After the Three Emperors and Five Rulers and lords of Xia and Shang,
The Zhou Dynasty overthrew King Zhou and made the empire prosper,
Generation succeeding generation for eight hundred years.
At the time of King Lie of Zhou the empire was in chaos;
The various kingdoms during the Spring and Autumn period swallowed each other up.
The Emperor of Qin gained sole hegemony over the cities of the
He burned the Classics, buried the scholars, and destroyed the sacred texts.
In the West he constructed Ebang Palace and in the East he filled up the sea;
In the South he garrisoned the Five Ranges and in the North he built the Great Wall.
He hoped to pass on the mandate to be Son of Heaven from generation to generation,
But when he traveled to Shaqiu his imperial enterprise collapsed.
The Second Emperor Hu Hai was handed on the precious throne;
ProseThe three men Guan, Zhang, and Liu Bei swore an oath of brotherhood in Jiang Ziya Temple. They swore an oath to Heaven. They killed a white horse and sacrificed to Heaven. They killed a black ox and sacrificed to Earth."We seek only to die on the same day; we do not desire to have been born on the same day. When elder brother is in straits the brothers will come to his rescue. When the brothers have troubles, elder brother will go to their aid. If one of us fails to fulfill this promise, may Heaven not cover him nor Earth bear him up, may he be banished to the uttermost reaches of the Netherworld, and may he never be reincarnated in human form." Liu Bei said, "I have only myself. You two have families to think about. I am afraid you will have second thoughts." Duke Guan said, "I will do away with my family and go together with elder brother." Zhang Fei said, "How can you lift your hand to kill the members of your own family? Elder brother, kill the members of my family, and I will kill yours." Liu Bei said, "You have spoken correctly."
VerseThen Zhang Fei wasted not a second.
Taking a bronze jeweled sword in his hand
He came to Xieliang County in Puzhou,
Where straight to his elder brother's house he went.
Whenever he met one he killed one;
ProseHer father said, "Even though your husband has left you, do not fret. Stay at home and wait a while and we'll take care of it." When the ten moons were up, she gave birth to a boy.
VerseWith a snap of the fingers she had been pregnant for ten moons;
A young gentleman was born in the house.
We will not speak of drinking tea at the third-day birth celebration,
Nor will we discuss the feast a month after birth.
His mother cherished him as if he were her life's breath;
His grandfather loved him like a pearl in his palm.
ProseUnexpectedly one day Adept Huayue of Streaked Rock Cave on Qiuqu Mountain, being at leisure, arrived in front of Squire Suo's manor. He asked, "Is the squire at home?" Before he had finished speaking, who should he see but Squire Suo coming out. When they had politely greeted each other, the squire invited him to come inside the house for tea. When they had finished their tea the adept asked, "Squire, what about the child you promised five years ago to give up to study Daoism?" Squire Suo said, "I have an adopted child. Respectfully I substitute him for my own child to leave home to study Daoism." The adept said, "Fine." Then they called for the boy to come out. The adept liked him at first sight. He changed the name of the child to Young Suo. They bade farewell to the squire, and the two left.
VerseAt that time all were happy in the household.
The child was dressed up as the real Young Suo.
And forthwith following the adept, he left.
Going forward they came to a mountain forest.
Young Suo studied the Dao in the mountains;
He learned the skills of decocting pills and refining medicine.
ProseEach day the adept taught him basic knowledge. First he taught him the ways of the Three Stratagems of Duke Huang. Next he learned the texts of the Six Tactics of Lu Wang. He learned the eighteen martial arts complete in every respect. Without realizing it time flew like an arrow. Days and months passed like a shuttle, and he grew to be eighteen years old. He had studied in the mountains for nine years. Spring had just begun, and the scenery was beautiful. The mountains were fresh and the water sparkling, and the mountain stream flowed down. The teacher called to the young Daoist, "I am thirsty. I would like to drink some water. I do not want a mountain stream's spring water nor well water nor river water. I only want the water springing out from a place in the middle of a rock in the mountains. Take a dipper and go search out for me a place where the rock has split and bring a ladle-full back."
VerseYoung Suo thus spoken to said, "Very well."
He got up and set out for the mountain forest.
The time was just the third month of spring.
Every family was at a grave weeping in the hills and forests,
Crying for their fathers and crying for mothers out in the wilds.
When the young Daoist heard them, he was sorely grieved.
ProseWhat should he see but water coming out of the place in the rock where the rock split. Young Suo said, "My teacher wants this very water to drink." He took up the coconut shell dipper in his hand and dipped. What should he see but nine lizards playing in the water. They had been dipped up by the youth in the coconut shell dipper. Even as he watched, he didn't see the lizards any more; he saw only a dipper of clear water. Young Suo said, "How about that! I will go ahead and drink this water, and afterwards I will dip another dipper and give it to my teacher to drink."
