“Magistrate, what was your origin?”
Liu Bei replied, “I am descended from Prince Sheng of Zhongshan.
Since my first fight with the Yellow Scarves rebels at Zhuo County,
I have been in some thirty battles, wherein I gained some trifling merit. My reward was this office.”
“You lie about your descent, and your statement of services is false!” roared the inspector.
“Now the court has ordered the reduction of your sort of low class and corrupt officials.”
Liu Bei muttered to himself and withdrew. On his return to the magistracy, he took council with his secretaries.
“This pompous attitude only means the inspector wants a bribe,” said they.
“I have never wronged the people to the value of a single coin: Then where is a bribe to come from?”
Next day the inspector had the minor officials before him and forced them to bear witness that their
master had oppressed the people. Liu Bei time after time went to rebut this charge,
but the doorkeepers drove him away and he could not enter.
Now Zhang Fei had been all day drowning his sorrow in wine and had drunk far too much. Calling for
his horse he rode out past the lodging of the inspector, and at the gate saw a small
crowd of white-haired people weeping bitterly. He asked why.
They said, “The inspector has compelled the underlings to bear false witness against our
magistrate, with the desire to injure the virtuous Liu Bei. We came to
beg mercy for him but are not permitted to enter. Moreover, we have been beaten by the doorkeepers.”
This provoked the irascible and half intoxicated Zhang Fei to fury. His eyes opened
wide until they became circles; he ground his teeth; in a moment he was off his steed,
had forced his way past the scared doorkeepers into the building, and was in the rear apartments.
There he saw Imperial Inspector Du Biao sitting on high with the official underlings in bonds at his feet.
“Oppressor of the people, robber!” cried Zhang Fei. “Do you know me?”
But before the inspector could reply, Zhang Fei had had him by the hair and had
dragged him down. Another moment he was outside and firmly lashed to the
hitching post in front of the building. Then breaking off a switch from a willow tree,
Zhang Fei gave his victim a severe thrashing, only staying his hand when the tenth switch was too short to strike with.
Liu Bei was sitting alone, communing with his sorrow, when he heard a shouting before his door. He asked what the matter was.
They told him, “General Zhang Fei had bound somebody to a post and was thrashing him!”