CHAPTER 65

Ma Chao Battles At Jiameng Pass;
Liu Bei Takes The Protectorship Of Yiazhou.
 

It was Yan Pu who thus opposed sending help to Liu Zhang. Then Ma Chao rose and said, "I have been the recipient of much kindness from my lord, which I feel I can never repay adequately. Now let me lead an army to take Jiameng Pass and capture Liu Bei. Then, my lord, Liu Zhang will surely lose his twenty counties, and they shall be yours."

This offer rejoiced Zhang Lu, who sent away Huang Quan without an answer and told off twenty thousand for Ma Chao to lead. Pang De was too ill to take part in the expedition, so he remained in Hanzhong. Zhang Lu ordered Yang Bo to be Army Supervisor. Ma Chao and Ma Dai chose the day to march to Jiameng Pass.

Meanwhile, the messenger sent by Fa Zheng had returned to Luocheng to report: "Zheng Du advised Liu Zhang to set fire to all the plains and valleys between the capital and the invaders, as well as the granaries, to move sway the people, and to stand solely on the defensive."

This news caused Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang great anxiety, for it would be a grave danger to them. However, Fa Zheng was more sanguine.

"Do not be anxious," said he, "the plan would be extremely harmful, but it will not be carried out. Liu Zhang will not do that."

Surely enough, very soon they heard that Liu Zhang had not adopted the suggestion; he would not remove the people. It was a great relief to Liu Bei

Then said Zhuge Liang, "Now let us capture Mianzhu quickly, for, that done, Chengdu is as good as ours."

Liu Bei therefore told off Huang Zhong and Wei Yan to advance first. When Commander of Mianzhu, Fei Guan, heard of their advance, he ordered Li Yan to go out to stop them, and Li Yan led out three thousand troops. The two sides being arrayed, Huang Zhong rode out and fought some half hundred bouts with Li Yan. Neither was able to claim a victory, and so Zhuge Liang from the midst of the host ordered them to beat the gongs to cease from battle.

When Huang Zhong had got back to his side again, he said, "O Instructor, why did you sound the retirement just as I was getting the better of my opponent?"

"Because I saw that Li Yan was not to be overcome by mere force. Tomorrow you shall fight again, and then you shall lead him into the hills by the ruse of pretended defeat. There will be a surprise awaiting him."

Huang Zhong agreed to try this plan, and so on the morrow accepted Li Yan's challenge when it was offered. After about the tenth bout, Huang Zhong and his troops pretended to be worsted and ran. Li Yan pursued and was quickly lured into the mountains. Suddenly his danger flashed into his mind, and he turned to go back.

But he found Wei Yan' troops drawn up across his path, while Zhuge Liang from a hill top near by cried, "You would better yield; if not, there are bows and crossbows on both sides of you---all ready to avenge the death of our Pang Tong."

Li Yan dropped off his horse, threw aside his armor, and offered submission. Not a soldier of his had been hurt. The prisoner was conducted to Liu Bei, who was very affable and so won Li Yan's heart that Li Yan offered to try to seduce Fei Guan from his allegiance.

"Though he is related to Liu Zhang, yet Fei Guan and I are very close friends. Let me go and persuade him."

Wherefore Li Yan was sent back to the city to induce his chief to come over to Liu Bei' side. Li Yan talked to such effect of the kindness and virtues of Liu Bei that Fei Guan was won over, opened the city gates, and admitted the invaders.

As soon as Liu Bei had entered Mianzhu, he set out his forces to take the capital.

While thus engaged, a hasty messenger came to tell of the doings at Jiameng Pass: "There suddenly appeared an army from the east under Ma Chao, Ma Dai, and Yang Bo. They are attacking, and the Pass will certainly be lost if help is not sent quickly."

"We need both Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun for this," remarked Zhuge Liang. "Then we could oppose successfully."

"But Zhao Yun is away," said Liu Bei. "However, Zhang Fei is here. Let us send him quickly."

"Do not say anything, my lord," said Zhuge Liang. "Let me stir him to fight his noblest."

But as soon as Zhang Fei heard of the danger, he came rushing in, shouting, "I must say farewell, Brother! I am off to fight Ma Chao."

However, Zhuge Liang made as if he heard not and said to Liu Bei, "That Ma Chao has invaded Jiameng Pass, and we have no one to drive him back. Nobody can stand up to him, unless we can get Guan Yu from Jingzhou. Guan Yu could do it."

