Follow us on Facebook to receive important updates - thanks for your support! Follow us on Twitter to receive important updates - thanks for your support! Follow us on sina.com's microblogging site to receive important updates - thanks for your support! Follow us on Douban to receive important updates - thanks for your support!
Chinese Text Project
Simplified Chinese version
Show translation:[None] [English]
-> -> -> Cao Cao Organizes A Hunting Expedition In Xutian; Dong Cheng Receives A Secret Command In The Palace

《曹阿瞒许田打围,董国舅内阁受诏 - Cao Cao Organizes A Hunting Expedition In Xutian; Dong Cheng Receives A Secret Command In The Palace》

1 曹阿瞒许... :
话说曹操举剑欲杀张辽,玄德攀住臂膊,云长跪于面前。玄德曰:“此等赤心之人,正当留用。”云长曰:“关某素知文远忠义之士,愿以性命保之。”操掷剑笑曰:“我亦知文远忠义,故戏之耳。”乃亲释其缚,解衣衣之,延之上坐。辽感其意,遂降。操拜辽为中郎将,赐爵关内侯,使招安臧霸。
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
The last chapter said that Cao Cao was checked in his angry attack upon Zhang Liao. They were Liu Bei who held his arm and Guan Yu who knelt before him.
"A man as generous-hearted as he is should be saved," said Liu Bei.
Guan Yu said, "I know him well as loyal and righteous. I will vouch for him with my own life!"
Cao Cao threw aside his sword and smiled.
"I also know Zhang Liao to be loyal and good. I was just testing him," said he.
Cao Cao loosed the prisoner's bonds with his own hands, had a change of dress brought in, and clothed him therewith. Then he was led to a seat of honor. This kindly treatment sank deep into Zhang Liao's heart, and he hastened to declare formally that he yielded. And then he was given the rank of Imperial Commander and the title of Lordship.

2 曹阿瞒许... :
闻吕布已死,张辽已降,遂亦引本部军投降。操厚赏之。臧霸又招安孙观,吴敦,尹礼,来降;独昌豨未肯归顺。操封臧霸为琅琊相。孙观等亦各加官,令守青、徐沿海地面。将吕布妻女载回许都。大犒三军,拔寨班师。路过徐州,百姓焚香遮道,请留刘使君为牧。操曰:“刘使君功大,且待面君封爵,回来未迟。”百姓叩谢。操唤车骑将军车胄权领徐州。操军回许昌,封赏出征人员,留玄德在相府左近宅院歇定。
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
Zhang Liao was sent on a mission to win over the bandit leader Zang Ba, who hearing what had happened, came forthwith and gave in his submission. He was graciously received, and his former colleagues —-Sun Guan, Wu Dun, and Yin Li —-also yielded, with the exception of Chang Xi, who remained obdurate. All these former enemies who came over were kindly treated and given posts of responsibility wherein they might prove the reality of their conversion. Lu Bu's family were sent to the capital.
After the soldiers had been rewarded with feasting, the camp was broken up and the army moved away to Xuchang. Passing through Xuzhou the people lined the roads and burned incense in honor of the victors. They also petitioned that Liu Bei should be their protector.
Cao Cao replied, "Liu Bei has rendered great services. You must wait till he has been received in audience and obtained his reward. After that he shall be sent here."
The people bowed low to the ground to express their thanks. Che Zhou, General of the Flying Cavalry, was given command of Xuzhou for the moment.
After the army had arrived at the capital, rewards were granted to all the officers who had been in the expedition. Liu Bei was retained in the capital, lodging in an annex to the Prime Minister's palace.

3 曹阿瞒许... :
次日,献帝设朝,操表奏玄德军功,引玄德见帝。玄德具朝服拜于丹墀。帝宣上殿问曰:“卿祖何人?”玄德奏曰:“臣乃中山靖王之后,孝景皇帝阁下玄孙,刘雄之孙,刘弘之子也。”帝教取宗族世谱检看,令宗正卿宣读曰:
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
Next day a court was held, and Cao Cao memorialized the services of Liu Bei who was presented to Emperor Xian. Dressed in court robes, Liu Bei bowed at the lower end of the audience arena. The Emperor called him to the Hall and asked his ancestry.
Liu Bei replied, "Thy servant is the son of Liu Hong, grandson of Liu Xiong, who was a direct descendant of Prince Sheng of Zhongshan, who was the son of His Majesty the Emperor Jing (reigned BC 157-141)."
The Emperor bade them bring forth the Books of the Genealogies, and therefrom a secretary read:
孝景皇帝生十四子。第七子乃中山靖王刘胜。胜生陆城亭侯刘贞。贞生沛侯刘昂。昂生漳侯刘禄。禄生沂水侯刘恋。恋生钦阳侯刘英。英生安国侯刘建。建生广陵侯刘哀。哀生胶水侯刘宪。宪生祖邑侯刘舒。舒生祁阳侯刘谊。谊生原泽侯刘必。必生颍川侯刘达。达生丰灵侯刘不疑。不疑生济川侯刘惠。惠生东郡范令刘雄。雄生刘弘。弘不仕刘备乃刘弘之子也。
"Liu Jing the Filial Emperor begot fourteen sons of whom the seventh was Liu Sheng, Prince of Zhongshan. Sheng begot Liu Zhen, Lord of Luchang. Zhen begot Liu Ang, Lord of Pei. Ang begot Liu Lu, Lord of Zhang. Lu begot Liu Lian, Lord of Yishui. Lian begot Liu Ying, Lord of Qinyang. Ying begot Liu Jian, Lord of Anguo. Jian begot Liu Ai, Lord of Guangling. Ai begot Liu Xia, Lord of Jiaoshui. Xia begot Liu Shu, Lord of Zuyi. Shu begot Liu Yi, Lord of Qiyang. Yi begot Liu Bi, Lord of Yuanze. Bi begot Liu Da, Lord of Yingchuan. Da begot Liu Buyi, Lord of Fengling. Buyi begot Liu Hui, Lord of Jichuan. Hui begot Liu Xiong, Governor of Zhuo. Xiong begot Liu Hong, who held no office or rank; and Liu Bei is his son."

