“Suppose I send you to him,” said Dong Zhuo.
Stunned, she pleaded with tears, “What have thy handmaid done？ My honor of serving only Your Highness could not bear being given to a mere underling！ Never！ I would rather die.”
And with this she snatched down a dagger hanging on the wall to kill herself.
Dong Zhuo plucked it from her hand and, throwing his arms about her, and cried, “I was only joking！”
She lay back on his breast hiding her face and sobbing bitterly.
“This is the doing of that Li Ru,” said she. “He is much too thick with Lu Bu. He suggested that, I know. Little he cares for the Imperial Rector’s reputation or my life. Oh！ I could eat him alive.”
“Do you think I could bear to lose you？” said Dong Zhuo.
“Though you love me yet I must not stay here. That Lu Bu will try to ruin me if I do. I fear him.”
“We will go to Meiwo tomorrow, you and I, and we will be happy together and have no cares.”
She dried her tears and thanked him. Next day Li Ru came again to persuade Dong Zhuo to send the damsel to Lu Bu.
“This is a propitious day,” said Li Ru.
“He and I standing in the relation of father and son. I cannot very well do that,” said Dong Zhuo. “But I will say no more about his fault. You may tell him so and soothe him as well as you can.”
“You are not being beguiled by the woman, are you？” said Li Ru.
Dong Zhuo colored, saying, “Would you like to give your wife to some body else？ Do not talk about this any further. It would be better not to.”
Li Ru left the chamber. When he got outside, he cast his eyes up to heaven, saying, “We are dead people, slain by the hand of this girl！”
When a scholar of history reached this episode he wrote a verse or two：
[hip, hip, hip] Just introduce a woman,
the person who collided with the irate Dong Zhuo was his most trusty adviser Li Ru. Li Ru had not fallen in spite of the shock and at once scrambled to help Dong Zhuo to regain his feet and led him inside to the library, where they sat down.
“What were you coming about？” said Dong Zhuo.
“Happening to be passing your gates, I heard that you had gone into your private garden to look for your adopted son. then came Lu Bu running and crying out that you wanted to kill him, and I was coming in as fast as I could to intercede for him when I accidentally collided with you. I am very sorry. I deserve death.”
“the wretch！ How could I bear to see him toying with my fair one？ I will be the death of his yet.”
“Your Graciousness is making a mistake. It is the ‘plucked tassel’ story over again. But if you remember the banquet of old time where all guests were to tear the tassels of their hats. In that banquet, King Zhuang of Chu made no fuss about the liberties taken with his queen, although the hat-tassel in her hand betrayed the culprit Jiang Xiong. His restraint stood him good stead, for the same Jiang Xiong saved his life when he was hemmed in by the soldiers of Qin. After all Diao Chan is only a handmaid, but Lu Bu is your trustiest friend and most dreaded commander. If you took this chance of making the girl over to him, your kindness would win his undying gratitude. I beg you, Sir, to think over it well.”
Dong Zhuo hesitated a long time. He sat murmuring to himself. Presently he said, “What you say is right. I must think over it.”
Li Ru felt satisfied. He took leave of his master and went away. Dong Zhuo went to his private rooms and called Diao Chan.
“What were you doing there with Lu Bu？” said he.
She began to weep, saying, “Thy handmaid was in the garden among the flowers, when he rushed in on me. I was frightened and ran away. He asked why I ran away from a son of the family and pursued me right to the pavilion, where you saw us. He had that halberd in his hand all the time.
Thus speaking she seized the curving rail and started into
the lily pond. Lu Bu caught her in his
strong arms and wept as he held her close.
“I knew it： I always knew your heart,” he sobbed. “Only we never had a chance to speak.”
She threw her arms about Lu Bu.
“If I cannot be your wife in this life, I will in the ages to come,” she whispered.
“If I do not marry you in this life, I am no hero,” said he.
“Every day is a year long. O pity me！ Rescue me！ My lord！”
“I have only stolen away for a brief moment, and I am afraid that old rebel will suspect something, so I must not stay too long,” said Lu Bu.