VerseThe young Daoist picked up the coconut dipper of water in his hand,
Then sought the way back to return to the Buddhist temple.
All alone he set out on the road.
In front of the mountains he came upon Black Pine Forest.
Through the forest the sound of a stroke on the gong echoed,
And out rushed outlaw bandits.
ProseYoung Suo said, "I have no weapon in my hand. How can I deal with him?" For the moment he placed the coconut dipper of water at one side. He saw a dead tree. The Daoist youth used his hand to shake it. With heroic will he uprooted the dead tree and tore off its branches. He brandished it in his hand and fought.
VerseWhen the young Daoist saw him he got upset and annoyed.
He brandished the dead tree, roots and all, in his hand.
He leaped forward ten feet in a "dragon roiling the water" pose;
He jumped back eight feet in a "tiger turning his body" pose.
With one blow he struck aside three or five;
With three blows he dispatched ten or more men.
The young Daoist then used his cudgel and brandished it.
The two fought for a long time;
The outlaw bandit was defeated.
The outlaw ranks were defeated and all the troops fled.
ProseThe youth returned to the mountain cave and saw his teacher. He gave the water to his teacher to drink and said to his teacher, "I saw people who had gone up to the western graves crying for their fathers and mothers. I felt very sad. I beg of you sincerely, teacher, tell me where my father and mother are!" His teacher said, "Allow me to explain to you. Your family lives in Xieliang County in Puzhou. The Suo family manor is your home. You must want to go find your father and mother. If you want to go, go down the mountain, make a trip there, and return." When the young Daoist heard these words he lowered his head and bowed.
VerseHe said good-bye to his teacher who had left his family to become a Daoist.
Two streams of tears flowed from the teacher's eyes.
"Be careful and take care of yourself leaving the mountain forest.
Go down the mountain and search out your father and mother.
Do not be an ingrate who forgets kindness."
We will not sing of his journey on the road.
ProseSquire Suo said, "Allow me to explain to you: you are not a child of my family. Recently I inquired and learned that your maternal grandfather is Squire Hu. Your mother is Hu Jinding. Your father is Guan Yunchang. Eleven years ago in the city while looking at the lanterns I found you and brought you to my house. When you were nine years old you left home to study Daoism. How would it be if now I would take you to go find your mother?"
VerseThe young Daoist, thus spoken to, repeatedly said good, good,
Agreeing with the old gentleman.
At that time they prepared and set out on the road.
They left the manor and started on their journey.
When they had marched one li they marched another li;
They went one stage and then another stage,
ProseSquire Hu said, "I do have a grandson. His father is tall. Why is this child so short? For now we'll not pay attention to that. I'll have my daughter come out. She will certainly recognize whether or not he is her son."
VerseWhen his daughter in her room heard what was said,
She went straight to the hall to see her father.
As soon as the squire saw her he said,
"Daughter, listen now to this explanation:
Eleven years ago your son was lost.
Today they say that he was one who left home to study the Dao.
ProseSquire Hu said, "Daughter, is he really your son?" His daughter said, "I have a secret way of identifying him. When he was little there was a protuberance behind his ear." As soon as he looked, Squire Hu saw she was right. Just as...
Verse"The first for my being a son of the Guan family;
Secondly I will take Foster Father Suo's family name.
I want the surname of my teacher in the mountains.
Call me Hua Guan Suo."
Bowing, he took leave of his benefactor the squire;
He also bowed to his elderly grandfather
ProseThe squire called the serving boy and told him to go inside and get some gold and silver ready and give it to the general to buy some wine to drink. The serving boy quickly carried a box of gold and silver to the front of the manor. The serving boy said, "Here is a bit of wine money for you, General." The outlaw said, "To give each of the 100,000 men in my army one ounce will take 100,000 ounces. Who do you expect me to distribute this paltry sum to? You bring out more, and then all will be well. If you don't bring it out, I'll set fire to the front of the manor."
VerseThe youth Guan Suo asked,
"What is the reason for the gong sounding and the drum echoing?"
His mother thus questioned replied,
"There is an outlaw who has led his troops here today,
Demanding gold and silver, wealth and jewels."
A gong sounded and a drum echoed and reverberated in front of the manor.