4 曹阿瞒许... :
帝排世谱,则玄德乃帝之叔也。帝大喜,请入偏殿叙叔侄之礼。帝暗思:“曹操弄权,国事都不由朕主,今得此英雄之叔,朕有助矣!”遂拜玄德为左将军宜城亭侯。设宴款待毕,玄德谢恩出朝。自此人皆称为刘皇叔。
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
The Emperor compared this with the registers of the Imperial House and found by them that Liu Bei was his uncle by descent. The Emperor seemed greatly pleased and requested Liu Bei to go into one of the side chambers where he might perform the ceremonial obeisance prescribed for a nephew to his uncle. In his heart he rejoiced to have this heroic warrior uncle as a powerful supporter against Cao Cao who really held all the power in his own hands. The Emperor knew himself to be a mere puppet. He conferred upon his uncle the rank of General of the Left Army and the title of Lord of Yicheng.
When the banquet was concluded, Liu Bei thanked the Emperor and went out of the Palace. And from this time he was very generally styled the "Imperial Uncle."

5 曹阿瞒许... :
曹操回府,荀彧等一班谋士入见曰:“天子认刘备为叔,恐无益于明公。”操曰:“彼既认为皇叔,吾以天子之诏令之,彼愈不敢不服矣。况吾留彼在许都,名虽近君,实在吾掌握之内,吾何惧哉?吾所虑者,太尉杨彪系袁术亲戚;倘与二袁为内应,为害不浅。当即除之。”乃密使人诬告彪交通袁术,遂收彪下狱,命满宠按治之。
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
When Cao Cao returned to his palace, Xun Yu and his fellow advisers went in to see him.
Xun Yu said, "It is no advantage to you, Illustrious Sir, that the Emperor recognizes Liu Bei as an uncle."
"Liu Bei may be recognized as uncle, but he is under my orders since I control the decrees of the Throne. He will be all the more ready to obey. Beside I will keep him here under the pretense of having him near his sovereign, and he will be entirely in my hands. I have nothing to fear. The man I fear is Yang Biao, who is a relative of the two Yuan brothers. Should Yang Biao conspire with them, he is an enemy within and might do much harm. He will have to be removed."
Hence Cao Cao sent a secret emissary to say that Imperial Guardian Yang Biao was intriguing with Yuan Shu, and on this charge Yang Biao was arrested and imprisoned. And his death would have been compassed had his enemy dared.

6 曹阿瞒许... :
时北海太守孔融在许都,因谏操曰:“杨公四世清德,岂可因袁氏而罪之乎?”操曰:“此朝延意也。”融曰:“使成王杀召公,周公可得言不知耶?”操不得已,乃免彪官,放归田里。议郎赵彦愤操专横,上疏劾操不奉帝旨、擅收大臣之罪。操大怒,即收赵彦杀之。于是百官无不悚惧。谋士程昱说操曰:“今明公威名日盛,何不乘此时行王霸之事?”操曰:“朝廷股肱尚多,未可轻动。吾当请天子田猎,以观动静。”
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
But just then the Governor of Beihai, Kong Rong, was at the capital, and he remonstrated with Cao Cao, saying, "Yang Biao comes from a family famed for virtue for at least four generations. You cannot trump up so foolish a charge as that against him."
"It is the wish of His Majesty!" retorted Cao Cao.
"If the child Emperor Cheng of Zhou Dynasty had put Duke Chao to death, could the people have believed Duke Zhou, the Regent Marshal, had nothing to do with it?"
So Cao Cao had to relinquish the attempt, but he took away Yang Biao's offices and banished him to his family estate in the country.
Court Counselor Zhao Yan, an opponent of the Prime Minister, sent up a memorial impeaching Cao Cao for having removed a minister of state from office without a decree. Cao Cao's reply to this was the arrest of Zhao Yan and his execution, a bold stroke which terrified the bulk of officers and reduced them to silence.
Cheng Yu advised Cao Cao to assume a more definite position. He said, "Illustrious Sir, your prestige grows daily. Why not seize the opportunity to take the position of Chief of the Feudatory Princes?"
"There are still too many supporters of the court," was the reply. "I must be careful. I am going to propose a royal hunt to try to find out the best line to follow."

