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Chapter 071-02 담대한 조자룡

操讀八字云:「黃絹幼婦,外孫虀臼。」操問琰曰:「汝解此意否﹖」琰曰:「雖先人遺筆,妾實不解其意。」操回顧眾謀士曰:「汝等解否﹖」眾皆不能答。於內一人出曰:「某已解其意。」操視之,乃主簿楊脩也。操曰:「卿且勿言,容吾思之。」遂辭了蔡琰,引眾出莊。上馬行三里,忽省悟,笑謂脩曰:「卿試言之。」脩曰:「此隱語耳。黃縜乃顏色之絲也。色傍加絲,是『絕』字。幼婦者,少女也。女傍少字,是『妙』字。外孫乃女之子也。女傍子字,是『好』字。虀臼乃五辛之器也。受傍辛字,是『辭』字。總而言之,是『絕妙好辭』四字。」操大驚曰:「正合孤意!」眾皆歎羡楊脩才識之敏。

不一日,軍至南鄭。曹洪接著,備言張郃之事。操曰:「非郃之罪『勝負乃兵家常事』耳。」洪曰:「目今劉備使黃忠攻打定軍山,夏侯淵知大王兵至,固守未曾出戰。」操曰:「若不出戰,是示懦也。」便差人持節到定軍山,教夏侯淵進兵。劉瞱諫曰:「淵性太剛,恐中奸計。」操乃手書與之。使命持節到淵營。淵接入。使者出書,淵拆視之。略曰:「凡為將者,當以剛柔相濟,不可徒恃其勇。若但任勇,則是一夫之敵耳。吾今屯大軍於南鄭,欲觀卿之『妙才,』勿辱二字可也。」

夏侯淵覽畢大喜,打發使命回訖,乃與張郃商議曰:「今魏王率大兵屯於南鄭,以討劉備。吾與汝久守此地,豈能建立功業﹖來日吾出戰,務要生擒黃忠。」張郃曰:「黃忠謀勇兼備,況有法正相助,不可輕敵。此間山路險峻,只宜堅守。」淵曰:「若他人建了功勞,吾與汝有何面目見魏王耶﹖汝只守山,吾去出戰。」遂下令曰:「誰敢出哨誘敵﹖」夏侯尚曰:「吾願往。」淵曰:「汝去出哨,與黃忠交戰,只宜輸,不宜贏。吾有妙計,如此如此。」尚受令,引三千軍離定軍山大寨前行。

卻說黃忠與法正屯兵於定軍山口,累次挑戰,夏侯淵堅守不出;欲要進攻,又恐山路危險,難以料敵,只得據守。是日,忽報山上曹兵下來搦戰。黃忠恰待引兵出迎,牙將陳式曰:「將軍休動,某願當之。」

忠大喜,遂令陳式引軍一千出山口列陣。夏侯尚兵至,遂與交鋒。不數合,尚詐敗而走。式趕去,行到半路,被兩山上擂石砲石,打將下來,不能前進。正欲回時,背後夏侯淵引兵突出,陳式不能抵當,被夏侯淵生擒回寨。部卒多降。有敗軍逃得性命,回報黃忠,說陳式被擒。忠慌與法正商議。正曰:「淵為人輕躁,恃勇少謀;可激勵士卒,拔寨前進,步步為營,誘淵來戰而擒之。此乃『反客為主』之法。」

忠用其謀,將應有之物,盡賞三軍,歡聲滿谷,願效死戰。黃忠即日拔寨而進,步步為營;每營住數日,又進。淵聞知。欲出戰。張郃曰:「此乃反客為主之計,不可出戰;戰則有失。」淵不從,令夏侯尚領數千兵出戰,直到黃忠寨前。忠上馬提刀出迎,與夏侯尚交馬,只一合,生擒夏侯尚歸寨。餘皆敗走,回報夏侯淵。淵急使人到黃忠寨,言願將陳式來換夏侯尚。忠約定來日陣前相換。


20 Cao Cao then read the eight words; they formed an enigma. Literally they read, "yellow silk, young wife, a daughter's child, pestle and mortar."

21 "Can you explain?" asked Cao Cao of his hostess.

22 "No. Although it is a writing of my father's, thy handmaid cannot interpret it," she replied.

23 Turning to the strategists of his staff, Cao Cao said, "Can anyone of you explain it?"

24 But no one made any reply. Suddenly, they heard one voice, "I have grasped the meaning of it."

25 The man who said he had fathomed the meaning was First Secretary Yang Xiu.

26 "Do not tell me yet. Let me think it out," said Cao Cao.

27 Soon after they took leave of the lady, went out of the farm, and rode on. About one mile from the farm, the meaning suddenly dawned upon Cao Cao.