ProseGuan Suo said, "Grandfather, why are you troubled?" Grandfather said, "Today there are brigands in front of the estate demanding gold and silver with which to reward their troops. I collected a container of gold and silver and gave it to one, but he sneered upon it as too little and intends to start a fire and burn down the manor. This is the reason I'm worried." Guan Suo said, "This scoundrel is not to be borne. Grandfather, do you have any weapons in the house?" Grandfather said, "Your father originally had all sorts of weapons and armor which are now placed in my storehouse. Feel free to take whatever you want." Guan Suo, at that time following his grandfather's instructions, went into the storehouse and brought out a full suit of armor and a decorated cap. Grandfather said, "I will also give you two precious things to keep by your side." At that time he instructed the serving boy to go bring the nine-strand red cotton lariat and a speckled bamboo sheath. Grandfather charged him, saying "Child, inside this speckled bamboo sheath is contained a yellow dragon spear." Guan Suo armed himself from head to foot. From the rear stable he chose a fine steed. In his hand he took up the speckled bamboo sheath. How was Guan Suo dressed?
Zan verseHe wore a
that shone fiercer than fire.
He wore a suit
of yellow dragon armor
that shone bright as the sun.
VerseThey mustered a troop of a hundred retainers from the manor.
There were also serving boys and servitors.
Some held spears and cudgels,
Some pitchforks, rakes, or broom sticks.
Guan Suo in front of the ranks yelled loudly,
Startling the bandit bravos.
I'll pulverize you to dust with my axe.
If in three rounds you overcome me,
I will withdraw my men and horses.
If you lose to me during the course of three rounds,
ProseThe two men fought for thirty rounds. When they had been sparring for a long time the outlaw bandits with ferocious glee fell upon Guan Suo all at once. Neither side gained the advantage in battle. Suddenly bandits showed up in front of the ranks [with swords?] in their two hands.
VerseThe angry general broke open the speckled bamboo sheath
And drew out the yellow dragon spear.
He brandished the decorated spear and people lost heart.
He drew out the yellow dragon spear
And terrified the two outlaw bravos.
Afterwards he used Lu Wang's Six Tactics;
ProseGuan Suo then asked, "What are your names?" Mountain-plucker Xu and Cloud-grabber Zhao then said, "The other ten's names are Dragon-capturer Zhang, liger-catcher Ma, Fly Across the River, Jump Across the Sea, Repulse the River, Jui the Terrifier, Lou the King of Hell, Stone Jupiter, Fly on the Grass, and Walk on Ice.
VerseAt that time they spoke their names and surnames;
One by one from the first so that they could be recognized.
The twelve generals all surrendered and submitted—
One hundred thousand armed troops
To aid their elder brother Hua Guan Suo
Who was going to Xichuan to claim his patrimony.
And do not go by the manor of the Bao family,
The famous robbers and outlaws."
ProseGrandfather said, "Child, ahead is the Bao family manor. On the mountain is their Booty-dividing Pavilion. To the right of it is their Boasting Tablet. You should beware of it. People say, 'Better cross over three rivers than pass by the Bao family manor. Better eat three catties of ginger than tangle with Bao Sanniang.' Along the road on your journey you must be careful."
VerseAfter Grandfather had repeatedly enjoined him,
He bowed and said farewell to his old grandfather.
He said farewell to all the elders in the family and
Mustered his troops, and they set out on their journey.
The sound of a heaven-shaking stroke on the gong echoed,
And he led one hundred thousand troops off toward Xichuan.
ProseTemple God Song said, "I have received an imperial command from Sun Quan of the State of Wu to take twenty-four peach red brocade silk banners, a suit of Southern Seas red dragon fish scale armor, and a leopard thunder horse, these three treasures, to offer to Cao Cao of the Great State."
VerseWhen Guan Suo heard this, he smiled.
He told the general, "Listen well.
If you leave the three kinds of treasures for me,
I will spare what remains of your life.
Look out for my yellow dragon lance!"
This affronted Temple God,
Who laughed coldly two or three times.
"You haven't even lost your milk teeth yet,
ProseGuan Suo said, "Bring over the three kinds of treasures for me to see. I will give the twenty-four peach red brocade silk pennants to my mother to make a tent. The leopard thunder horse should be properly looked after in the rear stable. The Southern Seas red dragon fish scale armor I will wear myself. But who can put it on for me?" Dragon-capturer Zhang said, "Elder brother: In the Bao family manor there is one Sanniang who can put this armor on for you." Guan Suo said, "I will go ask her." In front of the manor on the mountain stood the Booty-dividing Pavilion. At one side stood the Boasting Tablet. On the tablet was inscribed, "To the one who out-battles me, I will give myself as a wife. The one who loses to me I will cut into ten thousand pieces." Guan Suo said, "How old is Bao Sanniang?" Dragon-capturer Zhang said, "She is exactly eighteen." Guan Suo said, "I don't believe she's all that formidable."