7 曹阿瞒许... :
于是拣选良马,名鹰俊犬,弓矢俱备,先聚兵城外,操入请天子田猎。帝曰:“田猎恐非正道。”操曰:“古之帝王,春蒐夏苗,秋獮冬狩,四时出郊,以示武于天下。今四海扰攘之时,正当借田猎以讲武。”帝不敢不从,随即上逍遥马,带宝雕弓、金鈚箭,排銮驾出城。玄德与关、张各弯弓插箭,内穿掩心甲,手持兵器,引数十骑随驾出许昌。曹操骑爪黄飞电马,引十万之众,与天子猎于许田。军士排开围场,周广二百馀里。操与天子并马而行,只争一马头。背后都是操之心腹将校。文武百官,远远侍从,谁敢近前。
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
This expedition being decided upon they got together fleet horses, famous falcons, and pedigree hounds, and prepared bows and arrows in readiness. They mustered a strong force of guards outside the city.
When the Prime Minister proposed the hunting expedition, the Emperor said he feared it was an improper thing to do.
Cao Cao replied, "In ancient times rulers made four expeditions yearly at each of the four seasons in order to show their strength. They were called Sou, Miao, Xien, and Shou, in the order of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Now that the whole country is in confusion, it would be wise to inaugurate a hunt in order to train the army. I am sure Your Majesty will approve."
So the Emperor with the full paraphernalia for an imperial hunt joined the expedition. He rode a saddled horse, carried an inlaid bow, and his quiver was filled with gold-tipped arrows. His chariot followed behind. Liu Bei and his brothers were in the imperial train, each with his bow and quiver. Each party member wore a breastplate under the outer robe and held his especial weapon, while their escort followed them. Cao Cao rode a dun horse called "Flying-Lightning," and the army was one hundred thousand strong.
The hunt took place in Xutian, and the legions spread out as guards round the hunting arena which extended over some one hundred square miles. Cao Cao rode even with the Emperor, the horses' heads alternating in the lead. The imperial attendants immediately following were all in Cao Cao's confidence. The other officers, civil and military, lagged behind, for they dared not press forward into the midst of Cao Cao's partisans.

8 曹阿瞒许... :
当日献帝驰马到许田,刘玄德起居道旁。帝曰:“朕今欲看皇叔射猎。”玄德领命上马,忽草中赶起一兔。玄德射之,一箭正中那兔。帝喝采。转过土坡,忽见荆棘中赶出一只大鹿。帝连射三箭不中,顾谓操曰:“卿射之。”操就讨天子宝雕弓、金鈚箭,扣满一射,正中鹿背,倒于草中。群臣将校,见了金鈚箭,只道天子射中,都踊跃向帝呼万岁。曹操纵马直出,遮于天子之前以迎受之。群皆失色。
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
One day the Emperor was riding toward the hunting grounds and noticed his newly found uncle respectfully standing by the roadside.
"I should like to see my uncle display his hunting skill," said the Emperor.
Liu Bei mounted his steed at once. Just then a hare started from its form. Liu Bei shot and hit it with the first arrow.
The Emperor, much struck by this display, rode away over a slope. Suddenly a deer broke out of the thicket. He shot three arrows at it but all missed.
"You try," said the Emperor turning to Cao Cao.
"Lend me Your Majesty's bow," Cao Cao replied.
Taking the inlaid bow and the golden-tipped arrows, Cao Cao pulled the bow and hit the deer in the shoulder at the first shot. It fell in the grass and could not run.
Now the crowd of officers seeing the golden-barbed arrow sticking in the wound concluded at once that the shot was the Emperor's, so they rushed up and shouted "Wan sui! O Son of Heaven! Live forever!"
Cao Cao rode out pushing past the Emperor and acknowledged the congratulations.
They all turned pale.

9 曹阿瞒许... :
玄德背后云长大怒,剔起卧蚕眉,睁开丹凤眼,提刀拍马便出,要斩曹操。玄德见了,慌忙摇手送目。关公见兄如此,便不敢动。玄德欠身向操称贺曰:“丞相神射,世所罕及!”操笑曰:“此天子洪福耳。”乃回马向天子称贺,竟不献还宝雕弓,亲自悬带。
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
Guan Yu, who was behind Liu Bei, was especially angry. The silkworm eyebrows stood up fiercely, and the red phoenix eyes glared as, sword in hand, he rode hastily forth to cut down the audacious Prime Minister for his impertinence.
However, Liu Bei hastily waved him back and shot at him a meaning glance so that Guan Yu stopped and made no further move.
Liu Bei bowing toward Cao Cao said, "Most sincere felicitations! A truly supernatural shot, such as few have achieved!"
"It is only the enormous good fortune of the Son of Heaven!" said Cao Cao with a smile.
Then he turned his steed and felicitated the Emperor. But he did not return the bow; he hung it over his own shoulder instead.

