. They three then sat and discussed schemes.

"The one fear is that Yuan Shu will refuse to give you the troops," said Lu Fan.

"I still have the Imperial Hereditary Seal that my father left me; that should be good security."

"Yuan Shu earnestly desires that jewel," said Zhu Zhi. "He will certainly lend you troops on that pledge."

The three talked over their plans, gradually settling the details; and not many days after Sun Ce obtained an interview with his patron.

Assuming the appearance of deep grief Sun Ce said, "I have been unable to avenge my father. Now the Imperial Protector of Yangzhou, Liu Yao, is opposing my mother's brother, and my mother and her family are in danger in Que. Wherefore I would borrow a few thousands of fighting men to rescue them. As perhaps, Illustrious Sir, you may lack confidence in me, I am willing to deposit the Imperial Hereditary Seal, left me by my late father, as a pledge."

"Let me see it if you have it," said Yuan Shu. "I do not want the jewel really, but you may as well leave it with me. I will lend you three thousand troops and five hundred horses. Return as soon as peace can be made. As your rank is hardly sufficient for such powers, I will memorialize to obtain for you higher rank with the title of General Who Exterminates Brigands, and you can soon start."

Sun Ce thanked his patron most humbly and soon put the army in motion, taking with him his two new advisers and his father's generals---Zhu Zhi, Lu Fan, Cheng Pu, Huang Gai, Han Dang, and others.

When Sun Ce reached Linyang, he saw a body of troops in front of him, at their head a dashing leader of handsome and refined mien. As soon as this commander saw Sun Ce, he dismounted and made obeisance. It was Zhou Yu from Shucheng.

When Sun Jian was opposing the tyrant Dong Zhuo, he moved his family to Shucheng where the Zhou family had lived. And as Zhou Yu and Sun Ce were of the same age all but two months, they became exceedingly good friends and sworn brothers, Sun Ce being the elder in virtue of his two months' seniority. Zhou Yu was on his way to visit Sun Ce's uncle, Governor Wu Jing of Dangyang, when the happy meeting took place.

Naturally Sun Ce confided his projects and inmost ideas to his friend, who at once said, "I shall put my whole life and energy to serve you to reach that grand goal."

"Now that you have come, the design is as good as accomplished," said Sun Ce.

Zhou Yu was introduced to Zhu Zhi and Lu Fan.

Zhou Yu said, "Do you know of the two Zhangs of Guangling? They would be most useful people in working out your schemes."

"Who are they, the two Zhangs?" said Sun Ce.

"They are men of transcendent genius who are living near here for the sake of tranquillity in these turbulent times. Their names are Zhang Zhao and Zhang Hong. Why not invite them to help you, Brother?"

Sun Ce lost no time in sending letters and gifts, but they both declined. Then he visited them in person, was greatly pleased with their speech and by dint of large gifts and much persuasion, got them to promise to join him. Sun Ce appointed them both Counselors and Generals.

The plan of the attack upon Yangzhou was the next matter for discussion. The Imperial Protector, Liu Yao, was of Donglai, a scion of the imperial family and brother of the Imperial Protector of Yanzhou, Liu Dai. Liu Yao had long ruled in Yangzhou and headquartered in Shouchun. But Yuan Shu had forced him to flee to the southeast of the Great River. He retired to Que and now was battling with Wu Jing in Linyang.

Hearing of the meditated attack on him, Liu Yao summoned his generals to take counsel.

Said General Zhang Ying, "I will take an army and entrench at Niuzhu. No army can get past that, whatever its strength."

Zhang Ying was interrupted by another who shouted, "And let me lead the van!"

All eyes turned to this man; it was Taishi Ci who, after helping Kong Rong raise the siege of Beihai, had come to serve Liu Yao.

Hearing him offer to undertake the hazardous post of van leader, Liu Yao said, "But you are still young and not yet equal to such a charge. Rather stay by my side and await my orders."

