| Chapter 43 |
Zhuge Liang Disputes With The Southern Scholars;
In the boat on the way to Chaisang, the two travelers beguiled the time by discussing affairs.
Lu Su impressed upon his companion, saying, "When you see my master, do not reveal the truth about the magnitude of Cao Cao's army."
"You do not have to remind me," replied Zhuge Liang, "but I shall know how to reply."
When the boat arrived, Zhuge Liang was lodged in the guests' quarters, and Lu Su went alone to see his master. Lu Su found Sun Quan actually at a council, assembled to consider the situation. Lu Su was summoned thereto and questioned at once upon what he had discovered.
"I know the general outline, but I want a little time to prepare my report," replied Lu Su.
Then Sun Quan produced Cao Cao's letter and gave it to Lu Su.
"That came yesterday. I have sent the bearer of it back, and this gathering is to consider the reply," said he.
Lu Su read the letter:
"When I, the Prime Minister, received the imperial command to punish a fault, my banners went south and Liu Zong became my prisoner, while the people of Jingzhou flocked to my side at the first rumor of my coming. Under my hand are one million strong and a thousand able leaders. My desire is, General, that we go on a great hunting expedition into Jiangxia and together attack Liu Bei. We will share his land between us, and we will swear perpetual amity. If happily you would not be a mere looker-on, I pray you reply quickly."
"What have you decided upon, my lord?" asked Lu Su as he finished the letter.
"I have not yet decided."
Then Zhang Zhao said, "It would be imprudent to withstand Cao Cao's hundred legions backed by the imperial authority. Moreover, your most important defense against him is the Great River; and since Cao Cao has gained possession of Jingzhou, the river is his ally against us. We cannot withstand him, and the only way to tranquillity, in my opinion, is submission."
"The words of the speaker accord with the manifest decree of providence," echoed all the assembly.
Sun Quan remaining silent and thoughtful.
Zhang Zhao again took up the argument, saying, "Do not hesitate, my lord. Submission to Cao Cao means tranquillity to the people of the South Land and safety for the inhabitants of the six territories."
Sun Quan still remained silent. His head bent in deep thought. Presently he arose and paced slowly out at the door, and Lu Su followed him.
Outside he took Lu Su by the hand, saying, "What do you desire?"
"What they have all been saying is very derogatory to you. A common person might submit. You cannot."
"Why? How do you explain that?"
"If people like us servants submitted, we would just return to our village or continue holding our offices, and everything would go on as before. If you submit, whither will you go? You will be created a lord of some humble fief, perhaps. You will have one carriage, no more; one saddle horse, that is all. Your retinue will be some ten. Will you be able to sit facing the south and call yourself by the kingly title of 'The Solitary'? Each one in that crowd of hangers-on is thinking for himself, is purely selfish, and you should not listen to them, but take a line of your own and that quickly. Determine to play a bold game!"
Sun Quan sighed, "They all talk and talk: They miss my point of view. Now you have just spoken of a bold game, and your view is the same as mine. Surely God has expressly sent you to me. Still Cao Cao is now the stronger by all Yuan Shao's and Liu Biao's armies, and he has possession of Jingzhou. I fear he is almost too powerful to contend with."
"I have brought back with me Zhuge Liang, the younger brother of our Zhuge Jin. If you questioned him, he would explain clearly."
"Is Master Sleeping Dragon really here?"
"Really here, in the guest-house."
"It is too late to see him today. But tomorrow I will assemble my officials, and you will introduce him to all my best. After that we will debate the matter."
With these instructions Lu Su retired.
Next day he went to the guest-house and conveyed Sun Quan's commands to the guest, particularly saying, "When you see my master, say nothing of the magnitude of Cao Cao's army."
Zhuge Liang smiled, saying, "I shall act as circumstances dictate. You may be sure I shall make no mistakes."
Zhuge Liang was then conducted to where the high officers, civil and military to the number of forty and more, were assembled. They formed a dignified conclave as they sat in stately ranks with their tall headdresses and broad girdles.
