“He fears an ambush in the wood,” said Cao Cao

“He fears an ambush in the wood,” said Cao Cao. “We will set up flags there and deceive him. There is a long embankment near the camp but behind it there is no water. There we will lay an ambush to fall upon Lu Bu when he comes to burn the wood.”

So Cao Cao hid all his soldiers behind the embankment except half a hundred drummers, and he got together many peasants to loiter within the stockade as though it was not empty.

Lu Bu rode back and told Chen Gong what he had seen.

  “This Cao Cao is very crafty and full of wiles,” said the adviser. “Do not act.”

  “I will use fire this time and burn out his ambush,” said Lu Bu.

  Next morning Lu Bu rode out, and there he saw flags flying everywhere in the wood. He ordered his troops forward to set fire on all sides. But to his surprise no one rushed out to make for the stockade. Still he heard the beating of drums and doubt filled his mind. Suddenly he saw a party of soldiers move out from the shelter of the stockade. He galloped over to see what it meant.

  then the signal-bombs exploded; out rushed the troops and all their leaders dashed forward. Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan, Xu Chu, Dian Wei, Li Dian, and Yue Jing all attacked at once. Lu Bu was at a loss and fled into the open country. One of his generals, Cheng Lian, was killed by an arrow of Yue Jing. Two thirds of his troops were lost, and the beaten remainder went to tell Chen Gong what had come to pass.

  “We had better leave,” said Chen Gong. “An empty city cannot be held.”

So Chen Gong and Gao Shun, taking their chief’s family with them,

abandoned Dingtao.

When Cao Cao’s soldiers got into the city,

they met with no resistance.

Zhang Chao committed suicide by burning himself. Zhang Miao fled to Yuan Shu.

Thus the whole northeast fell under the power of Cao Cao. He immediately tranquilized the people and rebuilt the cities and their defenses.

Lu Bu in his retreat fell in with his generals, and Chen Gong also rejoined him, so that he was by no means broken.

“I have but small army,” said Lu Bu, “but still enough to break Cao Cao.”

And so he retook the backward road. Indeed:

Thus does fortune alternate, victory, defeat, the happy conqueror today, tomorrow, must retreat?

What was the fate of Lu Bu will appear later.

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