Diao Chan clung to his robe, saying, “If you fear the old thief so much, I shall never see another sunrise.”
Lu Bu stopped.
“Give me a little time to think,” said he.
And he picked up his halberd to go.
“In the deep seclusion of the harem, I heard the stories of your prowess. You were the one man who excelled all others. Little did I think that you of all heroes would rest content under the dominion of another.”
And tears rained again！
A wave of shame flooded his face. Leaning his halberd against the railing, he turned and clasped the girl to his breast, soothing her with fond words. The lovers held each other close, swaying to and fro with emotion. They could not bring themselves to say farewell.
In the meantime Dong Zhuo missed his henchman, and doubt filled his heart. Hastily taking leave of the Emperor, he mounted his chariot and returned to his palace. There at the gate stood Lu Bu’s well known steed Red Hare, riderless. Dong Zhuo questioned the doorkeepers, and they told him the General was within. He sent away his attendants and went alone to the private apartments. Lu Bu was not there. He called Diao Chan, but there was no reply. He asked where she was, and the waiting maids told him she was in the garden among the flowers.
So Dong Zhuo went into the garden, and there he saw the lovers in the pavilion in most tender talk. Lu Bu’s trident halberd was leaning on the railing beside him.
A howl of rage escaped Dong Zhuo and startled the lovers. Lu Bu turned, saw who it was, and ran away. Dong Zhuo caught up the halberd and ran in pursuit. But Lu Bu was fleet of foot while his master was very stout. Seeing no hope of catching the runaway, Dong Zhuo hurled the halberd. Lu Bu fended it off and it fell to the ground. Dong Zhuo picked it up and ran on. But by this time Lu Bu was far ahead. Just as Dong Zhuo was running out at the garden gate, he dashed full tilt against another man running in, and down he went.
He angrily rebuked his son, saying, “Dare you make love to my beauty？”
He told the servants to turn Lu Bu out, shouting, “Never let him enter here again！”
Lu Bu went off home very wrath. Meeting Li Ru, he told Li Ru the cause of his anger.
the adviser hastened to see his master and said, “Sir, you aspire to be ruler of the empire. Why then for a small fault do you blame the General？ If he turns against you, it is all over.”
“then what can I do？” said Dong Zhuo.
“Recall him tomorrow； treat him well； overwhelm him with gifts and fair words； and all will be well.”
So Dong Zhuo did so. He sent for Lu Bu and was very gracious and said, “I was irritable and hasty yesterday owing to my illness and I wronged you, I know. Forgive me.”
He gave Lu Bu three hundred ounces of gold and twenty rolls of brocade. And so the quarrel was made up. But though Lu Bu’s body was with his adopted father Dong Zhuo, his heart was with his promised bride Diao Chan.
Dong Zhuo having quite recovered went to court again, and Lu Bu followed him as usual. Seeing Dong Zhuo deep in conversation with the Emperor, Lu Bu, armed as he was, went out of the Palace and rode off to his chief’s residence. He tied up his steed at the entrance and, halberd in hand, went to the private apartment to seek his love. He found Diao Chan, and she told him to go out into the garden where she would join him soon. He went, taking his halberd with him, and he leaned against the rail of the Phoenix Pavilion to wait for Diao Chan.
After a long time she appeared, swaying gracefully as she made her way under the drooping willows and parting the flowers as she passed. She was exquisite, a perfect fairy from the Palace of the Moon.
Tears were in her eyes as she came up and said, “Though I am not the Minister’s real daughter, yet he treated me as his own child. The desire of my life was fulfilled when he plighted me to you. But oh！ to think of the wickedness of the Prime Minister, stealing my poor self as he did. I suffered so much. I longed to die,
“Of course you do not understand. Yesterday when I was at court, the Prime Minister told me he had something to talk to me about in my own house. So naturally I prepared for his coming, and while we were at dinner he said, ‘I have heard something of a girl named Diao Chan whom you have promised to my son Lu Bu. I thought it was mere rumor so I wanted to ask if it was true. Beside I should like to see her.’ I could not say no, so she came in and made her bow to the lord of lords. Then he said that it was a lucky day and he would take her away with him and betroth her to you. Just think, Sir： When the Prime Minister had come himself, could I stop him？”
“You were not so very wrong,” said Lu Bu. “But for a time I had misunderstood you. I owe you an apology.”