Taishi Ci withdrew in disappointment. Soon Zhang Ying led his army to Niuzhu, where the stores of grain located. When Sun Ce approached, Zhang Ying went to meet him, and the two armies faced each other above the Bullock Rapid. Zhang Ying roundly abused his opponent, and Huang Gai rode out to attack him. But before the combat had proceeded far, there arose an alarm of fire in Zhang Ying' camp. Zhang Ying turned back, and then Sun Ce advanced in full force, compelling the enemy to abandon their possession. The defeated general fled to the hills.

Now the incendiaries who had brought about this result were two, named Jiang Qin from Shouchun and Zhou Tai from Jiujiang, who in these turbulent times had got together a band of kindred spirits and lived by plundering the country along the Great River. They knew Sun Ce by reputation as a man who treated able people very liberally and wished to join him. So they came with their band, three hundred strong, and helped him in this way as an introduction. Sun Ce welcomed them and gave the leaders rank. After taking possession of the stores of all kinds abandoned by the runaways, and enlisting four thousand of those who surrendered into his own ranks, Sun Ce moved forward to attack Shenting.

After his defeat Zhang Ying returned to his master and told his misfortune. Liu Yao was going to punish his failure by death, but listened to his advisers, who asked for mercy for the unfortunate man, and sent him to command the garrison in Lingling. Liu Yao himself set out to meet the invaders. He camped south of the Sacred Hills. Sun Ce camped on the opposite side of the hills.

Sun Ce inquired the natives, "Is there a temple of Liu Xiu the Founder of Latter Hans in the vicinity?"

They said, "There is a temple to the south on the summit of the hills."

"I dreamed last night that Liu Xiu called me, so I will go and pray there," said Sun Ce.

But Counselor Zhang Zhao advised, "My lord, you should not go as the enemy is on the other side, and you may fall into an ambush."

"The spirit will help me; what need I fear?"

So Sun Ce put on his armor, took his spear and mounted, taking with him twelve of his commanders as an escort. They rode up the hills, dismounted, burned incense, and they all bowed in the shrine.

Then Sun Ce knelt and made a vow, saying, "If I, Sun Ce, succeed in my task and restore the authority of my late father, then will I restore this temple and order sacrifices at the four seasons."

When they had remounted, Sun Ce said, "I am going to ride along the ridge and reconnoiter the enemy's position."

His commanders begged him to refrain, but he was obstinate, and they rode there together, noting the villages below.

A soldier of the other side going along a bye road quickly reported the presence of horsemen on the ridge, and Liu Yao said, "It is certainly Sun Ce trying to inveigle us to battle. But do not go out."

Taishi Ci jumped up, saying, "What better chance to capture him?"

So, without orders he armed himself and rode through the camp, crying, "If there be any valiant people among you, follow me!"

No one moved save a subaltern who said, "He is a valiant man and I will go with him."

So he also went. The others only laughed at the pair.

Now having seen all he wished, Sun Ce thought it time to return and wheeled round his horse. But when he was going over the summit, some one shouted, "Stay, Sun Ce!"

Sun Ce turned; two horsemen were coming at full speed down the next hill. Sun Ce halted and drew up his little escort right and left, he himself with his spear ready.

"Which is Sun Ce?" shouted Taishi Ci.

"Who are you?" was the reply.

"I, Taishi Ci of Laihuang, come to take him prisoner."

"Then I am he," said Sun Ce, laughing. "Come both of you together; I am not afraid of you. If I were, I should not be Sun Ce."

"You and all your crowd come on and I will not blench," cried Taishi Ci putting his horse at a gallop and setting his spear.

Sun Ce braced himself for the shock and the battle began. Fifty bouts were fought and still neither combatant had the advantage. Sun Ce's commanders whispered to each other their admiration and amazement. Taishi Ci saw that the spearmanship of his opponent showed no weak point whereby he could gain the advantage, so he decided to resort to guile. Feigning defeat he would lead Sun Ce to pursue. Taishi Ci however did not retire along the road by which he had come, but took a path leading around the hill instead of over it. His antagonist followed, shouting, "He who retreats is no worthy soldier!"