"Why do you despise me, O Instructor?" cried Zhang Fei. "Did I not once drive back a whole army with my mere voice? Think you that I mind a stupid fool like Ma Chao?"

Zhuge Liang said, "Yes, Zhang Fei; but when you forced back the waters and broke the bridge in the Long Slope, you succeeded because your enemies were doubtful. If they had known, General, you would not have come off so easily. All the world knows this Ma Chao and has heard about his six battles at River Wei; and how he made Cao Cao cut off his beard and throw away his robe. Ma Chao very nearly slew Cao Cao too. This is no lightsome task like that, and even Guan Yu might fail."

"All I care for is to go, and if I do not overcome this fellow, I will take the consequences."

"Well, if you will put that in writing, you may lead the attack. And I will ask our lord to lead another army to back you up this time. He can leave the defense of this town to me till Zhao Yun returns."

"I also want to go," said Wei Yan.

Wei Yan was allowed to go with five hundred of light horse in advance of Zhang Fei. Liu Bei marched third. Wei Yan and his scouts soon arrived at Jiameng Pass and there fell in with Yang Bo. They engaged; but after a few bouts Yang Bo fled.

At this success Wei Yan was seized with ambition to rival it and try to snatch the credit that would fall to Zhang Fei. So he pursued. But he presently came across a line of battle all drawn up, the commander being Ma Dai. Wei Yan, thinking it was the redoubtable Ma Chao, rode toward him whirling his sword. Soon Ma Dai turned and ran away, and Wei Yan followed him. However, Ma Dai presently turned back and shot an arrow, which wounded Wei Yan in the left arm, so that he left the pursuit and turned his face the other way. Then Ma Dai came after him and chased Wei Yan nearly up to the Pass.

Here Ma Dai was suddenly confronted by a fierce thunder-roaring leader who dashed down from the Pass as on a flying steed.

It was Zhang Fei, who had just arrived. Hearing the noise of battle below the Pass, Zhang Fei had come to learn what it meant and saw the arrow wound Wei Yan. Soon Zhang Fei was in the saddle and off to the rescue; but before he engaged, he would ascertain if the foe was worthy of his steel.

"Who are you? Tell your name," cried Zhang Fei, "then I may fight with you."

"I am Ma Dai of Xiliang."

"As you are not Ma Chao, go away quickly, for you are no match for me. You may bid Ma Chao himself come, and tell him that Zhang Fei of Yan is here."

"How dare you treat me with contempt?" cried Ma Dai in hot anger, and he came galloping up with his spear set ready to thrust. But after a half score bouts he fled.

Zhang Fei was about to pursue when a rider came up to him hastily, crying, "Do not pursue, my brother."

The rider was Liu Bei and Zhang Fei stopped. The two returned together to the Pass.

"I knew your impulsive temper, and so I followed you. Since you have got the better of him, you may well rest and recuperate for the fight tomorrow with Ma Chao."

The rolling of drums at dawn next day declared the arrival of Ma Chao. Liu Bei looked at the array from a point of vantage and saw Ma Chao emerge from the shadow of his great standard. Ma Chao wore a lion helmet, and his belt was clasped with the shaggy head of a wild beast. His breastplate was silver and his robe of white. As his dress and bearing were so extraordinary, so were his abilities superior. And Liu Bei looked at him, sighing admiringly.

"He justifies what people say," said Liu Bei, "Handsome Ma Chao."

Zhang Fei was for going down at once, but his brother once more checked him, saying, "No; not yet. Avoid the first keenness of his fighting ardor."

Thus below was Ma Chao challenging Zhang Fei, while, above, Zhang Fei was fretting at being unable to settle Ma Chao. Time after time Zhang Fei was setting out, but each time his brother checked him. And so it continued till past midday, when Liu Bei, noticing signs of fatigue and weariness among Ma Chao's army, decided that it was time to let Zhang Fei try his fortune. Whereupon Liu Bei chose out five hundred horsemen to accompany his brother and let the party go.

Ma Chao seeing Zhang Fei coming with so small a force, signaled with his spear to his array to retire a bowshot, and Zhang Fei's troops halted. When all his troops had taken their places, Zhang Fei set octane-serpent halberd and rode out.