Zhang Zhao sat at the head, and Zhuge Liang first saluted him. Then, one by one, he exchange the formal courtesies with them all. This done he took his seat in the guest's chair.
They, on their part, noted with interest Zhuge Liang's refined and elegant manner and his commanding figure, thinking within themselves, "Here is a persuader fitted for discourse."
Zhang Zhao led the way in trying to bait the visitor. He said, "You will pardon the most insignificant of our official circle, myself, if I mention that people say you compare yourself with those two famous men of talent, Guan Zhong and Yue Yi. Is there any truth in this?"
"To a trifling extent I have compared myself with them," replied Zhuge Liang.
"I have heard that Liu Bei made three journeys to visit you when you lived in retirement in your simple dwelling in the Sleeping Dragon Ridge, and that when you consented to serve him, he said he was as lucky as a fish in getting home to the ocean. Then he desired to possess the region about Jingzhou. Yet today all that country belongs to Cao Cao. I should like to hear your account of all that."
Zhuge Liang thought, "This Zhang Zhao is Sun Quan's first adviser. Unless I can nonplus him, I shall never have a chance with his master."
So he replied, "In my opinion the taking of the region around the Han River was as simple as turning over one's hand. But my master Liu Bei is both righteous and humane and would not stoop to filching the possession of a member of his own house. So he refused the offer of succession. But Liu Zong, a stupid lad, misled by specious words, submitted to Cao Cao and fell victim to his ferocity. My master is in camp at Jiangxia, but what his future plans may be cannot be divulged at present."
Zhang Zhao said, "Be it so; but your words and your deeds are something discordant. You say you are the equal of the two famous ones. Well, Guan Zhong, as minister of Prince Huan, put his master at the very head of the feudal nobles, making his master's will supreme in all the land. Under the able statesmanship of Yue Yi, the feeble state of Yan conquered Qi, reducing nearly seventy of its cities. These two were men of most commanding and conspicuous talent.
"When you lived in retirement, you smiled scornfully at ordinary people, passed your days in idleness, nursing your knees and posing in a superior manner, implying that if you had control of affairs, Liu Bei would be more than human; he should bring good to everybody and remove all evil; rebellion and robbery would be no more. Poor Liu Bei, before he obtained your help, was an outcast and a vagabond, stealing a city here and there where he could. With you to help him, he was to become the cynosure of every eye, and every lisping school child was to say that he was a tiger who had grown wings; the Hans were to be restored and Cao Cao and his faction exterminated; the good old days would be restored, and all the people who had been driven into retirement by the corruption of political life would wake up, rub the sleep out of their eyes, and be in readiness to lift the cloud of darkness that covered the sky and gaze up at the glorious brilliancy of the sun and moon, to pull the people out of fire and water and put all the world to rest on a couch of comfort. That was all supposed to happen forthwith.
"Why then, when you went to Xinye, did not Cao Cao's army throw aside their arms and armors and flee like rats? Why could you not have told Liu Biao how to give tranquillity to his people? Why could you not aid his orphan son to protect his frontiers? Instead you abandoned Xinye and fled to Fancheng; you were defeated at Dangyang and fled to Xiakou with no place to rest in. Thus, after you had joined Liu Bei, he was worse off than before. Was it thus with Guan Zhong and Yue Yi? I trust you do not mind my blunt speech."
Zhuge Liang waited till Zhang Zhao had closed his oration, then laughed and said, "How can the common birds understand the long flight of the cranes? Let me use an illustration. A man has fallen into a terrible malady. First the physician must administer hashish, then soothing drugs until his viscera shall be calmed into harmonious action. When the sick man's body shall have been reduced to quietude, then may he be given strong meats to strengthen him and powerful drugs to correct the disorder. Thus the disease will be quite expelled, and the man restored to health. If the physician does not wait till the humors and pulse are in harmony, but throws in his strong drugs too early, it will be difficult to restore the patient.