But Taishi Ci thought within himself, "He has twelve others at his back and I only one. If I capture him, the others will retake him. I will inveigle him into some secret spot and then try."

So flying and fighting by turns he led Sun Ce, an eager pursuer, down to the plain. Here Taishi Ci suddenly wheeled about and attacked. Again they exchanged half a hundred bouts, without result. Then Sun Ce made a fierce thrust, which his opponent evaded by gripping the spear under his arm, while he himself did the same with his opponent's spear. Neither was wounded but each exerting his utmost strength to pull the other out of the saddle they both came to the ground.

Their steeds galloped off they knew not whither, while the two men, each dropping his spear, began a hand to hand struggle. Soon their fighting robes were in tatters. Sun Ce gripped the short lance that Taishi Ci carried at his back, while Taishi Ci tore off the Sun Ce's helmet. Sun Ce tried to stab with the short lance but Taishi Ci fended off the blow with the helmet as a shield.

Then arose a great shouting. Liu Yao had come up with a thousand soldiers. Sun Ce seemed now in sore straits. His twelve followers came up, and each combatant let go his hold. Taishi Ci quickly found another steed, seized a spear, and mounted. Sun Ce, whose horse had been caught by Cheng Pu, also mounted, and a confused battle began between the handful of men on one side and a whole thousand troops on the other. It swayed and drifted down the hill side. However, soon Zhou Yu leading his troops came to the rescue, and as evening drew on a tempest put an end to the fight. Both sides drew off and returned to camp.

Next day Sun Ce led his army to the front of Liu Yao' camp, and the challenge was accepted. The armies were drawn up. Sun Ce hung the short lance he had seized from Taishi Ci at the end of his spear and waved it in front of the line of battle and ordered his soldiers to shout, "If the owner of this had not fled, he would have been stabbed to death."

On the other side they hung out Sun Ce's helmet, and the soldiers shouted back, "Sun Ce's head is here already."

Both sides thus yelled defiance at each other, one side boasting, the other bragging. Then Taishi Ci rode out challenging Sun Ce to a duel to the death, and Sun Ce would have accepted, but Cheng Pu said, "My lord should not trouble himself; I will take him."

And Cheng Pu rode forth.

"You are no antagonist for me," said Taishi Ci. "Tell your master to come out."

This incensed Cheng Pu, who rode at his opponent, and they two fought thirty bouts. The duel was stopped by the gongs of Liu Yao.

"Why did you sound the retreat?" said Taishi Ci. "I was just going to capture the wretch."

"Because I have just heard that Que has been captured. Zhou Yu led a surprise force thither, and Chen Wu was in league with him to betray the city. We have no home now. I will hasten to Moling to get the help of Xue Li and Ze Rong to retake the city."

The army retired, Taishi Ci with it, without being pursued. On the other side Zhang Zhao said to Sun Ce, "Zhou Yu's attack is the cause of this move; they are in no mood to fight. A night raid on their camp would finish them."

The army was divided into five divisions for the night surprise and hastened toward the camp where they scored a victory. Their opponents scattered in all directions. Taishi Ci alone made a determined stand, and as he could not withstand a whole army, he fled with ten horsemen to Jingxian.

Now Sun Ce acquired a new adherent in the person of Chen Wu. He was a soldier of middle height, sallow of complexion and dark eye, an odd looking man. But Sun Ce held him in high esteem, appointed him Commander, and put him in the van of the attack on Xue Li. As Van Leader, Chen Wu and a dozen horsemen made a dash into the enemy's formation, where they slew half a hundred men. So Xue Li would not fight but remained within his defenses. As Sun Ce was attacking the city, a spy came in with the news that Liu Yao and Ze Rong had gone to attack Niuzhu, which made Sun Ce move thither in haste. His two opponents were ready for battle.

"I am here;" said Sun Ce, "you would better give in."

A general came out from behind Liu Yao to accept the challenge. It was Yu Mi. But in the third bout Sun Ce made him prisoner and carried him off to the other side. Seeing his colleague thus captured, Fan Neng rode out to the rescue and got quite close. But just as he was going to thrust, all Sun Ce's soldiers shouted, "There is a man behind you going to strike secretly!"

