“You are making a mistake,” said Chen Gong. “the two you have chosen to defend this city are unequal to the task. For this expedition remember that about sixty miles due south, on the treacherous road to the Taishan Mountains, is a very advantageous position where you should place your best men in ambush. Cao Cao will hasten homeward by double marches when he hears what has happened. If you strike when half his troops have gone past this point, you may seize him.”
Lu Bu was in front, followed by eight of his generals, all strong men：
they all with one voice prayed Liu Bei to consent, so he gave in. The feast of victory being now ended, the time came to say farewell. When Zhao Yun took his leave, Liu Bei held his hands alternately while dashing away the falling tears. Kong Rong and Tien Kai went home to their own places.
When Liu Bei and his brothers took up their abode in Xiaopei, they first repaired the defenses, and then they put out proclamations in order to calm the inhabitants.
Placing Liu Bei in the seat of highest honor, Tao Qian bowed before him and then addressed the assembly, “I am old and feeble, and my two sons lack the ability to hold so important an office as this. The noble Liu Bei is a descendant of the imperial house. He is of lofty virtue and GREat talent. Let him then take over the rule of this region, and only too willingly I shall retire to have leisure to nurse my health.”
Tao Qian besought him with tears, saying, “I shall die if you leave me, and there will be none to close my eyes.”
Lu Bu arrived just as Zhang Miao’s brother, Zhang Chao, was introducing Chen Gong.
Chen Gong said to Zhang Miao, “the rupture of the empire has begun, and warriors are seizing what they can. It is strange that you, with all the advantages of population and provisions you enjoy, do not strike for independence. Cao Cao has gone on an expedition against the east, leaving his own territory defenseless. Lu Bu is one of the fighting people of the day. If you and he together attacked and got Yanzhou, you could then proceed to the dominion.”
Zhang Miao was pleased and resolved to try. He ordered an attack, and soon Lu Bu was in possession of Yanzhou and its neighborhood, all but three small counties of Juancheng, Fanxia, and Dongjun, which were vigorously and desperately defended by Xun Yu and Cheng Yu in concert. Cao Cao’s cousin, Cao Ren, had fought many battles but was repeatedly defeated, and the messenger with the evil tidings had come from him asking prompt help.
Cao Cao was GREatly disturbed by this and said, “If my own region be lost, I have no home to return to. I must do something at once.”
“the best thing would be to become friends with Liu Bei at any cost and return to Yanzhou,” said Guo Jia.
then Cao Cao wrote to Liu Bei,
Cao Cao gave vent to a torrent of abuse： “Who is this Liu Bei that he dares write and exhort me？ Beside, he means to be satirical.”
Cao Cao issued orders to put the bearer of the letter to death and to press on the siege.
When Li Jue and Guo Si, the two partisans of Dong Zhuo, succeeded in their attack on the capital, Lu Bu had fled to Yuan Shu. However, Yuan Shu looked
askance at him for his instability and refused to receive him. Then Lu Bu went to try Yuan Shao, who was a brother of Yuan Shu. Yuan Shao accepted
the warrior and made use of him in an attack upon Zhang Yan in Changshan.
But his success filled him with pride, and his arrogant demeanor so annoyed the other commanders that Yuan Shao was on the
Tao Qian said, “there is trouble on every side, and the kingly rule is no longer maintained. You, Sir, are a member of the family and eminently fitted to support them and their prerogatives. I am verging on senility, and I wish to retire in your favor. I pray you not to decline, and I will report my action to the court.”
Liu Bei started up from his seat and bowed before his host, saying, “Scion of the family I may be, but my merit is small and my virtue meager. I doubt my fitness even for my present post, and only a feeling of doing right sent me to your assistance. To hear such speech makes me doubt. Surely you think I came with GREed in my heart. May God help me no more if I cherished such a thought.”
It happened that Cao Cao was holding a council when a messenger with a war letter was announced.
“What I fear is famine in the city,” said Liu Bei. “They cannot hold out very long. I will put my troops with yours under your command, while I with Zhang Fei make a dash through to see Tao Qian and consult with him.”
Tao Qian was delighted with Liu Bei,
Liu Bei went away to his friend Gongsun Zan and laid before Gongsun Zan his design to help Xuzhou.
“Cao Cao and you are not enemies. Why do you spend yourself for the sake of another？” said Gongsun Zan.
But both the leaders, though they had promised aid, GREatly dreaded their antagonist and camped among the hills at a great distance,
Liu Bei said, “Imperial Protector Tao Qian is a kindly man of high character, and it is a pity that he should suffer this wrong for no fault of his own.”
“You are a scion of the imperial family,” said Governor Kong Rong, “and this Cao Cao is injuring the people, a strong man abusing his strength. Why not go with me to rescue the sufferers？”
Taishi Ci took his leave, saying,
“My mother bade me come to your aid,
and now happily you are safe.
“And who are you？” asked Liu Bei.
This was the signal for Zhang Fei and Taishi Ci to take a share, and they advanced side by side. With their spears ready they dashed in, and Liu Bei urged forward his force. The besieged Governor saw his doughty rescuers laying low the rebels as tigers among a flock of sheep. None could withstand them,