"My master suffered defeat at Runan and went to Liu Biao. He had then less than one thousand soldiers and only three generals---Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, and Zhao Yun. That was indeed a time of extreme weakness. Xinye was a secluded, rustic town with few inhabitants and scanty supplies, and my master only retired there as a temporary refuge. How could he even think of occupying and holding it? Yet, with insufficient force, in a weak city, with untrained men and inadequate supplies, we burned Xiahou Dun at Bowang Slope, drowned Cao Ren and Cao Hong and their army in the White River, and set them in terror as they fled. I doubt whether the two ancient heroes would have done any better. As to the surrender of Liu Zong, Liu Bei knew nothing of it. And he was too noble and too righteous to take advantage of a kinsman's straits to seize his inheritance. As for the defeat at Dangyang, it must be remembered that Liu Bei was hampered with a huge voluntary following of common people, with their aged relatives and their children, whom he was too humane to abandon. He never thought of taking Jiangling, but willingly suffered with his people. This is a striking instance of his magnanimity.
|[e] Han Xin was a general of Liu Bang. Before serving Han, Han Xin had been an officer under Xiang Yu. Disappointed because his plans were rejected, Han Xin left Xiang Yu and joined Liu Bang's camp, where he was made Commander-in-Chief by recommendations of Xiao He and Zhang Liang. Enobled as King of Qi, then King of Chu. .....|
"Small forces are no match for large armies. Victory and defeat are common episodes in every campaign. The great Founder of the Hans suffered many defeats at the hands of Xiang Yu, but Liu Bang finally conquered at Gaixia, and that battle was decisive. Was not this due to the strategy of Han Xin* who, though he had long served Liu Bang, had never won a victory. Indeed real statesmanship and the restoration of stable government is a master plan far removed from the vapid discourses and debates of a lot of bragging babblers and specious and deceitful talkers, who, as they themselves say, are immeasureably superior to the rest of humankind but who, when it comes to deeds and decisions to meet the infinite and constant vicissitudes of affairs, fail to throw up a single capable person. Truly such people are the laughing stock of all the world."
Zhang Zhao found no reply to this diatribe.
But another in the assembly lifted up his voice, saying, "But what of Cao Cao's present position? There he is, encamped with one hundred legions and a thousand leaders. Whither he goes he is invincible as wriggling dragon, and whither he looks he is as fearsome as roaring tiger. He seems to have taken Jiangxia already, as we see."
The speaker was Yu Fan.
And Zhuge Liang replied, "Cao Cao has acquired the swarms of Yuan Shao and stolen the crowds of Liu Biao. Yet I care not for all his mob legions."
Yu Fan smiled icily, saying, "When you got thrashed at Dangyang and in desperation sent this way and that to ask help, even then did you not care? But do you think big talk really takes people in?"
Zhuge Liang replied, "Liu Bei had a few thousand scrupulous soldiers to oppose against a million fierce brutes. He retired to Xiakou for breathing space. The South Land have strong and good soldiers, and there are ample supplies, and the Great River is a defense. Is now a time for you to convince your lord to bend the knee before a renegade, to be careless of his honor and reputation? As a fact Liu Bei is not the sort of man to fear such a rebel as Cao Cao."
Yu Fan had nothing to reply.
Next, Bu Zhi, who was among those seated, said, "Will you talk of our southern land with a tongue like the tongues of the persuaders Zhang Yi and Su Qin in the ancient time?"
|[e] Su Qin was prime minister of six states during the Warring States period. Su Qin was the leader of the "Perpendicular Unionists", the diplomats who lobbied a group of states from north to south to make war with Qin. .....|
[e] Zhang Yi was prime minister of Qin during the Warring States period. Zhang Yi was the leader of the "Horizontal Unionists", the diplomats who persuaded a group of states from east to west to make peace with Qin. At the end of the Warring States, Qin conquerred all six other states and unified China under one rule for the first time......