At this Sun Ce turned and shouted so thunderously loud that Fan Neng fell out of his saddle from mere fright. He split his skull and died. When Sun Ce reached his standard, he threw his prisoner to the ground. And Yu Mi was also dead, crushed to death between the arm and the body of his captor. So in a few moments Sun Ce had disposed of two enemies, one crushed to death and one frightened to death. Thereafter Sun Ce was called the Little Prince.

Liu Yao had a defeat; the greater portion of his force surrendered, and the number of those slain exceeded ten thousand. Liu Yao himself fled to Yuzhang and sought safety with Liu Biao, Imperial Protector of Jingzhou.

An attack on Moling was the next move. As soon as Sun Ce arrived at the moat, he summoned Commander Xue Li to surrender. Some one let fly a furtive arrow from the wall which wounded Sun Ce in the left thigh so severely that he fell from his steed. Hastily his officers picked up their wounded chief and returned to the camp where the arrow was pulled out and the wound dressed with the medicines suitable for injuries by metals.

By Sun Ce's command the story was spread abroad that the hurt had been fatal, and all the soldiers set up cries of lamentation. The camp was broken up. Xue Li, Zhang Ying, and Chen Heng made a night sortie but fell into a carefully prepared ambush, and presently Sun Ce himself appeared on horseback shouting: "Sun Ce is here still!"

His sudden appearance created such a panic that the soldiers dropped their weapons and fell on their faces. Sun Ce gave orders not to kill them. But their leaders fell: Zhang Ying from Chen Wu's spear thrust as he turned to run away; Chen Heng was killed by Jiang Qin's arrow; and the Commander, Xue Li, was slain in the turbulence. Thus Sun Ce got possession of Moling. Having calmed the people he sent his soldiers away to Jingxian, where Taishi Ci was in command.

Taishi Ci had assembled two thousand veterans in addition to his own troops for the purpose of avenging his master. Sun Ce and Zhou Yu on the other hand consulted how to capture him alive.

Zhou Yu planned, "Attack the city on three sides, leaving the east gate free for flight. Some distance off an ambush shall be prepared, when Taishi Ci, his men fatigued and horses spent, shall fall an easy victim."

The latest recruits under Taishi Ci's banner were mostly hillmen and unaccustomed to discipline. Beside, the walls of the city were pitiably low. One night Sun Ce ordered Chen Wu to strip off his long dress, leave his arms save a dagger, clamber up the ramparts, and set fire to the city. Seeing the flames spreading, Taishi Ci made for the east gate and, as soon as he got outside, Sun Ce followed in pursuit. The pursuit was maintained for some fifteen miles when the pursuers stopped. Taishi Ci went on as long as possible, finally halting to rest in a spot surrounded by reeds. Suddenly a tremendous shouting arose. Taishi Ci was just starting when tripping ropes arose all round, his horse was thrown and he found himself a prisoner.

Taishi Ci was taken back to camp. As soon as Sun Ce heard the news, he himself rode out to order the guards to leave the prisoner, whose bonds he loosened with his own hands. Then he took off his own embroidered robe and put it on the captive. They entered the camp together.

"I knew you were a real hero," said Sun Ce. "That worm of a Liu Yao had no use for such as you and so he got beaten."

Taishi Ci, overcome by this kindness and good treatment, then formally surrendered. Sun Ce seized his hand and said, laughing, "If you had taken me at that fight we had near the shrine, would you have killed me?"

"Who can say?" said Taishi Ci smiling.

Sun Ce laughed also and they entered his tent, where Taishi Ci was placed in the seat of honor at a banquet.

Taishi Ci said, "Can you trust me so far as to let me go to muster as many as I can of the soldiers of my late master. Under the smart of this defeat they will turn against him, and they would be a great help to you."

"Exactly what I most desire. I will make an agreement with you that at midday tomorrow you will return."