28 He laughingly turned to Yang Xiu, saying, "Now, you may try."

29 "This is the solution of the enigma," said Yang Xiu. "'Yellow silk' is silk threads of natural color, and the character for 'silk' placed beside that for 'color' forms a word meaning 'finally, decidedly'. The 'young wife' is a 'little female', and the character for 'female' with 'little', or 'few', placed beside it forms a word meaning 'admirable, fine'. The 'daughter's child' is 'daughter' and 'child', which side by side make the word 'good'. And a 'pestle and mortar' suggest pounding together the five bitter herbs in a receptacle: The character for 'receptacle' and 'bitter' form a word meaning 'to tell'. So the four words are 'Decidedly fine and well told.'"

30 Cao Cao was astonished at Yang Xiu's cleverness, and said, "Just what I made it."

31 Those around greatly wondered at Yang Xiu's ingenuity and knowledge.

32 In less than a day they reached Nanzheng, where Cao Hong welcomed them. He told the tale of Zhang He's misfortunes.

33 "To suffer defeat is no crime," said Cao Cao. "That and victory are things that happen constantly in war."

34 "Liu Bei has sent Huang Zhong to take Dingjun Mountain," said Cao Hong. "Xiahou Yuan, hearing you were coming, O Prince, has been defending the position and not going out to give battle."

35 "But standing always on the defensive is showing weakness," said Cao Cao.

36 Thereupon he bade a man carry an authority ensign to the Mountain Commander and so order him to attack the enemy.

37 "Xiahou Yuan is very stern and inflexible, and he may be carried too far and fall victim to some vile ruse," said Liu Ye.

38 Wherefore the Prince wrote a letter to him to accompany the authority ensign. And when the messenger arrived and the letter was opened, it read:

39 "Every leader must exercise a combination of inflexibility and yielding. Boldness is not the only thing that counts; if he makes it so, then is he a mere creature to fight. Now I am camped at Nanzheng ready to watch the deeds of your admirable prowess and capacity, and all I have to say is, 'Do not disgrace your previous reputation.'"

40 The letter pleased the commander mightily. Having sent away the bearer, Xiahou Yuan called in Zhang He to consult.

41 "The Prince has a great army at Nanzheng ready to destroy Liu Bei. We have been on the defense here long enough, and it is time we rendered some solid service. Tomorrow I am going out to battle, and hope to capture Huang Zhong."

42 "Your opponent combines ready resource with boldness and prevision," said Zhang He. "Beside, he has Fa Zheng to aid him; and you must be cautious, for the country is very difficult and dangerous. You had better keep on the defensive."

43 "How shall we be able to look our prince in the face when other leaders render good services? However, you just keep the hill, and I will go out to battle."

44 Then an order was issued asking who would go out to reconnoiter and provoke a battle. Xiahou Shang volunteered.

45 Xiahou Yuan said to him, "You are not to make a real stand, but merely to begin the fight. You are to lose and not win, for a grand ruse is ready for the enemy."

46 He explained his plans, and Xiahou Shang went away with a small column.

47 Now Huang Zhong and his helper Fa Zheng were camped quite close to the Dingjun Mountain. They had endeavored to entice Xiahou Yuan out into the field to fight, but failed to attack him as he stood in that difficult, mountainous country. So thus far no advance had been made. But as soon as Xiahou Shang's troops appeared and seemed to offer battle, Huang Zhong was ready to march out to meet them at once. But General Chen Shi, offered his services.

48 "Do not trouble yourself to move, O General," said Chen Shi, "for I will go out to fight them."

49 Huang Zhong consented, and placed three thousand troops under Chen Shi, who went out of the valley and set his army in array. And when Xiahou Shang came up and, as arranged, merely fought a few bouts and ran away. Chen Shi followed to take advantage of his success. But he was soon brought to a standstill by the rolling of logs and hurling of stones on the part of his opponents. As he turned to retire, Xiahou Yuan brought out his troops and attacked. Chen Shi had no chance against them and was quickly made prisoner. Many of his soldiers joined the enemy, but a few escaped to their own side and told Huang Zhong of the misfortune.

50 Huang Zhong at once asked advice from Fa Zheng, who said, "This Xiahou Yuan is easily provoked to anger, and being angry he is bold without discretion. Your way now is to work up the enthusiasm of your soldiers, then break camp and advance. Do this in a series of marches, and you will excite him up to the point of giving battle, when you can capture him. They call this the 'Ruse of the Interchange of Host and Guest'."

51 So Huang Zhong collected all the things his soldiers liked, and made them presents, till the sound of rejoicing filled the whole valley and the men were hot to fight. Then camp was broken, and the army marched forward a certain distance. Then they encamped. After some days' rest the march was repeated; and then again.

52 When tidings of the advance reached Xiahou Yuan, he proposed to go out and fight.

53 "No, no," said the prudent Zhang He. "This is a well known ruse, and you should remain on the defensive. You will lose if you fight."

54 Xiahou Yuan was not the man to stomach this moderate advice, so he sent out Xiahou Shang to give battle. As soon as this force reached the camp of Huang Zhong, the Veteran General mounted and rode out to fight. In the very first bout he captured Xiahou Shang. Those who escaped told how their leader had been captured, and Xiahou Yuan at once sent to offer an exchange of prisoners. This was agreed to, to be effected the following day in front of both armies.




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