Zhuge Liang replied, "You regard those two as mere speculative talkers; you do not recognize them also as heroes. Su Qin* bore the Prime Ministers' seals of six federated states; Zhang Yi* was twice Prime Minister of the state of Qin. Both were men of conspicuous ability who brought about the reformation of their governments. They are not to be compared with those who quail before the strong and overbear the weak, who fear the dagger and run away from the sword. You, Sir, have listened to Cao Cao's crafty and empty threat, and it has frightened you into advising surrender. Dare you ridicule Su Qin and Zhang Yi?"
Bu Zhi was silenced.
Then suddenly another interjected the question, "What do you think of Cao Cao?"
It was Xue Zong who had spoken.
And Zhuge Liang replied, "Cao Cao is one of the rebels against the dynasty. Why ask about him?"
"You are mistaken," said Xue Zong. "The Hans have outlasted their allotted time, and the end is near. Cao Cao already has two-thirds of the empire, and people are turning to him. Your master has not recognized the fateful moment, and to contend with a man so strong is to try to smash stones with eggs. Failure is certain."
Zhuge Liang angrily replied, "Why do you speak so undutiful words, as if you knew neither father nor prince? Loyalty and filial duty are the essentials of a person's being. For a minister of Han, correct conduct demands that one is pledged to the destruction of anyone who does not follow the canon of a minister's duty. Cao Cao's forbears enjoyed the bounty of Han, but instead of showing gratitude, he nourishes in his bosom thoughts of rebellion. The whole world is incensed against him, and yet you would claim for him the indication of destiny. Truly you are a man who knows neither father nor prince, a man unworthy of any words, and I decline to argue with you further."
The blush of shame overspread Xue Zong's face, and he said no more.
But another, Lu Ji, took up the dispute and said, "Although Cao Cao overawes the Emperor and in his name coerces the nobles, yet he is the descendant of the Supreme Ancestor's Prime Minister Cao Shen; while your master, though he says he is descended from a prince, has no proof thereof. In the eyes of the world, Liu Bei is just a weaver of mats, a seller of straw shoes. Who is he to strive with Cao Cao?"
|[e] It was the day in the South of River Huai, when Yuan Shu spread a banquet for the child prodigies of the region. Lu Ji was among the invited. During the party, Lu Ji stole an orange for his mother. Due to this act, his name was written in the "List of Filial Children".|
Zhuge Liang laughed and replied, "Are you not that Lu Ji who pocketed the orange when you were sitting among Yuan Shu's guests*? Listen to me: I have a word to say to you. Inasmuch as Cao Cao is a descendant of a minister of state, he is by heredity a servant of the Hans. But now he has monopolized all state authority and knows only his own arbitrary will, heaping every indignity upon his lord. Not only does he forget his prince, but he ignores his ancestors; not only is he a rebellious servant of Han, but the renegade of his family. Liu Bei of Yuzhou is a noble scion of the imperial family upon whom the Emperor has conferred rank, as is recorded in the annals. How then can you say there is no evidence of his imperial origin? Beside, the very founder of the dynasty was himself of lowly origin, and yet he became emperor. Where is the shame in weaving mats and selling shoes? Your mean, immature views are unfit to be mentioned in the presence of scholars of standing."
This put a stop to Lu Ji's flow of eloquence.
But another of those present said, "Zhuge Liang's words are overbearing, and he distorts reason. It is not proper argument, and he had better say no more. But I would ask him what classical canon he studied."
|[e] Yi Yin was the founding minister of Shang Dynasty; Lu Wang, of Zhou Dynasty, Zhang Liang and Chen Ping, of Han Dynasty.|
Zhuge Liang looked at his interlocutor, who was Yan Jun, and said, "The dryasdusts of every age select passages and choose phrases. What else are they good for? Do they ever initiate a policy or manage an affair? Yi Yin, who was a farmer in the state of Shen, and Lu Wang, the fisherman of the River Wei, Zhang Liang and Chen Ping, Zheng Yu and Geng Yan*---all were men of transcendent ability, but I have never inquired what classical canon they followed or on whose essays they formed their style. Would you liken them to your rusty students of books, whose journeyings are comprised between their brush and their inkstone, who spend their days in literary futilities, wasting both time and ink?"