Taishi Ci agreed and went off. All the generals said he would never return.

"He is trustworthy and will not break his word," said the chief.

None of the officers believed he would come back. But the next day they set up a bamboo rod in the gate of the camp, and just as the shadow marked noon Taishi Ci returned, bringing with him about a thousand troops. Sun Ce was pleased, and his officers had to confess that he had rightly judged his man.

Sun Ce thus marched his army to the South Land, and his enemies fled or surrendered before his force. He had now several legions and the southeast of the Great River was his. He improved the conditions of the people and maintained order so that his adherents and supporters daily increased. He was called Sun Ce the Bright. When his army approached, the people used to flee in terror; but when it had arrived and they saw that no one was permitted to loot and not the least attempt was made on their houses, they rejoiced and presented the soldiers with oxen and wine, for which they were in turn duly rewarded. Gladness filled the country side. The soldiers who had followed Liu Yao were kindly treated. Those who wished to join Sun Ce's army did so; those who preferred not to be soldiers were sent home with presents. And thus Sun Ce won the respect and praise of every one and became very powerful.

Sun Ce then settled his mother and the remainder of the family in Que, setting his brother, Sun Quan, and Zhou Tai over the city of Xuancheng. Then he headed an expedition to the south to reduce Wujun.

At that time there was a certain Yan Baihu, or the White Tiger, who styled himself King of Eastern Wu ((an ancient state in the South Land)) and ruled over Wujun. His armies stationed at Wucheng and Jiaxing. Hearing of Sun Ce's approach, Yan Baihu sent his brother, Yan Yu, with an army against Sun Ce, and they met at Juniper Bridge. Yan Yu, sword in hand, took his stand on the bridge, and this was reported to Sun Ce, who prepared to accept the challenge.

Zhang Hong tried to dissuade him, saying, "For as much as my lord's fate is bound up with that of the army, he should not risk a conflict with a mere robber. I wish that you should remember your own value."

"Your words, O Wise One, are as gold and precious stones, but I fear that my soldiers will not carry out my commands unless I myself share their dangers."

However, Sun Ce sent forth Han Dang to take up the challenge. Just as Han Dang reached the bridge, Jiang Qin and Chen Wu, who had dropped down the river in a small boat, passed under the bridge. Though the arrows fell in clouds on the bank, the two men rushed up and fiercely attacked Yan Yu as he stood on the bridge. Yan Yu fled and Han Dang went in pursuit. But Yan Yu smote up to the west gate of the city into which he entered.

Sun Ce laid siege to Wujun both by land and water. For three days no one came out to offer battle. Then at the head of his army, Sun Ce came to the west gate and summoned the warden. An officer of inconsiderable rank came out and stood with one hand resting on a beam while with the other he gave point to his abuse of those below. Quickly Taishi Ci's hands sought his bow and an arrow was on the string.

"See me hit that fellow's hand," said he, turning to his companions.

Even as the sound of his voice died away, the bowstring twanged, the arrow sped and lodged in the beam, firmly pinning thereto the officer's hand. Both sides, those on the wall and those below it, marveled and acclaimed at such marksmanship.

The wounded man was taken away. When Yan Baihu the White Tiger heard of the exploit, he said, "How can we hope to withstand an army with such people as this in it?"

And his thoughts turned toward a peace. He sent his brother Yan Yu out to see Sun Ce, who received him civilly, invited him into the tent, and set wine before him.

"And what does your brother propose?" said Sun Ce.

"He is willing to share this region with you," was the reply.

"The rat! How dare he put himself on a level with me?" cried Sun Ce.

Sun Ce commanded to put the messenger to death. Yan Yu started up and drew his sword; but out flew Sun Ce's blade, and the unhappy messenger fell to the ground. His head was hacked off and sent into the city to his brother.

This had its effect. Yan Baihu saw resistance was hopeless, so he abandoned Wujun and fled. Sun Ce pressed the attack. Huang Gai captured Jiaxing, and Taishi Ci took Wucheng. Several other southern cities were fallen. The territory was quickly subdued. Yan Baihu rushed off toward Yuhang in the east, plundering on all sides, till a band of villagers under the leadership of one Ling Cao checked his career of robbery there. Yan Baihu then fled toward Kuaiji.