10 曹阿瞒许... :
围场已罢,宴于许田。宴毕,驾回许都。众人各自归歇。云长问玄德曰:“操贼欺君罔上,我欲杀之,为国除害,兄何止我?”玄德曰:“‘投鼠忌器’。操与帝相离只一马头,其心腹之人,周回拥侍;吾弟若逞一时之怒,轻有举动,倘事不成,有伤天子,罪反坐我等矣。”云长曰:“今日不杀此贼,后必为祸。”玄德曰:“且宜秘之,不可轻言。”
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
The hunt finished with banqueting; and when the entertainments were over, they returned to the capital, all glad of some repose after the expedition.
Guan Yu was still angry of the Prime Minister's breach of decorum.
One day Guan Yu said to Liu Bei, "Brother, why did you prevent me from killing that rebel and so ridding the world of a scoundrel? He insults the Emperor and ignores everybody else."
"When you throw stones at a rat, beware of the vase," quoted Liu Bei. "Cao Cao was only a horse's head away from Our Lord, and in the midst of a crowd of his partisans. In that momentary burst of anger, if you had struck and failed, and harm had come to the Emperor, what an awful crime would have been laid to us!"
"If we do not rid the world of him today, a worse evil will come of it," said Guan Yu.
"But be discreet, my brother. Such matters cannot be lightly discussed."

11 曹阿瞒许... :
却说献帝回宫,泣谓伏皇后曰:“朕自即位以来,奸雄并起;先受董卓之殃,后遭傕、汜之乱。常人未受之苦,吾与汝当之。后得曹操,以为社稷之臣;不意专国弄权,擅作威福。朕每见之,背若芒刺。今日在围场上,身迎呼贺,无礼已极!早晚必有异谋,吾夫妇不知死所也!”伏皇后曰:“满朝公卿,俱食汉禄,竟无一人能救国难乎?”
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
The Emperor sadly returned to his palace. With tears in his eyes, he related what had occurred in the hunt to his consort, Empress Fu.
"Alas for me!" said he. "From the first days of my accession, one vicious minister has succeeded another. I was the victim of Dong Zhuo's evil machinations. Then followed the rebellion of Li Jue and Guo Si. You and I had to bear sorrows such as no others have borne. Then came this Cao Cao as one who would maintain the imperial dignity, but he has seized upon all real authority and does as he wishes. He works continually for his own glorification, and I never see him but my back pricks. These last few days in the hunting field, he went in front of me and acknowledged the cheers of the crowd. He is so extremely rude that I feel sure he has sinister designs against me. Alas, my wife, we know not when our end may come!"
"In a whole court full of nobles, who have eaten the bread of Han, is there not one who will save his country?" said she.

12 曹阿瞒许... :
言未毕,忽一人自外而入曰:“帝、后休忧:吾举一人,可除国害。”帝视之,乃伏皇后之父伏完也。帝掩泪问曰:“皇丈亦知操贼之专横乎?”完曰:“许田射鹿之事,谁不见之?但满朝之中,非操宗族,则其门下。若非国戚,谁肯尽忠讨贼?老臣无权,难行此事。车骑将军国舅董承可托也。”帝曰:“董国舅多赴国难,朕躬素知;可宣入内,共议大事。”完曰:“陛下左右皆操贼心腹,倘事机泄漏,为祸不浅。”帝曰:“然则奈何?”完曰:“臣有一计,陛下可制衣一领,取玉带一条,密赐董承;却于带衬内缝一密诏以赐之,令到家见诏,可以昼夜画策;神鬼不觉矣。”
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
Thus spoke the Empress, and at the same moment there stepped in a man who said, "Grieve not, O Imperial Pair! I can find a savior for the country."
It was none other than the father of the Empress, Fu Wan.
"Have you heard of Cao Cao's wanton and perverse behavior?" said the Emperor, drying his eyes.
"You mean the deer shooting? Who did not see that, indeed? But the whole court is full of his clan or his creatures. With the exception of the relatives of your Consort, there is not one loyal enough to deal with a rebel. I have no authority and can do nothing, but there is General Dong Cheng, the State Uncle, who could do it."
"Could Uncle Dong Cheng come in to consult about this? I know he has had much experience of state troubles."
Fu Wan replied, "Everyone of your attendants is a partisan of Cao Cao, and this sort of thing must be kept most profoundly secret or the consequence will be most serious."
"Then what can be done?" said the Emperor.
"The only plan I can think of is to send gifts of a robe and a jade girdle to Dong Cheng, and in the lining of the girdle hide a secret edict authorizing him to take certain steps. When he gets home and has read the edict, he can elaborate plans as quickly as possible, and neither the spirits above nor the demons below will know anything about them."