No reply was forthcoming. Yan Jun hung his head with shame.
But another disputant, Cheng Deshu by name, suddenly shouted, "You are mightily fond of big words, Sir, but they do not give any proof of your scholarship after all. I am inclined to think that a real scholar would just laugh at you."
Zhuge Liang replied, "There is the noble scholar, loyal and patriotic, of perfect rectitude and a hater of any crookedness. The concern of such a scholar is to act in full sympathy with his day and leave to future ages a fine reputation. There is the scholar of the mean type, a pedant and nothing more. He labors constantly with his pen, in his callow youth composing odes and in hoary age still striving to understand the classical books completely. Thousands of words flow from his pen, but there is not a solid idea in his breast. He may, as did Yang Xiong, glorify the age with his writings and yet stoop to serve a tyrant such as Wang Mang. No wonder Yang Xiong threw himself out of a window; he had to. That is the way of the scholar of mean type. Though he composes odes by the hundred, what is the use of him?"
Cheng Deshu could make no reply. The other officers now began to hold this man of torrential speech in wholesome fear.
Only two of them, Zhang Wen and Luo Tong, had failed to challenge him, but when they would have tried to pose Zhuge Liang, suddenly someone appeared from without and angrily shouted, "This is not paying fit respect to a guest. You have among you the most wonderful man of the day, and you all sit there trying to entangle him in speech while our archenemy Cao Cao is nearing our borders. Instead of discussing how to oppose Cao Cao, you are all wrangling and disputing."
All eyes turned toward the speaker. It was Huang Gai of Lingling, who was the Chief of the Commissariat of the South Land.
He turned to address Zhuge Liang, saying, "There is a saying that though something may be gained by talk, there is more to be got by silence. Why not give my lord the advantage of your valuable advice instead of wasting time in discussion with this crowd?"
"They did not understand," replied Zhuge Liang, "and it was necessary to enlighten them, so I had to speak."
As Huang Gai and Lu Su led the guest toward their master's apartments, they met his brother Zhuge Jin. Zhuge Liang saluted him with the deference due to an elder brother.
Zhuge Jin said, "Why have you not been to see me, brother?"
"I am now in the service of Liu Bei of Yuzhou, and it is right that public affairs precede private obligations. I cannot attend to any private matters till my work is done. You must pardon me, brother."
"After you have seen Marquis Sun Quan, you will come and tell me your news," said he as he left.
As they went along to the audience chamber, Lu Su again cautioned Zhuge Liang against any rash speech, saying, "Do not tell the magnitude of Cao Cao's forces. Please remember."
The latter nodded but made no other reply. When they reached the hall, Sun Quan came down the steps to welcome his guests and was extraordinarily gracious. After the mutual salutations, the guest was given a chair while the Marquis' officials were drawn up in two lines, on one side the civil, on the other the military. Lu Su stood beside Zhuge Liang and listened to his introductory speech.
As Zhuge Liang spoke of Liu Bei's intentions, he glanced up at his host. He noted the green eyes and purple beard and the dignified commanding air of the man and thought within himself, "Certainly in appearance this is no common man. He is one to be incited perhaps, but not to be persuaded. It will be better to see what he has to say first, then I will try to stir him to action."
The serving of tea being now finished, Sun Quan began with the usual gracious ceremonial expressions.
"Lu Su has often spoken of your genius," said the host. "It is a great pleasure to meet you. I trust you will confer upon me the advantage of your instruction."
"I am neither clever nor learned," was the reply. "It humiliates me to hear such words."
"You have been at Xinye lately, and you helped your master to fight that decisive battle with Cao Cao, so you must know exactly the measure of his military strength."
"My master's army was small and his generals were few; the city was paltry and lacked supplies. Hence no stand could be made against such a force as Cao Cao had."