“the girl has a small trousseau, which I will send as soon as she has gone over to your dwelling.”
Lu Bu thanked him and went away. Next day he went into the palace to find out the truth, but could hear nothing. Then he made his way into the private quarters and questioned the maids. Presently one told him that the Prime Minister had brought home a new bedfellow the night before and was not up yet. Lu Bu was very angry. Next he crept round behind his master’s sleeping apartment.
By this time Diao Chan had risen and was dressing her hair at the window. Looking out she saw a long shadow fall across the little lake. She recognized the headdress, and peeping around she saw it was indeed no other than Lu Bu. Thereupon she contracted her eyebrows, simulating the deepest grief, and with her dainty handkerchief she wiped her eyes again and again. Lu Bu stood watching her a long time.
Soon after he went in to give morning GREeting. Dong Zhuo was sitting in the reception room. Seeing his henchman, Dong Zhuo asked if there was anything new.
“Nothing,” was the reply.
Lu Bu waited while Dong Zhuo took his morning meal. As he stood beside his master, he glanced over at the curtain and saw a woman there behind the screen showing a half face from time to time and throwing amorous glances at him. He felt it was his beloved, and his thoughts flew to her. Presently Dong Zhuo noticed his expression and began to feel suspicious.
“If there is nothing, you may go,” said Dong Zhuo.
Lu Bu sulkily withdrew.
Dong Zhuo now thought of nothing but his new mistress and for more than a month neglected all affairs, devoting himself entirely to pleasure. Once he was a little indisposed, and Diao Chan was constantly at his side, never even undressing to show her solicitude. She gratified his every whim. Dong Zhuo GREw more and more fond of her.
One day Lu Bu went to inquire after his father’s health.
Dong Zhuo was asleep, and Diao Chan was sitting at the head of
You stand, a dainty maiden, Your cherry lips so bright, Your teeth so
pearly white, Your fragrant breath love-laden；Yet is your tongue a sword；Cold death is the reward Of loving thee, O maiden. [yip, yip, yip]
Dong Zhuo was delighted and praised her warmly. She was told to present a goblet of wine to the guest which he took from her hands and then asked her age.
She replied, “Thy unworthy handmaid is twenty-one.”
“A perfect little fairy！” said Dong Zhuo.
then Wang Yun rose and said, “If the Prime Minister would not mind, I should like to offer him this little maid.”
“How could I be grateful enough for such a kindness！”
“She would be most fortunate if she could be your servant,” said Wang Yun.
Dong Zhuo thanked his host warmly.
then the orders were given to prepare a closed carriage and convey Diao Chan to the Prime Minister’s palace.
Soon after Dong Zhuo took his leave, and Wang Yun accompanied him the whole way.
After he had taken leave, Wang Yun mounted to ride homeward. Half way he met two lines of guards with red lamps who were escorting Lu Bu who was on horseback and armed with his trident halberd.
Seeing Wang Yun, Lu Bu at once reined in, stopped, seized him by the sleeve, and said angrily, “You promised Diao Chan to me, and now you have given her to the Prime Minister： What foolery is this？”
Wang Yun checked him, saying, “This is no place to talk； I pray you come to my house.”
So they went together, and Wang Yun led Lu Bu into a private room.
“How dare I expect this？” said Dong Zhuo.
“From the days of old, those who walk in the way have replaced those who deviate therefrom； those who lack virtue have fallen before those who possess it. Can one escape fate？”
“If indeed the decree of Heaven devolves on me, you shall be held the first in merit！” said Dong Zhuo.