Ling Cao and his son then went to meet Sun Ce, who took them into his service, and appointed them Commanders as a reward for their service, and the joint forces crossed the Great River.

The White Tiger, Yan Baihu, gathered his scattered forces and took up a position at Western Ford, but Cheng Pu attacked him there and scattered the defenders, chasing them as far as Kuaiji. The Governor of the place, Wang Lang, was on Yan Baihu's side and inclined to support him actively.

But, when Wang Lang proposed this, one of his officers stood forth, saying, "No! No! Sun Ce as a leader is humane and upright, while the White Tiger is a savage ruffian. Rather capture him and offer his person as a peace offering to Sun Ce."

The Governor turned angrily toward the speaker, who was an official named Yu Fan from Kuaiji, and bade him be silent. Yu Fan withdrew sighing deeply. And the Governor went to the help of the White Tiger with whom he joined forces at Shanyin.

Sun Ce came up. When both sides were arrayed, Sun Ce rode out and addressed Wang Lang, saying, "Mine is an army of good soldiers, and my aim is to restore peace to this region, but you give your support to a rebel!"

Wang Lang replied, "Your greed is insatiable. Having got possession of Wujun, you want also my territory. I shall revenge for the Yans."

This response greatly angered Sun Ce. Just as battle was to be joined, Taishi Ci advanced and Wang Lang came toward him waving a sword. Before they had exchanged many passes, Zhou Xin dashed out to help Wang Lang. Thereupon Huang Gai rode out to make the sides more equal. These latter two were just engaging when the drums rolled on both sides, and a general battle began.

Suddenly confusion was caused in the rear of Wang Lang's army by the sudden onslaught of a small army. Wang Lang galloped off to see the attackers were Zhou Yu and Cheng Pu. Then an attack was made on his flank, so that he was in a hopeless position, and he and Yan Baihu and Zhou Xin, fighting desperately to cut an arterial alley, only just managed to reach the shelter of the city. The drawbridges were raised, the gates closed, and preparations made to sustain a siege.

Sun Ce followed right up to the walls and then divided his troops so as to attack all four gates. Seeing that the city was being fiercely attacked, Wang Lang was for making a sortie, but Yan Baihu opposed this as hopeless against so strong a force outside.

"We can only strengthen our position and remain behind the shelter of the ramparts until hunger forces the besiegers to retire," said Yan Baihu.

Wang Lang agreed and the siege went on.

For several days a vigorous attack was maintained, but with little success. In a council, Sun Jing, who was the uncle of Sun Ce, said, "Since they are holding the city with such resolution, it will be difficult to dislodge them. But the bulk of their supplies is stored at Chadu, distant only some ten miles. Our best plan is to seize this place, thus attacking where the enemy is unprepared, and doing what they do not expect."

Sun Ce approved, saying, "My uncle's plan is admirable and will crush the rebels."

So he issued orders to kindle watch fires at all the gates, and leave the flags standing to maintain the appearance of soldiers in position while the expedition went south.

Zhou Yu came to utter a warning, "When you, my lord, go away, the besieged will surely come out and follow you. We might prepare a surprise for them."

Sun Ce replied, "My preparations are complete, and the city will be captured tonight."

So the army set out. Wang Lang heard that the besiegers had gone, and he went up to the tower to reconnoiter. He saw the fires blazing, the smoke rising, and the pennons fluttering in the breeze as usual and hesitated.

Zhou Xin said, "He has gone and this is only a strategy. Let us go out and smite them."

Yan Baihu said, "If he has gone, it is to attack Chadu. Let us pursue."

"The place is our base of supply," said Wang Lang, "and must be defended. You two lead the way, and I will follow with reserves."