"Do you know who I am?" shouted Zhang Fei. "I am Zhang Fei of Yan!"

Ma Chao replied, "My family having been noble for many generations; I am not likely to know any rustic dolts!"

This reply upset Zhang Fei, and in a moment the two steeds were rushing toward each other, both men with poised spears. The fight began and continued for a hundred bouts. Neither had the advantage.

"A veritable tiger of a leader," sighed Liu Bei.

But Liu Bei felt that Zhang Fei was running a risk, wherefore he sounded the gong as a signal to cease the fight. And each drew off to his own side. Zhang Fei rested his steed for a time, then, leaving his helmet, he wound a turban about his head, mounted, and rode out to renew the fight. Ma Chao also came out, and the duel continued.

Presently Liu Bei thought his brother in danger. So he girded on his armor and went down into the plain. He watched till they had fought another hundred bouts, and then as both seemed to wax fiercer than ever, he gave the signal again to cease the battle. Both drew off and returned each to his own side.

It was then getting late, and Liu Bei said to his brother, "You would better retire for today; he is a terrible opponent. Try him again tomorrow."

But Zhang Fei's spirit was roused, and was it likely that such advice would be palatable?

"No," shouted he, "I will die and not come back!"

"But it is late; you cannot go on fighting," said Liu Bei.

"Let them bring torches, and we will have a night battle," said Zhang Fei.

Ma Chao having mounted a fresh steed, now rode out and shouted, "Dare you try a night battle, Zhang Fei?"

Zhang Fei's excitement rose higher. He hastily changed horses with his brother and rode forth.

"If I do not capture you, I will not go back to the Pass," said Zhang Fei.

"And if I do not overcome you, I will not return to the camp," said Ma Chao.

Both sides cheered. They lit many thousand torches till it seemed as light as day, and the two great generals went to the front to fight. At the twentieth bout Ma Chao turned his steed and tied.

"Whither are you going?" called out Zhang Fei.

The fact was that Ma Chao had begun to see he could not win in direct and simple combat, so he thought to try a ruse. By a false flight, as though he knew he had lost, he would inveigle Zhang Fei into pursuit. He picked up a copper mace secretly and kept a careful watch on his opponent for the most favorable moment to strike. But Ma Chao's flight only put Zhang Fei upon his guard, and when the moment came for the blow with the mace he dodged, so that the weapon flew harmlessly past his ear. Then Zhang Fei turned his horse. Whereupon Ma Chao began to pursue. Then Zhang Fei pulled up, took his bow, fitted an arrow to the string, and let fly at Ma Chao. But Ma Chao also dodged, and the arrow flew by. Then each returned to his own side.

Then Liu Bei came out to the front of his battle line and called out, "Note well, O Ma Chao, that I, who have never treated people other than with kindness and justice and truth and sincerity, swear that I will not take advantage of your period of repose to pursue or attack. Wherefore you may rest awhile in peace."

Ma Chao, hearing these words, withdrew guarding the rear, and the other generals one by one returned, while Liu Bei drew off his army toward the Pass.

Early next day Zhang Fei was once more going down out of the Pass to fight, when they told him that the Directing Instructor had arrived. Liu Bei went to receive him, and Zhuge Liang at once began to speak of Ma Chao.

"He is the most terrible leader of the age; if he fights a desperate battle with Zhang Fei, loss of a general will ensue. So I have come as quickly as I could. I left Mianzhu in the safe hands of Zhao Yun and Huang Zhong. I think I have a little ruse left that will bring Ma Chao over to our side."

"Now I have seen the man. I greatly admire him," said Liu Bei. "If we could only win him over!"

"Then listen, my lord," said Zhuge Liang. "Zhang Lu greatly desires the title of 'Prince of Hanzhong.' Among his most intimate subordinates, I know Yang Song open to bribery. So we will send a person secretly to see him and give him gold and silver and so win his support. This done, we will write to Zhang Lu and tell him that you are set upon taking Yiazhou from its present ruler, which will give an opportunity to wipe out the enmity he has so long nourished against Liu Zhang, and that the reward of his remaining firmly on our side to the end will be that you will memorialize the Throne for the coveted title for him. This will make him order Ma Chao to return, and, when that is done, I shall find a means of winning him over."

Liu Bei wrote a letter and sent it by the hand of Sun Qian together with gold and pearls. Sun Qian went by secret roads to give these to Yang Song. And when he found Yang Song and explained his mission in private, he was quickly led into the presence of Zhang Lu.