Wang Yun bowed. then lights were brought in and all the attendants were dismissed, save the serving maids to hand the wine. So the evening went on.
Presently Wang Yun said, “the music of these everyday musicians is too commonplace for your ear, but there happens to be in the house a little maid that might please you.”
“Excellent！” said the guest.
then a curtain was lowered. The shrill tones of reed instruments rang through the room, and presently some attendants led forward Diao Chan, who then danced on the outside of the curtain.
A poem praises her：
[hip, hip, hip] For a palace this maiden was born, So timid,
so graceful, so slender, Like a tiny bird flitting at morn Over the
dew-laden lily buds tender. Were this exquisite maid only mine, For never a mansion I’d pine. [yip, yip, yip]
Another poem runs thus：
[hip, hip, hip] the music falls, the dancer comes, a swallow gliding in, A dainty little damsel, soft as silk；Her beauty captivates the guest yet saddens him within, For he must soon depart and leave her there. She smiles； no gold could buy that smile, no other smiled so, No need to deck her form with jewels rare. But when the dance is over and coy glances come and go, Then who shall be the chosen of the fair？
[yip, yip, yip]
the dance ended. Dong Zhuo bade them lead the maiden in, and she came, bowing low as she approached him. He was much taken with her beauty and modest grace.
Some few days later when Wang Yun was at court and Lu Bu was absent, Wang Yun bowed low before Dong Zhuo and said, “I wish that you would deign to come to dine at my lowly cottage： Could your noble thought bend that way？”
“Should you invite me, I would certainly hasten,” was the reply.
Wang Yun thanked him. then Wang Yun went home and prepared in the reception hall a feast in which figured every delicacy from land and sea. Beautiful embroideries surrounded the chief seat in the center, and elegant curtains were hung within and without. At noon next day, when the Prime Minister arrived, Wang Yun met him at the gate in full court costume. Wang Yun stood by while Dong Zhuo stepped out of his chariot, and Dong Zhuo and a host of one hundred armed guards crowded into the hall. Dong Zhuo took his seat at the top, his suite fell into two lines right and left, while Wang Yun stood humbly at the lower end. Dong Zhuo bade his people conduct Wang Yun to a place beside himself.
[e] Yi Yin was was helper and prime minister of King Tang, the founder of Shang Dynasty. After King Tang’s death, Yi Yin served his sons and grandson. Soon after Tai Jia, King Tang’s grandson, ascended the throne, he committed many faults, and Yi Yin, acting as regent, exiled Tai Jia to Tong Palace——the burial place of King Tang. After three years Yi Yin returned him the throne. Tai Jia eventually became an enlightened emperor. Shang Dynasty lasted for 650 years （BC 1700-1050）。 It was this act of Yi Yin rather than his services in building up an empire that has made him immortal. Whether he did right in temporarily dethroning the king was open to question, until a final verdict was rendered by Mencius who thought that his ends amply justified his means. This historical event attests the extent of the power exercised by a prime minister in those days. ……
[e] Duke of Zhou was brother of King Wu, who was the founder of Zhou Dynasty. After King Wu’s death, the Duke of Zhou served his young son as regent. The Duke of Zhou completely ended the Shang domination, and he helped establish the Zhou administrative framework, which served as a model for future Chinese dynasties. Zhou Dynasty lasted for 800 years （BC 1050-221）。 ……
[e] King Yao, King Shun, and King Yu （BC 2400-2200） were the three ideal rulers in ancient China. They ascended the throne by their virtues and merits, and not by heritage. King Yu was also the founder of the Xia Dynasty. ……
Said Wang Yun, “the GREat Prime Minister’s abundant virtue is as the high mountains. Neither the ancient sages——Yi Yin* and the Duke of Zhou*——could attain thereto.”
Dong Zhuo smiled. they bore in the dishes and the wine, and the music began. Wang Yun plied his guest with assiduous flattery and studied deference. When it GREw late and the wine had done its work, Dong Zhuo was invited to the inner chamber. So he sent away his guards and went.