13 曹阿瞒许... :
帝然之,伏完辞出。帝乃自作一密诏,咬破指尖,以血写之,暗令伏皇后缝于玉带紫锦衬内,却自穿锦袍,自系此带,令内史宣董承入。承见帝礼毕,帝曰:“朕夜来与后说霸河之苦,念国舅大功,故特宣入慰劳。”承顿首谢。帝引承出殿,到太庙,转上功臣阁内。帝焚香礼毕,引承观画像。中间画汉高祖容像。帝曰:“吾高祖皇帝起身何地?如何创业?”承大惊曰:“陛下戏臣耳。圣祖之事,何为不知?高皇帝起自泗上亭长,提三尺剑,斩蛇起义,纵横四海,三载亡秦,五年灭楚,遂有天下,立万世之基业。
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
The Emperor approved, and Fu Wan went out. The Emperor then with his own hand drew up a decree, writing it with blood drawn by biting his finger. He gave the document to Empress Fu to sew into the purple lining of the girdle. When all was done, he put on the robe and girded it with the girdle. Next he bade one of the attendants summon State Uncle Dong Cheng to the Palace.
Dong Cheng came; and after the ceremonies were finished, the Emperor said, "A few nights ago I was talking with the Empress of the terrible days of the rebellion, and we thought of your good services then, therefore we have called you in to reward you."
The minister bowed his head in thanks. Then the Emperor led Dong Cheng out of the Reception Hall to the Temple of Ancestors, and they went to the gallery of Worthy Ministers, where the Emperor burned incense and performed the usual ceremonies. After this they went to see the portraits, and among them was one of the founder of the dynasty, Liu Bang the Supreme Ancestor.
"Whence sprang our great ancestor, and how did he begin his great achievement?" said the Emperor.
"Your Majesty is pleased to joke with thy servant," said Dong Cheng, rather startled at the question. "Who does not know the deeds of the Sacred Ancestor? He began life as a minor official in Sishang. There gripping his sword, he slew a white serpent, the beginning of his struggle for the right. Speedily he mastered the empire: In three years had destroyed Qin and, in five, also Chu. Thus he set up a dynasty that shall endure forever!"

14 曹阿瞒许... :
帝曰:“祖宗如此英雄,子孙如此懦弱,岂不可叹!”因指左右二辅之像曰:“此二人非留侯张良、酇侯萧何耶?”承曰:“然也。高祖开基创业,实赖二人之力。”帝回顾左右较远,乃密谓承曰:“卿亦当如此二人立于朕侧。”承曰:“臣无寸功,何以当此?”帝曰:“朕想卿西都救驾之功,未尝少忘,无可为赐。”因指所著袍带曰:“卿当衣朕此袍,系朕此带,常如在朕左右也。”承顿首谢。帝解袍带赐承,密语曰:“卿归可细视之,勿负朕意。”
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
"Such heroic forefathers! Such weakling descendants! How sad it is!" said the Emperor.
Pointing to the portraits right and left, he continued, "Are not these two Zhang Liang, Lord of Liu, and Xiao He, Lord of Cuo?"
"Certainly. The Supreme Ancestor was greatly assisted by these two."
The Emperor glanced right and left. His attendants were rather far away. Then he whispered to Dong Cheng, "You, like these two, must stand by me."
"My poor services are of no worth. I do not compare with those men," said the Uncle.
"I remember that you saved me at the western capital, Changan. I have never forgotten, and I could never reward you properly."
Then pointing to his own robe, the Emperor continued, "You must wear this robe of mine, girded with my own girdle, and it will be as though you are always near your Emperor."
Dong Cheng bowed his gratitude while the Emperor, taking off the robe, presented it to his faithful minister. At the same time he whispered, "Examine it closely when you get home, and help your Emperor carry out his intention."

15 曹阿瞒许... :
承会意,穿袍系带,辞帝下阁。早有人报知曹操曰:“帝与董承登功臣阁说话。”操即入朝来看。董承出阁,才过宫门,恰遇操来;急无躲避处,只得立于路侧施礼。操问曰:“国舅何来?”承曰:“适蒙天子宣召,赐以锦袍玉带。”操问曰:“何故见赐?”承曰:“因念某旧日西都救驾之功,故有此赐。”操曰:“解带我看。”承心知衣带中必有密诏,恐操看破,迟延不解。操叱左右:“急解下来!”看了半晌,笑曰:“果然是条好玉带?再脱下锦袍来借看。”
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
Dong Cheng understood. He put on the robe and the girdle, took leave and left the chamber.
The news of the audience for Dong Cheng had been taken to the Prime Minister, who at once went to the Palace and arrived as Dong Cheng was passing out at the Donghua Gate. They met face to face, and Dong Cheng could in nowise avoid him. Dong Cheng went to the side of the road and made his obeisance.
"Where are you from, State Uncle?" asked Cao Cao.
"His Majesty summoned me into the Palace and has given me this robe and beautiful girdle."
"Why did he give you these?"
"He had not forgotten that I saved his life in the old days."
"Take it off and let me see it."
Dong Cheng who knew that a secret decree was hidden away somewhere in the garments was afraid Cao Cao would notice a breach somewhere in the material, so he hesitated and did not obey. But Cao Cao called his guards, and they took off the girdle. Then Cao Cao looked it over carefully.
"It certainly is a very handsome girdle," said he. "Now take off the robe and let me look at that."