So Yan Baihu and Zhou Xin went forth with five thousand soldiers and drew near their enemy about the first watch, at seven miles from the city. The road led through dense forest. Then suddenly the drums beat and lighted torches sprang up on all sides. Yan Baihu was frightened, turned his horse and started to retreat. At once a leader appeared in front in whom, by the glare of the torches, he recognized Sun Ce. Zhou Xin made a rush at him but fell under Sun Ce's spear. The men surrendered. However, Yan Baihu managed to cut his way out and fled to Yuhang.

Wang Lang soon heard of the loss and, not daring to return to the city, fled in all haste to the coastal regions. And so Sun Ce got possession of the city of Kuaiji.

Having restored order, a few days later a man came bringing the head of the White Tiger as an offering to Sun Ce. This man was a native of the county. He was of medium height, with a square face and wide mouth. He was named Dong Xi. Sun Ce appointed him Commander. After this, peace reigned in all the southeast. Sun Ce placed his uncle Sun Jing in command of the city and made Zhu Zhi Governor of Wujun. Then Sun Ce returned to his own place, south of the Great River.

While Sun Ce was absent, a band of brigands suddenly attacked Xuancheng, left in the care of his brother Sun Quan and the leader Zhou Tai. As the onslaught was made on all sides at once, and in the night, the brigands got the upper hand. Zhou Tai took the youth in his arms and mounted a horse; but as the robbers came on with swords to attack him he dismounted, and though without mail, met the robbers on foot and slew them as they came up. Then came a horseman armed with a spear, but Zhou Tai laid hold of his spear and pulled him to the earth. Then Zhou Tai mounted the robber's horse and thrusting this way and that with the spear fought his way out. So Sun Quan was preserved, but his savior had received more than a dozen wounds. However, the bandits went away.

These wounds being due to metal would not heal but swelled enormously, and the brave soldier's life hung in the balance. Sun Ce returned and was deeply grieved. Then Dong Xi said, "Once in an engagement with some coastal pirates, I received many spear wounds, but a certain wise man named Yu Fan recommended a surgeon who cured me in half a month."

"Surely this must be Yu Fan of Kuaiji," replied Sun Ce. "That is he; he is so called."

"Yes, truly a wise man; I would employ him."

So Sun Ce sent two officers to invite Yu Fan, and he came at once. He was treated in most friendly fashion and appointed an official forthwith. Then the question of treating the wounded man was brought up.

"The surgeon is one Hua Tuo from Qiao, who has perfectly marvelous medicine skill. I will get him to come," said Yu Fan.

Shortly the famous Hua Tuo arrived, a man with the complexion of a youth and a snowy beard. He looked more like a saint who had passed the gates of this life. He was treated very warmly and taken to see the sick general's wounds.

"The case is not difficult," said the surgeon.

And he prepared certain drugs that healed the wounds within a month. Sun Ce suitably acknowledged his care and skill, and he was allowed to leave with rich rewards.

Next Sun Ce attacked the brigands and destroyed them, so restoring complete tranquillity to the South Land. After this he set garrisons at all the strategic points in the old state of Wu, and this done, memorialized what he had achieved to the Throne. He came to an understanding with Cao Cao and sent letters to Yuan Shu demanding the return of the Imperial Hereditary Seal he had left in pledge.

But Yuan Shu, secretly cherishing the most ambitious designs, wrote excuses and did not return the state jewel. In his own place Yuan Shu hastily summoned about thirty of his officers to a council. Among them were Adviser Yang Dajiang and Generals Zhang Xun, Ji Ling, Qiao Rui, Lei Bo, and Chen Lan.

Yuan Shu said, "Sun Ce borrowed an army from me and set out on an expedition which has made him master of the South Land. Now he says nothing of repayment but demands the token of his pledge. Truly he is a boor, and what steps can I take to destroy him?"

Yang Dajiang replied, "You cannot do any thing against him, for he is too strongly placed, the Great River as the shield. You must first remove Liu Bei in revenge for having attacked you without cause, and then you may think about Sun Ce. I have a scheme to put the former into your hands in a very short time."

The means Yang Dajiang employed will be made plain in the next chapter.

 

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