"How can Liu Bei memorialize the Throne to confer on me the rank of a prince when he is but a simple General himself?" asked Zhang Lu, when he understood the offer and its conditions.

"He is an Imperial Uncle;" said Yang Song, "with such a rank he could present such a memorial."

Zhang Lu assented. He sent orders to Ma Chao to cease fighting, and Sun Qian remained as the guest of Yang Song till he should see whether Ma Chao would obey the command. Before long the messenger returned with a word from Ma Chao that he could not cease fighting till he had been successful. A second and third messenger returned with a similar response.

"This Ma Chao is untrustworthy," said Yang Song. "He will not withdraw his soldiers because he contemplates rebellion. That is the real reason."

Yang Song set stories afloat rumoring: "Ma Chao desires to make himself the ruler of the west and has said that he will no longer be content with subordinate rank. And he means to avenge the death of his father."

The rumors came to the ear of Zhang Lu, and he asked Yang Song what should be done.

Yang Song proposed, saying, "Give Ma Chao a limit of a month in order to accomplish his task, provided he consents to three conditions. And if he does not agree, he will have to be put to death. The three conditions are the capture of the Western Land of Rivers, the head of Liu Zhang, and the repulse of the Jingzhou troops. If he fails in any one of these, just bring his head. Meanwhile, Zhang Wei should be sent as guard at one of the strategic points which will control Ma Chao's army in case of rebellion."

When Ma Chao heard the three demands made on him, he was greatly troubled, saying, "What can such a charge mean?"

After taking counsel with Ma Dai, it seemed best to suspend fighting, and the army returned.

But Yang Song had not yet attained his end, so he said to Zhang Lu, "Ma Chao's return with an army will be a danger, and hence all the points of vantage on the homeward road must be guarded so that to stop him."

Thus Ma Chao was helpless and could see no way out of the difficulty.

Then Zhuge Liang said to his lord, "Now is my chance to use my little three inches of unworn tongue; Ma Chao is in a fix. I am going to his camp to persuade him to come over to your side."

"But I do not like you to run such a risk, Instructor. You are my most necessary support, and if anything happened to you, what should I do?"

Zhuge Liang was set upon going and persisted in his request. Liu Bei again and again refused. At this juncture a messenger came with letters from Zhao Yun. Liu Bei called him in and questioned him. He was Li Hui of Jianning, the man who had formerly remonstrated so earnestly with Liu Zhang.

"You once pleaded with your master to keep me out; why are you here now?"

"Because the prudent bird chooses its perch and the wise person his master. I did attempt to dissuade Liu Zhang of Yiazhou from a course which I felt to be disastrous, and thereby fulfilled my duty as his servant. He rejected my counsel, and I knew he would fail. Your liberality, O General, has won over all the region, and success must be yours. I wish to serve under your banner."

"Your services will surely be of great advantage to me, Sir," said Liu Bei.

Then Li Hui began to talk of Ma Chao, "I knew him when we were in Longxi together. He is now in great straits, and I may be able to talk him over. What say you?"

"Just the man to go instead of me," interjected Zhuge Liang. "But what arguments will you use?"

Li Hui leaned over and whispered in his ear thus and thus. What he said seemed to please Zhuge Liang mightily, and he was bidden to go forthwith.

Arrived at the camp, Li Hui sent in his name, at which Ma Chao remarked, "Yes; I know him---a glib and specious persuader. I know what he has come for too."

So Ma Chao placed a score of armed ruffians in hiding about his tent and told them to cut the visitor to pieces if the signal was given.

Then the guest was led in and came walking proudly. His host remained seated stiff and upright.

Ma Chao spoke roughly, saying, "What are you come for?"

"I am here as persuader."

"This sword here in the scabbard is newly ground. You may try me by words, but if the words do not penetrate, I shall ask you to try the sword."

Li Hui smiled, saying, "O, General, evil is not far off. However, I am thinking the newly ground sword will not be tried on my head. You will want to try it on your own!"

"What evil were you talking about?"