16 曹阿瞒许... :
承心中畏惧,不敢不从,遂脱袍献上。操亲自以手提起,对日影中细细详看。看毕,自己穿在身上,系了玉带,回顾左右曰:“长短如何?”左右称美。操谓承曰:“国舅即以此袍带转赐与吾,何如?”承告曰:“君恩所赐,不敢转赠;容某别制奉献。”操曰:“国舅受此衣带,莫非其中有谋乎?”承惊曰:“某焉敢?丞相如要,便当留下。”操曰:“公受君赐,吾何相夺?聊为戏耳。”遂脱袍带还承。
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
Dong Cheng's heart was melting with fear, but he dared not disobey. So he handed over the robe. Cao Cao took it and held it up against the sun with his own hand and minutely examined every part of it.
When he had done this, he put it on, girded it with the girdle and turning to his attendants said, "How is it for length?"
"Beautiful!" they chorused.
Turning to Dong Cheng, he said, "Will you give these to me?"
"My Prince's presents to me I dare not give to another. Let me give you another robe in its stead," said Dong Cheng.
"Is there not some intrigue connected with these presents? I am sure there is," said Cao Cao.
"How could I dare?" said Dong Cheng, trembling. "If you are so set upon it, then I must give it up."
"How could I take away what our Prince has given you? It was all a joke," said the Prime Minister.
Cao Cao returned both robe and girdle, and their owner made the best of his way home.

17 曹阿瞒许... :
承辞操归家,至夜独坐书院中,将袍仔细反覆看了,并无一物。承思曰:“天子赐我袍带,命我细观,必非无意;今不见其踪迹,何也?”随又取玉带检看,乃白玉玲珑,碾成小龙穿花,背用紫绵为衬,缝缀端整,亦并无一物。承心疑,放于桌上,反覆寻之。良久,倦甚。正欲伏几而寝,忽然灯花落于带上,烧著背衬。承惊拭之,已烧破一处,微露素绢,隐见血迹。急取刀拆开视之,乃天子手书血字密诏也。诏曰:
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
When night came and he was alone in his library, he took out the robe and looked over every inch of it most carefully. He found nothing.
"He gave me a robe and a girdle and bade me look at them carefully. That means there is something to be looked for but I can find no trace of it. What does it mean?" he soliloquized.
Then he lifted the girdle and examined that. The jade plates were carved into the semblance of small dragons interlaced among flowers. The lining was of purple silk. All was sewn together most carefully and neatly, and he could find nothing out of the common. He was puzzled. He laid the belt on the table. Presently he picked it up and looked at it again. He spent long hours over it but in vain. He leaned over on the small table, his head resting on his hands and was almost asleep, when a candle snuff fell down upon the girdle and burned a hole in the lining. He hastily shook it off, but the mischief was done: A small hole had been burned in the silken lining, and through this there appeared something white with blood red marks. He hastily ripped it open and drew out the decree written by the hand of the Emperor himself in characters of blood. It read:
朕闻人伦之大,父子为先;尊卑之殊,君臣为重。近日操贼弄权,欺压君父;结连党伍,败坏朝纲;敕赏封罚,不由朕主。朕夙夜忧思,恐天下将危。卿乃国之大臣,朕之至戚,当念高帝创业之艰难,纠合忠义两全之烈士,殄灭奸党,复安社稷,祖宗幸甚!破指洒血,书诏付卿,再四慎之,勿负朕意!建安四年春三月诏。
"Of human relationships, that between parents and children stands first. Of the various social ties that between prince and minister stands highest. Today Cao Cao, the wicked, is a real tyrant, treating even his Prince with indignity. With the support of his faction and his army, he has destroyed the principles of government. By conferring rewards and inflicting punishments, he has reduced the Emperor to a nonentity. I have grieved over this day and night. I have feared the empire would be ruined.
"You are a high minister of state and my own relative. You must recall the difficulties of the Great Founder's early days and draw together the loyal and right-minded to destroy this evil faction and restore the prerogatives of the Throne. Such a deed would be indeed an extreme joy to the spirits of my ancestors.
"This decree, written in blood drawn from my own veins, is confided to a noble who is to be most careful not to fail in executing his Emperor's design.
"Given in the era of Rebuilt Tranquillity, fourth year and the third month of spring." (AD 199)