"How many has he in all?"
"Horse and foot, land and marine, he has a million."
"Is there not some doubt about that?" said Sun Quan, surprised.
"None whatever. When Cao Cao went to Yanzhou, he had the two hundred thousand soldiers of Qingzhou. He gained five or six hundred thousand more when Yuan Shao fell. He has three or four hundred thousand troops newly recruited in the capital. Lately he has acquired two or three hundred thousand troops in Jingzhou. And if these be reckoned up, the total is not less than a million and a half. Hence I said a million for I was afraid of frightening your officers."
Lu Su was much disturbed and turned pale. He looked meaningfully at the bold speaker, but Zhuge Liang would not see. Sun Quan went on to ask if his archenemy had a corresponding number of leaders.
"Cao Cao has enough administrators and strategists to control such a host, and his capable and veteran leaders are more than a thousand; perhaps more than two thousand."
"What will be Cao Cao's next move now that he has overcome Jingzhou?"
"He is camped along the river, and he has collected a fleet. If he does not intend to invade the South Land, what can his intentions be?"
"Since that is his intention, it is a case of fight or not fight. I wish you would decide that for me."
"I have something I could say, but I fear, Sir, you would not care to hear it."
"I am desirous of hearing your most valuable opinion."
"Strife has prevailed for a long time; and so you have raised your army in the South Land and Liu Bei collected his forces south of the Han River to act in contest for the empire against Cao Cao. Now Cao Cao has overcome most of his difficulties, and his recent conquest of Jingzhou has won him great and wide renown. Though there might be one bold enough to tackle him, yet there is no foothold for such. That is how Liu Bei has been forced to come here. But, General, I wish you to measure your forces and decide whether you can venture to meet Cao Cao and that without loss of time. If you cannot, then follow the advice of your councilors: Cease your military preparations and yield, turn your face to the north and serve."
Sun Quan did not reply. But his guest went on, "You have the reputation of being reasonable, but I know also you are inclined to hesitate. Still this matter is most important, and evil will be quickly upon you if you do not decide."
Then replied Sun Quan, "If what you say represents the actual conditions, why does not Liu Bei yield?"
|[e] Tian Heng was a warrior of Qi at the end of the Warring States period and Qin Dynasty. In his bid to regain the lost kingdom of Qi, Tian Heng rebelled against Qin and fought both Liu Bang and Xiang Yu. Read Tian Heng Island.|
"Well, you know Tian Heng*, that hero of the state of Qi: His character was too noble for him to submit to any shame. It is necessary to remember that Liu Bei also is an off-shoot from the Dynastic Family, beside being a man of great renown. Everyone looks up to him. His lack of success is simply the will of Heaven, but manifestly he could not bow the knee to anyone."
These last words touched Sun Quan to the quick, and he could not control his anger. He shook out his sleeves, rose, and left the audience chamber. Those present smiled at each other as they dispersed.
But Lu Su was annoyed and reproached Zhuge Liang for his maladroit way of talking to Sun Quan, saying, "Luckily for you, my lord is too large-minded to rebuke you to your face, for you spoke to him most contemptuously."
Zhuge Liang threw back his head and laughed.
"What a sensitive fellow it is!" cried he. "I know how Cao Cao could be destroyed, but he never asked me. So I said nothing."
"If you really do know how that could be done, I will certainly beg my lord to ask you."
"Cao Cao's hosts in my eyes are but as swarms of ants. I have but to lift my hand, and they will be crushed," said Zhuge Liang.
Lu Su at once went into his master's private room, where he found Sun Quan still very irritable and angry.
"Zhuge Liang insulted me too deeply," said Sun Quan.
"I have already reproached him," said Lu Su, "and he laughed and said you were too sensitive. He would not give you any advice without being asked for it. Why did you not seek advice from him, my lord?"
At once Sun Quan's anger changed to joy.