"The worst vilification could not hide the beauty of Lady Xi Shi of Yue, nor could the most fulsome praise gloze over the ugliness of Lady Wuyan of Qi ((two states of old)). The sun rises to the meridian and then declines; the moon waxes to the full and then wanes. All things obey the one law. Now, General, you are at enmity with Cao Cao for your father's death, and in Longxi you carry a stubborn, grinding hate for your family's death. You can neither rescue Liu Zhang by repulsing the army from Jingzhou, nor can you settle Yang Song by getting an interview with Zhang Lu. The whole world now holds no place for a person without a lord; and if you experience further defeats, like that one on River Wei, or the loss of Jicheng, will you not be too shamed to look any human in the face?"

Ma Chao bowed his head, saying, "You speak well, Sir. But I am helpless."

"Now that you listen to me, I would ask why those fearsome ruffians are in hiding by your tent?" continued Li Hui.

Ma Chao, suddenly stricken with shame, ordered them to retire. Li Hui continued his speech.

"Liu Bei, the Imperial Uncle, is considerate to his subordinates, and I am certain he will succeed, and so I have forsaken Liu Zhang to cleave to him. Your honored father joined him in destroying rebels. Why do you not flee from darkness into the light? Thereby you would avenge your father and become famous."

Ma Chao, convinced of the wisdom of the course thus recommended, proved his conversion by sending for Yang Bo and slaying him forthwith. Taking with him the head of his victim, Ma Chao accompanied Li Hui to the Pass and tendered his submission. Liu Bei welcomed him warmly and treated him as a highly honored guest.

Ma Chao bowed his head, saying, "Meeting you, O Illustrious Lord, is like seeing the clear sky when the clouds have been swept aside."

When Sun Qian returned from Yang Song's place, Liu Bei detached a force to go to the capture of Chengdu, left two generals, Meng Da and Huo Jun to guard Jiameng Pass, and made a triumphant entry into Mianzhu with the welcome of Zhao Yun and Huang Zhong.

Two generals of the Western Land of Rivers, Ma Han and Liu Jun, came to oppose Liu Bei, but Zhao Yun went out against them while Liu Bei was entertaining Ma Chao at a banquet on the city wall. Ere it had concluded, Zhao Yun slew both the generals and brought their heads to the banquet chamber. This exploit put Ma Chao on his mettle and doubled his respect for the conquerors.

"Let not my lord attack," said Ma Chao. "I will make Liu Zhang surrender of his own accord. Should he resist, my brother Ma Dai and I will take the city and offer it to you with both hands."

Liu Bei was very pleased with the course of events; the day was indeed one of rejoicing.

But Liu Zhang was greatly distressed at the news of his fresh misfortunes, which reached him with the return of his defeated soldiers. He barred the gates and stopped all exits. Before long came news of the approach of Ma Chao with an army of rescue. The Imperial Protector then ventured to mount the walls, and soon Ma Chao and Ma Dai rode up and stood below the ramparts.

And Ma Chao called out, "I wish to speak with Liu Zhang."

Then Liu Zhang showed himself, and Ma Chao plunged into the matter without more ado.

"I took the leadership of Zhang Lu's army to rescue Yiazhou, little thinking that, under the calumnious advice of Yang Song, Zhang Lu would try to slay me. However, now I have gone over to the side of Liu Bei, the Imperial Uncle, and advise you, Sir, to do the same, you and all your officers. Thereby you will all escape harm. If any one holds on a misguided course, I shall take the city."

Such words came as a shock, and Liu Zhang paled. His feelings overcame him and he swooned.

When he came to his senses, he muttered, "I am stupid and I am sorry. Better open the gates and end it. The city will be saved."

"No, no," cried Dong He. "There are thirty thousand of good soldiers in the city and ample money and stores for a year to come. Hold out!"

But Liu Zhang was broken, saying, "My father and I have ruled Shu for twenty years and have done no particular good for the people. And we have fought for three years; the grass has been be stained with the blood of my people; and the fault is mine. I could not bear it, and so I see no better way than to surrender, whereby I may bring peace to the people."

Those about him wept. One man spoke, saying, "You speak as Heaven guides you."

Turning toward him they recognized a man of Baxi named Qiao Zhou, who had the reputation of being an astrologer.

"I have studied the aspect of the heavens and a multitude of stars gathered over the west, one of which shone as the full moon: a right royal star. And I recall a popular couplet of last year:

"None can withstand the decree of the Most High."

Liu Ba and Huang Quan, who heard these words, were very angry at such a speech and rose up to smite the speaker. But Liu Zhang stayed them.