18 曹阿瞒许... :
董承览毕,涕泪交流,一夜寝不能寐。晨起,复至书院中,将诏再三观看,无计可施。乃放诏于几上,沈思灭操之计。忖量未定,隐几而卧。忽侍郎王子服至。门吏知子服与董承交厚,不敢拦阻,竟入书院。见承伏不醒,袖底压著素绢,微露“朕”字。子服疑之,默取看毕,藏于袖中,呼承曰:“国舅好自在!亏你如何睡得著!”
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
So ran the decree, and Dong Cheng read it with streaming eyes. There was no sleep for him that night. Early in the morning he returned to his library and reread it. No plan suggested itself. He laid the decree down on the table and sought in the depths of his mind for some scheme to destroy Cao Cao, but could not decide upon any. And he fell asleep leaning over his table.
It happened that Minister Wang Zifu, with whom Dong Cheng was on terms of great intimacy, came to visit him and, as usual, walked into the house unannounced and went straight to the library. His host did not wake, and Wang Zifu noticed, hardly hidden by his sleeve, the Emperor's writing.
Wondering what this might be, Wang Zifu drew it out, read it, and put it in his own sleeve.
Then he called out loud, "Uncle Dong Cheng, are you not well? Why are you asleep at this time of day?"

19 曹阿瞒许... :
承惊觉,不见诏书,魂不附体,手脚慌乱。子服曰:“汝欲杀曹公!吾当出首。”承泣告曰:“若兄如此,汉室休矣!”子服曰:“吾戏耳。吾祖宗世食汉禄,岂无忠心?愿助兄一臂之力,共诛国贼。”承曰:“兄有此心,国之大幸。”子服曰:“当于密室同立义状,各舍三族,以报汉君。”承大喜,取白绢一幅,先书名画字。子服亦即书名画字。书毕,子服曰:“将军吴子兰,与吾至厚,可与同谋。”承曰:“满朝大臣,惟有长水校尉种辑、议郎吴硕是吾心腹,必能与我同事。”
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
Dong Cheng started up and at once missed the decree. He was aghast; he almost fell to the ground.
"So you want to make away with Cao Cao? I shall have to tell him," said Wang Zifu.
"Then, brother, that is the end of the Hans," said his host, with tears.
"I was joking," said Wang Zifu. "My forefathers also served the Hans and ate of their bounty. Am I devoid of loyalty? I would help you, brother, as far as lies in my power."
"It is well for the country that you think like this," said Dong Cheng.
"But we ought to have a more private place than this to talk over such plans and pledge ourselves to sacrifice all in the cause of Han."
Dong Cheng began to feel very satisfied. He produced a roll of white silk and wrote his own name at the top and signed it, and Wang Zifu followed suit.
Then the visitor said, "General Wu Zilan is one of my best friends. He ought to be allowed to come in."
Dong Cheng replied, "Of all the officials of the court, Commander Chong Ji and Court Counselor Wu Shi are my best friends. Certainly they would back me up."

20 曹阿瞒许... :
正商议间,家僮入报种辑、吴硕来探。承曰:“此天助我也!”教子服暂避于屏后。承接二人入书院。坐定,茶毕。辑曰:“许田射猎之事,君亦怀恨乎?”承曰:“虽怀恨,无可奈何。”硕曰:“吾誓杀此贼,恨无助我者耳!”辑曰:“为国除害,虽死无怨。”王子服从屏后出曰:“汝二人欲杀曹丞相!我当出首,董国舅便是证见。”种辑怒曰:“忠臣不怕死,吾等死做汉鬼,强似你阿附国贼!”承笑曰:“吾等正为此事,欲见二公。王侍郎之言乃戏耳。”便于袖中取出诏来与二人看。二人读诏,挥泪不止。承遂请书名。子服曰:“二公在此少待,吾去请吴子兰来。”
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
So the discussion proceeded. Presently a servant announced no other than these very two men Dong Cheng just mentioned.
"This is providential," said Dong Cheng, and he told Wang Zifu to hide behind a screen.
The two guests were led into the library, and after the exchange of the ordinary civilities and a cup of tea, Chong Ji referred to the incident at the hunt and the shooting of the stag.
"Were you not angry at that?" said Chong Ji.
Dong Cheng answered, "Though we be angry, what can we do?"
Wu Shi struck in, saying, "I would slay this fellow, I swear, but I cannot get anyone to back me up."
"One should perish for one's country; one should not mind," said Chong Ji.
At this moment Wang Zifu appeared from behind the screen, saying, "You two want to kill Cao Cao! I shall have to let him know this. And Uncle Dong Cheng is my witness."
"A loyal minister does not mind death. If we are killed, we will be Han ghosts, which is better than being sycophants of a traitor," said Chong Ji, angrily.
Dong Cheng said, "We were just saying we wanted to see you two on this matter. Wang Zifu is only joking."
Then he drew forth the decree and showed it to the two newcomers, who also wept as they read it. They were asked to add their names to the silk roll.
Wang Zifu said, "Wait here a few moments till I get Wu Zilan to come."