VerseWhen Guan Suo heard this he felt pleased.
He led fifty thousand soldiers.
"In the first place I want her to help me put on my armor,
And in the second place to be my wife.
If I overcome Sanniang,
Together we will go to Xichuan to claim my patrimony."
ProseGuan Suo said, "Tell the bandit king that if he marries Sanniang to me we'll forget everything. If he will not marry her to me then I'll set fire to the manor." Guan Suo feared that the underling would not transmit the message. He took a brush and wrote on the underling's back. He wrote, "Message to Bandit King Bao. Do not take offense. It goes without saying that you are strong. I have no paper just now on which to write a letter. I have borrowed your underling's backbone. My message is as follows:
Ever since the beginning of the world people have talked of the Taihang Mountains;
When has anyone ever heard of any Bao Sanniang?
I don't believe she is all that formidable.
What's the need for a woman to talk so big?
No matter how terrific she is, she's still only a woman.
He took up his head-high hafted blade
And led out his troop of men and horses.
He went in front of the mountain to see what men they were.
The old general Bandit King Bao called in a loud voice,
ProseGuan Suo said, "If you give your younger sister to me to be my wife, I will spare you two men's lives. If you are not willing, I'll cut you in two with one stroke of my blade." The two men wanted to save their lives and so could but promise him. "Please, general, calm yourself and cease your anger. Put aside your fearsome air. If we are permitted to return home the matter will be decided neither by our father nor by our younger sister. We ourselves will marry Sanniang to you." Guan Suo was pleased at this. Then he ordered that wine be brought, each man three cups of wine and ten large steamed buns.
VerseGuan Suo at that time asked in a loud voice,
"Brothers-in-law, hear what I say:
One brother-in-law can be a go-between;
One on behalf of the manor will act as guarantor.
Today I will arrange for sheep and wine.
Send your younger sister out of the gate of the manor soon."
ProseBandit King Bao said, "Allow me to inform you, daughter: in front of the mountain there is a young man of eighteen who looks just exactly as though he is rubbed with rouge and made of red powder. Our Booty-dividing Pavilion was...
VerseWhen Sanniang heard this she became angry.
Then she said, "Who do my brothers think he is?
Even if he has three heads and six arms,
He's not worth the dust on the tip of my boot."
Sanniang then said, "There's nothing to worry about.
Father, do not be distressed.
But she had affronted the young Hua Guan Suo.
"You're not worth the tip of my boot or the heel of my foot.
I could kill you with a single thrust of my spear,
But it would be a pity to harm such a flower-like body."
ProseGuan Suo said, "Why don't you come and chase me?" Bao Sanniang said, "I know you will let loose the red cotton lariat." Guan Suo said, "Neither have you lost nor have I won. I have a gold coin. Let's hang it up. On the gold coin are four characters. I will shoot four arrows onto the four characters and one in the eye of the gold coin. If I make all the shots, that means you lose." Sanniang said, "I will split your five X arrows. X X X X X X. If I do not split your arrows, then I will lose."
VerseGuan Suo, thus spoken to, quickly said, "Fine."
He hung the gold coin up in mid-air.
His curved bow he took up in his hand,
And picked out five string of pearl arrows.
His left hand held the bow grip;
His right hand drew the bowstring past his ear.
ProseSanniang went to see her father. Bandit King Bao asked, "My daughter, what of the outcome?" Sanniang reported, "I report to you, Father: I fought but couldn't beat him. He is no one else. His father is one of the five fighting tiger generals; his elder uncle is Prince Liu the First Sovereign. His younger uncle is Zhang Fei, who turned back the river. I fought over one hundred rounds with him and lost to him. I promised to unite with him as man and wife. I do not know what your feelings are, Father." Bandit King Bao said, "In the past Lian Kang's father and I promised our children in marriage. Later he begat Lian Kang and I begat you, fair daughter. He wanted to marry you last year. You said to wait again until this year. If now you want to marry Guan Suo, what would you have me say to him when he comes?
VerseOld general Bandit Bao felt perplexed about
How to ward off the man from Camp Yaoling.
Sanniang said, "It needn't be a problem.
I have some good words you should hear, Father.
Since I prefer to be united to the youth Hua Guan Suo,
There is no need for that ugly-faced Lian Kang."
He called, "Crown Prince Lian Kang has arrived.
What shall we do? How can we cope with him?"
Bandit King Bao went to the rear of the hall.
Then he called, "Sanniang, listen to the situation.