Next came news that Xu Jing, the Governor of the Shu District, had gone over to the invaders. This was the last blow. Liu Zhang went home weeping.

Next day they reported that Liu Bei, the Imperial Uncle, had sent Jian Yong as legate to visit Liu Zhang and he was even then at the city gate. Jian Yong was admitted, and he entered, riding in a carriage and looking about him most haughtily.

Suddenly he was hailed from the street by a man with a sword in his hand, who cried, "You have got your wish, wretched creature, and you seem to think there is no one to compare with you. But do not look so contemptuously at us of Shu."

Jian Yong quickly got out of his carriage to speak to the speaker, who was a man of Mianzhu named Qin Mi.

"Worthy brother," said Jian Yong, "I did not recognize you. I pray you not to be angry."

Both then went to visit Liu Zhang, and they spoke of the liberality and broad-mindedness of Liu Bei, said he had no intention to harm any one, and praised him to such effect that Liu Zhang then and there made up his mind finally that he would give up the struggle. So he treated Jian Yong very honorably that day.

And the next day, taking his seal and insignia if of office and his archives, he accompanied Jian Yong out of the city and went to Liu Bei' camp. Liu Bei came out in person to receive him.

Taking Liu Zhang by the hand, Liu Bei wept, saying, "It is not that I wish to act cruelly or wrongly; I am the victim of circumstances and cannot help it."

They entered the camp together, where the seal of office and the documents changed hands. Afterwards they rode into the city side by side. The people gave Liu Bei a cordial welcome, burning incense and illuminating the city. The victor went to the residence of the chief of the region, where he took his seat and was saluted by all the subordinate officials.

However, Huang Quan and Liu Ba stayed away from the ceremony. This annoyed the more violent of Liu Bei' supporters, and they wished to kill the delinquents. But Liu Bei would not allow violence and threatened condign punishment to any one who might interfere with these two. When the reception was over, Liu Bei went to visit the two recalcitrants, whereupon both came out and made their obeisance.

Said Zhuge Liang to Liu Bei, "We have vanquished, and all opposition in Yiazhou is at an end. But there cannot be two rulers, so you must remove Liu Zhang to Jingzhou."

"But I do not wish to exile him," said Liu Bei.

"He lost his prestige through weakness. If you are weak and undecided, you also will not last long."

Liu Bei saw his advice was good, and so he gave a great banquet whereat he begged Liu Zhang to pack up his treasures and prepare to move. He gave the dispossessed Imperial Protector the title General Who Spreads Prestige. Liu Zhang went away to Gongan in Jingzhou, taking with him his family and all his possessions.

Liu Bei thus became Imperial Protector of Yiazhou. He conferred gifts on the civil and military officers who joined him, confirming their ranks and titles. Yan Yan was made General of the Front Army; Fa Zheng, Governor of the Shu District; Dong He and Xu Jing, Imperial Commanders; Liu Ba, General of the Left Army; Huang Quan, General of the Right Army; and others of Shu officers whose aid had been conspicuous were given high ranks and finer titles under the new rule, and the total of more than sixty of them were well rewarded.

Naturally, honors were distributed freely to Liu Bei' immediate helpers, to whose efforts he owed his position. Zhuge Liang was held Directing Instructor; Guan Yu, General Who Destroys Rebels and Lord of Hanshou; Zhang Fei, General Who Subdues Rebels and Lord of Xinxian; Zhao Yun, General Who Guards the West; Huang Zhong, General Who Conquers the West; Wei Yan, General Who Wages Successful War; Ma Chao, General Who Pacifies the West. Sun Qian, Jian Yong, Mi Zhu, Mi Fang, Ma Liang, Ma Su, Jiang Wan, Yi Ji, Kou Feng, Guan Ping, Liao Hua, Zhou Cang, and others, many of whom had come to Liu Bei from Jingzhou, received promotions and rewards.

In addition, a special gift of five hundred ounces of gold, a thousand ounces of silver, much copper money, and a thousand rolls of Xichuan silk, was sent to Guan Yu. And all the military and civil officers were given appointments. Huge numbers of oxen and horses were slaughtered for banquets to the army, and the contents of the granaries were given to the common people. So that there were great rejoicings.

Yiazhou being settled, Liu Bei next desired to confiscate the lands of the more famous of the inhabitants about Capital Chengdu and divide them among his officers.