21 曹阿瞒许... :
子服去不多时,即同子兰至,与众相见,亦书名毕。承邀于后堂会饮。忽报西凉太守马腾相探。承曰:“只推我病,不能接见。”门吏回报。腾大怒曰:“我夜来在东华门外,亲见他锦袍玉带而出,何故推病耶!吾非无事而来,奈何拒我!”门吏入报,备言腾怒。承起曰:“诸公少待,暂容承出。”随即出厅延接。礼毕,坐定。腾曰:“腾入觐将还,故来相辞,何见拒也?”承曰:“贱躯暴疾,有失迎候,罪甚。”腾曰:“面带春色,未见病容。”
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
He left the room and very soon returned with his friend, who also wrote his name in the presence of all the others.
After this they went into one of the inner chambers to drink success to the new plot. While there, a new visitor, Ma Teng, Governor of Xiliang, was announced.
"Say I am indisposed," said the host, "and cannot receive visitors."
The doorkeeper took the message, whereat Ma Teng angrily said, "Last night at the Donghua Gate, I saw him come out in robe and girdle. How can he pretend illness today? I am not come from mere idleness, why does he refuse to see me?"
The doorkeeper went in again and told his master what the visitor had said and that he was very angry. Then Dong Cheng rose, excused himself saying he would soon return, and went to receive Ma Teng.
After the visitor had saluted and they were both seated, Ma Teng said, "I have just come from a farewell audience and wished to bid you good bye. Why did you want to put me off?"
"My poor body was taken suddenly ill. That is why I was not waiting to welcome you," said Dong Cheng.
"You do not look as if you were ill. Your face wears the very bloom of health," said Ma Teng bluntly.

22 曹阿瞒许... :
承无言可答。腾拂袖便起,嗟叹下阶曰:“皆非救国之人也!”承感其言,挽留之,问曰:“公谓何人非救国之人?”腾曰:“许田射猎之事,吾尚气满胸膛;公乃国之至戚,犹自滞于酒色,而不思讨贼,安得为皇家救难扶灾之人乎!”承恐其诈,佯惊曰:“曹丞相乃国之大臣,朝廷所倚赖,公何出此言?”腾大怒曰:“汝尚以曹贼为好人耶?”承曰:“耳目甚近,请公低声。”腾曰:“贪生怕死之徒,不足以论大事!”说罢,又欲起身。承知腾忠义,乃曰:“公且息怒。某请公看一物。”遂邀腾入书院,取诏示之。
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
His host could say no more and was silent. The visitor shook out his sleeves and rose to depart.
He sighed deeply as he walked down the steps, saying to himself, "Not one of them is any good. There is no one to save the country."
This speech sank deeply into Dong Cheng's heart. He stopped his guest, saying, "Who is no good to save the country? Whom do you mean?"
"That incident at the hunt the other day, the shooting of the stag, filled my breast with anger. But if you, a near relative of the Emperor, can pass your time in wine and idle dalliance without a thought of doing away with rebellion, where can anyone be found who will save the dynasty?"
However, Dong Cheng doubts were not set at rest. Pretending great surprise, he replied, "The Prime Minister is of high rank and has the confidence of the court. Why then do you utter such things?"
"So you find that wretch Cao Cao a good man, eh?"
"Pray speak lower: There are eyes and ears very near us."
"The sort of people who covet life and fear death are not those to discuss any great undertaking."
So saying, Ma Teng rose to go sway. By this time his host's doubts were set at rest. He felt that Ma Teng was loyal.
So Dong Cheng said, "Do not be angry any more. I will show you something."
Whereupon he invited Ma Teng to go into the room where the others were seated and then showed him the decree.

23 曹阿瞒许... :
腾读毕,毛发倒竖,咬齿嚼唇,满口流血。谓承曰:“公若有举动,吾即统西凉兵为外应。”承请腾与诸公相见,取出义状,教腾书名。腾乃取酒歃血为盟曰:“吾等誓死不负所约!”指坐上五人言曰:“若得十人,大事谐矣。”承曰:“忠义之士,不可多得。若所与非人,则反相害矣。”腾教取鸳行鹭序薄来检看。检到刘氏宗族,乃拍手言曰:“何不共此人商议?”众皆问何人。马腾不慌不忙,说出那人来。正是:本因国舅承明诏,又见宗潢佐汉朝。毕竟马腾之言如何,且听下文分解。
Cao Cao Organizes A...:
As Ma Teng read it, his hair stood on end; he ground his teeth and bit his lips till the blood came.
"When you move, remember the whole force of my army is ready to help," said Ma Teng.
Dong Cheng introduced him to the other conspirators, and then the pledge was produced, and Ma Teng was told to sign his name. He did so, at the same time smearing the blood as a sign of the oath and saying, "I swear to die rather than betray this pledge!"
Pointing to the five he said, "We require ten for this business, and we can accomplish our design."
"We cannot get many true and loyal people. One of the wrong sort will spoil all," said Dong Cheng.
Ma Teng told them to bring in the list of officials. He read on till he came to the name Liu, of the imperial clan, when clapping his hands he cried, "Why not consult him?"
"Whom?" cried they altogether.
Ma Teng very slowly and deliberately spoke his name.
To a very trusty servant comes an Emperor's decree,
And a scion of the ruling house can prove his loyalty.
If the readers turns to the next chapter, they will see whom Ma Teng talked about.

URN: ctp:sanguo-yanyi/ch20