Here the host raised a goblet and drank to his guest, saying, “From my youth up I have understood something of astrology and have been studying the aspect of the heavens. I read that the days of Han are numbered, and that the GREat Prime Minister’s merits command the regard of
Lu Bu said, “I am but a simple officer in the palace of a minister. You are an exalted officer of state. Why am I treated thus？”
“Because in the whole land there is no hero your equal. Poor Wang Yun bows not to an officer’s rank； poor Wang Yun bows to his ability ”
This gratified Lu Bu mightily, and his host continued to praise and flatter and ply him with wine and to talk of the virtues of the Prime Minister and his henchman.
Lu Bu laughed and drank huge goblets.
Presently most of the attendants were sent away, only a few kept to press the guest to drink.
When the guest was very mellow, Wang Yun suddenly said, “Let her come in！”
Soon appeared two attendants, dressed in white, leading between them the exquisite and fascinating Diao Chan.
“Who is this？” said Lu Bu startled into sobriety.
“This is my little girl, Diao Chan. You will not be annoyed at my familiarity, will you？ But you have been so very friendly, I thought you would like to see her.”
Wang Yun bade Diao Chan present a goblet of wine, and her eyes met those of the warrior.
Wang Yun feigning intoxication said, “My little child begs you, General, to take a cup or two. We all depend upon you, all our house.”
Lu Bu begged Diao Chan to sit down. She pretended to wish to retire. Her master pressed her to remain, saying that she might do so since the guest was a dear friend. So she took a seat modestly near her master.
Lu Bu kept his gaze fixed upon the maid, while he swallowed cup after cup of wine.
“I should like to present her to you as a handmaid： Would you accept？” said Wang Yun.
the guest started up.
“If that is so, you may rely upon my abject gratitude,” said Lu Bu.
“We will choose a propitious day ere long and send her to the palace.”
And the girl said, “Thy handmaid has been the recipient of bountiful kindness. She has been taught to sing and dance and been treated so kindly that were she torn in pieces for her lord’s sake, it would not repay a thousandth part. She has noticed lately that her lord’s brows have been knit in distress and knows it is on account of the state troubles. But she has not dared to ask. This evening he seemed sadder than ever, and she was miserable on her lord’s account. But she did not know she would be seen. Could she be of any use she would not shrink from a myriad deaths.”
A sudden idea came to Wang Yun, and he stuck the ground with his staff. And he said, “Who would think that the fate of Han lay on your palm？ Come with me！”
the girl followed him into the house. Then he dismissed all the waiting attendants, placed Diao Chan on a chair and bowed before her. She was frightened and threw herself on the ground, asking in terror what it all meant.
Said Wang Yun, “You can sympathize with the people of Han,” and the fount of his tears opened afresh.
“My lord, as thy handmaid said just now, use her in any way： Thy handmaid will never shrink,” said the girl.
Wang Yun knelt, saying, “the people are on the brink of destruction, the prince and his officers are in jeopardy, and you, you are the only savior. That wretch Dong Zhuo wants to depose the Emperor, and not a person among us can find means to stop him. Now he has a son, a bold warrior it is true, but both father and son have a weakness for beauty, and I am going to use what I may call the ‘chaining’ plan. I shall first propose you in marriage to Lu Bu and then, after you are betrothed, I shall present you to Dong Zhuo, and you will take every opportunity to force them asunder and turn sway their countenances from each other, cause the son to kill his adopted father and so put an end to the GREat evil. Thus you may restore the altars of the land that it may live again. All this lies within your power： Will you do it？”
“Thy handmaid has promised not to recoil from death itself. You may use my poor self in any way, and I must do my best.”
“But if this gets abroad then we are all lost！”
“Fear not,” said she. “If thy handmaid does not show gratitude, may she perish beneath a myriad swords！”
“Thank you, thank you！” said Wang Yun.
then Wang Yun took from the family treasury many pearls
and bade a cunning jeweler make therewith a fine golden
headdress, which was sent as a present to Lu Bu. He was