But here Zhao Yun and others dissuaded him, saying, "The sufferings of the people have been severe and losses great; it would be wise policy to let them settle down to their occupations as soon as possible. It would be wrong to reward our own people at the expense of these people."

Liu Bei listened and gave in with good grace.

To Zhuge Liang, Liu Bei assigned the revision of the laws, the punishments to be made, on the whole, heavy.

Then Fa Zheng spoke up, "The founder of the Hans, Liu Bang, drew up three chapters of law, and the people were all profoundly affected by his virtue. I would rather that the laws be few and liberal that people may be comforted."

Zhuge Liang replied, "You only look at one side. The laws of Qin 1 were fiercely cruel and provoked resentment among the people; it was fitting that the Supreme Ancestor should temper them with kindness. Under the weak administration of Liu Zhang, there has never been an efficient government, and there is a lack of respect for the law. The proper relationship between ruler and minister has been gradually obscured. Favor has been the means of rising, and the highest in rank have been the basest; kindness has been extended into license, and the most benefited have been the most contemptuous. And thereby have crept in many evils. Now I mean to inculcate respect for the dignity of the law, and kindness shall follow its attainment: there shall be moderation in conferring rank, but honor shall really follow on such promotion. In the mutual cooperation of kindness and honor and in proper distinction between superiors and inferiors lies the efficiency of a government."

Fa Zheng had no argument to oppose. In due time all became perfectly tranquil, and all the forty-one counties, with their respective garrisons, were peaceful and contented.

As Governor of the Shu District, Fa Zheng earned much hatred, caring for no one but himself, and one person told of the complaints to Zhuge Liang, urging his dismissal.

But Zhuge Liang referred to his meritorious services, saying, "When my lord was in Jingzhou, fearful of his enemy on the north and trembling lest he be attacked from the east, Fa Zheng was his sure support. In these prosperous days one can hardly begin to discipline him. Could we reasonably forbid him following somewhat his own way?"

So no investigation was made, but Fa Zheng heard of the complaints and corrected his faults.

One day, when Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang were resting and at leisure, Guan Ping arrived with a letter from his father, thanking his elder brother for the handsome gifts.

Making obeisance and handing in his letter, Guan Ping said, "My father was anxious to come into Yiazhou to try conclusions with Ma Chao."

Said Liu Bei, "If he were to come and fight, I fear they would not both survive."

"There is nothing to be anxious about," said Zhuge Liang. "I will write to Guan Yu."

Liu Bei feared that his brother's impulsive temperament might lead to trouble, so he told Zhuge Liang to compose a letter and send back by Guan Ping.

When Guan Ping came again to his father, the first question was: "Did you mention the contest with Ma Chao?"

Then the letter was produced, and this is what it said:

"I hear you are anxious to decide whether of the twain, Ma Chao or yourself, is the better man. Now I can measure Ma Chao. He may be unusually brave and bold, but he is only of the class of Ying Bu and Peng Yue of old 2. He might be a worthy rival of your younger brother, but he is far from the standard set by you, O Lord of the Beautiful Beard. You have a most important charge. If you come into the Western Land of Rivers, and Jingzhou should be lost, would you not be guilty of a terrible failure? I think you will see this."

Guan Yu stroked his long beard and smiled as he read the letter.

"The Instructor knows me thoroughly," said he to himself.

He showed the letter to his clients and friends and thought no more of going westward.

The successes of Liu Bei in the west had been duly noted by Sun Quan, who thought he was surely now going to obtain the much-coveted Jingzhou. So he called in Zhang Zhao and Gu Yong to ask advice.

Sun Quan said, "When Liu Bei occupied Jingzhou temporarily, he pledged he would return the region to the South Land when he would possess Yiazhou. Now he has taken the forty-one counties of the Western Land of Rivers; if Jingzhou is not returned, I will take it by force."

Zhang Zhao said, "I have already a scheme that will need no fighting; Liu Bei will offer the place to you with both hands."

We shall see in the next chapter the scheme to recover the much-desired region.

Notes

1 The First Emperor of Qin was the first ruler to build the Great Wall in large scale. After his death, local chieftains rebelled against his dynasty; among them were Liu Bang and Xiang Yu.

2 Ying Bu and Peng Yue were two famous generals of Liu Bang.

 

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