He said, "So he had a plan ready, and his words were meant to provoke me. I did despise him for a moment, and it has very nearly lost me."
So Sun Quan returned to the audience chamber where the guest was still seated and begged Zhuge Liang to continue his speech.
Sun Quan spoke courteously, saying, "I offended you just now. I hope you are not implacable."
"And I also was rude," replied Zhuge Liang. "I entreat pardon."
Host and guest retired to the inner room where wine was served.
After it had gone round several times, Sun Quan said, "The enemies of Cao Cao were Lu Bu, Liu Biao, Yuan Shao, Yuan Shu, Liu Bei, and my poor self. Now most of these are gone, and only Liu Bei and I remain. I will never allow the land of Wu to be dictated to by another. The only one who could have withstood Cao Cao was Liu Bei, but he has been defeated lately and what can he do now against such force?"
Zhuge Liang replied, "Although defeated, Liu Bei still has Guan Yu with ten thousand veterans. And Liu Qi still leads the troops of Jiangxia, another ten thousand. Cao Cao's army is far from home, and the soldiers are worn out. They made a frantic effort to come up with my master, and the light horse marched one hundred miles in a day and a night. This was the final kick of the crossbow spring, and the bolt was not swift enough to penetrate even the thin silken vesture of Lu. The army can do no more. They are northern people, unskilled in water warfare, and the people of Jingzhou are unwilling supporters. They have no desire to help Cao Cao. Now if you, General, will assist Liu Bei, Cao Cao will certainly be broken, and he must retire northwards. Then your country and Jingzhou will be strong, and the tripod will be firmly established. But the scheme must be carried out without delay, and only you can decide."
Sun Quan joyfully replied, "Your words, Master, open up the road clearly. I have decided and shall have no further doubts."
So the orders were issued forthwith to prepare for a joint attack on Cao Cao. And Sun Quan bade Lu Su bear the news of his decision to all his officers. He himself escorted Zhuge Liang to the guest-quarters and saw to his comfort.
When Zhang Zhao heard of the decision he met his colleagues and said to them, "Our master has fallen into the trap set by this Zhuge Liang."
They went in a body to their lord and said, "We hear you are going to attack Cao Cao. But how do you stand when compared with Yuan Shao? In those days Cao Cao was comparatively weak, and yet he overcame. What is he like today with his countless legions? He is not to be lightly attacked, and to listen to Zhuge Liang's advice to engage in a conflict is like carrying fuel to a fire."
Sun Quan made no reply, and Gu Yong took up the argument.
Gu Yong said, "Liu Bei has been defeated, and he wants to borrow our help to beat his enemy. Why must our lord lend himself to his schemes? Pray listen to our leader's words."
Doubts again surged up in the mind of Sun Quan.
When the troop of advisers had retired, Lu Su came in, saying, "They came to exhort you not to fight, but to compel you to surrender. All this is simply because they wish to secure the safety of their families. They distort their sense of duty to serve their own ends, and I hope you will not take their advice."
Sun Quan being sunk in thought and saying nothing, Lu Su went on, "If you hesitate, you will certainly be led astray by the majority and-----"
"Retire for a time," said his master. "I must think it over carefully."
So Lu Su left the chamber. Among the soldiers some wished for war, but of the civil officers, all were in favor of surrender; and so there were many discussions and much conflict of opinion. Sun Quan went to his private apartments greatly perplexed. There his worry was easily discernible, and he neither ate nor slept. He was quite unable to decide finally upon a course of action.
Then Lady Wu, the sister of his late mother, whom he also regarded as his own mother, asked him what so troubled him, and he told her of the threatened danger of Cao Cao and the different opinions his advisers held one and another and all his doubts and fears.
"If I fight, I might fail. But if I offer to surrender, perhaps Cao Cao will not tolerate me," said he.
Then she replied, "Have you forgotten the last words of my sister?"
As to one recovering from a fit of drunkenness, or waking out of a dream, so came to him the dying words of the mother who bore him.
What happened will be told in the next chapter.
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